A self-guided walk in Spitalfields, London

A self-guided walk in Spitalfields, London

Spitalfields is an historic area to the east of the City of London.   Since the 1660's, it has been the traditional first stop for immigrants arriving in London - and has suffered its share of poverty and destitution.   Today, however, the area is a melting pot of the creative industries, street art and bohemian residents.  [...]

Nonsuch Park – site of the ‘unequalled’ palace

Nonsuch Park is named after the 'unequalled' palace built for King Henry VIII in 1538.  Nonsuch Palace was the first great Renaissance building in England taking nine years to build and costing £24,000, a phenominal sum at that time. The palace passed to King Edward VI and then Queen Mary I, who sold it to [...]

A Mayfair pub walk

A Mayfair pub walk

Like me, you're probably hoping we get on the other side of this global pandemic soon!  Once we do, here is a pub-walk through one of London's most historical and well-heeled residential areas. Mayfair, named after its raucous annual fair, was purpose-built during the mid to late-1700's.   Many wealthly residents moved here from Soho - [...]

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 [...]

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’) [...]

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 [...]