Canada House

Canada House

I’ve wanted to visit Canada House for a while, but the tours were always booked up, until I got lucky and ended up on the website just as the new dates were announced. When the day arrived I made my way to Trafalgar Square and queued up with the others to go inside. You have to show photo ID and put your bag through an airport-style scanner; security is important here, though once you get in the atmosphere is much more relaxed.

Picture showing Canada House when it was two separate buildings
Picture showing Canada House when it was two separate buildings

The building dates back to 1824, when construction first began. It’s the oldest building on Trafalgar Square, with the exception of the church of St Martin-in-the-Fields. Originally two buildings, used by the Union Club and the Royal College of Physicians, it became Canada House in 1923, officially opened in 1925 by King George V.

King George V's throne
King George V’s throne

On display on the ground floor is the throne King George used, as well as a number of ceremonial keys. The various rooms of the house are named after either Canadian provinces or notable Canadian figures, and are often rented out to various groups for events. The rooms are full of Canadian art and it’s for this reason that the tours are really run; there are many impressive pieces to look at.

Canada House

We started on the ground floor and made our way up floor by floor; I absolutely loved the dramatic chandelier that dominates the staircase.

Chandelier

Along the way we saw some incredible artworks, carpets and sculptures, all with a Canadian connection. Finally, we ended up right at the top of the building.

At the top of Canada House
At the top of Canada House

Beehives are kept on the roof and honey is collected from the bees who live here. We were able to go out onto the roof and experience a fantastic view of Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery.

View of Trafalgar Square from the roof of Canada House
View of Trafalgar Square from the roof of Canada House

Canada House is an amazing place to visit and I’d recommend a tour to anyone, whether or not you have a specific interest in Canada.

A piece of art on display in Canada House
A piece of art on display in Canada House

FACTS

Address: Trafalgar Square, SW1Y 5BJ

Website: canadainternational.gc.ca/…visiting_house-canada-maison_visiter

Opening Hours: Selected Friday afternoons at 3.30 pm (tours must be booked in advance)

Prices: Free

A piece of Canadian art
A piece of Canadian art

Restored Almshouse Tour – Geffrye Museum

Statue of Sir Robert Geffrye
Statue of Sir Robert Geffrye

The Geffrye Museum in Hoxton may be closed for refurbishment, but the tours of the restored almshouse are still going ahead. Previously, you had to turn up on the day and hope for the best, but now it’s possible to book in advance for some Tuesday and Wednesday tours. I took the day off work and signed up.

Restored almshouse
Restored almshouse

The almshouses were founded by Sir Robert Geffrye, chair of the Ironmongers’ Company. Most of the almshouses have now been converted into the museum, but one still remains, and has been restored to how it might have looked in the past.

Eighteenth-century room
Eighteenth-century room
Eighteenth-century room
Eighteenth-century room
Eighteenth-century room
Eighteenth-century room

On the ground floor, one room looks as it might have done in the eighteenth century, home to a poor pensioner who may have fallen on hard times. The fireplace is large and functional, as the inhabitant would have had to cook their own meals here. They also had to furnish their own room. The chairs here are very low because when their feet rotted – as they would often do in poorer houses – they were cut off and the rest of the chair preserved. Candles were usually made of tallow – the cheapest substance available – and were kept locked in an iron container so they were not eaten by mice. Pensioners got a pension that was roughly equivalent to £8,000 per annum, but they were subject to various rules and regulations, such as a 7pm curfew (9pm in summer), compulsory attendance at church or chapel, and a ban on swearing, fornication, adultery and other undesirable behaviours.

Nineteenth-century room
Nineteenth-century room
Nineteenth-century room
Nineteenth-century room
Nineteenth-century room
Nineteenth-century room

Upstairs, another room is set out as it might have looked during the late nineteenth century. By this time, some of the rules and regulations had been relaxed, and pensioners enjoyed a larger allowance – equivalent to approx £16,000 per annum. However, the owners of the almshouses looked for a “better class” of inhabitants, who had to prove they could supplement their pensions with a small income. Many inhabitants at this time were retired governesses, respectable spinsters with not much money who had no home of their own, having spent their lives in other peoples’.

These inhabitants did not have to cook their own food – and many did not know how to, anyway. Therefore, the fireplace here is much more decorative. Light was provided by oil lamps, though the flickering nature of the ‘fish-tail’ lamps meant that many people still preferred to read by candlelight. There are many more objects in this room than the other, a testament to the industrial revolution which ensured mass-produced furniture and decorative items were available at lower cost. The room is also filled with photographs, popular with Victorians, and with souvenirs of holidays, such as a booklet about Scarborough.

