15+ Fun Things To Do in Camden London With Tweens and Teens

15+ Fun Things To Do in Camden London With Tweens and Teens

Are you visiting London with tweens and teens? They are always looking for the next cool thing. Make your family holiday a little easier by giving them a day to hang out in Camden. There are so many fun things to do in Camden that they will love it. And be more appreciative when you drag them back for more sightseeing at the London museums! This guide to Camden Town Market is focussed on what tweens and teens want to do – places to eat in Camden that have no nutritional value and Camden market shopping for cool and unusual items to impress their friends, And all of it will make great photos for the ‘gram. 

Giveaway!  As unique as Camden Town itself, scroll down to enter the JORD watches giveaway for a cool new watch for yourself or a special someone!

Places To Eat in Camden

There are plenty of places to eat in Camden that are proper restaurants but we all know that teens seem to have an insatiable desire for snacking and sugar. 

You know you are in Camden Town market thanks to the giant railroad sign.

You know you are in Camden Town market thanks to the giant railroad sign.

One of my kids favourite places to hang out is Cereal Killer Cafe Camden, an offshoot of the original Cereal Killer Cafe in Shoreditch. Cereal Killer Cafe Camden got retro cereals (ok retro for them but childhood favourites for me) served up as milkshakes and snacks. 

Examining the menu at Serial Killer Cafe Camden

Examining the menu at Serial Killer Cafe Camden

Another popular option is the Camden food market with its stalls where you can get casual and street food. Camden market food in Camden Lock Market includes options like the Yorkshire burrito (an English roast dinner wrapped in a Yorkshire pudding), fried chicken, pizza and ethnic street food. 

The Camden food market has so many options that it will please even the pickiest eater.

The Camden food market has so many options that it will please even the pickiest eater.

NB! In case you are wondering where Camden Town Market differs from Camden Lock Market and The Stables – don’t bother. They all blend seamlessly into one giant Camden Market. Presumably the stalls know where they are but visitors will have a hard time figuring where one stops and the other starts. 

Camden Town market has no shortage of sweet options either. Since Cereal Killer Cafe Camden counts as a meal, you  have options like Naked Dough London (cookie dough) and Chin Chin Labs London (Liquid Nitrogen ice cream). I personally am a fan of Chin Chin Labs Hot Chocolate.

The kids will need even MORE sugar for carrying on with their day. The Sweet Shop Camden is a firm favourite selling American and Scandinavian candy. The Sweet Shop Camden has both boxed sweets as well as pick and mix types of candy. 

With their fast metabolism, kids can just inhale candy. No, I’m not jealous.

With their fast metabolism, kids can just inhale candy. No, I’m not jealous.

I have also been assured that Mooboo Bubble Tea has the best bubble tea in London. It used to be on Camden High Street but has moved a couple of streets over onto the Parkway. Surprisingly, near another bubble tea purveyor, Bubbleology. Sort of like Starbucks near each other, presumably there’s enough demand that competition isn’t a worry. 

Camden market shopping

There are many options also for Camden market shopping for kids. Camden Town Market has both cheap and artisanal souvenir stores for kids visiting London in a range of price points. 

Shopping is one of the best things to do in Camden Town because prices are more reasonable than elsewhere in the city.

Shopping is one of the best things to do in Camden Town because prices are more reasonable than elsewhere in the city

My daughter adores Skinnydip London because you really can’t have enough sparkly pencil cases. They also sell teen face masks, bags, tee-shirts etcetera. 

My son loves Oddballs next door to Skinnydip London which is Europe’s oldest juggling store. No, he doesn’t juggle. BUT it does have loads of cool stuff like skateboards, frisbees and puzzles. 

Puzzles to keep their brain active at Oddball.

Puzzles to keep their brain active at Oddball.

How else can you spend your money with Camden market shopping? There are specialists in everything that would interest your kid – Japanese Manga, Doc Martens, Camden Lock Vinyl etc. Koko Art will custom paint your Converse kicks.

No, not sweets. These colorful pieces are actually soap and bath bombs.

No, not sweets. These colorful pieces are actually soap and bath bombs.

Although located on Camden High Street, Urban Outfitters is a popular pilgrimage spot for teens. 

Bucket hats are all the rage according to what I saw available for Camden market shopping

Bucket hats are all the rage according to what I saw available for Camden market shopping

There are also regular pop-up shops in Camden Town Market. Recently a line for a pop up shop for K-Pop band BT-21 wound around for hours. 

We were told it would take us 1.5 hours of waiting on this line to enter the BT21 pop up shop.

We were told it would take us 1.5 hours of waiting on this line to enter the BT21 pop up shop.

