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Wednesday, 24 August 2016

London Sightseeing - Eltham Palace and Gardens

Exterior view of Eltham Palace

Eltham Palace is a large house in Eltham, within the Royal Borough of Greenwich, South East London, England. It is an unoccupied royal residence and owned by the Crown Estate. In 1995 its management was handed over to English Heritage which restored the building in 1999 and opened it to the public. It has been said the internally Art Deco house is a "masterpiece of modern design

Eltham Palace and Gardens English Heritage

Court Yard, Eltham, Greenwich, London, SE9 5QE


The original palace was given to Edward II in 1305 by the Bishop of Durham, Anthony Bek, and used as a royal residence from the 14th to the 16th century. According to one account, the incident which inspired Edward III's foundation of the Order of the Garter took place here. As the favourite palace of Henry IV, it played host to Manuel II Palaiologos, the only Byzantine emperor ever to visit England, from December 1400 to January 1401, with a joust being given in his honour. There is still a jousting tilt yard. Edward IV built the Great Hall in the 1470s, a young Henry VIII back when he was known as Prince Henry also grew up here.

Tudor courts often used the palace for their Christmas celebrations. With the grand rebuilding of Greenwich Palace, which was more easily reached by river, Eltham was less frequented. Apart from the hunting in its enclosed parks, The deer remained plentiful in the Great Park, of 596 acres (2.4 km2), the Little, or Middle Park, of 333 acres (1.3 km2), and the Home Park, or Lee Park, of 336 acres (1.4 km2).

 In the 1630s, by which time the palace was no longer used by the royal family, Sir Anthony van Dyck was given the use of a suite of rooms as a country retreat. During the English Civil War, the parks were denuded of trees and deer. John Evelyn saw it 22 April 1656: "Went to see his Majesty's house at Eltham; both the palace and chapel in miserable ruins, the noble wood and park destroyed by Rich the rebel". The palace never recovered. Eltham was bestowed by Charles II on John Shaw and in its ruinous condition— reduced to Edward IV's Great Hall, the former buttery, called "Court House", a bridge across the moat and some walling—remained with Shaw's descendants as late as 1893.

The current house was built in the 1930s on the site of the original and incorporates its Great Hall, which boasts the third-largest hammerbeam roof in England. Fragments of the walls of other buildings remain visible around the gardens, and the 15th-century bridge still crosses the moat.

From 1933 to Today

In 1933, Stephen Courtauld and his wife Virginia Courtauld (née Peirano) acquired the lease of the palace site and restored the Great Hall (adding a minstrels' gallery to it) while building an elaborate home, internally in the Art Deco style. The dramatic Entrance Hall was created by the Swedish designer Rolf Engströmer. Light floods in from a spectacular glazed dome, highlighting black bean veneer and figurative marquetry.Keen Gardeners, the Courtaulds also substantially modified and improved the grounds and gardens.
Stephen was a younger brother of industrialist and art collector Samuel Courtauld. Founder of the Courtauld Institute of Art (his study in the new house features a statuette version of The Sentry, from a Manchester war memorial, by Charles Sargeant Jagger, who was - like Stephen - a member of the Artists' Rifles).
The Courtaulds' pet lemur, Mah-Jongg, had a special room on the upper floor of the house which had a hatch to the downstairs flower room; he had the run of the house. The Courtaulds remained at Eltham until 1944 (during which time Stephen fire watched from the Great Hall roof, with the palace near the docks at Woolwich, a prime bombing target - in September 1940, the roof of the Great Hall was badly damaged by a bomb). In 1944, they moved to Scotland then to Southern Rhodesia, giving the palace to the Royal Army Educational Corps in March 1945; the corps remained there until 1992.
In 1995, English Heritage assumed management of the palace, and in 1999, completed major repairs and restorations of the interiors and gardens.

The palace and its garden are open to the public and can be hired for weddings and other functions. Most of the rooms have been restored to resemble their appearance during the Courtaulds' occupation


London Sightseeing - All Hallows Staining

All Hallows Staining was a Church of England church located at the junction of Mark Lane and Dunster Court in the north-eastern corner of Langbourn ward in the City of London, England, close to Fenchurch Street railway station. All that remains of the church is the tower, built around 1320 AD as part of the second church on the site. Use of the grounds around the church is the subject of the Allhallows Staining Church Act 2010.

