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Monday, July 28, 2014


In 1850, the Duke of Wellington replied to a letter written to him by Lady Salisbury inquiring as to how best she and Lord Salisbury should deal with those who applied to them with requests to see their home, Hatfield House. In other words, how best to deal with 19th century tourists. The Duke answered her thusly:

London, July 27, 1850

  " . . . . . I permit my servants to show the House and Place to whom they please and as they please. But I avoid to give an order that anything should be shown to anybody. I enclose the Lithograph answer sent to every application. You will find some regulation of the same description very convenient to yourself and Lord Salisbury. . . . . . "

Copy of Lithograph

   Field Marshal The Duke of Wellington presents his 
compliments. He is not in the habit of giving orders 
to his Servants to show his House or its contents to 
Gentlemen with whom he is not acquainted. They 
are responsible for the good, cleanly and safe 
keeping thereof, and they must form their own 
judgment as to whom they will admit to see it, taking 
care always that those whom they may admit do 
not interfere with the convenient occupation of their 
apartments by his son, his daughter-in-law and himself. 

Unfortunately, the Duke was also plagued with requests from tourists at Walmer Castle, as the following letter to Lady Salisbury the following September illustrates -

Walmer, September 19, 1850

     ". . . . . You are amused by the applications made to me. I have had a most curious one from one of the young ladies who were in the habit, as children, of coming to my Garden Gate in Hyde Park. This young lady is now with some friends a Broadstairs! and she insists upon my sending her an order that the interior of Walmer Castle should be shewn to her and her friends during the time that I am residing there; at which time, she has heard that the interior of the Castle is not usually shewn.
    I have told her that my Predecessor in the office of Lord Warden had fitted up part of this Castle as a residence for the Lard Wardens, which I now occupy! that I have one room in this Residence, in which I sleep, dress and write all day! that the remainder of the House is occupied by my daughters-in-law and their Children or by other visitors, male or female! That I permitted the Servants to shew to whom they pleased, excepting when inhabited. But at such periods only when not inconvenient to the inhabitants. I added that I believed that I was the only individual in England who would be required by anybody to make a shew of his Bed Room and Dressing Room; and that I doubted much whether my daughters-in-law, or their Children, or any Ladies or Gentlemen, inhabitants of Rooms in this Residence, would much like the proposition that their Rooms should be made a shew of while they should inhabit them. I have received no answer."

One can only imagine what the Duke would think about a group of tourists arranging visits to Apsley House, Walmer Castle and Stratfield Saye or about their titling their journey The Duke of Wellington Tour!

Friday, July 25, 2014


I am gasping for a cuppa. A cuppa coffee at Caffe Nero, that is. I can't get enough of it and now that London is once again in my sights, I'm lusting for one. Turns out that Denise Costello, who is coming along on The Duke of Wellington Tour with us in September, is also a devotee. We've struck a bargain to see who will be the first to reach the eleventh free coffee Caffe Nero awards on their loyalty card.

I have a sneaking idea we'll be reaching the target together.

Dreaming of my next cup of coffee in London got me thinking about the other London foods I usually indulge in - old favourites that never disappoint. Like bangers and mash.

As Victoria well knows, bangers and mash are my "go to" food, my comfort food and what I can be counted upon to order, at least once a day. Add grilled onions and a side of green peas and it's heaven. Of course, one can't eat bangers and mash without washing it down with a pint and, oddly enough, my brew of choice in England is Kronenbourg 1664, which sounds German, but is brewed in France. And since I drink it in England, that's most of the Waterloo nations covered.

I always try to visit London's Chinatown when I'm in London, specifically for the roasted Peking duck that hangs tantalizingly in most windows there.

I was introduced to Chinatown many years ago by Dr. David Parker, who was then the curator of the Dickens House Museum. I've been returning ever since and will no doubt be popping in again in September. You can read about the history of the area here.

No trip to London would be complete without indulging in afternoon tea and my place of choice are the Richoux Tea Rooms on Piccadilly. There are fancier places, and trendier places, for tea, but Richoux is the grand old lady of tea shop chains, dependably good, always cozy. Rather like a visit to granny's.

Regency author Diane Gaston, who also blogs at Risky Regencies, has signed up for the Tour and, along with Victoria, we're looking forward to returning to Richoux during our Sunday walking tour of the St. James's area of London.

Finally, because I'm such a cheese lover, I'm going to make a point of stopping in to Paxton and Whitfield in Jermyn Street.

It's one of those places I've always meant to spend time in and that I never seem to get around to visiting. You can read about the history of the shop - since 1797 - here.

Honourable mention goes out to the American Steak House, the Angus Steak House and the Aberdeen Steak House, three chains with outlets throughout London. They're literally everywhere.

Priced right, these places are nothing fancy, but the steaks can be depended upon and they're convenient.

Honourable mention also to Burger and Lobster, which I discovered on my last trip to London - you can read about it here. 

Burger and Lobster has a rather limited menu - lobster, burger or lobster roll. Twenty pounds each. The lobsters are cooked perfectly, the drinks ditto, so be prepared to wait for a table. They don't take reservations, but definitely worth the visit.

Do you have a favourite "foodie" destination in London? If so, please leave a comment and let us know about it!