Things To Do in Camden

One of the best things to do in Camden is Instagram. Its free and will make friends envious. With so much street art in Camden Town, kids have an endless array of Instagrammable walls. Besides before you buy anything at Camden Town Market, you need to instagram your 1000+ besties for an opinion. 

Colorful fruit is one of the many pieces of street art in Camden

Colorful fruit is one of the many pieces of street art in Camden

Plonk Mini Golf Madness is actually a lot of fun. It’s urban mini golf where they squeeze 9 holes of mini golf creatively into a small space. 

Pay homage to the Queen of Camden Town, Amy Winehouse, whose likeliness is sprinkled throughout the market. 

JORD Watches Giveaway

All this general coolness at Camden Market merits that you look good while visiting. JORD has unique watches made from wood. My daughter fell in love with her Arcadia silver and white turquoise JORD watch as soon as she saw it. 

People-watching from one of the bridges at Camden Lock Market.

People-watching from one of the bridges at Camden Lock Market.

We are delighted to offer a Jord Watches giveaway – just enter your name and email for a $100 gift certificate to shop for a JORD watch.  Wouldn’t these unique timepieces make a great gift for someone special? 

This giveaway ends on June 23rd at 11:59 PM GMT.
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  • All Cedar humidor presentation boxes are engravable as well!
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  • Most watches have additional options for customization–mixing and matching faces and woods!
  • Every watch comes with a one year warranty and options for return & exchange
  • Free worldwide standard shipping!

-Contest link: https://www.jordwatches.com/g/justgoplaces

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Why You Should Visit London Museums With Kids On Your Next Family Trip to London

Why You Should Visit London Museums With Kids On Your Next Family Trip to London

On your next family trip to London, you should definitely check out some of the offerings at the London museums with kids in tow.  Invariably it will rain and you may be looking for indoor activities in London. With the wide choice of child friendly museums London will have an option for your family no matter the age of your children. Many of these free museums in London are among the best in the world! Fun museums for kids include the world-famous institutions such as the British Museum but also lesser known museums like the HMS Belfast. The best museums for children in London really do rank among the best things to do in London with kids.

London Museums With Kids

What’s one great thing about visiting London museums with kids? So many of them are free that if your child/teen is having a bad day, you can just leave the museum without feeling you have wasted your money.

On your next family trip to London, check out some of these fun museums for children. To be part of this round up of best kids museums London has to offer, these places all have plenty to do for children.

Among the family things to do in London, these museums make great indoor activities – London weather is unpredictable!

Skip the Line!  There are plenty of free museums in London but some of the best museums for children in London require admission fees, such as the HMS Belfast and the London Transport Museum. Buy your London Pass which gets you free access to these museums as well as a whole host of other London attractions.

5 of the Best Free Museums in London

Some of the best museums for children in London are some of the best museums in the world, period. These 5 of the best free museums in London are world-renowned institutions. In terms of child friendly museums London really is world class!

British Museum

Where to begin? The British Museum is a treasure trove – from the Rosetta Stone to portions of the Parthenon from Greece – this institution has something from every major civilisation. It is also very kid-friendly organising regular overnight sleepovers for kids aged from 8-15 related to its special exhibitions. There are also regular family events like discovery trails, activity backpacks and digital activities.

The British Museum should be on everyone’s list of great London museums for kids

The British Museum should be on everyone’s list of great London museums for kids

You can find the British Museum at Great Russell Street in London, WC1B 3DG.The nearest Tube stops are Tottenham Court Road, Holborn, Russell Square and Goodge Street,  It is open 7 days a week and free to visit.

V&A Museum

The V&A Museum is the world’s largest museum of art and design. What does that mean for kids? Cool recent exhibits have been about video game design. Every Christmas, the V&A Museum has famous architects make a futuristic Gingerbread City. They run family workshops where your kids can make gingerbread houses as well.  There are daily family activities as well such as activity trails and backpacks.

The modern entrance to the V&A Museum, undoubtedly one of the best free museums in London

The modern entrance to the V&A Museum, undoubtedly one of the best free museums in London

You can find the  V&A Museum at Cromwell Road in London, SW7 2RL. The nearest Tube Stop is South Kensington. It is open 7 days a week except for a few days at Christmas and free to visit.

Science Museum

The Science Museum has plenty to keep kids occupied with its permanent collection and special exhibitions. The highlight for children though will be the interactive exhibits at the Wonderlab. My kids could easily spend an entire day amongst the 50 odd exhibits and shows. The Wonderlab, however, is timed entry and paid admission so that it doesn’t get too crowded. We remember before they constructed the Wonderlab (with its timed entry) and admission was free and it was total chaos. Yes, you have to plan a bit more but we prefer the current system.

