Free London - January 2010
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Free London for January, 2010
by Shophound Alexia

Heritage and pageantry highlights, the Royal Parks Church music, festivals, free art exhibitions and museums in and around London.

Free Festive London

Christmas Lights
Date: Through 5 January, 2010
Venue: Regent Street, Oxford Street, Bond Street.
London Transport: Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus, Bond Street, Marble Arch.
Description: London's famed Christmas Lights provide a spectacular display in Oxford Street, (from 7 November); Regent Street, (from 20 November); and Bond Street, (22 November). Regent Street is closed to traffic for the
festive Switch-on. London's top West End Stores Selfridges, (Oxford Street); Harrods, Harvey Nichols, (Knightsbridge); Liberty's, (Regent Street); and Burlington Arcade, (Piccadilly); are all festively decorated and spectacularly lit up during the festive season.

The 62nd Norwegian Christmas Tree in Trafalgar Square
Date: Until 6 January, 2009.
Venue: Trafalgar Square.
London Transport: Nearest Tube: Charing Cross.
Description: Since 1947 the Norwegian government has donated a 75 feet high Norwegian fir tree to Britain each year, as a symbol of friendship and to thank the nation for helping the Norwegian people during the war. This is put up in Trafalgar Square and decorated in a traditional Norwegian style with 500 white lights which are switched on from noon until midnight each day through the Christmas period (until 6th January). There is carol singing around the tree most evenings until 20 December.

Winter Wonderland
Date: Through 3 January, 2010. 10 am -10 pm.
Venue: Hyde Park, near Hyde Park Corner and Serpentine, SW1.
London Transport: Nearest Tube: Hyde Park Corner.
Description: Entry is FREE. Attractions include the popular outdoor ice rink, a toboggan slide, a traditional German Christmas Market and refreshment booths, (open daily 11am-8pm); a 50m giant observation wheel offering magnificent views of Hyde Park. Skating sessions and some attractions are ticketed. Book online for Ice Rink, (recommended).

Royal Heritage & Pageantry

Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace and Horse Guards Parade
Date: Ongoing. 11.30am. Check website for 2010 schedules.
Venue: Buckingham Palace Forecourt, Westminster, SW1A 1AA
London Transport: Nearest Tubes. Green Park, Hyde Park Corner, Victoria mainline rail terminus
Description: The new guards from one of five Household Guard Regiments, (Coldstream, Grenadier, Scots, Irish or Welsh Guards), arrive at the forecourt of the Palace at 11:30 from Wellington Barracks. Their march takes about 5 minutes and the soldiers are accompanied by a band. The ceremony is conducted on the Palace forecourt and takes approximately forty minutes to complete. Subject to wet weather cancellation. Beware the nuisance of pickpockets outside the Palace gates.
See also the colourful changing of The Queen's Lifeguards, (Blues & Royals or Life Guards), at Horse Guards Parade, (weekdays 11am, Sundays 10am); a spectacular piece of royal pageantry. Check Changing the Guard for further details, regimental uniform identification, and special guidebook.
Wheelchair Accessibility: Yes. Adapted toilets. Yes, in St. James's Park.

Ceremony of the Keys
Date: Ongoing. Daily. 9.30.pm.
Venue: Tower of London, Tower Hill, EC3N 4AB
Tickets: Complimentary tickets are obtainable on application in writing. Check Tower website for details.
London Transport: Nearest Tube. Tower Hill.
Description: The Ceremony of the Keys is the traditional locking up of the Tower of London and has taken place on each and every night, without fail, for at least 700 years. The Yeoman Warders, (the famous Beefeaters), in their royal livery, and military guard, lock the outer gates of the Tower of London and deliver the keys to the Governor of the Tower, (always a retired General), who resides in the Tudor Queen's House overlooking the infamous scaffold site within the walls. The importance of securing this fortress for the night is still relevant because, although the Monarch no longer resides at this royal palace, the Crown Jewels, including the Coronation Regalia and many other historic valuables, still do and felonious attempts have been made to steal them! Check Historic Royal Palaces/Tower of London for daily opening times, etc., for the Tower, Crown Jewels, etc.


The Royal Parks play an important and popular role in the Londoner's Diary, providing a varied programme of events, as well as providing a safe family environment for recreation and relaxation in colourful surroundings of remarkable bio-diversity. London's Royal and municipal parks are superbly kept with seasonally planted flower beds, shrubs, trees, lakes, fountains, historic monumental statuary and teeming, people-friendly, wildlife. Birdlife is remarkably abundant with some 144 species of woodland bird, raptor and wild and ornamental waterfowl recorded, many of which breed in the avian-friendly surroundings. Both Regent's Park and Battersea Park support flourishing breeding heronries.
Most Royal Parks were originally royal hunting grounds and Hyde Park and Richmond Park remain popular equestrian venues, while herds of deer still graze, (no longer chased by Royal huntsmen), at Richmond and Greenwich. There are plenty of restrooms and excellent catering facilities, ranging from tea houses to gourmet restaurants, a wide range of sporting facilities and many interesting historic monuments and Heritage sites in and around each Park.
Schedule of Guided Walks Check out the schedule of 'Guided Walks' and events in the Royal Parks. Tel: 020 7298 2083. Contact: Nick Lane to assure a place on the walks, as places are limited.

Alexia's tip:
The Princess Diana Memorial Walk. Make a point of seeing the four Royal Parks in central London by taking the Princess Diana Memorial Walk; a seven mile figure-eight walkway with its hub at Hyde Park Corner, (the best starting and finishing point). The fascinating walkway is marked by 70 plaques set into the ground and passes a number of places with which Diana was associated in her life - and death. Break the walk into at least two parts unless you have legs and stamina for a marathon. Do the Green Park and St. James's Park stretch on one day, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens section on another. Be sure to wear sensible shoes and take your time to pause and see all the places of interest.
Wheelchair Accessibility: Yes. Adapted toilets. Yes. There are restrooms and refreshment points in St. James's Park, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.

