TASTE – April 2018

This edition of TASTE brings you VisitBritain's latest round-up of new restaurant openings and foodie news from across the destination.

 

TREND: CONSCIOUS DINING

Conscious dining has become a phenomenon across Britain. Restaurants, both old and new, are moving to waste-free ways of providing a delicious meal that can help make a difference on the planet. Many have started with ditching plastic straws to completely going plastic-free, from chains like Wagamama and Pizza Express to the Scottish Shetland Islands and the small Welsh village of Aberporth. Acclaimed restaurants like The Mandrake have only ever used biodegradable raw rye and corn-starch straws, while others like Spring have appointed Plastic Ambassadors to look into bio-degradable clingfilm alternatives by 2019.

 

TREND: SUSTAINABLE FOOD

With a unique concept offering pay-as-you-feel meals using quality-assured food that would otherwise be thrown out, Real Junk Food Manchester aims to tackle the issues of food waste & social inclusion. The project is open every week day for breakfast & lunch, and every Thurs, Fri & Sat night for fine dining evenings at its Oxford Street city centre restaurant. The team at RJFM hope to open more venues across the city centre & beyond using their waste food pay-as-you-feel model. 

Tom Hunt’s Bristol tapas restaurant, Poco, sources almost exclusively within a 50-mile-radius. Their food is nutritional, vegetable-centric, and made with whole foods and non-processed ingredients.

 

LONDON

New restaurant Brat has opened up in Shoreditch this March by Welsh chef Tomos Parry, bringing together Welsh and Basque cuisine with an emphasis on cooking on fire. With the people behind Noble Rot on the wine list, expect a great choice on the wine front. 

Also newly opened, Sabor is located on Heddon Street and takes you on a journey from the tapas bars of Andalucía through to the asadors of Castile and the seafood restaurants of Galicia. For years, Nieves Barragan was a driving force behind the menus at Barrafina and now she's opening up her own place, teaming up with another Barrafina Alumni José Etura. Expect the food and experience here to mix influences from the tapas bars of Andalucía, the asadors of Castile and the seafood restaurants of Galicia. There's a separate bar - and it should be a place for some top counter dining action. 

Another ‘must see’, greenhouse restaurants La Goccia and The Petersham will be opening in Petersham Nurseries in Covent Garden this April, following the opening of the deli, cellar and café. And you can expect the room to look spectacular. Also opening in spring this year is Brigadiers, the latest from the Sethis - the people behind Gymkhana, Hoppers and Trishna - and this time they're opening their version of an Indian pub in the City. Expect all manner of dishes charred, smoked and grilled with kebabs, chops, tikka and feasting options on the menu. And, of course, a pretty decent beer selection too. 

The follow-up to Bob Bob Ricard, Bob Bob Cité is opening in May this year and will be just as opulent as the West End branch, with plenty of booths and special private rooms; a mini sushi restaurant inside; and of course the infamous Press for Champagne buttons.

 

WEST-MIDLANDS AND EAST ENGLAND

Cambridge 

Expected to be a beautiful, flamboyant and idiosyncratic restaurant; the Parker’s Tavern restaurant at University Arms, Cambridge will launch in August 2018 and will be a stand-alone destination restaurant and bar serving good, honest, locally sourced food – a delicious taste of Cambridge. The independently run restaurant will be overseen by Cambridge born and bred Chef Tristan Welch. Everything served will have British origins and will be rooted back to Cambridge and East Anglian producers. The restaurant overlooks Parker’s Piece and forms part of the UNIVERSITY ARMS, CAMBRIDGE which is also set to open early Summer 2018.There will be up to 110 covers in the restaurant and 61 in the bar and the food menu will consist of a selection of new modern classics, complimented by a seasonally changing menu.

 

SOUTH AND SOUTH-EAST

Brighton

London’s burger joint Patty and Bun opened in February its first restaurant outside the capital, bringing all the classics from its menu along with a new vegan burger. Located amongst the South Lanes, this 40 seat burger joint offers the same banging burgers you get in all the other shops, as well as a tempting cocktail list, milkshakes, and local brews in the fridge and on tap.

The Ivy has been a firm fixture on London’s dining and social scene since its foundation in 1917 and there will be a new restaurant opening up in Brighton this spring. Renowned for its food, Executive Chef Gary Lee creates balanced seasonal lunch and dinner menus that place the Ivy classics alongside a contemporary global palette, incorporating more Asian dishes, salads and vegetables, and a “sea and shells” section.

 

YORKSHIRE

West Yorkshire

Opening early 2018, Broadley's will be a new independent bistro and wine bar by local, award winning chef, Matthew Broadley. Known to many due to his time as Head Chef at The Devonshire Arms Brasserie, The Wheatley Arms and more recently, The Black Hat. With a focus on local produce and classic British dishes, there’ll also be a bar stocked with handpicked labels from around the world.

 

NORTH-WEST ENGLAND

Manchester

After a runaway success operating on the doorsteps of Altrincham Market, Sugo Pasta Kitchen will bring their hugely popular southern Italian pasta dishes to the city centre in early 2018.

In addition, 20 Stories, a rooftop destination restaurant and botanical terrace bar operated by iconic restaurant group D&D London, opened on the 1 March this year in the flagship building development No.1 Spinningfields. Aiden has created a menu that also showcases the best of the Northwest with an aim to source ingredients no more than 50 miles from outside Manchester.

Liverpool

Cain’s Brewery Village in the trendy Baltic Triangle neighbourhood, has very quickly become the city’s brightest hotspot for food and drink. The biggest draw is Baltic Market, a rolling collection of innovative independents competing to be the name on everyone’s lips, literally. From Thursday to Sunday, its long rows of wooden benches are packed with gastronomes. However, you’d be mistaken to think it’s the be-all and end-all of the area. Ryde Coffee Shop provides top cycling gear and repairs alongside its espressos; Kiosk is a cocktail bar in a converted...well, kiosk…which changes its theme according to the season; and Peaky Blinders, named for the global hit series, is much cooler than the average theme bar.

Heswall's newest and most exciting dining out sensation opened up in Liverpool earlier this year. SILK RD Restaurant share their passion for travel and love for fresh food in a concept that brings to life the food, drinks and soul that can be found along the ancient routes that run from the Pacific of East China through to the Mediterranean Sea. They aim to touch all of your senses, starting from when you arrive.

