Happy New Year! To all our Chinese citizens, residents and visitors, 3 Days in London wishes you a happy and auspicious new year.
The next cycle of the Chinese New Year starts on 19 February 2015; the Year of the Sheep or Goat.
There are 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac calendar and the Goat comes 8th . According to Chinese astrology, each year (starting from Chinese New Year) is associated with an animal sign, occurring in a 12-year cycle; the animals are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig.
2015 is a year of the Goat.
Each year central London plays host to the Chinese New Year events that take place in Soho, China Town and Trafalgar Square with parades, dragon dancing, fire-crackers, food and lots of colourful costumes, noise and fun!
Be sure to join in the fun in London on 22 February 2015
For more information and details about the event, download the FREE 3 Days in London App
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Another year of the famous Leadenhall Market Pancake Race! Teams of 4 will battle in out in a fantastic display of coordination and speed. Flipping a pancake filled fry pan up and down the market fastest!
Shrove Tuesday marks the last day before Lent. Traditionally a period of abstinence, associated with clearing your cupboards of goods such as sugar, fats and eggs, it’s commonly known as Pancake Day because it represents a good opportunity to use such ingredients ahead of the fasting period.
Pancake Day takes place 47 days before Easter Sunday. Because the date of Easter Sunday is dictated by the cycles of the moon, Pancake Day can occur anytime between February 3 and March 9. The date for 2015 is February 17th.
Have a great time if you go. Be sure to tag me in your photos on instagram
Yes, it’s the 500th birthday of Hampton Court Palace; for such an old lady she’s looking mighty fine.
Hampton Court Palace really is a tale of two palaces; both the Tudor Palace and the younger Baroque Palace. But today’s celebration is of course about Cardinal Thomas Wolsey’s Tudor Palace.
Building at the palace began on 12 February 1515. Sadly, Cardinal Wolsey fell out with Henry VIII at some stage (see Wolf Hall) and Henry acquired the palace for himself (as kings do!) and the palace has since become synonymous with the story of Henry VIII.
We have seen something of Hampton Court and Henry VIII recently on the BBC2’s programme Wolf Hall (which if you haven’t seen it yet, is extraordinary – do watch it on iPlayer catch-up if you can). I can remember the first time I visited Hampton Court Palace back in 2003. My sister and her husband had popped over to London from Dublin for a short visit.
High on the agenda had to be a day at the mighty Tudor Palace. I can still recall the emotion I felt when walking through that gate for the first time; overawed!
We stopped to admire the ten statues of heraldic animals, called the ‘King’s Beasts’, standing on the bridge over the moat that leads to the great gatehouse.
These statues represent the ancestry of King Henry VIII and his third wife Jane Seymour. Strolling through the Great Gate House is a quite surreal feeling, knowing that kings and queens too have walked (or ridden) through those very gates.
The magnificent Tudor building, although just a shadow of it’s former glory, what remains today is surely one of the greatest treasures of the United Kingdom; aeons old – stately, majestic, imperial, amazing, extraordinary and that’s just the outside! Step through the Great Gate House; step into a world gone by.
Overawed by the splendour and history, we meandered here, there and everywhere; wandered about up amazingly decorated staircases
through rooms beautifully decorated, gasped at ceilings exquisitely painted with scenes of heaven and royalty,
admired intricately woven tapestries hung when Henry lived here
stepped quietly along corridors once walked by Henry VIII and his many wives,
a glimpse of the Chapel Royal leaves you breathless with wonder at the sheer beauty.
We explored corridors, guard rooms, bedrooms, the kitchen,
the wine cellars, the great hall and wondered at the story of how a young, by all accounts personable, romantic young king, came to be a monstrous tyrant who thought nothing of having his once beloved wife’s head chopped off! Amongst others!
Sadly, at the time we visited we were not allowed to take photos of the interiors but I still remember our sheer awe of the surroundings.
Since that day, things have changed and I have since visited hundreds of times (okay, maybe dozens) and I think I have probably photographed just about every room, staircase and passageway that we have access to, plus a few we don’t normally have access to!
In 1989 the organisation known as Historic Royal Palaces was established, this brought together Hampton Court Palace as well as Tower of London, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace and Banqueting House, all of which are owned by The Queen ‘in right of Crown'; meaning that Her Majesty holds the palaces in Trust for the next monarch and by law cannot sell, lease or otherwise dispose of any interest in the palaces. A recent acquisition in 2014, brought Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland into the HRP stables.
From their website: “On 1 April 1998, Historic Royal Palaces became an independent charity by Royal Charter with a Board of Trustees, receiving no funding from Government or the Crown. Historic Royal Palaces Enterprises Ltd was set up to manage all of the organisation’s trading activities. Most of the contents of the palaces form part of the Royal Collection and are also owned by The Queen in right of Crown. The Director of the Royal Collection and the Keeper of the Privy Purse from the Royal Household sit as Trustees on the Board of Historic Royal Palaces”.
The palaces have truly come alive in the last few years. Today and on just about any day of the week you could bump into Henry VIII or one of his wives walking about the grounds of the great palace,
watch an emmissary from France petition the King in the Great Hall;
a room spanned by a large and sumptuously decorated hammer-beam roof – listen to a debate between courtiers,
admire the great tapestries and overhear the whispers of Ladies in Waiting in the Great Watching Chamber,
you may even get to see a ghost or two slip quietly along the corridors!
In the Buttery, at the start of Henry VIII’s Apartments just before the Great Hall, you will be able to see a film featuring all six of Henry’s wives as well as photo portraits of each wife and learn more about their lives… and their eventual fates.
