Visiting London 3 years in a row, we’ve covered many of the main attractions in our must visit list. This year, we’ll visit some of the attractions we’ve listed previous years but never got to see. First place on our list today is a visit north of Trafalgar Square, to Brydges Place an alley that is supposedly to be London’s narrowest.
An alley is a narrow lane, path, or passageway, often for pedestrian use, running behind or between buildings typically used as a rear access or service road. Brydges Place runs for 200 yards and connects St Martin’s Lane to Bedfordbury end-to-end and becomes a handy shortcut for those who know. Although it has been said that the narrowest part of the alley is 15″ apart, I can attest that it isn’t. The narrowest point is the entrance via St Martin’s Lane and one can comfortably walk through with inches to spare on each side.
Exiting Brydges Place at Coliseum theatre, turn left and walk a short distance to Trafalgar Square. As we were early, crowds were building outside the National Gallery waiting for it’s door to open. Across the Gallery is Trafalgar Square with Nelson’s Column at the far end and across the roundabout you’ll see Admiralty Arch and walking along the Mall, will take you to Buckingham Palace. To complement London’s narrowest alley, Britain’s smallest police station is at one end of Trafalgar Square. Read our earlier post to find where.
From Trafalgar Square we took a bus headed towards Regent Street. Passing Piccadilly Circus, we noticed the electronic advertising board was still out of commission for upgrading works. Piccadilly Circus whether night or day is busy with hives of activities.
Regent Street is a major shopping street in the West End of London that connects Piccadilly Circus with Oxford Street. Regent street is packed full of shops and is more upscale than Oxford Street. It is one of the world’s most prestigious shopping and lifestyle destinations, home to more than 75 international flagship stores as well as British brands. Hamleys, the toy store and Liberty, the fashion brand, are two British examples. It is a busy place with an estimate of more than 70 million visitors coming to shop, relax and dine along Regent Street annually.
On the eve of the Wembley contest between the New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins, Regent Street from Piccadilly Circus to Oxford Circus becomes a traffic-free street for American football fans. It hosts football festival, features interactive games, on-stage performances and appearances, merchandise and much more, hence the NFL buntings along Regent Street.
Right on Regent Street is Hamleys, established in 1760, is the oldest and largest toy store in the world. This flagship store is set over seven floors covering 54,000 square feet with more than 50,000 lines of toys including computer games, plush toys, gadgets, classic games and specialist collector areas on sale. Each floor caters for different categories of toy. Hamleys provides the ultimate play experience for children and took an hour of our adult time just browsing the store. It is considered one of London’s prominent tourist attractions, receiving around five million visitors a year.
Carnaby Street is a pedestrian shopping street located behind Hamleys. It is home to fashion and lifestyle retailers including large numbers of independent fashion boutiques catering more to the taste of youngsters. It’s a short 3 minute walk from Oxford Circus underground station. The 14 streets at Carnaby accommodate over 100 shops with 60 places to eat and drink. Carnaby was once famous for it’s history of the mod and hippie followers during the swinging 60s and became the epicenter of London’s counterculture scene.
Off Regent Street, on Great Marlborough Street, is Liberty London. This is a beautiful Tudor building department store with wooden paneling inside. Liberty spreads over 5 floors selling luxury women’s, men’s and children’s attire, cosmetics, fragrances, jewellery, accessories, among others. Liberty is also particularly well-known for their floral and graphic prints. Prices at liberty are rather steep but did not dither my wife from acquiring 4 metres of fabric.