HALF DAY TOURS
Changing of the guard and the Royal Warrant Holders
We start the pageantry filled tour in the centre of London at Trafalgar Square and will see a statue of King Charles 1 and Admiralty arch. On to Horse Guards Parade where the Changing of the Guard tradition started in 1660 as a lifeguard for King Charles 11. The mounted and foot guards provide a fantastic photograph as you stand next to them. We cross a royal park and see statues of King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth. At St. James Palace the old guard will form up and march to Buckingham Palace.
You will have a great view as we follow them up the mall and see the new guard. You will hear some great stories of the coronation, the palace workings. To top off the tour we will see the Corporals guard and visit a royal warrant holder to the King and find out how the highest standard of service and products are required for a company to display the prestigious seal of the monarchy.
The National Gallery
Here is one of the greatest collection of paintings in the world. The range is tremendous, from early medieval to post impressionism. You will see the Virgin of the Rocks by Leonardo Da Vinci as well as finding out why he was so brilliant. Michelangelo Buonarroti the renaissance master, the gallery has several of his works, often unfinished, you will find out why. Raphael is considered the greatest painter of the Vatican, but who trained him?
You will be surprised. Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was a drunk, brawler and all-round troublemaker, but one of the most talked about painters in history. Clever, wily, his work, Supper at Emmaus is full of riddles, insults, and genius. He also painted a self-portrait of his head on a platter a gift for the Pope. The art moves on to women’s emancipation, a brilliant study of the English countryside. Then the masters of Impressionism, including Monet, Renoir, Manet, and the Sunflowers by Van Gogh, the tortured icon of today. A feast for your eyes.
The British Museum
I am a trained classicist do the British Museum is a must see. It has a vast range of antiquities from every continent. I will show you the highlights, including the great history of Egypt, Greece, and Rome. See a statue of Tutankhamun and why his grave was not found for well over three thousand years. The Rosetta stone, to the vast bust of Ramesses 11, who had over 150 children.
A giant scrab beetle, to a copper cat, ancient Egypt is a fascinating story. Wonder at the Eglin marbles from the venerable Parthenon in Athens. Why would you built such and large and expensive building, all will be revealed. Greek Jewellery in paper thin gold, the original Vogue line up and a bust of Homer the great philosopher of antiquity. Rome, sure its famous but how did a little village conquer every country bordering the Mediterranean and give us a modern world.
Who were the great emperors and the mad one, wall paintings from Pompeii and a complete gladiators murmillo helmet. The famous burial site at Sutton Hoo has revealed the dark ages of England in splendour, and the subject of a famous film, the Dig, its gold and silver jewellery, the story is incredible. You will have a memorable visit.
The Westminster and Mayfair Walk
We start at what is commonly called Big Ben, but I will tell you the real name, the Houses of Parliament, and a great photo of a red phone box. The gates of Number 10 Downing street, the man who built it was in the first graduating class of Harvard.
Trafalgar square is the centre of London, there is evidence. See where you would have brought a ticket for the Titanic, smart clubs for ladies and gentlemen, the sight of the Embassy of the Independent Republic of Texas. The fine and interesting stores of Jermyn street which has the finest of English dining. Then on through a beautiful arcade, past the Ritz known for a grand afternoon tea.
Then to beautiful Mayfair, a 18c village in the heart of London, with cobbled streets, eccentric shirt shops, great barbers, wine bars, varied restaurants, and a host of stunning buildings, capped with a hidden garden.
The Tower of London
The Tower of London has a captivating history, but it’s not British! And you will find out why. It has stood guard over London and the River Thames for nearly a thousand years. Its walls hold secrets of executions, famous prisoners, which include Kings, Queens, Lords, and Archbishops. There have been escapes, a Kings murder and the execution of Anne Boleyn.
You will see the torture chamber with the implements still there, the Tower has it all. One prisoner was the President of the Continental Congress of the United States. You can pose for a photo with the Beefeaters and see the crown jewels, much of which was used during the coronation of King Charles, but the executioner’s block and axe await. As does a magnificent medieval chapel and the story of the ravens.
This venerable Abbey was founded in 960. It has been through tumultuous changes in English history, the reformation, different royal families, a republic, and wars that shook the nation, but Westminster Abbey survives and thrives to this day. Here we crown our Kings and Queens, you will see the chair used in every coronation since 1308 and exactly where it is placed.
I will fully explain about King Charles great day and how the ceremony takes place. See the magnificent nave and the story of how a British soldier was awarded the Medal of Honour. The burial place of monarchs, poets, and leading people of the nation. But some were disinterred, why? The Abbey offers the oldest door in Britain, the original bank of England and spectacular medieval wall paintings. the exceptional cloisters.
