Weird and wonderful rules of etiquette

By Vanessa Teo

The Georgian court, such as that of Kensington Palace, was a ruthless place that decided whether or not you were ‘of favour’ at that particular moment in time. ‘Courtiers’ could tell how fairly they stood in the eyes of the King/Queen by either being dismissed with a turned back or being greeted with a nod. Courts were filled with ‘wannabe’ socialites and those who wanted to distinguish themselves in the eyes of the upper class and although it was much harder to climb the social ladder up, you could fall to disgrace in a mere heartbeat. In this dog-eat-dog world where whispers behind people’s back were a permanent undercurrent, it was a game to be played; and for all the melodrama and make up, everyone knew the rules and how to play along. From Queen Anne’s Orangery at Kensington Palace to the high court of King George the rules of etiquette began to form and became a steadfast unwritten legislation to obey. Starting in 1704 - the notion of dining etiquette was born at Queen Anne’s luxurious greenhouse, the Orangery at Kensington Palace, to entertain guests outside Whitehall. With a theme of 'the more, the better', the Queen’s tables were ornamented with every utensil to serve a different purpose highlighting the wealth of the queen and the disposable-ness of their lifestyles. At a ‘normal’ formal gathering at Kensington Palace, you might expect to drink out of 9 different wine glasses, a variety of different cutlery from stilton spoons to oyster prongs. It was in the 18th century, in fact, that the buffet style fell out of fashion to be replaced by elaborate meat-based dishes served over a number of courses, of course ending with a huge lavish desert platter involving moulds, plates, platters and trays – to further show off the extensive silverware that was in possession of the Queen at Kensington Palace. Now, what to wear to a dinner such as this? The women would wear a ‘mantua’, a wide dress spread out over wide hoops at the skirt, while the top was a tight laced bodice and corset, highly uncomfortable, with elaborate ruffles at the sleeve. As the 18th century progressed, so did the dresses as they go wider and wider with every fashion. Accessories consisted of a fan and a lady’s best jewels while gentlemen should wear a wig, embroidered suit and sword (which you could hire upon entrance!) with a flat hat under the elbow. You might think this was all a little extreme, and it is, to our standards (the women’s outfits were so impractical that they had to step sideways through doors!), however back then it was the height of high fashion and was just as important as your ticket into the court – no dress, no entry. Queen Anne’s court at Kensington Palace was only the start of such Georgian rules. Another one of women’s secret weapons was her fan; brandished like knives they could warn away mistresses, threaten enemies and even flirt with other men, all in silent secrecy. This code language was already in place by the 1720s and it is visible in the grand staircase frescoes of the women at Kensington Palace by William Kent who are all rebuffing suitors with their coded movements. Court etiquette extended just as far into the realm of the men, too. Vying for a place in the sacred ring of people around the king it was every man for themselves when it came to the inner court and you needed to get your elbows out if you wanted a chance of making an impression. Men would throw punches and be very underhand to get a chance to impress the king – oh the irony. It was even recorded that despite appearances, these courtiers could have just as easily gate-crashed a party with the right clothes on as having received a cordial invite. So it's not surprising there was a huge falsity in the behaviour of the court, from poor hygiene concealed in expensive clothes and wigs to forced smiles and accents. Should you have fallen out of favour with the king, having been shown his back, this side-lined group named themselves the Rumpsteak Club in order to console their fall from grace. Furthermore, the fact that this group annoyed the king added fuel to the fire with some members remaining in court despite being unpopular. It was common for women after these events, especially elaborate feasts at Kensington Palace and the like, to go home straight to bed, while the men would stay out and network among the clubs and coffee houses of St James’s. Some things never change... Visit Kensington Palace this summer with The London Pass and make the most of entry without further payment, as well as entry into the Fashion Rules exhibition where you can explore the modern monarchy's etiquette and fashion and take part in the family festival the Glorious Georges. Find out more, here...

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Harry Potter In London: Everything You Need To Know