You can find the Science Museum at Exhibition Road in South Kensington, London SW7 2DD. The nearest Tube Stop is South Kensington. It is open 7 days a week except for a few days at Christmas and free to visit. You need to pay for the Wonderlab exhibitions which are totally worth the money.

Natural History Museum

Do your kids like dinosaurs? They will love the Natural History Museum. It’s got a great dinosaur collection as well as other exhibits on animals. Kids can also do overnight sleepovers with kids aged from 7-11 at the Natural History Museum.

One of the big London family attractions in December is the ice skating rink outside the Natural History Museum.

One of the big London family attractions in December is the ice skating rink outside the Natural History Museum.

You can find the Natural History Museum at Cromwell Road in London SW7 5BD. The nearest Tube Stop is South Kensington. It is open 7 days a week except for a few days at Christmas and free to visit. You need to pay for the Wonderlab exhibitions which are totally worth the money.

V&A Museum of Childhood

Although a bit out of the way, the V&A Museum of Childhood is easily accessible by public transportation and one of the best free museums in London for families. Although associated with one of the biggest museums in London, this branch of the V&A is one of the best museums for toddlers to. The museum is devoted to childhood through the ages but it is easily accessible for children such as by dressing up, playing with the dollhouses and activity packs.

You can find the V&A Museum of Childhood at Cambridge Heath Road in London E2 9PA. The nearest Tube stop is Bethnal Green. It is open 7 days a week except for a few days at Christmas and free to visit.

Small Museums in London

These small museums in London are a good option for London family attractions if you are afraid to lose your children in a large space. These fun museums for kids pack plenty of entertainment and education in a smaller square footage.

Museum of Brands, Packaging & Advertising

The Museum of Brands is one of the coolest small museums in London. Older children will be fascinated with how well known advertising and brands have changed over the years.

You can find the Museum of Brands, Packaging & Advertising at 111-117 Lancaster Road in Notting Hill London W11 1QT. It is open 7 days a week and there is a charge for admission. Children under 7 years of age are free.

London Transport Museum

The London Transport Museum is one of the best London museums for kids if your children are obsessed with vehicles. The museum goes through the history of transport in London from the Victorian early Omnibuses to the the London Tube today. Among the small museums in London, you can be pretty assured that your kids can run around the vehicles at this museum and do little damage.

There are plenty of small museums in London like the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden

There are plenty of small museums in London like the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden

Children under the age of 7 have a special play area called Playzone. In the Playzone, children can drive vehciles and dress up in uniforms.

You can find the London Transport Museum in the Covent Garden Piazza in London WC2E 7BB. The nearest tube stop is Covent Garden. It is open 7 days a week. T here is a charge for admission but not for children under the age of 17.

HMS Belfast

The HMS Belfast is another one of the 5 museums that make up the Imperial War Museum.  It is a World War 2 Royal Navy warship with 9 decks to explore from the captain’s deck to the boiler and engine rooms. Kids will learn not only about the skirmishes engaged in by the ship but also about life on board for the 950 member crew.

On the deck of the HMS Belfast one of the best museums for children London

On the deck of the HMS Belfast one of the best museums for children London

You can find the HMS Belfast moored at The Queen’s Walk in London SE1 2JH. The nearest tube stop are London Bridge and Tower. Hill. It is open 7 days a week except for a few days around Christmas and there is a charge for admission.

Churchill War Rooms

The Churchill War Rooms are one of the 5 museums that make up the Imperial War Museum and another good option for London museums for kids. A small museum set up exactly the way it looked when Churchill ran the World War 2 operation from this bunker, it is a fascinating look at the history behind World War 2 for older children who have studied the war.

The Churchill War Rooms are located at Clive Steps on King Charles Street in London SW1A 2AQ. The nearest tube stops are Westminster and St. James’s Park. The Churchill War Rooms are open every year except around Christmas. There is a price for admission.

Charles Dickens Museum

The Charles Dickens Museum is the former home of the novelist and where he wrote several of his famous novelsfamous novels. It is one of the best small museums in London because no doubt your kids will know some of his works, such as Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol. My kids learned about Dickens early thanks to Scrooge McDuck and Duck Tales. Moreover, it’s one of the fun museums for kids at Christmas because the house is decorated in preparation for a Victorian Christmas.

The Charles Dickens Museum is located at 48 – 49 Doughty Street in London, WC1N 2LX. The nearest tube stops are Russell Square, Chancery Lane or Kings Cross. The Charles Dickens Museum is open limited hours from January to November and open every day in December. There is an admissions charge for everyone over the age of 6.

Best Museums for Toddlers

You can thank the British military for providing some of the best museums for toddlers. If you have older children, both museums have plenty to keep your older kids occupied on a family trip to London.

