Cheshunt

EXPLORING LONDON 1

Next trips:

ALL SUSPENDED

Next Planning Meeting – AWAITS at 10.15 am Cheshunt Free Church.

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MARCH 2020

On Wednesday 26th February Group 1 visited Tutankhamun exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery just off the Kings Road. The exhibition runs until 3rd May before moving to Boston, the last ever world tour before going on to its final resting place the Grand Egyptian Museum, a new museum near the Giza Pyramids. The exhibition comprises 150 objects, nearly three times as many as previous exhibitions , including 60 that have never been seen outside of Egypt. It is well worth a visit and everyone had an enjoyable day.

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DECEMBER 2019

On 4th December 40 of us enjoyed our Christmas lunch at the Salisbury Arms, Hertford. The menu choice was very good and we all came away feeling very satisfied.

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OCTOBER 2019
On 2nd October members of Exploring London Group 1 took a tour of Tottenham Hotspur Stadium organised by Vic Oliver. It was being prepared for American NFL football the following weekend and it was fascinating to see how the football pitch was rolled away under one stand and the American pitch was being prepared some three feet lower down. The innovations in the stadium are superb and we saw the dressing rooms - amazing how different the home one is to the away one - as well as the excellent medical facilities. We were also allowed briefly to sit in the heated seats in the sponsorship area which cost £49000, how much noise has been designed to reverberate round the ground and finally discovered how they fill pint beer glasses from the bottom. A very good trip.

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AUGUST 2019
Recently 12 of us visited Highgate Cemetery for a guided tour of the West Cemetery. The bus ride was enjoyable, taking a route which was new to us. Our guide, Julia, was most informative and interesting. The last burial there was 3 weeks ago. The graves were different, one with a full size model of the owner’s dog, and another , who was a menagerist, of a lion. We started in beautiful weather but by the time we reached the last grave the heavens opened. Some of us went across to the East Cemetery to see Karl Marx grave.

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JULY 2019
On 11th July we visited The Vintners Hall the 11th livery company. We were greeted by Major Stephen Marcham MBE whom we found to be very witty. We toured around Banquet rooms full of chandeliers and paintings. The wooden staircase was very ornate with carvings. A good trip everyone agreed.

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FEBRUARY 2019
On February 27th twenty of us visited The Queens Diamond Jubilee Galleries housed in the Weston Tower at Westminster Abbey, which is now open to the public for the first time. This is a new museum housed in the 13thCentury triforium high above the Abbey floor, with amazing views over the whole Abbey and over 300 fascinating objects to see including funeral effigies of medieval Kings and Queens up to Charles 1st. It tells the story of our 1,000 year history.

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MARCH 2019
On 20th March 15 of the Group went to the Museum of Optometrists for what proved to be a most interesting and informative tour. The museum, in Craven Street, houses and displays the work of spectacle and instrument makers of the past. There’s a wonderful collection of pictures, some really humorous, like the man sitting at the table eating, with a magnifying glass on the lark to make it look like a capon! Another one showed men wearing spectacles hanging from their hats. In the 16th and 17th centuries spectacles were made without sides and were kept in place, not very successfully, by pressure on the nose. They had spectacles there that had belonged to the Queen Mother, Leonardo di Caprio, and Rihanna. A really enjoyable visit.

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JANUARY 2019
On a chilly but sunny day just 6 of us made a return visit to the Freemasons Hall for a guided tour and were still overwhelmed by the beauty of the whole building. The beginnings of freemasonry are recorded as 24th June 1717. The present beautiful building is the third on the site. There are 3 salons with lovely stained glass windows, one of which is dedicated to all the masons who died in WW1, are rented to TV and film companies and have seen several shootings of James Bond films, fashion shows, etc. The building is also let out for functions to help with the maintenance costs. The Grand Temple is used on very few occasions but there are 20 lodge rooms for lodges to use. Just outside the Grand Temple door is a lovely tile floor with a centre of lapis lazuli. We saw a chair specially built, with 3 steps up to it, for a huge, fat Grand Master. The museum has lots of history of the freemasons, and a Jewel Room with lots of china, glass, silver and clocks. A really most interesting and enjoyable visit.

