New Tate Gallery
Tate Modern stands at the heart of London.   I first noticed the odd looking building as I was driving by in a open-top double decker bus.   The building isn't particularly an eyecatcher if it weren't for the huge tower.

The original Bankside Power Station was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott who was also the architect of Battersea Power Station, the Liverpool Anglican cathedral and the famous British red telephone box.
The building is a remarkable combination of the old and the new.   The building consists of a brick-clad steel structure, constructed from more than 4.2 million bricks.   The height of the central chimney was limited to 325 feet (99 metres) in order to be lower than the dome of St Paul's.

On my way to Harrod's, (Who can go to London, and not go to Harrod's?)   I passed through Hyde Park where I encountered this plaque.   This is one of 90 beautiful circular plaques of the Diana Memorial Walk set into the walkways through four of London's Royal Parks.   It links three palaces and two mansions that Diana knew and liked.   The Walk itself is 7 miles long and has been described in the British press as "one of the most magnificent urban parkland walks in the world".   If you're wondering, Harrod's was crammed with people and of course, I did manage to pick up a 'few' souvenirs!   I also saw at Harrod's, the memorial that Mr Al Fayed had displayed of Diana and Dodi.   The ring that Dodi was suppposedly going to use to propose to Diana the night of the accident was displayed as were the glasses (complete with lipstick stains) that the couple had used that very night.   To me, it was tacky but if it helps Mr Al Fayed come to terms with the tragedy, then no one can really argue.
Princess Diana Memorial Walk
St James Palace
This rather plain looking building is St James Palace.   Had the double decker tour guide not pointed it out, I would have missed it.   It is one of London's oldest buildings and was built by Henry VIII.   The entrance of the gate house is guarded by two soldiers of the Royal Household Guard wearing distinctive bright red tunics with gold buttons and black 'busbie' hats. Prior to Prince Charles taking up residence following his separation from Diana, St James was the home to many Kings and Queens over the centuries.   Diana had her office here during her marriage and her son, Prince William, now has an apartment in the complex.   Following the Princess's tragic death in Paris, her body was returned here to the Palace's Chapel Royal, prior to her funeral.
Kings Cross is the London terminus of the East Coast main line.   The station was opened in 1852 and the station roof, the largest at the time, was supposedly modelled on the Czars of Moscow's riding school.   For mystery buffs, it is also rumored that Queen Boadicea is buried beneath the station on platform 8.   Today, over 40 million people pass through Kings Cross each year.   I was one of them!   It was from here that I caught my train to Leeds.

Why would I be so interested in a train station?   Read on...

King's Cross Station
Platform Nine and Three-Quarters
JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series used King's Cross station as the departure point for the Hogwarts Express steam train.   This train took children to their school, Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Magic.   Platform 9 3/4 was the magical porthole that they had to enter in order to board the train.   Regardless of the sign at King's Cross Station identifying Platform 9 3/4, it was filmed on platform 4.   Don't miss my Goathland link, it will take you to the station that doubled as Hogwarts Station in the film.

The Norman French, who had recently conquered Britain, were determined to create the longest Christian church in the world.   St. Paul's Cathedral was finished in 1240.   The cathedral was consecrated in 1300 - more than 200 years after it was started.

Following the execution of Charles I in 1649, the country became less respectful towards the established Church.   Many places of worship became run down and Old St Paul's was no exception.   Horses were stabled in the chancel.   The nave was used as a marketplace and a road ran through the transepts.   When the monarchy was restored in 1660, the new King, Charles II, threw out the traders and began to return the scarred cathedral to its former status.   Just 35 years later the cathedral was finished, making it the first English Cathedral to be completed in the lifetime of the original architect.   Standing over 355 feet in height the Cathedral is constructed from stone that was chosen for its good carving and weathering qualities brought all the way from the royal quarries on the Isle of Portland in Dorset.   Nelson's tomb, Wellington's tomb and Christopher Wren's tomb are all in the crypt.   Charles and Diana were also married at St. Paul's.

St. Paul's Cathedral

Trafalgar Square
London's most famous square was laid out in 1829 to 1841 to commemorate Nelson's victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.   Dominating the square, on a column that is 185 feet high, is the 17 foot high statue of Nelson himself.   Around the base of the column are the four giant bronze lions by Landseer.   Around the sides of the square are the church of St Martin's in the Fields (left) and the National Gallery (right) which houses one of the world's richest collections of paintings.

My next stop was Yorkshire.

Exploring London

Exploring Yorkshire

Related Links
2003-2006 My Travel Diary