Sightseeing in London

Note: All science related sites are marked with an *. 

* Down House
Home of naturalist Charles Darwin where he wrote "On the Origin of Species." The house stands next to Luxted Road 0.25 miles (0.40 km) south of Downe, a village 14.25 (22.93 km) south east of London's Charing cross, part of the London Borough of Bromley.

* Benjamin Franklin House
Benjamin Franklin House is centrally located in London at 36 Craven Street. It is the world's only remaining Benjamin Franklin house. Franklin, founding father of the United States, scientist, diplomat, and philosopher, lived here between 1757 and 1775. Today it is a museum and educational facility. Architectural tours: Monday, noon, 1, 2, , 3:15, and 4:15 pm. Wednesday - Sunday: Historical experience shows run at noon, 1, 2, 3:15, and 4:15 pm. Extensive information is on the website: http://www.benjaminfranklinhouse.org/site/sections/default.htm. Tickets are ~7 GBP and can be booked online.

* The British Museum
Hours are Daily - 10-5:30, open on Fridays until 8:30
See the description of history in the About us section of the site. http://www.britishmuseum.org/about_us/the_museums_story.aspx
Location is Great Russell Street – Tube: Tottenham Court Road, Holborn, Russell Square, Goodge Street.
See http://www.britishmuseum.org/.

Covent Garden
Covent Garden is a district on the fringes of the West End, known for its open air markets, street performers, and the Royal Opera House. Admission is free. See http://www.coventgardenlondonuk.com/.

Globe Theatre
Shakespeare's Globe is a reconstruction of the Globe Theatre, an Elizabethan playhouse in the London Borough of Southwark on the south bank of the River Thames which was destroyed by fire in 1613. The modern reconstruction was founded by the actor and director Sam Wanamaker and built approximately 230 metres (750 ft) from the site of the original theatre. Admission is ~12 GBP. Hours are Monday – Sunday Exhibition and Globe Theatre Tour 10am - 5.30pm. You can get to it by foot - paths along the river from Waterloo and from Southwark Bridge. The Millennium Footbridge is 50 metres from the Theatre. Or use one of the following Tube stations: Mansion House on the District and Circle Lines (10 min), London Bridge on the Northern and Jubilee Lines (10 min), Southwark on the Jubilee Line (15 min), and St Paul's on the Central Line (15 min). See http://www.shakespearesglobe.com/.

Harrod's
Department Store with multiple restaurants/coffee shops included. World famous for luxury. Free. Hours are Monday-Saturday: 10-8. Location is 87-135 Brompton Rd. Knightsbridge, London SW1X7XL. They serve afternoon tea at some of the restaurants. Near Knightsbridge Tube station on Piccadilly line. Use Brompton Rd exit. See http://www.harrods.com/.

* Highgate Cemetery:

Renowned scientist Michael Faraday is buried at Highgate.

East Cemetery
The East Cemetery
is where Karl Marx is buried. Visitors may roam freely on this side, but there is an entrance charge.
Monday to Friday: 10am to 5pm last admission 4.30pm
Saturday and Sunday: 11am to 5pm last admission 4.30pm
Guided tours: Saturdays at 2pm

West Cemetery
Admission to the West Cemetery is by guided tour only.
Monday to Friday: one tour daily at 1:45pm. Click here to book for a weekday tour.
Saturday and Sunday: tours run at least hourly from 11am - 4pm. No need to book: just turn up on the day.

The cemetery can get muddy underfoot, so do wear sensible shoes.

How to get to Highgate:
ARCHWAY tube, High Barnet branch, Northern line. (Don’t go to Highgate tube – it's a much longer walk!) From Archway either take a bus (210,143, 271) two stops to Waterlow Park or walk up Highgate Hill. It’s then a very pleasant five minute stroll through Waterlow Park to the gates.

Kensington Palace
Former home of Princess Diana - Kensington Palace is a royal residence set in Kensington Gardens, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London, England. (Wikipedia). Admission is ~17 GBP. Hours are daily 10-5 (last admission at 4:00). Use Notting Hill Gate Tube station. See http://www.hrp.org.uk/KensingtonPalace/.

