John Franklin

’To The Great Arctic Navigator And His Brave Companions Who Sacrificed Their Lives In Completing The Discovery Of The North-West Passage AD 1847-8.’ Did you know Charles Dickens grew his famous beard in 1857 to portray one of Franklin’s men on stage in a play by Wilkie Collins?

Waterloo Place SW1

Robert Falcon Scott

Kathleen Scott's statue of her husband, the polar explorer, was set up here in 1915, three years after the  death of Scott and his four friends on their return from the South Pole. 'Had we lived I should have had a tale to tell.’ Kathleen trained with Rodin in Paris in the years before she met Scott.

Waterloo Place SW1

Charles De Gaulle

This monument to General De Gaulle was set up outside the wartime headquarters of the Free French movement in 1993. The first president of liberated France, he was the driver behind the European Union. Funding for the statue by Angela Conner was led by Winston Churchill’s daughter, Lady Soames.

Carlton Gardens SW1

Formerly an open park, named for the ball game of Pall Mall okayed on it, this became a residential street in 1661. Being close to St James’s Palace, built by Henry VIII, it was a popular spot for those who needed to attend court and later a site for clubs to amuse the aristocracy. Here is a fascinating story about building the sewer along it.

Tube: Charing Cross/Green Park

Any comments - or a suggestion for a London secret? Please e-mail me.

Pall Mall

First Gas Lighting

In June 1807, Pall Mall became the first public street in the world to be artificially lit with gas. German inventor Frederick Winsor, using old musket barrels for his piping to withstand the coal gas pressure, lit the way to St James’s Palace to celebrate King George III’s birthday.

93-95 Pall Mall SW1

The Athenaeum Club

Built by Decimus Burton in 1828, the freize around the outside is a copy of the Elgin Marbles, taken from the Parthenon in 1812. Dickens and Faraday are among former members, most drawn from the clergy, arts and sciences, with 52 having won the Nobel Prize.

107 Pall Mall SW1

Wellington’s Horse Block

Standing outside the United Service Club, this granite mounting block is often said to have been put here to help Wellington get on his horse in old age. More charitably, the 6’2” Iron Duke had it erected to help shorter men mount their horses. The club was for officers who had fought in the Napoleonic Wars.

Waterloo Place SW1

The “Nazi” Dog

A tiny gravestone near the top of the Duke Of York steps may be the only “Nazi” memorial in London. The German Embassy was here until the start of WWII and the grave is of the ambassador’s pet terrier. Giro - ‘Ein treuer Begleiter’ (a true friend) - was accidentally electrocuted in 1934 and given an official funeral.

7-9 Carlton Gardens SW1

125 Pall Mall

This ship sits atop a globe and is a weathervane with a mechanism that connects to the inside to show what direction the wind is blowing.  In 1767, this was the home of the auction firm Christies, established by ex-navy man James Christie - so that might be the nautical connection to this building.

125 Pall Mall SW1