Queen Victoria ruled from 1837 to 1901 and gave her name to an ornate style where mass production allowed rich detailing. But the era started with a  Greek revival – seen in many public buildings – before the flowering of the great railway stations, most remarkably St Pancras.

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


2 Carlyle Mansions

Nicknamed “The Writers' Block”, for the numbers of writers who lived here, from Henry James to TS Eliot. James, who died here in 1916, called it his “Chelsea perch, the haunt of the sage and the seagull”. Look for the ten decorative panels on the Lawrence Street side, a very Victorian touch.

Cheyne Walk SW3
Tube: Sloane Square

Carlyle's House

This Queen Anne house, once home to writer Thomas Carlyle, now a National Trust property, is full of furniture, art and other original decor from the Victorian era. Dickens, George Eliot, Chopin and Tennyson were regular visitors. The walled garden has also been restored.

24 Cheyne Row SW3
Tube: Sloane Square
Carlyle’s House

Guinness Buildings

Built in 1897, the year of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, this was one of several blocks designed to re-house those living in slum conditions in the area. Progressive for the time, they had outside toilets, shared bathrooms and gas lighting. There is another notable block in Hammersmith.

Snowfields SE1
Tube: London Bridge

Natural History Museum

Before enjoying the wonders of the museum, admire the building itself, opened in 1881. A steel and iron framework is covered with a splendid neo-Gothic shell (architect Alfred Waterhouse), covered in sculptures of mythical beasts, as well as more familiar animals - both extinct and still living.

Cromwell Road SW7
Tube: South Kensington

Leighton House

Built to Lord Leighton's own design in 1866, this house is stuffed with a rich collection of Arabian artefacts, typifiying the Victorian love of the eclectic. Much of it was collected by the great explorer, Sir Richard Burton, who (in disguise) was the first non-Muslim to visit Mecca.

12 Holland Park Road W14
Tube: Kensington High Street

St Pancras Station

The great George Gilbert Scott designed the Midland Grand Hotel in ornate Gothic style. (“My own belief is that it is possibly too good for its purpose,” he said.) Equally impressive is the vaulted train shed, the largest of its time,  by engineer William Henry Barlow, now busy again as the Eurostar terminal.

Euston Road W1
Tube: King’s Cross

Working Men's College

This building, built in 1905, is still in use by The Working Men's College, founded in 1854 by the Christian Socialists to offer a ‘liberal arts’ education for the skilled artisan class. Early supporters included John Stuart Mill, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and John Ruskin.

Crowndale Road NW1
Tube: Camden Town

Viaduct Tavern

Opened in 1869, the same year as the nearby Holborn Viaduct (the world’s first flyover, opened by Queen Victoria herself), this is a rare example of the infamous  Victorian gin palace. A large frontage hides an oddly small interior, all mirrors, cherubs, engraved glass and snugs. Note the copper ceiling.

126 Newgate Street EC1
Tube: St Paul’s