SimpsonExplore your city with visits to places of interest in or near London. We'll walk a bit as well, and learn about the history, architecture, topography and people that make London the fascinating place it is.

Group Coordinator: Liz Simpson (click to contact)

At least one visit a month, on different days and times, to avoid always clashing with the same iU3A groups.

Visits cover all of Greater London including visits to historic houses, museums, galleries and churches.

Members are advised of forthcoming visits by email and sign up (by responding to the email) for each visit in advance on a first come, first served basis. Individual visits may be limited to 10-20 members depending on the destination. To keep things simple (!) for me, I'll open booking for each visit about a month before the date and if numbers are limited I'll let you know.

Please note that many visits require payment of entrance charges. Some events are free, but many require a payment for an entry fee or guided tour. When an event is 'pay on the day' please have the correct money with you, in an envelope with your name on it as this is the best way of checking who has paid and who has not! If I ask for payment in advance it should be by cheque made payable to ‘Islington U3A’ and sent to me, or by electronic payment direct to iU3A’s account. Email me if you need more information. If the visit is ticketed, I will ask for a stamped, addressed envelope from you so I can send you your ticket/s.

Organised Group Events
All scheduled visits from March to June 2020 were cancelled because of Covid-19. We now have a very reduced programme of 'Explorations' (no more than one a month), arranged with current restrictions in mind, and these events are notified to group members by email as and when they are set up.

Other Events and Places Worth a Visit
'Exploring London' group members also receive emails from time to time, with sources of information on virtual and live Explorations which can be booked individually, venues which are open to visit, and other events and topics of interest.

Recent Visits
05 October — A 'Bronze Age Mystery' in thHavering Oct 2020e London Borough of Havering was too good to miss and drew a group of Explorers back to the Museum of London Docklands! We had a fine, sunny, day to visit an almost deserted Canary Wharf: photos in the full report here caught some of the group by an ice-cream stand and the eerily quiet office buildings, as well as the Museum display itself. The Museum has an annual programme of temporary exhibitions and this year's reveals the extraordinary hoard of more than 450 Bronze Age artefacts discovered during an excavation in Rainham in 2018. The atmospheric displays covered the excavation, how bronze objects were made, the theories put forward to explain the deposition of the objects — and the continuing schedule of research essential to an archaeological excavation like this. The exhibition continues until April 2021 so there's plenty of time to visit www.museumoflondon.org.uk where you will find information about booking a timed entry slot.

07 August
— another step forward for 'ExpGarden Museum Dungeness Aug 2020loring London' as a small group of us went across the Thames to revisit the Garden Museum, in the church next to Lambeth Palace. The Museum was one of the first places in London to reopen this summer so it seemed appropriate that we braved August temperatures in the 90s, and made it our first visit to an 'indoor' venue. The Museum itself is always worth a visit, and the gardens were looking verdant and well-tended, but the primary reason for going this time was to see the temporary exhibition about Derek Jarman's house and garden in Dungeness called 'My garden's boundaries are the horizon' — and we saw this clever representation of Prospect Cottage as we went into the exhibition. The report here has several more photographs — including socially-distanced Explorers about to go into the Museum. We met up again outside for refreshments but forgot to photograph that!

On 05 and 19 July, Derek Harwood led two sSculpture in the City July 2020mall groups of Explorers following the ‘Sculpture in the City’ walking trail of art installations in the City of London. This group photo shows our socially distanced walkers on 19 July; Julie H and Jill L recorded their responses to the first Exploration on 05 July in their report here, which is illustrated with photos by Jill and Derek.

On 11 March a group of London Explorers met outsiWhitechapel Doorways March 2020de Whitechapel Art Gallery to join guide Rachel Kolsky for an exploration of East London, themed around 'Whitechapel Doorways'. Rachel is well-known for her popular walks in London and thanks to Judith Birch, who made all the arrangements, we had a private two hour tour with her. Little did we know that Covid19 would make this the last 'Exploring London' event for the time being; our scheduled visit to the Mansion House on 20 March was cancelled by the venue, and along with other iU3A groups, the rest of our programme has been suspended for the foreseeable future. But this last event has resulted in an excellent report, with lots of photos — read it here

— and it was time for ExploringTwo Temple Place Feb 20 London’s annual visit to Two Temple Place, to visit the impressive building and see the 2020 exhibition. Sourcing display items from regional collections and bringing them to London has been a raison d’etre for the Two Temple Place exhibitions since the building opened to the public, with themes ranging from Cornish artists to John Ruskin, the Jazz Age to Ancient Egypt. This year the focus is on collectors of textiles: embroidery, costume, design and textile art — ‘visionary women’ indeed. Explorer Rachel wrote about one of the featured collectors in her blog here. Read Liz’s report on the visit here.

