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A Visit To The Royal Mews In London

Visitors to London often want to go inside Buckingham Palace when they come there and see the Changing of the Guard ceremony. Yet, while Windsor Castle is open to the public throughout the year, the chief royal residence of London is only open for ten weeks between mid-July and September every year when the royal family are at Balmoral Castle. The tradition of spending the late summer and early autumn in the Scottish Highlands was established by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and has continued since her reign.

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10 Facts About The Elizabeth Line Running Across London

The idea for a line joining the eastern and western suburbs of London was first mooted in 1941 during the Second World War but it took over eighty years before this dream was realised. The Elizabeth Line, as it has become known, was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II who officially opened the line on 17 May 2022  at Paddington Station; passenger services started on 24 May 2022.  Her Majesty was presented with an Oyster Card with £5 on it. Although she was shown how to use the card, she did not do so and left the station in a lift. The Queen spent time at the opening talking to Transport For London staff.

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Lifeboats In London: The Work Of The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) On The River Thames

While most visitors to London might not associate the capital with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), the River Thames will be seen on virtually every tour of London and is often considered the backbone of the capital. Four of the RNLI’s 238 lifeboat stations are on the Thames, and their busiest is RNLI Tower Lifeboat Station by Waterloo Bridge. The others are at Chiswick and Teddington in Greater London and Gravesend in Kent.

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Easter in London - Things To Do From Good Friday To Easter Monday

Easter Sunday falls on the first Sunday after the full moon following the spring equinox on 21st March. This unusual calculation, which uses a mixture of solar and lunar calendars, means that the day itself can occur anytime in a period of over a month - between 22nd March and 25th April. The next time it will fall this late will be in 2038 and you will have an even longer wait for a very early Easter. It will not take place on 22nd March until 2285.

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David Hockney, English Painter & National Treasure

The English painter David Hockney was born in July 1937 in Bradford, Yorkshire. At the time of writing, he is still going strong in his mid-eighties and a new exhibition of his work is on display at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. It includes a recent self-portrait by Hockney.

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10 Facts About Camilla Parker Bowles, Duchess Of Cornwall & Future Queen Consort

Queen Elizabeth II has publicly announced that it is her “dearest wish” that Prince Charles’s wife Camilla Parker Bowles, Duchess of Cornwall be known as Queen Consort when he ascends to the throne of the United Kingdom. Here are ten facts about Camilla Parker Bowles, the woman who will in the future be known as Queen Consort:

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Medals, Coins & 10 Events For Celebrating The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee 2022

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II  came to the throne of the United Kingdom on the death of her father King George VI on 6th February 1952. This means that on the same date in 2022 she celebrated the seventieth (or platinum) jubilee of her accession.

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10 Facts About Queen Elizabeth II

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II celebrates the seventieth anniversary of her ascent to the throne of the United Kingdom on 6th February 2022. Throughout the year this platinum anniversary will be celebrated with a series of events by people the length and breadth of the United Kingdom.  She provides a measure of constancy in sometimes troubled times and a link with Britain’s past.

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Big Ben Restoration: London's Most Famous Bell And Clock Can Be Seen And Heard Again

London saw in 2022 to the traditional sound of the bells of Big Ben at Westminster. Although the annual fireworks display which is a part of the New Year festivities was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic, Londoners and visitors to the capital were able to see as well as hear Big Ben for the first time in four years since it was covered with scaffolding and silenced as a result of the restoration programme at the Palace of Westminster, better known as the Houses of Parliament.

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William Hogarth: A Thumbnail Sketch Of A Great London Painter

Visitors who arrive in London via Heathrow Airport will pass the Hogarth roundabout in Chiswick as they approach the city along the A4 from the west. They may see the house in which William Hogarth (1697 – 1764) lived, which is now a museum. Their Blue Badge Tourist Guide may even tell them that it is believed that Hogarth’s habit of sketching people’s faces on his thumbnail gave us the phrase ‘a thumbnail sketch.’

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Lady Beefeaters At The Tower Of London

The first female Yeoman Warder appointed at the Tower of London was Moira Cameron who comes from Scotland and took up the role in 2007. Like all Yeoman Warders, who are often called Beefeaters, she was a former non-commissioned officer who had served in one of Britain’s military forces – the army, navy, air force or royal marines – for a minimum of twenty-two years with an ‘unblemished record’ and had been awarded a good conduct medal. As an often repeated Beefeater joke has it, ‘that just means we never got caught.’

