london in june

London in June: Everything You Need to Know

London is an amazing city to visit at any time of year. However, June is a month that has everything on offer, with (mostly) great weather and long evenings to enjoy. Whether you’re into foodie events, the natural or art worlds, or if you want to see some of London’s famous pomp and ceremony, June has got you covered. Here’s everything you need to know about visiting London in June.

Important Dates in June

The last Monday in May is a bank holiday, leading into the summer half term. It’s worth bearing this in mind when booking a June holiday to London, as accommodation may be more expensive and events and attractions will book up quickly.

British Father’s Day also falls in June, making it a great reason to enjoy a special treat if you’re visiting with your family. You may see specific events or set menus on this day and, as with any special date, places will be busier and restaurant reservations may be necessary.

A benefit of visiting in June is that you should enjoy some summer weather without the summer crowds.

London’s Weather in June

As you may be aware, England is famed for its temperamental weather and inconsistent weather trends. While London isn’t known for having endless days of summer, you’ve still got a good chance of catching some rays in June and enjoying the outdoors lifestyle of pavement cafes and parks for which London is renowned.

June marks the start of the summer months, meteorologically, so you should expect long, mostly sunny days – but pack an umbrella, just in case! Temperatures average around 16° Celsius, although it can be much warmer during the day, sometimes peaking in the high twenties.

June 21 is Midsummer’s Day. With sunset occurring around 9.20pm, the long evenings are a great excuse for a leisurely evening stroll, picnic dinner in the park, or late-night beer garden visit. Temperatures tend to dip around sundown, so make sure you have a light jacket or wrap to keep cosy if you’re expecting a late night or two!

Festivals and Events

For festivals and special events, June has got you covered. With the weather warming up, it’s a great time to spend your days outdoors at some of London’s famous events, with the option of finding indoors entertainment if the weather doesn’t quite go to plan.

Whatever the weather, London’s social calendar is jam-packed for June. Here are our top picks for your visit to London this summer.

Royal Ascot

Whether it’s the dream of placing the right bet and watching horses thundering around the track or simply the excuse to put on a fancy frock, Royal Ascot is world famous as the place to be seen.

Royal Ascot races attract some major celebs, so if people-watching is more your thing you’ll be kept interested too. If you don’t fancy the races, you can enjoy the horse-drawn procession that travels from Windsor Castle to Ascot Racecourse daily – a fantastic way to enjoy the great outdoors in the sunshine and soak up the atmosphere and anticipation.

royal ascot

Household Division’s Beating Retreat at Horse Guards Parade

If you want to observe a bit of traditional pomp and ceremony mixed with music and fireworks, this is for you. Traditionally held in Whitehall before the Queen’s birthday, this evening ceremony is fun for all the family and a great introduction to royal celebrations.

Including a military precision drill, cannons and horses, this event has a long history, dating back to the 1690s. Originally the drum beating signalled the end of fighting for the day, before the troops were to retreat into the safety of camp for the night. These days, of course, it’s purely symbolic and ends with the lowering of the regimental flag at sunset.

horse guards parade

Trooping the Colour: The Queen’s Birthday Parade

June is a great month to visit London if you are a Royal Family fan, with the Queen’s official birthday on the 8 June. If the Household Division’s Beating Retreat isn’t enough, you can watch the special parade of over 1,400 officers, 200 horses and marching bands on this special day.

Tickets in the dedicated seating areas sell out fast, but without tickets thousands of spectators still line The Mall and edge of St James’s Park to catch a glimpse of the action, as the Queen travels past in her carriage.

London Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival

With previous years’ attendance topping 10,000 people, this unusual celebration of Chinese culture is a great day out. Based at the Royal Docks in East London, you can expect races of all different calibres, from professional right down to first timers, whilst enjoying traditional dance and music performances.

With an abundance of tasty Asian food to try, this free festival is as family friendly as it gets. Just pack up a picnic blanket and enjoy a wonderful day of Far Eastern delights.

All Points East

Started in 2018, All Points East is a popular newcomer on the live music scene. It’s held in Victoria Park, South Hackney over two weekends and the intervening week, spanning the end of May and beginning of June. Attendees enjoy an eclectic mix of music with past and upcoming artists including Bon Iver, The XX, James Blake and Dizzee Rascal. Alongside the music, there are community art and cinema events, as well as street food stalls to enjoy throughout the week.

Festival of Eid

Celebrating the end of the fasting period of Ramadan, the Muslim festival of Eid is a time for fun – and food! The date of Eid changes each year, as it is based on the lunar cycle as opposed to the calendar date, and can vary by over a week.

With celebrations across the city, including a great get together in the famous Trafalgar Square, expect deliciously tempting food stalls of tasty dishes for the whole family to try. Biryanis and other curries, couscous, meat and vegetarian savoury dishes are popular, as well as an array of traditional sweets, such as Seviyan, similar to rice pudding but with added tastes of India like cardamom and rose water, or Lapis Legit, a spiced cake originally from Indonesia. It’s a colourful, musical and tasty celebration to get involved in, and a great way to spend the day.

