A DIY Charles Dickens Walking Tour of Marshalsea Prison and Southwark London

A DIY Charles Dickens Walking Tour of Marshalsea Prison and Southwark London

When you think of the area of Borough in London nowadays, usually Borough Market springs to mind. Borough Market is an upscale food and drink market near London Bridge that has been in existence one way or another for the last 1000 years. In previous centuries, this area  was definitely less pleasant and more dangerous… and home to Marshalsea Prison where a young Charles Dickens experienced poverty in Victorian England firsthand. While Charles Dickens family was imprisoned for debt, he was forced to work in a factory along with other poor Victorian children and live in a neighbourhood that would exemplify Dickensian poverty.

Poverty in Victorian England

Wealthy British philanthropist Charles Booth refused to believe that poverty in Victorian England was so bad that nearly a 1/4 of the population lived in poverty. He commissioned his own team of researchers in 1886 and their report was published in 1903,  a 17 volume page-turner The Life and Labor of the People in London.

What did the report say about Victorian poverty in London?  It was even worse than thought.

Nearly 30% of the population (1.8 million) was living in poverty.

Another 1 million were teetering on the edge of poverty – it would take as little as a debt being called in such as what happened to Charles Dickens family – to topple them into full-blown poverty.

Over half of the poor lived south of the river between Blackfriars Bridge and London Bridge (see map below) in the area of Borough in Dickensian poverty.

A plaque indicating where the Victorian London Bridge which is currently located in Arizona would have stood.

A plaque indicating where the Victorian London Bridge which is currently located in Arizona would have stood.

Debtor’s Prisons in Victorian England

In the 18th century, over half the people who were in jail were there because they couldn’t pay off their debts. And, every year,  another 10,000 people  would be thrown in debtor’s prisons in the Victorian Era.

If you were a merchant or trader then you could declare bankruptcy. If you were just running up personal debt, there was no way out of the situation short of (i) paying up, (ii) going to prison or (iii) fleeing to Europe.

Factories and workhouses provided work for the poor such as this Menier chocolate factory which is now a trendy residence.

Factories and workhouses provided work for the poor such as this Menier chocolate factory which is now a trendy residence.

Since the Middle Ages in England, you could be thrown in prison for owing money. For example, there are records in the nearby criminal prison, The Clink, for a man being jailed for owing £15 to a blacksmith in the 16th century. So any small amount could land you in jail – it wasn’t until 1827 that the law required your small debt had to be at least £20.

By the way, the Clink is the same prison that held anyone Cromwell didn’t like during the English Civil War and Puritans who went onto become the Pilgrim Fathers at Plymouth. So, a real mix of the poor, the bad and the devout (but not aristocratic enough to warrant the Tower of London).

Debtor’s Prisons in London

By the time of Dickens, you began to separate the criminal from the merely poor. You had 4 debtor’s prisons in London – Whitegate Street, Fleet Street, King’s Bench and Marshalsea. There was a pecking order among the prisons and Marshalsea Prison considered middling. Despite what Charles Dickens may have thought, it could have been worse!!

Debtor’s prisons were for-profit enterprises that were used to house people who couldn’t pay their debts. While in prison, they were charged for their time in jail! If they could pay prison fees, they could be sent to work and a part of their wages used to pay off their debt.

If imprisoned debtors couldn’t pay their prison fees, the fees just accumulated and got added to the original debt. It was a vicious cycle for the poorest of the poor. People actually starved to death in debtor’s prisons because they couldn’t pay for food.

Needless to say, living and working conditions in these prisons were harsh and corruption was rife.  For example, jailers could chain up their prisoners and then remove their chains for payment.

One of the wardens of Marshalsea Prison was actually put on trial for the murder of prisoners. You know the brutality was bad, i the abuse actually rose to the level fo making it to the courts.

And, life went on as normal in many ways. Entire families were imprisoned together. People could carry on their trades in prison such as laundry services or sewing.  People could also beg or get alms from visitors.

Some European countries had laws that debtors could only be jailed for up to a year but in Britain, debtors were jailed until their creditors were happy. When they closed Fleet Prison in 1842, they found two prisoners who had been there for 30 years.

Fun Fact! Britain did not outlaw imprisonment for debt (except for cases involving fraud) until 1869.

Dickens mentions debtor’s prisons in several books – Mr Pickwick got sent off to Fleet Prison, David Copperfield is at the King’s Bench and Marshalsea Prison appears throughout Little Dorrit.

The Class Divide of Victorian Poverty

Debtors prisons in Victorian England were set up to maintain hierarchy similar to the society at large. For example, at Whitecross Prison, there was a separate barebones facility for common prisoners and better accommodation for citizens of the city of London.

The Kings Bench prison even let you live outside the prison walls with a prescribed area if you were of a higher class.

Did you know?  Emma, Lady Hamilton was reduced to poverty and subject to the Kings Bench prison. She was the mistress of Napoleonic war hero, Admiral Nelson, who died at the Battle of Trafalgar. She was left impoverished when the British government ignored Nelson’s request that she be provided for as if she were his widow. Lady Hamilton didn’t actually stay at the Kings Bench but was able to live nearby. Then she fled to France and continued to rack up debts.

So not only were there class divisions in debtors prisons, Victorian England also had different standards if you were upper class and profligate. Your family would just send you abroad to avoid the social embarrassment. A popular alternative was Boulogne in Northern France where nearly a quarter of the town were debt-ridden English people.

Marshalsea Prison

Opened in 1373, Marshalsea was a notorious prison south of the Thames River in Southwark.  Only the ruins remain because Marshalsea was closed in 1842 and its prisoners divided between Bethlem Hospital (the infamous Bedlam) if they were mentally ill and other prisons.

A haunting reminder of the misery of Marshalsea and Dickensian poverty

A haunting reminder of the misery of Marshalsea and Dickensian poverty

The church of St. George the Martyr next door was used as the burial ground for debtors who died while at Marshalsea.

Charles Dickens Family Experience of Marshalsea

“Marshalsea is gone and the world is none the worse without it.”

– Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens’ father was imprisoned at Marshalsea Debtor’s Prison in 1824 when Charles was 12 years old.  Charles’ father, John Dickens, owed a baker a little over £40.

Plaque on Bayham Street in Camden, London locating the site on which Charles Dickens once lived prior to being shown the underbelly of Victorian life south of the River in Southwark.

Plaque on Bayham Street in Camden, London locating the site on which Charles Dickens once lived prior to being shown the underbelly of Victorian life south of the River in Southwark.

This traumatic event made a huge impression on the young boy who was sent to lodgings nearby and forced to work at a factory full-time to pay for his upkeep. His  mother and sisters joined his father at Marshalsea Prison. Luckily for Dickens, his father was released after 3 months when he came into an inheritance.

