A British JourneyWoman Shares her Top Virtual Seminars to Discover London From Home

Last updated on June 25th, 2021

(Lead Image Photo Credit: Shutterstock)

London Calling! Let’s Travel From Home!

by Joy Fox, JourneyWoman Women’s Advisory Council 

Oh, London: both medieval and modern, London is a world capital beloved by history buffs, artists and women from around the world. From its ancient Roman ruins to its breathtaking Norman architecture, a walk through London is a journey through its past, with landmarks like the Tower of London, St Paul’s Cathedral, and Westminster Abbey offering a peek into the city’s long, often turbulent, history and rise to prominence.

I’m waiting to go back to London when it is possible, to visit the Highlands of Scotland and walk again in England. London is a fascinating place, and we are fortunate to be able to travel from home with virtual seminars from Context Travel to learn about art, architecture and history in London. 

When  WW11 started, our family lived close to London and evacuated to Rowhedge, Essex. We moved to Wivenhoe, also in Essex, when I was 7, where I lived until we emigrated to Canada when I was 21. After getting married to a British chap, we returned many times to England, on holidays and when my husband’s employer twice transferred him to England, we returned to live in Hertfordshire and Essex. We spent quite a lot of time in London, walking the streets and visited many different parts of the country. Before being transferred back to Canada, I returned to England and Scotland to trace my heritage.

As a member of JourneyWoman’s Advisory Council, I’m thrilled to share seminars that highlight some of my favourite places in London, including the Tube, Tower of London, Westminster, Sir John Soane’s Museum, and London’s New East End.  And of course, there’s Banksy, a British street artist who somehow has stayed anonymous! (Note: If you’ve missed one of these check back as times are always being refreshed) 

Read Joy’s Solo Travel Memoir: Healing After Heartbreak or check out her bio on our Advisory Council page.

You can also email any questions on solo travel to Joy at askajw@journeywoman.com.

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Joy’s Top Recommendations for Virtual Travel

Volume 1: Tower of London  

The UNESCO World Heritage site is a place not to be missed when one visits London. Part 1 will look at the history of the buildings, the Beefeaters, activities and characters of the Tower.

Description: Her Majesty’s Palace and Fortress The Tower of London is a Unesco World Heritage Site visited by millions of people a year. It has a fascinating history intertwined with the History of England. Why was it built? What has it been used for? Who are the “Beefeaters”? When did the Ravens arrive? These and many more questions will be explored by Sean Moran a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and one of the renowned London Blue Badge Guides, the only guides allowed to guide inside the walls of the Tower of London.

This conversation is the first in a two-part series. This conversation (volume 1) focuses on the history of the key buildings, activities, and characters of The Tower. Each seminar can be joined independently and in any order. The second one, The Bloody Tower of London, focuses on the imprisonment, execution and murders that have taken place in history. It will also give an idea of some of the ceremonies that take place in the Tower, as well as the oldest military ceremony. A visual feast awaits those who witness the pomp of traditions that take place in the Tower.

roman ruins in agrigento

Photo Credit: Context Travel

buildings in scotland

Photo Credit: Context Travel

The Heart of London: Walking through Westminster 

I can envisage this, having walked around and through London and Westminster, the beautiful Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace. Any tourist wants to see these places , and what better way to really see London, than to walk the streets, stroll beside the River Thames and enjoy this spectacular part of London.

Description: Discover the heart of London on this visit to The City of Westminster, home to the British government and Parliament. It contains the official residence of HM the Queen, the coronation church of Westminster Abbey, the national memorial to British war dead, and much more.

This virtual tour will take you down these famous streets and tell you some of the history of the area and Britain. We’ll see the Prime Minister’s ‘home’ at 10 Downing Street, hear about the execution of a king, learn why Buckingham Palace takes a hostage when the Queen is in Parliament, visit the shrine of Edward the Confessor in the Abbey, and even catch the Changing of the Guard.

From Banksy to Bangladesh:
London’s New East End 

I think one could be delightfully surprised at just how this area has changed in recent years. Well worth a visit on anyone’s itinerary. A very eclectic part of London, The East End has undergone an incredible transformation beginning with the mass arrival of  Bengalis in the 70’s, During this virtual walk, you will meet people responsible for the transformation, including Banksy, the most famous street artist. You will also visit Shoreditch, which has gone from a slum to home of designer shops, fancy restaurants and luxury hotels..

