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Old Marylebone Walking Tour

After spending the morning at Camden Market, we were enjoying the outdoors too much to go back to the flat so we met up with London Walks on Oxford Street for a 2 hour tour of Marylebone, our London neighborhood.  We didn’t really meet on Oxford Street which is crazy crowded on a Saturday in December, right before Christmas.  We waited on Stratford Street which is just off Oxford. Here’s what we saw as we peeked out to Oxford Street:

Oxford Street on a Saturday

The tour started off a little rough when the guide asked if there were any Americans on the tour.  He then asked who the 8th president of the US was.  Hmmm… I went through the first six ( Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, John Quincy Adams, ?).  John got Jackson as the 7th and then we couldn’t think of … Van Buren.  Ugh.  I need to study my presidents again ~ if nothing else but for the Pub Quiz.   His reason for asking ~ Van Buren lived on Stratford Place for a short time (1831-1832).

Peter was our walking guide (he’s in the white hat in the photo) and, as with all the other London Walks guides, I was impressed with his ability to tell such detailed stories all from memory (dates, names, locations) without once looking at a reference sheet. A tour of Marylebone wouldn’t be complete without the Wallace Collection and Peter didn’t disappoint.  I’ve written about the Wallace Collection before and it still remains one of my favorite museums in London.  The building was originally called Manchester House, after the 4th Duke of Manchester who had the house built between 1776-1788 because duck hunting was good in the area.  From 1791 to 1795, the house was used as the Spanish Embassy and the side street next to the house is called “Spanish Place.”

Peter our London Walks

Marylebone got its name from the St Mary’s Church and the church was situated on the Tyburn bourne (stream).  If you were to look at a map of Marylebone most of the streets are straight and developed on a grid like pattern. But Marylebone Lane stands out as an exception since that is where the stream flowed. Although the stream in this area is now hidden underground, take a look at the photo below and imagine the road being the stream:

Marylebone Lane  Also along Marylebone Lane, you’ll find shops and restaurants like “The Button Queen” which is dedicated to all things buttons:

If you need a Button

A famous resident from Marylebone is Octavia Hill who was instrumental in helping the poor with better housing and was the co-founder of The National Trust.

Octavia Hill

The house she lived in was next to this narrow Grotto Passage:

Grotto Passage, W1

I especially enjoy walking around Marylebone at night ~ as with most of London, the lights add a certain air of romance and elegance.

Hertford House (Wallace Collection) at night

Hertford House (Wallace Collection) at night

St James Catholic Church at night

St James Catholic Church at night

Durrant Hotel in Marylebone

Durrant Hotel in Marylebone

 

There’s a restaurant in Marylebone called “Odin’s Bistro” which has been in the neighborhood for years. Everytime I walk by the sign I think of the Cromwells, a very nice couple we know from our time in Northern New York.  They recently had a son and his name is Odin.

Odin's

When we first heard we were moving to London, we researched the neighborhoods and got a lot of advice from those already living here.  Many people assumed we would want to be further out in a bigger place with a yard but, we couldn’t be happier with our smaller flat even if it doesn’t have a yard or an extra bedroom. The location is perfect for us, especially since we’re only here for one year.

 

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Remember, Remember The Fifth of November

The Gunpowder, Treason and Plot

I know of No Reason Why the Gunpowder Treason

Should Ever Be Forgot

Today is Guy Fawkes Day, also known as Bonfire Night. It celebrates the thwarting of the “Gunpowder Plot” which was an attempt to blow up King James I and the House of Lords in 1605.  To learn more about the plot, John and I went on the London Walks: Gunpowder, Treason and Plot: On the Trail of Guy Fawkes.

We got a large dose of history regarding the animosity between the Catholics and the Protestants. Our tour guide, Hilary gave us a balanced overview of the circumstances leading up to the plot. After listening what the Catholics were subjected to, it’s not surprising such a plot was hatched (supposedly in a pub over a beer). 

I did walk away thanking God for living in a country where I’m free to attend whichever religious service I prefer ~ or not attending any services should I choose not to.  Back in the late 1500s and early 1600s, not attending a protestant service resulted in a large fine (which could easily bankrupt a person). Sadly, when the Catholics were in power, you were burned at the stake if you didn’t go to mass.

I learned a lot and was glad I braved the cold and rain to partake in this once a year tour. Here are a few of the photos from the tour:

Cromwell Statue in front of House of Parliament

Westminster Abbey entrance

Horse Guards

Angel on Westminster Abbey

John along the walk

Angel

Westminster Abbey Courtyard

St James Park

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