Elegant and Decadent Days Out


Now that the milder weather is coming along I thought it would be nice to share with you some of my favourite places to visit in and around London and nearby for a very inspired day out.

Marble Hill House, Twickenham

For lovers of art and symmetry…

Marble Hill is the last complete survivor of the elegant villas and gardens which bordered the Thames between Richmond and Hampton Court in the 18th century. It was built for the remarkable Henrietta Howard, mistress of King George II when he was Prince of Wales. The house and gardens were intended as an Arcadian retreat from crowded 18th-century London. Its grand interiors have been exquisitely restored and recreated and include a fine collection of early Georgian paintings.There are fewer places in the UK where you can get a better sense of Georgian interiors.

The house is set in 66 acres (2.67 km²) of parkland, the Marble Hill Park. The Great Room has five architectural capricci by Giovanni Paolo Pannini and lavishly gilded decoration.

Gilded decoration and ornate doorways typical of the period

Gilding at its best

The Marble Hill house also hosts a collection of early Georgian furniture and paintings as well as the Lazenby Bequest Chinoiserie collection.

Hand painted wallpaper

More recently the house recently made an appearance in the ‘Nanny McPhee 2‘, and ‘The Big Bang’ movie starring Maggie Gyllenhall and Rhys Ifans.

Sadly, you will need to wait a little longer before visiting as it only opens again in April, but put it on your must see list.

For more information see the English Heritage website

The Houses of Sir John Soane

for the eclectics..

Sir John Soane was an English Architect who specialised in the Neo-Classcial style. He trained under Henry Holland and later went on to design the bank of England. In 1792, Soane bought a house at 12 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London. He used the house as his home and library, but also entertained potential clients in the drawing room. As well as all the original furniture and paintings the museum contains various models of projects that Sir John Soane worked on, so this is a great place to visit for anyone interested in architecture. Among his eclectic acquisitions are an Egyptian sarcophagus and dozens of Greek and Roman antiquities which surely influenced many of his designs. The building is crammed head to toe in artifacts, antiquities and more, and definitely has the feel of someone’s house rather than a museum. It only allows 70 guests at any one time and only has one entrance which on busy days can mean there is a bit of a queue so best to arrive early or go on a weekday so that you avoid the line.

Here is a great little video I found which talks about John Soane and his house.

And if you’re interested and haven’t yet read my blog post about my visit then please click here

The John Soane Museum is open from Tuesday to Saturday and admission is free. Closest tube station is Holborn. For more information, click here.

The Brighton Pavillion

for lovers of royalty and extravagant decor..

The Royal Pavillion, often referred to as the Brighton Pavillion, was built for the Prince Regent, later King George IV, in stages between 1787 and 1823. This magnificent building looks like nothing else in the UK, reminiscent of the Taj Mahal, in Indo-Saracenic style which was prevalent in India throughout the British reign. The pavillion is a true reflection of Regency opulence and excess. It’s decor is totally extravagant, colourful and fun – chinoiserie is seen often in influence, as apparantly the King loved the Chinese style. Adorned with gilded dragons, carved palm trees and imitation bamboo staircases, the Palace’s unique style mixes Asian exoticism with English eccentricity.

These pictures really don’t do it justice! The pavillion is absolutely huge and well worth a trip out of London. This will suit anyone interested in unusual architecture, decoration and royal history.

The Pavillion is open October to March 10am–5.15pm and adult tickets are priced at £9.50. The Pavillion is a 15 minute walk from Brighton train station. For more information click here
Keats House
 for poetry fans..
This beautiful house was the residency of John Keat, a famous English poet, and is located in Hampstead, London. Decorated in true Regency style, the interior wouldn’t look out of place on a modern home today. It is subtle, classic and of great taste. The gardens here are a popular picknicking spot for families in the summer, and the museum run popular events focusing on the poetry of John Keats and poetry in general, from reading and appreciation groups to poetry writing.
The house itself has undergone a recent refurbishment, reflecting the true style in which Keats would have lived in himself, with beautiful parlor rooms and bedrooms. This is a great place for ideas on how to take Regency style and apply it in a modern setting.
Keats House is open to the general public Friday to Sunday 1.00pm – 5.00pm and tickets are £5. Nearest tube is Hampstead. For more information click here.

Enjoy your explorations!

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