2-3 hours in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park:
The bottom line: Well worth a visit if you are in the area but don't make a special journey just to see the place. Duration: 1/2 day or 2-3 hours. Weather: avoid rainy or windy day. far better in a bright day. Ideal for visitors who stay in one of Stratford hotels. A good choice if you have a flight in the afternoon/early evening hours. Good weather is essential. Public Transport: The nearest stations are Stratford station and Stratford International station.
Stratford station is served by:
• Docklands Light Railway (DLR)
• Jubilee and Central lines
• National Rail services operated by Greater Anglia and c2c
• London Overground services
Stratford International station is served by:
• Docklands Light Railway (DLR)
• Southeastern High Speed 1 services
Stratford bus station and Stratford City bus station are both located in close proximity to Stratford station. Buses that run to these stations are:
• 25 from Oxford Street to Ilford
• 69 from Canning Town to Walthamstow
• 86 from Romford to Stratford
• 97 from Chingford to Stratford
• 104 Manor Park to Stratford
• 108 from Lewisham to Stratford
• 158 from Chingford Mount to Stratford
• 238 from Barking to Stratford
• 241 from Prince Regent to Stratford
• 257 from Walthamstow to Stratford
• 262 from Becton to Stratford
• 276 from Stoke Newington to Newham University Hospital
• 308 from Clapton to Wanstead
• 339 from Leytonstone to Shadwell
• 425 from Clapton to Stratford
• 473 from North Woolwich to Stratford
• D8 from Crossharbour to Stratford International
It can take between 15-20 minutes to walk from Stratford regional station or Stratford International station to the northern Park entrance (walking distance is approximately 800m). We went, first, to the Westfield Shopping Centre. From the ground floor (north side of the mall) - there are good signs, leading to the park. It is a 300-350 m. walk. Opening hours and Prices: Open every day, no charge to visit the park.
When you exit the mall on its western side - this is the park' sight. The water stream is River Lea. The Olympic Park is one or two levels lower than the Westfield mall. You have to descend the stairs to connect with the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park's lower level paths. The whole park was a run down and neglected area of London. After an 18-month makeover the park was opened for the first time since the 2012 Olympics. The same size as Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens combined and the biggest new park to open in London for a century, the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is the one of the most ambitious developments London has ever seen. The park is beautiful, the structures around are a sight to behold and there are many attractions and activities (including playgrounds and a cafe) (most of them under payment) to enjoy. Enjoyable as a couple or with a group of friends. The landscaping design is admirable.
The main sights and attractions are:
The Olympic Park near Hackney Wick and Fish Island:
We found that the most amazing part of the Olympic Park is its integrated artworks. 26 artworks have been made to be experienced in the landscape. Some are large and striking while others are smaller and harder to find. The most visible and large-scale ones are:
One Day in Central London - from Buckingham Palace to St. Paul Cathedral and Paternoster Square:
Tip 1: from Green Park to Lambeth Bridge.
Tip 2: Victoria Tower Gardens to One New Change Shopping Centre.
Tip 1 Main Attractions: Green Park, Canada Gate, Buckingham Palace, Victoria Memorial square, Wellington Arch, Apsley House, Hyde Park, statue of Achilles, Cavalry Memorial statue, Sloane Street, Chelsea Pensioners' Hospital, Chelsea Bridge, Grosvenor Road, Dolphin Square Building, Pimlico Gardens, Vauxhall Bridge, Riverside Walk Gardens, Lambeth Bridge.
Distance (Tip 1 and Tip 2): 15 km. Weather: avoid windy or rainy days. Orientation: a full, busy day of walk. Crossing Central London from north to south and, then, from west to east and, back, from south to north. Quick exploration of several districts in London with no in-depth visits.
Tip 1 - from Green Park to Lambeth Bridge.
Start: Green Park Metro Station. End: Lambeth Bridge
Public Transport to Buckingham Palace: By Underground: Victoria, Green Park and Hyde Park Corner. You can also walk to Buckingham Palace from Hyde Park Corner or Green Park Underground Stations (both Piccadilly Lines) in 5 to 10 minutes. By bus: Numbers 11, 211, C1 and C10 stop on Buckingham Palace Road.
From Green Park Metro (underground) station to Buckingham Palace on foot: exit the Green park station through the southern exit (leading to the Green Park and Buckingham Palace). The Piccadilly Street is on your back (north). You face Diana fountain/ statue outside of Green Park station:
Green Park resides between Hyde Park and St. James's Park. The park is bounded on the north by the Green Park tube station, which is a major interchange located on Piccadilly, Victoria and Jubilee lines. From the station starts the Queen's Walk, which forms the east border of the park, leading to the south end of the park. In the south is the Constitution Hill. To the south is also the ceremonial avenue of the Mall, and the buildings of St James's Palace (more to the east) and Clarence House (bordering the park) overlook the park to the east. Clarence House was home to Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother for almost 50 years prior to her passing in 2002. It is now the official residence of The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall. It is usually closed to the public through the year but every summer, it is open to visitors for around a month – usually August – with guided tours of the ground floor reception. St. James’s Palace was built in the 16th century. It is the UK’s most senior royal palace and contains the London residences of The Princess Royal and Princess Alexandra. Wellington Arch is in the south-west corner of Green Park. Many people will tell you that Green Park is so called because flowers don't grow there. Some more dubious types will even claim that the reason for the lack of flowers stems back to Charles II; his wife Catherine apparently caught him picking flowers for his mistress and ordered all flowers to be removed. The now-buried Tyburn stream, running from Hampstead to the Thames, runs under the park, coming in from Mayfair before heading off west underneath Buckingham Palace. The Broadwalk through the park roughly follows its path. Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks was composed specifically for a fireworks celebration held in The Green Park in 1749. On 10 June 1840, it was the scene of Edward Oxford's assassination attempt on Queen Victoria, on Constitution Hill. No public toilets, but some in Green Park Underground station.
Our best advice to arrive to Buckingham Palace from the Metro station is taking the second from the left path. Or, look in the distance for big golden gates. These are the gates (Canada Gate) that separate the Green Park from Buckingham Palace grounds. The golden Canada Gates were a gift from Canada, celebrating its contribution to the then British Empire. The gate is in the same style as those of Buckingham Palace. The metalwork includes the crests of seven Canadian provinces. Canada Gate takes the form of a screen consisting of 5 portals of gilded wrought iron, the central section being the principal and largest gate; the double gates are supported on columns of iron. The gate stands at the junction with Constitution Hill; today, a congested roundabout, but occasionally closed to traffic when the famous Mall (Constitution Hill road continuation to the east) is required for state processions from the palace.
Canada Gate in May 2016:
You just cross the Green Park from north to south. You may take the pedestrian Queen's Walk, the Spencer House on your left,
and turn right and left to follow the paths southward until you arrive the Constitution Hill road. The path that crosses Green Park from north to south, leading to Canada Gate is a wide grass path lined with trees, known as The Broadwalk. It was planted in 1905 to create a good view of the Queen Victoria Memorial from Piccadilly. The Broadwalk also marks the approximate course of the ancient River Tyburn that now flows under the park on its course from Hampstead to the River Thames. The Victoria Monument outside Buckingham Palace can be seen in the distance:
Behind this road reside: Buckingham Palace Garden, the palace and Victoria Memorial Square. Just follow the paths with the signs pointing to Buckingham Palace. Other ones point to Hyde Park. There is a refreshment kiosk at the Buckingham Palace corner of the park. Best seen when the weather is nice and flowers in bloom. The park may get busy during summer sunny and warm afternoons/evenings. Then, you'll be surprised by the amount of deckchairs spread around. The noise always seems far away.
It is an almost necessary London tourist ritual of taking photos outside the palace’s iconic facade.
Buckingham Palace itself is rarely open to the public (usually only during August and September). On a gorgeous, sunny day join the masses to watch the world-famous Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. There is an detailed blog (from May 2013) on this event in Tipter: http://tipter.com/trips/buckingham-palace-changing-of-the-guard. Allow one hour or more wait before everything begins. Add the lack of space to move around, and it is just long enough to begin losing feeling in your feet. From the first strains of music to the last piper leaving the palace, the whole ceremony lasts just under an hour. Be ready with your umbrella. The sky in London is changing in minutes. The ceremony takes place, weather permitting, at 11.00 on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday and daily in the summer. For detailed schedules see: http://www.householddivision.org.uk/changing-the-guard-calendar. Please note that the schedule is subject to change. To learn more on this ceremony - check this site: https://changing-guard.com/changing-guard-buckingham-palace.html. Bear in mind that the event might be so jammed packed that you might hardly see the red-uniformed guards from afar. During the formal ceremony, the ‘New Guard’ relieves the soldiers who have been on duty at Buckingham Palace and St James’s Palace. A military band plays music, which ranges from Abba’s greatest hits to more traditional songs:
Buckingham Palace actually started out as Buckingham House owned by the Duke of Buckingham. George III bought the original Buckingham House in 1761 for his wife Queen Charlotte and 14 of George III's 15 children were born there. Then, in 1826, £450,000 was spent on transforming the house into a palace. When George IV became king he began turning the house into a palace. He appointed the architect John Nash, who was later dismissed by Parliament for spending too much. The architect, Edward Blore was later employed to finish the palace for the new Queen Victoria. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert moved to Buckingham Palace after they were married in 1840. They played an important role in transforming the palace for state functions and activities. Over the following years many changes and improvements have been made to the palace with the latest work being the completion of gates and railings in 1914. The palace’s state rooms have been open to the public since 1993, and since that time 519,000 people have taken the opportunity to visit. By the way, the Queen doesn’t even come to Buckingham during the summer. She lives in Scotland and Windsor Castle.
The State Rooms which are open to visitors for 10 weeks each summer and on selected dates during winter and spring. Tour of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace is open daily, during year 2018 from 21 July until 31 August 2018 during the hours 09.30-17.15 and from 1 September until 30 September 2018 during the hours 09.30-16.15. Prices: Adult £24.00, Over 60 / Student (with valid ID) £22.00, Under 17 / Disabled £13.50, Under 5 FREE, Family (2 adults and 3 under 17s) £61.50. At the end of your visit, don’t forget to ask a Warden to stamp your ticket to convert it into a 1- Year Pass. You should allow around 3-3.5 hours for the full experience at Buckingham Palace (the Garden tour lasts 45 minutes if you opt for it). Prices including the Palace gardens: Adult £33.00, Over 60/ Student (with valid ID) £31.00, Under 17/ Disabled £19.70, Under 5 FREE, Family £85.70 (2 adults and 3 under 17s). I must advise that if you do want to visit the palace then you will have to book online far in advance. The tickets are sold out for several day/weekss beforehand and you will not be able to buy on the spot.
The tours are very popular due to its limited season and the hype of the royal family. Be prepared for a short half hour queue to get through the airport style security. NO PHOTOS ALLOWED INSIDE ! You cannot take pictures inside the palace. There are security people in every room and they are very quick at spotting visitors who are taking pictures.
It is one of the oldest working palaces in the world and the State Rooms are so beautiful and grand. With 775 rooms (including the 19 State Rooms and 78 bathrooms) and the largest private garden in London, it has been the official London residence of UK sovereigns since 1837 and today is the administrative headquarters of the Queen. Be prepared to queue for the summer conducted tour. During August the queues are horrendous. You'll wait at least an hour before you get in. The queues might be slightly better if you go in September. No toilets in the beginning of the tour. The public toilets are in the garden, at the end of the tour. The conducted tour takes you round all the grandest rooms of the palace including the Throne Room, the Ballroom where State Banquets are held, and the lavishly decorated official drawing rooms. The audio tour guides you at leisure through the many different rooms, corridors and grand staircases. The tour takes you to nineteen of the State Rooms which the Queen uses for ceremonial occasions and entertains official visitors. The tour of the State Rooms begins at the Grand Entrance. This entrance is reserved for foreign ambassadors and diplomats. You’ll see the Quadrangle, the courtyard in the middle of the palace, where processions form for special occasions. On a state visit, the mounted band of the Household Division also plays here to welcome the visiting Head of State and their entourage. At the end of the Quadrangle looms the magnificence of the Grand Entrance, with its many columns and facades. Inside, it is even more magnificent with its red carpet and fireplace made from a single block of marble. Upstairs the Grand Staircase invites you up with its elegant curls.
Each room unveils its spectacular beauty, every piece of furniture is a piece of art. The art collections, including the marble sculptures, 350 clocks, chandeliers, paintings, and vases of all sizes, from China and Japan, overwhelm the visitors. Even the mirrors, trim, and carvings on each wall is different. It reveals the care, work, heart, and creativity of the designer in every inch of the space, striving for perfection.
The Throne Room was Initially designed for investitures and ceremonies. The Throne Room is now primarily used on important occasions for the reception of formal addresses, including last year’s Diamond Jubilee. The space also housed a significant number of concerts and balls before 1861. The Throne Room, sometimes used during Queen Victoria’s reign for Court gatherings and as a second dancing room, is dominated by a proscenium arch supported by a pair of winged figures of ‘victory’ holding garlands above the ‘chairs of state’. It is in the Throne Room that The Queen, on very special occasions like Jubilees, receives loyal addresses. Another use of the Throne Room has been for formal wedding photographs:
The Ballroom is the largest multi-purpose room in Buckingham Palace. The Ballroom was opened in 1856 to celebrate the end of the Crimean War. Today, it’s used for State banquets, memorial concerts and artistic performances, as well as for Investitures. It was opened in 1856 with a ball to celebrate the end of the Crimean War. In the spectacular Palace Ballroom you’ll see the traditional horseshoe-shaped table lavishly decorated for a State Banquet, including the silver gilt from the Grand service, first used to celebrate the birthday of George III in 1811, as well as jeweled cups, ivory tankards, chased dishes, sconces, shields and basins:
Inside, you’ll find the Green Drawing Room with its green walls, green sofas and green curtains:
The White Drawing Room is the grandest of all 19 State Rooms. The White Drawing Room displays two fascinating pairs of ebony-veneered cabinets, built into the wall beneath tall mirrors, to provide members of the Royal Family a discreet means of entering the premises. The room has been used as a backdrop in many photographic portraits of the Royal Family and is currently the setting for a number of audiences and receptions:
Before the Ballroom was added to the Palace in the 1850s, the first State Ball was held in the Blue Drawing Room in May 1838 as part of the celebrations leading up to Queen Victoria’s Coronation. Note the thirty fake onyx columns and the Sevres porcelain table which was made for Napoleon:
The Music Room was originally known as the Bow Drawing Room. Four Royal babies – The Prince of Wales, The Princess Royal, The Duke of York and Prince William – were all christened by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the Music Room:
The Marble Hall, clad in Italian marble, contains fine sculptures, including three groups by Antonio Canova:
Situated at the rear of the palace, the garden covers 40 acres, and includes a helicopter landing area, a tennis court, and a lake graced by a flock of flamingos. Home to more than 30 different species of birds and 350 wildflowers, the garden has hosted summer parties, charity tennis competitions, and pop and classical music concerts. The garden is open to walk through at the end of the tour during the summer in daylight. The Garden Café also provides beautiful views over the Palace lawns at the end of your visit:
London may be known as a museum city, but some of the city’s best art is housed in the Queen’s Gallery, which is a part of Buckingham Palace. That collection is one of the best (and most valuable) in the entire world, a result of multiple centuries of uninterrupted collecting by the country’s royal families. The gallery building itself sits on a site that formerly housed Queen Victoria’s chapel. Destroyed in a 1940 air raid, it was rebuilt after the war as a purpose-built art gallery and renovated and modernized in the 1990s. Because the museum can only display about 450 works from the vast collection, those chosen are quite special and quite spectacular. The Queen’s Gallery was reopened in May 2002 as part of the Golden Jubilee celebrations. The Queen’s Gallery hosts a programme of changing exhibitions from the Royal Collection. The building that initially stood on its site was originally used as a private chapel, but after being damaged by German bombs in the war, it was totally refurbished and expanded.
Photos below are from year 2013.
"An old Woman" called "The Artist's Mother"' c.1627-9 by Rembrandt:
Rembrandt (1606-1669) - Agatha Bas (1611-1658):
"A Lady at the Virginal with a Gentleman", known as "The Music Lesson" by Vermeer (from year 2013):
Every year, Buckingham Palace's summer opening also features a special exhibition. This temporary exhibition can only be seen during that year's summer opening. In 2018, the exhibition celebrates the 70th birthday of Charles, Prince of Wales.
