I am lucky enough to work right near Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament and my morning walk to work from Charing Cross Station takes me along the bottom corner of Trafalgar Square and straight down Whitehall, past 10 Downing Street and through Parliament Square. With so many beautiful buildings and breathtakingly famous views, I am constantly whipping out my phone to capture a moment that makes me catch my breath and say ‘Wow!’. But this morning I turned right out of the station exit and discovered an entirely different source of snap-happy inspiration, Whitehall Garden.
The Garden forms part of Christopher Wren‘s original vision of a continuous series of public gardens along the river bank back in 1666 – Whitehall Garden is one of four gardens and stretches along Victoria Embankment from the Golden Jubilee Bridge towards Westminster Bridge. It was laid out in 1875 along the river side of Whitehall Palace (which to this day still contains the Banqueting House with its exquisite Rubenesque ceiling).
Compared with the hustle and bustle of Whitehall, the lush green landscape before me offered a more serene and contemplative space than usual for the last leg of my commute. With today being ANZAC Day, it also seemed appropriate that my decision to beat a different path to the office took me past the RAF Memorial. And I loved the opportunity to finish off my commute with a different perspective of Big Ben…
I didn’t expect to find so much that was interesting along the way, expecting a spot of vague strolling but upon crossing Northumberland Avenue, having a Monopoly moment and entering the garden, I stumbled across a fabulous little piece of history.
These are Queen Mary’s Steps and were discovered in 1939. They were built by Wren in 1691 as part of a riverside terrace for Queen Mary II in front of the original Whitehall Palace (one of Henry VIII pads) and the curving steps provided access from her Royal Apartments to the State Barge. *snap snap*
But the serenity of the gardens (and more ‘peaceful picture’ opportunities) beckoned…
And soon I was turning right and crossing into Parliament Square beneath the gothic gilded clock tower.
I do love this city…what a great way to start a Friday…and all because I had a whim to hang a right.