This is part of a continuing series on places to visit and things to do in London from a local’s perspective. From watching Shakespearean plays to visiting museums, seeing London from several hundred feet above the ground to having a drink in a pub going back to medieval times, there is never a shortage of things to do.
Views from The Shard
The Shard has a distinctive appearance; it resembles a shard of glass. It is one of London’s most recognisable landmarks and can be seen from afar, rising above the mass of buildings and piercing the sky. Visitors can visit the viewing gallery at the top of the building which requires tickets but if you are smartly dressed, an alternative option is to have a drink at one of the two restaurants (Oblix and Aqua Shard). The restaurants are lower than the viewing gallery which will have an impact on the viewing experience but the view is still incredible. A point to note is that individuals below the age of 18 are not allowed in.
Watch a performance at the Globe Theatre
This theatre on the South Bank is a recreation of Shakespeare’s original Globe Theatre. The open air theatre provides a different theatrical experience and watching a play here is all the more special because the performance is similar to those viewed by audiences centuries ago. There is a limited number of cheap tickets available for each show which apart from providing an affordable way to enjoy a show, is also a test of physical fitness and endurance as it requires you to stand for the duration of the performance!
Visit the Museum of London
This museum’s unusual location and building means that it may be unnoticed by passers-by but it is well worth visiting. The exhibitions are well presented and although there is a huge amount of information on display, the variety of means used to showcase it means that it is easily understandable and accessible, even by younger children. London’s history is traced through the ages in an engaging manner but my personal favourite of the sections is the area where there are period recreations of specific rooms such as a kitchen, grocery, bar, pharmacy and a clerk’s office. All the rooms are fitted with era-specific instruments and commodities and the attention to detail is incredible; there are books with turned pages and half written letters on desks, half full tea cups and coats on pegs. One gallery has a glass pane through which a section of the London Wall built by the Romans in the late 2nd or early 3rd century can be seen and this is followed by an exhibit of a Roman room including the mosaics and reclining chairs characteristic of the time. The term London is derived from the Roman name Londinium!
Explore old churches
All Hallows by the Tower is a historic church for several reasons. It is the oldest church in the City of London and is located close to the Tower of London. This year marked 350 years since the Great Fire of London. All Hallows has a strong connection to the fire as it is close to Pudding Lane where the fire originated and Samuel Pepys who is known for recording the burning of London watched from its tower.
St Mary Magdalen Bermondsey is striking to look at; the architectural style of the windows and arches is gothic and the tower is medieval. It was built in 1680 and is the oldest building in the locality. There is a beautiful stained glass window inside the church above the altar as well as old engravings. Although the church has retained its historic appearance and unique character it is very much used by the local community and has lively services. There have been refurbishments in the recent past to make it more accessible to young children and their parents and to provide a social space for members to gather.
Have a drink at The George
This is the only surviving galleried coaching inn in London and is the oldest pub in London. The name is derived from the famous legend of St George and the dragon. Customers enjoying a pint or two carry on an age old tradition engaged in by many, including Charles Dickens who frequented this pub and referred to it in his novel ‘Little Dorrit’. Although many old pubs have been destroyed or refurbished the George is currently owned by the National Trust and so is likely to remain as it is.
read also Part One