 

CUMBRIA

The winner of Cumbria Tourism’s most recent ‘Taste Cumbria’ award is set to grow its foodie reputation further with the official launch of its newly-restyled restaurant Allium, which opened with its new look in February. Under the guidance of Head Chef Richard Swale, the former home of the Earls of Lonsdale has been steadily building up its reputation for food and drink since it opened its doors to guests more than four years ago. From, the newly-styled restaurant will take on its own distinct identity, as part of a wider expansion at Askham.

The restaurant’s new name ‘Allium’ is taken from the striking purple flower which thrives within Askham Hall’s 12 acre gardens, alongside other varieties from the Allium family growing in the kitchen garden (onions / garlic) and the surrounding landscape (wild garlic). As well as representing a long-term change of direction for the ancient building, this trinity of alliums symbolises the restaurant’s desire to produce plates of food which are completely in harmony with nature.

 

SOUTH-WEST

Bristol

The foodie hub Bristol keeps on giving, as a plethora of new restaurants open in 2018. Inspired by fire, meat & music, Pasture will open early 2018 as a steakhouse and bar from Sam Elliott, former nationwide chef director at Jamie’s Italian.

Wapping Wharf favourites Woky Ko are opening a new restaurant on Queens Road at the top of Park Street; Pasta Ripiena from the team behind Pasta Loco on Cotham Hill are opening the UK’s first dedicated ravioli bar on St Stephen’s Street; and The Florist which offers cocktails, cocktail masterclasses, nightly DJs and culinary delights has just opened on Park Street. Another addition to Bristol’s food scene, The Bristol Cookhouse is a culinary hub for foodies – a cafe, dining club, food studio and cookery workshop with a focus on health, wellbeing, environment and food sustainability.

The new British Dal Festival made its debut on 19-25 March this year, celebrating Dal and other classic pulse-based dishes from around the world. Initiated by the British Edible Pulse Association and involving a diversity of Bristol communities, the free event includes a Dal trail around the city’s restaurants and cafes, each offering a signature dal. Following a break in 2017, Food Connections returns to the city in June 2018. A gathering of the Bristol food community, the festival aims to bring together the city’s independent spirit and creative food cultures. Events throughout the festival place emphasis on knowledge, participation and fun and in the past, have included a street food extravaganza in Millennium Square, producer markets, a huge food trail, debates, food walks, cookery classes and demos from celebrity chefs.

 

Devon

The newest Rockfish restaurant on England’s Seafood Coast will be in Exeter Quays later this year. The waterside new-build restaurant will have a bar and an open kitchen with wood fires to cook the seafood over. The seafood will come from the nearby renowned Brixham Fish Market. Acclaimed chef Mitch Tonks’ award-winning small seafood chain of restaurants specialise in sustainable seafood.

 

Cornwall

The team behind the renowned Watering Hole pub and restaurant on the beach in Perranporth, are set to open another foodie hero this summer, just a stone’s throw from their popular eatery. Pitched as a bristo, Alcatraz will be built into the cliff at a former WW2 gun shelter at the entrance to Perranporth Beach, and will feature pop-up feast and cocktail nights.

 

SCOTLAND

Argyll & The Isles

Amongst 28 acres of gardens and protected woodland you’ll spot Islay House, one of Scotland’s grandest and most historic country house hotels, located on the Whisky Isle. It has recently opened its farm-to-table restaurant The Jib Door. Local home-grown catch and produce means visitors will always get the freshest in-season ingredients and daily menu changes.

In the land of whisky, there’s a few new kids on the block. Argyll and The Isles welcomes The Botanist Dry Gin from Bruichladdich Distillery on the Isle of Islay, Lussa Gin at Ardlussa on the Isle of Jura, and Kintyre Gin at Beinn an Tuirc Distillery on the Isle of Arran, also sitting comfortably alongside the Campbeltown whiskies.

Aberdeenshire

In 2017, Orchid won best cocktail bar of the year at the Scottish Licensed Trade News Awards. Aberdeen’s home for discerning drinkers, this styled and relaxed establishment features mixologists regarded among the best in the UK. Orchid is also home to award-winning Porters Gin.

Speyside

Last year the slumbering giant of The Malt Whisky Trail was reawakened, rebranded and relaunched. Spanning the Moray Speyside region, the trail showcases nine whisky destinations, including seven operational distilleries, a cooperage and a historic distillery. This trail takes visitors from white beaches to tall forests, past legendary craftsmen to world-renowned brands all the way to discover the jewel in Scotland’s crown.

 

WALES

Cardiff

The Wales and Real Madrid footballer, Gareth Bale, has teamed up with Brains Brewery and opened a brand new sports bar in the heart of Cardiff, Elevens Bar & Grill.

In the new boutique Hotel Indigo, acclaimed chef Marco Pierre White opened his famous Steakhouse Bar & Grill on the rooftop, further increasing Cardiff’s claim to being a foodie destination outside of London.

The Admiral St David recently underwent a total refurbishment. The Australasian restaurant is an entirely new restaurant concept for Wales and the south west, serving up an exotic melting pot of fresh Australasian flavours. The relaxed, contemporary restaurant and bar, based at Cardiff Bay’s five-star luxury St David’s Hotel, features the very finest in Indonesian, Japanese, Sri Lankan, and Australian cuisine.

British wines and vines

Forget France… yes really, because Britain is where you’ll find the most unique wine experiences this year. From the charming countryside of the South East to cosmopolitan London, there’s a winery to suit everyone’s taste — and fizz to rival Champagne!

 

A Vinicultural Renaissance

Over the last five years, Britain’s wine industry has been rapidly growing and receiving universal acclaim as wine buffs move their allegiances to the vines of South East England. Gone are the days of worrying about trying ‘old’ versus ‘new’ world - now it’s all about uncovering the unexpected and quaffing the best wine in the most surprising settings.

 

The Beautiful South

It’s the chalky soil and cool climate of the South East, which includes Kent known as ‘the Garden of England’, that makes it perfect for creating bubbles too. With this favourable setting, it’s no surprise that it’s now home to several wineries that are producing English sparkling wine that’s set to rival the famed Champagne region.

 

West Fisher Winery

One of the smallest wineries in Great Britain, West Fisher in Chelsham, Kent, produces fewer than 10,000 bottles annually from grapes grown around southern England. Its founder Simon Fisher is a former architect and has been passionate about wine production ever since his mother made wines at home. So, you could say that wine is in his blood…

 

Nyetimber

Probably the most famous of the lot, Nyetimber in West Sussex was the royal wine of choice served by the Queen at both her Silver and Golden Jubilees. Quintessentially ‘British’, the Nyetimber estate goes back centuries - the first recording of it was in the 1086 Doomsday Book.

