London is packed with treasures from world-famous landmarks to little-known historic and cultural gems. In the Discover London section of the print magazine we bring together a wealth of the capital’s most fascinating features from the biggest to the smallest to give you a taste of variety on offer to visitors.
1. Fire! Fire!, Museum of London, 23 July 2016-17 April 2017
The effects of the 1666 blaze that rampaged for days through London’s streets can still clearly be seen on the skyline and the Great Fire remains a watershed moment in the city’s history.
To mark the 350th anniversary of the fire this September, the Museum of London – which tells the changing story of the city from 450,000 BC to the present day – opens a major immersive and interactive exhibition exploring the dramatic events.
Running from 23 July to 17 April 2017, Fire! Fire! will focus on life on the eve of the blaze, follow the fire’s path through a the city and show how London recovered from the devastation, as well as offering the chance to get close to rarely seen 17th-century artefacts such as a burned ceramic roof tile, padlocks and keys.
2. Buckingham Palace State Rooms, 23 July-2 October
The State Rooms – those designed and built as the public rooms in which monarchs receive, reward and entertain their subjects and visiting dignitaries – are still used extensively by The Queen and members of the Royal Family to receive and entertain their guests on State, ceremonial and official occasions.
Each summer these rooms are open to the public, ahead of the opening we go behind the scenes to check out the 19 stunning rooms and explore their history.
3. Blue plaques – 150 years of history
In 1866 the (Royal) Society of Arts founded what would become the blue plaques scheme “to increase the public estimation for places which have been the abodes of men who have made England what it is.”
The London blue plaques scheme, now run by English Heritage and thought to be the oldest of its kind in the world, is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.
Touring London taking the plaques is a great way to feel how the past still fills the present among the city’s building and, in Discover London, we explore the scheme’s fascinating history and check out how it plans to stay relevant in the future, as well as visit most the most interesting plaques.
4. Queen’s House, Royal Greenwich Museums, opening 2016
The first fully classical building in England, designed by Inigo Jones on his return from Italy where he had been inspired by the architecture of Andrea Palladio, the Queen’s House sits like a jewel between the two buildings of the Old Royal Naval College as you look up from the Thames, perfectly framed by Greenwich Park. The background of the former royal hunting ground is appropriate.
The house was commissioned 400 years ago for Anne of Denmark as an apology from her husband, James I, who swore at her while hunting, the Queen’s House has been undergoing extensive refurbishment to mark its 400th anniversary year, which is set to make it another unmissable attraction on the London cultural trail.
5. Pride and Prejudice at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, 02 September-17 September
Enjoy a new take on a classic novel later this summer as the enduringly appealing tale of the Bennet sisters’ search for love in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice comes to the stage in the delightful environs of Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre.
Elizabeth Bennet’s journey towards Mr Darcy, adapted by Simon Reade and directed by Deborah Bruce, is sure to charm audiences when it returns to the theatre from 2 to 17 September, following a sell-out run in 2013.
Set in the heart of one of London’s Royal Parks, the Open Air Theatre is the perfect place for a spot of romantic comedy, offering an incomparable atmosphere, with theatregoers setting up their hampers on the picnic lawn as fairy lights twinkle away in the trees.