Mighty Hoopla

If pop music is more your thing, Mighty Hoopla might be just the ticket for your June visit to London. Held in Brockwell Park near Brixton in South London, it’s an over-18s festival and a pure pop music festival of fun and colourful performances, plus it’s an important part of the LGBT+ calendar held during London Pride, which runs across June and July.

With over 40 street food and drink stalls, and events like Drag Queen Lip Sync Battles, it offers great entertainment value. Splash on the glitter, wear your best sparkles; this event is nothing less than fabulously flamboyant, with past and future headliners including Chaka Khan, Artful Dodger and Lily Allen.

Taste of London in Regent’s Park

June is official London Food Month, and this is an event for the eyes and taste buds. Taste of London spans across four days in the magnificent surroundings of Regent’s Park. Around 40 of London’s top restaurants showcase their best dishes, and with over 200 food and drink stalls to purchase ingredients from, you can go home and recreate their masterpieces – or at least give it a try! There are demonstrations, masterclasses and celeb chefs to entertain you, and with plenty of tastings to sample, you’re sure not to go home uninspired or hungry!

regents park london

Open Garden Squares

Open Garden Squares runs across a June weekend, and offers the general public an opportunity to get some major green-fingered inspiration from the city’s hidden green gems. Private gardens of residential, historic and commercial settings open their doors for a good old nosy around, some providing tours, music and information guides. Don’t just think of typical English gardens either – there are rooftop oases, urban terraces, community gardens and grand formal gardens to delight and intrigue. Visit the Open Squares website for ticket information and to download your map, so you can start planning your route for maximum enjoyment.

London Tech Week

If all things technology is more your thing, London Tech Week is for you! Hosting over 300 industry and consumer events over a four-day period, this is the go-to spot for discussions on how access to the latest technologies means brighter futures for us all. Think artificial intelligence and robotics, to the best systems and processing for businesses. With speakers from companies like British Airways, Twitter and Sony Pictures Network, it’s sure to be an eye opener.

West End LIVE at Trafalgar Square

If you’re ready for some razzmatazz and jazz-hands, West End LIVE is probably where you should be headed. Casts perform snippets of some of the best current shows from London’s West End stages; it’s free to come and go, so is a great family option if your little ones might not make it through an entire musical performance. With past inclusions from smash hits such as The Lion King, Annie and Kinky Boots, you’re sure for an amazing experience. This event is free to attend, so is sure to draw large crowds. Check the listings online ahead of time and make sure you arrive early to get a good spot for your favourite.

Things to See and Do

ICC Cricket World Cup 2019

What can be more classically British than taking in a day’s cricket match, while enjoying the sunshine, light evenings and perhaps a cold beverage or two? While the ICC Cricket World Cup is not held in London every year, it is in 2019, with matches taking place at the iconic Lords and The Oval. Tickets sell out way in advance, but there is an official resale website for tickets to be sold at face value, so you might still be lucky. If you can’t make it to see a match live or on the years when London is a host city, there are still plenty of places to watch the action across the city and soak up some of that match-day atmosphere.

cricket world cup 2019

Masterpiece London Arts Fair at Royal Hospital Chelsea

Held every year, this is a world-renowned gathering of over 150 global dealers of the finest furniture, sculpture, art and jewellery, from antiques to the modern day. Set in the stunning Royal Hospital in Chelsea, this event makes sure London is at the forefront of elegance and design. With talks and discussions from industry experts it’s the perfect way to spend the day, whether you’re looking for a new piece to add to your home or collection or just a lover of all things beautiful. Tickets need to be purchased in advance and can be bought online.

The Sky Garden

While it might sound like the name of a children’s book, the Sky Garden is pretty incredible for the whole family! Located at 20 Fenchurch Street in the city of London, you might find it more easily if you go by the building’s local name – the walkie talkie. Book free tickets and you can visit the highest public garden in London for incredible views and enjoy the bright colours and blue skies of June. There’s also a restaurant at the top; bookings are essential but would make a memorable meal, whatever the occasion.

Open Top Bus Tour

To do some major sightseeing, tick off a classic London experience, and make the most of the summer weather, why not choose an open top bus tour? Take in the sights while being guided through the characterful streets of London by a knowledgeable guide – it’s a great opportunity to see the city and take some instaworthy snaps!

open top bus tour london

Queen Mary’s Garden

Located within Regent’s Park, Queen Mary’s Garden is a great spot to visit if you’re a keen gardener. June is the best month to see and smell the plethora of stunning roses on display, while the well-kept and beautifully designed gardens are the perfect place to stop and have a peaceful moment or two amongst the busy rush of city life. The whole of Regent’s Park is free to visit, so you can easily while away the hours and bask in the early summer sun, surrounded by grassy knolls, mighty trees and floral displays – bliss!