The first mention of the church was in the late 12th century. It was named "Staining", which means stone, to distinguish it from the other churches of All Hallows in the City of London, which were wooden.
The old church survived the Great Fire of London in 1666 but collapsed five years later in 1671. It was thought its foundations had been weakened by too many burials in the churchyard close to the church walls. The church was rebuilt in 1674.

The parishes of All Hallows Staining and nearby St Olave Hart Street were combined in 1870.At That time All Hallows Staining was demolished, leaving only the tower.
St Olave Hart Street was badly damaged by bombs in 1941, during the Second World War. Between 1948 and 1954, when the restored St Olave's was reopened, a prefabricated church stood on the site of All Hallows Staining. This was known as St Olave Mark Lane. The tower of All Hallows Staining was used as the chancel of the temporary church.
The tower is maintained by the Worshipful Company of Clothworkers, one of the livery companies of the City of London. In 1957 the Clothworkers' Company built a church hall for St Olave Hart Street on the site of All Hallows Staining. The old tower now stands at the back of a small courtyard next to the new hall, and the remains of the church were designated a Grade I listed building on 4 January 1950.
The remains of 'Lambe's Chapel Crypt', lies under the adjacent yard. It was moved from the site of Lambe's Chapel in Monkswell Street and rebuilt here in the mid–12th century. It was said to have formed part of the 'Hermitage of St James on the Wall'. These remains were designated Grade II at the same time as the main tower.William Lambe became a master of the Clothworkers.


Two-Course Greek Meal with a Glass of Wine for Two or Four at Pure Cyprus

Two-Course Greek Meal with Wine

Pure Cyprus

Boasting a venue located in the heart of Finsbury Park, the team at Pure Cyprus share a passion for Greek cuisine and strive to promote it among the local community. They serve the likes of beef stifado, pork afelia, a range of seafood meals and charcoal-grilled delicacies. Every meal can be accompanied by a glass of wine or soft drink.

Choose Between Two Options

Starters available include: sliced beetroot | tzatziki | olive marinate | dolmades | spanakopita | charcoal-grilled vegetables | charcoal-grilled chicken wings
Mains available include: beef stifado | pork afelia | kleftiko | moussaka | grilled sea bass | grilled octopus | keftedes

Ecuadorian Dining Experience with Wine for Two at El Inca Plebeyo (Up to 55% Off)

El Inca Plebeyo

Set up by Ecuadorian chef Jorge Pacheco, El Inca Plebeyo aims to offer each customer a unique dining experience that combines the flavours and aromas of South American food with Jorge's signature dishes. Located a short distance from Angel station, El Inca Plebeyo serves up Argentinian steaks, as well as a range of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. Diners can round of their meals with a selection of wines, beers and regional cocktails.

The Deal

Two guests can enjoy an Ecuadorian dining experience, starting with a selection of ceviche, tiraditos and ensalada to share plus pantacones. Mains include a choice of carnes, mariscos and vegetarianos, and customers can round off the meal with a glass of house wine.

One Person Hop on Hop off TRS River Cruise and London Dining Card Ticket (Up to 23% Off)

TRS Ticket with Dining Card

TRS River Cruise and London Dining Card

A chance to view London from the open top deck of a variety of modern and traditional vessels including the Sapele and the Mercuria, or the traditional Sarah Kathleen. The cruise features a live audio commentary of the history of London for the whole of the journey provided by the captain. The hop-on, hop-off river pass is valid on both Thames river services and circular cruise westminster services. This gives the opportunity for an unlimited travel between the piers. Additionally, guests can make use of dining card at a number of venues selected for their proximity to top tourist destinations.

The Deal

Afternoon Tea for Two with a Bottle or Free-Flowing Champagne and Panoramic Views of London at Altitude 360

Altitude 360

Altitude London Sky Bar Restaurant in the Millbank Tower looks out over the city from its vantage points on both the 28th and 29th floor. Designed by a chef who trained at the Fat Duck, the menu is creative and contemporary while embracing traditional principles of British cuisine. The interior is minimal with clean lines and low lighting to emphasise the view, while the casual Skyloft lounge features cosy sofas and exposed brickwork, like a Brooklyn loft with a London view

Choose Between Two Options

  • VIP entry to the London Sky Bar
  • A bottle or free-flowing Champagne for two hours
  • Pot of tea or coffee
  • Platter of sandwiches and cakes


London Hourly Weather Forecast for 24th Aug 2016 - Phew!

