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

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

General Wolfe window at St. Alfege Church, Greenwich (Courtesy of St. Alfege)

Rare chance to see General James Wolfe’s family vault in Greenwich

St. Alfege Church in Greenwich is offering to show visitors the church crypt, which holds General James Wolfe’s family vault, on Easter Saturday the 15th of April 2017 between 10 am and 5 pm. This is a rare chance to visit the crypt of the historic church. (I emphasized Saturday on purpose.) Details are below. I wouldn’t Continue reading

Young Admiral Nelson, Horatio Nelson as a young man, before he became one of Britain's greatest heroes. Courtesy Visit Greenwich, CC Att Generic 2.0 License.

Nelson’s widow died a week after Wellington’s wife

In looking up something quite unrelated, I noticed two interesting entries within a few lines of each other on page 188 of The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Miscellany, Volume 5, from 1831. “DEATHS “April 24, At Apsley House, after a lingering illness, the Duchess of Wellington. … “[May 4], At her house in Harley Street, in her Continue reading

John Law Baker Fountain behind St Martin in the Fields (Jill Browne)

Ever noticed the John Law Baker fountain behind St. Martin in the Fields?

Did you know there’s a fountain behind the famous church on Trafalgar Square, the Church of St. Martin in the Fields? In fact there’s more, but today I’m just looking closely at the fountain. I walked round to inspect it on a chilly day in November. There was no one else taking an interest, and Continue reading

Church of St Martin within Ludgate. Photo by Neddyseagoon at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,

A map of Pocahontas in London, 1616-17

In 1616, the lady we know as Pocahontas visited London. She died around the 20th of March, 1617, at Gravesend, near London. She was on her way home. The story of her visit is partly told by the places she went and the people she met. I have put together a map of some of Continue reading