"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years." - Abraham Lincoln

Posted on January 28, 2017 by Sioux under General
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Once in London, with no firm plan in mind, I just walked. Taking in the sights and sounds that were now becoming so familiar. With a family visit due soon, I wanted to make mental notes of where to take them on walkabouts while we were staying in London. Needless to say, my camera was always at hand! I wandered around central London for just on 6 hours, and then headed home. A fabulous day out, with many sights revisited and others only just found! There were a load of construction sites around central London, with cranes cluttering the skyline.

The Southern Railway, sometimes shortened to ‘Southern’, is a British railway company established in 1923. It linked London with the Channel ports, South West England, South coast resorts and Kent. The railway was formed by the amalgamation of several smaller railway companies. The construction of what was to become the Southern Railway began in 1838. 


Little Ben is a cast iron miniature clock tower, just outside of Victoria Station. Its design mimics the famous clock tower better known as Big Ben.


There is a rhyming couplet “Apology for Summer Time” affixed to the body of the clock: My hands you may retard or may advance my heart beats true for England as for France. It is a reference to the fact that the clock is permanently on Daylight Saving Time leading to the time being correct for France during the winter months and correct for the UK during the summer. 

                                                                                                                                                             From Victoria Station, I ambled through the streets                                                                                                                                                                      towards Buckingham Palace.


                                                                                                                                                             Historical records provide information dating back to                                                                                                                                                                  1775, when a tavern known as the “Bacchanals” stood                                                                                                                                                              at the corner of King’s Row and lower Grosvenor                                                                                                  Place. The original sign of Bag O’ Nails pub in Victoria, showed a satyr of the woods and a                                                                                            group of jolly dogs called Bacchanals, but the satyr being painted black with cloven feet was                                                                                          called the Devil by common people, where the bacchanals were transmuted to a comical                                                                                   process into a Bag O’ Nails, after the play by Ben Jonson. From 1820 onward the new Grosvenor                                                 Belgravia estate was in the process of development and the tavern was completed and leased for an annual rent of                    £50. The name of the tavern was only formally changed from the Devil & Bag O’ Nails as late as 1905, with the lease of 6 Buckingham Palace Road to a licensed victualler. The pub opened shortly after George III bought the Duke of Buckingham’s London home. 


                                                                The Victoria Memorial is a monument to Queen Victoria, located at the end of The Mall, just

                                                                in front of Buckingham Palace. Designed in 1901, and unveiled on 16 May 1911, it was not

                                                                completed until 1924. The central pylon of the memorial is of Pentelic marble, and individual

                                                                statues are in Carrara marble and gilt bronze.


The memorial weighs 2,300 tonnes and is 31.7m wide. 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 the 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). These were created from solid blocks of marble, with Truth being sculpted from a block weighing 40 tonnes.


The Memorial was devoted to the “qualities which made the Queen so great and so much beloved.” The statue of the Queen was placed to face towards the city, while flanked by Truth and Justice as “she was just and she sought the truth always”; while the Motherhood was to represent her “great love for her people”. 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). The self-bases of the last two groups are inscribed the gift of New Zealand. Standing nearly 25m tall, the Victoria Memorial remains the tallest monument to a King or Queen in England.  


Buckingham Palace is the London residence and administrative headquarters of the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom. Located in the City of Westminster, the palace is often at the centre of state occasions and royal hospitality. It has been a focal point for the British people at times of national rejoicing and mourning.


Originally known as Buckingham House, the building at the core of today’s palace was a large townhouse built for the Duke of Buckingham in 1703 on a site that had been in private ownership for at least 150 years. It was acquired by King George III in 1761 as a private residence for Queen Charlotte and became known as The Queen’s House. 


During the 19th century it was enlarged, with three wings around a central courtyard being added. Buckingham Palace became the London residence of the British monarch on the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837. The   last major structural additions were made in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including the East front,         which contains the well-known balcony on which the royal family traditionally congregate to greet crowds.

During World War II, the palace was bombed nine times, the most serious and publicised of which resulted in the destruction of the palace chapel in 1940. The Queen’s Gallery was built on the site and opened to the public in 1962. The palace has 775 rooms, and has the largest private garden in London. The state rooms, used for official and state entertaining, are open to the public each year for most of August and September, and on some days in winter and spring. The palace measures 108m x 120m, is 24m high and contains over 77,000 m2 of floorspace. The floor area is smaller than the Royal Palace of Madrid, the Papal Palace and Quirinal Palace in Rome, the Louvre in Paris, the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, and the Forbidden City. There are 775 rooms, including 19 state rooms, 52 principal bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices, and 78 bathrooms. The palace has its own post office, cinema, swimming pool, doctor’s surgery, and jeweller’s workshop.  

A huge Royal coat of arms adorns the gates of Buckingham Palace. Also referred to as the Royal Arms for short, this is the official coat of arms of  the British monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II. Variants of the Royal Arms are used by other members of the Royal Family; and by the British government government in connection with the administration and government of the country. In Scotland, there exists a separate version of the Royal Arms, a variant of which is used by the Scotland Office. 

Some of the decorative elements on the pillars of the main gates of Buckingham Palace include cherubic figures, dolphins and crowns. A lot of these date back to Victorian times and are made from Coade stone, which explains the lack of erosion.  

Sometime in the late 1800’s – early 1900’s, Walter Gilbert of the Bromsgrove

Guild produced a presentation piece which gained the commission to

produce the wrought iron gates at the entrance to Buckingham Palace. The piece he put forward was a gate lock surrounded by tumbling cherubs at play. It is thought that his baby daughter Margot, was the model for the cherubs, which helped secure this most prestigious commission.

