Italian immigrants built a considerably large community in London from the 19th century onward. Given the strong regional identities that have always dominated Italian culture, it is not surprising that these immigrants should have often identified themselves and their communities with their regions, rather than country, of origin. Apart from Lombard Street's banking activities, Sicilian Avenue plays host to another cultural import from the Boot: good taste. Sicilian Avenue contains a number of restaurants devoted to the culinary traditions of Italy's most diverse region, and it also hosts a few clothing stores. This is a small section of London, and certainly nothing as well-developed as Chinatown. Nevertheless, if you're looking for a good gelato or pasta cu sugu, you now know where to head.
Somerset House is a neoclassical building constructed at the end of the 18th century, replacing the previous building that stood for 200 years and demolished in 1775. By the mid 18th century there was a need to have one great building in London as government offices were spread out all over the city so Sir William Chambers was called upon to design a building which would house public offices including the tax office, the stamp office, the salt office, the navy office, and about 15 other public offices. The building was extended in the following years and the two other wings were completed but suffered some minor damage during WWII which was repaired by 1952. By 2009 all government offices had been relocated and nowadays it is usually used for visual arts, and there is even an ice rink in the central courtyard. There are also art galleries, a visitor's information centre, and art collections there as well as performances by various people such as the late Amy Winehouse, and the site has been used while making several movies . The east wing is occupied by the Dickson Poon School of Law, King's College.
The Strand Underground Station was opened in 1907 and was originally a branch from Holborn on the Piccadilly line. It was not used much but had a peak hour service which finally closed in 1994 because the costs of repairing the lifts would be too much, but you can still see the old station entrance today near the Aldwych.
St.Mary Le Strand is in the middle of the road the Strand and is the official church of the Women's Royal Navy Service and inside the church is the Remembrance Book of those who died for their country. The original church was built in the 13th century but in 1549 it was demolished to make room for Somerset House. For the next 200 years a giant maypole occupied the site and was the annual scene of May Day celebrations. The present day church was built in the early 18th century and noteworthy facts include Bonnie Prince Charles renouncing his catholic faith there and the marriage of Charles Dickens parents.
The High Commission of Australia occupies Australia House in the Strand since 1918 and was opened by King George V. There are rather two impressive statues each side of the entrance that were designed and sculpted by Harold Parker in 1918. The statues are called the Awakening of Australia and The Prosperity of Australia.
Gladstone's (1809-1898) statue is standing outside the St. Clement Danes Church in the Strand. He was Prime Minister of Britain on 4 different occasions and on each corner of his statue he is surrounded by four other statues which represent courage, brotherhood, aspiration and education. He was famous for providing education to children and disestablishing the Church of Ireland.
Arthur Harris (1892-1984) has his statue outside St Clement Danes Church in the Strand. He was Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief in the Royal Air Force for the latter part of WWII. He was nicknamed BUTCHER Harris as he devastated Germany's infrastructure and the people of Germany too. He was very controversial as he bombed large areas causing too many civilian deaths and some of the Allied Air Commanders thought that it was not too effective. During WWI he was a bugler in the 1st Rhodesian Regiment serving in South Africa and what is Namibia now. In 1915 he returned to Britain and joined the Royal Flying Corps, and later worked his way up to flight commander of squadron 44 and later squadron 45 and was awarded the Air force Cross for shooting down 5 German planes. Between wars he commanded different squadrons in different parts of the World.
Another church built by Sir Christopher Wren in 1682 sits in the centre of the Strand by the Royal Courts of Justice, and is the central church of the Royal Air Force. As it is in the middle of the road it is known as the island church. The original church on this site was built in the 9th century by the Danes who populated half of England in those days. It is possibly responsible for the nursery rhyme "Oranges and Lemons" and the bells still play that tune.
in 1723 the premises possibly began life as a coffee shop and not a pub and it is also unclear if it was named after George III or the owner George Simpkins. In 1830 the George became a hotel and the sign was that of George III who was well known for his crazy tantrums. In 1890 the new owner reproduced the half timbered facade following the Victorian trend to make buildings look as if they are from an earlier age. It is interesting to know that the headless ghost of a cavalier haunts the cellar but i am not sure when he was last seen.
This was the watering hole of these three famous people and the pub cannot be missed as there is a rooster hanging proudly above the arch. The pub came in to existence as early as the 16th century but was rebuilt on the other side of the road in the 1880s. Unfortunately a fire in the 1990s destroyed many important papers in the bar.
It is interesting to see how many clocks there are in Fleet Street and the Strand. There seem to be many attached to beautiful buildings, much more than any other part of the city. Would this be something to do with all the newspaper offices that were there at one time, so the newspaper workers would know the time before the last edition was published.
The Royal Courts of Justice is the official name and can be found on the Strand, and houses the court of Appeal and the High Court of Justice for England and Wales. The Victorian Gothic building opens the courts for the public although there may be some restrictions depending on the cases being heard. Queen Victoria opened the Royal Courts in 1882 although building work started in 1870, because the masons went on strike during the construction so Germans were brought in to do the work and had to be housed within the premises to avoid the bitterness by the locals, but trouble was avoided by both sides settling their dispute.
This octagonal shaped Church originally founded in 988 A.D. that is dedicated to the Archbishop of Canterbury is in Fleet Street next to the Royal Courts of Justice. The original church may have been erected by St Dunstan himself, and through the centuries many alterations were made before it was demolished in the 19th century. The Worshipful Company of Cordwainers (workers in fine leather) have been major benefactors to the church and on the church facade is a chime clock with two figures, probably Gog and Magog who strike the bells with their clubs. The clock was installed in 1671 and was the first clock in London to have a minute hand.
Impresario Richard D'Oyly Carte built this famous hotel from the profits from his Gilbert and Sullivan Operas and opened for business towards the end of the last century. It was the first luxury hotel in Britain with electric lights, elevators, hot and cold water and other new luxurious innovations. So many famous artists and bands played at the Savoy including Frank Sinatra, George Gershwin, Noel Howard as well as famous guests checking in such as Charlie Chaplin, Henry Truman, the Beatles, Lawrence Olivier and countless others. The rooms offer fantastic views over the river and was recently closed for 3 years for renovation.
The sightseeing bus tours around London are great but expensive. You can do much the same for the minimal cost of public transport: see this little app thing: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/159464
for how to do it.