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London Blue Plaques Commemorating Historical & Famous Residents

There are nearly a thousand blue plaques commemorating famous people who have lived in London. The modern plaque was designed by an unnamed student of the Central School of Arts and Crafts in 1938 who was paid just four guineas (£4.20) for it. Each blue plaque is nineteen inches in diameter and is crafted by ceramicists Frank and Sue Ashworth, who are based in the county of Cornwall rather than the capital.

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John Harrison H4 - World's Most Important Clock Can Be Seen In Greenwich, London

Which is the most important clock in the world? Many visitors to London would answer ‘Big Ben,’ even though this is officially the name of the bell behind it rather than the clock itself. However, as a London blue badge guide, I would say that the world’s most important timepiece is the John Harrison H4 which can be seen in the Greenwich Royal Observatory museum near where the Prime Meridian is marked on the ground.

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James Bond Quiz Questions | 20 Trivia Questions on the 007 Books & Films

With the new James Bond 007 movie Spectre starring Daniel Craig set for release on 26 October, we thought we’d put together a quiz.  Specifically, below are ten questions each about the James Bond 007 books and films.  How many will you answer correctly?  

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Guide London A – Z: Letter I London Landmarks And Tourist Attractions

How many London landmarks and tourist attractions can you name that start with the Letter I? Blue Badge Tourist Guide Edwin Lerner continues our Guide London A-Z video series and provides insights on the historical events, famous and not-so-famous landmarks in London starting with the Letter I.

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Westminster Abbey Burials - Famous People Buried Among Kings At Westminster Abbey

As well as being the major royal church of the United Kingdom, Westminster Abbey contains the tombs of many famous people who were not born into royalty. Over 3,000 people are buried at Westminster Abbey - many forgotten by history - but it remains the final resting place for celebrated Britons. Others who are not buried there are honoured with commemorative plaques. Below are some of the famous Westminster Abbey burials.

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History Of The Proms – A London Institution

Every year in late summer, London plays host to The Proms, a series of classical music concerts held in the Royal Albert Hall, South Kensington. The Albert Hall was built in memory of Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert in 1871 and stands opposite the Albert Memorial in Hyde Park. It has a capacity of over 5,000 and is always packed out for the Last Night of the Proms in September, an event that is as much about patriotism as music.

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British Royals Buried At Westminster Abbey, The Coronation Church

Westminster Abbey is both Britain’s royal and its national church. No monarch has been buried there since 1760, but it was in the Abbey that the funeral service for Diana, Princess of Wales, took place in September 1997, her brother Earl Spencer giving a famous eulogy at this event.

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Day Trip To Windsor From London - Things To Do In Windsor

Which is the best place to visit outside London on a trip to the United Kingdom? Windsor is one of the most exciting towns to visit with its large royal park, attractive shops, cosy pubs, and tea rooms. It also has Windsor Castle, the oldest castle in the world still occupied by the family for whom it was built – the British royal family.

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Princess Diana Statue at Kensington Palace

On what would have been her sixtieth birthday a new statue of Diana, Princess of Wales was unveiled at Kensington Palace by her two sons Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex. Also present at the unveiling were the Princess’s brother Earl Spencer and her sisters, Lady Jane Fellowes and Lady Sarah McCorquodale.

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Let’s Do London Campaign Launched By Mayor of Greater London, Sadiq Khan

The recently re-elected Mayor of Greater London Sadiq Khan has launched a ‘Let’s Do London’ campaign to promote the capital as a major world tourist destination once again. Blue Badge Tourist Guides aim to play a major part in the re-opening of tourism in London.

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His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (1921 - 2021)

The death of Prince Philip at the age of ninety-nine was announced by Buckingham Palace at midday on 9th April 2021. Prince Philip and the Queen had been married for seventy-three years since their wedding at Westminster Abbey in 1947. He was the longest-serving consort to a monarch in the history of the United Kingdom.

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The Oxford Cambridge Boat Race - Normally Held In London

One of London’s best-known events is the annual Boat Race, a contest between crews from Oxford and Cambridge University Boat Clubs held every spring on the River Thames. The two teams go head to head over a 4.2 mile (6.8 kilometre) course that stretches between Putney and Mortlake.

