03 October 2018

Out & About in London (21-23 April 2018)

Some additional miscellaneous photos of London, UK, 21-23 April 2018: 


Admiralty Arch, as seen from The Mall. Commissioned by King Edward VII in memory of his mother, Queen Victoria, Admiralty Arch was designed by Aston Webb, the same man responsible for the Victoria Memorial and the new façade of Buckingham Palace.  Admiralty Arch provides pedestrian and road access between Trafalgar Square and The Mall, the processional route linking Trafalgar Square with Buckingham Palace.   

Completed in 1912, Admiralty Arch once served as the residence of the First Sea Lord (the professional head of the Royal Navy) and, later, other government offices until 2011.  In 2012, as part of its austerity programme, the UK Government signed a 125-year lease permitting the redevelopment of Admiralty Arch into a luxury hotel, restaurant, and apartments.  The centre of the three arches is reserved exclusively for the use of vehicles carrying members of the Royal Family. 

Trafalgar Square on a sunny Sunday morning, 22 April 2018.  Nelson's Column, built between 1840 and 1843, towers 52 metres (169 feet) over the square and commemorates Admiral Lord Nelson's victory over the French and Spanish fleet at Cape Trafalgar on 21 October 1805.  Two of the four large bronze lion sculptures at the base of the column are seen in this photo. 

South Africa House, the building housing the South African High Commission (embassy) in the United Kingdom.  Located on the eastern side of Trafalgar Square, South Africa House was completed in 1933 and was home to South African Prime Minister Jan Smuts during the Second World War and used as his base of operations in planning South Africa's war effort.   

Trafalgar Square, designed by architect John Nash (1752-1835) and opened in 1844, was named after the British naval victory over the combined French and Spanish fleets off Cape Trafalgar on 21 October 1805.  The square is owned by the Queen in Right of the Crown and managed by the Greater London Authority.  The north side of the square is dominated by the National Gallery, one of the most visited art museums in the world, housing over 2,300 paintings from the 1300s to 1900.  At the centre of the photo is one of Trafalgar Square's two famous fountains, designed by Sir Edward Lutyens (1869-1944) as memorials to British naval heroes Lord Jellicoe and Lord Beatty.  Trafalgar Square's current fountains replaced earlier ones which were donated to Canada in 1948 and now stand in parks in Ottawa and Regina.           

A wider shot of Trafalgar Square shows the National Gallery and one of the fountains, with St Martin-in-the-Fields Anglican church (built 1722-1726) on the right side of the photo.  The statue on the plinth in the foreground of the photo is that of General Sir Charles James Napier (1782-1853), a British soldier of the Peninsular and 1812 campaigns, and later a general officer in the Bombay Army, during which time he led the conquest of the state of Sindh in modern-day Pakistan and subsequently served as the Governor of Sindh and Commander-in-Chief in India.      

The Admiralty Pub, located across from the southwest corner of Trafalgar Square, is a nautical-inspired pub featuring rich wood panelling and floorboards, leather-clad banquettes, brass fixtures,  and a treasure trove of naval photos and artefacts.  Opened in October 2014, the pub is owned and operated by Fuller's Brewery.

St James's Square Garden stands at the centre of the fashionable St James's Square.  The garden is itself dominated by a bronze equestrian statue of William III, Prince of Orange, who ascended the English Throne after deposing James II in the Glorious Revolution in 1688.  The statue, designed by John Bacon Jr., was  erected in 1808 and depicts William III in the style of a conquering Roman general; it was given Grade I listing in 1958.  Since 1726, St James's Square Garden has been maintained by the St James's Square Trust, funded by the owners of the properties flanking the square.  The garden is generally open to the public on weekdays between 7:30am and 4:30pm, though can be restricted to St James's Square St. James's Square freeholders and residents for special events.  

A flower-strewn memorial to Woman Police Constable (WPC) Yvonne Fletcher, a Metropolitan Police officer mortally wounded by a gunman in the Libyan embassy on St James's Square in London on 17 April 1984.  Fletcher had been dispatched to monitor demonstrations against Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi when two gunmen opened fire from the first floor of the embassy, wounding 11 anti-Gaddafi protesters in addition to Fletcher.  The shooting led to an 11-day seige of the embassy, followed by Britain's breaking of diplomatic relations with Libya and the expulsion of all Libyan officials in the embassy.  

A view of one section of Victoria Embankment Gardens, a series of gardens on the north side of the River Thames between Blackfriars Bridge and Westminster Bridge.  The Victoria Embankment was built between 1864 and 1870 under the supervision of the Metropolitan Board of Works's chief engineer, Sir Joseph Bazalgette (1819-1891), to house the main sewer into which London's various feeder sewers fed.  This granite-faced trunk sewer then transported waste east to the Thames estuary for discharge, thereby avoiding the flow of sewage directly into the polluted River Thames in central London.  The Embankment also served to ease traffic congestion and beautify the riverside, and provided space for an additional link in the London Underground's Circle Line, running parallel with Bazalgette's new sewer.  The total area of river reclaimed by the Embankment was 37.25 acres, including 20 acres of gardens designed by Alexander McKenzie and featuring a mix of deciduous trees and shrubs, bulbs, and summer flower beds.    

