The History Guides Walks, talks and lectures
The History GuidesWalks, talks and lectures

Our guides work for Historic Royal Palaces and are qualified to deliver inspiring and entertaining tours of the buildings and gardens of Hampton Court Palace, Kew Palace and the Banqueting House, Whitehall Palace. Our Art Historians regularly work in the Tate, Tate Modern, National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery.

We also offer various walks, talks and lectures in London which may take the form of a visit to an art gallery or a guided walk. The best way to really get to know the city is to walk around the streets with a knowledgeable guide and we can offer bespoke packages of combined walks and art visits.

Here are some examples of our walks and tours: 



Hampton Court's Painted Ladies -

Lely's 'Windsor Beauties' and Knellor's 'Hampton Court Beauties'

'Voluptuous beauties - a handful of husbands - pocketfuls of lovers - a few fair reputations - and much slanderous wit'. 

We look at the place these famous works hold in the history of portraiture and compare the style of Peter Lely with that of Godfrey Knellor. 

We look at the personalities and scandals surrounding the ladies themselves.

Some ‘Beauties’ were of strong moral character who inspired feelings of platonic love and decorated the court with their grace and beauty. Other ‘Beauties’ seem to have exemplified the exact opposite.

In the Restoration Court of Charles II sexual freedom and personal advancement were openly promoted. 

Land of a Thousand Years - Hampton Court Palace Gardens
This walk traces the history of the Palace gardens from Roman times. Learn about its past, present and future and the development of each area. Hear stories about the personalities who have put their individual stamp on a unique and very special garden. Walk in the footsteps of Henry VIII; see the site of his tiltyard and fishponds, which held the freshwater fish eaten on religious days. Marvel at a garden William III would recognise and which perfectly compliments the Baroque Palace he commissioned from Sir Christopher Wren. 

Know your 'isms' - Tate Modern
This is the History of Modern Art - with much scepticism and a lot of humour!

Stroll through this converted 1950s power station, looking at the chronological development of Modern Art from 1900 to 2000 and beyond.

We shall cover works by the Cubists, the Purists, the Dadaists, the Surrealists, the Conceptualists, the Minimalist artists and also the latest installations. Learn how to put 'isms' into boxes and enjoy the fun and excitement of Modern Art. 

The National Gallery - London

The National Gallery contains paintings from 1200 to 1900 and provides the ideal setting for contemplating the History of Western Art. We begin with the Renaissance - Saints, Demons, Angels, Altarpieces and portraits. Have you ever considered where halos originated - or who organised angels into ranks and choirs?

We then move on to the Baroque - all those open gestures and rich Ruben’s style compositions. Then we continue forward through the 17th & 18th centuries - from England's landowners to the artistically critical Hogarth, and then, towards Impressionism. We finish with Post Impressionism - Renoir, Seurat and Cezanne - and the beginnings of Modern painting. 

A Brief History of Art - National Gallery & National Portrait Gallery
Focussing on the National Gallery, this tour will chronologically categorise styles in European art.  This treasure trove of paintings, spanning the 13th to the 20th century, details the progression of art, from purely ecclesiastical subject matter commissioned by the Church, to the recorded daily lives of the aristocracy through displays of their great wealth, on to the rich merchant who commissioned work because he could, and finally to artists who practised for the love of art.  This can be continued in the National Portrait Gallery next door, which brings the visitor into the 21st century and completes the journey.  The roof-top restaurant offers an unparalleled vista of Trafalgar Square and across Whitehall to the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and the London Eye. 

An Eclectic Taste - The Wallace Collection
The Wallace Collection is a personal anthology of three generations of one family; started by the 3rd Marquis of Hertford in the 18th century and finishing with Sir Richard Wallace, his illegitimate grandson, in 1876. The artefacts are displayed in an imposing house tucked away in a quiet square behind Selfridges.