Charles Dickens himself was put in a boarding house on Lant Street which is now where the Charles Dickens Primary School is located. He worked at Warren’s Blacking Factory near Waterloo Bridge where he worked putting labels on shoe polish bottles.

Fun Fact!  Dickens met a Bob Fagin at his factory whose name was immortalised as the crime boss Fagin in his novel Oliver Twist.

During his lifetime, Charles Dickens family never mentioned the Marshalsea period. His first hand experience with Victorian poverty was only revealed to the public in a biography after he died.

At Marshalsea Prison, Charles Dickens family experienced the misery of Victorian poverty.

At Marshalsea Prison, Charles Dickens family experienced the misery of Victorian poverty.

Dickens’ novel Little Dorritt is about a girl who is born and grows up in Marshalsea Prison. Her father is in jail and the family joins him. In fact, all three of the family’s children are raised in Marshalsea because the father is in Marshalsea for so long. Ironically the father could have gotten himself out of jail, but he’s gotten used to a certain lifestyle and respect at Marshalsea that he doesn’t want to trade for his (or his family’s) freedom.

A Charles Dickens Walking Tour of Southwark

For Charles Dickens poverty was an important theme in his novels and of which he had first hand experience. Charles Dickens’ childhood was marred by the time his father and the rest of his family was thrown in Marshalsea prison. In fact, the written descriptions of poverty in Victorian England were so vivid that the phrase Dickensian poverty immediately brings up images of hardship, crime and degradation a 100+ years later.

Despite having transformed into a trendy area, this DIY walking tour of some of the places in Southwark will give you a flavour for the world described in his books.

We did this Charles Dickens walking tour with children so I have mentioned both outdoor spaces and places where you can stop of for a snack/break. The places are relatively close together and the walking is easy. You can easily do this walk in a couple of hours if you are not dawdling like we were.

A map showing spots of interest for a Charles Dickens Walking Tour of Southwark London

A map showing spots of interest for a Charles Dickens Walking Tour of Southwark London

The Ruins of Marshalsea & Environs

The surviving remains of Marshalsea Prison exist on Angel Place in Southwark (Borough tube stop on the Northern Line). The other prisons are also long gone and replaced with newer buildings including the nearby Kings Bench Jail on Borough High Street. Luckily, the association with Dickens and Little Dorrit has allowed for the location of the Marshalsea prison to remain as a homage to Dickensian poverty.

The gate and a wall is what remains of Marshalsea Prison

The gate and a wall is what remains of Marshalsea Prison

Travel Tip!  The easiest way to find Angel Place alley, all that remains of Marshalsea Prison, is to look for it sandwiched next to the John Harvard Library!  (Yes, THAT John Harvard of Harvard University fame who came from Southwark because his family owned an inn nearby).

The Church of St. George The Martyr is where the character of Little Dorrit was both baptised and married. The church has a stained glass window depiction of Little Dorrit.

The church of St. George the Martyr which is featured in Little Dorrit.

The church of St. George the Martyr which is featured in Little Dorrit.

The Charles Dickens Primary School is over the site of the boarding house on Lant Street where 12 year old Charles Dickens would have stayed while his family was at Marshalsea Prison. He got taken out of school, separated from his family and sent to do factory work all in a short space of time.

The Crossbones Graveyard is located on Redcross Way (at the corner of Union Street ) and is the burial ground for people deemed undesirable by the Medieval church- the prostitutes and poor who lived in the neighbourhood. For hundreds of years, some 15,000 people were buried in this graveyard until it was closed in 1853. It’s not like these people got dignity in death either – the graveyard was a popular spot for body snatchers who would sell the bodies for medical research at St. Thomas Hospital nearby.

For hundreds of years, Crossbones Graveyard has been the final resting place for London’s prostituted and paupers.

Across from the Crossbones Graveyard is a former Victorian Ragged School (now a city council building). Ragged schools provided free education to poor Victorian children consisting of reading, writing, counting and Bible studies. Dickens was not particularly impressed with the schools because he thought they were too heavy on the relgion. A visit to London’s Field Lane Ragged School inspired Charles Dickens to write A Christmas Carol.

This former Ragged School had its outdoor space on the rooftop. Victorian social reformers believed in fresh air (not necessarily clean air and/or health and safety in parks).

This former Ragged School had its outdoor space on the rooftop. Victorian social reformers believed in fresh air (not necessarily clean air and/or health and safety in parks).

Nancy’s Steps are all that remains of the 1831 London Bridge. This older London Bridge was sold in 1967 to an American and currently spanning Lake Havasu in Arizona. The newer version of London Bridge you see today would not be the one that Dickens wrote about.

The steps are on the corner of London Bridge and Duke Street Hill and leads you into Borough Market.  In Oliver Twist, on these steps Fagin’s henchman overhears Nancy plotting against the gang’s interest (a betrayal that does not end well for poor old Nancy). You can surmise that Nancy would have ended up in the Crossbones Graveyard.

Nancy’s Steps at London Bridge named after the original hooker with a heart

Nancy’s Steps at London Bridge named after the original hooker with a heart

Outdoor Spaces

Mint Street Park is the location of the former Mint Street Workhouse which Charles Dickens would have passed every day on his way to work in the shoe polish factory off Waterloo Bridge. It is believed that Charles Dickens modelled the workhouse in Oliver Twist on the Mint Street Workhouse. The Mint Street Workhouse was still in use until 1921 but today all that remains is a bit of a wall.

Across from Angel Place, the Little Dorrit Park is a former Victorian slum that was razed to create a children’s play ground and named after the Charles Dickens’ character.

The Red Cross Garden is an oasis in an otherwise bleak urban landscape. Set up in 1887 on the site of a former paper factory, it is overlooked by  houses that were set up by Victorian social reformer, Octavia Hill. She was a big believer in having access to the outdoors for urban dwellers.

Did you know? Octavia Hill was also responsible for keeping our personally beloved Hampstead Heath from becoming a residential development and also one of the three founders of the National Trust.

Eating and Drinking

The George Inn is located at 77 Borough High Street. A National Trust property in London, the George Inn was built in 1677 and the only remaining inn in London with a galleried porch front. Charles Dickens frequented the George Inn and it is mentioned in Little Dorrit.

Borough Market is a foodies delight. If you want to keep in line with the Dickens theme though for a quick lunch, the Little Dorrit Cafe on Park Street just outside Borough Market is reputed to have the best bacon butty (sandwich) in London.

The Little Dorrit Cafe has great bacon sandwiches if you want to stop for a bite on your Charles Dickens walking tour.

The Little Dorrit Cafe has great bacon sandwiches if you want to stop for a bite on your Charles Dickens walking tour.

If you are heading towards Waterloo Bridge, check out Thai Silk which is one of my favourite authentic Thai places in London. It’s got a lovely outdoor space for nice summer days too.

