Hatfield House and the Old Palace

Hatfield House and the Old Palace

Hatfield House (around twenty miles north of London) is home to two fascinating buildings.  A Jacobean stately home built by Robert Cecil (minister to King James I) and the 'Old Palace' - a tudor brick building built by Cardinal Morton in 1485, subsequently seized by King Henry VIII at the Dissolution in 1536 and later [...]

Hampton Court Palace – home of England’s most famous king

Hampton Court Palace – home of England’s most famous king

Hampton Court Palace was the home of England's most famous king from 1529 until his death in 1547.   With sixty acres of gardens and 750 acres of parkland, it was King Henry VIII's weekend and summer retreat from London.    The palace was occupied by monarch's of the Stuart and Hanoverian Royal Houses up until 1737. [...]

Style and grandeur at Chiswick House

Style and grandeur at Chiswick House

One of London’s finest country homes is only a few miles west of central London.   Chiswick House was the centre of highly select gatherings of the Earl of Burlington’s family and friends in the 1730’s.   And around fifty years later it served the same purpose for the Duke of Devonshire and his sparkling (very ‘modern’) [...]

A self-guided walk in Spitalfields, London

A self-guided walk in Spitalfields, London

Spitalfields is in the east end of London and very close to the City of London.   Its been the traditional first stop in Britain for immigrants, going back to the 1600’s, and has had its share of poverty and destitution.   Today, however, the area is a melting pot of the creative industries, street art and [...]

Medieval Fete in Vouvant

Medieval Fete in Vouvant

Recently returned from a summer-break in France, during which a highlight was the annual medieval fete in Vouvant, Pays de la Loire - the only fortified village of Vendee. Between 1150 and 1216, all of western France was ruled by the English kings; Henry II and Richard I - before being lost during the reign [...]

Guide to Belgravia – and its pubs! (Part 2)

Guide to Belgravia – and its pubs! (Part 2)

In the previous post we gave an overview of this historical area.  We continue in this post - and take in the next four pubs! Foreign embassy capital Belgrave Square is home to around twenty foreign embassies; among them Norway, Spain, Germany, Austria, Brunei, Portugal, Bahrain, Turkey, Argentina, Mexico and the Ivory Coast.  In the [...]

Sunday in the City of London

Sunday in the City of London

The 'square mile' of the City of London is home to half a million workers during the week.  On Sundays however it is relatively quiet; allowing you to discover the deserted streets and secluded spaces.   The juxtaposition of old and new architecture creates some interesting photographs.  Here are a few from a recent visit.

Guide to Belgravia – and its pubs! (Part 1)

Guide to Belgravia – and its pubs! (Part 1)

A short history of Belgravia Belgravia is an area in the south west of London known for its concentration of large mansions, wealthy residents and foreign embassies. However, less than 200 years ago the area was a marshy wasteland frequented by vagrants and criminals. How did it make this transformation? In 1677, the 200 acre [...]

London’s last great ducal residence

London’s last great ducal residence

Syon House, near Brentford, is home of the Percys, Dukes of Northumberland.   It sits in a 200 acre estate on the River Thames in Middlesex. The house we see today was built by Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset in 1547, refurbished and enhanced by the Scottish architect Robert Adam in the 1760's and refaced in [...]

Charles Dickens’ London home – birthplace of his early novels

Charles Dickens’ London home – birthplace of his early novels

At the age of 25, Charles Dickens rented (as was normal practice of the day) a large home in Doughty Street, London.  He did this, just as his writing career (under the pseudonym of ‘Boz’) was taking off.  Dickens lived here happily with his wife, Catherine, and their three children. Charles and Catherine would go [...]