Amazing Classical Architecture and Gardens In England

Hi Everyone,

Some of you probably thought that you weren’t going to hear from me.

And you’re right.

This isn’t me.

Who is it?

Not sure, but it can’t be me because I’ve only finished the first day of the tour and I’m already transformed– completely.

Seriously, I could come home right now, completely sated with the most exquisite beauty I’ve ever seen and be very happy. But no. I am forced to endure five more days of bliss.

I arrived in London a day early and am I ever glad that I did.

My room wasn’t ready and while everyone was incredibly kind, I had to hang out in the executive lounge. Not a bad place, but I had not slept even one minute on the plane.

Now, I know that this might be disappointing, but once I got to my room, I didn’t leave until the following morning. And again, I’m really glad I did that.

I ordered room service and had the best fish ‘n chips of my life! And I got nine of hours of sorely needed sleep.

But, in the morning, I got up and ventured out of my room.

Since Buckingham Palace was a short walk away, I sauntered on over.

Just in case, you think I’m making this all up. haha! Here I am, in front of Buckingham Palace!



And as I was walking back, I saw this gem across the street.

WHOA! Textbook Georgian, classical architecture at its finest!

Here, I zoomed in a little for you, so you could see more detail. This is perfect in every way!


Then, I went back to my room to pretty myself up for the rest of the day.


The following afternoon, the tour began.

The hi-light was a visit to the lovely home of architect, John Simpson. He couldn’t be more delightful or more talented. His work is exquisite. Hope that you like that word, because I’ll be using it a lot.

I didn’t take any photos of his home. I loved it because it was an elegant Georgian-style home decorated in a typically English timeless style. But because there were too many people. And of course, we can’t take photos of people’s private homes without their permission.

The following morning, we met John Simpson again, for a private tour of the Queen’s Gallery @ Buckingham Palace. Not only did he design the gallery and portico, he wrote a book about it.


You can find out more about the book here.

Apparently, the original gallery endured heavy bombing during WWII and a makeshift gallery set up. It was only refurbished recently and quite beautifully.

Another view of the gallery from John’s portfolio. (I will identify when images are not mine, otherwise, please assume, that I took them.) The giveaway here, is the weather! We had clouds.

Queen's Gallery Buckingham Palace

My image of the gorgeous staircase with an elegant and unusual cast-iron railing from the Queen’s Gallery.

A fabulous detail. Everyone went ga-ga over the cast-iron rope tassels. Genius!

A detail of one of the magnificent ceilings.

BTW, based on some comments, it appears that some of you think that I’m spending eight days in London. No. Only one full-day. The rest of the time, we are traveling amongst various locations.

The rest of the day was spent with the delightful architect Quinlan Terry at some of his projects, his office and finally at his home, Higham Hall for high tea!

First we visited the magnificent Brentwood Cathedral  — in uhh… Brentwood, UK. (the link will take you to more images of Brentwood Cathedral, designed by architect, Quinlan Terry.

Quinlan, is the most elegant gentleman and it has been wonderful getting to hear him speak about his work. And the same goes for John Ross.

We did so much that first full day that quite frankly, I can’t remember what order we did things in. But every place we visited blew my mind in one way or another.

After Brentwood, we stopped at an astonishing estate called Terling Place. I am going to end here, because there’s a lot to see.

This is obviously an aerial view of the estate (not taken by me) ;] which has been in the family for generations. The owners still have the title of Lord and Lady. No names, however, to protect their privacy.

The lady of the house greeted us warmly and told us some of the estate’s history. In recent years, they had done a stunning renovation which included the addition of the two long wings. Some of that space, they use for offices.

One of the wings and a tiny portion of the mind-blowing garden.

Hang on.


The garden goes on and on and is beyond elegant. I was like being in the middle of a movie set!

The three-story-squareish section in the middle (on the left in the above image) is the original house, but the inside has enjoyed a beautiful renovation.

The living room is astonishing, but sorry, no photos are allowed of that.


The gate goes to the summer house recently designed by Quinlan Terry.  You can barely make out the top of it above the fence on the right.

You can also see the summer house (upper right corner) and the entire estate in this shot, also not taken by me.

There are dozens and dozens of these gorgeous terracotta planters brimming with beautiful blooms.