Guided Charles Dickens Walking Tour

Prefer to have your Charles Dickens walking tour with a guide who knows where to go and explain it all? Check out these options!

Reread the books before you do a tour!



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See for yourself on this free and easy Dickens walking tour places from Charles Dickens childhood that inspired his interest in poor Victorian children.

See for yourself on this free and easy Dickens walking tour places from Charles Dickens childhood that inspired his interest in poor Victorian children.

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Fun Facts About an English Christmas Through The Ages We Learned At Fenton House London

Fun Facts About an English Christmas Through The Ages We Learned At Fenton House London

We are big fans of National Trust properties and luckily live near Fenton House which is a 17th century Merchant’s House in Hampstead. For Christmas, Fenton House London had a very cool exhibit about how the English celebrated Christmas through the ages. The periods shown off in the Fenton House rooms were a tribute to a Georgian Christmas, Victorian Christmas traditions, a flapper fabulous 1920s Christmas and a groovy 1970s Christmas.

Christmas Through The Ages

For 20+ years, the Geffrye Museum of the Home in Hoxton, east London  would host a very popular look at Christmas through the ages in London. As a large museum they were able to cover more of the different time periods of Christmas through the ages. Currently, however, the Geffrye Museum is closed for a major refurbishment  and is due to open again in Spring 2020.

Its technically not all of the assorted Christmas through the ages that Fenton House London has seen but there are not that many rooms in the house. The contrast between the Georgian Christmas and Victorian Christmas traditions showed my family the origins of some of the traditions we keep today. The 1920’s Christmas was a high point in between what would have been the bleak Christmases during the wars. Unlike the prosperity of the 1950’s in the USA, the period after World War 2 in the UK was similarly bleak. I can understand why Fenton House London just wanted to jump ahead to the psychedelic good times of a 1970’s Christmas.

Georgian Christmas

We didn’t actually recognise the Georgian Christmas decoration at Fenton House London as anything other than a nice dinner party.

Georgian traditions also meant that Christmas lasted a full month from December 6th until January 6th. If you remember all the Jane Austen novels, the people in her stories had parties and balls and family gatherings during Christmas time. Christmas in Victorian times was a much shorter affair because the Industrial Revolution meant people had to get back to work.

Georgian Christmas Food

Some of the Georgian Christmas food did seem familiar though. For example, after the Puritans banned Christmas Pudding for being too rich and sinful during the English Civil War, George I served it for his first Christmas dinner in 1714. This revival of the tradition of Christmas Pudding made it the big deal it is now. Georgian Christmas food also included mince pies and a Wassail Punch (similar to mulled wine).

A Georgian Christmas revolved around food and hospitality.

A Georgian Christmas revolved around food and hospitality.

Georgian Christmas Decorations

With its emphasis on food, Georgian Christmas decorations revolved around elaborate centrepieces on the dining table. You showed off your food and your best silver.

Georgian Christmas decorations also brought in nature. There was always a giant roaring fire and a Yule Log started on Christmas Eve. Growing up in New York, we always had a yule log blazing away on television. Now I know the antecedents to that television show (which my British husband thought was a joke when he first head about it). Nowadays, the Yule Log in England is usually made of chocolate.

Georgian Christmas decorations at Fenton House London included these chairs decorated with a ribbon in a popular color called Georgian blue.

Georgian Christmas decorations at Fenton House London included these chairs decorated with a ribbon in a popular color called Georgian blue.

he houses were decorated with holly and greenery. We can thank Georgian traditions and their love of greenery for the kissing under the mistletoe tradition we have today.

Fun Fact!  A Georgian Christmas involved decorating the house with greenery but these Georgian Christmas decorations were only put up on Christmas eve. It was considered unlucky to have greenery in the house before Christmas eve.

Victorian Christmas Traditions

Victorian Christmas traditions were the start of so many Christmas traditions we have nowadays. The contrast with the Georgian Christmas room at Fenton House London was quite stark. Unlike the Georgian Christmas the kids and I felt we actually recognised Christmas in Victorian times.

We can thank the Victorians for the origin of Christmas crackers, Christmas cards, Christmas shopping and the popularity of the Christmas tree. Christmas in Victorian times though was still a far simpler affair than what we know now.

Victorian Christmas Presents

The Victorians were conspicuous consumers and so it was only right that they started the boom in Christmas shopping. Thanks to the Industrial Revolution, goods like toys could be mass-produced which made them affordable for the growing middle class.

So you needed presents for under a Christmas tree which was a Germanic tradition introduced into England by Prince Albert in the 1840s. He thought Christmas trees were part of that whole family tradition that he and Victoria and their umpteen children wanted to promote. Christmas tree also became super popular when they made appearances in public places like schools. Photos of the Royal Family around a Christmas tree  helped spread the propaganda, too.

Christmas trees are one of the many Victorian Christmas traditions that we have today.

Christmas trees are one of the many Victorian Christmas traditions that we have today.

And, the gifts kept coming. Victorian Christmas stockings filled with presents were introduced around 1870. Victorian Christmas stockings always contained an apple and an orange for health and a penny for prosperity.  For poor kids, these would be all the Victorian Christmas presents they could expect.

Fun Fact!  While he was working at Marshall Fields in Chicago and before he set up Selfridges in London, Harry Selfridge started that famous anxiety inducing slogan “Only XXX days until Christmas”.

The Tradition of Christmas Crackers

Who invented Christmas crackers? The inventor of Christmas crackers was a London-based confectioner’s apprentice called Tom Smith.

Christmas in Victorian times was big on family time.

Christmas in Victorian times was big on family time.

They weren’t popular for years until Tom Smith came up with the idea of having Christmas crackers pop when they get pulled apart. Now, Christmas crackers are so popular that it’s hard to imagine that the tradition of Christmas crackers was ever in doubt.

Fun Fact!  The British tradition of Christmas crackers was inspired by French bon bons wrapped in coloured tissue paper. Despite their Francophile Christmas crackers origin, they are now a totally must-have for a British Christmas.!

Victorian Christmas Cards

The history of Christmas cards started with Victorian Christmas cards.  In 1843, Sir Henry Cole needed to streamline his Christmas letter writing. He commissioned an artist to create 1000 hand coloured lithographs to mail out as seasonal greetings. This brilliant idea of Victorian Christmas cards took off (you can see if why if everyone had 1000 Christmas greetings to send!).

The popularity of Victorian Christmas cards took off with the lower cost of postage introduced in 1840.

The popularity of Victorian Christmas cards took off with the lower cost of postage introduced in 1840.

Christmas in Victorian times ended with games like charades and popping Christmas crackers.

Christmas in Victorian times ended with home spun entertainment and games

Christmas in Victorian times ended with home spun entertainment and games

1920s Christmas

A 1920s Christmas was all about having fun and enjoyment after the hardships of World War I.

