What The Dickens? The Spectator Reaches Highest Circulation In 189 Years

Congratulations to the Spectator, which has just announced it highest circulation in its 189 years history.

This is despite all the online competition and decline in traditional sales generally. I ‘m sure that Dickens would be very proud and admiring of this continued, incredible success. Mr Dickens, no doubt, influenced Britain’s society much more than the Spectator during his own lifetime, and the Spectator is likely to pay tribute similarly, also acknowledging his influence on the early years of their journal and aspirations. The Spectator was quite withering in its long and detailed review of Bleak House (link below) and is well worth reading. I am pleased to copy one of their tributes to him, also taken from the review.

  ‘If Mr. Dickens were now for the first time before the public, we should have found our space fully occupied in drawing attention to his wit, his invention, his eye for common life, for common men and women, for the everyday aspect of streets and houses, his ten- dency to delineate the affections and the humours rather than the passions of mankind ; and his defects would have served but to shade and modify the praises that flow forth willingly at the ap- pearance among us of a true and original genius.’


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Yours Truly As Charles Dickens London

Cruise Ships In The Pool Of London

Cruise Ship Silver Cloud Visiting Central London.
Cruise Ship Silver Cloud Visiting Central London.

I always enjoy seeing these cruise ships navigating the Thames into central London. It must be very exciting for passengers and crew to pass under the world famous Tower Bridge, opening specially, and then berthing next to the famous battleship HMS Belfast. They will be overlooked by London’s iconic Shard building and have easy sight of St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London. These ships bring in more than five hundred tourists, all keen to explore London and spend lots of money in our shops, cafes and theatres.

What I don’t understand is why we only have these ships here occasionally, rather than all the time through the Tourist season. Does anyone know why? We have this major, marvellous facility, only being minimally used and under utilised.

Any comments would be appreciated, also please get in touch if you have visited on one of the cruise ships- it would be great to share your experiences and pictures.

To buy my books about nearby St Katharine’s or about life at the Tower of London, please click here.

Cruise Ship Hamburg, moored in the Thames in central london
The Hamburg, moored in the Pool of London




Yeoman Warder Shaun Huggins

Excerpt From Poppies, Pomp And People, Yeoman Warder Shaun Huggins.

This  excerpt from my book is a great favourite; Y.W. Huggins is one of the many ‘giants’ who live and work at the Tower of London.

Yeoman Warder Shaun Huggins
Yeoman Warder Shaun Huggins, outside his home, which is literally ‘his castle’ at the Tower of London

August 2nd: A Yeoman Warder in His Castle

Yeoman Warder Shaun Huggins celebrates his birthday today. Shaun joined the Royal Anglian Regiment at age sixteen as a machine-gunner and at the same time joined their Corps of Drums as a boy drummer. He worked through the ranks to become Warrant Officer Class 1 (WO1), as well as the Senior Drum Major (Army), and left in 2011, having achieved twentysix years’ service and been stationed all around the world, to join the Tower as a probationer.

His wife Dawn and their teenage son Joshua joined him once he had finished his probationary six months and this family now lives in a four-storey house in the walls of the Tower, with a main room on each of the four floors. Privacy is of extra importance to them, not least (I guess) because of living on the job, in part of the Tower which still makes up ‘the story’ that is being presented to the public 362 days of the year, and yet needing to be able to separate work from leisure. I felt doubly privileged when Shaun said I would be welcome to visit his home. It felt so personal and warmly welcoming. Tasteful army memorabilia was on display and my breath was taken away when I stepped up to the first landing: displayed on the wall was a great picture of Shaun and his wife Dawn, who had achieved the same WO1 rank in the Adjutant General’s Corps. It was a stunning example of just how enormous these people are – the years of successful devotion to duty, the authority, the dignity, the specialist skills et al. Within the Tower, this couple isn’t necessarily exceptional, but similar to so many others, who have started on the bottom rung of the ladder and gradually climbed to the top, aspiring to excellence. I mentioned to Shaun that despite all the austere grey stonework, their home had a cosy, genteel atmosphere. He replied that Dawn sorted that out – she had the place in order within four weeks (I wouldn’t doubt it)! To purchase a signed copy of the book, press here.


Flower Beds In The City Of London

Flower Beds In The City Of London
Excellent Flower Bed near St Paul’s Cathedral

London is renowned for beautiful flower arrangements in public spaces all around the capital. These are close to St Paul’s Cathedral and give endless pleasure to both local people and visitors.Another View Of This Flower Bed


Poppies, Pomp And People- Extract From August 2015

Jousting At The Tower Of London

Authentic, historical Jousting Event at the Tower of London

August 1st and 2nd: Jousting Tournament, 11.30 and 4.30 pm

Not since the Tudor period has the Tower hosted a traditional jousting tournament. Henry VIII and his new Queen, Anne Boleyn, were to be seen in the moat, watching as the knights fought it out with each other (though thankfully not to the death, this time).

Chris Gidlow ( live interpretation Manager at Historic Royal Palaces) says: We made sure that the characters jousting were known people and we talked about who they were and how they were connected to each other, like Sir Nicholas Carew was one of the Tower victims, as it turns out, so we did his story. Henry Grey, Jane Grey’s father, was also one of the participants. That tournament was an absolute labour of love for me, so enjoyable to put together, and I look forward to many more.

Music At The Tower Of London


Yeoman Warder leads procession into the Chapel Royal at the Tower of London
Chaplain, Choir And Congregation In Procession To The Chapel Royal At The Tower Of London, On Palm Sunday.

This is the second in a new series of four free Talks about a year in the life of the Tower Of London. Most of us know and cherish the Tower, but fewer appreciate how complicated this unique, historical tourist attraction is to run. This second Talk will discuss why the choir is among the very best of its type and describe the range of music on offer, including the numerous concerts. It will also feature some of the ceremonial, military music played and the contribution made by young musicians. Please come along and enjoy this light but informative Talk. Many people have commented that my book, Poppies, Pomp and People makes a fine present for relatives, friends overseas and anyone looking forward to visiting the Tower. It is cheaper to purchase the book from me direct or through my website and I am pleased to sign your copy personally if you want to buy.

Free tickets and information about this Talk can be obtained from



Why we must remember. This article recaps  what happened and explains why. We should all try to understand our past and appreciate how many people gave their lives to give us what we have today. In the UK, we have the opportunity to show our respect when we buy our poppies each year. As a Nation, we do this well, supporting the British Legion with money, proudly wearing our poppies. Many thousands of people are visiting the area this weekend. Our appreciation, thanks and respect go with them.




Talk And Book Signing At The Barbican, Tuesday 26th July

On Tuesday, I will give the first of four Talks, about specific aspects of how the Tower of London works.
Yours truly, speaking at my favourite venue, The Barbican, about my new book, Poppies, Pomp and People.

This is the first in a new series of four at the Barbican; I will be talking about how Historic Royal Palaces runs the Tower of London, also the roles of the Constable, Governor and the world famous Yeoman Warders (Beefeaters).The Barbican is a great favourite for me- give yourself extra time and have a good walk around to enjoy its gardens and scenery. It’s free, so book on Gumtree or just come along- I look forward to seeing you.

Ravens At The Tower Of London

P1050637 (2)Yes, the raven is on the roof. Though I have seen them flying short distances, I am told that this height was probaly achieved by hopping from lower levels at the rear of the building. What do you know about them? Why are they imporant according to legend? What else do you know about them? Enjoy these further pictures below.