Thursday, December 30, 2010

UK Trip Summary

This is a route diagram of my trip through the UK.  I travelled over 3200 miles in 12 weeks, not including the trans-Atlantic flight.  I estimate that I walked close to 300 miles as well.  I took approximately 4500 photos.  I visited the following major cities and large towns: Dublin, Bray, Cork, Killarney, Limerick, Adare, Enniskellin, Derry, Sligo, Donegal, Glencolumbkille, Belfast, Stranraer, Glasgow, Helensburgh, Oban, Scarinish, Mallaig, Rum, Fort William, Inverness, Kirkwall, Stromness, Edinburgh, Falkland, Perth, Inverurie, Selkirk, Jedburgh. Newcastle Upon Tyne, Durham, Wreay, Windermere, Ravenglass, Lancaster, Preston, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Rotherham, Sheffield, Lincoln, Cromford, Taverham, Norwich, Peterborough, Leicester, Coventry, Birmingham, Cardiff, Llandybie, Newport, Pembroke, Bath, Salisbury, Exeter, Drewsteignton, Wickham, Portsmouth, Chichester, Brighton, Southsea, Kingston-upon-Thames, and London.  When I say visited, I did more than just drive through them.  I either stayed overnight or saw something interesting in them.  I think that I my plan was executed rather well, though I didn't see everything that I wanted to.  I would have liked to have seen Cornwall, Oxford, Cambridge, and more of London.

I have been back in the US now for almost 3 weeks and have had some time to reflect back on the journey.  It was certainly one of the highlights of my life.  What made the trip for me was the fact that the places that I went were for the most part "off the beaten path", and uniquely interesting from my point of view, and the weather was outstanding.  I chuckle when I speak to people who said that they "have been to England" and all they have seen is London.  Britain is a fantastically diverse place with a huge variety of sights.  I could have spent 3 more months there and still have only gotten a sampling of what there is to see.  I met many interesting and friendly people as well.  Geographically, there were a few places that I thought were exceptionally beautiful:  Donegal, Ireland,  Devon, England, Orkney and Rum, Scotland.  I found beautiful buildings everywhere I went.  I did greatly enjoy Cragside in Northumbria, the Granian of Alech in Ireland, Melrose Abbey in Scotland, Pembroke Castle in Wales, the Lowry in Manchester, Bath, England, Hampstead Heath, Highgate and Kensington in London. 

The best food was in Scotland, particularly the breakfast.  The finest women were in Edinburgh.  The most friendly people were in rural Ireland, particulary Donegal and Kerry. The most fun driving was in the Lake District in England, and a close second would be the Wicklow Mountains in Ireland.  The best pub was in Drewsteignton, Devon, where I had quite a few pints of various local brews including Otter. Ther best cup of tea was at the Inn at Ben Nevis.  The most quaint and pleasant room I stayed in was in Orkey at the Mill of Eyreland.  The nicest room was either in Inverness (ultra modern) or Glasgow (ultra Georgian).  The nicest B&B proprietor had to have been Ian from the Rose Garth in Ravenglass, followed by a close second with Pat from the Globe in Newport, Wales.  All in all, the trip was a dream come true and there were very few, if any, negatives.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Davies Alpine House at Kew Gardens

The arched shape of this greenhouse is both a new landmark and a welcoming gesture towards visitors to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew (a UNESCO heritage site). In the tradition of the innovative, high-tech glasshouses of Kew, this design provides a balanced, energy-efficient growing climate for Kew's collection of Alpine plants. The height of the two back-to-back arched structures ensures efficient thermal updraught to expel warm air at the top of the structure. A fan-shaped cloth provides protection from sunlight. Underground, air is conducted through a concrete labyrinth where it cools down before being reintroduced at the bottom of the greenhouse.
In the wild, alpines spend the winter dormant. They remain dry and protected from extreme temperatures and the desiccating effect of cold winds by a blanket of snow. Spring arrives rapidly, with melting snow providing moisture for growth and exposing the plants to intense light. The short growing season means plants have to flower and set seed quickly. The Davies Alpine House was designed to create the cool, dry and windy conditions that alpine plants favour, without using energy-intensive air-conditioning and wind pumps. Its architects employed traditional practices and the latest technology to achieve this.

