Lunchtime Walks: Westminster (Victoria Street)
Posted in: i2 Office Area Guides by i2Office on 16th February 2017
Our serviced offices in Westminster are not only modern and stylish with excellent transport links, they also enjoy the benefit of being on the doorstep of some of the UK’s biggest and best landmarks. You’ll never be bored in Westminster, but if you’re looking for a change from the usual attractions, these gems are well worth visiting during your lunch hour.
Take a trip to Cockpit Steps
Cockpit Steps is an easy-to-miss alleyway on the corner of Dartmouth Street and Old Queen Street. Although relatively unremarkable, its name is an indication of the alleyway’s unique past. A ‘cockpit’ was the name of given to the area where two cockerels would fight. Although cockfighting is now illegal and widely-regarded as an act of cruelty, it was once seen as a noble sport in centuries gone by.
Before it was was taken down in 1816, Cockpit Steps was one of the three main cockpits in London. In the 200 years since, myths and mysteries continue to persist about this little cranny. Today, Cockpit Steps are also rumoured to be haunted by a headless lady. So, if you're passing through the alleyway on your way to one of the area’s many cafes or restaurants, you might want to walk quite quickly.
Walk: 8 mins
Visit Queen Anne’s footstool
The area surrounding Victoria Street is hardly starved of unique architecture, however Queen Anne’s footstool, more commonly known as St John's Smith Square, gets a special mention due to the interesting story behind the former church’s nickname.
The moniker derives from a story that can be traced back to Thomas Archer, the architect of the Grade I listed building. Apparently Archer asked for Queen Anne’s input over his designs for the new church. The uninterested Queen petulantly kicked over her footstool, and said "Like that!"
Whether true or not, the building does draw an uncanny resemblance to an upside down footstool. The church was restored and turned into a concert hall in the mid-20th Century. Today, you can catch a classical music performance or dine at the aptly named Footstool restaurant.
Walk: 11 mins
Gardens, gardens and more gardens
Another thing Westminster can’t be accused of is being short of gardens. Hyde Park is just a short walk from our Victoria Street serviced offices. Other gardens in the area include but aren’t limited to, St John’s Garden, Abingdon Street Gardens and, just across the river, Lambeth Palace Gardens.
However, the pick of the bunch has to be Victoria Tower Gardens. The garden, bordered by the Houses of Parliament, the River Thames, Millbank and Lambeth Bridge, offers spectacular views of Victoria Tower (hence the name). Inside the park there are plenty of monuments to capture your interest, including a memorial to Emmeline Pankhurst and The Burghers of Calais, a statue that celebrates freedom from oppression.
Walk: 12 mins
Have a pint with an MP
Located just a short walk away, St Stephen’s Tavern is one of the most interesting pubs in the area. Not only does it offer the chance for an occasional lunchtime or after-work pint, you might bump into—or be able to rant at—a Commons MP when you do.
The pub has long been a popular haunt of politicians, primarily because it’s the closest pub to the House of Parliament (not including the pubs in the Houses of Parliament itself). In fact, the pub contains a division bell that once rang to warn MPs and Lords that there are just a few minutes to cast their vote in parliamentary debates. Today, the bell remains, although mainly for decorative purposes.
Walk: 12 mins