• Spike

Lesser Known London Sights

Updated: Mar 27, 2021

London is such a large city, I still discover new places each time I visit, which is part of the charm of London. Simply walking around the streets, you'll never know what you'll find.

I've spent so much time in London over the years that amongst the more popular tourist hot spots such as Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the London Eye, there are many underrated or unknown places to see.

The Hardy Tree

Located in the church yard of St. Pancras Old Church is the Hardy Tree. Named after the author Thomas Hardy, who in his youth was tasked with clearing grave stones to make way for the railway line, he piled them up against an ash tree.

The stones are places in a circular pattern, and over the years as the tree has grown, it has begun to absorb several of them.

Replica Number 10

Located south of the Strand in Adam Street is a familiar looking door. 10 Adam Street, although not an exact replica, holds a very close resemblance to that of the Prime Minister's address, 10 Downing Street.

It's a great photo opportunity to make it seem as though you're outside one of the most famous addresses in the UK

Leadenhall Market

Located on Gracechurch Street you'll find this covered market. What makes this such a special place to explore is the shear beauty of the place. The ornate arches and shopfronts are well worth checking out, even just to stroll through here and not buy anything.

You'll find all sorts of items for sale here, although they can often be a little overpriced. If you're a Harry Potter fan, then you'll recognise Leadenhall as being part of Diagon Alley.

Gods Own Junkyard

A little out of the centre near Walthamstow is this unique warehouse, bar and shop selling neon signs. If you plan to buy one of the signs, they can be very very pricey, so most people simply visit for a few drinks whilst enjoying the brightly lit surroundings.

There are so many different and quirky designs, who'd have thought that neon signs could be so interesting?

Secret Bars

There are many secret bars in London. Many feature passwords which you have to give to staff who will then take you into a secret bar. Other bars simply have hidden doors in mirrors, bookcases or paintings. Many of these bars you may need to research online, or find out from word of mouth, but a few of the ones I'm aware of are: Call Me Mr. Lucky, Evans & Peel Detective Agency and The Escapologist.

One I will give some information on is The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town. You can find this located inside the Breakfast Club Café in Spitalfields. Once inside the café tell the waiter "I want to see the Mayor" and they will take you to a fridge. Inside the fridge is a secret staircase that leads underground to a secret cocktail bar, filled with quirky décor.

Highgate Cemetery

There are two parts to the cemetery, the east and west. Both are worth exploring but the west side is truly stunning! There are many very famous people buried here, more so in the east side nowadays. The east side is the newer part of the cemetery, opening in 1860 and it's here you'll find the popular grave of Karl Marx amongst many other famous people even up to more recent times.

The west side is much older and features much more impressive architecture including that on Egyptian Avenue and Lebanon Circle. There are also stories of the west side being haunted by a vampire.

Ruins of St Dunstan in the East

Located between London Bridge and the Tower of London are the ruins of St Dunstan in the East. Once a Church of England parish church, it's now a public garden.

What makes this place so magical is the plant life slowly taking over the ruins of the church.

As it's located in the centre of London, it's an easy place to fit in whilst you explore some of the more well known sights.

Kyoto Garden

Located in Holland Park you'll find the Kyoto Garden. A beautiful Japanese garden which gives the feeling that you're actually in the far Eastern country itself.

As well as the beautiful waterfall, you'll find oriental inspired bridges, decorations and plants, as well as the koi carp swimming around.

Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities

A very small more very unique museum displaying curious and strange items from around the world.

You'll find all sorts of items inside, including remains of a huge Japanese Spider Crab, miniature fairy sculptures, taxidermy and even celebrities poo in a jar.

There's also a small bar inside, which offer some unique and tasty cocktails.

Richmond Park

This huge park located in the borough of Richmond is a little out of the way of the centre of London, but well worth the visit.

One of the main attractions of the park is the roaming wild deer that can be quite easily found as you wander around. However it's advised not to get too close as they can do serious injury and even kill if they feel threatened.

