I was determined not to miss the Leonardo Da Vinci Anatomist exhibit, now in its final week at the Queen’s Gallery. I had plans for breakfast at a new little cafe in the neighborhood before walking to the Gallery, but postponed my visit due to my late start and the fact they hadn’t put out the cakes and tarts yet. I hurried through Green Park, past the tourists waiting for the Palace Changing of the Guards and around the corner to the Queen’s Gallery. I wanted to purchase the trifecta of tickets…Buckingham Palace + Royal Mews+ Queen’s Gallery (aka The Royal Day Out) , but the Palace tickets were already sold out for the day. Ah, next year perhaps.
I did manage to buy a combination Mews and Gallery ticket, which is good for one year’s worth of re-entry if you remember to have tickets stamped on the way out. I’ll make sure to drag The Mister back sometime soon. The Gallery was operating on a timed ticket system, so I had time to explore the Mews before heading to the Gallery.
The harsh lighting and my crap photography skills made it difficult to capture the opulence of the carriages and cars on display in the Mews. Highlights of the exhibit (for me anyway) include the coach used by Diana and Prince Charles for the Royal Wedding, the Irish State Coach (used by the Queen for state occasions) and the stunning Gold State Coach, built for George III in 1762.
The vehicles used for state occasions are also on display, including this glorious Rolls Royce…
The Austerity Carriage?
The self-guided Mews tour (audio available) also includes a visit to the livery and the stables. It also included some of the no-longer-used, but historically significant modes of transportation.
While I am not a horse person per se, I absolutely enjoyed my visit to the Mews. The fact that it is an active, working community made it much more than a “museum” of cars and coaches. Horses were working, livery staff were out and about working and answering the occasional question. The mail carriage drove off on its daily trip between Buckingham Palace and St. James! It was a genuine behind the scenes look at a part of Palace life.
Check Royal Mews information before you go.
I arrived at the Gallery with my 11:30 ticket. The staff was pretty strict about checking tickets and actively turned away people who arrived before their ticketed time. After a quick security check and a short film overview, I was through to the exhibit. Luckily, the galleries weren’t crowded and despite the timed ticket scheme, you had unlimited time in the gallery.
Video courtesy of the Royal Collection.
The exhibit is stunning collection of Da Vinci’s anatomical drawings, lost to the world for almost 400 years. Wandering the gallery, looking at his notes and sketches was a truly incredible experience. Da Vinci’s sketches and notes are clear evidence that he was far more than an intellectual and creative genius, but a true scientist at heart…keenly interested in the process of discovery and motivated by a quest for understanding.
I tried to take pictures, but it’s really not possible to capture the enormity and impact of this exhibit on film. This is something you truly need to experience for yourself. GO! And hurry…it ends October 7th.
It was well past lunch when I decided to head back through Green Park to the little cafe in Shepherd Market. This time, the tarts and cakes were in the window along with the full assortment of lunch specials.
L’eto is a small, smart cafe situated in the small, center courtyard of Shepherd Market. I walk by this cafe often and the menu, based on the display in the window, changes quite often. It has a smattering of tables just outside its door and four or five small tables inside. It was a bit chilly and drizzling so I chose a cozy table inside.
One of the charming and friendly staff members met me at the door to explain what was on offer that day. It was hard to choose between the lovely salads and the spectacular looking sandwiches..but I settled on a slice of mushroom quiche. I’ve learned that most quiche in the UK is served cold, but they didn’t seem to mind heating mine up, American style. The quiche was delicious.
I skipped the dessert but enjoyed the best cup of coffee I’ve had since moving to the UK. Black, very hot and very strong. Perfect. Based on the number of people running in and out of L’eto with a pastry in hand, I suspect the baked goods are as delicious as the rest of the items on the menu. I’ll let you know tomorrow, after I go back for another fabulous coffee and a little somethin’ somethin’ from the bakery display. and possibly a helping of the courgette and cranberry salad.
Things to Know
For up to date information about “What’s on” at the Queen’s Gallery, check here.
You can find information about visiting Buckingham Palace and the Royal Day Out here.
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