Wednesday, August 3, 2016


Now that I am in Central London and the tube stations are closer together, I only walk a few minutes in each direction from the Underground stations but even so there is so much I want to record in these posts. I always like to find at least one thing that is new to me and hopefully new to those of you who know London.

I have now reached Holborn, the 28th station I have visited on the Central Line. The station has been in the news this year as customers have been asked to stand on both sides of two 'up' escalators for a six month trial. It is normal for customers to stand on the right allowing others to walk on the left. This understanding is adhered to at all Underground stations and visitors to London are soon asked to move if they stand on the left whilst on the 'up' escalator! It is hoped that by getting people to stand on both sides of the escalator it will reduce congestion. However I noticed no difference as people stood on the right whilst others continued to walk passed them  on the left.

The station is on the corner of High Holborn and Kingsway and serves both the Central and Piccadilly Lines.

 Holborn station is one of the busiest on the tube network with more than 56m customers a year.

Kingsway is a wide tree lined busy road. The road is 30m wide with large Edwardian commercial buildings on either side. Underneath the road is a disused subway for trams which runs the full length of Kingsway.

 At the north end of Kingsway you can see where the trams used to enter and exit the subway. Peering through the railings I could see the old tram lines running along the cobblestones down the ramp into the tunnel. The tram network was discontinued in the 1950s.

There are one or two buildings of interest on Kingsway. This one is part of the facade of the old Holy Trinity church. The way the building curves has always interested me. Its interior was incorporated into a supermarket in the 1990s. The original Holy Trinity church was built in 1830 but had to be demolished in 1909 after work on the Piccadilly Line undermined its foundations. A new church was built in 1909-11 but was closed in 1991.Not a great history for a church.

This building on the corner of Kingsway and Lincoln's Inn fields used to be the Public Trustee Office but is now the New Academic building for the LSE (London School of Economics). Whilst the outside retains its Edwardian heritage, peering through the windows I could see a very contemporary and ultra modern inside.

On the corner of the building is this sculpture by Richard Wilson entitled 'Square the Block'

Lincoln's Inn Fields is London's first garden square. It was laid out in 1640 and by 1658 there were houses on three sides of it. The fourth side is taken up by Lincoln's Inn(see previous post). The garden is now enclosed by railings but is open to the public with a central bandstand, cafe and tennis/netball courts. It was here I used to play for the GLC netball team in the early 70s.

It is still the largest public square in London.

There are two museums in the square both of which have free entry. The Hunterian is within this building which is the Royal College of Surgeons . No photography allowed which is just as well as some of the exhibits are pretty gruesome.The Museum includes the collection of the surgeon John Hunter whose prize possession was the skeleton of Charles O'Brien a 7ft7in giant of a man. It is said that Hunter hung around O'Brien's sick bed desperate to have the body. O'Brien gave instructions that his body was to be buried at sea in a lead coffin but Hunter paid the fishermen £ 500 for the corpse. Other items to be found in the museum are Lister's first antiseptic spray and Winston Churchill's false teeth! There are many other things preserved in jars which are better left to the imagination.

As these items were in a glass case just outside the entrance to the Museum I assumed it was OK to photograph them. They are corrosion casts by D. Tompsett done between 1942 and 47. He developed the technique of injecting resin into the blood vessels, tubes and cavities of human and animal specimens. The surrounding tissue was then dissolved with hydrochloric acid. These photos are a horse's heart and lungs. These were used as teaching aids for surgery.

On the opposite side of the square is Sir John Soane's Museum. Sir John was an architect and is probably most remembered for designing the Bank of England. There are three houses which form the Museum, although the front half of number 14 houses the Adam study centre. The museum is where Soane's lived and worked and kept his collections of art, sculpture, furniture and much, much more. Many of his architectural drawings as well as models are also displayed. No photography is allowed so I can't show you the inside of the building. Only 70 people are allowed in at any one time so often there is a queue outside. It is free entry and definitely worth a visit.

I left Lincoln's Inn Fields via a small alleyway in the North West corner. Here you will find the Ship Tavern. Established in 1549 it was much smaller then it is now and initially was used by farm labourers. It has always been a public house but in the reign of Henry VIII, it was used as a shelter for Roman Catholic priests and services were secretly held here. If the priests were caught they were executed on the spot. Some say the place is haunted with the screams of the priests, even though the pub was rebuilt in 1923!

The narrow alleyways a reminder of a time gone by. I came out of the alleyway onto High Holborn. This road dates back to Roman times. Holborn was mentioned in 1086 in the Domesday Book and then of course in the 14th and 15th when the Inns of Court were founded near by it became the centre of the legal profession.

