Andrew Davies London Walk: City Nooks, Crannies, Churches and Samuel Pepys

All Hallows Church

We returned to the City of London once again with Andrew to explore some of its history and hidden surprises including the varied architecture of Wren, Lutyens and Forster and some of its cast of splendid characters.

The gems we visited included the site of Pepys’s house in Seething Lane which is now a garden, the best surviving chunk of Roman Wall, the beautiful ruins of St. Dunstan in the East, a fine Lutyens Memorial, St. Olave’s church where Pepys worshipped and is buried and the sundial which encapsulates London’s 2000 year history.

We also visited the church and museum of All Hallows. This ancient church is considered by some to be the oldest church in the City of London. It survived the Great Fire of London in 1666 but was badly damaged during the Blitz of World War II.

A Talk by Alexandra Shulman, CBE

Alexander Shulman photo

After a record time of 25 years as Editor of British Vogue, nobody could be better qualified to explore ‘Why Clothes Matter’ and Alexandra gave us an insight into the fashion world and her approach to editing and content.   

The talk was held in The Tapestry Hall at Boughton House, by kind permission of the Duke of Buccleuch, with all profits going to the Corby branch of Northamptonshire Mind.

A Talk by Matthew Parris about his New Book ‘Fracture’

Front cover of Matthew Parris' new book 'Fracture'.

We were delighted that Matthew Parris agreed to come to Boughton House to talk about his latest book, Fracture, which evolved from his BBC Radio 4 programme Great Lives.   

It was fascinating to learn how many people who go on to lead exceptional lives have had traumatic childhoods.  The cover of the book illustrates some of the people  he sudies in the book and discussed further during the talk.

The talk was held in The Tapestry Hall by kind permission of the Duke of Buccleuch, with all profits going to The Wild Camel Protection Foundation.

Andrew Davies London Walk: In & Around Primrose Hill

View of London from Primrose Hill

Andrew took us to visit Camden, including Primrose Hill, Belsize Park and the stables of Camden Market.  We were given an insight into the history of the area and explored some of the elegant squares and terraces including Gloucester Crescent, which has been the home to many artists, writers and intellectuals, including Alan Bennett, whose front garden once became the home of ‘The Lady in the Van’.


Kingston Bagpuize House & Milton Manor

A visit to two very special privately owned houses in Oxfordshire.

Kingston Bagpuize House
Kingston Bagpuize House

Kingston Bagpuize House is set in the Vale of the White Horse and surrounded by its beautiful garden and parkland. The owner, Virginia Grant, very kindly agreed to guide us around her home on a private tour.

The roots of Kingston Bagpuize House go back to at least the 11th century and the present house is thought to have been built in the 1660’s although largely remodelled in the early 1700’s.

Milton Manor
Milton Manor

Milton Manor, the home of Anthony Mockler-Barrett, was originally built to a design of Inigo Jones at the time of the Restoration with the two most spectacular rooms in the house, the Strawberry Hill Gothic Library and the Gothic chapel, being added by Bryant Barrett.

The house was requisitioned by the RAF during the War and for some years after stood empty until Anthony’s mother Marjorie lovingly restored it together with the fascinating contents. The House was the subject of a Country Life BBC2 programme in 2016.


Private Visit to Radbourne Hall

Radbourne Hall

We were delighted to be given the opportunity to have a private tour of Radbourne Hall, a splendid Palladian house which had recently undergone a major restoration, winning the prestigious Historic Houses Restoration Award in 2021. 

Andrew Davies London Walk – Chelsea

The Royal Hospital, Chelsea

In the Middle Ages Chelsea was originally a tiny fishing village some miles from the town of London.  By the 16th century, however, it had become a fashionable place for rich people to live.

