by Harley Nott
London for Free (part 1 of 2)
Unlike the museums and art galleries of most capital cities, in London, among other attractions, they are free!
Well known among these gems are The National Gallery, The Natural History Museum, The British Museum and Hyde Park/Kensington Gardens.
Here are some lesser known, but just as interesting, free attractions:
The Bank of England Museum
It may not explain how the banking profession got into the mess it’s in now, but the museum dedicated to the profession is still worth a visit. Vintage bank notes, art work and antique furniture from the bank make for a small but dense collection. Current exhibitions include one on Gold – and the opportunity to lift up a solid gold bar!
The National Portrait Gallery
Nestling up against the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery has a peerless collections of historic and contemporary portraits. The Tudor collection is particularly notable, with vast likenesses of Henry VIII, his family and court. The ground floor is also popular and carries portraits of dozens of modern celebrities and notables. The cafe on the top floor (sadly, not free) offers impressive views of the West End.
Imperial War Museum
At times deeply moving, even harrowing, at others inspiring, the IWM never fails to impress. The grand premises originally served as the Bedlam asylum, but now house dozens of military vehicles, historic documents and often overlooked but spectacular art galleries on the top floor. Be sure to wander the grounds, too, where you’ll find a section of the Berlin Wall, a pair of giant naval guns and a Tibetan Peace Garden.
All Hallows By The Tower
While millions of tourists flock to the Tower of London, another historic building lurks just yards away. The church of All Hallows dates back to Saxon times. Although the current building is largely a post-war reconstruction, you can still see remains, including an arch, from more than 1,000 years ago. The crypt contains a small museum, including a model of Roman London and the baptism record of William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania. John Quincy Adams, sixth President of the United States was married here in 1797.
National Army Museum
The National Army Museum has five state-of-the-art gallery spaces taking you on an interactive journey exploring the army’s character and impact from the British Civil War right up to the modern day. The galleries explore what it’s like to be a Soldier, the origins of the Army, how Battle Tactics and technology have changed over time, how the Army influences Society and the impact the army has had around the world.
London Bus Sightseeing
Whilst it is possible to use special sightseeing hop-on/hop-off open top buses operated by private companies to explore the major tourist attractions in London, the tickets are quite expensive although one has the benefit of a tour guide pointing out the places of interest. However, many people do not realise that they can use regular London buses to see and to visit all London attractions. Such journeys are free even with multiply use for those visitors who have travel cards or oyster cards.
Ceremony of the Keys
Every night, for something like 700 years, the Yeoman Warders of the Tower of London have performed a gate-closing ritual known as the Ceremony of the Keys. Members of the public can view the ceremony for free by applying on line. But you’ll need to plan a long way ahead, it’s currently fully booked till April 2018.
You can also save money by staying in a vacation rental rather than a hotel. Our smaller properties have a few available dates in June, but in general we’re pretty booked up until the middle of July*. Book now for the end of July through September.
* The Coach House (2 bed, 2 bath, sleeps 5) is available on a vacation rentals basis 26-30 June, 4 nights.
To ensure you see part 2 of our London for Free, sign up to our monthly newsletter – you can unsubscribe at any time.