London

London

London is our current series.  We will be uploading episodes regularly and the final episode will be uploaded in August 2021.

Let the 26 episodes in our London series give you the background you need to make the most of your trip. Find out who was crowned at Westminster, buried in St Paul’s or beheaded at the Tower and hear the stories behind these events. Discover the history of Shakespeare’s Globe and the London of Charles Dickens. Learn about the royals and their palaces and take informed trips to Hampton Court and Windsor. We’ll tell you what to look out for in London’s museums and galleries and help you discover the city’s parks, theatres, shops and markets. In short, the 26 episodes of our London series provide all the research you would do yourself if only you had the time!


London Episode 01 Introduction

Welcome to London

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Red buses and royalty, St Paul’s and Piccadilly, London is one of the world’s most popular city break destinations. Here is an overview of the series, offering some geographical, historical and cultural details to whet your appetite for the remaining 25 episodes when we will tour all the main sites, telling you the stories behind them and introducing a wealth of colourful personalities who have influenced the city over the centuries.

Useful link:
https://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/museum-london

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London Episode 02 St Paul’s Cathedral

A Symbol of the city

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We begin our tour of London at St Paul’s Cathedral, which stands as a symbol of the city and which has so many links to its past.  Hear a little of the history of the cathedral itself, listen to stories as varied as Catherine of Aragon’s (first!) wedding, Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee and the funerals of Nelson, the Duke of Wellington and Winston Churchill.  Find out too what to look out for when you visit.

Useful links:
https://www.stpauls.co.uk
https://www.visitlondon.com

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London Episode 03 The City of London

Where it all began

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This tour of the Square Mile, starts with some stories from its history: medieval days, the plague, the Great Fire and the subsequent rebuilding of the city which became a world centre of finance. We’ll hear from many Londoners, such as Dick Whittington, Samuel Pepys and Christopher Wren, and visit some of the places you might want to look round today, including a number of churches and such venerable institutions as the Guildhall, the Royal Exchange and Mansion House, not forgetting the Bank of England Museum.

Useful links:
http://www.guildhall.cityoflondon.gov.uk
http://www.theroyalexchange.co.uk
https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/museum
https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/about-us/about-the-city-of-london-corporation/mansion-house
https://ststephenwalbrook.net
https://www.stlawrencejewry.org.uk
https://www.greatstbarts.com
https://www.stmarylebow.org.uk
https://www.visitlondon.com

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London Episode 04 The Tower of London

London’s Medieval Fortress

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This episode will give you the background information you need to enjoy your visit to the Tower of London to the full. Find out the main facts such as why William the Conqueror built it in the first place and who was imprisoned, tortured and beheaded within its walls. Get the quirky details too: which animals have been kept there over the centuries and what became of them all in the 1820s, which ghosts are still said to roam the premises, what will happen if the last ravens ever fly away?

Useful links:
https://www.hrp.org.uk/tower-of-london
https://www.visitlondon.com

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London Episode 05 Westminster Abbey

A thousand years of history

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A Christmas day coronation-and-riot in 1066, the weddings of Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth II, Queen Victoria’s coronation and Golden Jubilee, Westminster Abbey has seen them all. Hear the story of its beginning, and tales from across the centuries of just some of the most talked-about events which took place there. Find out too what you should look out for on a visit.

Useful links:
https://www.westminster-abbey.org
https://www.visitlondon.com

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London Episode 06 The Houses of Parliament

From Magna Carta to the 21st century

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The building might be a stunning Victorian gothic pile, but the history of the Houses of Parliament goes much, much further back than that. Hear some of the highlights, together with snippets from the speeches which made the greatest impact, and find out too what to look out for on a visit. We’ll be popping next door to Westminster Hall too, the scene of some of the country’s most momentous occasions: coronation feasts, the trials of traitors and a king, and visits from a pope and an American president.

Useful links:
https://www.parliament.uk/visiting
https://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/building/palace/westminsterhall
https://www.visitlondon.com

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London Episode 07 Whitehall and Trafalgar Square

A stroll through central London

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This episode takes you through the very heart of London from Parliament Square along Whitehall to Trafalgar Square. We pause at the Cabinet War Rooms, the underground maze from which Churchill directed operations in World War 2, then make three further visits: to the Banqueting House, scene of the only beheading of an English king, the National Gallery and the Portrait Gallery.

