The London Grill: Elizabeth Steynor

We challenge our contributors 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 they will face the same questions ranging from their favourite way to spend a day out in the capital to their most hated building on London’s skyline to find out what Londoners really think about their city. The questions are the same but the answers vary wildly.


Elizabeth is a London street name geek, and, after working near Bleeding Heart Yard, has spent decades exploring London’s streets and writing articles and a blog about the stories behind the city’s street names. She hopes one day to turn her hobby into a book. You can read her blog at www.thestreetnames.com.

What’s your secret London tip?

Get lost. Literally. That’s the best and most exciting way to discover London. Walk aimlessly, and remember to look up occasionally and stop to read any plaques, blue or otherwise. If you get tired, jump on a bus for a while.

What’s your secret London place?

When I first visited London I ‘discovered’ Sir John Soane’s museum. It’s not really secret anymore but back then there was rarely anyone else when I visited it. However many times I go there, I find something new to admire.

What’s your biggest gripe about London?

London suffers somewhat now from being too ‘touristy’ so that it is in danger of losing its individual charm and becoming just another homogenised big city.

What’s your favourite building?

St Paul’s Cathedral never ceases to make me stop to pause for breath and look at it. It is such an iconic sight; to me is the one image that says, emphatically, ‘I am London’.

What’s your most hated building?

The London Eye. I enjoyed riding in it when it first opened but I secretly resented the fact that it began to replace buildings like St Paul’s and Tower Bridge as the face of London.

What’s the best view in London?

The view from the Sky Garden in the Walkie Talkie building. Spectacular, panoramic views of London while you’re cocooned in lush greenery. And there is also the option of a cocktail.

What’s your personal London landmark?

Battersea Power Station. I lived nearby many years ago when it was still closed and unused and it always said ‘home’ to me. I thought it would have been great to have a flat in a corner of it.

What’s London’s best film, book or documentary?

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. I like the way that Guy Ritchie makes London one of the characters in the film. Most of his films, in fact.

What’s your favourite bar, pub or restaurant?

Any family-run, Italian restaurant that is tucked away in a little side street and serves good minestrone and a nice house red wine.

How would you spend your ideal day off in London?

Getting lost (see question 1). Walking, hopping on and off buses at random and wandering into museums or street markets along the way, stopping periodically at a café or pub. The geek in me would make a note of new and interesting street names and research them when I got home.

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