Wednesday 24 August☀ ▲ 5:57    20:06  ▼ ☼
6:00-6:5921 °c23 °c0.0 mm40 %2-2mph73 %
7:00-7:5922 °c25 °c0.0 mm20 %1-2mph67 %
8:00-8:5924 °c27 °c0.0 mm13 %1-2mph61 %
9:00-9:5926 °c28 °c0.0 mm10 %0-3mph56 %
10:00-10:5928 °c30 °c0.0 mm19 %1-3mph52 %
11:00-11:5928 °c30 °c0.0 mm32 %2-3mph50 %
12:00-12:5928 °c31 °c0.0 mm100 %3-3mph49 %
13:00-13:5928 °c31 °c0.0 mm100 %4-3mph50 %
14:00-14:5928 °c31 °c0.0 mm99 %6-4mph52 %
15:00-15:5928 °c31 °c0.0 mm99 %7-8mph58 %
16:00-16:5928 °c31 °c0.0 mm98 %8-12mph63 %
17:00-17:5928 °c31 °c0.0 mm98 %7-14mph69 %
18:00-18:5924 °c26 °c0.0 mm99 %7-13mph71 %
19:00-19:5924 °c26 °c0.0 mm100 %7-15mph73 %
20:00-20:5924 °c26 °c0.0 mm99 %8-15mph76 %
21:00-21:5920 °c21 °c0.0 mm99 %8-16mph78 %
22:00-22:5920 °c21 °c0.0 mm99 %9-16mph78 %
23:00-23:5920 °c21 °c0.0 mm100 %9-16mph78 %

London: 1, 2 or 3 Nights for Two with Afternoon Tea at Best Western Greater London Hotel or Best Western Ilford

London Stay with Afternoon Tea  

The Hotels

Nestled in the City of London itself, Best Western Greater London Hotel features interiors decorated with crystal ball chandeliers, Roman pillars and a Chesterfield sofa lounge. The hotel offers close proximity to the Ilford train station and the Exchange shopping centre. Best Western Ilford is set just a two-minute walk from the first venue, and about 20 minutes from central London via tube. Epping Forest, Centenary Walk path and Valentines Park await guests just a stone’s throw from the hotel.
  • Rooms kitted with flat-screen TVs and coffee making facilities
  • Cafe and breakfast room
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • Pets not allowed


Enjoy a stay at a choice of Best Western hotels, both set close to main London attractions

What You Get

Included in all options: Stay for two in a double or twin room with breakfast and afternoon tea, arriving between 25 Aug and 31 Dec 2016 
  • £55 for 1 night
  • £99 for 2 nights
  • £149 for 3 nights

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Natural History Museum - Add some colour to your long weekend

Add some colour to your long weekend
Our Spectral Vision by Liz West
Immerse yourself in our five-star exhibition
Bask in a light installation created especially for the exhibition and count the animals in a spectacular tower of taxidermy -  showcasing the diversity of colour in the natural world.

Discover over 350 rarely seen specimens from iridescent hummingbirds and jewel-like beetles to fossils of the first organisms with eyes.

★★★★★ Guardian
★★★★★ Time Out

Lead sponsor LG OLED TV
Book now
Watch the film
Watch the film
Take a peek at some of the highlights of the exhibition.
Watch now
See hundreds of live butterflies
Bright and beautiful butterflies
See hundreds of live butterflies in Sensational Butterflies. Watch as these colourful creatures flutter over your head, seek out a caterpillar and explore the plants in the lush tropical jungle.

Until 11 September
Book tickets
Dive beneath the waves
Dive into a coral reef
Journey deep beneath the waves with David Attenborough's Great Barrier Reef Dive virtual reality experience. Immerse yourself in a rainbow of coral and darting shoals of tropical fish.

Daily showings
Book tickets
Love a bank holiday but not the queues?
Join as a Member to skip all the queues -  and get free admission to Colour and Vision as well as Sensational Butterflies. Members get a full year of great benefits including discounts in our cafés and shops, access to private views and behind the scenes tours.
Join now