A bed of colourful tulips in Victoria Embankment Gardens.

Red and yellow flowers ring a statue of Scotland's best known poet, Robert Burns (1759-1796), in Victoria Embankment Gardens.

A line of terracotta-potted fan palms and colourful spring flowers provide a Mediterranean feel to this part of Victoria Embankment Gardens.   

The York Watergate was built in 1626 for George Villiers, first Duke of Buckingham, the favourite of King James I and the owner of a home (York House) located  directly to the north of the gate. The gate was the principal exit from York House's gardens to the Thames. The construction of the Victoria Embankment in 1864-1870 left the York Watergate far from the new shore of the Thames, but a plan to relocate it to the new shoreline was abandoned and the steps that originally led down to the river were removed. The frieze above the gate displays the Villiers family coat of arms, flanked by lions holding shields inscribed by an anchor, in recognition of the Duke's position as Lord High Admiral. The frieze on the other side of the gate is inscribed with the Villiers family motto, 'Fidei coticula crux' ('the touchstone of faith is the cross'). The York Watergate was designed by Sir Balthazar Gerbier, painter, art collector and architect to the Duke of Buckingham, and is based on the Fontaine de Médicis at the Palais de Luxembourg.     

A statue of Sir Henry Bartle Edward Frere (1815-1884) stands surrounded by daffodils in Whitehall Gardens, a section of Victoria Embankment Gardens.  Frere was a British colonial administrator in India and southern Africa.  Although serving a successful stint as Governor of Bombay from 1862 to 1867, his later service as Commissioner for Southern Africa led to the overthrow of the Cape Colony's first elected government and a string of regional wars after he attempted to confederate the states of southern Africa under British rule.  Frere was recalled to London in 1880 to face charges of misconduct, being officially censured for acting recklessly and removed from his post.  The ornate building behind the statue is One Whitehall Place, home of the five-star, 282-room Royal Horseguards Hotel, opened in 1884 and now managed by Guoman Hotels, a subsidiary of Thistle Hotels.      

Looking south down Whitehall Gardens.  Carefully manicured lawns are interspersed with beds of colourful tulips and daffodils.  

Looking north up Whitehall Gardens.  The southernmost of three statues in this section of Victoria Embankment Gardens depicts William Tyndale (1494-1536), an English scholar and leading figure in the Protestant Reformation who is best remembered for being the first person to produce an English translation (from Greek) of the Bible's New Testament.  Tyndale was captured in Antwerp in 1535 and tried on the charge of heresy, being sentenced to death in 1536.  He was tied to a stake and strangled to death, his body then being burned. 

The section of Victoria Embankment Gardens south of Horse Guards Avenue runs in front of the Ministry of Defence headquarters and thus contains statues of a number of famous British military leaders and military monuments.  Here is a statue of Major General Charles George Gordon (1833-1885), a British Army officer of the Royal Engineers and administrator killed during the siege of Khartoum, following a nearly year-long defence of the city against the forces of the Mahdi, Muhammed Ahmed. 

A memorial to the Korean War (1950-1953).  The plaque under the feet of the statue reads, 'With gratitude to the sacrifices made by the British Armed Forces in defence of freedom and democracy in the Republic of Korea'.  Following a 5 November 2013 groundbreaking ceremony attended by then-President of the Republic of Korea Park Geun-Hye and HRH The Duke of Cambridge, the memorial was unveiled on 3 December 2014 by HRH The Duke of Gloucester and the Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yun Byung-Se.

A statue of Viscount Hugh Montague Trenchard (1873-1956), Marshal of the Royal Air Force.  Lord Trenchard is known as the 'Father of the Royal Air Force', founding the service as a distinct branch in 1919 and serving as Chief of the Air Staff until 1926.  Trenchard's time as Commander of the Royal Flying Corps (predecessor to the Royal Air Force) was devoted to three main priorities: supporting ground forces with aerial reconnaissance, artillery spotting, and tactical bombing; ensuring the morale of airmen (and seeking to undermine enemy morale through the application of air power); and emphasising offensive action.     

The Iraq and Afghanistan Memorial by sculptor Paul Day commemorates British military and civilian personnel who took part in the Gulf War (1990-1991), the War in Afghanistan (2001-2015), and the Iraq War (2003-2011).  The memorial consists of two Portland stone monoliths weighting 33 tons, supporting a bronze medallion with bas relief depictions echoing the monument's theme of 'duty and service'.  Military personnel are shown on one side and civilian personnel on the other.  The memorial was unveiled on 9 March 2017 by Queen Elizabeth II, with the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, Prime Ministers May, Major, Blair, and Cameron, as well as then-Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, in attendance.    