1920s Christmas cards with Art Deco style

1920s Christmas cards with Art Deco style

The 1920s invented the pre-dinner cocktail hour which was actually the two hours between 6 and 8pm. Affluent Americans stuck with Prohibition in the USA visited London to enjoy the party scene.  People also took the cocktail scene into their own home.

Fun Fact!  The most popular cocktails in the 1920’s were gin-based. Gin has always had waves of popularity as a British drink of choice.
The room at Fenton House London was set up for a Roaring 20s’ Christmas party

The room at Fenton House London was set up for a Roaring 20s’ Christmas party

A 1920’s Christmas tree was usually decorated with paper decorations and paper garlands. Glass ornaments were still expensive because they were handmade in Germany. If the house had electricity, you could have Christmas lights. People still had candles like Christmas in Victorian times.

A 1920’s Christmas tree usually had candles, fairy lights and paper ornaments.

A 1920’s Christmas tree usually had candles, fairy lights and paper ornaments.

1970s Christmas

From what we could tell from the Fenton House London exhibit depicting Christmas through the ages, in the 1970’s Christmas in England was all about board games and dodgy food. And cocktails to grease the wheels of merriment. ⁣

1970s Christmas Food & Drink

People had buffets because they were cheap and easy to do. The recipes were colorful (and outrageous by our standards). Nothing on this Earth would convince us to think that Ham and Banana Hollandaise  was a special treat but times have changed.

My kids were fascinated by the 70’s Christmas food options but not so fascinated that they would want to try any of it.

The popular drinks were Babysham, Cinzano and Martini & Rossi. I remember when my mother-in-law asked for a Martini at Christmas, I was a little surprised when the martini came out of a bottle as opposed to a  mixed martini cocktail. Now, I know why we have different conceptions of what a proper martini should be.

A 1970s Christmas in England had alcohol at the ready.

A 1970s Christmas in England had alcohol at the ready.

1970s Christmas Decorations

Check out this tree decked out in 1970s Christmas decorations. They definitely weren’t sparing on the tinsel. By the 1970s Christmas ornaments were plastic as well as glass which  made them much more affordable.

People would play board games like Monopoly, Twister and Operation for entertainment.

People would play board games like Monopoly, Twister and Operation for entertainment.

1970’s Christmas Entertainment

In addition to playing board games, people used radio and television in the 1970’s as a form of Christmas entertainment. You had the Queen’s Speech at 3pm – the annual Christmas message from the monarch. Although it started as a radio message in 1939 when George VI during World War II to keep spirits up, It was first broadcast on television in 1952. Now you can listen to the Queen’s Speech on all forms of media including YouTube and a podcast.

A lava lamp, a radio and a typewriter surrounded by tinsel - groovy retro Christmas decor

A lava lamp, a radio and a typewriter surrounded by tinsel – groovy retro Christmas decor

For a 1970’s Christmas, you also sat around and watched a Christmas show or movie. The choices were limited back then unlike now when there is a huge choice of Christmas specials.  I remember feeling television channels in the US were limited in the 1970’s but in Britain, there were only 3 channels (BBC 1 and 2 and ITV).

I always did wonder why every year at Christmas aliens descended on London in a Dr Who special Christmas episode.

More tinsel and an old-fashioned television. My kids couldn’t believe that you had to actually get up and change the channels back in the day.

Fun Fact!  Tinsel has been around for hundreds of years. It was invented in Nuremberg Germany in 1610 but back then it was made from real silver!

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Fun facts about Christmas through the ages in England

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The Best London Gifts To Give (And Gifts To Bring Back From London For Yourself!)

The Best London Gifts To Give (And Gifts To Bring Back From London For Yourself!)

London either you love it or loathe it. I’m one of those people that love London, and I honestly can’t understand how someone wouldn’t love London. Do you know someone who loves London despite its obvious flaws? Here are some great idea for London gifts for every lover of London you might know. You can get some great London themed gifts which are not the tacky souvenir kind. And, you know when you shop for others, gifts to bring back from London for yourself may catch your eye. Here’s our curated list of cool gifts from London and about London.

London Gift Ideas for Architecture Lovers

In the London skyline chess set, we’ve got famous London landmarks in moulded acrylic stand in for the the usual pieces:

  • Big Ben = rook
  • The London Eye = knight
  • The Gherkin = the Bishop
  • The Shard = Queen
  • Canary Wharf = The King
  • Terraced houses = pawns

This beautiful set is perfect for people who love London and/or chess and/or design.

If you are looking for cool gifts from London, check out the London Skyline Chess set which has pieces based on the architecture of the city.

If you are looking for cool gifts from London, check out the London Skyline Chess set which has pieces based on the architecture of the city.

For the young budding architect lover, the Lego Architecture skyline building set has The London Eye, Big Ben, the Tate Modern, St. Pauls and Tower Bridge.  Other Lego architecture London gift ideas include the Buckingham Palace Landmark Building set and a Lego Creator/Lego Creator Expert sets of Tower Bridge and red London double decker buses.

My son loves this Lego Architecture set of London landmarks

My son loves this Lego Architecture set of London landmarks

This gorgeous book by a London resident artist, Modern London, showcases the best of London’s modern architecture for the last 100 years.

An architecture book with beautiful artwork created by a London resident

An architecture book with beautiful artwork created by a London resident

Buy These Great London Gifts Now!

London Themed Gifts for Book Lovers

Books about the city and its life make great London themed gifts.

London themed gifts for book lovers include aspects of the city’s history, cooking and entertainment.

London themed gifts for book lovers include aspects of the city’s history, cooking and entertainment.

Spitalfields is a really interesting overview of an interesting part of East London which has seen waves of immigrants, Jack the Ripper and now trendy hipsters.  Narrowing down the focus of the area even more, 18 Folgate Street is the history of a house in Spitalfields which is now restored as a museum.

Moving onto modern London, Together: The Community Cookbook was a project by the Duchess of Sussex (our very own American princess!) to fundraise for the inhabitants of one of the worst London tragedies in recent times – the fire at Grenfell Tower in 2017 which killed 72 people. These recipes are from some of the displaced survivors of Grenfell Tower and showcase the migrant history of London today with diverse recipes including Iraqi, Algerian, Indian and Russian.

Everyone who loves London appreciates its quirkier aspects. Here are three great options that go beyond the usual tourist information:

Fun Fact! (From London’s Strangest Tales) Did you know that upscale grocer Fortnum & Mason started off by recycling Queen Anne’s old candles?

These books are gifts from London, ideas where to go in the future for that London lover who will surely return.

Buy these London themed gifts for book lovers now!

