London Underground
July 4, 2006 9:56 AM   Subscribe

I have recently moved to London and now that I am quite situated I am starting to explore. Can any Londoners suggest any abandoned building, nooks and crannies, creepy backalleys or little known places that would be ideal to visit.

Additionally parks are quite appealing. Yesterday I rode a bike out to Crystal Palace and was pleasantly surprised to find all sorts of weird bits around that place. So spit it out people, make your secret haunts not-so-secret anymore.

Love always, Cloeburner
posted by cloeburner to Grab Bag (24 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
You might want to have an explore round the City - at the weekends it's really quiet and full of old, interesting buildings (as well as all the newer shiny monstrosities). A good starting point would be around Smithfield Market: check out St Bartholomew the Great church, Postman's Park (just off Little Britain - that's the street, not the show), if you then wander East towards the Guildhall, noting the site of the Roman Collesium, which is etched into the paving around the square, there are dozens of little half-timbered alleys.

Sadly, virtually all of the lovely little pubs will be closed on Saturdays and Sundays (but you can peer through the mullioned windows). Anyway, during the week, they're mostly heaving with City wankers, so you wouldn't want go in then. (I speak as an ex-wanker myself).
posted by dogsbody at 10:15 AM on July 4, 2006

Once you've wandered the City for a while as per the previous suggestion, hop on the 149 going north at Bishopsgate, get off after you pass under a railway bridge just after Old Street, then cross the road to the Geffrye Museum, which is unlike any museum you'll have seen before. After that, get back on the 149 north, get off when you see Woolworths on the right and head to Abney Park cemetery. Desolate and haunting.
Then pick any of the many places on Church Street for food and drinks. That was my ideal Sunday out. Boy, I miss Stoke Newington
posted by punilux at 10:31 AM on July 4, 2006

Highgate Cemetery!
posted by handful of rain at 10:53 AM on July 4, 2006

I second the church of St Bartholomew the Great, it's a hidden gem. And my second recommendation was going to be the Geffrye Museum. Harrumph!!

Another interesting neighbourhood. Take the Central Line to Bethnal Green, have a look round the beautiful but slightly ramshackle church next to the tube station, then walk along Roman Road to the Buddhist Village.

Much further (about a mile) down Roman Road is the famous street market. And in the opposite direction (back towards the tube station and across the lights) is Bethnal Green market. Walk down there far enough and you'll reach Brick Lane, where there are some good independent, arty clothes stores and great curry houses.

And very close to the tube station is the wonderful Museum of Childhood.

One of my favourite parts of Bethnal Green is a row of houses at by tube station, called Paradise Row. It was run down for years, but has now become gentrified. I think (but am not sure) that it's the Paradise Row referred to in this song.
posted by essexjan at 11:14 AM on July 4, 2006

Response by poster: Oh, I just did some research on my own... there is a website that has pictures all around London of dilapidated buildings and locales, the site is horrible to look at and navigate but it is quite full of content... Derelict London.

Still I'd like to hear personal accounts and stuff because that site is a pain to navigate.
posted by cloeburner at 11:28 AM on July 4, 2006

Might be interested in Nairn's London, an excellent non-touristy walking guide to London.
posted by Brian James at 11:30 AM on July 4, 2006

1. walk behind kings cross and st pancras to see a part of London that is literally disaappearing daily as the huge new rail station is built. I think still on is a good photographic exhbition in the "Gymanasium" (itself a fascinating building) next to St Pancras's current entrance that shows a lot of what's already gone - gas holders etc. In the meantime see the empty codemned buildings.
2. another tip if you are nearby is to walk (confidently) into the the Novotel a little further down Euston Road and take the glass elevator to the top floor - wonderful views in all directions (not precisely what you asked but it may give you something to aim for if you take an A-Z)
3. buy (or see if your library has) The Time Out Books of London Walks - each one is written by a local writer and each will take you somewhere interesting and make you notice something you might have otherwise
posted by peterbl at 11:33 AM on July 4, 2006

I second the A to Z street guide, but would take it a step further. I live in the East End and was given a couple of Jack the Ripper books for my BDay last year.

