Thursday, September 15, 2016

Marble Arch

Can't believe I'm visiting the  32nd station on the Central Line already. The Central line has 49 stations almost double the number on the Bakerloo line which took me 18 months to complete.

This photo shows all the  stations I have visited on the Eastbound side with the remainder still to visit on the Westbound route.

Exiting the tube train you are greeted with decorative enamel panels based on an arch. Designed by Annabel Grey they were fitted in 1985. This is the best I could do as I couldn't step back any further to take a photo of the whole design without falling onto the track.

There are three exits from the station, the main one exiting next to a major road junction of Oxford Street,  Park Lane, Bayswater Road and Edgware Road

Of course the station is named after Marble Arch. Made from white marble the arch was designed by John Nash in 1827. It was built to be the state entrance to Buckingham Palace but with Queen Victoria's large family the Palace needed to be extended and the Arch was dismantled and relocated as a ceremonial entrance to Hyde Park. When Park Lane was widened in 1960-64 it left Marble Arch stranded as a traffic island.

The bronze gates to the Arch showing the lion of England, the cypher of George IV and the figure of St George and the dragon.

In the middle of this traffic island at the corner of Edgware Road and Bayswater Road lies the site of the Tyburn tree gallows.

A plaque in the paving stones marks the site of the gallows. Between 1196 and 1783 criminals, religious martyrs and political prisoners were executed here. They were brought be cart from the prisons mainly Newgate (now the Old Bailey) along Tyburn Street which is now Oxford Street. It is estimated that 50,000 prisoners were hanged here. Hanging days became public holidays and crowds of up to 200,000 gathered here to witness the event. Eventually the tree was replaced by moveable gallows when a toll-house was built on the site. By around 1780 Oxford Street was fully built up as a residential area and the last public execution took place at Tyburn in 1783.
A little further along Bayswater Road is the Tyburn Convent. From 1535 to 1681, 105 Catholics were hanged on the Tyburn Tree Gallows. The convent was founded here in 1901 and has relics of bones and clothing from the Tyburn Martyrs  in the crypt. The convent houses a cloistered community whose main occupation is prayer. There is always a nun praying in the chapel. The public may also worship there during certain times of the day but behind a grill, out of sight. I went into the chapel but felt it disrespectful to take a photo of the nun praying at the altar. Sitting in the silent chapel I was surprised by the rumbling of the Central Line tube trains travelling below the convent.

Walking by Marble Arch you cannot miss the large drinking horse sculpture by Nic Fiddian Green
I crossed over into Hyde Park. Here in the North East corner of the park is Speakers' Corner. In 1855 a large number of protest meetings were held in Hyde park. In 1872 the right to free assembly was recognised. Since then anyone has had the right to say what they like at Speakers' Corner provided they do not break the law.

I exited the park onto Park Lane to visit the Animals in War Memorial which is located on an island in the middle of the road. It is a powerful and moving tribute to all the animals that served, suffered and died alongside the British, Commonwealth and Allied forces in the wars and conflicts of the 20th cent. Some eight million horses, mules and donkeys died in the First World War.

Crossing Park Lane I went down Brook Street and walked through these back streets which are just a couple of minutes walk from Oxford Street. Once the homes of the rich and wealthy, nowadays many of them are owned by companies, embassies or split into apartments. I meandered through the streets and although the traffic was heavy there were very few pedestrians. The only people I saw were builders working on conversions and renovations.

I walked back to Marble Arch station and used the pedestrian subway to cross the busy Bayswater Road.
These 1962 mosaics which combine traditional and experimental mosaic techniques, brighten up an otherwise very dull passageway

Back at Marble Arch I walked passed Cumberland Gate and the Lodge. For about 100 years from 1851 it  was  a Public Convenience (toilet) on Park Lane but then the building was moved here on North Carriage Drive by Cumberland gate. I believe it is now used as a home for the assistant park manager.

Just through Cumberland Gate inside Hyde Park is this futuristic drinking fountain. Made from stainless steel it has four drinking fountains at different levels.Unveiled in 2009, it was the first drinking fountain in Hyde Park for 30 years. It was donated to the park from the developer Michael Freeman who is a regular jogger in the park. The idea of the fountain is to encourage more drinking from the fountain and less from plastic water bottles.

Leaving the park I walked along the Bayswater Road and noticed the plaque outside this building.

I turned onto Albion Street passing the Mews There are numerous Mews in this area. The Mews were the stable blocks for the numerous wealthy families that lived in this affluent area. Now the Mes have been converted into homes.
I walked round the corner onto Connaught Street. This road refers to itself as Connaught Village and to be fair it does have  lots of individual shops, eating places and numerous hanging baskets overladen with flowers giving the area a villagy feel.

This is Connaught Square. Like so many other garden squares, the garden is reserved for residents only. I walked round the Square looking for places of interest and noticed that one of the houses had two armed police on duty outside. I assumed this was a consulate building or such like but as there was no plaque outside I was intrigued. I was not foolish enough to stop and photograph the building but made a mental note of the address to search online. I discovered that it is the family home of the ex Prime Minister Tony Blair.

I crossed over Edgware Road onto Upper Berkeley Street

You will find restaurants from around the world here.

This is the West London Synagogue on Upper Berkeley Street. It is a Reform synagogue and is one of the oldest synagogues in the United Kingdom.

Turning onto Seymour Place you find The Carpenters Arms, established in 1776 and rebuilt in 1872. This traditional pub is also home to the London branch of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale).

From an artisan bakery to a Lindy Hop dance club, this road very close to Oxford Street is devoid of tourists yet full of interesting shops and eateries.

Back towards Marble Arch  I passed the large Neo- Gothic church of the Annunciation.


  1. So many areas find it trendy to call themselves villages. We even have a Forest Gate village - supposedly! If you are ever in need of paid employment again you would make an excellent tour guide :)

  2. Great tour round and I might add looks comparatively quiet that day. I took a photo of the mural from the tube train but as thought you could have turned round and taken one across the rails to the other platform if it was reasonably empty. I think it shows how much Tony Blair is disliked if they have to station to cops outside his house

  3. Looks like a very nice neighborhood to reside in.

  4. That is interesting about just off the high tourist areas are small areas that would delight tourists, but they don't know of them. I am mighty impressed with the 1962 mosaics.

    We were standing in Park Lane, puzzling over how to get closer to Marble Arch and across to Hyde Park. I can't remember if we asked or worked it out ourselves, but we did use one of the tunnels where inside several buskers were performing. I am never sure if this is a very polite thing to do on someone else's blog, but oh well

  5. Thank you for a wonderful tour from the comfort of my home. We haven't returned to London since narrowly missing the bombings in the Underground,- time flies, but when we do I'll have your travel information in hand. Thank you. Have a wonderful weekend.

  6. My goodness, that's a worth a few weeks of blogging what you posted here! Love the rendition of the artist of the Marble Arch! And had no idea about Oranje haven! Still up to this date there are new discoveries about World War II! Thank you for posting all of this!

  7. I know it's a part of history but it's quite scary that people were killed there in one of the spots as a public ritual...

  8. I love the decorative tube station!

  9. You can probably imagine how your posts make me wish we could visit London again! Quite a beautiful station here and a lot to see. Never thought about your former PMs needing guards -- I know our ex-pres get Secret Service protection as well. Fun to be able to research that kind of thing.

  10. This is a very swanky area. I love reading your snippets of information about each place.


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