Royal Air Force Museum

Although the location of the Royal Air Force Museum is not very central, this museum is one of the best things to do in London with toddlers.

The Royal Air Force Museum is located in giant hangars so there is PLENTY of space to run around. My son, however, could stay in the same space and wear himself out.  He would find the plane with a shark painted on it and then run away from it scared.  And, then he’d come back and do it all over again. And again.

In addition to the shark plane, there are lots of other planes, helicopters, tanks, etc that your children can explore as well as activity backpacks, simulators, etc.

Another reason the Royal Air Force Museum is one of the best museums for toddlers is because there is an outdoor playground themed along the lines of military vehicles – a helicopter climbing frame, a Tornado airplane with slides etc.

The RAF Museum London is located at Grahame Park Way in London NW9 5LL. There is plentiful paid car parking. It is open every day and has free admission.

National Army Museum

You would not believe that the National Army Museum is one of the best museums for toddlers. Seriously. They have a GREAT soft play center called Play Base with specific sessions for which you sign up.

For older children, there are many interactive exhibits as well as other activities like dressing up options and an activity backpack. With its array of activities for both older and younger children, the National Army Museum is one of the best things to do in London with toddlers in tow.

You can find the National Army Museum at the Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea London SW3 4HT. It is open 7 days a week and free to visit. Play Base does have a separate admission charge.

Other Child Friendly Museums London

Some London museums for kids are better appreciated with older children. Just because there are plenty of free museums in London for kids doesn’t mean it would be a good idea for your family trip to London.

Imperial War Museum

The Imperial War Museum is another of the child friendly museums London has to offer. I would say the IWM is better with older children because it explores the larger themes of world conflict, such as why the world wars started.

The Imperial War Museum is one of the best kids museums London

The Imperial War Museum is one of the best kids museums London

The Imperial War Museum is on Lambeth Road in London SE1 6HZ. The nearest tube stops are Lambeth North and Elephant & Castle. The Imperial War Museum is open every day except around Christmas and provides free entry.

Tate Modern

Set in a converted power station overlooking the Thames, the views from Tate Modern are amazing. Strolling along Bankside is one of the best family things to do in London and you can’t miss the imposing Tate Modern.

The striking building housing the Tate Modern

The striking building housing the Tate Modern

It really is one of the best free museums in London but you kids have to be old enough to appreciate contemporary art. My kids would endlessly run up and down the ramps of the Tate Modern when they were young – totally underrated among the things to do in London with toddlers! Now that they are older, they have more appreciation for the contemporary art than just the building.

The Tate Modern is at Bankside in London SE1 9TG. The nearest tube stations are Southwark, Blackfriars and St. Pauls. It is open every day and has free admission.

Museum of London

For indoor activities London has to offer, check out the Museum of London. It explores the city’s thousands of years of history starting with the people who lived in the area before even the Romans. The Museum of London even contains a portion of the original Roman wall that protected the Romans city of Londinium!

I thought the Lord Mayor’s carriage was pretty impressive but what did my kids really want to see? Toxic waste. The portion of the fatberg that is on display at the Museum of London. If you don’t know, the fatberg was a 130 ton mass of grease and waste clogging up London’s sewers.  Pretty gross but fascinating if you are a fan of the Horrible Histories sort of stuff my kids grew up on.

The Museum of London is located at 150 London Wall in London EC2Y 5HN.  The Museum of London is open daily and has free admission.

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Why You Should Visit London Museums With Kids On Your Next Family Trip to London

Why You Should Visit London Museums With Kids On Your Next Family Trip to London

On your next family trip to London, you should definitely check out some of the London museums with kids in tow. Invariably it will rain and you may be looking for indoor activities in London. Fun museums for kids include the world-famous institutions such as the British Museum but also lesser known museums like the HMS Belfast. Check out the best 15 museums for children in London! #london #museum #uk #travelwithkids #familyfriendly

On your next family trip to London, you should definitely check out some of the London
museums with kids in tow. Invariably it will rain and you may be looking for indoor activities
in London. Fun museums for kids include the world-famous institutions such as the British
Museum but also lesser known museums like the HMS Belfast. Check out the best 15
museums for children in London! #london #museum #uk #travelwithkids #familyfriendly

Most certainly, on your next family trip to London it‘s going to rain at some point and you’ll have to come up with some indoor activities in London. What about checking out some London museum with kids?The best free museums in London for kids include the famous ones like the V&A Museum and the Natural History Museum, but also lesser known museums like the V&A Museum of Childhood . Check out the best 5 London free museums for children. #london #free #museum #uk #travelwithkids #familyfriendly

Most certainly, on your next family trip to London it‘s going to rain at some point and you’ll
have to come up with some indoor activities in London. What about checking out some
London museum with kids?The best free museums in London for kids include the famous
ones like the V&A Museum and the Natural History Museum, but also lesser known
museums like the V&A Museum of Childhood . Check out the best 5 London free museums
for children. #london #free #museum #uk #travelwithkids #familyfriendly

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.

