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Tower of London: Chief Raven Master, Chris Skaife

Meeting The Raven Master at Tower of London

A group of Guide London Blue Badge Tourist Guides recently had the privilege of going “behind the scenes” at the Tower of London, on a warm, witty and informative tour hosted by Chief Raven Master, Chris Skaife. Below is an account of the tour.

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Bank of England: Polymer Notes

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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Tower of London: Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red Poppies. Photo Credit: © Ursula Petula Barzey.

Tracing The Tower Of London Poppies

Who can forget the wonderful site of the 888,246 handmade ceramic poppies by the artist Paul Cummins filling the moat of the Tower of London and cascading down the walls and over the drawbridge area three years ago? Created to represent every British fatality during WWI and to remember the 100 years since the outbreak of war ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’, grew daily, aided in a small way by many Blue Badge Tourist Guides who helped to plant some of them.

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Sandycombe Lodge: Turner's House post-conservation front view. Photo Credit: Anne Purkiss ©Turner’s House Trust Collection.

Sandycombe Lodge – J.M.W. Turner’s Thames House Re-Opens

Sandycombe Lodge, the Thames-side villa designed by J. M. W. Turner, has now been re-opened to the
public, following a £2.4 million conservation programme. Built in Twickenham in 1813, it was a peaceful retreat for him and he lived there with his father until 1826. Using Turner’s sketches, a William Havell drawing of 1814, architectural evidence and paint analysis, the Turner’s House Trust has returned the house to its original form and decoration as closely as possible.

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National Portrait Gallery: Portrait of Diana, Princess of Wales by Bryan Organ, 1981. Photo Credit: © National Portrait Gallery, London.

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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British Museum: The Elgin Marbles also known pars pro toto as the Parthenon Marbles.

Two Hundred Years Of The Parthenon Marbles At The British Museum

The year 2017 marks the bicentenary of the exhibition of the Parthenon Marbles at the British Museum. The artefacts were removed from the Athenian Acropolis in 1801 and 1802 by Thomas Bruce, seventh Lord Elgin British Ambassador (1799–1803) to the Ottoman Empire. The sculptures were commissioned in the fifth century BC as part of the rebuilding of the City of Athens ordered by the statesman Pericles following the successful war against the Persians.

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Harry Potter: Platform 9 3/4 at London's Kings Cross Station

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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Polymer £10 banknote: back with Jane Austen

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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London Shopping_New Bond Street

Where To Shop Like A Proper British Gentleman

Any self respecting chap, on a trip to Blighty (what we Brits call Britain) will want to avail himself of the necessary accoutrements to show his chums back home how to style themselves properly. The purpose of the blog post is to point out a few tips on how this can be done and where to source said necessaries. Of course, your Blue Badge Tourist Guide will be able to help further.

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Black Cultural Archives: African & Caribbean War Memorial

African & Caribbean War Memorial Unveiled at Black Cultural Archives in London

Next to the Black Cultural Archives, the ceremonial unveiling of the African & Caribbean War Memorial took place in Windrush Square Brixton on 22 June – Windrush Day. The date and location of the memorial fixed one key historical event in peoples’ minds, the arrival of SS Empire Windrush in 1948 carrying 498 men and a few women from the Caribbean.

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David Bowie Mural in Brixton

47 New Blue Plaques for Iconic Musicians & Venues

To celebrate BBC Music last month the BBC Local Radio stations and Asian Network in England teamed up with the British Plaque Trust to unveil forty-seven historic Blue Plaques celebrating iconic musicians and venues.

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C.S. Lewis House: The Kilns. Photo Credit: © JSchroe via Wikimedia Commons.

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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