Anniversary of D-Day

The 6 June marks the anniversary of the Normandy landing operation of World War II, known as D-Day. 2019 marks 75 years since the war, so special events are planned right across the city. Whichever year you visit, the Imperial War Museum – a family of five museums across England with three located in London – is a great place to view some thought provoking displays, artefacts and stories. With interactive sections to keep the kids entertained too, this is an interesting day out for all the family.

Why not add one of our amazing London tours to your June trip to London? Contact Premium Tours to book your spot.

cute london cafes

23 Cute Cafes in London You Need to Try

As any Londoner will tell you, the café culture in London is one of the best in the world. Whether it’s a rose-coloured latte, a chunky slice of toast or a full-on bottomless brunch, London’s cutest cafes have them all.

If you’re visiting the big smoke in the winter months, you might want to choose a cosy indoors spot, to warm up by a fire and watch the world go by out of the windows. In the spring and summer months though, nothing can be more decadent than enjoying a tasty treat in the beautiful fresh air listening to the birds and chatter around you.

London’s café culture extends from cosy nooks to spacious courtyards and pavement eateries. Here are our top 23 picks of London’s cutest cafes.

  1. Peggy Porschen, Belgravia

We’re sure you won’t find a list of London’s cafes without this institution being mentioned. The Instagram generation has made this place top of most people’s to-visit lists if you’re into all things pink, floral and delicious. With famous seasonal floral displays to the outside – including special displays for occasions like Valentine’s Day and Halloween – what’s inside won’t disappoint either. Tuck into cupcakes and biscuits, and choose from a massive hot drinks list – we’re sure you’ll love it all, except perhaps the inevitable queues. We recommend visiting early to enjoy this delicious London café.

  1. Aida, Shoreditch

Set within a pretty vintage clothing shop, Aida may not be as famous, but it’s an equally interesting, quirky and cute café. With a rainbow of speciality lattes to choose from, including Turmeric, Chai, Matcha and Rose, your drink can be as vibrant as your surroundings. The Aida team encourage a leisurely visit with newspapers and free Wi-Fi to enjoy, while you watch the world go by and soak up the cool Shoreditch atmosphere.

  1. Map Maison, Haggerston

A trendy café by day and cocktail bar by night, this is a cute and artsy place to while away the hours with great food and drink. Offering an exceptional bottomless brunch, visiting Map Maison will mean being surrounded by on-trend interiors including local works of art, changing floral displays, and eclectic and urban décor.

  1. Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium, Bethnal Green

Yep, you read it correctly; this café is also a cat emporium. Home to a number of beautifully friendly feline residents to pet and make pals with while sipping your tea and enjoying a delicious morsel or two, Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium is a unique experience. Not one for those with allergies, this vintage-styled tearoom is definitely one to try out for a relaxed break from a busy day of sightseeing.

cat cafe london

  1. Farm Girl Café, Notting Hill

If you’re a fan of markets, this café is in an excellent spot just off Portobello Road, where the world-famous markets are held. Farm Girl Café is situated down a pretty laneway, complete with trailing florals and whitewashed walls to a cute courtyard setting. Great food, aimed more towards healthy eating options as opposed to some of the more sugary treats out there, this is a yummy and virtuous place to visit.

  1. Biscuiteers, Battersea

Set behind a quaint and traditional black-and-white painted façade, the Biscuiteers’ speciality is, as you might expect, biscuits! Baked in a huge variety of shapes and designs, all hand iced with intricately piped and stunning coloured icings, make sure to bring your sweet tooth and a decisive mind when you visit this cute London café, so you don’t spend all your free time trying to choose which one (or ones) to devour. The team behind the café also runs an onsite shop selling everything biscuit-related, and with biscuit-decorating classes also on the menu, you can even try to recreate your favourite.

  1. No. 197 Chiswick Fire Station, Chiswick

This café has a really nice, cosy neighbourhood vibe, with contemporary design and an urban, homely feel, which makes it easy to while away the hours in here. A delicious menu for all day dining, there is a cosy interior and fresh outdoor seating area too, so you will be sure of a comfortable and tasty visit, whatever the weather.

  1. St. Aymes, Connaught Village

Founded by a pair of interior designer sisters, this place is as beautiful as the menu is decadent. With a range of hot drinks, including a 23-carat gold hot chocolate, artisan milkshakes and afternoon teas amongst many other options, this is a must see for any keen photographer.

  1. Feya, Mayfair

All things whimsical and sweet, Feya has a floral ceiling display that makes you feel as though you’ve stepped into a different world when entering. We have it on good authority the food and drinks range are extensive and delicious, so is an excellent spot to take in the atmosphere of a lively central café in the city.

