So you’ve seen Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace. You’ve gone round all the well-known museums and been on the London Eye. Already traipsed up and down Oxford Street with every man and his dog and been to Borough Market for a scotch egg. What’s next? Not to worry, we’re here to help with our top 5 secret things to do and see in London.
Secret Number 1 – Highgate Cemetery
So - secret number 1 - ok, we’re starting with a cemetery…a bit grim you may think but Highgate Cemetery is an unusual historical destination and an opportunity to see a part of Victorian London and its Gothic architecture. With its famous residents including Karl Marx and George Elliot, you can visit the East Cemetery, which still serves North London today. However, it is the West Cemetery, which is of most interest and for that, you need to book a tour in advance or turn up on the weekend and hope for the best. You can see the Egyptian Avenue (with its impressive Egyptian Obelisks), the Circle of Lebanon with its Egyptian style tombs enveloping a large 300 year old cedar tree which towers over the cemetery and the long Catacombs dating back from the 1830’s. Worth a visit and certainly something “different” to do in London.
Secret Number 2 - St Dunstan in the East
Once a church dating from the 12th century with a steeple designed by Sir Christopher Wren the church was heavily damaged in the Second World War during the Blitz but the Steeple and Tower remained intact alongside some of the walls. The decision was made not to rebuild the church to its original purpose and it remained that way until the early 1970’s until the remaining parts of the church were converted into a public garden. A great place to relax for a bite to eat when you bring along a picnic.
Secret Number 3 – Maltby Street Market
Fed up with the hustle and bustle of Borough Market? Head to Maltby Street Market on the weekend for some great street food and a spot to grab a tipple. With many things on offer here from sweet to savoury and English to African you’ll be sure to find something for all. The market is small though and fills up quick so get there when it opens if you want to avoid the crowds heading for lunch.
Secret Number 4 – Gordons Wine Bar
More of a tourist hotspot than it used to be but well worth a visit is Gordon’s Wine Bar – a short walk from Embankment Station or Charing Cross Station. The wine bar has been there since 1890 and hasn’t changed too much in appearance since then. The cellars are candlelit and covered in newspaper clippings and old memorabilia. The bar fills up quickly – so get there early if you want to bag a seat in the cellars. They have a large outdoor garden too which also fills up quickly on warm days. If you’re hungry there’s a good array of cheese and meat plates available. But if you don’t like wine Gordon’s isn’t the place for you. There’s no beer or spirits available – the clue’s in the name.
Secret Number 5 – Climb The Monument
Ever noticed The Monument – hard to miss given it sits over 200 feet into the air. However, did you know you can climb up it? The Monument was built as a reminder of the Great Fire of London. It stands at 202 feet high and sits exactly 202 feet from the spot the fire began. Feeling energetic? Looking to see some great views of London? Well you can climb the 311 steps up to the viewing platform. Your reward - a unique view of London alongside a certificate to show you completed the climb!
What "secret" places do you know in London that our readers may wish to explore? Send your suggestions over. For more in our series of blogs see here!