London Gifts for the Home

We have wonderful memories of Regents Park (see the print below by Alice Tait) because we lived when the kids were young in St. Johns Wood near the famous Abbey Road Studios. Every time we left our house, we would run into tourists trying to recreate the famous walk across the crosswalk by The Beatles. Every single time. It was never-ending. I can tell you that got annoying very fast. We had to leave the neighbourhood before my impulse for vehicular homicide got the better of me.

These prints make great London gift ideas because they can commemorate a special place.

These prints make great London gift ideas because they can commemorate a special place.

Gin has had both a huge history in London and a new resurgence as a drink.  In the early 18th century, Londoners would drink about 1/2 a pint of gin a day leading to serious alcoholism and social issues as depicted by artist Samuel Hogarth’s famous engraving series, The Rake’s Progress. Then there was a lull in the popularity of the drink and now there are gin bars all over London. Gordon’s is the world’s best selling London gin but cool craft bottles of local gins make great gifts to buy in London.

Bottles of London gin make great London gifts

Bottles of London gin make great London gifts

Buy these London gifts for the home!


Cool Gifts in London for Map Lovers

You can buy great antique maps of London. This map below I bought as a present for my husband. I loved that this particular map contained all the illustrations of the buildings on the banks (including the Tower of London!) and the boats on the River Thames as well as the layout of the streets. You can see the old London Bridge which had buildings on it similar to what you find in the Ponte Vecchio bridge in Florence Italy today.

This antique map of London shows the Thames and the City of London during Elizabethan times.

This antique map of London shows the Thames and the City of London during Elizabethan times.

I bought this map in an antique shop off Bond Street but you can get much cheaper options which make great gifts to bring back from London.

I’ve gotten books for my son called Maps of London and Beyond and London: A History in Maps which has got maps showing how the city progressed. They are very cool to browse through to see how this dynamic city has changed through the centuries.

Maps of London don’t need to be expensive such as this postcard.

Maps of London don’t need to be expensive such as this postcard.

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The Best London Gifts To Give (And Gifts To Bring Back From London For Yourself!)

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Celebrating International Mushy Peas Day at the Best Fish and Chips in London

Celebrating International Mushy Peas Day at the Best Fish and Chips in London

In honour of the second International Mushy Peas Day, we visited a restaurant well-known for having one of the best fish and chips in London. After all fish chips and mushy peas are a classic British dish. It seems like something you either love or hate, like Marmite. My son loves mushy peas, my husband hates them. I think they just taste like a solid form of split pea soup. You can have traditional mushy peas or use them to jazz up other dishes like a burger or risotto.

Mushy Peas

So just when you thought they couldn’t come up with any more gratuitous holidays, November 9th is now the International Mushy Pea Day. I’m OK with celebrating food though (even the humble pea).

Fish and chips mushy peas - a classic British dish

Fish and chips mushy peas – a classic British dish

What is Mushy Peas?

First things, first. What is mushy peas? Mushy peas really are just that –  a glob of cooked peas seasoned in salt and sugar mushed together.

Mushy peas are a classic side dish in the North of England. They’ve earned their nickname of being Yorkshire’s caviar by accompanying many a fish and chips or pie meal. It’s the obligatory green vegetable bit that makes you feel better about all the fat and salt in the rest of the meal.

There’s an apocryphal story about Labour politician Peter Mendelson who was trying to shed his city slicker image and be one of the regular folk. Unfortunately, on a trip to Yorkshire he ordered fish and chips with a side of the “avocado dip”.  He has denied the story but the Peter Mandelson avocado story is just too good to disappear.
fish chips and mushy peas is a dish that you will find all over Britain

fish chips and mushy peas is a dish that you will find all over Britain

How To Make Mushy Peas

Do you know there are even mushy pea recipes that make mushy peas curry? The British have embraced and adapted Indian food totally. I like this simple easy-to-make mushy pea recipe for mushy pea curry that shows off the best of British Asian fusion food.

Making a mushy pea curry involves more than just adding curry sauce

Making a mushy pea curry involves more than just adding curry sauce

A traditional mushy pea recipe calls for dried marrowfat peas to be soaked in baking soda overnight and then simmered in salt and sugar until they form a green mush.  Appetising (to some). Here is the basic traditional recipe for mushy peas.

If you want to go non-traditional, you can use mushy peas to make burgers, risottos and tarts.  I’ve always loved risotto with peas so I am partial to this mushy pea recipe that adds a pea puree to risotto.

a mushy peas recipe for mushy peas risotto

a mushy peas recipe for mushy peas risotto

Why have avocado toast when you can have peas on toast? Here’s a cool variation on the ubiquitous millennial dish.  Can you blame Peter Mandelson for (allegedly) mixing up avocados and mushy peas?

mushy peas on toast is a less fattening version of the popular avocado toast

mushy peas on toast is a less fattening version of the popular avocado toast

Are Mushy Peas Good For You?

Well, it’s not bad. There are about 87 calories per 100 grams. It’s also low in fat but provides proteins and carbohydrates. Other essential nutrients include iron, zinc, potassium and fibre.

There are not many calories in mushy peas but lots of essential nutrients

There are not many calories in mushy peas but lots of essential nutrients

Go on. Have some mushy peas. Maybe they will be your new avocado substitute.

Best Fish and Chips in London

If you want to try a classic British dish, then fish chips and mushy peas are the way to go.  They are many options for fish and chips in London at many price points. Here are out three favourite options, including the obligatory cheap and greasy joint.

I am not big on deep fried food and/or anything wrapped in newspaper. My pores break out just thinking about it. So you know, the fish and chips have to be good to get a pass from me!

Fish and chips are Friday school lunch classic in British schools. Even my non-fish eating daughter was fine with Fish Finger Fridays (probably because there was hardly any fish in the versions she was served).

Seashell of Lisson Grove

Our vote for the best fish and chips in London goes to the Seashell of Lisson Grove located in Marylebone. It’s been around for 50+ years (e.g, supposedly Princess Di would send her driver to Seashell Lisson grovefor takeaway back in the day). There’s a take away and casual dining place on the corner of Lisson Grove as well as a fancier restaurant next door.

The Seashell of Lisson Grove menu has an extensive choice of fish.

The Seashell of Lisson Grove menu has an extensive choice of fish.

More Good Options For Fish and Chips in London

My friend went on a quest to find the most ‘authentic’ and best fish and chips in London. His methodology was simple. He asked every cab driver he met. The most recommended was The Fryer’s Delight (19 Theobalds Road, London WC1X 8SL) near Holborn. He loved it – basic, delicious and cheap.  Personally, I thought it was too greasy.

Another good option for a retro-cool ambience is Poppies Fish and Chips London which has outposts in three locations now. In addition to the original location in uber-cool Shoreditch, it’s also got outposts now if you are craving fish and chips in Camden and Soho. The owner has been serving fish and chips for decades in the East End before gentrification pounced upon this working class neighbourhood. Anyway, we didn’t choose the fish and chips in Camden because they didn’t serve mushy peas.