Although the glasshouse is only 16 metres (50 feet) long, its roof reaches ten metres (33 feet) high. This creates a stack effect that draws in cool air through permanent openings on either side and releases warm air through vents in the roof. Meanwhile, a fan blows air through a concrete labyrinth beneath the ground. The air cools on its convoluted journey and is released into the glasshouse through steel pipes. The panes of glass are 12mm thick and have a low iron content which allows over 90 per cent of light through. Meanwhile, fan-like shades on the east and west sides of the glasshouse protect plants from the most intense heat of the summer sun.

Palm House at Kew Gardens


The Palm House was built by architect Decimus Burton and iron-maker Richard Turner between 1844 and 1848, and was the first large-scale structural use of wrought iron. The structure's panes of glass are all hand-blown.

Experts consider Kew’s Palm House as the most important surviving Victorian iron and glass structure in the world. It was designed to accommodate the exotic palms being collected and introduced to Europe in early Victorian times. The project was pioneering, as it was the first time engineers had used wrought iron to span such large widths without supporting columns. This technique was borrowed from the shipbuilding industry; from a distance the glasshouse resembles an upturned hull. The result was a vast, light, lofty space that could easily accommodate the crowns of large palms.
Heating was an important element of the glasshouse’s design, as tropical palms need a warm, moist environment to thrive. Originally, basement boilers sent heat into the glasshouse via water pipes running beneath iron gratings in the floor. A tunnel ran between the Palm House and the Italianate Campanile smoke stack that stands beside Victoria Gate. This 150-metres-long (490 ft) passage served the dual purpose of carrying away sooty fumes to be released from the chimney and enabling coal to be brought to the boilers by underground railway. Today, the glasshouse is heated using gas and the tunnel houses Palm House Keeper Wesley Shaw’s office.
Originally, palms, cycads and climbers were planted in large teak tubs or clay pots that sat atop benches above the iron gratings. However, in 1860, two large central beds were dug and the tallest palms planted in them. Subsequently, most of the glasshouse’s plants were dug into beds to form a miniature indoor tropical rainforest. Today, the tallest palms that need the most room are located beneath the central dome. These include the peach palm (Bactris gasipaes), babassu (Attalea speciosa), queen palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana) and the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera).


The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, usually referred to simply as Kew Gardens, are 121 hectares of gardens and botanical glasshouses between Richmond and Kew in southwest London, England. It is an internationally important botanical research and education institution with 700 staff and an income of £56 million for the year ended 31 March 2008, as well as a visitor attraction receiving almost 2 million visits in that year. Created in 1759 the gardens celebrated their 250th anniversary in 2009.


The Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, is responsible for the world's largest collection of living plants. The organisation employs more than 650 scientists and other staff. The living collections include more than 30,000 different kinds of plants, while the herbarium, which is the one of the largest in the world, has over 7 million preserved plant specimens. The library contains more than 750,000 volumes, and the illustrations collection contains more than 175,000 prints and drawings of plants. The Kew site includes four Grade I listed buildings and 36 Grade II listed structures in an internationally significant landscape.

London St Pancras

St Pancras railway station, also known as London St Pancras and since 2007 as St Pancras International, is a central London railway terminus celebrated for its Victorian architecture. The Grade I listed building stands on Euston Road in St Pancras, London, between the British Library, King's Cross station and the Regent's Canal. It was opened in 1868 by the Midland Railway as the southern terminus of that company's Midland Main Line, which connected London with the East Midlands and Yorkshire. When it opened, the arched Barlow train shed was the largest single-span roof in the world.

The Midland Railway directors were determined to impress London with their new station, although the sloping and irregular form of the site posed certain problems. They could see the ornateness of Euston station, with its famous arch; the functional success of Lewis Cubitt's King's Cross station; the design innovations in iron, glass and layout by Brunel at Paddington; and, significantly, the single span roof designs of John Hawkshaw being built at Charing Cross and Cannon Street.
The initial plan of the station was laid out by William Henry Barlow, the Midland's consulting engineer. Barlow persuaded the company to modify its original plans, raising the station 6 metres (20 ft) on iron columns, thus providing a usable undercroft space and also allowing the approach tracks to cross the Regent's Canal on a bridge rather than in a tunnel. The single span 74-metre (243 ft) wide roof was a collaboration between Barlow and Rowland Mason Ordish and was the greatest built up to that time. It allowed the station to make maximum use of the space beneath without obstructions. A space for a fronting transverse hotel was included in the plan and the overall plan was accepted in early 1865.