The 'civilian' side of the Iraq and Afghanistan Memorial, showing scenes of government civilian aid workers, doctors, and civil-military relations teams working with and aiding local Iraqis and Afghans.

The 'military' side of the bronze medallion shows British soldiers and a Chinook helicopter in action.  

A memorial to the British and Indian Armies' Long Range Penetration Groups, better known as the Chindits, who took part in the Burma Campaign of the Second World War. The plinth is topped by a sculpture of a chinthe, a mythical beast and guardian of Burmese temples, from which the name of the military unit was derived.  The Chindits' motto was 'The Boldest Measures are the Safest', which is also inscribed on the plinth.  The Chindits came from the armed forces of the United Kingdom, Burma, Hong Kong, India, Nepal, West Africa, and the United States, with air supply and direct operational support being provided by the Royal Air Force and the United States Army Air Force.  British Major General Orde Charles Wingate was responsible for forming and training the the Chindits but died in an aircraft accident in India on 24 March 1944 before he could celebrate the final victory over Japanese forces in Burma.    

A mounted soldier of The Life Guards performs guard duties in front of the Horse Guards building that serves as the Hyde Park Barracks for the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment.  Because Horse Guards originally served as an entrance to the Palace of Whitehall and, later, St James's Palace, it is still ceremonially guarded by the Queen's Life Guard to this day, 300 years after the first guard was mounted here. 

Members of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment stationed at Hyde Park Barracks perform a daily ceremonial display for tourists as part of their duties.  The Queen's Life Guard is formed by soldiers of The Life Guard (seen here) who wear red tunics and white helmet plumes and soldiers of The Blues and Royals, who wear dark blue tunics and red helmet plumes.  The two units alternate days standing guard duty, performing a formal changing of the guard ceremony at 11am Monday-Saturday and 10am on Sunday.  At 4pm daily, an officer inspects the Guard during what is called 'The Four O'Clock Parade'.     

The Memorial to the Brigade of Gurkhas, located on Horse Guards Avenue in Whitehall and unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II on 3 December 1997.  The memorial's inscription is a quote by Sir Ralph Lilley Turner, a former officer in the 3rd Gurkha Rifles: 'The Gurkha Soldier, bravest of the brave, most generous of the generous, never had country had more faithful friends than you'.   

the Horse Guards Avenue entrance of the Ministry of Defence Main Building.  Built on the former site of the Palace of Whitehall, the building was designed in 1915 and built between 1939 and 1959, initially housing the Air Ministry and the Board of Trade.  In 1964, it became the headquarters of the Ministry of Defence.  Faced in Portland stone, the Neoclassical building's Horse Guards Avenue portico entrance features sculptures by Sir Charles Wheeler, depicting Earth and Water and each weighing 40 tonnes.  A major refurbishment of the building was completed between 2000 and 2004, with over 3,000 Ministry of Defence officials now housed inside.    

The Royal Tank Regiment Memorial Statue, at the junction of Whitehall Court and Whitehall Place. The sculpture depicts the five-man crew of a Second World War Comet tank, which was issued to the Royal Tank Regiment in 1945.  The figures are of the tank's commander, gunner, loader, hull machine gunner, and driver.  The Comet was equipped with a 77mm high velocity gun and powered by a 600-horsepower Rolls-Royce engine.  This memorial was unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II, Colonel in Chief of the Royal Tank Regiment, on 13 June 2000.  The inscription on the base of the memorial reads, 'From mud, through blood, to the green fields beyond', an interpretation of the regiment's colours of brown, red, and green. 

Admiralty Arch, as seen from the Trafalgar Square side, with roads closed for the London Marathon on Sunday, 22 April 2018.  Malaysia House is seen on the right side, housing the offices of the Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board on the ground floor. 

The Royal Marines Memorial, located on the north side of The Mall, next to Admiralty Arch.  Comprising two bronze figures mounted atop a Portland stone plinth, the memorial was unveiled in 1903 and commemorates the Royal Marines who died fighting in the Boxer Rebellion in China and the Second Boer War in Africa.  Relocated to its present position in 1948, the memorial was rededicated in 2000 as the national monument for the Royal Marines by The Duke of Edinburgh, Captain General of the Marines.  

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace, as seen from Constitution Hill on 22 April 2018.  Originally a townhouse built for the Duke of Buckingham and Normanby in 1703, the original structure was acquired by King George III for his wife, Queen Charlotte, in 1761.  In the 1820s and 1830s, first under King George IV and, later, King William IV, the house was substantially enlarged through the addition of three wings surrounding a courtyard, designed by architects John Nash and Edward Blore.  In 1837, Buckingham Palace became the London residence of the British monarch upon the accession of Queen Victoria.  The last major addition to the palace was the construction of the famous East Front (seen here) between 1847 and 1850, which served to complete the interior courtyard as a quadrangle.

