Victoria's Day One in London, Part One

After our two weeks in the Czech Republic and Germany last July, my husband Ed and I flew to London.  I had been preparing for months to cram our days in England with a maximum of activity. But Ed was of another mind.  He was limping on a very sore foot, and no matter what advice the Boots pharmacist gave us, the only way Hubby was comfortable was sitting down. Or prone on the mattress.

I was undeterred.  We checked into our hotel, the Pullman London St. Pancras, 100 Euston Rd.  On my various trips to London, I try to find hotels in different parts of the city, so I can get to know more of various neighborhoods.  Until recently, the Pullman was part of the French chain, Novotel; it’s had extensive renovation since its purchase by the Pullman chain. It is located immediately west of the British Library which is just west of the St. Pancras Hotel and Station, where the Eurostar operates.  Above, looking east from our floor.

The little bistro where we had dinner featured a gnome on the table.  LOL.
Alongside the hotel, Charlton Street has an abundance of pubs, bistros and other small shops, many of which I suspect are under some threat from the extensive gentrification going on around there.  Since the Eurostar moved to St. Pancras, the entire neighborhood has been upgrading, with all the positive and negative features of the process. 
Before leaving for Cambridge, we had one full day in London. In the morning, we started by taking the tube to Charing Cross station and waving our greetings to Charles I as he looks down Whitehall.
Charles I
The bronze statue has an interesting history. Charles I (1600-49) took the throne of England after the death of the first Stuart King, his father James I, in 1625.  Hubert Le Sueur, a French sculptor, cast the statue in 1648, but before it was erected, the Civil War broke out and Charles I was beheaded.  The statue was sold for scrap, but the purchaser never broke it down, instead hiding it until after the Restoration in 1660 when Charles II was welcomed back as the new monarch. Charles II purchased the statue of his father and had it installed where it now stands, looking toward the site of his beheading in front of the Banqueting House, about halfway down Whitehall toward Parliament.
At the junction of The Strand and Whitehall
Charles I is behind the traffic light at the right
As Ed limped along, we made our way to Horse Guards.
“We’ve been there before,:” he reminded me, as if I needed to be told.
“Yes,” I replied, thinking if you only knew how many times.  “But we’ve never been to the Household Cavalry Museum.”
“Do they have places to sit down?” he said between clenched teeth.
“Of course,” I said, not really knowing if there was anything resembling a bench within 500 feet of the place.
Horse Guards on Whitehall
I tried to divert Ed from his painful left foot by pointing out the Palladian style of the building, completed in 1753  to the plans of William Kent.  “Remember the Kent name,” I said to Ed.  “We’ll run into him later in Norfolk.”
Ed looked skeptical.  “I thought we were in Kent a couple of years ago. What do you mean, run into him?”
“This time I mean William Kent, the 18th century architect, not the English county.  And definitely nor the cigarette brand I remember from college.” 
 Ed shrugged. 
Entering Horse Guards
Museum Poster at the gate
Though I’d visited many times, I had not known about the museum until Kristine and Greg went there (click here) and I had no idea where it was, though I didn’t dare admit it at that moment, not wanting to drag Ed one more step than he needed to make… but what was this?  In the place of the two red-coated guards always on either side of the gate, were riders in Black jackets. What was going on?

For a moment I wondered where I was,  But there were crowds of people pouring into the parade grounds behind the building.  Something was up.  We followed along and sure enough, there was a group of horses and riders in formation.

I think Ed even forgot his aching foot for a few minutes as we watched other riders join in. Below, the bugler arrives.



A good shot of the back of the uniforms.
There were scads of tourists and hundreds, perhaps thousands of cameras clicking away.  The riders formed up in a line headed by an officer.  Nothing more happened except that the horses stamped and tossed their heads. The riders stayed as motionless as possible.


Horse Guards Parade is the location of the annual Trooping the Color when the Queen reviews the Household Cavalry; it was the tiltyard for jousting of the old Palace of Westminster. During the 2012 Olympics, it was the scene of the Beach Volleyball competition.


Beach Volleyball at Horse Guards Parade, 2012


2nd Footguards on parade, by John Chapman, 18th Century
Quite a contrast among the views of Horse Guards, isn’t there?  I was happy to say that it showed no bad effects from the Olympics — looked just the same as it had the last time I saw it for the Trooping of the Color in 2011.  For that story, start by clicking here.

Household Cavalry Museum Entrance

As we stood there watching the unmoving tableau, I looked around for a place for Ed to sit and rest his foot.   Aha!!  The Museum entrance.  Certainly they’d have a bench!

In the next adventure, we solve the mystery of the unusual uniforms on the riders and complete our visit to Horse Guards.  And does Ed find a place to sit??  Coming soon.




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