Adjacent to the two almshouse rooms are two small exhibition spaces, looking at the history of the almshouses. In the basement there is an indoor toilet, installed during the nineteenth century, and a laundry room, though many of the Victorian inhabitants would have sent their laundry out.

The almshouse tour is only £5 (plus booking fee if pre-booked via Eventbrite) and is run by knowledgeable volunteers. While the main Geffrye Museum is closed, it’s well worth checking out.

FACTS

Address: 136 Kingsland Road, London, E2 8EA

Website: geffrye-museum.org.uk/whatson/events/almshouse-tours

Opening Hours: Selected Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays – check website for details

Prices: £5

Lancaster House – Open House London

Lancaster House

As part of the Open House London weekend I visited Lancaster House, a private palace now managed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For many years known as Stafford House, it was the London home of the Dukes of Sutherland between 1830 and 1911, before the lease was bought by Lord Leverhulme. As a Lancastrian, he gave it its present name, and presented it to the nation: first as a home for the London Museum, then as a centre for Government hospitality.

Lancaster House

The House began as York House, home of the Duke of York, brother of George IV. It was begun by architect Benjamin Dean Wyatt, but the Duke soon died and the lease was sold to the second Marquess of Stafford. The Marquess himself, then the Duke of Sutherland, died only a few years later, and the second Duke decided to expand the house to accommodate his growing family. He employed architect Sir Robert Smirke, but Wyatt was still involved with the decoration of the state rooms, leading to a somewhat awkward situation. The decoration was eventually completed by Charles Barry.

Lancaster House

During the nineteenth century Stafford House was a centre of political life, playing the same role to the Whigs as Apsley House (residence of the Duke of Wellington) did to the Tories. The second Duchess, Harriet, was a friend of Queen Victoria and her Mistress of the Robes. Several famous people stayed in the house, notably Garibaldi in 1864, and Chopin in 1848. Nowadays, the house is often let out for filming; it makes a good stand-in for Buckingham Palace, as in Downton Abbey and The King’s Speech.

Lancaster House

I spent some time in the grand entrance hall before the tour began. We were taken around the house, beginning upstairs and later heading to the downstairs rooms. The rooms are ornately decorated and very grand, an appropriate setting for the national and international political meetings that often take place here. Downstairs, I was particularly excited by the library and its built-in bookshelves.

Lancaster House

Lancaster House

Lancaster House

Touring Lancaster House was a fascinating experience, and I’m glad I got the chance to do so.

Places of Worship – Heritage Open Days

Somehow I ended up visiting several places of worship during Heritage Open Days. It made me realise what a variety of history and culture is contained in them.

German Lutheran Church
German Lutheran Church
German Lutheran Church
German Lutheran Church

I started with a visit to St George’s German Lutheran Church in east London on the first Saturday. This church was built in 1762 for the influx of German immigrants during that time. It’s a beautiful, austere church, and there were information boards explaining the history.

St Margaret's of Lothbury
St Margaret’s of Lothbury
St Margaret Lothbury
St Margaret Lothbury

The following week I visited St Margaret Lothbury, which is found in the City. This church was built by Christopher Wren and boasts one of only two screens in the City of London made by English woodworkers.

St Alfege's Church, Greenwich
St Alfege, Greenwich

Next I headed down to Greenwich, to St Alfege’s Church. I’ve been here before to attend concerts, and in fact I got there just in time to enjoy an opera recital before my tour of the crypt – my reason for visiting.

There has been a church on this site for over a thousand years, and the current building by Nicholas Hawksmoor dates from 1718. The crypt was built beneath to store bodies. The floor is higher than it used to be because there are bodies beneath the floor, and other coffins are stored in the bricked-in parts of the crypt.

Entrance to the crypt
Entrance to the crypt

The most famous of these is probably General Wolfe, mentioned in Hamilton by Aaron Burr as the general who “took a bullet in the neck in Quebec”. During World War II, the crypt was used as an air raid shelter for Greenwich locals.

The crypt
The crypt
Vault of General Wolfe
Vault of General Wolfe

The London Fo Guang Shan Temple is not far from Oxford Street. It was established in 1992 and is also known as the International Buddhist Progress Society. It is one of two British branches of the Fo Guang Shan Monastery, Taiwan.