Buckingham Palace contains 775 rooms, comprising both the private residence of the Queen and members of the Royal Family and state rooms used for official events and entertaining.  The famous balcony from which the Royal Family gathers to greet crowds and review the annual Trooping of the Colour ceremony can be seen at the base of the stone columns. 

Part of the Changing of the Guard ceremony, performed daily at 11am in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace during the summer and four times per week during the winter.  Here, three members of the Coldstream Guards, one of five regiments of foot guards, parade past the entrance to the Buckingham Palace courtyard, while a fourth member stands guard in front of a sentry box.

The Victoria Memorial, dedicated to Queen Victoria, was designed by the sculptor Sir Thomas Brock in 1901 but not unveiled until 16 May 1911 and not completed until 1924.  Crafted from marble, the 25-metre (82 ft) tall monument is topped by a gilded bronze sculpture of Winged Victory standing on a globe with a victor's palm in one hand.  Underneath are marble representations of Constancy and Courage, while further below are sculptures representing Justice, Motherhood, and Truth, as well as two eagles with wings outspread, representing Empire.  A sculpture of Queen Victoria, seated on a throne looks down The Mall.   

Large bronze sculptures adorn the Victoria Memorial, while water gushes from an ornate bronze spigot into the fountain. 

Canada Gate, presented by the Government of Canada as its contribution to the large Victoria Memorial scheme designed by architect Sir Aston Webb.  Commissioned in 1905 and installed by 1911, Canada Gate features the same gilded wrought iron styling as the gates of Buckingham Palace, located nearby, and was crafted by the same guild of artists.  It features the emblems of the seven Canadian provinces in existence when the gates were commissioned.  Canada Gate provides access to the Green Park, one of four Royal Parks in central London.  

Looking northeast along The Mall from the foot of the Victoria Memorial on Sunday, 22 April 2018, the day of the London Marathon.  The Mall is used as a ceremonial route to Buckingham Palace, being used for Royal weddings, funerals, coronations, and other public processions.    

City of London / Fleet Street / The Strand

One of the markers located along the Victoria Embankment near Temple Underground Station indicating the western boundary of the City of London (as distinct from the 33 local authority districts the together comprise Greater London).  The dragon statues were originally mounted above the entrance to the City of London Coal Exchange, which was demolished in 1963, and subsequently unveiled at their current location on the Victoria Embankment on 16 October 1963.         

The Royal Courts of Justice, built in the Victorian Gothic style in the 1870s and officially opened by Queen Victoria on 4 December 1882.  Located on The Strand, just inside the boundary between the City of Westminster and the City of London, the Royal Courts of Justice house the High Court and the Court of Appeal of England and Wales.

The Temple Bar Memorial, marking the boundary between the City of London and the adjacent City of Westminster.  The monument stands in the middle of the road that is known as Fleet Street in the City of London and The Strand in the City of Westminster, and which serves as the historic royal ceremonial route between the two cities.  The current monument was erected in 1880 to mark the location of the previous Temple Bar, a Baroque arched gateway designed by Christopher Wren and built between 1669 and 1672, which was removed in 1878.  The Neo-Renaissance memorial comprises a pedestal with the figures of Queen Victoria and the Prince of Wales, the last two royals to enter the City via Wren's gate, topped by a dragon sculpture symbolising the City of London.  

The tea shop of Twinings of London, located at No. 216, The Strand.  This shop is London's oldest business to be continuously operated in the same location, having first opened here in 1706.  It is Britain's first known tea room, and the company's logo is the world's oldest continuously-used, having been created in 1787.  Twinings holds a Royal Warrant as suppliers of tea to the Royal Family, and today produces a range of regional and specialty teas, coffee, and hot chocolate.   

Fleet Street in the City of London was once home to most of the city's newspapers.  Seen here is Peterborough Court, built in 1927-28 and located at 135-141 Fleet Street.  The Art Deco-inspired building was formerly the home of The Daily Telegraph until the 1980s, and was subsequently sold to investment firm Goldman Sachs International.  

The interior of The Knights Templar, a JD Wetherspoon pub at 95 Chancery Lane, near Fleet Street.  Located in the former Union Bank of London building, the pub's name is inspired by the order of the Warrior Knights, across whose land Chancery Lane was built in the 12th century.  The pub features a number of works of art depicting knights, famous battles, and coats of arms.  

A closer look at the long wooden bar of The Knights Templar pub on the morning of Monday, 23 April 2018.

Despite being deserted on a busy Monday morning, with Londoners busily making their way to work, The Knights Templar does offer one of JD Wetherspoons' delicious, filling, and affordable full English breakfasts, seen here.  A fried egg, hashbrown patties, bacon, sausage, beans, grilled tomato, and toast with butter, accompanied by a steaming mug of tea (or coffee) leave the tourist energised to take on a busy day of sightseeing.   