When you sip a Nyetimber wine, you’re sipping grapes steeped in history. They also host open days throughout the year (which sell out quickly) so you can see - and taste - for yourself why their wine is so popular.

 

Rathfinny Wines

Pop a cork and enjoy a glass of delicious fizz in the stunning South Downs, with beautiful views across the East Sussex countryside. This 600-acre estate is just a hop, skip and walk from the sea too - so you can enjoy your wine with a side of fish and chips, a British classic.

Along with tours of the estate and wine trails, you can also enjoy a glass of their brand-new wine for 2018, the first vintage of their Sussex Sparkling in their Tasting Room, or book an overnight stay at the cosy Flint Barns in the estate’s pretty ‘Cradle Valley’.

 

London Cru

Hidden in the little lanes of Fulham, south west London, 90 oak barrels work their magic producing quality wines in small batches from grapes that have been specially selected from European vineyards.

You can jump on the tube and book yourself on a tour at London’s first winery through their sister company Roberson Wines.

 

Chapel Down Winery

Another award-winning winery, Chapel Down, has its 22 acres of vineyards in Kent. This particular area, the Kent Downs, is so picturesque, it’s been recognised as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

You can enjoy a guided tour of the vineyards and winery which includes a tasting, or even book a three-course lunch or afternoon tea, accompanied, of course, by the winery’s award-winning wines — they also produce beers and spirits.

 

Biddenden Vineyards

Established in 1969, the country’s oldest commercial vineyard was started by the Barnes family and matriarch Mrs Barnes’ passion for viticulture - and is still thriving today, run by the second and third generation.

As well as the vineyard’s 11 different grape varieties, which produce red, rosé, white and sparkling wines, you can also add traditional cider to your tasting notes. They also make a delicious apple juice from renowned Kentish apples. Open for self-guided tours and complimentary tastings, they also offer guided tours on selected days.

Preparing for the big day - royal wedding traditions and etiquette

A huge amount of time and effort goes into planning a wedding. So spare a thought for Meghan Markle, who also has centuries of traditions and royal etiquette to learn before tying the knot with Prince Harry this spring.

 

A Royal Convert

Firstly, Meghan will be baptised and confirmed into the Church of England, in a private ceremony at Kensington Palace, in London. This is a mark of respect to the head of the church, Queen Elizabeth II. It is also a way for Meghan to publicly declare her religion.

 

Floral Homage

When Victoria, the Princess Royal, married in 1858 her bouquet contained myrtle from her mother Queen Victoria’s own garden. Since then every royal bride – including the Duchess of Cambridge has included a sprig from the exact same plant – which still grows in the grounds of Osborne House, on the Isle of Wight, the former private home of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. This as-yet-unbroken tradition suggests Meghan will do the same.

 

Golden Gifts

In 1923 The Queen Mother started another royal tradition by using rare Welsh gold. Tucked into the lush green landscape of the stunning Snowdonia National Park in Wales, is the Clogau St David mine, from which the finest quality gold was extracted and used to create her wedding band. Though the gold veins have since run dry Clogau, now a family-run jewellery company, has a small, carefully rationed supply. Queen Elizabeth II also has her own modest reserves, so we imagine there would be enough for at least two more bands.

Whether Prince Harry would wear his ring after the big day, however, would also remain to be seen, as it’s also traditional for upper-class men to eschew all jewellery – including wedding bands.

 

A Royal Feast

After the ceremony, Meghan and Prince Harry will treat their guests to a lavish feast, known as a ‘wedding breakfast’, regardless of the time of day it’s eaten. Queen Elizabeth II and The Queen Mother both opted for menus with a formal French influence, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge chose to champion locally grown cuisine.

If Meghan and Prince Harry follow suit, perhaps they'll also serve Jersey Royal potatoes and Hebridean langoustines. They could choose to serve flavoursome Gressingham duck, from family-run farms in Norfolk and Suffolk.

Otherwise, the Windsor Farm Shop conveniently sells beef, pork and lamb reared on the Royal Farms. Mimic the monarch by visiting the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, where the farm shop is also open to the public. Or trace the procession route Megan and Prince Harry will take on their wedding day, ending with the picturesque Long Walk and a visit to Windsor Castle.

To complete the fine-dining experience, Megan and Prince Harry may turn to iconic cheesemongers Paxton & Whitfield for a selection of British cheeses. Pick up a hamper from their original Jermyn Street store in London - opened in 1797 - and you could enjoy a picnic in one of the nearby Royal Parks, such as St James’ Park or Green Park, while live-streaming their televised wedding day. 

 

Playing By The Rules

In addition, Meghan will need to learn the rules surrounding a traditional Royal wedding. “As the newly-married couple begins to walk down the aisle at St George’s Chapel, in the grounds of Windsor Castle, they will pause so Prince Harry can bow and Meghan will curtsy in front of Her Majesty the Queen,” explained former royal butler and etiquette expert, Grant Harrold.

Normally, the bride and groom are first to eat at a wedding reception. However, royal etiquette insists nobody starts eating before Her Majesty the Queen. Similarly, when she finishes, everyone else stops eating too. “The Queen, being an excellent hostess, will, of course, make sure guests within her eyesight are finished before she stops eating,” added Mr Harrold.

With news that members of the public will also be invited to join the wedding celebrations, there may well be a rush of bookings at Mr Harrold’s Royal Etiquette workshop, where participants are taught appropriate protocols when interacting with royals, aristocrats and VIP families.  

We’re sure like all brides, Meghan will be radiant on the day, and fully immersed in royal traditions as she marries her prince. 

Royal Warrant Wedding

When one is a member of the British royal family, only the very best will do - especially when one is throwing a Royal Wedding.

For centuries, successive royal households have kept a list of the companies deemed worthy of supplying goods and services to the Monarch. Today, around 800 companies hold this distinction, known as a Royal Warrant. It can only be granted by the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh or the Prince of Wales —and only after at least five consecutive years of service.

As well as being a great honour, companies can declare their royal connection by displaying the Royal Arms on their logo and goods. But who’s in this uber-exclusive club? Well, you’ll find everything from the Queen’s soft drink provider to the supplier of Prince Charles’ toothpaste.

So, who on that list might our newest Royal-to-be, Meghan Markle, be contacting in the coming weeks?

 

A Great British brew

She’ll no doubt be feeling some jitters as the day approaches so what better (or more English) way to calm those nerves than with a hot cup of tea? Fortnum & Mason has been a London fixture since 1707 and was granted its tea merchants and grocers Royal Warrant by the Prince of Wales in 1955. We can already picture Meghan sipping their Royal Brew – originally blended for King Edward VII - before her nuptials.

