Exhibition Review: Gainsborough’s Family Album at the National Portrait Gallery from 22 November 2018 to 3 February 2019


The National Portrait Gallery bring together for the first time all twelve surviving portraits of Thomas Gainsborough’s daughters in a major new exhibition entitled Gainsborough’s Family Album. The exhibition features over fifty works from public and private collections across the world and include a number of works that have never been on public display in the UK.

Thomas Gainsborough, (1727–88) was a founding member of the Royal Academy and is considered one of Britain’s most important eighteenth-century portraitist, best known for his paintings of Mr and Mrs Andrews (c. 1748–1750), The Morning Walk, Portrait of Mr and Mrs William Hallett (1785), Her Grace, Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire (1787), Mrs. Sarah Siddons (1785) and The Blue Boy (1779).

Despite his success as a portraitist, Gainsborough’s first love was landscape, in the exhibition is one of his best known landscape works, The Harvest Wagon painted around 1767.

Although Gainsborough is known for his formal portraits, this exhibition explore another side to his works which is portraits of his family members. These include pictures of himself, his father, his wife, his daughters, two sisters and two brothers, a brother-in-law, two nephews, one niece, a few more distant relatives and his dogs.

The highlight of the exhibition is Gainsborough’s paintings of his daughters which range from The Artist’s Daughters chasing a Butterfly (c.1756) and The Artist’s Daughters with a Cat, (c.1760-1) to the grand full-length portrait of Mary and Margaret Gainsborough as fashionable young women (c.1774).

The exhibition also features an oval portrait by Thomas Gainsborough of his nephew and apprentice, Gainsborough Dupont which has recently been cleaned by the National Portrait Gallery conservation studios. The exhibition is the first time in over 100 years, this painting has been lent from its home at Waddesdon Manor.

The Gainsborough’s Family Album exhibition charts Gainsborough’s career from his early life in Suffolk to considerable success in Bath and finally finding his fame and fortune in London. Unusually, Gainsborough used portraits to show his own journey but also of his wife and daughters.

This exhibition is fascinating on a number of levels, Gainsborough in his pictures of his daughters as children, shows a delicate and tenderness for his subject that is often missing in his formal portraits. He also has more freedom is setting the pictures in a number of landscapes and backgrounds. The exhibition seems to confirm that Gainsborough wanted a record of his kinship network for posterity and undertook much of the work himself. Many artists would have made drawings of their family network but very few would have undertaken to paint so many family portraits.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information, visit the National Portrait Gallery website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide.com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in 2014 , we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
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The Royal Opera House Cinema Festival – 3 December 2018 to 6 January 2019

The Royal Opera House will launch its first ever Cinema Festival on Monday 3 December in the newly refurbished Linbury Theatre. Children can go free to all Saturday and Sunday cinema matinée performances and to The Nutcracker on 3 December. The Cinema Festival will feature 21 titles that celebrate the breadth of ballet and opera repertory shown in cinemas since the Royal Opera House’s first broadcast ten years ago.

Specially curated, free-for-children screenings include The Nutcracker live (3 December, 7.15pm), La Fille mal gardée (8 December, 2pm), The Magic Flute (9 December, 4pm), Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (15 December, 2pm), Cendrillon (16 December, 4pm), both Anthony Dowell’s and Liam Scarlett’s versions of Swan Lake (22 December, 2pm, and 5 January, 2pm, respectively), The Winter’s Tale (23 December, 4pm) and Romeo and Juliet (29 December, 2pm). Richard Jones’s staging of La bohème (30 December, 4pm) and Giselle which brings the cinema festival to an end on 6 January at 4pm.

Further highlights include The Royal Ballet’s Sylvia (7 December, 7pm, featuring former Royal Ballet Principal Darcey Bussell and Guest Artist Roberto Bolle), John Copley’s acclaimed Royal Opera production of La bohème (8 December, 7pm, featuring Hibla Gerzmava and Teodor Ilincai), La traviata featuring soprano Renée Fleming and tenor Joseph Calleja (15 December, 7pm), Otello (21 December, 7pm, featuring German tenor Jonas Kaufmann) and Manon, featuring current Royal Ballet Principals Sarah Lamb and Vadim Muntagirov (28 December, 7pm).

Cinema festival audiences will be the first visitors to enjoy the brand new, state-of-the-art Linbury Theatre, which opens in January 2019.

Tickets cost £10-£17 for adults and are free for children aged 5 to 15 years old for The Nutcracker on 3 December and all Saturday and Sunday matinee performances. There is a maximum of two children with any one adult.

For more information and tickets , visit the Royal Opera House website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
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Days Out from London : Windsor

One of the most popular days out from London is Windsor which is a historic market town in Berkshire and is known as the site of Windsor Castle, one of the official residences of the British Royal Family.

