A Tudor Tower, Oranges and Lemons, a Gothic wonder, and the magnificent British Museum

The Sutton Hoo Helmet at the British Museum, by Don Brown

The Sutton Hoo Helmet at the British Museum, by Don Brown

Statue of Memnon, by Don Brown

Statue of Memnon, by Don Brown

About Don Brown

Don Brown on Twitter @donbrownlondon
Email don@donbrown.london, or use the contact form on Don’s website
Website www.donbrown.london
All bookings are made under the British Guild of Tourist Guides terms and conditions.


St Clement Danes Church with Katy Clarke

Church of St Clement Danes, by Katy Clarke

Church of St Clement Danes, by Katy Clarke

Phone +44 7982 868 963
Website www.untoldmorsels.com
Email  katy@untoldmorsels.com
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/untoldmorsels
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/untoldmorsels
Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/untoldmorsels
Twitter @UntoldMorsels


St Pancras Station with Jean Jacyna

My top heritage hotspot is a railway-related one in the London Borough of Camden,  St Pancras Station. You can’t visit St Pancras without noticing that wonderful, enormous red-bricked building – the ‘cathedral of the railways’, the grand Midland Railway terminus built during the 1860s.

It had a problematic beginning. The area was full of slums to be pulled down, there was the Regent’s Canal to negotiate and part of an ancient churchyard full of bodies to be dug up and interred somewhere else.

Thankfully, William Henry Barlow, the finest engineer of the day, provided a solution by building a bridge over the canal and churchyard to raise the platforms 18 feet above street level. Beneath the station he installed a huge ‘undercroft’ warehouse to store large beer barrels brought in from Burton-on-Trent. The roof of his train shed, known as the Barlow shed was once the largest single-span railway structure in the world.

St Pancras Renaissance Hotel next to St Pancras Station, by Jean Jacyna

St Pancras Renaissance Hotel next to St Pancras Station, by Jean Jacyna

To complement the station, the greatest architect of the day, George Gilbert Scott, designed the red brick Midland Grand Hotel. The poet Sir John Betjeman described it as ’a sudden burst of exuberant Gothic’ which sums it up perfectly! It was among the first to have ‘ascending rooms’ or lifts and electric bells. Built using the finest materials, it had every facility, even a ladies’ smoking room.

Unfortunately, there were too many bedrooms and not enough bathrooms; installing new pipework would have been too costly. It closed and was taken over by the Midland Railway as offices.

Thankfully it has been restored as the Renaissance London Hotel for us to enjoy. It has a sumptuous interior.

Sir John Betjeman, the Poet Laureate, fought to save the station in the 1960s when it was threatened with closure. There’s a bronze statue of him inside the station raising his famous trilby hat and also a pub named after him in his honour. The station was only 10 days away from the wrecking ball when Sir John’s efforts saved it.

Now called St Pancras International with high-speed Eurostar trains to Paris and Belgium via the Channel Tunnel, the station is a very grand departure and arrival point for passengers when they step on or off the train. It’s also a great place to visit!

More information: “A brief history of St Pancras” on stpancras.com

About Jean Jacyna and the Camden Tour Guides Association

Jean is a qualified Camden Tour Guide who offers walks around Hampstead, Fitzrovia, Kings Cross & St Pancras, Hatton Garden, Bloomsbury and Holborn to name a few areas.

She also writes a blog called Capital Jaunts, which gives a flavour of the parts of London that are sometimes out of the way of the usual tourist attractions.

Jean on Twitter: @tuttiflutey
Capital Jaunts website: jloisa.wordpress.com

Camden Tour Guides Association is a member organisation of qualified guides who research, develop and conduct walking tours and lectures on all things Camden!

Camden Tour Guides website: camdenguides.com

Canonbury Tower with Joanna Moncrieff

One of my favourite places to guide in is Canonbury Tower. It has a fascinating and intriguing history and we are never going to know all its secrets.

The Tudor Tower is only 5 minutes’ walk from Upper Street but you could easily walk past without noticing it.

Canonbury Tower, by Dave Brown

Canonbury Tower, by Dave Brown

However it really is worth noticing as its history goes back to the 1500s. Owned by the Compton family for over 400 years. The current owner, Spencer Compton, 7th Marquess of Northampton, has recently granted access for Clerkenwell & Islington Guides to lead twice monthly tours inside the Tower.

The Tower is the most substantial part left of what used to be Canonbury House built for the canons of St Bartholomew’s Priory as their country retreat in the 1500s.

There are many stories associated with the building. One such improbable tale involves a rich imprisoned heiress escaping from the Tower in a bread basket to marry her poor lover followed by a reunion with her estranged father, stage-managed by Elizabeth I. The tale may be improbable but it was as a result of the daughter’s marriage to the destitute lover William Compton that the Tower came into the Compton family’s ownership.

Our 90-minute tour takes you into the amazing oak panelled rooms which date from the 1600s, where we tell you about former residents of the Tower including Thomas Cromwell, Francis Bacon, Oliver Goldsmith and for a short period the American author Washington Irving. Irving was writing a biography of Goldsmith and hoped to get inspiration by staying in Goldsmith’s former home.

There are also unexplained bullet holes and a curious royal timeline which dates from the time of Charles I. If only walls could talk ….

The Tower is only accessible via tours which take place twice a month on weekdays. More details and booking links can be found here: Eventbrite listing for Canonbury Tower tours. I will be leading the tour on 22nd March (2017).

About Joanna Moncrieff

London Tour Guide Joanna Moncrieff

London Tour Guide Joanna Moncrieff

Joanna Moncrieff qualified as a City of Westminster Tour Guide in 2009 and then in 2015 qualified as a Clerkenwell and Islington Guide gaining a diploma from The University of Westminster. Her website is Westminster Walks.

Joanna Moncrieff of Westminster Walks, London Tour Guide.
Website URL: http://westminsterwalks.london/
Walks coming up with Joanna in St James’s, Covent Garden and Soho  can be found on Eventbrite
URL for the full link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/joanna-moncrieff-footprints-of-london-6750753789

For more London Heritage Hotspots and the people who know them best, use the Magic Button to subscribe. It’s on the right, up top.

2 thoughts on “A Tudor Tower, Oranges and Lemons, a Gothic wonder, and the magnificent British Museum

What do you think?