From Trafalgar Square to Drury Lane Theatre District
From Trafalgar Square to Drury Lane is a walk through the history of London. We began our walking tour at Piccadilly Circus where we got those all important “selfies” in front of the statue of Eros and we followed the signs over to Trafalgar Square.
In Trafalgar square were we gaped, literally gaped at the huge Nelson’s Column and giant lions surrounding it. You could catch glimpses of the London Eye from the Square and you begin to realise that London simply isn’t as big as you thought it was.
There were far less pigeons than we anticipated so something must have been done to get rid of the damn vermin. The main amusements a few years ago in Trafalgar Square were feeding these indulged birds. There was a famous character named Bernie Rayner who ran a stall selling little packets of grain which tourists bought at an inflated price to feed the equally inflated pigeons. They fed so well that they bred several times a year. Repairing the damage to Nelson’s Column caused by pigeon droppings cost £140,000. The Greater London Assembly passed a bylaw making it illegal to feed them, and introduced hawks to frighten them away, and council staff made periodic raids with giant vacuum cleaners to hoover up any grain or other food from the square’s smart new paving stones.
We decided to go into the National Gallery that sits right at the top of Trafalgar Square – it was free entry unless you wanted to see the Caravaggio exhibit. So we wandered in with a hankering to see some renaissance and impressionist masters. We were not disappointed and we spent hours wandering through this huge museum searching out our favourite artists.
London is known for its incredible museums and art galleries and the National is no exception. Most of the galleries and museums are free and if you get down Kensington Way you need to check out Museum Row which could take you absolutely days to go through all the museums.
When we couldn’t see straight, anymore we left the museum and walked over to have a look at St. Martin’s in the Field and then on up to Regent Street in our meandering to see if we could find Covent Garden.
We stumbled across the Theatre district where we spent a good couple of hours putting a crick in our necks straining to see the magnificent theatres in the district. There are over 40 venues within London’s West End, “Theatreland” which is located in and near the heart of the West End of London. It is traditionally defined by The Strand to the south, Oxford Street to the north, Regent Street to the west, and Kingsway to the east, but a few other nearby theatres are also considered “West End” despite being outside the area. For example The Apollo Victoria Theatre, in Westminster). Prominent theatre streets include Drury Lane, Shaftesbury Avenue, and The Strand.
Drury Lane was originally an early medieval lane called Via de Aldwych, which probably connected St. Giles Leper Hospital to the fields of Aldwych Close It is said that the lands were owned by the Hospital but had been in the distant past granted to the Danes as part of a peace treaty developed by Alfred the Great in Saxon times. Around 1500 Sir Robert Drury built a mansion called Drury House. Years later the house became the Queen of Bohemia a public house, supposedly named after the Earl of Craven’s mistress. By the 1800’s the Lane had become one of London’s worst slums and inhabited by prostitutes and gin joints.
The term “Drury Lane” is often used to refer to the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, which has in different incarnations been located in Drury Lane since the 17th century. Also in Drury Lane is the New London Theatre.
The history of the London West End has been inextricably linked to the theatre for hundreds of years. From the opening of the first West End venue in Drury Lane in 1663, locals and visitors to the capital flocked in droves to the West End to be entertained and enthralled by the various shows on offer. The London theatre tradition has continued to go from strength to strength over the years, and today the West End is the largest theatre district in the world, with many major international stars treading the boards night after night. To this day no other place in the world hosts the variety and quality of shows as the West End.
We picked out the shows we wanted to see and got great deals on tickets with our Travel Card we picked up tickets for Lin Manuel’s In the Heights (2 tickets for £50), Mama Mia and The Book of Mormon. Three incredible shows served up in London, who could ask for more? Except for the fact that we managed to get tickets to see the incredible actress Glenda Jackson playing King Lear at the Old Vic now that was an epic moment.
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