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Open House London 2017

25 November 2017
image from Open House London 2017

Open House is one of my favourite events in London. For one weekend, members of the public can visit over 800 buildings in the capital for free. It’s a fantastic opportunity to have a snoop inside places which are not normally accessible. Here are the places I was able to visit during this year’s event: One Canada Square This skyscraper in Canary Wharf used to be the tallest building the UK, until it was surpassed by the Shard...

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Taking a ride on London's Mail Rail

18 November 2017
image from Taking a ride on London's Mail Rail

The Mail Rail was a small underground railway that operated in London from 1927 until 2003. The network spanned 6.5 miles from Paddington to Whitechapel, carrying millions of letters daily between the city’s mail sorting stations. The Royal Mail shut down the railway when the running costs became significantly more expensive than using road transport, but thanks to the brand new Postal Museum the Mail Rail is running once more...

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Painted Hall Ceiling Tour at the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich

5 November 2017
image from Painted Hall Ceiling Tour at the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich

If you head down to the Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, there’s a unique opportunity to see London’s largest painted ceiling up close. A major conservation project is currently underway and visitors are able to climb up 60 feet in the air on guided tours to see the work in progress. Upon arrival for the start of our tour, we were given hard hats and high-vis vests to wear and were given an overview of the history of the building...

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A sunny afternoon at Elton Hall

28 October 2017
image from A sunny afternoon at Elton Hall

After our visit to the Wimpole Estate we stayed overnight at an Airbnb so we could explore more of the area. The next day we rode over to Elton Hall, near Peterborough, to visit on one of their rare opening days. Elton Hall has been home to the Proby family since 1660. Sir Peter Proby, an MP and Mayor of London, was granted leases of land at Elton by Elizabeth I for his ‘faithful and acceptable service’...

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Day trips from London: Wimpole Estate

21 October 2017
image from Day trips from London: Wimpole Estate

My National Trust membership hasn’t been getting much of a workout lately. To rectify this we took advantage of the warm weather over the August Bank Holiday weekend and popped in to visit the Wimpole Estate. Located in Royston, Cambridgeshire, the Wimpole Estate contains a large country house (Wimpole Hall), a working farm and about 3,000 acres of parkland. Many of the historic houses I visit have mostly stayed within one family but Wimpole Hall had a variety of different owners...

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Unusual days out in London: Crossness Pumping Station

14 October 2017
image from Unusual days out in London: Crossness Pumping Station

After five years in London I’ve done most of the obvious tourist hotspots. I’m always on the lookout for quirky and interesting things to do in this city so I was intrigued when I first heard about Crossness Pumping Station. The Crossness Pumping Station was built by Sir Joseph Bazalgette in 1865. At the time, London’s water supply and the Thames were heavily polluted with sewage. Bazalgette was put in charge of finding a solution to this problem...

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The fascinating history of Syon House

7 October 2017
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After my visit to Strawberry Hill House I took a short bus ride over to Syon Park. I’ve been there a couple of times before, staying overnight at the Hilton hotel on the grounds, but this was my first time stepping foot inside Syon House. If I’d know how beautiful the house was inside, I think I’d have tried to visit sooner! Syon House is owned by the Duke of Northumberland, who also happens to own Alnwick Castle - the Hogwarts filming location in the first two Harry Potter movies...

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Visiting Strawberry Hill House in Twickenham, London

30 September 2017
image from Visiting Strawberry Hill House in Twickenham, London

After five years living in London, I finally paid a visit to Strawberry Hill House. I’ve know about this place for quite a while but had been waiting until I got my Historic Houses Association membership before visiting, as this gives you free admission to the house. Strawberry Hill House was created in the 18th century by Horace Walpole, the son of Britain’s first Prime Minister. It started out as a small cottage on 5 acres of land before Horace rebuilt it in a Gothic style and expanded the property to 46 acres...

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Day trips from London - Chiddingstone Castle

23 September 2017
image from Day trips from London - Chiddingstone Castle

You can’t go too far in Kent without bumping into a castle or stately home. One of my favourite castles in Kent is Hever Castle, and if you’re planning a day trip there from London you can easily add a visit to Chiddingstone Castle to your itinerary - they’re only 10 minutes apart. And if you have a Historic Houses Association membership you can visit both for free. Chiddingstone Castle is situated in the village of Chiddingstone, near Edenbridge...

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Day trips from London - Castle Farm lavender fields

16 September 2017
image from Day trips from London - Castle Farm lavender fields

During July I noticed photos from the lavender fields at Castle Farm showing up in my Instagram feed. I looked up their location and found it was only a 40 minute drive from home, so I decided to pop down for my first ever visit to a lavender farm. Castle Farm is the biggest lavender farm in the UK. It is a working farm and they harvest the flowers for oil to be used in perfumery, toiletries and aromatherapy...