Art Holiday Travel and Vacation information for London

"The metropolis of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland . . . extends from Woolwich and Bow to Fulham and Hammersmith, and from Highgate to Norwood, including the cities of London and Westminster, with their liberties, and the towns, parishes, &c. &c. which cover this vast area. The streets of the city, with the exception of the great thoroughfares, are for the most part narrow and irregular; but the main lines of traffic and communication are wide and noble, as are the more recently built parts of this enormous city. . .The public edifices are innumerable, and for magnificence may vie with those of any city in the world. . . The prodigious docks, with their immense bonding-warehouses . . . convey the notion of wealth and commerce completely stupendous. . . By means of the river, London ranks as the first port of the kingdom. . . The squares, which are usually ornamentally planted, are of great advantage to some districts, in regard to health. But the parts of the metropolis inhabited by the poorer classes, are yet the prolific sources of disease; and the retention of Smithfield market and the slaughter-houses in the very heart of London must also be noticed as a heavy drawback on the health, safety, and even morality of the city. . . The city of London is under the control of a corporation, of enormous wealth; whose practical inefficiency, and steadfast resistance of all reformation or change, are matters of painful notoriety. Population, London (within the walls), 54,626; (without the walls), 70,382. Total metropolitan, 1,873,676." (From Barclay's Complete and Universal English Dictionary, 1842.)

One of the great things about London is that almost everything worth visiting or looking at is concentrated in the relatively small centre, and it seems likely that in the next year or two more of the central tourist places will be closed to most traffic. We have divided this centre into a few general areas which are easy for most people to walk across, so that the places we describe in each of these are close enough to walk between (and so that we can give a thumb-nail sketch of the character of that area).

In existence since Roman times, London has been England's capital since the reign of William the Conqueror, who commissioned the building of the Tower of London as a symbol of his authority and established his court at Westminster. The city gradually grew, expanding at a tremendous rate during the 17th century when villages such as Chelsea, Islington, Kensington, Hampstead and Highgate were swallowed up. The advent of the railways in Victorian times heralded another period of exceptional growth, leaving the London postal area much as it is today. Historic London covers the entire spectrum of its existence. Westminster Abbey and the Tower date from the 11th century, and the Monument and St Pauls Cathedral from the 17th century, both established as a direct result of the Great Fire of London in 1666 - the Monument marking the spot where the fire began and St Pauls replacing the church that was destroyed by the fire.

Buckingham Palace, the official residence of Her Majesty the Queen, dates originally from the early 18th century and the State Rooms are open to the public in August and September. There is a wealth of 19th century architecture such as the Royal Albert Hall, Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery and the South Kensington Museums and more recent additions include the South Bank Complex, with the Royal Festival Hall, National Theatre and the National Film Theatre, dating from the Festival of Britain in 1951. Add to these a vast collection of art galleries and museums, a world famous zoo, the vast shopping thoroughfares such as New Bond Street, Oxford Street, Regents Street and Knightsbridge, parks, gardens, theatres, cinemas and a packed calendar of ceremonies, exhibitions and events and you have a city which caters for all tastes. Public transport makes all areas accessible and there are popular tours by open topped bus and boat trips operate along the network of canals and through the heart of London along the River Thames, the latter operating to historic Greenwich in the east and to Hampton Court in the south west.

This region, like London Central, is rich in parks, gardens and historic buildings. Perhaps the most famous location is Kew where the Royal Botanic Gardens, largely established by the 19th century botanist Sir Joseph Banks, contain a vast collection of plants, shrubs and trees, many nurtured in glass 'hot' houses which reproduce the special conditions required for their growth. The gardens also contain the 17th century Kew Palace, the country retreat of the first three Hanoverian kings, and Queen Charlotte's Cottage, a 19th century royal summerhouse. Nearby is Richmond Park, the largest of the Royal Parks, where herds of red and fallow deer roam over some 2,500 acres of common and woodland and exotic shrubs and wildflowers can be seen in the formal garden around Pembroke Lodge at one of the parks highest points.

Further south, the fine 17th century Hampton Court Palace stands beside the River Thames. Originally owned by Cardinal Wolsey, the Palace was given to Henry VIII as a peace offering. It is set in attractive park land and particularly noted for its Royal Tennis Courts, Tudor Kitchens and the maze which was laid out during the reign of William III. To the west is Heathrow, the city's main airport, Harrow with its famous public school, founded in the 16th century, and Wembley Stadium, home of the FA Cup Final, which also hosts England's international football matches, rugby league finals, American football and major concerts. The region continues, within the perimeter of the M25 motorway, the busiest in Europe, encompassing the ancient boroughs of Barnet in the North and Barking in the east. In the south is Bromley, the birthplace of the novelist H G Wells, and Croydon, noted for its modern shopping facilities and the Fairfields Hall arts and exhibition centre.

