Signs of the City: London

Check out some of the local signs you can see around town in the streets of London.

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Highclere Castle's saloon
Highclere Castle's saloon

Highclere Castle's saloon

A view of the saloon -- a room for socializing, set in the center of the house -- in Highclere Castle in Newbury, England. The ancestral home of the Carnarvon family since 1679, the castle has recently been made famous as the setting for the hugely popular TV series, Downton Abbey. 960 1280

Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images  

Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle

This entrance hall leads into the saloon, which is decorated in a gothic style with ornate decoration, including leather wall coverings. 960 1280

Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images  

Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle

A view of the music room in Highclere Castle. Sitting on 1,000 acres of beautifully landscaped land and gardens, the castle is open in the summer months to visitors. 960 1280

Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images  

Highclere Castle's music room

Highclere Castle's music room

The ceiling of the music room, seen here reflected in the mirror, was painted in the 1730s by English painter and one of the founding members of the Royal Academy of Arts, Francis Hayman. 960 1280

Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images  

Highclere Castle's music room

Highclere Castle's music room

Italian 16th-century tapestries hang in Highclere’s music room. 960 1280

Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images  

Highclere Castle's drawing room

Highclere Castle's drawing room

This photo of Almina Wombwell sits in the drawing room, which is decorated with bolts of green French silk given to Almina by her banking tycoon father, Alfred de Rothschild. She became the lady of Highclere Castle when she married the 5th Earl of Carnarvon in 1895. 960 1280

Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images  

Highclere Castle's library

Highclere Castle's library

The Earl's desk is displayed in the castle’s library. An active Tory in Parliament, the 4th Earl of Carnarvon would retreat here in what has been nicknamed the “withdrawing room.” In Downton Abbey, Lord Grantham can often be found in this room, mulling over papers and fretting about the future of the estate. 960 1280

Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images  

Highclere Castle's library

Highclere Castle's library

This hidden door leads from the library to the music room. 960 1280

Matthew Lloyd  

Highclere Castle's library

Highclere Castle's library

There are over 5,600 books stored in Highclere’s library, with the earliest dating back to the 16th century. 960 1280

Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images  

Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle

These bells were used to summon the servants, with each bell corresponding to a different room in the castle. 960 1280

Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images  

Highclere Castle's Oak Staircase

Highclere Castle's Oak Staircase

The Oak Staircase was designed by English architect and artist, Thomas Allom, who is also known for his work with Sir Charles Barry in designing the Houses of Parliament. The staircase took a year to carve and install. Downton Abbey fans will fondly recall Lady Mary descending this staircase in her wedding dress, on her way to exchange vows with Matthew Crawley. 960 1280

Matthew Lloyd  

Highclere Castle's dining room

Highclere Castle's dining room

Found in the castle’s dining room are a series of portraits, including, most notably, the equestrian portrait of Charles I by Sir Anthony van Dyck, a Flemish artist who became England’s leading court painter. 960 1280

Matthew Lloyd  

Highclere Castle's Red Staircase

Highclere Castle's Red Staircase

The Red Staircase, leading to the second floor and what was once the nurseries, is the other main staircase in Highclere Castle that is used by the family. 960 1280

Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images  

Highclere Castle's Mercia bedroom

Highclere Castle's Mercia bedroom

On the first floor alone, there are 11 bedrooms and between 40 and 50 throughout the rest of the castle. The Mercia bedroom, seen here, is decorated with 18th-century silks. Downton Abbey fans may recognize the bedroom as belonging to Cora, the Countess of Grantham (although the Earl of Grantham is known to sneak in after the ladies’ maids and butlers have gone to bed). 960 1280

Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images  

Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle was remodeled for the 3rd Earl in 1839 by Sir Charles Barry after he finished the Houses of Parliament. Barry described the castle’s architecture as Anglo-Italian. 960 1280

Allan Baxter/Getty Images  

Residential street in Surrey, England
A Star Is Born

A Star Is Born

Born to 16-year-old Patricia Clapton on March 30, 1945, Eric “Slowhand” Clapton grew up in the English town of Ripley, Surrey. Too young to look after Eric on her own after his 24-year-old soldier father defected back to Canada, Patricia turned to her mother, Rose, and Rose’s second husband, Jack Clapp, to raise her son.