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DECEMBER 2018
We went to the Salisbury Arms, Hertford for our Christmas lunch. We had pre-selected our menus, which were served very efficiently by pleasant staff. The food was most enjoyable. A very successful lunch and enjoyed by all.

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NOVEMBER 2018

On 14th November 19 of us visited the Imperial War Museum; en route we all enjoyed a fish and chip lunch before making our way to the Museum. Being the Centenary Year, the ground floor is dedicated to the 1914-18 war, with excellent film shows and memorabilia. The first floor, which was in the main World War 2, had displays which brought back many childhood memories. A good day was had by all.

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OCTOBER 2018

In October we had an interesting and enjoyable visit to Whitewebbs Transport Museum in Whitewebbs Lane Enfield which is housed in an old pumping station. There were all things from our youth and beyond, including cars, motorbikes, household goods inside the building and outside old fire engines and railway carriages with many model railway layouts. We finished off at the Toby Inn at Whitewebbs for lunch.

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SEPTEMBER 2018
We were very privileged to have lunch at the RAF Club in Piccadilly. We had a most enjoyable 3-course lunch in very pleasant surroundings and were also able to have a look around this most impressive building.

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AUGUST 2018

On the 14th August 2018, twenty nine of us enjoyed a tour of the iconic Palladium with our very informative guide Mark Cox. We learned it opened in 1910 as a music hall and was built by Walter Gibons. In those days the back drop was wound up by hand and each performer had their own colour roller blind starting at the front and as each performer finished their act it would be wound up and the next artist would enter with their colour blind already in place and so on. As smoking was allowed you can imagine it got rather foggy and so a glass dome in the roof was able to be opened and act as a chimney to remove the smoke. The Palladium’s famous revolving stage was installed in the 1930’s for the crazy gang and removed in 2002 and now each production has to build its own stage which measures 42’ wide by 38’ deep and pay for it, so you can see why the price of seats cost as much as they do. This year will be the 42nd Royal Variety Show. The Palladium is owned by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and was the first theatre to have tip up seats. We thank Sheila Barton for organising this trip which we enjoyed so much.

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July 2018
After a somewhat chaotic start moving tables around, we thoroughly enjoyed a substantial afternoon tea at 3 Lakes. It was too hot to sit outside but we appreciated the views of the lovely Hertfordshire countryside.

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JUNE 2018

We had a lovely sunny day for our recent visit to Hampton Court Palace. The gardens were colourful and they were still planting out the bedding plants. The Palace was most interesting with lots of informative guides on hand, with some of them dressed in the costumes from the era with the appropriate information.
We visited Apothecaries Hall and was met by the Beadle Gary a very suave gentleman who guided us around a livery of the history of Medicine and Pharmacy. We all enjoyed his wit and knowledge. A portrait of the Queen in the large banqueting hall was one we all admired.

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We made two visits in April to the River Police Museum in Wapping, which we found most interesting. This was the same visit as Group 3 had done and reported on last month.

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APRIL 2018
On a very wet and cold day we visited the Wallace Collection. Situated in Manchester Square, and built in the late 18th century, it was the main London town house of former owners, Sir Richard and Lady Wallace. It is home to one of Europe’s finest collections of art, paintings, armour, porcelain, Limoges enamels; glass and bronzes. Paintings are by artists including Titian and Rembrandt and include The Laughing Cavalier. It employs over 100 staff, over half of whom are in the Gallery and Security teams.

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JANUARY 2018
We recently visited the newly refurbished National Army Museum. We had an introductory talk by Ian, a retired Army Officer, who was so passionate and most informative and interesting. We learned about Humpty Dumpty. Humpty Dumpty was the nickname for a huge gun, situated on a wall in Colchester. When it was fired it smashed to pieces. When all the King’s horses and all the King’s men arrived, they couldn’t put Humpty together again. Also, the Grand Old Duke of York marched his army up the hill at Waterloo to fight the French. When they arrived at the top the French army had disappeared So he marched them down again.
We also had a lovely trip to Kew Gardens for the Orchid Festival. They were all from Thailand and were so beautiful. We were surprised at the number of varieties – some didn’t look like orchids. It had been an extremely wet and miserable weekend but we were lucky to have a lovely sunny Monday.