5 Reasons Waterside Cornwall Has The Best Luxury Holiday Cottages in Cornwall

5 Reasons Waterside Cornwall Has The Best Luxury Holiday Cottages in Cornwall

I know my children have strong English roots because they absolutely adore Devon and Cornwall which seems to hold a fond place in the heart of many British people. We’ve had family holidays in the area because it’s always their first choice for where to go in England. We have usually stayed at family-friendly luxury hotels in the area such as Fowey Hall or Saunton Sands Hotel. We were invited this time to stay at Waterside Cornwall, luxury holiday cottages in Cornwall.  We loved that these North Cornwall holiday cottages gave us the privacy of our own little house but also had the amenities of a hotel nearby – making them the perfect choice in our opinion for family holidays in Cornwall.

Waterside Cottages Cornwall

Waterside Cornwall is a set of conveniently located holiday cottages near Bodmin in Cornwall. They have been newly renovated and are set around a clubhouse and a lake.

The lakeside Lanivet view which is a superb feature for these holiday cottages in North Cornwall

The lakeside Lanivet view which is a superb feature for these holiday cottages in North Cornwall

The Exterior of the Luxury Cottages Cornwall

The Waterside Cottages Cornwall are a series of charming A-frame homes, . My kids thought they looked like tee-pees for glamping not realising that A-Frame homes were popularised in the mid-20th Century in the USA as the architect’s option for vacation homes.

I am reminded of mid-century modern American vacation homes with these luxury cottages Cornwall has to offer.

I am reminded of mid-century modern American vacation homes with these luxury cottages Cornwall has to offer.

These self catering Cornwall cottages are set with a good amount of space between them. They have outdoor seating in front as well as large sliding doors from the living space so that younger kids can play while you keep an eye on them.

The Interior of the Luxury Cottages Cornwall

Inside the holiday cottages in North Cornwall, the decor is modern and tasteful. We had a two bedroom cottage. Downstairs was the open plan kitchen, dining and living room. The double bedroom with ensuite bathroom was downstairs and the upstairs was the master bedroom, another bathroom and a little sun trap of a terrace.

Although there were only four of us, the cottage can accommodate up to 6 people with the pull out couch. The dining table is also set up for 6 people.

Both bedrooms had a television so we did not have to battle with the children on what to watch. And, as an additional bonus, the television had Netflix so that the kids had a wide choice of programming. We found the WiFi excellent as well.

The double bedroom for the kids at these North Cornwall holiday cottages

The double bedroom for the kids at these North Cornwall holiday cottages

And, what’s the best thing for family holidays in Cornwall? A Washing Machine! All that outdoor activity means kids get mucky. You don’t actually need to bring that much if you can just wash their clothes out.

Why These Luxury Holiday Cottages in Cornwall?

Here are our 5 main reasons we loved these luxury holiday cottages in Cornwall and why we would recommend them for family holidays in Cornwall.

Cottages in Cornwall With a Hot Tub

Some of the larger Waterside Cornwall homes are great for parties because they are cottages in Cornwall with a hot tub. My kids love a hot tub because it reminds them of thermal pools we have visited. We did not choose any of the Waterside cottages in Cornwall with a hot tub though because we didn’t want to deal with the hassle of supervising them.

Cornwall Cottages With A Pool

Speaking of supervising children in water, many people look for Cornwall cottages with a pool. We loved that Waterside Cornwall had its own pool in the clubhouse which was just a short walk away. The clubhouse pool was warm and safe! It had its own lifeguard so that as an adult you weren’t constantly on edge. Moreover, the lifeguard is always useful for keeping other people’s kids in line!

Since we have a pool at our summer house, we know with children you always need to keep an eye on them when they are playing in the pool. You can’t really zone out yourself if you are keeping an eye on their antics.

You’d think in Cornwall cottages with a pool would be a great idea – but with children we have found that its better in theory than practice! The best of all worlds is to have a pool handy but not right outside in the back yard!

Optional Self Catering Cornwall

Our self catering North Cornwall cottage came with a full kitchen (including a full size refrigerator) which was really handy for snacks and the occasional cuppa.

On the other hand, the clubhouse restaurant was excellent. My husband pronounced his full English breakfast for £5 excellent. We had all three meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner – at some point during our stay at the restaurant. There’s a children’s menu as well.

