Benjamin Jonson by Abraham van Blyenberch oil on canvas, circa 1617 18 1/2 in. x 16 1/2 in. (470 mm x 419 mm) Purchased, 1935 Primary Collection NPG 2752, Courtesy of National Portrait Gallery

Twelfth Night at the Banqueting House, 1617

Here’s a party with everything: romance, international diplomacy, heartbreak, money, power, you name it. It was the annual Twelfth Night masque at the Banqueting House on Whitehall, on January 6, 1617. The Banqueting House Historic Royal Palaces operates the Banqueting House now, and you can buy a ticket to explore it. This one is on Continue reading

Kate Santley, about 1875. (Wikipedia credit info PD-US,

Actress Kate Santley, the hissing audience, and her ghost

In 1874 London actress Kate Santley had to take her audience to court. Later she came back to haunt them. Kate Santley and Rose Bell in “La Belle Helene” One of the rising stars of the musical theatre in the 1870s, Miss Santley had the charms a girl needs to get ahead: good looks, talent, Continue reading

Lord Strathcona in the Last Spike mural at Craigellachie, by Jill Browne. The mural is based on the famous photograph of the event

Canada in Westminster Abbey: Railways

There’s more of Canada in Westminster Abbey than we might think. Engineers and builders of Canada in Westminster Abbey Any visit to Westminster Abbey is a walk through an architectural and historical treasure. The building itself is astounding, so beautiful. The stone columns and gravity-defying ceiling look both delicate and super-strong. And then there are Continue reading

Admiral Beatty in Trafalgar Square by Jill Browne

Admiral Beatty – Trafalgar Square stories

I’m not the first to say that Admiral Beatty’s story would make a great Hollywood movie. On the north wall of Trafalgar Square, by the cafe tables, there are busts of three Admirals. Cunningham is a Second World War hero. Jellicoe and Beatty are there because of the First. These busts lead us to some Continue reading

Sculpture of Queen Victoria at Kensington Palace

Video Quiz: Victoria, British Columbia, Canada’s most English city

I’ve wanted to look around Victoria, B.C. for London Heritage Hotspots for a while now. Today I got my chance. Victoria is on the south end of Vancouver Island, off the west coast of Canada and close to the American border. It’s Canada’s most English city, or at least, it’s a Canadian version of what Continue reading

Yes you will see an elephant at the Tower of London. Be prepared, he's not the only animal! / Jill Browne

Born at the Tower of London: Two babies, two very different lives

To be born at the Tower of London, you didn’t have to be royal. This is a story of one baby born a long time ago and another almost within living memory. The tragic death of Queen Elizabeth, mother of King Henry VIII Queen Elizabeth I (lived 1533 to 1603) was the daughter of King Continue reading

Cambridge House aka The In and Out, by F. Cinquepalmi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

94 Piccadilly: The In and Out and a dastardly attack on Queen Victoria

It was one of the most unusual of crimes, and it happened at 94 Piccadilly, known now as the In and Out, back when it was called Cambridge House. Learn about the man who hit Queen Victoria with a gold-handled Malacca partridge stick. What is the In and Out? At Number 94 Piccadilly, near Green Continue reading

Delicate rhododendron at Isabella Plantation, by Davide D'Amico

See the flowers! Free Richmond Park minibus to Isabella Plantation

Wonderful news! On Wednesdays until October 2017, you can take a free minibus in Richmond Park to the Isabella Plantation where the flowers, especially the rhododendrons, are spectacular in season. Richmond Park is huge and getting to the Isabella Plantation can be a bit of a hike.   I just saw a tweet from The Continue reading