Christmas at the Dickens Museum

Dickens MuseumIf it’s Christmas it must be time for  holly and ivy and A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens’ ever-popular story of the true meaning of Christmas. So where better to open the Christmas season than at the Charles Dickens Museum on Doughty Street, where the rooms are decorated for Christmas just as they might have been in Dickens’ day. Continue reading

Lincoln’s Inn, where the seventeenth century comes to life

Lincoln's Inn Wildy & Sons LtdFirst things first: Lincoln’s Inn and Lincoln’s Inn Fields are not the same place, though they are next to each other. Lincoln’s Inn Fields is a public open space with tennis courts and a café; Lincoln’s Inn is one of the four Inns of Court and it’s private. But, despite the sign on the entrance saying you can’t go in, it’s okay to visit on weekdays. Just wander through one of its arched gates and you’re there. Continue reading

Inside Canada House

Canada HouseThere’s always something new to do in London, and my new thing this week is visiting Canada House in Trafalgar Square. It’s home to the High Commission of Canada in the UK and it’s recently undergone an extensive refurbishment. To showcase the result they’re running public tours on selected Fridays – so I went along to see what it’s like. Continue reading

Monk’s House Rodmell, Virginia Woolf’s country home

Monk's House RodmellI went down to Sussex this week to visit an old friend, and we spent a very pleasant, sunny afternoon visiting Monk’s House, the former home of writer Virginia Woolf, in Rodmell, a pretty village not far from Lewes. Virginia Woolf and her husband Leonard bought it in 1919, and it became the country retreat for the Bloomsbury Group. Continue reading

The Wallace Collection – French art for free in the heart of London

Wallace CollectionA lot of Londoners have a soft spot for the Wallace Collection. It’s just round the back of Oxford St and it’s free, so you can pop in for a browse any time you like. And it’s quite spectacular, filled with French eighteenth century painting, furniture and porcelain with famous Old Master paintings and, the icing on the cake, a world class armoury. So how does it come to be there? Continue reading

Fenton House: Hampstead’s hidden gem

Fenton House HampsteadA short (uphill) walk from Hampstead tube station takes you to a little enclave of old houses, where a seventeenth-century merchant’s house and its walled garden occupy a quiet corner. Grade I listed Fenton House, now owned by the National Trust (bequeathed to them in 1952 by Lady Binning, its last owner and resident), is a lovely place to visit on a fine spring day, as Yannick and I recently discovered.  Continue reading

Five fabulous London gardens to visit this Spring

Isabella PlantationThe weather (today at least) is sunny, and it’s not too far-fetched to suggest that spring has sprung. Cherry blossom season is over, so naturally you want to know what follows. The answer is bluebells and wisteria and rhododendrons and azalea, among others. Where are you going to see them? Just read on. Continue reading

Park Village West -such desirable residences!

Park Village WestYou’ll find Park Village West just off Albany Street in Camden Town, though you may not realise at first that it’s there, as the little street bends away and meanders back again, leading nowhere except to some of the most charming houses in London. Built by John Nash’s architectural practice in the 1820s and 1830s, these cream stucco villas occupy their own peaceful enclave, with an atmosphere as remote from the rushing traffic of Albany Street as a country village. Continue reading

Five Fabulous Historic London Houses to visit in 2016

Strawberry HillHistoric houses hibernate – at least a lot of them do. They shut down for the winter, cover their furniture in dust sheets and doze the dark days away. But the return of spring brings them back to life. They open up like spring flowers, so now’s the time to visit them in all their finery. Here’s my top five houses to see this year. Continue reading

Kenwood House – a North London Treasure

IMG_2388Kenwood House is a North London treasure. Perhaps it’s because of its position, right at the top of Hampstead Heath, gazing down over the rest of the city; perhaps it’s because, thanks to the terms of the Iveagh Bequest, it’s free to visit and always will be. Or perhaps it’s just because it’s so lovely. Continue reading