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London Dreams: New Weekly Column About London – Our Favorite Place in London, Articles to Read and More!

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Welcome to London Dreams. This is the first in a new weekly column from me at Londontopia. I want to write more personal articles about London. Most of our articles are historical in nature or travel related – we don’t have much opportunity to share how we really feel about London. This column is a new concept and I’m sure it will evolve over the coming weeks and months. Essentially, we’re going to use this as a platform to discuss ‘Londony’ things. What that means, exactly, well, you shall see! We’ll also share interesting London finds we come across and share relevant articles we’ve read in the last week. We hope this turns into something you’re sure to read every week.

So, without further ado – let’s talk about my favorite place in London.

Recently, I was compiling a list of my favorite things in London and one thing that stumped me was my most favorite place in London. I had to think about that one! It’s like picking which if your children you prefer over the others. My eventual conclusion?

Trafalgar Square is my favorite place in London.

When looking back at all the trips we’ve taken over the years, there’s one place we return to more often than others. And it’s what is essentially London’s front porch. After the area was pedestrianized in the early 2000s, Trafalgar Square became a center of celebrations (and protests) in London. It’s where London’s Christmas tree goes. It’s where people go to celebrate a big event.

But more than that, I love the square itself. I’m a history enthusiast and I greatly respect Horatio Nelson – the man at the top of the column in the center of the square. He represents the best of British historical figures. If I was making a ranking, I would place him after Churchill in British historical importance. He certainly was not a perfect man, but most historical figures are not perfect. They’re human. It’s fitting that the square is named after and is a tribute to his most important achievement, defeating the French at the Battle of Trafalgar.

London Dreams: New Weekly Column About London – Our Favorite Place in London, Articles to Read and More!

Even the name: Trafalgar, evokes a certain amount of gravitas. It’s not even an English place name, but it has become one thanks to the quirks of history. Nelson stands at the top of his monument – and it’s really cool that it’s the ‘final’ Nelson – blind in one eye and missing an arm – they did not sugarcoat him – gazing directly at the Houses of Parliament and towards the sea, his true home.

It’s not just what’s in the square or what it means historically, there are several things around the square that have played an important role in my ‘London’ travel life. Perched behind Nelson is, of course, The National Gallery, one of the finest art museums in the world, home to some of the most famous works of art ever created. But I most particularly love that it’s home to Britain’s most famous and loved paintings like the Hay Wain by John Constable and the landscapes of JMW Turner. And it’s all free to the public. You can walk in whenever it’s open, and go look at your favorite painting completely for free (and crucially without a line to wait in). My local art museum, The Art Institute of Chicago, charges exorbitant admission fees to get in, so I can only go admire the great works there when money allows. When I’m in London, I can go look at world-class art, whenever I want, completely for free.

Then there’s St Martin in the Field’s church across the way from the National Gallery. This beautiful old Neoclassical church is a feast for the eyes. But it’s also home to a world-class music program and one of the best things you can do if you’re in London is to take in a musical performance in the church. The acoustics are wonderful and Jackie and I have been on some of our best nights out in this church.

Trafalgar Square is a great place to pass through on your way to somewhere else in London. Get a sandwich form a nearby takeaway and have a seat and watch London go by. See the tourists from all over the world enjoying the most beautiful spot in London. Watch London live its life as it passes through the square on its way to other places. And when Big Ben returns to service, enjoy looking at that and listening to the chimes when they return.

What do you love about Trafalgar Square? What’s your favorite place in London? Let us know in the comments below.

London Shows I Watched in the Last Week

Paddington Station 24/7 Christmas Special

Paddington Station 24/7 is one of my favorite current British TV shows. It’s a fly on the wall documentary about the staff that runs Paddington Station and the Great Western Railway. I love trains and the show is always fascinating. They aired a ‘Christmas Special’ over the holiday season that showed the station dealing with the holiday crush – and then the surreality of the station and lines being closed for Christmas engineering works. Unfortunately, none of the US streaming services currently offer it (attention BritBox, please get this show!). Here’s the official Website.

What I read about London in the Last Week

One of my favorite London blogs is Spitalfields Life, which chronicles the history and life of this area of London. ‘The Gentle Author,’ as the writer is known, finds the most remarkable things to post. Every day he posts something amazing. Here’s two from the last week – if you don’t follow this blog – you totally should.

The Sights of Wonderful London

Spitalfields in Colour

Bandersnatch

A Black Mirror Bandersnatch Pop Up Shop has appeared on Old Street in London. You can’t go in. But still very cool! Londonist has the details.

Aerial London

The folks over at Londonist have a great picture post of areal photos of London from one of my favorite London Photographers – Jason Hawkes. Well worth a look!

Crossrail’s Problems

London’s getting a new railway line. Eventually. Crossrail/Elizabeth made news late last year by announcing that its opening would be delayed. No one was surprised. But Crossrail has run into some interesting engineering and cultural problems in getting this state of the art railway online. The fantastic London transport blog London Reconnections has two excellent long reads into what’s gone wrong. If you’re interested in London transport – they’re good reads.

Crossrail: The Dangerous Sound of Silence

Crossrail: Getting a Grip

jonathan
Author: jonathan

Jonathan is a consummate Anglophile who launched Anglotopia.net in 2007 to channel his passion for Britain. Londontopia is its sister publication dedicated to everything London.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. Jonathan, Trafalgar Square is also one of my fav place in London. Also richmond park I love visiting these two places often.

    Also I love the way you writes, I have read few of your articles on anglotopia.net.

    Keep it up

  2. I like the Cafe in the Crypt in St. Martin’s in the Field. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, it’s a great spot to have a cup of coffee and the food is reasonably priced.

  3. Great article! I love St Martin in the Field’s! It is a very beautiful little church and you are right, the music there is just amazing. We saw Vivaldi’s Four seasons performed there by a sting quartet and it was just absolutely incredible. And of course the cafe in the lower church is very good. 🙂

  4. Great article! And oh, you are so correct. How do you choose a favorite place in London? Of course the great cathedrals are favorites for many, but London has so many smaller neighborhood/parish churches to explore as well. I think my two favorites are Brompton Oratory for it’s ornate beauty, and Temple Church for its simplicity and amazing off-the-beaten path location.

  5. I love everything about London…but if I have to commit to a favourite, it would be the Tower. Just seeing it in a picture sends a shiver of delight down my spine! At every visit, I’m sure I can feel the history – and the emotion – that resonates from the buildings and spaces within. Not to mention the Tower ravens and Yeoman Warders add a lot of colour and personality too!

  6. Hi Jonathan,

    you forgot the smallest police station in the world. It was (and still is) inside one of the pillars almost on the corner next to the vendor carts selling souvenirs.
    One morning years ago I arrived too early for the Nat Gallery opening. It was a fresh Spring morning, sun shining and I sat in TS and it was literally me and the pigeons. I had that whole square to myself. Unbelievable. A great memory. Last visit in June 2018 it was the weekend of the free West End Theatre performances and so the whole square was blocked off with temporary seating for thousand so I did not get to sit and enjoy this time.

    I love the Café Crypt in St. Martin’s in the Fields. Went to hear Mozart requiem in the church in June. Also I love the National Portrait Gallery around the corner. The view from their top floor café down Whitehall is great.

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