Historic Cinema Buildings in London
Since its inception in the first part of the 20th century, the cinema has been a staple of British entertainment. The multiplexes of the 21st century have enjoyed a resurgence following the nadir of the 1980s and early 1990s, but the real golden age of cinema came with the development of the “talkies” in 1927 and the subsequent boom in the construction of new cinemas in the 1930s.
I Want a Picture-Perfect White Christmas in London
In December our thoughts turn to Christmas. We think about our family, friends, Christmas cards, food (lots of it!) and presents – will Santa pass by this year? Also, just as important, the reason for Christmas: the birth of Jesus. But what we also think about is the weather – will it snow? This question set me thinking – why do we feel Christmas isn’t really Christmas if it doesn’t snow?
The Black Sailors of Georgian London
Inspired by the new exhibition “Black Greenwich Pensioners” at the Old Royal Naval College (which at the time of writing I have yet to visit), my mind recently turned to Britain’s Black seafaring past, particularly to the time Britain was most actively involved in the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the enslavement of Africans, a time which loosely coincides with what we refer to as the Georgian age (1714-1837).
Guiding Teenagers Around London
Blue Badge Tourist Guides conduct many different types of tours, from individual families to large groups, and each type requires different skills to be successful. Here, Olga Romana shares her experiences of guiding student groups.
I have worked with students my whole life!
Public Walking & Virtual Tours By London’s Blue Badge Tourist Guides
In addition to offering customized private tours, many London Blue Badge Tourist Guides also conduct regular walking tours and virtual tours for groups. Joining a group tour can be a fun and affordable way to take in the sights. For locals, a walk with a knowledgeable and passionate Blue Badge Tourist Guide can reveal fun facts and hidden gems you may not have been aware of.
Because I’m a Londoner: From Postman to Blue Badge Tourist Guide
This is part of a series of articles written by London Blue Badge Guides who used to be key workers in our capital city. First up is Neil Parker, who worked for 30 years as a postman before becoming a tourist guide.
I qualified as a London Blue Badge Guide in 2013 and now, as my mates from the post would say, ‘I’m paid to be me!’ At least I was until March 2020 when Covid-19 arrived. This got me thinking, what was life like for my mates in the post? So, after it reopened, I went to the pub to find out.
Posts in: British Monarchy
To put it mildly, attitudes towards witches and sorcerers in the Elizabethan period were confusing and often contradictory. While Bloody Mary (reigned 1553 - 1558) was vicious in her treatment of witches, Elizabeth I (1558 - 1603) had a more ambivalent relationship to this subject. After all her mother, Anne Boleyn had been accused of being a witch because of a malformation of her left hand, which appeared in the form of an extra finger. Elizabeth, as a strong female ruler, may not have been happy about hunting down the fair sex, therefore, and accusing those who might be innocent of any crime.Read more
Lady Diana Spencer, who would have turned 59 this summer, made a huge impact on British life. She helped modernise the monarchy, and her death in 1997 shocked the institution to its core. Diana also made history in other ways: She was the first woman of English birth to marry the heir to the throne in 300 years, and the first royal bride to have had a job. Here we take a look around some of the sites in London with connections to the late princess.Read more
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.Read more
The Tower of London is one of the most popular sites in our capital city, attracting more than 2.8 million visitors a year. One of the main draws is the Jewel House, located in the heart of the Tower grounds. It contains some of the most precious gems you’re ever likely to see: the royal ceremonial regalia known as the Crown Jewels.Read more
Kensington Palace has been a royal residence for over 300 years and is now the London home to Prince Harry, Prince William, Catherine Middleton and the young Prince George and Princess Charlotte. Although their residence is private, a large part of Kensington Palace is open to the public to explore the lives of past royal residents, and visit the historic rooms that have shaped a nation. Below you'll find 10 top facts about Kensington Palace.Read more
All around the world, fans of the award-winning HBO series Game of Thrones eagerly await the eighth and final season airing later this month. Season seven left everyone on the edge of their seats, with the fate of Westeros hanging in the balance and many questions left unanswered. Will Cersei get her comeuppance? Who will triumph in the ultimate showdown between the living and the Night King, his deathly hoard of wights in tow? And, err, what happens when loved-up Jon Snow and Daenerys the Dragon Queen find out that she’s actually his aunt?Read more
This year in 2019, we are enthralled with two stunning films about three Queens who ruled England and Scotland between the 16th and 18th Centuries: the Scottish Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth I in ‘Mary Queen of Scots’ and Queen Anne in ’The Favourite.’Read more
‘The Favourite,’ the latest film about a British Monarch, but who was Queen Anne of Great Britain & Ireland?
