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London’s famous English Heritage Homes

When the name London is mentioned what is the first thing that pops into your mind? In all probability it will be the Royal family and all of its historical landmarks, which include Royal palaces, Royal gardens and Royal parks, amongst a slew of other iconic attractions.  Undoubtedly, the city of London is the epitome of sophistication and charm that is derived from its singular blend of medieval and modern.

A good example of this would include its famous luxury hotels like the London City Suites by Montcalm. When it comes to 5 star city Hotels London is up there with the best in the world. With the most modern amenities and classic old world charm, staying in any of these opulent hotels is a most pleasurable and delightful experience to undergo. A holiday in London would be incomplete without a tour of its many attractions, among which are its stately homes. Some of the finest heritage homes that definitely must be on your tour itinerary are:

Apsley House: It has the distinction of being the city’s original and grandest surviving town house from the 18th-century. It was originally built as a residence for the Duke of Wellington with work staring in 1771 and completed by 1778. Known for its exquisite Regency interiors it was designed and built by Robert Adam. Apsley House hosted some of the finest banquets of the era, which reflected the meteoric rise of the Duke in London society.  They annual banquets were held in the aptly named Waterloo gallery, which were hosted to commemorate the Duke’s Waterloo victory. It is still inhabited by descendants of the first Duke, which make it the sole property under English Heritage, to have members of the original owners still in residence. It was commonly referred to as ‘Number 1 London’ on account of it being the first home that people encountered, after they passed through the former toll gates that existed at Knightsbridge. This magnificent edifice houses one of the finest collections of porcelain and silverware in the world besides being home to priceless paintings of Masters such as Rubens, Velasquez and Van Dyke.

Chiswick House: This stunning Burlington family home is a testimonial of the marvellous age of landscape gardening. Chiswick House with its classic 18th century design was a former royal residence that initially was owned by Lord Burlington, who was renowned as an Italophile and an avid traveller. It is styled in the classic Palladian style with its centrepiece being its octagonal domed villa, that it is said drew inspiration from “La Rotonda” outside the city of Vicenza. The building’s clean and simple exteriors contrasts yet complements its opulent interiors that were built by William Kent. One of its most notable rooms is its “Blue Velvet Room” that has the most intricate ceiling paintings, embellished with detailed gilded decoration. It houses a significant collection of Old Masters artworks besides offering visitors an exhibit of prints, portraits and paintings which reflect the passion of Burlington family’s love for art. It exemplifies an age when landscape gardening reigned supreme with this beautiful summer palace being set amidst acres of immaculately crafted parkland, statues, greenhouses, hidden temples and lakes. The place has been immortalised by Alexander Pope who described it is the embodiment of the glory of England. A beautiful Inigo Jones gateway leads visitors onto these spectacular grounds. Admission to the House is free except for the guided garden tours. Besides Chiswick House its cafe and grounds are an attraction in itself. Its famous Kitchen Garden dates back to 1682 and serves as the venue for a number of events held at different times of the year.

Eltham Palace: Eltham Palace has been described as one of the city’s secret wonders, where art deco and classic medievalism come together. It was painstakingly restored by English Heritage, with its Art Deco interiors being out of the best in the country. It offers visitors an opportunity to relive the glory of 1930s Britain, while also exemplifying the symbolism of medieval London.  The Palace began to take shape during the reign of Edward IV’s reign in the 15th century. He had commissioned the construction of the Great Hall, which survives till date as an example of the superior craftsmanship of that era. A notable feature of the place is its hammer beam roof, which is known to be the third largest of its kind in the UK. It was the venue for many royal events, which include Christmas festivities for King Henry VIII who spent his childhood here. In fact he was the last ruling monarch to spend considerable time here, before it declined and fell into a state of disrepair. Most of the buildings on the property were gradually demolished with the area being later used as a farm. During the 1930s it was bought by the Courtaulds, a rich couple, with the understanding that they repair and refurbish its famous medieval Great Hall. They then contributed to the place by having an Art Deco house built complete with every conceivable mod cons of the time, along with ornate interiors and furnishings. It amply illustrates the glamour of the 1930s which is complemented by its magnificent landscaped gardens, which include the remnants of Henry VIIIth hunting grounds, a sunken rose garden and a moat area. It is the perfect place to spend an afternoon exploring its stunning interiors of the House and its Great Hall along with its sprawling gardens and moat area.

London has a number of such striking homes under the aegis of English Heritage, which are worth exploring at leisure with the family or just on one’s own.

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