I love being in London, and recently having a few days off, it was the perfect chance to be a tourist in my own capital city.
Looking for somewhere a bit different to stay, Mrs E and I chose the Hilton Doubletree by The Tower of London; it was a great choice, the location was perfect with lots to see and do, all within walking distance, and easy access to the underground via Tower Hill station.
The key appeal for us however was the hotel’s proximity to The Tower of London, and the adjacent attractions along The River Thames. There are so many iconic sights within this area, it’s hard to know where to start – The Tower of London itself, Tower Bridge, all of the new buildings that have altered this part of the London skyline such as The Shard and City Hall, and not forgetting water based attractions such as HMS Belfast.
Close to the hotel, this was the stunning view across Trinity Square Gardens towards the Tower of London; the first part of a wonderful walk that we enjoyed around the area.
Trinity Square Gardens itself is home to The Tower Hill Memorial – which is in fact a pair of memorials to civilian merchant sailors and fishermen killed in the 2 World Wars, who have no known grave.
The first memorial, dedicated to those merchant sailors and fishermen killed in WW1, is the colonnade; it was unveiled by Queen Mary on 12th December, 1928. The second memorial was unveiled by Queen Elizabeth in November 1955 and takes the form of the sunken garden, which features a stunning bronze sculpture of a compass, set to magnetic north. A third memorial was added to the site in 2005 to commemorate those merchant sailors killed during the Falklands War of 1982.
From Trinity Square Gardens, it’s just a short stroll to the walls of The Tower of London. On this occasion, we didn’t have time to enter the Tower itself, but just having the chance to enjoy this magnificent construction and it’s grounds from the outside was a joy.
As you walk around the circumference of the Tower, you inevitably encounter The River Thames, and the awesome sight of Tower Bridge – I suspect there are fewer more iconic London scenes than this. As a child, our ITV station was ‘Thames TV’, and it’s original logo graphic included the bridge, so it was an image I saw many times a day!
It took 8 years, from 1886 to 1894 to build the bridge, but boy was it worth it! The walkways that link the 2 towers are accessible by visiting the Tower Bridge Exhibition (chargeable), but the bridge deck is freely accessed by both vehicles and pedestrians. The bridge’s bascules (yes, that was a new word to me!) are raised around 1,000 times per year to allow river traffic to pass through – 24 hours notice must be given. Interestingly, they are usually opened just to an angle that allows the vessel to pass, except in the case of a vessel with the monarch on board, it which case they are always fully opened.
But this part of The Thames is not just about Tower Bridge, a number of new structures have appeared over recent years along the river-side, dominated by the magnificent Shard.
What a great area to walk around and discover, we could have spent far more time there, but other priorities were calling, so after some 3 hours of exploring, we had to make our way out of the city – but we shall be back!
To close, these are 2 shots that I posted as an Instagram Story – a heavily edited version of Tower Bridge, and a black & white shot of the famous ‘Traitor’s Gate’ entrance to The Tower of London – if interested, you can follow me on Instagram, by clicking the link above.