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A Year Of Live Broadcasts From Guide London's Blue Badge Tourist Guides

Guide London’s Blue Badge Tourist Guides are used to talking to groups, families and individuals in the open air and at sites like Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London where they are qualified to conduct tours. However, they have had to adjust to the new reality of life during COVID-19 and many have demonstrated their knowledge and skills on the Internet.

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Big Ben: London's Famous Bell

Every tour of London will include a view of the Houses of Parliament and most guides conducting one will arrange for a stop so that people can take a photograph or selfie with Big Ben in the background. This provides the perfect souvenir of a visit to London.

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The Final Journey Of The Unknown Warrior At Westminster Abbey

The most emotionally powerful story I tell as a Blue Badge Tourist Guide is that of the Unknown Warrior – a single British soldier who through his anonymity came to represent hundreds of thousands of British soldiers killed during the First World War.

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Rolling Stones Store Opens On Carnaby Street in London

It is often said that if you can remember the '60s, then you were not really there. Well, I can remember them and, in particular, the outlandish clothes we wore, like bell-bottoms and floral shirts – and this was just the men. Male fashion led the way then and was celebrated with songs like Dedicated Follower of Fashion, a big hit for the Kinks. Blue Badge Tourist Guides need to know their modern history as well as what happened centuries ago.

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Yellow Bags Are Back - London's Selfridges Department Store Reopens After Lockdown

In 1906 Harry Gordon Selfridge came to London and spent £400,000 opening up Selfridges department store. He was bored with retirement and, having risen from being a stock clerk to partner at Marshall Fields in Chicago, he was looking for a new challenge. He positioned his shop at the then unfashionable western end of Oxford Street, calculating correctly that the newly opened Central Line on the underground would bring customers to his store near Marble Arch and Hyde Park.

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Prince Harry And The Other Duke Of Sussex

Prince Harry was given the title Duke of Sussex by Her Majesty the Queen on the morning of his wedding to Meghan Markle in 2018, so she automatically became the Duchess of Sussex. They use the Sussex brand on their website sussexroyal.com but have few other connections with the county.

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Composed Upon Westminster Bridge – London's Most Famous Poem

Blue Badge Tourist Guides in London need to have a working knowledge of some of the famous writers and poets associated with the city: William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, William Blake, and Ben Jonson, all of whom made London their homes for at least part of their lives.

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Famous Russians in London

There are half a million people of Russian descent in London, three quarters from the form Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Amongst them are the actors Helen Mirren, David Suchet, and Peter Ustinov, writer Stephen Poliakoff, the former politician Nick Clegg and the recently deceased opera director and television personality Jonathan Miller.

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The Women of Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey is definitely one of London’s must-see attractions. And you’re sure to discover new things every time you visit, especially if you go with a knowledgeable Blue Badge Tourist Guide. Among other things, the Abbey is the burial site of many of the most famous people in British history.

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Dinosaurs And Destruction at the Crystal Palace

Most Blue Badge Guides, when conducting a tour of London, will give priority to what people can see. Occasionally, however, they will mention a building that has been lost to fire, bombing or development. One such is the Crystal Palace, originally found in Hyde Park.

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Pearly Kings And Queens On The Streets of London

As well as the important buildings and monuments, Blue Badge Tourist Guides have to be aware of distinctive characters on the streets of London. None are more distinct than the Pearly Kings and Queens who dress up in the ‘colourful’ costumes and raise money for charity. In fact, a Pearly costume is usually made from black and white materials, with occasionally a brightly coloured scarf (as on this photograph) or feathers adorning a pearly hat or cap.

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Hunting for Alfred Hitchcock in London

The famous film director Alfred Hitchcock lived half of his eighty years in London and half in America. He was born in the East End of London in Leytonstone into a family of shopkeepers and fans of his work can see several memorials to him in the area. The house in which Hitchcock was born is long gone and has been replaced by a garage but they do have a plaque on the wall commemorating him as well as several nearby places named after him.

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Tutankhamun Exhibition London At Saatchi Gallery - Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh

To celebrate the upcoming centenary of Howard Carter’s discovery of the tomb of the young Egyptian Pharoah, the Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharoah exhibition runs at the Saatchi Gallery in the Duke of York HQ until 3 May next year.

