London in Focus: Londoners through the ages
It is fascinating to ‘meet’ the local residents of any city, both past and present and in London you discover some of these people at attractions, in museums and on the street!At Madame Tussauds London, your group can walk amongst famous stars including Dame Helen Mirren, Benedict Cumberbatch and Charles Dickens.
The attraction has also had a very close relationship with the British Royal family and since their doors opened on Baker Street in 1884 Madame Tussauds has created more figures of Queen Elizabeth II than anyone else in their history with the first created when she was just two years old.
Just introduced is the Royal Tea Experience giving your members the opportunity to enjoy tea in the company of ‘Her Majesty the Queen’ at a Royal garden party. Fresh cakes and savouries are served accompanied by a cup of tea or glass of Prosecco. Madame Tussauds London offers discounted admission to groups of ten or more people.
English Heritage cares for some of the capital’s finest statues and monuments, honouring famous people throughout history, as well as for some outstanding 20th-century London war memorials. The oldest is a bronze statue of King Charles I on horseback by the sculptor Hubert Le Sueur, and it has faced down Whitehall towards the site of the king’s execution since 1675.
Located near his London home, Apsley House, the mighty Wellington Arch and an equestrian statue both honour the ‘Iron Duke’ of Wellington, greatest of all Britain’s military heroes.
Statues of famous soldiers of Britain’s Victorian wars include General Gordon of Khartoum and Colin Campbell who commanded the ‘thin red line’ at Balaclava in the Crimea, where Florence Nightingale first came to fame. Her statue stands by the Guards Crimea Memorial in Waterloo Place.
At The Tower of London groups can find out more about the Yeoman of the Guards – the Queen’s bodyguard – and one of the most iconic faces of London, by joining a Yeoman Warder Tour. Yeoman Warders (also known as Beefeaters) are a detachment of the Yeoman of the Guard and on their guided tours you will learn tales from the Tower of intrigue, imprisonment, execution and much more.
Another way to delve into the past is to visit one of London’s famous cemeteries. Opened in 1837, West Norwood Cemetery contains 64 listed monuments of outstanding architecture and memorials and graves ranging from Mrs Beaton (of cookery book fame) and Sir Henry Doulton (pottery) to Sir Henry Tate (English Sugar Merchant, Art Patron and public benefactor), artist David Roberts and architect William Burges. There is a special Greek section with 17 listed tombs.
Meanwhile, St Pancras and Islington Cemetery in north London is Grade II listed on the English Heritage register of parks and gardens of special historic interest. Amongst the woodland and flower-rich grassland, you’ll find Victorian memorials and mausoleums, as well as many First and Second World War graves.
As well as being the setting for every coronation since 1066 and 16 royal weddings, more than 3,300 people including 17 monarchs are buried, and more commemorated, at Westminster Abbey (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and it’s a special place to reflect on the lives of Londoners and their contributions to the country and the city.
It has a renowned collection of religious art and artefacts, and a new museum opened in June – the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries has opened up an area to the public for the first time in 700 years.
The galleries in the medieval triforium display over 300 objects exploring the history of the iconic building, and access is through a new tower (lift available), the most significant addition to the Abbey since the West Towers were completed in 1745.
The Galleries can be accessed by timed ticket which can be bought in combination with the Abbey entry ticket. Multimedia guides for the Abbey are available free of charge or you can arrange a private tour with a Blue Badge Guide.