London's Indoor Autumn Attractions
London is blessed with a collection of fabulous attractions nestled away from the hubbub and clamour of the busy streets. Take a leisurely bird’s eye view of the capital from the celebrated London Eye, admire the waterborne treasures of the Aquarium, tread the floorboards of the grand halls of her manor houses, forget yourself in the galleries, absorbed in the works of Surrealist Dali, or wander the cloisters of architectural masterpiece St Paul’s Cathedral. What a way to spend the day!
Jubilee Gardens, South Bank, SE1
Drink in the beauty of autumn in the capital, safely ensconced in a sleek, modern, fully enclosed and totally see-through, glass-pod on the London Eye.
With an unrivalled, 360˚ view of London, a pod perched 150 metres above the ground offers the perfect vantage point from which to take in the capital’s greatest landmarks. The Houses of Parliament, Canary Wharf, the glorious old winding Father Thames and Windsor Castle are just a few of the 55 attractions that can be admired from the top of the arc. On a clear day the view extends for 25 miles in each direction.
Autumn is the perfect season to fully appreciate these sweeping panoramas which take on a romantic, ethereal presence bathed in the glorious rosy hue of the maturing sun. Relax, cosy and warm, in your own capsule as the spectacular London skyline opens up in front of you.
On the 5th of November (and the days preceding it) the city heavens fill with glittering fireworks and glowing bonfires marking Guy Fawkes Night. There really is no better place to soak up the impact of this annual festival of light and sound, which envelopes the city, than high above the river in a transparent pod.
Venue: British Airways London Eye
Address: Jubilee Gardens, South Bank, SE1
Phone: 0870 500 0600
Time: Daily 9:30 - 20:00
Price: £13.50 (Adults), £10 (Seniors), £6.50 (5-15 years)
Nearest Station: Waterloo Tube / Rail
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Jersey Road, Isleworth, TW7
In 1562 Queen Elizabeth I’s financial adviser created “a fair and stately building of brick” at Osterley on the western fringes of London. The building fell into disrepair until the founders of Child’s Bank commissioned leading 18th century architect, Robert Adam, to transform the crumbling Tudor mansion into an elegant neo-classical villa.
The rebuilt house became the family’s country residence designed specifically for entertaining. The lush gardens cover 350 acres and look spectacular as the bronze and burgundy colours of autumn take over. Rejoice in tranquillity as you wander across the eye-catching bridge, skirt around the lakes or head down the meandering paths with cattle grazing either side. Seek refuge from the onset of the autumn chill by exploring the spectacular interiors, which the National Trust has lovingly restored as Adam intended. There are plenty of activities to keep you amused too; the programme includes a special 'Explore The Parts Other Visitor Don’t Reach' day, guided walks and 'Light Up The Park' events. Let Osterley’s autumn allure astound you.
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Current events at Osterley Park and House
running until Saturday 20th September 2014
Wednesday 17th and Saturday 20th September 2014 - 7.15pm-8.30pm
£6, child £3, adv booking required
Discover the bat species that reside at the Castle in this guided walk....
More about this event
Families First Weekend
Saturday 27th September until Sunday 28th September
Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th September 2014 - 12noon-4pm
£10.25, child £5.15, family £25.50, mems Free
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County Hall, Riverside Building, Westminster Bridge Road, SE1
Splash around inside this autumn, as you enter the wet and wild world of the London Aquarium. Stroke a stingray, stare at a sabre-toothed shark, and snuggle up to a starfish. At London’s stunning riverside aquarium you can do all of this and more…
Take a ringside seat and watch divers feeding gigantic conger eels while hoards of frenzied piranhas indulge in their regular snack. Nearby octopus and jellyfish wriggle happily in their own specially designed tanks while mangroves, complete with waterfalls and sandbanks, teem with crusty, crawling crabs and flapping, four-eyed fish.
A freshwater display is home to hoards of happy brown trout and somewhere lurking among all of this you’ll find a seahorse – or two.
A brimming timetable of regular displays, including feeding times, talks and dives, coupled with an interactive supervised touch pool, complete the picture.
This is a fantastic way to stay in touch with nature during the autumn months without having to step outdoors.
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Described by the great British poet, John Betjeman, as the “grand architectural walk” Syon House and its 200 acres of lush parkland is an idyllic location from which to watch the seasons change. The Duke of Northumberland continues to use it as his London home and it has served as the family seat for the past 400 years. Recently it has provided the location for popular films and series such as 'Gosford Park', 'Wings of the Dove' and 'Longitude'. Named after Mount Zion in the Holy Land, it is built atop the remnants of mediaeval Syon Abbey.
The stunning grounds are the work of, fittingly-named, 18th century landscape designer, Capability Brown, and are renowned for their collection of rare trees and plants. Syon’s crowning glory is the Great Conservatory, originally intended as a show house for the third Duke of Northumberland’s exotic plants. Built out of gun-metal, Bath stone and glass it was a truly innovative construction and the inspiration for Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace. Relive the beauty and elegance of a bygone era at this resplendent residence.
