Below are some of my favourites.
The US Embassy in the UK also has its own list of “Cultural Connections” here.
The American Bar in Mayfair dates back to the 1930s when American tourists started to flood into London on the new ocean liners. A tradition sprang up whereby visitors left personal gifts, which can be seen hung up all around the bar... including an impressive collection of baseball caps on the ceiling!
The first gift was purportedly a wooden American eagle, quickly followed by a Canadian Eskimo and Australian kangaroo!
TEXAS LEGATION / EMBASSY
From 1836 – 1845, on a site near Trafalgar Square, stood the Texas Legation, more commonly called the Embassy of The Republic of Texas. The embassy served the Republic after Texas split from Mexico and before it joined the Union. It was one of three ‘legations’, the other two being located in Washington D.C. and Paris.
A plaque marks the location of the old Texas Legation. Nearby is a restaurant of the same name, next to the present day Canadian Embassy—so don’t confuse the two.
Virginia Dare was the first child born in the New World to English parents. Her roots reach to St Brides Church on Fleet Street, where her parents wed. Today the church is best known as the spiritual home of the British media, due to all the newspaper businesses that used to dominate Fleet Street. Digitisation, however, moved the industry eastward in the 1980s.
Downstairs at St Brides, you can see an original Roman road, and just down the street from here, you will find my favourite pub in London: ‘ Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese’. You will be in good and historic company at the pub--it boasts Charles Dickens, Samuel Johnson (compiler of the ‘original’ English dictionary) and Arthur Conan Doyle, author of Sherlock Holmes, amongst its previous patrons.
John Harvard was born in Southwark, London, in 1607, into a prosperous family that had lived locally for at least a century. In the summer of 1637, John left the UK for Boston after most of his family were killed by plague and he inherited a lot of money. He took 400 books with him to America, and upon his death founded Harvard University by bequeathing half of his estate and his whole library to the “erecting of a college.”
Next door is the world-famous Borough Market, one of London’s largest food markets, which is itself a 15-20 minute walk away from Tower Bridge and the Tower of London.
WILLIAM PENN & JOHN QUINCY ADAMS
William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, was both baptised and educated at All Hallows by the Tower--the oldest church in the City of London. President John Quincy Adams was also married there in 1797. Other famous worshippers include William Shakespeare, Samuel Pepys, and Thomas More.
On its historic journey to America, this most famous of ships stopped off in London before sailing on to the New World. St Mary’s Church in Rotherhithe has a blue plaque recording the ship’s departure in 1620. Returning to moor at Rotherhithe in 1621, Christopher Jones, who captained the ship and was its “master and part owner,” is buried here.
● St Brides, Fleet Street (hours vary on a Saturday)
● The American Bar, Mayfair and Texas Embassy
● William Penn & JQA / All Hallows by the Tower
● The Mayflower / St Mary’s Church
I hope that you enjoy your stay in London not just by learning about British culture, but by learning more about your own.
Feel free to drop me a line anytime on @davidhardinguk