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From Aerial View to Underground – Take a Trip to the London Dungeons

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london dungeon

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?

Close to Westminster Bridge, something is stirring. The ghosts, ghouls and skeletons in the closet of London’s past are waiting to thrill and entertain you on a gruesome tour through London’s history.

The London Dungeon is a one-of-a-kind look through the history of the city for young and old on London’s south bank. Close to the London Eye and next door to the Aquarium, it’s a stop-off with a difference on the tourist trail of London.

Above ground, the Dungeon might not be much to look at though you quickly get the impression of something lurking as strange apparitions stalk the streets around the area, looking for unsuspecting victims for a horrifying trip back to the past. Once inside, you’ll get a totally different slant on London’s history, leaving no macabre fact unexamined.

 

London’s murky history

While there have been some great tales of derring-do and heroism in London’s past, there have also been infamous villains and historical infamy. The Dungeon takes you through some of the most dramatic incidents from London’s gory history with glee.

bones the london dungeon

Whose bones are these? You’ll have to visit to find out!

A mixture of exhibits and performance, the experiences in the Dungeons takes visitors on a walk through history re-enacted before your eyes. A cast of talented actors take on the roles of some of the most celebrated and infamous characters from London’s past, from Henry VIII through to Jack the Ripper. There will be scares, laughs and jumps aplenty as you make your way through these great histories.

 

Gunpowder, treason and plot

The tale of Guy Fawkes and his Gunpowder Plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament is told through the story-telling of actors in the roles of the main players of the attempted coup. In an exciting story for teenagers and adults, you’ll learn all about the conspiracy in a room full of gunpowder. Not for the faint-hearted, the tale of Guy and his co-conspirators will also go into quite some detail about the torture he endured after his capture by the soldiers of Parliament. It’s a grim, gruesome tale told with great gusto by the actors who take their parts perfectly.

 

The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Not all of the characters portrayed in the Dungeon are real-life former citizens of London. One exception is Sweeney Todd, the well-known murderous barber who, along with his landlady Mrs Lovett, killed his customers and used their bodies to fuel a grizzly trade in meat pies. At the Dungeon you can visit Mrs Lovett’s Meat Pie shop and have the chance to put your hair – or possibly your throat – in the hands of Mr Todd and his cutthroat blade.

 

Not just entertainment

While the main aim of the Dungeon is to thrill and entertain, there’s a lot that you can learn on your visit and your trip through some of the macabre histories on show. Find out just how far modern medicine has come from its rudimentary roots during the Black Plague where leeches were used for everything from consumption to hysteria. You’ll also have the chance to learn some of the most horrifying facts about Henry VIII’s reign over the British Isles, including what happened to his wives and the kind of tough justice he dished out to his subjects during his time on the throne.

 

Conclusion

Not for those who are easily made queasy by gruesome details and grizzly facts, the London Dungeons are a brilliant place to indulge those who delight in the gore and grime of London’s history.

Image Credits: Wikipedia and .Martin.

Countryside in the City – London’s City Farms

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Although it may not seem like it when you’re in the parts of the city more concrete than countryside, there is a lot of green space in London. Between the Royal Parks, commons and community gardens, it doesn’t take long to get away from it all even when you’re in the middle of the city.

Amongst the green spaces you can visit on your trip to London, the city has a number of small farms that keep small numbers of livestock and allow city dwellers to get closer to our pastoral roots. A perfect place to take kids of all ages, the city farms are an interactive experience where you can get up close and personal with the farm animals and learn more about how our food is farmed.

 

Spitalfields City Farm

Right in the middle of the city, close to Liverpool Street Station, is Spitalfields City Farm. Offering a range of exciting activities for children and adults to get involved with and really get their hands dirty, the farm has plenty to keep you occupied.

donkey poney spitalfields city farm

A couple of the cheery residents at Spitalfields City Farm

With a keen focus on environmental issues and a hub for local volunteers, Spitalfields City Farm has a real community feel and is a relaxing place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

 

Belmont Children’s Farm

If you want something a little bit different for the kids to get involved with on your visit to London, try Belmont Children’s Farm. With over 30 different kinds of animals ranging from the usual sheep and goats through to alpacas and even some wallabies and eagle owls, the farm has really gone all out with getting a whole range of creatures for kids to get to know.