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DECEMBER 2017
The Group recently enjoyed our Christmas lunch at Turnford College. The food was very good, served by the students. I thank all the members of the Group for their continued support throughout the year, and wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a Healthy New Year.

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OCTOBER - NOVEMBER

On Tuesday 31st October we visited The West Lodge Park Hotel in the Hadley Wood area, where we had a lovely 2 course lunch, followed by a visit to the Beale Arboretum, which is in the hotel grounds. Mr Andrew Beale (Managing Director) took us on the last of the Autumn tours of over 800 specimens of trees from all over the world. The Arboretum hs grown in National importance since its inception in 1963. One of the trees he pointed out could produce the same type of wood that Mr Stradivarius used to manufacture the now world-famous violins. A very interesting tour was had by all.
On Friday 10th November a group of 30 had an interesting visit to the Postal Museum, which contained a great deal of postal history, including many interactive displays. In addition, we all enjoyed a trip on the mini train which runs under Mount Pleasant and which was originally used for the sorting and onward movement of mail as it began its way around the world. Again, this trip was well illuminated to show its original use.
Following the Museum visit we all had a very enjoyable meal in a nearby restaurant ………..but who set off the alarm?!!

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SEPTEMBER & OCTOBER 2017
On 16th October, 20 of our group visited Spencer House where we had a very good guide who gave us an interesting tour of the house. None of the furnishings were original as they were removed to Althorp at the beginning of the war and never returned. The house no longer belongs to the Spencer family. An added bonus for our tour was a display of Catherine Walker dresses designed for Princess Diana.
On 20th September we went by coach to Harrow School. It was a most interesting visit seeing where many famous people, including Winston Churchill, spent their schooldays. There were a lot of stairs to climb, which everyone managed. The guides were very informative, both having been former members of the teaching staff. The weather was quite good and an enjoyable day was had by all. We also had a very nice afternoon tea in their dining hall.

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AUGUST 2017
On 30th August 21 of us visited the City of London Police Museum, where Seif El Rashid took us on a most interesting tour of the development of the City of London Police Force from its earliest days through the intrigue of the Victorian era to modern policing and current challenges like cybercrime and fraud. Although the weather could have been kinder, everyone seemed to enjoy the visit.

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JULY 2017
We recently had a very good trip – coach to Windsor with free time to explore the town, then boarded a boat and had a 2-hour round trip on the Thames with a cream tea and an interesting commentary. We were very fortunate with the weather as it was the day after the big storm in the night so we were all keeping our fingers crossed. Although the sun didn’t make an appearance, it was dry and not cold. A most enjoyable day.

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MAY 2017
We visited Kensington Palace on a very hot day and, due to the heightened security, had quite an uncomfortable wait in the heat before being able to enter, Sadly, the gardens were also closed, which disappointed several members of the group who had been looking forward to visiting an area that had been planted especially in Diana’s memory. However, the exhibition itself, although relatively small, was very well presented displaying many remembered dresses and other outfits. The walls were covered in interesting quotes and anecdotes concerning Diana and her life, and there was a short film. Also on display was a delightful collection of sketches from her various designers.
We recently also had afternoon tea at Pearces A10 Farm Shop, and all enjoyed the delicious sandwiches, scones, cakes, etc., with plenty of tea/coffee.

