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Mar 222016
 
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© Alan Barbier

With the last few months proving to be a washout, why not plan a visit to the Capital this spring and with rates starting at just £99 per room at Kensington House Hotel* now has never been a better time to explore London floral displays and take a walk amidst the flowers. This great value package includes; overnight accommodation, continental buffet breakfast and a bottle of house wine.

Here is our top park pick:

Kensington Park:

Every year millions of Londoners and tourists visit Kensington Gardens, one of the capital’s eight Royal Parks. Kensington Palace, the Italian Gardens, Albert Memorial, Peter Pan Statue and the Serpentine Galleries are all located within its 265 acres. Planted with formal avenues of magnificent trees and ornamental flower beds with 1000’s of bulbs planted every year. New for 2016 is the allotment which is open daily from 9:30 am – 4:00 pm. Visitors are welcome to wander in anytime to enjoy and relax at the allotment, as well as pick up some useful tips for growing their own fruit and vegetables.

Hyde Park:

Hyde Park covers 350 acres and is home to a number of famous landmarks including the Serpentine Lake, Speakers’ Corner and the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain. The park also offers various recreational activities including open water swimming, boating, cycling, tennis and horse riding.  A timeless classic and a must see is theRose Garden. The rose planting is mixed with herbaceous planting, creating rich seasonal flower beds and strong scents. The spectacular seasonal bedding is a hugely popular feature; the gardens attract high numbers of tourists particularly in the summer months and are still popular throughout the year with local residents and office workers as a quiet contemplative place.

RHS Chelsea Flower Show – 24th – 28th May:

Over 500 exhibitors will already be making plans and tending to their most prized plants in preparation for the 2016 Chelsea Flower Show, which has taken place annually (apart from a few gaps during the two world wars) for over 100 years now.

Barclaycard presents British Summer Time Hyde Park2nd, 8th and 9th July

Now fully established, Barclaycard presents British Summer Time Hyde Park, is a totally unique and world class event which entertained over 350,000 fans in London.

In 2016, each live music-packed weekend will be linked by a midweek programme of diverse entertainment, accessible for all to enjoy. From Monday to Thursday, the entire site, saved for the main stage, will give visitors the chance to get involved with smaller, more intimate events offering film, music, literature, sport and a specific family day that will expand the experience to genuinely appeal to the whole family. The headlining acts for 2016 are Florence + The Machine, Kendrick Lamar, Mumford & Sons and Take That.

RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show – 5th – 10th  July:

The RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show in 2016 will once again bring you all the fun and excitement of a spectacular summer festival, in a historical setting. After a hugely successful 2015, look out for the famous Rose Marquee, brilliant show gardens and great family attractions in 2016.

Feb 182016
 

As tourists wander around Westminster absorbing the history of years, they stumble across King Charles 1st and Oliver Cromwell locked in each others’ sight for eternity.

It is often thought that Cromwell’s statue – erected in 1899 to a design by Sir William Thornycroft –  is avoiding the gaze of the Monarch he condemned to death. However, the bust of King Charles I was donated to the Church by The Society of King Charles the Martyr in 1956 – so sadly not true!

Do check out the latest offers as Kensington House Hotel has some great weekend deals. You can sign up for special offer alerts here.

Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.

Jan 202016
 

Royal Albert Hall by Sue Lowry

The Royal Albert Hall and SW7’s museums were built as a consequence of the public interest generated by The Great Exhibition of 1851 with its Crystal Palace built by Sir Joseph Paxton.  This precursor to the world fair took place originally in nearby Hyde Park before moving to its final resting place in Sydenham. When it became clear to His Highness and his advisors from the overwhelming success of The Great Exhibition that the general public had an appetite for culture and world achievements, the 35-hectare Gore estate was purchased in order to build a complex of public buildings – the Science Museum, The Natural History Museum and of course, the Victoria & Albert Museum, once known simply as the South Kensington Museum.

RoyalAlbertHall By Sue Lowry

Also on the site are the Royal Colleges of Art, Music & Organists, the Royal Geographical Society, Imperial College and the Central Hall, now known as the Royal Albert Hall.  In essence, a Central Hall of Arts & Sciences (renamed as the Royal Albert Hall unexpectedly by Queen Victoria in honour of her spouse!), surrounded by museums and places of learning.  To some, this area was known simply as Albertopolis. The Royal Albert Hall opened on 29th March 1871 with the largest iron roof structure and the largest pipe organ in the world at the time.  The design took inspiration from Henry Cole’s love of the amphitheatres of southern France – namely Nimes and Arles – and the interior does seem to have a similar horse-shoe shape, similar to Rome’s Colisseum.  Upon opening, a huge – seemingly unsurmountable – problem soon revealed itself – the acoustics were awful with a resounding echo which lead some wags to say that you pay for one concert and get a second free with the echo!