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How to make mushy peas, both as a traditional side dish and as a fresh take on old favourites

How to make mushy peas, both as a traditional side dish and as a fresh take on old favourites

Where to go for the best fish & chips in London

Where to go for the best fish & chips in London

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why Bodnant Gardens is a Must-See National Trust Garden in Wales

Why Bodnant Gardens is a Must-See National Trust Garden in Wales

If you are in the Conwy North Wales area in the spring, lucky you! Make sure you swing by the National Trust property, Bodnant Gardens to catch its famous Laburnum Arch in bloom. Planted during Victorian times, the Bodnant Gardens Laburnum Arch is a golden tunnel of blossom and sunshine. Also part of the Bodnant Estate, a stroll around the gardens should be followed up by a visit to the Bodnant Welsh Food centre.

Bodnant Gardens North Wales

It’s readily apparent to even the most casual visitor why these gardens are considered the best in Wales. If you enjoyed visiting the Italianate village of Portmeirion, then you will love Bodnant Gardens Wales as well.

Have a seat and smell the wisteria at Bodnant Gardens Wales

Have a seat and smell the wisteria at Bodnant Gardens Wales

Covering 70 acres, Bodnant Gardens has plenty of space to explore and to find your own private idyll. There are paths that meander through wildflower meadows, lakes, and woodland. The Bodnant Gardens are framed with distant views of Snowdonia National Park.

Woodland, wildflower meadows, Italian gardens. Bodnant Gardens are a visual feast.

Woodland, wildflower meadows, Italian gardens. Bodnant Gardens are a visual feast.

Stark and rugged Snowdonia is the exact opposite of this carefully-tended garden but both are beautiful in their own way. Located near each other, it is easy to appreciate both natural and man-made beauty in this little corner of North Wales.

The Bodnant Garden Centre is huge and sells some of the varieties of plants available. Sorry no nearly 150-year old Laburnum arches for sale. Not even a snow-globe version!

Rows of alliums at Bodnant Gardens North Wales

Rows of alliums at Bodnant Gardens North Wales

There is a manor house on the Bodnant Estate which is not open to the public. You know the Bodnant Gardens have to be something special for a house this impressive to not be the main attraction of the Bodnant Estate.

Pretty Bodnant House but it’s not open to the public.

Pretty Bodnant House but it’s not open to the public.

Even if you miss the Bodnant Gardens Laburnum Arch, there are plenty of other floral attractions during the year – daffodils start off the show in early spring and are followed by rhododendrons and azaleas. In summer, Bodnant Gardens is abloom with the best of British gardens – roses, clematis and hydrangeas. Then roll on the fabulous colors of autumn with the Acers.

In summer, the water lilies come into their own on the Bodnant Estate.

In summer, the water lilies come into their own on the Bodnant Estate.

Bodnant Gardens Laburnum Arch

To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.

– Audrey Hepburn

Planted in 1880, the Bodnant Laburnum Arch has been a labor of love for many generations of gardeners. It reminds me of the Archignassio in Bologna where every scholar in that case (or gardener in this case) does their part to create something great that will outlast them all for the benefit of people far in the future.

The Laburnum Arch at Bodnant Gardens is a 55 meter golden walkway. The nickname for Laburnum is ‘golden rain’ because of the way it droops down. Laburnum foliage glows almost fluorescent yellow against the milquetoast blue of a British sky.

You can see why Laburnum is nicknamed Golden Rain.

You can see why Laburnum is nicknamed Golden Rain.

During the 2-3 weeks Bodnant Gardens’ Laburnum Arch is in bloom in late spring, approximately 50,000 visitors come to see the arched walkway. That’s almost a 1/4 of the 200,000 visitors the Bodnant Gardens Wales gets annually.

These Laburnum trees were planted in 1880!

These Laburnum trees were planted in 1880!

The Bodnant Gardens Laburnum Arch is supposed to be the oldest and longest in Britain. It takes 2 gardeners 5 weeks in January to prune the Bodnant Gardens Laburnum Arch to maximise its glory in spring. After the big show, 2 gardeners are needed to deadhead the flowers in July.

The vibrance of the Laburnum contrasts with the other colors of the garden.

The vibrance of the Laburnum contrasts with the other colors of the garden.

Bodnant Welsh Food Centre

After exploring Bodnant Gardens, the best way to cap off the experience is to visit the Bodnant Welsh Food Centre which is part of the Bodnant Estate. As we knew from our previous experiences in Wales, the Welsh countryside has really amped up its foodie credentials with great local restaurants and homegrown celebrity chefs.

The Welsh Food Centre is another foodie heaven devoted to locally sourced farm-to-table fare. It’s fairly comprehensive enterprise with the Bodnant Farm Shop, Furnace Tea Room, Hayloft Restaurant and Furnace Farmhouse.

The Furnace Tea Room is set in the old stables and perfect for a light lunch or afternoon tea.

The Furnace Tea Room with the Conwy valley stretching out behind it.

The Furnace Tea Room with the Conwy valley stretching out behind it.

The Hayloft Restaurant is a more formal experience for lunch and dinner. We went with our children for lunch and did not find it stuffy. The food was delicious!! And, my little fussy vegetarian child found a dish to make her happy.

A salad starter at the Welsh food centre.

A salad starter at the Welsh food centre.

In terms of Bodnant accomodation, you can stay at the Furnace Farmhouse. Dating the 18th century, there are 6 rooms available for rent. Like the rest of the Bodnant Food Center, the decor and amenities cater to modern sensibilities. Think  charming modern farmhouse style that’s discreetly luxurious.

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Why Bodnant Gardens is a Must-See National Trust Garden in Wales

Why Bodnant Gardens is a Must-See National Trust Garden in Wales

The Welsh Food Centre on the Bodnant Estate is a foodie’s delight | Bodnant gardens North Wales | #Wales #findyourepic #garden #foodie

If you are in the Conwy North Wales area in the spring, lucky you! Make sure you swing by the National Trust property, Bodnant Gardens to catch the famous Bodnant Gardens Laburnum Arch in bloom. Discover why you should visit Bodnant Gardens, North Wales, in the spring.

If you are in the Conwy North Wales area in the spring, lucky you! Make sure you swing by the National Trust property, Bodnant Gardens to catch the famous Bodnant Gardens Laburnum Arch in bloom. Discover why you should visit Bodnant Gardens, North Wales, in the spring.

 

This site generates income via partnerships with carefully-curated travel and lifestyle brands and/or purchases made through links to them at no extra cost to you. More information may be found on our Disclosure Policy.