Note: your best way to taste something from the royal family is this web site: https://www.royal.uk/
We return to the Buckingham Palace main gate. Opposite the (closed) main entrance gate is the The Victoria Memorial square with the monument to Queen Victoria designed and executed by the sculptor Thomas Brock. Designed in 1901 and unveiled on 16 May 1911, though it was not completed until 1924. It was the centrepiece of an ambitious urban planning scheme, which included the creation of the Queen’s Gardens to a design by Sir Aston Webb, and the refacing of Buckingham Palace by the same architect. The square and the monument reside at the western end of The Mall and the eastern end of the Constitution Hill. At the top of the central pylon stands a gilded bronze Winged Victory, standing on a globe and with a victor's palm in one hand. Beneath her are personifications of Constancy, holding a compass with its needle pointing true north, and Courage, holding a club. Beneath these, on the eastern and western sides, are two eagles with wings outspread, representing Empire. Below these, statues of an enthroned Queen Victoria (facing The Mall) and of Motherhood (facing Buckingham Palace), with Justice (facing north-west towards Green Park) and Truth (facing south-east). At the four corners of the monument are massive bronze figures with lions, representing Peace (a female figure holding an olive branch), Progress (a nude youth holding a flaming torch), Agriculture (a woman in peasant dress with a sickle and a sheaf of corn) and Manufacture (a blacksmith in modern costume with a hammer and a scroll):
With our face to the Buckingham Palace and our back to Victoria Monument - we turn right (our face to the Green Park) and turn LEFT (WEST) along Constitution Hill (following the "Pedestrians Hyde Park" signpost). We follow the pedestrians' path along this road (800 m.) - leading to Wellington Arch:
Wellington Arch resides at Hyde Park Corner, at the western corner of Green Park, where Kensington Road meets Piccadilly near its junction with Park Lane. It was built in 1825–7 and was originally intended as an outer entrance to Buckingham Palace, later becoming a victory arch proclaiming Wellington's defeat of Napoleon. At first it stood facing the Hyde Park Screen, but it was moved to its present position in the 1880s. Its original design was never completed, and a controversial giant statue of the Duke of Wellington was placed on top of it in 1846. The quadriga sculpture that crowns the arch today was erected in 1912. Crowned by the largest bronze sculpture in Europe, it depicts the Angel of Peace descending on the 'Quadriga' - or four-horsed chariot - of War. In 1891 the sculptor Adrian Jones (1845–1938) exhibited a magnificent plaster group at the Royal Academy entitled ‘Triumph’, of a quadriga (a four-horse chariot). The Prince of Wales suggested that it would make a suitable adornment for the rebuilt Wellington Arch. Initially no funds were available, but eventually a banker, Sir Herbert Stern, made an anonymous donation of about £20,000, and from 1908 Jones set to work on a full-size plaster version of his quadriga in his Chelsea studio, with Edward VII taking a personal interest. The final bronze version was erected on top of the arch in January 1912. Between 1901 and 1912 the approaches to Buckingham Palace were redesigned, to create the magnificent ceremonial landscape we see today. Constitution Hill was widened and repaved, and the Wellington Arch was framed between fine new piers and gates, tying it into this composition. The arch’s setting was again altered in an attempt to relieve traffic congestion with the creation of the present Hyde Park Corner roundabout in 1960–62. The Edwardian gates to either side of the arch were removed, and it was cut off from Constitution Hill on the new traffic island. The southern pier of the arch was gutted to serve as a ventilation shaft for an underpass; the rest of the arch was left empty after this date. In 1999 the arch was transferred to the care of English Heritage. Major repairs and refurbishment were carried out, and in 2001 the arch was opened to the public. Nowadays, it is isolated on a traffic island. Opening hours: Winter (OCT-MAR): everyday 10.00-16.00, Summer: 10.00-17.00. Closed: 7-13 May, 24-26 Dec & 1 Jan. Prices: Adult £5.00, Child (5-15 years) £3.00, Concessions £4.50, Family (2 adults, 3 children) £13.00:
it is open to the public and contains three floors of exhibits detailing the history of the arch, and an Exhibition "Waterloo 1815; The Battle for Peace". At one time the arch was used as a local police station, and you can see the original police office during your visit. Visitors can also step onto terraces on both sides of the top of the arch, which give views of the surrounding area. You can visit this spectacular landmark and admire the glorious panoramas over London from its balconies. There is a lift as well as the STEEP spiral staircase - all leading to the top balconies. It is a strategic point to watch the Household Cavalry on their way to the Changing of the Guard. They leave the barracks and march underneath the arch. From the balconies, you can see right into the Buckingham Palace gardens ! Allow 30-45 minutes to visit this site:
The Duke of Wellington's former London home Apsley House is just across the road North to Wellington Arch). 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. its official address remains 149 Piccadilly, W1J 7NT. Where Wellington Arch tells the story of the Battle of Waterloo - Apsley House tells Wellington's story. It is sometimes referred to as the Wellington Museum. It is a museum and art gallery, exhibiting the Wellington Collection, a large collection of paintings, other artworks and memorabilia of the career of the 1st Duke. The practice has been to maintain the rooms as far as possible in the original style and decor. The 9th Duke of Wellington retains the use of part of the buildings but most of it is maintained by the English Heritage (FREE to holders of English Heritage Pass). It is perhaps the only preserved example of an English aristocratic town house from its period. A joint ticket for both locations costs about £10.00 for non-members of English Heritage. Opening hours: Winter (OCT-MAR): SAT-SUN 10.00-16.00. Closed: Christmas Eve 24 Dec, Christmas Day 25 Dec, Boxing Day 26 Dec, New Year’s Eve
31 Dec, New Year's Day 1 Jan. Prices: Adult £9.30, Child (5-15 years) £5.60, Concessions £8.40, Family (2 adults, 3 children) £24.20. NO PHOTOS INSIDE !
Nice decor inside, impressive pictures, elegant stately home, interesting history. Note, especially, the huge statue of Napoleon and the oldest surviving grand piano in the UK:
The house was originally built in red brick by Robert Adam between 1771 and 1778 for Lord Apsley, the Lord Chancellor, who gave the house its name. Some Adam interiors survive: the semi-circular Staircase, the Drawing Room with its apsidal end, and the Portico Room, behind the giant Corinthian portico added by Wellington. The house was given the popular nickname of "Number One, London", since it was the first house passed by visitors who travelled from the countryside after the toll gates at Knightsbridge. In 1807 the house was purchased by Richard Wellesley, 1st Marquess Wellesley, the elder brother of Sir Arthur Wellesley, but in 1817 financial difficulties forced him to sell it to his famous brother, by then the Duke of Wellington, who needed a London base from which to pursue his new career in politics. Wellington employed the architect Benjamin Dean Wyatt to carry out renovations in his new property.
A Musician by Caravaggio, c. 1615, The Wellington Collection:
The Dissolute Household, Jan Steen (1625/1626–1679), The Wellington Collection:
The Drawing Room:
We continue north-west heading to Hyde Park. We cross the Piccadilly (near the Hyde Park Corner Tube station), cross the S Carriage Drive road and enter Hyde Park near the Queen Elizabeth Gate. Not far from this gate we meet the statue of Achilles, the Greek hero of the Trojan War, commemorates the soldier and politician, Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1769-1852). It was installed by order of King George III and unveiled on 18 June 1822. The statue of Achilles was the first statue installed in Hyde Park and was commissioned by a patriotic, upper class society, known as Ladies of England. It was made by Sir Richard Westmacott cast from cannon taken in the victories of Salamanca, Vittoria, Toulouse and Waterloo. The statue head is based on the Duke himself. The statue was originally completely nude and caused outrage so a small fig leaf had to be added soon after it was installed...:
We take the Serpentine Road (2nd to the left), heading westward into Hyde Park. On our way to the lake we see, on our right, the Cavalry Memorial, a bronze sculpture, which represents St George on horseback stepping over a defeated dragon, with a frieze of galloping horsemen around the base. The memorial commemorates members of the Cavalry Regiments killed during World War I. The Cavalry Memorial also contains a bronze plaque which lists the cavalry of the Empire. The text has been updated to include later conflicts. Designed by Adrian Jones, the sculpture contains bronze which came from guns captured during WW1. The base was designed by Sir John Burnet. Originally installed in 1924 at Stanhope Gate, the Cavalry Memorial was moved to its present site near the bandstand in 1961, following the widening of Park Lane:
When we arrive to the Serpentine Bar & Kitchen and to the Serpentine lake
we turn LEFT and walk along an asphalted path (the lake is on our right). We cross a sand track for horses and head SOUTHWARD to Knightsbridge Tube Station. We cross the Knightsbridge Street - the tube station on our left and the Harvey Nichols store is on our right:
We continue in the same direction, southward onto Sloane Street. We shall walk the whole stretch from Knightsbridge to Sloane Square - approx. 1150 m. Sloane Street runs north to south, from Knightsbridge to Sloane Square, crossing Pont Street about halfway along. Sloane Street takes its name from Sir Hans Sloane, who purchased the surrounding area in 1712. Many of the properties in the street still belong to his descendants the Earls Cadogan, via their company Cadogan Estates. Sloane Street has long been a fashionable shopping street, especially the northern section closest to Knightsbridge, which is known informally as Upper Sloane Street. Many shops are concerned with top-notch fashion. In this sense, Sloane Street rivals Bond Street, which has been London's most exclusive shopping street for two centuries. The street has flagship stores for many of the world's most famous brands in fashion: Dolce & Gabanna, Dior, Gucci etc'. An amazing road:
When we cross Harriet Street on our left - we see the Millennium Hotel on our right. Further south - we pass Hans Cres. on our right (which leads to the famous Harrods mega-store). Note: all these name with Sloane and Hans are named after Sir Hans Sloane (1660–1753), whose estates owned the land at the time:
Further southward, we pass Hans Street. We pass through the Prada store:
We pass the Cadogan Place road and Jumeirah Carlton Tower 5-star hotel (with a wonderful park) on our left and Peru and Denmark embassies on our right.
We cross Pont Street on our right. We cross Cadogan Place and Cadogan Gardens on our right, further south - Sloane Terrace on our left. At last we arrive to Sloane Square with its nice fountain. The Venus Fountain in the centre of the square was constructed in 1953, designed by sculptor Gilbert Ledward. On the basin section of the fountain is a relief which depicts King Charles II and Nell Gwynn (one of the first English actresses and a mistress of King Charles II of England) by the Thames:
On the northern side of the square is the Sloane Square Hotel. Two other notable buildings in this square are: Peter Jones department store
and the Royal Court Theatre first opened in 1888.
Sloane Square Underground station (District and Circle lines) is at the south eastern corner of the square. We cross the square from north to south and continue south along the Lower Sloane Road that changes its name to Chelsea Bridge Road. It is, approx., 1 km. walk until we'll arrive to the River Thames. After walking 250-300 m.south from Sloane Square - you (hardly) can see the Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York's HQ, King's Rd, Chelsea on your right. Crossing the Chelsea Hospital Road we see the Home of Chelsea Pensioners on our right and the grandiose residence project "Chelsea Barracks" on our left:
See Tipter blog http://tipter.com/trips/chelsea - for more descriptions on Chelsea area. The museum (inside the Pensioners' village) is open Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays) from 10.00 to 16.00. Entry is free for groups under ten and is also included as part of the guided tour. Tour prices: 10 to 15 people £180, 16 to 30 people £330, 31 to 50 people £530.
Groups must be a minimum of 10 people. Tours must be booked a minimum of 4 weeks in advance. Tours take place as follows: Starting at 10.00 – Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Starting at 13.:30 – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday. Payment must only be made once you have received an invoice from the Royal Hospital. You CAN visit the Royal Hospital Chelsea independently. You can drop in and visit the grounds, as well as access the Chapel, Great Hall, and Museum during normal opening hours (10.00 - 16.30). The Great Hall is closed between 12.00 and 14.00 for the Chelsea Pensioners’ lunch. Arriving to the Thames River we CROSS IT by walking along Chelsea Bridge from north to south. It connects Chelsea on the north bank to Battersea on the south bank. It was built in the 1840s as a suspension bridge intended to provide convenient access from the densely populated north bank to the new Battersea park. Although built and operated by the government, tolls were charged initially in an effort to recoup the cost of the bridge. The bridge was opened in 1858 and the tolls were abolished in 1879. In 1926 it was proposed that the old bridge be rebuilt or replaced, due to the increased volume of users from population growth, and the introduction of the automobile. It was demolished during 1934–1937, and replaced by the current structure, which opened in 1937. In 2004 a smaller bridge, Battersea Footbridge, was opened beneath the southern span, carrying the Thames Path beneath the main bridge. Chelsea Bridge is floodlit from below during the hours of darkness.
After crossing the river over the bridge - we descend the stairs to the river level and turn LEFT (EAST) on the southern bank of the Thames River. After walking 300 m. eastward along the river we see the Barkeley Battersea project and the old Battersea Power Station premises and chimneys. Note: in a gloomy day - it might be quite windy and/or freezing in this open district. Quite neglected and very few people around. Make sure you are not blocked and there is an access towards the east along the river. Otherwise, see the instructions below. In a bright day and with the constructions' obstacles around - it should be a nice and pleasant walk along the Thames with some of the most sophisticated, new and calm projects in southern London:
If you are blocked by the construction works and walls - return to the Chelsea Bridge and walk EASTWARD along Grosvenor Road (as we did...):
The view to the south of the former Battersea Power Station and the new residence projects from Grosvenor Road and the northern bank of the Thames is magnificent (in a bright day):
If we walk along Grosvenor Road - we cross Lupus Street on our left. The avenue is dotted with many nice chestnut trees:
At Grosvenor Road #111 stands the King William IV hotel and pub. An english and Thai pub with good food. One of the best in Pimlico district of London.
a bit further east - we see, through the southern bank of the Thames, the Nine Elms towers of a mixed-use skyscraper scheme:
Still along Grosvenor Road, the river is hidden from our eyes for a few hundreds metres. On our left is the huge red-bricked Dolphin Square building and, following it, the Pimlico Gardens. Dolphin Square is a block of 1250 private flats and business complex built in Pimlico, between 1935 and 1937. At one time, the huge development was home to more than 70 MPs, and at least 10 Lords and where Oswald Mosley, Harold Wilson, Christine Keeler, Charles de Gaulle, CP Snow, Donald Campbell, and Princess Anne once lived:
If you can sneak into the private premises of thsi complex - you won't regret it. Well maintained and manicured grounds with the Dolphin sculpture:
Pimlico Gardens is a small Thames-side park with river frontage along its whole length. It consists of Plane trees and statues. One of the most notable statues in the gardens commemorates "William Huskisson – Statesman, financier and member of parliament" by the artist John Gibson.
The London Boating Base (Eagle Wharf) is immediately adjacent to the Pimlico Gardens grounds. Opening hours: 8.00 – dusk. Disabled access.
The Huskisson statue:
Helmsman, , a bronze statue by Andre Wallace of 1996, in Pimlico Gardens:
The Thames River from Pimlico Gardens:
The Nine Elms project and tower(s) from Pimlico Ggardens:
We had our lunch at The Grosvenor Pub, 79 Grosvenor Rd, Pimlico - good (see Tip below). Walking further east along Grosvenor Road will bring us to Vauxhall Bridge. The bridge connects Vauxhall on the south bank and Pimlico on the north bank of the Thames. Built between 1809 and 1816 as part of a scheme for redeveloping the south bank of the Thames. Opened in 1906, it replaced an earlier bridge, originally known as Regent Bridge but later renamed Vauxhall Bridge. The design and appearance of the current bridge has remained almost unchanged since 1907. The bridge today is an important part of London's road system and carries the A202 road across the Thames:
Gorgeous view of Nine Elms project from Vauxhall Bridge:
We continue walking eastward.We cross the Vauxhall Bridge Road and start walking from west to east (no crossing of the bridge !) along the Millbank. The distance between Vauxhall Bridge to Lambeth Bridge is, approx. 1 km and our direction of walk changes to: SOUTH TO NORTH. Millbank is east of Pimlico and south of Westminster. Millbank is known as the location of major government offices and the main landmarks are: Riverside Walk Gardens, Millbank Tower and prominent art institutions such as Tate Britain and the Chelsea College of Art and Design. Millbank takes its name from Westminster Abbey's mill. The mill was replaced by Millbank Prison, from which convicts were deported to Australia. The Prison was replaced by the Tate Gallery in 1902. In the beginning of the Millbank, on our right, is the fantastic Riverside Walk Gardens. This splendid, green area creates a calmer area adjacent to the busy Millbank Road and a more pleasant green route for those walking to Tate Britain or the river-bus pier. It is completely open at all times and from all sides, and is particularly well used by nearby office workers to eat their lunches or take a breath of fresh air. It consists of a series of curving tiered grass terraces and informal seating looking towards the adjacent river.
the site includes a statue by Henry Moore entitled "Locking Piece":
Lorenzo Quinn sculpture "Love":
The view from Riverside Walk Gardens to the Nine Elms and Vauxhall Bridge is majestic:
The Riverwalk Condominium Complex, adjacent to Riverside Walk gardens:
Further east we see two other landmarks on our left. First, the old Tate Museum:
and, a bit further, the Millbank Tower: a 118-metre high skyscraper. The tower was constructed in 1963, and has been home to many high-profile political organisations, including the Labour and Conservative parties, and the United Nations. Other floors in the tower are occupied by various organisations and commercial companies:
The Albert Embankment on the opposite, southern bank of the Thames:
As we approach Lambeth Bridge the green area on our right is Victoria Tower Gardens South. Victoria Tower Gardens is a public park along the north bank of the River Thamesand, as its name suggests, it is adjacent , in its northern part, to the Victoria Tower, the south-western corner of the Palace of Westminster. The park, which extends southwards from the Palace of Westminster to Lambeth Bridge, sandwiched between Millbank and the river, also forms part of the Thames Embankment. Victoria Tower Gardens were created in 1864–1870 by Joseph Bazalgette, following the embankment of the Thames. It is in a Conservation Area, and is, partly, within the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Westminster.