St. James's Park
Opening Times; Daily. 5am-midnight.
London Transport: Nearest Tube: St. James's Park.
Description:
This is London's oldest park and, although open to the public, is historically within the grounds of Buckingham Palace. Bounded by the Palace on the west by historic St. James's Palace, Clarence House and the Mall on the north, Admiralty Arch and Horseguard's Parade on the east, Wellington Barracks and Birdcage Walk on the south, it lies at the very heart of London's Royal heritage and pageantry and should on no account be missed by London visitors. The beautiful ornamental lake overlooked by the Palace is stocked with fifteen species of exotic waterfowl including Pelicans and Black Swans, and the shady walks are bordered by superbly planted seasonal flowerbeds and flowering shrubs.
As well as Buckingham Palace, Horseguard's Parade and Admiralty Arch, pause to see the Queen Victoria Memorial with its marble statue of Victoria and glittering figures of Victory, Courage and Constancy, bordered by the ornamental gates given by Britain's former Dominions; Australia Gate, South Africa Gate and Canada Gate. See also in the Mall, the superb new memorial bronze of the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, (unveiled February, 2009).
Wheelchair Accessibility: Yes. Adapted toilets. Yes.
Alexia's Diary:
There are two events in January in St. James park for a Guided Walks: 18 January; Nate That Tree. Time 1-2pm.
30 January: at 1- 2:15 pm. The King's Final Walk: On the anniversary of the execution of Charles I, follow his route through St. Jame's Park to the scaffold. Book early for a spot. Check website for more details.
Pelican feeding time. Daily. 2.30pm. Lakeside. A popular time for both Pelicans and spectators!
Changing the Guard at Buckingham PalaceThe colourful ceremony at the western end of the park takes place at 11.30am on odd dates in November. Musical march past from Wellington Barracks down Birdcage Walk on south side of the Park to the Palace and return.
Changing the Queen's Lifeguard at Horseguards Parade. Mornings: Daily 11am and 4pm. Sundays 10.am. Horseguard's Parade, situated at the eastern end of the park, is in fact the official entrance to Buckingham Palace.

Green Park
Opening Times: Daily. 5am-midnight.
London Transport: Nearest Tube. Green Park, Hyde Park Corner.
Description: Originally called, appropriately, 'Upper St. James's Park' this green open space to the north of Buckingham Palace was a once popular dueling spot. In Regency times there was a small sanitized dairy farmhouse here where fashionable ladies of the haut monde could pay an afternoon visit and play at being milkmaids. The park is now a peaceful grassland devoid of rapier wielding and pistol toting duelists and bucolic bovine attractions. Its mature tree'd open space is much enjoyed by Londoners in February and March for its picturesque sea of daffodils and in summer as a picnic and sunbathing spot. Few events take place here, other than the firing of a Royal Salute on the occasion of a State Visit by a foreign Head of State.
The Park is bordered in the north by Hyde Park Corner with its Apsley House and Wellington Arch museums, and the fine houses lining Piccadilly, in the east by leafy Queen's Walk overlooked by the imposing Ritz Hotel, Spencer House and Lancaster House, and in the south by Buckingham Palace's walled gardens.
Wheelchair Accessibility: Yes. Adapted toilets. No. Nearest toilets in St. James's Park and Hyde Park.
Alexia's tip: Wander down Queen's Walk after Tea at the Ritz on your way to the Canada Memorial and the Canada Gates facing Buckingham Palace and pause to admire the superb Palladian facade of Spencer House, onetime ancestral London residence of Princess Diana's family.
At Hyde Park Corner see Decimus Burton's 1828 triumphal Wellington Arch, (an English Heritage Museum); his imposing Ionic Screen, (1825) and his charming little neo-Classical lodge next to it, (now an excellent tourist information office staffed by very helpful assistants). Note also the Greek Revival frontage of the Lanesborough Hotel, (William Wilkins, 1827); the neo-Classical frontage of Apsley House, (Benjamin Wyatt, 1828/9), London home of the Duke of Wellington, (an English Heritage Museum).
Alexia's Diary: The Ritz Hotel at the northeastern corner of Green Park and the Lanesborough Hotel at Hyde Park Corner are civilized though expensive venues for Afternoon Tea. Advance booking is essential at the Ritz and advisable at the Lanesborough.


Photo British Cavalry Memorial by Ian MacWatt
Hyde Park
Opening Times: Daily. 5am-midnight.
London Transport: Nearest Tubes. Hyde Park Corner, Marble Arch, Lancaster Gate.
Description: Onetime private Royal hunting ground, opened to the public in 1637 by Charles I. Site of the 1851 Great Exhibition Crystal Palace; Speaker's Corner; the annual Prince's Trust open-air concert; Last Night of the Proms Concert; the setting for the 2012 Olympics Open Water Swimming and Triathlon; and the 300 year old bridleway Rotten Row, England's most famous equestrian venue where kings, consorts and courtesans once paraded in style each morning and where smartly accoutred ladies and their squires exercise their mounts. For more about this historic site read my Spring in Rotten Row. The carpets of crocus in early spring and later sea of daffodils are well worth seeing, as is the rose garden near Hyde Park Corner.
Among many famous landmarks, be sure to see: Decimus Burton's Ionic Screen, (1825), marking the Park's S.E. entrance at Hyde Park Corner; the controversial Diana Memorial Fountain, (2004). Sir John Nash's triumphal Marble Arch, (1828), originally designed as the entrance to Buckingham Palace and now marking the Park's N.E. entrance near the site of the infamous Tyburn gallows and the famous Speaker's Corner. There are a number of monuments and bronzes in the Park near Hyde Park Corner, notably the impressive bronze of Hercules; St. George and the Dragon; the understated Holocaust Memorial and the newly dedicated memorial to the victims of London's 7/7 bombings four years ago.
There is one guided walk scheduled for 8 January, 2010: Winter in Hyde Park; Time: 1-2:30pm. Wrap up warm and join us to discover the majestic beauty of an urban park during the winter months. Contact Nick Lane at TEL: 020 7298 2083 to book a spot on this interesting walk. Do book early.
Wheelchair Accessibility: Yes. Adapted toilets. Yes.
Alexia's Diary:
There are numerous FREE October events scheduled. Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon on 11 October; Guided Walks, children's entertainment. Check website for dates and times
The Grosvenor House Hotel, with its charming Park Room overlooking Park Lane and Hyde Park is a perfect place to relax and enjoy Anna's Afternoon Tea. Note, in passing, the high distinction of this hotel's 1930s towered frontage by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

Kensington Gardens

Peter Pan, Kensington Park
Opening Times: Daily. 5am-midnight.
London Transport: Nearest tube. High Street, Kensington.
Description: Originally part of Hyde Park, the gardens were laid out with formal avenues of magnificent trees, shrubs and ornamental flower beds as a setting for Kensington Palace, (Sir Christopher Wren 1689-1702); birthplace of Queen Victoria who later commissioned the beautiful, peaceful Italian Gardens at the head of the Serpentine Lake and later still the Albert Memorial, (Sir Gilbert Scott 1863-72), facing the Royal Albert Hall in Kensington Gore. The Memorial is a brilliant example of the best of Victorian craftsmanship, designed like a medieval reliquary shrine built on a monumental scale.
Children, (and parents), will love the whimsical bronze statue of Peter Pan commissioned by the novelist J.M.Barrie, (Sir George Frampton,1912), set in a leafy glade bordering the Serpentine Lake; the Elfin Oak carved with fairies, goblins and animals; and the fabulous Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Playground with its Captain Hook's pirate galleon. Pause to admire the Palace's stately south frontage and the water lilies and sunken garden created by Edward VII on the Palace's east wing on your way to take tea in the Orangery, (Nicholas Hawksmoor, 1704-05). Note the statue of Queen Victoria outside the Palace, sculpted by her gifted daughter Louise to celebrate her Golden Jubilee, 1857.
Wheelchair Accessibility: Yes. Adapted toilets. Yes.

