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’) [...]

American art and literature in Tite Street, Chelsea

The district of Chelsea in the south west of London is part of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (royal owing to Kensington Palace). One particular street in Chelsea was almost an American enclave for artists and writers in the late Victorian period .   These included John Singer Sargent (between 1885 and 1925), James [...]

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 [...]

London’s most fascinating district – Whitechapel

Following the previous post on Spitalfields, we explore the neighbouring area of Whitechapel – starting with one of its most notorious characters. The Whitechapel Murders These murders, assumed to be the horrific deeds of ‘Jack the Ripper’ shocked London and the world.   The murders happened over three months in the autumn of 1888.   And today, [...]

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! [...]

A self-guided walk in Spitalfields, London

Spitalfields is in the east end of London and very close to the City of London (financial district).   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.   However, today the area is a melting pot of the creative industries, street [...]

London’s best preserved seventeenth century country house

Ham House was built on land owned by King James I in 1610.   The lease of the house transferred between several royal courtiers until it was granted to William Murray in 1626 - during the reign of King Charles I.   Murray was granted the freehold ten years later.   Murray, a Scotsman, was a close friend [...]

London’s second ‘City’ – Canary Wharf in Docklands

Canary Wharf is the name of the second financial district for London.   It is situated about three miles to the east of the ‘City of London’ in the former London Docklands.   The addition of Canary Wharf was to provide additional capacity for the ‘City’ – a top-ten world economy, if it were a country in [...]

The Mary Rose – new museum reveals its magnificence

King Henry VIII’s warship, the Mary Rose, sank in the Solent on the south coast of England during an engagement with the French Fleet in July 1545.   The disaster was witnessed by many, including the King.   It was 450 years before she was seen again - after the world’s largest underwater archaeological excavation brought her [...]

Red House – The Arts and Crafts home of William Morris

William Morris was an influential designer and one of the leaders of the Arts and Crafts movement - that started in Britain before becoming a world-wide phenomenon.  This is the house where the movement started!   'Arts and Crafts' rejected plain mass produced household furniture and fittings in favour of ambitious, creative and bespoke designs [...]