North Cornwall holidays wouldn’t be the same without mouth watering food like that offered at the Waterside Cornwall restaurant.

North Cornwall holidays wouldn’t be the same without mouth watering food like that offered at the Waterside Cornwall restaurant.

All our meals were excellent and it was just really nice not to cook when we didn’t feel like it. Yet, we did not have to get in the car to go anywhere to have a nice meal in a restaurant.

Although self catering North Cornwall has great restaurant options if you want to eat out.

Although self catering North Cornwall has great restaurant options if you want to eat out.

If you decided to go full self catering North Cornwall has several big supermarkets nearby thanks to the town of Bodmin being so close to these holiday cottages.

Other Waterside Cornwall Amenities

With these luxury cottages Cornwall has gotten itself a low-key resort complex.  The center at Waterside Cornwall is a hub for the whole complex and has a convivial feeling. You can either walk to the center or park right outside (if you are with people who are mobility impaired).

The lobby is where registration takes place. There’s a seating area where you can hang out as an alternative to your self catering Cornwall cottage. Sometimes with family gatherings, you might need that extra space!

The main center at Waterside Cornwall is a communal area for people to meet and relax

The main center at Waterside Cornwall is a communal area for people to meet and relax

The restaurant and bar is a large area with plenty of seating. The restaurant extends into a conservatory area which is lovely for afternoon tea or having a drink in the sunshine. The conservatory doors open onto outdoor seating with a lakeside view as well as the children’s playground.

Family holidays in Cornwall are beloved by many British people

Family holidays in Cornwall are beloved by many British people

The center also provides access to the pool and a well-equipped gym. There are regular fitness classes if you are feeling inspired.

Waterside Cornwall does put on occasional entertainment. For example, my kids chose to join bingo night. They discovered when they went for the kids’ disco that the other children were much younger. At that awkward tween age, my kids also refused to participate in the arts & crafts and egg/spoon races that the staff organised. Upstairs there’s a games room if your older kids want to play pool or table football.

There is a small store onsite as well that sells necessities and souvenirs.

Fresh bread is available at the center at these luxury cottages Cornwall

Fresh bread is available at the center at these luxury cottages Cornwall

Segway Cornwall

I’ve never been on a Segway before. In fact, they kind of scared me. I’m totally uncoordinated and the thought of having to balance on one of those things in traffic on a city tour was totally unappealing.

I was totally wrong as I found out at Segway Lakeview. Learning to use a Segway in Cornwall turned out to be easy peasy.

The Segway Lakeview office was near our self-catering Cornwall cottage and the kids saw people going in and out having a blast. So, it was hard to resist their pleas to try out a Segway in Cornwall with Segway Lakeview. Besides if you are going to Segway, Cornwall seemed a pretty option for not getting run over in city traffic.

Off Road Segway Cornwall sheep better watch out!

Off Road Segway Cornwall sheep better watch out!

Anthony who owns and leads the Segway Lakeview tours made us feel totally comfortable. We were zipping around the countryside and doing slaloms and jumps in no time on the Segway in Cornwall in the fields above Waterside Cornwall.

And, I discovered the Segway does everything for you! There’s actually  no balancing involved. It actually is a multi-generational fun thing that would make for memorable family holidays in Cornwall. We all totally loved our time on a Segway in Cornwall.

Waterside Cornwall Location

We’ve been to Bodmin before on our North Cornwall holidays. In fact, when my kids heard we were in holiday cottages near Bodmin, they wanted to know if we’d revisit Bodmin Jail. I did take an evening history and paranormal tour at Bodmin Jail but the kids decided to stay at Waterside Cornwall because it was bingo night. Bingo or Ghosts? I didn’t even think that was a choice.

In addition to being close to Bodmin, these holiday cottages in North Cornwall are near to the little village of Lanivet. The Lanivet Inn is a great local pub serving good food and one of the best options for restaurants in the area. The night we went for dinner the locals were fund-raising for a defibrillator for the village – it’s that local.

You’ve got to get out and explore the great outdoors like Bodmin Moor when you take family holidays in Cornwall

You’ve got to get out and explore the great outdoors like Bodmin Moor when you take family holidays in Cornwall

Nearby Bodmin is the start of the Camel Trail which is an old disused railroad track converted to a cycle route. It goes all the way to Padstow. You can rent bikes at either Bodmin or Wadebridge and head out for some fresh air and easy cycling. We ourselves rode from Wadebridge to Padstow for a leisurely afternoon browsing in Padstow. And, a Cornish Cream Tea of course.

And, of course there is the isolated beauty of Bodmin Moor which is great for long country walks. And, Jamaica Inn – the pub from the famous Daphne Du Maurier book about smugglers in Cornwall. There is a small museum next to the Jamaica Inn on smuggling in Cornwall as well as Du Maurier’s life.