Fo Guang Shan Temple
Fo Guang Shan Temple

The temple is located in a former parish school and Church House of 1868–70 designed by William Butterfield, which is grade II* listed. I got to watch (and sample) a vegetarian cooking demonstration, and then got a tour of the building, including the spaces for meditation and prayer.

St Giles in the Fields
St Giles-in-the-Fields
St Giles in the Fields
St Giles-in-the-Fields

My final visit was to St Giles-in-the-Fields, also known as the Poets Church. Here there was a short theatrical performance, based on the life of Alicia, Duchess of Dudley. Distraught when her husband left her for a younger woman, she resolved to dedicate her life to good works and the education of her five daughters, one of whom is buried in the church. In real life, the Duchess was largely responsible for the rebuilding of the church.

St Giles in the Fields
St Giles-in-the-Fields
Tomb of Alice's daughter
Tomb of Alicia’s daughter

Buried here are poet Andrew Marvell (of To His Coy Mistress fame) and George Chapman, the first translator of Homer’s Iliad into English, referenced in Keats’ On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer. There is also a pulpit formerly used by Charles Wesley.

Plaque to Andrew Marvell
Plaque to Andrew Marvell
Wesley's pulpit
Wesley’s pulpit

Overall, then, a fantastically varied selection of places.

The House Mill – Heritage Open Days

House Mill

As part of the annual Heritage Open Days, I headed to the House Mill, somewhere I’ve been meaning to visit for a while. The Mill has a rich history and I was able to enjoy a fascinating guided tour.

House Mill

History

The House Mill is an important but little-known Grade I listed building on the River Lea in Bromley-by-Bow, part of the Three Mills complex. The original tidal mills here date back to the Domesday book of 1086, and the present structure of the House Mill was built in 1776 by Daniel Bisson (after a fire in 1802 it was quickly rebuilt). It is the world’s largest tidal mill, with four water wheels, and was used to mill grain for gin distilleries.

Miller's House

In 1989 work began to restore the House Mill site, which included the rebuilding of the Miller’s House, which had been demolished in the late 1950s after wartime damage. The façade of the house was rebuilt to the 1763 design, and used original eighteenth-century bricks.

My Visit

I turned up in plenty of time for my tour, and we were taken into the mill by our guide. The building which is now the entrance area and cafe originally used to be the house, which is why there are fireplaces on this side, but not in the mill itself. It was very important not to risk fire with so much grain and wood around, and in fact there was actually a fire in 1802.

Inside the mill

We started at the top of the building, where bags of grain were winched up to begin their journey. The natural pressure of the grain pushed it down chutes to the next floor down, where it was ground down. Eighteenth-century machinery sits alongside nineteenth-century examples so it’s possible to see the difference in process.

Milling equipment

At the bottom of the building, we saw the original wheels used in the tidal mill, sadly falling into ruin now. The mill, as well as all other mills on this site, worked when the tide went out, so that they would all share in its power. Here it’s also possible to see the doors through which carts would drop off their sacks of grain, and the ropes that would take them up to the top of the building.

Wheel

The people who work at the House Mill are trying to raise money to restore the mill, starting with the wheels. If you happen to have a spare £500,000, do send it their way!

View from the back of the mill

FACTS

Address: The Miller’s House, Three Mill Lane, London, E3 3DU

Website: housemill.org.uk

Opening Hours: Guided tours of the mill take place every Sunday from May to October (11am-4pm) and on the first Sundays in March, April and December (11am-3.15pm)

Prices: £4

Kew Palace

Kew Palace
Kew Palace

Recently I paid a visit to Kew Palace as part of a special event. The Palace comes under the care of Historic Royal Palaces, and is the smallest palace in the organisation’s collection. It’s very rare that it is possible to visit on a standalone trip – it is located in the grounds of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, and you can usually only see it as part of a visit there.

Out of the window
Out of the window

History

Kew Palace is the smallest of all the royal palaces. It was originally built as a fashionable mansion for wealthy London silk merchant, Samuel Fortrey, in 1631. The building is often known as the Dutch House, as it was built in a supposedly Dutch style of architecture. Kew and nearby Richmond, as well as the now-defunct White House (of which the kitchens still remain near Kew Palace), were loved by the Georgians, particularly George II and Queen Caroline, followed by George III and his family. Kew Palace, much more intimate and personal than most royal palaces, proved a useful retreat for the king when he suffered from illness.

Kew Palace in its heyday
Kew Palace in its heyday

My Visit

Pumpkins in the kitchen garden
Pumpkins in the kitchen garden

My friend and I met with the other participants at the Elizabeth Gate of Kew Gardens, which is next to the common, and were taken to the Palace. Our first port of call was actually the nearby kitchens, originally a part of the White House.