Alexia's Diary
Guided Walk: 28 January, 2010. Time: 2 - 3:30pm. Winter in Kensington Gardens: Join us as we take a look at what is going on in the park in the winter months. See site for details and do book early as places are limited.

The Regent's Park
Opening Times: Daily. 5am - dusk.
London Transport: Nearest tube. Baker Street.
Description: The Regent's Park, 166 hectares (410 acres), is a masterpiece of landscape design and town planning. It includes stunning rose gardens with more than 30,000 roses of 400 varieties. The Park is the largest outdoor sports area in London with 'The Hub' a community sports pavilion and sports pitches, nearly 100 acres available for sports fans of all abilities. Henry VIII appropriated what was then known as Mary Bourne Park for use as a hunting ground, which he considered to be an invigorating ride from Whitehall Palace. It remained a royal chase until 1646. John Nash, architect to the crown and to the Prince Regent developed the Park as part of his patron's grandiose design for central London extending from Piccadilly Circus up Regent's Street and ending in a vast rounded park surrounded by palatial terraces, a lake, a canal, 56 planned villas (only 8 were ever built) and a summer palace for the Prince Regent, which was never built because the Prince Regent turned his attention and money to creating Buckingham Palace. It wasn't until 1835, after the Prince Regent ascended the throne as King George IV, that the general public were actually allowed into the sections of the Park and this was only for two days of the week. The Park later became the home of the Zoological Society and the London Zoo. The celebrated Queen Mary's Gardens, (the Rose Gardens, named after the Queen Consort of King George V), and the now famous annual summer open air theatre season draw Londoners and visitors alike to this most northern of London's Royal Parks. The park's lake is notable for London's largest heronry and is much loved by film makers for location work. Relax at the Garden Cafe at the Rose Garden.
An award winning Wildlife in the Park community garden has recently been opened under the aegis of WITB, with design, planting and caring support from local schools and community volunteers.
Guided Walk: 17 December, 2009. Time: 10:30am - 12:00. Walking In The Winter Wonderland. The park may be basking in sunshine or blanketed with snow; come along and enjoy the delights of Greenwich Park. No early booking required. Check sites for further details.
Wheelchair Accessibility: Yes. Adapted toilets. Yes.
Alexia's Diary:
There are a number of interesting FREE events scheduled for October in Regent's Park; Guided Walks - Bats and Birds. Check website for dates, and times. Book early for the Guided Walks.

Greenwich Park
Opening Times: Daily. 6am, pedestrians. 7am for traffic.
London Transport: Riverboat to Greenwich pier; North Greenwich tube then 188 bus to Greenwich Park Gate.
Description: Together with Richmond Park, Greenwich is the oldest of the Royal Parks, with a Royal history stretching back to mediaeval times. Situated on top of a hill, the park provides visitors with sweeping views across the River Thames to St Paul's Cathedral and beyond and is home to a small herd of fallow and red deer, reminders of a bygone era when this was a royal hunting ground.
The park is now part of the Greenwich World Heritage Site, host to the Prime Meridian Line and the old Royal Observatory, as well as having the National Maritime Museum, built on the site of the old Tudor Palace of Placentia, as a neighbour. King Henry VIII was born and spent much of his early time here before transferring his affections to Hampton Court Palace.
We can thank the 17th century Stuart monarchs, however, for the park as we see it today. They transformed it from a Tudor hunting ground, demolishing the decaying old Tudor palace of Placentia and jousting lists, embarking upon a magnificent era of building that has given us the exquisite Classical Queen's House, (Inigo Jones, completed 1635), and Wren's superb Baroque waterfront palace completed for Charles II in 1702 as a Royal Naval Hospital. Together with the Queen's House it is now the National Maritime Museum. Charles II also commissioned Sir Christopher Wren to build the Royal Observatory in the park. All are open FREE to the public. The Queen's House is a popular venue for wedding and civil commitment ceremonies.
The park is best approached from the river, (regular service from Westminster and Tower quays). For a full description of the palace, Free entry particulars, etc., see Burlington Bertie's Royal Greenwich
Wheelchair Accessibility: Yes. Adapted toilets. Yes.
Alexia's Diary:
There are FREE events in Greenwich Park in December.
Guided Walk: 17 December, 2009. Time: 10:30am - 12:00. Walking In The Winter Wonderland. The park may be basking in sunshine or blanketed with snow; come along and enjoy the delights of Greenwich Park. No early booking required. Check sites for further details. 30 December, 2009. "Drop In" at the Secret Wildlife Garden Center. Time: 10am - 3pm. See any wildlife that is passing by; wildlife related activities for all ages; guided tours of the nature trails and deer viewing hide. Check site for further information.

Battersea Park Bandstand Photo by Ian MacWatt

Battersea Park
Opening Times; Daily. 5am-midnight.
London Transport: Rail. Battersea Park. See also Wandsworth Council.
Description: While not a Royal Park, Battersea deserves mention and has historic royal connections. Battersea Park is a 200 acre green riverside gem with beautiful planting, quiet lake and delightful Thames-side walks. Managed by a forward looking and energetic Wandworth Borough Council Parks Service, it is much loved by the local residents but relatively unknown to visitors despite its full programme of events, Fairs, Exhibitions and Cultural Festivals throughout the year. It is also notable for its beautiful Buddhist Peace Temple overlooking the Thames.
Once marshy land notorious as a venue for dualists, (the Duke of Wellington and Lord Winchilsea famously fought a dual here over a matter of honour), the Park was landscaped with one million cubic yards of soil, dug out during the construction of Victoria Docks and shipped upriver. Queen Victoria opened it in 1858. The park has recently undergone a £11 million restoration programme and is now an oasis of peace; one of London's finest recreation amenities lying on the south bank of the Thames opposite the Royal Hospital Chelsea, home of the Chelsea Pensioners. The charming boating lake is home to a flourishing heronry and many species of waterfowl. Expect to see chick hatchlings paddling frantically behind proud parents on the lake.
Note the Barbara Hepworth sculpture and the Australian War Memorial bordering the lake.
Wandsworth Borough make the most of their beautifully kept and run Thames-side park to host a wide variety of events there throughout the year. Expect fashion shows, art exhibitions and antiques fairs, horticultural displays and competitions, firework displays and sporting events. . To find out what is going on in Battersea Park call: Tel: (020) 8871 7534.
Wheelchair Accessibility: Yes. Adapted toilets. Yes.

Somerset House: Free Tours
Venue: Somerset House, Strand. WC2R 1LA. Tel: 020 7845 4600.
Date: 1.15pm, 2.45pm Weds. 12.15pm, 1.15pm, 2.15pm, 3.15pm Sats. 2009.
London Transport: Nearest Tube: Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus. Carparking and Congestion Charge payment: Trafalgar/Spring Gardens.
Tickets: FREE tickets from the Information Desk in the Seamen's Waiting Hall, available from 10.30 am.
Description: Discover evidence of Tudor intrigue and Georgian Enlightenment, scientific curiosity and naval power, extravagant entertainments and 'the King's Shilling', as you are led from the airy lightwells of graceful staircases to the atmospheric Deadhouse..
Wheelchair Accessibility: No. Adapted Toilets: Yes.