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APRIL 2017
On 26th April, we visited Charterhouse. This was an intriguing visit for many of us as we had no idea this ancient building existed in the heart of the City of London. Since 1348 Charterhouse has variously been a burial ground for victims of the Black Death, a monastery founded by Carthusian monks, a mansion during Tudor times (following the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII), and a school and almshouse following the endowment of both by Thomas Sutton in 1611. When the school, Charterhouse, moved to Surrey in 1872 where it still exists today, the almshouse (a home for gentlemen pensioners) continued to occupy the site as it still does.
Our guide told us about the history of the site and took us round the ancient cloisters, the Great Hall, where the Brothers have their meals in some style, the Great Chamber where Queen Elizabeth I held court in the early days of her reign, Wash House Court associated with the medieval monks of the Charterhouse and Masters Court which reveals the opulence of Lord North’s Tudor mansion. We also saw the Brothers’ lovely garden but only through a railing as this is private. We finished our tour in the Chapel and the Museum where, among other exhibits, we saw the skeleton of a victim of the Black Death found during excavations for Crossrail.

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MARCH 2017

In March we had a conducted tour of the world-famous entertainment organisation, ‘The Grand Order of Water Rats’, in Gray’s Inn Road; one of England’s oldest theatrical charity headquarters. Steeped in the history of entertainment, the Museum houses an insight into the past and present world of Music Hall, Variety and Television. On show was memorabilia dating back to the 1800s, including Dan Leno’s boots, a Danny La Rue costume, Charlie Chaplin’s Hat and Cane, and much more, including hundreds of photographs of past and present members of the Order. Our guide made our visit informative and entertaining, showing short films and telling us amusing details over tea and biscuits.

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Last year we had a most enjoyable charity evening at Harlow Dogs. This is being repeated this year on Saturday 3rd June, again for RAFA Wings Appeal. Please contact me for further detail and if you wish to go. This is open to any non Exploring London 1 Group member.

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We had a different and most enjoyable Planning Meeting in February. This included a very interesting talk from Heather and Bill Lewis who told us about “The Bodysnatchers”. A rather gruesome subject but they made it light-hearted. We also had coffee and cakes.

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NOVEMBER 2016

The Group had a ‘different’ venue for our Christmas meal this year. We went to Her Majesty’s Prison at Brixton. Obviously a lot of security to get in and out, with some ‘dodgy looking’ members having a body search! The meal was very enjoyable, beautifully presented and efficiently served by some of the prisoners. We used plastic (sturdy) cutlery and there was no alcohol, just soft drinks. They do have a gift shop. Several prisons have a scheme where they train the prisoners for qualifications to enable them to get jobs upon release and it obviously works because the percentage of re-offenders within the first year of release has dropped.
We have also been to the Musical Museum at Kew for a seasonal afternoon tea and a concert. All most enjoyable- the concert was two very talented singers, and a gentleman playing the Wurlitzer. A most enjoyable afternoon.

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OCTOBER 2016

On 5th October the group visited London Zoo. Those who had not been there for a long time (many of us) were impressed with the improved layout; all of the animals are now in lovely surroundings with plenty of room. Vic, who knew the place well, advised us on a route to take so that we saw so much without having to backtrack. It was a lovely sunny day and we were able to have our picnic sitting outside. Although some of the larger animals have been transferred to Whipsnade to give them more space, i.e. the elephants, there is still plenty to see – gloriously coloured birds, and so many breeds of monkey from very small to huge – on the day Guy the gorilla was behaving himself! The Penguin Beach was a highlight and they performed well for us at feeding time. A good time was had by all, and our thanks again to Vic.

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SEPTEMBER 2016

In late September the group enjoyed a visit to Buckingham Palace. Unexpectedly, a band was playing in the forecourt and a troupe of mounted guards passed by; always an eye-catching sight. The Queen’s clothes displayed were fascinating and some brought back memories of the special occasions they were designed for.

