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

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 [...]

The Spirit of Soho – how it evolved, what to see and where to go

Soho is a well-known district of the City of Westminster in London.   This article will describe how Soho evolved into the epicentre of London’s entertainment scene. Soho is thought to take its name from the hunting cries used when it was a royal hunting park belonging to King Henry VIII, who hunted here with members [...]

Highlights from the V&A Museum, British Galleries

The Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum in London is a triumph of Royal patronage, government foresight and public sponsorship spanning back to it’s inception after the Great Exhibition of 1851.  We recommend the V&A for its scale, privacy (in many galleries), great restaurants and the exhibits! The Great Exhibition (in London’s Hyde Park) was such [...]

The home of the Bishops of London – Fulham Palace

Tucked away in south west London is the home of the Bishops of London since 704 AD.  Set in magnificent grounds close to the River Thames it is a secluded environment that manages to combine places for children to explore, historical interest and a great cafe - all in a country-side setting! Fulham Palace remained the [...]

Brooklands – home of British motorsport and aviation

Fifteen miles to the south of London is the home of British motorsport and aviation.    The place is Brooklands.    Motor racing took place here from 1907 to 1939 and aviation developed on the site at the same time - right up until 1989.    At one time, Brooklands was the most prolific aircraft [...]

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 [...]

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.    Successive monarchs also saw the appeal and the palace was occupied by monarch's of the Stuart [...]

The Royal Hospital Chelsea – historical buildings and the finest gardens

The Royal Hospital Chelsea is a retirement home to around 300 veterans of the British Army.    Located on a large site in Chelsea, it offers fabulous walks in the gardens, beautiful art and architecture and an intimate view into the retired lives of the service men and women who live there.    These former [...]

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’) [...]