Visit London Blog » rotherhithe Enjoy the very best of London Fri, 22 May 2015 17:44:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 What’s On At The Weekend In London. 23-25 November 2012 Mon, 19 Nov 2012 10:20:39 +0000 This weekend presents fantastic opportunities for getting your Christmas shopping out of the way: check out the great stalls at Winter Wonderland and the Scandinavian Christmas Market, or enjoy a traffic free day in the West End. Families will also love the Mickey and Oswald exhibition at Westfield Stratford, as well as the fascinating astrology festival at UCL.

Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park

One of London’s most popular festive attractions returns, with even more rides, stalls and entertainment. Take a spin on the giant observation wheel, buy a tasty snack from the Bavarian Village or show off your moves on the UK’s largest ice rink. A new feature for this year’s Winter Wonderland is the Magical Ice Kingdom, a captivating maze of ice sculptures that will spark your imagination. Entry is free, although some attractions require pre-booking. 23 Nov – 6 Jan

Mickey & Oswald’s Epic Tales, Westfield Stratford

The Getty Images Gallery at Westfield Stratford hosts this fun temporary exhibition, which celebrates the launch of the video game Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two. Featuring important artefacts and cartoons, it charts the history of early Disney character Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and his more famous successor Mickey Mouse, both of whom feature in the game. After enjoying the exhibits, some of which date back to the 1920s, visitors can try Disney Epic Mickey 2 for themselves. Entry is free. 23-25 Nov

West End VIP Day, Oxford Street and Regent Street

Regent Street and Oxford Street are pedestrianised for the day, allowing visitors to roam freely around this excellent shopping destination. Not only will you be able to stroll beneath the Christmas lights between Selfridges and Hamleys without seeing a single car, but there will be lots of special promotions, festive performances and surprises. 24 Nov

The Scandinavian Christmas Market, Rotherhithe

Find unique Christmas gifts at this festive market, which contains a range of great Scandinavian products. Better still, after you’ve shopped for everything from jewellery to furniture you can unwind with traditional food and a glass of mulled wine. See the website for opening times. 23-25 Nov

London: Your Universe, at University College London

Now in its seventh year, UCL’s popular astronomy festival is a great way for families to explore the wonders of the universe. All of its fascinating events, exhibitions and activities are free: highlights include special telescopes that let you peer at the stars, a lecture on the Large Hadron Collider and the amazing Magic Planet projection. See the website for full programme details. 23-24 Nov

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Palau in London: Rotherhithe and the Story of Prince Lee Boo Tue, 03 Jan 2012 10:00:27 +0000

With our World in London series, we’re highlighting many modern restaurants and attractions with roots from around the world, but in fact London’s incredible multiculturalism has spanned centuries. And we’re discovering even the tiniest places have forged strong connections with our huge city.

The Republic of Palau‘s links with London date back to the 1780s and the arrival on the small Pacific archipelago of a group of shipwrecked sailors, including Captain Wilson, his son Henry, and his brother Mathias – all from Rotherhithe in South East London.

Local Chieftain Abba Thulle helped the men build a new vessel to replace their shipwrecked packet, The Antelope. He was so impressed and intrigued by their strange customs and ship-building skills that he arranged for his second son, Prince Lee Boo, to return with the men to England.

Lee Boo reached London in July 1784, and was set up in the home of Captain Wilson, on Paradise Row, Rotherhithe, and attended a local academy.

While in London, Lee Boo was also in the crowd who witnessed Vincenzo Lunardi‘s first balloon flight at The Artillery Ground near Old Street.

Sadly Lee Boo succumbed to smallpox and died in December 1784, but the relationship between London and Palau that he began continues to this day. His tomb, in the Wilson family plot in St Mary’s Churchyard, Rotherhithe, was recently visited by an official delegation from The Republic of Palau.

The inscription on Lee Boo’s tomb reads:

To the memory of prince Lee Boo, a native of the Pelew or Palaos Islands and Son of Abba Thulle, Rupack or King of the Island Cooroora, Who departed this Life on the 27th December 1784, aged 20 years, this stone is inscribed by the Honourable United East India Company as a testimony of Esteem for the humane and kind treatment afforded by his Father to the Crew of their Ship, the Antelope, Captain Wilson, which was Wrecked off that island on the Night of 9th August 1783. Stop, reader, Stop  let Nature Claim a tear. A prince of Mine, LEE BOO, Lies Buried Here.

Do you know of any other London links with Palau? Let us know in the comments below.

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Finland in London: London’s Finnish Sauna Tue, 31 Aug 2010 16:30:00 +0000

Finnish blogger Aapo Markkanen, a London-based mobile industry analyst and sauna enthusiast joins in with our World in London challenge, to talk about the joys of having a Finnish sauna in London.

