A Traveller's Companion to London

Location

London is located on the River Thames.

Description

London is the capital of the British Isles and largest city in the United Kingdom. It is the financial capital of England. Unfortunately London’s typically English architecture of large, restful spaces and long unbroken lines is being eroded by an influx of foreign architectural ideas. Too many new buildings are needlessly ornamental. Buckingham Palace, for instance, is thoroughly commonplace.

Advice to Travelers

The visitor to London needs to be on guard against pick-pockets and imposters, both very common in this vast metropolis. Considerable care needs to be taken in crossing crowded thoroughfares and in ascending and alighting from omnibuses. Poor neighborhoods should be avoided after dark. The fashionable hour for paying calls in London is between 4 and 6 p.m. and the usual dinner hour of the upper classes varies from 7.30 to 9 p.m. Spirits and tobacco are highly dutiable, although small quantities are exempted when declared and not found concealed. Chocolates and sweetmeats of all kinds are also dutiable.

Hotels

The best hotels in the West End of London are the Ritz, a sumptuous establishment at the corner of Piccadilly and Arlington street, Claridges (Grosvenor Square), long the leading West End hotel and luxuriously fitted up, and the Carlton at the corner of Pall Mall and Haymarket, another handsome establishment. At their restaurants evening dress is usual. The Midland Grand at St Pancras station is large, reasonably priced railway hotel.

Currency

The British currency system is one of the few major currencies in Europe not founded on the decimal system, and consists of pounds, shillings, pence, half crowns and florins. The British pound is made up of 20 shillings. There are 12 pence per shilling, or 240 pence per pound. The florin is worth two shillings, and the half-crown is worth two shillings and sixpence.

Places of Interest

The British Museum and Library – the Reading Room (Soho)

The famous Reading Room of the Library contains illuminated books, famous manuscripts, letters, and early printed books. Among its many treasures are an early story by Charlotte Brontë in handwriting too small to be legible to the naked eye. In order to use the Reading room, interested scholars require membership of the Peerage, academic references, or a statement of need specific to the Museum Library holdings. A waiting period of several days or weeks needs to be allowed for the proper study of their applications.

The Victoria and Albert Museum (South Kensington)

The Victoria and Albert is one of the most fascinating museums in the world. Famous architecture and furniture, sculpture and metal work, jewelry and embroidery, pottery and glass may be studied here either in the original or in replica. Casts include the Venus of Milo, the Lacöon, the Elgin Fates, the Marble Faun and Michelangelo’s David. The museum is excellently arranged and there are free lifts to every floor.

St Paul’s Cathedral

Londoners bestow affection on St Paul’s that they do not give to the equally venerable Westminster Abbey. Within the Cathedral are commemorated England’s soldiers, sailors and painters. Sir Christopher Wren, Turner and Reynolds, Nelson and Wellington are all buried in the crypt. A fine view of London is obtained from the top of the dome. Entrance to the cathedral is free, however entrance to the crypt costs one shilling.

The Tower of London

The Tower of London is a ancient warren of buildings and gateways, old houses, odd corners and nine-foot ramparts overlooking the river, all superintended by grave and glossy ravens. Here prisoners of the Crown were kept, and so many souls, both illustrious and ignoble, faced their final hour. The armory contains swords and guns of all nations, as well as romantic models of knights in armor. The ordinary ticket of admission costs sixpence and admits the visitor to see the jewels and armor.


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A Traveller's Companion to London

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