North of the RAF Museum, Mill Hill is a bit of a trek out of the city but does offer a unique experience for the little ones in your family.

 

Mudchute Park and Farm

By far the largest urban farm, Mudchute has approximately 34 acres of land on the Isle of Dogs along with a tea shop and lots of educational activities for young and old alike.

sheeps muduchute farm

Some of the residents of Mudchute Farm, with Canary Wharf beyond

One of the benefits of so much space is the opportunity to take part in some activities that are less accessible on a smaller site. If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to ride a horse but never plucked up the nerve, Mudchute might just provide you with the chance to do just that.

 

Stepney City Farm

Stepney has the City Farm that offers the experience that’s probably closest to life on a rural farm of any of the others in London. A fully working farm with livestock used for farming purposes, you’ll be able to see how a farm operates through the regular working processes. Sheep-shearing, milking cows and collecting eggs from the hens are coupled with a farm trail, gift shop and the chance to buy produce reared and made on the site to take home with you as a reminder of your unique experience.

 

Conclusion

While London feels about as far from the rural idyll as you could possibly imagine, there are lots of places where you can get back in touch with nature and learn a thing or two about the countryside, farming and the animals that keep us in food and clothes. With a few unusual and interesting animals thrown into the equation, London has a range of city farm experiences that offer you the chance to see something you’re unlikely to find anywhere else and make yours a trip to remember.

Image Credits: S Pakhrin and Ewan-M

Meet the Animals at London Zoo

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The last thing you might expect to find on a trip to the city is a lot of wildlife, but that’s just what you’ll get if you take a trip to London Zoo. The home of the Zoological Society of London and the world’s oldest scientific zoo, you will find a collection of over 755 species of animals making it one of the largest zoos in the UK.

The zoo has had a number of famous firsts throughout its lifetime, including being the first to open a reptile house, public aquarium and insect house in the world and being the first place in the UK to have a zoo specifically set up for children.

 

Main attractions

One of the main draws to the zoo, and one of the more recent additions to the collection, is Gorilla Kingdom. Opened by the Duke of Edinburgh in 2007, the gorilla enclosure houses a number of different types of apes and monkeys that are free to roam and play in the specially constructed gorilla gym.

The aquarium, which stands on the site of the first aquarium in the world to open all the way back in 1853, continues to cause quite a stir. Through three separate halls housing freshwater, coral reef and Amazonian species you will see a range of fish and other aquatic creatures from around the world. In addition, you will find the Big Fish Tank, which houses large species of fish that have been rescued from lives as domestic pets because they outgrew their owners’ ability to take care of them.

london zoo aquarium

London Zoo’s aquarium, which is the oldest in the world

If you’re visiting with children, they’re bound to enjoy a trip around Animal Adventure. Including a number of playgrounds, a fountain and a whole host of interesting animals, children can get up close with a number of domestic animals and see into the worlds of a whole host of species. The central attraction is the Meerkat enclosure, which children can access by crawling through a series of tunnels to reach a see-through dome that allows them to peer right into the Meerkat habitat.

Some of the oldest inhabitants of the zoo are Dolly, Dolores, Polly and Priscilla – four Galapagos giant tortoises who took up residence at the zoo nearly four years ago. Known to live up to 170 years, the species has become endangered due to their hunting for tortoiseshell and as a culinary delicacy.

galapagos giant tortoise

The Galapagos giant tortoises are some of the stars of the zoo

Future developments

One of the major areas of work for conservationists at the zoo is the Tiger S.O.S Programme, which aims to save the Sumatran Tiger from extinction. As part of the project there will be the development of a new Tiger HQ at the zoo and a new exhibit where some of the rescued tigers can be seen in the city.

As the zoo receives no state funding, it is reliant on visitors, friends and fellows to contribute the money it needs to carry out its important conservation work and keep the animals already housed in the zoo. A visit to the zoo will do more than just inform and entertain; it will help continue the valuable work of the zoologists who are keeping and conserving vital species of animals from all over the globe.

Conclusion

With everything from alpacas to zebras, London Zoo is one of the finest in the world and well worth a visit on any trip to the city. Close to Regent’s Park and with a number of activities and exhibits that all the family can enjoy, it makes for a great day outdoors with the kids.

 

Image Credits: Wikipedia 1 & 2

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