A few Saturdays ago, I joined forces with Saira from Living London (if you haven’t read her blog yet, you really should) and a few other London bloggers to explore the quieter side of some of south London’s busiest areas: Waterloo, Lambeth and Vauxhall.
Along the way, we discovered a poet’s paradise underneath abandoned railway arches, a city farm full of strange birds and Banksy’s “secret” tunnel. Here are my highlights — check Saira’s wanderings page for upcoming tours of her other London secrets…
The Graffiti Tunnel, Leake Street
Created by Banksy during the Cans Festival in 2008, The Graffiti Tunnel is a spectacle for anyone with even the remotest interest in street art. It’s completely legal and anyone can paint here — it’s so popular that you can come here a few days apart and see very different artwork in the same spot.
It’s definitely not crowded and worth a visit if you want something off the beaten track in this tourist-heavy area — but if you’re hoping for a serene paradise, maybe skip this one…
Nearest Tube: Waterloo
Old Paradise Yard
This tiny garden, art gallery and event space sits just behind St Thomas’ Hospital and the banks of the River Thames. You’d have to know it was here to find it, which made it a great pit-stop for our walk.
Old Paradise Yard was once a school for the children of Lower Marsh traders before it became a Tibetan Buddhist centre. The old school rooms have been turned into studios and they also host a cafe and evening events, but it was so peaceful here during the day on the Saturday we visited.
Nearest Tube: Lambeth North
More information: Visit the Old Paradise Yard website
Vauxhall City Farm
I can never resist a city farm. They’re just such a different experience to anything else you can visit in London — also there are usually alpacas…
Like many of the city farms in London, Vauxhall City Farm is free. It’s right next to the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens and so quiet.
Nearest Tube: Vauxhall
More information: Visit the Vauxhall City Farm website
“Mosaic is a metaphor for London: all the peoples, tribes, creeds, colours, clans, cultures, faiths and freedoms coming together to make a brilliant whole.”
Another tunnel (or, more accurately, another four tunnels), this time demonstrating Londoners’ ability to make something beautiful out of the dingiest of places. The 70 stunning mosaics within the railway arches of Lambeth were created by 300 volunteers over a period of seven years and you could spend a whole afternoon reflecting on them.
The connection with William Blake is a local one — the poet lived round the corner for 10 years from 1790 to 1800. In 1809, he wrote that he wanted his art enlarged and displayed in a public space — two centuries later, Southbank Mosaics have made his wish a reality.
Nearest Tube: Lambeth North
More information: Visit the Southbank Mosaics website
The Ragged Canteen at Beaconsfield Gallery
Our last stop on our wandering was a bit of a surprise for everyone — we definitely saved the best ’til last. Owing to the popularity of our planned final pit-stop, the Tea House Theatre, we were forced to look elsewhere for a well-deserved rest. But, as is often the way, in our search for somewhere else we found a wonderful hidden gem to add to our repertoires.
The Ragged Canteen is set in the old Lambeth Ragged School building, serving delicious vegetarian food (with vegan/gluten-free options), Monmouth coffee and fairtrade tea. They have free wifi so it’s perfect for getting work done, but it was also the ideal spot for five bloggers who just wanted to swap stories.
Nearest Tube: Vauxhall / Lambeth North
More information: Visit the Ragged Canteen website
You might like…
- Matt Brown’s quiet walk through Holborn and Bloomsbury
- 25 free museums in London (without the crowds)
- 13 quiet libraries in London that every book-lover needs to see