Some of England's finest architecture can be found among the Georgian squares and terraces that lie between Mayfair and Holborn. Grand buildings house museums and art galleries, that contain the treasures of the world's civilisations. Treasures of a different kind can also be found amongst its shops of world renown, from Oxford street to Regents Street, catering for every taste, from the latest fashion and souvenirs to diamonds and caviar. Not forgetting that London's West End also has a buzzing and vibrant night life, with a long and varied list of clubs and theatres to choose from. Although this part of London is a very busy place, packed full of shops, clubs, museums and theatres - areas of tranquility and greenery can still be found in its many public squares and open spaces.
Britain and London Visitor Centre, 1 Regent Street, London SW1Y 4XT
Telephone: 0870 1566366
The Massive curved Admiralty Arch is named after the adjoining Admiralty buildings. This gateway leads from western side of Trafalgar Square to Buckingham Palace along the pink-surfaced, royal processional road of The Mall. Built in 1911 by Sir Aston Webb as part of the national monument to Queen Victoria. Basically it's a screen with five arches: one for ceremonial processions when the wrought-iron gates are opened; two for everyday traffic; two for pedestrians. Above and around the arches are offices belonging to the Ministry of Defence.
One of the world's largest collections of antiquities, housed in imposing neoclassical building built by Robert Smirke in 1824. Exhibits include the Rosetta Stone, which provided clues to translating Egyptian hieroglyphs, the Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon, the Magna Carta, and many other ancient treasures from all over the world.
The museum also includes the Museum of Mankind. Its displays of tribal masks, figures and jewellery feature in large collection of items from the indigenous peoples of Africa, America, Australia, parts of Europe and Asia.
Family portraits, letters, first editions and some of the author's own furniture adorn Dickens last surviving London home. Nicholas Nickleby, Oliver Twist and some later chapters of Pickwick Papers were written here, in just two and a half years. The house was bought by the Dickens Fellowship in 1924.
First permanent collection of Jewish items opened to public in England. The collection contains over 1000 exhibits relating to Anglo-Jewish history, including a Venetian ark dating from l500s, and 18th-century Torah bells. Admission charge. Website
One of four Inns of Court, who's ornate brick buildings date from 15th century. The Chapel has windows commemorating renowned 'benchers and treasurers' from medieval times to present day. The Old Hall, dating from 1490, contains 17th-century oak screens and a Hogarth painting.
Guided Tours of the Inn are available, see website for details.
Old trams, steam engines and buses make up this unique historical display of transport development in London. Photographs and posters enhance the educational exhibits. Website
This world famous waxworks, founded in 1835, features hundreds of lifelike images of celebrities such as the Royal Family, British prime ministers, sporting heroes, pop stars, and many other famous historic figures such as Martin Luther King and Napoleon. The Chamber of Horrors features models of infamous murderers and displays on archaic methods of execution. There is also a section on the history of waxworks, how wax models are made and the workings of animatronics.
This much enlarged Wren mansion, was built for the Duchess of Marlborough in 1709. Murals depict Duke's victories in early 18th century. A painted ceiling by Gentileschi dates from 1636. Tours by appointment only. Tel: 020 77476491
Contains a superb collection of over 2000 paintings dating from the 13th to the 20th century. Including works by Velazquez, Hans Holbein, Leonardoda Vinci, Constable, Seurat, Rembrandt and Turner. The gallery was designed by William Wilkins and built in 1832-8.
The gallery contains some 10,000 likenesses of famous British men and women, around a 1000 of which are shown at any one time. Portraits on view include Chaucer, Oliver Cromwell, ell Gwynne, Florence Nightingale, Charles Darwin and Beatrix Potter.
A large and comprehensive collection of toys, dolls and miniature theatres, dating from Victorian times to the present day. The museum is housed in two small adjoining houses dating from 1760.
