Guide to Greater London
|| From Greater London
to the vibrant Central communities there’s plenty
of things to see and do that should appeal to even the
most selective culture vulture.
The North West area is home to some of the leading art
galleries in London, namely the Catto Gallery [map] for fine art and the Proud Gallery [map] for contemporary photography. And while these two may
be the stars in the area, they are in good company with
a variety of arts spaces in North West London that cater
for the spectrum of artistic expression.
Performing arts also have a place in the North West of
London with the Tricycle Theatre [map] being the central location for those in search of human
centred art. Musicals, topical dramatic pieces and classic
plays can all be seen at this multipurpose venue.
The area boasts several dens of antiquities from the populist Madame Tussauds [map] to the more traditional Hampstead Museum of Local History
In addition, well-known people from the area are honoured
with their own museums including Freud, Keats and Sherlock
Holmes while other museums celebrate subjects as diverse
as Judaism and aviation.
The North of London will come alive in September 2005
when a new arts centre will open in Barnet, equipped with
two state of the art theatres as well as studio space.
This is likely to become the focus of arts in the area
but in the meantime you’ll find a good selection
of performing arts venues.
There’s the Millfield Theatre [map] for more mainstream options, while Jackson’s
Lane Arts Centre [map] fields an eclectic mix of productions for audiences to
enjoy. Meanwhile those who would rather take in the delights
of dance should head for the Bull Theatre .
The East of London is home to some impressive and dynamic
examples of architecture. Owned by the National Trust, Sutton House [map] is a red brick Tudor mansion in the
heart of East London. Once home to merchants, silk weavers,
Edwardian clergy and England’s first secretary of
state Ralph Sadleir for Henry VIII, the house is resplendent
with carved fireplaces and oak panelled room. This is
one of the oldest surviving buildings in the UK.
For culture of the dramatic kind, head for Hackney
Empire [map] where you’ll find musicals, opera, ballet, comedy
and more. The recently opened Stratford Circus [map] is the place for performing arts and the Arcola [map],
E8 has an innovative programme of new shows.
The South West of London is perfect for those keen to
see some living history. The Pump House [map] in Battersea Park was built in 1861 to feed the Victorian
lake cascades from a well beneath the building. By the
end of World War II, the pumping machinery had been stripped
out and the roof had collapsed. English Heritage undertook
essential repairs in 1985 and since its reopening, after
an award-winning transformation in 1992, the Pump House
Gallery has presented a wide variety of exhibitions and
If you want to be at one with nature check out Bushy
Park which is located on the edge of the Longford
River, an artificial waterway that is 13 miles long and
was created by Charles I in 1639 to bring fresh water
to Hampton Court. Bushy Park offers visitors the opportunity
to wander in more than 445 hectares of historic deer park
before stopping for refreshments or chilling out at a
picnic table. Children will enjoy the many talks and nature
trails that they’ll have access to and adults can
relax in a family-orientated and safe environment.
Culture is, literally, everywhere in Central London from
the Southbank to Covent Garden, from the National to the Barbican [map],
from the London Aquarium [map] to the Serpentine Gallery.
The Royal Opera House [map],
Covent Garden, is home to the awe-inspiring moves of the Royal Ballet and the world class Royal Opera,
two prestigious groups that were granted their Royal Charters
in 1956 and 1968 respectively. Two studio spaces at the
same venue ensure that the feast of fun is as diverse
as you’d expect from a building that dates back
Lovers of visuals must visit the National Gallery [map],
which contains the
largest portrait collection in the world, dating back
to the Tudor period.
Recent redevelopment has seen the addition of the Ondaatje
wing while the National’s restaurant offers a perfect
viewpoint of Parliament.
Culture vultures can enjoy a leisurely afternoon at Riverside
Studios [map] in West London which is like a scaled down version of
London’s South Bank area. This thriving arts and
media centre is located at Crisp Road, Hammersmith, W5,
and was originally a theatre and cinema dating back to
1934, which is famous for being the first place to broadcast
colour television. The venue is now brimming with contemporary
art, and hosts a range of workshops including theatre,
music and poetry.
If this doesn’t satisfy your craving for all things
media head to The Electric Cinema [map],
Portobello Road, Notting Hill, W11, which is believed
to be the oldest cinema in the country. With a programme
packed with art house and independent films, as well as
general release and blockbusters, there’s something
Notting Hill and Labroke Grove play host to one of the
world’s best carnivals. The Notting Hill Carnival
[map] has been taking place in London on the last weekend of
August for the past 35 years. The festivities started
as a local affair set up by the West Indian immigrants
of the area and has become a full-blooded Caribbean carnival,
attracting millions of people from all around the world.
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