Visit London Blog » Windsor Enjoy the very best of London Tue, 13 Oct 2015 14:49:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Visiting the Past: Syon House and Abbey Tue, 16 Jul 2013 09:30:49 +0000 Syon House and its 200 acre park has been the London home of the Duke of Northumberland and his family for 400 years. Originally the site of a medieval abbey, Syon was named after Mount Zion in the Holy Land. The abbey was dedicated to the Bridgettine Order, established in the 14th century by the great Swedish mystic St Bridget. One of the last great abbeys to be built in 1415, Syon was dissolved by King Henry VIII in 1539.

Syon House

In 1547, King Henry VIII’s coffin was brought to Syon on its way to Windsor for burial. It burst open during the night and in the morning dogs were found licking up the bloated remains of the body! This was regarded as a divine judgement for the King’s desecration of Syon Abbey.

Excavations by the Museum of London and Museum of London Archaeology have happened in the grounds almost every year since 2003 primarily looking for the medieval abbey.

The gardens at Syon are renowned for their extensive collection of rare trees and plants since Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown landscaped the park in the mid 18th century. It is a registered Grade I landscape in the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Historic Importance in England.

This year’s excavation, with members of the community, produced an assortment of pottery and building material from Roman and early medieval periods but also an unexpected quantity of 18th century pottery and clay tobacco pipes. This disturbance in the ground reflects the landscaping that was being conducted during this time by Brown.

Syon House and grounds are open to the public but not every day of the week. I also highly recommend the Gardening Centre for keen gardeners and The Refectory for food, one influenced by Capability Brown, the other not influenced by King Henry VIII’s “visit”.

A guest post by Dan Nesbitt, Assistant Archaeology Curator at the Museum of London as part of our Visiting the Past series. More London history next week

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Windsor and the runnymede-on-thames Wed, 19 May 2010 13:00:28 +0000 Windsor Castle Windsor Castle Eton College Eton College Chapel The Runnymede Hotel & Spa, leftbank Restaurant The Runnymede Hotel & Spa

Windsor is only 50 minutes away from London Waterloo and perfect for a short break so the first bank holiday weekend in May seemed just right.

Most of the weekend was freezing cold all over the country, so we only managed to see a couple of sights, including Windsor Castle, which boasts 900 years of Royal history and Eton College.

Shopping was a great alternative: Windsor is a charming town with high street shops, some smaller boutiques and many restaurants and cafés.

Our fabulous hotel really made up for the bad weather. the runnymede-on-thames is just 10 minutes from Windsor by cab, has spacious rooms and a spa offering pampering massages and a number of treatments.

It was very relaxing to get up in the morning to swim a few lanes in the pool before taking in an extensive breakfast – either sweet or savoury, with the option of a full English. The buffet offered such an incredible choice that we really didn’t need to go out for lunch. Maybe only for afternoon tea in the lounge – yummy!

The buffet-style dinner in the hotel’s leftbank restaurant was an amazing experience, accompanied by champagne and some nice wines.

We started with the salad buffet, sushi and seafood (freshly prepared by the chefs – you can actually watch them at work behind the buffet). The selection of main courses changes every day with several dishes on offer, ranging from roast beef with Yorkshire pudding to chicken, lamb, deliciously prepared vegetables and much more. We couldn’t stop ourselves going back to the buffet to discover all the culinary delights!

Dessert was a sweets heaven with a choice of crème brulée, berry coulis, strawberry mousse, chocolate brownies…  to mention just a few.

The hotel’s new dining space The Lock opened at the beginning of May, and we look forward to trying it very soon – and going back to Windsor in the summer for some outdoor activities such as kayaking or hiking the Thames trail.

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