Burlington Bertie selecting mushrooms.

London' Street Markets
London is well-known for its popular street markets which provide rich pickings for the collectors of antiques, collectibles and vintage clothing. Shophound Alexia's favourite hunting grounds for antiques and collectibles are the markets in Camden Town and Portobello Road in Bayswater. For clothes the Dover Street Market and Spitalfields Market are a must.

Camden Market
Dates: Daily and weekends. Busiest day Sunday.
Venue: Camden Town. NW1.
London Transport: Nearest Tube. Camden Town, Chalk Farm.
Description: Once a weekend affair, the Camden Market complex in North London has now become a daily fixture. Camden Lock Market, by the Regent's Canal, began as a craft market but now has a much wider spectrum of goods on sale. Add to this the Camden Stables Market, (Alternative Fashion); Camden (Buck Street) Market and Inverness Street Market, which are all now trading in parts throughout the week. The markets at their most lively weekends however, with the Camden Canal Market opening Friday to Sunday and the indoor fashion market at the Electric Ballroom drawing crowds on Sunday. Local pubs and ethnic restaurants offer the visitor good and reasonably priced neighbourhood nosh.
Wheelchair accessibility: Yes in parts. Adapted Toilets: Yes.

Dover Street Market
Dates: 11am-6pm, Mon-Sat; 11am-7pm, Thurs-Sat. Closed Suns.
Venue: 17/18 Dover Street, W1S 4LT
London Transport: Nearest Tube. Green Park.
Description: Over 70 trendy Fashion, Perfumery, Home and Kitchen stalls from around the world show one offs and interesting quirky items in this four story building. Now showing Fall and Winter 2009 Collections. Well worth a visit to enjoy the designer layout and booths as well as buy. Enjoy a tasty snack at the top floor cafe.
Wheelchair accessibility: Yes, on all floors. Adapted Toilets: Yes.


Covent Garden Piazza. Photo Aroundengland
Covent Garden Market
Venue: Covent Garden, WC2E 9ED.
Dates: Daily.
London Transport: Nearest Tubes. Covent Garden. Car Park and Congestion Charge payment: Poland Street.
Description: Site of London's historic fruit and vegetable market and now London's best showcase for vibrant examples of handmade British design. More than 200 artists and craftspeople have stalls here on a daily changing roster, with Antiques and Collectibles every Monday. The market itself is lined by specialist boutiques and there are a number of historic pubs in the vicinity. Folk musicians, budding opera singers and classical musicians, dancers, clowns, jugglers and street entertainers add considerable colour and a vibrant sense of excitement to both the covered market and the Covent Garden piazza overlooked by the historic Royal Opera House facing the famous Punch and Judy pub. A visit to Covent Garden should be on the agenda of every London visitor, particularly at the Christmas time fair.
Wheelchair Accessibility: Yes in some venues. Expect severe crush of people. Adapted Toilets: No information.

Berwick Street Market
Venue: Berwick Street and Rupert Street, Westminster, London, W1F 8TW
Dates: 9am-6pm, Mons - Sats, throughout the year except Bank Holidays, 2008
London Transport: Nearest Tube: Piccadilly Circus. Carparking and Congestion Charge payment: Poland Street.
Description: A colourful West End street market in the heart of Soho specializing in fresh fruit and vegetables, fabrics and some clothes and household items. There are also some excellent stalls selling cheeses, flowers, breads and cheap CDs. Lining the street are many good second-hand record shops. This is an entertaining place to visit and mingle with an exotic mix of costermongers, fashion and media types, suits and shady characters
Wheelchair Accessibility: Yes, but expect to be jostled by the crowds. Adapted Toilets: No.

Borough Market
Venue: Southwark Street, Southwark, London, SE1 1TJ .
Date: 9am - 4pm, Saturdays throughout year . 2008.
London Transport: Nearest Tube. London Bridge. Carparking: Union Carpark/53 Southwark Street.
Description: Nestled in-between Borough High Street, Bedale Street, Stoney Street and Winchester Walk lives "London's Larder", more formally known as Borough Market. This is London's oldest food market; first established on the south bank of the Thames when the Romans built the first London Bridge. It has occupied its present site for 250 years. Borough has a long and distinguished history as a wholesale fruit and vegetable market selling to the trade throughout the week except on Saturday, when it becomes London's spectacular retail foodie paradise for gourmets and gourmands. Here, under the Victorian wrought-iron roof, you will find a mouth-watering range of fresh food stalls from all over England and Europe; every variety of cheese, fresh fish and seafood, Spanish and German sausage, French fungi, Mediterranean olive oils, artisan breads, organically grown meat and vegetables, game and much more. Whether you wish to prepare for a gourmet dinner party, (check out this merchant list before you go), or merely soak up the heady atmosphere and exotic aromas, this is a must for a Saturday morning. Pop in to the famous cosy old pub nearby 'The Market Porter' for a refresher after your tour. While in the area consider visiting historic Southwark cathedral overshadowing the market, and the nearby Tabard Inn, from where Chaucer's Canterbury Tales begins. The Dickensian George Inn, London's sole surviving coaching inn, (it was the first or last stop on the old London - Dover Road), is also nearby.
Wheelchair Accessibility: Yes in the market but expect a severe crush of people. Adapted Toilet: No information.

Partridges Food Market
Venue: Duke of York Square, Chelsea.SW3 4LY
Date: 10am - 4pm, Saturdays throughout year, 2009.
London Transport: Nearest Tube. Sloane Square . Car parking in metered bays in surrounding streets.
Description: Some 40 speciality food producers from UK and Europe attract gourmets to this corner of the delightful Duke of York Square outside Partridges each Saturday. Expect a fine range of delicacies and seasonal goodies on offer both at the market stalls and on the shelves of Partridges which now boast a Royal Warrant as grocers to The Queen. The market is great for artisan breads, fresh English oysters, French cheese, fresh Italian pasta, among other things. In Partidges itself, look for their remarkable range of Mediterranean virgin olive oils and vinegars; a rich selection of caviars smoked salmon and pates; jams, preserves, teas and coffees, (great gifts). Relax over a drink in the Partridges bar or cafe after shopping. The shop is open daily 8am-10pm. Nearby at Orange Square, Pimlico, is the Saturday morning Farmer's Market which is excellent for fresh farm produce, (if you are looking for a plump Aylesbury duck, this is the place for you), and freshly picked seasonal vegetables. Produce varies according to season.
Wheelchair Accessibility: Yes in the market. Adapted Toilets: No information.

