The Wellington Tour – London By Night

Recently, Victoria and I embarked on another of those musing, rambling, disjointed conversations we often have about London.

“We’d better figure out exactly what we want to do in London on the Tour so Patty will be able to start blocking out all the travel details,” I said to Victoria.

“What travel details?” she asked.

“Hotel rooms, motor coach and driver, meals, admissions. Like that.”

“Thank God we have Patty and Novel Explorations for all that. We can concentrate on all the fun stuff instead.”

“We should stay in either Victoria or Mayfair. That way, we’ll be in walking distance to everything.”

“Yeah,” Victoria agreed before staring off into the distance, no doubt dreaming of walking the streets of London again. I began thinking of London myself. In my mind’s eye, I walked down Buckingham Palace Road – the Royal Mews, the giftshop next door, down the sidewalk and round to the left in order to stare through the gates at Buckingham Palace. Sigh.

We sat in silence for a time until I finally said, “We have to take the Tour to see the Palace at night.”

“Definitely,” Victoria agreed. “But what happens if some of the people on our Tour have already seen the Palace?”

“How many times have you seen it?”

“Jeez, I don’t know. Lots.”

“And we still go back and gawk at it every time we’re there, right? Believe me, no one will complain about seeing the Palace at night.”

“Then we can toddle our way up to Apsley House and see that at night,” Victoria sighed.

“Then we can walk down Piccadilly to St. James’s Street and do all the Lions.”

Victoria gave me an odd look. “The lions are in Trafalgar Square.”

“Not those lions. The pubs. The Red Lion, the Golden Lion . . . . . “

“Oh, we’ve got to take them to the Golden Lion, it’s like stepping back in time. And if we do that, then we’ve got to walk down the street to Almack’s.”

“Definitely. We can tell the group about Wellington’s being refused admission because he was wearing boots.”

“I thought it was because he arrived after eleven o’clock.”

“Depends which version of the story you want to believe,” I said. “I can just see Wellington strolling through the Park to Almack’s. Can you picture it?”

“Walk? Wouldn’t he have ridden there?”

“Nah. Then he’d have to put his horse somewhere. Much faster and easier to walk. Think about it. He’d only have had to cross the road in front of Apsley House and then cut through Green Park diagonally and he’d have been in King Street.”

“He’d have had to cut through somewhere to get to St. James’s Street,” Victoria mused.

“He could easily have cut through the back of Spencer House.”

“Spencer House? Cut through Spencer House?”

“We’re talking about the Duke of Wellington here. Do you really think Earl Spencer was going to tell him that he couldn’t cut through his yard?”

In response to this, Victoria said, “If we’re going to go to King Street, then we might as well just walk down another block to St. James’s Palace.”

“I love seeing London by night,” I sighed.

“Yeah. The streets are empty, it’s quiet and you can actually imagine that it’s 1805 again.”


“Hmmm. Damp cobblestones,” Victoria said.

“Damp cobblestones shining in the lamplight. And it’s got to be the tiniest bit chilly.”

“Definitely. Not actually cold, though.”

“No,” I agreed, “not cold. Just nippy.”

“Just nippy enough for us to be able to drop into the Golden Lion and casually order a glass of port.”

“Ooooh, port.”

“So Wellington, no?” Victoria asked.

“Oporto,” I said, prompting both of us to stare off into the middle distance for the next few minutes.

“Have you ever been to Duke’s Hotel?” I finally asked.

“No. Why?”

“They’re supposed to have a fabulous bar. I’ve always meant to go, but time just gets away from me when I’m in London. We should stop in there for a drink.”

“What’s the Wellington connection to Duke’s?” Victoria asked.

“Er, it’s called Duke’s?”

“Yes, but not that Duke, is it?”

“I don’t think so, but it’s definitely a part of Wellington’s London. Not to mention that it’s in the same street as Spencer House, so Artie would definitely have known it. I think it was lodgings for wealthy bachelors back then. And Mrs. Delaney lived in the street, too.”

“Isn’t that where Domenico Angelo had his school?” Vicky asked.


“Angelo. The fencing master.”

“Ah. Could be. Google it,” I suggested.

Victoria Googled, using her tablet. “St. James’s Place. Let’s see . . . . Spencer House . . . . Duke’s Hotel . . . . Oh, God, listen to this, there’s a Blue Plaque in St. James’s Place for William Huskisson!”

Our William Huskisson?”

“Yes, our William Huskisson, the one who was run over by the train right in front of Wellington. England’s first railroad fatality.”

“Well that seals the deal then. We’re going. And we’ll drink a toast to him in the bar of Duke’s Hotel.”

“Oooh, this is such fun!”

“It is. And we’ve got the whole rest of the tour to flesh out. This is just about three hours of it, so far.”

“I can’t wait to go,” Victoria said wistfully.

“Don’t get too excited. We have almost an entire year to wait. Why did we plan it so far in the future? What were we thinking?”