Conwy Castle in Wales (+ 10 Other Things To Do in Conwy) For Family Holidays in North Wales

Conwy Castle in Wales (+ 10 Other Things To Do in Conwy) For Family Holidays in North Wales

For a small town, you can easily visit Conwy for a weekend because there is so much to do in the area. For starters, the must-do Conwy attractions are the medieval Conwy Castle in Wales, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Conwy Town Walls.  Among the other things to do in Conwy itself include both well-preserved medieval and Elizabethan merchant houses and the smallest house Conwy which has the distinction of being the smallest house in Britain!! The Bodnant Gardens National Trust property is a short drive outside the city walls. In North Wales, Conwy is in a strategic position (for both invading armies and tourists). Nearby there are the attractions of Snowdonia National Park and the Italianate resort town of Portmeirion. You will have plenty of options for things to do in Conwy for great family holidays in North Wales.

Conwy Castle in Wales offers dramatic views over the countryside

Conwy Castle Wales

Conwy Castle in Wales is the best sort of castle as far as many kids are concerned. It’s a huge crumbling wreck that they can explore. There’s no old-fashioned furniture and paintings to walk quietly through and so kids can let their imagination run wild.

Conwy Castle History

Castle Conwy is HUGE even if it is in ruins. It’s difficult to imagine how such a massive structure was created in just a few years.

Edward had good reason to worry – he did get trapped in Castle Conwy during a Welsh rebellion. Of course, to Edward just meant he should add another North Wales castle (Beaumaris Castle) to keep those troublesome Welsh down.

Peering down into the dungeon at Castle Conway in Wales.

Over the intervening years, Conwy Castle was alternatively ignored and then back in favour. The Castle played a part in the War of the Roses as the place where Richard II surrendered so that Henry IV cold come to the throne.

The numerous Conwy Castle towers are a fun climb for kids but I was done after one.

Conwy Castle was held by Royalists forces during the Civil Ward which was unfortunate when they lost the war. The forces of Oliver Cromwell made sure that the castle couldn’t be used for rebellion again by tearing down fortifications. The final ignominy came in 1665 when the last of its wealth was stripped leaving it in a ruined state.

As a big hulking ruin in a picturesque setting, Castle Conwy was beloved of artists. It had a history as a sightseeing destination long before it’s historical importance was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986.

Conwy Castle Facts:

  • In the late 13th century Conwy Castle North Wales and the Conwy walls together cost about £15,000 (about £45 million) to build.
  •  To put that amount in perspective, £15,000 in the 13th century is about 25X  the annual income of a wealthy aristocrat of the time.
  • Castle Conwy was built over 4 years and during the peak construction period,, there were about 1500 craftsmen and labourers working on it.
  • Dominating the landscape, the Castle is a rectangular shape with 8 towers and 2 barbicans.
  • From Conwy Castle you can see three sets of bridges crossing the river – the modern 1958 road bridge, the 1826 Telford suspension bridge and the 1848 railway  bridge. These bridges are all an integral part of the history of Conwy.

We clambered up and down and all around the Castle Conwy North Wales.

10 Things To Do Conwy

For a little town in Wales visit Conwy and you’ll have a choice of local attractions from the historic, man-made ones to the natural.

Conwy Historic Houses

One of the best things to do in Conwy is to walk around the little town and admire historic architecture. When you visit Conwy, history is all around you. You might as well embrace it!

When you visit Conwy the historic part of town is must-see.

Before the English, there were the Cistercians who had a monastery in Conwy. Considering they were a religious order who liked to be away from it all, they were probably a bit miffed when Edward I showed up with his troops.

Edward I suggested the monks move somewhere more peaceful. They left behind the Abbey church (now the Church of St. Mary) which was used by the English. Conwy was created as an English town.

Aberconwy House, on the High Street, is a National Trust property and another thing to do in Conwy. It’s the town’s only surviving medieval merchant house and has some interesting exhibits.

Fast forward a couple of hundred years to 1576 and Queen Elizabeth I who decided to move the reconfigure the Dublin to London postal route. Conwy was designated an official postal station.

Plas Mawr is an Elizabethan-era Merchant House that you can visit which is also located on the High Street. Honestly, the town of Conwy is THAT small. It was the home of the wealthy Wyn family in the 16th century.

Fast forward more to 1800 and after the unification of England and Ireland, London decided they really did need better mail service to Dublin. Unfortunately the River Conwy was known to be dangerous during bad weather. For example, on Christmas Day 1806, the Irish Ferry capsized and killed 13 of the 15 passengers on board. Thomas Telford built the first suspension bridge in 1826.

In the 19th century, Conwy thrived as a port town, part of the shipping lanes among Ireland, Scotland, Liverpool and even as far away as the Baltics.

Castle Hotel Conwy

Since 1770 there’s been an inn at the site where the Castle Hotel Conwy stands today.. Somewhere in the 19th century, the Harp Inn became the Conwy Castle Hotel. The grander Castle Conwy hotel doubed in size to take over a couple of nearby buildings, including a pub. The Castle Hotel Conwy changed designations from a mere Inn to the slightly grander-sounding hotel. Adding to its glory, the Castle Conwy Hotel also got the distinction of being an official stop on the Royal Mail coach service.

Although it looks older, the neo-Jacobean grand facade of the Conway Castle Hotel was created only in the 1890’s. The history of the Castle Hotel Conwy is intertwined with that of the town of Conwy. This hotel in Conwy has hosted Royal visitors and the architects of Conwy’s bridges as well as been the place for major town celebrations.

Smallest House Conwy

Located in Conwy harbour, the smallest house in Conwy is seriously charming and absolutely tiny. The four of us in our family couldn’t fit in there standing as my son found out when he hit his head on the staircase in the jostle.

Smallest House Conwy is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the smallest house in Great Britain. It is only 6 feet wide and just over 10 feet high. And, in that height they managed to get in a sleeping loft! No vaulted ceilings here though.

Why would anyone build a house this small? Probably because they didn’t have a choice. The town is wedged in-between the sea and the city walls and space is at a premium.

There was actually a fisherman living in the smallest house Conwy until 1900. And he was 6’3” tall! He had a roof over his head, an outhouse in the rear and an easy commute into work.

Smallest House Conwy – one of the most popular things to do Conwy

The town authorities decided that the house was uninhabitable in 1900. A local newspaper took up the cause to save it when they undertook a search to see if it was indeed the smallest house in Britain. Today smallest house Conwy  is one of the biggest Conwy attractions in complete disproportion to its actual size..

Conwy Mussel Museum

One of the quirkier Conwy attractions is the Conwy Mussel Musem. This small museum  is also on Conway Quay and free to visit. Conwy has been a site of pearl fishing since the Romans stumbled into Wales.

One of the largest pearls found in the area was sent to Charles II’s wife, Catherine of Braganza (she who had the flower beds from Green Park in London removed to stop her husband picking flowers for his mistress). This Conwy pearl is still supposed to be in the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London.

