Author Archives: storki

About storki

Using my passion for travel, nature and history in my photography.

London Compilation

I spent the afternoon creating this, which is everything that says London to me. I have seen this sort of work on various platforms online and wanted to create my own take on it using my own photos.

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London’s little curious things – Wellington’s Horse Mounting Block

I love to discover the curious and little know facts about stuff, but I particularly like to discover them in London (honestly, my head is full of useless facts – just ask my long suffering husband!). There are so many of them, and each time I visit London I try to find some of them.

This one I discovered while reading the walking book I had purchased for my last trip to London with our daughter.

Let me introduce you to the horse mounting block of the Duke of Wellington.

The Duke of Wellington’s Horse Mounting Block

This little curious marvel can be found in Waterloo Place, which is up the Duke of York Steps just from The Mall. Towering at the top of the steps is the Duke of York on his column (he who had 10,000 men, marched them up a hill and marched them down again).

On The Mall looking towards the Duke of York Steps and his statue

Waterloo Place itself is worth a visit not just to see the horse mounting block, but also to see the many statues that line its sides, including Sir John Franklin, who was lost while searching for the then elusive north-west passge round Alaska, and Captain Scott, he of South Pole fame.

If you approach Waterloo Place from The Mall stay on the left hand side once you get to the top of the steps.

The mounting block is outside of the Athenaeum club which was founded in the 1820s, but not completed until 1830. The Duke of Wellington was a founding member and requested that this block be installed outside to help him mount his horse, possibly even his famouse charger Copenhagen.

 

 

 

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Temple Church

Temple Church at the Inner and Middle Temples

Temple Church in London became known to most people through Dan Brown’s book, and the subsequent movie, the Da Vinci Code, yet it is not easy to find.

The church sits between the Inner and Middle Temple of the Inns of Court, just off Fleet Street. If you visit the church during the weekend you will need to access it via Tudor Street as the Inns of Court are closed during the weekend and in the evenings. Check their website before you visit for their opening days and times.

The floor exhibit in the foreground dates from the 12th/13th century

800 years of history can be seen and felt here, which began in the 12th century with the Crusaders. The church was built by the Knights Templar, which was an order of crusading monks who protected pilgrims on their way to and from Jerusalem. The church was designed to recall the holiest place in the Crusaders’ world, the circular Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

The order of the Kights Templar was eventually abolished in 1307 by the Pope on the instigation of Philip IV King of France, at which point King Edward II took control of the temple. Eventually the temple was given to the Order of St John, the Knights Hospitaller, who had always worked with the Templars. It was at this point that the lawyers moved into the area. They were looking for a home in London in order to attend to the royal courts at Westminster and so the 2 colleges rented the temple and it became the Inner and Middle Temples. The colleges shared the church and to this day they maintain the church.

The inside of the church is full of history everywhere you look. As part of the entrance fee, which is small, you get to climb up some stairs to reach the upper exhibit. The views down into the main church are worth the little climb!

Stairs to the exhibit

Looking down into the church

An original floor design

Some of the Knights Templar

The beautiful ceiling

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London Tourists

I am not usually one to do street photography, I always feel like I am stalking or invading a persons space, but I could not miss this opportunity to photograph some rather elegant looking London tourists.

Modern Japan combines with the traditional

This group of Japanese teenagers was hanging out just by the Tower of London ticket booths. The majority of them were dressed just like everyone else in London, but these few girls wore these traditional Japanese outfits. They created quite a stir in the crowd and lots of people (our daughter included) asked them for photographs/selfies. I was going to ask them if I could take their photo, but then decided I would rather try and capture them in between them posing for photos.

I really like the juxtaposition of the traditional dress with the modern cell phones!

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Horse Guards Parade

This parade ground is most famous for the celebration of the Queen’s offical birthday in June; Trooping the Colour (oh and for having hosted the beach volleyball event in the London 2012 Olympic Games!).

Horse Guards Parade at St James’s Park

This year this spectacle will be celebrated this Saturday, 17 June.

