London's Roman Amphitheatre
Hidden in the bowels of the Guildhall Art Gallery in the heart of the City is a REAL Roman amphitheatre, not to be missed. Only recently unearthed, it is the only Roman amphitheatre found in London. The amphitheatre was big enough to hold 6,000 people, a quarter of roman London’s population and was the site of many fierce gladiatorial battles, public executions and wild animal fights. To soak up the blood, the centre of the arena was filled with sand...
Wander along the cobbled streets of Wapping dip down to the water’s edge at Wapping Old Stairs for a spot of mudlarking. See where the pirates of long ago were hung in gibbets at execution dock and have a pint of lemonade at the Prospect of Whitby, once a haunt of sailors, smugglers, footpads and cut-throats.
Great Fire of London
Follow the trail of the fire from Pudding Lane to St Paul’s Cathedral. Climb the Monument (small fee) and claim your certificate for doing so. Wiggle down the lanes that were licked by flames, past St Mary le Bow on Cheapside. Look for blue plaques marking the buildings that burnt. Take the lift to the top of the new shopping centre, One New Change, just by Wren’s magnificent St Paul’s Cathedral and see the City spread out below.
Explore one of London’s little known secret woodlands tucked away in the wilds of Richmond Park. The Isabella Plantation is a hidden haven, complete with twisty paths, stepping stones, bridges and bushes to hide in. What makes this place great is that it is enclosed, making it perfect for children to explore without disappearing all together. For the grown ups, there are 50 different species of rhododendron; camellias and magnolias. In autumn, the guelder roses, rowan and spindle trees are at their best and the leaves of the acers are turning a glowing red.
Jump aboard a Thames Clipper boat from anywhere along the river down to Greenwich and spend the day exploring the wonderful National Maritime Museum. Climb the hill to the Observatory for a picnic. Beware that you can’t straddle time any more for free – there is now a £10 fee to walk on the Greenwich Meridian Line that divides the globe, east and west. Boo hoo. Make sure you look up to the top of Flamstead House at 12.55 and watch the large red ball rise slowly to the top of the spire. At exactly 1pm, it dramatically drops down again. It is one of the oldest public clocks and was designed so that ships on the Thames could correct their watches. At the end of the day, walk under water via the Greenwich Foot Tunnel and take the space age DLR home.