London Eye
Panoramic view of London, including many famous sites. It's basically a huge ferris wheel. ~GBP 17; other types of tickets/visits on website. Hours are 10am-9pm; daily. The location is at County Hall, Westminster Bridge Rd. You can walk from Waterloo (closest), Embankment, Charing Cross, or Westminster Tube stations. It takes about 30mins for a trip. You can see House of Parliament, Big Ben, and St. Paul's Cathedral. Go earlier for a shorter wait. See http://www.londoneye.com/.

London Walking Tours
Guided walking tour (2-3 hours) taking you around certain areas of London. A variety to choose from. Meet near a tube station and will end near another one. No booking in advance, but rather show up. Tours are ~8 GBP. See website for different times. There are morning, afternoon, and evening walks. Walks are always near a Tube station. See www.walks.com.

National Gallery
The National Gallery houses the national collection of Western European painting from the 13th to the 19th centuries. It includes works by Botticelli, da Vinci, Rembrandt, Turner, Renoir, Cezanne, and Van Gogh. Admission is free. Hours are Saturday - Thursday 10-6, Friday - 10-9. Trafalgar Square, see http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/visiting/getting-here/by-train-and-tube/ for more details on getting there by tube. See
http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/.

Picadilly Circus
London's version of Times Square - Piccadilly Circus is a famous road junction and public space of London's West End in the City of Westminster, built in 1819 to connect Regent Street with the major shopping street of Piccadilly. Piccadilly now links directly to the theatres on Shaftesbury Avenue, as well as the Haymarket, Coventry Street (onwards to Leicester Square), and Glasshouse Street. The Circus is close to major shopping and entertainment areas in the West End. Its status as a major traffic intersection has made Piccadilly Circus a busy meeting place and a tourist attraction in its own right. Admission is free. Use the Piccadilly Circus Tube Stop.

* The pump at 1854 Broad Street (cholera outbreak)
John Snow was a skeptic of the then-dominant miasma theory that stated that diseases such as cholera or the Black Death were caused by pollution or a noxious form of "bad air." The germ theory was not widely accepted by this time, so Snow was unaware of the mechanism by which the disease was transmitted, but evidence led him to believe that it was not due to breathing foul air. He first published his theory in an essay On the Mode of Communication of Cholera in 1849. In 1855 a second edition was published, with a much more elaborate e investigation of 1854. By talking to local residents (with the help of reverend Henry Whitehead), he identified the source of the outbreak as the public water pump on Broad Street.

* The Royal Institution of Great Britain

http://www.rigb.org/registrationControl?action=home

This site includes the Faraday Museum and Science in the Making Exhibition (http://www.rigb.org/contentControl?action=displayContent&id=1871). It is open Mondays to Fridays 9-6. The closest tube station to the Royal Institution is Green Park on the Jubilee, Victoria and Piccadilly lines. The Royal Institution is a five minute walk from the station. Also within a ten minute walking distance is Piccadilly Circus tube station, on the Piccadilly and Bakerloo lines, or Oxford Circus tube station on the Victoria, Central and Bakerloo lines.

From the Royal Institutions site:
Science in the making exhibition
Explore over 200 years of history making science. From the odds and ends that became the first electrical transformer to the tube that told us why the sky is blue, you can see the objects that Ri scientists built and used in some of the world's most famous experiments over the last 200 years. Explore Faraday's original 1850's magnetic laboratory!

* The Royal Pharmaceutical Society Museum
Established in 1842, provides a wide range of services and activities for everyone interested in the history of British pharmacy. Based on our unique collections of around 45,000 objects there is something for everyone whether you are a pharmacist, researcher, family historian, visitor to London, or simply fascinated by the history of healthcare.

The museum collection covers all aspects of British pharmacy history including:

  • traditional dispensing equipment
  • drug storage containers
  • fine "Lambeth delftware" dating from the 1600s and 1700s
  • proprietary (brand name) medicines dating from the 1700s to present
  • bronze and bell metal mortars
  • medical caricatures
  • a photo archive.

