Located around Trafalgar Square, on the edge of Whitehall and Mayfair, is Charing Cross. Dedicated to Admiral Lord Nelson’s victory over Napoleon’s eet in 1807, the centrepiece of the square is Nelson’s Column, a 185 foot Corinthian- styled pillar with a 17 foot statue of Nelson atop. The column is guarded by four bronze lions made by Landseer, and anking Nelson’s memorial are statues of Charles I, and two of the heroes of the India Mutiny, Lord Napier and General Havelock. Two great fountains provide the nishing ourish and are used by people from the surrounding area to gather water, and at night, occasionally to bathe (if the police aren’t in the area.)
Traf c around the square is heavy at nearly all hours. During the day, the carriages of politicians, lawyers, and other people involved in running the country are threading their way through the press of vehicles. Taxis and omnibuses ply their trade to and from the Charing Cross Station on the embankment. The square brings in tourists from overseas and the artistically-inclined. The National Gallery sits at the north end of Trafalgar, as does the National Portrait Gallery. The Grand Hotel, a popular site for the traveller, is on the south side of the square, just across Craven Street from the rail station. On the west side of Trafalgar is the end of Pall Mall, where one nds the College of Physicians, the Royal Society’s club residence, and the Royal Geographical Society’s building. Union Club House, a gentlemen’s club for merchants and lawyers, is in the area, as well.
The district gives its name to Charing Cross Hospital, built earlier in the century and now one of the better teaching hospitals in the country. Charing Cross provides pro bono service for people with unidenti ed or bizarre diseases in the hope of better training new physicians. The primary customer of the hospital, however, is the middle-class, who can afford the price of care. The hospital is the recipient of a great many endowments, allowing them to provide their services at a cheaper rate than comparably staffed facilities.
The busy nature of the Charing Cross neighbourhood means that petty crimes like pick pocketing and robberies are not uncommon. However, there is a sizeable contingent of policemen in the area, and a ying squad dedicated speci cally to enforcement available within minutes from Scotland Yard. The proximity to the Yard also means that plainclothes detectives are often in the area, heading to and from the headquarters.