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The Step Outside Blog

As anyone who looks at our books will be aware, we love London and are passionate about helping other people to enjoy our city, through cost-free family days out.


A good few people have suggested that we write a blog about London things that have caught our attention, captured our hearts or made us think - or all of the above - so here it is.

We hope you enjoy it!

Victoria Tower Gardens

By Francesca Fenn, Apr 30 2019 01:42PM

If you are out and about in Westminster, and want a nice space to rest your legs and add extra interest to your day, then immediately to the West of the Houses of Parliament,is a garden abutting the river Thames. Victoria Tower Gardes are not very big, and to be fair there are not many flowers there, but it is a welcome space with some excellent landmarks that make it well worth a visit.

As you enter the gardens, a statue of Emmeline Pankhurst greets you. She was, of course, a suffragette leader, and at the moment her statue is surrounded by purple and white tulips, which, with their green leaves, make up the suffragette colours of violet, green and white.

Moving into the gardens you cannot miss the Burghers of Calais, a larger-than-life group statue by August Rodin. This masterpiece is well worth spending a bit of time with, to enjoy the fantastic skills of Rodin, as well as the story it depicts:

In 1347, Calais had been surrounded for a year by English soldiers under King Edward III. Six leading citizens of Calais, the Burghers, offered to die if Edward spared the rest of the town's people. Edward's wife, Queen Philippa, heard about the Burgher's offer and asked if they could also be spared if the town surrendered. Edward agreed and all the people of Calais were allowed to leave. Hurrah!

Further down the gardens is a magnificent neo-gothic fountain, which was built to honour the politicians who passed a bill to end slavery. It had fallen into disrepair, but was renovated in 2007 to celebrate the bicentenary of end of the slave trade. Sadly it is no longer an active fountain, so the spitting lions don’t spit any more!

At the far end is a new and rather splendid playground the Horseferry Playground. It is small but perfectly formed!

And if you want to make this rather nice spot part of a day out, you could do worse than spend a day on our London Lion Hunt, which includes this garden and LOADS of lions around Westminster, Whitehall and beyond.

Happy hunting!

The Burghers of Calais, by Auguste Rodin
The Burghers of Calais, by Auguste Rodin
The glorious Buxton Memorial
The glorious Buxton Memorial
the playground near Parliament!
the playground near Parliament!
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