Portobello Market
Dates: Saturdays.
Venue: Portobello Road, Westbourne Grove, W11.
London Transport: Nearest Tubes. Notting Hill Gate, Ladbroke Grove.
Description: The Portobello Antiques Dealers Association, (PADA), runs what is described as the largest antiques market in the world. The famous Saturday Market starts from around 5.30am with trading between dealers from the UK and overseas. Most stall holders are open to the public by 8.00am and the market is in full swing for the rest of the day, with collectors and visitors from all over the world. The shops and stalls of Portobello Road and Westbourne Grove offer an extraordinary variety of goods and specialist services, with antiques and collectibles ranging in price from a few pounds to several thousands. Be sure to check out the extensive PADA website before your visit.
Wheelchair accessibility: Yes in parts. Adapted Toilets: Yes, nearby.

Spitalfields Market
Dates: Thurs-Sats, 10am-4pm; Suns, 9am-5pm.
Venue: 105 Commercial Street, Spitalfields, E1 6BG.
London Transport: Nearest Tubes.
Description: Well worth your visit to London's East End. Great for hidden gems of fashion and one off designer pieces. Wander around five different local markets and a growing number of interesting shops and oriental restaurants. Markets: Thursday - Antiques & Vintage; Friday - Fashion & Art; All shops and no stalls; Sunday: All shops and all stalls.
Wheelchair accessibility: Yes in parts. Adapted Toilets: Yes, nearby.

Church Music

Westminster Abbey
Dates: Sundays and special Holy Days.
Venue: Parliament Square, SW1P. Tel: 020 7222 5152.
London Transport: Nearest Tube. Westminster.
Description: Attendance at services is free. Check Westminster Abbey to confirm scheduled times of services and music. The choir is world famous.
The Abbey is closed to sightseers on Sundays and special days in the Abbey's Royal calendar, (the Abbey is a 'Royal Peculiar' under the personal attention of the Sovereign). Famous for the inspired Gothic interior, (Thomas Yevele 1320-1400), royal history and tombs dating back to King Edward The Confessor, (d.1066), Poet's Corner, etc. Check website for times of services.
Wheelchair Accessibility: Yes. Adapted toilets, Yes, near by.

St. Paul's Cathedral
Dates: Sundays and special Holy Days.
Venue: EC4M 8AD. Tel: 020 7236 4128.
London Transport: Nearest Tube: St. Paul's.
Description: Attendance at services is free. The Cathedral is closed to sightseers on Sundays and special dates in the Cathedral calendar. Check St. Paul's Cathedral to confirm scheduled times of services, etc.
Sightseers are charged an entrance fee on weekdays to see the stunning grandeur of Sir Christopher Wren's Renaissance interior, the dome, crypt, etc. Tickets can be bought online through the Cathedral website.
Wheelchair Accessibility: Check website for details.

St. Martin-in-the-Fields
Dates: Sundays and special Holy Days.
Venue: Trafalgar Square WC2N Tel: 020 7766 1100
London Transport: Nearest Tube: Charing Cross Station.
Description:8am - Holy Communion. 10am - Sung Eucharist. 1.15pm - Service in Mandarin. 2.15pm - Service in Cantonese. Check St. Martin-in-the-Fields to confirm times, services and Christmas worship. Historic landmark church overlooking Trafalgar Square; an interesting fusion of High English Baroque and Palladianism. Considered to be the church masterpiece of architect James Gibbs, (1682-1754), it replaced an earlier church built by Henry VIII, (1542), which itself replaced a 13th century Gothic edifice. Noted for its popular lunchtime concerts, (Mons/Weds/Fris). Check website for details.
Wheelchair Accessibility: Check website for details.

Westminster Cathedral
Dates: Sundays and special Holy Days.
Venue: 42 Francis Street, SW1P. Tel: 020 7798 9055
London Transport: Nearest Tube: Victoria Station.
Description: 10.30am. Solemn Mass, (sung by the Cathedral's world famous choir). Check http://www.westminstercathedral.org.uk/">Westminster Cathedral for full details of this and other sung services over Christmas. The choir is world famous.
This is the Mother Church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Westminster (built between 1895 and 1903), in the Neo-Byzantine style; the architectural masterpiece of John Francis Bentley (1839 - 1902). It ranks architecturally as one of the noblest of all English churches. The interior which was never completed, provides a serene, quiet and inviting place to worship and meditate. Entry is FREE at all times.
Wheelchair Accessibility: Yes. Adapted toilets. Under construction

Brompton Oratory
Dates: Sundays 11:00am.
Venue: Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, SW3.
London Transport: Nearest Tube: Knightsbridge.
Description: 11am. Solemn Mass, (Sung Latin Novus Ordo). Check Brompton Oratory for special Christmas services.
Fashionably popular Roman Catholic church for the Knightsbridge, Belgravia and Kensington communities. Built 1880-84 by Herbert Gribble who was awarded £200 by the incumbent Oratorian monks of St. Phillip Neri's Order for his winning Renaissance design. Several other architects worked on this structure through the years, contributing to its distinctive character and rather florid interior. Entry is FREE at all times.
Wheelchair Accessibility: Check website for details.

Fine Art Collections

Permanent collections in London's public art galleries and museums are entry free. Individually mounted temporary exhibitions within specified rooms of the gallery or museum normally carry a ticket charge however. This is bookable online, (recommended), or at the door if tickets are still available. Check Burlington Bertie's London Diary for current ticketed exhibition highlights.

Courtauld Institute of Art Gallery
Venue: Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House, Strand, WC2R ORN. Tel: 020 7848 2526
Dates: Permanent Collections ongoing.
Tickets: FREE on Mondays 10am-2pm, and to under 18s, registered UK students.
London Transport: Nearest Tube: Temple.
Description: One of the most important Art collections in Britain, including world-famous Old Master, Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings; an outstanding prints and drawings collection featuring works by Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Cézanne and Turner. The collection includes around 530 paintings, 7000 drawings and 15,000 prints as well as significant holdings of medieval, Renaissance and modern sculpture, ceramics, metalwork, furniture and textiles. The collection has been formed through a series of major gifts and bequests made by some of the leading collectors of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Wheelchair Accessibility: Yes. Adapted Toilets: Yes.

Tate Britain
Venue: Tate Britain, Millbank, SW1P 4RG. Tel: 020 7887 8888.
Opening Times: Daily. 10am-5.40pm.
London transport: Nearest Tube: Pimlico.
Description: Tate has the world's finest collection of British Art 1500 - 2007, presenting an unrivalled picture of its development from the 16th century to present day. Special attention is given to Blake, (1757-1827), Constable, (1776-1837), and Turner, (1775-1851), the three outstanding British artists from the Romantic age who have dedicated spaces within the gallery, while the unique Turner Collection of some 300 paintings and many thousands of watercolours is housed in the specially built Clore Gallery. The gallery also holds rich collections of Hogarth, Gainsborough, Reynolds, Stubbs, the Pre-Raphaelites, twentieth century artists Stanley Spencer, Henry Moore, Francis Bacon and young British Artists of the 1990s. There are free lecture tours of the gallery's various collections daily. An entrance charge is made for some temporary exhibitions which may be mounted in association with other galleries. Check Burlington Bertie's London Diary for details.
The gallery itself is notable as a good example of Edwardian Grand Manner architecture, ( S.R.J.Smith, 1897-1900).