  1. Brickwood, Tooting

Cute and unique cafés with distinct neighbourhood feels, Brickwood cafés are found in various locations across South London. Think exposed brick walls, rough wood cladding and squashy cushions to sink into. There are breakfast options served all day, as well and sweet and savoury treats, an extensive drinks menu, and a casual atmosphere.

breakfast cafes london

  1. Kobo Café, Angel

Looking at the amazing array of sweet and savoury treats on offer here, you may be surprised to hear that Kobo Café endorses healthy and clean living. It provides lots of options for people with allergies, and sources organic, well produced, quality ingredients for its foods, which are handmade on site. A particular mention goes out to its great range of coffee and loose-leaf teas. This place is a true local’s gem!

  1. Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings, Clerkenwell

If you’d like to be transported to a tropical oasis for a tasty pit stop, this is the spot for you. With palm trees and ferns galore, pretty floral upholstered armchairs to get comfy in, and large expanses of window to watch the world go by, this place is open for casual brunches, lunches, afternoon coffee stops, and goes on well into the night…

  1. Riding House Café, West End

Serving an extensive breakfast menu from 7.30am on weekdays and 9.00am on weekends, the Riding House Café is a busy, bustling spot to soak up the creative atmosphere of the West End. With plenty of juices and smoothies on the menu, this is a great choice if caffeine isn’t your thing. Being on the doorstep of some of the best live performances the city has to offer, this is a great way to start the day and provide fuel for an exciting West End trip.

  1. Mabel’s, Covent Garden

With a fabulous neon sign stating ‘Love made me do it’, Mabel’s is a great spot for a spontaneous stop off. Colourful decorations and an eclectic country manor style inside a fairly tight space, makes for an interesting and good fun feel to this place. Brunch, lunch, afternoon snacks and late-night openings; Mabel’s has got it all.

covent garden cafes

  1. Federation Coffee, Brixton

A cute and quirky little café set in a covered arcade, Federation has seating indoors and out for their regulars and visitors alike. A particular emphasis on great coffee with snacks and meals that pair brilliantly, Federation is a friendly, local place, perfect to pop in when you’re in the area. They serve a great range of regular and special espresso blends from local producers across London, as well as some from further afield, to ensure there are delicious and different tastes for every visit.

  1. Elan, Knightsbridge

The Knightsbridge branch of Elan is an Instagram hot spot, with a floral feature wall that will make others pail into insignificance. An acronym for Eat, Live And Nourish, Elan is a well-established brand, with cafés right across the city. There are over 85 drinks on their menu as well as beautiful and nutritious snacks and meals, such as Acai bowls, which are a firm favourite on the food menu. Visiting these cafes won’t disappoint.

  1. Attendant, Fitzrovia

You may well initially walk passed this café, as it’s disguised in what was formerly a Victorian public toilet, built in 1890. Lovingly restored, its heritage is hard to miss once you’re inside, but this tiny and quirky café serves some great coffee, snacks and light lunches. It does get busy and you can’t make reservations, so get here early for a unique experience.

  1. Drink, Shop and Do, Kings Cross

Set in a beautiful old bathhouse, Drink, Shop and Do is a quirky space that hosts bottomless brunches and afternoon teas all weekend. Colourful decorations liven up the open space along with mismatched furniture, a friendly welcome, and drink choices galore to make you feel right at home here. They also host a range of fun evening events, including jewellery stamping, biscuit decorating and Lego building – strictly for over 18s only!

bottomless brunch london

  1. Outsider Tart, Chiswick

Run by a pair of Americans who found it hard to find baked goods as tasty as their home-baked treats when they first arrived in London, Outsider Tarts is a bakery and restaurant dedicated to all things American. Serving all day classics like cupcakes, brownies, muffins, pancakes and more, their brunch, lunch and dinner menus are jam-packed with tasty soul food. With a rainbow-coloured counter and plenty of rustic charm, this place is a must see when you’re in the area.

  1. Megan’s, Clapham

Offering all day breakfast items and bottomless brunches, Megan’s are popular spots with vibrant and beautiful interiors located across South and West London. Billed as one of the most romantic settings, each café has a distinctly unique design, offering alfresco seating and the same delicious food and drink menu. Any of their locations is a good choice, but we particularly love the Clapham setting, where you sit beneath the beautiful canopy of a real olive tree – amazing!

  1. The Larder, William Morris Gallery, Walthamstow

If you’re looking to get a totally traditional British experience from your morning coffee or afternoon tea stop, look no further! William Morris is seen by many as a leading figure in the history of British interior and textile design, and he was a leader of the British Arts and Crafts movement, born in Walthamstow in 1834. His fabrics are still in production today, proving his design prowess and ability to create designs that last the test of time. This little café offers an interesting visit, and with great teas, coffees and tasty snacks and lunches made from local produce to keep you going, this is a cute and quintessentially British experience.

best cafes london

  1. The Ivy Café, Blackheath

With their signature sophistication, the Ivy Café in Blackheath is a cute and beautiful café to stop off in and feel right at home. With a menu full of classic British fare for breakfast, brunch, afternoon teas and dinner, there is never a bad time to visit. Close to Greenwich Park – one of the largest open green spaces in South London – this is a vibrant part of the city, away from the hustle and bustle of central London.

