There are many royal London residences past and present visited by tourists today, such as Buckingham Palace and Hampton Court Palace. However, not all monarchy’s abodes have survived the test of time. The remains of one such royal residence can still be seen today, and in an area somewhat off the usual tourist trail.
The foundations of King Edward III’s (1312 – 1377) manor house stands near the River Thames in Rotherhithe. With the grass surrounding the ruins dipped low, you could easily imagine where the former moat used to flow around it. The house was built as a country escape outside the City of London by the King in 1353. At the time, the land upon which the foundations were laid was a low-lying island surrounded by marshland. The original manor house comprised of several stone buildings around a court. Water flowed around three sides of the complex so the king could arrive by boat along the Thames. On site included a gatehouse, hall with grand fireplace, kitchens and the king’s private chambers.
Although many royal residences were established as bases for hunting, Rotherhithe had no royal park so this function was ruled out. However, King Edward III was known as a keen falconer, with some historians believing he used the manor house as a base for falconry over the river or surrounding marshland.
Following Edward’s death, the waterline changed in the decades that followed, so by the late 16th century, the south bank of the river had reclaimed some of the Thames, pushing the waterline north so a road ran alongside it. However, the moat remained and eventually surrounded the manor house on all four sides. The Crown sold the property to private owners and it was known as ‘the moted place’. In the 17th century, there was a pottery on the site, followed by warehouses during the 18th and 19th centuries. In 1907, the façade of the north wall of the house had actually been incorporated into a warehouse building. The warehouses were eventually demolished in the 1980s as part of a redevelopment plan, giving archaeologists at the Museum Of London the chance to excavate and restore the site in 1985. Fortunately, the remains weren’t rebuilt over and are visible to the public today to visit.
Metro Girl likes: While you’re in the area, check out the nearby Angel pub, with an outdoor terrace overlooking the Thames.
- Bermondsey Wall East, Rotherhithe, SE16. Nearest station: Bermondsey or Rotherhithe.
For more Metro Girl’s history posts, click here.
To read about Metro Girl’s visit to the Thames Tunnel built by Brunel, click here.
World War II caused a lot of damage and destruction to Sir Christopher Wren’s churches in the City of London. Some were completely destroyed by bombs, while some damage was repairable. In some cases, the main church buildings were beyond repair, while their towers were able to be saved. One such church tower now stands alone, stranded on a traffic island with cars and taxis weaving along tarmac roads in the very spot where the congregation used to sit and pray.
St Alban church tower stands on a traffic island on Wood Street, separating the north and southbound traffic. The road starts north of Cheapside and crosses London Wall. A church has stood on the site since at least 930AD, with some arguing it dates back to the 8th century, during the time of Offa, King Of Mercia (757-796AD). The Anglo-Saxon ruler was believed to have had a palace on the site which included a chapel. Offa founded a monastery and abbey dedicated to Saint Alban (the first English martyr, who died in the 3rd or 4th century) in what later became St Albans, Hertfordshire. Offa also dedicated several churches in the City to the martyr, hence the theory the church went back this far. However, later parish records date the church to 930AD. During King John’s (1166-1216) reign, the church was called St Alban Wuderstrate. Records in the 16th century show the Medieval church included five bells.
By 1633, the church was in a pretty bad state. Architect Inigo Jones (1573-1652), landowner/politician Sir Henry Spiller and others inspected the building and found it was beyond repair so it was demolished with a new one constructed on the site a year later. After designing the first 17th century St Alban, Jones went on to repair and remodel St Paul’s Cathedral. However, Jones’s replacement of St Alban’s Church didn’t stand long thanks to the Great Fire Of London in 1666, which destroyed great swathes of the City.
St Alban became one of the many churches rebuilt by Wren after the Great Fire. Construction was completed in 1685 and was fashioned in a late Perpendicular Gothic style at a cost of £3,165. The new building featured piers shaped as clustered columns separating the structure into naves and aisles. At the north end of the church was a bell tower, which stood tall at 92 foot (28 metres) and included two bells. In the 19th century, the church was restored by another acclaimed architect, Sir George Gilbert Scott (1811-1878). Sir George was famous for building St Pancras station and the Albert Memorial and had a fondness for a neo-Gothic style, which would have suited Wren’s original design. Scott added an apse (a semi-circular recess) to the structure during his restoration. (For a photo of St Alban in 1875, click here.)
However, around 274 years after the Great Fire Of London destroyed the City of London, this time it was the Nazi bombing campaign. St Alban was hit by a bomb on 29 December 1940, which left the building burnt out and partially destroyed, with only the tower intact. The main church building was eventually demolished in 1955, but it was decided the tower should remain after being designated a Grade II-listed building in January 1950. Today, the bells have long since been removed and the tower was converted into a private building in the mid 1980s.
Other existing Wren church towers in London missing the main church building included Christ Church Greyfriars, St Dunstan-In-The-East, All Hallows Staining, St Augustine Watling Street, St Mary Somerset and St Olave Old Jewry.
- St Alban church tower stands on Wood Street, EC2. Nearest tube: Moorgate, Barbican or St Paul’s.
For other posts on Sir Christopher Wren’s life and buildings read…
- Christ Church Greyfriars: A little bit of nature amidst the concrete jungle of the City
- Temple Bar: The only surviving gateway into the City of London
- St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street – where the tiered wedding cake began!
- Only 311 stairs… climbing The Monument
- Cardinal’s Wharf: A survivor of 18th century Bankside amidst two London landmarks
For more Metro Girl posts on London history, click here.
Less than two years ago, I blogged about the sorry state of the old Georgian water pump on Cornhill in the City of London. I’m happy to say, it has since been restored and repainted a completely different colour. This post will revisit the history behind the Cornhill pump, which has long stopped providing water, but is now an attractive piece of London’s street furniture and a protected piece of our heritage.
Cornhill is a road in the heart of the City of London, known for its bustling offices and designer boutiques. Located a stone’s throw from the Bank of England, the name Cornhill comes from it being one of the city’s three hills – the others being Tower Hill and Ludgate Hill.
