Sunday, October 30, 2016


As with the previous station at Lancaster Gate, this station does not have escalators so it's either walking up 123 steps or take the lift. You would think that as it has a lift it is disabled friendly but no you still have a dozen steps before you access the lift.

The station is on the corner of Queensway and Bayswater Road. The outside looks in need of a good coat of paint.

Looking up Queensway I  noticed that a couple of hundred metres away is Bayswater Tube station.

I always try not to overlap areas around the stations so I only walked a short distance down Queensway hoping to see Queensway ice rink, the largest in London,  but unfortunately it is closed for renovation. I will have to put that on my list of places to revisit.

Moving away I turned right onto Inverness Terrace. On these roads parallel to Queensway you see rows of these 19th C, 6 floor, Italianate houses, many of which have now been converted into hotels or apartments. They look splendid against the clear blue sky this morning.

This house was built in 1823/4 and was designed by John Laudon, a landscape architect. Looking like a detached villa it is two houses disguised as one. Using  the dome and dummy windows he created the illusion of two houses to look like one detached villa. The idea of illusion was favoured by some  English architects of that time.

Another architectural illusion can be seen here at 23 and 24 Leinster Gardens. When the subterranean lines of the Underground (Metropolitan Railway as it was then) were first constructed in 1863, a method known as 'cut and cover' was used. Basically, dig a hole for the train and cover with a tunnel. One of the lines required the demolition of 23 and 24 Leinster Gardens which were part of a terrace of five storey houses. It was decided to build a 5ft thick facade which matched the houses. If you look closely you can see the dummy windows and lack of a letter box in the doors.

The gap behind the facade can clearly be seen from Porchester Terrace. The gap also provides a welcome open air space for dispelling fumes and smoke ( as the original trains were steam driven).
Following the line back to Queensbury Terrace you can still see a gap behind this property

More delightful Mews cottages

On Craven Hill Gardens is this block of flats, built in 1964, which seems to be totally out of place .

I returned to Bayswater Road to see the weekly art exhibition along the park railings. Every Sunday numerous artists display their work here. 

After walking up and down outside the park admiring some (certainly not all) of the artwork, I entered Kensington Gardens. I strolled through the park to the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial  Playground. Opened on 30th June 2000 it is a permanent Memorial to Diana and her love of children. Inspired by the stories of Peter Pan, it has been created so that less able  and able bodied children can play together. There is no admittance for adults without a child and taking photos through the railings and bushes seemed totally inappropriate!

Next to the playground is the Elfin Oak, now enclosed in a wire cage to prevent damage.  The Elfin Oak sculpture was made from the trunk of an ancient oak tree (900 years old) which originated in Richmond Park. Sculpted by Ivor Innes in 1930 it has numerous elves, fairies and animals living in its branches and bark. Some readers might recognise it from inside the cover of Pink Floyd's 1969 album 'Ummagumma'


The area near the playground and the Elfin Oak has a number of picnic tables and a kiosk selling drinks and snacks. It also has this memorial fountain and clock. The words above the fountain say 'To the memory of a beloved son who loved little children'

I continued on to the Round Pond where it was good to see other geese beside Canadian geese enjoying the weather. The pond is a  popular place for feeding the birds and sailing model boats.

To the right of the pond is Kensington Palace.

Kensington Palace is the Royal residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (William and Kate) as well as Prince Harry and some minor Royals. Diana, Princess of Wales, had an apartment here from 1981 until 1987.

The Palace was built in the 17th C for King William and Queen Mary. The Palace was needed quickly as the King wanted to move away from Whitehall to the cleaner air of Kensington. To speed  up the building of the Palace it was built in brick not stone and was completed in six months.
King William and Queen Mary  moved in in 1689. Sadly, Mary died of smallpox in 1694 and in 1702  William died after falling off his horse.

 There is a large bronze statue of King William III at the side of the Palace.

Designed by Princess Louise in 1893, this marble statue is of her mother, Queen Victoria. It shows the Queen in her coronation robes at the age of 18. Victoria was born in Kensington Palace and lived there until she became Queen in 1837.

There are formal gardens at the front of the Palace that you can see from a number of viewing points.

The Orangery is also in the garden and is now a restaurant open to the public. 

Another viewing point looking back towards the Round Pond.

I left the park past these ornamental gates.

I exited via Kensington Palace Gardens. This road has its fair share of opulent  billionaire's mansions and  Embassies. It was laid out on the site of the kitchen gardens of the Palace between 1844 and 1870. This view shows the Palace railings.

This view looks back along this wide tree lined road.

