London’s history spans back not only through the post-Norman period after 1066, but over an extra thousand years before that. The city has changed hands, welcomed in new cultures and shapeshifted through the ages. The main seat of power in England and much of the UK, London is a city that still proudly displays its monuments, architecture and history for tourists to see. This is great news for guests of the Montcalm Hotel Chiswell Street staying in the heart of the historic City of London district, many of the best attractions being those of historic significance to both the British Empire and the ancient ones of over a thousand years ago.
Whether you’re staying in London on a business trip or to indulge in the Montcalm afternoon tea deals, you’ll probably pass some of these amazing buildings and landmarks during your visit to the city centre. What you might not know is that they speak to hundreds of years of British development and power. This blog will explore some of the best landmarks, museums and buildings that can tell you more about the ruthless British Empire and its hundreds of years of global domination.
Houses Of Parliament
The Houses of Parliament, formerly the Palace of Westminster is the headquarters for the British government, regularly gathering the MPs responsible for many of the areas of the country. It is here where the decisions surrounding legislation and laws are made. With the building and its iconic “Big Ben” clocktower dating back to 1840, the previous Palace of Westminster that stood here was rebuilt after a fire but dates back to the year 1016. Guests of the Montcalm Spa hotel and other tourists can take regular tours of the building and learn more about the British government via 90 minute guided tours.
Originally named St Peter’s Abbey, Edward the Confessor rebuilt the church as Westminster Abbey back in 960, more than a thousand years ago. The Abbey as it stands now dates back to the 13th century though but still has various corridors and chambers in its undercroft that date back to the original one. Sometimes referred to as the British Valhalla, Westminster Abbey is known for being the resting place of many figures from throughout British history. From monarchs to scientists and poets, Westminster Abbey is a place to remember the influential dead, and has been the coronation site and wedding venue for many monarchs and royals throughout England’s history.
Imperial War Museum
Established in 1917, the Imperial War Museum of London was initially created to commemorate the British war effort in the Great War. Nowadays however, the museum and its three London branches explore many conflicts from throughout history that have involved British Commonwealth nations. The three Imperial War Museums of London include the main headquarters of the same name, which utilise a large building in the Oval area, the World War 2 cruiser the HMS Belfast docked near Tower Bridge, and the Churchill War Rooms. This third affiliate of the Imperial War Museum utilises a series of tunnels and bunkers under London to explore the military and strategic command centre of World War 2
Easy to reach for guests of Hyde Park based Montcalm luxury hotels, Buckingham Palace is still the acting headquarters of the English royal family. With tours of its state rooms available through the summer months, Buckingham Palace can still be seen from behind its gates. Many people enjoy watching the royal guards on duty outside the palace with their distinctive tall black hats and red jackets.
The British Museum was first built in 1753 to house the artefact collection of Sir Hans Sloane, a doctor and collector who had amassed a vast collection of historic objects. The museum grew to include tens of millions of objects from international history and is still one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. Based on Great Russell Street, the beautiful building of the British Museum represents centuries of English exploration and discovery, and includes preserved mummies, prehistoric human remains and many beautiful man made artefacts from all over the world.
Museum Of London
For an understanding of London’s unique character, the Museum of London close to the Barbican charts a chronological exploration of the city’s development. From its Roman rule to the Great Fire of London, visitors will also find exhibits on the city today, and its rapidly evolving technology and culture.
Trafalgar Square is probably the city landmark with the most history and prominence regarding the British Empire. The square’s central feature is Nelson’s Column, a large corinthian column that stretches over 60 metres into the air. The statue was designed in the 1830s to commemorate Hortaio Nelson, admiral of the British navy and victor of the Battle of Trafalgar against the French and the Spanish in 1805 during the Napoleonic Wars.
The square, though, dates much further back and has been an important part of London since the 13th century. Trafalgar Square’s nearby Charing Cross has been used as the marker for measuring distance to and from London, whilst the surrounding cultural institutions of the National Gallery and Portrait Gallery are important aspects of London’s culture. All in all then, this fountain and lion clad square recalls a time when the British Empire stood strong as a leading force in the world.
Tower Of London
The Tower of London has had many roles throughout the ages but was originally built in the 1060s’ as a symbol of Norman rule over England. Over the years, the tower developed to be a prison, exotic menagerie and royal treasury, acting as fortress and status symbol for the ever growing British Empire. Nowadays, visitors can enjoy tours, exhibits and events that chart its bloody and fascinating history.
National Maritime Museum
One of the main facets of the British Empire and colonial power was the strength of its seafaring fleet. The National Maritime Museum at Thameside Greenwich represents hundreds of England’s maritime history, exploring trade and merchant ships, naval warfare and more. Located in the former Royal Hospital School for orphans of sailors, the National Maritime Museum is not only free of charge, but is a beautiful piece of baroque architecture.