London is a magical destination for Harry Potter fans, with plenty of tours, attractions, and experiences that bring the world of wizardry to life. Whether you're a die-hard fan or just looking for a fun way to explore the city, there's something for everyone here. As one of Britain's most notable literary characters, The Boy Who Lived has made his mark on the English capital. And, sadly, why you may not be able to visit Hogwarts in London, you can still find plenty of Harry Potter here. This is our list of all the unmissable Harry Potter experiences in London. Just solemnly swear you'll be up to no good. Planning Your Harry Potter Experience in London If you're planning a trip to London to explore the world of Harry Potter, there are a few things you should keep in mind to make the most of your experience. First, be sure to book your tickets in advance for any tours or attractions you want to visit. The Warner Bros. Studio Tour London and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child are both extremely popular and can sell out quickly, so it's best to book as far in advance as possible.  💰 >> See how you can save up to 50% on lots of attractions with The London Pass® Second, consider the time of year you're visiting. London can be busy during peak tourist season, which can mean longer queues and crowds at popular attractions. If possible, visit during the shoulder season or off-season to avoid the crowds and get a more relaxed experience. Third, plan your itinerary carefully to make the most of your time in London. There are many Harry Potter-related attractions and experiences to choose from, so it's important to prioritize what you want to see and do. You might want to start with the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London to get a behind-the-scenes look at the films, then explore some of the filming locations and other sights on a walking or bus tour. Be sure to leave time to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a must-see for any theatre fan. Platform 9 3/4 Slip into King's Cross Station and find the elusive entrance to the Hogwarts Express train platform. It was here that all the greatest witches and wizards took their first steps on their magical journeys. Fans of the series can pose with Harry's luggage trolley under the Platform 9 3⁄4 sign. There's even a dedicated photo spot for aspiring young magicians. And once you've got the perfect photo, venture into the beautifully-designed Harry Potter shop. Find the perfect memento to mark the occasion. There are lots to choose from.  Address: King's Cross Station, Euston Road, King's Cross, London N1 9AL  Opening times: Store hours: Monday - Saturday; 8am - 10pm, Sunday: 9am - 8pm  Prices: Free Harry Potter Bus and Walking Brit Movie Tour Want to indulge your Pottermania and take in London at the same time? Brit Movie Tours offers not one, but two Harry Potter bus and walking tours. They'll take you from the entrance of the Leaky Cauldron all the way to the Ministry of Magic. Available as a half or full-day tour, the route takes guests past some of London's biggest tourist attractions. Visitors can see the Tate Modern, St. Paul's Cathedral, Borough Market and many more.  🎥 Enjoy Brit Movie Tours with The London Pass® Address: Walking tour begins at Westminster tube station, while the bus tour begins at Temple tube station. Duration: Walking tour: 2 hours; bus tour: 2.5-3 hours Prices: £17 for adults, or included in The London Pass     Harry Potter Studio Tour If you're looking for an immersive experience, consider visiting the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter. This behind-the-scenes tour takes you through the sets, props, and costumes used in the films, and gives you a chance to see some of the special effects that brought the magic to life. You can also take a walking tour of London that takes you to some of the filming locations and other sites associated with the series, such as the Leaky Cauldron pub and the entrance to the Ministry of Magic. For a more panoramic view of the city, you can take a Harry Potter bus tour that covers all the major sights, from King's Cross Station to the London Eye. The sprawling studio is ripe for exploration, with several hours of fun and entertainment. Starting at the very beginning with Harry's little cupboard under the stairs, you'll travel to iconic locations like the Great Hall, Diagon Valley and Privet Drive. The souvenir store alone makes the journey worth it. Address: Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden, WD25 7LR  Opening times: Varying opening hours daily, all times available here  Prices: Adults: £53.50, children: £43  Westminster Not only is Westminster one of London's most iconic districts, but it's also packed with Harry Potter film locations. Begin at Westminster tube station, where Muggle-fanatic Arthur Weasley bumbled his way through the turnstiles with Harry. Then, leisurely make your way over to Westminster Bridge to relive the stunning flight over the Houses of Parliament in the Order of the Phoenix. Budget time in to see the rest of the area and Westminster Abbey - while they aren't related to Harry Potter, they're still well worth seeing. Millennium Bridge Featured in the iconic opening scene in The Half-Blood Prince where Death Eaters collapse the Millennium Footbridge, this pedestrian-only suspension bridge over the Thames offers awesome views of St. Paul's Cathedral as you walk from south to north. Leadenhall Market To get into Diagon Alley, you won't have to remember a secret code word. All you need to do is head over to Leadenhall Market, where the covered Victorian walkways and charming shopfronts were featured in many Diagon Alley exterior shots. Keep an eye out for 42 Bull's Head Passage, an optician's shop with an unmissable bright blue door used as the entrance for the Leaky Cauldron. Squint, and you're there.  Address: Gracechurch Street, London, EC3V 1LT  Opening times: Monday - Friday, 10am - 6pm; closed on weekends  Prices: Free London Zoo's Reptile House  Explore the location where Harry first discovered his 'parseltongue' ability and innate gift for talking to snakes in the Philosopher's Stone. Home to over 650 species from reptiles and mammals to invertebrates, birds, fish and more, the London Zoo is a must-visit for all visitors. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child If you're a theatre fan, don't miss the chance to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre. This award-winning play tells the story of Harry, Ron, and Hermione's children as they navigate the challenges of Hogwarts and the wider wizarding world. The play is presented in two parts, so be sure to book tickets for both to get the full experience. Undoubtedly one of the most exciting things to come out of the Potter franchise in recent years, this two-part play is the official eighth instalment of the Harry Potter story. It's based on a story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany. Set long after the seventh book ended, Harry now works full-time at the Ministry of Magic and has three young children - including Albus, the youngest who has also inherited his father's gift for troublemaking. Bear in mind that the show sells out quickly, so make sure to book your tickets well in advance. And those are all the best locations to experience Harry Potter in London. Fancy discovering more of your favourite film locations? Why, step right this way. No matter how you choose to explore Harry Potter in London, you're sure to have an unforgettable time. Don't forget to stop by the Harry Potter Shop at Platform 9 3/4 to pick up some souvenirs and mementoes from your trip. Experience everything London has to offer with The London Pass® Planning your London trip? With The London Pass®, you can explore big-name landmarks, local hotspots and epic tours, all on one pass, all for one price. Not only that, but you'll enjoy savings of up to 50%, compared to buying individual attraction tickets. ✈️Buy The London Pass®✈️
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Columbia Road flower market in London's East End

