My job gives me the privilege of being out and about every day in London.

Whether leading a walk, visiting a museum or gallery, or just enjoying the city's bustle or its quiet spaces, there's always something new to see, something interesting going on.

In this blog, I seek to reflect the ever-changing patterns of life in the greatest City on Earth!

Visit to Hampton Court Palace

Huguenot Festival

The wonderful, long-overdue Huguenot Festival,8-21 April, centres on Spitalfields. This year is the 250 anniversary of the death of Anna Maria Garthwaite, the outstanding English designer of patterned silks.  In April, 1598, 415 years ago, the Edict of Nantes, which gave the Protestants toleration to worship in Catholic France, was revoked. Some quarter of a million left France and about 450,000 came to this country, 25,000 to London.  The silk weavers settled in Spitalfields. They were extraordinarily skilled, not just as silk weavers, but as clock-makers, goldsmiths, occulists, businessmen, bankers, horticulturists, gunsmiths, and in many other trades, contributing massively to the culture of this country. It would be fair to say that the 18th century ‘age of elegance’ has much to with  Huguenot style and innovation. It is said that about 75% have Huguenot blood in our veins.  For the next 10 days, these huguenots are being celebrated. All the details on the website, I am taking some walks on the silkweavers of Spitalfields.  Do come along, and I am doing a talk on the same subject at the Guildhall library on 9th April, at 2pm  Entry for this is free.  There are lectures, walks, visits, the Big Weave in the market, speakers like Dan Cruickshank and Tessa Murdoch.  It promises to be wonderful.

Sandys Row Synagogue, Spitalfields

The only Ashkenazi synagogue left in Spitalfields and what a gem! Hidden away in Sandys Row, in the heart of Spitalfield, this 18C building was built for the Calvinist Huguenots, but later used by Dutch Jews. It is still in use and has a beautiful interior.  On Sunday 14 April, during the Huguenot Festval, Jeremy Freedman, 6th generation member of the community at Sandys Row, will lead a tour around the building. Not to be missed.

The Lost World of the River Fleet walk

Deep beneath our feet, London’s ‘lost rivers’ still flow….unseen but making their presence known above ground in many ways. Street names – which not only tell us where the river flowed but about the activities that went on on its banks and about the people who dwelt there. It is possible to follow the river Fleet all the way from its source on Hampstead Heath to Blackfriars just by paying attention to all these clues – and without having to use a map.

I lead a walk that follows its course upstream to Clerkenwell and back to the mouth of the river at Blackfriars. Learn how its story and its downfall is truly reflected in the behaviour of the Londoners who lived on its banks. This is one of the most fascinating London walks because all the clues are there but so often overlooked……

Huguenot Festival, 8-21 April 2013

THE GREAT SPITALFIELDS HUGUENOT FEST…Don’t even think of missing it.All the details are on the website! And very exciting – talks by Dan Cruickshank and Tessa Murdoch (and me!), walks around Sp;italfields every day (just turn up!).  Or book if you’re a group. Events at the V&A, Bishopsgate Institute, Guildhall. Walks are not only about the Huguenots but also the various immigrant groups who’ve settled in Spitalfields. Hear all about the fashionable silks the wealthy commissioned, how the weavers lived and died, the other industries the Huguenots excelled in.  The choice is enormous with speakers such as Dan Cruickshank & Tessa Murdoch.  But you can also just turn up for a walk without booking. I am doing a talk on the Spitalfields silkweavers at the Guildhall 2 pm, 9 April  at the Guildhall, Aldermanbury, the City.  No need to book for this one and free!