Inside the kitchens
Inside the kitchens

We drank wine and wandered through the vegetable garden. There were a few interesting things to see in the kitchens, particularly George III’s bath, which was rediscovered a few years ago. George would come over to the kitchens to have his bath in order to save the servants from lugging hot water over to the palace, and I started to picture King George in Hamilton singing one of his songs in the bath.

King George's bath
King George’s bath

Our tour of the palace itself began on the ground floor and encompassed the whole house. We learned about King George, his wife Queen Charlotte and their fifteen (!) children, all but two of whom grew to adulthood. George and Charlotte tried to set a moral example to their subjects, but their children rebelled, the sons gambling, drinking and taking mistresses and the daughters – trapped at home – embarking upon affairs with members of the Royal household.

Inside the Palace
Inside the Palace

The bedrooms of two of the daughters can be found on the top floor, dismantled now but still containing the ancient fireplace that was brought there from (it is believed) Richmond Palace. Charlotte was reluctant to allow her daughters to marry; her attitude  is harsh but somewhat understandable given her husband suffered frequent bouts of illness and madness (probably porphyria) and she was often frightened of him. Charlotte eventually died in the Palace: en route to attend the double wedding of her sons William and Edward, she fell ill and the wedding took place within the Palace, where she died later in 1818.

The attic
The attic

As part of this ‘hidden’ tour we got to explore the attic, formerly the home of the servants and full of nooks and crannies, as well as graffiti left over from the palace’s use as changing rooms in the mid-twentieth century. We also saw the undercroft, originally built in Tudor times with excellent examples of stonework.

The undercroft
The undercroft

The Palace fell into disuse after the death of Queen Charlotte, and Queen Victoria gave it and the nearby Queen Charlotte’s Cottage to Kew Gardens in 1898, to mark her Diamond Jubilee. The Palace has been open to the public ever since, apart from a break in 1996-2006 for refurbishment and restoration.

Nowadays, the Palace is open to Kew Garden visitors during the warmer half of the year. It is also possible to visit on a special Curious Kew evening tour, as I did. The next is due to take place on 20 September 2018. I definitely recommend it as a small but perfectly-formed place to visit.

Kew Palace
Kew Palace

FACTS

Address: Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Richmond, TW9 3AE

Website: hrp.org.uk/kew-palace

Opening Hours: 10.30-7.30 during the summer months

Prices: £16 adults, £14 concessions, £4 children, under-4’s free (prices are for admission to Kew Gardens)

Pope’s Grotto

I can’t even remember where I found out about Pope’s Grotto, but this unique curiosity is well worth visiting and the Pope’s Grotto Preservation Trust, supported by Radnor House School, the owners of this grade 2* listed site, is hoping to repair and conserve it. The grotto is the last remaining part of Alexander Pope’s villa, which he built in 1720 on the banks of the Thames at Twickenham. The villa was demolished in 1808 and the site has been developed numerous times since then – but the grotto still remains.

Entrance to the grotto
Entrance to the grotto

Alexander Pope

Alexander Pope was a 18th century poet whose famous works include The Rape of the Lock; he also translated the Iliad and the Odyssey. While not a household name today, he contributed several popular phrases to the English language, including ‘eternal sunshine of the spotless mind’ (the name of one of my favourite films), ‘fools rush in where angels fear to tread’, and ‘a little learning is a dangerous thing.’

History of the Grotto

In 1719, Pope came to live in Twickenham, demolishing one of the houses on the site to build himself a villa. He decided to build a grotto beneath the house, inspired by the interest in classical mythology that had prompted his translations of Homer. In later years, Pope decided to redesign the grotto as a museum of mineralogy and mining, after a visit to the Hotwell Spa on the banks of the Avon. He sought help and donations from people all over the country, and friends and acquaintances sent material too: Sir Hans Sloane donated two small pieces of basalt from the Giants’ Causeway in Ireland.

The Thames
The Thames seen from above the grotto

Inside the Grotto

Inside, it’s an eerie but fascinating experience. You enter through the school and walk outside onto the terrace, with a great view of the river, before heading down some steps and to the entrance of the grotto. The entrance takes you into a long corridor, extending to the other side of the road, lined with stones and minerals. There is even fossilised wood from the Dropping Well in Knaresborough.

Long corridor
Long corridor

Above the archway is a sign, requisitioned from an unknown location.