The Albert Embankment on the opposite, southern bank of the Thames from the Victoria Tower Gardens South:
Lambeth Bridge is a road traffic and footbridge crossing the River Thames in an east-west direction. The next bridge (to the north) is Westminster Bridge. The most conspicuous colour in the bridge's paint scheme is red, the same colour as the dominant colour in the House of Lords, which is at the southern end of the Palace of Westminster nearest the bridge. This is in contrast to Westminster Bridge, which is predominantly green, the same colour as the dominant colour in the House of Commons at the northern end of the Houses of Parliament. On the east side of Lambeth Bridge are Lambeth Palace, the Albert Embankment, St. Thomas' Hospital, and the International Maritime Organization. On the west side, in Westminster, are Thames House (the headquarters of MI5), behind which is Horseferry House (the National Probation Service headquarters), and Clelland House and Abell House (the headquarters of HM Prison Service), and (more to the south) the Millbank Tower and Tate Britain. The Palace of Westminster is a short walk downstream to the north through the Victoria Tower Gardens.
Lambeth Bridge from Millbank, facing east towards Lambeth:
The Albert Embankment on the opposite, southern bank of the Thames from Lambeth Bridge:
Houses of Parliament and Big Ben on the opposite, southern bank of the Thames from Lambeth Bridge:
We take the stairs down from Lambeth Bridge to Victoria Tower Gardens South. Skip to Tip 2 below.
One day in the National Gallery, London (Level 2 ONLY):
Room 2 - Titian - Bacchus and Ariadne:
Room 2 - Palma Veccio - A Blonde Woman - might be NOT on display:
Room 2 - Titian and Venice 1500–1530 - Vincenzo Catena - Portrait of the Doge, Andrea Gritti, probably 1523-31
Room 4 - Germany - Hans Holbein the Younger - A Lady with a Squirrel and a Starling:
Room 4 - Lucas Cranach the Elder - Portrait of Johann Friedrich the Magnanimous:
Room 4 - Younger Hans Holbein - The Ambassadors, 1533:
Room 6 - Venice 1500–1600 - Jacopo Tintoretto - The Origin of the Milky Way, about 1575:
Room 6 - Paolo Veronese - The Rape of Europa, about 1570:
Room 7 - scenes from the Old Testament story of Joseph - Bacchiacca -
Joseph pardons his Brothers:
Room 8: Raphael - Pope Julius II, 1511:
Room 9 - Venice 1530-1600 - Paris Bordone - A Pair of Lovers:
Room 10 - Ferrara and Bologna - Garofalo - An Allegory of Love, about 1527-39:
Room 11 - Joachim Beuckelaer painted The Four Elements in 1569 - The Four Elements: Water - 1569:
Room 12 - Northern Italian Portraiture 1510–1580 - Lorenzo Lotto - Portrait of a Woman inspired by Lucretia, about 1530-2:
Room 14 - Pieter Bruegel the Elder - The Adoration of the Kings, 1564:
Room 14 - Jan Gossaert (Jean Gossart) - Adam and Eve, about 1520:
Room 14 - Jan Gossaert (Jean Gossart) - Man with Rosary, 1525-1530:
Room 14 - The Netherlands - Jan Gossaert (Jean Gossart) - THe Adoration of the Kings, 1510-1515:
Room 16 - Dutch Interiors - Johannes Vermeer - Young Woman standing at a Virginal, about 1670-2:
Room 18 - Peter Paul Rubens - Samson and Delilah, about 1609-10:
Room 18 - Peter Paul Rubens - Peace and War, 1629-30:
Room 18 - Peter Paul Rubens - The Judgement of Paris, 1632-5:
Room 18 - Peter Paul Rubens - A Lion Hunt, about 1614-15:
Room 21 - Van Dyck - Anthony van Dyck - Portrait of Cornelis van der Geest, about 1620:
Room 21 - Anthony van Dyck - Portrait of the Abbé Scaglia, 1634:
Room 22 - Rembrandt - An Elderly Man as Saint Paul, 1659:
Room 22 - Rembrandt - Portrait of Aechje Claesdr, 1634:
Room 22 - Rembrandt - Self Portrait at the Age of 34, 1640:
Room 23 - Dutch Portraits - (might NOT be on display) - Judah and Tamar - Aert de Gelder, about 1681:
Room 23 - Frans Hals - Portrait of a Middle-Aged Woman with Hands Folded, about 1635-40:
Room 24 - Biblical Stories - Rembrandt - Belshazzar's Feast, about 1636-8:
Room 24 - Joachim Wtewael - The Judgement of Paris, 1615:
Room 29 - Seaport - Claude, 1644:
Room 25 - A new art for a new nation - Frans Hals - Young Man holding a Skull (Vanitas), 1626-8:
Room 29 - French Painting 1600–1700 - Seaport with the Embarkation of Saint Ursula - Claude, 1641:
Room 29 - Nicolas Poussin - The Finding of Moses, 1651:
Room 29 (may be NOT on display) - Studio of Peter Paul Rubens - Portrait of the Infanta Isabella, about 1615:
Room 30 - Spain - (might be NOT on display) - Diego Velázquez - Philip IV hunting Wild Boar (La Tela Real), 1632-7:
Room 30 - Diego Velázquez - Portrait of Archbishop Fernando de Valdés, 1640-5:
Room 30 - Diego Velázquez - The Toilet of Venus ('The Rokeby Venus'), 1647-51:
Room 30 (might be NOT on display) - Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio -
The Supper at Emmaus, 1601:
Room 31 - A different view of Flanders - Peter Paul Rubens - Portrait of Susanna Lunden(?) ('Le Chapeau de Paille'), 1622-5:
Room 32 - Italy - (might be NOT on display) - Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio - Salome receives the Head of John the Baptist, 1609-10:
Room 33 - France 1700-1800 - (might be NOT on display) - Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun - Self Portrait in a Straw Hat, from 1782:
Room 33 - Jean-Honoré Fragonard - Psyche showing her Sisters her Gifts from Cupid, 1753:
Room 33 - François-Hubert Drouais - Madame de Pompadour at her Tambour Frame, 1763-4:
Room 33 - Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun - Madame de Pompadour at her Tambour Frame, 1788:
Room 34 - Great Britain 1750-1850 - Thomas Gainsborough - The Morning Walk, 1785:
Room 34 - George Stubbs - Whistlejacket, about 1762:
Room 34 - William Hogarth - The Graham Family, 1742:
Room 34 - John Constable - The Hay Wain, 1821:
Room 34 - John Constable - The Cornfield, 1826:
Room 35 - Hogarth and British Painting - The Marriage Settlement - , William Hogarth, about 1743:
Room 35 - William Hogarth- The Toilette, about 1743:
Room 36 - British Portraits 1750-1800 - Joshua Reynolds - Colonel Tarleton, 1782:
Room 38 - Canaletto and Guardi - Canaletto - The Stonemason's Yard, about 1725:
Room 38 - Canaletto - The Grand Canal with S. Simeone Piccolo, about 1740:
Room 38 - Canaletto - Regatta on the Grand Canal, about 1740:
Room 38 - Canaletto - The Basin of San Marco in Venice on Ascension Day, about 1740:
Room 39 - Spain and Venice 1700-1800 - Francisco de Goya - Isabel de Porcel, before 1805:
Room 40 - Italy 1700-1800 - Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo - The Building of the Trojan Horse, about 1760:
Room 41 - Cézanne, Monet, and Matisse - (might be NOT on display) - Claude Monet - Water-Lilies, after 1916:
Room 41 - André Derain - Madame Matisse au Kimono, 1905:
Room 42 (might be NOT on display) - Pierre-Auguste Renoir - Dancing Girl with Tambourine, 1909:
Room 42 - Degas and Art around 1900 - (might be NOT on display) - Pierre-Auguste Renoir - The Lunch, 1901:
Room 42 - Odilon Redon - Ophelia among the Flowers, about 1905-8:
Room 43 (or 41) - Camille Pissarro - Portrait of Cézanne, 1874:
Room 43 - Seurat, Gauguin, and Van Gogh - Georges Seurat - Bathers at Asnières, 1884:
Room 43 - Camille Pissarro - Rainy Morning in Blvd. Monmartre, 1897:
Room 43 - Vincent van Gogh - Sunflowers, 1888:
Room 44 - Manet, Monet, and the Impressionists - Claude Monet - The Beach at Trouville, 1870:
Room 44 - Pierre-Auguste Renoir - At the Theatre (La Première Sortie), 1876-7:
Room 44 - Camille Pissarro - The Pork Butcher, 1883:
Room 45 - Romantic Painters - Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld - Ruth in Boaz's Field, 1828:
Room 46 - 19th-Century Landscape Painting in Europe - Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot - Italian Woman, about 1870:
Main Attractions: Bell Edison Telephone Building, Birmingham School of Arts, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Victoria Square, Bullring Shopping Centre, The Rotunda, Centenary Square, Library of Birmingham, Birmingham Canal, Brindleyplace, Cube project, The Mailbox, Gas Street Basin.
Start: Snow Hill Railway Station. End: New Street Station. Duration: 3/4 day - 1 day.
Orientation: Birmingham is served by several railway station (like many other cities in the UK). The distances among the various stations is, very often, no more than 15-20 minutes walk. The city centre is fantastic shopping and the ramped canal system amazing. Nice to walk both day and night time. It does look like it was back in old days in parts. Canals in Birmingham wonderfully restored. A city with around 150 km.s of canals. BIRMINGHAM IS A LOVELY CITY !!!
From the Snow Hill station - we turn RIGHT twice and arrive to Livery Road. At the 2nd intersection - turn left to Edmund Street. On your right - the Old Conteptibles Pub. We pass, on our right and our left - the Church Street:
We pass Barwick Street on our left and arrive to Newhall Street on our left and right. Attention the red-bricked building with gorgeous turrets on our right - The Bell Edison Telephone Building (17-19 Newhall Street). it was built as the new Central Telephone Exchange and offices for the National Telephone Company (NTC). The NTC was taken over by the Postmaster General in 1912 and the ownership transferred to the General Post Office. During World War I, it was the Midland headquarters of the air raid warning system:
Opposite, a similar building - The Exchange:
Next, we pass Margaret Street on our right and the Birmingham School of Arts. The foundation stone was laid on 31 May 1884 and the building was opened in September 1885. It is a red-brick Victorian Gothic structure with Venetian style and naturalistic decoration. Completed after its architect J. H. Chamberlain's death by his partner William Martin and his son Frederick Martin. Considered as Chamberlain's masterpiece:
We continue walking south-west along Edmund Street and arrive to Chamberlaine Square. On our left is the tower of the Council House or Town Hall:
The side of the building, which faces Chamberlain Square, is the entrance and façade of the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery which is partly housed within the same building. The front of this building is, actually, in Victoria Square:
The link bridge between the original Art Gallery and the Art Gallery Extension of 1911–1919. The archway or bridge resembles slightly The Bridge of Sighs in Venice:
Big Brum is the local name for the clock tower on the Council House, Birmingham, England. Built in 1885, the clock tower is part of the first extension to the original Council House of 1879 and stands above the Museum & Art Gallery. The clock tower, Museum & Art Gallery and Council House were designed by architect Yeoville Thomason and form a single block. The clock was donated by A. Follett Osler, a local pioneer in the measurement of meteorological and chronological data:
Opening Times: MON - THU: 10.00 - 17.00, FRI 10.30 - 17.00, SAT & SUN 10.00 - 17.00. Free entry. Fascinating museum. The visit is a delight. Quite a lot to see. Allow, at least, two-three hours. Magnificent building in its own.
--- Faith Section ---
Simhanada Lakeshvara, 11th cent., Bihar, India, Stone:
Statue of Buddha, 7th Cent., The Sultangang Buddha:
Death of Buddha, 10th Cent., Eastern India:
--- Religions Section ---
There is a special hall devoted to the 4 main religions in our world. Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism. Flat, naive exhibition. No inspiration. Skip it.
--- British Modern 20th Cent. Art ---
Henry Moore - The Warrior, 1954:
Head of Rabindranath Tagore, Jacob Epstein, 1926, Bronze:
--- 19th and 20th Cent. Art (including Impressionism from France):
Henry Matisse - The White Fox Fur, 1929, Lithograph:
Alfred Sisley - Church of Moret in the Rain, 1894:
Camille Pissaro, The Pont Boieldieu at Rouen in Sunset, 1896:
Jean-Francois Rafaell, The Awakening, 1890:
--- 18th - 19th Cent. British Paintings ---
Henry Roenburn (Scotland most famous portrait painter), Mrs. Ferguharson of Frinzean, around 1814-1823:
--- The Pre-Raphaelites ---
Ford Madox Brown - The last of England (emmigration from England to America in the 1850s):
Ford Madox Brown - The Death of Sir Tristram, 1864:
Fredrick Sandys, Medea preparing a poisoned portion for Glouke, 1866-1868:
New Lamps for Old, Joseph Southall, 1900-1 (from a legend in 1001 Nights Tales):
Silver and Gold, William Musell Flint, 1931. A stunning picture of a woman wearing a fashionable evening dress of the late 1920s. !:
The Battle of the Amazons, Paul Rubens, 1590:
Everitt Cabinet designed by John Henry Chamberlain. The cabinet was commissioned for Allen G Everitt, Secretary of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, by fellow members of the Society, on the occasion of his marriage in 1880:
--= The Level 3 of the museum is very impressive---
The whole floor hosts a plaster cast of the original Frieze of the Parthenon in the British Museum in London. There is a collection of Mummies as well.
The section of Ancient Egypt is a bit gloomy and neglected. Funerary Mask, 332-64 AC:
Limestone relief from a tomb wall of Min, Hor-nakht, 18th-19th Dynasty, 1300 B.C:
Granite block, Temple of Bubastis, 22nd Dynasty, 850 B.C:
Ptah-Seker, Osiris figure , Soqqara, 26th Dynasty, 600 B.C:
---Ancient Iraq ---
Fragment of a carved relief from the reign of Assurbanipal, Ninveh, 668-627 B.C:
To exit the museum - press: "Level 2" in the elevator.
Victoria Square resides south to the Town Hall and adjacent to Chamberlaine Square. THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPRESSIVE SQUARES IN EUROPE. Amazing building around. Fantastic mix of colors and shapes. Beautiful scenery of architecture, flowers, buildings and statues. The fountain did not function during my visit. It seems it would be non-operational for a long time. This square always seems relaxing and peaceful BUT with many busy coming and going. Plenty of places to sit, relax, enjoy lunch and chat. The fact that it isn't flat adds to it's interest. There is a lot of work going on during the last 18 months - making it a little tricky to enjoy the surroundings.
The Council House and Statue of Queen Victoria:
'The River' fountain and sculpture (locally known as 'The Floozie in the Jacuzzi'):
The Guardian statue:
(non-operational) water/fountain statues:
(Iron) Man statue by Anthony Gormley:
From Victoria Square we head southeast on Hill St toward Swallow St, 500 m. Turn left onto Smallbrook Queensway, 320 m. and we arrive to the Bullring Shopping Centre. Bullring is the glamorous heart of Birmingham with over 160 imaginative and iconic shops to explore. It is styled as one word, Bullring.