Visiting Waterside Cornwall

If I were to be honest the whole experience reminded me of a small-scale Centerparcs resort (which my kids also love). Why? You can get little cottages near each other for a friends and family vacation, there are plenty of activities for multi-generational fun and a center with restaurant and leisure activities.

Unlike a Centerparcs experience, other than Segway Lakeview you have to find your own activities (not hard to do on family holidays in Cornwall!).  On the other hand, these luxury cottages in North Cornwall are a much better value option. Moreover, the homes are nicer, cleaner and more modern than the average Centerparcs option. And, you get to park your car in front of your little home so its easy to get in and out of the house.

Waterside Cornwall is located at Old Coach Road, Lanivet, Bodmin, Cornwall. You can book these self-catering North Cornwall cottages directly through Waterside Cornwall website.

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5 Reasons Waterside Cornwall Has The Best Luxury Holiday Cottages in Cornwall

5 Reasons Waterside Cornwall Has The Best Luxury Holiday Cottages in Cornwall

Devon and Cornwall hold a fond place in the heart of many British people, and my kids love visiting these areas. This time we stayed at Waterside Cornwall cottages, which made for the perfect choice for family holidays in Cornwall. Here are our 5 main reasons we loved these luxury holiday cottages in Cornwall and what are the best things to do in Cornwall in this area. #cornwall #uk #holidaycottages #cottages #familytravel

Devon and Cornwall hold a fond place in the heart of many British people, and my kids love
visiting these areas. This time we stayed at Waterside Cornwall cottages, which made for the
perfect choice for family holidays in Cornwall. Here are our 5 main reasons we loved these
luxury holiday cottages in Cornwall and what are the best things to do in Cornwall in this
area. #cornwall #uk #holidaycottages #cottages #familytravel

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.

Is Sabor Mayfair The Best Spanish Restaurant London Has?

Is Sabor Mayfair The Best Spanish Restaurant London Has?

Sabor London is a traditional Spanish restaurant which merges the flavours of different regions of Spain in a casual environment. One of the owners, Nieves Barragan, is famed for having been the Michelin-starred chef at Barrafina Restaurant London which has several outlets now. Sabor Mayfair itself is the Michelin star Spanish restaurant London deserves. The Ingredients are fresh, the combination of flavours exquisite but the atmosphere is trendy casual unlike many Michelin starred restaurants.

Sabor Restaurant London

Along with Barrafina restaurant London, Sabor London is a one Michelin star Spanish restaurant in London. These are the only two of these Michelin star Spanish restaurants in London for which no doubt the talents of Nieves Barragan is greatly responsible.

Sit downstairs at Sabor London you can watch the culinary magic happen behind the counter.

Sit downstairs at Sabor London you can watch the culinary magic happen behind the counter.

In this Spanish restaurant Picadilly and its chaos seems far away. Located on a blink-and-you-miss-it side street Sabor London is within the respectability of upscale Mayfair. Surrounded by other charming restaurants, Sabor Mayfair is a good tip for the best Spanish restaurant in London. Nieves Barragan herself is from the Basque country and her restaurant is a melange of flavours from Andalusia, Castile, Galicia and the Canary Islands.

The Counter shown below is a walk-in, no reservations required restaurant.

Sabor restaurant London has two separate dining areas - upstairs and downstairs - both of which are elegantly casual.

Sabor restaurant London has two separate dining areas – upstairs and downstairs – both of which are elegantly casual.

Sabor Restaurant London has several parts – the downstairs bar and tapas counter and the upstairs El Asador. Upstairs past a pretty spiral staircase, El Asador is named after a traditional wood-fired oven.

Sabor restaurant menu hanging at the downstairs bar

Dining upstairs at the El Asador portion is a communal experience. You share long tables like in a cafeteria or like the casual Japanese London chain, Wagamama.

You can make reservations for up to 5 people in the upstairs El Asador. If space permits, there is also availability for walk-ins. The day we arrived, the restaurant had a line forming about 15 minutes before its opening at noon presumably for the walk-in spaces.

Sabor Restaurant London is known for its Segovian suckling pig roasted in an traditional Spanish asador

Sabor Restaurant London is known for its Segovian suckling pig roasted in an traditional Spanish asador

Sabor Restaurant Menu

The main Sabor Restaurant menu choices are octopus and suckling pig. You don’t like to eat seafood or pork then your options are limited. The octopus is cooked the Galician way and cooked in copper cans which are stacked up on the counter. The suckling pig is cooked in the traditional Castilian asador.

