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. [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

Normandy’s D-Day beaches, Bayeux and Caen

Normandy’s D-Day beaches, Bayeux and Caen

In this 75th anniversary year of D-Day my brother and I made a short trip to Normandy to visit 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 I in Caen.  It was a faced-paced visit [...]

Birthplace of the world’s most famous writer – Stratford-upon-Avon

Birthplace of the world’s most famous writer – Stratford-upon-Avon

The centre of Stratford-upon-Avon is packed with Elizabethan and Jacobean architecture and history that recall the life of the world's most famous writer, William Shakespeare.    This article shows you how to spend one day in Stratford-upon-Avon, exploring the town and its connections to the bard. We start the walk in Henley Street near the [...]

A weekend trip to Pompeii and Herculaneum

A weekend trip to Pompeii and Herculaneum

After years of thinking about it, we arranged a weekend trip to Pompeii in autumn this year.    Flights to Naples are frequent, accommodation is plentiful and the crowds are fewer – plus it's cooler! Trains depart Naples (on the Circumvesuviana line) to Pompeii (alight at Pompeii Scavi-Villa dei Misteri station) and three stops after [...]

The hidden streets of Barcelona; Raval

The hidden streets of Barcelona; Raval

Among the most popular of European city breaks is Barcelona.   Its mild climate, vibrant culture and quick (and inexpensive) flights make it a perfect weekend trip from London. Many visitors are familiar with the popular areas of La Rambla, Place de Catalunya, Park Guell and Diagonal.   But visitors shouldn’t miss the historic area around the [...]

A weekend in medieval Girona

A weekend in medieval Girona

Girona is an historic city in Catalonia in north eastern Spain, close to the Costa Brava and Barcelona.   It has a warm climate, a fascinating history and fine restaurants.   And the city is served by an international airport with frequent, quick and inexpensive flights from London.   All these factors make it ideal for a short break! [...]

England’s Lake District in the life and legacy of Beatrix Potter

England’s Lake District in the life and legacy of Beatrix Potter

Beatrix Potter was born on the 28th July 1866 in South Kensington, London.  She died, 77 years, later in the village of Sawrey in the Lake District, Cumbria.   At the time of her death, she had made a fortune writing books for children.  She left fourteen farms and 4000 acres of land to the National [...]