May 032017

Welcome to Kings Cross! This district is in the heart of London and has links to some very famous historical characters. They include Queen Boudicca (Boadicea) who fought her last battle here against the Romans and is rumoured to be buried under Kings Cross Station! She is semi-mythical but two literary characters who are far from mythical are Shakespeare and Dickens.

Charles Dickens lived in a house just down the road in Doughty Street. The house now houses the Dickens Museum that is one of the few attractions in London open on Christmas Day, when it puts on the play of “A Christmas Carol”. Shakespeare put on plays at the Blackfriars Theatre (now destroyed) and “Measure for Measure” was staged for the first time more than 800 years ago at Gray’s Inn just down the road. If you take the 17,45, or 46 bus from opposite our house and alight at the bottom of Gray’s Inn Road, you will see facing you the only row of Elizabethan houses that were spared from the Great Fire of London in 1666. They are part of Staples Inn which can be visited on weekdays and was also frequented by Shakespeare. High Holborn and Gray’s Inn Road were part of the coaching roads to York, and the pub called The Cittie of York, on High Holborn still has a quaint 18th century interior, well worth visiting.

We are also on the edge of Bloomsbury, where the Bloomsbury Set hung out (Virginia Woolf and Lady Ottiline Morrel, the latter having a plaque dedicated to her name in nearby Gower Street).

Another famous local was Benjamin Disraeli, Queen Victoria’s favourite prime minister. He was born in Theobald’s Road and later lived in a house in Russell Square, both within walking distance.

King’s Cross is served not only by one of the most important underground stations in the capital but also by Eurostar in St. Pancras and no fewer than 13 bus routes. The bus stop opposite our house is served by four bus routes – 17, 45, 46 and 63. Take the 17 bus to the city of London, past St. Paul’s church, ending up at London Bridge, the newest of the rebuilt railway terminals. The 46 bus terminal is at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, the oldest hospital in London, founded by Rahere, jester to King Henry I, in 1123. Another benefactor to the hospital was Dick Whittington, or rather Sir Richard Whittington, he of the cat, who was three times Lord Mayor of London, as the bells he heard from Parliament Fields had predicted. The 214 bus will take you to Parliament Fields, which is part of Hampstead Heath. For more formalised greenery, the bus stop on the opposite side of the road (the same side as the house) has two buses, 30 and 205, that will take you to Regents Park with its wonderful display of flowers, especially in Queen Mary’s Gardens (the tube station is Baker Street).