Visit London Blog » guildhall art gallery Enjoy the very best of London Wed, 23 Apr 2014 14:26:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 What’s On This Weekend: 6-8 September 2013 Mon, 02 Sep 2013 16:00:05 +0000 The Mayor's Thames Festival 2013: The Deluxe River Cruise, photo credit: Doug Fishbone (USA) This weekend you can celebrate the last vestiges of summer at a series of great outdoor events, which show off everything from sporting achievements to London’s river-based history.

The Mayor’s Thames Festival

The Mayor’s Thames Festival is always one of the highlights of the London calendar. This year is extra special as, for the first time, the festival will extend over 10 days, allowing time for a wider range of ambitious and exciting events. Centred on the stretch of water between Lambeth Bridge and St Katherine’s Dock, the festival features unique events such as a night-time river opera, a floating art fair and a rally of Dunkirk little ships. To discover the full programme, visit the Thames Festival website. 6-15 Sep

The Great River Race

Watch more than 300 boats compete in a water-based marathon that takes in many of London’s most famous landmarks on its way up the river Thames. The Great River Race is a fantastic annual spectacle in which any traditional-style boat, powered by at least four oars, can participate. You’ll see a colourful array of different nautical craft, many of which are raising money for charity, race down the Thames from the Docklands to Ham House in a bid for one of the 35 trophies available. For more information on timings and the best viewing points, see the event website. 7 Sep

Carnaby Echoes

Trace the century-old musical history of Carnaby Street and its environs with this fascinating exhibition and self-guided walking tour.  First. visit 20 Foubert’s Place for a free exhibition that features archive material from many different musical eras, then download the app and take a tour of the area, stopping off at each specially-commissioned plaque to learn more about key points in Carnaby’s musical history. 5 Sep – 20 Oct

National Paralympic Day featuring Liberty Festival

This free event in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the Copper Box Arena  marks one year since the London 2012 Paralympic Games took place, and celebrates the skill of top Paralympic athletes. You can see sports such as Boccia and Wheelchair Basketball, as well as participate in family activities, watch film screenings and see a range of outdoor theatre, music and dance performances. National Paralympic Day coincides with the Liberty Festival, which highlights the talents of disabled artists through exibitions and events across London. 7 Sep

Victoriana, The Art of Revival

Visit the Guidhall Art Gallery for the first-ever exhibition to examine the enduring popularity of Victoriana in all its forms. Featuring work from the last two decades by 28 renowned contemporary artists,  including Grayson Perry, Paul St. George and the Chapman Brothers, the exhibition demonstrates our ongoing fascination with the Victorian era and the pervading effect it has had on our cultural output. Tickets are £7 and can be purchased on the door. 7 Sep – 8 Dec

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A Tour of London’s Roman Amphitheatre Thu, 11 Mar 2010 13:14:47 +0000

Walking around the City of London, I’m normally too busy looking up at towering office blocks to think about what’s under my feet. But yesterday I took a tour of London’s subterranean Roman amphitheatre, and realised there’s a whole world buried beneath the city’s streets.

The monthly amphitheatre tour is led by Museum of London’s Roman Curator, Jenny Hall. Our small tour group met in the Museum of London foyer, then walked down the road to the Guildhall Art Gallery, which is built on top of the amphitheatre.

Amazingly, the ruins of the amphitheatre were only discovered in 1988, when builders were digging foundations for the new art gallery. Archaeologists had long suspected that the Roman town of Londinium had an amphitheatre. But as Hall explains, “we’d been looking outside the city wall and this amphitheatre, unusually, is inside the city wall”.

These days, the amphitheatre is six to eight metres below street level, buried under a layer of Roman rubble and rubbish. “They would knock their buildings down and also dump rubbish, so the ground level was gradually rising all the time,” says Hall.

The amphitheatre was an important building in Roman times. In its heyday, it would’ve accommodated around 6,000 people, at a time when the population of Londinium was 20,000 to 30,000.

The ruins of the 80m-wide structure have been well-preserved, and you can still see the remains of the original walls, drainage system, and even the sand that filled the arena. Sand was perfect for soaking up blood from the gruesome gladiator games, wild animal fights and executions that took place here.

In the drains, archaeologists found Roman objects including ladies’ hair pins, drinking vessels, writing tablets and lead cursings (which were used to curse people or send messages to the gods). Hall compared these objects to the litter left behind after a modern-day football match.

The Museum of London tour really brought to life the gladiators, wild animals and baying crowds that inhabited the amphitheatre in Roman times. If you want to discover this fascinating underground gem, I’d recommend booking a place on the next tour.

Museum of London tours of the Roman amphitheatre take place once a month and cost £5. Alternatively, entry to the amphitheatre is included in admission to the Guildhall Art Gallery.

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