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Archive for May 24th, 2011

 

Gothic London

and my latest London #walkabout.  Oh how I love to wander the streets of London! I am sure that if you had to track my journey on a map  my route would look a bit like a demented fly has been let loose!!!    My initial plan was to visit the British Museum, as I have not been for ever such a long time and wanted to see the Afghanistan exhibition as well as explore Temple.  So onto the bus and off I went.  Enroute CJ suggested that since I would be walking right past the Petrie Museum I should stop off there first….turns out the museum is situated within the University College London complex, which as it turns out is a complex maze!!!   But what an interesting maze!  I discovered a couple of really interesting items whilst ‘switchbacking’ as one does in a maze!   First was a lovely greek mural

mural on the wall in one of the many rooms I meandered through enroute to the Petrie Museum

and the second were the Koptos lions! Awesome. 

Koptos Lions

Finally I found the Petrie Museum, only to discover it was closed!!! hahaha.   Tuesday to Saturday = opening hours and hey….it was Sunday! Urgh.
Anyhow it was worth the meander, and now at least I know the easier access route.
From there I set off to find the British Museum.  One of the most sensible things the city has done in recent years is put up the ‘easy find’ maps.  These are positioned around the city on just about every corner and show you not only where you are, even if you are lost it still tells you where you are, but it gives a wider view of the surrounding area. Easy peasy find your way around. Very useful for folks like me who cannot be bothered to carry a map.

maps

When I got off the bus in Euston Road I was delighted to discover more examples of our  modern architecture. I am becoming quite a fan of the newer buildings. I also had a good view of the BT Tower so knew I was on the right track.
Never one to take a direct route I meandered here and there following whatever caught my eye. I discovered some fascinating places along the way:
The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
Bonham Carter House – which has a blue plaque proclaiming: The First Anaesthetic given in England was administered in a house on this site 19 December 1846. whoa!
a wonderful row of Georgian Houses
the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
University of London – Senate House and Library (brilliant building)
a delightful park
and the rear entrance via Montague Place to the British Museum 🙂 yay

british museum

rear entrance to The British Museum off Montague Place

The Afghanistan exhibition was meant to be booked, which I had not, so instead I visited the Iranian exhibition, where I got to see one of the first copies of the Qur’an F.A.B.U.L.O.U.S. And if you have not yet been and if you live in London…….why are you waiting?
I am sure I wandered around the museum for at least 2 hours.  The exhibitions are marvellous.  I seldom get past the first floor so this time I made the effort and climbed the stairs to the next level to see what I could see.  Wow!!
in all I visited
Ancient Iran and the Middle East in the Raymond and Beverley Sackler Gallery – fascinating.
Enlightenment
Living and Dying –  with displays of some of the most outlandish coffins you could imagine, made by the Ga people of Ghana.
Living with Land and Sea – where amongst other fascinating objects I saw a parka made from seal gut!
and then I revisited
the Middle East exhibitions of which the Rosetta Stone was inundated with visitors as usual.
The Clocks and Watches exhibitions
part of the Hans Sloane curiosity collectables collection
as well as a number of others that I have forgotten the names of.
With well over 100 exhibitions and displays to visit you would seriously have to visit a dozen times to see it all.  There are so many wonderful treasures to see the mind can’t cope with all the intriguing artefacts and facts on display. Thankfully the British Museum allow you to take photographs for future enjoyment! 🙂

one of the many displays inside the British Museum

I left the Museum via the main entrance and stopped for a few minutes to visit the Australian exhibition in the forecourt. A journey through Australia’s varied and actually mind-boggling landscape.
Also in the forecourt were two vans 1) selling ice-creams and 2) crepes 🙂 and I had no money 😦
Outside the museum I saw a taxi decorated like a Pirate Ship 🙂

pirate ship taxi

and across the road on Great Russell Street, a row of terrace Houses #’s 67 -70 the first works of John Nash – architect 1752–1835.
then Bloomsbury Square
with a statue of Statesman Charles James Fox 1749-1806
the house where Sir Hans Sloane – benefactor of the British Museum lived 1695-1742
It was my plan to visit and explore Temple as well today so from Bloomsbury Square I headed off in the general direction and wandered along Southampton Row where I discovered the delightful pedestrianized Sicilian Avenue… a triangular area of restaurants and cafes. Wonderful.

Sicilian Avenue

Southampton Row is lined with wonderful buildings some of which are adorned with fascinating sculptures and reliefs.
On my way to Temple I walked along Kingsway and discovered the marvellous Aviation House!!
and quite by accident; Lincoln Inn Fields! I was delighted to discover this historic part of London and park. On the perimeter are a number of imposing houses one of which is where William Marsden – Surgeon lived 1796-1867 (I think) the plaque was too far away for me to read it properly.
I walked through ‘the fields’ (aka a park) and passed a beautiful memorial for Margaret MacDonald who spent her life in helping others.

Margaret MacDonald memorial at Lincoln Inn Fields

Enroute round the perimeter of the park I found a slightly decrepit bust of John Hunter; Surgeon, Anatomist, Teacher and Collector 1728-1793! Hmmm, little did I know what i was to discover next!
Leaving the park, I turned left and headed towards a marvellous red-brick gate and what looked like a church; eager to explore. And on the way I passed the Hunterian Museum!!! OMGosh!! sadly it was closed, but no matter at least I know where it is….will just have to find a quicker way to get there. Next stop was this marvellous gate et al and to my dismay I learned it was private property and No Entry! How rude. But I did find out through diligent questioning that they have tours of the place every Friday at 2pm!  So guess where I will be at 2pm on Friday!  I did not discover what the place was except that it has something to do with ‘The Law’!
And hey presto to my right was the rear of The Royal Courts of Justice…whey hey! Super duper.

The royal courts of justice london

The Royal Courts of Justice, London (rear view)

Of course I have been inside these magnificent courts and even got to play at being Judge in the high court last year on Open House weekend in September  2010. heehee.     CJ has a photo of me somewhere in my Judge regalia, wig and all!!
My destination at this stage was still Temple and I figured I would get there eventually. Walking past the courts I noticed an old building with a statue tucked away in a niche above the doorway; Thomas More – Sometime Lord High Chancellor of England, martyred July 6th 1535!   The Royal Courts of Justice are no less fabulous and imposing at the rear as what they are at the front. A must visit!!!
on my way I passed:
an old silver merchants shop ‘The Silver Mousetrap’ est 1690…mind-blowing
The Union Bank Chambers est 1865
and then delight of delights….King’s College London.  I had seen this marvellous building some months ago from the other side when I visited Samuel Johnson’s house, but had no idea what it was.  I had it in mind to find out and today I did….quite by accident mind.
Marvellous, marvellous. It looks like a fairytale castle and since the gate was open….I explored. I wanted to explore the building but got asked to leave by the very grumpy security guard. Yeah alright already! God! Instead I meandered the gardens, wonderful. I also met Confucius  😉
from there I did my demented fly thing and suddenly found myself at Fleet Street and the doors to Inner Temple, which as it turned out were locked and I had to do a detour!

temple

the doors to Inner Temple - beneath Prince Henry's Room in Fleet Street

And I will write a separate blog about that….in due course and by this stage I had taken over 400 photos! 🙂  some of which I have uploaded (32) in an album on facebook.

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