Tales of London - Discover the tales.

Behind its manificent gilded railings and famously guarded gates, Buckingham Palace has remained a symbolic attraction since becoming the principal royal residence in 1837 on the accession of Queen Victoria. It is a superior building in both structure and significance. Having been the scene for numerous lavish balls and royal appointments over the years, it has also come to be a rallying point for the British people at times of both national rejoicing and crisis.

It is situated on The Mall which was designed by Sir Aston Webb as a ceremonial route in the early 20th century, as part of a grand memorial to Queen Victoria. According to an urban myth, in the event of emergency The Mall can quickly be converted into a make-shift runway. The core of today's palace was originally built as a large townhouse for the Duke of Buckingham in 1703.

The last major structural additions were made in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including the East front which contains the well-known balcony on which the Royal Family traditionally congregate to greet crowds outside. At the rear of the palace lies a park-like garden and lake, which is the largest private garden in London. Here the Queen hosts her annual summer garden parties, and also holds large functions to celebrate royal milestones.

Once owned by Henry VIII and once home to the largest fruit and vegetable market in England, this area boasts a vibrant artisan history. It is home to the oldest established theatre, which had its origins in a patent granted on the restoration of the monarchy in 1660.

The famous piazza area was a collaboration of the Earl of Bedford, Charles I and Inigo Jones – the most important architect of the time. Having seen the many public squares in Italy, he brought the idea to London and surrounded it with a perfectly straight grid of streets. As Londoners were used to the haphazard arrangement of winding streets, alleyways and courtyards, the area was a watershed in English architecture.

The bustling, public square brought about great social changes to the surrounding areas. The wealthy who initially occupied the houses around it soon tired of their lack of privacy and moved away, leaving the area to become filled with artistic tenants who gave the area its colourful reputation. Its liveliness grew as did the number of its performers and stalls, with the large flower market opening in 1872. Today the area still retains its animated and dynamic atmosphere – brimming with theatre, performers, shops and entertainment, rich in London's creative culture.

Home to the Royal Albert Hall, Knightsbridge is a road which gives its name to an exclusive district of London. It was originally a small hamlet named after a crossing of the River Westbourne (now an underground river). It is recorded that the citizens of London met Matilda of England at the Knight's Bridge in 1141. Matilda was the daughter and heir of Henry I, and the first female ruler of the Kingdom of England – although her rule was only a few months and she was never crowned.

Humphrey's Hall in Knightsbridge hosted a popular exhibition of Japanese culture in 1885. It employed 100 Japanese men and women in a setting built to resemble a traditional Japanese village and their daily activities. When it closed in June 1887 it had seen over one million visitors.

For centuries the area was renowned as the haunt of highwaymen, robbers and cut throats targeting travellers on the western route out of London. In stark contrast, these days Knightsbridge is noted as the home of many fashion houses - including the renowned designers Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik. It is home to many of the world's richest people, with some of the highest property prices in the world - it holds 14 of the top 200 most expensive streets in Britain.

A thoroughfare first known in 1626 as 'Pickadilly Hall', named after a house belonging to a famous tailor – 'Piccadills' being a term used for various kinds of collars. Piccadilly Circus was created in 1819, at the junction with Regent Street – the junction itself has been a bustling traffic interchange since construction.

The intersection's first electric advertisements appeared in 1910, and from 1923, electric billboards were set up on the facade of the London Pavilion. On special occasions the lights are switched off, such as for the deaths of Winston Churchill in 1965 and Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997.

The Shaftesbury Monument Memorial Fountain was erected in 1892-1893, to commemorate the philanthropic works of the Victorian politician Lord Shaftesbury. It is famously topped by the mythical Greek god of love, Eros, and features as an instantly recognisable London icon. The classical statue stands tall against a buzzing modern background of technology and advertisements – a perfect example of how London's treasured history sits comfortably alongside its present developments to create London's uniquely characteristic landscape.

The meandering streetscape of Portobello Road originated from it being the country lane that ran from Notting Hill Gate to Portobello Farm. It was named after the famous Caribbean capture of Puerto Bello by Admiral Vernon in 1739. At the time it mainly consisted of hayfields, orchards and other open land – until the early 19th Century which saw its rapid development in the midst of the Industrial Revolution. One hundred and thirty years later, houses and shops stood in an almost continuous line on each side of the road as more and more moved to the area, with its shops and markets thriving on serving the wealthy inhabitants of the elegant crescents and terraces that sprang up around it.

The area changed dramatically again during the late 1960's, as it developed a reputation amongst those in the know as the ultimate place to find and buy antiques. Nowadays in the road there are 30 individual antique markets which open at different times to allow in the crowd of buyers who move from one market to another. Visitors have a choice of the many varying stalls which fill the winding road, reaching a row of pastel painted terraced cottages at Notting Hill. The area's distinctiveness has a remarkable draw on people worldwide, with its bustling cosmopolitan and energetic atmosphere capturing people's imaginations.

Westminster is an area of Central London which has been the seat of the English and British government for almost a thousand years. The historic core of Westminster is the former Thorney Island on which the Abbey was built. Benedictine monks first came to this site in the middle of the tenth century, establishing a tradition of daily worship which continues today. Since 1066 all English sovereigns have been coronated at Westminster Abbey, and seventeen historical monarchs have been laid to rest there. Additional famous English figures buried in the Abbey include Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens and Laurence Olivier.

The Palace of Westminster was built in the eleventh century, and was the primary London residence of the Kings of England until a fire destroyed much of the complex in 1512. Since then it has become known as the Houses of Parliament, which have been meeting there since the thirteenth century. It is known in history as the target of the infamous Gunpowder plot in 1605. With 150 years of English history resonating with every chime, the palace's statuesque Clock Tower fondly known as 'Big Ben' is instantly recognisable as an iconic London landmark and one of the most popular attractions in the city. When parliament is in session, a light shines above the clock face.

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