The town is situated 21 miles (34 km) west of the centre of London and is easily reached by train, car or coach. Windsor has two railway stations, Windsor & Eton Central railway station connecting which connects via Slough to express trains to London Paddington and to Reading and Windsor & Eton Riverside station provides a service to London Waterloo. Windsor has frequent bus services to/from London Heathrow Airport and Victoria Coach Station in central London.

Because Windsor has been a popular tourist attraction for a long time there is a well-developed tourist infrastructure with a several hotels, bars and restaurants. Various boat trips operate on the River Thames which winds its way through creating attractive riverside walks.  Windsor is linked to the town of Eton which is on the opposite bank of the River Thames by Windsor Bridge.

Windsor Castle has been an important site for centuries, it was William the Conqueror who chose the site for Windsor Castle around 1070. The Castle was originally constructed to guard the approach to London. In the late 12th century, Henry II began rebuild the castle and Edward III in the 1350s spent a fortune to transform the castle into a palace

Charles II, who reclaimed his throne in 1660, modernised the royal apartments with expensive textiles and magnificent tapestries. Queen Victoria was especially fond of Windsor Castle and added a new private chapel in the 1840s.

One of the most dramatic events at the castle was more recent, when in 1992 a fire broke out in Queen Victoria’s private chapel destroying a number of areas in the building. The long process of repair and restoration began immediately and was completed within five years.  

Although Windsor Castle is the main attraction, Windsor does also boast another major attraction with Legoland Windsor. The attraction is the only Legoland park in the United Kingdom and is one of the largest Legoland park in the world.  

Like many tourist towns, there are plenty of gift shops and shops, one of the main shopping areas is the Windsor Royal Shopping arcade which is  inside Windsor & Eton Central railway station.

Windsor attracts crowds of tourists who just stay for the day, however it has plenty of attractions and provides a good base to explore the surrounding area if you would to stay for a few days.

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in 2014, we attract thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
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Landseer’s The Monarch of the Glen at the National Gallery – 28th November 2018 to 3rd February 2019


One of the world’s best known animal paintings, Edwin Landseer’s The Monarch of the Glen, will be displayed at the National Gallery this autumn for the first time since 1851. The large painting of a stag, which is also on show for the first time in London since 1983, has been loaned by the National Galleries of Scotland, who acquired the work in 2017 following a public fundraising appeal. The picture will be the centrepiece of a free exhibition that will reveal the close connections between Landseer (1802-73) and the National Gallery.

While The Monarch of the Glen is usually associated with Scotland, it is less well-known that it was originally commissioned for the Houses of Parliament in Westminster. Sir Charles Eastlake, the Gallery’s second Keeper and later first Director, was closely involved in this project. The painting was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1851, which was then housed in the National Gallery building. Landseer designed the lions for Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square and the exhibition will also include paintings and drawings connected with these famous sculptures. 

As well as highlighting the artist’s close relationship to Queen Victoria, whom he tutored in etching and accompanied to the Scottish Highlands, Landseer’s The Monarch of the Glen will include other paintings and drawings by Landseer of Highland scenes showing how he developed his distinctive approach to the representation of the stag as hero.  

A representation of the painting made in 1966 by former National Gallery Associate Artist Sir Peter Blake will provide a living artist’s response highlighting The Monarch of the Glen’s enduring appeal.  

For more information, visit the National Gallery website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in 2014, we attract thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
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Review: Bank of England Museum

The Bank of England stands behind high walls in the City of London and is often ignored by visitors, however it has a fascinating history. The Bank of England has played a unique role in British history for over 300 years, it is the central bank of the United Kingdom which was established in 1694. The bank also plays an important role in setting monetary policy and has a monopoly on the issue of banknotes in England and Wales and regulates the issue of banknotes by banks in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

To find out more about the bank, visitors can enter The Bank of England Museum which has a selection of displays and exhibits which cover the history of the Bank, its buildings, and the role the bank has played more than 300 years.

The first room is The Stock Office which is a reconstruction of one of the bank’s eighteenth-century offices built by Sir John Soane, who was the Bank’s architect from 1788 to 1833.

Displays show how the bank is involved in monetary policy, tries to ensure financial stability by identifying and monitoring risks in the financial system and looks at the Bank of England’s architecture from Sir John Soane to Herbert Baker who rebuilt and expanded the Bank in the 1930s. The current bank building has seven floors above ground and three floors below.

The next section entitled The Early Years 1694 – 1800 explores the first 100 or so years of the Bank of England. The bank was created as a response to the need to raise money at the time of war with France. The Bank was located in rented buildings for its first 40 years, but moved to Threadneedle Street in 1734.