Did You Know? Until age 9, Eric believed that his mother was actually his sister.

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Charles Bowman / Design Pics / Axiom Photographic Agency / Getty Images  

London's West End

London's West End

Intrigued by the blues at an early age after hearing records by B.B. King and Buddy Guy — among others — Eric learned to play guitar as a young teenager, receiving his first instrument at 13. He spent the next couple of years busking around London’s West End and the suburbs of Richmond and Kingston, trying to make a name for himself.

Did You Know? In 2000, Clapton released the certified multiplatinum album Riding With the King with one of his idols, blues legend B.B. King.

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Luis Veiga / Photographer's Choice / Getty Images  

The Yardbirds

The Yardbirds

At age 17, after working alongside his grandfather as a bricklayer, Eric turned his full attention to music, earning his reputation by playing with local bands including the Roosters and Casey Jones & the Engineers. However, it wasn’t until October 1963 that Eric cultivated his style and became known as the best R&B guitar player on the English pub circuit, joining Keith Relf, Paul Samwell-Smith, Jim McCarty and Chris Dreja as a member of the Yardbirds.

Did You Know? Eric got the nickname "Slowhand" from the Yardbirds’ manager, because when he would break a string, he would stay on stage to fix it and receive a slow handclap from the crowd.

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CA / Redferns / Getty Images  

Clapton Is God

Clapton Is God

Eric left the Yardbirds after 18 months because of the group’s increasingly commercial sound and joined John Mayall’s band, the Bluesbreakers. It was during this time that he received his second nickname, “God,” after a superfan wrote “Clapton is God” in graffiti on the wall of London’s Islington Tube station.

Did You Know? Eric Clapton has been a part of 9 different bands in his career: the Roosters, Casey Jones & the Engineers, the Yardbirds, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Cream, Delaney & Bonnie & Friends, Blind Faith, Derek and the Dominos, and Legends.

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Kimberley Coole / Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images  

Royal Albert Hall

Royal Albert Hall

Eric solidified his position as rock’s premier guitarist, elevating himself to superstar status as part of England’s first successful supergroup, Cream, alongside singer/bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker. After touring the US and receiving worldwide acclaim for their albums Fresh Cream, Disraeli Gears and Wheels of Fire, Cream disbanded because of several factors, primarily the members’ egos. Their final show as a band was on Nov. 26, 1968, at Royal Albert Hall in London. To date, Eric has played 198 shows at the world-famous arena, including a reunion show with the members of Cream 37 years after they called it quits.

Did You Know? The blues and psychedelic-rock style performed by Cream exemplified Eric’s distorted yet heavy guitar sound, which would later be dubbed the “woman tone.”

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Craig Roberts / Britain on View / Getty Images  

'Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs'

'Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs'

Shortly after becoming close friends with the Beatles’ George Harrison in the late 1960s, Eric Clapton formed the band Derek and the Dominos, bringing in Jim Gordon, Bobby Whitlock and Carl Radle. It was during this time that Eric fell in love with George’s wife, Pattie Boyd, and created the concept album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. Eric eventually shared the song Layla with Pattie, telling her that she was the inspiration and professing his love for her. It wasn’t until 9 years later, after her divorce from George, that the 2 were married and moved into Clapton’s Hurtwood Edge Estate in Ewhurst, England.

Did You Know? George Harrison was the best man at Eric and Pattie’s wedding.

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Top: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images ; Bottom: John Rodgers / Redferns / Getty Images  

Don't Call It a Comeback

Don't Call It a Comeback

Although Eric and Pattie finally married in 1979, his love for her went unrequited for several years beforehand, forcing Eric into seclusion and leading him into a 3-year downward spiral induced by his overuse of heroin. Finally cleaning himself up, Eric returned to the spotlight in 1973, when he played back-to-back concerts, organized by Pete Townshend of the Who, at London’s Rainbow Theatre.