This academy of arts was founded in 1768. Exhibitions are held in Renaissance style mansion, built by the Earl of Burlington in 1664. A magnificent bronze statue of Joshua Reynolds stands in the courtyard and a grand staircase leads to the galleries. A series of free and paid-entry exhibitions are provided all year round.
Giant Ionic columns frame the entrance of this building, designed by the Adams brothers in 18th century. The primary purpose of the society is the promotion of arts.
This grand building of Portland stone, designed by William Chambers in 18th century, stands on the banks of the Thames, where its Palladian facade overlooks the river. A statue of George III stands in its vast internal courtyard. Oceanic carvings decorate the front of the building on the Strand, where the Courtauld Institute Galleries are housed. These galleries house an art collection created early this century by the textile magnate Samuel Courtauld and feature post impressionist paintings.
This old flower market houses a fine collection of costumes, props, puppets and photographs portraying the history of the theatre.
The museum was established by Sir John Soane in a house he had built for himself in 1812. It contains a collection of books, antique furniture, drawings and paintings, including Hogarth's "The Rake's Progress".
Open from Tuesday to Saturday, 10-5pm, admission free. Website
The grand statue of Admiral Horatio Nelson (1758-1805) stands aloft its 170 ft high column, in this famous square named after Nelson's naval defeat of Napoleon in 1805. The area was originally the mews for the royal hawks, then a royal stables. It was cleared in 1830 for John Nash's grand plan. At the base of the column are four bronze lions crafted by Sir Edwin Landseerin 1868. The fountains by Lutyens were added in 1939. A statue of James II stands in front of the National Gallery and to east is a statue of George Washington.
A magical museum, renowned for its 18th century French paintings and furniture, set out in palatial Hertford House. The building was constructed by the 4th Duke of Manchester in 1776 and remodeled by Sir Richard Wallace in 1872. Canalettos, Sevres porcelain, Renaissance armour and grandfather clocks are also on display. Admission Free, Open 7 days a week, 10am - 5pm Website
Designed by John Nash in 1821, the theatre has a large pedimented portico. The interior is decorated in deep blue, gold and white.
Located in a fine Georgian building with a domed hallway. Its eastern facade is decorated with Ionic pillars. The theatre has been home to many famous musicals, including Show Boat, The King and I, My Fair Lady, Hello Dolly, A Chorus Line and Miss Saigon.
This magnificent building, designed by E.M. Barry in 1858, has a pillared portico. Also a frieze of literary figures by John Flaxman survives from an earlier theatre on the same site.
Other theatres include: Adelphi Theatre, Aldwych Theatre, Ambassadors Theatre, Apollo, Apollo Victoria Theatre, Arts Theatre, Cambridge Theatre, Comedy Theatre, Criterion Theatre, Dominion Theatre, Duchess Theatre, Duke of York's Theatre, Fortune Theatre, Garrick Theatre, Gielgud Theatre, Her Majesty's Theatre, London Palladium, Lyceum Theatre, Lyric Theatre, New London Theatre, Noel Coward Theatre, Novello Theatre, Palace Theatre, Piccadilly Theatre, Phoenix Theatre, Playhouse Theatre, Prince Edward Theatre, Prince of Wales Theatre, Queen's Theatre, Savoy Theatre, Shaftesbury Theatre, St Martin's Theatre, Trafalgar Studios, Vaudeville Theatre, Victoria Palace Theatre, Wyndham's Theatre.
One of London's best pubs and recently voted London's first National Pub of the Year by CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale). Located in the heart of Covent Garden, it is a small friendly pub with a great atmosphere. It serves a wide variety of real ales, real ciders and perry. The Harp also serves food and has been given many awards, including one for its speciality local British sausages, cooked on the premises.
Location: 47 Chandos Place, Covent Garden, London, WC2N 4HS. Website
Actually two streets, Old and New Bond street, developed from late 1600s onwards. Noted for its galleries, art dealers, exclusive shops and the auctioneers Sotheby's.
