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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Secrets of London

English: Crystal Palace Park in South London, UK.
English: Crystal Palace Park in South London, UK. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Author: Paula Jones
For many people, London conjures images of Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, Oxford Street and huge crowds of people. For those who want to explore the great city on a path less travelled though, there many sights which are equally as beautiful and wondrous as the famous landmarks. These well kept secrets of London give tourists the chance to experience a magical London in an intimate way without having to compete with jostling crowds.

Crystal Palace Park

Crystal Palace Park is a large area of parkland just outside of London in Sydenham. The park has many features including:
• Children's play area
• Boating Lake
• Wonderful walks

The most unique features in the park will come as a surprise to many first time visitors though. In 1854, Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins designed and made 33 sculptures of prehistoric animals including dinosaurs. These were moved to Crystal Palace Park at a later date where they eventually became Grade I listed buildings in 2007. The sculptures can be seen on the islands of the man-made lakes throughout the park.

The Queen's House

The Queen's House in Greenwich is a stunning 17th Century building which was actually the first classical building of England. Once used as a dwelling by members of the royal family, the house is now a National Maritime Museum, holding fine art and exhibitions detailing the rich history of the house itself and the surrounding area. Exhibitions include:

• Art for the Nation
• The Royal Hospital School Gallery
• Historic Greenwich Gallery
• The Tudors at Greenwich Gallery
• Art of the Van de Veldes

Wilton's Music Hall

Set on a side street in the East End is one of London's best kept secrets; Wilton's Music Hall. The unrestored music hall of old is one of the last surviving music halls of its kind in the country. Over the hundreds of years since the building was first erected, it has been many things to many people including a tavern, a music hall, even a soup kitchen.

Nowadays the Music Hall offers a plethora of unique theatrical experiences as well as still operating a public house in the Mahogany Room. This building encompasses the very essence of the history of London.

Phoenix Gardens

There are many parks and gardens in London which are frequented by locals and tourists alike. Phoenix Gardens offers something a little different to these more populated parks though. In the first instance, the garden is quite wild. Secondly, even though it is located in central London, it is relatively unknown, so visitors may spend their time there without contending with masses of dog walkers and picnickers. This tranquil space is full of natural beauty and the ideal place to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the big smoke; London at its best.

Cockney Cash Machine
Now granted, these machines are not attractions which a visitor could spend all day at. However, they are great for a bit of fun. Each one of these cockney cash machines has an option to use cockney rhyming slang on their language menu. Should a customer choose this option they will be delighted to find that they are asked if they would like "moolah for ya sky rocket". There are five machines throughout the city so travellers could always make more of a feature of the machines in their day by trying to find all five.
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