Andrew showed us where a Chelsea mob smashed up Oscar Wilde’s house, where John Singer Sargent painted his wonderful portraits, the former residences of Thomas Carlyle, George Eliot, Rossetti, Bram Stoker, Mick and Keith of the Stones and of Mrs. Thatcher.  Although familiar with Chelsea we saw things we’d never noticed before and learned a lot we didn’t know.

Traitor King – A talk by Andrew Lownie

Cover of the book entitled 'Traitor King' by author Andrew Lownie

Andrew Lownie came to Boughton House and gave a talk based on his Sunday Times top ten bestselling biography, Traitor King, which draws on hitherto unexplored archives from around the world to uncover the dramatic world of the Windsors post-abdication.  

The talk was held in the Tapestry Hall, by kind permission of the Duke of Buccleuch, with all profits going to the Alfred East Gallery, Kettering.

Andrew Davies London Walk 2022

A view of Big Ben from Westminster Bridge

After two years, we were extremely pleased to be able, once again, to join up with Andrew Davies for one of his fascinating London walks and this year we chose to go to Westminster.  Andrew picked out a few of his favourite points of interest: Georgian mews nestling alongside corporate glass, a Byzantine cathedral rubbing shoulders with the Edwardian baroque of the Middlesex Guildhall (now the Supreme Court), historic St. Margaret’s Church, Westminster School, St. John’s Church in Smith Square, and a Victorian Gothic drinking fountain boasting fine views of the Thames.

The Jockey Club Rooms & National Horse Racing Museum

Bronze statue of Hyperion at the Jockey Club Rooms, Newkarket

We enjoyed a very entertaining day at Newmarket where Christopher Tregoning, a former Trustee of the National Horseracing Museum and Ben Hanbury, the former trainer, and now Keeper of the Jockey Club Collection, very kindly agreed to be our guides.

Our visit included a tour of the Jockey Club Rooms to see one of the finest collections of equine art and racing artefacts in the world.  This was followed by a visit to Palace House and lunch in the Museum Tack Room Restaurant.  We then visited the Rothschild Yard, built in 1930 for Leopold Rothschild and now the flagship home for the retraining of racehorses before moving on to the Museum Galleries in the Trainers House and King’s Yard Galleries. 


Visit to Goadby Marwood Hall & Gardens

Goadby Marwood Hall

We were delighted to be allowed to visit this beautiful Hall and gardens particularly as this was the first outing we had been able to plan since our visit to Blenheim Palace in February 2020.

The house has been beautifully restored by the Hon. Victoria Watson and her husband, Harry Westropp and they have recreated the gardens, including a chain of five lakes over a ten acre area and several interconnected walled gardens.

Let’s Misbehave! Blenheim Palace in the 1920s

Blenheim Palace


We visited Blenheim Palace with Hugo Vickers, who gave a talk in the Spencer Churchill Room on the exhibition ‘Let’s Misbehave’ – Blenheim Palace in the 1920’s.

Hugo then acted as our guide around the exhibition which gave an in-depth portrayal of this colourful decade through the eyes of the 9th Duke of Marlborough and Gladys Deacon.   The exhibition showcased their lavish lifestyle and exuberant house parties, and featured works by artists and sculptors as eclectic as Boldini, Cecil Beaton, Jacob Epstein and Duncan Grant.

Andrew Davies London Walk 2019

This year Andrew Davies took us on a tour of Bermondsey, an area steeped in history, south of the river Thames.

Once tired and forgotten, the area now boasts many examples of beautifully converted Victorian buildings, trendy food markets, art galleries and a textile museum founded by Zandra Rhodes.

Visit to Wollaton Hall, Nottingham

Wollaton Hall, Nottingham

We organised a visit to Wollaton Hall, a splendid Elizabethan house, designed by Robert Smythson. Built in 1588 it was home of the Willoughby family until purchased by Nottingham Council in 1925.

Dominating the lower floors is the original Elizabethan great hall, three storeys high with a stone screen at one end. The hall’s gallery contains Nottinghamshire’s oldest pipe organ, probably dating from the 17th century.  Part of the Hall also houses a natural history museum with a collection of over 750,000 objects, the second largest in the country after London’s Natural History Museum.