 

Dressed for the occasion

It’s yet to be revealed who’ll be dressing Meghan on her big day, but what we do know is she’s spoilt for choice. One of those choices is couturier Stewart Parvin. Renowned for his elegant tailoring and timeless made-to-measure bridal designs, Belgravia-based Parvin received his Royal Warrant from Queen Elizabeth in 2007, making him a suitably regal choice for our blushing bride.

 

Floral accents

It’s Leicester florist Rosemary Hughes who creates the scented nosegays – the fragrant bouquets carried by royals before Easter – for the annual Maundy Thursday service, including the posies carried by the Queen. She also specialises in wedding arrangements… could she be tasked with Meghan’s bridal flowers?

 

Finding the ring

In Mayfair, central London, stands House of Garrard, the world’s oldest jewellery house. It was their artisans who created the Imperial State Crown worn by Queen Elizabeth on her Coronation Day, as well as the tiara she borrowed when she married Prince Phillip. More recently, they crafted Lady Diana’s sapphire and diamond engagement ring, since passed down to the Duchess of Cambridge. With such a pedigree, Meghan could well be wearing Garrard jewellery on her big day too.

 

Signature scents

Why content yourself with eau de toilette when you can wear your own bespoke perfume? Floris, in its original Jermyn Street location near London’s St James Square since 1730, is the oldest independent family-run perfumer in the world, and was given its first Royal Warrant in 1820. If Meghan chooses a signature fragrance, she’ll have at least three consultations in order to create a one-of-a-kind scent — although she’d best get a wriggle on as the process takes around six months.

 

A toast to the big day

If Meghan is to truly integrate into British society, she’d be wise to include two classic drinks at their reception – gin and tonic, and Pimm’s. Gordon’s Gin first received its Royal Warrant in 1925 and to this day remains a supplier to the Royal Household. James Pimm mixed his first summer cocktail in the 1840s, and Pimm’s, his secret mix of gin, botanicals, caramelised orange and spices, remains a quintessential British tipple to this day; it received its Royal Warrant in 2011.

 

With such esteemed luxury suppliers to choose from, it seems Meghan is set to enjoy a wedding day fit for a princess.

 

NB to Editors: The businesses included in this editorial were selected by VisitBritain on a hypothetical basis; inclusion does not suggest these companies will, or will not, have an official involvement with upcoming Royal Wedding.

Britain on the silver screen

Travelling through the UK, you may experience a sense of déjà vu - that’s because Great Britain is filled with locations you'll recognise from the movies. Several are being honoured this year with a host of BAFTA and Academy Award nominations so here are some of those places that you can visit in real life.

 

Dunkirk

Nominations: Eight Academy Awards including Best Picture and eight BAFTA Awards including Best Film.

Most of Dunkirk was filmed in France, but Britain makes some stunning cameos. Think of the scene when the civilian fleet sets sail from the seaside town of Weymouth in Dorset while on their return, they're bolstered to see the white-chalk cliffs of the Jurassic Coast. Weary soldiers receive a hero’s welcome when they pull into a postcard-pretty train platform; you can book your own journey on the Swanage Steam Railway.

 

Paddington 2

Nominations: Outstanding British Film, Best Supporting Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay at the BAFTA Awards.

London’s busy Paddington station appears in the sequel although exterior shots filmed at Marylebone Station. Visit the Paddington Bear Shop, then find the statue near Platform 1 and follow the rest of the Pawprint Trail. You can also follow in Paddington’s pawsteps at Portobello Market or wander the towpath of Little Venice where the bear gave chase to the thief from Mr Gruber's antique shop.

 

Phantom Thread

Nominations: Four Academy Awards including Best Picture and four BAFTA Awards including Best Actor.

The Victoria Bay Hotel near Whitby, North Yorkshire, was stripped back to fit the 1950s setting. Visit the modern incarnation and enjoy familiar views over the fishing village of Robin's Hood Bay - you might even recognise some of the staff who appeared as extras. The opulent glamour of Blackpool Tower Ballroom also made the cut as the perfect setting for a lavish party scene. Take a tour, enjoy afternoon tea, or spin on the famous dance floor.

 

Darkest Hour

Nominations: Six Academy Awards including Best Picture and nine BAFTA Awards including Best Film.

London’s Cabinet War Rooms, where Winston Churchill orchestrated Allied troops during World War II, were meticulously recreated for their role in this film. And of course, you can visit the real-life underground bunkers too, which stand exactly as they did in 1945. And while the Commons Chamber in the Palace of Westminster was another carefully constructed set, get a glimpse of the real thing with a guided tour of Parliament. Also in the capital is the film’s backdrop, picturesque Greenwich; explore the rest of this World Heritage Site which includes the Royal Observatory, the historic Cutty Sark, and the Meridian Line.

Up in Rotherham, Yorkshire is Wentworth Woodhouse which doubles up as the interior of Buckingham Palace. Privately owned for many years, this grand historic home has recently been opened to the public.

 

Victoria & Abdul

Nominations: Best Costume Design and Best Makeup & Hairstyling at both the Academy Awards and the BAFTA Awards.

Osborne House was Queen Victoria's beloved family home on the Isle of Wight, and the place where she first met Abdul. Peek inside royal life with a tour of the private apartments, bathing beach and children's play cottage. Queen Victoria later introduces Abdul to her Aberdeenshire getaway, Balmoral Castle, which remains the summer holiday home of the Royal Family today and open to the public from 30 March to 31 July. Don't miss the stunning setting of Cairngorms National Park that surrounds it, where the pair enjoyed a scenic picnic. 

60 minutes to Royal

Central London is packed with attractions that celebrate all things royal. But hop on a train and within an hour, you could be enjoying a fabulously royal day out. Here are some of the ways you can spend a day soaking up royal history and events, from past to present.

 

Richmond Park, Richmond upon Thames

Richmond Park, a former hunting ground of Henry VIII, is still home to red and fallow deer, as well as some 2,500 acres of hills, woodland and grassland. A walker’s paradise, the protected Royal Park is the perfect place to escape the hustle of central London and is just 45 minutes away.

 

Hampton Court Palace, Richmond upon Thames

Gone are the days of musty museums and dull exhibits, as visitors will find at Hampton Court Palace. The Palace’s Time Explorers digital app allows you to step back in time via an interactive adventure that keeps everyone engaged, from the young to the young-at-heart. Discover fascinating stories of life in the Tudor court and keep your eyes peeled for haunted sightings of two of Henry VIII’s wives, Jane Seymour and Catherine Howard.