Did You Know? Eric and Pattie’s marriage lasted for just less than 10 years. He married Melia McEnery in 2002, and they have 3 daughters, Julie Rose, Ella Mae and Sophie.

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P. Floyd / Daily Express / Hulton Archive / Getty Images  

Live Aid

Live Aid

Known as one of the most iconic shows ever performed by Eric, the short-but-sweet, 4-song Live Aid set — which included White Room, She’s Waiting and Layla — elevated Slowhand’s career to new heights. He took the stage at John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia on July 13, 1985, and found a new audience at the worldwide charity event.

Did You Know? Live Aid was a dual-venue event that took place simultaneously at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia and Wembley Stadium in London.

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Mike Cameron / Referns / Getty Images  

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

In the 1990s, Eric Patrick Clapton was honored twice by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland — in 1992 as a member of the Yardbirds, and then again in 1993 as a member of Cream. On March 6, 2000, Clapton was once again brought into the fold by the foundation’s committee, as he was inducted to the hall as a solo artist as well.

Did You Know? Eric is the only musician in history to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 3 times.

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Education Images / Universal Images Group / Getty Images  

Madison Square Garden

Madison Square Garden

After several years of well-documented substance and alcohol abuse, as well as his courageous effort to get and remain clean, Eric opened Crossroads Centre, a drug-treatment facility on the Caribbean island of Antigua, in 1998 as a safe haven for those experiencing similar addictions. In a very successful attempt to raise funds for the center, Eric held a benefit concert in 1999 at the world-renowned Madison Square Garden in New York City. That event later developed into the Crossroads Guitar Festival.

Did You Know? There have been 5 Crossroads benefit concerts to date, the last occurring in 2013, again at MSG.

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Larry Busacca / Getty Images  

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

At Buckingham Palace in late 2004, Eric Clapton, now one of Britain’s most beloved rock stars, was honored with one of the United Kingdom’s most prestigious awards, being made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, or CBE, for his incredible services to the music industry. Among the vast amounts of praise heaped upon Eric throughout his career, he ranks second on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.

Did You Know? Eric has won or shared 18 Grammy Awards, including the lifetime-achievement award in 2006.

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Stuart Black / Robert Harding World Imagery / Getty Images  

Photos

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

“I've always been brought up to love the Royal Family. Buckingham Palace is in the heart of London, and it’s been the scene of so many great moments in British history. None of us will ever forget the amazing wedding of Will & Kate. Best of all, it's open for visitors during the summer so you can have a look around the State Apartments." - David Beckham 960 1280

Chris Jackson, Getty Images  

Old Trafford

Old Trafford

“I've been fortunate to play in The Premier League, one of the greatest football leagues in the world, and you can’t beat the atmosphere of being there for a game. If you can’t catch a game across the country, then check out the fantastic stadium tours at places like Old Trafford, Anfield and Stamford Bridge, and of course, Wembley." - David Beckham 960 1280

Oli Scarff, Getty Images  

The Royal Parks

The Royal Parks

“Families can get out in the fresh air, at one of London’s Royal Parks, with the kids. Hyde and Regents Park are like an oasis in central London. Or get away from it all in Richmond Park, where you can see wild deer, horse ride and amazing views across London." - David Beckham 960 1280

Jack Taylor, Getty Images  

Old Course at St. Andrews

Old Course at St. Andrews

“It seems like many sports in the world have their origins in Britain, and Scotland is the home of golf. It's where the game was invented and where you’ll find some of the most beautiful and challenging courses in the world. If you love the game, make your way to the Old Course at St Andrews Links." - David Beckham 960 1280

