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  1. Lancaster House

      “My dear, I have come from my house to your palace”

    Queen Victoria apparently made this remark when she visited her close friend Harriet, the Duchess of Sunderland, at Stafford House (the house's previous name).

    It is one of the few surviving great London townhouses, built in a warm honey coloured Bath stone, its next door neighbour is Buckingham Palace. The house is very opulently furnished with its principal rooms lavishly decorated in a Louis XIV style.

    Today Lancaster House is managed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and is used as a venue for conferences and government hospitality. It is seldom open to the general public but I was fortunate to attend a private guided tour arranged for Westminster Guides. The tour was lead by James Yorke, the author of “Lancaster House: London's Greatest Town House”, whose encyclopaedia knowledge and genuine love for the house made this a very special visit.

  2. St Pancras Old Church

    Last week I took a little detour to visit the delightful St Pancras Old Church which is quietly tucked away behind St Pancras International Station. Although adjacent to the busy main railway line it's a peaceful, little oasis.

    It’s believed to be one of the oldest sites of Christian worship in England, dating back to 314 AD, although the church one sees today was restored in the Victorian period.  It became known as Old when the new church was built in nearby Euston Road. The church and neighbouring railway station are both named after a child martyr beheaded in Rome for his Christian faith.

  3. Houses of Parliament

    The parliamentary archives are housed in the Victoria Tower. Named after Queen Victoria it is the tallest tower at the Palace of Westminster. It stands at a height of 325 feet and was the tallest stone tower in the world when it was completed. It was specifically built to house the parliamentary records in fire proof rooms, after the previous building was destroyed by fire in 1834. The parliamentary records have been housed there since 1860 apart from when they were temporarily moved during wartime. On the rooftop is a flagpole which flies the Union flag or when the sovereign is present the Royal Standard.

  4. Savoy

    Our most recent Afternoon Tea outing was to the delightful Savoy in October 2012.

    This luxury hotel, located just off the Strand, set within its own small courtyard, oozes old fashioned glamour and Art Deco elegence. Above the entrance is a gilded statue of Count Peter of Savoy, Henry III's wife's uncle, who had the Savoy Palace built in 1263, on the site where the hotel is today. It was one of the finest houses in London until it burnt down during the Peasant's Revolt in 1381.

    The Savoy Hotel was originally opened in 1889 adjacent to the Savoy Theatre, both of which were built for Richard D'Oyly Carte, the theatrical impresario who worked with Gilbert and Sullivan. The hotel was re-opened in October 2010 following a three years closure for a lavish £220m make-over. 

  5. Smithfield

    Today Smithfield is a distinctive part of the City of London, tucked away behind St Paul's Cathedral, it has managed to retain its village atmosphere. This part of the City has no major financial institutions, instead at its centre there is an attractive small, circular park which is surrounded by Smithfield Meat Market, St Bartholomew’s Hospital (known as Barts) and a couple of delightful churches.