‘The Favourite’ is an unconventional period comedy set in early 18th century England. Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, it hits our British screens on 1st January 2019.Read more
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.”Read more
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.Read more
On 23rd April 2018, Prince Louis Arthur Charles was born in the Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital located in the Paddington are in London. This is a most auspicious date, as it is the Feast of St George, patron saint of England. It is also traditionally the birthday of our most famous writer William Shakespeare.Read more
Many of us would love to have a birthday parade with marching bands and soldiers perfectly turned out displaying their marching skills.Read more
The world will be watching next spring when Prince Henry of Wales KCVO, familiarly known as Prince Harry, marries the American actress Meghan Markle. With interest on both sides of the Atlantic, the royal wedding will be held on Saturday, 19th May 2018 not at Westminster Abbey in Central London where Prince Harry's brother Prince William, Duke of Cambridge was married, but at St. George's Chapel.Read more
Elite soldiers from 5 infantry and 2 cavalry regiments have been guarding the Monarch since 1660. These 7 regiments are called the Household Division. The Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace and St James Palace is a time honoured symbol of the British monarchy and a great example of British pomp and ceremony.Read more
For some it came as a surprise that Prince Harry of Wales should choose Meghan Markle, an American 'commoner', as his bride, for others who know Prince Harry well, then maybe less so.Read more
Despite his long reign, King Henry VIII is remembered mainly for two things: for marrying six wives and for setting in motion a chain of events that would lead to England’s break with the Catholic Church and the start of the English Reformation.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.'Read more
Queen Elizabeth II is head of state of the United Kingdom and fifteen other countries. She is also a woman, a mother and was once a girl. Yet throughout her life all of that has come second to providing the symbolic value millions of people placed upon her.Read more
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is the most travelled sovereign in British history, undertaking more than 250 overseas visits during her 65-year reign. During 2016 alone, The Queen carried out over 300 official engagements the length and breadth of the United Kingdom. An important part of these occasions is the receiving or exchanging of gifts, the subject of the an exhibition at this year's Summer Opening of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace.Read more
English and British Monarchs have lived in and around London for over a thousand years in a variety of palaces; some still standing, others long-gone. But the area now known as ‘Royal London’ has consistently been at the heart of royal life, with regal residences at Westminster, Whitehall, Buckingham and St James’s Place and at Clarence and Carlton Houses.Read more
Hampton Court is a magnificent palace, standing on the banks of the river Thames, just a short drive from London. It has everything. The palace is a harmonious blend of Tudor and Neo-Classical architecture set in glorious gardens. And there is history, lots of it, from Cardinal Wolsey and Henry VIII to William and Mary. Its rooms are packed with splendid paintings. There is something for everyone, kids included and here are 10 of my favourite reasons to visit Hampton Court Palace.Read more
Windsor Castle is the largest and oldest inhabited castle in the world. It is located about an hour from central London and visitors can see the sumptuous State apartments, the spectacular display of heraldry in St George’s Chapel and even take a peek at the Royal residential apartments.Read more
The Summer Opening at Buckingham Palace in 2017 will be from Saturday 22 July to Sunday 1 October. Visitors will see the 19 magnificent State Rooms, which provide the setting for ceremonial occasions and official entertaining. All rooms are furnished with many of the greatest treasures from the Royal Collection.Read more
Each year, Queen Elizabeth II takes part in the State Opening of Parliament. The event "marks the formal start of the parliamentary year and the Queen's Speech sets out the British government’s agenda for the coming session, outlining proposed policies and legislation.Read more
Royal Collection Trust is investing £37 million at Windsor Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse to deliver major improvements for visitors. A series of projects, collectively known as Future Programme, will transform the way visitors are welcomed, interpret the buildings in new ways, create dedicated new Learning Centres, and open up new spaces to the public.Read more
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!"Read more
Queen Elizabeth II is now the longest reigning monarch in British history, having broken Queen Victoria's record on 9 September. To commemorate this, a special photographic Long To Reign Over Us exhibition is currently on show at Buckingham Palace (until 27 September 2015) and Windsor Castle (until 27 January 2016). Each of the displays celebrates The Queen through a selection of photographs from 1952 to the present day. The images include official portraits and photographs of Her Majesty undertaking visits in the United Kingdom and across the Commonwealth, as well as those capturing informal family moments.Read more
To celebrate Queen Elizabeth II becoming the longest reigning monarch in the United Kingdom on 9 September 2015, the Tower of London have announced a new art installation with a series of images and animations featuring the letter Q to be projected onto the Tower for seven days.Read more
In the Middle Ages, Edward the Confessor, King John and Richard II were exhumed, examined and put in new resting spots. So the reinterment of Richard III in Leicester Cathedral shortly before lunchtime on Thursday 26 March, after four days of pageantry and commemoration, follows ancient tradition.Read more
When British Monarch King Henry VIII had his son Edward christened on 15th October 1537 at Hampton Court Palace, it was a celebration of his dynasty and its seemingly secure future. To commemorate, staff recently donned costumes – borrowed from the Royal Shakespeare Company – to join actors in a television programme recreating the christening of Henry’s longed-for heir. The BBC documentary which aired this past January was presented by Historians Lucy Worsley and Dr David Starkey and heralds a year of celebrations marking the 500th anniversary of Hampton Court Palace.Read more
For the State Opening of Parliament this year the Queen used a new 3-ton Coach created for her by Jim Frecklington, from Manly, Australia, who worked in the Royal Mews as a young man before returning home. The coach, which is 18ft long and needs 6 horses to pull it, has taken 50 people more than 10 years to assemble. The Diamond Jubilee Coach is only the second state carriage to be built in more than 100 years.Read more