While reading them everytime I came across a street name I'd look it up in the A to Z - after a couple of World Wars and other disasters only about one third remain - then later walk them. Seeing the East End through these books and the associated narrative gave me a deeper appreciation of the areas history. And the East End has loads of interesting buildings. Not all derilicts, but definitely worth your time.
posted by Mutant at 12:14 PM on July 4, 2006

I've always loved the backstreets round St James's Park - the park itself is fascinating then there's the rabbit warren of Cockpit Steps and the Queen Anne houses at (natch) Queen Anne's Gate. There's a tiny pub called the Two Chairmen there you could check out, plus the Cabinet War Rooms are a different kind of underground street complex that I love to visit.

Also if you get a chance to go down the abandoned Aldwych tube station - they sometimes do performance art and things there - then leap at it, it's fascinating.

Plus a second vote for the Timeout Book of London Walks - it's great!
posted by greycap at 12:23 PM on July 4, 2006

Urbex is a site devoted to exploring derelict buildings.

City Walks: London is a collection of walking tours printed on cards.
posted by Human Flesh at 12:54 PM on July 4, 2006 [1 favorite]
posted by Human Flesh at 12:59 PM on July 4, 2006 [1 favorite]

It's not open very often but 19 Princelet Street in Spitalfields is well worth a visit if you're drawn to the darker side of London, and there's a fascinating book about one of its inhabitants.
posted by amestoy at 2:19 PM on July 4, 2006

I'm not a Londoner and I'm sure it isn't at all secret, but my favourite place when I visited was St. Dunstan's Park, a bombed-out shell of a church in which gardens had been planted.
posted by joannemerriam at 3:13 PM on July 4, 2006

Is the smallest pub in London The Feathers in Linhope Street, NW1?
posted by londongeezer at 4:45 PM on July 4, 2006

You mentioned riding a bike in your question, so maybe having a listen to archived editions of Resonance FM's The Bike Show might be an idea? The 12th of June "A ride in the Royal Parks" could be good to start..
posted by nonemoreblack at 4:54 PM on July 4, 2006

..or the weekly "afterworkers" with Southwark Cyclists"
posted by nonemoreblack at 5:00 PM on July 4, 2006

diamond geezer has a London specific blog that's worth checking out.
posted by tellurian at 5:21 PM on July 4, 2006

There's an old abondoned railway line now known as Parkland Walk, which allows you to walk from Finsbury park to Highgate (where you could then take in the cemetery).

A beutiful walk, interesting sites..

posted by the_epicurean at 2:45 AM on July 5, 2006
posted by the_epicurean at 2:46 AM on July 5, 2006

The Mitre is an interesting little pub on Chancery Lane, hidden down a tiny, narrow alley running off the main street.
posted by bifter at 3:02 AM on July 5, 2006

Try the abandoned nooks and crannies in your local public library for some of the many good books on London. I like "Secret London" by Andrew Duncan.

The LBL (London by London) newsletter is full fo random information (some very random). There is a book made out of some of it.

Top London blogs are Diamond Geezer listed above and the The Diary of Samual Pepys, interesting in itself, and with lots of fascinating Background Info including links to old maps.

To buy London maps and books, visit Stanford's in Long Acre near Covent Garden, but set a budget before you go in.
posted by Idcoytco at 6:12 AM on July 5, 2006

I am quite situated
My use of quite in this fashion was remarked on here once, so may I say, yes, you do seem to be settling in rather well.
posted by tellurian at 8:11 AM on July 6, 2006

wandering around london the other weekend i stumbled across Bunhill Fields, near liverpool street station.

it is surrounded by City Road to the east and Bunhill Row to the west. it's incredibly quiet and hidden away :
posted by mrben at 5:24 AM on July 10, 2006

sorry .. there should have been a link there : google maps
posted by mrben at 5:25 AM on July 10, 2006

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