HM The Queen’s 90th Birthday Party Invitation Ballot

Queen Elizabeth IIHM The Queen’s 90th Birthday Celebration event will take place over four nights from 12th – 15th May 2016  in Windsor Castle’s Home Park with members of the Royal Family attending each night, including HM The Queen who will attend Sunday 15th May.

If your personal invitation is not already gracing your mantelpiece there is a second chance for you to attend some of the celebrations.

5,000 free tickets will be made available through a ballot to be held early in 2016 to join the pre-performance party on The Long Walk for the final evening.  Crowds will be able to get the party started on the beautiful lawns leading up to Windsor Castle and highlights include:

  • The chance to see celebrities arriving on the red carpet
  • Being treated to performances from some of the displays performing in the show
  • Watching the Final performance live on giant pop-up screens with the stunning backdrop of Windsor Castle

On all four nights over 900 horses & 1,500 participants from around the World will descend on the private grounds of Windsor Castle. From The Queen’s birth in 1926, through World War Two, to The Queen’s Coronation in 1953 and a reign spanning more than 60 years, the story will take us through a remarkable life.

On Sunday night the Celebration will be broadcast live on ITV in a 2 hour programme when the best of British talent from the entertainment world will join in the Celebration.

Click to keep up to date with the birthday arrangements and the ballot announcements, cross your fingers for good luck and remember to dust off your tiara!

The Celebration is a not for profit event and aims to create a significant surplus that will be donated to charities.

DAwn Blee Blue Badge Tourist Guide

Dawn Blee Blue Badge Tour Guide South East Tour Guides


The Chilham Chase – living history event

chilham castleHaving led such a colourful life it came as no surprise that on his death in 1639 Sir Dudley Digges bequeathed a sum of money in his Will to celebrate his birthday every year. Parishes around Chilham in Kent were invited to send a team of “a young man and a young maiden to take part in a foot race on Sir Dudley’s birthday on 19th May. Competitors were required to be “of good conversation.”

Sir Dudley’s Will laid down that “the young man and also the young maid that shall prevail shall each of them have £10”- a small fortune at the time. The race became an annual event but sadly fell from favour because of Victorian disapproval of “girls and boys” competing in “very scanty attire.”

On Saturday 21st May 2016 teams of two will be invited to race over a 2.5 mile course in the grounds of Chilham Castle including climbing over some of the fixed equestrian jumps and other ‘silliness’ on route.The competitors will be running in some form of period costume of their own design.

There will be food and drink including a hog roast on offer in the Castle grounds for spectators and team supporters.

Follow the link for more information on the The Chilham Chase 400 Weekend of Celebration

London’s great sporting venues

Our Sport loving visitors from South Africa have enjoyed visiting some of London’s iconic sporting venues this week with tours of Lord’s Cricket Ground, Twickenham Rugby Stadium and Wimbledon which was looking glorious in yesterday’s autumn sunshine (below).


Toc H in Royal Tunbridge Wells

Talbot House

Talbot House

If you have walked past  the Toc H hall in Royal Tunbridge Wells and wondered, this may solve the matter. The name is an abbreviation for Talbot House, ‘Toc’ signifying the letter T in the Signals spelling alphabet used by the British Army in World War I. 100 years ago on the Western Front, army padre Philip “Tubby” Clayton and his colleague padre Neville Talbot recognised the urgent need for a soldiers’ club where the troops could meet to relax and recuperate when behind the lines. A two storey house in Poperinge (“Pop”) was procured and named after Talbot’s brother, Gilbert, who was killed at Ypres on 30 July, aged 23.  Talbot House was known as the Every-Man’s Club; in this house rank was irrelevant, orders were prohibited, and all soldiers were encouraged to forget about the war.

The top floor became a chapel, using a carpenter’s bench for an altar. Tubby estimated over 100,000 attended there during the war, whether for public service or private prayer.

The ground floor was a lounge, library and tea room. Alcohol was not served.

It was an instant success and continued until the immediate area became too dangerous, after which Talbot House went mobile using prefabricated wooden sheds. The original Talbot House exists to this day as a museum.

Back in London in 1920, Clayton founded a Christian youth centre in London, also called Toc H, which developed into an interdenominational association for Christian social service. Clayton became the Vicar of All Hallows by the Tower (of London) for some 40 years.

Talbot House is celebrated at a new exhibition at the Guildhall Library in London. It comprises displays of contemporary objects including pages of Tubby Clayton’s letters, notes and diaries. The hut in the middle of the display is an actual survival: not a replica.

Talbot House: An Oasis in a World Gone Crazy  runs until 8 January 2016. Entry is free.




London Lumiere 2016

Janet LumiereThe Mayor of London has welcomed the news that the first Lumiere light festival will be launched in the city in January, taking place over four nights from 14th-17th January 2016Lumiere London will be a free-to-attend event taking place over four evenings across more than 20 landmark locations in London’s West End and King’s Cross.

Pioneering international artists have been commissioned to create works for Lumiere London, giving visitors and Londoners the opportunity to see the city in a new light.

Designed as an antidote to the post-holiday blues, Lumiere London will appeal to tourists and Londoners alike. This ground-breaking new festival will reinforce London’s global reputation as a leader in culture and the arts and is expected to draw visitors to the capital from the UK and around the world at a traditionally quieter time of year.