Horse Guards Parade is the ceremonial parade ground in St James’s Park and dates from the 18th century. Horse Guards is the building with a clock tower over an archway and to this day remains the offical entrance to St James’s and Buckingham Palace; it was designed by William Kent, the then Chief Architect to King Georg II.

The central windows you can see are opened for members of the Royal Family during the event, so that they can watch the Queen as she reviews her troops.

One side of the parade ground

The entry to the parade ground is guarded by 2 mounted cavalry troopers from The Queen’s Life Guard. They are posted there every day from 10:00hrs to 16:00hrs and their change over takes place at 11:00hrs daily, except Sundays, when the change takes place at 10:00hrs.

The Queen’s Life Guard on guard at the entrance to Horse Guards Parade

The “Colour” is the battalion flag which is “Trooped” (carried) slowly down the ranks of the assembled soldiers (if it is very hot you may see one or two of the soldiers actually passing out, as has happened in the past). This is a tradition that was originally done so that each soldier was familiar with his battalion’s flag, which was used as a rallying point during battle. The Queen personally carries out the inspection of her troops. Once the main ceremony is over, the Queen leads her troops down the Mall to Buckingham Palace where she makes a salute at the Palace (when she was younger she would physically lead them down riding on one of her horses, these days she takes one of royal carriages). As with all such traditions, at the end of all this the Queen appears on the famous balcony of Buckingham Palace.

You cannot buy tickets to this event, you have to enter a ballot in January/February and hope that in March your name is drawn.

The trees on the right hand side is also where the back of No. 10 Downing Street lies (the official residence of the British Prime Minister)

 

 

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Modern London

London is full of great old architecture, but the modern buildings are not to be missed. These are the ones that stood out for me just because of their colours. I am sure there are lots of others, but these are the ones we came across on our walks.

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Baker Street Tube Station

This Tube Station has been photographed many times, and no doubt you will have seen it somewhere on your social media feeds (I know I have seen it a dozen or so times on Instagram and Pinterest).

I could not leave Baker Street without taking my own version of this often photographed station.

Baker Street Tube Station

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Doors

I came across these interesting looking doors in London.

A pretty door somewhere in Kensington

Another one with some pretty iron work, also in Kensington

I really was drawn to the door knocker on this one

A rather impressive looking door, shame about the dead plant!

I cannot remember where we came across this old door, but it’s safe to say it was on either an old church or another monument

The blue colour and lanterns did it for me on this one

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Visiting the Houses of Parliament

I have previously written about visiting the Houses of Parliament and some of its history. Back in 2014 we visited both the House of Commons and the House of Lords to sit in the public gallery to watch some of the debates. Unfortunately you do not get to stop and look at much while you get escorted to the public galleries, so this time around I had booked a guided tour of parliament.

The best way is to book this through their website well ahead of time to ensure you get the date and time that suit your plans. Be aware that photography is not allowed in most of the building, so the majority of the time you will just have to enjoy the view and buy a guide book afterwards.

The tour takes you to all the places you cannot go to if you visit the House of Commons and/or House of Lords public gallery for the debates.

The first place you enter (after going through airport style security) is Westminster Hall, where your guided tour will start. This is the oldest part of the buildings, having been built in 1097 by the son of William the Conqueror and was the largest building in the UK, and probably Europe, at that time.

Westminister Hall, built in 1097

After going through the hall you end up standing on the stairs, which you can see just at the back of the photo. The tour will turn left up some further steps from here, but first you get a great view of a fairly new installation, called the “New Dawn”.

New Dawn by artist Mary Branson

This piece of art was commissioned in 2015 and revealed in 2016 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the presentation to Parliament of the first mass petition calling for women’s suffrage. The design is made up of glass scrolls and metal crosses on a metal framework resembling a portcullis, the symbol of Parliament.

It sits right above the entrance to St Stephen’s Hall, an area associated with suffrage campaining and protests – this raised portcullis symbolises the opening of the democratic process to woman.  The votes for women movement was often represented as a “tide of change”, which was sweeping the nation. To reflect this, New Dawn’s lighting is linked to the tidal River Thames. It builds from low tide, where only one disc is lit, to high tide, where the whole sculpture is illuminated.