  1. Sketch, Mayfair

If the idea of taking a trip down Alice’s rabbit hole intrigues you, Sketch might be just up your alley. Offering five different ‘zones’ – the Parlour, the Glade, the Lecture Rooms and Library, the Gallery, and the East Bar and Pods – you’re sure to be transported into another world of beauty and intrigue, accompanied by excellent food and drinks. Billed as perhaps the most beautiful restaurant in London, this place is on another level. Each zone is styled around its central theme, one of which is a two-Michelin-starred restaurant, offering afternoon tea, dinner and drinks. Reservations are a must, but if you have dreamt of being served a slice of traditional Victoria sponge off a hostess trolley, you know this is the place for you!

If you’re planning a trip to London to try some of these quirky and cute cafés, contact Premium Tours to discuss our range of London tours. Run by London experts, you’re sure to pick up more great food and drinks tips along the way!

Everything You Need To Know About Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey is one of the most historic and important places of worship in London, because for centuries this has been the site of the coronation of the country’s monarchs.

The dramatic abbey has long held pride of place in Westminster, and every English King or Queen has been crowned inside its walls since William the Conqueror. Westminster Abbey has gone through many changes throughout its long and at times turbulent life, and the history surrounding the church is as long as its spires are tall.

Few other sights in the city have such a prestigious heritage. The abbey has survived for hundreds of years, through Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries and even through the ravages of the Blitz.

It’s a grandiose London attraction to visit, and you can walk where Kings and Queens have stood, explore ancient crypts, marvel at glorious artwork and pay your respects to some of the country’s most historical figures in the cemetery.

It’s a must-visit London attraction. To help you to plan your trip, here’s everything you need to know about Westminster Abbey.

How to Travel to Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey is found in central London, in the City of Westminster for which it’s named. This prominent location gave rise to the church’s importance to the British monarchy and public through history, as just over the road is Westminster Palace, which for centuries was a royal residence until it eventually became home to the Houses of Parliament.

The abbey can be reached easily using public transport – it’s inadvisable to drive into this part of London, due to lack of parking and congestion charges, to name just a few of the obstacles – with nearby bus and tube stops that are within easy walking distance.

The closest tube stations are St James’s Park or Westminster. St James’s Park is located on both the District and Circle lines, while Westminster is found on the District, Circle and Jubilee lines.

If you are exploring more of London, you can also consider purchasing a ticket for the hop-on hop-off buses that stop close to Westminster Abbey, as you’ll be able to travel easily between London’s best attractions, while learning more about the city while on board.

getting to westminster abbey

The Best Time to Visit Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey is one of the most popular tourist attractions in London and, unfortunately, it’s always going to be busy. The queues at the entrance can be long, so always ensure you plan your day accordingly, leaving enough time to allow you to explore the inside fully and to avoid any disappointment. You can purchase priority tickets beforehand to allow you to skip the worst of the lines.

It’s best to arrive here early to be first in line, rather than later in the day when there may be the chance that you are turned away at closing time. There’s not a particularly best time of the year to visit Westminster Abbey, as you can explore no matter the season, however, be aware that summer is peak season in London and all the attractions across the city are always busiest between June and September.

Westminster Abbey is open to tourists from 9.30 am until 3.30 pm Monday to Saturday. On Wednesdays, there are also late afternoon openings when the abbey stays open until 6 pm. Services are held Sundays, when the church is only open to worshippers.

Tickets can be bought in advance online for £21 per adult, or on the door for £23, although prices are subject to change. There are discounts available for children and senior citizens. There are also separate tickets available for special events, which are often held on select evenings during the week.

A Brief History of Westminster Abbey

The location where Westminster Abbey is found has long been the site of important places of worship through London’s history. Archaeological excavations and research have revealed that there has been a Christian church here since at least 960 AD when the Saxon King Edgar ordered the construction of the first abbey.

The abbey was originally built for Benedictine monks, before Edward the Confessor built St Peter’s Abbey on the same site, which was to serve as his burial chapel in 1066. That same year, the Normans would invade England and take over the country after defeating Edward’s successor, Harold, at the infamous Battle of Hastings.

William the Conqueror was the first monarch to be crowned in the abbey when he held his coronation here in 1066. Little of these first religious sites remain however, as in the 13th century a new abbey was built in the Gothic style that you see today. The church continued to be the location of coronations, however, and every monarch since William the Conqueror has been crowned inside, while many have also been buried here.

Over the following centuries, additions were made and the abbey grew, even surviving the dissolution of the monasteries enforced by Henry VIII, when the king gave it official status as a ‘cathedral’ rather than an abbey.

World War II proved to be the biggest threat to Westminster Abbey, when German bombs ravaged the capital and the Blitz caused extensive damage to the historic church. Again though, it survived, and today it continues to be both a popular tourist attraction and an important place of worship.

westminster abbey london

Coronations, Weddings and Burials at Westminster 

Since William the Conqueror, the abbey has held coronations for kings and queens through British history, making this the most important church for the royal family in the country. The last coronation to be held here was that of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, which to date is the only coronation that has ever been televised.

