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Welltravbrit's London Sojourn - An Ongoing Trip Report

Welltravbrit's London Sojourn - An Ongoing Trip Report

Old Sep 16th, 2015, 04:49 PM
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Hi again WTB,

Thanks for your blog about TWO TEMPLE PLACE. Very interesting. When I took a Londonwalks pub crawl last year, we started at Embankment. Our guide (excellent) first turned our attention to the fabulous facade of the building on our way to Fleet Street. Really stunning. Too bad it is not generally opened to the public.

A few year back I read FIVE SISTERS: The Langhorns of Virginia by James Fox about five dazzling American debs who made "important" international marriages at the turn of the 20th century. Nancy married Waldorf Astor - somehow related to William Waldorf Astor (maybe half brothers?) who built Two Temple Place. Nancy became the irascible Lady Astor, first female member of Parliament.

Another elegant residence that I had meant to visit is SPENCER HOUSE near Green Park in the toney club district - "recognized as one of the most ambitious aristocratic town houses ever built in London and is the city’s only great eighteenth-century private palace to survive intact."

http://www.spencerhouse.co.uk/visitor-information/

In recent years the structure has been restored by Rothschild interests and is open to the public on Sundays. Are you familiar with this place? Interestingly, both Two Temple Place and Spencer House are available for weddings and other events.

Thanks for sharing...
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Old Sep 16th, 2015, 09:50 PM
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latedaytraveller so glad you're still following along.

I am indeed familiar with Spencer House and I did visit it on this trip though I probably won't blog about it as they don't allow photos. As I was waiting I meet one of the Vanderbilts who was visiting the house because it was apparently where her grandmother was born. Needless to say she got a private tour! Unsurprisingly she made sure to announce her connections to me right upfront, but that's how people are. A bit snark but it was one of those funny exchanges where someone tells you how important they are and then seem taken aback when you don't gush, or indeed show any interest at all.

There were only three of us on the tour on a very rainy day. It's somewhat inconvenient as it's only open on a Sunday on hourly guided visits. Anyway I digress, the house is impressive and the situation is delightful however I didn't love Spencer House. The guide was very good and dealt with the young American couple who just wanted to hear about Lady Di well but the whole place is a re-creation. Yes, it was completely brought back, but that's something very different that seeing the original.

The fireplaces were re-created along with panelling and decorative details etc. The V&A provided some of the furniture and maybe some art too, as did the Queen and that is why it's open to the public, it's a requirement of their loans. The whole place has no life in my opinion, it is worth seeing and the rooms are impressive but it doesn't have charm which disappointed me as I'm a big fan of interiors.

It feels like a museum rather than a house, it's all just far too pristine. I far preferred somewhere less precious. Lord Rothschild leased the house for something like 50 plus years and he funded the improvement (lucky Earl Spencer) at vast expense. There are corporate rooms upstairs, the whole place was offices until only a couple of decades ago.

The Five Sisters sounds fascinating, I may have recommended it before but I highly recommend Stella Tillyard's Aristocrats about the Lennox sisters which deals with the previous century. It's based on their letters and is quite extraordinary,.

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-en...0-1373354.html
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Old Sep 17th, 2015, 07:34 AM
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I'm still here, WTB, but silently, [unusual for me!] I know Temple Place very well - I used to walk round it every day from Temple Tube station to the entrance to the Temple, but I was never aware of No 2. Thanks for telling me about it.

<<A bit snark but it was one of those funny exchanges where someone tells you how important they are and then seem taken aback when you don't gush, or indeed show any interest at all. >>

They invite it really, don't they?

one branch of the Astors live near where we used to live in Kent and they would invite the local choir and neighbours round for Christmas Carols and drinks; they were lovely and very hospitable. No "side" at all.
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Old Sep 18th, 2015, 12:32 PM
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Hi again WTB,

I am not surprised that you are familiar with SPENCER HOUSE.

"The whole place has no life in my opinion, it is worth seeing and the rooms are impressive but it doesn't have charm which disappointed me as I'm a big fan of interiors."

Interesting. I passed it up on my last visit because I had overdosed with bling at Blenheim and Mansion House a few days before. I spent my Sunday (the weather was great) at Horseguards and then took a ride of the Regent's Canal.

I thoroughly enjoyed MANSION HOUSE which is, of course, the residence of the Lord Mayor of London- gorgeous, but more interesting because of its historical significance. Again, it is only open to the public on most Tuesday afternoons from 2-3, first come first served.

These historical sites, in order to maintain grants and such, must provide some public access limited though it is. I don't believe you can take pics there - but that doesn't bother me because I never take photos. Security is tight.

I will also check out ARISTOCRATS - not at our library but I will hunt it down. Gracias...