While demand for public wells has ceased over the past 100 years, the staggering history and aesthetics of the City’s old street furniture means many of these pumps can still be seen today. The Cornhill pump is outside the Gucci store at the Royal Exchange, just a minute’s walk up from the junction of Cornhill and Leadenhall Street, the location of ‘The Standard’ – the first mechanically pumped water supply in London. Constructed in 1582 on the site of previous hand-pumped wells, it was discontinued in 1603. As well as being a source for water, The Standard became a meeting place and also the mark from which distances from London were judged, before this later moved to Charing Cross.
Although The Standard pump was discontinued in the early 17th century, back down the hill outside Gucci, the current pump was erected nearly 200 years later. Following the Great Fire of London in 1666 and the rapidly expanding population of the developing city, there was a growing demand for water pumps in the 17th and 18th centuries. In 1708, the Government passed the Parish Pump Act, ordering that every parish in London must have a water pump and designate men to extinguish fires.
In the late 18th century, two of the City’s big players of the time, the East India Company and the Bank of England, together with the local fire stations and local bankers and traders who worked in the area, jointly funded the cast iron pump with an adjoining granite trough. It was designed by architect Nathaniel Wright, who built St Botolph Aldersgate in Postman’s Park and was the surveyor to the north district of the City of London.
The inscription on the road-facing side of the pump reads: ‘On this spot a well was first made and a House of Correction built thereon by Henry Wallis Mayor of London in the year 1282.’ It continues on the Royal Exchange-facing side: ‘The well was discovered much enlarged and this pump erected in the year 1799 by the contributions of the Bank of England, the East India Company, the neighbouring fire offices, together with the bankers and traders of the Ward of Cornhill.’ As well as the inscriptions, the Grade II-listed pump has fire insurance emblems on each side at the top – Royal Exchange, Sun, Phoenix and County. The base facing the Royal Exchange reads ‘Phillips & Hopwood, Engine makers, fecerunt’, which was practically invisible when it was previously painted in black until the restoration. Philips & Hopwood were a Blackfriars-based firm co-owned by Samuel Philips and James Hopwood, who made pumps and fire engines, which existed between 1797-1811. Fecerunt is a Latin term, meaning ‘to put in place’.
When I first spotted the pump in 2012, it was in a sorry state. It was painted in the City of London’s light blue colour, just like the Old Police Telephone posts. However, the paint was peeling, rust was setting in and it generally looked neglected amidst the flashy surrounding buildings of the City. Fortunately, at some point in 2013, the pump was restored and repainted. It now stands shiny and bright, in cream and white paint, complementing the nearby boutiques of the Royal Exchange. The inscriptions have been painted black so are now clearer to read. Unfortunately the granite trough has gone and has been replaced by a small wrought iron railing – presumably to protect the pump from potentially bad parking or drivers! However, the missing trough means you can now read the architect’s name across the road-facing base.
- The Cornhill pump is located on the north side of Cornhill, outside Gucci (9 Change Alley), City of London EC3V. Nearest tube: Bank.
For a Metro Girl post on London police telephone posts, read What’s that small Tardis-looking thing? Story behind London’s police telephone posts.
Or to read about the history of Charing Cross – the ‘centre’ of London after The Standard – click Civil war, centre of London and a memorial to a queen: The story behind Charing Cross
Or for other Metro Girl’s history posts, click here.
Alicante is a great destination for both a city break or longer, with a lot of museums, beaches, churches and is said to be home to Spain’s best nightlife. However, for one week every year in late June the city is taken over by the Hogueras De San Juan (Bonfires of Saint John) festival. In June this year, a group of friends and I decided we wanted a beachside city break somewhere in Europe. We plumped for Alicante and it just happened to take place during Hogueras – one of the biggest festivals in the Andalucian – and more specifically Alicante’s – calendar.
When it came to searching for accommodation, there are a lot of choices – hotels, hotels, pensions and self-catering apartments. I have become a recent convert of AirBnB, having used them in recent months in Venice Beach, California; and Paris. My friends and I were flying in late on a Friday night so didn’t want the hassle of setting an alarm clock for an early hotel breakfast, so decided to go self-catering. Airbnb gives you the chance to rent either rooms or an apartment/house direct from the owner. After much deliberating between staying by the beach or the city centre (which is very compact anyway), we opted for the latter. We chose a one bedroom loft apartment sleeping up to four a stone’s throw from the bullring, located just five minutes walk from the market and 10 from the beach. Before booking, we inquired if a midnight arrival time was too late and happily the owner was able to accommodate us. Before arrival, we were sent the owner’s personal guide to Alicante, with restaurant reviews, opening times of shops, museums, etc, which was very helpful and a nice personal touch. Just as the positive reviews had said, the apartment was modern, spacious, with lots of windows letting in plenty of fresh air, so we were really pleased. We had a balcony that managed to have the sun on it for most of the day so a perfect location for lazy brunches and views of Santa Barbara Castle - the ancient fort on top of the rocky hill overlooking Alicante.
Usually, the apartment would be quiet because it is in a residential area, however during the Fogueras festival the whole city of Alicante is taken over by the festivities. Huge bonfire structures featuring ‘Ninots’ are erected all over the streets, usually a critique of political, societal or cultural issues in Spain or Alicante. Referring to Spain’s current economic problems, I saw one Ninot depicting a 50 euro note with wings. Neighbourhood groups also raise money to create pop-up party venues including restaurants, bars and discos. Throughout the night, these venues will play blaring loud music – hence it may be difficult to sleep if you’re staying in central Alicante, so it’s probably best to forgo sleep and join the fun! Although many of these venues are only open to the neighbourhood residents who have funded it, some are open to the public so you can join in the fun. There are also a host of bars and clubs – many concentrated in the city’s El Barrio (old quarter), which are open to sunrise. Towards the end of the festival, bonfires are lit all over town, while fireworks are set off on a daily basis – both day and night, adding to the noise. It’s worth checking out the daytime firework display ‘mascletàs’, for which ear-plugs are thoroughly recommended! During the festival, there are also nightly parades. Chairs were placed all over town so you could sit and watch bands, dancers and children parade through the town in their traditional dress. The streets were heaving with people of all ages, drinking, dancing and generally enjoying themselves. The atmosphere was amazing.
My friends and I were only in Alicante for a whirlwind two days which went by very quickly. Most of our trip was spent enjoying the sights and sounds of the festival, with a little sightseeing and relaxing in between so I can’t offer much in reviews of the museums and other sights. The city beach Playa Postiguet is popular both day and night, with the Hogueras action moving to the sands in the evening with bonfires dotted around. During the day, we rented sunloungers and an umbrella and enjoyed sipping 5 euro giant glasses of fresh Sangria sold by the vendors while sunning ourselves. If you don’t mind travelling a bit further afield, the Playa San Juan beach is a short drive away and is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the area.
When it came to eating, Alicante is a very affordable city. We had some breakfasts and lunches in our apartment, buying ingredients from a nearby supermarket. As in all Spain, wine and Cava in the supermarket is incredibly good value, with a 3 euro bottle of Cava tasting lovely – something I wouldn’t say for the UK equivalent of alcohol at such a price! On the Saturday night, we visited the incredibly popular El Ático Restaurante in the El Barrio. The rooftop restaurant has views of the neighbouring Cathedral and nearby Santa Barbara Castle and a lovely breeze on those balmy Alicante nights. People eat very late in Alicante – we arrived at El Atico without a reservation and after waiting around 20 minutes, got a table, but didn’t start eating until after midnight! Admittedly the service was a bit haphazard – although I suspect they were short-staffed on the night in question – but our food was delicious. In particular, my starter was absolutely gorgeous – baked camembert with flat crispbread and strawberry jam.
Overall, I can highly recommend Alicante. I would love to return during a non-festival weekend to experience the city in its normal guise, however we felt so lucky that we had (randomly) chosen to visit during the Hogueras. The atmosphere across town was exciting and electric, the city was basically one big party. While admittedly we didn’t get as much rest as we would have liked due to the noise, we thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
For Metro Girl’s blog post on Ibiza, read Back to the White Isle: Relaxing and partying in Ibiza
For other travel posts, click here.
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) was one of the greatest poets and authors of the 19th century. Although born and raised an Irishman, he spent a lot of his life in London and, of course, many of his plays were first staged here, and continue to be staged in the capital over 100 years after his death.
Given his huge contribution to London’s West End with his masterpieces such as The Importance Of Being Earnest and An Ideal Husband, it is only fitting there should be a memorial to him in the city. Unbelievably, it took until 1998 for the great talent to finally be honoured in his former home.
‘A Conversation With Oscar Wilde’ by Maggi Hambling is a bit more interactive than most memorials. I have often walked past it to see people sitting on it eating their lunch, perhaps completely oblivious to what they are resting their posterior on… but they could also be having a quiet moment with Oscar. Unveiled by actor Stephen Fry on the 98th anniversary of his death on 30 November 1998, the piece consists of a granite block, which looks rather coffin-shaped, with the bronze head and shoulders of Oscar peering out. Oscar’s hand originally held a cigarette, but is currently absent, despite being replaced several times. Describing the piece, Hambling has said in the past: ‘The idea is that he is rising, talking, laughing, smoking from this sarcophagus and the passerby, should he or she choose to, can sit on the sarcophagus and have a conversation with him.’
At the tail end of the piece is a quote from his 1892 play Lady Windermere’s Fan (first performed at St James’s Theatre), which is probably one of his most memorable and apt quotes. ‘We are all – in the gutter – but some of us – are looking at – the stars.’
- A Conversation With Oscar Wilde is located on Adelaide Street, WC2, just near the junction of The Strand and Duncannon Street and around the back of St Martin-in-the-Fields Church. Nearest tube: Charing Cross.
For Metro Girl’s blog post on the memorial to composer Arthur Sullivan, a short walk away, read Arthur Sullivan memorial in Embankment Gardens: A racy tribute to a legendary composer
Is it just me or is the summer whizzing by? July means we’re half-way through and with school holidays starting, there will be even more going on in London this month. With the World Cup, Wimbledon and the Commonwealth Games on, there will be a host of outdoor pop-up screens to watch the action. Excitingly, the Tour De France will also be passing through London following the success of cycle races in the capital at the 2012 Olympics.
For a guide to open air music festivals in London this summer click here.
Or if you fancy checking out an open-air pop-up cinema, read our guide here.
For a list of places showing Wimbledon or the FIFA World Cup on the big screen outdoors, click here.
- 3 July – 14 September : Digital Revolution
An immersive exhibition of art, design, film, music and video games exploring the future of the arts through digital. 11am-8pm. Tickets: 12.50. Barbican Centre, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS. Nearest tube: Barbican or Moorgate. For more information, visit the Barbican website.
- 6 – 12 July : Hampstead Summer Festival
Week long festival in and around Hampstead, including the Big Fair on Heath Street (6 July), open art competitions, poetry, art and literacy events, pub quizzes and more. Many activities are free. For more information, visit the Hampstead Summer Festival website.
- 7 July : Tour De France
Having started in Cambridge around midday, the cyclists will head for London, coming from the East through Poplar, Wapping and Shadwell, past the Tower Of London, along the Thames via Lower and Upper Thames Streets and Victoria Embankment, past the Houses of Parliament, around St James’s Park and finishing on The Mall between 15:30 and 16:00. Free for spectators. For more information, visit the TFL website.
- 8 – 13 July : Hampton Court Palace Flower Show
Flower show in the grounds of Hampton Court Palace, featuring three zones Inspire, Grow and Escape. Celebrity guests include Toby Buckland, John Craven, Alys Fowler, Mary Berry CBE, Jonathan Moseley, Rebecca Laws and James Wong. Advance tickets range from £19 to £30 depending on full/half-day. Less for RHS members. Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey KT8 9AU. Nearest train: Hampton Court (from Waterloo). For more information and tickets, visit the RHS website.
- 9 – 25 July : More London Free Music Festival
On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday lunchtimes (12.30pm) and evenings (6.30pm), there will be free music performances in The Scoop near Potter’s Field Park by the Thames. Acts include Cocktail Nation’s Chantelle Duncan, Louise Marshall, Roxanne de Bastion & Respect Music, Ronnie Scott’s Rejects & the London Swing Dance Society and much more. The Scoop, Queen’s Walk, SE1 2DB. Nearest tube: London Bridge. For more information and listings, visit the More London website.
- 10 – 17 July : London Indian Film Festival
Celebration of the hottest new Indian independent cinema, featuring screenings, premieres and masterclasses. BFI Southbank, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XT. Nearest tube: Waterloo. For more information and tickets, visit the festival website.
- 10 July – 31 August : The Power Of Summer
Seven weeks of pop-up events in the grounds of Battersea Power Station. Featuring Street Feast food festival, screenings of films (Pulp Fiction, Drive, Jungle Book and more) and the World Cup final. Park open from noon daily. Tickets: free entry before 5.30pm on weekdays, general admission weekends and evenings: £5.50, screening tickets: £16.50. Battersea Power Station, 188 Kirtling Street, SW8 5BN. Nearest train station: Battersea Park or Queenstown Road Battersea. For more information, visit the Everyman Cinemas website.
- 11 July : Camden Lock Live
One day, free urban boutique festival returns to Camden for a second year, featuring a range of entertainment. Live music from acts such as Whinnie Williams, Jake Isaac, Tigger Da Author, Youth Club and Sam Garrett. Festival also features street performers, dance workshops, cocktails, food, artisan shopping and more. 10am-10pm. Camden Lock, 217 Chalk Farm Road, NW1 8AB. Nearest tube: Camden Town or Chalk Farm. For more information, visit the Camden Lock website.
- 12 – 27 July : Festival Of Archaeology
Nationwide event with events taking place at the Museum Of London, British Museum, London Canal Museum and Thames archaeology. Many events are free. For listings, visit the Archaeology Festival website.
- Now until 13 July : Udderbelly Festival
Udderbelly returns to the Southbank for a sixth year, featuring three months of comedy, circus, cabaret and family shows at affordable prices (£10-£25.50) in an inflatable upside down cow venue. Jubilee Gardens, off Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX. Nearest tube: Waterloo. For more information and tickets, visit the Udderbelly website.
- 15 July : La Boheme on the BP Big Screen
Performance will be beamed live from the Royal Opera House to big screens around the UK, including Trafalgar Square, Victoria Park, Walthamstow Town Square and General Gordon Square in Woolwich. Free. 7.30pm. For more information, visit the Royal Opera House website.
- Now until 17 July : City Of London Festival
One month long festival across the City to entertain residents, workers and visitors. Features music, visual arts, dance, cabaret, film, walks and talks. Venues include St Paul’s Cathedral, Guildhall, The Gherkin, Unilever House and The Bowler Hat – a pop-up venue in the shape of the iconic headgear in Paternoster Square. A majority activities are free, but some performances cost up to £20. For more information, visit the City Of London website.
- 19 -20 July : Lambeth Country Show
Over 100,000 people are expected at this annual extravaganza of entertainment, food, drink, farm life, funfair rides and general revelry in Brockwell Park in Herne Hill, south London. Includes stages with live music, including headliners Aswad and Jocelyn Brown. Free. 11am-7pm. Brockwell Park (can be accessed from Norwood Road, Dulwich Road or Tulse Hill). Nearest train station: Herne Hill (9 minutes from Victoria) or a 15 minute walk from Brixton tube. For more information, visit the Lambeth Country Show website. For Metro Girl’s blog post on last year’s LCS, click here.
- 20 July : Sunday Best Scooter Fest
Festival for enthusiasts of classic and modern scooters. Includes live music from ska bands and DJs spinning R ‘n’ B, Soul and ’60s. Stalls selling vintage clothes, Mod memorabilia and scooter parts. 10am-5pm. Tickets £6.50. Capel Manor Gardens, Bullsmoor Lane, Enfield, Middlesex, EN1 4RQ. Nearest train station: Turkey Street (30 minutes from Liverpool Street). For more information, visit the Sunday Best website.
- 20 July: Carnaby Street Eat
One day food festival in Soho’s Carnaby Street. Live music, cooking demonstration by Hardeep Singh Kohli. Free entry. 11am-6pm. Carnaby Street, Soho, W1F. Nearest tube: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Carnaby Street website.
- 25 – 27 July : Hyper Japan
A celebration of Japanese culture and products in Earls Court. Includes cuisine, shopping, mix of pop and traditional culture. Tickets: £12-£15. Children under 10 are free. Earls Court Two, Lillie Road, SW5 9TA. Nearest tube: Earls Court or West Brompton. For more information and advance tickets, visit the Hyper Japan website.
- Now until 25 July (Fridays Only) : London Zoo Lates
Visit London’s iconic zoo after-hours on Fridays in June and July. All the usual fun… except with alcohol and no screaming children! Includes pop-up bars, live music, food market and other entertainment. Embrace your inner child and rent a costume or buy an animal mask. Metro Girl went in 2012 and a had a great time. Tickets are £28 and must be booked in advance, but sometimes early booking discounts are available. Located on Outer Circle (Regent’s Park), NW1 4RY. Nearest tube: Camden Town or Regent’s Park. For more information, visit the London Zoo website.
- 26 July – 23 August : Camden Beach
The ‘beach’ returns to Camden again this year, with 150 tonnes of sand, deckchairs, ping pong, BBQ and live music. Located in the grounds of the Roundhouse. Free. Open 12-11pm every day. Chalk Farm Road, NW1 8EH. Nearest tube: Chalk Farm. For more information, visit the Roundhouse website.
- 27 July : Great British Carnival
Marking the halfway point between the London and Rio Olympics, the carnival in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will include dance, music, performances and parades. 12-9.30pm. Free. Queen Elizabeth Park, Stratford, E20 2ST. Nearest tube: Stratford. For more information, visit the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park website.
- 28 July – 25 August : Camden Fringe
The Camden Fringe returns for its eighth year, bringing over 180 productions to 17 venues across the borough of Camden, including Camden People’s Theatre, Canal Café Theatre (read Metro Girl’s review on the adjoining pub The Bridge House) and the London Jewish Cultural Centre. For more information and tickets, visit the Camden Fringe website.
- Now until 17 August : The Fashion World Of Jean Paul Gaultier
Exhibition of work by the acclaimed designer, including his iconic conical brasserie worn by Madonna, costumes for Kylie Minogue’s tour and from Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element. Tickets: £14.50, highly recommended to book in advance. Barbican Centre, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS. Nearest tube: Barbican or Moorgate. For more information, visit the Barbican website.
- Now until 7 September : Gorilla Circus – Flying Trapeze School
Gorilla Circus returns to Regent’s Park for its summer season so you can learn to trapeze. Beginners classes start from £27 for two hours. Booking must be done in advance. For more information and booking, check out the Gorilla Circus website. Metro Girl had a lesson in 2012 and had a really good time – read what happened here.
- Now until 28 September : London Wonderground
The London Wonderground Festival returns to the Southbank for a third year – an entertainment extravaganza in Jubilee Gardens, near the foot of the London Eye and by the Southbank Centre. It includes cabaret, children’s show, comedy, burlesque, funfair (NB: which returns after Udderbelly ends) and alfresco drinking. For Metro Girl’s blog post on last year’s Wonderground, click here. Open all day until 11pm every night. Free to get in, but entry fee for shows. Nearest tube or train: Waterloo, Embankment or Westminster. For more information, visit the Wonderground website.
- Now until December : Bond In Motion
An exhibition of James Bond vehicles. Tickets – Adults: £14.50, Children: £9.50. Booking in advance highly recommend. London Film Museum, 45 Wellington St, Covent Garden, WC2E 7BN. Nearest tube: Covent Garden or Temple. For more information, visit the London Film Museum website.
One of the most important aspects of choosing a holiday venue – whether it be a hotel or cruise ship – is the food. And with this in mind, the team behind Celebrity Cruises – who offer adventures all over the world – have created an opportunity for those considering one of their vessels to essentially ‘try before you buy’ – at least when it comes to the food and atmosphere.
On the opening night of this year’s Taste Of London festival, I was lucky enough to secure a seating at Celebrity Cruises’ Deck Fourteen – a pop-up restaurant inspired by their Lawn Club Grill. Chefs from their ships will be cooking in the alfresco kitchen so you can see how they prepare the dishes. To complement your food, there is also be a sommelier hosting a wine tasting, talking you through some new and up and coming movers and shakers on the vineyard scene.
Dining is a rather different affair as we were placed at stools overlooking the kitchen so could enjoy the full aromas wafting from the grill and speak to the chefs about the ingredients and cooking process. The sun was shining so the atmosphere was happy and relaxed as we sat watching the chefs preparing our tasting dishes and enjoyed the wine tasting.
One of the first dishes on offer was a Lamb Cutlet (Chargrilled with Za’atar and lemon, Brussels sprouts and bacon garnish), which was served alongside a lovely red – Cossetti Barbera ‘La Vigna Vecchia’ 2011 from Piedmont. I’m not a huge fan of reds usually, but I really enjoyed the soft, fruity flavour.
The second meat offering was a Chargrilled 35 Day Dry Aged Steak, which appeared to be particularly popular with the tasters. It was complemented by a glass of Maal ‘Biutiful’ Malbec 2013 from Mendoza, which is one of the rising stars from Argentina’s vineyards.
Finally, there was a Prawn Tabbouleh (Chargrilled with lemon yoghurt dressing) and served on a bed of cous cous, which was full of flavour. I could easily eaten more of them, they were delicious. Alongside we drank a Vignes De Joanny Macon Davaye 2012, a light white which I particularly liked.
Celebrity Cruises’ Deck Fourteen is on at Taste Of London from 18 – 22 June 2014. Entrance to Taste Of London – Standard Adults: £24, Standard Children: £12. Crowns are the currency used to purchase food and drink at Taste Of London (£1 = 1 crown). Regent’s Park. Chester Road, NW1 4NR. Nearest tube: Regent’s Park or Camden Town. For booking and more information, visit the Taste Of London website.
For more information about Taste Of London, click here.
Or for a guide of what else is on in London this month, click here,
World Cup fever has officially hit London. Although we’re nearly 6,000 miles away from the action in Brazil, plenty of pubs and other venues are getting in on the action with screenings. Although it’s been a long time since football was just considered a game for men only, sometimes the viewing experience of the World Cup can be a bit… let’s say ‘uncouth’ for a finer breed of lady.
This is where Gabbi’s Head fills the void. The team behind cosmetics brand Benefit have opened a pop-up pub in the heart of London’s West End where women can enjoy the beautiful game in a pretty environment. Football fans and Benefit lovers will be able to watch the matches, while sipping beers or special cocktails. Benefit make-up artists will also be on hand to provide makeovers, including complimentary brow waxes, skin care sessions, tanning and make-uppers. Over the next few weeks, aside from all major World Cup screenings, there will also be wine tasting, bingo, comedy nights, poker and film screenings.
I was lucky enough to be invited to the press preview night of Gabbi’s Head this week and had a fabulous night. The venue looked like a fusion of members’ club-meets-traditional boozer, with celebrity guests Kirsty Gallacher, Diana Vickers, Samantha Barks and Matt Richardson, among others in attendance. With a mix of pink stools and plush sofas, there was plenty of seating to rest your derriere, or a pink table football game if you’re in a playful mood. Watching Brazil beat Croatia in the opening game of the tournament while sipping on cocktails such as the Rasp-Bene Mojito or Bene-Berry Bellini and nibbling on yummy canapés was a different from the usual football watching experience I’ve had. I’ll definitely be back for some football fun in the next few weeks.
- Gabbi’s Head, is open from 13 June- 13 July 2014. Located on the 1st floor above the Prince of Wales, 150-151 Drury Lane, Covent Garden, WC2B 5TD. Nearest tube: Covent Garden or Holborn. Free entry. For more information, visit the Benefit UK Facebook page.
For a guide to open-air World Cup and Wimbledon screenings in London this summer, click here.
For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.
This summer is a bumper for big sporting events – as well as the annual Wimbledon tournament, we also have the football World Cup and Commonwealth Games taking place. Thanks to geography, finances and boring old work spoiling the fun, most of us won’t get the chance to see the games in person. However, big outdoor screens will be popping up across the capital giving you the chance to watch the sporting action with like-minded fans, providing a lot more atmosphere (and hopefully sunshine) than you would get in your own front room. Here’s a guide to the outdoor big screens in London this summer.
FIFA World Cup Brazil (12 June – 13 July)
Wimbledon (23 June – 6 July)
Commonwealth Games Glasgow (23 July – 3 August)
- Summer Of Sport @ Broadgate
An outdoor screen in Exchange Square will be broadcasting the World Cup, Wimbledon, Commonwealth Games and other sports between 12 June – 5 September. As well as free screenings, there will also be sporting events you can take part in. Surrounded by bars and restaurants, there are plenty of options for refreshments, with some establishments serving themed menus and hosting outdoor BBQs. Exchange Square, Broadgate, EC2A 2BQ. Nearest tube: Liverpool Street or Shoreditch High Street. For more information, check out the Broadgate website.
- Summer Of Sport @ Regent’s Place
Outdoor screenings and sport-themed activities at Regent’s Place in the West End, including the World Cup, Ascot, Tour De France, Grand Prix and Wimbledon. Regent’s Place, NW1 3HF. Nearest tube: Warren Street. For more information, visit the Regent’s Place website.
- Great British Summer @ St Pauls, Victoria, Holborn and St Katherine Docks
Great British Summer are hosting free screenings of Wimbledon tennis at four venues across the capital. Sit in complimentary deck chairs and watch the action on screens housed in customised retro caravans. Includes the 6th floor roof terrace at One New Change (Cheapside, EC4M 9AF. Nearest tube: St Pauls), 1st floor roof terrace at Cardinal Place (Victoria Street, Victoria, SW1E 5JD. Nearest tube: Victoria), New Street Square (located off Fleet Street, Holborn, EC4A. Nearest station: Chancery Lane or City Thameslink) and Thomas More Square (just east of St Katherines Docks, E1W 1YY. Nearest station: Tower Hill or Wapping). Open daily during the tournament from 12-10pm. For more information, visit the Great British Summer website.
- Canary Wharf Summer Screen @ Canada Square Park
There will be a free big screen in Canada Square Park broadcasting Royal Ascot, Wimbledon, various Grand Prix and the Commonwealth Games between 19 June until 4 August. Canada Square Park, Docklands, E14. Nearest station: Canary Wharf. For more information, visit the Canary Wharf website.
- World Cup @ Egg London
Kings Cross nightclub is hosting open air screenings on its new roof terrace and also inside for all England games and select matches. Free entry and Brazilian BBQ and special drinks deals will be on offer. Timings vary. Egg London, 200 York Way, N7 9AX. Nearest station: Caledonian Road, Kings Cross or Camden Road. For more information, visit Egg London website.
- World Cup Final @ Netil360
The roof terrace at Netil360 in London Fields will be hosting an open-air screening of the World Cup final on 13 July. It’s BYOB, but there will be a service charge. Free to members, £5 to non-members. 4-11pm. Netil360, Netil House, 1 Westgate Street, E8 3RL. Nearest train station: London Fields. For more information, visit the Netil360 website.
- Wimbledon @ Bluebird
Bluebird in the King’s Road will be hosting screenings of Wimbledon on a giant outdoor screen in their courtyard. You can watch the action while sipping champagne or Pimms from the bar or eating from the café menu, including the BBQ. On the Men’s Finals day, they will be serving a special three course menu created by head chef Robert Izdebski. Bluebird, 350 King’s Road, Chelsea, SW3 5UU. Nearest station: Fulham Broadway, South Kensington or Sloane Square. For more information, visit the Bluebird website.
- Wimbledon & World Cup Final @ The Refinery
The outdoor terrace at The Refinery bar and restaurant will be transformed with deck chairs, white picket fences and big screens to watch Wimbledon and the World Cup Final on 13 July. There will also be film screenings in the evening too. The Refinery, 110 Southwark Street, SE1 oTF. Nearest tube: London Bridge or Southwark. For more information, visit the Refinery website.
- Wimbledon @ The Scoop
More London presents open air screenings of the games in The Scoop – a concrete amphitheatre near Potters Field Park by the River Thames. Free. Food or drink will be on sale. Cushions available for hire for £1. The Scoop, Queen’s Walk, SE1 2DB. Nearest tube: London Bridge. For more information and listings, visit the More London website.
- Strawberries & Screen : Wimbledon @ Granary Square
Big screen erected in Granary Square in King’s Cross will screen the tennis. Green & Fortune will be serving Pimms, strawberries and sandwiches. Deckchairs provided. Free. Granary Square, N1C. Nearest tube: King’s Cross St Pancras. For more information, visit the King’s Cross website.
- Wimbledon @ Lyric Square
Lyric Square in Hammersmith will be hosting open-air free screenings of the tennis during their Summer Festival. Deck chairs provided. Noon-8pm daily. Lyric Square, Hammersmith, W6 0ED. Nearest station: Hammersmith. For more information, visit the Hammersmith London website.
- Alternatively, for a female-friendly World Cup pop-up pub (indoors), read Metro Girl’s blog post on Benefit’s Gabbi’s Head here.
For a guide to open-air cinemas in London this summer, click here.
For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.
This summer sees some of the biggest music acts and DJs in the world converging on London – and the Home Counties – for the festival season. Here’s a one-stop guide to what’s on and where to get tickets. However, be aware that many will sell out in advance so I would recommend getting your tickets asap.
- 11 – 25 June : Hampton Court Palace Festival
Big names perform against the backdrop of the historic palace. Acts include Dionne Warwick, Jools Holland, The Beach Boys, Van Morrison, Jamie Cullum, George Benson, Rick Astley and Jason Donovan. Tickets range from £45 to £70 depending on act. Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey, KT8 9AU. Nearest train station: Hampton Court (trains from Waterloo). For more information and tickets, visit the Hampton Court Palace Festival website.
- 13 – 22 June : Meltdown
This year’s Meltdown festival on London’s Southbank is curated by Musical and artistic innovator James Lavelle. Featuring gigs by UNKLE, Chrissie Hynde, DJ Shadow, Grandmaster Flash, Mark Lanegan, Joshua Homme (Queens Of The Stone Age), Edwyn Collins, Radkey, Neneh Cherry and Goldie. Tickets range from free to £40. Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX. Nearest tube: Waterloo. For booking and more information, visit the Meltdown website.
- 14 June : Found Festival
Daytime dance party in Haggerston Park is organised by forward-thinking London club night Found. Featuring house and techno acts including Damian Lazarus, DJ Sneak, Ben Pierce, Noir, Lil’ Louis, Moody Man, Lombardo, Geddes, Krankbrother and more. 11am-9pm. Tickets start from £50. Haggerston Park, Audrey Street, off Goldsmith’s Row, Shoreditch, E2 8QH. Nearest station: Hoxton (Overground) or Cambridge Heath. For more information, visit the Found Festival website.
- 20 – 21 June : Camden Crawl
Dozens of venues across Camden come together for this annual festival, which allows revellers to buy a wristband and then crawl around the gigs. Acts include Of Montreal, ABC, The Field, Yuck, Atari Teenage Riot, Mouse On Mars, Steve Mason, Alexis Taylor, Au Revoir Simone, Dirty Beaches perform across 25 stages at venues such as Koko, Underworld, Electric Ballroom and Proud. Tickets: Friday pass £27.50, Saturday pass £30, 2 day pass: £49.50. Nearest stations: Camden Town, Camden Road, Chalk Farm and Mornington Crescent. For more information and tickets, visit the Camden Crawl website.
- 21 June : CoppaFeel! FestiFeel 2014
Festival curated by Fearne Cotton aims to raise awareness for the charity CoppaFeel, which encourages women to check their breasts for signs of cancer. Performances from Rizzle Kicks, Lianne La Havas, Zane Lowe, Swim Deep, Norman Jay and more. 1pm onwards. Tickets: £23. London Fields Brewery, 365-366 Warburton Street, E8 3RR. Nearest train station: London Fields. For more information, visit the Festifeel website.
- 28 – 29 June : Calling Festival
Although the Hard Rock is dropped, the Calling Festival lives on. Stevie Wonder, Aerosmith, Joe Bonamassa, Thunder, Paloma Faith, Jack Johnson, Richie Sambora. Tickets £69.50 per day. Clapham Common, SW4. Nearest tube: Clapham Common. For more information and tickets, visit the Calling Festival website.
- 4 – 6 July : Wireless Festival
The Wireless Festival moves to Finsbury Park for 2014. Acts include Kanye West, Bruno Mars, Outkast, Pharrell Williams, Drake, Rudimental, Tinie Tempah, Basement Jaxx, Iggy Azalea, Wiz Khalifa, Ellie Goulding, Robin Thicke, Sean Paul, Salt ‘N’ Pepa and much more. Tickets start from £75 (not including fees). Finsbury Park, N4. Nearest tube: Finsbury Park. For more information, visit the Wireless Festival.
- 5 July : High Definition Festival
Dance festival outside London in East Sussex. Line-up includes Carl Cox, The Martinez Brothers, Gorgon City, Ms Dynamite. Tickets start from £39.50. Eridge Park, Tunbridge Wells, East Sussex TN3 9JT. Nearest train station: Eridge Park (trains from London Bridge) and then a taxi. For more information and tickets, visit the High Definition website.
- 10 – 20 July : Summer Series @ Somerset House
The open-air concerts in the courtyard of Somerset House returns again in July. Acts include Agnes Obel, The Cat Empire, Kelis, Daughter, Kodaline, Bastille, Franz Ferdinand, Chvrches, Sam Smith, Clean Bandit and Little Dragon. Tickets: £28.50 (not including booking fees). Somerset House, Strand, WC2R 1LA. Nearest tube: Temple or Holborn. For more information, visit the Somerset House website.
- 12 – 13 July : Electric Daisy Carnival
The popular American dance music festival comes to the UK for a weekend at Milton Keynes Bowl. Includes some of the world’s biggest DJs, including Avicii, Calvin Harris, Fatboy Slim, Nicky Romero, Hardwell, Steve Aoki, Gordon City, Route 94, Steve Angello, Timo Maas, Paul Oakenfold and Paul Van Dyk. Tickets: Saturday £65, Sunday £60, Weekend £120. Milton Keynes Bowl, Watling Street, Milton Keynes, MK5 8AA. Nearest train station: Milton Keynes (Trains from Euston, 30 minute walk). For more information, visit the Electric Daisy Carnival website.
- 3 – 13 July : Barclaycard British Summer Time Festival
Hyde Park becomes a mini-festival for 10 days, featuring nightly concerts and comedy performances. Acts include Arcade Fire, Jake Bugg, Black Sabbath, Soundgarden, Faith No More, The Libertines, The Pogues, McBusted, Backstreet Boys, Tim Michin, Alan Davies, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Tom Odell, Tom Jones, Boyzone and Little Mix. Tickets for main stage concerts range from £35 to £95. Hyde Park, W2 2UH. Nearest tube: Hyde Park Corner, Knightsbridge or Marble Arch. For more information and tickets, visit the BST website.