While coronations have been rare in recent years, the abbey has also proven to be a popular location for royal weddings. Countless marriage ceremonies have been performed here for the Royal Family, with many in recent years attracting huge crowds in the city and also being shown live on TV. The last royal wedding was between Prince William and Kate Middleton, held in 2011.

As well as celebrating coronations and weddings, Westminster Abbey has hosted many more sombre occasions, as royalty and important national figures are buried here. Within the grounds, you can find the tombs and the graves of many of the country’s most iconic historical characters.

visit westminster abbey

Things to See and Do at Westminster Abbey

The Nave

The central hallway of Westminster Abbey is known, as in most cathedrals, as the nave. As you enter from the western entrance, you’ll have the sight of this long, elegant hallway laid out before you, and you’ll be treading in the footsteps of the kings and queens who walked along the Nave to be crowned.

Tall pillars stretch high to the ceiling, and you are free to stroll through the nave and to admire the ambitious architecture of Westminster Abbey as you do so.

Westminster abbey

The Coronation Chair

In the nave you’ll encounter one of the most iconic sights within Westminster Abbey and one of the most important artefacts in royal history. The coronation chair is where monarchs sit as they are crowned, and it’s an incredibly historic piece of furniture.

The chair is wooden and was carved from English Oak in the late 13th century on the orders of King Edward I. As well as being one of the oldest items in Westminster Abbey, the chair is one of the oldest pieces of wooden furniture in the entire country that’s been in continual use since its creation. It appears a rather simple chair when you first lay eyes upon it, but the wooden structure hides a wealth of history in its cracks. Most notably, the chair was designed to hold the Stone of Scone, the famous stone upon which Scottish kings were crowned. In recent years, it was returned though to Scotland, after being held here for hundreds of years.

The Quire

Found right in the middle of Westminster Abbey, is the archaically spelt quire. This is the area reserved for the choir and for certain members of clergy during services and ceremonies, and it’s an important part of the church’s layout.

You’ll find the quire after the nave and before the high altar at the far end of the church. Westminster Abbey has its own resident chorus of choirboys who study and train at the Westminster Abbey Choir School, located within the grounds.

The Organ

To accompany the dulcet tones of the choirboys, Westminster Abbey is also home to an extravagant organ piece that is played during recitals. The pipes stretch high towards the grand ceiling of the abbey, and if you are here during a church service you’ll hear them in action.

The organ is a masterpiece of craftsmanship, as it was specially designed and built for the coronation of King George VI in 1937.

The Royal Tombs

One of the original intentions of Westminster Abbey was that it would serve as the burial grounds for English kings, with Edward the Confessor being the first to be entombed here in 1066.

Edward the Confessor’s tomb is still found behind the high altar, on display for all who visit Westminster Abbey to see, and his burial chamber became somewhat of a shrine when the English king was canonised. His effigy is found adorning the outside of the tomb and, as he was the first monarch to be interned here, he has pride of place in the abbey.

Many more royals were buried here in later years too. Behind the high altar surrounding Edward the Confessor’s Shrine, you can find several tombs holding the remains of famous English kings, including Henry V, who won the Battle of Agincourt.

The Lady Chapel

The Lady Chapel is an integral addition to the central area of Westminster Abbey, as it was built by Henry VII at the eastern end of the church to serve as his final resting place. The Tudor king built what was at the time one of the most lavish chapels in Europe and today you’ll be mesmerised by the glorious 16th-century architecture that’s been preserved here through the centuries since its construction.

There are over 30 royals and nobles buried under the chapel, with Henry VII having the most visible tomb and effigy. After he was interred here, many monarchs that followed his reign were also buried here, including Elizabeth I, James I and William III to name just a few. Oliver Cromwell was buried here for a time until his body was taken out after the monarchy was reinstated after the English Civil War.

lady chapel westminster abbey

Poets’ Corner

Westminster Abbey is not just the resting place of monarchs, because as early as the 1400s, poets and writers began to be given lasting memorials in the church, and many were buried here in recognition of their work.

Found just off the nave, Poets’ Corner is a microcosm of British literature, as you’ll see some of the country’s most iconic wordsmiths commemorated here. Chaucer was the first English writer to be buried at Westminster Abbey, but the tradition still continues today.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

To remember all those who fell fighting for Britain in wars across the world, you can pay your respects at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. During World War I, many soldiers fell in battle and were never identified, and many more were lost forever with no known graves or final resting places.

In 1920 an unknown soldier who was killed in France was buried in Westminster Abbey, on equal footing with the country’s kings and queens, to represent the huge sacrifice made by people from all classes and walks of life. It’s a moving tribute to loss and conflict.

The grave and plaque, found in the nave of Westminster Abbey, have since been the scene of many a commemoration, as memorial services led by royalty are held to mark important anniversaries, particularly those related to the First World War.

