INSPIRATION • February 2020
You've probably had all of them in your pocket at some point or another, but the famous faces on our British bank notes have a lot more to them than just cultural kudos. Club writer, Hannah Ralph, takes a look at the destinations these trailblazing Brits held most dear
‘There is no charm equal to tenderness of heart’, once wrote Ms Austen. And when it comes to charm, there’s nowhere quite like the little village of Chawton, Hampshire – the writer’s literary home and her final resting place. Here, in her Grade I listed house on Winchester Road, she wrote, revised and published all of her most beloved works, including Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma and more. Inside the Jane Austen House Museum (£9 admission) you can spy first editions, the tiny table on which she wrote, personal letters and more trinkets to delight the literary lover within.
Top tip: Continue the quaintness across the road at Cassandra’s Cup, where a traditional afternoon tea served on delicate china awaits.
From Mary, Queen of Scots’ turbulent reign to the lavish parties of Bonnie Prince Charlie, if Holyrood Palace’s walls could talk, they’d have plenty of scandal to share. These days, the Edinburgh palace is one of seven royal residences owned by Her Majesty the Queen, including Balmoral Castle – the royals’ summertime retreat just a few hours north. Holyrood is open year round to the public, who can feast their eyes on the Great Gallery (and have 95 portraits of Scottish kings staring back), kick back in Mary, Queen of Scots’ infamous bed chambers or simply wander the grandoise grounds.
Top tip: The palace is packed come ‘Holyrood Week’ – an annual event that takes place from the end of June to early July, when Her Majesty herself comes to town for seven days of royal duties.
Did you know Winston Churchill, the hard-nosed tactician who led Britain through the war, was in fact a big softie? This is just one facet of Churchill’s personality that you discover at Blenheim Palace – birthplace of the late, great Prime Minister. The Churchill Exhibition (featuring his many love letters to wife, Clementine) is only one stop on the ride that is Blenheim: grab an audio guide and be whisked through ornate State Rooms, each a treasure chest of stories from the larger-than-life figures who once called it home.
Top tip: Blenheim’s got just as much going on outside as it does in. You’ll spot what was once hailed ‘The finest view in England’ on the approach, plus there are the award-winning gardens, a yew-tree maze and a butterfly house to lose yourself in.
One of Britain’s most glorified painters, it’s hardly a surprise that J.M.W. Turner’s artistic influence remains far and wide across the land he so loved to paint. A collection of his brooding seascapes can be found in Room 34 of The National Gallery in London, just off Trafalgar Square, while the largest collection can be found at Tate Britain. Of course, you’ll want to head to his house in Twickenham, where rare oil sketches of the Thames have been loaned by the Tate for a limited spell.
Top tip: Turner’s fondess for a seaside escape to Margate was no secret - so much so it’s now home to his namesake gallery, the Turner Contemporary. Pull up a chair at The Harbour Café, Bar & Kitchen, where you can soak in the views of Margate Harbour – a scene that featured in over 100 of Turner’s paintings.