Tate Modern
Venue: Bankside, SE1. Tel: 020 7887-8008.
Opening Times: Daily. 10am-5.40pm.
London Transport: Nearest Tube. Embankment.
Description: Britain's national gallery of international Modern Art. A converted power station on the Thames embankment, Tate Modern houses work from the 1900s Fauvists to today's Arte Povera. The collection can be interactively explored online. An entrance charge is made for some temporary exhibitions which may be mounted in association with other galleries or sponsors. Wheelchair Accessibility: Yes. Adapted toilets. Yes.

The National Gallery
Venue: National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN. Tel: 020 7747 2885.
Opening Times: Daily 10am-6pm. Weds 10am-9pm.
London transport: Nearest Tube: Charing Cross, Leicester Square.
Description: The National Gallery houses one of the greatest permanent collections of European painting in the world, suitably catalogued and illustrated on the gallery website. These range from 13th century altar-pieces to the work of modern artists such as Tim Gardner. There are free guided tours and lectures daily. See website for details.
In Room 1, until 6 April: The Landscape: Oil Sketch. Most landscape oil sketches from the 18th and early 19th centuries were never intended for exhibition - sketching out of doors was used primarily as a training for the hand and the eye. Often sketches remained overlooked, staying in artists' families rather than being offered for sale. Only a few collectors recognized the quality of pieces in this tradition. It is these collections which are celebrated in this exhibition. Degas owned studies by Corot and Théodore Rousseau - the National Gallery purchased these pictures at the sale of his collection in 1918. They now form the core of a small but distinguished group of works, recently augmented by the loan of the Gere Collection. This is a charming exhibition of a much underrated medium. Recommended.
Admire the Greek Classical revival facade which faces onto Trafalgar Square, (William Wilkins, 1834-38).
Wheelchair Accessibility: Yes. Adapted toilets. Yes.

National Portrait Gallery
Venue: National Portrait Gallery, St. Martin's Place, WC2 0H3. Tel: 020 7312 2463.
Opening Times: 10am-6pm. Thurs/Fri 10am-9pm.
London Transport: Nearest Tube. Charing Cross, Leicester Square.
Description: The National Portrait Gallery has some 92,000 portraits of great and famous British men and women in its unrivalled permanent collection, some 51,000 of which can be researched online. A selection is on permanent display here together with others which are shown for shorter periods due to their fragility. An entrance charge is made for some temporary exhibitions, (see Burlington Bertie's London Diary), which may be mounted in association with other galleries. Wheelchair Accessibility: Yes. Adapted toilets. Yes.

The Wallace Collection
Venue: Hertford House, Manchester Square, W1. Tel: 020-7563-9500
Opening times: Open daily 10am - 5pm. From 2 January, 2008.
Children under 8 must be accompanied by an adult. The use of buggies is not permitted within the building.
London Transport:: Nearest Tube. Baker Street; Bond Street I>Opening times:
The Wallace Collection the finest private collection of art ever assembled by one family. It was bequeathed to the nation by Lady Wallace, widow of Sir Richard Wallace, in 1897, and opened to the public just over three years later on 22 June 1900 as a national museum. Its first visitors were variously delighted, amazed and bemused. In 25 galleries are unsurpassed displays of French 18th century painting, furniture and porcelain with superb Old Master paintings and a world class armoury.
Free general guided tours of the Collection are usually given on each weekday at 1pm, also Wednesdays and Saturdays at 11.30am, and Sundays at 3pm. These are sometimes replaced by specialist gallery talks covering aspects of the Collection in more detail, often given by members of The Wallace Collection staff. the The historic Hertford House is itself worth visiting. A new online database that will eventually contain information on every work of art in the Wallace Bequest. Wheelchair Accessibility: Yes. Adapted toilets. Yes.

London Walks

London Walks with Richard Jones
Richard Jones, the noted author and London historian, who hosts the ever popular ticketed guided tours theJack the Ripper Walk, and London Ghost Walk, has compiled a fascinating selection of 25 meticulously researched leisured walks, with FREE downloadable, easy to follow routes that take in the vibrant and historic diversity of our great city. Enjoy the Victorian London of Charles Dickens and his characters; the secret city of hidden alleyways and courtyards that Dickens knew; the Bohemian Chelsea of Oscar Wilde, the ghostly royal shades at Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London and Windsor, historic cemeteries. Strongly recommended.

Walk This Way
Four guided walks from 'Walk This Way' which explore Thames-side points of architectural and historical interest. Check the downloadable pdf guide.
1. Southbank: London Eye - Imperial War Museum.
2. Millenium Bridge: St. Paul's Cathedral - Borough Market.
3. Golden Jubilee Bridges. Soho and Covent Garden - South Bank.
4. Riverside London: Tate Britain - Design museum.

London's Blue Plaques
Venues: Various throughout London.
Description: Directory of houses bearing commemorative plaques to famous occupants together with a history of the blue plaque scheme and the (sometimes fictional), people who once lived or were born there. Top 5 Plaques: Sherlock Holmes, 221b Baker Street, (see Burlington Bertie's London Diary for description of this museum); Charles Dickens, 48 Doughty Street, (now a Museum, pay to enter); John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 14 Princes Gate; Karl Marx, 28 Dean Street; John Logie Baird, 22 Frith Street.
Alexia's tip: Make a note, or, if you have children in tow, have them make a note of each blue plaque you see. See who can spot the most! You and they can learn about the famous occupants on the internet when you return.

Free Museums & Art Galleries

Permanent collections in London's public art galleries and museums are entry free, providing the visitor with a wealth of historical, cultural and artistic interest.. Individually mounted temporary exhibitions within specified rooms of the gallery or museum normally carry a ticket charge however. This is bookable online, (recommended) or at the door if tickets are still available. See Burlington Bertie's London Diary for current ticketed exhibition highlights.

British Library
Venue:St. Pancras, 96 Euston Road, NW1. Tel: 020 7412-7332.
Opening Times: Mon/Wed/Thurs 9:30am-6pm. Tues 9:30am-8pm, Fri/Sat 9:30am-4:30pm, Closed Sun.
London Transport: Nearest Tube: King's Cross/St. Pancras, Euston and Euston Sq.
Description: An exhibition of antiquarian maps and views from the Library's collections bring the city's transformation from medieval to modern life.
Wheelchair Accessibility: Yes. Adapted toilets. Yes.

