On Sunday morning, my dad and I took a cab from his hotel near Regent’s Park to his new hotel near Green Park. Once he checked in and everything, we headed over to a little café before our walking tour through the Kensington area. For my second breakfast I had English Breakfast Blend tea and a scone with strawberry jam. I still haven’t tried clotted cream and I feel that’s a pretty necessary component to tea time here!
We met up with our tour guide in front of the Parish Church of Kensington, which was the church Princess Diana attended, and we dove head first into the history of the Kensington and Knightsbridge communities. Making our way through the residential section of Kensington, our first stop was what is commonly known as “Millionaire’s Lane.” Although not the road’s actual name, many politicians and ambassadors live along it and the real estate prices are through the roof. And a fun fact is that it’s illegal to take pictures of any of the houses on “Millionaire’s Lane”; they even have signs along the street stating that you can be fined for doing so.
We then walked through Kensington Gardens to Kensington Palace. The palace was recently opened to the public and it’s a pretty important part of English history. Not only is it the location where Queen Victoria was told that she would be the future monarch of England but it’s also where William and Kate will be living in the future! I actually just visited Kensington Palace yesterday with some of my friends and I definitely recommend checking it out if you’re ever in London. The museum is super interesting and I’m a bit of a Queen Victoria fan girl so getting to see the rooms that she grew up in was a surreal experience.
Our next stop was the Prince Albert Memorial. Unveiled in 1876, fifteen years after his death, it is said that the statue of Albert was so realistic that Queen Victoria broke into tears when she saw it for the first time. Prince Albert is best remembered for his interest in improving life in London and for creating the first Great Exhibition in 1851.
The four corners of the monument represent four of the seven continents in the world. Although we now associate America with the bald eagle, in the 19th century the English apparently thought that a buffalo would better represent us.
Continuing the royal trend, we popped into the Victoria & Albert Museum towards the end of our tour. While there, we visited the Raphael Cartoons and the cast courts rooms. Although I’d never heard about them, I guess the cast courts are a pretty big deal. The room consists of plaster casts of architectural ornament that are now important to studying art and history now that a majority of the originals were destroyed in WWII when bombs hit churches and government buildings.
A cool fact about the V&A museum is that part of the mosaic program that decorates the floor was completed by female prisoners in the 19th and 20th centuries!
Our last stop was a classic—Harrods. The department store actually started as a grocery and the building dates back to 1909. After the tour ended, dad and I walked around the store and got to see the pet room where they had a poodle puppy for sale for 2000 pounds.
Dad and I split up after lunch because I had to go to Westminster Bridge and see the Southbank Mosaics for one of my English classes this past week.
I met up with dad and his coworker around 15:00 to tour though the Winston Churchill War Rooms. Although expensive to get in to, the museum was fascinating and it was really interesting getting to see where Churchill basically ran the war in the 1940s. My favorite part was getting to see the room in which he made encrypted calls to Roosevelt while under Nazi attack. Apparently these calls were kept so secret that most people thought that the Prime Minister just spent a lot of time in the restroom (which is what the door appeared to lead to).
The three of us got dinner at the Wolseley later that night. The food and the atmosphere were amazing and I would definitely go back as long as I don’t have to pay for the meal myself! I ordered duck for dinner and we shared macaroons for dessert. I felt like such an adult when I ordered tea to sip on after dinner was over.
I just wanted to end this two-part post by giving a HUGE thanks to my dad for flying up to London earlier than he had to just to spend time with me. I had a wonderful weekend and I’ve been rocking the earrings you bought me every day!