Once lockdown lifted a little we had a family get together in Crystal Palace, an area of South East London. There are many restaurants and cafes in this area and we met up for an outside meal at the Westow House, a large pub on the corner of the Parade. This was when you could only eat outside a pub and luckily the weather stayed fine for us. The food was good solid pub food but the service was a little slow.
After our lunch we ventured across the road into Crystal Palace Park. This park is huge and it was the site of the original Crystal Palace which burned down in 1936. The Crystal Palace was originally in Hyde Park and housed The Great Exhibition but the building was transferred to Crystal Palace in 1851 when the exhibition ended. Lots of events took place here and a good way to find out more about this is to visit The Crystal Palace Museum. A one storey building houses photos. documents and ceramics tracing history of the grand glass building. There are some fascinating exhibits such as an elephants rib from a performing elephant that ran amok and had to be killed. There are photo’s of some of the early Cruft’s dog shows and lots of information about how big the Crystal Palace actually was. Leaving the museum we headed into the park and down it’s (rather shabby now) Italian terraces. There are still Sphinx statues on the lower terraces and at the bottom of the terraces is a large bust of Sir Joseph Paxton ( a gardener, architect and engineer who was instrumental in designing Crystal Palace and the park.) There is a maze here that is one of the largest in the country and it is 160ft in diameter. Walking further into the Park you can’t miss The National Sports Centre. This hosts a swimming pool and all sorts of other sports facilities. When we visited there were teams playing soccer and also a volley ball team playing. The design of a bridge into the Sports Centre means that the public can view a lot of the activities going on.
Further on in the Park is the Lake and all around this are large dinosaur models which are a delight for children and adults alike. These have recently been cleaned and restored back to their former glory so this was nice to see.
On a Sunday there is a street food market near the children’s playing ground and you can buy lunch here but you can also buy cakes and bread to take home.
One thing I was particularly interested in was the Concert Bowl. Obviously this hasn’t been used for a while but it has a history of many famous acts in the past. Supposedly the acoustics here are superb. This was where Bob Marley played his last London concert. I would have loved to have seen that!
So if you are ever in South London and want somewhere to spend an afternoon take a wander into Crystal Palace and you won’t be disappointed!