Richard Heathcote, Getty Images  

Best Shopping

Best Shopping

“Britain leads the world in fashion and has some of the best shopping experiences in the world. Manchester’s designer stores around the Northern Quarter are a match for anything in London, but if you don’t have time to leave the capital, then you will be spoilt for choice around town and some fantastic markets like Camden, Portobello and Spitalfields." - David Beckham 960 1280

Alberto Manuel Urosa Toledano, Getty Images  

Popular Theme Parks

Popular Theme Parks

“Kids can’t get enough of theme parks as I know being a father of 4. You're never far away from one in Britain. Alton Towers is close to Stoke, and just outside London you’ll find Thorpe Park. New in town is the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in which you can see where they made the Harry Potter movies." - David Beckham 960 1280

PYMCA, Getty Images  

Shaftesbury Avenue

Shaftesbury Avenue

“If there’s one thing you can’t miss when you’re in London, it's Theatre land. I love going out with the family to a show. The West End is famous for musicals and shows, and they are great for a night out or a family matinee. Young and old will love the Lion King or Matilda, and there’s always something to see when I’m back in London like War Horse or Jersey Boys." - David Beckham 960 1280

Oli Scarff, Getty Images  

Nobu Restaurant

Nobu Restaurant

“You can get great food from all over the world in Britain, and some of the best restaurants in the world can be found in London. Whether it’s a special night out at the Ivy, Ceconnis or Nobu – or somewhere new like the Bread St. Kitchen or Nopi in London." - David Beckham 960 1280

Lonely Planet, Getty Images  

Country Pubs

Country Pubs

“Britain is famous for its countryside, and where better to end a bracing walk than sit by a log fire in one of our beautiful country pubs. The best places will always welcome kids and serve great local food.” - David Beckham 960 1280

VisitBritain/Daniel Bosworth, Getty Images  

Pie & Mash

Pie & Mash

Give bangers and mash a go in London’s East End. Beckham says, “Here’s an insider’s tip for a real East London food experience. You’ve got to try Pie & Mash. Tony Lane's Pie & Mash shop in Waltham Abbey is a favorite." - David Beckham 960 1280

Oli Scarff, Getty Images  

In this photo, one of two official portrait photographs Prince William and Kate Middleton have chosen to release to mark their engagement, Prince William and Kate Middleton pose in the Council Chamber in the State Apartment in St. James's Palace in London, England. 960 1280

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Kate Middleton and Prince William attend a wedding at the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul in Northleach near Cheltenham, England. 960 1280

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People browse the shops along Tetbury high street in Tetbury, England. The Gloucestershire town is close to Highgrove, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall's family home, and where Prince William grew up. 960 1280

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Prince William and Kate Middleton met at St. Andrews University in Scotland in 2001 while they studied art history. William later switched to a geography course. 960 1280

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The royal couple have been spotted at London's Boujis nightclub. 960 1280

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Prince William and Kate Middleton go on a skiing holiday on March 19, 2008 in Klosters, Switzerland. In March 2004, William and Kate's relationship was revealed after they were pictured skiing in Klosters together. 960 1280

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Prince William carries a surfboard as he walks with two friends along the shoreline at St. Andrews in Scotland, where he spent four years at the university. 960 1280

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Britain's Prince William is seen smiling as he walks with Kate Middleton at RAF Cranwell, central England. 960 1280

Reuters  

Kate has been seen shopping at Jigsaw on King's Road in London, where she used to work in the head office. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Princes Harry and William and Kate Middleton cheer on the English team during the RBS Six Nations Championship match between England and Italy at Twickenham in London. 960 1280

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The pair holiday in the Caribbean hideaway island Mustique, a favorite getaway for the Royal Family. 960 1280

  

The royal couple were engaged in October, 2010, while on a private holiday in Kenya. 960 1280

  

Parents of Kate Middleton, Michael and Carole Middleton, make a statement following the engagement of their daughter to Prince William, outside their home near the village of Bucklebury on November 16, 2010, in Berkshire, United Kingdom. 960 1280

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Kate Middleton's family live near the village of Bucklebury in southern England. 960 1280