One of the oldest pieces of furniture in the Bank, dating from approximately 1700 is a great iron chest that was the forerunners of modern safes. Visitors can also see a £1 million pound note used for internal accounting in the 18th century. It was in the 18th century that The Bank of England’s got its famous nickname, ‘The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street’, which originated from a 1797 cartoon by the satirist James Gillray.

The centre of the museum is the The Rotunda which features displays for the period 1800 to 1946. The statues around the Rotunda, called caryatids, were original features of Sir John Soane’s bank. They were salvaged for use in the new building.

The bank played an important role during the interwar years, managing the country’s gold and foreign exchange reserves and operating monetary policy, this was formalised when the bank was nationalised in 1946.

A remarkable little known fact is that The Bank of England stores around 400,000 gold bars in its vaults. The gold stored in the vaults doesn’t actually belong to the Bank of England. Instead, the Bank stores gold on behalf of the UK Treasury, other governments and central banks around the world, and many other financial institutions.

If you have ever wondered what it is like to handle genuine bar of gold, you can with a bar weighing 13kg (28lb) available for visitors to lift up in a small box.

The Banknote Gallery looks at the origins of paper money in ancient China and how banknotes have changed from the seventeenth century to the present day. The problem with forgeries is discussed and you can look at the complex designs that make modern banknotes more difficult to counterfeit. There is a section on the cutting-edge technology used to create the Bank of England’s newest polymer banknotes.

As well as the permanent displays, the museum has a series of temporary exhibitions taking place throughout the year.

The Bank of England Museum is located within the Bank of England itself and is a fascinating look at this often mysterious institution. The museum is relatively small but full of interesting exhibits which provide some background to the role of the bank in the past and in the modern world.

Admission is free, but all visitors will need to go through airport style security to enter the museum, the museum entrance is on Bartholomew Lane.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information and tickets, visit the Bank of England website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
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The Museum of London Frost Fair from 19 November 2018 – 6 January 2019

The Museum of London will celebrate a unique London tradition that last took place over 200 years ago. The museum will become an immense frost fair as it begins a whole season of special events celebrating a traditional Christmas in the capital.

Between 1309 and 1814, the Thames would freeze on a regular basis; in that time at least seven frost fairs assembled on the ice. As the Thames froze, river traders and nearby businesses would take to the ice to sell their wares, creating a festival that would last until the ice thawed. Thames Watermen converted their boats into temporary stages and the frozen Thames played host to pubs, food stalls, coffee shops, souvenir stands and puppet shows. Printing presses produced souvenir publications and there were even rumours of an elephant being brought on to the frozen river near Blackfriars Bridge.

The water of the Thames was able to freeze as temperatures were much lower, but this was also due to the fact that the river flowed much more slowly than it does today. Since 1831, when the old London Bridge resting on nineteen solid piers was demolished and replaced with a new bridge with just five arches, the river has flowed too quickly to freeze. The Thames frost fair is a spectacle that will probably never happen again.

Visitors will create Christmas crafts and enjoy free performances of traditional festive tales, and the museum’s beloved Victorian Santa’s grotto will return, with children meeting Father Christmas and receiving a traditional toy, amidst a Victorian Street scene. The Museum of London frost fair runs from 19 November 2018 – 6 January 2019.

Museum of London Christmas Events

All events are free unless stated

Santa’s Victorian Grotto Dates: Sat 1–Sun 23 December 2018 Take a stroll through a twinkling Victorian Walk, transformed with festive decorations and the sound of carols, and discover Santa in his secret grotto. Tell Santa your Christmas wishes and receive a special gift. You can even have a photo taken to capture the moment. Book in advance, £10 (includes gift). Photographs available at additional cost.

The Thames frost fair Dates: Sat 1 & Sat 8 December 2018 at 1–1.30pm, 2–2.30pm & 3-3.30pm Imagine a winter so cold the Thames freezes over completely. It last happened over two hundred years ago during London’s final frost fair. Join us to create a frost fair scene that recaptures the magic of these special celebrations on the Thames.

Freezing frost fairs Dates: Sun 2 & Sun 9 December 2018 at 12.30–2pm & 2.30–4pm Join us for a Christmas craft session and create your very own frost fair scene that recaptures the magic of these special celebrations on the Thames.

Christmas Paper Crafts: a Frost Fair Workshop Dates: Sat 8 December 2018 from 1.30–4.30pm Get crafty for Christmas in this fun and festive workshop. Learn all the skills you need to make charming paper decorations and cards, inspired by the great frost fairs of Victorian London. You don’t need any experience, and all materials will be provided to create your beautiful crafts.

Season’s Greetings Dates: Sun 16 December 2018 from 12.30–2pm & 2.30–4pm Design a beautiful sparkly card to send to friends and family this festive season. Whether it’s a thank you card after the Festival of Lights, or a card in advance of Christmas, get creative and inspired by seasonal cards in our collection.

