Monday, February 15, 2016

Walking on London's Charing Cross Road

Charing Cross got its name because it was the location in London of one of the twelve Eleanor Crosses. These crosses were erected by a devoted husband, King Edward I, at every place where his wife’s body spent the night on its trip back from Lincolnshire to London. The year was 1290. The original cross no longer exists at Charing Cross; it was destroyed during the Civil War.

A Victorian replica of the Eleanor Cross is located in the forecourt of Charing Cross Rail Station. It has recently been restored and now stands again as a shining reminder of a love story over 700 years old between a king and his consort Eleanor of Castile. 

Charing Cross Road runs from Tottenham Court Road to Trafalgar Square. It is known for two things, having great book stores and theatres. Of course anywhere there are theatres; there will also be bars and restaurants.


Foyles Bookstore has been a landmark on Charing Cross Road since 1906. This is their flagship store and for many bibliophiles, this is the finest bookstore in the world. Now having admitted that, it was never one of the easiest book stores to try to find a particular book. Many a book-lover has found a book they never knew that they wanted to own while searching for a particular one.

Begun by two enterprising teens in 1903, the current location is the third that the store has had on Charing Cross Road. For many years educational books were the backbone of this business. By 1929 they had expanded and claimed to be the largest bookstore in the world. During the reign of Christina Foyle, her poor practices with employees led to a loss of prestige.

Since the death of Christina Foyle in 1999, Foyle's has gone through a Renaissance and is again the successful enterprise it was always meant to be. Today not only will you find just about any book in stock that you might want (they have over 200,000); you too may find some you never knew you wanted. In 2014 they moved into their brand new location at 107 Charing Cross and now have over four miles of bookshelves and employ over 80 book experts to assist you.

The Garrick Theatre

The Garrick Theatre opened in 1889. It was designed by Walter Emden. The three level theatre can seat over 700. The first production at the theatre was The Profligate by Arthur Wing Pinero. In the ensuing years the theatre has been known for both melodrama and comedies. These days, all manner of production come through.

The Phoenix Theatre

Originally known as the Alcazar, The Phoenix opened in 1930. The musical Blood Brothers, by Willy Russell, had a spectacular run of 21 years here. Currenty Bend Em Like Beckham is playing.

Wyndhams Theatre

Opened in 1899 by actor Charles Wyndham the first show at the theatre also starred Wyndham and his wife. More recently Madonna made her West End debut at this theatre.

Gaby’s Deli

This popular Kosher deli offers a wide variety of options whether you are just strolling on Charing Cross Road or are wanting to grab a bite before you head to one of the theatres for a show. Good food and friendly service are the norm.

The Royal George

The Royal George is a pub that makes a great stop before or after a visit to the theatre or since they offer live entertainment, you might want to go there just to eat, drink, and hang out. They also offer a brunch menu until 2 p.m. in case you are looking for breakfast. They offer traditional English fare as well as chicken and waffles and chirizo hash.

Charing Cross Road is in the heart of the West End and comes to life after dark. During the day it is still a popular place with book lovers and diners. It is one of the many London streets that is worth a visit.

While I have walked this street many times I just don't have my own pictures so I have included one from Wikicommons of the Eleanor Cross. 

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