Since opening in 2003 Bullring has helped to transform shopping in Birmingham – making it one of the most popular destinations for retail commerce in the UK. The most known is the Selfridges building (which was inspired by a Paco Rabanne sequinned dress and designed by Future Systems). The store is clad in 15,000 shiny aluminium discs:
Others are: Debenhams, Forever 21, John Lewis, House of Fraser and Hollister and more than 40 restaurants and cafés to relax in. You can enter Nando's restaurant - which down the stairs from the central square of the Bullring complex. It has been an important feature of Birmingham since the Middle Ages, when its market was first held. Two shopping centres have been built in the area; in the 1960s, and then in 2003. the centre has been a huge success, attracting customers from all over the world. A huge variety of shops and restaurants:
Bullring Shopping Centre was master-planned and designed mainly by Benoy international firm of architects. The shopping centre consists of two main buildings (East and West Malls) which are connected by an underground passage lined with shops and is also accessible from St Martin's Square via glass doors. There are three full floors of a myriad of shops, department stores, eateries etc'. Easy access from the main train station (Birmingham New Street Station). The shopping centre's design has both its admirers and detractors:
At the main entrance to the west building stands the tall bronze sculpture of a running, turning bull. It was created by Laurence Broderick and has become a very popular photographic feature for visitors to Birmingham. The statue was vandalized in 2005. The sculpture was vandalized again in 2006. The sculptor gave support to calls for the statue to be renamed "Brummie the Bull". However, it is more widely known as simply "The Bull.":
Another famous statue is the Statue of Lord Nelson by Sir Richard Westmacott, 1807-09, on the Portland plinth and railings surrounding it. This bronze statue was the first publicly funded statue in Birmingham, and the first statue of Horatio Nelson in Britain. It was made in 1809 by public subscription of £2,500 by the people of Birmingham following Nelson's visit to the town on 31 August 1802, the year before he sailed against the fleets of Napoleon. The statue was unveiled on 25 October 1809, that being the day decreed as the official golden jubilee of George III:
The site is located on the edge of the sandstone city ridge which results in the steep gradient towards Selfridges store. The slope drops approximately 15 metres from New Street to St Martin the Bulring Church. This lovely church, largely rebuilt in the 19th century, is stranded on the southern edge of the Bullring, facing a wall of 21st century consumer paradise. St Martins provides a real tranquil centre to gather your thoughts when you have had enough wandering around the Bullring. Just sitting for a few moments allows you to take a deep breath before heading back into the commercial world outside. In 1873, a former church was demolished and rebuilt by architect Alfred Chatwin, from Birmingham, preserving the earlier tower and spire. During the demolition, medieval wall paintings and decorations were discovered in the chancel, including one showing the charity of St Martin dividing his cloak with a beggar. St Martin was a soldier. He was born in Hungary in 316 and never wanted to join the army but was obliged to by law. At the age of 18, he was posted to Amiens in France. One bitterly cold winter’s night he was riding through the city when he saw a half-naked beggar huddled against a wall. Martin was so moved by the sight that he cut his cloak with his sword and gave one half to the beggar. That night he had a dream in which Christ appeared to him as the beggar and thanked Martin for clothing him. In response, the young soldier got baptised. Later he was to leave the army to become a soldier of Christ, eventually becoming Bishop of Tours in France. St Martin is remembered today for his service to the poor.
The interior has an open timber roof, which shows the influence of the great hammer-beam roof of Westminster Hall in London:
The South Transept has a Burne-Jones window, made by William Morris in 1875. This window was taken down for safe keeping the day before a World War II bomb dropped beside the church on 10 April 1941, destroying all remaining windows:
The West window is a 1954 copy of the Henry Hardman 1875 window destroyed in the Blitz:
Even more south to the church, the Birmingham Open Market is on Edgbaston street, just outside the Indoor markets. Opening times: TUE - FRI: 9.00 - 17.00, SAT: 9.00 - 17.30. The Bull Ring Open Market has 130 stalls. The wide, covered aisles are suitable for wheelchair users and those with mobility difficulties. The original Market Hall, with room for 600 stalls and an ornamental fountain, was built in 1835, again designed by Charles Edge, the man who finished the Town Hall. In 1940 it was deserted after being hit by a German incendiary bomb. It was still in use although roofless until the redevelopment of Birmingham swept it away in the early 1960s. Work began to redevelop the Bull Ring in 1961 and the new Bull Ring, which cost a total of £8 million, was opened by the Duke of Edinburgh in May 1964. It was meant to be the ultimate shopping experience and was declared to be the biggest indoor shopping mall outside the USA, but many said the feel of the old market had been lost. Now it plays host to more than six million shoppers every year, with 140 stallholders offering fresh fruit and veg, farm produce, delicious cheeses, Carribean food, lots of beautiful fabrics, clothing:
Try to find your way to the Rotunda. From the Open Market - you head to the north-west corner of the Bullring complex. The Rotunda is in the intersection of High Street and (our well known) New Street. The Rotunda is a cylindrical 81 metres high-rise building. It was completed in 1965. It was refurbished between 2004 and 2008 and was turned into a residential building. The building was officially reopened on 13 May 2008:
With our back to the Rotunda building we enter New Street and walk north-west. Flowers stall in New Street:
We cross Corporation Street - where, on our left, is the Grand Central Shopping Centre. On the background we see the "Brum" clock tower of the Town Hall:
New St turns slightly right and becomes Paradise St. Slight right onto Fletchers Walk and turn right to take the stairs. Turn left and you face the grandiose Centenary Square. SUPERB ! MAJESTIC !! Named in 1989 to commemorate the centenary of Birmingham achieving city status. The square is used as a staging area for many of the city's main cultural events including the German (Frankfurt) Christmas Market, Arts Festivals, Remembrance Day Services, New Year's Celebrations and during Christmas hosts a temporary ice rink and Ferris wheel. The area was an industrial area of small workshops and canal wharves before it was purchased by the council in the 1920s for the creation of a grand civic centre scheme to include museums, council offices, cathedral and opera house. The scheme was abandoned after the arrival of World War II with only the Hall of Memory and half of the planned Baskerville House complete. The Centenary Square is especially pretty in Spring and Summer with flowers in full bloom.
On our left, as we enter the grandiose square, is the War Memorial. This is the oldest building in the square:
The Baskerville House is, on our right, immediately as we enter the square from the east:
The square is bounded to the north by Birmingham Repertory Theatre (1971),
Library of Birmingham (2013)
and Baskerville House (1938) (see above). The western edge of the square is defined by the International Convention Centre (1991),
Symphony Hall (1992)
and Hyatt Hotel (1990).
Symphony Hall and Hyatt Regency Hotel:
To the south of the square is Broad Street beyond which are the House of Sport (1951),
Birmingham Municipal Bank headquarters (1933) and Alpha Tower (1972).
The southern side of the square is earmarked for redevelopment as part of the Arena Central scheme. To the east across Centenary Way is the Copthorne Hotel (1987),
Birmingham Central Library (1974) and Chamberlain House (1987). The NEW Library of Birmingham was opened on 3 September 2013, it replaced Birmingham Central Library. The library is viewed by the Birmingham City Council as a flagship project for the city's redevelopment. It has been described as the largest public library in the United Kingdom, the largest public cultural space in Europe, and the largest regional library in Europe.It is the 10th most popular visitor attraction in the UK:
This bronze sculpture by Gillain Wearing challenges what is meant by "family": I am not sure you'll see this sculpture. I heard it was removed during year 2017:
The Birmingham Library from the Repertory Theatre:
Library of Birmingham opening hours: MON - TUE: 11.00 – 19.00, WED - SAT: 11.00 - 17.00. An architectural magic. On 17 July 2014 the Library of Birmingham was nominated as one of the six short-listed buildings for the 2014 Stirling Prize, awarded for excellence in architecture. YOU MUST ENTER AND VISIT THE BUILDING.
The views from the Birmingham Library viewing platform are outstanding. The breathtaking views of Birmingham and the Centenary Square around the Library stunning tower is another inspiring magnet attracting visitors from all around the world to this wonderful building:
The secret garden on level 4 with the raised beds, birds' boxes interwoven with gravel paths reflect the façade pattern, which has been used as the identity of the Library. (It has also been used in the floor pattern and on the Library teams uniforms...):
On level 7 there is even more beautiful and stunning "secret garden". The views of this garden combined with the mighty landscaping of the Centenary Square, downstairs - are unforgettable. BOTH ROOF GARDENS ARE A MUST !
It is a special experience to see and use the contemporary glass elevators in the library building:
The Centenary Square was equipped with several famous (and controversial) statues in the past. Most of them were destroyed (Forward Statue - by a blaze) or removed (Ordinary Birmingham family - by Emma Jones). Still, you can see green, planted and manicured sculptures like this one in front of Birmingham Library:
We enter the ICC and Symphony Hall complex. It is an underground shopping centre - leading to the Birmingham Canal basin:
Exiting the shopping centres passage we face a bridge over the Birmingham Canal. The canals were the life-blood of Victorian Birmingham and the Black Country. At their height, they were so busy that gas lighting was installed beside the locks to permit round-the-clock operation. Boats were built without cabins for maximum carrying capacity. Do not underestimate Birmingham waterways. Many people say that Birmingham has a larger network of waterways than Venice. Many of our canals were built at the height of the industrial revolution. Birmingham's waterways make the ideal spot to unwind in the middle of a busy city. You can admire the historic architecture and passing boats on a towpath walk or cycle. You can enjoy a boat trip down the canal, or explore the vibrant waterfront by visiting one of the cafés, bars and restaurants: The Malt House, The Prince of Wales, The Queens Arms or the Tap & Spile:
View from the canal basin to the ICC and Symphony Hall. The sculpture is The Battle of Gods and Giants by Roderick Tye. It symbolizes Birmingham's struggle to rebuild its centre.
Birmingham Canal opposite ICC and the Symphony Hall:
We cross the Birmingham City Central Path canal from east to west to Brindleyplace - the Waters Edge (more punctually, the Waters Edge is the most eastern part of Bridleyplace...). Brindleyplace is a large canalside development. It was named after Brindley Place, the name of the street (in turn named after the 18th century canal engineer James Brindley) around which it is built. In addition to shops, bars and restaurants, Brindleyplace is home to the National Sea Life Centre, Royal Bank of Scotland, Orion Media, Ikon Gallery of art and the Crescent Theatre. The site covers 69,000 m² of redevelopment on a grand scale - the UK's largest such project.] The Birmingham Canal Navigations Main Line Canal separates Brindleyplace from the International Convention Centre, although there are linking bridges. The National Indoor Arena, Old Turn Junction and bustling bars of Broad Street are nearby. The area occupied by Brindleyplace was, at the height of Birmingham's industrial past, the site of factories, however, by the 1970s as Britain's manufacturing went into decline, the factories closed down and the buildings lay derelict for many years. Brindleyplace is full with interesting buildings. A variety of architects were used to design the buildings in the complex to create a range of architectural styles:
WE shall enter Brindleyplace and change direction - walking into this quarter with our face to the south-east. We cross Brindley Place and Brunswick Streets and, on our left, is the Ikon Gallery. The gallery features temporary exhibitions over two floors. Ikon shows works by artists from around the world and a variety of media is represented, including sound, film, mixed media, photography, painting, sculpture and installation. FREE entry. Opening Times: TUE – SUN: 11.00 - 17.00:
Oozels Street separates between the Ikon Gallery (north-east side of the square) to the Oozels Square. The square's epic centre is the RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland) building in the south-east edge of the square. The square is surrounded on three sides by modern buildings and on one side by the historic building, used to be a school, but is now the modern art museum - Ikon Gallery:
With our face to the RBS main building (south-west) - the Broad Street is on our left. I did not find a reason to devote time to this street .
Oozele Square, the north-east side of the square: the Ikon Gallery:
Brindleyplace has three famous squares: Brunswick Square, Oozelle Square and Central Square. If we walk from the Oozelle Square NORHWARD (between the Brindleyplace Six building on your left and Brindleyplace Two building on your right) - you arrive to the Central Square. The square is paved in York stone and has a fountain featuring 38 jets of water. I found the squares in Brindleyplace - very impressive, neatly maintained and designed:
Three Brindleyplace from Central Square:
"Aquaduct" sculpture by Miles Davies in Central Square in front of Four Brindleyplace, made of bronze and phosphor:
At Ten Brindleyplace- you see a sculpture "Future" by Robert Bowers, located outside the "Ten Brindleyplace" building:
We RETURN to the ICC. We cross the bridge with our face (north-east) to the ICC building and our back (south-west) to Brindleyplace:
The bridge leads back into the ICC building:
We exit the ICC building and turn RIGHT (south-east) to Bridge Street. The Hyatt Regency hotel is on our right. We pass the Holiday Street on our left and pass through the Cube project. My opinion: it looks like a Tetris Cube... Widely considered one of the most successful additions to Birmingham’s ever-changing skyline, The Cube 25-storey structure also includes the UK’s largest automated car park. Award-winning architect Ken Shuttleworth (who designed London's Gherkin building with Norman Foster) was chosen for the project, whose world-class portfolio includes The Gherkin and Hong Kong’s Chek Lap Kok Airport. Taking inspiration from the city’s jewellery making tradition, his vision for The Cube was to create “an enchanting jewellery box” rich with light and intricate gold and bronze geometric shapes. The site is enclosed by The Mailbox complex, Commercial Street, Washington Wharf apartment complex and the Worcester and Birmingham Canal. Astonishing views all around. I was told to climb to the the top floor and have breath-taking views of Birmingham. Didn't do that due to the late hour arriving here. Come here before the dusk hours - and enjoy first-class landscaping all around. RECOMMENDED !
The Mailbox project resides south-east to the Cube. The Mailbox is an upmarket shopping and office development. It serves as the base for BBC Birmingham. Above the front shops it has an additional 6 floors which includes a Malmaison hotel and residential apartments. The Worcester and Birmingham Canal passes along the back with a number of restaurants overlooking. The views from the Cube to the Mailbox and the adjacent canal branches - ARE OUTSTANDING:
From the Cube and the Mailbox developments we descend to the canal level and walk BACK from south-east to north-west - heading back to the ICC building. The canal is on our right:
The more we advance westward - we'll see the spectacular Birmingham Library silhouette or colorful rooftop structure:
We arrive to the Gas Street Basin. Good place to go for a lunchtime or evening walk along the canals. There are a few nice bars and restaurants about and the canals go to the mailbox and off Broad Street. A very pleasant place to relax and take in the sights and sounds of canal life. Very scenic area. A lot of photo ops. A lot of house boats. This is old Birmingham:
We pass under the bridge (which bears Broad Street above) and, soon, we face the ICC. From the ICC we take the underground passage to connect with New Street Station(approx. 850 m.): Take the stairway up to the 3rd floor. Exit the complex. Head east, turn right toward Fletchers Walk, turn left toward Fletchers Walk, 160 m., turn left toward Fletchers Walk, take the stairs, turn left onto Fletchers Walk, turn left onto Paradise St, slight left at Hill St, 160 m. Continue onto New St.
Introduction: It is a very peaceful place. It is rural Warwickshire. The estate has many facets - each worth a one-day visit: the house itself steeped in history is comprised of several beautiful buildings: the main lawn overlooking the river is magnificent, the gardens are superb and walking into the extensive deer park is unforgettable, delicious food in the Orangery cafe' serving a range of hot meals and light snacks as well(mainly: bacon sandwiches, quiche, potatoes and salad and cakes). If you use public transportation - you'll need, at least, 3/4 day. The grounds are extensive and your walks will consume, each between half an hour and an hour and an half. It is a bit of a walk from the bus station ( and the car park) to the estate's house itself.
Location and transportation: Charlecote is a delight to visit Charlecote Park is 10 km. south of Warwick and 6 km) east of Stratford-upon-Avon, on the banks of the River Avon near the (large) village of Wellesbourne. It is maintained and administered by the National Trust (NT). NT members have free entrance. Public transportation is with bus only: the Stagecoach X18 bus from Stratford-upon-Avo to Royal Leamington Spa. Some services even go as far as Coventry. The bus stops near Charlecote Pheasant Hotel, There is NO shelter with the bus stops. In case of rain - wait in the hotel's facilities. Times of departure from Stratford (weekdays): 08.23, 09.05, 10.07, 10.38, 10.51. SAT: 09.08, 09.51 (X17), 10.38. SUN: 10.33, 11.33, 12.33, 13.33.
History: The Lucy family owned the land for 800 years, since 1247. Charlecote Park was built in 1550 by Sir Thomas Lucy (1532-1600), a magistrate under Elizabeth I, on the foundations of an even earlier medieval house. The house has Tudor appearance with iconic gatehouse and romantic turrets. Queen Elizabeth I stayed in the room that is now the drawing room. Young William Shakespeare (a legend) had been brought into court, to be tried by Sir Thomas Lucy I for poaching his deer. It is unclear whether there were any deer in the park at that time. The story goes that Shakespeare was forced to flee the area to avoid prosecution by Sir Thomas. The young playwright escaped to London, and the rest, as they say, is history. Although the general outline of the Tudor/Elizabethan house remains, nowadays it is in fact mostly Victorian. Successive generations of the Lucy family had modified Charlecote Park over the centuries. In 1823, George Hammond Lucy (High Sheriff of Warwickshire in 1831) inherited the house. The lands around the house were landscaped by Capability Brown in about 1760. This resulted in Charlecote becoming a popular destination for notable tourists to Stratford-upon-Avon from the late 17th to mid-18th century. Brown created a raised lawn and planted it with the cedars of Lebanon which you see today:
Opening hours: House - 11.00 - 16.00, Garden - 11.00 -18.00, Deer Park and Outbuildings - 10.00 - 18.00. On Wednesdays during Warwickshire school holidays the house is open for afternoons only, 12.00 until 15.00 with last entry at 14.30. Prices (House, Gardens, Park & Outbuildings): adult - £12.00, child - £6.00, family - £30.00.
