London’s architectural landscape is rivalled by no other and is what makes the British capital the utterly unique city it is. The many bridges that extend over the mighty River Thames are an inherent part of London’s fascinating landscape and undoubtedly contribute into making it a world-recognisable setting.
Not only do London’s bridges play a leading role in crafting the capital’s recognisable landscape, but they also boast compelling histories.
Archaeologists have found stumps in the River Thames, which nowadays can only be seen two times per year, when the tide is extremely low. These bridge posts have been carbon dated to 1500 years BC. 1600 years later the Romans made a bridge linking the two sides of the river and it was these fine world-leading engineers who got the city of London off the ground as a major world trading port.
The original London Bridge of medieval times is probably the most talked about and historic of all of London’s bridges. Although today the most photographed bridge is undoubtedly Tower Bridge, which is used regularly as the image to promote London to the world.
London Bridge must have been something else down through the ages. At the height of its powers it contained many shops and dwellings, some of which were three stories high. It became congested and forced the authorities to pass a “keep left” law to allow a steady controlled flow of persons and coaches. Interestingly, the law, passed in the 18th century, is the reason why Britons drive on the left hand side of the road to this day.
The Millennium Walkway Bridge is, as its name suggests, only for pedestrians. It is a lovely piece of art but wasn’t without its problems when it was built, as hundreds of people on it created a huge swaying and oscillating motion. The problem was soon fixed and is yet another wonderful addition to London’s bridge collection.
Next to Tower Bridge is probably the second most photogenic of the London bridges, is the Hammersmith Bridge.
The Royal Parks of London – A verdure sanctuary of peace amid the chaos! Part of London’s appeal is that, unlike many other major cities, it offers green and tranquil sanctuaries among what can only be described as being urban chaos.
Many of these peaceful havens come in the form of royal parks. There are eight royal parks in London altogether – Hyde Park, Richmond Park, Regent’s Park, Green Park, St. James’s Park, Bushy Park, Kensington Gardens and Greenwich Park. These parks are outstandingly beautiful and are a true escape for the people who work and live in London.
If parks can be cosmopolitan than Hyde Park certainly has to be at the pinnacle of multicultural and thriving parks. Hyde Park hosts concerts and sporting events all year round, which are enhanced substantially by the fact the concerts are situated adjacent to the Serpentine Lake.
One of the most iconic concerts ever to have taken place in Hyde Park was that of the Rolling Stones in the late sixties, just after former Stone Brian Jones was found dead in a swimming pool. Mick Jagger said some words for his old band mate as thousands of butterflies were released over the park.
From one iconic musician to another, the legendary Bon Jovi is playing at Hyde Park in July this year.
This 350-acre park includes a memorial fountain to Diana, Princess of Wales, as well as the famous Speakers Corner’s, where many an allegorical speech has been made by a prodigious speaker.
Whilst some of us wouldn’t like to admit it, we all love to spot a celebrity and it is fairly safe to surmise, that London, more than anywhere in the world, is the place to spot a celebrity, particularly in the restaurants.
Take a look at some of the top London restaurants to find celebrities.
The Ivy is in the heart of theatre-land in the West End and stars descend upon this somewhat unpretentious looking restaurant in their droves. Refreshingly, the menu isn’t too pricey but as the Ivy is extremely popular it is wise to book well in advance.
J Sheekey Fish and Sea Food Restaurant
In the heart of Covent Garden not far from the theatres you will find the exceptionally exquisite J Sheekey Fish and Sea Food Restaurant. Since it was opened as a fancy oyster bar back in the 1800’s, this restaurant has been a constant hit with the rich and famous.
This ultra-trendy London eatery is particularly renowned for it’s fresh fish and most famously of all, “Sheekey’s fish pie.”
Hampton Court Palace – English history and architecture at its very best. London’s Hampton Court Palace has enjoyed its fair share of public limelight of late, namely for being the starting and finishing point of last year’s Olympic Games men’s cycling time trial event.
The event was of course won by our own Bradley Wiggins with another British rider, Chris Froome taking the bronze medal. Many people had never seen Hampton Court Palace until the exciting time trial was televised and are likely to have been impressed by the sheer beauty of this wonderful and historical London building.
The first tenant of Hampton Court was the Courtier Giles Daubeney who took a lease on the property in 1494. Prior to Courtier Daubeney taking up residency in what is now one of London’s top tourist attractions; Hampton Court Palace was basically an old large barn which had been used by the Knights Hospitallers, which were one of the most famous of the Western Christian military orders during the Middle Ages.
Daubeney was a good friend of King Henry V11 and the King and his Queen often stayed at Hampton Court Palace with Daubeney to have a break from Westminster.
Although it was Hampton Court’s next tenant who had a more lasting legacy on the Palace. Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, an English cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church and leading political figure, was a close friend of Henry V111 and was a man intent on racing the Middle Ages corporate ladder.
Having many extravagant rooms built for himself and his royal visitors, Thomas Wolsey transformed Hampton Court from a nice country house into a palace fit for a bishop of high standing. All, however, was lost in 1528 when the palace became the King’s property because the King was not happy at not being able to get the Pope’s permission to divorce Katherine of Aragon.
In the ensuing decades and centuries the palace grew in stature and grandeur, with upgrades and additions being frequently built, with the likes of Sir Christopher Wren adding the great façade.
The tremendous Telectroscope – From London to New York in the blink of an eye. The idea behind the ‘Telectroscope’ had all the hallmarks of being one of the capital’s most successful tourist attractions.
A tunnel from London to New York deep below the floor of the Atlantic Ocean that joined the two most cosmopolitan cities in the world was a real idea by a real person in Victorian London, but alas the tunnel never made it beyond its planning stage.
The artist, Paul St. George had begun the idea of churning through the Earth’s crust to connect New York and London and had built two extraordinary telescope like devices in the two cities. Both of these telescopes appeared to be half buried beneath the Earth’s surface, giving the impression that the people around the lens were being spied upon from some unknown place.
Londoners could spy on New Yorkers and New Yorkers could spy on Londoners. The old fashioned looking, brass and wood telescopes were situated at Tower Bridge in London and by Brooklyn Bridge in New York.
Anybody who felt the need to stop and look could do so, at life size, real time moving images on the other side of the Atlantic. You could mime questions and answers to each other as you silently chatted and looked at each other 3460 miles away.