Brixton Walk Walking Tour

1 Brixton Market

At London's most exotic market (p242), you can drink in the heady mix of incense and the smells of the exotic fruits, vegetables, meat and fish on sale. It's also a good place to splash out on African fabrics and trinkets.

2 Ritzy

London's second-oldest movie house (after the Electric Cinema in Camden), the Ritzy (p316) opened as the Electric Pavilion in 1911. Next

^barton Rd

door is the Brixton Library (@ 79261056; Brixton Oval SW2) built in 1892 by industrialist/philanthropist Sir Henry Tate, the man who gave London the Tate Gallery and the world the sugar cube.

3 Rush Common

An act of Parliament in 1806 declared a wide strip along the eastern side of Brixton Hill to be 'proscribed land' on which nothing could be built. Over the years, however, tracts of it were illegally walled off to create private front gardens. It is now being restored as common land (Brixton HillSW2) but remains patchy in areas.

4 Brixton Prison

Serving a number of courts in South London, Brixton Prison (@ 8588 6000; Jebb AveSW2) started life as the Brixton House of Correction in 1819 and has done time as everything from a jail for

WALK FACTS

Start Brixton tube station End Brixton tube station Distance 2.75 miles Duration 2% hours Fuel stop Lounge Café (p270)

women to a military prison. It now houses a mixture of remand and sentenced prisoners.

5 Brixton Windmill

Built for one John Ashby in 1816, this is the closest windmill (Blenheim GardensSW2) to central London still in existence. It was later powered by gas and milled as recently as 1934. It's been refitted with sails and machinery for a wind-driven mill but is not open to the public at present.

Eating p272; Drinking p294; Shopping p234; Sleeping p361

Although southwest London is a little far out if you're only in London for a long weekend, it's the perfect place to base yourself for a longer stay. Anyone wanting to get out of London for the day without too much trouble or expense should take a trip here, and for people who aren't big-city fans but need to be in London, it's a great place to stay.

During the day much of southwest London is a quiet residential area; you'll see lots of young mothers out pushing prams and doing their shopping. This is the best time to enjoy the area's many green spaces: walk along the Thames Path from Putney Bridge to Barnes, sup on a pint by Parson's Green or picnic on Barnes Common.

It's at night that the area comes alive. Ful-ham is a very popular place to go out in town, with a plethora of good pubs, bars and restaurants. Putney and Barnes like to think that they're a little more refined, though a trip to any of the pubs on the High Street on a Saturday night will put paid to that notion.

Further afield the well-to-do have been retreating from the city to the palaces and villas of London's riverside boroughs for more than 500 years, and its appeal to those wishing to escape the more frenetic pace of life in zones 1 and 2 is still very much apparent. Chiswick, Richmond and Kew in particular offer an expensive slice of village life far removed from the crowds of central London. Twickenham is the home of English rugby while Hampton boasts what is arguable the most ambitious palace in the country. Wimbledon and its enormous common is a pretty walled garden and, detached from the main house, a Tudor Revival chapel designed by Butterfield in 1866.

You can learn about the history of the palace and its inhabitants in the palace museum. Guided tours (§§ 7736 3233; tickets £5; S tours 2pm 2nd & 4th Sun, 3rd Tue), which depart a couple of times a month on Sunday, usually take in the Great Hall, the Victorian chapel, Bishop Sherlock's Room and the museum and last about VA hours. The palace has been undergoing extensive refurbishments in recent years so there may be some changes in the tour.

The surrounding land, once totalling almost 15 hectares but now reduced to just over five, forms Bishop's Park, and consists of a shady promenade along the river, a bowling green, tennis courts, a rose garden, a café and even a paddling pond with fountain for cooling off in on a hot day.

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