Month: August 2016
The Churchill War Rooms is a museum in London and one of the five branches of the Imperial War Museum. The museum comprises the Cabinet War Rooms, a historic complex of basement offices in Whitehall that served as the British government command centre during the Second World War. They were occupied by leading government ministers, military strategists and Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. The museum also houses the Churchill Museum, a biographical museum exploring the life of British statesman Winston Churchill.
Following the experience of the First World War and fears of large scale bombing in a future war, plans to evacuate the prime minister, cabinet and essential staff from London were drawn up as early as the 1920s, However it was considered that this would be publically unacceptable and a search for an emergency shelter in central London began.
Being near Parliament and having a strong steel frame and a large basement, the New Public Offices building (now the Treasury building) was selected in June 1938. The basement was adapted to provide meeting places for the War Cabinet during air raids and also housed a military information centre based around a Map Room, The Cabinet War Rooms became fully operational on 27 August 1939, a week before Britain declared war on Germany. In total Churchill’s War Cabinet met here 115 times, most often during the Blitz and the later German V-weapon offensive.
During the entire course of the Second World War the Map room was in constant use and manned around the clock by officers of the Royal Navy, British army and Royal Air Force. These officers were responsible for producing a daily intelligence summary for the King, the Prime Minister and the military Chiefs of Staff. Only on the 16th August 1945 were the lights turned off in the Map Room for the first time in six years.
After the war the historic value of the Cabinet War Rooms was recognised. In the early 1980s the Imperial War Museum was asked to take over the administration and the Cabinet War Rooms were opened to the public in April 1984 Subsequently they were renamed the Churchill War Rooms.
For more information go to http://www.iwm.org.uk/visits/churchill-war-rooms
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Although it was built on a much smaller scale than the Arc de Triomph in Paris, Marble Arch is a 19th-century triumphal arch faced with white Carrara marble. Today it is one of the iconic landmarks of London. It stands on a large traffic island at the junction of Bayswater Road, Edgware Road, Oxford Street, and Park Lane. Oxford Street is the Mecca for shoppers not only from the U.K. but also for tourist from all over the world. Consequently, standing at the western end of Oxford Street and close to the nearby Marble Arch underground station on the Central Line, it is seen by millions of people every year.
However its isolated and incongruous position was not the original intention. The structure was designed by John Nash in 1827 to be the state entrance to Buckingham Palace. Construction began in 1827 but was cut short in 1830, following the death of King George IV. In 1829, a bronze equestrian statue of George IV had been commissioned with the intention of placing it on top of the arch. Work restarted in 1832. As the rising costs were unacceptable to the new king, William IV, Nash’s planned attic stage, decorative friezes and the statue were omitted. The arch was completed in 1833.
Originally the arch stood as the ceremonial entrance near the well known balcony of the Palace. However, it had to be relocated due to the enlargement of the Palace. When the palace building work began in 1847, the arch was dismantled and rebuilt as a ceremonial entrance to the northeast corner of Hyde Park at Cumberland Gate. The reconstruction was completed in March 1851. Three small rooms inside the rebuilt arch were used as a police station from 1851 until about 1968. It firstly housed the royal constables of the Park and later the Metropolitan Police.
In the early 1960s the scheme to widen Park Lane forced a second relocation to its present site. The arch actually stands close to the former site of the Tyburn gallows, a place of public execution from 1388 until 1793.
For map and reviews go to http://www.visitlondon.com/
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Until the 17th Century the state made no specific provision for old and injured soldiers. Care for the poor and sick was provided by the religious foundations. Most of this provision ended following the dissolution of the monasteries during the reign of King Henry VIII.
In 1681 King Charles II issued a Royal Warrant authorising the building of the Royal Hospital Chelsea to care for those ‘broken by age or war’. The provision of a hostel rather than the payment of pensions was inspired by Les Invalides in Paris.
Sir Christopher Wren was commissioned to design and erect the building. The chosen site was adjacent to the River Thames at Chelsea. In 1692 work was finally completed and the first Chelsea Pensioners were admitted in February. By the end of March the full complement of 476 were in residence. In March 2009, the first women in the Hospital’s 317 year history were also admitted as Pensioners.
Within the hospital and in the surrounding area, Chelsea Pensioners are encouraged to wear a blue uniform but for ceremonial occasions the distinctive scarlet coats are worn. Then the pensioners wear their medal ribbons and the insignia of rank they reached while serving in the military. In general the Pensioners are entitled to come and go from the Royal Hospital as they please when they are permitted to wear civilian clothing wherever they travel.
The Royal Hospital Founder’s Day takes place close to 29 May each year, which is the birthday of Charles II and also the date of his restoration as King in 1660. It is also known as Oak Apple Day, as it commemorates the escape of the future King following defeat at the Battle of Worcester in 1651, when he hid in an oak tree to avoid capture. On Founder’s Day, the pensioners of the Royal Hospital are reviewed by a member of the British Royal Family.
The on-site museum details the history and life of the Royal Hospital and its Pensioners together with displays of artefacts, documents, medals, cap badges and uniforms. Daily walking tours of the site and museum, led by Chelsea pensioners themselves, can be booked in advance. The South Grounds of the Royal Hospital are also used for large-scale public events including the world famous Chelsea Flower Show.
For further details go to http://www.chelsea-pensioners.co.uk/
For your London Vacation Rental go to www.chsrentals.com/london
by Harley Nott
Reality and Virtual Reality in London.
August and September are good months to visit London, it’s quieter, the visitor peak has passed and many Londoners are away on holiday. The weather is generally warm and pleasant.
Here are a few other good reasons for coming then.
You can visit the State Rooms of Buckingham Palace – they are open to visitors in August and September. Sorry, you won’t meet the Queen, but don’t let that deter you, this magnificent palace alone is worth coming to London to see.
Have you ever wanted to sail on a Tall Ship? You can between 15-18 September. Greenwich, a must see for many London visitors, has an added attraction then. A number of these majestic Tall Ships will be at historic Greenwich and available for you to have a 2-2½ hour cruise down and back up the Thames.
The much acclaimed Rolling Stones Exhibition – Exhibitionism is at the Saatchi Gallery on The Kings Road until 4 September. A must for old and young rockers alike!
The Notting Hill Carnival 28th-29th August. Join London’s biggest street party as the Notting Hill Carnival fills the streets of West London with Caribbean colours, music and flavours.
London is the hangout for the rarest Pokémon. Tentacool, Dratini, Electabuzz, Hitmonlee, Kabuto, Mankey, Snorlax, Mr. Mime and even the occasional Dragonite have been found at places like the Tower of London, inside Regent’s Park, at London Zoo and in the flowery gardens of Kensington Palace. Here are several guides: Time Out, Attaction Tix and Evening Standard.
For a family of four, the cost of two rooms in a good 4 star London hotel is a minimum £400/night. For half that sum they can stay in one of our comfortable rental properties with much more space and benefit from our full concierge service. Check it out.