diamond geezer

 Monday, April 27, 2015

Outer London Day Out (SE)

I've been meaning to do this for ages. A brief rundown of the most interesting places to visit in London that aren't in the middle. All too often tourists and the media focus on central London, and on places to eat and drink, so I'll have none of that. Instead I'm going to attempt to bring together as many sightseeingworthy places as I can, covering essentially zones 3 to 6 (with some outer zone 2 thrown in for good measure). If I miss out anything good, let me know and I'll try to add it, the idea being that this builds into a comprehensive list for anyone to refer back to. I'm going to divide up the suburbs into four quadrants, so expect this to take the rest of the month. If I've been and blogged about it, I'll link to that. And if you're ever bored in the future and in need of inspiration, simply click back to April 2015 on this blog and hopefully something from the list will take your fancy. Because there's more to London than pop-up restaurants in Shoreditch and shopping at Westfield.

Greenwich: If you can't make a day out out of Maritime Greenwich, you're doing it wrong. Top draws are the Cutty Sark tea clipper (10am-5pm, £12.15) and the world famous Royal Observatory (10am-5pm, £9.50) [blogged], the home of time, which includes London's only planetarium (£7.50) [blogged]. Alternatively there are several free attractions to see, top of which is the National Maritime Museum (10am-5pm), a multi-galleried repository of all things seaworthy. Across the grass is the Queen's House (10am-5pm), with its photogenic Tulip staircase, and don't miss the Painted Hall (10am-5pm) with its exuberant early Georgian ceiling. Additional tourist info can be found at the Discover Greenwich Visitor Centre, near the entrance to the Foot Tunnel. Or for a quirkier more dainty experience, give the Fan Museum a go (11am-5pm, £4, closed Mondays) [blogged].
North Greenwich: Forget the O2, and walk downstream to watch the wildlife in the Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park (10am-5pm, closed Monday & Tuesday).
Woolwich: If you hurry you can visit the overlooked Firepower Royal Artillery Museum at Woolwich Arsenal (10am-5pm, £5.30, closed Sunday & Monday) [blogged] before it's forced to vacate the site at Christmas 2016.
Eltham: Just wow. Eltham Palace is an amazing building, an amalgam of Art Deco mansion and Tudor moated hall (from 10am, £13, open Easter-October and school holidays) [blogged]. English Heritage opened five new rooms earlier this month, so even if you've been before, you haven't quite.
Green Chain: For a dozen fine walks around Greenwich, Bexley, Bromley and Lewisham, including strolls to Severndroog Castle (£2.50, 12.30-4.30pm, Tue, Fri, Sun) [blogged], the Thames Barrier and Lesnes Abbey, check out the Green Chain website (or buy the official pack so you can do the lot).

Bexleyheath: Perhaps unexpectedly, it's perfectly possible to fill an entire genteel day out in Bexleyheath. William Morris lived here in an Arts and Crafts home of his own devising, the Red House (£7.20, mid-Feb to October-ish, closed Monday & Tuesday) [blogged], now watched over by the National Trust. Close by is Danson House (noon-5pm, £8, April-October, closed Saturday), a sumptuous Georgian villa, while a short distance down the A2 is Hall Place (10am-5pm, £8) [blogged], a creaking Tudor house in extensive gardens.
Crossness: Sir Joseph Bazalgette's Crossness Pumping Station (£6, 10.30am-4pm, occasional Sundays) [blogged] is a Victorian engineering marvel, next open on June 21st.

Crystal Palace: The original glass exhibition hall burnt down in 1936, but Crystal Palace Park remains full of plenty to explore, including a maze, a free museum (11am-4pm, weekends) and the legendary model dinosaurs.
Chislehurst: Even if it's raining out, you can explore some of the 22 miles of tunnels at Chislehurst Caves (£6, 10am-4pm, closed Monday & Tuesday) [blogged] on a 45 minute lamplit tour. An underappreciated gem.
Orpington: The Roman remains at the Crofton Roman Villa (£1.50, 10am-4.30pm, April-October, Wednesday, Friday, bank holiday Mondays and the first Sunday of the month) [blogged] are a rare suburban bargain.
Downe: Charles Darwin came up with his theory of evolution whilst living at Down House (£10.60, 10am-6pm, closed winter weekdays) [blogged], now open as a museum to the great man courtesy of English Heritage. You owe it to your genes to visit at least once.
Westerham: A short distance across the border (by 246 bus) explore Quebec House (£5.20, March to October-ish, closed Monday & Tuesday) or even Churchill's Kent home at Chartwell (£13, 10am-5pm)[blogged] (bus on Sundays only, March-October).

Croydon: The Museum of Croydon (10.30am-5pm, closed Sunday & Monday) isn't worth going out of your way for, but the Croydon Airport Visitor Centre (11am-4pm, 1st Sunday of the month) on Purley Way might be.
Shirley: Shirley Windmill, now mid-housing estate, is open to the public on the second Sunday in May and the first Sundays of June to October (1pm-5pm)
Coulsdon: The Downs to the south of Purley and Coulsdon are some of the finest rambling territory in London [blogged], especially the finger-ridge of Farthing Downs.

Forest Hill: Possibly London's most eclectic museum, the Horniman Museum (10.30am-5.30pm) houses a collection of stuffed animals, musical instruments and ethnological treasures, plus some fine gardens to wander outside. Head off via Dulwich Park and you'll soon reach...

Dulwich: The Dulwich Picture Gallery (£5, 10am-5pm, closed Mondays) [blogged] was the world's first purpose-built public art gallery. It's small but perfectly formed (and attached to a surprisingly pastoral village).

Brixton: Recently restored, Brixton Windmill takes some finding, but opens for guided tours generally on the second weekend of the month from April to October (2pm-4.30pm). Or head to Brockwell Park for the Lido, the walled garden, the fine views over London and (Sundays only) a ride on the very miniature railway.

If you have any further thoughts on places you'd go out of your way to visit, especially for those three inner boroughs, please add them in the specific comments box. Strictly no food and drink, no shopping and nothing from Zone 1. And I might add them later.

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