Lucy family, the owners built a special gatehouse for queen Elizabeth I, who visited their estate, which still stands today ! The original two-storey Elizabethan gatehouse that guards the approach to the house remains unaltered. You can climb to the top of the gatehouse for a great view of the house:
There are eighteenth-century lead statues to west side of the steps to the Cedar Lawn.These are almost life-size figures of a shepherds:
House Interiors: The Charlecote House tells, mainly, the Lucy Family story: their portraits as well as through the objects they collected from around the world. You, easily, observe the design influence they had on the house and parkland. You see how Mary Elizabeth Lucy spared no expense furnishing it in Victorian times.
The Great Hall has a barrel-vaulted ceiling made of plaster painted to look like timber and is a fine setting for the splendid collection of family portraits. Other rooms have richly coloured wallpaper, decorated plaster ceilings and wood paneling. There are magnificent pieces of furniture and fine works of art, including a contemporary painting of Queen Elizabeth I. Inside there are the official rooms like the dining room, library and entrance hall:
Sir Thomas Lucy & Family - picture on the western wall of the Great Hall:
the Great Hall the southern wall - Casandra (was in love with Appolo) and fall of Troy:
The Great Hall leads to the Billiard Room:
Queen Elizabeth I stayed in the room that is now the drawing room with the harp:
Ebony Bedroom. So called after the grand ebony-wood bed which dominates the room:
Ebony Dressing Room:
Marvellous Teak Cabinet:
The Library. All are original books including copies of Shakespeare plays. The large library has a beautiful view out into the garden and down to the river:
The dining room is set out ready for an important visitor:
Even the traditional kitchens are open with cooks making period cakes.
No “upstairs downstairs” here – servants at Charlecote used to live in outbuildings next to the house and the laundry, brew-house and tackroom provide a real sense of the physical hard work undertaken employees in years gone by:
Behind the house there is not-so-big area of formal gardens and terraces. The gardens include a formal parterre and colourful herbaceous plantings:
The Parterre. Mary Elizabeth’s presence still influences the gardens. Her formal riverside Parterre was carefully reinstated twenty years ago and twice a year the estate's gardeners co-ordinate a new design and organise the back-breaking planting of thousands of new bulbs and bedding plants. The summer scheme is planted in mid-June and is in full colour by early July:
In the south-west side of the estate flows the river Avon:
The south-west side of Charlecote estate:
Deer in front of the south-west side of the estate:
Beyond the gardens and the house there is a large deer park designed by Capability Brown, where a herd of deer still roam. The woodland walk and the wider parkland (inspired by ‘Capability’ Brown), offer miles of walks and views across the River Avon. A herd of fallow deer has been in the park since Tudor times. The deer walks, surprisingly, are very close to human walkers. A rare opportunity to catch splendid photos with these noble animals:
Opposite the Charlcete Park there is family-run Charlecote Plant and Shrub Centre:
Finally, there is an extensive West Park. It is closed, every year during October-November weeks to allow for the deer not to be disturbed during the rut. But the West Park is mainly inhabited by Sheep, rams and breeding ewes. The lambing period starts in early April. The ewes girls are painted in red, green or blue. If there is no warning or restriction of public entry - OPEN THE GATE YOURSELF !
The West park is far more extensive than the Deer Park. If not closed or restricted - you'll spend more than one hour exploring its splendid landscape and animals:
Do not miss the Lime Avenue. These ancient lime trees – two distinct varieties, totalling 133 trees in all - are badly in need of arborial restoration and conservation work. Funds had been raised for continuing their existence:
Charlecote House from West Park:
Warwick Town and Castle:
Tip 1 Main Attractions: East Gate, The Warwickshire Yeomanry Museum, St. Mary Church, Lord Leycester Hospital.
Tip 2: Warwick castle.
Start & End: Stratford-upon-Avon Railway Station. Transportation : Two train lines connect Stratford-upon-Avon with the rest of UK: the North Warwickshire Line from Birmingham to SuA operated by London Midland and the Leamington-Stratford-London Line, which allows direct services to London operated by Chiltern Railways. A new Stratford Parkway railway station north of the town, next to the A46 road was opened on 19 May 2013. It is intended to ease congestion, as passengers from outside Stratford will no longer need to drive into the town to catch a train. Rail services between Birmingham and Stratford have been increased from hourly to half-hourly in conjunction with the opening of the new parkway station. 1 train every hour and a half, or every hour to Leamington Spa via Warwick, operated by Chiltern Railways (06.26, 07.33, 09.00, 10.37, 11.03, 12.40), Sundays: same hours with additional times: 09.26, 11.26). Lengthy services run daily to London Marylebone or Euston on weekdays (06.26, 07.33, 07.43, 09.00, 09.26, 10.37, 11.03, 11.26, 12.40, 13.03) and Sundays: 09.38, 10.29, 11.29, 12.19, 12.29) . There are two trains per hour from Coventry. One takes 37-45 minutes (HH.25) (change at Leamington Spa) and a longer one two minutes later (HH,27) wwhich takes 75 minutes (via Birmingham stations).
Duration: One day. Distance: 5 km.
Weather: Warwick Castle grounds deserve a bright, smiling day. There is so much to explore and see there !
Orientation: You like grandiose, legendary castles or palaces ? DO NOT MISS Warwick, 13 km. north-east of Stratford-upon-Avon. A short train ride from Stratford-upon-Avon (or, even, from Birmingham). Warwick, itself, is ancient and beautiful.
We start walking from the Warwick Railway station. We head SOUTH on Coventry Rd toward Station Rd, 160 m. We turn right onto St Johns to continue following Smith Street. Smith Street is the oldest shopping street in Warwick and boasts a unique mix of independent shops and restaurants. The buildings are lovely and there re lots of vintage, craft and gift shops. Do not miss the 1 and 3 Smith Street, Warwick and the East Gate, an access point to the town through the former town wall.
We continue south-west along Smith Street. It changes its name to Jury Street. Here, you'll see another styled Timber-framed house:
In the junction of Jury Street and Church Street - we have two attractions. The Warwickshire Yeomanry Museum is open ONLY 10.00 - 16.00 - Saturdays and Sundays. FREE. It is, actually, located in the basement of Warwick Tourist Information Office. A small, interesting museum. Nice memories of the fading British Empire. Great collections for the elders of us. A good chance that you'll find this museum closed if you arrive before 10.00:
Turn up to the impressive St. Mary Church or Chapel, in the same junction, created by Roger de Beaumont, 2nd Earl of Warwick, in 1123. St Mary’s is open for visitors every day: April to end of September: from 10.00 - 18.00 , Sundays 12.30 - 16.30, October to end of March: from 10.00 to 16.30, Sundays 12.30 - 16.30. Free. The charge for the tower is £3 per adult, students over 16 £2.50, students under 16 £1.50 and family ticket £6 (2 adults and up to 4 children). Children less than 8 yrs are not permitted entering the tower. A stunning church with lots of historical details and facts. Allow one hour ! It is an outstanding perpendicular Gothic style church. The church, with much of Warwick, was devastated by the Great Fire of Warwick in 1693. The nave and tower of the building were completely destroyed. It was rebuilt In 1704, in a Gothic design by William Wilson. Christopher Wren is also said to have contributed to the design, but that is disputed. The impressive tower rises to the height of 40 metres (165 stairs to climb) . St Mary’s Tower offers spectacular views from the top:
It contains the effigial monuments of Richard de Beauchamp, 13th Earl of Warwick, Ambrose Dudley, 3rd Earl of Warwick, and Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester.
Buried in the chancel of the church is William Parr, 1st Marquess of Northampton, the brother of Queen consort Catherine Parr.
The Crown Court - a stunning court in front of St. Mary Church:
The early Norman church was rebuilt in the 14th century by Thomas Beauchamp, father and son, the first Beauchamp Earls of Warwick. The first Thomas Beauchamp financed his building of the chancel with money obtained from the ransom of a French archbishop. The chancel, vestries, and chapter house were rebuilt in delightful Gothic style, making of St Mary one of the most attractive town churches of its day. The alabaster memorial to Thomas, who died of the plague during the siege of Calais, and his wife Katherine lies in the chancel. But the work of Thomas Beauchamp the 1st was outdone by his descendant, Richard de Beauchamp (d.1439), who provided funds in his will for the creation of a chantry chapel in St Mary's. This, Beauchamp Chapel, is one of the great Gothic architectural achievements in England: a masterpiece of Gothic style which took over 20 years to complete. The chapel, which is dedicated to Our Lady, is composed of three bays, at the centre of which is the tomb of Richard Beauchamp, raised on a pedestal and surrounded by an iron fence.
The effigy of Earl Richard is set upon a chest of Purbeck marble, with a canopy above, and weeping figures below. Richard Beauchamp was the 13th Earl of Warwick, a friend of King Henry V and guardian of King Henry VI:
Robert Dudley and his second wife, Lettice Knollys, are buried on the left of Beauchamp Chapel:
and his brother, Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick, 1528 - 1590, is buried in the foreground on the right:.
Steps by Robert Dudley's tomb lead up into the delightful small C15th Dean’s Chapel with its fan vaulted ceiling:
Warwick Yeomanry Chapel - Great East stained glass window with fine medieval jewelled glass. The east window contains fragments of Medieval glass rescued after destruction of the stained glass windows during the Reformation:
Wall painting: Last Judgement from year 1678. Figures on the right are heading for salvation. Those on the left to hell:
We exit the St. Mary Church and head back down southward along Church Street - until it meets Jury Street. We turn right to High Street (continuation of Jury Street) and walk 160 m. (we pass Swan Street and Brook Street on our right) until we see the Lord Leycester Hospital, immediately beyond the junction with Brook Street). This is not a museum, but a living institution, It is a retirement home for aged or disabled soldier and sex-servicemen (and their wives) (known as 'Brethrens' - similar to the Chelsea pensioners) and located next to the West Gate, on High Street. The building would forever be associated with Queen Elizabeth's favorite, Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester. He converted it in 1571, founding therein a hospital for aged or injured soldiers and their wives, under royal charter from the Queen. Open: Summer (from 1 APR): 10.00 – 17.00 pm, Winter 10.00 – 16.00. Prices (NO Credit Cards !): Adults – £8.50, Children – £5 (ages 5-18; under 5 free), Concessions – £6.50 (students, over 60), Family Ticket £20 (2 adults, up to 3 children). Allow, at least, ONE hour:
Lord Leycester's Hospital consists of a group of outstanding half timbered buildings. The hospital survived the Warwick Fire of 1690's. Can you imagine that the hospital kitchen (nowadays, a cafe' - Brethrens' Kitchen) has continuously provided and served food since early 1500's ? (delicious portions !!). The Great Hall is also over 500 years old and is still in constant use for public venues and private weddings. Visiting the old hospital is a striking experience. You won't believe how this crooked old structure is still standing but it is nevertheless a historical marvel. You are transported, like in a time machine, to an earlier time, the staff brothers are very friendly, the architecture is amazing, the gardens are very pretty and relaxing.
Lord Leycester Hospital Courtyard. You can climb up the stairs in the court yard to get a good view of warwick:
You can also see the Great Hall
and the Guild Hall with its armoury display:
Note: The Museum of the Queen's Hussars is currently closed and in process of moving to a new location just up the road.
The garden, which is tucked away behind the building, should not be missed. The Master's Garden is a green oasis of calm. It is in its best during the Spring or Summer:
The 12th century Norman arch and massive urn which once stood on the banks of the Nile:
Trace back north-east along High Street and turn RIGHT (in the 2nd turn) to Castle Street. On our left the Yeomanry Museum, Information Tourist Office (with WC). The Castle Strret will bring us to Warwick Castle. turn to Tip 2 in this blog (below).
Stratford-upon-Avon Canal:from Stratford to Wilmcote section.
Duration: 1 day. Weather: only bright days. Distance: every direction - 4.5 - 5 km. Start & End: Stratford Tourist Information Office - near Bridge Street. Transportation: frequent trains from Wilmcote to SuA. (11.55, 12.15, 13.15, 13.59, 14.15, 15.15, 15.59, 16.15, 17.16, 18.16, 18.37, 18.44 etc'). Price: £1.80.
The Stratford-upon-Avon Canal runs for just 40 km. from the Birmingham suburbs to the River Avon in Stratford on Avon.
Order of locks (from north to south) - so use it bottom up:
40-50 Wilmcote Locks (11)
62a A46 Chaly Beate Bridge
51 Bishopton Lock
64a Railway bridges
52 One Elm Lock
65 A3400 Birmingham Road bridge
53 Maidenhead Road Lock
55 Warwick Road Lock
68 A439 Warwick Road bridge
69 A422 Bridge Foot bridge
We walk (up) along a short section which climbs gently across quiet rolling countryside and water meadows from SuA to the village of Wilmcote. The towpath from the centre of Stratford to Wilmcote is excellent, wide and for the most part with a good surface. After Wilmcote it becomes more difficult with large sections of mud.
From the Tourist Information Office, walk a few steps northward. On your right - there are stairs descending to the canal towpath. Folow the path NORTHWARD. Just after joining the towpath there are splendid clusters of houses and private boats, on your left, on the opposite bank.
If you stay with the towpath there is no need for any form of navigation for the next four kilometres as the canal takes you northwards and slightly uphill. There are apparently 22 lock gates between Stratford and Wilmcote, a rise of about 40 metres, this is hard work if you are in a canal barge and will take all day, but for the walker it will take between 1.5 and two hours. The return journey is easy, either retrace your steps back down the canal towpath or catch a train or bus back to Stratford:
Most of the time the route up to Wilmcote is in quite beautiful countryside:
There are boat people to chat:
There are some really beautiful little cast-iron and brick bridges that are a charming feature of this canal, built in two halves and separated with a 1inch gap to allow the towing line between horse and boat to be dropped through, without need to unhitch the horse.
You know when you are arriving in Wilmcote when passing a house which looks a bit like a castle on the left hand bank:
Turn left down to the centre of the village, about 250 metres. As you walk down Featherbed Bridge 59. On Featherbed lane, on your right, is the Mary Arden House farm complex. Mary Arden was born in Wilmcote around 1540. A farmer's daughter, she married John Shakespeare, moved to Stratford-upon-Avon, and gave birth to William Shakespeare, who is recognised as the greatest English playwright ever.
Wilmcote is where Mary Arden’s house (she was William Shakespeare’s mother as stated above) is located and a must trip out for tourists staying at Stratford. Mary Arden was the youngest of eight daughters of a well to do farmer Robert Arden, she married the son of one of her father’s tenant farmers, John Shakespeare. Their first child to survive was named William and although we know they had a total of eight children most died young. The Stratford canal at bridge 60 is just 50 meters from the Wilmcote station. For many people the Mary Arden's farm is the best experience of all the Shakespeare houses. There are actually two farms: Palmer’s Farm was for over 200 years, thought to be the house where Mary Arden was born, until in 2000 new evidence was discovered that the Arden’s lived next door in what was formerly known as Glebe Farm. If the museum is open it is well worth a visit. It is open daily except Sundays in wintertime. There is also a museum of agricultural implements and local rural bygones. In Wilmcote there is a choice of two pubs, The Mason’s Arms and The Mary Arden Inn, also in summer when Mary Arden’s House is open they have a cafe. Buy your ticket to the farm in the Tourist Information near Bridge Street in Stratford upon Avon. It is cheaper there. The farm itself isn't huge but there is plenty to do and see, plenty for children and adults alike. NOT suitable for anyone in a wheelchair. The tickets you get allow you to visit the attractions for 12 months. Allow 1-2 hours. Bring food. The restaurant here is a bit expensive with limited, but delicious, selection. Online prices: Adult: £11.92, Child: £7.65 (3-17 in full time education. Under 3s go free), Family: £31.50, Senior: £11.02 (over 60s), Student: £11.02 (in full time education),
Concession: £11.02 (visitors with disabilities). Add 10% for on-the-spot fees. Not cheap.
There are staff members in costume and in character who are working at the farm, and you can wander around watching them and talking to them as they work.No Elizabethean community was without its blacksmith:
Mosaics made by local children:
Farm's Main Courtyard:
Mary Arden House and Zodiac Garden from the 1500s:
Kitchens from the 1600s:
Timber framing in the 16th century:
Tudor Dinner - preparing meal for the farm's workers. The meal is based on vegetables, fruits, herbs and ... flowers. Must be as much colorful as possible. You encounter the smells, the protocol at the board table and the type of food they would of been having during the time period. This is a multi sensory experience:
Falconry displays. Every one is dressed in Tudor costumes:
I found the Wilmcote village quite pleasant. I took the road pointing to Billesley and surrounded the prosperous village consisting, mainly, of holiday accommodation houses and glorious gardens:
Tip 1: (see Tip 2 below for Shakespeare Childhood House and Henley Road).