Australia House, the High Commission of Australia in the United Kingdom, located at Aldwych and The Strand.  It is Australia's first overseas diplomatic mission, as well as the oldest continuously occupied diplomatic mission in the UK.  Although construction of the building commenced in 1913, the First World War slowed its completion and it was not officially opened until 3 August 1918, in a ceremony presided over by King George V and attended by Australian Prime Minister Billy Hughes.  Much of the material used in constructing Australia House came from Australia, including the trachyte (an igneous volcanic rock) used for the building's base; various types of marble from Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia; and timber from all Australian states, including dense, dark Moreton Bay Chestnut (or Blackbean) native to Queensland and New South Wales.   

St Clement Danes Anglican Church, located on The Strand across the street from Australia House in the City of Westminster.  The first church to stand on this site is reported to have been built by the Danes in the 9th century, though the current building was built by famed architect Sir Christopher Wren in 1682.  Completely gutted by fire started by German bombs on 10 May 1941, the shell of the church sat empty until an extensive restoration program was completed between 1955 and 1958.  On 19 October 1958, St Clement Danes was re-consecrated as the Memorial Church of the Royal Air Force.  The church features the badges of over 700 squadrons and unit of the Royal Air Force inlaid in the floor, and the Books of Remembrance contain the names of over 125,000 RAF personnel who have died, as well as the names of American Army Air Force personnel who died while based in Britain during the Second World War.   

Located outside St Clement Danes Church stands statues of two of Britain's most famous Second World War air commanders, Air Chief Marshal Lord Dowding and Marshal of the RAF Sir Arthur 'Bomber' Harris.  Seen here is the statue commemorating Dowding, who served as Commander-in-Chief of RAF Fighter Command from its formation in 1936 until November 1940.  He was thus responsible for preparing for, and conducting, the defensive air battles against German bombers during the Battle of Britain.  He was instrumental in securing the Hurricane and Spitfire monoplane fighters for the RAF, and was an early advocate of radar and an effective command and control system to manage the aerial defence of Britain.  The plaque on the pedestal concludes, 'To him, the people of Britain and of the free world owe largely the way of life and then liberties they enjoy today'.  The installation of the statue of 'Bomber' Harris in 1992 was a controversial decision, given his command of the strategic bombing campaigns against Dresden and other German cities, which killed tens of thousands of German civilians; 24/7 police protection was required for the statue for a period of time after the installation after it was sprayed with graffiti several times.  


Tower Bridge, spanning the Thames, was built between 1886 and 1894 and officially opened by the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII) and his wife on 30 June 1894.  The combined suspension and bascule bridge design was selected to permit merchant vessels to access the quays and warehouses in the Pool of London, located between London Bridge and the Tower of London, upstream.  Tower Bridge measures 800 feet in length, with each tower 213 feet high and clad in Portland stone and Cornish granite.  Each bascule in the 200 foot-wide central span (between the towers) can be raised to an angle of 86 degrees to permit large ships to pass through. 

The rounded structure on the left is London City Hall, headquarters of the Greater London Authority, located on the south bank of the Thames just to the east of Tower Bridge.  Designed by noted British architect Sir Norman Foster and opened in 2002, the building houses the offices of the Lord Mayor of London and the 25-member London Assembly.  

London's 21st century skyline under construction.  Behind the Custom House on the left is 20 Fenchurch Street (nicknamed 'The Walkie-Talkie'), completed in 2014; and, in the centre, 122 Leadenhall Street (nicknamed 'The Cheesegrater'), completed in 2013.  A number of new new skyscrapers are, as of 2018, under construction in London's Financial District.      

The 95-storey Shard towers 1,016 feet over the riverside Hay's Galleria.  Designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, The Shard was opened on 1 February 2013 and is the tallest building in the United Kingdom, the tallest building in the European Union, and the 96th tallest building in the world.  An observation deck on the 72nd floor, the highest habitable floor, allows visitors to gaze out over London from 801 feet up.  The building houses 26 floors of office space, three restaurants, a five-star Shangri-La Hotel, and ten residential apartments.  

Looking east down the Thames, showing the diversity of architectural styles along the Thames, including the 41-storey Southbank Tower (far right); the 52-storey One Blackfriars building, nicknamed 'The Vase' (middle); the Shard in the distance (centre left); and the distinctive 325-foot tall former chimney of the Tate Modern art gallery (formerly the Bankside Power Station).  In the foreground, along the Thames are Sea Containers House and Oxo Tower.  Blackfriars Bridge cross the Thames on the left of the photo.  

Headquarters Ship (HQS) Wellington, the former HMS Wellington, a Royal Navy Grimsby-class sloop launched in 1934.  After service in China and New Zealand and, later, duty as a North Atlantic convoy escort in the Second World War, Wellington was decommissioned from the Royal Navy and provided by the Admiralty to the Honourable Company of Master Mariners for use as a floating livery hall.  Brought to London in 1948, HQS Wellington has been moored at Temple Pier on the north bank of the River Thames ever since.  

