Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace, Hyde Parkand Red Buses, Crown Jewels and London Dungeons, Underground and Oxford Circus- London’s luxurious, sometimes gruesome, always fascinating history – that’s the classic Tourist Map of London. It fills you with awe and leaves you inspired.
But if you want to fall in love with London, wonder at its beauty, lose yourself in its history – then stop rushing; stroll into its mystical gardens, its hidden galleries and its secret bookshops. London is a ‘saucerful of secrets,’ a wonderland of treasures ‘cause if you hurry through you’ll miss the White Rabbit and the Red Queen!
The restored ruins of Henry VIII’s childhood home, Eltham Palace, in southeast London, are a monument to fine craftsmanship and art deco luxury. Decadent and enchanting:
Also known as The Little Shop of Horrors,’ Viktor Vynd’s ‘Last Tuesday Society Gallery is an old-fashioned curiosity shop filled with the macabre, the strange and the surreal – a shrunken head with eyes and mouth sewn shut takes price of place. You get the picture. Must see.
The mind and body will need serenity after that encounter and there’s no place more tranquil in London than the Kyoto Gardens hidden away in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea:
This Soho patisserie sells ‘fantasmagorical’ cakes says TimeOut London and scrumptious chocolate. With a name like Choccywoccydoodah, what else can you do but agree:
If books and black cats be your fancy, amble over to Hatchard’s on Piccadilly; it’s the oldest bookshop in London – only built in 1797 – and boasts six flights of rickety wooden steps to prove it. Wander through and shiver in delight as the ghosts of Oscar Wilder and Lord Byron flit past. Oh, and it’s the Royal Family’s official supplier of books.
London’s churches, cemeteries and gardens are hidden in every nook and corner of the city. Sometimes you stumble over them like Postman’s Park, just a little wander past St Pauls Cathedral full of memorials and plaques like this one:
Others like St Dunstan’s of the East, a ruined,medieval church nestled in the heart of London, must be discovered and cherished: