Category Archives: Tourist Attractions

Tourist attractions of London

Guide to what’s on in London during Easter 2019 for both adults and families

Find out what’s on in London over the Easter weekend and school holidays, including family events and activities, Easter egg hunts and even adults-only fun.

Easter bunny and chocolate eggs © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019

This year, the Easter weekend takes place in the middle of April with Good Friday on 19th and the Easter Bank Holiday on 22nd. As ever, this religious holiday coincides with at least two weeks of school holidays, so there will be plenty of parents looking for ways to occupy their children. To many people, Easter is associated with chocolate, so expect to see the mighty cocoa bean dominating menus and events over the period. Fortunately, Easter isn’t just for kids, there’s an adults-only guide to offers and events at the bottom.

Here’s Metro Girl’s guide to what’s on in London over the Easter period.

  • 30 March – 29 April : George Irvin’s Funfairs

Travelling funfairs will be setting up camp at Crystal Palace Park (30 Mar – 14 Apr), Clapham Common (5 – 28 Apr), Hampton Court (19 – 23 Apr) and Shepherd’s Bush Green (5 – 22 Apr) over the Easter break. Rides include Big Apple Coaster, Dodgems, Bungee Trampolines, Tea Cups, Waltzer, Inflatable Slide and Carousel, among many others. For more information, visit the Irvin Leisure website.

  • 6 – 22 April : Lindt Gold Bunny Hunt @ Hampton Court Palace

Hunt for the Lindt gold chocolate bunny in the house and gardens at Hampton Court. Other family activities include a digital adventure around the palace, the magic garden and maze and workshops. Tickets (events inc with general admission): Adults from £21.30, Children from £10.70. Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey, KT8 9AU. Nearest station: Hampton Court (36 minutes from Waterloo). For more information, visit the Historic Royal Palaces website.

  • 6 – 22 April : Easter @ Battersea Park Zoo

Take part in a host of Easter-themed activities, including an Easter Egg hunt, hedgehog day, honey bee day, cocoa fun day and a host of other events. Open 10am-4.30pm. Visitors can purchase a £1.50 (including prize) quiz sheet upon entry and follow the trail. General admission: Adults £9.95, Children 2-15 yrs £7.95. Battersea Park Zoo, Battersea Park, Chelsea Embankment, Battersea, SW11 4NJ. Nearest station: Battersea Park. For more information, visit the Battersea Park Zoo website.

  • 6 – 22 April : Easter @ WWT London Wetland Centre

Take part in Dusty’s Giant Easter Duck Hunt, enjoy a spot of pond dipping, a Wild Play session and Animal Track Detectives. 10am-5pm. Tickets: Adults from £11.70, Children 4-16 yrs from £7.93. London Wetland Centre, Queen Elizabeth’s Walk, Barnes, SW13 9WT. Nearest station: Barnes or Barnes Bridge. For more information, visit the London Wetland Centre website.

  • 6 – 22 April : Easter @ Kew

Check out the beautiful gardens and attractions of Kew, as well as other activities. Including the Tower of Colour, Sunday Stories, Log Trail, Woodland Walk and Giant Badger Sett. Free to take part with normal admission. Tickets: Adults from £16.50/£18, Children 4-16yrs from £4.50/£6, Under 4s free. Kew Gardens, Brentford Gate, Kew, Richmond, TW9 3AB. Nearest station: Kew Gardens. For more information and tickets, visit the Kew Gardens website.

Kew Gardens Palm House daffodils © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019

The beauty of spring at Kew Garden

  • 8 – 22 April : Easter @ National Army Museum

Over the Easter holidays, the museum will offer a variety of family activities, including make your own cap badge, tiny troopers (posters), digital poster design and poster printing. 10am-5.30pm. Free. National Army Museum, Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, SW3 4HT. Nearest station: Sloane Square. For more information, visit the National Army Museum website.

  • 10 – 17 April : Hotel Chocolat Easter Eggs-travaganza @ London Eye

Enjoy an Easter experience on the London Eye with Hotel Chocolat. Including fast track entry, Hotel Chocolat tasting guide and Q&A session, 30 minute rotation, soft drink and Hotel Chocolat Easter goodie bag. Tickets: Adults £35, Children £28. London Eye, South Bank, SE1 7PB. Nearest station: Waterloo, Westminster or Lambeth North. For booking, visit the London Eye website.

Read the rest of this entry

Guide to what’s on in London in March 2019

Find out what’s on in London in March 2019, including festivals, St Patrick’s Day celebrations and more.

tulips spring

Spring is on its way

Spring is apparently here… although we know there’s always a strong chance of changeable weather. With the days getting longer and warmer, Londoners can expect to see more festivals and events taking place across the capital in March. This month sees a selection of big events, including International Women’s Day, St Patrick’s Day and Mother’s Day.

  • 28 February – 3 March : The Spring Knitting & Stitching Show

Haberdashery festival featuring hundreds of workshops, demonstrations, interactive features and 200 exhibitors selling specialist craft supplies. Open Thu-Sat: 10am-5.30pm, Sun: 10am-5pm. Tickets: Adults £14, Children £6. Olympia, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For more information, visit the Knitting & Stitching Show website.

  • 2 – 3 March : London Film And Comic Con Spring

A Spring edition of the hugely popular London Film and Comic Con. The chance to meet your favourite stars including George Lazenby, Robert Englund, John Simm, Joseph Marcell, Sylvester McCoy, Karyn Parsons, Colin Baker, Charles Dance, Lucy Davis, Peter Mayhew and many more. Tickets: Adults £18 (Sat), £16 (Sun); Children £12 (Sat), £10 (Sun). Olympia, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For more information, visit the London Film & Comic Con website.

  • 4 – 10 March : International Women’s Day @ Seven Dials

A week of events, offers and promotions celebrating women at the stores and businesses of Seven Dials supporting this year’s theme of #balanceforbetter. Highlights include a live podcast, hub featuring activities and events, film club, pop-up shops, panel discussions and more. At venues and stores around Seven Dials, Covent Garden, WC2H. Nearest station: Leicester Square or Covent Garden. For more information, visit the Seven Dials website.

  • 4 – 15 March : Russian Maslenitsa

The Russian sun festival, featuring a host of events including Maslenitsa doll making workshops, Russia, Royalty & the Romanovs exhibition, culinary extravaganza, Shrovetide celebration for families with music, dancing and games and the Maslenitsa Celebration Concert. Venues include Concert Hall St John Smith Square, Russian Culture Centre, The Queen’s Gallery, Zima restaurant and Pushkin House. For more information, visit the Maslenitsa website.

  • 7 March : International Women’s Day takeover @ Nine Lives

Neighbourhood cocktail bar Nine Lives hosts a female takeover on the eve of International Women’s Day. Artist Trinity Tristan will be creating a breast print artwork, Jenna Ba from Bulleit Bourbon and Kate Jackson from Ketel One will be mixing special cocktails, while DJ Vanille will be spinning on the decks. Nine Lives, 8 Holyrood Street, London Bridge, SE1 2EL. Nearest station: London Bridge. For more information, visit the Nine Lives website. For Metro Girl’s review of Nine Lives, click here.

  • 7 – 10 March : Affordable Art Fair @ Battersea Park

A chance for people to buy a unique piece of art or photography for their homes at an affordable price. There are over 100 galleries, with pieces for sale ranging from £100 to £6,000. Tickets: £8-£25 in advance, more on the door. Battersea Evolution, Battersea Park, SW11 4NJ. Nearest station: Battersea Park or short bus ride from Sloane Square tube. For more information, visit the Affordable Art Fair website.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

The Affordable Art Fair returns to Battersea

  • 7 – 30 March : Crystal Palace International Film Festival

Tenth anniversary of the CPIFF, featuring shorts and feature-length screenings, animation night, premieres, horror/sci-fi night, and documentary night. Tickets: £8-£22. At various venues including Everyman Crystal Palace, PictureHouse West Norwood, Stanley Halls & Anerley Town Hall. Nearest stations: Crystal Palace, Norwood Junction and West Norwood. For more information, visit the CPIFF website.

  • 8 – 9 March : Women Of The World Festival

A festival of talks, debates, music, film and comedy celebrating women. Angela Davis, Naomi Klein, Lady Sanity, Jo Brand, Chidera Eggerue and Catherine Mayer among the featured names. Events range from free to £25, while or many included with day pass £30, two-day pass £55, three-day pass £80. Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, South Bank, SE1 8XX. Nearest station: Waterloo. For more information and booking, visit the Southbank Centre website.

  • 8 – 10 March : Move It

The world’s biggest dance event featuring performances, classes, workshops, shopping, and talks by experts from all genres, including Aston Merrygold with BASE Studios, Italia Conti, Khronos Agoria – The Brit School, English National Ballet, Neil & Katya Jones and more. Tickets: Adults from £19, Children from £15 (multiple day passes available). ExCel, Royal Victoria Dock, 1 Western Gateway, Docklands, E16 1XL. Nearest station: Prince Regent (DLR). For more information, visit the Move It website.

  • 8 – 10 March : Glamour Beauty Festival

Glamour magazine hosts a three-day celebration of beauty, including big beauty brands, treatments, talks, goodie bags and more. Celebrity guests include Maisie Williams, Maya Jama, Laura Whitmore, Mollie King, Rylan Clark-Neal, Katherine Ryan, Pixiwoo, Megan Barton Hanson, Georgia Toffolo and more. Open Fri 5pm-9pm, Sat & Sun 9.30am-6.30pm. Tickets: £49-£80. Saatchi Gallery, King’s Road, Chelsea, SW3 4RY. Nearest station: Sloane Square. For tickets, visit Eventbrite.

  • 9 – 10 March : Vegan Life Live

Two day festival celebrating and exploring the vegan lifestyle, featuring clothing, cosmetics and food stands, talks, live music, cookery demonstrations, workshops and Q&A sessions. Open Sat 9 10am-6pm, Open Sun 10 10am-5pm. Tickets start from £12 (under 16s free). The West Hall, Alexandra Palace, Alexandra Palace Way, N22 7AY. Nearest station: Alexandra Palace. For more information, visit the Vegan Life Live website.

  • Now until 9 March : Qu Leilei – Echoes

A solo exhibition from Qu Leilei at the newest branch of the international 3812 Gallery. The show features pieces in water and ink, the ancient medium for painting and calligraphy in Chinese culture. Mon–Sat 10am-6.30pm. 3812 Gallery, 21 Ryder Street, St James’s, SW1Y 6PX. Nearest station: Green Park. For more information, visit the 3812 gallery website.

  • 10 – 15 March : London Design Week

Interior design festival featuring over 100 events, including talks, demonstrations, showrooms, installations, food and drink. Open 9.30am-5.30pm. Free entry, but register in advance. Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour, SW10 0XE. Nearest station: Imperial Wharf. For more information, visit the London Design Week website. Read the rest of this entry

What’s on in London this Valentine’s Day 2019 for couples and singles

Whether you love or hate Valentine’s Day, are single or loved up, there’s something for everyone in London over the Valentine’s Day period. From slushfest romantic dates to fun and cheese-free events.

Valentines hearts © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019Valentine’s Day is fast approaching so Londoners everywhere are being bombarded with images of hearts and roses. Of course, it’s a commercial day which encourages you to spend money on your beloved. If you’re in a couple and looking for something a bit different from the standard overpriced set menu in a restaurant, check out this guide to what’s on in London. Many of the events, such as balls and comedy nights, are open to singles and couples, so you can still have fun and embrace the day regardless of your single status.

  • 9 February : Lost Hearts – A Valentine’s Ball

A masked ball spanning four floors at the Century Club, featuring eerie, exotic and eccentric performers, drinking and dancing. 9pm-3am. Tickets from £20. The Century Club, 61-63 Shaftesbury Avenue, Soho, W1D 6LQ. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square. For more information, visit A Curious Invitation website.

  • 9 February : The Candlelight Club’s Valentine’s Ball

Pop-up vintage nightclub The Candlelight Club host a Valentine’s ball. Hosted by Champagne Charlie, there will live music from the Bubbly Boys, tunes from vintage DJs Bee’s Knees and dancing from the Gatsby Girls. Meanwhile, in the Cabaret Lounge, Hot Swing Bohème will be playing gypsy jazz, while Marcel Lucont will host two cabaret shows featuring acrobatics duo Deux Ailes, burlesque bombshell Bonnie Fox and comic singing by La Poule Plombée. Despite Valentine’s styling, the event welcomes groups and singles, rather than just couples. 7pm-12am. Tickets from £30pp. Tables start from £65pp. At a secret east London location. For tickets, visit the Candlelight Club website. For Metro Girl’s review of TCC, click here.

  • 10 and 14 February : Valentine’s @ Keat’s House

A series of Valentine’s events at the stunning house where poet John Keats fell in love with Fanny Brawne, who inspired his most romantic verses. Afternoon Poems: Love Poetry on Sunday 10 February (2pm-3pm) and Valentine’s Late Night Keats on Thursday 14 February (6.30pm-9pm). Afternoon Poems is free, while Late Night Keats is £15 (includes drink). Keats’ House, 10 Keats Grove, Hampstead, NW3 2RR. Nearest station: Hampstead Heath or Hampstead. For more information, visit the City of London website.

chocolate cocktail Old Bengal Bar

Enjoy a chocolate cocktail at the Old Bengal Bar

  • 11 – 17 February : Chocolate Cocktails @ Old Bengal Bar

The Old Bengal Bar are creating a special chocolate cocktail menu for Valentine’s Day. Drinks include Dark Chocolate and Chilli Martini, White Chocolate Delight and a Baileys and Mint Chocolate Martini. Drinks: £9.75 (include complimentary mint chocolate shot). Old Bengal Bar, 16 New Street, City of London, EC2M 4TR. Nearest station: Liverpool Street. For more information, visit the Old Bengal Bar website.

  • 12 – 15 February : Barry White: Love God of Soul: Starring Shenton Dixon @ Boisdale

The Canary Wharf branch of Boisdale is hosting four days of music and food, inspired by the late Barry White. Tribute act Shenton Dixon will perform the Walrus of Soul’s classic hits while you enjoy a meal. Gig starts at 9.15pm. Tickets: £15-£99 (depending on date, package or drinks only). Boisdale, Cabot Place, Canary Wharf, E14 4QT. Nearest station: Canary Wharf. For more information, visit the Boisdale website.

  • 13 – 14 February : Valentine’s @ Dirty Bones

Dirty Bones in Kensington are celebrating Valentine’s with special events and menus. On 13 February, enjoy a screening of When Harry Met Sally with popcorn, 2 cocktails and 25% food discounts if you eat before, after or during the movie. On actual Valentine’s Day, you can take part in the ‘Uh Huh Honey Cocktail Masterclass’ and learn how to make Dirty Bones’ Valentine’s cocktail, the Rose-Tinted Club (available 11-17 Feb). Film screening on Wed 13 Feb @ 7.30pm, tickets £10pp. Masterclass on Thu 14 Feb @ 6.30pm, tickets £45pp. Dirty Bones, Kensington Church Street, Kensington, W8. Nearest station: High Street Kensington. For more information, visit Dirty Bones website. To book masterclass, email Kensington@dirty-bones.com or for movie tickets, check out DesignMyNight.

  • 13 – 15 February : Pop-Up Cinema @ Rivoli Ballroom

Watch classic movies Pretty Woman, Romeo + Juliet or Ghost in the striking 1950s surrounds of the Rivoli Ballroom. 8pm. Tickets: £12. Rivoli Ballroom, 350 Brockley Road, Crofton Park, SE4 2BY. Nearest station: Crofton Park. For more information, visit the Rivoli Ballroom websiteRead the rest of this entry

Did you know there’s a piece of the Berlin Wall in London?

Berlin Wall London © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019

A piece of the Berlin Wall stands in Lambeth

This year marks 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. From 1961 to 1989, a guarded concrete barrier divided West and East Berlin. During its 28 year life span, over 80 people died trying to cross the wall. Finally, on 9 November 1989 the wall started to come down and was destroyed by Berliners, uniting the city once again. I was at primary school when the wall fell and remember my impassioned teacher telling us about this historic moment during assembly, which I was a bit too young to understand.

Various pieces of the Berlin Wall survive today. In the gardens of the Imperial War Museum in London, there is a piece of the wall complete with original street art. It features the words ‘Change Your Life’ in a giant mouth by graffiti artist Indiana (Jurgen Grosse). The 3.64 metre high section comes from near the Leuschnerdamm in the Kreuzberg district and was acquired by the Imperial War Museum in 1991. It is believed the slogan ‘Change Your Life’ may be from the German poem Archaischer Torso Apollos (Torso of an Archaic Apollo).

  • Imperial War Museum, Lambeth Road, Lambeth, SE1 6HZ. Nearest station: Lambeth North.

For more London history and architecture posts, click here.

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PsychoBarn at the Royal Academy: A slice of Hollywood horror on Piccadilly

PsychoBarn © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

PsychoBarn in the courtyard of the Royal Academy of Arts

Standing in the courtyard of the Royal Academy of Arts this winter is a piece of Hollywood horror. Transitional Object (PsychoBarn) is an architectural installation by English artist Cornelia Parker. The 30ft high structure is inspired by the Bates Motel in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 classic Psycho. The house in the movie, where Norman Bates lived with his mother Norma, was modelled on Edward Hopper’s 1925 painting, the House By The Railroad.

Parker’s scaled-down structure was first exhibited on the roof of New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2016. It was erected in London in September 2018 and will remain in situ until March 2019. Transitional Object is not a real building, but a façade. While it looks like a traditional, all-American red barn, the dark windows, distressed paintwork and little signs of ‘life’ give it a creepy vibe – much like the house in the film.

  • Transitional Object (PsychoBarn), The Annenberg Courtyard, Burlington House, Royal Academy of Arts, 49-50 Piccadilly, Mayfair, W1J 9ER. Nearest station: Green Park or Bond Street. Will remain in place until March 2019. Open Sat-Thu 10am–6pm, Fri 10am–10pm. Free to view. For more information, visit the Royal Academy Of Arts website.
PsychoBarn © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

The piece was first exhibited in New York

For a guide to what’s on in London in March, click here.

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Room to Breathe exhibition review: Exploring the journey from new arrival to finding ‘home’ @ Migration Museum

Migration Room To Breathe © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Room To Breathe is a new exhibition at the Migration Museum

The Migration Museum has been open since 2016 and explores how the movement of people has shaped the capital over history. Although a hot topic of conversation in the media, it’s far from new, as migration in and out of London and the UK as a whole has been going on for centuries. This month, the Migration Museum launched their newest exhibition Room To Breathe, which runs until summer 2019. I went along to the recent launch to check it out.

Migration Room To Breathe © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

The exhibition humanises a group often depicted as simple numbers

Room To Breathe is the museum’s most interactive exhibition yet, offering an immersive journey through a migrant’s experiences, from arrival to settling in to (hopefully) finding somewhere they can call ‘home’. It explores the very different reasons people arrive in the UK, from escaping war, to seeking new opportunities, to love and family.

