London in Half an Hour (Westminster Cathedral)

Words cannot do justice to the scorn which I feel towards the London Eye, that hideous monstrosity on the South Bank which never fails to call to mind the grandiose plans and broken promises of Tony Blair’s Cool Britannia. Unfortunately, it continues to grow in popularity and so the likelihood of its promised demolition ever taking place becomes smaller with each passing year. Like the nineteenth century Parisians with their Eiffel Tower, we are probably stuck with it. If I actually had a clear idea of how much taxpayers money went into its construction and how little of the fabulous revenues have been returned to us my blood pressure reading would probably be somewhere up in the stratosphere so I’d better turn my attention to promoting the following delightful alternative.

Conveniently situated on the number eleven bus route, about mid-way between Victoria Station and the better known Westminster Abbey and more or less opposite New Scotland Yard, lies the Byzantine splendour that is Westminster Cathedral. However, the fact that it was actually completed as late as the beginning of the twentieth century means that its 273ft campanile is equipped with a lift and omnidirectional viewing gallery. If the weather provides good enough visibility, magnificent views of London are available at a very modest cost; £5 per person or £2.50 concession. You will not have to pre-book or to queue and you will know exactly where the money is going.

Some modernisation has meant that the viewing platform is now accessible five days a week and the Roman Catholic Cathedral also has a small cafe, toilets and a helpful little souvenir shop. This gorgeously decorated building is, first and foremost, a place of worship, as I hope some of the delightful vignettes in my photographs will show. At the same time, we all make our devotions in our own way and respectful visitors are made very welcome even if their only purpose is to admire the exquisite mosaics and fine heritage marbles.

So here is my special recommendation for London visitors wishing for a brief oasis in their sightseeing. Stop here for a while and enjoy the Cathedral in your own personal way, contribute a little to its upkeep through spending in its shop or cafe and you may even find yourself sufficiently fortified, both physically and intellectually, to take on the challenge of Westminster Abbey situated a short walk down the road.



  • Chris says:

    How many types of marble is that? I love the picture of the lady in blue and red (1024) but what about getting your OWN picture of the Shard (1012b)?

  • One hundred and twenty nine apparently and they are gorgeous. On my most recent visit I treated myself to Patrick Rogers’ lovely book about the Westminster Cathedral marbles with the money I saved by not going into “the other place”. Of course I’ll get my own picture of the London Bridge Tower in due course, I have to get up to the viewing gallery to identify the buildings in 1010. That is NOT St Pauls.

  • Alex says:

    They built it for a reason, its the eye of Ra, an illuminati symbol.

  • With some relief I realised that Alex is referring to The hated Millennium Wheel rather than fabulously adorned Westminster Cathedral. I have deleted his link as I can’t have this blog connected up with any crazy 666 mumbo-jumbo but the truth is out there. Just google the key words of his post. If you must.

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