Half way down is this Victorian pillar box and  gas lamp

This long avenue is only lit by gas lamps. I think it might be the only road in the city where you can imagine what it might have been like to walk at night during Victorian times. There are 1500 gas lamps left in London and the majority of them are  lit and serviced by just 5 men. Those in Hyde Park and around the Houses of Parliament have their own lamplighters
During the day each lamp burns with a tiny pilot light. At dusk, a timer fitted in each lamp, moves a lever which releases a stronger flow of gas to light up the mantles. Looking up at this lamp the mantles were still alight. The five men who look after the gas lamps are actually gas engineers. They visit each lamp to check and wind the mechanisms, clean the glass and replace the mantles.

At the end of the road you can see the lodge gates, a common feature during the 18th C and 19th C. There are gates at either end of the road for security reasons.

There is also an armed  police presence  as this road has so many embassies and access to Kensington Palace. Once through the gates I was back on Bayswater Road just a short distance from Queensway station.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Lancaster Gate

Lancaster Gate station on the Central line was first opened in 1900 but that building was demolished and a new surface building was constructed in 1968 as part of a new office block development but was converted to a hotel shortly afterwards.  Arriving at the station you have a choice of walking up 78 steps or getting the lift as there are no escalators here. Fortunately the lifts were renovated in 2006 making them far more efficient.
Strange that the station is called Lancaster Gate as it is actually opposite Marlborough Gate. The Lancaster gate entrance into Kensington Gardens is about 300m away.

You enter the park close to the Italian Gardens. The gardens were restored in 2011 as part of a programme of works entitled Tiffany-Across the Water which focused on the restoration and renewal of water features across the 5000 acres of London's eight Royal Parks. The work was funded by The Tiffany & Co Foundation in New York.

I walked through the gardens and then continued along the path by the side of Long Water.

Cormorants taking a rest. Kensington Gardens used to be the private gardens of Kensington Palace and Long Water refers to the long and narrow western half of the Serpentine lake. The Serpentine Bridge marks the boundary between Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.

This is the bronze Peter Pan statue sculpted by Sir George Frampton and placed here in 1912. Sir James barrie who wrote the play 'Peter Pan' lived closed to the gardens and would walk here regularly. It was here that he met the Llewelyn boys out with their nursemaid who became the inspiration for the Lost boys in the story. Barrie commissioned the statue himself and arranged to have it erected overnight, 'as if by magic'.


This drinking fountain was presented to the park by the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough association to mark its 80th anniversary in 1939. Set up in London in 1859 its aim was to provide free, clean drinking water to the people of London.

A rather less well known feature of the park is the Pets cemetery. It is noted on maps of the park but not visible from any of the pathways.

The only way to actually see it is to go back out onto Bayswater Road and look through the railings as it is well hidden behind the herbaceous borders and dense undergrowth. These were not the pets of your everyday mortal but those of the rich. The cemetery was founded in 1880 by George the Duke of Cambridge who asked the gatekeeper to find a suitable burial spot for his wife's favourite dog. The cemetery was closed  in 1915 as there were now over 300 pets buried there.

Across the road from the park is The Swan pub. Licensed premises on this site can be traced back 300 years.  The sign outside the pub claims that this was one of the final  drinking places for those being carted to the Tyburn gallows at Marble Arch (More info in my previous post here). It is said that the phrases 'one for the road' and 'on the wagon' date back to the practice of the local jailer stopping and requesting one last beer for prisoners.

 Behind Bayswater Road is Lancaster Gate Square, a good example of a mid Victorian London development. The Grade II listed terraces have classical porticoes and colonnaded balconies.

Christ Church built in 1854-55 survived WW2 but suffered from fungal decay and was demolished in 1977, leaving the tower and the 205 ft spire. The tower and spire are Grade II listed so I am surprised that a modern development adjoining the church was given planning permission as it neither fits in with the Gothic architecture of the church nor the Victorian terraced housing in the square.

The Christ Church war memorial is unusual with its gilded crucifix on top of a tabernacle. There are eight niches within the tabernacle to house statues of St George of England, St Louis of France amongst other warrior saints.

There are so many roads with these grand Victorian terraced housing often in squares surrounding a private garden. I also came across a number of Mews.

I also came across a number of Mews.
These cobbled cul-de-sacs were once stables for the horses and carriages needed to transport the ladies and gentlemen of the area. Now the majority have been converted into desirable homes for the wealthy.

Bathurst Mews still has a stable block providing horses for you to hire and ride in Hyde Park.

Walking back to Lancaster Gate station I went down Craven Terrace which had a few independent shops.

My attention was drawn to this shop, a grooming parlour for cats and dogs. Looking in the window I couldn't quite believe that people would buy these outfits for their pets.

Just around the corner from the station on  Clarendon Place is the former home of  Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. An English architecture best known for his work on Liverpool Cathedral, Battersea Power station, Waterloo Bridge and of course the iconic red telephone box. He designed and lived in this house from 1926-1960