Racing in Putney

The Boat Race is an annual set of rowing races (men’s and women’s) between the Cambridge University Boat Club and the Oxford University Boat Club. One of the world’s oldest and most famous amateur sporting events, it began in 1829 following a challenge from Cambridge to a rowing match at or near London. The event stretches from Putney to Mortlake on the Thames and takes place between late March and early April. Putney Bridge is a popular viewing location, as are the tow paths on either side of the river. This year’s match will take place on March 26.


The Chapel at Ormond Street

Part of Great Ormond Street Hospital, St. Christopher’s Chapel is not your run-of-the-mill hospital chapel. In fact, the ornate chapel boasts Byzantine decorations, wood carvings, pint-sized pews (befitting the hospital’s status as a worldwide leading children’s hospital) and gold mosaic, among other features. Oscar Wilde called it “the most delightful private chapel in London.” Given its grandeur, that may well be an understatement.

The Tower’s Closing Ceremony

One of the oldest rituals at the Tower of London is the Ceremony of the Keys. Beginning at 9:30 p.m., it’s an event marking the locking up of the tower for the evening. Except for one evening during the Blitz of World War II, this event has taken place every night for over 700 years and involves the passing of the monarch’s keys for the security of the fortress. A nominal fee is charged for tickets, which must be pre-booked online. As one might wonder, there’s also an opening of the tower, when the Duty Yeoman Warder and a military escort of the main guard march to open both the Middle Tower and the Byward Tower around 9:00 a.m. Some tour companies offer access to this event along with early entry to the Crown Jewels exhibition. You can watch the action near Traitors’ Gate.

A Manhole Cover in Whitechapel

Of all the manhole covers you might encounter in London, there’s one not to be missed. It’s the cover in Whitechapel commemorating, you might say, the sewer authority’s attack on a giant fatberg clogging up the works. A fatberg is a rock-like mass of waste matter in a sewer system formed by the combination of flushed non-biodegradable solids, fat, oil and grease deposits. In 2017, a Thames Water crew had the unenviable task of clearing out a fatberg in Whitechapel spanning over 820 feet, more than the length of Tower Bridge. Having defeated the beast, their effort is acknowledged on a manhole cover that you’ll find around Whitechapel Underground, where Court Street meets Whitechapel Road.

Little Ben

You’ve heard it said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So it should come as no surprise that there’s a cast iron miniature of Big Ben situated at the intersection of Vauxhall Bridge Road and Victoria Street. Affectionately known as Little Ben, it’s a short walk from Westminster Cathedral near Victoria Station.

Czech Scrolls in London

The Czech Memorial Scrolls Museum is located in West London at Kent House, the home of Westminster Synagogue. It tells the inspiring story of the survival and second life of 1,564 Torah scrolls from Bohemia and Moravia, where a rich Jewish culture had once thrived before Nazi occupation. The scrolls arrived in London from Prague in 1964 and have undergone restoration and, in some cases, distribution to their rightful communities. The exhibits include some of the remaining scrolls, as well as a display of Torah binders dating from the 18th century. Visits are by appointment only.

The Loss of a Legend

It is with heavy hearts that we mourn the loss of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, an unparalleled and indefatigable leader. May she rest in peace.

Getting to the Pointe

Working from a basement in Covent Garden, cobbler Frederick Freed began his storied career crafting bespoke shoes for professional dancers in 1929. Still located in St. Martins Lane, Freed of London is the world’s leading designer and manufacturer of professional dance shoes, most notably pointe shoes for ballet dancers. You can also trip the light fantastic in their handcrafted ballroom shoes.

The Oak on a Hill

One Tree Hill is a nature reserve, a central feature of Honor Oak Park, so-named for the oak tree under which Queen Elizabeth I reputedly sat and enjoyed a picnic. More than just another leafy, London park, it may very well have some of the best views of the City, especially if you’re keen on panoramic views framed by leafy canopies. Head to the octagonal viewing platform at the summit. The nearest station is Honor Oak Park on the Overground.

The Birthplace of British Rock

2i’s Coffee Bar at 59 Old Compton Street in the heart of Soho was the beating heart of British rock ‘n’ roll. In fact, it’s considered its birthplace, the site where the BBC broadcast its first pop music show in 1957. Over the years, audiences crammed into the tiny basement to see acts such as Sir Cliff Richard, Tommy Steele, The Shadows and Adam Faith. It closed in 1970, but you’ll find a commemorative plaque at the locale.