Cleopatra's Needle, a 21 metre (69 foot) high red granite obelisk gifted to the United Kingdom in 1819 by Muhammad Ali, Khedive of Egypt, to commemorate the victories of Admiral Lord Nelson in the Battle of the Nile (1798) and Lieutenant-General Sir Ralph Abercromby in the Battle of Alexandria (1801).  The obelisk, one of three originally installed in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis in approximately 1450 BC on the orders of Thutmose III, was moved to the Caesareum temple in Alexandria in 12 BC but later toppled.  In 1877, after almost 2,000 years buried in the sands of Alexandria,  Cleopatra's Needle was dug up and towed via sea to London in a giant, floating iron cylinder, almost being lost in a storm en route.  It arrived in London in January 1878 and was installed in its present location on the Victoria Embankment on 12 September 1878.

One of two bronze Egyptian-style sphinxes designed by British architect John George Vulliamy that flank Cleopatra's Needle.  Hieroglyphics on the sphinxes read, in English, 'The good god, Thutmose III given life'.  The sphinxes were improperly installed facing towards Cleopatra's Needle instead of away, as with traditional 'guard' sculptures.  A German bomb dropped on London on 4 September 1917 landed near Cleopatra's Needle, with shrapnel gouging one of the sphinxes, damage which has been left untouched.    

Oxford Street

The flagship London outlet of famous British retailer Marks & Spencer, located at the intersection of Oxford Street and Orchard Street, near Marble Arch.  Featuring 16,000 square metres (170,000 square feet) of floor space, the store includes a basement food hall selling everything from fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and baked goods to wine, beer, confectionery, and prepared meals to go.  The Marks & Spencer chain was founded in 1884 in the British city of Leeds.    

Selfridges department store on Oxford Street, located next to Marks & Spencer.  Occupying the entire length of the block between Orchard Street and Duke Street, the first phase of the flagship Selfridges store on Oxford Street opened on 15 March 1909, with the remainder of the building being built in phases until fully completed in 1928.  The store features 540,000 square feet of retail space, making it the second largest retail store in the United Kingdom (after Harrods).  It is an early example of a steel frame building in the United Kingdom, designed in the Beaux-Art style, with its vertical steel supports hidden behind Ionic columns.  Since 2003, Selfridges & Co. has been owned by the holding company of Canadian businessman Galen Weston Sr.  

The Oxford Street main entrance to Selfridges, inspired by the 1904 extension to the British Museum.  A polychrome sculpture, named The Queen of Time, by British sculptor Gilbert Bayes was installed above the entrance in 1928.  

Kensington Gardens / Hyde Park / Green Park

Kensington Gardens, in the west end of central London, on an overcast Sunday, 22 April 2018.  Once the private gardens of nearby Kensington Palace, it is now one of the Royal Parks of London, along with Hyde Park, Green Park, and St James's Park.  Kensington Gardens cover 270 acres.  Hyde Park created by King Henry VIII in 1536 to use as a hunting ground; separated from the rest of Hyde Park in 1728  at the request of Queen Caroline to be converted into a landscape garden.

Kensington Palace, currently the London residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Princess Eugenie of York, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke and Duchess of Kent, and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent. The palace has been a royal residence since William III and Mary II purchased what was then a two-storey Jacobean mansion owned by the Earl of Nottingham. After substantial additions were added to the house by architect Sir Christopher Wren, William and Mary moved into the palace shortly before Christmas 1689. For the next 70 years, Kensington Palace was the preferred royal residence in London, despite St James's Palace remaining the official seat of the Royal Court; the last monarch to reside in the palace was George II, who died here in October 1760. The palace was badly damaged by a German incendiary bomb dropped during the Blitz of 1940 and was not fully repaired until several years after the war. Kensington Palace is notable as the birthplace of Queen Victoria and was also the home of Princess Diana for 15 years until her death in 1997.

A riot of colour in the Sunken Garden on the east side of Kensington Palace. Hardy windmill palms stand at the four corners of the garden, surrounded by pink, yellow, and red tulips, and other flowers. Surrounding the Sunken Garden is a tunnel of lime trees through which visitors can walk.

The geometric right angles of the Sunken Garden's floral beds are evident in this photo.

The tunnel of lime trees, known as the Cradle Walk, surrounding the Sunken Garden. The Sunken Garden and Cradle Walk were designed by Royal historian Ernest Law in 1908 and meant to convey a sense of seclusion and tranquility.

People relax on the lawns of Kensington Gardens, on the east side of Kensington Palace, during an overcast but pleasantly warm Sunday morning.

