City of Westminster – the Richest Place in LondonPosted by Jerrard Romanoff in Guides, on December 30, 2015
There is little doubt that Westminster contains some of the most iconic places in London. But are you sure that you know all the little (and big) secrets of the place? Let’s take a guided tour in some of the better (and lesser) known places in the borough:
- Aldwych is a residential and commercial area that is comparatively small for the standards of the capital. It is actually just a single street, along a portion of the A4 road, but it contains some of the most iconic and commercially important institutions in the history of London – the the High Commissions of India and Australia in London – the India and Australia houses respectively, the famous Waldorf Hilton Hotel and Bush House – former home of BBC World Services.
- Lisson Grove is located between Lord’s Cricket Ground in St John’s Wood. The Grade II Listed Victorian 1897 public house Crocker’s Folly and Fisherton Estate Conservation Area are two major architectural landmarks here, but it is the theatres and music halls that brought Lisson Grove into public attention. No other but Charlie Chaplin was on the board of The Royal West London Theatre ever since he was a teenager, Cockpit Theatre is the most famous theatre of ideas in London, and the Metropolitan Music Hall was a favorite entertainment venue for Londoners from the Victorian era.
- Every big city in the world has a Chinatown, but few can be compared with London’s Chinatown, which is located within Westminster. It is not where the original residence of the capital’s Chinese community was, but everyone would agree that the current Chinatown is much better off where it is. Instead of reputed for its opium slumhouses, it is now a major shopping area and tourist attraction.
- Charing Cross can be found in the description of every London area. The reason for that is that traditionally distances in the metropolis are measured from the Charing Cross The name of the district comes from the Eleanor Cross, erected by King Edward I in memory of his wife, Eleanor of Castile. Today however, on the place of the cross there is a large statue of Charles I. Charing Cross station is probably the most famous train station in London, a busy point for commuters as well as a landmarks with many cultural references. Over 40 million people use the station on an annual basis while travelling to and from London.
- If you want to experience the true beauty of Regent Architecture and see the pure aesthetic reasons garden squares have been extensively built in London, then you should definitely drop by Pimlico. Because of its magnificent architecture and long historical importance, Pimlico is now a Conservation area, containing as many as 350 Grade II listed buildings, including but not limited to Dolphin Square, Tate Britain, Pimlico School, Churchill Gardens, Art Moderne, and the Anglican Churches of St Gabriel’s, St Saviour and St James the Less.
- Today Soho is a small, multi-cultural area that contains both poorer and richer parts, though recent developments lead to substantial gentrification in nearly all its parts. In the past Soho was the place to be if you are looking for nighttime entertainment – from bars to strip clubs and stores selling pornographic materials. Today however most of those are gone and Soho has become more of a business and residential area. Many independent film production and post-production companies are based in Soho, making it an important place for the British and world film industry as a whole. And, believe it or not, bearing in mind its reputation, Soho is home to some pretty fine historical churches as well – St Anne’s, St Patrick’s and the French Protestant Church of London, among others.
- Paddington is most famous for its station, which gives the name of the beloved children book character – Paddington Bear, which is the protagonist of two recent and very successful Hollywood productions as well. Due to its central location, for a long time Paddington was the place where many famous people lived – from Prince Louis Lucien Bonaparte to Lucian Freud, actresses Emma Thompson and Rhona Mitra, and singer-song-writer Elvis Costello.
- Maida Vaile is primarily a residential district quite near the famous Regent’s Canal. If you want to see what late Victoriana and Edwardian large houses and mansions looked like, then you should definitely drop by here. Maida Vaile was also home to the famous BBC Maida Vale studios, which saw the productions of such iconic programs as the BBC Symphony Orchestra concerts, the John Peel sessions and many more. BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 6 Music are all based here. Maida Vaile Studios have been serving the country for well over 80 years now.
- Another rather iconic part of Westminster is St John’s Wood. It is one of the most affluent districts of the capital and it has been so for centuries. So it is little wonder that the list of notable local residents can go on forever. Some of them include painter William Powell Frith, Princess Marie-Esméralda of Belgium, model Kate Moss, Keith Richards and the entire Rolling Stones at one time, Middlesex and West Indian cricketer Wayne Daniel, Tony Hicks and controversial socialite and Guinness beer brand heiress Daphne Diana Joan Susanna Guinness among many others.
- If you are looking for a truly exclusive area in London then it should be Mayfair. Lined with boutiques and high-end restaurants, expensive residential properties and aristocratic atmosphere, Mayfair is really nothing less than the epitome of class. If you visit the place as a tourist, in addition to simply looking around, make sure to drop by Handel Museum House. The museum is dedicated, of course, to the life and works of the German-born baroque composer George Frideric Handel, who made his home in London in 1712 and eventually became a British citizen in 1727 and is one of the finest institutions of its kind in London.