*The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, known as the Royal Society
The Royal Society is a learned society for science. Founded in November 1660, it was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II as the "Royal Society of London". The Society today acts as a scientific advisor to the British government, receiving a parliamentary grant-in-aid. The Society acts as the UK's Academy of Sciences, and funds research fellowships and scientific start-up companies.  It is a Fellowship of the world's most eminent scientists and is the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence.
The Society's main offices and the venue for many of our events.
The Society is located at 6-9 Carlton House Terrace.

Attending events:
Most public events are run on a first come first served basis.  Doors do not open until a specified time before the event is scheduled to start.  If you arrive earlier than this, then you may have to line up (queue) outside the building.
Admittance to scientific meetings is only for attendees who have registered online in advance. You can get to the Society by Tube stations Charing Cross and Piccadilly Circus.

St. Paul's Cathedral
Built between 1675-1710, after earlier church burned down. Includes monument to Duke of Wellington. Includes crypt with many important British people. Can climb the dome, have afternoon tea, and explore the cathedral. Admission is ~15 GBP. Hours are Monday-Saturday: 8:30 to 4:00. Use Tube stations: St. Pauls on Central Line OR Mansion House/Cannon Street. See http://www.stpauls.co.uk/.

* The Science Museum is one of the three major museums on Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. The museum is a major London tourist attraction, attracting 2.7 million visitors annually.
Like other publicly funded national museums in the United Kingdom, the Science Museum does not charge for admission. Temporary exhibitions, however, do usually incur an admission fee.

Tate Museum (including Tate Modern)
Tate holds the national collection of British art from 1500 to the present day and international modern and contemporary art. Admission is free. See website for opening days/times. See http://www.tate.org.uk/.

Tower of London
Built by William the Conqueror in 1066, The Tower of London was added onto by kings and queens up to the Victorian age.  It is where the Crown Jewels are housed, which are quite spectacular. It's also where you can stand on the execution site of three English queens (Anne Boleyn was beheaded on the Tower Green).  Despite a grim reputation as a place of torture and death, this powerful and enduring fortress has been enjoyed as a royal palace, served as an armoury and for a number of years even housed a zoo! Admission is ~20 GBP.  Hours are generally Tuesday - Saturday 9AM - 5:30 PM; Monday & Sunday: 10AM - 5:30 PM.  Use the Tower Hill Tube Stop.  You may buy tickets online and arrive before 9AM to beat the crowds.  See http://www.hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon/.

The Tower Bridge
A picture-perfect bascule bridge which has spanned the Thames since 1894.  A Tower Bridge Experience tour explains the inner workings of the bridge and offers a birdseye view of the river and the Tower 141 ft below. Enjoy stunning views of London from the high level walkways and continue your journey to the Victorian Engine Rooms to learn about the inner workings of the Most Famous Bridge in the World.  The Exhibition tour is 8GBP; tickets available online.  Summer Opening Hours: April - September 10:00 - 6:00 (last admission 15:30) .  Use the Westminster Tube Stop.  See more: http://www.towerbridge.org.uk/TBE/EN/index.htm#.

Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar Square is a square in central London, England. With its position in the heart of London, it is a tourist attraction, and one of the most famous squares in the United Kingdom and the world. At its centre is Nelson's Column, which is guarded by four lion statues at its base. Admission is free.

* Westminster Abbey (burial place of Charles Darwin and Sir Isaac Newton)
Founded in 960, Westminster Abbey is one of the finest examples of medieval architecture with 3,300 memorials to kings, nobles, etc.  Don't miss the Gothic ceilings, the stained glass in the Chapter House, and the elaborate carvings of the Henry VIII Chapel's choir stalls.  Also see Poet's Corner, which has monuments to Chaucer, Austen, Dickens & more.  Evensong is the most beautiful of services where the Abbey choir sings. The Choristers of the Choir are educated at Westminster Abbey Choir School and are all extremely talented. Free to worship; admission is ~18GBP). Use Westminster Tube Stop
Evensong: 5PM Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri; 3PM Sat, Sun
General Opening Times:
Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri - 9.30am - 4.30pm (last admission 3.30pm)
Wed - 9.30am - 7.00pm (last admission 6.00pm)
Sat - 9.30am - 2.30pm (last admission 1.30pm)