A statue of Queen Victoria, sculpted by her daughter Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, and displayed on the grounds of Kensington Gardens, near Kensington Palace. Princess Louise (and her husband) lived in apartments in Kensington Palace for 56 years, until her death on 3 December 1939 at the age of 91.

Looking east along one of the linear walking paths through Kensington Gardens, towards the centre of the park.

The bronze statue named Physical Energy, located near the centre of Kensington Gardens on Lancaster Walk. Sculpted by British artist George Frederic Watts (1817-1904), Physical Energy is meant as an allegory of the human need for new challenges and took Watts twenty years to complete, from 1883 to 1904. The sculpture was erected in Kensington Gardens in 1907 to commemorate Watts, who was a Kensington resident for many years.

White trumpeter swans swim on the Long Water, the Kensington Gardens portion of the 40-acre man-made lake that curves through both Kensington Gardens and adjacent Hyde Park. The lake was created in 1730 at the instigation of Queen Caroline, wife of King George II, as part of her efforts to redevelop Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park. Seen on the far shore is the Henry Moore sculpture, The Arch, 1979-1980, carved from travertine limestone and given to Kensington Gardens by Moore in 1980.

The Hyde Park Pavilion (opened 1930), a refreshments pavilion along the southern shore of The Serpentine, the Hyde Park portion of the man-made lake straddling Kensington Gardens and the adjacent Hyde Park.

People stroll along the southern shoreline of The Serpentine in Hyde Park, while others relax in hired lounge chairs and enjoy the view on a pleasant spring day.

Boating on The Serpentine is a longstanding recreational tradition and visitors to Hyde Park today can rent paddleboats and cruise around the lake. The Serpentine was the focal point for the 1814 celebrations marking 100 years of rule by the House of Hanover, during which a reenactment of the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar was carried out; in 1851, the 990,000 square foot Crystal Palace was erected along the shoreline of The Serpentine as part of the Great Exhibition; and in 2012, The Serpentine hosted marathon swimming events as part of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

A small waterfall in the Dell is fed by water flowing through a sluice gate at the eastern end of The Serpentine in Hyde Park.

At 350 acres, Hyde Park is the largest Royal Park in London and was originally created by King Henry VIII in 1536 from land acquired from Westminster Abbey for a hunting ground. Opened to the public by King James I in 1637, Hyde Park soon became a popular spot for recreation and leisure. Flowers were first planted in Hyde Park in 1860 by British landscape architect William Andrews Nesfield.

The Huntress Fountain features a bronze statue of Diana, the princess of hunting, shooting an arrow. Donated by Sir Walter and Lady Palmer, the statue was installed in Hyde Park in 1906.

Looking west along a walking path near the southeastern corner of Hyde Park.

A view of the trees, grass, and wildflowers in the southeast corner of Hyde Park, just off South Carriage Drive.

The Cavalry of the Empire Memorial in Hyde Park, commemorating the service of cavalry units in the First and Second World Wars. Originally located near the Stanhope Gate in the park, the memorial was erected in 1924 and moved to its current location on the Serpentine Road in 1961. The memorial features a bronze statue of St George as a mounted knight in armour, with sword raised above his head and a slain dragon lying at the feet of his horse. The bronze used in the statue came from enemy guns captured by cavalry forces in the First World War.

An 18-foot tall bronze statue of Achilles, the Greek hero of the Trojan War, erected in on 18 June 1822 in Hyde Park commemorates Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, victor of the Battle of Waterloo against Napoleon in 1815. Commissioned by the Ladies of England, an upper class patriotic society, the statue was ordered installed by King George III and was the first statue placed in Hyde Park. The 33 tonnes of bronze used to cast the statue came from cannons captured during Wellington's campaigns in France, and the head of the statue was modelled after Wellington himself. Although the statue was originally depicted nude, public outrage over the graphic portrayal led to the installation of a small fig leaf shortly after the statue's installation.

The Lodge Café is housed in an original lodge designed by architect Decimus Burton in the 1820s as part of his wider redevelopment of Hyde Park, which included the construction of paths and driveways, gates, and entrances to the park. The Lodge Café serves English Breakfast, lasagna, pizza, homemade soups and bread, salads, Cornish pasties, and sandwiches, and is located next to the grand entrance gate at Hyde Park Corner in the park's southeastern corner.

A bronze equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington at Hyde Park Corner, erected in 1888 and crafted from captured French cannons. The memorial depicts Wellington on his horse, Copenhagen, and with the bronze figures of a Grenadier, a Scottish Highlander, an Irish Dragoon, and a Welsh Fusilier on each corner of the granite plinth. Wellington and his horse face towards Apsley House, the Duke's palatial home from 1817 to his death in 1852 (and now managed as a museum by English Heritage).