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County Hall, Riverside Building, Westminster Bridge Road, SE1
After a bracingly beautiful walk along the river, treat yourself to an artistically invigorating wander around one of the most interesting exhibitions in town – the Dali Universe. Melting clocks, Mae West’s lips, space elephants, snails and angels are just a few of the extraordinary works of Dali art on display in this stunning, 30,000 square foot exhibition centre, located in the old County Hall, part of London's cultural hub along the South Bank.
As you enter this labyrinth of galleries the crisp, cool autumn day will fade away. In its place the surreal, sultry world of great Spanish artist, eccentric self-publicist and genius of the 20th century, Salvador Dali, opens up before your eyes. Soon the twisted, unfettered mind of a genius is revealed.
Less an exhibition and more a fantasyland, the Dali Universe takes visitors on a mind-blowing, retrospective tour of over 500 works of art, most of which have never before been exhibited in the UK. These include the largest collection of Dali sculptures dating from 1935-1984, his drawings, lithographs, gold and glass objects and a Dali-inspired furniture collection.
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Ham HouseRichmond, TW10
Take an autumn stroll along the Thames to Ham House, Europe’s most complete 17th century mansion. This stunning Stuart manor played an integral part in Restoration Court life and boasts extensive formal and wilderness gardens, a kitchen garden and a charming tea-room housed in the Orangery.
Much conspiracy and manoeuvre has gone on behind the closed doors of this seductive stately home; many of the plots of the Civil War were contrived here and, later, the political schemes of the extravagant Duchess of Lauderdale earnt her much notoriety. It is reputedly one of Britain’s most haunted houses and this half term there will be family ghost tours unravelling the mysteries of Ham’s past. For those more factually fascinated, there’s a programme of lectures celebrating the Restoration period to mark the 300th anniversary of the death of Charles II’s Queen, Catherine.
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149 Piccadilly, Hyde Park Corner, W1J
For a warming indoor treat that matches the rich, aesthetic vibrancy of autumn, submerse yourself in the sumptuous, palatial décor of Apsley House - the city’s original and grandest town house. Long celebrated as the best address in town, “No 1 London” is a great place to spend a luxurious and languorous autumn afternoon. Bask in the warming glow emanating from some of the fine works of art on display, from Goya, Velasquez, Rubens and Brueghel to a glittering display of porcelain, silver and sculpture.
Originally the London residence of the first Duke of Wellington, Apsley House formed the elegant backdrop to a host of glittering banquets. Held in the opulent Waterloo Gallery, the feasts were a decadent and raucous annual celebration of the Duke’s landmark victory at Waterloo. The Wellington family still resides in the property to this day making Apsley House the only property managed by English Heritage in which the original owners' family still live.
Offering some of the most stunning views of London, a visit to this unique National Heritage property is not complete without a tour around the grand Wellington Arch, which flanks the building. From its balconies you can take time to admire views across the surrounding Royal Parks – majestic in their autumn glory – all the way to the Houses of Parliament, whilst also soaking in the history and symbolism of this monument, which once formed the grand entrance to Buckingham Palace.
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The Wallace CollectionHertford House, Manchester Square, W1U
Just a stone’s throw from Oxford Street, set in charming, Georgian Manchester Square, Hertford House is the home of the impressive Wallace Collection. Three generations of the Hertford family and Sir Richard Wallace spent the 19th century compiling this assembly of mainly French art before it was bequeathed to the nation in 1897 by Sir Richard’s widow.
The collection brings together some wonderful examples of 18th century painting, porcelain, sculpture and furniture from across the Channel. Don’t go expecting any interactive exhibits, Sir Richard requested that the collection be left as it was, hence the whole affair is very traditional in concept. Paintings hang from every wall with the other exhibits assembled in glass cabinets. There’s also a fully loaded armoury with a selection of European and Oriental arms and armour. Hertford House itself is a delightful miniature 18th century French chateau which sits incongruously in its central London location. It served as the French Embassy between 1836 and 1850. A visit to this splendid, Francophile assortment of art and armour will be an afternoon well spent.
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St Paul's Churchyard, EC4M
Where better to take shelter from the fresh autumnal winds than under the protective canopy of St Paul's Cathedral's magnificent dome? A fascinating store of British history and an architectural triumph all in one, St Paul’s offers the ideal indoor retreat.
Soak up the history embedded in its cloisters while you breathe in the outstanding architecture and elaborate decoration. Work your way up from the medieval relics in the crypt to the gorgeous Victorian mosaics scattered around the entrance and the dome. Absorb the mystical ambience of the three curving galleries before admiring the dome itself – once the largest in the world – with its stunning view over London and spectacular ball and lantern crown.
The formidable funerals of Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington and Sir Winston Churchill were conducted inside these fortress-like walls, as was the elaborate fairy-tale wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer. Sombre services marking the end of the First and Second World Wars, and joyous celebrations marking Queen Victoria and King George V’s Jubilees, have also filled its echoing galleries.
St Paul’s truly is the spiritual home of Great Britain. Built by Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of 1666, the cathedral miraculously survived the Blitz in World War Two when most of the surrounding area was flattened by German bombing raids. It consequently served to act as an inspirational symbol of British strength in the nation's darkest hour.
The great dome now dominates much of the city and is the perfect place to while away an autumn day.
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