To those who may have visited before, the museum galleries have been transformed into a home, with a series of rooms featuring interactive learning tools. You start in the ‘Home Office’, an overwhelming place full of files, depicting how new arrivals are often seen as numbers on paperwork categorised into a section.

You then progress into a bedroom, a classroom, a kitchen with interactive screens, audio, and objects bringing these people to life. Over 100 migrants who arrived in Britain from the early 20th century until the present day have shared their stories for the exhibition. Many are hidden within the exhibition in drawers, cupboards or magazines so you are invited to rummage around and explore. People including war refugees, international NHS workers and Windrush migrants have revealed their personal histories. As a daughter of Irish migrants, I found some of the Irish stories particularly relevant. As many migrants can attest, pining for familiar foods or a favourite snack from home can bring a lot of comfort. I spotted a box of Barry’s Tea in the kitchen which made me smile. Whenever I visit family in Ireland, I always make sure I buy a box of Barry’s Tea for my mother, who insists it’s better than Twinings or Yorkshire Gold.

With many migrants often being demonised by society or the media, this exhibition delves deeper as it humanises them and turns them from numbers into living, breathing human beings. As well as educating and inspiring, there will also be a programme of events throughout the exhibition, including performances, workshops, cookery classes and storytelling.

  • Room To Breathe is on from 1 November 2018 – 28 July 2019. At the Migration Museum @ The Workshop, 26 Lambeth High Street, Lambeth, SE1 7AG. Nearest station: Vauxhall, Westminster or Lambeth North. Open Thu 12pm-8pm, Fri-Sun 12pm-6pm. Free admission. For more information, visit the Migration Museum website.

For a guide to what’s on in London in March, click here.

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Top 10 urban myths about London

With 2,000 years of history and 8.1 million residents, it’s no surprise that London has acquired quite a lot of urban legends over the years.

Tower Bridge © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Did an American businessman really think he was buying Tower Bridge?

Some of these urban myths – or ‘alternative facts’ emerged centuries ago and still circulate today. Metro Girl looks at London’s top 10 urban legends and tries to separate the truth from fiction. However, reality isn’t always black or white and sometimes the answer isn’t so clear-cut.

  • 1. The ‘Coco Chanel’ lampposts

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

Coco Chanel… or just City Council?

Around the Westminster council district, you may have seen lampposts with an interlinking CC, which look remarkably similar to the Chanel logo.

French fashion designer Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel famously had an on/off love affair with Hugh Grosvenor, the 2nd Duke of Westminster for around a decade in the 1920s-1930s. However, the aristocrat failed to make Chanel one of his four wives.

The story goes, the Duke attempted to prove his love for Coco by having her initials embossed in gold on lampposts around Westminster. Each lamppost features a grand ‘W’ nearby – which many assumed were for the Duke.

True or false? False. Sadly, the truth isn’t so romantic. The W does stand for Westminster – but the council, not the Duke – while CC stands for city council. Despite their traditional look, they only got installed in the 1950s – two decades after Chanel and the Duke’s romance hit the skids.

Read Metro Girl’s blog post to find out more.

  • 2. A rich American bought London Bridge by accident.

The capital has had many London Bridges over the centuries, the first one dating back to Roman Londinium in the 50s AD. Despite its iconic name, many would agree the current 1970s creation isn’t the most attractive of London’s river crossings.

In 1968, US businessman Robert P McCulloch bought the previous Georgian-era ‘New’ London Bridge for just over £1million. It had been put up for sale by the City of London as it was sinking into the Thames and wasn’t suitable to modern vehicle traffic.

After being purchased, it was taken apart and shipped across to Arizona to be rebuilt in Lake Havasu City, where it remains today.

However, the story goes that McCulloch thought he was buying the more ornate Tower Bridge, not London Bridge. Many tourists visiting the capital today still think Tower Bridge is London Bridge because it’s one of London’s most recognisable icons.