(see Tip 3 below for a short walk along the river Avon).
(see Tip 4 below for 1/2 day walk to Shottery, Ann
Tip 1 Main Attractions: Bancroft Gardens, Tramway Footbridge, Stratford Butterfly Farm, Clopton Bridge, Sheep Street, Chapel Street, The Guild Chapel, King Edward VI School, Hall's Croft, Holy Trinity Church, The Swan Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company Tower, Bancroft Gardens.
Start & End: Bancroft Gardens. Duration: 1 day. Distance: 7 km. Weather: ONLY bright days. Lodging: Morris Ohata, Moonraker House Guest House, 40 Alcester Road, T: 01789-268774, 500 m. from the mainline station (but, opposite direction from the city centre): convenient room, superb meals, fantastic dining room. Transportation: You can travel directly to Stratford-upon-Avon train station from Birmingham (Snow Hill or Moor Street stations). Last train back to Birmingham, Monday - Friday at 23.30. Trains from London travel from Marylebone station via Banbury, Leamington Spa and Warwick. The last train back to London, Monday – Friday, is at 23.15.
Introduction: Stratford-upon-Avon lies, formally, in Warwickshire. It rests, magnificently, on the River Avon, 163 km north west of London, 35 km south east of Birmingham, and 13 km south west of Warwick. The estimated population is approx. 29,000 BUT visited every year by millions of visitors. I know, Stratford had been criticized as a 'big tourist trap' and as a 'dump town'. The town is a popular tourist destination owing to its status as birthplace of English playwright and poet William Shakespeare, and receives approximately 2.5 million visitors a year. The Royal Shakespeare Company resides in Stratford's Royal Shakespeare Theatre. BUT, I found this city, during my 3-4 sunny days of visit - charming, colorful, fluent with attractions and routes for walking. So, my conclusion is that with bright days - DO NOT MISS this lovely town - mainly, due to its water-ways, bridges and natural surroundings. The historical aspects are the minor point in this story. Note: Stratford is densely packed in weekends and, ESPECIALLY, during local, annual festivals. You can't find a table in its restaurants during these massive events or times. Another danger (and influx is the water: Stratford's location next to the River Avon means it is susceptible to flooding, including flash floods...
Stratford was originally inhabited by Anglo-Saxons. In 1196 Stratford was granted a charter from King Richard I to hold a weekly market in the town, giving it its status as a market town. As a result, Stratford experienced an increase in trade and commerce as well as urban expansion. During Stratford's early expansion into a town, the only access across the River Avon into and out of the town was over a wooden bridge. In 1480, a new masonry arch bridge was built to replace it called Clopton Bridge, named after Hugh Clopton who paid for its construction. The new bridge made it easier for people to trade within Stratford and for passing travellers to stay in the town. The Cotswolds, located close to Stratford, was a major sheep producing area up until the latter part of the 19th century, with Stratford one of its main centres for the processing, marketing, and distribution of sheep and wool. Stratford is a major English tourist town due to it being the birthplace of William Shakespeare, whom many consider the greatest playwright of all time. In 1769, the actor David Garrick staged a major Shakespeare Jubilee over three days which saw the construction of a large rotunda and the influx of many visitors. This started the process of making Stratford a tourist destination.
Orientation: I spent 3-4 lovely days in Stratford. Two days will suffice. The first for the town itself. The second for the Avon river walk and historical sites around Stratford. Many of the town's earliest and most important buildings are located along what is known as Stratford's Historic Spine, which was once the main route from the town centre to the parish church. The route of the Historic Spine begins at Shakespeare's Birthplace in Henley Street. It continues through Henley Street to the top end of Bridge Street and into High Street where many Elizabethan buildings are located, including Harvard House. The route carries on through Chapel Street where Nash's House and New Place are sited. The Historic Spine continues along Church Street where Guild buildings are located dating back to the 15th century, as well as 18th and 19th century properties. The route then finishes in Old Town, which includes Hall's Croft and the Holy Trinity Church.
Itinerary of 1st day in Stratford-upon-Avon City Centre: We start at the Bancroft Gardens which are situated on the River Avon adjacent to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. This is one of the most visited places in Stratford. The gardens are right in the heart of the town. It is a great place to people watch. There many many attraction spread along these extensive gardens (Avon river, 2 canal basins, 2 bridges, Gower Memorial (Shakespeare with Hamlet, Lady Macbeth, Falstaff and Prince Hal) , many statues, fantastic fountain, flower beds. But, we stay here, just to get a glance and initial impression - before heading, from the gardens, to the Butterfly Farm. It is a very pleasant place with a lot of space, very busy during weekends and holidays. It the perfect place to get views of the town, the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) Theatre and the Avon river.
The RSC from the Gardens:
You can get a boat trip from here, along the Avon to the south and back, which is very enjoyable too. The canal basin is in the focal point of the gardens. You can take a stroll along the riversides. Many tourists from all over the world visit or sample these gardens.
The Bancroft Gardens space was originally an area of land where the townspeople grazed their animals, and the Canal Basin formed the terminus of the Stratford to Birmingham canal, completed in 1816. The Gardens also occupy the site of former canal wharves, warehouses, and a second canal basin, which was built in 1826 and refilled in 1902
We cross the Avon over the Tramway Pedestrian Footbridge, a nice walkway parallel to the Clopton motor bridge You can walk along this footbridge (packed very frequently) and gaze at the swans and mallards down in the river. It gets you from one side of the river to the other and to the Butterfly Farm. Tramway Bridge, which was built in 1823, got its name from being part of a 28 km. long horse-drawn tramway which ran between Moreton-in-Marsh (with a branch to Shipston-on-Stour) and the canal basin at Stratford-upon-Avon:
We head to the Stratford Butterfly Farm. When we complete crossing the footbridge - we turn right (south-west) (turning left is to the Charlecote Park) we connect with Swans Nest and continue along this path until we see the farm's entrance on our left. In the end of the footbridge there are clear signs that will take you from the foot bridge to our farm's entrance.
Opening hours: Winter: 10.00 - 17.00, Summer: 10.00 - 18.00. Prices: Adults £7.25, Seniors and Students £6.75, Children 3-16 Years (under 3's free) £6.25, Family (2 adults & 2 children) £22.50. Disabled accessible. Toilets available. A MAGICAL SITE. Wonderful place to see butterflies in many colours and varieties and the way they develop in their natural eco-system. Allow, at least,1.5-2 hours. Stratford Butterfly Farm was opened in 1985. The key area in the farm is the tropical rain forest with approximately 1500 free-flying, spectacular and colourful butterflies flying all around. The tropical greenhouse is the largest tropical butterfly display in the UK. The following paragraph is quoted from the farm's web site:"Some of the butterflies breed within the Butterfly Farm, the rest are imported from the tropics. All of the places we buy butterflies from are either Conservation projects or Village projects. Butterfly breeding is the main source of income for most of the villagers. These breeding operations have been set up to enable communities to earn a living without causing any damage to the environment and wildlife around them. Not only this good from a conservation point of view, it also allows families all over the tropics to earn a sustainable income and helps to preserve the rain forest whilst educating our visitors".
Other zones in the farm are devoted to: insects (in glass containers), spiders, reptiles including snakes and iguanas, caterpillars and wildflowers garden:
VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: it is very hot and humid inside the butterflies' zone of the farm. Prepare a T-shirt for the tropical, rain forest zone. After spending, at least, one our in this area (probably, taking tens/hundreds of photos) - you'll be dripping with sweat, but, fell very happy... The paths, inside, are incredibly narrow so they become, easily, crowded.
From July 2016 had been installed in the farm of around 30 replica Maya & Mesoamerican sculptures which originate from the ancient rain forest civilization in Belize, Central America. Many of the beautiful butterflies on display at the Butterfly Farm are supplied by Fallen Stones, butterflies Farm in Southern Belize, particularly the stunning Blue Morpho:
We return to Bancroft Gardens to explore, more thoroughly, its treasures and to take part with its mass events and festivals. We return back along the Avon Footbridge - heavily packed with locals and tourists, and, down in the river with rowers. Enjoy sunny days in the wide grass lawns and gardens with the backdrop of the river. Features include a human sundial celebrating the Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service, a new performance area and two fully accessible bridges over the canal basin and the lock:
During our stay the River Festival took place in the Recreation Ground. On the other side of the river to the Bancroft Gardens and the theatres is the Recreation Ground (or ‘The Rec’). Occupying a large area running right the way along the river from Tramway Bridge (a pedestrian-only bridge adjacent to Clopton Bridge) to beyond Holy Trinity Church, this is one of the best areas for picnics with plenty of space to play and run around. There’s a large playground here, too. The above Tramway Foot Bridge connects the Recreation Ground with the Bancroft Gardens:
The adjacent motor Clopton Bridge is very busy and not recommended for walkers. Built at the end of the 15th century (from year 1490 !), this wooden bridge over the River Avon was an important section of the road to London during medieval times. it is the only bridge to bring two major roads into and out of the town centre (to/from Banbury, Shipston and Tiddington). Sir Hugh Clopton was a rich merchant and Lord Mayor who paid for the construction of a stone bridge over the Avon:
Take half an hour to explore the various attraction around the Bancroft Gardens. The Country Artists Fountain was made for the 800th anniversary celebration of the granting of the Charter for Market Rights by King Richard I (the Lionheart) in 1196. The fountain was sculpted by Christine Lee and is made of stainless steel and brass. It was unveiled by the Queen in 1996:
In case you are hungry - take the WEST end of Bancroft Gardens and head straight westward to Sheep Street. With The Town Hall at the top of Sheep Street, this road takes you up from the Waterside (east) to the Town Hall (in the west end) past an array of independent shops and restaurants. There is a wide variety of shops in this street including gifts, fashion and footwear. You will see several pretty timbered houses along Sheep Street - more in the western end near the Town Hall:
The junction of Sheep Street (or, better its continuation Ely Street) x High Street and Chapel Street is a good spot to start exploring several timbered houses close around. With your face to the Town Hall (coming from Sheep Street) - turn LEFT (south-west) to Chapel Street to see on your left the Mercure Shakespeare Hotel: another stylized timbered house:
Nash's House, Chapel Street is next door to the Mercure Hotel. It was built on the ruins and gardens of William Shakespeare's final residence - New Place. It has been converted into a museum.
The house was built around 1600 and belonged to Thomas Nash. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust acquired New Place and Nash's House in 1876. The museum traces the history of Stratford-upon-Avon from the earliest settlers in the Avon Valley to Shakespeare's time. NOT recommended for paying a special fee for this museum:
Opposite Nash House, still in Chapel Street is the Falcon Hotel / The Oak Bar:
Walk further south-west along Chapel Street until it meets Church Street and Chapel Lane. In the end of Chapel street stands the The Guild Chapel dating from 1269 and a fascinating part of the history of Stratford-upon-Avon. It is one of Stratford-upon-Avon’s best-known and most important historic buildings. The Chapel houses some of the finest medieval wall paintings in Europe (note: hardly visible), covered up on orders given to Shakespeare’s father in the 16th century following the Reformation, when he was the then Chamberlain of the Corporation of Stratford. They were discovered hundreds of years later and are recognized as some of the very finest surviving. These extraordinary wall paintings, had to be painted over during the time of reformation apparently and were discovered during the chapel's restoration process. The Guild Chapel is open daily between 10.30-16.30. It is free:
The modern stained glass east window features notable Stratford characters including John Shakespeare and Sir Hugh Clopton:
In 17 Church Street you see the Old Grammer School or King Edward VI School an elongated timbered house. It is almost certain that William Shakespeare attended this school, leading to the school describing itself as "Shakespeare's School":
We walk further south along Church Street and turn LEFT (South-east) to Old Town road. On our left is the Hall's Croft - the beautifully furnished Jacobean home of Shakespeare’s daughter Susanna and her husband, Dr John Hall. It is really a beautiful Tudor mansion, with stunning gardens. The interiors are less outstanding: it shows a variety of medical instruments and examples of furniture. But, the garden, outside is beautifully laid out but non-manicured. The cafe in Hall's Croft, is superb. I would recommend the Hall's Croft ONLY if you have the collective Shakespeare's houses pass:
Old Town road ends, in the east, in Holy Trinity Church grounds. Amateur theatre groups stage Shakespeare's plays' performances most afternoons in a park that is adjacent to the church:
Holy Trinity Church grounds - view of the Avon river:
The Holy Trinity Church is often known also as Shakespeare's Church. William Shakespeare is buried and was baptised in Holy Trinity church, and visitors can view not only his grave, but the parish registers that recorded his birth and his death. It is one of England's most visited churches. More than 200,000 tourists visit the church each year. Summer opening hours (April - September): MON-SAT: 8.30 – 18.00, SUN: 12.30 – 17.00. Winter opening hours (November - February): MON-SAT: 9.00 – 16.00, SUN: 12.30 – 17.00. The building is built on the site of a Saxon monastery. It is Stratford's oldest building, and is situated superbly on the banks of the River Avon. In the fourteenth century, John de Stratford founded a chantry, which was rebuilt between 1465 and 1491 by Dean Thomas Balshall, Dean of the Church, who is also buried at the Church. The building is believed to have originally had a wooden spire, which was replaced by William Hiorne in 1763. The Holy Trinity Church and its grounds are brilliant place on its own:
DO NOT MISS taking a pleasant stroll along a tarmac path around the church with fascinating views of the Avon River and its by-side park. If you take a walk to the back of the Church there are some lovely views:
William Shakespeare was baptised in Holy Trinity on 26 April 1564 and was buried there on 25 April 1616. Shakespear's tomb is located at the rear of the church. The church still possesses the original Elizabethan register giving details of his baptism and burial, though it is kept by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust for safekeeping. He is buried in the beautiful 15th-century chancel built by Thomas Balsall. To see the Shakespeare's tomb - you must pay a special fee of £3. it says donation but the narrow entrance is deliberately manned and you feel obliged to pay. Shakespeare funeral and burial being held at Holy Trinity on 25 April 1616. His wife Anne Hathaway is buried next to him along with his eldest daughter Susanna. Good information boards about Shakespeare's birth, baptism, marriage and funeral, and they also explain the significance of these events within Christianity:
Holy Trinity's stained-glass windows. Several large stained glass windows featuring major English and Biblical saints are at the church's east and west ends:
Holy Trinity's east window from the exterior, depicting St Andrew:
Holy Trinity Church Interiors:
Holy Trinity contains many interesting features, including a special ornate chapel is named after Sir High Clopton (1440-1496), a native of Stratford who rose to become Lord Mayor of London (1491-2). Clopton never forgot his roots, and provided funds to pay for Clopton Bridge, which still bears traffic over the Avon in the centre of Stratford. He also built New Place, which later became William Shakespeare's retirement home (see above). Clopton had an ornate tomb built for himself in the Lady Chapel of Holy Trinity, but he was actually buried in London. This did not stop his descendants from claiming the Lady Chapel as their own chantry chapel, and it has since been referred to as The Clopton Chapel:
Here you will find one of the most ornate and expansive (and no doubt expensive) memorials in any parish church in Britain. This is the memorial to Sir John Carew (d.1628), and his wife, Joan Clopton:
Another interesting feature in the Holy Trinity Church are the 26 misericords in the choir stalls. These misericords, or 'mercy seats' are fancifully decorated with carvings of mermaids and mermen, unicorns, and scenes of daily life:
Note, also, the 14th century sanctuary knocker in the church's porch (built c. 1500):
Note also the pre-reformation stone altar slab that was found hidden beneath the floor in Victorian times and has now been re-instated as the High Altar:
We leave the Holy Trinity Church grounds from their north-east edge.First, we notice this moving wall painting into the Avon Park around the church:
We find a path that leads to the western bank of the Avon river and continues northward along the river bank, boats basin and the riverside Avon Park. The park ends in its north edge in the Ferry - where you can hire boat or pay for guided boat. These small chain link ferries complete a short circular walk taking in the canal basin and theatre or just cross the ruver from side to side. It cost 50p which is super value: always lots to see on both sides of the river so the ferry saves your legs. Otherwise it is a long walk round... 50p for a short ride and £6 for 45 minutes boat ride. The only remaining chain ferry in the U.K ! :
This green area you pass on your way to the city centre and Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is comprised of, actually, TWO gardens from south to north: Avonbank and RSC gardens, two connected gardens that run between the northern bank of the river and Southern Lane. The Avonbank Garden, also owned by the RSC, is quieter still, except on days when open-air productions are performed. Sitting between the RSC Garden and the Holy Trinity Church, it is leafier than any of the other open spaces. The ‘pilgrimage’ footpath from Shakespeare’s Church to the theatres also runs through these two gardens. Nearer to the town centre, the RSC Garden looks over the Swan Theatre and is where the RSC puts on occasional events. Despite its proximity to the Bancroft Gardens – only the theatre stands between the two – it is considerably quieter and holds a different atmosphere.
