About the Thames

Charing Cross + The Adelphi - a Gentle Stroll

by Jeannette Briggs 

This is a classic walk along the South Bank of the River Thames - you can start from Hungerford Bridge on the Waterloo side and go along towards Waterloo Bridge.  In doing so you come across this lovely view of the buildings and gardens on the north bank.  To the left is Charing Cross station, surmounted by a huge office complex.

In the centre is the Adelphi Building named after Robert and John Adam, the architects who lived here and who were brothers. The Greek word for brothers is "Adelphoi"..... so this is a very clever play on words.

Several of the little roads here are called "Robert St"  and "John Adam Street" - the brothers were not backward in self-promotion! 

The art deco classic building with the big clock in the centre is Shell Mex House - once the London home of the famous Royal Dutch Shell company.  The clock is one of the largest in Europe and stands out across the river. The building was erected in the nineteen thirties.

In front of Shell Mex House you see the world famous Cleopatra's Needle - a genuine Egyptian stone column over 4000 years old and covered in heiroglyphics, a form of picture writing which the ancient Egyptians used to record details.

Next to Shell Mex House  to the right as you are looking from the South Bank is the Savoy Hotel -again a 1930ies classic building and world famous, both for its service and quality and for its very high prices. 

It is located on the site of the famous mediaeval Palace of the Savoy - which was the last word in luxury in the 14th century.  The Palace was the home of John of Gaunt Duke of Lancaster - son of Edward III and uncle to Richard II.  He decorated the Savoy with all manner of beautiful objects from all over Europe.  He introduced a real novelty - GLASS windows to the palace opening on to the Thames - and rose gardens and a falconry on the battlements.  The Palace of the Savoy was burned to the ground during the Peasants' Revolt in the 1380ies.

Waterloo Bridge - photo by Les Baker

You can complete your walk by returning to the South Bank and back to Hungerford Bridge by going over Waterloo Bridge.  This again has an interesting history - most of it was built using female labour during World War II.  This was because all the men were away fighting in the war.  The bridge is in a simple modern style which has not dated and is allegedly self-cleaning......

Nearest Tube stations: Embankment and Temple, District Line.

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