The Sabor restaurant menu is printed on either a drawing of either a pig or an octopus

The Sabor restaurant menu is printed on either a drawing of either a pig or an octopus. You get the picture, right?

The starters are tapas meant to be shared. Below is a selection of the tapas we tried at Sabor London. I actually got thrown by the Tortilla Gallega which was supposed to be like the traditional Tortilla Espanola made of eggs and potatoes. In the Michelin star Spanish restaurant London version, the egg was runny and I have to admit I preferred the non-fancy version!

Empanada Gallega - puff pastry stuffed with tuna and cooked with Marinara Sauce

Empanada Gallega – puff pastry stuffed with tuna and cooked with Marinara Sauce

My companion wanted to try the fried pigs’ ears.  I was a little reluctant because my dog likes to chew on pig ears as a treat!! Anyway, these tasted like crisps and were a totally different experience to what I expected. The inside was soft and the outside crisp.

Crisp Pig’s Ears served with quince aioli and hot paprika

Crisp Pig’s Ears served with quince aioli and hot paprika

The famous octopus were sublime! seriously. Not a thing like calamari or any other octopus dish I have ever tried even in Spain, as good as those dishes have been.

Galician octopus in a paprika sauce

The mains revolve around the suckling pig. You need to preorder the suckling pig when you make the reservation because it takes so long to cook. You have a choice of a quarter, half or whole suckling pig.

I am not even a pork fan but I tried out a little bit. The pork was amazing – tender and delicious and imbued with flavour. I will never love pork like the Spaniards do but even I was super impressed.

1/2 of a Segovian suckling pig which really is sliced in half

1/2 of a Segovian suckling pig which really is sliced in half

The other mains are non-pork options if you are so inclined. I preferred the fish specials which were delicious – perfectly cooked, light and flaky.

The Sabor Restaurant menu had a fish special of the day with baked garlic

The Sabor Restaurant menu had a fish special of the day with baked garlic

The sides for the main dishes involve mostly salads and fries. You know you have to try the fries when there are four variations of the fries!  We choose fries with rosemary cheese but there are other options, such as Fries with a sauce from the Canary Islands.

Three of the sides - fries with rosemary cheese, crips artichokes and green salad

Three of the sides – fries with rosemary cheese, crips artichokes and green salad

Where To Find Sabor Mayfair

Sabor Mayfair is closest to Picadilly Circus station on a charming little side street. It’s got a Mayfair address because when you are looking for a high end Spanish restaurant, Picadilly Circus with its hordes of touristy restaurants doesn’t necessarily spring to mind!

Fresh bread is a real treat at this Spanish restaurant in Picadilly Circus

Fresh bread is a real treat at this Spanish restaurant in Picadilly Circus

If your travels don’t take you to Sabor Restaurant London, but you still want to try the flavours of one of the best Spanish restaurant London has to offer, check out SABOR the cookbook. The cookbook, Sabor: Flavours From A Spanish Kitchen, came out in the middle of 2017. As one of the best cookbooks of 2017, I got to try out Sabor before I even went to Sabor Restaurant London.

Bring the flavours of the best Spanish restaurant London with this cookbook published by the chef at Sabor London.

Bring the flavours of the best Spanish restaurant London with this cookbook published by the chef at Sabor London.

SPREAD THE WORD! PIN THIS TO YOUR TRAVEL PINTEREST BOARDS FOR FUTURE REFERENCE! 

Sabor Restaurant in London #restaurantlondon #londonrestaurant #mayfair #spanishfood #spanishrestaurant #sabormayfair

Sabor Restaurant in London

Along with Barrafina restaurant London, Sabor London is a one Michelin star Spanish restaurant in London, and one you should make a reservation for. The Ingredients are fresh, the combination of flavours exquisite but the atmosphere is trendy casual unlike many Michelin starred restaurants. Check it out! #restaurantlondon #londonrestaurant #mayfair #spanishfood #spanishrestaurant #sabormayfair

Along with Barrafina restaurant London, Sabor London is a one Michelin star Spanish
restaurant in London, and one you should make a reservation for. The Ingredients are fresh,
the combination of flavours exquisite but the atmosphere is trendy casual unlike many
Michelin starred restaurants. Check it out!

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.

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!



SPREAD THE WORD! PIN THIS TO YOUR TRAVEL PINTEREST BOARDS FOR FUTURE REFERENCE! 

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.

When you think of the area of Borough in London nowadays, usually Borough Market springs to mind. But 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. Discover the history behind Marshalsea Debtor’s Prison and what it has to do with Charles Dickens.

When you think of the area of Borough in London nowadays, usually Borough Market
springs to mind. But 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. Discover the history behind Marshalsea Debtor’s
Prison and what it has to do with Charles Dickens.

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.

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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