London is packed with treasures from world-famous landmarks to little-known historical gems. In our Discover London section we bring together a wealth of the capital’s most fascinating features from the biggest to the smallest to give you a taste of variety on offer to visitors. This issue we discover the theatrical treasure of Shakespeare’s Globe to a tiny square with a lively past, and much more. Here’s a taster of what’s in store…
Shakespeare’s Globe is a reconstruction of the Globe Theatre, an open-air Elizabethan playhouse in the London Borough of Southwark, on the south bank of the River Thames. The original theatre was built in 1599 and at least in part owned by Shakespeare. Today his plays are performed as they would have been in his day – full of vigour, humour and with an inclusive style which welcomes everyone. With ‘groundling’ (standing) tickets just £5 and world-class performances, we think The Globe qualifies as one of London’s top treasures.
The site now includes the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, an indoor candle-lit theatre based on the intimate, indoor playhouses of Jacobean London. There is also an exhibition about Shakespeare’s life and work, and regular tours of the two theatres.
Apsley House, also known as Number One, London, is the Grade I listed London townhouse of the Dukes of Wellington and perhaps the only preserved example of an English aristocratic town house from its period. It stands alone at Hyde Park Corner, on the south-east corner of Hyde Park, facing south towards the busy traffic roundabout in the centre of which stands the Wellington Arch. The house is now run by English Heritage and is open to the public as a museum and art gallery, exhibiting 83 paintings from the Spanish royal collection.
The Ritz London is a Grade II listed five-star hotel in Piccadilly. A symbol of high society and luxury, the hotel, which was built in 1906, is one of the world’s most
4. Royal Parks
London has eight Royal Parks covering 5,000 acres of the capital which are open for free to public. Millions of Londoners and tourists visit Richmond Park, Hyde Park, St James’s Park, Kensington Gardens, The Green Park, Bushy Park, Greenwich Park and Regents Park every year to enjoy the wide-open spaces in the heart of one of the world’s busiest cities. The historic parkland, which were once private royal playgrounds but now administered for the benefit of all, provide unparalleled opportunities for enjoyment, exploration and healthy living whether with a simple walk or a picnic in the park, sport, top quality entertainment, community and education project.
5. Pickering Place
Not all of London’s treasures are on a grand scale, it’s small spaces and hidden charms are also fascinating testament to its long and varied past. Don’t miss Pickering Place, a tiny courtyard with a big history. Not only was it home to the Texan Republic’s embassy (until it joined the United States in 1845) and is the smallest square in Britain, but it is also the last place in London where a duel was fought. Its original gaslights, unspoilt Georgian architecture and quiet seclusion will whisk you back in time to get a taste of 18th-century London. Its secluded nature was one of the reasons the square was notorious for gambling dens, bear baiting and duels.