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Video and pictures: Peabody cycle tour shows sights of Westminster

09:03 01 August 2012

Peabody CEO Stephen Howlett (centre) about to begin the Westminster cycle tour with colleagues Ralph Lucey and Tessa Barraclough

Peabody CEO Stephen Howlett (centre) about to begin the Westminster cycle tour with colleagues Ralph Lucey and Tessa Barraclough

Archant

To celebrate this year being the 150th anniversary of the Peabody Housing Association being founded a new cycle tour has been created which is the perfect excuse to get on your bike for a couple of hours to explore London's history.

Peabody Avenue: Part of the Westminster cycle tour, the new build of 2011 (left) complements the longstanding Peabody architecture (right)Peabody Avenue: Part of the Westminster cycle tour, the new build of 2011 (left) complements the longstanding Peabody architecture (right)

The route starts at 80 Eaton Square, where philanthropist George Peabody spent the last months of his life.

It then wends its way past historical Peabody estates as well as the odd pub.

Along the way you will pass plenty of cafes, shops and street markets before the tour ends at Westminster Abbey, where Peabody's funeral was held in 1869.

Many places you see are part of the legacy left by Peabody, whose donations to good causes during his lifetime are estimated to be the equivalent of £60 million in today's money.

Bessborough Place: A Peabody estate that is part of the Westminster cycle tourBessborough Place: A Peabody estate that is part of the Westminster cycle tour

Information on getting started on the cycle tour can be found at www.peabody150.org.uk, where you can either print off a map of the route or download it to a smartphone.

On this page we highlight a few of the places of interest you can see while on the tour. Also, watch the video above.

80 Eaton Square

During the last month of his life, George Peabody lived here with his friend, Curtis Miranda Lampson.

Abbey Orchard Street: One of Peabody's Victorian estatesAbbey Orchard Street: One of Peabody's Victorian estates

American-born Peabody had arrived in London 32 years before and lived at various addresses, including Cork Street and Regent Street.

Since Peabody's death in 1869, Eaton Square has been home to a number of famous people, including Tory Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, former 007 Sean Connery and Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich.

Peabody Avenue

All the way along at this location in Pimlico, you can see Peabody architecture, both old and new. The picture here shows the 2011 new build on the left with older buildings opposite.

Westminster Abbey. Picture by Anthony Devlin/PAWestminster Abbey. Picture by Anthony Devlin/PA

On the wall of Block N there is a memorial to 67 men who died on active service in the First World War.

During the Second World War, the estate received a visit from Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who came to see the damage caused during an air raid.

Bessborough Place

Another of the sights on the cycle tour of Westminster, this street is part of the Millbank estate, which was originally constructed between 1850 and 1860.

It was built on surplus marshland that had been bought for Millbank Penitentiary, which at one time served as a holding facility for convicted prisoners before they were transported to Australia.

The estate was owned by the Crown until Peabody acquired it in 2011.

Abbey Orchard Street

In medieval times, the orchard of Westminster Abbey stood here, but by the 19th century, the area was an unhealthy maze of narrow alleys.

The small dwellings were overcrowded, crime was rife, and police entered at their peril. Peabody cleared the area and built this estate in 1882.

Westminster Abbey

When George Peabody died in 1869, the Dean of Westminster felt he should be buried in Westminster Abbey.

Vast crowds lined the streets, and Prime Minister William Gladstone was in attendance.

Having been interred for a month at the Abbey, his body was taken back to his native America.

A floor plaque now marks the spot where his body was temporarily laid to rest.

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