Hi ANNHIG,

Speaking of buildings in the area, did you ever get a chance to visit the new SUPREME COURT in Parliament Square?
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Old Sep 18th, 2015, 04:38 PM
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I didn't make it to the Mansion House but it's on my list! I'm staring to run out of steam but I still have to finish a couple of blog posts on restaurants/food in the East End and a blog or two about the walking books we used/walks we took. I need to finish up Berlin and Helsinki before our next trip!
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Old Sep 18th, 2015, 11:15 PM
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Where to next, WTB?

I got my dose of bling at Apsley House this trip. Wow! But the best interior award is split between Freemason's Hall and Leighton House.
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Old Sep 18th, 2015, 11:40 PM
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We're off to NY for six weeks and then Colombia, long story but the flight returning via Bogota was a little cheaper than the direct return San Francisco-New York! Tomorrow I'm talking to people who might rent our home while we're away which would be great. Hoping for a win-win as they're having trouble finding somewhere -partly because they have a dog.

So glad to hear you enjoyed Leighton House and the Freemason's Hall, they're each great in their own way.We very much enjoyed a concert we went to at Leighton House on this last visit. I made a very rushed trip to Apsley House and it's on my must revisit list, it's certainly very blingy!
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Old Sep 19th, 2015, 04:59 AM
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bmk in my new incarnation.
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Old Sep 19th, 2015, 12:40 PM
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Earlier in this ridiculously long thread I mentioned the wonderful book,

Rebel Footprints: A Guide to Uncovering London's Radical History by David Rosenberg.

Anyway we loved this book and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for an alternative view of London and it's history. Here's a longer review and photos from one of our walks through Bow in the East End. It's a fascinating and different way to see the capital.

ttp://www.somuchmoretosee.com/2015/09/walking-radical-london.html
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Old Sep 19th, 2015, 01:02 PM
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Hi cornishannie - are you annhig, and if so, why??
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Old Sep 19th, 2015, 01:14 PM
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thursdaysd - you're right -you have outed me. [though to be fair, I rather outed myself] I foolishly decided that it would be a good idea to try to provide links to the Rugby World Cup thread I started in Europe on some other forums, and the algorithms got me and suspended me.

how they spotted me but let those icelandic car hire outfits and russian brothel keepers through escapes me. Worse still it happened at the weekend, so presumably I stay suspended until the mods wake up on Monday morning. or even longer if they treat me like Ira.

So I gave it a bit of lateral thinking, and voila! here I am.

I can't get into the lounge though - so no taunting FrankS for now. Shame - I almost miss him.
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Old Sep 19th, 2015, 08:37 PM
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Wow, banned? for posting links? May the mods have mercy.
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Old Sep 19th, 2015, 08:47 PM
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Ann I hope the mods sort this out for you asap. It confirms my belief that sports are generally bad for you! Can you tell I had a Welsh father who was a rugby fanatic?!!
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Old Sep 20th, 2015, 09:14 AM
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Wow, banned? for posting links? May the mods have mercy.>>

@stoke - I think that it was the system rather than the mods themselves, but given what does get through I think that I am entitled to feel a little miffed. and I am not banned, merely suspended.

@welltravelled - I had a cricket fanatic father and went the other way - I love the game, and indeed most sports.

Thank you both for your kind words, anyway.
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Old Sep 25th, 2015, 02:57 PM
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I'm finally getting around to talking about food on the blog, here's the first of two posts on eating out in the East End!

http://www.somuchmoretosee.com/2015/...-part-one.html
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Old Sep 30th, 2015, 02:56 PM
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Ok, I've finally done the second post on food int he east end, this one covers Ottoleghi in Spitalfields, Copita del Mercado in Whitechapel, Tramshed and Bottega Prelibato on Irvington in Shoreditch etc.

Lots of suggestions for places to go and eat...

http://www.somuchmoretosee.com/2015/...-part-two.html

Hope it's useful!
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Old Oct 1st, 2015, 05:04 PM
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Hi again WTB,

Wow, that food looks yummy in that section of town. Thanks for the suggestions.

On my next solo jaunt I hope to take the Londonwalks - THE OLD JEWISH QUARTER "a shtetl called Whitechapel" so I might try one of these emporiums.

On another subject - I just found your great blog on DR. JOHNSON'S HOUSE near Fleet Street, a favorite spot of mine in London. Great job. This year the Museum is offering monthly reading groups. I hope to make their last one in early June.
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Old Oct 1st, 2015, 05:37 PM
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Hi Lateday - I'm so glad you liked the Dr Johnson post, I must admit I was quite pleased with that one, it is a lovely place to visit isn't it. They seem to have a quite a lots of special events there, I intended to go to several but never made it.

The food is certainly good in the East End and there are lots of options at every price point. If a get around to it my next post will be on the Freemason's Hall. Frankly I'm running out of steam for London and at this rate I'll never get around to Berlin and Helsinki!
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Old Oct 2nd, 2015, 04:18 AM
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WTB, yes DR. JOHNSON'S HOUSE does provide a respite of tranquility in central London.

Whatever more you write about London, I will be sure to read...
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Old Oct 2nd, 2015, 02:37 PM
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Thanks Lateday, I appreciate the encouragement!
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