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Celebrating English Writer George Eliot 200 Years After Her Birth

Blue Badge Tourist Guides are used to standing in front of statues and telling their groups about the people portrayed in them. The subjects of these statues are far more likely to be men, with only about ten percent portraying women – and most of those are of royalty, such as Queen Victoria. Britain has produced a large number of successful female writers but there are very few monuments to commemorate them.

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American Football in London - NFL Games in London

Blue Badge Tourist Guides often have to take sporting parties around during the course of their work. Visiting cricket and rugby teams bring groups of supporters with them while golfing tours are a mainstay of the industry. American football has now arrived in the capital with the National Football League playing four matches in the NFL London games series. Every NFL team apart from the Green Bay Packers has now played at least one competitive game in London.

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William Blake In London - Largest Exhibition Opens at Tate Britain

A phrase which many Blue Badge Tourist Guides use, particularly when taking people outside London, is ‘England’s green and pleasant land.’ It comes from William Blake’s famous poem Jerusalem which is often sung as a hymn on patriotic occasions, most recently at the Last Night of the Proms, the series of classical music concerts held every summer at the Royal Albert Hall.

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10 Facts About Highclere Castle Featured In Downton Abbey TV Show

Blue Badge Tourist Guides need to know about television series and films because these do so much to encourage visitors to come to London and the United Kingdom. The most popular series on mainstream television in recent years has been Downton Abbey which was filmed at the home of the Earl of Carnarvon in Hampshire, Highclere Castle.

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50 Years After The Famous Beatles Abbey Road Crossing Photograph

It was around 11:30 in the morning of the 8th August 1969 when Iain MacMillan took a photograph of John, Paul, George and Ringo crossing the most famous pedestrian crossing in London – and probably the world. This was in Abbey Road just outside the studio where the Beatles made their records. It remains one of the most iconic album covers of all time and is imitated by around half a million people every year.

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Tower Bridge In London Celebrates 125 Year Anniversary

Every Blue Badge Tourist Guide in London knows the difference between London Bridge and Tower Bridge – but not all their clients do. London Bridge is on the site of the original Roman crossing of the River Thames. Rebuilt several times, the current London Bridge was opened by the Queen in 1973 when the previous one proved not strong enough to carry the heavy traffic crossing it.

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Stanley Kubrick Exhibition At The Design Museum In London

London Blue Badge Tourist Guides usually have a working knowledge of film releases and locations, particularly anything to do with those highly successful franchises Harry Potter and James Bond. However, the director Stanley Kubrick, who began life in the Bronx and ended up living in Britain, could never be pigeon-holed or defined by a franchise.

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Vincent van Gogh And Britain Exhibition At Tate Britain Museum In London

London’s Blue Badge Tourist Guides often take their groups around the city's art galleries and are trained to be familiar with the works of major painters. One of these is Vincent van Gogh. Many of us know a few famous facts about the Dutch post-Impressionist -- he only sold one painting during his life; he cut off his ear and later committed suicide. Brilliant artist, unstable person is the general view of Vincent van Gogh.

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7 Sites Connected To David Bowie In London

Blue Badge Tourist Guides in London are expected to know their history and knowledge of the major sites associated with popular singers is now also a part of our job. For example, sites connected with the iconic singer David Bowie in London have joined the famous pedestrian crossing used by the Beatles in Abbey Road as places to visit.

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3 Famous Fires That Altered The London Skyline

London Blue Badge Tourist Guides often talk about the construction of new buildings when they conduct their tours. However, this is often preceded by destruction, the most common cause being fire. They start as small acts of carelessness and end up altering the London skyline.  Below are three famous fires in our history stand out.

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Stand Up For Handel - The Hallelujah Chorus

Christmas is upon us and many people – both locals and visitors – will go either to a church or concert hall to experience a performance of the Messiah written by George Frederick Handel, which is a highlight of the festive season. The Messiah was first performed in Dublin in 1742 and soon came to London.

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William Shakespeare's Globe Theatre In London Comes Of Age

Besides the usual well-known places such as Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London, London’s Blue Badge Tourist Guides are sometimes asked to include in their tour a visit to sites such as William Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.

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P. G. Wodehouse To Be Honoured At Westminster Abbey, Britain’s National Church

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The World's Most Famous Radio Broadcast Delivered by King Edward VIII

On the evening of 11 December 1936 King Edward VIII, having reigned for only 327 days, informed the world that he had abdicated in favour of his younger brother, who became King George VI. In his famous broadcast from Windsor Castle he said to the world: “I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as king as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love.”