A competition was held for the design of the station buildings and hotel in May 1865. Eleven architects were invited to compete, submitting their designs in August. In January 1866 the brick Gothic revival designs of the prominent George Gilbert Scott were chosen. There was some disquiet at the choice, in part because Scott's designs, at £315,000, (£21.4 million as of 2010), were by far the most expensive. The sheer grandeur of Scott's frontage impressed the Midland Railway directors, achieving their objective of outclassing all the other stations in the capital. A subsequent financial squeeze trimmed several floors from the frontage and certain ornateness but the impressive design largely remained.
Construction of the station, minus the roof which was a separate tender, was budgeted at £310,000, and after a few problems Waring Brothers' tender of £320,000 was accepted. The roof tender went to the Butterley Company for £117,000. Work began in the autumn of 1864 with a temporary bridge over the canal and the demolition of Somers Town and Agar Town. Construction of the station foundations did not start until July 1866 and delays through technical problems, especially in the roof construction, were commonplace.

Work on the Midland Grand Hotel did not begin until mid-1868. Designed by architect George Gilbert Scott and with construction in a number of stages, the hotel did not open to customers until 5 May 1873. The process of adding fixtures and fittings was contentious as the Midland Railway cut Scott's perceived extravagances and only in late 1876 was Scott finally paid off. The total costs for the building were £438,000, (£28.8 million as of 2010) . The hotel building initially appears to be in a polychromatic Italian Gothic style – inspired by John Ruskin's Stones of Venice – but on a closer viewing, it incorporates features from a variety of periods and countries. From such an eclectic approach, Scott anticipated that a new genre would emerge.
Following construction, services were provided by the Midland Railway. This was a period of expansion as the major routes to Manchester, Nottingham, Sheffield and Carlisle opened.

After escaping planned demolition in the 1960s, the complex was renovated and expanded during the 2000s at a cost of £800 million with a ceremony attended by the Queen and extensive publicity introducing it as a public space. A security-sealed terminal area was constructed for Eurostar services to Continental Europe—via High Speed 1 and the Channel Tunnel—along with platforms for domestic connections to the north and south-east of England. The restored station houses fifteen platforms, a shopping centre and a bus station, in addition to London Underground services from King's Cross St Pancras tube station. St Pancras is owned by London and Continental Railways along with the adjacent urban regeneration area known as King's Cross Central.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

London Paddington

Paddington railway station, also known as London Paddington, is a central London railway terminus and London Underground station complex in the Paddington area of London, England.

The site is a historic one, having served as the London terminus of the Great Western Railway and its successors since 1838. Much of the current mainline station dates from 1854, and was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The site was first served by Underground trains in 1863, and was the original western terminus of the Metropolitan Railway, the world's first underground railway.

The complex has recently been modernised, and now has an additional role as the London terminal for the dedicated Heathrow Express airport service. Paddington is in Travelcard Zone 1.
The main Paddington station between Bishops Bridge Road and Praed Street was designed by Brunel, who was later commemorated by a statue on the station concourse (it has since been moved to Platform 1, by the exit to the taxi rank), although much of the architectural detailing was by his associate Matthew Digby Wyatt. The station opened on 29 May 1854. The glazed roof is supported by wrought iron arches in three spans, respectively spanning 68 feet (21 m), 102 feet (31 m) and 70 feet (21 m). The roof is 699 feet (210 m) long, and the original roof spans had two transepts connecting the three spans. It is commonly believed that these were provided by Brunel to accommodate traversers to carry coaches between the tracks within the station. However recent research, using early documents and photographs, does not seem to support this belief, and their actual purpose is unknown.
The Great Western Hotel was built on Praed Street in front of the station in 1851-1854 by architect Philip Charles Hardwick, son of Philip Hardwick (designer of the Euston Arch). The station was substantially enlarged in 1906-1915 and a fourth span of 109 feet (33 m) was added on the north side, parallel to the others. The new span was built in a similar style to the original three spans, but the detailing is different and it does not possess the transepts of the earlier spans.
On Armistice Day 1922, a memorial to the employees of the GWR who died during the First World War was unveiled by Viscount Churchill. The bronze memorial, depicting a soldier reading a letter, was sculpted by Charles Sargeant Jagger and stands on platform 1.