The Royal Household Cavalry is made up of the two most senior regiments of the British Army, the Life Guards and the Blues and Royals (Royal Horse Guards and 1st Dragoons). These regiments are divided between the Armoured Regiment and the ceremonial mounted unit, the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment. The Household Cavalry is part of the Household Division and is the Queen’s official bodyguard. The Queen’s Guard and Queen’s Life Guard are the names given to contingents of soldiers charged with guarding the official royal residences in the United Kingdom.


The Queen’s Guard are fully operational soldiers, not purely ceremonial, despite tourist perceptions to the contrary. The mounted guard of the Household Cavalry is called the Queen’s Life Guard, and wear the ceremonial helmets; while the dismounted guard of infantry is called the Queen’s Guard, and wear the black bear-skin hats. The Grenadier Guards, an infantry regiment of the British Army, are the sentries that stand guard outside Buckingham Palace.


The standard bearskin hat of the British Grenadier Guards is 0.45m tall, weighs 0.68kgs and is made from the fur of the Canadian black bear. Approximately 100 skins are taken every year from the annual cull of thousands of bears by native Inuit hunters in a Canadian programme to keep numbers under control. 

I walked from Buckingham Palace through St James Park, stopping along the way to watch some cyclists participating in the RideLondon Cycle Race, come flying past. 

My dream home in England – Duck Island Cottage, is a gorgeous little house in St James Park which is also the offices of the London Historic Parks and Gardens Trust. Is very aptly named as it occupies a site which has long been the home of numerous aquatic birds. Birds of various kinds have been kept at St James Park since 1612, when James I began converting the swampy chase of the Tudor monarchs into a formal garden.


Along what is now Birdcage Walk, an

aviary was established and waterfowl,

both native and foreign, found refuge

in the park. 


I wandered around in St James Park for

a while and then headed back into town.

The Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Walk is an 11 km long circular walking trail in central London, dedicated to the memory of Diana, Princess of Wales. The walk passes through Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, Green Park and St. James’s Park in a figure-eight pattern, passing five sites that are associated with her life: Kensington Palace, Spencer House, Buckingham Palace, St. James’s Palace, and Clarence House.

It is marked with ninety individual plaques, each of which has an aluminium heraldic rose etched in the centre. 


Another of the plaques I found was for Frederick Winsor, who tried to persuade Parliament to approve a charter to incorporate a national gas company. As part of this campaign in 1807 he erected 13 lamp-posts in Pall Mall fed by a pipe buried under the pavement from his house.


When lit, observers noted the light had a “much superior brilliancy”. This       was the first time that a street had been lit by gas. The lights were lit on         several occasions during the next couple of years as he continued trying     to obtain the support of Parliament.  


The Duke of York Column is a monument in London, to Prince Frederick, Duke of York, the second eldest son of King George III. It is sited where Regent Street meets The Mall, in between the two terraces of Carlton House Terrace and their tree-lined squares. The three very wide flights of steps down to The Mall adjoining are known as the Duke of York Steps. The granite column was completed in December 1832 and the statue of the Duke of York, was raised on 10 April 1834. When he died in 1827, the entire British Army, by general consensus following a proposal of the senior officers, gave up one day’s wages to pay for a monument to the Duke. The Duke is remembered in the children’s nursery rhyme, “The Grand Old Duke of York”. 


Trafalgar Square is a public square in the City of Westminster, built around the area formerly known as Charing Cross. Its name commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar,  a British naval victory in the Napoleonic Wars with France and Spain that took place on 21 October 1805 off the coast of Cape Trafalgar, Spain. Nelson’s Column is a monument the Square built to commemorate Admiral Horatio Nelson, who died at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.


The monument was constructed between 1840 and 1843 at a cost of £47,000. It is a column of the Corinthian order built from Dartmoor granite. The statue of Nelson is Craigleith sandstone and the four bronze lions on the base, were added in 1867. The pedestal is decorated with four bronze relief panels, each 5.5m square, cast from captured French guns. They depict the Battle of Cape St Vincent, the Battle of the Nile, the Battle of Copenhagen and the Death of Nelson at Trafalgar.  


With no firm plan in mind, I meandered up and down the streets, stopping to look at whatever took my fancy.  

The Eleanor crosses were a series of twelve lavishly decorated stone monuments topped

with tall crosses, of which three survive nearly intact, in a line down part of the east of

England. King Edward I had the crosses erected between 1291 and 1294 in memory of

his wife Eleanor of Castile, marking the nightly resting-places along the route taken when

her body was transported to London.


The cross at Charing Cross, was the most expensive, and was built of marble. The original cross stood at the top of Whitehall on the south side of Trafalgar Square, but was destroyed

on the orders of Parliament in 1647 during the Civil War, and was replaced by an

equestrian statue of Charles I in 1675 following the Restoration.

This point in Trafalgar Square is regarded as the official centre of London in legislation and when measuring distances from London. A replacement cross was erected in 1865 in front of Charing Cross railway station, a few hundred yards to the east along the Strand. It is not a faithful replica, being more ornate than the original.


It stands 21 m high and was commissioned by the South

Eastern Railway Company for their newly opened Charing

Cross Hotel.


I was getting thirsty and hungry, so being as how it was close to lunch time, I popped into an old favourite that I was introduced to by my sister, The Nell Gywnne. The pub was built on the site of the Old Bull Inn and was named after the infamous mistress of Charles II. Nell, born and raised in the locality, sold fruit at the nearby Covent Garden market before going on to gain fame as an actress. The Nell is one of modern day London’s most charming and historic ‘hidden treasures’. It also boasts one of London’s best jukeboxes, packed with classic ‘45’ records.  



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One response to “R & R time #2 – Tramping about in the city!”

  1. Derrick Baney says:

    Looking Good – looks like life is far better than the old Agency days

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