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History of Armistice Day – 100+ Years Since The Great War Ended

Blue Badge Tourist Guides taking groups around London and throughout Britain at this time of year will often be asked by visitors about the red poppies which British people are wearing. These commemorate those who were killed in the First and Second World Wars and in other conflicts, the United Kingdom has been involved during the last century. The poppy appeal raises around £50 million every, the money going to service charities.

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King Henry I of England, The Forgotten Monarch

There have been eight kings of England called Henry and maybe the least well known was the first to hold that name. King Henry I of England was the fourth son of William the Conqueror and, as such, would not have been expected to come to the throne. Nevertheless, when his brother, the little-loved William Rufus died in a suspiciously convenient hunting accident in the New Forest, Henry was ready to quickly claim the crown and dashed up to London for a quick coronation at Westminster Abbey.

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Faces Of The Bard - What Did Shakespeare Look Like?

Most of us think that we know what this most famous poet and playwright William Shakespeare looked like. Our image of him comes from the portrait in the First Folio of his plays, a rather mediocre woodcut by Martin Droeshout, which nevertheless gave a fair likeness, according to his contemporary, friend and rival Ben Jonson.

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Bloomberg Building & London Mithraeum Museum

London is growing skywards. With the high rental price for offices and a lack of space in the ‘square mile’ of the old City of London going up is the only practical alternative. Because of the soft clay in which London was built the maximum height of a skyscraper in the city used to be around 600 feet (200 metres) but new technology allows architects to design buildings – such as Enzo Piano’s The Shard – which are around 1000 feet (300 metres) high with further high rise structures being built and planned for the future.

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Visiting The Postal Museum In London

The Postal Museum was the only finalist in the 2018 Museum of the Year shortlist to be located in London. Although the postal service has been operating for 500 years, The Postal Museum in London only opened its doors in its present form a year ago in Phoenix Place near the Mount Pleasant sorting office, where modern postal vans can still be seen dispatching mail.

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Up Close With Yeoman Warders aka Beefeaters At Tower Of London

As Blue Badge Tourist Guides we often take our clients into the Tower of London as much as – or more than – any other building in London. With this in mind, it is important to develop a good relationship with those who live and work there. In the case of the Tower of London, these are the famous Yeoman Warders, commonly but unofficially known as ‘Beefeaters’.

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300th Anniversary of William Penn's Death

This year sees the three hundredth anniversary of the death of William Penn and London’s Blue Badge Tourist Guides are conducting tours themed on the great Quaker and one of the few individuals to have an American state named after him – Pennsylvania. The name comes from that of the Penn family combined with the word ‘sylvania’, which means ‘woodland’. There is also an English village of that name which tour groups pass through when returning from one of the most popular day trips from London to Bath and Stonehenge.

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London’s Longest Running West End Theatre Shows

London's Blue Badge Tourist Guides often have to take groups to West End theatre shows and, even if they do not do this regularly, it is a good idea to know what is running in Theatreland in order to advise people. With this in mind, I thought it would be fun to see which were the longest running shows on the London stage. I wonder if we are now reaching the stage of the permanent play - as much a part of the London tourist scene as the Changing of the Guard.

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Tracey Emin LED Sculpture At Saint Pancras International Station in London

People entering the interior of Saint Pancras can now see a new LED sculpture by Tracey Emin, a twenty-metre message in bright pink saying “I want my time with you.”  Emin is a notorious and controversial modern British artist, whose most famous work is probably her bed, which she put on display at the Tate Gallery surrounded by empty vodka bottles and used condoms.

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Filling The Most Famous Empty Space In London - Trafalgar Square Fourth Plinth

Blue Badge Tourist Guides who take their groups through the British Museum will often stop to point out some massive Assyrian sculptures before moving on to the nearby Parthenon Marbles. These represent the half-lion half-man figures guarding the entrance to the royal palace of King Ashurnasirpal the Second and were built in the ninth century BC. Now they can point out a modern version of the same creatures made from date syrup cans standing right in the centre of London – on the fourth plinth of Trafalgar Square.

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10 Facts About William Blake And The Poem Jerusalem

Most English people are familiar with the song Jerusalem which is a kind of unofficial national anthem for England - as opposed to God Save the Queen which is the official anthem for the United Kingdom as a whole. The words were written by the poet and painter William Blake, one of the great English eccentrics, a born and bred Londoner.