* Of Note - Buried at the Abbey:
Charles Darwin:
Darwin was buried in the north aisle of the Nave, next to the eminent scientist Sir John Herschel, and a few feet away from Sir Isaac Newton. The simple inscription on his grave reads:
“CHARLES ROBERT DARWIN BORN 12 FEBRUARY 1809. DIED 19 APRIL 1882”.
A bronze memorial, with a life-sized relief bust, was erected by his family in the north choir aisle, near to the grave, in 1888. The sculptor was Sir J.E. Boehm. The inscription just says simply DARWIN.

Sir Isaac Newton
Newton died unmarried at Kensington on 20 March 1727 and was buried in Westminster Abbey on 28 March. Before the funeral his body lay in state in the Jerusalem Chamber (a room in the Deanery) and his coffin was followed to its grave by most of the Fellows of the Royal Society. The Lord Chancellor, the Dukes of Montrose and Roxburgh and the Earls of Pembroke, Sussex and Macclesfield were pall bearers. The Hon.Sir Michael Newton was chief mourner (London Journal 8 April 1727).
Newton's grave is in front of the choir screen, close to his monument. The Latin inscription on it reads:
Hic depositum est, quod mortale fuit Isaaci Newtoni.
This may be translated as:
'Here lies that which was mortal of Isaac Newton'.

Newton's Monument
Newton's monument stands in the nave against the choir screen, to the north of the entrance to the choir. Its base bears a Latin inscription (see below) and supports a sarcophagus with large scroll feet and a relief panel. The latter depicts boys using instruments related to Newton's mathematical and optical work (including the telescope and prism) and his activity as Master of the Mint. Above the sarcophagus is a reclining figure of Newton, in classical costume, his right elbow resting on several books representing his great works. They are labeled 'Divinity', 'Chronology', 'Opticks' [1704] and 'Philo. Prin. Math' [Philosophia Naturalis Principia Mathematica, 1686-7)]. With his left hand he points to a scroll with a mathematical design shown on it (the 'converging series'), held by two standing winged boys. The painting on this scroll had been erased or cleaned off in the early 19th century and was re-painted in 1977 from details in Newton's manuscripts. The background is a pyramid on which is a celestial globe with the signs of the Zodiac, of the constellations, and with the path of the comet of 1680. On top of the globe sits a figure of Astronomy leaning upon a book.
See http://www.westminster-abbey.org/.

* The Worshipful Company of Clockmakers
Founded in 1813, and now situated at Guildhall in the City of London, it was originally a library of ancient manuscripts of the Company, but soon grew to include many printed books, often presented by their authors, or annotated by famous clock and watchmakers. The Clockmakers’ Library is now celebrated for its holding of rare clockmakers’ workbooks and related documents (such as Victor Kullberg’s records, and many 18th century holograph manuscripts by John Harrison). The museum is usually open weekly from  Monday - Saturday from 9:30 am - 4:45 pm.  See the website at http://www.clockmakers.org/.

Courtauld Gallery
The Courtauld Gallery is located at Somerset House in the heart of London. Somerset House is a spectacular 18th century building on the banks of the Thames. Once the home of the Royal Academy of Art, the galleries are an elegant and intimate space in which to enjoy the collection. The collection stretches from the early Renaissance to the 20th century, and is perhaps best known for its outstanding Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings. Admission is ~8 GBP.  Hours are daily 10AM - 6PM. The Gallery is located at The Strand entrance of Somerset House. See http://www.courtauld.ac.uk/gallery/index.shtml.

 Abbey Road
T
he Abbey road zebra crossing is famous worldwide as the spot captured on The Beatles Abbey Road album cover. In April 1969 the group came to Abbey Road recording studios to make their final album. The studio and famous zebra crossing are regarded as British music icons to this day.

London has many wonderful parks, including Hyde Park.  See http://www.visitlondon.com/things-to-do/activities/openspace/large-parks for park information.

See also: http://www.visitlondon.com/ for a good website for some general visiting London information.