We walk from south to north along the Avon river or along the Southern Lane approx. 800 m. until we see, on our left (west) the Swan Theatre and the RSC - the Royal Shakespeare Company complex. This is a riverside walk which stretches from the Bancroft Gardens, past the theatre, towards Holy Trinity Church. The Swan Theatre is a theatre belonging to the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon. It is built on to the side of the larger Royal Shakespeare Theatre, occupying the Victorian Gothic structure that formerly housed the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre that preceded the RSC but was destroyed by fire in 1926. It Is a wonderfully atmospheric galleried playhouse. As we said, the original Victorian building fell victim to a fire in 1926. The new building was built in 1932 and the inside has been designed to reflect an actual Elizabethan style theatre. The theatre was launched on 8 May 1986 and has subsequently been used for many other types of drama including the works of Chekhov, Ibsen and Tennessee Williams.
Right: The Swan Theatre. Left: Royal Shakespeare Company:
We approach the adjacent RSC building from the south, bordering the Bancroft Gardens to its west side. The Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres are on the western bank of the River Avon, with the adjacent Bancroft Gardens providing a scenic riverside setting. The Rooftop Restaurant and Bar overlooks both the river and the Bancroft Gardens. The complex includes two theatre spaces with rehearsal room, front of house and backstage facilities, exhibition areas, restaurant, cafes, shop and viewing tower. The two theatre auditoriums are placed back-to-back with the fly tower of the principal auditorium at the centre. Designed by a number of architects, principally Dodgshun and Unsworth, 1877-9 and 1881; Elisabeth Scott, 1928-32; Michael Reardon and Associates, 1984-6; Bennetts Associates, 2005-11. The Rooftop Restaurant is situated on the third floor of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
As you approach the main entrance to the building, go inside and turn left and take the lift to the third floor. The Riverside Cafe is on the ground floor of the main RSC building. The Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres were re-opened in November 2010 after undergoing a major renovation known as the Transformation Project. The Royal Shakespeare Theatre was officially opened on 4 March 2011 by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, who were given a performance of the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet.
RSC from the EAST side of the Avon river:
You can take an one hour guided tour that departs from the cloakroom and ,mainly, explores the RSC tower. Make sure you get a space by booking in advance - online or by calling our Box Office on 01789 403493. Note: significant amount of climbing involved. You get a bit (...) closer to the world of theatre on this tour and enjoy spectacular views from the RSC Tower. Tower opening times: Winter (until 27 March), SUN to FRI 10.00 - 16.30. RSC Matinees: 10.00 - 12.15, 14.00, 16.30. SAT: 10.00, 12.15. Summer (from 28 March): SUN - FRI 10.00 - 18.15, RSC Matinees Including SAT: 10.00 - 12.15, 14.00 - 18.15.
Much Ado About Nothing:
Garments from Henry IV play:
Midsummer Night Dream Gregory Doran production in 2005 - super modern costumes:
Hamlet - David Warner in Peter Hall 1965 production:
David Tennant as Richard II in Gregory Doran 2013 production:
Julian Glover as Henry IV) in 1991:
Titus Andronicus - Vivien Leigh as Lavinia and Laurence Olivier as Titus in 1955 production of Peter Brooks:
Picture of William Shakespeare:
View of Bancroft Gardens from the 3rd floor (rooftop):
View of Palmer Court in Stratford from the 3rd floor (rooftop):
The more you climb up higher in the tower - The more beautiful views of the city and the Gardens you get:
The Tramway footbridge and Clopton motor bridge:
The Avon flow to the north:
We exit the RSC building and continue walking north along the river or along Southern Ln until arriving, again, to Bancroft Gardens. Here, we hit,first, the the 800th Anniversary Fountain Basin and a sculpture behind:
Nearby, is, the statue of Shakespeare - the work of Lord Ronald Sutherland Gower, It was presented to the town in 1888:
The smaller figures of Shakespearean characters are of:
and Prince Hal;
symbolizing philosophy, tragedy, comedy and history.
In case you have spare time - try to enjoy the Avon river. The alternative to your own muscle power is to take a sightseeing cruise. Two companies are licensed to take passengers. Avon Boating run half-hour cruises leaving from the Bancroft Gardens in a fleet of vintage boats while Bancroft Cruisers take 45-minute trips from outside the Holiday Inn on the northeast side of Clopton Bridge.
We skip to Tip 2 - continuing our walk along Shakespeare heritage sites. We shall walk 500 m. from Bancroft Gardens to Henley Road (Shakespeare's House).
Start and End: Boots, 92 High Street. Duration: 1/2 day. Distance: 4-5 km. Transportation: buses 71 and 41 from/to Gloucester and Cheltenham. Hourly - with Gloucester and more frequent, every 20 minutes with Cheltenham.
Main Attractions: Tudor House Hotel, Tewkesbury Town Hall, The Ancient Grudge, The House of Nodding Gables, Tewkesbury Cross, The Cross House, Back of Avon road, Tewkesbury Docks, The Avon Lock, Olde Black Bear Inn, The Bell Hotel, Tewkesbury Abbey, Abbey Mill, Victoria Gardens, Severn Ham, The Abbey Cottages, The Royal Hop Pole Hotel.
Introduction: Tewkesbury (popularly pronounced: Chichbury) is a town in the far north of Gloucestershire, on the border with Worcestershire. It is situated at the confluence of the River Severn and the River Avon. The name Tewkesbury comes from Theoc, the name of a Saxon who founded a hermitage there in the 7th century, and in the Old English language was called Theocsbury. The Battle of Tewkesbury, which took place on 4 May 1471, was one of the major battles of the Wars of the Roses.
We start at Boots, 92 High Street and walk southward along High Street (we shall repeat this section soon again...). Tewkesbury is now a thriving town and at the same time is a living museum of architecture and social history spanning over 500 years. The town has such a perfectly preserved medieval character that in 1964 The Council of British Archaeology listed it amongst 57 towns "so splendid and so precious that the ultimate responsibility for them should be of national concern". The town includes many timber-framed, Medieval, Tudor buildings - part of them along the High Street.
At the Tudor House Hotel, 51-53 High Street, however, although it is indeed chiefly a Tudor building, the frontage comprises artificial half-timbering attached to a brick-built façade:
Tewkesbury Town Hall, 18 High Street was built in 1788 the town hall is one of the few buildings in Tewkesbury that is built of stone. The towns corn market was held here in the late 18th century. It is NOT a tiber house but the building is full with history.
Country Market in the Town Council at High Street:
On the opposite side: 19 High Street:
The Ancient Grudge, at High Street 15, was built in 1471, the year of the great Battle of Tewkesbury. This is where the building lends it's name, with the ancient 'grudge' referring to the enmity between the houses of York and Lancaster who were the two sides who fought during the battle. The building front was restructured during the late 16th century:
The House of the Golden Key also known as The House of Nodding Gables, 9 High Street is an early 16th century timber framed building, heightened by one storey in the 17th century. The famous 'Nodding Gables' are the result of a break in the ridge piece of the new structure which caused it to slip forward:
Tewkesbury Cross stands in the southern end of High Street. It is the war memorial in the center of Tewkesbury. Here, you find, also, the Tourist Information Office:
Still down southward along High Street, before it changes to Church Street, on your right - you see The Cross House (The Old Court House). It is an absolutely gorgeous 15th Century building. It has a magnificent entrance hall and Elizabethan panelled rooms and a stunning staircase. It is believed to have been at one time the Court House of the Lords of Tewkesbury. Unfortunately the original ground floor windows have been removed, they now exist in the ground floor of The Bull - the extension to the royal hop pole hotel. This building was originally built as two houses in the early 16th century. It was extended in the 17th century, and all extensively restored c1865 by Thomas Collins. He was a builder/restorer, who used it as his own home. The cross house is one of the finest timber-framed buildings in Tewkesbury:
Wadworth Pub or Berkeley Arms house in Church Street:
We return to the Cross (our face to the north) and turn left to Tolsey Lane, and, further west to Back of Avon road or path. We walk northward along the Avon on our left. Coming from the south to the north, along Back of Avon - the river is half-hidden on our left. It is, still a splendid road with red-bricked houses, bridges, gardening beds and the whole is very atmospheric. The more we advance northward - the more we approach the Avon river. The river is referred to as the Stratford Avon or ‘Shakespeare's Avon’ to distinguish it from other navigable river Avons such as the Bristol Avon. The river Avon is navigable from the river Severn at Tewkesbury to Alveston (between Stratford On Avon and Warwick). The river was navigable to Stratford from the river Severn at Tewkesbury in the late 1630s. The Upper Avon (Evesham to Stratford) fell foul of the railways and fell into disuse after 1875. It was finally restored and reopened by HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in 1974. The Lower Avon (Tewkesbury to Evesham)was restored and reopened in 1964. First we hit the neglected Docks - where Back of Avon meets Quay Street:
Second, we face the bridge crossing the Avon from east to west:
The more visible is the Avon and more clearly beautiful:
We cross the bridge over the Avon from east to west and continue northward until we arrive to the Avon Lock. It is the final lock on the RIver Avon that you go through before joining the River Severn. Avon lock at Tewkesbury, is womanned by a lock keeper (tel: 01684 292129):
From the Avon Lock, with our face to the north, we turn right, cross the bridge:
and return eastward to the High Street, via Mythe Road. Here, we hit the Olde Black Bear Inn. Tewkesbury claims Gloucestershire's oldest public house, the Old Black Bear, dating from 1308. It has a continous history as a hostelry, at one time providing stabling for travelers' horses. Although this is currently closed and for sale with its future as a pub in doubt:
Now, we repeat walking the 800 m. along High Street and Church Street from north to south until we hit the Bell Hotel. The Bell Hotel is a large half-timbered structure opposite the Abbey gateway:
The most notable attraction in Tewkesbury is Tewkesbury Abbey. The abbey is thought to be the third largest church in Britain that is not a cathedral (after Westminster Abbey and Beverley Minster). An impressive fine Norman abbey church. The present Abbey did not start until 1102. Built to house Benedictine monks, the Norman Abbey was near completion when consecrated in 1121. As, originally, part of a monastery, which was saved from the Dissolution of the Monasteries by King Henry VIII after being bought by the townspeople for the price of the lead on the roof to use as their parish church. Most of the monastery buildings, as well as the vineyards, were destroyed during this time. After the dissolution in 1540 most of the claustral buildings and the Lady Chapel were quarried for their materials but the Abbey Church was sold to the parishioners for £453. The Abbey is especially STUNNING in the soft light of the morning or evening - against clear sky.
The tower is believed to be the largest Norman tower still in existence in Europe ! The tower once had a wooden spire which may have taken the total height of the building to as much as 80 m. The great Romanesque arch on the west front is particularly striking. Tewkesbury Abbey is famous for the medieval stained glass in its seven quire windows. However, it is less well known that the Abbey also possesses a fine collection of Victorian stained glass, in the north and south aisles, chronicling the life and deeds of Jesus. There are also some excellent modern examples. When entering the nave note the west window: constructed in 1686 to replace one blown in by the wind in 1661. The stained glass, however, was not installed until 1886. The scenes depicted follow the journey of Christ from his birth to his ascension. It had been restored several times. In the ChapelL of Saint Catherine and Saint John the Baptist there are two glorious windows by Tom Denny to mark the 900th anniversary of the coming of the Benedictine monks to Tewkesbury in 1102. They are abstract designs predominately in shades of yellow, green and blues. The overall impression is colour but the more you look, the more detail you realise there is. The theme is: "Labore est Orare" or "Work is Pray":
19th century stained glass windows in the Nave:
The area surrounding the Abbey is protected from development by the Abbey Lawn Trust, originally funded by a United States benefactor. The grounds were well kept and inviting. You see around several majestic trees, with extraordinary size, scattered around the courtyard.
"Touching Souls" sculpture in the Abbey's courtyard:
The whole interior is a breathtaking feat of medieval engineering. The interior of the church clearly reveals its Romanesque origins with thick smooth columns framing the sides of the nave and hefty rounded arches atop the columns:
The Nave of Tewkesbury Abbey. Stepping into the Nave, the first impression is of Norman power with huge round arches and round arches soaring up to a vaulted ceiling. The windows are almost lost. This is Norman architecture at its very best. Side aisles are narrow adding to the overall effect of mightiness and glory:
At the east end of the Nave, the arch rests on the painted head of Atlantis holding up the roof:
The vaulting soaring overhead (and height of the columns) draw your eyebrows and gaze upward:
A carved rood screen separates the choir from the nave. The chancel and decorated vault:
The Sun of York:
On the south wall is the Milton Organ, which is one of the oldest organs still in use. It was originally built for Magdalene College Oxford in 1631 but was bought by the people of Tewkesbury in the 18th century:
Tewkesbury Abbey is blessed with some extraordinary chantry chapels. There are three small chantry chapels off the north wall of the sanctuary; the Warwick chapel, the founder's chapel and the canopied tomb of Hugh Lord Despenser and his wife Elizabeth Montague, with their alabaster effigies:
Figure of a kneeling Edward praying is best seen from the ambulatory on the far side of the choir by the Founder's or Warwick Chapels. The attitude and position of the kneeling figure are unique and it is possibly one of the finest monuments of its type in existence:
Inside, There are amazing vaulted ceiling, many tombs and small chapels. The Tewkesbury Abbey is the resting place of Edward of Westminster, the son of Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou and sole heir of Henry VI, who died at the Battle of Tewkesbury in year 1471. The abbey was an host to the terrible aftermath of the battle. The Battle took place almost at the Abbey gates, and when the defeated Lancastrian soldiers took refuge inside the Abbey, they were slaughtered by King Edward IV's men. A reminder of that dreadful event can be seen in the sacristy door; the inner surface of the door is inset with metal from armour found after the battle. Edward of Lancaster's, Prince of Wales, was killed in the battle, and though his final resting place is not known for certain, his memorial is in the Abbey. The only Prince of Wales ever to die in battle. He was aged only 17 at his death:
Saint Dunstan's Chapel - the reredos/icons above the small altar is a reproduction of a 15thC Flemish painting showing the Passion of Christ.Tewkesbury:
There is a small altar at the east end. High on the wall above is a beautiful mural of the Holy Trinity with God the Father holding the body of the crucified Christ with an angel on either side. The small figures at the edges are Lord Edward and his wife Anne:
There is a tearoom/cafe' (separate building across the road) with snacks and home-made cakes and scones. Free admission. Open every day except Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
From the Abbey's gates - you can adopt the Tewkesbury Battle Trail (one hour - hour and a half). There is a special leaflet (from the Tourist Information Office). From my experience the trail is NOT worthwhile. It passes along meadows, grass and green fields. No more.
We exit the Abbey grounds from the north-west gate to Mill Street heading north-west until we hit the Avon river and the Abbey Mill. Tewkesbury has a history of flour milling spanning many centuries. Monks from Tewkesbury abbey used to produce flour at a watermill on the Avon, The Abbey Mill is believed to date back to around the 12th century when the river Avon was diverted into the town to power the mill of the Benedictine Monastry. The Abbey Mill is resting upon the Mill Avon, a channel allegedly built by the monks. The present building is 18th Century and was in use until 1933. The massive Healings Mill complex, we see today, was built for Samuel Healing in 1865. It did not start out that big, but bits were added here and there over the years and it grew into a sprawling tangle of different aged buildings. Luckily, the handsome 1865 buildings survive today:
At the other end of the mill is the entrance to the peaceful Victoria Gardens where you can sit and relax next to the river. A true English garden not to be missed. They are, actually, situated behind Church Street. Bordered by the Avon river on the west, the wooden Avon Mill on the east and the Severn Ham (see below) on the north. it is a lovely site, very tranquil and very well preserved by the local authority:
You exit the garden through the northern gate (near the car park by the Abbey). In the north side of the pleasure gardens - you see a waterfall. Here, starts the Severn Ham - an island meadow land between Avon Mill and the Severn river. It is, formally, part of the Avon river. You can see here various types of birds (ducks, herons, kingfishers, swans). It will take, at least, 30 minutes to walk round the island. Most of the walk is unpaved but it's pretty flat and NOT difficult (if not flooded ! Floods are more frequent during the winters. Avoid when it rains !). There are benches, here and there, particularly along the eastern side that borders the Avon Mill. You can tailor the route and the distance to your energy level. Sometimes the island is shared by herds of sheep. Keep your eye on the path NOT to step on "Bio Mine"...
To return to the city - connect with St. Mary Road and walk along it northward. St. Mary Road meets Church Street in two points. The more southern one is near the Abbey Cottages and Moore Country Museum. The more northern one is near the Royal Hop Pole Hotel and Bar (NOW, Whetherspoons restaurant).