Sign above the archway
17th-century sign

On either side of the corridor there are chambers. To the left, one chamber has a statue, possibly of St Catherine or the Virgin Mary, as well as a tree trunk in one corner.

Female statue
Female statue

This tree trunk is supposedly from a willow planted by Pope.

Willow branch
Willow branch

Ammonite casts are placed above the archways on each side.

Ammonite cast
An ammonite cast

I spied lots of different minerals on the walls, but I have no idea what they all are.

Mineral
One of the minerals on the wall of the grotto

The second chamber had a statue of St James the Great, and there were lots of boxes of minerals ready to stick on the walls.

Statue of St James the Great
Statue of St James the Great

Restoration Project

The project began with a pilot to conserve the South Chamber last summer. The full project, for which funds are currently being sought, will involve careful cleaning, replacement of the cement floor, new lighting and sound effects, and a digital interpretation.

Conclusion

Pope’s Grotto is well worth a visit, if you can catch it on an Open Day (there are two more in June, and the site will also be open for free access in September during Open House London weekend). It’s a fascinating curiosity, whether you have an interest in Pope or not.

FACTS

Address: Radnor House Independent School, 21 Cross Deep, Twickenham, TW1 4QG

Website: popesgrotto.org.uk

Opening Times: Check popesgrotto.org.uk/visits/ for details; you can subscribe to the newsletter for information about open dates/times

Prices: £6, £5 for concessions

Old Royal Naval College

Gateway to the ORNC
Gateway to the ORNC

The Old Royal Naval College dominates the centre of Maritime Greenwich, being sited not far from Cutty Sark DLR station and very close to the DLR itself. Some tourists initially mistake it for the National Maritime Museum. The site has a rich history. Greenwich Palace, the birthplace of Mary I and Elizabeth I, originally occupied the site; it was known as the Palace of Placentia. Having fallen into disrepair during the English Civil War, it was demolished in 1694. Designed by Christopher Wren, the buildings were conceived as Greenwich Hospital (established by Mary II), and built between 1696 and 1712. The hospital closed in 1869, and between 1873 and 1998 it was the Royal Naval College, Greenwich.

Old Royal Naval College
Old Royal Naval College

Since 2002 much of the site has been open to the public. I’ve wandered around the grounds frequently, visited a couple of the buildings, and attended concerts, but I decided to take advantage of a free guided tour on the same day as I visited the Discover Greenwich Visitor Centre, which has lots of information about the site.

Monument to Bellot
Monument to Bellot

Our guide took us along the waterfront, pointing out the memorial to Captain Bellot, a Frenchman who perished searching for Franklin in the Arctic (there is a memorial to the Franklin expedition in the Chapel). As the Thames was at low tide, she also pointed out the remains of a pier established by Margaret of Anjou, who originally had the palace built.

Remains of the 15th-century pier
Remains of the 15th-century pier

Of course, you can wander around the grounds yourself, but on a tour you are shown things you probably wouldn’t have noticed, like the spot on which archaeological remains of Greenwich Palace were discovered. Apparently it is forbidden to put too much weight onto the grass, in case the site beneath is damaged. The iron gates by the river are where Nelson’s body was brought on shore for lying in state before he was taken to St Paul’s Cathedral for burial.

Gateway to the Thames
Gateway to the Thames

The tour guide also pointed out just how impressive Christopher Wren’s calculations were: commanded by Queen Mary to ensure the Queen’s House kept it’s view of the river, he ensured the buildings on either side were placed to keep the Queen’s House precisely in the middle.

The Queen's House viewed from the ORNC
The Queen’s House viewed from the ORNC

A statue of George II is also a notable landmark. The statue is made of one single piece of marble and the king is depicted in the guise of a Roman Emperor.

Statue of George II
Statue of George II

Today, the University of Greenwich leases Queen Mary, King William and Queen Anne Courts and Trinity Laban School of Music and Dance occupies King Charles Court. The latter also performs regularly in the beautiful Chapel. We also popped into the Painted Hall, painted between 1707-1726 by Sir James Thornhill. The Hall is currently undergoing restoration, and I was lucky enough to take part in a Painted Hall Ceiling Tour, which takes you up to the ceiling so that you can view the artwork close up.

The Old Royal Naval College is well worth a visit, and there are so many things to do, from learning about history in the Visitor Centre, taking a guided tour, or listening to a concert in the Chapel.