Isokon Building

The Isokon building in Lawn Road, Hampstead, London is a concrete block of 34 flats designed by architect Wells Coates for Molly and Jack Pritchard. They were built between 1933 and 1934 as an experiment in communal living. Most of the flats had very small kitchens as there was a large communal kitchen for the preparation of meals, connected to the residential floors via a dumb waiter. Services, including laundry and shoe-shining, were provided on site.
Early famous residents included Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer, Agatha Christie (1940–46), László Moholy-Nagy, Adrian Stokes, Egon Riss and Arthur Korn. Jack and Molly Pritchard lived in the penthouse. The communal kitchen was converted into the Isobar restaurant in 1937. In the mid-1930s Flat 7 was occupied by Dr Arnold Deutsch, the NKVD agent who recruited the Cambridge Five. James Stirling was a resident during the 1960s.
The Isokon company folded during World War II. In 1969 the Isobar was converted into flats and in 1972 the building was sold to Camden London Borough Council, and gradually deteriorated until the 1990s when it was abandoned and lay derelict for several years. In 2003, the building was sympathetically refurbished by Avanti Architects, a practice which specialise in the refurbishment of Modernist buildings, for Notting Hill Housing Association and is now primarily occupied by key workers under a co-ownership scheme. The refurbishment has also created a public gallery displaying reproductions of the original interiors.
The block has been granted Grade I listed status, placing it amongst the most architecturally-significant historical buildings in the UK.

Trellick Tower

Trellick Tower is a 31-storey block of flats in North Kensington, London, England. It was designed in the Brutalist style by architect Ernő Goldfinger, after a commission from the Greater London Council in 1966, and completed in 1972. It is a Grade II* listed building and is 98 metres (322 ft) tall (120 metres (394 ft) including the communications mast).

Goldfinger's design is based on his earlier and slightly smaller Balfron Tower (in Poplar, east London), and is in effect a sister building. It is also similar to Anniesland Court in Glasgow, design by J Holmes & Partners and completed in 1968. It has a long, thin profile, with a separate lift and service tower linked at every third storey to the access corridors in the main building; flats above and below the corridor levels have internal stairs. The building contains 217 flats and was originally entirely owned by the GLC with the flats rented as council flats. Shortly after its completion the building was transferred to the local council (the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea). Most of the flats are still social housing, but a significant minority are now privately owned.
The tower was completed at a time when high-rise tower blocks were going out of fashion as local authorities were beginning to realise the social problems they caused. By the late 1970s Trellick Tower had a very poor reputation for crime (rapes in elevators and staircases, children attacked by drug addicts) and anti-social behaviour, and many tenants resisted a transfer there. However, with the introduction of the 'right to buy' council homes, many of the flats were bought by the tenants.
On 8 October 1984 a new residents' association was formed. As a result of pressure from the occupants, several security improvements including a door entry intercom system and the employment of a concierge were undertaken from the mid-1980s. Property prices rose and flats in the tower came to be regarded as highly desirable residences by some people, despite the slightly gritty edge which remains. Private properties inside the tower now (Sept 2007) sell for between £250,000 for a one-bedroom flat to £465,000 for three-bedrooms, whilst the tower itself has become something of a local cult landmark and was awarded a Grade II* listing in 1998.

National Theatre

The Royal National Theatre (generally known as the National Theatre and commonly as The National) in London is one of the United Kingdom's two most prominent publicly funded theatre companies, alongside the Royal Shakespeare Company. Internationally, it is styled the National Theatre of Great Britain.
From its foundation in 1963 until 1976, the company was based at the Old Vic theatre in Waterloo. The current building was designed by architects Sir Denys Lasdun and Peter Softley and contains three stages, which opened individually between 1976 and 1977. It is located next to the Thames in the South Bank area of central London.

