A few lesser-known and often quieter spots for you to discover
So, you’ve visited several of London’s iconic landmarks and beautiful parks and now you fancy searching out something a little different. Hopefully you’ve already taken a peek at my first post, Curious places to visit in London.
The Clerks’ Well blue plaque, Clerkenwell
There are so many hidden gems in London that I decided to share with you some more of the quirky bits that I love about England’s capital.
Gary and I worked in London for many years and so often to dodge the crowds or just change our route, we end up taking a short cut through lanes you’ve never really considered before. This is when you find that little piece of London that still amazes you.
The view from Charterhouse Square
This is a fascinating area to take in, not only does it still have the remains of the original Clerk’s Well that dates from the Middle Ages.
It has the historic Charterhouse erected in 1348, St John’s Gate and also home to what is known as London’s ‘Little Italy’.
As this is where around 2,000 Italians lived during the 1950s. There’s a beautiful Italian church here that is almost hidden.
St. Peter's Italian Church
A helpful guide
If you've yet to discover London and its ancient history, then let's start planning. I find these DK Eyewitness Travel Guides invaluable. They're extremely informative, easy to follow, and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more of those fascinating sites.
You can now grab a recently revised copy of this guidebook, so you won't miss a thing.
I’ve become a little fixated with some of these blue plaques. At times I may go out of my way to find one. However, with the incredible number of famous and infamous folks that have resided in London, you are never too far from a historical tale.
Sir John Betjeman the Poet Laureate – Blue Plaque
One of my favourite districts in London is Temple and around the legal chambers of the Inns of Court. It’s is like you’ve stepped into a Dickensian novel. Barristers are wafting past you in flowing courtroom gowns, legal runners scurrying through the tiny lanes with documents and charming little shops selling wigs and gavels.
Strolling Middle Temple
A gas lamp in Temple Gardens
The Temple Church
When to visit?
This area of London often gets missed by visitors, mainly as you can only access some of the courtyards, gardens and lanes during the working week. So, ensure you visit Monday to Friday.
If you’re looking to escape the sometimes-frenetic goings-on the in ‘The City’ (London's financial district) search out this little hideaway along St Dunstan’s Hill.
St Dunstan-in-the-East church and churchyard have been transformed into a beautiful open-air city garden.
St Dunstan-in the East
Through the window
The Church of St Dunstan was originally built around 1100.
The shell of the church and some of the inner walls survived the Great Fire of London in 1666, which started just a few streets away.
Today in this little oasis, the creeping branches weave their own path through the ancient windows and stretch out to the wide-open skies beyond.
Want to discover more than about London?
We have a little book on our shelves that we sometimes delve into when we're about to hit an area of London.
Packed full of historical facts, and broken down into the different regions of London, it's a great resource to help you see what's hidden in plain sight.
Available in Kindle & Hardback editions, it's an excellent addition to anyone's collection who loves London.
I couldn’t miss out Leadenhall as I find this arcade stunning. Now made famous as Daigon Alley in the Harry Potter movies. I remember Leadenhall Market from years ago, and it still has the wow factor when I see it.
Al fresco lunch at Ledenhall Market
Imagine it, you’ve just walked past skyscrapers, high-end stores dodged a courier cyclist on a mission of self-destruct. You turn a corner and Leadenhall stands before you.
The 14th -century arcades are magnificent, it’s great to see them bustling with local office workers, however at the weekend the streets empty and you almost have it to yourselves.
A little tip
If you are heading into London by car on a Sunday, then you’ll find there are plenty of free parking spots in the financial district. From here you can either walk or jump on the London Underground to further locations.
Seven Dials is just a short hop from Covent Garden and a little spot I would unquestionably return to. Seven narrow streets all lined with colourful boutiques and cafes, unite into one tiny chaotic roundabout.
Admittedly a roundabout may not sound too appealing; however, since its design during the late 1600s, it has become quite a gathering point over the centuries.
Its centrepiece is a Doric column, and for the eagle-eyed, you may spot only has six sundials at the top of it. The road plans changed from six to seven after the column was built.
Take a stroll along Monmouth Street, one of the roads off of Seven Dials, and you’ll come to a small alleyway named Neal’s Yard.
As you inquisitively step further down the alley, it opens out into a vibrant courtyard full of restored warehouses, which as recently as the 1970s was derelict.
Today this yard is bustling with coffee shops, bakers, bars and the well-known Neal’s Yard Remedies store.
Don’t assume that to reach London’s top sights you’ll always need to jump on a tube, the underground map can be deceptive at times. Head there on foot, you’ll see so much more and save money.
Or not as the case may be. As there is a weird fact about the street names in the financial City of London, and that’s none of them include the word ‘Road’.
Go take a look for yourself, if they don’t end in words like ‘Alley’, ‘Passage’ or ‘Yard’, they have even more bizarre names.
Often there is a historical back story to these. A few of the ones I find fascinating are Little Britain, Poultry, Huggin Hill, Puddle Dock & Savage Gardens.
There are so many more with a fascinating past in this ancient city.
Let us know!
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