Entrance to St Stephen’s Hall

The last place where photography is allowed is in St Stephen’s Hall. This stands on the site of the royal Chapel of St Stephen’s where the House of Commons sat until it was destroyed by the fire of 1834. During 1945 to 1950 the hall was used by the House of Commons on the first day of each session during the rebuilding of the bombed Commons Chamber. The hall was renovated in 1960 to repair the war damage.

The hall is lined with statues of famous parliamentarians, including Robert Walpole, William Pitt, and Charles James Fox. Statues of early Kings and Queens stand either side of the doorways.

St Stephen’s Hall

Ceiling of St Stephen’s Hall

One of the many statues and paintings in St Stephen’s Hall

The tour then moves to parts of parliament where photography is not allowed. One of the places you will see on the tour is the Norman Porch, so called because it was originally intended to house statues of the Norman kings. The stairs leading up to the porch are known as the Royal Staircase and are the start of the processional route taken by the Queen when she enters the Houses of Parliament (the entrance is located at the base of Victoria Tower). This is the only route the Sovereign is allowed to take when he or she comes to the House of Lords.

The Queen’s Robing Room is also on the itinerary, so called because this is where the Queen gets ready for the opening of parliament; she puts on the Imperial State Crown and her ceremonial robes before making her way down to the House of Lords. This room also served as the House of Lords while they gave up their chamber to the Commons when their chamber was destroyed by bombs during the Second World War and between 1941 and 1944 the robing room also hosted the state openings of new sessions.

Other places of interest that are visited as part of the guided tour are the Royal Gallery, Prince’s Chamber, Lords Chamber, Moses Room, the Central Lobby (where some news reporters sometimes broadcast from), the Member’s Lobby, the Aye Lobby and the Commons Chamber.

Be warned that there are not many opportunities to sit down during this 90 minute tour! Most people think that they get to sit down on the famous red (for the Lords) or green (for the Commons) benches in the houses, but that is not the case.

Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and answered all questions really well and her passion for this building with its living history really shone through, so much so that she ran over by about 10 minutes (which was great, as she really took her time to explain everything and answer all questions).

You can take a self guided audio tour, which is cheaper, but I truly believe that the guided tour is more than worth the money and you get to have your questions answered!

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London’s Parliament Square Statues

Parliament Square in London lies at the heart of a number of important buildings (and tourist attractions); it lies opposite of the Palace of Westminster (also known as the Houses of Parliament), including Big Ben (or Elizabeth Tower to give it its official name), Portcullis House (parliamentary offices), Westminster Abbey, and Middelsex Guildhall (the seat of the Supreme Court of the UK). Further down is Whitehall, home to a number of Government offices and Departments, including Downing Street, the home of the Prime Minister.

Parliament Square is known for providing a venue for protests, usually against the government, but is also known for its statues of past Prime Ministers and other foreign notables. Unfortunately there are currently no women among the statues, but this is about to change. The UK Government announced in April 2017 that Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett will be honoured with a statue in the square (although this was only brought about via a petition, which amongst others included signatures from actress Emma Watson and author J.K Rowling).

Dame Fawcett formed the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies in 1897, fighting to get women the right to vote. She died at the age of 82 in 1929, the year after British women won the right to vote.

I guess this will give me a good excuse to visit the square again once her statue has been unveiled. So in the meantime here are a few of those male only statues and views from the square.

The view from Parliament Square to Westminster Palace/Houses of Parliament

Winston Churchill UK Prime Minister 1940-1945 and 1951-1955. Statue was unveiled in November 1973.

 

Mahatma Gandhi,
Indian Independence Leader
This is the newest statue in the square, having been unveiled in March 2015.

Nelson Mandela President of South Africa 1994–1999. The statue was unveiled in August 2007 and is our daughter’s favourite, as he is her hero!

Abraham Lincoln
President of the United States 1861–1865. This is a replica of the statue that stands in Lincoln Park in Chicago. It was unveiled in July 1920.

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