To find out more about visiting Westminster Abbey or to book one of our fantastic London tours, contact Premium Tours today.

london film sets

These Are the Best Film Sets in London You Can Visit in Real Life

London is one of the most iconic cities in the world, so it’s no surprise that the British capital has featured heavily in films throughout cinema history. London’s skyline has been the backdrop to many films, from action-packed sequences in thrillers like the Bourne Ultimatum and James Bond to romantic scenes in classic British movies such as Bridget Jones’s Diary and Notting Hill.

Just walking through London’s streets, you’ll easily recognise many of the best film sets from different movies. Plus, there are many more hidden away that you may not even realise were used for Hollywood blockbusters.

Film fans will have a fantastic time exploring famous Harry Potter filming locations such as Platform 9 and ¾, and Diagon Alley, while many of London’s most recognisable landmarks, such as Westminster, St Paul’s Cathedral and even the Tube, have been in countless movies.

To inspire your movie-based trip to the capital, here are the best film sets in London you can visit in real life.

  1. Platform 9 and ¾

Harry Potter fanatics won’t want to miss out on the opportunity to visit the real location of Platform 9 and ¾ when they are in London. J.K. Rowling had the magical platform located in one of the city’s busiest train stations: King’s Cross. Here, witches and wizards had to charge full steam into the wall with their trolleys to board the train that would carry them to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

The scenes were filmed on location at King’s Cross Station, and you’ll instantly recognise the grand Victorian architecture from the Harry Potter series. Since the popularity of the films has exploded, you can even find a Harry Potter themed shop at the station, while you can take your picture under a Platform 9 and ¾ sign, as you push a trolley through the wall.

  1. Diagon Alley

There’s another great Harry Potter film set found hidden away in the City of London. The magical shopping street of Diagon Alley, where witches and wizards would buy supplies for Hogwarts, deposit money at Gringotts Bank or enjoy a few drinks at the Leaky Cauldron.

You’ll be surprised to find that there’s a real-life Diagon Alley in London, as the stand-in for the wizarding street was Leadenhall Market, which is every bit as magical as its fictional counterpart in the films. Leadenhall Market dates back as far as 1321 and is one of the oldest continually operating marketplaces in the country. It’s no surprise that the historic architecture of the market formed the perfect shooting location for Diagon Alley.

diagon alley london

  1. London Underground

Even just travelling around the city on the London Underground will have you immersed in countless film locations beneath the city. The Tube has featured in hundreds of movies through the decades, and any film that’s set in London will likely include a scene on the train or at a station.

World War II films, such as Atonement, use the underground stations to film scenes from air raids when Londoners would hide out in the Tube to escape the bombings. Action films, such as the popular Bourne Ultimatum and James Bond, have staged chase sequences through stations, and on moving trains too.

  1. Canary Wharf

The modern designs of Canary Wharf Tube Station have proven a hit with many directors looking to stage futuristic-looking scenes because, with little work, the station can easily pass for the interior of a spaceship.

The metallic-looking floors and sliding doors of the platforms make the station one of the most modern in the city. The last sci-fi movie to feature Canary Wharf was the Star Wars spin-off, Rogue One. During filming Stormtroopers were spotted across Canary Wharf, riding the Tube and marching up and down the escalators.

Another film that featured Canary Wharf is 28 Days Later, the hit end-of-the-world, zombie flick directed by Danny Boyle. He had the survivors of the apocalypse hiding out in the by-then abandoned tube station to escape the infected.

canary wharf london

  1. Notting Hill

Notting Hill was a smash hit British rom-com, which was released to great reviews in 1999 and features Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant. It’s since become a classic London film, with the story taking place, as the name suggests, predominantly in Notting Hill.

The most famous filming location was Portobello Road in Notting Hill, where much of the action took place. It’s a colourful street and has a long association with cinema, even holding its own film festival each year. Since the release of Notting Hill, Portobello Road has become a major tourist attraction too, as legions of fans scope out the set where the film was shot.

  1. The Shaun of the Dead Pub

Shaun of the Dead is a British comedy horror film that’s become a cult classic, thanks to its low-key, sarcastic humour and general Englishness. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost alongside their dysfunctional friends get stuck in the middle of a Zombie apocalypse and decide to head to the only safe location they know – the Winchester.

The Winchester is their local pub where they hope to find shelter and a few pints, and you can actually visit the quintessentially English pub that was used in the film.

The pub, The Duke of Albany, is found in New Cross south of the Thames, and you can pretend you’re fighting off a horde of zombies when you visit this horror film set.

  1. Borough Market

Another classic Brit flick that was set and filmed in London is the timeless Bridget Jones’s Diary. Starring fan favourites Renee Zellweger, Hugh Grant and Colin Firth, the rom-com was a huge success in the early noughties, spawning several sequels and earning its place on Christmas television schedules.

