On a warm morning last July, Ed and I returned to London from our marvelous foray into East Anglia. Ed was still worried about his sore foot and not too enthused about running around in London for the rest of our trip. So we decided to stay close to “home” for the afternoon. On our way out of the King’s Cross RR Station we saw this cute display of Platform 9 3/4 where the students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry leave London in the Harry Potter books.
Outside, the Northern Hotel, next to Kings Cross has been attractively renovated.
St. Pancras Station
And next door to King’s Cross and the Northern Hotel is St. Pancras, now the terminal for the Eurostar trains to Paris and Brussels. As such, it has caused a dramatic gentrification in the neighborhood. Almost all the buildings nearby along Euston Road were wrapped in scaffolding and cranes pierced the skies everywhere. We saw many signs for the offices of international conglomerates.
through the traffic to Chalton Street
We found several pubs and bistros on Chalton Street beside our hotel, and I wondered how long this thoroughfare of little shops and newsstands could withstand the pressure of rising prices and new construction all around. Seems sad they might have to move and be replaced by the same chains one sees in Piccadilly. That’s the down side of gentrification.
St. Pancras Hotel
The upside of gentrification is the renovation of great old buildings like the Northern Hotel and the St. Pancras Hotel. a fantasy of Victorian wretched excess that is quite charming for all its Neo-Gothic extremes. Here are a few shots of the exterior décor.
I assume the Hotel, a very posh place, has antidotes to nightmares caused by these gargoyles. The architect of the hotel, opened originally in 1868 as the Midland Grand Hotel, was Sir George Gilbert Scott (1811-1878), who is also responsible for the Albert Memorial in Hyde Park and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Whitehall at King Charles Street. Sir George would be proud of the restoration I am sure. Although we could hardly afford to stay there, we did enjoy a wonderful luncheon in the restaurant called “The Booking Office.”
Vicky, Rev. Susan, Dr. Jim, and Ed
View from Pullman St. Pancras Hotel of the British Library (foregro
and the St. Pancras Hotel and Station in Euston Road
Exhibit in the British Library
In the courtyard of the BL, an people were enjoying the warm afternoon, sipping cool drinks, reading, talking and/or checking their mobiles. We visited the Propaganda exhibit, then walked around the permanent exhibit where there are copies of the Magna Carta, ancient maps, the Beatles’ songs, Jane Austen’s desk, and other fascinating manuscripts and objects.
Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820)
by sculptor Anne Seymour Damer
Among the busts of the Library Founders.
In the gift/book shop
Looking at our tall hotel from the BL Courtyard
The Elizabeth Garret Anderson Hospital
A little farther west on Euston Road, near Euston Station, is the building above, which was built by Britain’s first woman physician and surgeon. It has become part of the new National Headquarters for the public service trade union Unison. Elizabeth Garret Anderson’s life story is fascinating. Check it out here.
Two more neighborhood institutions were well worth our visit.
The St. Pancras Church at the corner of Euston Road and Upper Woburn Place was constructed in 1819-1822 and designed by architect William Inwood and his son, Henry Inwood.
The building was modeled on two Athens landmarks from the Acropolis: the Tower of the Winds and the Erechtheum, the latter with its Ionic columns and the Porch of the Caryatids.
Porch of the Caryatids
The Apse, St. Pancras Church
The final neighborhood attraction we visited was the fascinating premises of the Wellcome Collection. The objects displayed were acquired by Sir Henry Wellcome (1845-1936), who explored the relationship of art, medicine, and the human body.
beakers, two of 100’s
A Chastity Belt of iron and velvet
The Wellcome Collection advertises itself as “the free destination for the incurably curious.” Ed ad I found this a perfect description of the odd assortment of items in the museum. Also part of the Wellcome Trust are educational organizations and a medical library. If you are looking for the unusual in London, you will find it here.
We enjoyed this Euston Road neighborhood, with its diverse institutions and attractions.
View of the City from the Pullman Hotel, St. Paul’s Cathedral at the far right in the distance
My visit to the Wellington Arch is coming soon.