RoyalAlbertHall By Sue Lowry

It was only in 1969, that the problem was finally resolved with dampening discs.  More recently, between 1996 and 2004 in fact, further work took place – this time largely behind the scenes or rather below them – the largest refurbishment since the Hall opened to allow greater access and better services.  Today, over a million people a year watch sports, theatre, opera and rock concerts at this Grade I listed venue with over 350 performances per annum. Take a fascinating tour of the Hall for around GBP12 per adult – group size limited to 20 pax – for around an hour and enjoy 10% discount at both the shop and the rather tasty cafe next to it. I joined one on the day but you can book ahead via their website to avoid disappointment. Our tour included a visit to the Queen’s Box (well almost – viewed via an open door) and the Royal Retiring Room where Her Majesty and her guests assemble  pre-performance. In-between productions,  you may be allowed to take photographs inside the Hall but only when the guide gives permission.

RoyalAlbertHall By Sue Lowry

Follow the Royal Albert Hall on Facebook/Royal Albert Hall and on twitter: @RoyalAlbertHall.

Do check out the latest offers as Kensington House Hotel has some great weekend deals. You can sign up for special offer alerts here.

Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.

Nov 122015
 

By Sue Lowry

The most extravagant, the most recognisable and perhaps the most poignant statue in London for me has to be Queen Victoria’s memorial to her late lamented husband, Prince Albert, opposite the Royal Albert Hall, Kensington, London in Kensington Gardens.  It commemorates the life and work of Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha – a life cut short at just 42 when he died of typhoid fever.

By Sue Lowry

He left behind him a grief-stricken widow who would wear her mournful weeds for the rest of her life.  This memorial to her husband took eight years to complete, was designed in the gothic manner by George Gilbert Scott and involved an army of artists and craftsmen in its complex design.

By Sue Lowry

The iconography of the statutory is slightly confusing but from what I can gather, the main large sculptures on the outer edges symbolise the various continents of the world who exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1851 which to a large degree, was organised by Prince Albert.  It took place in a temporary Crystal Palace created just a few metres away in Hyde Park.  The groups above the main frieze are symbolic of Agriculture, Manufacture, Commerce and Engineering – the major themes of the Exhibition.

By Sue Lowry

The Parnassus frieze however, which runs around the memorial, depicts those figures that the Victorians considered the greatest figures in Western culture, arranged within the fields of poetry, music, painting, sculpture and architecture. Most of the statues are hewn from Campanella marble but for the figure of Prince Albert (for which 72 tons of cannon barrels were provided by Woolwich Arsenal), gilded bronze was used.

By Sue Lowry

The sculptor of Albert himself – or rather sculptors – was firstly Baron Marochetti (who died), then John Foley (who again died before the statue was cast) and finally Thomas Brock who completed the work.  It shows him in his Garter robes, holding a volume of the Great Exhibition catalogue. The actual memorial opened to the general public in 1872 but without the Prince’s statue which was eventually installed three years later.  It was then covered up again  for another year so it could be gilded before being finally unveiled in March 1876.  Scott was knighted for his work on the memorial.

The monument incurred slight damage in both World Wars but it was only when a piece of lead fell off in 1983, that a full restoration was commissioned.  The monument, complete with an Albert now covered in 24-carat gold, was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in October 1998.  Rumour has it, it is a bit too ornate for her taste ….

Do check out the latest offers as Kensington House Hotel has some great weekend deals. You can sign up for special offer alerts here.

Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.

Oct 132015
 

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The Fabric of India is the first exhibition in the UK to fully explore the incomparably rich world of handmade textiles from India. From the earliest known fragments to contemporary fashion, the exhibition will illustrate the technical mastery and creativity of Indian textiles. The Fabric of India will be held at The Victoria and Albert Museum until 10 January 2016.

Tickets cost £14 with concessions available. V&A Members go free. Advance booking is advised – this can be done in person at the V&A or online (booking fee applies).

Celebrating the variety, virtuosity and continuous innovation of India’s textile traditions, The Fabric of India presents 200 everyday fabrics and unseen treasures all made by hand. From ancient ceremonial banners to contemporary saris, from sacred temple hangings to bandanna handkerchiefs, to the spectacular tent used by Tipu Sultan (1750-1799), the famed ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore; this exhibition offers an introduction to the raw materials and processes of making cloth by hand.