The plot takes the characters all across London, using many locations such as St Pancras Station and even Stansted Airport. The most iconic location in the film though, is Borough Market, where Bridget Jones’s home is found.

The producers picked a nondescript flat above the Globe pub, right by the market, and you can see the doorway as you walk down the street in this famous London district. You can even call in at the Globe for a pint, while just down the road a restaurant called Bedales was the scene of what became known as ‘the fight in the Greek restaurant’, and you can pop in for lunch and dinner.

As well as being the film set for Bridget Jones’s Diary, Borough Market is a must-see sight in itself, as the market is one of the oldest in London and these days is home to some of the best street food in the capital.

borough market london

  1. The Old Royal Naval College

The Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich has appeared in plenty of films requiring a grand, neoclassical setting for shooting.

The building, the site of a Royal Navy training centre for many years, is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an integral part of Maritime Greenwich, and it’s an easy film set to visit in London.

The Old Royal Naval College has been featured in hundreds of films and TV shows, being used to depict palaces, colonial buildings and government premises in an array of genres from detective thrillers to superhero movies.

Most recently, Marvel fans will recognise the college’s distinctive domes and pillars from Thor: The Dark World, while it’s also appeared in such films as Pirates of the Caribbean and The King’s Speech.

The college grounds were even used as a substitute for the streets of 18th century Paris, when the final scenes of the most recent adaptation of the musical Les Miserables were filmed here. The production team set up barricades for the classic action shots depicting the fighting in the streets of the French capital during the Revolution.

  1. Buckingham Palace

Despite being such a famous London landmark, security is so tight at Buckingham Palace that few films are actually able to get permission to shoot here.

Where you do see the palace in a movie, stand ins are generally used – The King’s Speech for instance has many scenes set in the palace which were actually filmed at the Old Royal Naval College mentioned above.

Some films and TV shows have managed to get permission to shoot here though, although it’s almost always been limited to the front facade, with the most famous being Doctor Who and The BFG.

Most of the time though, if you see the palace on screen it’s going to be CGI, another palace or a classic British estate where security isn’t quite such a worry.

buckingham palace

  1. Westminster

Westminster and the Houses of Parliament have been part of many a film set in London, from action movies to political biopics.

In the destructive thriller London Has Fallen you can see Westminster burning in the background, while in Danny Boyle’s zombie horror 28 Days Later, the main character is famously depicted walking across an empty Westminster Bridge with the Houses of Parliament clearly visible in the background.

Lots of British dramas have been set in the House of Commons or House of Lords debating chambers, including the latest Winston Churchill film, Darkest Hour. You can actually take tours of the Houses of Parliament to see for yourself where the country’s most important decisions are made, rather than just seeing it on the screen.

  1. Whitehall

Another famous government district that features in many British films is Whitehall. Found in the Westminster area, Whitehall is home to many civil service offices and ministries, including the Ministry of Defence.

The architecture here is some of the most classic in London, and many producers use the neoclassical designs as a backdrop for sets that need to look quintessentially English, particularly in World War II dramas or political thrillers set in the capital.

If you’re a fan of Winston Churchill, then as well as being set in the Houses of Parliament, Whitehall also featured heavily in the biographical film Darkest Hour, which portrayed the Prime Minister during the early stages of World War II.

You can even visit the Churchill War Rooms, now a museum, where the Prime Minister made many of his daunting decisions during the war.

  1. St Paul’s Cathedral

St Paul’s Cathedral is an enduring feature on the London skyline, and is often clearly visible in films set in the city.

The distinctive dome of this Anglican Cathedral is hard to miss in panoramic shots of the capital, but a few movies depict St Paul’s closer up, too.

British staples Doctor Who and Sherlock Holmes have featured the cathedral in many different episodes and renditions on the big screen, while the most famous movie to use St Paul’s was Mary Poppins.

The cathedral is such a London icon that despite being over four hundred years old it’s often included in futuristic visions of the city. Sci-fi fans will recognise St Paul’s from the recent Peter Jackson film, Mortal Engines, while Star Trek aficionados will have seen it in Star Trek Into Darkness, and Marvel lovers in Thor: The Dark World.

st pauls cathedral

  1. Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square is another of London’s most notable landmarks. Like many of the city’s most iconic places, it has featured heavily in films.

London’s most famous square is surrounded by grand institutions such as the National Gallery and Nelson’s Column, and is often used by directors and producers to depict classic scenes that need to portray the capital in both modern and historical contexts.

Trafalgar Square can be seen in Doctor Who and most notably in V for Vendetta, when the infamous marching scene sees hundreds of masked extras walking from the square and through the streets of London.

Harry Potter fans will also love the fact that the world premier of the series finale, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, where Voldemort meets his end during the Battle of Hogwarts, was held here, being the first film premier to ever be shown in Trafalgar Square.

If you’re heading to London to track down these famous filming locations, check out our great range of London Tours. For serious Harry Potter fans, we also run a number of daily tours of the Warner Bros. Studio, where the films were made.