Guide to Cockney Rhyming Slang

Cockney Rhyming slang is a die-hard part of East End London culture. It has been around since the mid-19th century and will always be part of the fabric of the city. There are many theories as to how Cockney Rhyming slang started. Some say it was a linguistic mutation and accident, others speculate that it was the result of a widespread game. Some say it was devised by criminals to trick the police, others say that it developed as a secret language to confuse non-locals passing through. It's also been suggested that traders used it with each other to bargain without the customers knowing.  For those unfamiliar with this dialect, the language has formed through two rhyming words with a common household word. However, over time this has mutated; so on occasion the slang really does sound like another language!  To make it easier for you – here’s a list of the top 10 classic rhyming slang that you might hear if ever you venture East past Hackney. To practice, just watch an episode of Only Fools & Horses or Eastenders to get a feel for it...  Apples and Pears = stairs This might have roots in the traders' stalls who stacked their fruit and vegetables in "steps and stairs" in front of their stands in an arresting display. Bees and honey = money This is a more cryptic literal link, referring to bees that produce honey which can translate into workers producing money. The result of both is sweet! Bottle and stopper = copper Copper is a slang term in itself for a policeman. In this case, there are two meanings; a bottle would hold the contents –  like police would in jail, or the stopper would prevent someone or something from happening. Butcher’s hook = look The butcher's hook was the double-ended hook that hung up in butchers to display the meats they had on show. This phrase probably originated in Smithfield Meat Market, near Farringdon. Duck and dive = hide Ok so not quite an exact rhyme, but, as a duck would dive under the surface of the water, this phrase means something the same, as in to remove oneself from the situation and to hide. Dog and bone = phone We’re not sure where this one came from other than it rhymes and is a brilliant one to slip into everyday conversation! Kettle and hob = watch This is a confusing phrase as it doesn’t rhyme with its modern-day meaning. The term means watch, which stemmed from a 'fob' watch, which was a pocket watch attached to the body with a small chain. The kettle used to boil on the hob of a stove... hence the rhyme. Mince pies = eyes This is a term used widely in London even to this day, usually to describe a girl's features. Her eyes would be described as Minces, an even more slang term from the original mince pies. On the floor = poor This was a colloquial term for housewives who would find themselves temporarily out of pocket, and without any money. Porky pie = lie To tell a porky is something everyone’s been accused of as a child – and perhaps even older! A fib or a lie; to tell a pork pie means to fabricate something and it has to be one of the all-time favourite phrases in the Cockney Rhyming slang dictionary.   Experience everything London has to offer with The London Pass® There's plenty more of these cultural words to be found so fill your boots with as much as you can while you're in East London. If you fancy a trip out into East London, The London Pass® has endless attractions for you to visit whilst you embark on this Cockney Rhyming slang adventure. Why not take a tour of the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, built for the London 2012 Olympic Games. You'll get amazing panoramic views and a behind-the-scenes look at features like the players' tunnel and indoor running track.   Or, stop off for some shopping at Westfield Stratford, check out Brick Lane or visit Spitalfields Market. Keep an ear out for these Cockney Rhyming slang terms!  ✈️Buy The London Pass®✈️ ☀️See London attractions☀️ 
Vanessa Teo

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