The opening section shows fabrics dyed with natural materials such as pomegranate and indigo and the complex techniques of block printing, weaving and embroidery across the ages, together creating a visual compendium of India’s astonishingly diverse array of fabrics. Highlights range from muslin embroidered with glittering green beetle wings, to a vast wall hanging appliqued with designs of elephants and geometrical patterns, to a boy’s jacket densely embroidered with brightly coloured silk thread and mirrors.

Do check out the latest offers as Kensington House Hotel has some great weekend deals. You can sign up for special offer alerts here.

Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.

Photographs by various photographers – credits as follows: Abraham & Thakore;  Victoria and Albert Museum, London and National Trust Images.

Sep 162015
 

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Botticelli Reimagined is a new major exhibition, opening 5th March 2016 at the V&A, exploring, for the first time the variety of ways artists and designers from the Pre-Raphaelites to the present have responded to the artistic legacy of Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510), assembling 150 works from around the world.

Botticelli Reimagined will be held at The Victoria and Albert Museum from 5th March – 3rd July 2016.  Tickets will go on sale in September this year and will cost £15 with concessions available. V&A Members go free. Advance booking is advised – this can be done in person at the V&A; online at www.vam.ac.uk/Botticelli; or by calling 0800 912 6961 (booking fee applies).

Do check out the latest offers as Kensington House Hotel has some great weekend deals. You can sign up for special offer alerts here.

Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.

Contributor: Alexandra Pinhorn – Photographs by various photographers – credits as follows: Venus,Volker-H. Schneider; Venus, after Botticelli, Private collection, courtesy Duhamel Fine Art, Paris; Portrait of a Young Man, courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington; Rebirth of Venus, David LaChapelle; The Renaissance of Venus, Tate, London 2015; The Virgin and Child with Two Angels, courtesy Gemäldegalerie der Akademie der Bildenden Künste Vienna; The Orchard, Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Pallas and the Centaur, courtesy of the Ministero Beni e Att. Cultura; Portrait of a Lady known as Smeralda Bandinelli, Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Allegory of Abundance or Autumn, The Trustees of the British Museum; Venus Dress: Look 15, Catwalking.com.

Aug 202015
 

George Washington, by Sue Lowry

The statue of George Washington located at the eastern end of the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square, London was a gift to Britain by the State of Virginia.  This oversized bronze statue is a copy of the original marble sculpture by Jean-Antoine Houdon which stands in the Capitol in Richmond, Virginia.

Although originally made in 1914, it finally made it to the UK after the First World War and was unveiled in 1921 by Judith Brewer, the daughter of the then Speaker of the House of Delegates of Virginia.  Washington famously said that he would never set foot on British soil so it is rumoured that American earth was brought over and placed under the statue.  I have no idea if that is true but I do like the tale.

Do check out the latest offers as Kensington House Hotel has some great weekend deals. You can sign up for special offer alerts here.

Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.

Jul 202015
 
The boy who can fly and never grows up by Sue Lowry

The boy who can fly and never grows up by Sue Lowry

The Peter Pan statue is located in Kensington Gardens to the west of the Long Water. The creator of Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie, commissioned Sir George Frampton to build the statue in 1902. It was erected in Kensington Gardens in 1912. The Peter Pan statue features squirrels, rabbits, mice and fairies climbing up to Peter, who is stood at the top of the bronze statue. J.M. Barrie lived close to Kensington Gardens and published his first Peter Pan story in 1902, using Kensington Gardens for inspiration. In his Peter Pan tale, The Little White Bird, Peter flies out of his nursery and lands beside the Long Water. The statue is located on this exact spot.

Did you know that if you can use your smartphone to magically bring to life the 100-year-old statue. Swipe your phone on the nearby plaque to get a personal call-back from Peter Pan.

Do check out the latest offers as Kensington House Hotel has some great weekend deals. You can sign up for special offer alerts here.

Contributor: Alexandra Pinhorn Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.

May 182015
 

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You might think that innovative exhibitions were a modern-day invention but you would be oh so wrong.   The Tower of London is home to the longest running exhibition in the world – an exhibition of armour and armoury used as part Royal propaganda and part fantasy called The Line of Kings.  It’s been running for over 300 years.

By Sue Lowry

By Sue Lowry

The exhibition was especially important around the time of the restoration of the monarchy and was first put together between 1688 and 1692, seeking to impress and underline the monarch’s right to rule.   Highlights include the wooden horses, many over 325 years old themselves and of course the armours of King Henry VIII, Charles I and King James I.

By Sue Lowry

The Tower of London is operated by Historic Royal Palaces and unlimited entrance is free to members. Adult entrance is priced at GBP24 and for children aged from 5 – 15, GBP11. There are discounted rates if booked online.

By Sue Lowry

By Sue Lowry

Contributor: Sue Lowry Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.