There’s so much more to Oxford and Regent Street than just shopping. This part of London has a lot to offer if you look around the corners and explore the side streets. Of course it’s still worth visiting the bright lights of Piccadilly Circus at night or popping into Hamleys, but if you’re after something a little different here are some other options for you.
Founded in 1971, The Photographer’s Gallery was the first gallery in the world completely devoted to photography. Tucked away behind Oxford Street, this tall industrial building with its steel framed windows and clean modern lines is unlike the surrounding London architecture. It holds a range of intriguing and unusual exhibitions, including some which are free. The Gallery also hosts a selection of fascinating talks, workshops and courses. Finish your visit with a cup of coffee and cake at the lovely cafe on the ground floor.
Right next to Piccadilly Circus, Japan Centre is a must-visit for lovers of Japanese food. You’ll find everything from fresh sashimi to Japanese food cupboard essentials. There are over 30 different types of rice alone, along with soba, udon, yakisoba and ramen noodles. Japan Centre also stocks a selection of Japanese travel and cookery books, crafts and cooking implements. To help you get to know your sake from your matcha, Japan Centre runs a series of seminars sharing its expertise in Japanese cuisine.
Originally opened in the 1930s, the iconic Art Deco BBC Broadcasting House has undergone extensive redevelopment over the last few years. The building, which is the worldwide headquarters of the BBC, is now home to news, radio, television and online services. You can go behind the scenes of Broadcasting House on a 90 minute tour, during which you’ll visit a number of famous TV and radio studios. There’s even an opportunity to have a go at reading the news and to make a radio play, complete with music and sound effects.
Tucked away just off Regent Street, the church of St George’s Hanover Square is an unusual looking building with an imposing portico that overlooks Hanover Square. In contrast to the grey exterior, the inside of the church is light and open. St George’s is most well known for one of its famous parishioners, composer George Frideric Handel. Handel even provided advice on the impressive organ that is still housed in St George’s. The church regularly hosts music performances, including concerts for the London Handel Festival.
Close to St George’s is Handel’s London home at 25 Brook Street. Many years later the flat next door would be home to another famous musician, Jimi Hendrix. The two have been brought together by Handel & Hendrix in London. Handel lived at Handel House from 1723 until 1759. It’s where many of his famous works were composed and performances of his music take place throughout the year. Jimi Hendrix lived briefly at The Hendrix Flat in 1968 and 1969. Previously only available to view during London’s Open House weekend, it is now fully open to the public.