Another worthwhile sight whilst here is King Henry’s Mound, a viewpoint where Henry VIII was said to often sit, which a clear view to St Paul's Cathedral. However I very much doubt he'd have been able to see this with the naked eye. There's currently a telescope standing there so you can see the cathedral through it, but even then it's quite a distance away.

The Churchill Arms

Located in Kensington, this is far from an ordinary pub, which you'll notice from it's exterior. Year round it's decorated with all types of plants and flowers. During spring and summer time it's full of colour as the flowers are out in bloom, and in winter you'll find it a more festive appearance with Christmas lights and fir trees.

Inside the pub itself you'll find many items dedicated to Winston Churchill.

Sky Gardens

On the top floor of the Walkie Talkie building is the Sky Garden. It's free entry and in my opinions a better option than "The Shard", but make sure you book a slot in advance, as walk ins often have to queue and are not guaranteed entry.

There are some beautiful views in London from here, as well as flora from around the world. There's a small café style bar where you can buy hot drinks, snacks or even alcoholic drinks if you're in the mood. The Fenchurch restaurant is also located here, which although not cheap does serve some very tasty dishes if you want to make your visit here even more memorable.

Borough Market

Located next to London Bridge is a huge food market. Despite it's size, its quite easy to miss. The food here is not exactly cheap, but you'll find all types of delicacy's and specialties.

The market itself dates back to the 12th century, although it's certainly kept up with the times. You can buy products and ingredients here to take home, or there are many street food stalls if you're hungry as you browse.

The Globe Theatre

Unfortunately not the original Globe which was around in Shakespeare's time, but it sits on the same site.

You can get a good view from the outside, but if you're a Shakespeare fan you may wish to pay for a tour inside.

Also during the summer months there will often be popular Shakespeare plays being performed. Tickets usually sell out fast for these, so make sure you book early if you're interested in seeing a classic play at the same location it would have been performed 400 years ago.

London Mithraeum

Free to enter, but booking in advance is recommended, as it can get very busy. This small museum which was originally a temple for the Roman god Mithras is a fairly new attraction to London.

It doesn't take too long to look around, but there are several Roman artifacts and perhaps the most striking object is the metal sculpture depicting Mithras slaying a bull.

Sherlock Holmes Statue and Museum

The worlds most famous detective, Sherlock Holmes, is as most are aware a fictional character, although I have witnessed many tourists believing he was a real person.

If you're a fan of the books, tv series or movies that have been produced over the years then you may want to check out these sights. There's a statue dedicated to him outside of Baker Street station, and also a museum at his literary home of 221B Baker Street (but it's actually located between 237 and 241).

Neasden Temple

Located in north London, close to Wembley is a structure you'd expect to find in India or Southeast Asia. Also known as "BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir", it was built using traditional methods, which I believe attributes to it's beauty.

It's used as a place of worship for the Hindu religion, but is open for all to visit, dependent on services of course.

Neal's Yard

This small colourful alley is hidden away and you'll very likely walk by without knowing it's there. It's located between Monmouth Street and Short's Gardens, and there are signs indicating where the entrance is, if you're looking for them.

There are a few restaurants and a health food shop, but most people visit just to see the colourful buildings.

Parkland Walk

If you find yourself with a little time to kill in London and want to try something different, why not walk the 3 mile Parkland Walk?

It leads from Finsbury Park, passing through Highgate and Muswell Hill to Alexandra Palace. It follows the route of the old railway line which ran past there.

It's mainly a dirt track, butt here is some nice scenery. Make sure you keep an eye out when passing the tall railway arches for "Spriggan", a fairy bodyguard from Cornish folklore.

Horniman Museum

Located in South London, quite a way from the centre, is this very different museum and gardens. Said to be a cultural museum, you'll find anthropology, natural history and musical instruments inside. One of the most memorable items is the huge walrus which has been on display for more than a century.

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