Things to look out for during London walks

Statue of Charles I

This statue of Charles I on horseback was made by Herbert Le Sueur and was originally to reside in the country residence of Richard Weston, Lord High Treasurer but after Charles is executed the statue is sold to a london metalsmith called John Rivet and he is ordered to melt it down. This he does and pieces of metal cutlery are sold off that come from it, but in fact he had hidden the statue and many years later when Royalty is restored to the country it is found again and sold back to the new King, Charles II. It stands in the very centre of London on the Charing Cross roundabout looking down Whitehall and has done since 1675.

It replaced one of the Eleanor crosses placed at 12 locations at the behest of Edward I, all places that his beloved wife's coffin stayed the night on her way to burial in Westminster Abbey. That cross, which gives it name to the whole area, stood here for three centuries until destroyed by order of the parliamentary Commission for the Demolition of Monuments of Superstition and Idolatry in 1647.

If you look carefully at the Portland stone plinth you will see fossils of shells in it reminding us that many many years ago all this land was under the sea.

Pelicans on rock

It's an old tour guiding story that these pelicans are descendants of pelicans given to Charles II by the Czar of Russia in the seventeenth century. Back then if you were going to give a gift to a King it had to be something that they had never seen before or something amazing. For this reason many years ago this same park contained other exotic animals including camels, crocodiles and an elephant.

It is perhaps unlikely that these Pelicans are the direct descendants but they have been living in this Royal Park for many years so do look out for them as you walk.

These buildings can all be found on or near to Trafalgar Square and they have all been used as the headquarters of the secret service, MI6 in different James Bond films. Can you find them ?

This is a City Griffin, you will find them on the entrances and exits to the City of London, the oldest part that was for many years protected by great city walls. Some say it is incorrectly named a Griffin but that name has been in popular use for many years much as Big Ben has become the name of the whole Clock Tower itself rather than just the bell. Put up in the twentieth century as boundary markers the dragon is holding a shield with the City's coat of arms upon it. In popular mythology a Griffin is the type of dragon that guards treasure so it's even more appropiate now as the City has become one of the worlds leading financial centres. See how many you can find. Perhaps surprisingly there is also one in Lake Havasu City, Arizona as that is where the nineteenth century London Bridge has ended up.


The Changing of the Guard

Lifeguard on guard duty

This gentleman and others like him can be seen at Horseguards on Whitehall, the official entrance to St James Palace. It is an actual piece of living history as the Guards here have been maintaining this duty for hundreds of years. In particular this is a member of the Lifeguards, a regiment founded by Charles II to protect his life and considering that his father was executed just across the road it's easy to see why he might have considered it a necessity. It was his father, Charles I, who had a guard house erected here on the site of the old Tilt-yard and later when his son becomes King in 1660 a Captain and some troopers were detailed to stay with the King from "his rising to his going a-bed". They have a Guard Change here every day at 11am except on Sunday when it's at 10am. There is a group of ten or so that maintain the duty, only on guard in the boxes for an hour at a time, half that in very cold weather. The Household Cavalry museum website, here, is next-door and explores the history of the Lifeguards and the Blue and Royals, the two regiments that share the duty. It is very inexpensive and provides a unique insight into their history but also their modern roles in the British Army. There is a glass partition between the museum and the barracks and you can look through and see the soldiers preparing for guard duty. The Changing of the Guard is well worth seeing on any London visit.


Each tour lasts an hour and a half.

They cost 15 pounds per person with concessions 6.

All routes are fully accessible and carers are free

Walks will go ahead despite the weather so please bring suitable clothing

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