St Paul’s makes a great day out. Whisper anything under your breath and it can be heard around the eponymous gallery that circumnavigates the base of the great cathedral’s dome: mouth sotto voce ‘Isn’t the memorial to the Duke of Wellington enormous?’ or ‘Lord Nelson’s marble sarcophagus was originally made for Cardinal Wolsey’, and the Whispering Gallery will alert perhaps 100 others to your observations.
We were on a country bumpkins’ visit to the capital last week, for a staycation mini-break. During our privately guided City Wonders tour (0800 098 8019; www.citywonders.com) round the Tower of London, we learnt that stand-up comedy is alive and well in the form of the Beefeaters addressing various groups of tourists. Example: ‘The Peasants’ Revolt leaders dragged out the Archbishop of Canterbury for a kangaroo court—and that was before Australia had been discovered.’ We went up that modern secular cathedral, The Shard, for dinner in the sky in the new Shangri-La Hotel. Floors 1 to 35 flew at top speed and we seemed to arrive before we even knew the lift was moving.
The setting of the sun and the spread of twinkling lights like perky glowworms were all viewed to a culinary background of Dorset crab, Scottish lobster and rib-eye beef. The coalition of new and old is the capital’s great triumph.
** This article was first published in Country Life Magazine on July 30 2014
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