Recently, Victoria Hinshaw and I were fortunate enough to take in the Portraits of Dogs Exhibition at the Wallace Collection in London. From The Wallace Collection website:

“The exhibition explores our devotion to four-legged friends across the centuries. Through carefully selected paintings, sculptures, drawings, works of art and even taxidermy, the exhibition highlights the unique bond between humans and their canine companions.

“Dog portraiture developed as an artistic genre contemporaneously with its human counterpart – dogs are represented in the earliest cave paintings alongside humans – and it flourished, particularly in Britain, from the 17th century onwards. More than any other nationality perhaps, the British have both commissioned and collected portraits of dogs.”

The remarkable sculpture above is known as The Townley Greyhounds. Roman, by an unknown artist. Discovered by archaeologist Gavin Hamilton at Monte Cagnolo, outside Rome. Sold to antiquarian Charles Townley, whose decendants offered it to the British Museum in 1805.

Ah Cum, a Pekinese Dog – One of two dogs smuggled out of China in 1896 by explorer Douglas Murray, these dogs established the breed in Britain. Murray donated Ah Cum’s body after death to the Natural History Museum.

Hogarth’s dog, Trump – Produced by the Chelsea Porcelain Factory after a model by French sculptor Louis-Francois Roubiliac.

Dog of the Havana Breed by Jean Jacques Bachelier 1768. Here, the dog, obviously a favourite, seems to ask forgiveness after having played with its owner’s slippers, ribbon and coins.

Tristram and Fox by Thomas Gainesborough, circa 1775-85. While most canine portraits were produced for their owners, this is apparently a personal one, for Tristram and Fox were the artist’s own pets.

A Saluki Dog by Edwin Landseer, 1840-44. Landseer is known for his skill with canine portraits. Here, he breathes life into the subject via the dog’s curled lips and the flipped ear. It’s easy to imagine that the Saluki pounced just seconds later.

King Charles Spaniels (The Cavalier’s Pets) by Edwin Landseer 1845. Landseer painted this scene in two days for his patron, businessman Robert Vernon.

Hector, Nero and Dash with the Parrot, Lory by Landseer 1838. Here, Landseer portrays Queen Victoria’s favourite pets. The Queen pronounced the painting to be “the most beautiful thing imaginable.”

The Old Shepherd’s Chief Mourner by Landseer 1837. Admittedly one of two of my favourite Landseer paintings, the other being the portrait of Prince Albert’s greyhound, Eos, which was strangely missing from this exhibit. Landseer beautifully captures the collies’ heartbreak and devotion, the simple life of the shepherd is summed up in the few possessions depicted in the room. Contemporary art critic John Ruskin remarked on the painting’s “utter hopelessness.” Only the coldest heart could remain unmoved upon viewing the painting.


Doubtful Crumbs by Edwin Landseer 1858. A mastiff dozes with a bone while the terrier salivates with hunger – illustrating the Parable of Luke, in which Lazarus longed to “eat what fell from the rich man’s table.”

Laying Down the Law or Trial by Jury by Landseer c. 1840. One of the artist’s most successful works, it satirises the legal profession and its long and costly procedures. Exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1840, it was purchased by the 6th Duke of Devonshire, who asked Landseer to add his Blenheim spaniel, Bony, to the scene behind the greyhound on the left. Usually, visitors to Chatsworth House will see the painting hanging in the entry hall.

The Exhibition runs at the Wallace Collection, London, until 15 October 2023.


I’ve been fortunate enough to have visited Windsor many times, but one of the most memorable visit was that on our 2014 Duke of Wellington Tour. As our coach drew into Windsor, our tour group was greeted by the sight of draft horses delivering beer to a nearby pub. From that moment, we knew that our visit to Windsor would be something special, and I’m glad to say that it was, indeed.

Our group stayed at the Castle Hotel, above, where Victoria and I had both stayed before and which is a personal favourite. The hotel is directly across from some of Windsor’s landmarks, including the Guildhall, below, and the Crooked House.
A wedding taking place at the Guildhall, above, a la Prince Charles and Camilla, who were married there in 2005.
Side view of the Guildhall with statue of George of Denmark, Queen Anne’s consort

Click here for a tour of the inside of the Guildhall and the history of the building, which we covered in a prior post.

Windsor’s Crooked House, built in 1592 and reputed to have a secret passage in the basement leading to Windsor Castle that facilitated trysts between Charles II and Nell Gwynn.
The statue of Queen Victoria which stands at the end of the street leading to the Castle.

It was a glorious day for our group visit to the Castle.

We even got a peek at the van belonging to “Her Majesty’s Supplier of Lighting Fittings and Allied Components.”
You can read Victoria’s prior post on the Waterloo Chamber at Windsor Castle here. 
After our tour of the Castle, a pub lunch was enjoyed at The Horse and Groom, the very same pub that received the delivery of ale courtesy of the draft horses.

Our table afforded us a birdseye view of the Town, but unfortunately we didn’t get a glimpse of the Guard’s Band that day – these photos were taken a few days later by Victoria during our extended stay after the conclusion of the Tour.

