Fans of Jane Austen’s Emma, rejoice! Welcome to Box Hill! Sadly, I didn’t see anybody behaving badly.
I was surprised to learn how close I live to Box Hill – as in, it actually exists!? But imagine my delight upon ending my hike at the Box Hill & Westhumble train station, when I walked to see this lovely arch with a Blue Plaque (I LOVE Blue Plaques!), only to learn that Fanny Burney built a cottage and lived right here! Her house had a view of Box Hill!
Fanny Burney was a novelist . . . who was read by Jane Austen. Yay! Remember last week’s post from Dr. Johnson’s study? I had seen Dr. Burney’s Memoirs, that was Fanny Burney’s father, and it seems Dr. Johnson and Fanny Burney actually knew each other.
The only way I’m lockdown life is by hiking on weekends. I have to get out of the city, soak up some nature, be out of the house. It’s been tough without a car, so I think this winter I’m going to take driving lessons and get my UK license!
So, I was in the room where it happened. I was over 250 years late, but yes, I walked up the same staircase that Dr. Johnson did every day.
Dr. Who? Of course! Dr. Samuel Johnson, the man who wrote an entire dictionary by himself. He worked from home, and naturally, I envy the entire floor (called a garret, I learned) he had to do it!
Dr. Johnson’s house is a fun look into the upper-class life of eighteenth-century London. He had neat, movable walls on the first floor so he could rearrange the space as needed. His odd-shaped chair from his favorite pub is there. His front door was practically a fortified castle gate, but that wasn’t good enough, apparently. How many locks does a man need?
Also, I checked out his bookshelves (the bigger, the better, obviously), and found Dr. Burney’s Memoirs there! I can’t believe how small the world is…
Thanks for joining me on my week-long tour around London!
In the past, one of my favorite things to do was walk around London early on a Saturday or Sunday morning. The streets were empty, and it was easy to glimpse unique views I’d hurry past on any other busy day.
I'm missing walking through the city, and I've decided to live vicariously through my past self: here are the photos I took on my walks around The City during the London Open House.
What could be better than roman ruins in the basement of a modern high-rise you ask? How about roman ruins in the basement of a medieval guildhall! London really does have it all.
The amphitheater of Londinium was inside the city walls (unusual for the time), and although now mostly buried/destroyed/underground, what remains is highlighted in a unique display—on Guildhall Yard is a ring that outlines the location of the walls, underneath the Yard is an imaginative lighting scheme.
I love the Guildhall because it lets me peek into life of fifteenth-century England: medieval vaults, pomp and circumstance, a hint of (imagined) grander that might have existed in 1411 when building began. Although significantly rebuilt after the fire in 1666 and the Blitz, stepping through the doors allows me to leave modern life behind, if just for a few minutes!
Go to the Guildhall Art Museum. It’s a true hidden gem!
London is like Rome: dig down a few feet and you’ll run into something ancient: from houses and baths to entire amphitheaters – stay tuned!
Who doesn’t love half-buried stones that now barely resemble what they once used to be? Apparently, it’s not just me.
The longest (and only!) queue I stood in during the Open House London 2019 was to see the Roman house and baths. Of course, they're buried in the basement of modern high-rise building.
I read a lot and I hope to help authors with the craft of writing. I share good examples of difficult aspects of writing: point of view, narration, world building and more.
Occasionally I give editing tips and share insights from the world of publishing.
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