 

Hatfield House, Hertfordshire

A place with significant historical significance, Hatfield House is an unmissable royal attraction, 20 minutes by train from central London; it was here in 1558, in the Old Palace, that Elizabeth I learned she would become Queen. From 31st March 2018, you can tour the halls, gallery, library and chapel; the Grand Staircase is particularly impressive.

 

The Chalybeate Springs, Royal Tunbridge Wells

Tunbridge Wells received its ‘Royal’ prefix in 1909, when King Edward VII realised how popular Tunbridge Wells was with royal ‘holidaymakers’ including his mother, Queen Victoria. Members of the aristocracy would take the short journey from London to experience the curative waters at the Chalybeate Spring. Follow in their footsteps for some hydro-healing before wandering the colonnaded walkways of The Pantiles and its independent shops, galleries and restaurants.

 

Opera House, Royal Tunbridge Wells

For pre-dinner drinks, visit the Opera House pub. Originally built as an opera house in 1902 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, it became a cinema in 1931 before it was transformed into a bingo hall then a pub. You can still see the stage, grand balcony and original stalls and the pub even returns to its theatrical beginnings with opera performances twice a year.

 

Windsor Castle, Berkshire

Even today, Queen Elizabeth often spends weekends at Windsor Castle while the county of Berkshire was the childhood stomping ground of the Duchess of Cambridge. Tour the castle’s state rooms and grounds — you’ll see more of this area when the location plays host to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding this May.

 

Eton College, Berkshire

Eton College is where Princes William and Harry were educated, but the jury is out on whether Prince George will be enrolled here too. On Sunday afternoons, the college opens up its exhibition spaces — the Natural History Museum, Eton Museum of Antiquities and Museum of Eton Life — with collections of rare books, art, manuscripts and specimens. Start with the Museum of Eton Life which presents the college’s history and traditions across six centuries.

 

Royal Ascot, Berkshire

Visitors who like the odd flutter should book tickets for one of the race meetings at Royal Ascot, one of Great Britain’s leading horse-racing courses and just six miles from Windsor Castle. The course maintains a close association with the Royals, frequented by the Queen each year for the Royal race days in June and July.

 

See also:

Book a VIP Gondola on the Royal Windsor Wheel for aerial views of Windsor Castle.

Visit Windsor Great Park, the Royal Park home to award-winning gardens, ancient forest and woodland walks.

Explore the 14th-century Penshurst Place and Gardens, Kent once used as a hunting lodge by King Henry VIII.

Discover the beautifully located Leeds Castle in Kent, once used by King Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, and the private home of six of England’s medieval queens.

SUFFRAGETTE CITIES AND BEYOND

Events across England celebrate phenomenal females in the centenary year of votes for women

 

6 February 2018 marks the centenary of the Representation of the People Act, which allowed some women in Britain to vote for the first time, gave them the right to stand as an MP and was the first time a female MP was elected. Seven areas across England will commemorate this milestone with the government’s ‘Centenary Cities’ – Bolton, Bristol, Leeds, Leicester, London, Manchester and Nottingham have strong link to the women’s suffrage movement  and will be hosting projects celebrating those individuals who helped to make this happen. With International Women’s Day also on the horizon (8 March), events celebrating female empowerment will be taking place across England throughout the year.

 

London

Votes for Women Centenary, Museum of London

2 February 2018 – 6 January 2019

An experience likely to stir emotions; see Emmeline Pankhurst’s hunger strike medal up close and other iconic objects from the Museum of London’s huge Suffragette collection at its new display commemorating the Votes for Women centenary. But don’t just look – take part too. Book onto its Deeds Not Words event with independent jewellery company Tatty Devine, a jewellery masterclass on 17 March where you’ll create a Tatty Devine bunting necklace in Suffragette colours. Wear with pride. Museum admission free. Jewellery masterclass £45. www.museumoflondon.org.uk

 

Vote 100, Westminster Hall

27 June – 6 October 2018

Immersive and interactive tech, rare historic objects, pictures and archives will reveal the story of women in Parliament, from the campaigning, protests and achievements to where we are today and how we can continue to make change, in a free exhibition taking place this summer at Westminster Hall in London. Voice & Vote: Women's Place in Parliament is part of Vote 100, the year-long celebration of women’s voices in Parliament that will explore the contribution and impact of women on Parliament over the last 200 years. Witness a landmark moment too this year as the first female statue is unveiled in Parliament Square – renowned suffragette Millicent Fawcett. Admission free.

www.parliament.uk/vote100

 

Women of the World Festival (WOW), Southbank Centre

7 – 11 March 2018

WOW – Women of the World festival returns to the Southbank Centre for its eighth year, a global network of festivals that provides a platform for celebrating what has been achieved for women, and exploring further how we can continue to change the world. Join influential artists, writers, politicians, comedians and activists for a programme of talks and debates, concerts, performances, art installations and workshops. 1-day pass £30, 2-day pass £55, 3-day pass £80, all plus booking fee £2.50.

www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whats-on/festivals-series/women-of-the-world Women and the Hall, Royal Albert Hall

Until 26 April 2018

One of London’s most iconic venues, the Royal Albert Hall celebrates the women who formed its history and the women who are shaping its future, through a season of immersive drama tours, film screenings, talks and music performances, Women and the Hall. To celebrate International Women’s Day, the venue will present a night of ‘fierce, feminist truth, fiction, politics and poetry’ on 7 March, bringing together female writers and performers including broadcaster, activist and poet Bidisha and author and playwright Sabrina Mahfouz. Various ticket prices.

www.royalalberthall.com/tickets/series/women-and-the-hall

 

Women’s Hockey World Cup, London

21 July – 5 August 2018

Cheer on the world’s best female hockey teams from 15 nations as they take to the field at London’s Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park this summer. While not directly linked to the centenary celebrations, this is a sporting event of real significance; it’s the first time England has hosted a Hockey Women's World Cup, and will be the biggest standalone hockey event Britain has ever seen. Various ticket prices. www.fih.ch/events/world-cup/world-cup-2018

 

Manchester

Women’s Words, The Pankhurst Centre/Manchester Central Library

From February 2018

Women are being invited to share their stories, poems and memories at the exhibition Women’s Words, curated by the Pankhurst Centre, when it opens at Manchester Central Library in February, some of which will also feature in an artistic re-imagination of the original The Suffragette magazine. The Centre itself will host an exhibition Resistance! in September, featuring contemporary photographs of UK grassroots movements acting for social change, and will also run events around International Women’s Day. Immerse yourself in the place where suffrage history was made; the centre is the former home of Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst and was where the first meeting of the Women’s Social and Political Union was held. Pankhurst Centre admission free; Manchester Central Library admission free. www.thepankhurstcentre.org.uk, www.manchester.gov.uk/centrallibrary

