Summer trip to Rome

Summer trip to Rome

Here are a few pictures taken during a summer trip to Rome. The stand out visit was to the recently reopened Domus Aurea, Emperor Nero’s Golden House - aided by VR headsets showing it’s past magnificence! Photos (c) Essential London Here is the official website for booking tickets to the Roman Forum and Domus Aurea. [...]

Ostia Antica

Ostia Antica

Pushing the boundaries of ‘beyond London’ here, but wanted to share some pictures taken of Ostia, the ancient port city of Rome. Brought to our attention by Mary Beard and her excellent TV show ‘Meet the Romans’. Ostia kept Rome’s population fed with imported grain from Africa - freely dispensed to citizens to keep them [...]

London’s best districts – Clapham (part 2)

London’s best districts – Clapham (part 2)

Part 2: Monuments, places of worship, Clapham at war - and essential pubs and cafes! Monuments, statues and markers Boundary markers, dotted throughout Clapham, are parish boundary markers delineating Clapham from Wandsworth and Battersea. The history of Clapham’s local government is beyond the scope of this short book, but here are the basics from the [...]

Battle of Britain Bunker

Battle of Britain Bunker

By the summer of 1940, Hitler’s ‘Operation Sea Lion’ was in full swing. Hitler needed air superiority over the English Channel. This meant destroying RAF airfields in the south of England and the sources of aircraft production throughout the country. The enemy attacks started on 10 July 1940 and continued every day throughout summer – [...]

Hatfield House and the Old Palace

Hatfield House and the Old Palace

The history of Hatfield House starts in 1485, when the Bishop of Ely (Cambridgeshire) constructed Hatfield Palace, today called the Old Palace. At the Dissolution of the Monasteries (1536-41), Hatfield Palace was acquired by King Henry VIII, passed down in sequence to his children; Edward, Mary and Elisabeth and then inherited by King James I [...]

Normandy’s D-Day beaches, Bayeux and Caen

Normandy’s D-Day beaches, Bayeux and Caen

Before the lockdown, my brother and I took a trip to Normandy (ahead of the 75th anniversary commerations of VE day on 8th May 2020).  We visited the D-day landing beaches, museums and memorials.  We also visited the Bayeux Tapestry (depicting the Norman invasion of England in 1066) and the burial tomb of King William [...]

Finale Ligure, Italy

Finale Ligure is an Italian comune on the Gulf of Genoa in the Province of Savona in Liguria.  We visited in autumn, flying from London to Turin and hired a car for the eighty mile drive south to the coast.  Finale Ligure is a popular resort for Italians living in the north, but has very [...]

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, seized by King Henry VIII at the Dissolution in 1536 and later used [...]

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace

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. [...]

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 [...]