There are a number of re-enactments held every year to celebrate a historical milestone, or extravagant pageants to celebrate one anniversary or another; meet the likes of George I and his wayward son Frederick, admire the ladies of the court as they waft from here to there, spy a Courtier come to deliver news to the King,
visit the newly restored Kitchen Gardens or listen to Handel in the gardens while you watch fireworks.
Visit the Tilt Yard where Henry VIII once jousted,
take a peek at the Tennis Courts where as a virile young man he challenged all.
Be sure to have a look at the Great Vine – planted in 1768 by the celebrated gardener ‘Capability’ Brown, the the world’s largest productive vine,
wander through the Privy Gardens to the riverside walk of the Baroque Palace…a lot younger and way more different to the Tudor Palace, but just as lovely, especially when viewed from the middle of the Privy Garden.
And while exploring gardens on the East Front why not take a ride around the gardens on the Shire Horse Tram.
There are so many amazing nooks and crannies, apartments and rooms to explore that you surely need a whole day to see it all.
There is so much history in Hampton Court Palace that you would need a lifetime to learn it all.
Learn just a bit with a visit to this truly magnificent palace, a visit that will leave you overwhelmed, a visit you would never forget. It certainly ranks on my list of Top 30 London Attractions!
Hampton Court Palace; a royal palace in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames has not been lived in by the British royal family since the 18th century. Originally built for Cardinal Wolsey, a favourite of King Henry VIII, circa 1514. After Wolsey fell from favour in 1529, he gave the palace to the King, who enlarged it. Wolsey died a couple of years later. Along with St. James’s Palace, it is one of only two surviving palaces out of the many owned by Henry VIII.
Hampton Court Palace follows seasonal times; is open from Monday to Sunday in summer from 10am – 6pm (please check their website for other times)
50 years ago today on 30.01.1965, the funeral of The Right Honourable Sir Winston Churchill, Soldier, First Lord of the Admiralty, Politician, Wartime Leader, Statesman, Writer (winning the Nobel Prize in Literature), Artist , voted the Greatest Briton of all time in 2002, took place in London.
He was given a State Funeral (unusual for a commoner) and after the service at St Paul’s Cathedral his coffin was carried along the River Thames on the deck of the Havengore. Today, a small flotilla of boats that included the Havengore leading with a wreath secured in the exact spot where his coffin lay 50 years ago, processed along the River Thames from HMS President at St Katherine Docks to the Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament), recreating the funeral flotilla.
At 13:30 a bio-degradable wreath was cast into the Thames in front of the Palace of Westminster. Churchill was the ‘Father’ of Parliament, an honour bestowed on him due to the length of service in the House.
It was a wonderful event, the small flotilla looked amazing on the river and I was fortunate enough to be on one of the Thames Clippers as part of the flotilla.
A once in a lifetime event and a great opportunity to honour such a great man. Hundreds of people lined the riverbanks and the many bridges we travelled beneath. Tower Bridge was raised in honour, the band played ‘Rule Britannia’ and a Piper on the deck of the Havengore played all along the river till Westminster.
A splendid day in London, as the service drew to a close the clouds came over and it rained…..a fitting end to a poignant event.
The Greatest Hussar of all time who famously said at the beginning of WW2 “We shall never surrender”. R.I.P. Winston Churchill
Certainly one of the most popular attractions in London, Buckingham Palace is the venue for many famous and important events, one of which is the Changing the Guard; pomp and pageantry at it’s finest!
Since 1660, Household Troops have guarded the Sovereign and the Royal Palaces.
The Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace is the process of the new guard exchanging duty with the old guard.
The Queen’s Guard, usually provided by a battalion of the Household Division is divided into two detachments:
Buckingham Palace detachment – responsible for guarding Buckingham Palace
St James’s Palace detachment – responsible for guarding St James’s Palace.
Occasionally the detachment is provided by other units or infantry battalions.
When Guardsmen are on duty, the soldiers, all serving Officers of the British Army, are drawn from one of the five Foot Guards regiments: Coldstream Guards, Grenadier Guards, the Irish Guards, the Scots Guards and the Welsh Guards.
The Queen’s Guard usually consists of Foot Guards in full-dress uniform of red tunics and bearskins. If they have operational commitments, other infantry units would take part instead.
You can recognise the five Regiments by their distinguishing uniforms:
Coldstream Guards: Buttons grouped in twos on scarlet tunic, Garter Star badge worn on collar, red plume worn on right side of bearskin cap.
Grenadier Guards: Buttons grouped singly on scarlet tunic, Grenade badge worn on collar, white plume worn on left side of bearskin cap.
The Irish Guards: Buttons grouped in fours on scarlet tunic, Shamrock badge worn on collar, blue plume worn on right hand side of bearskin cap.
The Scots Guards: Buttons grouped in threes on scarlet tunic, Thistle badge worn on collar, no plume on bearskin cap.
The Welsh Guards: Buttons grouped in fives on scarlet tunic, Leek badge worn on collar, Green and white plume worn on left side of bearskin cap.
The Queen’s Guard is commanded by a Captain (who usually holds the rank of Major).
The ‘Colour’ of the Battalion providing the Guard is carried by a Second Lieutenant (aka the Ensign).
One of the best parts of the handover: a Guards band – with music played ranges from traditional military marches to songs from films and musicals, familiar pop songs and on the relevant occasion; Congratulations for Prince George’s arrival and Happy Birthday for the Queen!!
From time to time units from the commonwealth realms take a turn at Guard Mounting; in May 1998, for the first time since the Coronation in 1953, Canadian soldiers from Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry mounted guard at Buckingham Palace. Guard Mounting takes place outside Buckingham Palace at 11:30am – daily from May to July and alternate dates throughout the rest of the year.