 

People’s History Museum

Throughout 2018

Delve into Manchester’s radical feminist past as the People’s History Museum has dedicated its 2018 programme to the suffragette movement. March is dedicated to Wonder Women, a festival – now in its fifth year – combining talks, theatre, discussion and art. In May, headline exhibition Represent! will open, exploring Manchester’s issues of representation and, later in the year, a rare suffragette banner will be added to the museum’s suffragette collection and go on public display for the first time in more than 100 years; a crowd-funding campaign to secure the piece and fund the exhibition is underway. Museum admission free. www.phm.org.uk

 

Castlefield Gallery

9 March to 29 April 2018

Search out the response to the historic struggles of women, the collective strength of women coming together and a look at life for women today, at artists Ruth Barker and Hannah Leighton-Boyce’s exhibition at Castlefield Gallery. The exhibition will take on many art forms, including ancient mythology and everyday life.  Gallery admission free.

www.castlefieldgallery.co.uk

 

Lost Voices, Quarry Bank Mill

Opens 3 March

As part of the Wonder Women festival, which creates a platform for women’s voices, the exhibition Lost Voices will recapture the voices of the women during the ten-year period from 1918, when legislation was passed giving some women the vote (over the age of 30 and who met certain property qualifications), to 1928 when all women were given equal voting rights. From £11.70 adult ticket. National Trust members free.

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/quarry-bank

 

From Petticoats to Microscopes, Manchester Museum

12 March

 Wonder Women 2018 will also celebrate the pioneers of Manchester, women who have helped to shape the world, championing their stories in a talk and object-handling session by Michelle Scott and Judith Fabian titled From Petticoats to Microscopes. Museum admission free.

www.museum.manchester.ac.uk

 

Film and theatre

Throughout 2018

Contact Young Theatre will present the first performance of She Bangs The Drums (8 March) at the Museum of Science and Industry, which has both humour and politics at its core and brings stories, voices and testaments of those campaigning for the vote. There will also be screenings, with the Pankhurst Trust showing the award-winning and moving film Suffragette at The Whitworth, while the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art will be showing Hooligan Sparrow; a documentary about China’s most prominent women’s rights activist. Various ticket prices.

https://contactmcr.com/project/contact-young-company, www.whitworth.manchester.ac.uk, www.cfcca.org.uk

 

Statue of Emmeline Pankhurst

March 2019

One to remember for next year; 2019 will see Manchester unveiling a new public statue of Emmeline Pankhurst on International Women's Day.

www.womanchesterstatue.org

 

Bristol

Bristol Museums

Throughout 2018

Celebrations for International Women’s Day will take place across Bristol, with interactive theatre, music and debates top of the agenda. M Shed is once again taking part, hosting a dedicated exhibition, talks and suffragette tours. The SS Great Britain will host a hands-on science event particularly aimed at encouraging young women to consider STEM careers in the week preceding International Women in Engineering Day (23 June).

www.bristolmuseums.org.uk/m-shed; www.ssgreatbritain.org 

 

Upfest

28 – 30 July 2018

Videos at the ready as live painting takes place during two days of Europe’s largest street art and graffiti festival which, this year, will be commissioning female graffiti artists to celebrate women past, present and future. A multi-venue urban festival, centred on North Street in Bedminster, Upfest is free to attend. Festival admission free.

www.upfest.co.uk

 

Bristol Festival of Ideas

Throughout 2018

Great for sparking ideas and debates, this festival dedicated to discussion, held throughout the year, will feature the panel discussion 100 Years Since Suffrage: Feminism and Protest on 17 March, bringing together ideas from leading feminist journalists and professors to discuss the battles the feminist movement is fighting today. Tickets from £9/£7 concessions. www.ideasfestival.co.uk

 

Leeds

A Woman’s Place, Abbey House Museum

Throughout 2018

Discover stories and objects from pioneering women from the present day, such as from Olympic boxing gold medallist Nicola Adams, back to the Victorian era, and explore the struggle for equality and the progress that’s been made. The exhibition A Woman’s Place? also looks at how daily life has changed for women. £4.95 adult ticket. www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries/abbeyhouse/a-womans-place

 

Nottinghamshire

Women and Power season, The Workhouse

April – July 2018

Women from all walks of life were integral to forcing through change in political representation – and the National Portrait Gallery and the National Trust have joined forces to open new displays focusing on that, in its Women and Power season. Find out more at its touring Faces of Change: Votes for Women exhibition, opening at The Workhouse in Southwell, Nottinghamshire (before transferring to Killerton, Devon, in November). It will take an in-depth look at the campaign for Votes for Women from the late 19th-century until 1918, in the context of the working women who joined the campaign, and also titled women who played a key role, including Lady Laura Elizabeth Ridding, the founder of Southwell House and of the National Union of Women Workers. Adult ticket from £9.10. National Trust members free. nationaltrust.org.uk/the-workhouse-southwell

 

Leicester:

Unveiling of Alice Hawkins Statue

4 February 2018

Watch the unveiling of a bronze statue of Alice Hawkins – who led the women’s suffrage movement in Leicester in the early 1900s – which will be at the heart of the city’s celebrations for the centenary. The statue will stand on a 4ft plinth in Leicester’s new market square, close to where Alice would have addressed the crowds at the height of the suffragette movement. And an exhibition featuring some of Alice’s personal possessions – including her ‘Votes for Women’ sash, her hunger strike medal and her notes from Holloway jail – is also under proposal.

www.leicester.gov.uk 

 

Sevenoaks, Kent:

A Woman’s Place, Knole House

17 May – 4 November 2018

Online content, film and sculpture will explore love, betrayal, class, gender and inheritance issues, as Turner Prize winner, Lubaina Himid, and five other artists – CJ Mahony, Emily Speed, Lindsay Seers, Melanie Wilson and Alice May Williams – shine a light on women’s stories in the exhibition A Woman’s Place, at the historic home of Knole in Kent. Himid’s work will focus on the women who served and lived in the background at Knole, including the unseen and little-documented Grace Robinson, described in the house inventory as a ‘blackamoor’ laundry maid. Adult ticket from £3.15. National Trust members free. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/knole/features/coming-soon-a-womans-place-at-knole

 

Devon:

Branded: Fashion, Femininity and the Right to Vote’, Killerton

Feb – October 2018

Through contemporary film footage, art and design, original clothing and objects of identified suffragettes will be brought to life in a fashion exhibition Branded: Fashion, Femininity and the Right to Vote’ at 18th-century estate Killerton in Devon. Wander among items such as the parliamentary suit worn by the first female MP to take her seat, Nancy Astor, a hand-embroidered couture wedding dress worn by pro-suffrage Eleanor Acland as well as one of Queen Victoria’s garments which has recently been conserved for Killerton’s exhibition. Victoria famously spoke out against women having the vote. Adult ticket from £11.60. National Trust members free.