FACTS

Address: King William Walk, Greenwich, London, SE10 9NN

Website: ornc.org

Opening Hours: 10am-5pm

Prices: Free (charges for some concerts and for Painted Hall Ceiling Tours)

The Supreme Court

Supreme Court

Not so long ago I found out that you could book tours of the Supreme Court, which take place on Friday afternoons. I had some holiday to use up, so I booked the day off and booked myself onto a tour. I arrived at Parliament Square in plenty of time, and got through security in time to have a look around the exhibition before going off on my tour.

History

I’d assumed that the Supreme Court had been around for ages, but that isn’t the case at all: in fact, it’s a fairly modern institution. It was established in 2009, taking over judicial authority from the House of Lords. It is the final court of appeal for all United Kingdom civil cases, and criminal cases from England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The most famous case in its short history occurred last year, when Gina Miller and other campaigners challenged the government, arguing that Parliament should have a vote on Article 50. The public are able to watch cases as they are heard; this particular case was the busiest ever, with queues forming outside the building.

The Supreme Court is housed in what was once the Middlesex Guildhall, designed by J. S. Gibson in 1912-1913. It is Grade II* listed, but has been renovated to fit in with what it’s now used for.

Exhibition

This is housed in the basement, in an area which used to be taken up by prisoners’ cells when the building was a Crown Court. It has information about the history and role of the Supreme Court, as well as the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, and how the two courts fit into the legal systems of the countries they serve.

Tour

The tour took us round all three courtrooms and the library. The first courtroom is the largest and in some ways the grandest; it still has many of the original features. The second is very different, with a much more modern appearance. Curtains and carpets have been designed specially for the building, showcasing the emblem which is displayed on the wall. This reflects the four nations which make up the United Kingdom: a rose for England, a thistle for Scotland, leek leaves for Wales and a flax flower for Northern Ireland.

Courtroom 1
Courtroom 1
Courtroom 1
Courtroom 1
Supreme Court logo
Supreme Court logo
Courtroom 2
Courtroom 2

The third courtroom is generally reserved for the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which is the highest court of appeal for many independent Commonwealth nations or Crown dependencies which are too small to have their own.

Courtroom 3
Courtroom 3
Courtroom 3
Courtroom 3

The library is impressive, with a large array of books and walls covered with quotes relevant to law.

Library
Library
Library
Library

I really enjoyed my tour, and would definitely recommend it.

FACTS

Address: Parliament Square, Little George Street, Westminster, London, SW1P 3BD

Website: supremecourt.uk

Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 9.30-4.30. Tours take place on Fridays.

Price: Entry free; tours £7 (£5 concessions)

Garrick’s Temple to Shakespeare – Open House London

Garrick's Temple to Shakespeare
Garrick’s Temple to Shakespeare

On the Sunday of the Open House London weekend, I headed south again to visit Garrick’s Temple to Shakespeare, created by David Garrick for his hero William Shakespeare. Born in Hereford and raised in Lichfield, Garrick moved to London and became the most well-known and acclaimed actor of the age. In 1754 he purchased Hampton House, now Garrick’s Villa, overlooking the Thames at Hampton.

Garrick's Villa
Garrick’s Villa

His riverside garden was laid out by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, and this octagonal Palladian temple was built in 1756. The temple has a dome and eight Ionic columns, making it similar in style to the temple at Chiswick House.

Bust of Garrick
Bust of Garrick

From the temple, Garrick gave money and cakes to poor children every year on May Day. He also used it for entertaining friends such as Dr Johnson, as well as for writing and storing relics to Shakespeare. Eventually he had a tunnel constructed to enable him to reach the temple from his house.

Inside the temple
Inside the temple

In 1758 Garrick commissioned a life-size marble statue of Shakespeare from the eminent Huguenot sculptor, Louis François Roubiliac *Garrick may have posed for this himself). The original version had ‘veins’ across the face, a characteristic of the marble; Garrick insisted the head was replaced. The original statue is now in the British Library; this version was given to the Trust by the British Museum.

Shakespeare sculpture
Shakespeare sculpture

The temple eventually fell into disrepair until the late 20th century when the local council and several charities raised funds to restore the building and lay out the gardens again. It is now managed by the Garrick’s Temple to Shakespeare Trust, and contains copies of paintings from major galleries plus original 18th century prints and engravings about Garrick. It’s open on Sunday afternoons throughout the summer months and occasionally you can attend concerts here, too.

Garrick on stage
Garrick on stage

FACTS

Address: Hampton, Middlesex, TW12 2EJ

Website: garrickstemple.org.uk

Opening Hours: Sundays 2-5 March-Oct (check the website for exact dates/times)

Price: Free