An Evening with Adam Zamoyski

Adam ZamoyskiThe celebrated historian and best selling author Adam Zamoyski came to Boughton House to give an entertaining and fascinating talk based on his recently published book ‘Napoleon, The Man Behind the Myth’.

The talk was held in the Tapestry Room at Boughton House, by kind permission of the Duke of Buccleuch, and all proceeds from the evening have been donated to the Northamptonshire Community Foundation, High Sheriff’s Initiative Fund.  The fund supports voluntary organisations in Northamptonshire that provide opportunities and engagement for young people.

Visit to Cirencester Park & The Gardens at Daglingworth House

Cirencester Park

Cirencester Park

The house and gardens at Cirencester Park are seldom open to visitors and we are very grateful to Lady Bathurst for allowing us a private visit, and for guiding us around her beautiful home.

Daglingworth House

On the same day David and Etta Howard also very kindly allowed us to visit the wonderful gardens they have created at nearby Daglingworth House.  Everyone very much enjoyed the refreshments and guided tour around the gardens.

Talk by Writer & Broadcaster Hugo Vickers

Book Cover - The Quest for Queen MaryThe writer and broadcaster Hugo Vickers gave a talk based on ‘The Quest for Queen Mary‘ a book he edited, using notes and extracts from the diaries of James Pope-Hennessy.

Described by Max Hastings in The Sunday Times as:  ‘Arguably the most riotously funny volume published this year’.         

The talk was held in the Tapestry Room at Boughton House, by kind permission of the Duke of Buccleuch.

All profits from this talk have been donated to Cransley Hospice.

Visit to Kettle’s Yard Art Gallery, Cambridge

We arranged a private visit to Kettle’s Yard, a unique House and Gallery that contains an impressive collection of 20th Century Art, with works by Joan Miro, Ben and Winifred Nicholson, Brancusi, Barbara Hepworth and many more.  Acquired by Jim Ede (curator at the Tate Gallery during the 1920’s and 30’s) and his wife Helen, the art is arranged alongside an idiosyncratic collection of glass, china, wood and stone which as a whole make up the unique collection of Kettle’s Yard.

Andrew Nairne, the Director, and formerly Director of Modern Art, Oxford, very kindly gave a short introductory talk before being on hand in the Galleries to answer our questions.

In recent years 11 million pounds has been spent in building a new Gallery, where, at the time of our visit, there was an exhibition of work by Richard Pousette-Dart, an abstract expressionist working in New York in 1940.  Andrew very kindly gave a short talk on this exhibition.

Visit to Buscot Park, Faringdon

Lord and Lady Faringdon very kindly allowed us a private visit to their magnificent late 18th century house at Faringdon.  A day was not really time enough to discover all that Buscot has to offer, from the quixotic 1990’s frescos in the tea rooms to the legendary art collection.

Buscot Park Water Gardens

Over the last 110 years, with the inspiration of the family, the garden has evolved into its present gloriously eclectic mix of the four seasons walled gardens, the Harold Peto Italianate water gardens, topiary and statuary, including replicas of the Chinese Terracotta Army.

Visit to The Garden at The Dower House – Melbourne, Derbyshire

The Garden at The Dower House

We are grateful to Griselda and William Kerr for allowing us to explore their garden at The Dower House.  Covering about 1½ acres overlooking Melbourne Pool, it is an inspiration for those wanting to start a garden from scratch.

After Lunch William Kerr very kindly accompanied us on a visit to two outstanding local churches:  St Michael with St Mary, one of the finest Norman churches in the country, and St Mary and St Hardulph,  set like a lighthouse on an island at low tide, at Breedon on the Hill.

Griselda’s book The Apprehensive Gardener will be published by Pimpernel Press in May 2019.