In January, ‘Explorers’ headed west to the museum group outside SciMus Jan 2020quarter ‘Albertopolis’ and visited the Science Museum, where a new permanent gallery ‘Science City 1550-1800’ is giving a new aspect of London to explore and the temporary exhibition ‘The Art of Innovation’ was coming to the end of its run. Bob H’s report here gives a view of the exhibition — the group are pictured outside — and explains that we took so much time in it that  ‘Science City’ will have to wait for another visit!

Getting together for tea in January is nowExplorers cakes Jan 2020Explorers tea and cakes Jan 2020 a tradition for the large ‘Exploring London’ Group, with a dual purpose, as the images show. It’s the chance to talk together about what we’ve done in the past year and exchange ideas about our next visits — and eat cake!

— Thanks to Explorer Norman W’s inGoldsmiths Hall Dec 2019valuable connections with Goldsmiths’ Hall, another small group of Explorers had a chance to join one of the Goldsmiths’ Company’s tours of their hall on Foster Lane in the City. The Goldsmiths’ company received their first royal charter in 1327 and the hall is the third hall on the site, which the company has occupied since 1339. The current building was designed by Philip Hardwick and was carefully restored after damage during WW2. The opulent interiors were opened up for the tour — and some members (though sadly, not Explorers) had the opportunity to try on company robes. Margaret V’s photo, taken during the visit, shows the impressive staircase — dressed for the festive season!

On 29 November we visited the headquarters buildinPoster RCGP Nov 2019g of the Royal College of General Practitioners in Euston Square. Originally built in 1906-8 as the HQ of an insurance company, it has a faux Greek tiled entrance hall and a foyer which now includes a café which members of the public can use! They are hosting the WOWI (What Once Was Imagined) exhibition with 35 pieces of art scattered throughout the ground floor. Pharmacopoeia — a collaboration between artist Susie Freeman and GP Dr Liz Lee — is a unique blend of art and medicine and, while celebrating advances in treatment, also questions over-diagnosis and overprescribing. Topics such as mental health, antimicrobial resistance, chronic disease and contraception were explored. Our favourites were Cigarette Dress, Saved Pills, Armour, Sonia, and Cradle to Grave Pill Dot Diary Banners.

Within walking distance on Euston Road, we wereElizabeth Garret Anderson Nov 2019 taken to the Elizabeth Garret Anderson Gallery at the Unison building. The original entrance hall to the hospital has been restored to the original 1890 appearance and a second room — the gallery — has a domestic interior. Elizabeth Garret Anderson, born in 1836 in Whitechapel, went on to become the first female to gain a medical qualification in the UK (although she had to learn French and travel to Paris to gain her degree). She set up the London School of Medicine for Women where women could be treated by women. She was also a suffragette and in later life became Mayor of Aldeburgh. She died in 1917. This exhibition, which we thoroughly enjoyed, explores all aspects of her life through photographs, projections, video, sound and words. (Kate Wark)

On the 07 and 15 of November, Explorers hHand & Lock 1 Nov 2019Hand & Lock 2 Nov 2019ad further opportunities to visit the premises of Hand & Lock on Margaret Street, W1. This company dates back to 1767 and specialises in exquisite embroidery for couture garments and uniforms. A report on the first visits in March are on the webpage, together with a blog written by fellow-Explorer Rachel. Two photographs, by Margaret V and Jean P taken in November, show the Hand & Lock guide Rachel describing the history of the company and its work, and the view from the workshop window along the streets north of Oxford Street, which used to be a thriving centre for the garment trade.

— The 9th was a busy day for Explorers!  In London School of H and TM Oct 2019the morning the first of two groups visited the Bloomsbury building of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, which celebrated the 120th anniversary of its foundation on 2 October. The photo shows the group meeting at the Keppel Street entrance, with Victoria Cranna from the Library and Archives, who led the tour. Brenda H has written a detailed report of this first visit here; the visit was repeated on 14 October.

Then in the afternoon a small group of ‘Explorers’ apainters hall exterior Oct 2019nd members of the Art in London group managed to visit the Hall of the Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers, one of the oldest of the City of London’s Livery Companies. The Hall is usually only open to the public on Open House Weekend and can’t accommodate group tours so our group took advantage of an exhibition of Livery Company members’ work to see inside. The current hall dates to 1961 and replaces one heavily damaged in 1941. We could see the Court Room (with original charters on the walls) and the Great Hall on the first floor with its fine stained glass windows. Paintings of, and by, Company members were on every wall, as might be expected. It’s worth keeping an eye open for future exhibitions, and the next Open House Weekend to see inside this interesting building.


For a summary view of our visits over all the years, have a look here.

For details of our visits in iU3A year 2018/19 look here.
For details of our visits in iU3A year 2017/2018 look here.
For details of our visits in iU3A year 2016/2017 have a look here.
For a summary of visits (January 2016 to October 2016) click here.
Or if you are interested in reading about our even earlier visits in 2015 then have a look at our archive here.

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