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.
National Football League (NFL) International Series In London
Here in London we feel very privileged to have hosted the National Football League (NFL) games now since 2007, known as the International Series. At first it was just one game each year. The Miami Dolphins hosted the New York Giants at Wembley Stadium on October 28, 2007. The Giants defeated the Dolphins 13–10 in the first regular season NFL game held outside North America. The first 40,000 tickets sold out for the game in the first 90 minutes of sales, and mainly to British and other Europeans.
5 Posh Shops on St. James’s Street in London
Since 1661, St. James’s Street in London has been a go to destination for luxury retailing. Many of the posh shops on the street originally catered to the clientele from some of London’s best-known gentlemen’s clubs on the same street, including Brooks’s, the Carlton Club and White’s. Now St. James’s Street in London is world famous and a go to place for top of the range products and services offered with traditional English flare. With that in mind, below are 5 of the posh shops on St. James’s Street in London.
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.
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.
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.
Of all the European capitals, London is arguably the one with the greatest architectural variety, be it residential, commercial or public buildings. What adds to the impression of an incessantly ‘creative kaleidoscope’ is the juxtaposition of old and new, of a mediaeval church next to a 21st century glass building or a Roman ruin in the middle of a 1970s Brutalist development.Read more
Which hobby is loved by 1 in 6 British adults and generated revenues of £5.5 million in 2016? No, not fishing or horse riding, but old cars, buses, vans and lorries. Yes, petrolheads, according to the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs, are doing their bit for the economy, and London is right at the forefront of the movement.Read more
Mother’s Day is fast approaching – let our knowledgeable and entertaining Blue Badge Tourist Guide reveal the origins of the festival and introduce some beautiful ideas for treating her on Mother’s Day. Mothers’ Day is often confused with Mothering Sunday; an old Christian tradition when believers visited their “mother” church on the fourth Sunday in Lent. Domestic servants were given a day off to do this, usually with their mothers – often the only time a family could reunite all year.Read more
March will see the feast days of two of the UK’s patron saints: St David of Wales on the 1st and St Patrick of Ireland on the 17th. St David’s day will see a banquet in the evening at the Guildhall and attended by Mayor of London. St Patrick’s Day, on the other hand, will see a huge procession from Green Park to Trafalgar Square on Sunday the 19th starting at noon and an event in the square that will go on all day.Read more
One of the most overlooked and yet fascinating galleries in London is the National Portrait Gallery. If you’re interested in British history or would like to check up on 20th century faces, the National Portrait Gallery is a great destination. Often overlooked, it sits behind the National Gallery but has a completely separate identity. The National Portrait Gallery holds around 200,000 portraits of people from diverse backgrounds who have all been chosen for their great achievements or aristocratic connections. See some of the most famous people of the last 500 years of British history.Read more
London is blessed with numerous green parks and gardens, most importantly the eight main Royal Parks, from the central London Parks of Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, St James’s Park and Green Park to those further out such as Richmond Park, Bushy Park and Greenwich Park. These are often called “London’s Lungs” and are a green haven for Londoners and visitors alike.Read more
In 1824 the House of Commons agreed to pay £57,000 for the art collection of the wealthy banker John Julius Angerstein. His 38 pictures became the core of a new national collection. Great encouragement came from another collector, Sir George Beaumont, who donated 16 paintings to the new gallery and in 1838 the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square finally opened its doors.Read more
The official title of the Houses of Parliament is the New Palace of Westminster. The name reminds us that the earliest Parliaments were consultations between the King and his closest followers, together with representatives of the Church, held at his London residence. The Houses of Parliament combine spectacular architecture with a fascinating history. Located next door to Westminster Abbey and inextricably linked to it by history the Houses of Parliament are an intriguing place to visit.Read more
With a permanent collection of over 4.5 million objects, London’s Victoria & Albert Museum is the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design. You would need many years – maybe a lifetime – to look through this unequalled treasure trove so what better solution than hiring a Blue Badge Tourist Guide to select and explain some of the exceptional artefacts on display.Read more
Ian Fleming created the character of 007 whilst living in London and his novels are filled with references to London. Subsequent filmmakers took Fleming’s character and have developed him into the super spy we know today, and along the way set many of their iconic filming locations in London.Read more
Southwark is a borough in South London that has much to offer visitors. The areas of the South Bank and Bankside are situated by the River Thames and have been a particular draw for many visitors. You can stroll along the banks of the Thames any time night or day to enjoy the scenic views, go to the theatres, art galleries, enjoy the street entertainment, seasonal fairs or dine al-fresco.Read more
Tate Modern is the jewel in the crown of modern art galleries in London. It holds the nation’s collection of modern art from 1900 to the present day. With 5.7 million visitors it is in the top ten most visited museums and galleries in the world. The collection holds masterpieces of international and British modern art. From Picasso’s “The Three Dancers”, to Dali’s “Autumnal Canibbalism”, to Rothko’s “The Seagram Murals”, to Duschamp’s “Fountain”, to Parreno’s “Anywhen”, Tate Modern is a one stop shop for modern art lovers.Read more