The only parts of outer London which we have included are those which would really add something significant to a stay in the centre. With London prices so high, it's important to note that some of the most outstanding places to visit are free: the National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery and Wallace Collection (West End), the Tate Gallery (Westminster), Leighton House (Kensington), the Geffrye Museum, Museum of Childhood and Guildhall (City), the British Museum (despite pressure on it to introduce charges), and extraordinary Sir John Soanes Museum (Bloomsbury), Kenwood (Hampstead) and the Horniman Museum (Forest Hill). The new British Library is free, too. And there's often free entertainment in several places - most notably, Covent Garden, the Barbican Centre and the South Bank. Among places that do charge admission, you get a real feeling of value for money at the Natural History Museum, the Museum of the Moving Image (MOMI), Britain at War, and the Imperial War Museum (South of the River; and the War Museum's free after 4.30), and the toy and model museum at Lancaster Gate (West End). The remarkable new London Aquarium in the former County Hall (South of the River) is a great family outing, and the BBC's new broadcasting show (West End) is quite something.

The Rugby Experience out at Twickenham is immensely popular with people hooked by the game. And a fine antidote to the richness and sense of history in the great central collections is the National Trust's new Modernist property at 2 Willow Rd up in Hampstead. The excellent Museum of London (City) always seems to have something new - and its admission ticket is valid for three months. There are plenty of ways to save money on attractions: one of the best is the London White Card, which covers entry to 15 of the top museums (including the Science Museum, MOMI, and V&A) for £15, provided you can squeeze them all into three days. The London for Less scheme gives discounts on some attractions (inc the appallingly expensive Madame Tussauds), restaurants, theatres and hotin: quite a bargain, it covers four people for eight days for £12.95, and is on sale at the tourist information centre at Victoria. London's Tube, the underground railway, is the most straightforward way of getting around, and easy for even first-time visitors. Around rush hour and late at night though the underground becomes rather unpleasant, with infrequent trains and overcrowded carriages. Buses have the advantage of letting you sight-see as you go (there are also several hop-on hop-off tour buses, day or night, with commentaries). Pocket tube and London Transport bus route maps are free from ticket offices. A one-day Travel Card is an excellent investment for the visitor; you can even buy them in advance from newsagents. It's valid on buses, tube and rail trains, for as many journeys as you want to make during the day (not the morning rush hour). For only slightly more, you can get a travelcard for the whole weekend, or a book of ten individual tickets. If you're coming up to London by train, you can add a one-day travelcard to the rail fare at a big discount. Tickets on some rail routes allow discounts at a few London attractions. If you're going to be wandering around, you should have an A-Z street guide; even people who've lived here for years carry one almost wherever they go. A point to note is that food in London pubs (as opposed to the better ones elsewhere) tends to be very ordinary indeed; few apart from those we mention are worth considering for a decent bite to eat. All the places to stay that we include are within reasonably easy reach of the centre, and many of them are actually part of it.

The Air Gallery
The Directors of the Air Gallery are delighted to present London's best art exhibition venue for hire in the heart of the West End. The space comprises two fully equipped galleries each with separate entrances, which can be hired individually or as a whole. The Air Gallery is situated in Dover St, W1, home to some of London's most prestigious galleries, hotels and restaurants and at the centre of London's exclusive art dealing district.

London England
- The Air Gallery

The Arch Gallery

139B Church Walk
London England

Agnew's is one of the leading international art galleries in the world. Founded in 1817 from the premises that it has occupied in London's Old Bond Street since 1876, Agnew's carries on a business in works of art not only throughout Britain but in the United States, continental Europe, Australia and the Far East. Agnewís carries a full and varied stock in the specialist areas which are on display or can be seen by request at the gallery.

43 Old Bond Street
London England
Old master paintings, Old master drawings, watercolours, 18th & 19th century, 20th century, prints, contemporary - Agnews

Bettina Schroeder

4 Cairns House Holloway Rd
London England

Wikinson Gallery

242 Cambridge Heath Road (junction Hackney Road)
London England

Lauderdale House
Built in 1582, Lauderdale House is an arts and education centre based in the beautiful Waterlow Park. We run an extensive programme of performances, workshops, outreach projects and exhibitions. We also hire our historic galleries for parties and weddings.
The gallery is open Tues-Fri 11-4pm, Sat 1.30-5pm and Sun 12-5pm. Please note: weekend opening hours are subject to private bookings. To avoid disappointment, please ring the office in advance of your visit.

Waterlow Park Highgate Hill
London England
- Lauderdale House

Art Workshop in Spain-
In Spainís prettiest town: Arcos de la Frontera, painting workshops in an ancient fairy-tale village on Spainís southernmost tip.
A serious 8 day painting course with Paul Herman as well as fun & fascinating excursions within historic Arcos itself & some of southern Spainís most important old cities.
The workshop is hosted in a beautiful 18th century country mansion set on 1000 acres but only a few kilometers from old Arcos. Next one scheduled for November 21st.

Cortijo Barranco
London England
art workshop, painting workshop, painting holiday, spain, cadiz, arcos de la frontera, painting, art, paul herman, painting in spain, painting course, portraits, figure painting, realism, sculpture, landscape, - Art Workshop in Spain-