The Abbey Cottages are a continuous terrace of small timber-framed buildings dating back to the late 15th or early 16th century. The Abbey Cottages, adjacent to Tewkesbury Abbey, were built between 1410 and 1412 for the Benedictine Monastery as a commercial venture and consisted of shops which were opened to the street by lowering their shutters to act as counters. They are believed to have been built by and for the monks of the abbey. They were restored 1967 to 1972 by the Abbey Lawn Trust, a building preservation charity. This beautiful row of cottages houses the John Moore Countryside Museum. John Moore was a local author of books on the area and also a broadcaster. A few doors along you will find another museum which is called the 'Little Museum'. This museum is a restored merchant's house, retaining many of it's medieval features:
In case you chose to visit the Abbey Cottages, more in the south, first - push along Church Street - heading to Royal Hop Pole Hotel. On your way, on your left, you see the Old Baptist Chapel, part of the Moore Museum:
The Royal Hop Pole Hotel (golden sign on a white house) in Church Street (which has recently been converted into a part of the Wetherspoons pub chain with the discovery of a former medieval banqueting hall in the structure), mentioned in Charles Dickens' The Pickwick Papers:
It is 500 m. walk back to the High Street - to your bus to Gloucester or Cheltenham.
Start & End: Bristol Temple Meads railway station. Weather and Timing: Only sunny days. Cloudy (NOT rainy) days are acceptable. Expect vast crowds in the weekends along the floating harbour docks. Do not miss the Millennium Square. Bristol always means good vibes - but, reserve it for a sunny day, PLEASE. Duration: one busy day. Orientation: I fell in love with Bristol - although I picked a gloomy day. It is a very promising city. Good vibe and variety ! A great, FREE walk ! A long, busy, quite demanding day. Distance: 18 km.
Part/Tip 1: From Temple Meads to College Green.
Part/Tip 2: From Brandon Hill back to Temple Meads.
Tip 1 Main Attractions: St Mary Redcliffe Church, Floating Harbour, Queen Square, Thelka ship, Pero's Bridge, Anchor Square, Millennium Square, Millennium Promenade, Hannover Quay, SS Great Britain (view from Hannover Quay), College Green, Bristol City Hall, Bristol Cathedral, St Mark's, The Lord Mayor's Chapel.
Introduction and orientation: One of Britain's most popular tourist destinations. The Sunday Times named it as the best city in Britain in which to live in 2014 and 2017, and Bristol also won the EU's European Green Capital Award in 2015. A city of huge potential for growth, investments, attractions and long-run flourishing. Bristol's modern economy is built on the creative media, electronics and aerospace industries, Bristol extensive docks have been redeveloped as magnets for tourism and culture. It is located not far from thr border with Wales. It has an airport and two main railway stations: Bristol Temple Meads and Bristol Parkway mainline. Bristol is one of the warmest and sunniest cities in the UK. Rain is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year. Autumn and winter are the wetter seasons. BUT, winter frosts are frequent. Snow occasionally falls from November to April. Bristol is the 11th most populated city in the UK with, approximately, 430,000 inhabitants. The city has its own currency - the Bristol Pound. A typical example for spirit of independence and creativity. The spire fell after being struck by lightning in 1446 and was not rebuilt until 1872. The original stained glass windows were damaged in the English Civil War - and very little remained from them.
Part 1- From Temple Meads to College Green:
We exit westward from Temple Meads station, turn right to Temple Gate. In the 1st cross-lights (Temple Circus) we turn LEFT (west) and the same with the 2nd cross-lights. Just follow the signs to "Harborside".
We follow the Redcliffe Way westward, when the Double Tree Hilton Hotel is on our left. 80 metres further west - you see the St Mary Redcliffe Church. St Mary Redcliffe is one of the largest churches in England, and some state that it is the largest of all. Built from the 12th to the 15th centuries - but, the major part of the mighty church dates from the late 13th and 14th centuries when it was built and decorated by wealthy merchants of the city whose tomb and monuments decorate the church interiors. The church is sited on the red cliffs, above the floating harbour, and was originally at the very centre of shipping and industry, which is the key to its history. The merchants of the Port of Bristol began and ended their voyages at the shrine of Our Lady of Redcliffe. The spire is also the third tallest among parish churches, and it is the tallest building in Bristol. The spire fell after being struck by lightning in 1446 and was not rebuilt until 1872. The original stained glass windows were damage during the English Civil War, caused by Oliver Cromwell's men. Very little had remained of them - new glass being added, mainly, during the Victorian era. Gorgeous church. Allow 20-30 minutes for visiting this church. Open: MON - SAT: 08.30 - 17.00, During certain festivals, the Church is only open for worship:
This church has lovely, unusual exotic carvings on the outside walls:
Very calming and great variety of things to look inside. The Calmness derives from the thick walls. You cannot hear the 15 bells of the church if they ring outside ! The walls consist almost entirely of large stained glass windows, filling the interior with light.
The highly decorated vaulted ceiling in St Mary Redcliffe:
Nave roof with gilded bosses:
The lady Chapel:
William Canynges tomb 15th century:
St John’s Chapel, now known as The American Chapel holds the tomb and armour of Admiral Sir William Penn, father of Pennsylvania's founder. Look out for the giant whale-bone next to the chapel, a souvenir brought back to Bristol by John Cabot in 1497 following his expedition from Bristol to discover North America:
If you get the chance to hear some choir and organ music here, it is well worth it:
We leave St Mary Redcliffe Church and continue walking west along Redcliffe Way. Before crossing the Avon river over the Redcliffe Bascule Bridge we see this sculpture on our left:
After crossing Redcliffe Bascule Bridge with our face to the west - we see this custom house on our right:
and, next, this modern building on the right (west) bank of Avon river:
But, your main sight, at the moment, is the view of the Avon river entering the city from west to east, and, later, flowing from south to north:
Bristol's history as a trading port stretches back to 1051 when it was listed in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. By the 14th-century, the city was trading with Spain, Portugal and Iceland, and ships were also leaving Bristol to found new colonies in the New World. Bristol's history as part of the slave trade is well documented. In 1809, Bristol was transformed by the opening of the Floating Harbour to overcome the challenge of the second highest tidal range in the world. Over the next two centuries the harbour grew as a busy commercial port until it closed in 1975, and, has now, transformed into an amazing destination for leisure, business and residence. 80 acres of tidal river were impounded to allow visiting ships to remain afloat all the time.
The Floating Harbour near Redcliffe Way:
After crossing the Avon and the bridge we pass Welsh Way on our right and arrive to the Old City and to the Queen Square.The site on which the Square was built lay outside Bristol's old city walls and was known as the Town Marsh. The Square was planned in 1699 and building finished in 1727. It was named in honour of Queen Anne. The north side and much of the west were destroyed in the Bristol Riots of 1831 (after the House of Lords rejected the second Reform Bill, which aimed to get rid of some of the rotten boroughs and give Britain's fast growing industrial towns such as Bristol, Manchester, Birmingham, Bradford and Leeds, greater representation in the House of Commons) and rebuilt. In 1937 the Inner Circuit Road was driven diagonally across the Square but in 2000 it was removed and the open space restored.Many of the buildings now have listed building status. Coming from the east to the square - you see, first, this impressive building with sculptures:
The Square had been restored to a very high standard. The railings and forecourts of the surrounding buildings have been reinstated, and the central open space with its promenades and equestrian statue restored to their former grandeur. The restoration is recognized as a major success. In the centre of the Square is a statue of William III by John Michael Rysbrack, cast in 1733 and erected in 1736 to signify the city's loyalty (bad state). I've been in this square in June, when the Comedy Festival took place and the square's centre had been closed. It is rather a huge (the second largest in England, second to Bath) historic square with sculptures, beautiful Georgian buildings and huge chestnut and macadam trees:
We are stone's throw from the floating harbour. From the square we walk SOUTHWARD to Grove Avenue, turn RIGHT (west) to The Grove. On our left is the Mud Dock and, in the corner, the Thelka ship: a former cargo ship moored in the Mud Dock. The ship was built in Germany in 1958 and worked in the coastal trades. In 1983 the ship was bought to Bristol. It was used as a theatre, cabaret, comedy, plays, musicals, and poetry events. The ship also contained an art gallery. The ship has now been returned to its original working name of Thekla and is run as a night club:
We turn right (NORTH) and we reach a bridge (south to north) that connects with Prince Street (Prince Street Bridge). Here we have a views (better ones in a sunny day...) of the harbour's basins and piers:
Turn your head right to see the St Mary Redcliffe Church in the east:
We cross the bridge and walk a bit along Prince Street from SOUTH to NORTH. On our left is the Arnolfini Centre for Contemporary Arts. The listed building also houses a popular café bar (open ONLY from 19.00 or 20.00):
If you walk, a bit, more to the north promenade along the channel (parallel and west of Prince Street) - you'll see the famous V-Shed waterfront and bar, Canon's Road (one of the most famous bars in Bristol) - Bordeaux Quay:
On our right is the Grain House (right from the Narrow Quay), 14 Narrow Quay. The building includes a restaurant and YHA hostel. Beyond it the Pero's Bridge with its horn-shaped counterweights which connects west and east banks of the channel / promenade from south to north or, in other words, It links Queen Square (Farr's Lane) in the (more tranquil) Old City and the bustling entertainment area of the Millennium Square and Bristol Aquarium. The bridge was designed by the Irish artist Eilis O'Connell. The name reminds us, again, Bristol's link to slavery: the Bridge is named after Pero Jones, an enslaved African who came to live in Bristol. Pero Jones was bought by wealthy slave plantation owner and sugar merchant, John Pinney, to work on his local plantations:
Before you step onto the Pero's Bridge - look to your left (west): the Bordeaux Quay:
... and to the east:
Walk along Pero's Bridge and we arrive to Anchor Square. Located right by the Waterfront its in a lovely location, and all the places surrounding the square are very modern and beautifully designed. The square is equipped with beautiful fountains and water displays. It is really just a nice place to go to especially when they've got some kind of entertainment going on or they are screening a live show or play in the giant plasma situated at the adjacent Millennium Square. On our right is the Bristol Aquarium:
Opposite is the the massive @ Bristol building (see below). On your left is the Pryzm Building:
We walk a bit further WEST to arrive to the stunning Millennium Square. A breathtaking square. A great big BBC screen for the sports-inclined and large water features, fountains and pools for the little ones.
Millennium Square is home to a BBC Big Screen and a large water feature:
A bronze statue of Bristol-born actor Cary Grant by sculptor Graham Ibbeson was unveiled by Grant's widow in 2001:
Other bronze sculptures include William Penn:
and poet Thomas Chatterton- all three by Lawrence Holofcener:
There are also a number of small painted bronze Jack Russell terrier dogs by Cathie Pilkington, some of which are set into the paved surface, as if they were swimming:
The Energy Tree, designed by artist John Packer provides free mobile phone charging points and Wi-Fi:
We continue WESTWARD along the Millennium Promenade -on our left are colored blocks of residence:
and Rainbow Casino. Crossing the Cathedral Way and Canon's Way along the Millennium Promenade, very nice paved path/bridge - on both our sides are nice blocks and pretty plantation:
The complex of buildings on your left form "The Crescent" of Bristol (see our blog on Bath):
The Millennium Promenade ends, in the west, in Hannover Quay viewing platform: a wooden bridge/path with stunning views of the port and Brunel's historic ss Great Britain (in the opposite bank). Here, in this point - you see the genius in constructing the floating port of Bristol: an artificial dockland area within the very urban confines of Bristol had been carved out of the landscape between 1804 and 1809. By the installation of cleverly-placed locks on the River Avon (and the cutting of a new channel that, to this day, allows the great waterway to skirt the centre of the city), the harbour helped Bristol to cement its place as arguably Britain's key port of the time (Liverpool was its main rival) – despite the fact that it sits some five miles inland from the Severn Estuary ! The Floating Harbour is one of the most thriving areas of the city, thanks to a multi-million-pound regeneration effort that, since the 1980s, has transformed Bristol harbour from a time-faded industrial zone into a major tourist attraction:
The SS Great Britain is the highlight of Bristol Harbour. You can see it, a bit from a distance, from Hannover Quay landing point. In 1970 the SS Great Britain returned to the original Great Western Dockyard where she had been built - on the opposite bank of Hannover Quay. You can cross the rive to the ship - by ferry:
We retrace our steps and walk the whole way from Hnnover Quay BACK to the Millennium Square. On our right wall paintings and graffitties:
We turn left onto Cathedral Walk, turn right (north-east) to Anchor Road. On our right is the Ibis Centre hotel (lavatories !). Around you can find several budget restaurants and eateries. I ate in the Slug and Lettuce - grilled salmon + king prawn risotto + drink: 11.67 GBP. We cross the premises of the Cathedral Choir Primary School (might be closed during specific hours along the mornings) (the school on our right, east) and we climb, heading to the Bristol Cathedral. We pass through a marvelous gate adjacent to the Central Library - arriving to the MAGNIFICENT College Square or College Green. College Green is surrounded by a number of historic and important public buildings, including the Council House, the Lord Mayor's Chapel, the Cathedral and the Abbey Gatehouse.
Rammohun Roy statue by Niranjan Sarkar’s statue was unveiled in 1997 in College Green or College Square near the Cathedral. Rajah Rammohun Roy (1772 - 1833), known as the 'Father of Modern India' is buried in Bristol, where he died suddenly in 1833. Rammohun Roy's far reaching influence in India was apparent in the fields of politics, public administration and education as well as religion. The Rajah is remembered in India particularly for founding the Brahmo-Samaj, the Hindu reform movement, and for his work in fighting for women’s rights, including an end to "sati", the practice of widow-burning:
Another statue is of Queen Victoria's which stands at the apex of the College Green:
You cannot miss, on your left (WEST) the grandiose Bristol City Hall built as crescent. It was designed in the 1930s but built after World War II. The architect was Vincent Harris. Nowadays, it is a great venue for conferences, meetings and events. We also have several rooms which are licensed for weddings and civil partnerships:
When we climbed to the College Green where our face to the north - the Bristol City Hall is on our left (east side of College Green) and the Bristol Cathedral is, immediately, on our right (south side of College Green hill).
Founded in 1140 and consecrated in 1148, Much of the church was rebuilt in the 14th century. In the 15th century the transept and central tower were added. The nave was demolished during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539. In the 19th century a new nave was built by George Edmund Street partially using the original plans. The structure of the church was completed with the Pearson's towers in 1888. Little of the original stained glass remains with some being replaced in the Victorian era and most replaced after the Bristol Blitz in WW2.
Muslim pupils visiting the Cathedral:
Remarkable feature of Bristol Cathedral is the vaulting of its various medieval spaces. The work that was carried out under Abbot Knowle. The spectacular vaulting of the choir and tower(s) can be seen from the Cathedral's nave, with clustered columns and marble shafts:
Effigy of Sir Charles Vaughan (a Welsh landowner) in Bristol Cathedral:
South Transept - This carving of the Harrowing of Hell is one of the finest examples of Anglo-Saxon stonework in existence, and the most important object to survive from Bristol before the Norman Conquest. It proves that there was a place of worship on this site in ancient times. It dates from just before the Norman Conquest. The Harrowing is the term used to describe the newly risen Christ descending into hell, standing on the head of Satan, to assert his victory over the powers of evil, and to rescue Adam and Eve (representing all people) from imprisonment:
Berkeley Chapel - This chapel was originally a vestry and place of prayer for the souls of the Berkeley family. The Family are the only English family still in existence in England that can trace its ancestors from father to son back to Saxon times. English history has been lived out within these walls - and by this family. The Castle ( in the town of Berkeley, Gloucestershire) is the oldest building in the country to be inhabited by the same family who built it:
Berkeley Tombs (14th century Lords) - Memorial of Thomas B. Ferrers Berkeley (died 1321) and Lady Joan Ferrers (Died 1301):
Adjacent to the Berkeley Chapel are the Eastern Lady Chapel (photo below) and the Choir:
There are also marvelous stained-glass windows:
In the most northern end of College Green (just the opposite direction to the Bristol Cathedral) waits for you the St Mark's, The Lord Mayor's Chapel. The Chapel was built in year 1230, by Maurice de Gaunt, a cousin of Thomas, Lord Berkeley (see above), as the chapel to St Mark's Hospital. The Hospital, served by a number of clergy and lay brothers, served the city citizens. In 1541 Henry VIII emptied the complex, at the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and the City fathers purchased the buildings and extensive lands from him. The Lord Mayor's Chapel is now the only building left. Nowadays, it is the only municipally-owned church in the UK. Open: WED - SUN:10.00 - 12.00, 13.00 - 16.00:
We head now to Brandon Hill. Move to Part/Tip 2 below.