The Blitz of London – after the ‘Darkest Hour’

The Blitz of London – after the ‘Darkest Hour’

The ‘Darkest Hour’; directed by Joe Wright and starring Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill is an account of Churchill’s early days as Prime Minister, machinations in 'Whitehall' and the Dunkirk evacuation.  The film is set over one month in May 1940.  It concludes with success at Dunkirk and Britain resolved to stand strong over Nazi [...]

Shakespearean theatre in London – how it started!

Shakespearean theatre in London – how it started!

The chances are you’ll come across Shakespeare at least once during your visit to London!  You might even visit the Globe Theatre for a performance.  Here’s a primer on how Shakespearean theatre started in London. Shakespeare was born in Stratford upon Avon in 1564 and spent the greatest part of his life in London - [...]

12 portraits at the National Portrait Gallery for Americans

12 portraits at the National Portrait Gallery for Americans

Here is self-guided tour of 12 key portraits at the National Portrait Gallery for Americans in London.   The National Portrait Gallery (NP)G is a haven of peace compared to its next door neighbour; the National Gallery.  It also has a rather nice rooftop cocktail bar with views over London!   Both galleries are on [...]

‘Deeds not words’ – the centenary of Votes for Women in the UK

‘Deeds not words’ – the centenary of Votes for Women in the UK

Yesterday, the UK celebrated the 100th anniversary of the signing of the 'Representation of the People Act 1918'.  This was the Act that gave many women the vote for the first time.  The anniversary was reported widely in the media and to mark the occasion an exhibition of life-sized images of the central figures of [...]

Listen up medics; visit the Old Operating Theatre, London Bridge

Listen up medics; visit the Old Operating Theatre, London Bridge

The Old Operating Theatre Say what? - this is it is the oldest surviving surgical theatre in Europe!  We took a visit this weekend...still feeling grateful to live in the 21st century! The Old Operating Theatre was active between 1820 and 1862 - predating anaesthetics and antiseptics.  This is pioneer land in surgical terms. The place [...]

5 must-see American historical sites in London

5 must-see American historical sites in London

Here are five must-see American historical sites that you can visit in London today.  They are not in any order or category, but having said that, we should start from where the Mayflower set sail in the first place! 1 The Mayflower Pub Back in 1620, the Mayflower started its journey from here to the [...]

World’s first tunnel under a river – by the former Chief Engineer of New York!

World’s first tunnel under a river – by the former Chief Engineer of New York!

It may not look much on the outside, but this is authentic, world first London!  The building in the photograph houses the entrance to the first tunnel known to have been constructed successfully underneath a navigable river.  It connects Rotherhithe with Wapping in London, is still in use and you can visit it.  Descend the Victorian [...]

Wellington and the special relationship

Wellington and the special relationship

This is a painting of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington by Sir Thomas Lawrence. It is an oil on canvas painted in 1829. In this portrait, Wellington’s commanding gaze evokes his resolve in defeating his critics, of which there were many at this time. His troops called him ‘old nosey’ and he called them [...]

The first American Patriot!

The first American Patriot!

Mutton pies all round!  At the National Portrait Gallery you can see a series of ‘Kit-cat’ portraits of 48 leading Whig politicians and men of letters – all members of the ‘Kit-cat’ Club.  The Kit-cat club was a dining club for leading Whig politicians and cultured types.  They were essentially pro-big business and trade and [...]

How New Haven upset the Merry Monarch!

How New Haven upset the Merry Monarch!

The Restoration man!  This is a portrait of King Charles II attributed to Thomas Hawker.  It is an oil on canvas, painted circa 1680 that you can see in the National Portrait Gallery, London.  You wouldn’t think he was called the Merry Monarch from this portrait!  It was painted near the end of his life [...]