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
Exploring London’s’ programme of group events is virtually ‘back to normal’ following the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions and the opening up of venues. Events are notified to group members by email as they are arranged and signing up for places is invited approximately a month before each event so it’s important to watch out for these emails, especially when groups have to be restricted in size. (There is no online booking via our webpage).

Thursday 5 January at 11.30am: Exploring London’s ‘almost-Twelfth Night get together’ at the Walter Sickert Community Centre. Share any goodies you might have left over from the festive season, tea and coffee will be provided (50p per person donation please) and meet up with fellow Explorers to review what we’ve been up to and what we can organise for 2023. All Explorers are welcome — advance notice is helpful for planning or just drop by …

Wednesday 8 February at 10.30am: Visit to the Dickens Museum at 48 Doughty Street, to see the building while the seasonal temporary exhibition ‘To be read at dusk; Dickens, ghosts and the supernatural’ is also running. Book your own ticket in advance, or pay on the day (£10.50 concessionary rate, free (on the day only) for Art Fund members).

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
A useful summary of our recent explorations is available here: 2021-22 Summary Report

January and February 2023:
Exploring London started off 2023’s visits programme with two opportunities to ‘explore’ south and north of the river! On 27 January there was a chance to visit Greenwich and see Luke Jerram’s ‘Museum of the Moon‘ installation in the Old Royal Naval College’s Painted Hall. The contrast between the impressive paintings by Sir James Thornhill on the walls and ceiling of the hall and the slowly revolving globe of the moon can be seen in the photographs in the PDF of the full report of our two visits and you can see the link here.

Just over a week later, on 8 February, a larger groDickens Museum Jan 2023up of Explorers set off on a bright but chilly morning to the Dickens Museum in Bloomsbury. It was definitely a chilly day and for many of us, the first stop was the museum’s cafe as you can see from the photo! The museum, comprising two townhouses on Doughty Street, had plenty of interest whether one is a fan of Dickens or not. The photographs in the PDF above show some of the main rooms on view in this early Victorian interior. Furniture, pictures and other artefacts from the museum’s extensive collection are well-displayed and would reward return visits. One recommendation — pick a quiet time or day as the small houses can get pretty crowded when there are groups or events.

Islington’s ‘Exploring London’ group is forKew February 21 2023tunate in having a very active member in Pauline, who moved to west London but has kept up her membership of iU3A. On 21 February she took a group of Explorers for a visit to the National Archives in Kew and nine of the group are pictured here, outside the Archive’s building. The National Archives is free to visit and has a programme of temporary exhibitions, currently Treason: People, Power and Plot. It’s accessible by tube, Overground and SW trains from Waterloo, close to the Thames and Kew Gardens and the well laid-out grounds are proving to be a haven for bird-life, as the group spotted! There’s more information on the website www.nationalarchives.gov.uk if other iU3A members fancy a trip west! See the pdf of this visit here.

December — Royal Society:
Explorers visited the RoyRoyal Society December 2022al Society in its Carlton House Terrace headquarters on 6 December 2022, prompted by a temporary exhibition focusing on John Ruskin and his interest in contemporary scientific developments, especially ‘the science of sight’. Pre-booking for groups was required as there’s only a small exhibition space and, like many similar buildings, the Royal Society is heavily used for meetings and conferences. But when we contacted them, they remembered we had previously visited in 2016 and we were offered the opportunity for a guided tour of the impressive building and a visit to the library, where several of the Society’s treasures were out on display for the group. Our guide for the afternoon, the Library Manager, gave us a potted history of the Society and the building itself as we walked round, before the group spent time in the temporary exhibition at the end of the tour. If you read the report here you’ll get a good idea of the visit, with more photographs — and you’ll see that it looks as though we’d be welcomed back again!

November — Sutton House:
At last, ‘Exploring Sutton House November 2022London’ has finally caught up with all its planned pre-Covid programming. Fellow-Explorer Brenda had arranged for a guided tour of Sutton House, the NT-managed property in Hackney, before life closed down in March 2020 — and we’d even paid a deposit! Sutton House eventually re-opened for visits this year, initially for group tours only, so we were able to negotiate a date and Brenda led a group visit on Wednesday 23 November. The guide took our group all over the house, explaining about its history and stories and pointing out the interesting features which have survived the years. The full report here tells you more about the visit, and includes several photos to give you an idea of what to expect if you visit on your own, as the house will be open again for individual visits in February 2023 after its winter clean; there are concessions for NT members and Hackney residents.

November — Abney Park Cemetery, to leaAbney park November 2022rn more about the cemetery and nature reserve, and especially the Common Graves project ‘Abney Unearthed’.  We’re very grateful to Judith, who is an ‘Explorer’ and volunteers on the project, for making the arrangements for the group, and to Haydn who led the party on its exploration. Abney Park was one of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ cemeteries established in the nineteenth century to cope with the lack of space for burials in existing London cemeteries. Luckily for the group, the wet weather held off long enough for a walk through the cemetery, identifying where ‘common graves’ had been sited and researched: Judith’s report here with photographs gives more information and shows what it looks like in a mild and wet November! For more information, go to www.abneypark.org where you can learn more about Abney Park, development plans and events and opportunities for volunteering.

October — Visit to the Poppy Factory in RPoppy Factory Oct 2022ichmond (arranged by Pauline).
While the single poppies themselves aren’t made at the site any more, the special wreaths are assembled there. The Factory has a visitors’ centre where the history and manufacture of  the iconic red poppy is explained by means of full displays and installations and visitors can attempt to make their own poppies — using only one hand — or try making wreaths.  One group member remarked afterwards that both activities were pretty difficult — but our photo of some of the group shows that we did manage it! There are more photographs on the report here which Pauline wrote and we’re very grateful to her for setting up this October visit. As you can see, the visit did include tea and home-made cakes!


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

Details of our visits in iU3A year:
2021/22 here.
2020/21 here.
2019/20 here.
2018/19 here.
2017/2018 here.
2016/2017 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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