The American Connection in London
Why did so many British people emigrate across the ocean in search of a new beginning? and now their descendants return to see statues of Abraham Lincoln to George Washington, where the Embassy of the independent republic of Texas was situated, there is a wealth of surprises. Virginia Dare was the first English child born in the United States. You we will see where her parents were married.
Benjamin Franklin lived in London for nearly twenty years, and you will see the house, as well where he ate and drank, the tavern still stands. We will see where a King was executed, the monarchy abolished, and a republic founded. Three of the signatories to the death warrant fled to Boston, thence to Hadley in Massachusetts. Their story is the missing part to the American war of Independence.
The City of London
It is nearly 2000 years old, started by the Romans, it has been through invasions, storms, experienced puritanism to republicanism, floods, fires, revolutions to executions. I will show you a Roman amphitheatre, also the Guildhall where the history of our great city started, and famous trials took place. On to the Bank of England museum where you can lift a bar of gold, hidden alley ways and 260-year-old restaurants, to the biggest insurance market in the world.
You will see the first coffee shop in London, witness a magnificent view from above. A statue of Captain John Smith stands there and see where William Shakespeare lived, worshiped and why he was not on the books for twenty-five years, you will be enthralled.
All tours finish close to a tube station and taxis to ensure you have a convenient return to your chosen destination.
Two or three half day tours can be combined to a full day.
Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London require paid for entrance tickets.
DAY TOURS OUTSIDE LONDON
The City of Bath and Stonehenge
We will have a day out to remember. The original roman city of Aquae Sulis was built nearly two thousand years ago, and much of the original bathing complex is preserved. Three hundred years ago the city was transformed into a luxurious Georgian town and today is a UNESCO world heritage site. You will see the circus which is some of the finest architecture in the nation as is the crescent of stunning baroque houses. Those two masterpieces have a hidden connection to Stonehenge.
The famous Pulteney bridge and magnificent 15c Abbey. You can taste the delicious local ice cream. A glorious countryside drive to Stonehenge awaits, and why build it there? And how did they build it? How did the people live, their houses, food and why was it abandoned? All will be revealed, as you visit the mysterious sarsen stones.
Stratford upon Avon and Warwick Castle
Warwick castle is one of the best preserved castles in the nation and it contains a great collection of paintings and armour. Brilliantly constructed battlements and a dungeon to hold the unloved! And we enter the chamber! A magnificent view awaits you at the top of the building. I will clear away a few myths, there was no water in the moat and the arrow slits were not for arrows. You will see the A short drive follows to see the house where William Shakespeare met Anne Hathaway, his wife.
He was 18 when he married, a shotgun wedding! Then we move on to the house he grew up in and why the beds were so short! I will explain why the signatures on the marriage certificate were spelt wrong, his lucky break into acting and writing. His words we still use, sleep tight, potluck, upper crust, and his eventual return to Stratford and finally his burial place, where you will hear the last strange fact of an incredible life.
The Real Cotswolds and Oxford
A tour to one of the most beautiful parts of England. The village of Bibury on the Coln river, its marvellous stone bridges, and fine row of 15 century cottages. We will take a magnificent drive off the tourist trail to Winston, Coln St. Dennis, Northleach. Then through the back roads to Lower Slaughter. Here we have a little walk to see the village and learn why towns have ton or ham at the end of their names.
You will see an old water wheel in one of the most stunning villages in the Cotswolds. Lunch can be taken at a cosy country pub. Then on to Oxford and visit a college, possibly Christ Church. Here much of Harry Potter was filmed including scenes in the famous dining room. You can stand where Professor Mc Gonagall said, “Welcome to Hogwarts children.” You will learn what a Junior member is, about the “House,” a gaudy and being sent down. There will be a lovely walk around the town before we set off back to London..
Hampton Court and Windsor Castle
This is a great visit to Henry the V111’s palace which originally belonged to his right hand man, Cardinal Woolsey. Marvel at the splendour of this grand medieval and renaissance palace. We will enter the grand dining room and see magnificent tapestries, hear what the King and his court ate and drank as well as seeing the wine cellar, kitchen, and the royal chapel.
Grand royal bedrooms, magnificent gardens, and the largest grape vine in the world. Then we have a short drive to Windsor Castle. Here is an official royal residence, his majesty is often in residence. This castle has a marvellous collection of art commissioned by various monarchs over the ages with an especially important chapel built for the knights of the Garter, the longest running military order of chivalry in the world.