Help! What Are Regency MUST SEES in London?

St. James Square, 1812.
St. James Square, 1812.

I have a problem. It’s a good kind of problem to have, I’ll admit, and a very First World Problem, but a problem, nonetheless.

I cannot narrow down my London itinerary.

So I’m asking for help. Seriously. My husband is taking me to London the first week of November because he has a paper to give at a conference, and he knows I’ve always wanted to go, even more so now because of my interest in and desire to write about the Regency period. I kind of have this sneaking suspicion I’ll be able to write about it better once I’ve actually seen some of the historical buildings and artifacts and stood in the places where Regency people actually trod. I could be wrong, but hey, I’m not going to turn down a trip overseas.

The problem is, our trip is short: 4 days. I’ve already decided we are doing a day trip to Oxford, Stratford-Upon-Avon, and Warwick Castle, because I really, really want to. That decision was simple enough. But it leaves me with 3 days – 3 days – to pack in everything else I can. And keep in mind one of those days we are likely to be extremely tired, since we’re flying overnight, arriving in London at 7 a.m., and neither my husband nor I can sleep on a plane.

So, if YOU only had 3 days in London and you were trying to soak up as much Regency “stuff” as you could, what would be on your must-see list? 

walkingaustenI have a bit of a head start in planning, in that I have Louise Allen‘s two great books, Walks Through Regency London and Walking Jane Austen’s London. They are replete with info on many of the iconic places I have read about in romance novels, such as Tattersall’s and Almack’s and Grosvenor Square, and have already helped me visualize the areas and connections between these places better than I ever have before.

However, I don’t think I could even fit in all her walks in those 3 days – how am I going to also get in trips to the British Museum and Apsley House and the like? What’s a girl who loves history to do? Especially when I also want to see Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London and St. Paul’s and…and…and…

I’d love your input. Please comment and tell me your Top 3 Must See things in London, even if they’re not Regency-related. But if you ARE a Regency expert, I’d love to know what you think I need to know. Are there specific parts of museums I should tour? Places with Regency history that I might not know about? Spots I can definitely skip?

My husband thanks you. He’s hoping to actually rest and relax a bit while we’re there, and unless I manage to winnow this list down, that ain’t happening.

4 Replies to “Help! What Are Regency MUST SEES in London?”

  1. Margaret, I’ve done 2-night/3-day trips to London, so I know your pain. Unfortunately you never have time for everything. Relax and be flexible. Choose YOUR top 6-10 favorites. Watch virtual tours and select places which reflect YOUR personal interests, research questions, future blogs and books and which can offer more from a site visit than is shown in an online tour. Check the details carefully making sure you have a reasonable idea of travel, wait, and touring days/times. Double or triple Google map trip times and monitor exhibit closings. A lot of places / exhibits close on certain days and also from now until Spring.

    Plan for the weather, shorter daylight hours, and longer street blocks. Wear comfortable water resistant boots and layered clothing including a coat with a hood and a scarf, gloves, and a small umbrella. Carry a lined zippered bag with an umbrella holder. To maximize time each day, pick a combo of 2-4 indoor / outdoor places for visiting and eating which are in the same geographical area. To save money and time, buy an Oyster card or pass for the Tube, portable foods, water, and picnic utensils when you arrive and eat whenever and wherever works during the day. Most refrigerator items stay cool enough in your bag. Public benches and neighborhood parks are my favorites for squirrel and people watching plus feeling a bit like a Londoner. Try to go to the theatre, especially on a week day. Purchase tickets at the box office for a reduced price in mid to late afternoon the day of the evening performance.

    Hope that helps! Have a safe and wonderful trip! I can’t wait to hear about it and see the photos.~Jillian

    • Jillian – wonderful advice! Thanks so much! Feeling slightly more Zen as I work to accepting I can’t see everything, so just see what I want. We do have tickets to see Mojo (with my favorite actor, Colin Morgan, in it), so that’s exciting. And I will definitely pursue the online tour recommendation to see how much I can see from my own seat here on my couch. Thanks again!

      • I would skip the Tower of London. It sounds great but the tour is very underwhelming. Given how short your time is, that’s one I’d skip. Also, get an Oyster card for taking the Tube around town. It’s the most economical and fastest way to get places.

        • Hi Dave – Thanks for the advice! I think we’ll still visit the Tower, but will leave early if it doesn’t grab us. As a former medieval historian, I don’t feel I can omit such a medieval treasure while staying true to my roots, so I’ve got to at least give it a shot. I appreciate the heads up on the Oyster card.

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