The London Grill: Caroline Shenton

We challenge our contributor to reply to ten devilishly probing questions about their London and we don’t take “Sorry Gov” for an answer. Everyone sitting in the hot seat will face the same questions that range from their favourite way to spend a day out in the capital to their most hated building on London’s skyline to find out just what Londoners really think about their city. The questions might be the same but the answers vary wildly.


[C]aroline Shenton is an archivist, historian and former Director of the Parliamentary Archives. Her first popular history book, The Day Parliament Burned Down, was published to rave reviews in 2012 and beat Alistair Campbell, Andrew Marr and Nick Robinson to win Political Book of the Year. Her new book is a sequel, Mr Barry’s War, telling the story of the Victorian rebuilding of Parliament, against all the odds. She tweets @dustshoveller.

What’s your secret London tip?
Comfy shoes and/or blister plasters.

What’s your secret London place?
Malplaquet House on the Mile End Road. An astonishing feat of restoration, as well as a giant cabinet of curiosities.

What’s your biggest gripe about London?
It used to be gum on the pavements but now it’s becoming vapeing.


What’s your favourite building?
The Houses of Parliament of course! Whether you like politics, art, architecture, history, royalty, treason, suffragettes, a good day out, or a cream tea, there’s something for everyone.

What’s your most hated building?
Euston Station. What a disaster. Here’s hoping it will soon have a stunning makeover like King’s Cross.

What’s the best view in London?
From the far end of St James Park, looking towards the roofline of Horseguards and the towers of the Palace of Westminster. The wheel of the London Eye completes a perfect scene.

What’s your personal London landmark?
The old Public Record Office in Chancery Lane where I began my career as an archivist. It’s now King’s College Library.

What’s London’s best film, book or documentary?
Bleak House by Dickens. Who can resist a book that starts with a dinosaur lumbering up Holborn Hill in the fog?

What’s your favourite bar, pub or restaurant?
I quite like slumming it in the St Pancras Renaissance lounge with a fish finger buttie and a glass of fizz. Another fabulously restored building.

How would you spend your ideal day off in London?
Slapup breakfast at the Regency Café. To Westminster Hall to admire the greatest medieval roof in the world, then a walk round St James Park, saying hello to the pelicans. Book shopping around Cecil Court and Piccadilly. Lunch at Barrafina then an afternoon film or theatre. Drinks in the Oxo bar admiring the view of St Paul’s at night and finally dinner at Maroush on Edgware Road.

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