London, the Townhouse of Downton Abbey's Lord Grantham and the Exterior of Buckingham Palace  

Posted by Heidi


There is a lot of gilding in London and this photo demonstrates why:  it is meant to replace the glow of the sun.  Or maybe it just looks spectacular against a gray sky.  I spent some time admiring this treasure, along with many others, during our rainy coach tour of the city. 


A coach tour involves a coach.  In the U.S. we would call it a bus but in the U.K., a bus is public transportation whereas a coach is privately hired.  It also involves windows, some cleaner than others.  In this case it involved some round black thingies stuck on the window above every seat.  A very annoying, round, black thing that ended up in a lot of my photos.  Phooey!  But this townhouse was so beautiful and so LONDON that I had to take it's picture.




Despite the rain and the window and the black spots (and my daughter's head and her camera in her hand raised to take the same photo) I was compelled to take many, many pictures.  For thirty minutes I feverishly attempted to photo every beautiful thing I saw; and then I gave up.  Just one half hour into the official 9 day tour and I had to admit defeat.  There was just too much to record in London and I would have a nervous breakdown if I didn't let it go.  (And, yet, I still took more than twice as many photos during this 18 day tour through England and Scotland than I did during the 13 day trip to Ireland last year.)  (Brace yourselves, people.)


Detail of the building on the right.

Detail of the building on the left.  Note the flower boxes--there was times, especially in Scotland, that these were the only indicators that summer had descended on the British Isles.



The white buildings are generally Georgian, having been built sometime during the reign of number one of the four George's from 1714 until Victoria's reign starting in 1837.  Though there was a William in between, the Georgian architecture was "it" until around the 1850s.  The red brick buildings were generally built during the reign of Queen Victoria through 1901. 



The Gothic arches, the Doric columns, the contrast of the undulating curves coupled with the straight poles of the black railings all make my heart sing. 


Though I did not realize it at the time, we had driven from our hotel in Bayswater, which was across the street from one side of Kensington Gardens (see my post on having tea at the Orangery at Kensington) to Kensington on the other side of the gardens.  This is where we saw this amazing monument to Queen Victoria's husband and consort, Prince Albert.  Officially known as the Prince Consort National Memorial, it was unveiled in 1872 (though Albert wasn't seated until 1875) and is one of the most ornate monuments in all of London.  See the large gilded figure!  See the 187 smaller but still massive figures, 169 of them carved into the Parnassus frieze! 

If the sun had been shining, these photos would be bright with glittering gold. 



This memorial is 176 feet tall and in today's money would have cost ten million dollars.  Ten. Million. TEN. (She really loved that man.)


Another photo of a building through the glass and rain.  After this, I either gave up or we got out; I can't remember which came first.



We DID get out and I am so glad that we did.  Up ahead is a house that sits where anyone can walk right up to it.


It sports a ton of these cherub lights--how I would have loved to take one home with me in my suitcase. 



It is more than just a St. James Square Georgian townhouse--it is a London great house, the façade of which is used to represent the London home of Lord Grantham of Downton Abbey.  Just right there.  Where anyone could walk up and touch it.  (I didn't.  Why ever not?)


It was so impressive and kind of awe-inspiring that I didn't even bother to take a photo of the house just two doors down--that which is often referred to as Clarence House, the residence of Prince Charles and Camilla. (What was I thinking?)


This is the side yard of Lord Grantham's pretend house.  I wish I could remember whose house it is in reality.  A google search yielded nothing, though a better googler than I would probably get it figured out.


Then we drove over to Buckingham Palace.  Again, just right there.  You can walk right up to the gates, which are fairly close to what is a royal residence, and hang out as long as you like.  We would have kitten fits here in the U.S. if anyone got that close to the White House without paying and being officially guided about.  I was also surprised by how close everything is to everything else and how little space there is around the palace. 


The memorial topped by the stupendous golden angel is called The Queen Victoria Memorial; it was built after her death.  It is 27 feet high and made of 2,300 tons of white Carrara (beautiful, expensive, Irish) marble.  It was not completed until 1924, twenty-three years after Victoria's death. 



The figures around the sides represent courage, constancy, victory, charity and truth.  I never made it to one of the four sides.  I was sad, also, that I didn't get a photo of the whole building at once but it was crowded and raining the risk of having one's eye put out by an umbrella loomed large.









There are four Dominion gates that surround the area:  Canada, Australia, South and West Africa.  I believe the two fellows above guard one of the Africa gates.


These photos are of the front gates and various stonework at the front of the palace.



I was very much enamored of the Canada gate.  I am not sure but I think it was much bigger than the other three.  The tall, white V's are for hanging the flags--when there are no flags, that means the Queen is not in residence. 


The gardens are spectacular.  They require ten people two weeks to plant using 22,500 plants.  These are currently comprised of scarlet geraniums, salvias, spider plants and weeping figs.





A closer view of the Canada gate.




This lady guards the left side of the Canada gate.  After about half an hour of taking photographs, we were rewarded with a changing of the guard.  Not so fun as when the Bearskins are on guard, but it was still impressive.  Next time, Big Ben, St. Paul's, the London Eye, and the Royal Horseguards Hotel, one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen. 

This entry was posted on Monday, August 10, 2015 at Monday, August 10, 2015 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

1 wise, witty and wonderful comments

Oh, Heidi, I am SO enjoying your photos. What an amazing trip. Love your witty commentary, too. And as a proud Canadian, am suitably impressed by the Canada gate! Thanks for sharing your travels with us!

August 11, 2015 at 7:12 AM

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