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The New American Embassy in London is Now Open

Blue Badge Tourist Guides, when they conduct a tour of London, often take the time to show their groups buildings and places which remind them of their own countries. This is a way of connecting with the group and makes them feel at home -even though they may be thousands of miles from where they actually live.

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The Queen Of Crime, Agatha Christie in London

Who is the best-selling writer in history after Shakespeare and the Bible? The answer is Agatha Christie who was born in Devon in 1890 but whose stories often feature London and who wrote what is the capital’s (and the world’s) longest-running play The Mousetrap, which is still playing at Saint Martin’s theatre sixty-five years after it opened. One of the original cast was the late Sir Richard Attenborough, who was paid partly with a share of rights from the play. These were never expected to be worth much but later in his career he was able to sell them to help finance his film about the life of Mahatma Gandhi starring Sir Ben Kingsley.

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Winnie The Pooh & Paddington - Britain's Best Loved Bears

Blue Badge Tourist Guides need to keep up with the latest cinema releases in order to make their tours relevant and up-to-date. One of the most interesting and popular films to come out this year was Goodbye Christopher Robin, the story of the creation of our best-loved bear Winnie the Pooh.  His position though may be threatened by Paddington, created by the late Michael Bond and also the subject of a recent film Paddington 2 which is currently doing good business at the box office.

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A Dickens Of A Christmas in London

More than anyone else, Charles Dickens invented the British Christmas with A Christmas Carol, his story about Ebeneezer Scrooge and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. This book was first published in 1843 and has been adapted for stage and screen many times. Now a new film and exhibition at the Charles Dickens Museum London celebrate this famous story.

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25 Years Since Windsor Castle Fire

One question Blue Badge Tourist Guides always seem to be asked when they take groups to Windsor Castle is “where did the fire take place?” It took place twenty-five years ago this month on 20 November 1992 on the Queen and Prince Philip’s forty fifth wedding anniversary during what the Queen later referred to as her “annus horriblis”, when the marriages of three of her children came to an end and the oldest royal home was engulfed in flames.

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Britain's Changing Money

The new £10 is the second plastic or polymer note issued by the Bank of England and features a portrait of Jane Austen. It follows the introduction of the first polymer note in September 2016, a fiver with a picture of Winston Churchill and an extract from his famous speech: ‘I have nothing to offer but blood, sweat, tears and toil.’ The new twenty-pound note, with a portrait of a young J. M. W. Turner and a version of his painting of the Fighting Temeraire in the background will be released in March 2020. As yet no decision on a polymer fifty-pound note has been made and who would feature on it.

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Remembering Diana, Princess Of Wales

Twenty years after her death, the newspapers are full of memories and memoirs of people who came into contact with Diana, Princess of Wales. One of the most iconic figures of our time, Princess Diana was a much-loved woman who struggled to fit into the British Royal Family and ended up doing more to divide the royals from the British people than anyone since Oliver Cromwell.

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Harry Potter Is Twenty Years Old

The first Harry Potter book was published in 1997 with a hardback print run of just 500, each of which is now worth £40-50,000. Since then the seven Harry Potter books have sold nearly 500 million copies and the eight films based on these books have grossed £6.5 billion, making J K Rowling the world’s richest author with a fortune of around £600 million.

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Jane Austen Banknote Unveiled at Winchester Cathedral

The new Jane Austen ten pound note was unveiled for the first time at Winchester Cathedral on 18 July this year, the 200th anniversary of her death. The much-loved novelist was buried at the cathedral largely because of the influence of her brother Henry, who was an Anglican priest. Her epitaph was composed by another brother James who wrote of her ‘extraordinary achievements of mind’ but famously forgot to mention that she wrote Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility.

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Visiting The Kilns - Home of C.S. Lewis

For a recent City of Oxford Tour, the group leader expressed an interest in visiting C.S. Lewis’s home. The Kilns is not on the tourist trail but an Internet search and a few emails led to a visit being arranged. We were shown around by Rachel, a young English woman who had lived in California and had the accent of a valley girl.

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British Royal Family Celebrates House of Windsor Centenary

On 17 July 1917, King George the Fifth declared that 'all descendants in the male line of Queen Victoria, who are subjects of these realms, other than female descendants who marry or who have married, shall bear the name of Windsor.'