Useful links:
https://www.iwm.org.uk/visits/churchill-war-rooms
https://www.hrp.org.uk/banqueting-house
https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk
https://www.npg.org.uk
https://www.visitlondon.com

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London Episode 08 Buckingham Palace

London’s best known royal residence

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What visit to London could miss out Buckingham Palace? Hear a little history, some trivia and some tales from the balcony. Then find out what to look out for on a visit, before popping next door (twice) to the Royal Mews to meet the horses and to the Queen’s Gallery to hear about some of the royal treasures which won’t fit into any of the palaces.

Useful links:
https://www.rct.uk/visit/the-state-rooms-buckingham-palace
https://www.rct.uk/visit/the-queens-gallery-buckingham-palace
https://www.rct.uk/visit/the-royal-mews-buckingham-palace
https://www.visitlondon.com

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London Episode 09 The Inns of Court

The quietest spot in London?

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A wander round the Inns of Court, that most peaceful haven just off some of London’s busiest streets. Explore the courtyards and gardens, learn about the ancient buildings where lawyers have been working for centuries and hear how trainee barristers let off steam in medieval times. Find out too what the young Charles Dickens thought about life as a solicitor’s clerk here.

Useful links:
https://www.walks.com
https://www.london-walking-tours.co.uk/inns-of-court-tour.htm
https://theroyalcourtsofjustice.com
https://www.visitlondon.com

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London Episode 10 Fleet Street

The Street of Ink

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A visit to Fleet Street, a focal point for writers, publishers and journalists since the Middle Ages. Hear some of their stories, find out which of their favourite watering holes still exist today and discover two places of interest which you can visit: the home where Dr Johnson wrote his famous dictionary and St Bride’s Church, known as the spiritual home of the media.

Useful links:
http://www.drjohnsonshouse.org
http://www.stbrides.com
https://www.walks.com
https://www.visitlondon.com

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London Episode 11 The Strand and Piccadilly

Where to have fun in London

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In this episode it’s all about London as a centre of entertainment. We’re going along the Strand, round Covent Garden, popping into the Royal Opera House and the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, and then on down to Piccadilly and London’s theatreland. Enjoy!

Useful links:
https://www.thesavoylondon.com
https://www.simpsonsinthestrand.co.uk
https://solt.co.uk   (Society of London Theatre)
https://lwtheatres.co.uk/theatres/theatre-royal-drury-lane
https://www.walks.com
https://www.visitlondon.com

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London Episode 12 Victoria and Albert’s London

The area once known as Albertopolis

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Surely no two people left a greater mark on ‘their’ corner of London, than Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Hear their story and discover the places most connected with them: Kensington Palace, the Royal Albert Hall and a trio of world-class museums, namely the V and A, The Science Museum and the Natural History Museum.

Useful links:
https://www.hrp.org.uk/kensington-palace
https://www.vam.ac.uk
https://www.nhm.ac.uk
https://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk
https://www.royalalberthall.com
https://www.visitlondon.com

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London Episode 13 Chaucer and Shakespeare’s London

The beginnings of literary London

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Our two greatest authors, Chaucer and Shakespeare, both lived and worked in London for most of their lives. Hear about them and their work, discover the London they knew and find out where to ‘see’ them in the city today.

Useful links:
https://www.shakespearesglobe.com
https://www.westminster-abbey.org
https://www.visitlondon.com

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London Episode 14 Charles Dickens

London’s best-known author?

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London certainly pops up frequently in the novels of England’s best-known 19th century author, Charles Dickens, and traces of him can be found all over London. This episode investigates the links and takes in visits to two London museums which are closely connected to him: the Dickens Museum and the Foundling Museum.

Useful links:
https://dickensmuseum.com
https://foundlingmuseum.org.uk
https://www.london-walking-tours.co.uk
https://www.walks.com
https://www.visitlondon.com

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London Episode 15 Bloomsbury

Literary, academic and quintessentially English

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Bloomsbury, London’s literary and academic heartland, full of pretty garden squares and the place to find some of the country’s top museums, bookshops and libraries. We stroll past many of them, pointing out some historical and literary connections and enjoying the very essence of Englishness on offer in this quietly elegant area of the capital.

Useful links:
https://www.britishmuseum.org
https://www.bl.uk  (British Library)
https://www.foyles.co.uk
https://www.walks.com  (London Walks)
https://www.visitlondon.com

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London Episode 16 The East End and the docks

The historical and the hipster

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A tour of East London, in search of the Old East End and the area’s Jewish and multi-ethnic roots. A little history, ideas for places to visit and some literary inspiration to inform your tour. Before leaving, we pop over to the docks and the London Docklands Museum.