The National Theatre building houses three separate auditoria: The Olivier Theatre (named after the theatre's first artistic director, Laurence Olivier), is the main auditorium, and was modelled on the ancient Greek theatre at Epidaurus; it has an open stage and a fan-shaped audience seating area for 1,160 people. An ingenious 'drum revolve' (a five-storey revolving stage section) extends eight metres beneath the stage and is operated by a single staff member. The drum has two rim revolves and two platforms, each of which can carry ten tonnes, facilitating dramatic and fluid scenery changes. Its design ensures that the audience's view is not blocked from any seat, and that the audience is fully visible to actors from the stage's centre. Designed in the 1970s and a prototype of current technology, the drum revolve and a multiple 'sky hook' flying system were initially very controversial and required ten years to commission, but seem to have fulfilled the objective of functionality with high productivity.  The Lyttelton Theatre (named after Oliver Lyttelton, the National Theatre's first board chairman) has a proscenium-arch design and can accommodate an audience of 890.

The Cottesloe Theatre (named after Lord Cottesloe, chairman of the South Bank Theatre board) is a small, adaptable studio space, designed by Iain Mackintosh, holding up to 400 people depending on the seating configuration. The Cottesloe is to be renamed the Dorfman Theatre in 2013 after a redevelopment of the National Theatre, known as "NT Future".

Denys Lasdun's building for the National Theatre – an "urban landscape" of interlocking terraces responding to the site at King's Reach on the River Thames to exploit views of St Paul's Cathedral and Somerset House.The riverside forecourt of the theatre is used for regular open-air performances in the summer months. The terraces and foyers of the theatre complex have also been used for ad hoc experimental performances. The decor is frequently dynamic, with recent displays of grass turf as 'outside wallpaper', different statues located in various random places and giant chairs and furniture in the forecourt.
The National Theatre's foyers are open to the public, with a large theatrical bookshop, restaurants, bars and exhibition spaces. Backstage tours run throughout the day, and there is live music every day in the foyer before performances.

The style of the National Theatre building was described by Mark Girouard as "an aesthetic of broken forms" at the time of opening. Architectural opinion was split at the time of construction. Even enthusiastic advocates of the Modern Movement such as Sir Nikolaus Pevsner have found the Béton brut concrete both inside and out overbearing. Most notoriously, Prince Charles described the building in 1988 as "a clever way of building a nuclear power station in the middle of London without anyone objecting". Sir John Betjeman, however, a man not noted for his enthusiasm for brutalist architecture, was effusive in his praise and wrote to Lasdun stating that he "gasped with delight at the cube of your theatre in the pale blue sky and a glimpse of St. Paul's to the south of it. It is a lovely work and so good from so many angles...it has that inevitable and finished look that great work does."

Despite the controversy, the theatre has been a Grade II* listed building since 1994. Although the theatre is often cited as an archetype of Brutalist architecture in England, since Lasdun's death the building has been re-evaluated as having closer links to the work of Le Corbusier, rather than contemporary monumental 1960s buildings such as those of Paul Rudolph. The carefully refined balance between horizontal and vertical elements in Lasdun's building has been contrasted favourably with the lumpiness of neighbouring buildings such as the Hayward Gallery and Queen Elizabeth Hall. It is now in the unusual situation of having appeared simultaneously in the top ten "most popular" and "most hated" London buildings in opinion surveys. A recent lighting scheme illuminating the exterior of the building, in particular the fly towers, has proved very popular, and is one of several positive artistic responses to the building.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Lord's Cricket Ground

Lord's Cricket Ground (generally known as Lord's) is a cricket venue in St John's Wood, London. Named after its founder, Thomas Lord, it is owned by Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) and is the home of Middlesex County Cricket Club, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), the European Cricket Council (ECC) and, until August 2005, the International Cricket Council (ICC). Lord's is widely referred to as the "home of cricket" and is home to the world's oldest sporting museum.

Much of Lord's Cricket Ground was rebuilt in the late 20th century. In 1987 the new Mound Stand, designed by Sir Michael Hopkins, was opened, followed by the Grandstand (by Nicholas Grimshaw) in 1996.
 Most notably, the Media Centre (by Future Systems) was added in 1998-9 which won The Royal Institute of British Architects Stirling Prize for 1999. The ground can currently hold up to 32,000 spectators. The two ends of the pitch are the Pavilion End (south-west), where the main members' Pavilion is located, and the Nursery End (north-east), dominated by the Media Centre.


The Media Centre was commissioned in time for the 1999 Cricket World Cup and was the first all aluminium, semi-monocoque building in the world. It was built and fitted-out in two boatyards and uses boat-building technology. The centre stands 15 metres (49 ft) above the ground and its sole support comes from the structure around its two lift shafts — it is approximately the same height as the Pavilion directly opposite it on the other side of the ground. The lower tier of the centre provides accommodation for over 100 journalists and the top tier has radio and television commentary boxes. The centre’s only opening window is in the broadcasting box used by Test Match Special. The Building was awarded the RIBA Stirling Prize for architecture in 1999.