  

The South Stack Lighthouse stands on the Isle of Anglesey, North Wales, in Valley, UK. After they marry, Prince William and Kate Middleton will live near RAF Valley where the Prince is stationed as an RAF search and rescue helicopter pilot. 960 1280

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The Kings Arms pub in Holyhead on the Isle of Anglesey, North Wales, in Holyhead, United Kingdom, the beach town where the couple will take residence after they marry. 960 1280

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The Very Reverend Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster, speaks to press inside Westminster Abbey in London, England. Westminster Abbey will host the Royal Wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William on April 29, 2011. 960 1280

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Crowds watch the changing of the guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London. London tourism is thriving and the whole world will eagerly tune in to watch the royal couple wed. 960 1280

Reuters  

Land's End

Land's End

Located in Cornwall, Land's End will be the first overnight stop for the Olympic torch. The small settlement sits atop rocky cliffs in the most southwestern corner of England. 960 1280

Adam Burton / robertharding, Getty Images  

Millennium Centre

Millennium Centre

On May 25, the torch will spend the night in Cardiff, the capital of Wales. The Wales Millennium Centre greets visitors with an inscription that reads, "In These Stones Horizons Sing," and in Welsh words that translate as, "Creating truth like glass from the furnace of inspiration." 960 1280

Steve Lovegrove, Shutterstock.com  

Aberystwyth

Aberystwyth

The coastal town of Aberystwyth will have an evening celebration for the torch on May 27. Considered the cultural capital of Wales, it is also home to the ruins of the 12th-century Aberystwyth castle ruins. 960 1280

Oscar Johns, Shutterstock.com  

Penrhyn Castle

Penrhyn Castle

On May 28, the torch will stop in Bangor, one of the smallest cities in the UK and home to Penrhyn Castle, which overlooks the Snowdonia Mountains. 960 1280

george chapman, Getty Images  

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

On June 13, the torch will hop over to Scotland for a stop in the vibrant and cosmopolitan city of Edinburgh. Overlooking the city, Edinburgh Castle reminds visitors of Scotland's historical roots. 960 1280

Sylvain Sonnet, Getty Images  

Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Castle

Guarded by stone-carved lions, Alnwick Castle in the Northumberland region dates back to the 11th century. It's commonly known for its role as the Hogwarts Castle in the Harry Potter films. 960 1280

VisitBritain/Pawel Libera, Getty Images  

Lake Windermere

Lake Windermere

Bowness-on-Windermere is home to England's largest natural lake. The secluded town in the heart of the Lake District has been a tourist attraction since the Victorian era, drawing visitors with its watersports and scenic views. 960 1280

Ashley Cooper, Getty Images  

Coventry Cathedral

Coventry Cathedral

Coventry Cathedral was built in the ancient city of Coventry. The cathedral that stands today was built 50 years ago next to the ruins of the old cathedral, symbolizing the revival of the city after the Blitz bombing raids of World War II. 960 1280

claudiodivizia, Getty Images  

Radcliffe Camera, Oxford

Radcliffe Camera, Oxford

In Oxford, the Radcliffe Camera, or "Rad Cam" as it is commonly called, has been standing since 1749. The circular science library is an iconic landmark in this culturally diverse region. 960 1280

SilvanBachmann, Getty Images  

Weymouth

Weymouth

Together with the town of Portland, the seaside town of Weymouth in Dorset hosted the 2012 Olympic sailing events. 960 1280

John Snelling, Getty Images  

Jersey

Jersey

Part of the Channel Islands, the Jersey region is a popular destination for athletes, with picturesque beaches and 100 miles of bike trails. 960 1280

Douglas Pearson, Getty Images  

Hastings Old Town

Hastings Old Town

Hastings Old Town is full of history. With its half-timbered houses and narrow streets (called "twittens" by the locals), Old Town is home to the largest beach-launched fishing fleet in Europe. 960 1280

John Miller, Getty Images  

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