And perfectly groomed topiary hedges. I did my best, but the photos can’t begin to capture the immense beauty!

And yes, those are cows grazing in the background.

I don’t know if it’s still the case, but the original family were dairy farmers.

Don’t the clouds look like they were pumped in from central casting? haha.

BTW, it has barely rained at all, during the day. It has rained at night a couple of times, however. All-in-all, the weather has been kind to us.

And if the terrain, above has a familiar look. This was the part of England where the artist John Constable derived much of his inspiration.


Malvern Hall, Warwickshire 1809 John Constable 1776-1837 Bequeathed by George Salting 1910

Malvern Hall – John Constable 1809

Tomorrow, I’m going to meet Ben Pentreath and we are visiting one of the gorgeous homes he designed, filled with classical architecture. We are also moving hotels again!




39 Responses

  1. Great to hear you’re coming home and we can see some of your beautiful photos.

    I voted and emoji’d and did note that you can vote once per day until voting ends in the 10th! So… LET GET LAUREL TO MILANO! You deserve the recognition!

    I must say here that not only have you provided great inspiration for those of interested in interior design with both wit an humorous, you have saved me countless thousands on design mistakes I have avoided because of you advice and recommendations.

    Example one, my husband now loves to lounge and relax in the bedroom because of the change in color (greyish/khaki) as he finds it relaxing. He even commented on how the color complements his framed set of UK Tube maps! I mean how much better a comment can you get! All of this because of you excellent color advice.

    So good luck to you.

  2. Wow, those pictures are gorgeous! I can’t wait to check out some of those moUldings (I meant to emphasize the U; I loved that post of yours— —and it works with your current location) and gorgeous architecture when I go to London myself next month.

    P.S. I love your blog!

  3. Laurel, loved your post about your first days in England! My family is from there. Came here to USA when I was six. Did you know: 🙂 These English countryside castles remain from the days of England’s glorious imperial past? As England divested of its colonies through the 1930s, ending with WWII, the dynastic families who enjoyed these lifestyles had to marry into the American dynasties such as Vanderbilt, Astor, Mellon, and JP Morgan in order to survive the changes of fortune brought about by the end of the colonial era. Two books written about one such family are, “Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle”, and “Lady Catherine, the Earl, and the Real Downton Abbey”. Both are written by the Countess of Carnarvon who lives in Highclere. These dynastic families were amazing people who gave so much back to their country (and the world) for the war effort, while seeing their era and lifestyle coming to an end, never to return. (My parents were blue and white-collar, lol, no castles for us!) See what the current Countess looks like–nothing like a countess used to look like, lol.

    1. All so interesting. I am catching up and this is 3 days after the trip ended.

      Thanks so much for sharing all of that. I can’t mention names, but a lady we met along the way, while very attractive, I did not know who she was and thought that she was perhaps a housekeeper or a secretary. Not joking. Her clothes were very simple and plain. No make up or coifed hair. In other words, unassuming and genuine. I love that so much! Of course, she has a fancy title and property to die for!

  4. I got back from England three weeks before you left. The weather was weirdly perfect then.

    Which tour is this? I wanted to schedule a great houses tour or something similar for next time, but I had no clue what to do.

    1. @Catheriine & Lindsay: I believe the tour was arranged and is hosted by: The Institute of Classical Architectural and Art (ICAA Hope this helps. -Brenda-

    2. Hi Catherine,

      Our weather was also terrific. I only used my brolly once and only for a few minutes, but it was raining very lightly. A couple of times I was glad that I had my knit headband, but otherwise, the temps were in the upper 50s, low 60s.

  5. Your post was a delightful present this morning. Thank you for taking us along with you on your wonderful journey. England through your eyes is especially thrilling and we learn so much from you and the shared community of followers. Savor your tea!

  6. Such beauty of mortal wonders and creations! That said; I’m sure that even ‘Ptah’ would be impressed. ( Ancient Egyptian mythological God of skilled craftsmen and architects.) Also happy to learn Mother Nature is blessing you with good weather and you are enjoying every minute of your tour. -Brenda-

  7. Everything is so incredibly beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing your travels with us. I’m loving every detail. I can’t wait to hear about your visit with Ben! 😀

  8. Hi Laurel, I love your selfie in front of Buckingham Palace – I was just there in May. Can you please tell me where you found that fabulous necklace you’re wearing??!