At 252 High Holborn is the Rosewood Hotel. This building used to be the headquarters of the Pearl Assurance Company. Built in 1914 it was expanded over the next 50 years and has a number of heritage features including the Grand Staircase and the Baking Halls. The conversion into a luxury hotel  was consequently overseen by English Heritage.

Across the road from the Rosewood is Templar House. This was the site of the Royal Amphitheatre and circus. The first boxing match under the Marquis of Queensbury rules was fought here in  1867. It is now home to Transport For London
Very impressive door with this sign inside the doorway.
It must be the only place in London that has the Underground sign not related to an Underground Station

I turned off High Holborn onto Procter Street. Unusual as you walk or drive underneath the office block which is built over the road.

Red Lion Square on Procter Street is a typical London Square public garden. The trees provided well needed shade on a hot day.

This is Fenner Brockway ( Nov 1888- April 1988) a British anti war activist and politician. During the war pacifists were handed white feathers by girls in the street as a sign of cowardice It was
said that Fenner was proud of the number of white feathers he received. He later became a labour Member of Parliament and formed the charity 'War on Want'

In the NE corner of the square is the Conway Hall, the only remaining Ethical Society in the UK!

Close by are the beautiful elegant houses in Bedford Row.

On Theobald's Road is this  barber's shop which has an old world charm surrounding it. I imagine gentlemen can still get a traditional wet shave in here.
On the corner of Theobald's Road and Southampton Row is this Grade II listed building, a stunning neoclassical landmark constructed in the 1920s. It was extensively remodelled in 2003 and now houses offices and leisure facilities..

 The back of Victoria House faces Bloomsbury Square.
On the corner of Bloomsbury square is a phone box which sells salads and other food twice a week. I love to find something different on my 'Above the Underground' walks and this is definitely different. Only sorry it wasn't open but I will be returning to this spot for lunch one day soon.

Bloomsbury Square will be the place to sit and enjoy one of those phone box lunches.
Just off Bloosbury Square is this long alleyway leading to Pied Bull Yard.
I decided this courtyard was the place for lunch today mainly because it was quiet and had this spacious outdoor seating area. There was a price to pay for this peaceful hideaway and that was the cost of the sandwich I had from the Le Cordon Bleu kitchen!

I walked back to Kingsway through the Sicilian Arcade. A pedestrianised avenue with a number of restaurants to tempt you.
I walked down Kingsway to Great Queen Street.

This building which is part of the Grand Connaught Rooms is where The Freemasons' Tavern stood  which has its own place in history. On 13th Nov 1807 the first geological society in the world was inaugurated there and on 26th Oct 1863 The Football Association was formed here

Next to the Connaught rooms is the Freemasons' Hall,  headquarters of the Grand Lodge. Built in 1933 it is a classic example of an art deco building. It is assumed that Freemasonry originated with the stone masons who built the great cathedrals and castles during the medieval period.  Freemasonry is one of the world's oldest, non-religious, non-political charitable organisations
 This was another interesting find as I always thought that the Freemasons was a very secret society but at their headquarters in the heart of London is a Museum with lots of items on display. I did go in for a look round and will post some photos of what I saw on my other blog.

There were a number of interesting shops on Great Queen Street including a hat shop with some unusual designs.

Enough window shopping, time to go home.


  1. So much to see in such a small area. When last in London I made a point of seeing the fake house over the railway line in Leinster Terrace, I forgot about seeing the Kingsway tram tracks. Next time perhaps. It's the first time I have seen a phone box used to sell food.

  2. The Museum Line, I recognise a few of these places, pituitary the Bull Yard which I went past. Bet I now which Museum you are going to next

  3. I like the sculpture and the medical art - very cool :-)

  4. Looks like you were lucky with the weather again on another good day out.

  5. So much to see in a small area. I like that there are grassy, park like squares to have a rest and to give a break to the wall to wall buildings, as lovely and interesting as they are. So much history here too.

  6. What a lot of fascinating finds! I used to use Holborn Tube station regularly and of course recognise some of the sights you've recorded, but many more are completely new to me and look so interesting. I suppose we are usually hurrying to get somewhere when we're in central London. So lovely to dedicate a day to just exploring. As for the Conway Hall Ethical Society.... it occurs to me that we could do with a few more of them these days.

  7. Always think of so much to say as I read and then kind of forget some of it by the time I start to write. You found so many wonderful things here. The white feather thing figured in the plot of an episode of Downton Abbey; now I know it really happened! The phone/lunch booth is kind of adorable. But loved the whole walk with you.

  8. Thanks for showing me London, the way you do.
    Next time I am over, I will walk slowly..... and see things you are showing here.


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