True or false? False. City of London council member Ivan Luckin, who was the one who suggested selling the bridge and was heavily involved in the sale, has firmly denied misleading McCulloch and insisted the American knew exactly what bridge he was buying.

Read Metro Girl’s blog post to find out more.

  • 3. There’s no flowers in Green Park because of a cheating King.

Green Park is one of eight royal parks in the capital. It was established in the 17th century during the reign of King Charles II.

Unlike the rest of London’s royal parks, it is noticeable for its lack of flowers and lakes and only having a few monuments and is mostly grass, trees and pathways – hence the name Green Park.

Legend has it the park was full of flowers in the 17th century and Charles II used to venture from nearby St James’s Palace to pick flowers for his wife Queen Catherine.

However, Charles was famously unfaithful to his wife and fathered at least 14 illegitimate children. It’s been claimed Catherine found out her husband was picking flowers for other women so ordered every flower bed to be removed from the park.

True or false? Maybe. Green Park has no formal flowerbeds, although there’s around 1 million daffodils that bloom every spring.

Green Park © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Green Park famously has no flowers

  • 4. Vampire in Highgate cemetery

The myth of a vampire roaming Highgate cemetery first appeared in 1969 when some young people interested in the occult claimed to have seen a ‘grey figure’ lurking amongst the graves. After it was reported in a local newspaper, many people wrote in, each giving a different account of spooky goings on.

One man had a theory that a Medieval Romanian ‘King Vampire’ had been brought to England in a coffin in the early 18th century and buried on the site of Highgate Cemetery. He claimed modern Satanists had ‘woken him’.

By March 1970, there was a media hysteria with a mob of ‘vampire hunters’ arriving to track down the Highgate vampire. One man was jailed in 1974 for damaging memorials and interfering with dead remains in Highgate Cemetery.

True or false? False (probably), but it all depends on if you believe in vampires.  Read the rest of this entry

Explore Dulwich Village with Metro Girl’s self-guided history walk

Discover the history and sights of Dulwich Village with this special walk.

Dulwich Village Christ Chapel © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018
Today, there is only a few ‘villages’ left in London. Back in the Georgian era and beyond, London as a city was significantly smaller and surrounded by many country villages. As London expanded during the Industrial Revolution, many of these districts got swallowed up by the growing capital. However, there are a few areas, such as Dulwich, Wimbledon and Highgate, left today which have retained their village charm.

One such place is Dulwich Village in south London, which dates back to at least the 10th century. I’ve lived nearby most of my life and am really fond of the village. Of course, the property prices are ridiculous and unattainable for most of us, but it’s a lovely place to visit, eat and drink in. The Dulwich Society have retained a tight control over planning so the likes of Tesco superstores and flashy developers haven’t ruined the village’s Georgian feel. Located just five miles from the centre of London, it’s surprisingly close to the capital and easy to get to with regular trains from London Bridge and London Victoria.

If you’ve ever fancied exploring Dulwich Village, why not try out my self-guided history walking tour with Routey.net. The company is a free online platform offering walking tours created by members of the travel community. My walking tour covers less than 2 miles and includes 18 stops. It can take a minimum of 90 minutes to up to 5 hours if you choose to stop at the Crown & Greyhound pub for lunch or dinner and visit an exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery.

  • Visit Routey.net for Metro Girl’s Dulwich Village history walking tour. Starting point: North Dulwich station (15 mins from London Bridge). End point: West Dulwich station (13 mins to London Victoria).

For more of Metro Girl’s history posts, click here.

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The Poppies return to London as the Weeping Window comes to the Imperial War Museum

Go west! Exploring Kensington’s hidden gems and local hangouts

Kensington Palace © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Kensington is world renowned for its royal palace

The London district of Kensington is world renowned for its palace, famous museums and having some of the most expensive property in the UK. From the grand museums of South Kensington to the greenery of Kensington Gardens, each district has its own different character. With its location and tube stations providing easy access to the capital’s attractions, Kensington is a popular base for many visitors.