- 16 – 20 July : Kew The Music
Five day festival featuring big names including Elvis Costello, Bjorn Again, Jools Holland, Simple Minds and Bill Bailey performing at outdoor picnic concerts against the backdrop of the Victorian Temperate House at Kew Gardens. Tickets range from £33.50 to £52.50. Kew Gardens (Royal Botanic Gardens), Kew, Richmond, TW9 3AB. Tube: Kew Gardens. For more information, visit the Kew Gardens website.
- 18 – 19 July : Lovebox Festival
The hugely popular Lovebox returns to Victoria Park in East London. Acts include Chase & Status, M.I.A., Nas, Bonobo, A$AP Rocky, Crystal Fighters, Katy B, Annie Mac, The Horrors, Mount Kimbie, Soul II Soul, Tensnake, Kenny ‘Dope’ Gonzalez, Dimitri From Paris and Norman Jay. Tickets start from £44.75 (Friday) or £55 (Saturday) or £77.95 (weekend). Victoria Park Rd, Hackney, E3 5SN. Nearest tube: Bethnal Green or Mile End. For more information, visit the Lovebox website.
- 2 August : Eastern Electrics
Dance festival featuring six stages in the grounds of Jacobean Hatfield House. Acts include Art Department, Kerri Chandler, Laura Jones, Maxxi Soundsystem, Ellen Allien, Geddes, Giles Smith, Route 94, Jack & I, Mr Normski, Ralph Lawson, Craig Richards and much more. Tickets start from £45. Hatfield House, Great North Road, Hatfield, Herts, AL9 5NQ. Nearest station: Hatfield (trains from Moorgate). For more information, visit the Eastern Electrics website.
- 2 August : Visions Festival
Hip festival which started last year returns for a second year, covering five venues in East London – Oval Space, The Laundry, Hackney New Empowering Church, Netil 360 and London Fields Brewhouse. Acts include Polica, Perfume Genius, Baths, The Range, Deptford Goth, Young Fathers, Eleanor Friedberger, Eyedress, Rainer and many more. Tickets £25. Nearest stations; Cambridge Heath and London Fields, For more information, listings and tickets, visit the Visions Festival website.
- 15 – 16 August : Jabberwocky Festival
ATP, Pitchfork and Primavera Sound have joined forces to put on Jabberwocky, a new two-day festival. Acts include James Blake, Darkside, Panda Bear, Ben Frost, Thee Oh Sees, Mutual Benefit, The Ex, Untold, Mick Turner (Dirty Three), I Break Horses, Kode9, Deafheaven, Perfect Pussy, Amen Dunes, patten, Ought, Paus, Chelsea Wolfe, Jozef Van Wissem and Big Ups. Tickets: £35. ExCeL Centre, 1 Western Gateway, Royal Victoria Dock, E16 1XL. Nearest tube: Custom House (DLR). For more information, visit the Jabberwocky website.
- 15 – 17 August : One Love Festival
Festival which promotes the message of the late Bob Marley, with reggae and ragga music, amongst others. Features music from King Kong, Dom Dem & Ras Demo, Apache Indian, Cocoa Ted, John Holt, Wailing Souls, Cornell Campbell with Soothsayers, Coxsone Vs Fatman International and much more. Tickets start from £50 for adults, £25 for children depending on how many days, camping/non camping. Stockwell Farm, Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire. Nearest station: Leighton Buzzard (trains to Euston). For more information and tickets, visit the One Love website.
- 16 – 17 August : V Festival
Although not actually in London, Chelmsford is just outside the capital which means you can commute if you don’t fancy camping. Acts include Justin Timberlake, The Killers, Ed Sheeran, Example, Paolo Nutini, Lily Allen, Tinie Tempah, Elbow, Bastille, Alesso, Kaiser Chiefs, Blondie, Chase & Status, Rita Ora, Jason Derulo, Sam Smith, Aloe Blacc, Ceelo Green, All Saints and Chic feat Nile Rodgers. Tickets: £89 day passes, £165 weekend no camping, £189 weekend with camping. Nearest station: Chelmsford (trains to Liverpool Street). For more information and tickets, visit the V Festival website.
- 20 – 23 August : Greenwich Music Time Festival
Inaugural music festival takes place in the grounds of Greenwich’s historic Old Royal Naval College. Featuring Goldfrapp, Jools Holland, Russell Watson, Melanie C and Marc Almond. Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, SE10 9NN. Nearest station: Cutty Sark (DLR), Greenwich or Maze Hill. For more information and tickets, visit the Greenwich Music Time Festival website.
- 23 – 24 August : South West Four
Clapham Common dance music festival returns for its 11th year. Acts include Above & Beyond, Alesso, W&W, Fedde Le Grand, Arty and Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano. Danny Avila, Oliver Heldens, deadmau5, Eric Prydz, Andy C, Pete Tong, Madeon, Wilkinson, Stanton Warriors, GTA, Karma Kid and SecondCity. Tickets: Day £55, Weekend £105. Clapham Common, SW4. Nearest tube: Clapham Common. For more information and tickets, visit the South West Four website.
- 25 – 26 August : Notting Hill Carnival
Long-running institution returns to the streets of West London. Plenty of soundstages will be dotted around featuring a wide range of music. Then of course there’s the carnival itself. Free. Sunday is more geared towards children, while Monday is the adults’ day. Check TFL website for transport information because many stations nearby will be closed. For more information, check out the Notting Hill Carnival website.
- 13 September : Ceremony Festival
One day dance music festival across six stages. Acts include Inner City LIVE, Louie Vega, DJ Sneak, Claptone, Todd Terry, Kevin Saunderson, Chez Damier, Lil Louis, Roy Davis Jnr, Skepta & JME, Plastician, MANIK, Nick Curly, DJ W!LD, Applebottom, Fur Coat, Santé, Sidney Charles and many more. 11am-10pm. Tickets: £25. Finsbury Park, N4. Nearest tube: Finsbury Park. For more information, visit the Ceremony Festival website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in July, click here.
Or for a guide to open-air cinemas in London this summer, click here.