On 1st September a group of us were taken on a tour of Fleet Street and nearby areas by Colin, a very enthusiastic and knowledgeable London guide.
Fleet Street was named after the River Fleet which flowed across London and along which boats would transport goods, etc. The river still flows but is now underground and part of the extensive sewer system.
The first place of interest we visited was St. Brides Church –known as the journalists’ church. We went down into the crypt where there is a beautiful chapel which is in constant use. There are also archaeological remains of various places of worship which have stood on this site dating back to the 10th Century and possibly beyond. The church was rebuilt by Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of London but was sadly destroyed by bombing during the blitz. However, amazingly the tower and magnificent tiered steeple was untouched and still stands to this day. The church was rebuilt after the war with the aid of many donations from the large national newspapers which had their offices and printing works on Fleet Street. The steeple is also known as the wedding cake possibly because it became the inspiration to a baker who had premises opposite the church and who wanted to create a very special cake for his own daughter’s wedding, thus the tradition of tiered wedding cakes came into being.
Along Fleet Street are many alleyways and passages and we visited quite a few. One led to a site that was said to be the shop of Sweeny Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street; another led to a square behind the legal area of the Temples and a pub frequented by barristers etc., but only in recent times was open to women.
Another passage called Johnson Passage led to a square where stands the last remaining home of Dr Samuel Johnson (he apparently had many properties in London). Dr Johnson was a literary genius but also somewhat eccentric. He was asked to produce a comprehensive dictionary of the English language and was told that this task had been undertaken in France but took 18 years. He retorted “I am an Englishman and I will complete in three years”
Our tour ended in a square reached by Chicken and Hen Passage and which was behind a very old pub The Chequers which was frequented in the recent past by journalists who worked in the area. We took our leave of Colin and thanked him for a very interesting tour.

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AUGUST 2016

We recently had a very interesting and informative visit to Apsley House (No. 1 London) and Wellington Arch. We used the headphones and little TV set that were provided and learnt a lot about the Duke of Wellington. Whilst in Apsley House we saw the Kings Troop returning from Changing the Guard. We took the lift in Wellington Arch to the outside top, enjoyed the views and then enjoyed the exhibitions on the other floors.

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JULY 2016

On a warm Thursday morning, 27 members of Exploring London Group 1 set out to visit the Thames Barrier. We travelled to Stratford and the DLR to Woolwich Arsenal, passing on the way City Airport and the Emirates cable car across the Thames. After a welcome coffee break we completed our journey by bus and were welcomed at the Barrier Information Centre by our guide, Wendy. She was a very knowledgeable and friendly lady, who made us very welcome. We were split into 2 groups and, while one group was given an informative talk by Wendy, illustrated by a working model of the Barrier, the other group watched an interesting film actually shot on the Barrier as, for security reasons, the public are no longer allowed on the Barrier itself.
Wendy then took us on a short walk along the Thames Towpath to see the Barrier close up. It was a lovely sight as the stainless steel cladding, which incidentally has never needed to be cleaned, gleamed in the bright sunshine.
Our day was completed by a journey back along the Thames to Bankside on a fast Thames Clipper river boat, and we saw many well-known sights.
Very many thanks from all of us to Valerie and Geraldine for organising such a successful and enjoyable day out.

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APRIL 2016

On Wednesday 6th April, 23 members of the group visited the Museum of Brands, located in Lancaster Road, 2 minutes walk away from Portobello Road. The Museum starts from the 1800s, all the way up to the present day, featuring over 12,000 original items from the unique Robert Opie collection. It showed how brands, packaging, posters and advertisements have evolved from the Victorian era. It brought back many memories for us all, and we had a very enjoyable day.

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MARCH 2016

Our March outing was a visit to Drapers Hall in London. On arrival we were welcomed with tea, coffee and biscuits before we started our tour of the building.
The Brotherhood of Drapers is a religious fraternity which is attached to the Church. Today most of their work is supporting charities, mainly education. Our guided tour took us into the Liver Hall, with its magnificent ceiling - this room was set up for an evening concert – and then on to the Drawing Room with its pale green furnishings, and finally into the Vault where the silver is kept. Our guide was excellent and very enthusiastic, and informed us that the building had been used in various films. A great day was had by all.

