History in the Making

An Historian’s 2019 London History Plans

I don’t think that anyone will be shocked to read that the large majority of my trip will be related to history. Fashion history, royal history, architectural history, all kinds of history, and that is the way I like it! It may bore some people, but to spend an afternoon walking through a museum or taking in a cathedral can’t be beat for me. I thankfully have seen a fair amount of London history already, but of course there is always more to be found! These are my London history plans as of right now, as the trip is really shaping up…

2019 London History Plans

Not all of my trip will be in London, but I’m hoping to spend 6 days out of my trip in London itself. I know that some people get fed up with how busy London is, but I could spend the rest of my days happily getting lost in London’s history. I still need to finagle what I’m doing on which day, but I’ve got definite plans!

Victoria and Albert Museum

As I already chatted about, I am thrilled to be spending the day with Hisdoryan wandering around Dior’s gorgeous creations at the Victoria and Albert Museum! I’ve not been to the V&A before, so I’m quite excited to see everything. I mean, of course Dior will be the main focus of that visit but I’m thrilled to see the Embroidery, Fashion, and Theatre sections as well if we have time. Victoria and Albert are not my favourite royals by a long shot, but I am grateful for this museum that they’ve established. And although the Dior exhibition is on the more expensive end of the spectrum (£20 for a ticket), the rest of the V&A is free! (Even though I lived in Dublin, as a North American, free museums are still a novelty…)

                                           Via Victoria and Albert Museum

Kensington Palace

I go to Kensington Palace every time I go to London. Yes, that is £20 every time I go, but it is totally worth- the Historic Royal Palaces do a fantastic job with exhibitions. They are creative and intelligent and interactive and engaging, and I am totally happy to see them same exhibitions plus a new one when I go. The eighteen chairs for Queen Anne’s eighteen lost children is still one of the most striking representations of history that I’ve ever seen! I am hoping to see the Diana, Princess of Wales, fashion exhibition before it ends on 17 Feb, wish me luck. (And of course, back to the Queen’s and King’s Apartments to take more photos! Finally, to start using my new camera…) And wandering around Kensington Gardens doesn’t hurt, as well. The sunken gardens are always gorgeous, and it is a huge open park where you can see more dogs than you know what to do with. (And of course be on the lookout for a Cambridge sighting!)

17 chairs representing Queen Annes lost children

Banqueting House

Banqueting House is a rather unassuming Historic Royal Palaces property- you can walk by it and not know that it is a former royal venue. It looks like many of the other buildings surrounding it in Whitehall. However, it is one of the only surviving banqueting houses of the period, and the only surviving portion of the Palace of Whitehall. (Out of all of the lost palaces, Whitehall is certainly the saddest palace to me- all of the history that would have happened there!!) This will be a faster stop, but I very much plan on spending an hour or two taking in the House and imagining all of the events that would have happened there (including, sadly, the execution of Charles I…)! This is a great stop for anyone on a budget- if you want to see one of the Historic Royal Palace properties but don’t want to pay an excessive amount, Banqueting House is only £6.

                                                       Via Historic Royal Palaces

Walking Tour

I follow a whole host of London accounts on Instagram, but Look Up London has to be my favourite! Katie runs walking tours of London on the weekends, and then also offers bespoke tours during the week. Although it is on the pricier end for a walking tour at £15, I am totally going to splurge and do one! She specialises in showing you the historical side of London, especially that which is above your eyes. I’m just waiting to see which tours she will be offering while I’m there so I can decide which to do! (I also plan on doing a walking tour of Bath, but I’m still debating on which.). I’m hoping it happens to be the Covent Garden tour….

Sidenote: if you know of any good historical walking tours in London, Cambridge, or Bath (preferably free), please send their links my way! I’ve some ideas of tours to do there, but I’m not set on anything yet!

Sass and Belle shop at Covent Garden, London, UK

Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace

Hisdoryan and I will also be heading to the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace to take in a fascinating exhibition on the Romanovs, including several notable tiaras and pieces of jewellery! I’ve accepted that I will most likely never be able to tour Buck House itself. I can’t see myself visiting during the 6 weeks that it is open for tours, given that they also happened to be the busiest times for tourists in the year. However, I can wander the Galleries and take in some gorgeous tiaras while I’m at it. I wasn’t able to visit the Queen’s Galleries at Holyrood when I was there, so I knew that I had to take the opportunity now! Also, given that I probably won’t ever make it all the way to the Hermitage museum myself, I will soak up all of the Romanov history possible here while I can.

Russia, Royalty, and the Romanovs exhibition at the Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace

Overall, I’m pretty happy to see everything coming together. I don’t travel very often, so I’m thrilled that everything is working out and fitting like a perfect puzzle! I will also be sharing my Bath and Cambridge plans in the next month or so, but those are still very much up in the air. (Much research to do now!!)

What is your favourite piece of London history? And if you have any hidden history recommendations for London, please let me know!

