London is a spectacular city which is steeped in history dating back over 2,000 years. By 1850 it had grown to become the world’s largest city, a truly international political and commercial hub. This heritage has shaped the varied cityscape, where grand old buildings often rub shoulders with modern architecture. This week we have mapped out two London walks which will especially appeal to those interested in religious, crown and state affairs.
The Westminster Walk takes in some of the most famous national landmarks in a relatively green and tranquil loop from Parliament Square to Buckingham Palace. The St. Paul’s Stroll winds past some lesser known national landmarks, along bustling old streets including Fleet Street, an historic centre of printing and publishing.
Start Point / End Point: Westminster Station
Distance: 3 Miles
Time: 2 Hours
At the start of this route you will find Big Ben, the largest four-faced chiming clock in the world and a worldwide symbol of England. Many UK government departments are located along Whitehall such as the Ministry of Defence, responsible for strategic intelligence, security and the defence of the United Kingdom. The route proceeds through the arch into Horse Guards Parade and then up the steps past the Duke of York Memorial. Continue on towards the Queen’s London home, Buckingham Palace, via St. James’s Square, a classic London square like many across the city.
Further along the walk you will find the Guards Museum and Wellington Barracks which is used by guards regiments to protect the royal palaces. The walk is concluded by passing the national church, Westminster Abbey. The Abbey has been the coronation church since 1066 and is the final resting place of seventeen Monarchs. A fine piece of English history, this London walk captures the perfect contrast of magnificent architectural design with the natural scenery of St. James’s Park at its heart.
St. Paul’s Stroll
Start Point / End Point: St. Paul’s Station
Distance: 2 Miles
Time: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
This central London walk begins at St Paul’s station where you can immediately get a glimpse of St. Paul’s Cathedral, the major work of Sir Christopher Wren, London’s greatest architect. St. Paul’s Cathedral narrowly escaped destruction during the Second World War and neighbouring Paternoster Square is actually built on a WWII bomb site. Taking the first right after St Martin-Within-Ludgate church will bring you to the street called Old Bailey. At the end of the street is the Central Criminal Court which deals with the major criminal cases from Greater London.
As you merge onto Holborn Viaduct you will be able to see St. Sepulchre Church, which was originally dedicated to the martyred King Edmund in the middle ages. It is another prime example of the religious architecture found within a short distance of the Cathedral. The remainder of the route will take you past the St. Bride Printing Library which is home to a variety of publishing related history. You will also pass the College of Arms which is the office of the royal heralds who arrange all large state occasions such as coronations and state openings of parliament.
To find out more about the history of London, take a short detour and visit the excellent Museum of London. This free museum is located on London Wall, just a few minutes’ walk north from St. Paul’s tube along St. Martin’s Le-Grand.