London has so many wonderful places to see and explore that you could spend a month touring the city and still not see the entire place. Besides the main tourist attractions there are loads of other places to visit and explore at leisure.
A few places that are definitely worth a visit are:
Strawberry Hill House: With its rather unique name this place seems to house a sinister secret in appearance. This is due to its mystifying look which includes exotic stained glass ceilings, large turrets and gilded ceilings. It was not always like this having once been a picturesque cottage in the area of Twickenham, until its changed owners and became the property of Horace Walpole, who was the son of the first Prime Minister of England in 1749. After it came into his possession it was totally transformed from an idyllic cottage into an impressive Gothic manor fit for royalty. Walpole was by nature an aesthete and art collector, and he decided to increase the size of the place, besides adding extra additions like gilded ceilings and hearths along with stained glass windows depicting biblical scenes. Extra renovation was undertaken later when the Countess Waldegrave bought the place in the 19th century. Now the manor’s restoration and upkeep is maintained courtesy of support from the World Monuments and Heritage Lottery Funds. You could visit the place when it is open for the public in the period between March to November annually and explore this charming piece of English heritage.
Garrick’s Temple: Around 2 miles from Strawberry Hill House is Garrick’s Temple. It is octagonal in shape and located amidst picturesque grounds, having been constructed in the 18th century. This masterpiece was commissioned by the multifaceted genius David Garrick, who was a renowned dramatist, actor as well as theatre hero and was built to commemorate the memory of William Shakespeare. It was created in 1756 from stone that had a prominent domed roof, four pillars and a porch. To reach it you need to pass through a grotto tunnel, and it was primarily used by Garrick to entertain friends. When it was built it displayed a life-size statue of Shakespeare sitting at his desk, sculpted by the renowned artist Roubiliac. Later after a fair bit of restoration was carried out a replica of the statue was built which can now be viewed within the temple. To help the place retain its original 18th century charm a beautiful garden has been recreated, which is decorated by building a serpentine path that was a favourite of theme of landscape designers of that era. It lies on edge of the River Thames and is beautiful place to visit. For those who are lovers of theatre and the past Garrick’s Temple is the ideal place to visit.
Syon’s Conservatory & Gardens: A sprawling 40 acres of gardens, which include the famous Great Conservatory that has been restored Syon Conservatory & Gardens is a beautiful edifice of glass and stone. It was originally created to exhibit the Duke of Northumberland’s collection of exotic flora. It was created by Charles Fowler in 1826 who was allotted the task of building it on instructions from the 3rd Duke of Northumberland. The Duke wanted a conservatory built in the area and it later served as an inspiration for Joseph Paxton when he was planning the layout of the Crystal Palace. Nowadays this beautiful lush green house houses a variety of scented plants every summer. The magnificent 200 acres of parkland that surrounds it also houses a mini steam train, which is operational in the period between April to October during bank holidays, the weekend or even by prior arrangement. This area has been home to gardens for over half a millennia and it has a large variety of rare trees, a large lake and herbaceous beds. The lovely rose garden that existed was unfortunately destroyed in 2005, in a major storm.
The Pottery Café: An area extremely popular with Richmond mums who take their little ones to the place to get their hand or foot imprints cast on plates or mugs. This is just one of the many ways to explore one’s creativity using pottery. You could choose from a wide variety of pottery that is handmade here and includes bowls, tea pots and cups among others, roll up your sleeves, choose your paints and brushes and get down to painting. Getting the thing heated in the kiln does take time, approximately a week after you have created it, after which you can then take it home. A great way to spend an afternoon with the kids, where the family can explore and express their latent creative talents!
The Real Ale Shop: Most modern Brits have become accustomed to swigging on foreign beer at the local pub. Rarely will you find the real Good Old British ale that once occupied a central position in the life of most pub regulars. Well for those who long for the old times there is help at hand in the form of The Real Ale Shop. For those who thought that drinking ale was a thing of the past thing again! With its wholesome malty taste and a terrific hoppy finish in a variety of flavours, it is genuine stuff that titillates the taste buds. With flavours to suit the most discerning beer drinkers taking a swig at the Real Ale Shop is like taking a trip down memory lane.