At first glance it appears to be predominantly French furniture, ceramics and fine art, but it not only holds some major works of art from Spain, Italy and the Netherlands, but also includes an armoury among its exhibits. Some significant paintings by Rubens, Rembrandt and Velasquez surprise the spectator with their unique accessibility, but the most thrilling feature of this collection is the delight the visitor feels when confronted, not only by The Laughing Cavalier, but also Fragonard’s The Swing.  After exploring this unique collection, coffee, lunch or afternoon tea is served in the best-kept secret in London - the Atrium Café. 

Thank you, Your Majesty! - Hampton Court Palace

King Charles I is officially recognised as the architect of what is now the Royal Collection. His envoys travelled throughout Europe in a continuous quest to appease the king’s appetite for works of art. Although much of the collection was sold during the Commonwealth, extremely important pieces remained, and were the inspiration for future additions by successive monarchs. This tour at Hampton Court Palace includes one of the ‘jewels in the crown’, The Triumphs of Caesar by Andrea Mantegna and other significant paintings - from Tudor works of art to the reign of George III.  The personalities of all the collectors are revealed in their anthropological quest for magnificent examples of art.

The Jewel in the Lost Crown - Whitehall Palace
The Banqueting House was the first major classical building in England, designed by Inigo Jones for plays and masques, and now the only remaining part of the great Whitehall Palace.

The magnificent ceilings by Sir Peter Paul Rubens were commissioned by Charles I, to celebrate the Stuart dynasty, and were the last paintings seen by the king as he made his way to his execution at the Banqueting House on a freezing day in January 1649.   

Historic Southwark Guided Walk 
Southwark has an authentic historic ambiance, with beautiful views of the Thames and the City of London. This was where the great Medieval Inns were located, and from where Chaucer's pilgrimage set off for Canterbury. Its independence from the City made it a haven for 'undesirable' elements and it became the home of the Medieval Stews (Brothels), and also the home of the Shakespearean Stage. Our tour starts at the famous Globe theatre and includes: Frost Fairs on the Thames, London Bridge, the Golden Hind, the Clink, Southwark Cathedral, Borough Market and 
The George, London's only surviving galleried inn, owned by The National Trust. You may also like to visit the Old Operating Theatre nearby (which lay undiscovered in the attic of a Baroque church for a hundred years). 

A Tale of One City - The Square mile, where London began

Walk through the oldest part of London, developed by the Romans, on a journey through 2,000 years of history. Walk past ancient walls, monasteries, alley ways and churches. Discover the City’s secrets; hear about ancient ceremonies and the medieval hall where our parliament began. Stand on the site of bloody executions and burnings; hear tales of haunting, monks and mayhem. Just one street can take you back through time to: the last of the London gin palaces; the site of an infamous prison; one of the oldest parish churches which contains the bell once rung outside the condemned cell before a hanging; the oldest hospital in London; a Norman church; the street corner where the fire of London stopped; the place where the Scottish patriot William Wallace met his end.

Historic Westminster

The City of Westminster has been the seat of government and power for nearly 1,000 years. From feudal kings to the present day, we will walk past buildings that have changed the history of England. See the places where kings and queens lived, were crowned and sometimes buried. Our walk starts in Whitehall, the site of a great palace which saw the execution of a king. It now houses the main offices of our government and is still the centre of power. Westminster, although still a palace, is now the home of parliament. Passing churches, parks, and the palace of our current sovereign we will trace the history of royalty, ceremony, government and power.


Curious Kew Palace- Meet the Real George III


Explore this beautiful 17th century merchant's home, which became the favourite country retreat of George III in the 18th century, and Britain's smallest royal palace.



Explore the recently discovered 18th century royal kitchens, virtually untouched for 200 years, where the King took his baths. Finally, take a stroll to the cottage once belonging to his Queen, Charlotte.


All this is situated within the breath taking landscape of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.*

Discover the true King behind the man known as 'mad' King George, husband, father, and Britain's third longest reigning monarch.' 


*Please be aware that entry into Kew Gardens is necessary for this tour, and a separate entry fee is payable.

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© The History Guides 2016