British Museum
Venue: Great Russell Street, WC1B. Tel: 020 7323 8299.
Opening Times: 10am-5:30pm. Thurs/Fri 10am-8:30pm. Closed 1 January, Good Friday, 24-26 December.
London Transport: Nearest Tube. Tottenham Court Road.
Description: One of the world's greatest collections of Human History and Culture artefacts dating from the dawn of civilization. Ancient Civilizations, Elgin Marbles, Rosetta Stone, Sutton Hoo Burial, etc. Very popular with children.
An entrance charge is made for some temporary exhibitions, (currently much praised The First Emperor: China's Terracotta Army), which may be mounted in association with other museums.
Sir Robert Smirke's main frontage, (1823-47), embodying a giant Ionic colonnade with pedimented portico is London's finest example of early 19th century Greek Classical revival; a fitting entrance for visitors to the Elgin Marbles taken from the Athens Coliseum.
Wheelchair Accessibility: Yes. Adapted toilets. Yes.

Freemasonry Library and Museum
Venue:60 Great Queen St. WC2B 5AZ. Tel: 020 7395 9257.
Opening times: Mon-Fri 10am-5pm. Check by phone or online for Christmas Holiday Closings.
London Transport: Nearest Tube: Covent Garden.
Description: Free Mason's Hall has been the center of Freemasonry for 230 years. It is the meeting place of over 1000 Masonic Lodges and is the headquarters of the United Grand Lodge of England, the oldest Grand Lodge in the world. It is a Grade II listed Building, by architects, H. V. Ashley, and F. Winton Newman. The interior of the building is richly decorated.
Wheelchair Accessibility: Check website for details.

  Geffrye Museum
Venue: Kingsland Road, E2 8EA. Tel: 020 7739 9893.
Opening Times: Tues-Sat 10am-5pm, Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays 12- 5pm. Closed 24-26 December and 1 January.
London Transport: Nearest Tube: Liverpool Street, Old Street.
Description: The Geffrye Museum is one of London's best loved museums. It depicts the quintessential style of English middle-class living rooms, with collections of furniture, textiles, paintings, and decorative arts displayed in a series of period rooms from 1600 to the present day. The museum is set in elegant 18th century almshouses with a contemporary wing surrounded by attractive gardens, which include an award-winning walled herb garden and a series of period gardens.
Wheelchair Accessibility: Check website for details.

Hunterian Museum
Venue: 35-43 Lincoln Inn Fields, Holborn WC2A 3PE. Tel: 020 7869 6560.
Date: Mon-Sat. 9:30am - 5pm, 2007. Closed Sundays 25-26 December and 1 January.
London Transport: Nearest Tube: Hillhead.
Description: Founded by William Hunter, Anatomist, the Hunterian Museum celebrated 200 years in 2007. Works of art by Chardin, Fergusson, Pissaro, Gavin Hamilton, and The Mackintosh House.
Wheelchair Accessibility: Check website for details.

Imperial War Museum
Venue: Lambeth Road, SE1 6HZ. Tel: 0207 416 5320.
London Transport: Nearest Tube. Lambeth North; Elephant and Castle; Waterloo, (wheelchair accessible); Southwark, (wheelchair accessible). Car Park: Union Car Park/53 Southwark Street.
Description: A museum of art, artifacts and memorabilia of all British and Commonwealth armed conflicts since the start of the Great War in 1914. A number of free temporary exhibitions are mounted on a regular basis, including the current exhibition Breakthrough, the Museum's collection of British art incorporating outstanding artworks from the official art schemes of both world wars and significant non-official and contemporary works.
The architecturally interesting museum building was formerly the central portion of Bethlem Royal Hospital for the mentally ill, or 'Bedlam', as it was commonly known. Designed by James Lewis, it was completed in 1815.
Wheelchair Accessibility: Yes. Accessible Toilets on all floors bar the 3rd and 4th. Accessible cafe on ground floor. The Museum has a number of manual, folding frame wheelchairs that can be borrowed for the duration of your visit. Check website for full details.

Museum of London
Venue: London Wall, EC2Y 5HN. Tel: 0870 444 3851
Opening Times: Mon-Sat 10am-5:50pm. Sun 12pm-5:50pm. Closed 24 - 26 December and 1 January.
London Transport: Nearest Tube. St. Paul's.
Description: London's urban history backed by a remarkable collection of artefacts dating from prehistory to present. Ongoing programme of free temporary exhibitions and projects, archaeological digs and surveys. This is a superb museum, imaginatively laid out to take the visitor through 3000 years of London's history. Strongly recommended as part of your visit to the City of London. Very popular with children.
Wheelchair Accessibility: Yes. Adapted toilets. Yes

Natural History Museum
Venue: Cromwell Road, SW7 2RL. Tel: 020 7942 5000.
Opening Times: Daily 10am-6pm. Closed 24 - 26 December.
London Transport: Nearest Tube. South Kensington.
Description: A remarkable world collection of flora, fauna, minerals, mammals, dinosaurs, etc., housed in Alfred Waterhouse's superb Romanesque building, (opened 1881). The Dinosaur collection is brilliantly laid out. Not surprisingly this is a top pop venue for children.
Take out a Reader's pass to view the fine library collection of original Victorian book illustrations by pre-photography flora and fauna bird illustrators such as J.G.Keulemans, (1841-1911).
Wheelchair Accessibility: Check website for details.

Science Museum
Opening Times: Daily 10am-6pm. Closed 24 - 26 December.
Venue: Exhibition Road, South Kensington, SW7 2DD. Tel: 0870 870 4868.
London Transport: Nearest Tube. South Kensington.
Description: Comprehensive record of scientific, technological and medical change since the eighteenth century. Though rich in British material, this is a worldwide collection. Very popular with children because of the interactive hands-on touchy/feely/smelly displays, (fossilised Dino dung is a popular exhibit), the Museum often features.
Wheelchair Accessibility: Check website for details.

Sir John Soanes Museum
Venue:13 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, WC2A 3BP. TEL: 44 (0) 20 7440 4263.
Opening Times:TuesdaySaturday 10am-5pm plus First Tuesday of the month open 6  9pm. Closed Bank Holidays, Christmas Eve. FREE on regular days except for large tour groups and special exhibits.
London Transport:Holborn Tube Station on the Central Line.
Description:Soane was born in 1753, the son of a bricklayer, and died after a long and distinguished career, in 1837. Soane designed this house to live in, but also as a setting for his antiquities and his works of art. After the death of his wife (1815), he lived here alone, constantly adding to and rearranging his collections. Having been deeply disappointed by the conduct of his two sons, one of whom survived him, he determined to establish the house as a museum to which 'amateurs and students' should have access.
Wheelchair Accessibility:No. All wheel chairs must be left at the door; no large bags allowed.

Victoria and Albert Museum
Venue: Cromwell Road, SW7 2RL. Tel: 020 7942 2000.
Opening Times: Daily 10am-5:45pm, Fri 10am-10pm. Closed 24 - 26 December.
London Transport: Nearest Tube. South Kensington.
Description: 3000 Years of Art and Culture. Permanent Collection collected from the four corners of the Globe from the days of Empire. An entrance charge is made for some temporary exhibitions which may be mounted in association with other museums.
Admire Aston Webb's eclectic design of the building, (1891). He is better known for his later Neo-Classical facade of Buckingham Palace, (1912-13) and Admiralty Arch leading from Trafalgar Square to the Mall.
Wheelchair Accessibility: Yes. Adapted toilets. Yes.

Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art
Venue:53 Gordon Sq. WC1H OPD. Tel: 020 7387 3909.
Opening Times: Mon-Fri. 10-12:30 and 1:30-5:00pm. Closed Bank Holidays and weekends.
London Transport: Nearest Tube. Covent Garden.
Description: The Percival David Foundation exists to promote the study and teaching of Chinese Art and Culture. Its unique collection of Chinese ceramics and library of East Asian and Western books related to Chinese Art were both presented to the University of London in 1950 by the collector and scholar Sir Percival David.
Wheelchair Accessibility: Check website for details.

The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology
Venue:University College London, Malet Pl., London WC1E 6BT. Tel: 020 7679 2884.
Date:Tues-Fri, 1pm-5pm; Sat 10am-1pm. Closed over Christmas and Easter Holidays.
London Transport: Nearest Tube. Euston Square.
Description: Part of the University College London teaching faculty hidden away on campus, the Petrie Museum houses one of the greatest collections of Egyptian and Sudanese archaeology in the world with c. 80,000 objects illustrating some 6,000 years of life in the Nile Valley from pre-history through the time of the Pharaohs to the Islamic period. Notable exhibits are one of the earliest pieces of Linen, (c. 5000 BCE); two lions from the Temple of Min at Koptos from the first group of monumental sculpture (c. 3000 BCE); a fragment from the first Kinglist or calendar, (c. 2900 BCE); the earliest example of Metal from Egypt; the first worked iron beads; the earliest example of glazing; the earliest Egyptian 'cylinder seal', (c. 3500 BCE); the first 'wills' on papyrus paper; the oldest gynecological papyrus. The museum houses the world's largest collection of Roman period mummy portraits (1st/2nd centuries CE). No concession is currently made to spectacular display and lighting techniques and you will not see any fabulous treasures from Tut's tomb. If, however, you have any interest in Ancient Egypt and an outline of its historical background your visit will be memorable. Photography without flash is allowed. The bright new website with its online catalogue facility offers a good insight into the collection, every item of which has its provenance.
A new, more wheelchair accessible, museum will be opened in 2011 where the entire collection will be visible for the first time. Meanwhile you can access collection items online if you know what you are looking for.
Wheelchair Accessibility: Check website for details.

University College London Collections
Venue: Malet Pl., London WC1E 6BT. Tel: 020 7679 2884.
Opening times: Tues-Fri, 1pm-5pm; Sat 10am-1pm, 2007. Closed 22 December and reopens 2 January 2009.
London Transport: Nearest Tube: Euston Square.
Description: These collections of Art, Archaeology, Medicine, Anthropology, Geology, Anatomy, and Science Collections, are scattered over the UCL campus. Obtain a map of the campus when you get there and let it be your guide to the Collections used by the University as teaching resources.
Wheelchair Accessibility: Check website for details.

V & A Museum of Childhood
Venue: Cambridge Heath Road, E2 9PA. Tel: 020 8983 5200.
Opening Times: 10am-5.45pm. Closed 25 - 26 December and 1 January every year.
London Transport: Nearest Tube. Bethnal Green, Central Line, Zone 2.
Description: UK's national collection of childhood related objects from 1600. Toys, dolls, teddy bears, games, costumes, childcare, etc. A superb Collection. Current exhibition, (until 19 April, 2009): Top to Toe: Fashion for Kids explores the fascinating world of children's clothing from 250 years ago to the present day.Very popular with children.
Wheelchair Accessibility: Check website for details.

The Wallace Collection
Venue: Hertford House, Manchester Square, W1.Tel: 020-7563-9500.
Opening times: Open daily 10am - 5pm.
Children under 8 must be accompanied by an adult. The use of buggies is not permitted within the building.
London Transport: Nearest Tube. Baker Street; Bond Street
Description: The Wallace Collection the finest private collection of art ever assembled by one family. It was bequeathed to the nation by Lady Wallace, widow of Sir Richard Wallace, in 1897, and opened to the public just over three years later on 22 June 1900 as a national museum. Its first visitors were variously delighted, amazed and bemused. Among its treasures are one of the best collections of French 18th-century pictures, porcelain and furniture in the world, a remarkable array of 17th-century paintings and a superb armoury.
Free general guided tours of the Collection are usually given on each weekday at 1pm, also Wednesdays and Saturdays at 11.30am, and Sundays at 3pm. These are sometimes replaced by specialist gallery talks covering aspects of the Collection in more detail, often given by members of The Wallace Collection staff. The house itself is worth visiting.
Wheelchair Accessibility: Check website for details.

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London Transport Oyster Card
The Central London congestion charge zone for visitors driving in London now covers all main areas of attraction. It makes sense to travel by the safe London Transport bus or Tube. Buy a multi-journey Oyster Card before you arrive, (you can top this up at will), and you will save money, time and hassle.


image: photoeverywhere.co.uk
Something for the Weekend, Sir? - Add spice to your London visit with a "Weekender" visit to Paris or Rome. Cheap and speedy travel now brings these city gems within easy reach of all. Day trips via Eurostar to Paris for a morning's Christmas shopping, afternoon visit to the Louvre and evening meal on the Seine are a popular excursion option for Londoners. Or make an overnight stop and hit the Moulin Rouge or the Lido de Paris. Offtolondon's associated companies, travel specialistsOfftoparis and Offtorome will take care of all your travel and accommodation requirements and show you the sites.


New York City Breaks
The Big Apple is a most attractive option for UK and European visitors. Spend time soaking up style on Fifth Avenue at Bergdorf Goodman or Saks Fifth Avenue. Buy your digital cameras and gadgetry for fabulous prices at specialist Adorama on West 18th Street. Take in a Broadway Show, dine superbly and see all the landmark sites.
New York! New York! Its a Wonderful Town!
Check it all out at A Traveller's Guide to New York


London in One Day Sightseeing Tour
8.5 - 9 hours - Drive to Westminster, past Downing Street, home of the Prime Minister, and on to the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. Stop for a visit inside Westminster Abbey, site of many royal coronations. Visit Poets' Corner and the tombs of many well-known scientists and monarchs. Also see the Chapel of Henry VII.
Stop near Buckingham Palace to see the colourful ceremony of the Changing of the Guard before driving through busy streets and past peaceful parks to Piccadilly, home of London's Theatreland. Pass Trafalgar Square with its impressive Nelson's Column and fountains, before reaching a traditional London pub for lunch.
The afternoon starts with a cruise on the River Thames, during which a Thames Waterman will point out the places of interest along the way. Disembark to visit the Tower of London where you will meet the Beefeaters clad in Tudor uniforms, hear the legend of the ravens and some spine chilling tales from the Tower's 900 year history. You will also see the Crown Jewels, magnificently displayed in the new Jewel House.
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