• Richard Ing

The Mall, London's ceremonial avenue.

Stretching majestically between Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace is the broad ceremonial avenue known as The Mall. This is the centre of much of the pomp and ceremony that takes place in Royal London. On State occasions, Her Majesty the Queen will travel along this route, perhaps to open Parliament or, in June, to attend the Trooping of the Colour on Horseguards Parade. On most days, the fortunate tourist strolling down the Mall, has a very good chance of seeing both the immaculately turned out Household Division of Foot Guards marching out of St James' Palace and the spectacular mounted Household Cavalry on their way to change the Guard.

The most obvious feature of The Mall is its pinkish red surface. There are a number of explanations as to why it has this colour. The most reliable of these is that a special type of asphalt is used that makes the surface less slippery for the horses of the Household Cavalry.

Some of the grandest houses in London are to be found on the Northern Side of the Mall, Clarence House, home of HRH Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. A few hundred yards further on is Lancaster House,once the magnificent home (and regular TV location stand in for Buckingham Palace) of the Duke and Duchess of Sutherland, and so magnificent that Queen Victoria once quipped that she had come from her house (Buckingham Palace) to the Duchess's palace!

On the South side of The Mall, is St James' Park where many of Westminster's civil servants take their lunch on the verdant lawns or overlooking the ornamental lake with it's varied water fowl that surprisingly, includes pelicans. These exotic birds were first introduced by the Russian Tzar, Peter the Great when he visited London in the 1660's.

The Mall got its name from the now forgotten sport of "pallo a maglio", a hybrid game somewhere between croquet and golf during which a ball (pallo) was whacked along a course with a mallet (maglio). Following the Restoration of Charles II in 1660, the King took up the sport enthusiastically and all of fashionable London Society would come to watch him play. Among those watching with special interest was former orange seller, Nell Gwynne. She had been installed, in her new self described role as "the King's Protestant whore", in a comfortable house in nearby Pall Mall.

Copyright, Richard Ing. Photography by Richard Ing.

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