“I guess we’re just gluttons for punishment.”

You are cordially invited to join us September 4-14, 2014!
Find Complete Itinerary and Details of the Wellington Tour Here

Please Join Us . . . An Invitation From Victoria

Victoria here.  As you know by now, Kristine and I have planned a Wellington Tour to England in September, 2014 that we hope will appeal to all our blog readers, Facebook friends, fellow authors and Regency, Georgian and Victorian enthusiasts. We have included an attractive mix of places — London, Brighton, Windsor…with the special, added attractions of Walmer Castle, Stratfield Saye, Basildon Park, Frogmore and Highclere Castle — aka Downton Abbey — all of which make us absolutely rabid to get underway.

We’ve managed to include a little bit of everything you love most about England — wonderful parks, elegant interiors, seaside jaunts, historic landmarks, a river cruise, royal residences, centuries old pubs and lots of historical gossip. I’ve been to all these places — with the exception of Highclere Castle.  And I am so eager to go back to all of them, not to mention seeing the real Downton Abbey.

I read this fascinating book about Almina, Countess of Carnarvon, whose Rothschild fortune saved the 5th Earl and Highclere Castle and also financed his Egyptian expeditions.  A selection of precious items from King Tut’s Tomb will be part of our tour of Highclere Castle.  And it’s worth reading even more about Almina, who led a rather scandalous life after her husband died.  So combine The Buccaneers, The Mummy’s Curse, and Café Society between the Wars …and multiply by 100.  It’s more fun than any of the capers of todays mindless starlets.

Furthermore, there is the garden and park at Highclere…which make only cameo appearances in DA.

We’ve left lots of time for our group to be able soak up the atmosphere and grounds at Walmer Castle, the Brighton Pavilion, Stratfield Saye and Windsor Castle. Kristine is determined to leave flower bouquets at the graves of Wellington and his Waterloo mount, the fabulously bad tempered Copenhagen. We’ll take you on pub crawls and strolls through the streets of London that are simply steeped in Regency through Victorian history – gentleman’s clubs, the homes of period personalities, shops and Royal landmarks.

Kristine in Jermyn Street with our close friend, the Beau. We’ll make plenty of time for you to have your photo taken with Brummell, as well.
Victoria trying to photograph Apsley House, despite the London traffic.  

In our excitement, Kristine and I have assembled a Pinterest board comprised of photos of the many places and items you’ll see on The Wellington Tour. Please visit – Click here.

In our previous tours, Kristine and I have had lots of fun — and excitement.  We had an encounter with  Highwaymen at Belvoir Castle – and I’m proud to tell you that we won!

We accompanied the Duke of Wellington to Waterloo and inspected the tents of his soldiers.  Really.  In Belgium. 

We’ve both  passed Buckingham Palace many times, though we haven’t had time for tea with Her Majesty yet. One of these days . . . . .

Of course, we’ve both made the pilgrimage to Apsley House every time we’re in London. We can’t wait to show you our favorite bits.

And while wandering down Pall Mall one day, we stood and wondered why these big torches burned all day.  We’ve yet to find out.  If you know, please leave a comment.

Royal Automobile Club, 89 Pall Mall
There are hundreds of nooks and crannies at Windsor Castle we have yet to investigate. And we long to get another glimpse of the Playing Fields of Eton.
Windsor Castle Gardens in former moat

And we have yet to meet the pelicans in St. James Park, those gigantic ones that never are around when we are. 

St. James Park

Or maybe we snoozed through their appearances.

We have so much we’re anxious to share with you and we hope that many of you can join us on this adventure – truly the trip of a lifetime.


FYI:  What Kristine and Victoria really look like when they’re in England.

Funny how much we resemble The Fullerton Sisters,
 as painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence, c. 1825