Useful links:
https://www.raggedschoolmuseum.org.uk
https://sandysrowsynagogue.org
https://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/museum-london-docklands
https://www.aladyinlondon.com
https://www.walks.com  (London Walks)
https://www.visitlondon.com

Recommended reading:
Constance Street by Charlie Connolly
Brick Lane by Monica Ali
The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold

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London Episode 17 Hampstead and Highgate

A classy wander and some gothic vibes

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A two-stop tour of north London. Firstly, pretty Hampstead, where Virginia Woolf thought ‘it is always spring’: lanes and cottages, cafes, antique shops and museums, including the house where John Keats spent his last 2 years in England. And not forgetting its spy connections. Then off to nearby Highgate Cemetery in search of gothic vibes and some famous tombs.

Useful links:
https://burghhouse.museumssites.com  (Hampstead Museum)
https://www.freud.org.uk  (Freud Museum)
https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/attractions-museums-entertainment/keats-house
https://highgatecemetery.org
https://www.walks.com  (London Walks)
https://www.visitlondon.com

Recommended Reading:
London Walks, London Stories by David Tucker
The Lawn Road Flats: Spies, Writers and Artists by David Burke
Guy Burgess: The Spy Who Knew Everyone by Stewart Purvis

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London Episode 18 Greenwich

A Royal Borough and World Heritage Site

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Greenwich is real day out territory from central London, except that one day won’t be enough for all there is to see! Hear about lots of Tudor exploits in the one-time Greenwich Palace, find out what makes the Queen’s House such an architectural gem, and enjoy tales with a maritime flavour from the Cutty Sark, the National Maritime Museum and the Royal Observatory.

Useful links:
https://www.rmg.co.uk/queens-house
https://www.rmg.co.uk/national-maritime-museum  (also The Painted Hall)
https://www.rmg.co.uk/cutty-sark
https://www.rmg.co.uk/royal-observatory
https://www.visitlondon.com

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London Episode 19 The Royal Parks

The green lungs of the city

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A tour of the five Royal Parks in central London, each of which has its own history and particular atmosphere. Hear where Charles II got into trouble for picking flowers for one of his mistresses, why the name of London Zoo’s Winnie the Bear lives on nearly a hundred year after her death and which British Prime Minister was robbed in Green Park. Find out too where you can hire a pedalo, visit an Italian garden and see some pelicans whose ancestry dates back 350 years.

Useful links:
https://www.royalparks.org.uk
https://www.zsl.org/zsl-london-zoo
https://www.visitlondon.com

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London Episode 20 The River Thames

History flowing through London

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A review of moments of history which have taken place on the River Thames – think Henry VIII and his river pageants or the cranes dipping their heads for Winston Churchill’s funeral – plus ideas for places to visit today if you want to enjoy, or learn more about, the great river which has been the lifeblood of the city of London for two millennia.

Useful links:
https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/en_GB/trails/thames-path
https://www.visitlondon.com

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London Episode 21 Hampton Court Palace

A riverside retreat for the Tudors, Stuarts and Georgians

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Hear about the great Tudor feasts held at Hampton Court Palace, plus tales of Henry VIII, his various wives, his courtiers and his great friend – and rival – Thomas Wolsey.  There are also stories from later eras at the palace, when William and Mary and the feuding Georgian monarchs lived there, plus ideas on what to look out for if you go to visit.

Useful links:
https://www.hrp.org.uk/hampton-court-palace
https://www.visitlondon.com

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London Episode 22 Kew and Richmond

The countryside in London

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A trip a little way down the Thames for a wander round two of London’s classiest areas. Firstly, Kew, with its world-famous botanic gardens and, tucked inside, London’s smallest royal palace, namely Kew Palace. Then to Richmond, one-time site of the Palace of Richmond and home today to the capital’s largest royal park. History, boating, croquet, it’s all here.

Useful links:
https://www.kew.org
https://www.hrp.org.uk/kew-palace
https://www.museumofrichmond.com
https://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/richmond-park
https://www.visitlondon.com

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London Episode 23 Windsor and Eton

The number one day trip from central London

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Windsor: a thousand years of English history. We discuss everything from Edward III’s Order of the Garter to Edward VII’s new bathrooms, via the purchase of 40 Canalettos by George III and Christmas at Windsor for Victoria, Albert and their children. We visit the royal tombs in the chapel, take an idyllic boat trip up the Thames and pop over the bridge to Eton, home of England’s very poshest school.

Useful links:
https://www.rct.uk/visit/windsor-castle
https://www.frenchbrothers.co.uk   (boat trips)
http://johnlogiemotorboats.com   (boats for hire)
https://collections.etoncollege.com/museums/museum-of-eton-life
https://www.windsor.gov.uk   (Windsor Tourist Office)

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