With the borough boasting an array of museums, it’s no surprise that three of its attractions appear in the top 10 list of most visited free attractions in London. The Natural History Museum had over 4 million visitors in 2017, while its neighbours the Science Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum had over 3 million. Meanwhile, Kensington Palace is No.11 on the list of paid London attractions, with over 645,000 visitors in 2017.

While all three of the big museums are brilliant places to go, there’s a lot more to visit in Kensington. I’ve worked a large chunk of my career in Kensington and have stumbled upon the lesser-known attractions of the area when I’ve not been working. For this blog post, I spent the day exploring some of Kensington’s hidden gems. One particular destination off the beaten path is the stunning Leighton House Museum. Located near Holland Park and Kensington High Street, it was built in stages from 1866 to 1895 as a home and studio for painter Frederic, Lord Leighton (1830-1896). From the outside, it looks like a classical, red Victorian home. However, upon stepping inside, it’s like entering a Moorish palace. The main attraction is the beautiful Arab Hall, with its mosaics, Islamic tiles and golden dome. As well as its stunning interiors and expansive garden (by London standards at least!), there is also an extensive art collection, featuring paintings and sculptures by Leighton and his Victorian contemporaries. If you’re a fan of architecture and/or art – particularly pre-Raphaelite paintings – I recommend checking it out. You’re not allowed photos inside, although you can get some good shots in the lovely garden.

© Leighton House Museum, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

The stunning Arab Hall in the Leighton House Museum
© Leighton House Museum, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

Azzedine Alaïa Design Museum © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Designer dreaming at the Azzedine Alaïa exhibition at the Design Museum

A short walk away is the Design Museum on Kensington High Street. It was previously located in Bermondsey, but moved to the former Commonwealth Institute in Kensington in 2016. The spacious 1960s building is worth a visit in itself for architecture fans. It is home to a permanent free exhibition; ‘Designer, Maker, User’, as well as various changing exhibitions and events throughout the year. On my particular visit, I bought tickets for the Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier exhibition, which is on until 7 October 2018. Curated with the designer shortly before his death last year, the exhibition features a collection of his fashions from the early 1980s to his last collection in 2017. The museum is an interesting space and the way the team have presented Alaia’s creations on transparent models on mirrored platforms was brilliant and really showcased the layers and angles of each design.

Kensington Phillies eggs royale © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Eggs royale @ Cafe Phillies

When you’re in this end of High Street Kensington, there’s a great little café down a quiet side street if you’re feeling peckish. Located on Phillimore Gardens with a small outdoor terrace is Café Phillies. It’s an independent café and wine bar, popular with locals and serves an all-day breakfast. It’s a cosy venue with contemporary art on the walls and friendly staff. I took advantage of the unlimited brunch hours and ordered an Eggs Benedict Royale for a late lunch. Served on toasted English muffins, there was a very generous serving of smoked salmon and the poached eggs were perfectly runny. A great spot for lunch or breakfast.

If you’re looking for some fresh air, consider walking down to Kensington Gardens. The large park covers 207 acres, with Kensington Palace located in the western end of the Gardens. Known for being the London home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, parts of the palace are open to the public, including the King’s and Queen’s State Apartments. On this particular visit, I remained outside the palace walls and enjoyed the many free attractions of the gardens. As the palace was the last home to the late Diana, Princess of Wales, there are several memorials to the royal, including a children’s playground and a memorial walk. Throughout the Gardens are many buildings and sculptures to check out, including the 18th century Queen Caroline’s Temple, Henry Moore’s arch and the ornate Albert Memorial. The north side of the park features the 150-year-old Italian ornamental garden, built as a gift to Queen Victoria from her husband Prince Albert. Nearby is Queen Anne’s Alcove, a small structure built in 1705 and designed Sir Christopher Wren. Meanwhile, deeper in the Gardens is Queen Caroline’s Temple, a quaint 18th century summer house with views towards the Long Water.  Read the rest of this entry