Central London is awash with historic landmarks and hugely significant attractions that have helped shape the capital.
If you’re staying at the Park Grand Paddington Court London, many of these historical places are just a few minutes’ walk away.
It’s entirely possible that you will come through Paddington Station on your way to the Park Grand Paddington Court London, so you can get started on your historical sightings straight away.
The station provides the namesake for everyone’s (okay, some people’s) favourite fictional bear, and consequently, a statue of the lovable bear from deepest darkest Peru – created by Marcus Cornish and based on the original drawings by Peggy Fortnum – is located under the clock on platform one.
Millions of people visit this magnificent 350-acre outdoor space every year, and with good reason: it is home to many famous landmarks – from the Serpentine Lake that separates the park’s west and east halves, to Speaker’s Corner, where social and political speakers can air their views on issues of the day.
Just below the lake is the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain, which comprises 545 pieces of Cornish granite to form an oval shape to reflect Diana’s life. Water flows from the fountain’s highest point in two directions, cascading and bubbling before meeting in a calm pool at the bottom. A children’s playground in Diana’s memory was also set up in the north-west of the park.
Hyde Park is also home to a permanent memorial to the victims of the 7/7 bombings in 2005 on the far-east of the park. Some 52 stainless steel pillars standing at 3.5 metres high represent each of the 52 victims. They are grouped together in four inter-linking clusters reflecting the four locations of the incidents.
Continue a little further past Hyde Park and you’ll soon arrive at Buckingham Palace – the main royal residence since 1837.
It is used by the Queen for many official events and although many of the Palace’s 775 rooms are off-limits to the general public, visitors can view the palace’s State Rooms in the summer.
If you’re in the area around mid-morning, you should try to secure a spot in front of the Palace gates to witness the unique Changing the Guard.
Dating back to 1660, it is considered the ultimate display of British pomp and pageantry and takes place at 11.30am every day between April and July, then alternate days for the rest of the year.
Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament
This 96-metre-high clock tower on the north bank of the River Thames is one of the London’s most defining features and a must-see for any London tourist.
When people say ‘Big Ben’, they’re typically referring to the clock tower, but Big Ben is actually the main bell that chimes to mark a new hour. The tower itself was officially renamed as Elizabeth Tower to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012.
If you are a UK resident, you can get in touch with your local Members of Parliament (MP) to arrange a trip up the tower to see the bell in person.
The Houses of Parliament – or the Palace of Westminster as they’re also known – is considered to be the heart of British politics with elected MPs representing their interests and concerns in the House of Commons.
Guided tours lasting 90 minutes take you into Westminster Hall, the Queen’s Robing Room and Commons Chamber and are available throughout the year, but they’re subject to variation to cater for parliamentary business.