Blog Posts

British Monarchs: King George surrounded by his family, in a painting by James Thornhill. Photo Credit: © Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

13 British Monarchs: From Queen Anne to King Charles III

The British Royal Family can trace their lineage right back to Cerdic of Wessex (519-534), founder and first king of Saxon Wessex, which is not bad for a family tree. As with all royal families, they inter-married with other European Royals over the years, and many fought and died to retain the English crown (merged with the Scottish crown on the ascent to the throne in 1603 of James VI of Scotland as James I of England).

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Prince Charles with his parents and sister Princess Anne, October 1957. Photo Credit: © Library and Archives Canada, e010949328 / Bibliothèque et Archives Canada, e010949328 via Wikimedia Commons.

10 Facts about King Charles III

At 73, King Charles III is the oldest person to have ascended to the throne of the United Kingdom. Charles, named Charles Philip Arthur George at birth, was born at Buckingham Palace in 1948.  He was the first child of the late Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip, who were married for seventy-four years and are buried next to each other inside Saint George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.  Below are ten facts about King Charles III.

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London’s St Patrick’s Day Festival . Photo Credit: © Ursula Petula Barzey.

Celebrating St Patrick’s Day in London

The celebration of St Patrick’s Day in London and the contribution of the Irish community to London may seem a fairly recent phenomenon this year marking the twentieth anniversary of the Mayor of London’s celebrations. However, we have a report of celebrations on St Patrick’s day in the capital going back to 1713 when Jonathan Swift recalled seeing “the Mall so full of crosses that I thought the whole world was Irish.” The Shamrock has replaced the cross, but on March 17, the whole world will be Irish.

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The Grade II-listed statue of Pocahontas in Gravesend, Kent. Photo Credit: © Ethan Doyle White via Wikimedia Commons.

Pocahontas in London: Tracing the Footsteps of a Native American Princess

Most people have heard of the native American princess known as Pocahontas, but not many know that she became a Christian, married an Englishman, and came to London as a young bride and mother. Sadly, she never made it home to America and is buried in the town of Gravesend in Kent, having died in 1617 at the start of her journey homewards.

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Admiral Duncan pub in London. Photo Credit: © Ursula Petula Barzey.

Queer Venues in London – Popular LGBTQ+ Bars, Clubs & Pubs

There is a vast array of Queer spaces and venues in London. Some of my absolute favourites have been closed and shut down, like Astoria, Candy Bar, the Black Cap, and Popstarz as the London streets are revamped and regenerated. While there are many more old, new closed and open, those listed below are some of my personal favourites. They have been collected from my experiences and memories made at each of these locations.

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Sir Christopher Wren painting by Godfrey Kneller. Photo Credit: © Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Sir Christopher Wren – London’s Greatest Architect

Christopher Wren is undoubtedly London’s greatest architect. He rebuilt London and its great cathedral, Saint Paul’s, after the Great Fire in 1666, which burned down much of the old city. Yet, you will never see a statue, monument, or even a memorial plaque to him anywhere in the capital. Why? Because his epitaph at Saint Paul’s Cathedral says, ‘Lector, si monumentum requiris, circumspice.’ Translated from the original Latin, this means, ‘Reader if you wish to see his memorial, look around you.’ It is a wonderful epitaph for an architect: just look at what he created for his memorial.

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Entrance to the Queer Britain museum in London. Photo Credit: © Ric Morris.

Queer Britain: the UK’s First LGBTQ+ Museum

In May 2021, the UK’s first museum dedicated to LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer) history and culture opened in King’s Cross. Queer Britain is located at 2 Granary Square in London and joins destinations including Berlin, San Francisco, and Fort Lauderdale in having a permanent queer museum space.

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Delivering the Queen's Speech on behalf of his mother, May 2022. Photo Credit: © House of Lords 2022 / Photography by Annabel Moeller via Wikimedia Commons..

A Royal Tradition: The Coronation of British Monarchs

William the Conqueror was crowned King of England on Christmas Day 1066 after his defeat of the last Anglo-Saxon king Harold at the Battle of Hastings, the last successful invasion of Britain by a foreign power. Since then, every British monarch has been crowned at Westminster Abbey, with two exceptions, who were both named Edward – Edward the Eighth and Edward the Fifth.

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Pediment Hebe, part of the Parthenon Marbles in the British Museum. Photo Credit: © Edwin Lerner.

Should The British Museum Return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece?

In 1799 Thomas Bruce, the Seventh Earl of Elgin, was appointed ambassador by the British government to the Ottoman Court of Turkey, which at that time ruled Greece. Within twenty years of his appointment many of the carvings from the Parthenon, the Temple of the goddess Athena, were transported to London. These used to be referred to as the Elgin Marbles but are now normally called the Parthenon Marbles in honour of where they came from and not who was responsible for bringing them to London. The marbles can be seen in the Duveen Gallery of the British Museum, which has been open since 1962.

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NHS Blue Rainbow Boy by Croydon street artist Chris Shea. Photo Credit: © Ursula Petula Barzey.

7 Hospitals in London and the National Health Service (NHS)

2023 sees the seventy-fifth anniversary of the foundation of the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom. The idea of free health care paid through taxes had been around for some time but did not become a reality until the Labour government under Clement Atlee was voted in as the Second World War was coming to an end in 1945.

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Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square: Antelope by Samson Kambalu. Photo Credit: © Edwin Lerner.

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

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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Tate Modern: View from the banks of the Thames River with Millennium Bridge in forefront.

New Uses For Old Power Stations In London

Britain used to rely almost exclusively on coal for its electricity generation, mining it in Wales and the north and central part of England, then bringing it, usually by train, to power stations where it could be burned to heat up water that would generate electricity. Then the water was cooled down in cooling towers that can still be seen in many parts of the country.

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