30 St. Mary Axe

30 St Mary Axe, also known as the Gherkin and the Swiss Re Building, is a skyscraper in London's main financial district, the City of London, completed in December 2003 and opened at the end of May 2004. With 40 floors, the tower is 190 metres (623 ft) tall. and stands on the former site of the Baltic Exchange building, which was severely damaged on 10 April 1992 by the explosion of a bomb placed by the Provisional IRA

After the plans to build the Millennium Tower were dropped, the current building was designed by Norman Foster, his then business partner Ken Shuttleworth and Arup engineers and was erected by Skanska in 2001–2003.

The building was constructed by Skanska, completed in December 2003 and opened on 28 April 2004. The primary occupant of the building is Swiss Re, a global reinsurance company, who had the building commissioned as the head office for their UK operation. The tower is sometimes known as "Swiss Re Tower", although this name is not official.

The building uses energy-saving methods which allow it to use half the power a similar tower would typically consume. Gaps in each floor create six shafts that serve as a natural ventilation system for the entire building even though required firebreaks on every sixth floor interrupt the "chimney." The shafts create a giant double glazing effect; air is sandwiched between two layers of glazing and insulates the office space inside.
Architects limit double glazing in residential houses to avoid the inefficient convection of heat, but the tower exploits this effect. The shafts pull warm air out of the building during the summer and warm the building in the winter using passive solar heating. The shafts also allow sunlight to pass through the building, making the work environment more pleasing, and keeping the lighting costs down. The primary methods for controlling wind-excited sways are to increase the stiffness, or increase damping with tuned/active mass dampers. To a design by Arup, its fully triangulated perimeter structure makes the building sufficiently stiff without any extra reinforcements. Despite its overall curved glass shape, there is only one piece of curved glass on the building — the lens-shaped cap at the very top.

The base of the towerOn the building's top level (the 40th floor), there is a bar for tenants and their guests featuring a 360° view of London. A restaurant operates on the 39th floor, and private dining rooms on the 38th. Whereas most buildings have extensive lift equipment on the roof of the building, this was not possible for the Gherkin, since a bar had been planned for the 40th floor. The architects dealt with this by having the main lift only reach the 34th floor, and then having a push-from-below lift to the 39th floor. There is a marble stairwell and a disabled persons' lift which leads the visitor up to the bar in the dome.
The building is visible over long distances: from the north, for instance, it can be seen from the M11 motorway some 32 kilometres (20 mi) away, while to the west it can be seen from the statue of George III in Windsor Great Park.

Palace of Westminster

The Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament or Westminster Palace, is the meeting place of the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom—the House of Lords and the House of Commons. It lies on the north bank of the River Thames[note 1] in the heart of the London borough of the City of Westminster, close to the historic Westminster Abbey and the government buildings of Whitehall and Downing Street. The name may refer to either of two structures: the Old Palace, a medieval building complex most of which was destroyed in 1834, and its replacement New Palace that stands today; it has retained its original style and status as a royal residence for ceremonial purposes.
The first royal palace was built on the site in the eleventh century, and Westminster was the primary London residence of the Kings of England until a fire destroyed much of the complex in 1512. After that, it served as the home of Parliament, which had been meeting there since the thirteenth century, and the seat of the Royal Courts of Justice, based in and around Westminster Hall. In 1834, an even greater fire ravaged the heavily rebuilt Houses of Parliament, and the only structures of significance to survive were Westminster Hall, the Cloisters of St Stephen's, the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft and the Jewel Tower.
The subsequent competition for the reconstruction of the Palace was won by architect Charles Barry and his design for a building in the Perpendicular Gothic style. The remains of the Old Palace (with the exception of the detached Jewel Tower) were incorporated in its much larger replacement, which contains over 1,100 rooms organised symmetrically around two series of courtyards. Part of the New Palace's area of 3.24 hectares (8 acres) was reclaimed from the Thames, which is the setting of its principal façade, the 265.8-metre (872 ft) river front. Barry was assisted by Augustus W. N. Pugin, a leading authority on Gothic architecture and style, who provided designs for the decoration and furnishings of the Palace. Construction started in 1840 and lasted for thirty years, suffering great delays and cost overruns, as well as the death of both leading architects; works for the interior decoration continued intermittently well into the twentieth century. Major conservation work has been carried out since, due to the effects of London's air pollution, and extensive repairs took place after the Second World War, including the reconstruction of the Commons Chamber following its bombing in 1941.
The Palace is one of the centres of political life in the United Kingdom; "Westminster" has become a metonym for the UK Parliament, and the Westminster system of government has taken its name after it. Its Clock Tower, in particular, which has become known as "Big Ben" after its main bell, is an iconic landmark of London and the United Kingdom in general, one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city and an emblem of parliamentary democracy. The Palace of Westminster has been a Grade I listed building since 1970 and part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987.

St. Paul's Cathedral

St Paul's Cathedral is an Anglican cathedral on Ludgate Hill, the highest point in the City of London, and is the seat of the Bishop of London. The present building dates from the 17th century and was designed by Sir Christopher Wren. It is generally reckoned to be London's fifth St Paul's Cathedral, all having been built on the same site since AD 604. The cathedral is one of London's most famous and most recognisable sights. At 365 feet (111m) high, it was the tallest building in London from 1710 to 1962, and its dome is also among the highest in the world.
Important services held at St. Paul's include the funerals of Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington and Sir Winston Churchill; Jubilee celebrations for Queen Victoria; peace services marking the end of the First and Second World Wars; the launch of the Festival of Britain and the thanksgiving services for both the Golden Jubilee and 80th Birthday of Her Majesty the Queen. The Royal Family holds most of its important marriages, christenings and funerals at Westminster Abbey, but St Paul's was used for the marriage of Charles, Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer. St Paul's Cathedral is still a busy working church, with hourly prayer and daily services

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace is a royal palace in East Molesey, Greater London; it has not been inhabited by the British royal family since the 18th century. The palace is located 11.7 miles (18.8 km) south west of Charing Cross and upstream of Central London on the River Thames. It was originally built for Cardinal Wolsey, a favourite of King Henry VIII, circa 1514; in 1529, as Wolsey fell from favour, the palace was passed to the King, who enlarged it. It would serve as the location filmed for the 1966 film A Man for All Seasons, directed by Fred Zinnemann.
The following century, William III's massive rebuilding and expansion project intended to rival Versailles was begun. Work halted in 1694, leaving the palace in two distinct contrasting architectural styles, domestic Tudor and Baroque. While the palace's styles are an accident of fate, a unity exists due to the use of pink bricks and a symmetrical, albeit vague, balancing of successive low wings.
Today, the palace is open to the public, and is a major tourist attraction. It is cared for by an independent charity, Historic Royal Palaces which receives no funding from the Government or the Crown.
The palace's Home Park is the site of the annual Hampton Court Palace Festival and Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. Along with St. James's Palace, it is one of only two surviving palaces out of the many owned by Henry VIII

Royal Albert Hall

The Royal Albert Hall is an arts venue situated in the Knightsbridge area of the City of Westminster, London, England, best known for holding the annual summer Proms concerts since 1941.

The Royal Albert Hall is one of the UK's most treasured and distinctive buildings, recognisable the world over. Since its opening by Queen Victoria in 1871, the world's leading artists from every kind of performance genre have appeared on its stage. Each year it hosts more than 350 performances including classical concerts, rock and pop, ballet and opera, tennis, award ceremonies, school and community events, charity performances and lavish banquets.

The Hall was originally supposed to have been called The Central Hall of Arts and Sciences, but the name was changed by Queen Victoria to Royal Albert Hall of Arts and Sciences when laying the foundation stone as a dedication to her deceased husband and consort Prince Albert. It forms the practical part of a national memorial to the Prince Consort - the decorative part is the Albert Memorial directly to the north in Kensington Gardens, now separated from the Hall by the heavy traffic along Kensington Gore.
As the best known building within the cultural complex known as Albertopolis, the Hall is commonly and erroneously thought to lie within the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. The Hall is actually within the area of the City of Westminster, although the postal address is Kensington Gore, and the Hall is less than 100 metres from Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea borough lines. The site was part of the former Kensington Gore estate which was historically part of Knightsbridge. However it is in the Westminster borough.