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London suits autumn very well. After the confusion that is the British summertime (Too hot! Too cold! Too sticky! Too stinky!) at some point in September the capital settles back into a more relaxed stride, one that’s cooler in every way. In a city made for comfort and cardigans and a certain nip in the air, here’s how to make the most of London’s finest season.
1. Feast on a Sunday roast
There’s nothing that says autumn better than a long and lazy Sunday roast. As the days get shorter and colder, it’s time to cosy up in the corner of a pub – preferably one near a park for pre-food stroll – order a bottle of plummy red wine and wile away an afternoon with Britain’s greatest meal. Many London pubs offer roasts, but only a few do them to perfection, complete with Yorkshire puddings, lashings of gravy and crisp-on-the-outside but fluffy-on-the-inside potatoes. Hampstead’s Holly Bush, Highgate’s Red Lion & Sun, Islington’s Drapers Arms and The Camberwell Arms are all masters of the craft.
The Holly Bush, 22 Holly Mount, Hampstead, London NW3
The Red Lion & Sun, 25 North Road, Highgate, London N6 The Drapers Arms, 44 Barnsbury St, Islington, London N1 The Camberwell Arms, 65 Camberwell Church St, Camberwell, London SE5 Best Sunday roasts in London
The 15 best Sunday roasts in London
2. BURY YOURSELF IN A GRAVEYARD
The ‘Magnificent Seven’ is the appropriately grand nickname given to a clutch of Gothic, 19th-century cemeteries built to assuage the unpleasant ‘overcrowding’ of central London’s churchyards. A walk in a graveyard might seem like a perfect Halloween proposition, but there’s much more to these overgrown wonderlands than spooky stories. Of the capital’s most beautiful outdoor spaces, the epic, rambling Highgate Cemetery is the most well known, but Brompton, Nunhead, Kensal Green and Abney Park are just as breathtaking, full of wild flora and fauna rarely seen in the middle of a city.
Highgate Cemetery, Swain’s Lane, Highgate, London N6
Kensal Green Cemetery, Harrow Road, Kensal Green, London W10 West Norwood Cemetery, Norwood Road, West Norwood, London SE27 Abney Park Cemetery, 215 Stoke Newington High Street, Stoke Newington, London N16 Nunhead Cemetery, Linden Grove, Nunhead, London SE15 Brompton Cemetery, Fulham Road, Kensington, London SW10 Tower Hamlets Cemetery, Southern Grove, Mile End, London E3
3. DEEP DIVE INTO PRE-RAPHAELITE ART
If you’ve already worked your way through the latest exhibitions in London, then it might be time to embrace the classics. There’s something about the sumptuous, velvety work of the Pre-Raphaelites that plugs straight in to the vibrant colours of autumn, and it’s possible to spend days on the Brotherhood’s trail, weaving in and out of galleries and National Trust properties. Start with iconic works by John Everett Millais, William Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rossetti on the walls of Tate Britain, before visiting the lavish artist’s studio that is Leighton House. Their close associate and titan of the Arts and Crafts movement William Morris is all over the city too, from the gallery at his childhood home in Walthamstow and The William Morris Society HQ in Hammersmith to the café he designed in the V&A and his gorgeous Red House in Bexleyheath, complete with picture-perfect Victorian gardens.
Tate Britain, Millbank, Westminster, London SW1P
Leighton House, 12 Holland Park Road, Kensington, London W14 William Morris Gallery, Lloyd Park, Forest Road, London E17 William Morris Society, 26 Upper Mall, Hammersmith, London W6 Red House, Red House Lane, Bexleyheath, London DA6
4. FROLIC IN FALLEN LEAVES
A massive 47 per cent of London is given over to green spaces, and watching the leaves on London’s trees turn golden brown, then creating a dense, crunchy carpet, is a trick that never gets old. If you want to feel as if you’re in a Richard Curtis rom-com, laughing as you kick your way through piles of them while falling in love with someone wildly inappropriate but with extremely good hair, then hit up the paths of swanky Holland Park. If pounding concrete is more your scene, then try the tree-lined streets of the rustic and rural feeling Dulwich Village. For extra added regalness, crunch your way down The Mall, past the plane trees that lead all the way to Buckingham Palace.
Address: Holland Park, Ilchester Place, Kensington, London W8 6LU Website: rbkc.gov.uk
5. EAT SEASONAL
Seasonal eating in autumn can be a wonderful, hearty thing. Think fat, juicy squashes, fleshy mushrooms and bright green sprouts or puddings bursting with blackberries and damsons. For the meateaters the deep, intense flavours of game also come back into play. You’ll get something far more elegant than a stodgy apple crumble at modern mainstay Lyle’s in Shoreditch, with a constantly rotating menu which always offers up the best of British. We tried to write this without mentioning nose-to-tail pioneers St John, but it was impossible. If their triumphant pheasant and trotter pie is up for grabs, ignore it at your peril.
Address: Lyle’s, Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High Street, Shoreditch, London E1 6JJ Telephone: +44 20 3011 5911 Website: lyleslondon.com Address: St John, 26 St John Street, Smithfield, London EC1M 4AY Telephone: +44 20 7251 0848 Website: stjohnrestaurant.com
6. COSY UP IN A STUNNER OF A CINEMA
Ditch the mega-chains and get comfortable in London’s finest independent cinemas. Arthouse and foreign flicks reign supreme at the decadent Regent Street Cinema, which is slap-bang in the middle of town and also a piece of film history, as it was the first place in the country to show moving pictures. Genesis is east London’s oldest running cinema and former favourite of the Krays, while not too far away is Dalston’s Art Deco beauty, Rio Cinema, which screens blockbusters but has also hosted intimate gigs for Father John Misty and live soundtrack events for cult classics such as Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain.
Best independent cinemas in London
The best independent cinemas in London
7. GO OUT WITH A BANG
Bonfire Night might technically be 5 November, but you’ll hear the whizzing and popping of fireworks for weeks running up to the big day. Lavish events will take place across the city, but our favourites include the fireworks festival at Alexandra Palace, which comes complete with a panoramic view of London, and the riverside Battersea Park, which boasts one of the biggest displays in town, not to mention Blackheath’s mega – and free – show. If you’re up for an adventure, then an hour or so’s trip to Lewes in East Sussex will make for the most memorable Guy Fawkes Night you’ll ever experience, as rival societies stage a battle of the bonfires after a torchlit firecracker procession through the tiny town’s windy, ancient streets.
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