The sites for the installations will include some of the city’s most iconic buildings and locations. As with all Artichoke projects, an element of surprise will be integral to the experience and the exact locations will remain under wraps until closer to the time.

Chauffeured London Highlights – Customized tours for families

For families and those short on time or not comfortable with using public transport, a day visiting the highlights of London with a Blue Badge Tour Guide and travelling by chauffeur-ed vehicle is the ideal choice.

The London Highlights tour is customized to your family’s wishes – see as much of London as you want in just one day. For your first visit to London you probably want to see the main attractions to find out what makes London such a great place to visit and to live in. Just tell us your family’s interests and the MUST SEES on their list and we will devise an itinerary for your tour. St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and the British Museum are just some of the great sites we can visit.

As professional London Blue Badge Tourist Guides we have the privilege of being entitled to guide within the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey and at Windsor Castle and many other historic royal palaces.

You can be sure that you and your family will discover all about London past and present in an interesting and enjoyable way.

If you are lucky enough to find you have a second day, or you are on a return visit, you may want to spend more time exploring the lesser known gems that the city has to offer.

London Highlights in a Day

London South East Blue Badge Tour Guides

London – the best city in the world

– well, we would say that, wouldn’t we?

There is so much to see and do; two millennia of history to wonder at; our Royal family, the parliamentary system, some of the best art in the world; the oldest and most important museums, the architecture and………Londoners of course!

See the sights of London with private tour guides who really know and love the city. Experience London as a Londoner, hop on and off red London buses,  take the Tube or use the Thames Riverbus for wonderful views of the capital and walk the streets to take time to appreciate the wonderful architecture.

Make the most of your experience of the capital. See as much of London as you want in just one day. London Highlights tours are customised to what you want to see.

As a holders of the coveted Blue Badge we have the added privilege of being entitled to guide within the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey and at Windsor Castle and many other historic royal palaces. St Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben are just some of the great sites we can visit.

With professional Blue Badge London Tourist Guides you can be sure that you’ll discover all about London past and present in an interesting and memorable way.
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Planning Our 2015 Garden Tours – a sneak preview

This gallery contains 21 photos.

I’ve been spending a blissfully therapeutic day looking at photos of some of the well-known and tucked-away gardens we visited on last year’s Garden Tours and planning itineraries for this year.  All these glorious gardens are located in the beautiful South East of England which … Continue reading

Tower of London prepares for Game of Thrones Premiere

Tower of London Game of Thrones March 2015

Our visitors had a bird’s eye view of preparations for the world premiere of the fifth season of Games of Thrones this week. This view from the Sky Garden at the top of the ‘Walkie Talkie’ in London shows blue tents being assembled in the grassy moat of The Tower of London.  Ravens are used by Game of Thrones characters to carry messages across the fictional land of Westeros, and no doubt the Tower’s famous Ravens will be getting ready to unnerve the cast of the series as they walk the red carpet before Wednesday’s screening.

The event will mark the first time a Game of Thrones world premiere has taken place in Europe. The atmospheric and forbidding Tower of London is a particularly appropriate venue since the books on which Game of Thrones books is based were inspired by events from English history including the Wars of the Roses during the 15th Century which ended in 1485 when Henry Tudor, father of the future King Henry VIII, seized the throne of England from King Richard III.

The Tower, now home to the Crown jewels and a firm favourite with visitors to London, was home to several dramatic events during the Wars of the Roses, most notably the disappearance and alleged murder of the two young ‘Princes in the Tower’ with popular accounts and Tudor propaganda blaming their uncle the future King Richard III.

Image from BBC

The remains of Richard III, who was killed at the Battle of Bosworth, were uncovered by archaeologists under a car park in the City of Leicester, and he will be reburied in Leicester Cathedral later this month.

 Amanda Hutchinson      Amanda Hutchinson Blue Badge Tour Guide


200th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo

wellys boots

Walmer Castle near Dover is creating new displays and preparing previously untold stories to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, when it re-opens in April. The Battle of Waterloo was the final engagement in the Napoleonic Wars.  Known as the British Army’s greatest victory under its greatest general, it led to a generation of peace in Europe and kept Britain free of war on the continent for a century and made a hero of Arthur Wellesley the Duke of Wellington.

Walmer Castle was built during the reign of King Henry VIII, as part of a chain of coastal artillery defences, it evolved into the official residence of the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. The Duke of Wellington held the post for 23 years and enjoyed his time spent at the castle and in recent years Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother made regular visits to the castle. The castle also has beautifully maintained gardens to enjoy.

it was at Walmer that the Duke  died on 14 September, 1852, the armchair in which Wellington died, his death mask and an original pair of ‘Wellington boots’ are among the highlights on display.

Other connections with Wellington include Apsley House, the Duke’s residence in London known as No 1, London with its wonderful Waterloo Gallery commemorating his military achievements is open all year round as is St Paul’s Cathedral where Wellington received a State Funeral and where his tomb now rests. Wellington’s Battlemap, used in the Battle of Waterloo, is on show at the Royal Engineers Museum, Chatham.

And of course there is always the Waterloo Chamber at Windsor Castle to be visited.

Over the weekend of 19 & 20 June 2015, thousands of re-enactors will congregate on the battlefield of Waterloo to recreate the ultimate battle of the Napoleonic Wars.