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/killerton/the-fashion-collection

 

Across England

EqualiTeas

18 June – 2 July

All across England EqualiTeas will take place this summer, a chance to debate, share ideas and celebrate women’s right to vote – with tea and cake an added bonus! https://equaliteas.org.uk

 

Heritage Open Days

6-9 and 13-16 September

The country’s largest festival of history and culture, this year’s Heritage Open Days will be promoting women’s history, revealing and sharing marginalised, unknown or misunderstood female stories through its events’ programme Unsung stories. Admission free. www.heritageopendays.org.uk

 

1,100th anniversary of Æthelflæd, The Lady of Mercians

11 July

Our ‘greatest woman-general’ Æthelflæd, the powerful queen who ruled Mercia from 911 until her death in 918AD, will be commemorated in 2018, the 1,100th anniversary of her death. She is known to have re-fortified Tamworth in 913; the town will mark the anniversary with a massive community art Mercian mosaic (summer), and the installation of a six-metre-high Æthelflæ statue. There will also be celebrations in Gloucester on 11 July; Æthelflæd was buried in the St Oswald’s priory in Gloucester. Chester, meanwhile, plans to link the 1,111th anniversary of the founding of modern Chester in 907AD by Æthelflæd with the 100th anniversary of votes for women, as part of plans for a year celebrating female empowerment.

marketinggloucester.co.uk ; marketingcheshire.co.uk

 

Votes and Voices: Acts of Defiance - Historic Royal Palaces

January – July 2018

To mark the 100th anniversary of the representation of The People Act, a season of special programming will take place across palaces including events at the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace and Banqueting House. From live interpretation, workshops and expert talks, the series of events will be a chance for visitors to discover about some of the fascinating women that have marked the History.

www.hrp.org.uk/votesandvoices

 

For more information on what’s new for 2018 visit: www.media.visitengland.com

 

Ends

For further press information and images please contact:
Evelina Andrews / Louise Ferrall/ Sophie Dinsdale/ Anaïs Bobst
VisitEngland Press Office 
Tel: 020 7578 1446 / 020 7578 1437
Email: vepr@visitengland.org

Notes to Editors:

About VisitEngland

  • VisitEngland’s focus is on the development and delivery of the new Discover England fund for product development to ensure that bookable regional product is being sold in international markets. This activity will also benefit the domestic industry by building engagement and partnerships between and across regions and developing product that will be attractive to both domestic and international markets.
  • Our work is underpinned by robust research and customer insights. You can access the latest in-depth market intelligence and statistics on www.visitengland.org/insight-statistics.
  • Tourism in England is worth £106 billion, and supports 2.6 million jobs.

Great British cycle routes

Great Britain excels in cycling, hosting celebrated challenge rides like the Peak District’s Eroica Britannia in Derbyshire, Scotland’s TweedLove Bike Festival and the UK National Track Championships in Manchester. But one of the best things about UK cycling is simply taking off spontaneously on a trail. Here are some ideas for exploring the UK on two wheels…   

 

Long-distance

Hebridean Way

This new long-distance ride spans the length of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides island chain. The 185-mile route crosses 10 islands in the archipelago – and it’s packed with paradise beaches visitors might not expect in the UK.

Surprise trailside treats: Calanais Standing Stones which pre-date Stonehenge, the historic Butt of Lewis Lighthouse.

 

Bay Cycle Way  

Starting at the nature reserves of Walney Island, this flattish route follows a spectacular yet often underrated coastline. Pedalling 81 miles through the Cumbrian and Lancashire countryside, cyclists can enjoy bird-watching in RSPB reserves and eating in the many gourmet restaurants in the village of Cartmel.

Surprise trailside treats: Coniston Priory Buddhist Centre, the art deco Midland Hotel.

 

Celtic Trail West

The Celtic Trail runs across Wales at its widest point with the west section connecting Swansea and Fishguard via the spectacular Swansea and Pembrokeshire coastlines. The seaside resorts of Tenby and Saundersfoot are also worth a visit.

Surprise trailside treats: The sand dune forests of Millennium Coastal Park, the Brunel Trail.

 

See also:

South Coast Way

This 360-mile coastal route from Dover, Kent to Dawlish in Devon stops at the seaside towns of Brighton and Hastings.

 

Fun and family

Two Palaces Ride, London

This two-mile loop takes in more than just the two palaces of the title. The relaxed start from Buckingham Palace leads to a laidback ride through the Duke of Wellington Arch and into Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens on its way to Kensington Palace – best ridden on a Sunday.

Surprise trailside treats: Hyde Park’s Serpentine Gallery and Apsley House.

 

Monsal Trail, Peak District

In Derbyshire’s Peak District National Park, the traffic-free Monsal trail offers flat, easy cycling along the old Midland railway line with great views of the limestone dales. The eight-and-a-half mile trail, from Blackwell Mill in Chee Dale to Coombs Road at Bakewell, blasts through six moodily lit tunnels, up to 400 metres long.

Surprise trailside treats: The Secret Tea Garden at Miller’s Dale. 

 

Lagan and Lough Cycle Way, Northern Ireland

The Lagan and Lough Cycle Way is a 21-mile, mostly traffic-free route from Lisburn to Jordanstown via Belfast. Cyclists can enjoy biking along the Lagan Towpath and Belfast Lough, with spectacular views inland to Belfast’s hills.

Surprise trailside treats: Kingfisher-spotting in the Lagan Valley Regional Park and Belfast’s most famous pub, The Crown Bar.

 

Cuckoo Trail, Sussex

The Cuckoo Trail gets its name from an old Sussex tradition of releasing a cuckoo at the Heathfield Agricultural Show. Running from Polegate near Eastbourne to Heathfield itself, it covers 11 family-friendly miles of traffic-free tarmac and gravel along a railway line.

