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Category: Museums & Historic Houses

  1. The Wonderpass - Discovering Baker Street's Colourful History

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    The Wonderpass - Baker Street Quarter 

    The Wonderpass is now open. The Marylebone subway, next to Baker Street Tube Station, has been transformed to showcase the area's colourful history and its cultural attractions. In 2014 Baker Street Quarter Partnership, who commissioned the project, approached me to research the timeline for the Wonderpass. When it opened in January 2016, I was very proud to visit and see the results of my research on display.

  2. Following in the Footsteps of Vincent Price on the Witchfinder General Tour

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    Witchfinder General Tour Lavenham Guildhall

    Lavenham Guildhall

    Lavenham, in Suffolk, is one of Britain's finest medieval villages. With its magnificent timber framed Guildhall and pretty cottages it is the quintessential, picture postcard town. However in 1968, its picturesque Market Place became the film location of one of the most horrific scenes in Vincent Price's Witchfinder General. Last month I was thrilled to attend the Witchfinder General Location Tour with the Vincent Price London Legacy Tour 2015 and Victoria Price, Vincent's daughter.

  3. The Delightful Geffrye Museum's Christmas Past Exhibition

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    Geffyre Museum

    In the 1630s room the table is laid out with sweet dishes 

    Updated with 2016 opening times

    One of my favourite places to visit in London is the Geffrye Museum, located in former eighteenth century almshouses. The Museum is named after Sir Robert Geffrye, a former Lord Mayor of the City of London, at whose bequest the almshouses were built. The Geffrye features eleven period rooms which reflect the styles and fashions of the English middle classes from 1600s to the present day.

    It is worth visiting at any time of the year but it is at its most magical during its annual Christmas Past exhibition when the rooms are transformed and decorated as they would have been for their era. The rooms are laid out sequentially with the earlier rooms tending to have just very simple evergreen decoration.

  4. A Visit to the Macabre - Edgar Allan Poe's House Philadelphia

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    Edgar Allan Poes House Philadelphia

    Edgar Allan Poe (1809 – 1849) was an author of gothic, macabre tales and poems. Some of his best known works are "The Raven", which is commemorated with a statute in the garden of his former home, and "The Fall of the House of Usher". His short story,  "The Murders in the Rue Morgue", is considered to be the first modern detective story. So when I recently attended the Death Salon in Philadelphia I was thrilled to visit his former home.

  5. "This is a Spot Most Beautiful" Eltham Palace's Art Deco Elegance

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    Eltham Palace - Entrance Hall

    Entrance Hall

    Eltham Palace is best known today for its sumptuous art deco interiors created in the 1930s - 1940s when Stephen and Virginia Courthauld resided there. The house however has an amazing history, from medieval manor house and Tudor royal palace to the Courtaulds, which is covered my original blog post.

    Last month I made a long overdue return visit to as this year they have opened five more rooms and this blog is going to focus on its art deco interiors, although at the time this style would have been referred to Moderne, as the term art deco wasn't coined until 1960s. If you think the Entrance Hall looks amazing wait till you see the bathroom. Warning there are rather a lot of photos. 

  6. Coffin Works - Birmingham's Industrial Heritage Brought Back to Life

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     Coffin Works

    As a volunteer at Barts Pathology Museum and a lover of all things macabre, quirky and unusual when I heard about the Coffin Works, a former coffin fittings factory in Birmingham, I just had to visit. I booked myself on a guided tour and just loved it. It's utterly fascinating, certainly not morbid or gruesome and it's suitable for children. It's an industial heritage museum, simular to Ironbridge or Beamish, but just on a much smaller and more intimate scale as it is a single building and it focuses on the death industry. 

  7. Midsummer Night's Dreaming at the Museum of the Order of St John

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    Museum of the Order of St John Chapter Hall

    Chapter Hall

    Last week I was thrilled to attend  "A Midsummer Day's Dream" Champagne Tea at the Museum of the Order of St John. The museum occupies two historic sites, the  gatehouse which houses the museum's galleries and has a series of stunning rooms and a seperate building which includes the Priory Church and the Norman crypt. The magnificent suite of historic rooms provided the perfect backdrop for a splendid afternoon of Shakespearean entertainment of drama, music and dance and the balmy hot summer weather just addded to the surreal and magical atmosphere.

  8. Meet Raving and Melancholy Madness

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    Bethlem Museum of the Mind

    Melancholy (right) and Raving (left)

    On arrival at the recently re-opened Bethlem Museum of the Mind I was met by Raving and Melancholy Madness. These two iconic, 7 foot tall, reclining figures depict two different forms of mental ill health. They were made by Caius Gabriel Cibber, who also made the bas relief at the base of The Monument, and the sculptures were originally on display at the hospital’s entrance in Moorgate, from 1676 to 1815. When the hospital moved, into the building which is now the Imperial War Museum London, the statutes were moved to the entrance hall but kept behind curtains. Today once again they welcome visitors to Bethlem Royal Hospital as they grace either side of the beautiful, art deco staircase. 

  9. Croydon Airport - London's First International Airport

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     Croydon Airport

    Before the days of package holidays and low cost airlines, back in the early 1900s the thrill of air travel was only available to the wealthy. In 1920 Croydon Airport became London's first international airport when customs and passanger handling facilities were introduced. Today the main terminal building, with its control tower, has been converted into offices and is home to a fascinating visitor centre which is open to the public on the first Sunday of every month.

  10. York - Some of My Favourite Things to Do

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    York Minster

    York in North Yorkshire, England, has a fascinating history, beautiful architecture, a fabulous selection of places to eat and drink and there's plenty to see and do.  It's one of my most loved cities and here is a brief list of some of my  favourite things to do in York.