Coast’s Choice: London

Our tour of England’s counties concludes this week with a look at our capital city, London.

We’re all familiar with famous sights such as Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the London Eye, so the Coast’s Choice team has looked beyond London’s most popular tourist attractions to bring you five of its best kept secrets…

Chelsea Physic Garden 

Founded in 1673, these tranquil gardens were initially established to train apprentice apothecaries in identifying plants as the nearby river created a perfect warm microclimate for growing exotic flora. As its reputation grew, the gardens also became a site for trainee botany teachers before it was developed and opened to the public in the 1980s.

In addition to providing one of the few oases of calm amid the London bustle, Chelsea Physic Garden serves an important purpose in the development of natural medicine: its Garden of World Medicine and Pharmaceutical Garden are both research sources for international study.

Entry to Chelsea Physic Garden costs £9.00 for adults and £6.00 for children. It is open all year round.

Nearest caravan site: 5.6 miles

Highgate Cemetery

A graveyard might not be the first point of interest that springs to mind if you’re planning a visit to London, however many famous personalities have been laid to rest within the realms of Highgate Cemetery.

Among the notable names who are commemorated within the cemetery are influential historian and economist Karl Marx, novelists Douglas Adams and George Eliot, television presenter Jeremy Beadle, poet Christina Rossetti, painter Lucien Freud and the parents, wife and brother of Charles Dickens. There are also more than 200 war graves commemorating those who gave their lives in 20th century conflict, along with a Cross of Sacrifice honouring all victims of conflict.

A weekday tour takes place at 2.00pm, with more frequent tours at the weekends, however it is strongly advised that you book in advance as they are regularly over subscribed. Entry is free, last admissions are 30 minutes before the cemetery closes – check the website for opening times as it varies according to the time of year.

Nearest caravan site: 10 miles

The Old Vic Tunnels

Underneath Waterloo Station lies a complex network of railway tunnels that have been developed into a leading venue for underground art and drama. This unique setting hosts a range of cinema screenings, plays, exhibitions and live music – more details on the latest events can be find at the official website. Admission prices vary depending on the event.

Nearest caravan site: 9.3 miles

The Queen’s House

The Queen’s House was originally built for Anne of Denmark, wife of James I, and was also Charles I’s wife Queen Henrietta Maria in the 1660s. After being handed to a family of Dutch marine artists, the van de Veldes, it was granted to the Royal Naval Asylum by George III to house the orphaned children of British seamen.

In the early 20th century, the house was taken over by the National Maritime Museum and restored to its original 1600s form. Among the architectural gems to look out for are a painted ceiling in the Presence Chamber, the ornate ironwork of the Tulip Stairs – the first self-supporting spiral staircase in the country – and the Great Hall’s marble floor and painted woodwork. 

Today, The Queen’s House is a fine art exhibition, showcasing paintings and drawings collected by the National Maritime Museum, The Royal Hospital School and former owners the van de Veldes.

The Queen’s House is free to enter and is open seven days a week from 10.00am until 5.00pm. Click here for more information.  

Nearest caravan site: 4.9 miles

Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum

SW19 is one of London’s most famous postcodes as it is home to Wimbledon, an area synonymous with world-class tennis. Although the crowds only gather on Henman Hill (or Murray’s Mound as it’s now sometimes known!) for two weeks each summer to eat strawberries, drink Pimm’s and cheer along our top tennis stars, the Lawn Tennis Museum is open throughout the year for people to learn more about the sport and its history.

The interactive exhibits chart the rise of tennis from a recreational pastime to a lucrative sport that spawns many of the world’s most recognisable athletes. Among the features of the museum are archive footage of famous matches, John McEnroe’s guide to his most famous opponents, a display of championship trophies and a 3D film bringing the Wimbledon tennis tournament to life. There is also an array of memorabilia donated by famous sports stars including Roger Federer, Pete Sampras, Martina Navratilova and Andy Murray.

Entry to the museum costs £11.00 for adults and £6.75 for children. Click here to visit the website.

Nearest caravan site: 6.2 miles

For a caravan insurance or motorhome insurance quotation, contact Coast today on Freephone 0800 614 849. Caravan owners can also buy touring caravan insurance online.