A regency arcade containing many high-quality shops. Among them is famous tobacconists H. Simmons, founded in 1838. Beadles (England's smallest private police force), recruited from ex-servicemen, ensure that the old rules forbidding singing, running and the carrying of open umbrellas or large parcels are still adhered to. The Beadles, who still wear the old style gold braided top hats and Edwardian frock coats, are very knowledgeable about London and enjoy explaining the sights to visitors.
World-famous fine-art auctioneers, founded by James Christie in 1766. The firm moved to its present address in King Street in 1823. The facade of building dates from 1893-4, although rest was reconstructed after the World War II bombings. Experts value items ranging from toys to African masks. Regular auctions and public viewings throughout year.
Street performers entertain regularly in and around the restored Covent Garden Market, a lively place to stroll and shop. Restored Victorian market buildings remain on the square designed by Inigo Jones.
Fashionable restaurants and clothing shops mingle in this historic street dating from 1680s. A plaque marks the site of the house where Isaac Newton stayed.
London's wealthiest area, marked by fashionable shops and restaurants, large office blocks and luxurious fiats and apartments. Much of the original 18th century layout of streets and squares remains, though modern buildings are more prominent today.
London's most famous shopping street stretches from Marble Arch to St Giles Circus. Stores mingle with established fruit stalls and shops for souvenirs and fashion. Selfridges neoclassical department store, founded 1908, has an impressive food hall.
Piccadilly Circus is a busy crossroads where Regent Street meets Piccadilly. Here you can see the Eros statue, built as memorial to Lord Shaftesbury, designed by Alfred Gilbert in 1893.
Shops, clubs and hotels line the old highway out to western suburbs. Hatchard's bookshop founded in 1797; Simpson's classic British fashion; Fortnum and Mason department store renowned for its culinary wonders (established 1707 by one of Queen Anne's footmen, with ornate clock added 1927). Bow-fronted windows display a broad array of quality goods in Piccadilly Arcade designed by G. Thrale Jell early this century.
This broad shopping street was originally designed as the approach to Carlton House, where the Prince Regent once lived.
A high ceiling Victorian arcade in a classical style; made 'Royal' by Queen Victoria who bought her riding skirts there.
Pavement cafes give a Mediterranean air to these narrow cobbled lanes where a small market once flourished. Crewe House stands in nearby Curzon Street; designed by Edward Shepherd in 1730.
A bustling, cosmopolitan district, famous for its foreign restaurants many pubs and shops, as well as its brash nightlife.
Gerrard Street is the heart of China town and focus of the best Chinese cuisine. Ornamental gateways and benches, pagoda style telephone boxes. Grocers' stores feature exotic foodstuffs.
World-renowned fine-art auctioneers. Founded 1744 as book auctioneers by bookseller and auctioneer Samuel Baker. First Sotheby, Baker's nephew John, joined firm in 1776. Large variety of antiques sold at regular sales throughout the year.
Delightful little L-shaped street of Regency shops, constructed 1822. Black-and-white bow fronted windows as pristine as the day they were put in and balconies filled with geraniums. The eastern pavement was built well above road to protect shop fronts from fast-moving carriages. A plaque at Number 5 indicates that the Irish poet W.B. Yeats lodged there.
Three-storey houses surround this busy Georgian square, the last in Bloomsbury still intact. Central house on each side is stuccoed and plastered, while wrought-iron balconies decorate other houses.
Elegant-fronted terrace houses mix with modern buildings in this bustling 1730s square - most of it now expensive office space. The trees in the centre date from 1789.
A statue of Jacob Epstein stands on a delicate bridge joining elegant 18th century houses. Nearby lies St Peter's Chapel, built by Jarnes Gibbs in 1721.
Built between 1790s and 1820s, the square is now pedestrian precinct. A blue plaque identifies No. 21 as home of Lord Salisbury, Prime Minister. Giant columned centre pieces embellish the east and south terraces, designed by Adams brothers in 1790s. George Bernard Shaw lived at No. 29 in 1883-98 when he was the music and drama critic for several newspapers and a writer of political tracts.
