We have the Victorians to thank for many of our modern-day comforts. They were people of innovation and invention, and without their forward-thinking, much of what we enjoy today – including commercial rail travel – would simply not exist. They did more than just invent things, though. The Victorians are responsible for some of the most iconic buildings in the UK, many of which are excellently preserved and still in use to this day.
Once you’ve finished your Jack the Ripper tour, there’s ample opportunity to explore some of the Victorian buildings London is home to. Here are some of the most impressive examples of Victorian architecture London has to offer – each one the perfect way to re-trace the steps and take in the views people from that era did, including Jack the Ripper.
Arguably the most iconic building in all of London, the Houses of Parliament is a shining example of the gothic architecture Queen Victoria and Prince Albert so desperately loved. The Palace of Westminster was rebuilt following a fire that destroyed the original Houses of Parliament in 1834. During the re-build is when the Clock Tower, more commonly referred to as Big Ben (even though that is the name of the bell housed inside the tower) was built. It’s hard to imagine the London skyline without it, but the iconic clock wasn’t actually completed until 1859.
If you want to experience Victorian buildings, it doesn’t get much better than the Houses of Parliament, although it’s currently undergoing extensive renovation work which means it’s only possible to admire from afar whilst the essential maintenance is completed. In place of physical tours, Parliament is offering virtual tours which are free and offer a 360-degree view of some of the key rooms in the building.
Known as one of – if not the – best concert venues in all of London, the Royal Albert Hall was opened by Queen Victoria in 1871 and has since played host to some of the greatest performing arts concerts and shows. The idea to build the hall came after Prince Albert crafted the Great Exhibition and, following its gleaming success, decided to create a selection of buildings and facilities which could be used for similar exhibitions and public events. Unfortunately, Prince Albert died in 1861 before his plans were carried out. To commemorate him and his proposal to build facilities dedicated to science and art, plans were drawn up to build a memorial in Hyde Park with a Great Hall situated in close proximity and, as such, the Royal Albert Hall was born.
The pinnacle of the Hall is the ornate domed roof which is comprised of wrought iron and glass. Much of the design took inspiration from ancient amphitheatres, but in an ode to Prince Albert’s original plans, there is an 800ft long mosaic frieze showcasing “The Triumph of Arts and Sciences” which wraps around the outside of the building. The building is now mostly used for concerts and plays, but it has hosted famous scientists like Albert Einstein in years past. If you haven’t enjoyed a concert there, you can enjoy one of their tours in which you will learn about the venue’s rich history.
Whilst much of Buckingham Palace was constructed in the 18th century, the part of it that the world knows and associates with the Royal Family – the East Wing – was commissioned by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in order to accommodate their family. The design of the East Wing of the palace was carefully built to replicate the rest of the building, and it has since become the face of the palace. Its generous central balcony is where the royals make many of their appearances at weddings and jubilees, and it is where swarms of people gather to watch them on the Mall.
If you want to admire the official London royal residence closer than the Mall allows, you can book a tour of the stately rooms in the palace and take in the Victorian architecture from the inside out.
Palm House in Kew Gardens brings the wonders of the rainforest to central London. Completed in 1848, it was the biggest glasshouse of its time and is a prime example of the ambition Victorian architects had. Its stunning glass façade can be admired from afar, but inside is where you can really appreciate the intricacy of the building, as well as taking in all it has to offer in the way of exotic plant life and world-leading scientific research.
Victorians were big fans of wrought iron (if you haven’t already noticed) and Palm House was the first large-scale building to be constructed out of wrought iron. As such, it is now a World Heritage Site which makes it an absolute must-see if you’re seeking out Victorian buildings in London.
In addition to the iconic buildings mentioning in this article, there are several others you can visit in London, including the Natural History Museum, Tower Bridge, King’s Cross and St. Pancras Stations. There’s much to see and do in London, so why not swing by some of the iconic Victorian landmarks after immersing yourself in the world of one of the most infamous serial killers of the Victorian-era?
If you have any questions about our Jack the Ripper tour or places to visit in London following a tour, please contact us.