Kristine and Victoria Plan A Trip To England


“We need to start planning our next trip to England together.”
“Yeah, but we’d need an excuse for the husbands. I mean I just went, and you just went. How could we justify another trip? Without them?” Victoria asked.
“Well, I think I’m fine on that point. Hubby’s had enough of England for the time being, my good man.”
Victoria and I were together, seated on the patio at Panera Bread in Ft. Myers, Florida. We stared at one another across the table for a bit, our minds getting a Lucy and Ethel type workout.
“Think!” I urged as I lit a cigarette.
“I am thinking,” Victoria assured me.
“Maybe we need alcohol.”
Victoria checked her watch. “It’s only 10: 30 a.m. Too early even for us.”
Sigh. Think, think, think, think I admonished myself . . . . . . an idea suddenly occurred to me. I grinned. “By Jove, I think I’ve got it!”
“What? What!?
“The blog.”
“The blog?”
“Our blog. Number One London.”
“Yeah, I know what our blog is called. What about it?” Victoria asked.
“A Number One London tour to England.”
“A tour? With other people? Besides us?”
“Yes, Ethel, other people besides us. You know I worked as a tour guide for Patty Suchy and her Novel Explorations. You were on some of the tours I did.”
“I know, but . . . I’ve never been a tour guide.”
“But you’ve been to England hundreds of times. You’re qualified. I’ll get you a Blue Badge for Christmas. With your name on it and everything. Now come on, we have to come up with a theme for the tour. What would be a good theme?”
Victoria and I threw out a couple of (lame) ideas for a tour theme. The best of the lot was Victoria’s suggestion – Great Ladies of British History.
We kicked the idea around for a while.
“I’m not thrilled,” I finally said.
“You’d think that you and I could come up with something better than that.”
“You’d think.”
Some minutes went by and we wracked our brains for inspiration. “This is becoming painful,” Victoria said after a time.
“Are we stupid?” I asked Victoria.
“Apparently so.”
“I mean you and I are really bloody stupid.”
“I’ve already agreed with you. You don’t have to rub it in.”
“No, listen, I mean the theme of the first ever Number One London tour to England is so obvious.”
“It is?”
“You ready?”
“For God’s sake . . . . . “
“Wellington. As in the Duke of. As in the guy at the top of our blog. That Wellington.”


Victoria let out a whoop and clapped her hands. “Yes! It has to be Wellington. Obviously.”
Excitement gripped us both as we hurriedly drew paper and pens to ourselves.
“Now we have to come up with an itinerary,” I said.
“We could do Spain and Portugal and then finish up in England.”
I blinked. “You forgot India. Look, we have to think about this realistically. We can’t make the tour so inclusive that it becomes cost prohibitive.”
“You’re right,” Victoria conceded. “And we have to bear in mind that most people can’t get away for a month at a time.”
“There is that,” I agreed. “So we stick with England, agreed?”
For the next hour, Victoria and I were like kids in a candy store. Once we had a theme we could sink our teeth into, we had no difficulty in fashioning a rough itinerary that included all the locations relevant to Wellington’s life – London, Walmer, Brighton, Reading . . . . . .
“What about that guy the Duke and his friends were always visiting?” I asked Victoria.
“What guy?”
“You know, the Duke of something. He had that stately home where they all went shooting and spent the holidays every year.” I began running down dukes in my mind. Atholl? No. Bedford? Nyet. Norfolk? Sigh. 
“Rutland!” I cried at last. “The Duke of Rutland! What’s the name of his house?”
“Belvoir Castle,” Victoria said without hesitation.
“Where is it, exactly?” I asked her.
“It’s in Grantham, in Leicestershire, but I don’t want to go back there.”
“You’ve already been there?” I asked, disappointed.
Victoria gave me a pitying look. “You’ve been there, too. On the Great North Road tour you did with Patty. We were together. Your daughter Brooke was also there. It’s where we were held up by the highwaymen.”  (Read about it here)


“Oh, yeah.” Often the tours run together in my mind and I’m not sure where I’ve been. Or what I’ve seen. Or who I was with.
“It’s too far for a side trip, anyway. But speaking of Grantham . . . . ” Victoria said slyly.
“What about Grantham?” I asked.
“Where does Lord Grantham live?”
“At Downton Abbey?”
“And what’s Downton Abbey when it’s at home?” Victoria encouraged.
“Highclere Castle?”
“Bingo! And where’s Highclere Castle?”


“I have no idea, but if you tell me I’ve already been there and don’t remember it, I’ll cry.”
“As far as I know, you haven’t been there. And it’s only down the road from Stratfield Saye.”
“Well, I don’t know if it’s literally down the road, but it’s close enough that we’d be foolish to pass it by. What do you know about Lord Carnarvon and the Duke of Wellington?”
I was silent for a few minutes, mulling over Lord Carnarvon in my mind. “I got nothing,” I said in the end. “Come to think of it, I don’t think Lord Carnarvon’s name has ever come up in relation to Artie. In fact, I’d say there is no connection.”
“We need a connection in order to justify it as a stop on the Wellington Tour,” Victoria said.
“No we don’t.”
“We don’t?”
“No! It’s our tour. We’re planning the itinerary, right? We can put whatever we want on the schedule.”
Victoria looked skeptical.
“If anyone questions it,” I told her, “we’ll just tell them we’re going because we both want to see the room where Mr. Pamuk died. And because it’s just down the road from Stratfield Saye. And Windsor.”
“Windsor’s not down the road from Stratfield Saye.”
“No, I meant we need to add Windsor to the itinerary.” And so we did.
Finally, wrung out and exhausted, Victoria and I sat back and grinned at one another.
“The itinerary isn’t half bad,” I said.

“Not half bad?” Victoria sneered. “Listen, if this wasn’t our tour, I’d be signing up for it.”

“How much fun is this going to be? This is going to be even better than our trip to Belgium for the re-enactment of the Battle of Waterloo.”

Victoria grinned at me and offered up a phrase of the Duke of Wellington’s that we often re-use, “You  may depend upon it, Madam!”



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