The Royal Artillery Memorial near Hyde Park Corner and Grosvenor Place, dedicated to the men of the Royal Regiment of Artillery who fought in the First World War, including the over 49,000 gunners who died in that conflict. The 30-foot high Portland stone memorial is topped by an oversized sculpture of a BL 9.2-inch Mk I howitzer, with stone reliefs around the base depicting wartime scenes and bronze statues of artillerymen standing around the outside the plinth. The memorial was commissioned by the Royal Artillery War Commemoration Fund, which sought a design that would be unmistakably and wholly dedicated to the artillery branch. On 18 October 1925, the memorial was officially unveiled by Prince Arthur and its brutally realist design, including an eye-level statue of a dead gunner at the north end of the plinth, immediately attracted much public attention and comment in the media, both positive and negative. In 1949, a set of plaques was installed on the south side of the memorial to commemorate the 29,924 Royal Artillery gunners killed in the Second World War.

A closer view of one of the four realist bronze statues of artillerymen surrounding the base of the Royal Artillery Memorial. This is the depiction of an ammunition carrier, with artillery shells held in special pockets of his greatcoat.

The Australian War Memorial in Hyde Park Corner, commemorating Australian men and women who served in the First and Second World Wars. Etched into the green-grey Australian granite stone are the names of 23,844 cities and towns in which Australian servicemen and women were born; superimposed on these names are the locations of 47 battles in which Australians fought. The memorial was unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II on 11 November 2003, with Australian Prime Minister John Howard and British Prime Minister Tony Blair in attendance.

The Wellington Arch in Hyde Park Corner. Dedicated to the Duke of Wellington's victory over Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815, this arch was originally constructed in 1825-27 as a western entrance to Buckingham Palace but, in the 1880s, was moved to to its present location and re-purposed as a victory arch. Sitting atop the arch is Europe's largest bronze sculpture, depicting the Angel of Peace descending on a four-horse chariot (quadriga) of war. Although a giant equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington was originally installed in 1846 where the Angel of Peace sculpture current sits, its size was out of proportion to the arch and was greeted with derision. In 1912, the Angel of Peace statue replaced the Wellington statue, which was moved to a pedestal near the Garrison Church at Aldershot, where it remains. The arch housed a park-keeper's residence in its southern pier between 1885 and 1937, and reputedly London's smallest police station in its northern pier between 1885 and the late 1950s. Transferred to English Heritage in 1999, an extensive restoration and refurbishment led to its reopening to the public in 2001. The arch is built of brick and iron beams, with a facing of Portland stone in the neoclassical style. Today, visitors may purchase an admission ticket to tour the interior of the Wellington Arch and climb the stone stairs to a viewing gallery above the columns on the arch's east and west sides.

A closeup view of the intricately ornamented design of the massive cast iron gates of the Wellington Arch, consisting of a garland surrounding the royal coat of arms.
The Royal Air Force Bomber Command Memorial, located in the western extremity of Green Park, bordering on Piccadilly. Unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II on 28 June 2012, the memorial commemorates the crews of the Royal Air Force's Bomber Command during the Second World War, including the 55,573 air crew members killed during operations. The establishment of a memorial to Bomber Command almost 70 years after the end of the Second World War was related to controversy surrounding the tactics used in the strategic bombing campaign, including the targeting of civilian population centres.

Inside the Bomber Command Memorial stands a a nine-foot bronze sculpture of seven aircrew members shown after returning from a bombing mission. While the roof of the memorial is clad in Portland stone, the roof is fashioned from aluminium from a Royal Canadian Air Force Handley Page Halifax bomber of No. 426 Squadron, which crashed in a Belgian swamp in May 1944 and was not retrieved until 1997. The pattern of the roof is designed to be reminiscent of the geodetic structure of the Vickers Wellington bomber. The granite plinth under the sculpture is inscribed with a quote from Pericles: 'Freedom is the sure possession of those alone who have the courage to defend it.' The Bomber Command Memorial was unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II on 28 June 2012 in a ceremony attended by 6,000 veterans and family members of those who died in service with Bomber Command. The ceremony also featured the Avro Lancaster of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, which conducted a flyover of Green Park, dropping red poppy petals.

A view of Green Park, located to the east of Hyde Park Corner, north of Buckingham Palace Gardens and west of St James's Park. The 47 acre Green Park is another of London's Royal Parks, first being enclosed in the 16th century and landscaped in the 1820s. Unlike Hyde Park or Kensington Palace Gardens, Green Park notably lacks any ponds, lakes, playgrounds, and buildings, and features naturalised narcissus as the only flower plantings. The land now comprising Green Park is alleged to have originally been a swampy burial ground for lepers from the nearby hospital at St James's in the 1600s before being surrendered to Charles I and enclosed with a brick wall to form a Royal Park. As late at the 1700s, Green Park was isolated on the western outskirts of London and was notorious as a hangout for thieves. Later, the park was used for public fireworks displays, ballooning attempts, and for duelling. Architect John Nash redeveloped the park in the 1820s into its present idyllic and natural look, featuring mature trees growing amongst natural turf.

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