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Charlie Chaplin Blue Plaque Unveiled in South London

Charlie Chaplin, one of the greatest stars of early cinema, has been honoured with an English Heritage blue plaque at his former London home in Glenshaw Mansions on Brixton Road in Kennington. The blue plaque was unveiled by the British comedian and Chaplin admirer Paul Merton, Chaplin’s granddaughter Kathleen, a singer, was also present with her seven-year-old son.

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Shop London: An Insider’s Guide To Spending Like A Local

A new book titled Shop London: An Insider’s Guide To Spending Like A Local will be of interest to those seeking to discover unique shops in London. Written by Emma McCarthy, the deputy fashion editor of the London Evening Standard, the Shop London book handpicks more than 200 of the most talked about, tucked away and unique retail spots in the city, exploring both destination shopping areas, as well as specialist boutiques from homeware to children's wear.

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John Constable Exhibition at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery

John Constable (1776 – 1837) came from the country to the capital, portrayed a calm, unchanging England and was devoted to one woman, whom he waited for, married and then mourned when she died from consumption after bearing seven children in nine years.

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The Redevelopment of the Art Deco Hoover Building in London

Coaches usually take one of three roads into/out of London - the M3, the M4 or the M40. I was coming back to London along the last recently and talked about football (soccer to our American visitors) as we passed Wembley and the Battle of Britain as we passed RAF Northolt and between the two I gave a mention to Art Deco architecture as we passed the Hoover Building.

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French Novelist Émile Zola Exiled in London

London, has (or had) a reputation for housing members of the international awkward squad. One exile was the French writer Émile Zola who arrived at Victoria Station on 19 July 1898 without any luggage or knowledge of the English language. He spent his first night at the Grosvenor Hotel and later moved to the more modest Queen’s Hotel in Norwood.

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10 Facts About Top Ranked Oxford University

Oxford University is a favourite on a day trip from London often on the way to Stratford-upon-Avon or Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill. A stop at Oxford would normally include a walking tour and a visit to one of the Colleges such as Brasenose or Christchurch. Some people, however, might prefer to spend the whole day there visiting more than one college and seeing the place of learning which was home to such famous writers as Lewis Carroll, J.R. R. Tolkein and C.S. Lewis, all of whom taught at Oxford University. Below are 10 facts about Oxford University which was recently ranked at the best in the world.

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MG - The Poor Man's Porsche

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Statues of 6 American Presidents in London

Students and fans of American politics will be pleasantly surprised to find that dotted across London are seven statues of six American presidents. These can be discovered on a guided tour of London with a knowledgable Blue Badge Tourist Guide but I have highlighted below.

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Looking For England's King Richard III

Last November, fellow London Blue Badge Tourist Guides Tim Hudson and Jo Hoad organised us one early morning for an outing to look for the body and hear the story of Richard III at Bosworth and Leicester.  Richard was the last king of England to die in battle, the last Plantagenet monarch and, after a short reign of just over two years, died calling out "Treason! Treason!" not, as Shakespeare has it, "A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!"

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James Bond: Facts, Figures & Fun

Promotions for the new James Bond film Spectre is near fever pitch, so thought we'd provide some fun facts and figures about the British Secret Serice agent created by writer Ian Fleming while living in sunny Jamaica!  

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Waterloo Sunset

My friend Phil Coppell, a Liverpool Blue Badge Tourist Guide, tells me that he took Ray Davies a member of the English rock band The Kinks on a Beatles tour some years ago. He queued up and paid for his ticket like everyone else and, during the tour, mentioned that he had originally set his song Waterloo Sunset in Liverpool but the line ‘Mersey Sunset’ did not scan and he moved it to London. He had always had a soft spot for Liverpool and said that whenever The Kinks played at the Cavern or other venues they always had a great reception.

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Turner Exhibition at Petworth House & Tate Britian

Joseph Mallord William Turner was not the most sociable of men but he found a true friend in George O'Brien, Third Earl of Egremont and owner of Petworth House in Sussex. The Earl was a sociable and generous aristocrat with a love of art, a large house and an open purse. Every year he had a party in the grounds of Petworth for the local community on his birthday and, when 6000 people turned up one time, he made sure they were all welcomed, fed and watered.

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