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

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

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

You’d never get tired of London in Dr Johnson’s House

Dr JohnsonVisiting Dr Johnson’s House is a bit like going round a house you’re thinking of buying – it’s such a nice size, so well laid out, so conveniently situated, that you almost feel like making an offer there and then. But chances are it’ll be out of your range. That convenient location is right in the centre of London, just off Fleet St and the house, built at the end of the seventeenth century, is Grade I listed. Still, we can dream, can’t we? Continue reading

Osterley Park – A Robert Adam masterpiece on the Piccadilly Line

Osterley ParkWith the end of September a distant memory, it might feel like the historic house season is over for another year. The great houses wrap themselves in mothballs for the winter and close their doors to visitors. But you can still catch one of them open this month – the conveniently-situated Robert Adam gem, Osterley Park. Continue reading

Spectacular Tudor bling at Hatfield House

Hatfield House ArmouryI’ve been going back to Hatfield House a lot this summer, ever since I went to visit the gardens in July. That’s because they have this great system where your ticket becomes a season ticket so you can visit the park and gardens as often as you like. Not the house though, that costs extra, but I didn’t let that put me off. Last week I paid it a long overdue visit and got my socks blown off. Continue reading

A rare chance to visit the Geffrye Museum’s restored almshouse

Geffrye Museum AlmshouseI love the Geffrye Museum, the Museum of the Home, with its carefully curated room sets showing how the ‘middling classes’ have lived through the ages. One of its charms is that it’s housed in a pretty square of old almshouses with a green lawn and shady trees in front. One of the almshouses has been restored to show what it might have looked like when it was lived in, and I’ve been wanting to go on one of the rare tours for ages. Finally I’ve done it. Continue reading