The Legend of Babushka Dates: Sat 15 & Sun 22 December 2018 from 1–1.30pm, 2–2.30pm & 3-3.30pm Take part in this interactive retelling of the traditional Russian story in which a little old lady heads off to see the baby Jesus. Along the way, she ends up giving away her gifts to people in need. After the story, discover different wrapping paper designs and create your own.

Cops & Robbers Dates: Thu 27 & Fri 28 December 2018 from 1–1.30pm, 2–2.30pm & 3-3.30pm Can you help a brave police officer catch the robbers of London town when they try to steal all the toys one Christmas Eve? Watch out for Granny Swagg and make sure she doesn’t get away in this fun re-imagining of Janet and Allan Ahlberg’s bestselling book, ‘Cops and Robbers’ with some traditional pantomime action!

Get Your Party Hats On! Dates: Sat 29–Mon 31 December 2018 from 12.30–2pm & 2.30–4pm Decorate a special hat and go hunting in the galleries for more at this art drop-in. From a worker’s cap or an office clerk’s bowler, to an aristocratic top hat, or the Queen’s crown, which hat will you choose to wear? Pick a hat from our silhouettes and decorate it with lots of glitter and festive sparkle to wear at your celebrations. Then try to spot them in the galleries!

If you would like further information, visit the Museum of London website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

Review: Lord Mayor’s Show 2018 in the City of London – 10th November 2018

The Lord Mayor’s Show is one of the oldest and most important traditions of London, its origins go back to 1215 when King John was in trouble with his Barons looked to the City of London for support. In 1215 the King was persuaded to issue a Royal Charter that allowed the City of London to elect its own Mayor, but there was an important condition. Every year the newly elected Mayor must leave the safety of the City, travel upriver to the small town of Westminster and swear loyalty to the Crown. The Lord Mayor has now made the journey for 800 years, despite plagues and fires and countless wars, and pledged his (and her) loyalty to 34 kings and queens of England.

For the next few hundred years, Lord Mayor of London was by far the grandest position to which a commoner could aspire, and the Mayor’s journey was the celebrity spectacle of its day. Over the centuries it grew so splendid and so popular that by the 16th century it was known everywhere as the Lord Mayor’s Show. It features in the plays of Shakespeare, the diaries of Pepys  and in the pantomime story of Dick Whittington, who was the Mayor of London three times. In the 20th century the Lord Mayor’s Show was the first outside event ever to be broadcast live and it still attracts a TV audience of millions.

The modern Lord Mayor’s procession is a direct descendant of that first journey to Westminster. The state coach is 250 years old and the show features the City’s businesses, Livery Companies, charities, Her Majesty’s Forces, the City Police and Londoners from all walks of life come together to enjoy a celebration of the City’s ancient power and prosperity.

This is a procession unlike any other in the world: this year there were over 7000 participants, 20 bands, 200 horses, 150 floats and hundreds of other carriages, carts, coaches and other vehicles including vintage cars, steam buses, tanks, tractors, ambulances, fire engines, steamrollers, giant robots.

The procession sets off from Mansion House at 11am,  and was led off by the Band of HM Royal Marines (HMS Collingwood) .

Some of the highlights of the procession include:

Other Royal Marine units followed by The Bank of England’s float returns to the Lord Mayor’s show for the fourth year running.

Next came, Gog and Magog, the traditional guardians of the City of London. They first walked at the head of the Lord Mayor’s procession around five hundred years ago.

The Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office, London focus on artificial intelligence and smart city technology look with two 5m-tall robots.

There were plenty of pandas in a China float.

The City officials bring up the rear of the procession with Late Lord Mayor, the Light Cavalry, and Pageantmaster

The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment Band struck up the music for the new Lord Mayor.

The new Lord Mayor is Peter Estlin who becomes the 691th Lord Mayor and rides in the procession within the magnificent State Coach.

The new Lord Mayor is followed by the Company of Pikemen & Musketeers which is a ceremonial unit of the Honourable Artillery Company who provide a ceremonial bodyguard for the Lord Mayor of the City.

The procession lasted for around an hour long and reached  the Royal Courts at around 12.30. The return leg left Temple Place at 1.10pm and the tail of the procession arrived back at Mansion House at 2.30.

This eclectic procession is one of the great free shows of the London year, although part of a long tradition, the emphasis is always about fun and spectacle.  With an inflatable bear and pig, marching bands, military personnel, horses, carriages, colourful floats and much more. The Lord Mayor’s Show is one parade that you are never sure what you are going to see next.  The warm weather bought out huge crowds estimated at around 500,000 who enjoyed the procession and the free family festival fun in Paternoster Square and Bloomberg Arcade.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
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