A large 18th century square, once the grandest of all London addresses, and a fashionable residence of the wealthy. The American Embassy building, designed by Eero Saarinen in 1960 now dominates the square.
Brick houses surround this German style square built by the Earl of Scarborough in 1717.
Cinemas and clubs dominate this former grazing ground, where the Earl of Leicester's town house stood in the 17th century. Busts of Hogarth, Reynolds, John Hunter and Newton, and statue of Charlie Chaplin, stand in square.
Spacious square with lawns, footpaths and shady trees. Bounded on three sides by terraced rows of 18th and 19th century houses. On the fourth side is the red-brick buildings of Lincoln's Inn. Anthony Babington was hung, drawn and quartered here in 1586, for plotting to overthrow Elizabeth I. Also a pavilion in the middle, has a floor plaque marking the site of the beheading of William Lord Russell in 1683 for plotting to assassinate Charles II.
A Corinthian portico stands at the entrance to the 18th century church, and two cast-iron dogs guard the main door, added in 1940.
Fine Georgian town houses, 19th century residences and modem offices surround this square, planned by Henry Jermyn in the 17th century. A statue of William III on horseback Stands in middle of square.
The Courtauld Institute of Art is housed in an 18th century mansion at No. 20, built by Robert Adam. Nearby is the Heinz Gallery, founded 1971, which has changing exhibits of architectural drawings.
The junction of Strand and Whitehall, where the village of Charing lay in medieval times. Edward I placed a cross here in 1290, to mark a resting place of the funeral cortege of his queen, Eleanor. Eleven other crosses were erected on the route from Lincoln to London, of which only two survive in their original form. Charing Cross station is noted for its roof, a single great arch, designed by John Hawkshaw in the 19th century.
One of four Inns of Court, founded 14th century, though now mostly reconstructed. A statue of Francis Bacon stands at centre of South Square. Wrought-iron gates to the gardens date from early 18th century. Hammerbeam roof and a late 16th-century screen enhance the hall where Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors was first performed. The Chapel originating in 1315 was rebuilt 1689. The east window commemorates four archbishops of Canterbury. The many stained-glass windows were removed before the building was bombed in 1941 and rebuilt and enlarged after the war.
Elite clubs and offices occupy buildings of this street laid out during the 17th century. A pedimented portico fronts the former United Services Club, designed by John ash. Schomberg House, dating from 1698, retains its original facade.
These law courts occupy a Portland-stone building dating from 1874. The central hall has a vaulted arcade over 200 ft long and a small array of legal costumes is displayed near the entrance.
A Corinthian portico stands at the entrance to the college designed by William Wilkins in 1827. The building houses the Flaxman Sculpture Galleries and renowned Egyptian antiquities. The clothed skeleton of philosopher Jeremy Bentham is on display in the hallway.
The university colleges and institutes are housed in large modem complex, and spread throughout 18th and 19th century houses in local streets and squares.
Carlyle's House | National Army Museum | Bank of England Museum | Dr Johnson's House | Clock Museum | Mansion House | Museum of London | National Postal Museum | St Paul's | Tower Bridge | Tower of London | Wesley's House | Cutty Sark | Fan Museum | Gipsy Moth | Greenwich Park | National Maritime Museum | Royal Naval College | Royal Observatory | Baden-Powell Museum | Kensington Palace | Natural History Museum | Science Museum | Victoria & Albert Museum | London Aquarium | London Eye | Florence Nightingale Museum | Imperial War Museum | Lambeth Palace | Museum of Garden History | Clink Museum | Golden Hinde | HMS Belfast | London Dungeon | Shakespeare Globe | Tate Modern | Canary Wharf | Docklands Museum | Bell Foundry | Apsley House | Buckingham Palace | Cabinet War Rooms | Downing Street | Horse Guards | Houses of Parliament | Tate Gallery | Westminster Abbey