In the old days, the sauna linked both ends of life in a rather profound manner, functioning both as a birthing room to bring new people into this world as well as a tranquil retreat for the elderly who sensed they didn’t have much time left here. Modernity understandably phased out that side of the sauna culture, but for many of us Finns it still adds something reflective to the concept.

Today there are more saunas than households in Finland. While most are private, serving homes or summer cabins, there are also a plenty of public ones, operating normally as part of pools and various ice-swimming venues. Some are lavish and expensive, some others entirely improvised and ascetic. A sauna doesn’t basically require anything more than a stove (“kiuas”), water and enough of physical structure to contain the vapor heat (“löyly”) that results when these two meet, so with some extra skill and dedication one can be even built out of, say, snow and ice

London’s most (yet not exactly its only) authentic sauna is more of an underground thing, found in the basement of the Finnish Church in Rotherhithe, but its purpose is very much the same: to relax and cleanse you, physically and mentally. 

It’s available as communal sessions (at separate times for men and women) and on private booking, and what essentially sets it apart from gym saunas, for example, is that the kiuas is there for creating proper löyly rather than that frustrating bone-dry heat you experience elsewhere. The other main difference is that most of us enjoy our sauna fully naked, simply because it’s better that way. 

The etiquette is simple. Take a shower. Enter the sauna, and stay in there until you feel like going out. Take another shower, ideally cold, and then a break in the dressing room. Rehydrate yourself. Close your eyes and relax, or converse with others. Avoid topics touching on money and status. Don’t complain about the löyly, unless your complaint is about the lack of it. Repeat as many times as you like and the opening hours permit.

Do you have any other tips for enjoying Finnish culture in London? Let us know in the comments below…

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Brunel Museum and Thames Tunnel Tour Fri, 27 Aug 2010 10:18:12 +0000 Brunel Museum exterior Very important plaque Rotherhithe Station on the new East London Line. The tunnel runs Rotherhithe-Wapping The twin tunnels under the Thames The Brunel Tunnel once contained shops and entertainers Brunel Museum's Robert Hulse gives a fascinating commentary The slightly scary scaffolding down into the Grand Entrance Hall The circular Grand Entrance Hall - hard to capture on film! Emerging from the not-so-grand entrance to the Grand Entrance Hall

A couple of weeks ago I visited the Brunel Museum in Rotherhithe and did a tour of the Thames Tunnel and Grand Entrance Hall. It was fascinating.

Father and son team Marc and Isambard Kingdom Brunel began construction on the Thames tunnel in 1825. It was meant to take three years. It took 18 and was described by tunnel workers as “the worst job in the world”.

When it finally opened, the Thames Tunnel represented a feat of engineering never before seen in the world. It was the first under-river tunnel of its kind, the birthplace of the Tube (globally, as London’s was the first underground railway system).

Although intended for transporting goods off ships beneath the Thames, due to a lack of pulleys, the tunnel’s first use, explained our thoroughly entertaining tour guide Robert Hulse (director of the Brunel Museum), was as an underwater “shopping mall”. And, while the stalls and “Underwater Fancy Fair” attracted astonishing numbers of visitors from day one, the tunnel eventually became a place for shady dealings and, if you’ll pardon the pun, underworld characters.

I won’t say more, because you should see it for yourself. Even better – join a Brunel Museum tour of the tunnel by train (the newly opened East London line goes right through Brunel’s tunnel) and/or take the Thamesside Walk through Bermondsey and Rotherhithe this Bank Holiday Weekend, which includes a tour of the Grand Entrance Hall.

Brunel Museum:
Thamesside Walk: Meet at Bermondsey Tube Station Monday 30 August 2010 at 1.30pm (£8, concs. £6)

The Brunel Museum’s nearest station is Rotherhithe on the new East London line. The Brunel is one  of the Culture Line museums

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East Begins Thu, 04 Mar 2010 15:57:06 +0000
Today marks the start of East Festival 2010!  I hope you’re all as excited as we are here at VL Towers.

There’s been a few last-minute announcements. The always popular and very cool Song East, which involves a series of free music performances at various venues in East London, will now feature singer/songwriter Kami Thompson. Kami is the daughter of folk duo Richard and Linda Thompson and her music draws on these roots, while adding a modern rock sensibility.

East Festival also gives you the chance to walk in the footsteps of legendary engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel through the Thames Tunnel for the first time in 145 years! A new event, the Thames Tunnel Walkthrough and Underground Fancy Fair will be held just after East, but in conjuction with the festival.

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