If you are ever in the Paddington-Kings Cross area of London, a walkabout tour of about 6.5 km may be a wonderful way to spend the day, assuming the weather is good.
1. The Wallace Collection
A good place to start is the Wallace Collection, an impressive art museum found in Hertford House on Manchester Square.
This building was the former London residence of the Marquesses of Hertford and Sir Richard Wallace who accumulated the collection during the 18th and 19th centuries.
Treasures on display here include paintings by Canaletto, Reynolds and Gainsborough together with French furniture, Sèvres porcelain, arms and armour and countless other priceless objects.
The museum is free, which is great, but like most top museums they display some of the best bits, in this case “Indian Painting for the East India Company” in a separate temporary exhibition for which a charge applies. You can make do with the free galleries if you so wish.
Another plus was that no queuing was required to get in as this museum is probably less well known to the mass tourism market compared to say the British Museum or National Portrait Gallery.
On the negative side, the atmosphere can feel somewhat snobby (more due to the clientele rather than the staff to be fair) and as for the internal courtyard French brasserie, it did seem as if most of the diners were there to be seen rather than to enjoy their “beetroot gravlax and thyme sabayon, root vegetable tartar and sea lettuce croquettes”.
2. Regent’s Park
Winter might not be the best time of year to see London’s parks but you can still find plenty of ducks, swans and geese to feed and enjoy a stroll through the Queen Mary’s Rose Garden, the Japanese Garden or the English Gardens.
Just off Regent’s Park is this fine street, St Andrews Place. Most of the buildings hereabouts seem to be connected to the Royal College of Physicians.
3. Regent’s Place
There’s a lot of new development all over London these days. One block, called Regent’s Place, describes itself as one of London’s best places to work, eat and play.
Even insects are catered for, thanks to these ‘beautiful bug hotels which encourage ladybirds, butterflies, beetles and solitary bees to thrive’. Reminds of some of the budget hotels which I have stayed in in Malaysia which are home to bed bugs, cockroaches and spiders.
4. Wellcome Collection
This is a museum of medical history and oddities which was begun by Sir Henry Solomon Wellcome (1853-1936), pharmacist, entrepreneur, philanthropist and collector.
5. Friends House
Nearby is another grand building called Friends House which is the “head office” of the Quakers. It appears that much of the space is also hired out for events.
6. Euston Arch Lodges
In front of Euston Station are a pair of Victorian gatehouses. They originally served as parcel and information offices for the London and Birmingham Railway’s London terminus, Euston Station and they stood either side of Euston Arch.
This arch was demolished in the 1960s when Euston Station was redeveloped.
They have since been converted into tiny pubs, The Euston Tap, a highly rated craft beer house, and The Cider Tap.
The names of the stations served by the railway are carved on the exterior.
7. British Library
Here’s a small sample of what’s on display at the Treasures of The British Library exhibition.
- A traditional Japanese Buddhist map (1808).
- Southern European Navigational chart (1470).
- Javanese wuku calendar, a kind of horoscope, from Yogyakarta (1738).
- Turkish book (1582) describing the Ottoman contest of Georgia.
- Lindisfarne Gospels (around 700).
- Sultan Baybar’s Quran, Egypt 1305AD.
- Jagannath Puri Temple, Odisha, India (19th century).
- The Gutenberg Bible, Mainz (1454)
Other items on display here include the Magna Carta, Jane Austen and Shakespeare documents and some of the Beatles’ handwritten lyrics.
The British Library Philatelic Exhibition has a permanent display of some of the world’s best stamps and there’s also a good collection of banknotes from around the world.
8. St Pancras & Kings Cross
From here it was just a short walk past the beautifully refurbished St Pancras to King’s Cross where the Harry Potter experience at Platform 9 3/4 was doing a roaring trade.
This article first appeared on thriftytraveller.wordpress.com