London is delightfully quirky and original with plenty of historic and contemporary surprises that continue to delight visitors staying in our short let London apartments. Let’s explore the wild things that live in town, some unusual and rebellious reformers and some powerful old buildings that shook off their dust and embraced the arts.
The wild and the tame
The bear-bating rings and cock fighting pits of Shakespeare’s day are thankfully a thing of the past. Animals have a somewhat easier time of it in the capital these days and they play a starring role in many of London’s myths and legends.
One legend has it that the ravens, looked after very carefully by the Beefeaters at the Tower of London, must remain at the Tower (at least six birds) or London will fall. Look out for the City of London’s Dragon statue at Temple Bar. The Dragon marks the boundary of The City is said to guard London’s treasure; it is often mistaken for a griffon. A wild visitor that has become rather more bold and daring in recent years is London’s Urban Fox. Not menacing enough for you? How about spending the night at London Zoo with the lions? The famous Zoological Garden in Regent’s Park now offers lodges for overnight visitors who may or may not get a good night’s sleep. For those of you who like things a little more cute, visit one of London’s Parks close to your short let London apartments to feed the squirrels and spot the pelicans on the majestic lake of St James’ Park. If you look carefully you will see black rabbits and blue peacocks in the small but fascinating Holland Park.
Strong and rebellious women of their time
Dotted amongst the many statues of London’s kings, warriors and politicians you will find a dozen or so honouring some special and unusual women who struggled against all the odds and restrictions of their time to force change for the greater good. Whether famous or mostly forgotten, they continue to stand proud looking out over the busy, bustling streets and are well worth paying respects to when you visit London.
Louise Aldrich-Blake was London’s first female surgeon and her statue stands at Tavistock Square; erected in 1926, a year after her death. The innovative and ground-breaking writer from the famous Bloomsbury group, Virginia Woolf, also has a statue in this square. Mary Seacole was honoured for her nursing work in The Crimean War and her rather wonderful statue is to be found outside St Thomas’ Hospital. Its about a century ago that women in London won the right to vote. Suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst can be visited in Victoria Tower Gardens and suffragist Millicent Fawcett was the first woman to have a statue honouring her in Parliament Square. A more recent addition to all of these is a statue of the much loved singer/songwriter Amy Winehouse which was erected in 2014 in her local neighbourhood of Camden.
Power stations and the arts!
There are a couple of rather famous power stations in London and both of them are connected to the arts. What a great way to transform the old and celebrate the power of art.
Battersea’s iconic power station with it’s four white towers was made famous by pop group Pink Floyd and has been a place of pilgrimage for music fans ever since. It was saved from the threat of destruction through the years because of this quirky connection to music and the fact that it is a beautiful, cool Grade II listed building. There are cafe’s, markets and children’s activities open to the public here now, with further redevelopment ongoing. Battersea is a pleasant, family orientated neighbourhood on the river that includes the delights of Battersea Park with it’s ancient trees and excellent children’s playground. Bankside has been home to rebel artists and outsiders ever since Shakespeare’s time. Sitting beautifully on the river in this historic neighbourhood is power station No. 2, which is, of course, Tate Modern. This wonderful, ever popular modern art gallery is free, with charges made only for special exhibitions. Enjoy the vast Turbine Hall and art galleries upstairs, also the fantastic views and some good cafes and restaurants. Nearby you will find Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, another excellent example of a revived and rescued London icon.