Fun Fact! In the 19th century, Conwy would send over 4 kilos of pearls a week to London jewellers. Pearls didn’t start being more freely available until Mikimoto started cultured pearls in 1893. 

Conwy Suspension Bridge and Toll House

If you are looking for what to do in Conway with your National Trust membership, go check out the Conwy Suspension Bridge and Toll House. It was one of the first suspension bridges built in the world.

From Conwy Castle, you can see all 3 bridges that span the River Conwy lined up side by side.

Conwy Quay

Conwy Quay is a great place to just sit and absorb the town life around you. There are great views over the boats and the harbour and plenty of people-watching opportunities, too. The smallest house Conwy and the Mussel Museum are both located on the Quay.

Conwy Town Walls

Among the best things to do in Conwy is walk the medieval Conwy town walls which encircle the town. You can even walk most the way.

Little houses tucked inside Conwy town walls.

King Edward I also had the Conwy town walls built at the time he had his castle built. Conwy town walls are some of the best preserved medieval walls in Europe. These walls haven’t had the heavy restoration seen at Carcassone. They are great for kids similar to the city walls in Tossa Del Mar in the Costa Brava Spain.

In Edward’s day, the town walls were meant to protect Conwy, an English town. The Welsh were allowed inside the walls once a week to bring their goods to market.

Conwy Nature Reserve

Conwy Nature Reserve is a wetland run by the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) Created out of the landfill from a nearby road tunnel, the Conwy Nature Reserve is a great family walk where children can get muddy looking for wildlife, such as birds and frogs. There are three separate trails  at the Conwy Nature Reserve you can take (that range from a short 1/3 of a mile t o the longest which is 2 miles long).

Bodnant Gardens National Trust

We were lucky enough to visit Bodnant Gardens. a National Trust Garden when their spectacular Laburnum Arch was in bloom. And, it really was stunning. The Bodnant Gardens National Trust is good for walks on a nice day.

The Laburnum arch at the Bodnant Gardens National Trust property

Nearby, there is the Bodnant Welsh Food centre has excellent tea rooms and restaurant. It also provides accommodation at the Furnace Farmhouse.

Llandudno

Llandudno is the Victorian resort town across the estuary from the town of Conwy. There’s the ruins of Degannwy Castle which was a stronghold of the Welsh princes. Edward II was having none of that and stripped Degannwy to build Conwy Castle.

A sculpture; in Conwy Castle pays homage to Lllewylln the Great, one of the hero Princes of Wales.

Visit Conwy: The Practicalities

Conwy attractions range from very large to very small! In North Wales, Conwy is definitely a must-visit if only for the Castle Conwy. Yet, I feel if you miss out on some of the other things to do in Conwy, such as the smallest house Conwy and the Conwy town walls, you’ will miss out on some cool Conwy attractions. For a longer visit, here are some suggestions for accommodation in Conwy and/or restaurants in Conwy.

Check out the TripAdvisor Conwy reviews.

Accommodation Conwy

Accommodation in Conwy is limited as you can expect from a town this size.  There are places to stay in Conwy though that are outside the town walls.

In North Wales, Conwy has its historic town wedged between the Castle Conwy and the Conwy estuary.

Castle Hotel Conwy

Located where the old Cistercian Abbey used to be, you can’t get a more central location to stay in Conwy than the Castle Hotel Conwy. This four star hotel in Conwy has both single and double rooms and a whole lot of history.

Check out the TripAdvisor reviews for Castle Hotel Conwy

For the latest rates at Castle Hotel Conwy, here are a selection of hotel booking sites: booking.com  expedia  

The Groes Inn

Located outside the Conwy town walls, The Groes Inn has been around since the 15th century. This historic coaching inn is the oldest licensed pub in Wales. The hotel is dog-friendly.

Check out the TripAdvisor reviews for The Groes Inn

For the latest rates at The Groes Inn, here are a selection of hotel booking sites: booking.com  expedia  

Furnace Farmhouse

The Furnace Farmhouse is a four-star foodie’s delight. The accommodation is part of the Bodnant Welsh Food Centre. It’s located past Bodnant Gardens and so further from historic Conwy. It’s an 18th century farmhouse with 5 bedrooms. Wake up at the Furnace Farmhouse to a breakfast served from the Bodnant Welsh Food Centre. which is seriously good.

Check out the TripAdvisor reviews for the Furnace Farmhouse

For the latest rates at the Furnace Farmhouse, here are a selection of hotel booking sites: booking.com  

Glan Heulog Bed and Breakfast

Glan Heulog Bed and Breakfast is a super-cute B&B in Conwy. Located outside the historic centre of Conwy, it is still a short walk into town. There are 6 bedrooms including two that can be joined to create a family room for four people

Check out the TripAdvisor reviews for Glan Heulog Bed and Breakfast.

For the latest rates at Glan Heulog B&B, here are a selection of hotel booking sites: expedia  

Pubs and Restaurants Conwy

Here are some great places to eat in Conwy. The pubs are dog-friendly and kid-friendly so that’s good for a sit-down when you need a break.

Bodnant Welsh Food Centre

The Bondnant Welsh Food Centre has both tea rooms as well as the Hayloft Restaurant and Bar. The Furnace Tea Rooms are set in the old stables and overlook Conwy estuary. It’s open for tea, snacks and light lunches. There’s a cookery school with both day and residential courses similar to River Cottage in England. Hayloft Restaurant is the fine-dining gourmet restaurant.

Fish at the Hayloft Restaurant – a great place to eat in Conwy

Castle Hotel Conwy restaurant

The Castle Hotel Conwy restaurant also serves local Welsh food. You can also have afternoon tea at this hotel in Conwy.

Fun Fact!   The Conwy Castle Hotel restaurant served lunch to a young teenage Princess Victoria in 1832 during a visit to North Wales.

Liverpool Arms

The Liverpool Arms is located on Conwy Quay. It’s got great views over the estuary and gets crowded thanks to that feature.

The Liverpool Arms pub is located in a prime position for observing life on Conwy Quay

The Albion Ale House

The Albion Ale House is a 1920’s pub that serves local beer. It serves no food (just nibbles). Why is on this list? It’s won a bunch of awards for being the best pub in North Wales. And, it’s now really rare to find a pub that just serves beer. You can find the Albion Ale House on Uppergate Street inside the walled town of Conwy.

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Conwy Castle in Wales (+ 10 Other Things To Do in Conwy) For Family Holidays in North Wales

Conwy Castle in Wales (+ 10 Other Things To Do in Conwy) For Family Holidays in North Wales

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This site generates income via partnerships with carefully-curated travel and lifestyle brands and/or purchases made through links to them at no extra cost to you. More information may be found on our Disclosure Policy.