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FEBRUARY 2016

On Monday 22nd February 26 members of the Group enjoyed a lovely trip to “Ripley’s Believe it or Not” at Piccadilly Circus. It was a step into the world of the legendary explorer, Robert Ripley, who sought remarkable relics and rare treasures. We were offered a really good value deal, which included afternoon tea and scone, and hundreds of exhibits to explore over 6 floors of the building.
A walk through the Mirror Maze (great fun!) and also a walk into the Black Hole, which appeared to be a walk across a railed bridge, which did not move, but the visual effect made you grip the rail as you felt you were going to fall over the side. A really good day out.

JANUARY 2016

In January Exploring London Group 1 members visited the Crime Museum Uncovered which is in the Museum of London until 10th April 2016. Exhibits include brief details of some of the crimes committed from the 1800s up to more recent times, some of which will be familiar to U3A members. There are also some actual execution ropes and examples of firearms, court illustrations and a cat burglar’s equipment. Admission to the Museum of London is free but there is a charge to visit the Crime Museum Uncovered, but well worth it once we got past the ‘jobsworth’ checking tickets ….. very much like Inspector Clouseau!!

NOVEMBER 2015

On 2nd November the Group visited Strawberry Hill House in Twickenham, the home of Horace Walpole, son of Sir Robert Walpole, Britain’s first Prime Minister. The guides explained that, before Walpole, the residence was a small detached house, which in the 18th Century he enlarged significantly in the Gothic style. Enlargements were predominantly in wood painted for reasons of lightness. Both the interior and exterior of the house were fascinating and we all enjoyed the visit. In the grounds and part of the house were exhibited some most unusual sculptures of animals by Laura Ford.

OCTOBER 2015

27 of the Group recently visited the Fishmongers Hall, situated at London Bridge. It is the third Hall, replacing two earlier buildings belonging to the Guild. The Livery Company is the 4th of the 12 Senior Livery Companies, having been established in 1272. Our tour started with coffee and biscuits and an introduction by our guide. Then followed an extremely interesting tour (one and a quarter hours) of the main reception rooms and of the history of the Guild and the building. Our guide, who was responsible for the upkeep of the artefacts, paintings and records of the Hall, was able to pass on his knowledge in an interesting and easy-to-understand manner.

SEPTEMBER 2015

On a glorious, clear September day we went to The View from the Shard. What wonderful views. Several of us took advantage of London Open House that weekend and visited Custom House, which was most interesting; also saw a demonstration by the ‘sniffer’ dogs.
Recently was ‘The Great Stink’ (London Sewerage System) trip. Great day – starting with a tour in London, then on the Thames from Westminster to Greenwich, with a very good commentary and then to Crossness Pumping Station, with its Victorian ironwork and colourful tiles.

AUGUST 2015

The Group had a very busy August, with 3 trips. We went to the Whitechapel Bell Foundry and heard how they make, repair, and tune the Bells. It is still a working Foundry on weekdays. On the wettest day of the month we had a trip on the Epping/Ongar Steam Railway – very nostalgic. Then on to the Secret Nuclear Bunker at Kelvedon (the rain didn’t matter there!). Most interesting to see were the preparations that were made for a nuclear attack and how lucky we were that they weren’t used. The third trip was to the Hindu Temple at Northaw – a lovely place with a huge community hall. Another group who had joined us had arranged for a light lunch, and they kindly invited us to join them.

JULY 2015
We recently enjoyed a most interesting and informative visit to Bentley Priory Museum.
Bentley Priory is a Grade II listed country mansion which has had many residents, including Queen Adelaide. It was the Headquarters Fighter Command during World War II and gives the stories of The One, The Few and The Many. “The One” was Lord Dowding who led Fighter Command from his desk there, “The Few” were the Battle of Britain Pilots, and “The Many” were the Operations and Filter Room staff.

For Exploring London 1 : Please visit Eileen Funnell, Group Leader, at the Exploring London 1 Table at our Group Meetings to register for these and any future trips.

Please note due to demand we would ask that you only join one Exploring London group. All Groups will visit places of interest in and around London and it is quite possible that all will visit the same places during the year so please don't feel like you're missing out on anything by only belonging to Group 1, 2, 3 or 4! Please also come along to your relevant Group's planning meetings to suggest places to visit.

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