The Historian
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12 thoughts on “An Historian’s 2019 London History Plans”

  • This sounds like a great itinerary! I love going on walking tours. My husband and I actually like the first thing we do in a new city to be a walking tour; I feel like it gives you a great basis for the rest of your stay. We definitely notice way more things after a local tour guide has pointed out stories and history about the place we’re staying. I’ve been to London numerous times but the only walking tour I did was a Jack the Ripper Tour, which actually included a lot of history that I didn’t know anything about. I hadn’t really known much about Jack the Ripper, either, but that tour sure changed that! *shudder* I even had a ghostly experience while on the tour–something touched my arm and there was no way it could have been a person. It wasn’t my first paranormal encounter, so I’m pretty sure it was a ghost. Perhaps one of Jack the Ripper’s victims, since we were just outside the house where the last one was found? There’s some history for you! 😉 lol. Anyway, I can’t wait to see all your photos and read your posts about your London trip in a few months!

    If you can away to the countryside, about an hour outside of London, I recommend going to the John Milton Cottage in Chalfont St Giles. It’s situated at the edge of a beautiful little village (not much to do there, so don’t go early to explore; you’ll be very bored in about 10 minutes!), and you can walk through the cottage where Milton wrote Paradise Lost. It was a good history tour, and in the spring, you can tour the gardens, too. Website: https://www.miltonscottage.org/ The village of Amersham is about 10 minutes away by cab, and that’s a cute town for shopping, dining, and some history as well. The King’s Arms Hotel (where I stayed) is really old and has been featured in numerous movies. They were actually filming MY COUSIN RACHEL when I was there. (Rachel Weisz looked right at me. It was A Moment.)

    • I’ve done a ton of walking tours, but I will admit that I am usually let down by them. Because I do so much research before I go somewhere, I find that I rarely learn anything new (even when they promise that they will tell you things that you’ve never heard before…) Still I am wiling to give this one a go! This is either my ninth or tenth trip to London, so if I learn even a few new facts about London, I will be happy 🙂 And I’m a huge scared-y pants, and would definitely have bolted then and there haha. Everyone always says they want to be at Hampton Court at night to see the ghost of Catherine Howard pleading for her life. Ummmmmm, NO THANK YOU.

      I will be staying with my cousin outside of London, near St Albans, so we tend to do some country wandering as well!! I also have to guiltily admit that after studying Paradise Lost not twice but three times, I’ve grown to hate it 🙁 AP teachers really need to touch base with university profs, because there is so much overlap and it leads to people like me getting bored with otherwise fantastic works. Still, I’m going to see if the cottage is possible on this trip! (If I don’t have to read PL again, I’m good haha.) And I haven’t seen My Cousin Rachel buuuuut I’m totally jealous that you say Rachel Weisz in person- HER STYLE!!!!!

  • These sound like great plans! I love the Globe Theatre and another place of London History I want to visit one day is the Churchill War Rooms.

    Sounds like your trip is really coming together. I will definitely try and meet up with you while you’re here 🙂

    • We absolutely must meet up!! Let me know your work schedule closer to, and we can arrange it!!

      I’m a terrible historian with no interest in modern history (aside from the Royals haha), but I do want to see the Globe! I’m trying to figure out right now if it is possible budget-wise and time-wise, but I’ve been dying to see it for ages. (I’m not fussed about seeing an actual play there, I just want a tour haha.)

  • So we just got back from a week in London. I would recommend two fairly overlooked historical options. The Mithraeum Temple. It’s a roman temple actually found under London. It’s free to visit but you have to book tickets in advance because they only allow a few people in at a time. It takes only about an hour to see the whole museum. Second, the Museum of London. History of the city. Very interesting. Also free, although they ask for a donation if you can.

    • Haha, the Temple actually has to be saved for me until I visit London with a specific friend- I promised I would go with them 🙂 I feel like I may end being the person who tries to hop the glass haha. And the Museum of London is a fantastic museum- the medieval London gallery has got to be my favourite. (As someone who has studied a lot of church history, I loved the altar pieces!) It makes me so happy that they make most museums free in the UK and Europe, to encourage people to go. I would always recommend leaving a donation, even if it is only a pound or two (because people work there to maintain it!!), and especially at the Museum of London.

  • It’s all coming together nicely! I’m off into town in less than 2 weeks now to go to the Romanov exhibition at the Science Musem (free, but you still have to book a time slot). It’s only 30 mins on a train for me. I’ve been to St Paul’s Cathedral before – but I do bemoan that you have to pay to go into a church! However, we were fortunate to pick up a leaflet in a train station that offered buy one get one free entry by showing your train ticket. One place that is definitely on my history bucket list is Westminster Abbey 🙂

    • I’ve luckily been to both St Paul’s and Westminster Abbey, and I’m okay with paying, but for £15+, I do wish I had been able to take a few pictures. I have studied so much church history, it would be lovely to have pictures even just for me. Westminster is FASCINATING!!

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