Surprise trailside treats: See if you can spot Artist Steve Geliot’s wooden benches carved from storm damaged oaks, Hailsham village and nearby Michelham Priory, a medieval monastery-turned-country house and museum.

 

See also:

Fallowfield Loopline, Manchester

Head south from the HSBC UK National Cycling Centre and you’ll find the 16-mile traffic-free route to South Manchester.

 

Derby Canal Path and Cloud Trail

Flat, well-surfaced riverside riding starting in Derby and ending at the engagingly named Cloud Quarry where cyclists are rewarded by wonderful views. 

 

Camel Trail

A popular 18-mile, predominantly traffic-free railway trail taking in Padstow, Bodmin, Wadebridge, and Wenford Bridge; a delightful mix of Cornish woodland, birdlife and wild estuary.

Must-See Spots, Less Than An Hour From London

London is one of the most fascinating cities on Earth. However, if you don’t venture just a little further out of the centre of the city you could be seriously missing out, as there are a huge range of activities and attractions, all located less than 60 minutes from central London.

 

Windsor Castle is the weekend home of Queen Elizabeth II, and the venue of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s upcoming nuptials. Tour the 11th-century castle and grounds, and admire the lavish State Apartments and Semi-State Rooms – faithfully restored after the 1992 fire. Catch a 40-minute mainline train from Paddington Station to Windsor & Eton Central, then walk five minutes to Windsor Castle.

 

Kew Gardens are just 30 minutes south of central London, on the District line to Richmond. A UNESCO World Heritage site, highlights include the iconic Palm House glasshouse, Kew Palace - where King George III sought refuge during his bouts of ‘madness’ - a treetop walkway and an arboretum containing 14,000 trees.

 

Jump on a train at London’s Charing Cross and you can be in Royal Tunbridge Wells in just 50 minutes. This Kentish spa town first found fame 400 years ago, when an iron-rich spring was discovered and the gentry flocked to ‘cure’ ailments from infertility to hangovers. Today you can still taste the healing waters, served to you by a traditionally-dressed dipper.

 

Immerse yourself in the wizarding world with an enchanting visit to Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter. When the final Harry Potter movie wrapped, a magical trove of treasures were left behind. Two soundstages and a back lot were reassembled and opened to adoring fans. Catch the train or tube from London Euston to Watford Junction, then a shuttle bus, and you could be knocking at Hogwarts’ door within 40 minutes.

 

Catch the fast train from Kings Cross and you could be outside Hatfield House, Hertfordshire, in just 20 minutes. The Old Palace was owned by Henry VIII and was the childhood home of Queen Elizabeth I, while the newer Jacobean Hatfield House was built in 1611. You can tour both homes and the grounds, including the very spot where Elizabeth I discovered she’d become Queen of England.

 

You might also like:

  • Visit one of the Go Ape outdoor adventure parks for high rope courses, zip wires and Segway safaris.
  • Enjoy a spot of tea in a stately home, such as Strawberry Hill House.
  • Visit the William Morris Gallery, devoted to the life of the famous designer, craftsman and socialist.
  • Travel to Epsom, home to the greatest flat horse race in the world - the Epsom Derby. It is also where suffragette Emily Davison died to further women's rights by throwing herself under the king's horse.
  • Richmond Park is the largest of the Royal Parks and has remained almost unchanged since the 1600's when King Charles I turned it into a nature reserve and deer sanctuary.
  • LEGOLAND lets you bring out your inner child with rides, shows and Miniland - cities and landmarks famously recreated with Lego bricks.
  • Jump on a train and discover the stunning nature reserves and wetlands that ring London, including Surrey Hills, Epping Forest and the Chilterns.

Quirky London

You might be shocked in London, but you'll never be bored – the capital is a city of surprises. Here some of the weirdest and most wonderful sights to see.

 

Experience ancient London in the London Mithraeum, a Roman temple excavated after World War II, where over 600 Roman artefacts including the earliest writing tablets were discovered by archaeologists. Built along one of London’s lost rivers, the Walbrook, it was earmarked for a new location, but has been returned to its original site and is now open to the public in Bloomberg's European headquarters.

 

Alternatively, transport yourself back to wartime London with a visit to Churchill's War Rooms, the underground bunker from where Winston Churchill coordinated the Allied forces during World War II, eventually leading them to victory.

 

And if you thought museums were boring, think again. London has the Natural History Museum, home to 80 million specimens from a 9,000-year-old human skeleton to a 4.5 billion-year-old meteorite, while the Museum of London tells the entire story of this great city from 450,000 BC to the present day. And for a slice of the darker side of Victorian life, the Jack the Ripper Museum has recreated scenes in the heart of Whitechapel during the reign of the still-unidentified serial killer.

 

You'll find all manner of animal oddities at the Grant Museum of Zoology where some 68,000 specimens cover the whole Animal Kingdom from the skeleton of a quagga - a long-extinct species of zebra – to the bones of a dodo and a jar of preserved moles.

 

There’s living, breathing wildlife too. While lush wetlands may be the last thing you expect to see in the suburbs of northwest London, that's what you'll find at Woodberry Wetlands. Originally the Stoke Newington East Reservoir, the wetlands have been reclaimed by wildlife, including waterbirds, newts, bats and butterflies.

 

Over in Highgate, you’ll find the final resting place of Karl Marx and George Michael (his grave is closed to the public) at Highgate Cemetery. Built in Victorian times, it’s famous for its grand memorials and elaborate style - you can explore the newer East Cemetery independently or take a guided tour of the original (more architecturally impressive) West Cemetery.

 

For something truly peculiar, head to House of Dreams, a delightfully odd collection of items found by artist Stephen Wright; his personal memories and scavenged curios, from dolls' heads and bottle tops to false teeth and wigs are all displayed in his East Dulwich home. In God’s Own Junkyard in Walthamstow, you’ll find an eye-assaulting collection of neon art, created and curated by late designer Chris Bracey, from salvaged neon signs, old movie props and retro film sets. Open to the public as a homage to his life's work, it’s free to visit, and you can buy, rent or simply ogle the glittering kaleidoscope before you.

 

Eating out needn't be a staid affair in London. Grab a coffee at Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium in trendy east London, and you might be joined by a furry tablemate – this is where you can relax with the three C's: coffee, cake and cats. If you prefer your food cold and crunchy, visit the Cereal Killer Café, where every meal is of the breakfast bowl variety from Coco Pops to Lucky Charms. And while we’d love to tell you about the Chambers of Flavour, we don’t have a clue.. What we DO know is you arrive at a secret location for an evening of gastro and theatrical treats…  So embrace the eccentric, and start exploring!