We’ll once again be based in Windsor during Number One London’s Town & Country House tour in May, 2024. We hope you’ll consider joining us for what promises to be a truly unique experience – the tour ends with us staying at Hartwell House, a magnificent country house hotel. You’ll find the complete itinerary and further details here.



Wow. On a recent trip to Lisbon, I made a point of visiting the National Coach Museum, as I’d run out of time to do so on a prior trip. Again, wow. I knew it was one of the largest and most comprehensive coaching museums in the world, yet I was still bowled over by the massive collection. So impressed was I that I suggested to my fellow guide, Gareth Glover, that we add it to the itinerary of Number One London’s Peninsular War Tour in May 2024. And so we have.

The National Coach Museum (Museu Nacional dos Coches) houses an important horse-drawn carriage collection of vehicles from the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, including coaches, berlins, sedan chairs and carriages of all kinds. Over one hundred of them, in fact. The photo below will give you a rough idea of the space that houses this amazing collection and the following carriages just a taste of the vast collection that is on show.

Here is a rare example of the “Carrosse Moderne,” that appeared first in Paris. It belonged to Queen Maria Francisca of Savoy-Nemours, cousin to King Louis XIV of France. It was brought to Portugal as part of her wedding dowry in 1666.

Below, a fold out camp bed used on long journeys.

Below, a Dutch carriage commissioned by Emperor Joseph I of Austria in 1798 for the marriage of his sister, Maria Ana, to the King of Portugal D. Joao V. The carriage body is covered with fine gold leaf and decorated with crowned lions, monograms and the Portuguese Coat of Arms. The wheel spokes are shaped like sceptres.

Above and below, an Italian built coach paying homage to the maritime history of Portugal. On the rear, Apollo is flanked by two female figures representing Spring and Summer. In front, two elderly men, representing the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, shake hands.

Above and below, a Portuguese procession coach built in 1729. The table inside could be used for meals during long journeys or when in procession.


Above, an Eyeglass Chaise, allowing the occupants to stay dry in wet weather.

Italian made promenade vehicles, used by the Royal Family on their estates and in the palace gardens. There is a seat at the back for the groom.

Litters, or sedan chairs.

Above, an Empire style state carriage commissioned in 1824 in London by King Joao VI. The coachman’s seat is very high and the roof displays a royal crown. Used for the coronation of King Carlos I.

An English state coach commissioned by Queen Maria II. The Portuguese Coat of Arms decorate the doors, access to the interior is made via folding steps. A rounded box sits at the rear to carry weapons.  Manufactured at J.R. Pearce’s workshop, London.

Above and below, a long distance coach built in 1854 by the Jones Freres workshop, Brussels. The body has two separate compartments for passengers and one for offical mail. Travel between Lisbon and Oporto took 34 hours, with 23 stops along the way.

Above and below, a Portuguese prisoner carriage. The metallic box body has eight fake windows surmounted by respirators. Inside are six individual cells, three on each side. Two prison guards locked the cells and remained seated at each end of the corridor, front and back. The rear fold down seat can be seen in the photo below.

If you’d like to visit Lisbon’s National Coach Museum, we hope you’ll consider joining us on Number One London’s Peninsular War Tour, May 2024. You’ll find complete itinerary and further details here.

Wonderful Waddesdon Manor

I recently visited Waddesdon Manor with a mind to adding it to the itinerary of Number One London’s upcoming Town & Country House Tour. The French Renaissance château was built in the 19th century by Baron Ferdinand Rothschild and I’m pleased to report that it did not disappoint. The house, the collections, the gardens and outbuildings combined to serve as a most unique whole. In fact, Waddesdon is now right up there beside Chatsworth House as my personal favourite country houses in England.

Baron Rothschild, a dedicated Francophile, employed a French architect who created rooms using wall panels taken from Parisian houses of the 1700s. He then filled the house with treasures that once belonged to French royalty. Rothschild lavished Waddesdon’s rooms with paintings, carpets and porcelain to rival any museum on either side of the Channel. All of which was only seen on summer weekends by a few of the Baron’s close circle. Waddesdon was never a family home, it was only ever meant to be an occasional country retreat.

On the approach to the Manor, it would be difficult not to be awed by the fabulous grounds, gardens and architectural details.  Or by the attention to the smallest detail that is regularly given to the Manor, evident at every turn.

Waddesdon Manor is unique in that The Rothschild Foundation continues to manage the property on behalf of the National Trust, as well as providing the majority of the funding for its upkeep.

The interiors are likewise impressive, beginning with the dining room, which resembles Versailles in miniature.

The dinner service below is comprised of over 400 pieces of porcelain as service for twenty-four people. Although it was a gift from King Louis XV to an Austrian prince in 1766, it was used by the family until the 1980s.

With more than 15,000 works of art and objects, the collection ranges widely in date, materials and techniques, and places of production. Each of the rooms at Waddesdon serve as backdrops for the priceless pieces on display.

