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

Got something old? The Society of Antiquaries might be interested

Society of AntiquariesSo, here’s another little known place to visit in the centre of London – the Society of Antiquaries. You may have walked past it any number of times without realising as it’s located in Burlington House, just across the courtyard from the Royal Academy. If you’ve ever wondered what’s in the buildings either side of the RA entrance, here’s (part of) your answer.  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

The Art Deco treasure house you never knew was there: Freemasons’ Hall

Freemason's Hall

I bet you’ve walked past Freemasons’ Hall on Great Queen Street, just round the corner from the Opera House in Covent Garden, a million times and never thought of going inside. I certainly hadn’t. It’s the headquarters of a bizarre secret society open only to men, so why would I want to go in there? Because it has some of the most spectacular Art Deco interiors in the country, that’s why.  Continue reading

A bijou neo-Palladian villa – Chiswick House

Chiswick HouseYannick and I are on a roll at the moment, ticking off historic houses at a rate of knots. This week we got the train to Chiswick to visit the perfect bijou neo-Palladian villa, Chiswick House. And not just the house; it’s set in acres of manicured park dotted with statues and with a garden café where Yannick had his first encounter with rock cakes.  Continue reading

Eltham Palace – Art Deco Heaven

Eltham PalaceEltham Palace, in South London, isn‘t a palace at all (well, except for a small bit of it). It’s a house, built in 1933 by Stephen Courtauld ( younger brother of Samuel Courtauld who founded the Courtauld Institute) and his wife, Virginia. They were both Art Deco fanatics and the house they built is a masterpiece of Art Deco design. It’s now been beautifully restored by English Heritage. Continue reading

Strawberry Hill House – where the Gothic Revival began

Strawberry Hill HouseAn icing sugar house in a leafy London suburb with turrets and crenellations like a gothic castle. Even today it’s like something out of a fairytale, but back when it was built, in the mid eighteenth century, hundreds of years after gothic architecture fell out of fashion, it must have been quite mind-boggling. Welcome to Strawberry Hill House, the magical white palace Horace Walpole built himself in Twickenham. Continue reading