Description: This conversation will take us on a journey through the last 50 years of East End history, beginning with the mass arrival of Bengalis in the early 1970’s. In that time, the East End has gone through one of the most incredible transformations one could imagine. We will discover some of the important moments in that transformation and meet some of those people responsible, including Banksy, the world’s most famous Street Artist.

Photo Credit: Context Travel

Photo Credit: Context Travel

The Tube: Art, Architecture, and Design of London’s Underground with Fiona Lukas 

The Tube – one rides the escalators, jumps on and off the trains, without really seeing what is around us, Throughout the network of lines and stations, one can find art and architecture. This seminar will highlight some of the principles of Frank Pick, who shaped station buildings and design.

Description:  Trains first ran beneath the streets of London in 1863. Originally there were separate, often fiercely rival, companies. Then in 1933, it all came together as London Transport. And the boss, Frank Pick, who had worked his way up through one of those companies, declared “London Transport is or will be a work of art.” This session celebrates the brilliance of the map (don’t call it a map, it’s not a map, it’s a diagram!) which has inspired transport graphic design right across the globe. This seminar is led by Fiona, a London Blue Badge guide who specializes in the Underground. Growing up the tube was her ticket to explore all of London, and she now relishes the range of stories to be found in this microcosm of life.

Art, Architecture and the Antique: Exploring London’s Sir John Soane’s Museum 

I have popped this one in, as it sounds very funky, unique, and designed by Sir John Soane, a famous and renowned architect, between 1790 and 1820. This museum has a bit of everything, and I suspect, is quite unusual.

London has many famous museums and art galleries. As a child, I visited most of them on school trips. This one I am not familiar with, but next time in London, I will visit this museum. Described as eccentric and atmospheric, it sounds intriguing.

Description: Situated on London’s largest public square, the magical Sir John Soane’s Museum is truly one of a kind. Built and furnished between the 1790s and the 1820s by one of the era’s most renowned and successful architects, this unique building was intended as a home, an office, and a museum – as a result, it is crammed with an eclectic collection of art and antiquities, featuring everything from ancient Roman sculptures and architectural fragments to masterpieces by painters such as William Hogarth and Canaletto. Join an expert for a virtual tour of London’s most eccentric and atmospheric museum, a unique space designed by one of England’s greatest architects and filled with his fascinating personal collection of art and antiquities.

Photo Credit: Context Travel

woman mexico face painted

Others Worth Watching (check for scheduling on Context Travel’s calendar)

The Great Fire of London 

An important part of the history of the City of London, how it started, how it spread, how it was dealt with, One of the good things that came out of this event, was that the fire killed   bubonic plague, which had raged before the fire, killing thousands of people. It also led to some fine architecture, when London was rebuilt, notably St. Paul’s Cathedral, destroyed in the fire and the new one designed by Sir Christopher Wren.

Surviving the London Blitz 

Having lived through the Blitz, losing our home and becoming evacuees, like many others, this one spoke to me personally. We lived quite close to Heathrow in the time of the blitz. We lived in shelters every night. One can only hope this never happens again. This seminar examines the struggles and bravery of ordinary people during this tragic time.

Royal London, Palace Parks and Pageantry

Anyone who has witnessed the pageantry in London, associated with the Royal Family,  comes away awestruck, To watch the Changing of the Guard, or the Trooping of the colour, to be among the crowds on Pall Mall, is something one never forgets. London is synonymous with Royalty and this seminar will feature some awesomely beautiful pageantry and pomp, as well as a history of the Royal Palaces.

London’s Covent Garden and the Golden Age of British Art

Modern day Covent Garden is a wonderful destination in the City, One can wander the many boutiques, markets, visit the Opera House, artist’s studios. The area is a melting pot, attracting all ages, and is where the artistic centre began in the 1700’s. A lively centre with historical significance, for it is where public exhibitions and art schools were established.

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1 Comment

  1. Gannon Zayn

    Thanks a lot for sharing the practical information about London. It was amazing especially at this time when everything is under the lock down.


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