Something that becomes immediately apparent to visitors is that Waddesdon’s staff truly care about the guest experience. There’s at least one docent in every room . . . and they know their stuff. They are genuinely friendly and engaged. Waddesdon Manor even encourages visitors to touch, with “touch boards” dotted along the route, each focused on a different architectural component of the Manor.

As one would expect, conservation is constantly being undertaken at Waddesdon.

One of the final areas on the tour are the ornate Bachelors Quarters, where single men visitors were housed at weekends. Any gentleman who arrived alone, whether actually married or not, was assigned a room in this wing of the Manor. Very Victorian, indeed.

The present Baron Rothschild continues to collect art and porcelain, mostly contemporary. This chandelier was specially commissioned in 2003 by Lord Rothschild for the Blue Dining Room and looks surprisingly at home against the walls of 18th-century carved panelling.

I’m pleased to add Waddesdon Manor to our roster of historic stately homes and I look forward to introducing our group to Waddesdon during Number One London’s upcoming Town & Country House tour, May 2024. Complete tour itinerary and further details can be found here.

Please watch the videos below to learn more about Waddesdon Manor’s art collection and aviary.



Recently, I stayed at Hartwell House, an historic stately home hotel nestled in the Vale of Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. Being made to feel like the Lady of the Manor for a week was a unique experience. Given the choice of several beautifully decorated drawing rooms in which to relax and acres of grounds to explore, I truly felt as though I had the entire house to myself, although there were certainly other guests in the hotel.

Hartwell House is rich in both Jacobean and Georgian archtectural elements, though the property was first mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. The present Grade I listed House was built between 1570 and 1617 by Sir Alexander Hampden, but Hartwell and its grounds have been shaped over the years by the hands of reknowned architects and designers, including James Gibbs, James Wyatt and  Richard Woods, a well-known follower of Capability Brown.

Hartwell House has a remarkable history, with it’s most famous resident being Louis XVIII, exiled King of France (above), who held court here from 1809 to 1814.

Portraits of Louis XVIII and his wife, Marie Josephine of Savoy, hang over Hartwell’s grand staircase.

Following Napoleon’s defeat in Russia in 1812, Louis XVIII issued a proclamation to the people of France, dated Hartwell, Feb 1, 1813. The Declaration of Hartwell stated that those who had served Napoleon or the Republic would not suffer repercussions for their acts, and that those who’d had lands confiscated during the Revolution would be compensated for their losses.

While the Foreign Secretary Lord Castlereagh denied any British participation in the proclamation, the British government provided Louis with the financial means to print the declaration, and copies were sent on board British ships for distribution on the coast of France, and dispatches to European capitals were carried by British couriers.

Allied troops entered Paris on 31 March 1814. On April 6, 1814, the French Senate invited Louis to resume the throne of France and Louis signed the accession papers at Hartwell. Five days later Napoleon abdicated.

A bust of the Duke of Wellington stands in a niche outside the dining room

The Royal Meteorological Society was founded at (1850) and regularly met at Hartwell House. In 1938 the house and estate were purchased by millionaire recluse Ernest Cook, an early hero of the conservation movement and grandson and co-heir of the Victorian travel tycoon Thomas Cook. During the Second World War, Hartwell served as an Army billet for British and American troops. From 1956 until 1983, Hartwell was let to finishing school and secretarial college and was afterwards purchased by Historic House Hotels Ltd, when the fine Georgian interiors were painstakingly restored alongside extensive restoration of the historic gardens and parkland. Hartwell House opened as an hotel in July 1989 – with a whole lot of history behind it and much panache.


Each of the spacious bedrooms are unique and feature outstanding decorative ceilings and panelling, fine paintings and antique furniture. The beautifully appointed drawing rooms are no less impressive.

Guests are free to lounge, read or have a drink in any of the drawing rooms; staff are always discreetly on hand to attend to your wishes, though you’d do well to rouse yourself occasionally and explore the extensive grounds.

Hartwell House sits in over 90 acres of glorious landscaped gardens and parkland. The garden was designed at the start of the 18th century, probably by James Gibbs, in the formal style with allées and garden buildings. By the middle of the 18th century, most of the formality had been swept away and the garden landscaped by a follower of Lancelot (Capability) Brown, one Richard Woods.

Today, guests are encouraged to stroll the many paths, explore the follies and woods and commune with the resident cows. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a glimpse of the deer who typically make an appearance in the grounds around dusk.


The picturesque bridge over the lake was originally the central span of the old Kew Bridge, built over the Thames in the 18th century but dismantled in 1898 and its sections sold at auction.

Hartwell House also boasts a full service spa, offering a wide range of treatments. Hotel guests are free to use the swimming pool whenever they like.

Back at the House, be sure to indulge in a very special afternoon tea, served when and wherever you like.

Breakfasts at Hartwell House are also a treat. Enjoy a leisurely meal as you read the newspapers or simply gaze out at the beautiful grounds and enjoy a second cup of tea or coffee.

Is it any wonder that I’ve added a stay at Hartwell House to Number One London’s upcoming Town & Country House tour? An added bonus is that there is a private drive from Hartwell House to nearby Waddesdon Manor, also on the tour. You can find the complete tour itinerary and further details here.