Strand – a short distance from Trafalgar Square
The crypt of St Martins-in-the-Fields is our favourite place to eat. You get traditional English dishes in a healthier edition and always plenty so that you can go on for hours. Many concerts are held in the church, mostly baroque, and we were lucky to arrive on the last day of Easter to hear Handel’s Messiah.
Around the corner is Charing Cross Station and from there you take a bus a few stops to Strand. Before the Embankment was made, the river Thames was running at the Strand. The French Impressionist Monet stayed at The Savoy Hotel from where he painted dawn over Waterloo Bridge pictures in thick fog. He liked the mist or the smog, but today he wouldn’t recognise London because pollution has gone away!
You pass a church in the middle of the road St Mary-Le-Strand by James Gibbs who was inspired by Sir Christopher Wren, who created the famous St Paul’s Cathedral. James Gibbs also later did the St Martins-in-the-Fields that I mentioned at the beginning of this post.
Another church is placed in the middle of the Strand, Christopher Wren’s St Clement Danes. He had rebuilt it after the great fire of London in 1666. In May 1941 it was severely damaged by the German Blitz but wholly restored by the RAF in 1958.
In front of it is a sculpture of the politician from Victorian and four times Prime minister Gladstone and the statues of two RAF men who were responsible for the bombings of Dresden and therefore controversial when unveiled in 1992.
Somerset House was built in the 1600s and has different art exhibitions. The most famous is “The Courtauld Gallery” The impressionist painters get most of the attention. This museum is not free, but really worth seeing. The London University Kings College is situated here too.
The impressive yard is open for people to enjoy and a passage to the embankment leads to a pedestrian walk over the Waterloo Bridge to South Bank Centre at the other side of the Thames. The photo is from a previous journey.
Very close to this area is Covent Garden with all the theatres, shops, markets, restaurants and of course the Royal Opera House.