Victoria at Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace, Queen Victoria’s childhood home

Kensington Palace has spruced up the rooms where Princess Victoria grew up to mark the 200th anniversary of her birth.  Alongside these permanent rooms is a temporary exhibition Victoria: Woman and Crown which examines her role as matriarch and monarch.   Victoria spent her formative years at Kensington Palace and became Queen here before moving the short distance to Buckingham Palace, the first sovereign to live there.

Victoria at Kensington Palace

Continue reading

Leonardo da Vinci drawings

Da Vinci’s drawings grace the Queen’s Gallery

The Queen owns priceless art treasures and thanks to her ancestors’ collecting habits the Royal Collection is one of the largest and most important art collections in the world.

The Royal Collection contains the greatest collection of da VInci drawings, a group of 550 drawings that have remained together since his death in 1519 and rarely shown so they are in excellent condition.  At his death in 1519, Da VInci left all his drawings to his pupil Francesco Melzi who kept them faithfully until his own death when the sculptor Pompeo Leoni acquired them and mounted them in at least 2 albums. By 1630 one of the albums had reached England into the collection of the Earl of Arundel until around 1670 when Charles ll acquired it, perhaps as a gift from the Earl but ‘acquired’ is a little vague in the royal context! King Charles II was keen buyer and acquirer of art and his interest in these drawings was a master stroke.  In the 1900s they were removed from the album but luckily it was kept and preserved and here it is, on proud display.  Its contents remain an unbroken group as they were in 1519.

Leonardo da Vinci drawings

Continue reading

Secret Rivers Museum of London Docklands

Secret Rivers tells a new story of London

It’s always a treat to travel on the Thames so when the Museum of London Docklands said they were launching their new exhibition Secret Rivers, we thought we should arrive by river boat to honour London’s watery past and present.

Taking one of the Thames Clippers along the Thames is a wonderful way to travel and see the sights that make London so famous. Whizzing past the Houses of Parliament, London Eye, St Paul’s, Tate Modern, Globe theatre, Tower of London and then under Tower Bridge is almost an overload of top sights.

Arriving at the museum’s building you are taken back in the days when London’s docklands were full of old warehouses and wharves, not Canary Wharf’s modern glass towers.  Their new exhibition Secret Rivers is really good and I learned a lot about the Thames and its tributaries, so many of  which are now lost or hidden.

Secret Rivers Museum of London Docklands

Continue reading

Beasts of London, Museum of London

London’s Beasts come to the Museum of London

When you think of the animals which live among us in London,  you are likely to conjure up pigeons,  squirrels and foxes not the magnificent beasts of the jungle and arctic.  A visit to Beasts of London at the Museum of London will change all that.  Did you know that London has been home to lions since pre history,  to zebras and even a polar bear?  You’ll hear about these beasts and many more as you step into the new immersive exhibition at the Museum of London. Continue reading

Painted Hall, Greenwich

Welcome back to the Painted Hall, Greenwich

The Painted Hall has been undergoing extensive renovation for the last 2 years so I was really looking forward to seeing this amazing place when it was unveiled.  They managed to keep the venue open to visitors during the work by offering tours on the enormous scaffolding erected to enable the painstaking cleaning and this gave visitors a once in a lifetime chance to see the ceiling really close up.  I went on one of these tours and you can read about that here. Continue reading

Martin Parr Only Human

Martin Parr’s Only Human at the National Portrait Gallery

Martin Parr is one of our great British photographers with a career spanning over 40 years.  So I was excited to be invited to the preview of his new show, Only Human, at the National Portrait Gallery, especially as I knew Martin would be there himself.  It’s a brilliant display of his observations of Britishness in all its eccentricities and variety with particular reference to a country after Brexit referendum. Continue reading