Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Charing Cross

Charing Cross is the 5th stop on the Bakerloo line when travelling North. It actually takes less than a minute to travel from the previous station, Embankment to Charing Cross.

One of only three underground stations that gives other information on the roundel as well as the name.
Alighting from the tube you are treated to images from paintings in the National Gallery in Trafalgar square.

There are two lines using this station - Bakerloo and Northern with 10 exits/entrances to the station located around The Strand or Trafalgar Square.

I emerged from the exit into Trafalgar Square to see Nelson's Column towering above me.

It is said that Nelson is checking his fleet as he looks down the Mall at the ships which are on top of the lamp posts.

Guarding Nelson's Column are four bronze lions designed by Sir Edwin Landseer. In the background is The National Gallery, one of the greatest art galleries in the world.

There are also two fountains in the Square, a favourite place for jumping into on New Year's Eve. A practice which no longer happens as they are usually fenced off during the festivities. Another change in the Square is the lack of pigeons as it is now against the law to feed them. They also have a Harris Hawk to keep them away and more to the point the Square is more or less free of pigeon dropping making it the ideal space to hold public events.

The fourth plinth.
It was originally intended for an equestrian statue of William IV but lack of finance has meant it was empty for many years. It is now used for specially commissioned  pieces of art.

On one of the corners of Trafalgar Square is this old police station. Used in the past to watch the behaviour of crowds in the Square, it is now used for storing cleaning equipment.

At the back of Trafalgar Square is a plaque showing the standard imperial measurements of length. The Board of Trade installed the measures of an inch, a foot and a yard in 1876.

To the right of the Square is St Martin in the Fields which has regular free lunchtime concerts.

Downstairs in the crypt is a cafe and memorials and headstones dating back to the 1600s.

Henry Croft was the original Pearly King, a traditional that continues today. Each London Borough has their own Pearly King and Queen whose purpose is to raise money fro local charities.
Across the road from St Martin's in the Field is
The National Portrait Gallery

At the back of the church in a passageway leading back to Charing cross station is this tribute to Oscar Wilde. 

Leaving Trafalgar Square, walk through Admiralty Arch and onto the Mall.

From Admiralty Arch you look down the Mall towards Buckingham Palace. The Mall is used as a ceremonial route for members of the Royal family and guests.

A building on the Mall that many walk past without noticing is the Admiralty Citadel. Covered in Virginia creeper it is a windowless building apparently built in 1940 as a bomb proof fortress. It is not open to the public as it is still a working building today.

Close by is the National Police Memorial which contains a book with the names of all those police officers who have lost their lives whilst doing their duty.

Just off the Mall is Horseguards Parade. This where the Changing of the Guard takes place daily at 11am.

The Guardsmen are soldiers taken from one of five different regiments of Foot Guards - the Scots Guards, the Irish Guards, the Welsh Guards, the Grenadier Guards and the Coldstream Guards.

Walking through Horseguards Parade ground brings you out onto Whitehall, the home of many of the Government departments. My favourite building on Whitehall has to be the Banqueting Hall which is across the road from Horseguards. Built of brick and stone, and completed in 1609 to provide a setting for a new type of court entertainment - the masque. From the outside the Banqueting Hall doesn't look that special but once you enter the large hall and look up you will see the most magnificent ceiling painted by Peter Paul Rubens in about 1636. 

Another exit from the Charing cross tube station brings you out onto The Strand outside the main rail station at Charing Cross.

Outside the station is the Charing Cross monument. The original cross from which all distances from London were measured was located at the top of Whitehall and was demolished in 1647. The present Charing Cross Monument was built in 1863 as a meeting place for the station.

On the opposite side of the road is Coutts Bank founded in 1692 is the bank for Royalty. Every monarch since George III has had an account here. You need a minimum of £500,000 to open an account here.

There are a number of narrow alleyways off The Strand, reminders of Victorian London.

Another road leading off Trafalgar Square is  Pall Mall home to many exclusive gentlemen's clubs. Many of which do not have name plates. A gentlemen's club is a private, members only club set up in the 18th cent for the British upper middle class men. These days of course it is against the law to discriminate against women but whether you would be welcomed into some of these establishments I have no idea (nor am I ever likely to know!).

On the corner of Pall Mall and Waterloo Place is this rather grand building of the The Athenaeum club where women have been admitted since 2002. The frieze is a copy of the frieze around the Parthenon in Athens. Wikipedia describes the inside as having
.... an extensive library, a dining room known as the Coffee Room, a Morning Room, a Drawing Room on the first floor, a newly restored Smoking Room, where smoking is not permitted, and a suite of bedrooms.

Another feature of Waterloo Place is this monument to Prince Frederick,the Duke of York who was commander-in chief of the British Army during the French Revolutionary Wars and is remembered in the nursery rhyme,' The Grand Old Duke of York' . The column is very high at 42m and at the time was said he needed to be that high to avoid his creditors. The cost of the column was met by money from the Army (each soldier had to forego one day's pay!). It has a staircase leading to the top of the monument but this was closed many years ago as it became a popular place for people with suicidal thoughts.

The next station on the Bakerloo Line is a few minutes walk away from Pall mall at Piccadilly Circus.


  1. That's a fabulous tour - great detail and photos. Many thanks for visiting my blog!

  2. That's a fabulous tour - great detail and photos. Many thanks for visiting my blog!

  3. Great tour and lots of things I never knew about let along seen

  4. Marvelous shots! I would love to visit there.

  5. Such a lot of preserved history in such a compact area.

  6. wow thanks for this detailed look at Trafalgar Square. I have been there, once, but we were waiting for someone, and didn't look around too much. The little police station is amazing. And I didn't know about the underground café. More things to put on my list time for my next visit to London, whenever that is! Looking forward to your continuing blogs about the stations. Have a great weekend and thank you for stopping by my blog.

  7. When I visited London and went to Charing Station I wondered about the cross. Thank you for lighting me up. I enjoyed St Martin in the fields so much.
    Greetings from Germany

  8. I love your history lessons. It great to hear the pigeons have left Trafalgar Square. I would like to know more about Harris Hawk. I was born at the bottom of the hill where "The Grand Old Duke of York marched his men to the top of the hill and marched them down again"

  9. What a great tour, Marie. I've just been editing my photos of the banqueting hall yesterday. The ceiling is just so wonderful, as is the self tour where you can lounge with headphones, looking up at it all.

  10. that was grand tour you have just taken us on - those alleyways look foreboding.

  11. Fantastic post. I worked at Piccadilly Circus for 6 years and loved it. So nice to see all my old sites and lunch time places.

  12. Thanks for explaining Piccadilly! Never thought about it . Love the church sign which allows people to come in and take shelter. Thanks for the tour.


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