  9. Exquisite indeed!
    Living through your lens and enjoying every minute of this trip with you. I am also a fan of beautiful gardens, architecture and the lush landscape of the region dotted with cows and horses. Add to that the wonderful nuggets of architectural details and history you are sharing and I am reading ferociously. What a wonderful trip, safe travels and I look forward to your next update.

  10. Stunning! For most of my life I have felt I belonged to a time of long ago. Though I have not yet traveled to England, I am so drawn to the architetecture, exquisite decorating and glorious gardens. The lives of the people whom were lucky to have lived in those fabulouse estates intrigue me. The closest I’ve come to Britain so far, was my happenstance to see Princess Diana (and Charles) multiple times over a few days in a trip to Expo 86 in Vancouver, BC. i returned with only a few good photographs. I found it hard to look through the lens of a camera and when I did, evidently my hands were too shaky to get good pictures. Photos be damned! I have my memories, for now! As an interior designer this must be an incredible experience for you, and for us, your lucky followers, to see thru your eyes and camera lens. Wishing you many great memories.

    1. Patty H, lucky, lucky, lucky getting to see Princess Diana and Charles! I’m envious! What a great experience that must have been. I thought she was fabulous, and I cried when I heard the news of her passing. You most certainly should treasure your memories.

    2. Hi Patty,

      Oh how lucky you were to have seen them. When I was at High Grove, I thought a lot about Diana. I could see her there, with her gentle smile. I can’t tell you how badly I wanted to be able to go inside the house! The windows are quite large as expected and of course, there are beautiful drapes. I could see a touch of fabric as it wrapped around the lining and it was of course, gorgeous! I think that Robert Kime did the interiors, but long after Diana passed.

      I tried to find photos, but didn’t find much. Sometimes they do spreads for magazines, but maybe not this residence. After-all, they have absolutely no privacy and any small bastion, I’m sure is quite welcome.

  11. I so enjoyed reading that and looking at the pictures. Thank you for sharing them with us! It sounds like you’re having a wonderful time and soaking it all in.

  12. what an experience! thank you for the Constable reference – it
    was an immediate thought…
    love the cows, landscape, homes.
    Looks like you are truly in the moment…

  13. Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos and experiences with us, Laurel! Even though I haven’t traveled all that much in my 50+ years, I’m lucky enough to have visited England three times. And although like most, I’m awed by the majesty of the American and Canadian west, I found England’s countryside so much more accessible and comforting. It occurred to me today, that at least for me, it’s because the English landscape is comparable to what you say about furniture: it’s human-scaled. The Rockies are amazing, but I’ll take the coziness of the rolling, green hills of England, please! Enjoy every minute and view!!

    1. Hi Marie P.

      It’s funny, but northern Westchester county (just north of New York City) and parts of New England really DO look a lot like some parts of England. Although each has their unique qualities.

      The English countryside is often very soft in the distance– very much like the paintings that it inspired!

  14. So glad for you. The access you have to the architects, private and public spaces and homeowners is extraordinary! Thanks for giving us a blog today.

  15. I am glad you are having a lovely time! The feathers on the Georgian house are The Prince of Wales heraldic badge. So perhaps royal roots in that house. You are making me quite homesick. I hope you are traveling into Leicestershire, my home. It is truly lovely. I look forward to your next post.

    1. Thank you Laura for the interesting info. Yes, it’s most likely royal property since it’s across the street. We did not go to Leicestershire. The furthest north we went was Cambridge.

  16. I love the word exquisite and I’m sure you’ll use it a lot, as everything you’re seeing and doing sounds exquisite – but please try to continue working the word “saunter” in, as well.

    Living Vicariously,

    PS why did you have to go back to “pretty up” after Buckingham? You looked beautiful!!!

    1. Hi Anne,

      I am using an I-phone 7. I know! It’s an amazing thing. However, I do edit the photos. That includes things like straightening, brightening and any other correction to make it as true-to-life as possible.

      I’ve not taken any courses, but I just compose and crop the images in a way I find pleasing.

      The other thing and this one is difficult, but it’s how the camera is held. There are lots of ways to make an image not be straight and sometimes it’s impossible to get everything straight both horizontally and vertically. There are guide lines in the view finder that help with this. But the photo editor also comes with a way to straighten, if possible.

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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