Friday 7 November 2008

Britain Calling - An update of new events and products in Britain.

A musical Shindig in Glasgow
Glasgow will be marking St Andrew's Day with a two-day Shindig on George Square. Glasgow has recently been awarded UNESCO City of Music status and the Shindig will feature both traditional and contemporary musical performances. On Sunday the celebrations will finish with a mass ceilidh – a Scottish song and dance get-together.
St Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland, is celebrated on his feast day, 30 November. He was a fisherman from Galilee who travelled through Greece and Asia Minor. One legend claims that the saint came to Scotland and built a church in Fife in the town now known as St Andrews, another that his relics were brought to Fife in the 4th century AD. Andrew was crucified by the Romans on a diagonal cross – which is why his flag, the national flag of Scotland, is a white diagonal cross on a blue background.
Glasgow's award as UNESCO City of Music was based on the historic and current importance of music to the city, the excellence of its musicians and practitioners, and the depth, creativity and commitment of Glasgow's music policy which includes music as a tool of social regeneration, improvement and education.
Shindig on the Square, 29–30 November
George Square, Glasgow G2
A colour revolution in Liverpool
Tate Liverpool is to present Colour Chart: Reinventing Colour, 1950 to Today. The exhibition looks at the shifting moment in 20th-century art when a group of artists began to perceive colour as 'readymade' rather than as scientific or expressive. The exhibition emphasises a radical transformation in post-war Western art that is characterised by the departure from such notions as originality, uniqueness and authenticity.
Midway through the 20th century, long-held convictions regarding the spiritual truth or scientific validity of particular colours gave way to an excitement about colour as a mass-produced and standardised commercial product. The Romantic quest for personal expression instead became Andy Warhol's 'I want to be a machine'. The artistry of mixing pigments was eclipsed by Frank Stella's 'straight out of the can; it can't get better than that.'
Colour Chart is the first major exhibition devoted to this pivotal transformation. The exhibition includes major works by more than 40 artists including Ellsworth Kelly, Andy Warhol, Gerhard Richter, Frank Stella, Yves Klein, Richard Serra, John Baldessari, Dan Flavin, Damien Hirst, David Batchelor, Jim Lambie, Angela Bulloch and Cory Archangel.
The exhibition runs at Tate Liverpool from 29 May to 13 September. The gallery is open 10am–5.50pm daily (closed Mondays until April), admission free. Entry to the Colour Chart show: £8, concessions £6, Tate Members free.
Tate Liverpool
Albert Dock, Liverpool L3 4BB
Tel: +44 151 702 7400
London's castle puts Henry on show
Henry VIII: Dressed to Kill opens in April at the Tower of London to help mark the 500th anniversary of King Henry's accession to the throne. The exhibition will bring together, for the first time since the reign of Elizabeth I, the largest number of objects and items known to have belonged to the king.
Exploring Henry the King, Henry the Warrior and Henry the Sportsman, the exhibition will include loans from international collections as well the Royal Armouries, and include key paintings from Henry's reign.
The displays will cover the three floors of the White Tower and visitors will be able to get closer to these objects than has ever before been possible.
The Tower of London, one of the most famous castle keeps in the world, was built to subdue and terrify Londoners and to deter foreign invaders. William the Conqueror began building the White Tower in the early 1080s. Today visitors to the Tower can also see the greatest working collection of crown jewels in the world. The 23,578 gems include the Imperial State Crown which has 2,868 diamonds, 273 pearls, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds and five rubies.
Henry VIII: Dressed to Kill runs from 1 April to 31 October. The exhibition is included in the general admission price: £16.50 (£15.50 online) adults, £9.50 (£9 online) children aged 6–16 and £46 (£43 online) for a family ticket for up to 2 adults and 3 children. The Tower is open daily except 24–26 December and 1 January
Tower of London
London EC3N 4AB
Tel: +44 844 482 7777
The king's women on display at Hampton Court
In 2009 Hampton Court Palace will be holding an exhibition about all the women associated with Henry VIII. Henry's Women will bring together rarely-seen 16th-century portraits of each of the king's six wives, his favourite sister Mary, his daughters and all the other women in his life. They will be on display in the newly-reopened Council Chamber along with portraits of Henry and personal objects that include a lock of Kateryn Parr's hair and the music book written for Anne Boleyn by one of her alleged lovers.
Also in 2009, the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII's accession to the throne, a heraldic Tudor garden will be created in Chapel Court at the Palace, inspired by Henry's 16th-century Privy Gardens. The design will include the defining features of the Tudor Court garden: heraldic beasts, decorated rails, and beds of flowers, herbs and topiary. Eight wooden 'Kyngs beestes' – bull, dragon, falcon, leopard, lion, greyhound, white hind and a yale – have been commisssioned. They will be hand-carved in dried oak, painted then gilded and displayed on wooden posts.
When Henry VIII died in 1547 he owned more than 60 houses. Hampton Court Palace was the most important to him and the most sumptuously decorated. The palace was one of the most modern, sophisticated and magnificent in England. The Palace's Great Hall is England's greatest medieval hall and one of Britain's oldest theatres. William Shakespeare's company performed there in 1603–4.
Hampton Court Palace and gardens are open daily except 24–26 December. Admission to the palace, maze and gardens costs £13.30 (£12.30 online) adults, £6.65 (£6.15 online) children 6–16, £37 (£34 online) family ticket for two adults and up to three children.
Hampton Court Palace
East Molesey, Surrey KT8 9AU
Tel: +44 844 482 7777
Marking a cathedral's 300th anniversary
St Paul's Cathedral in the City of London will soon have completed its £40-million restoration programme.
The cathedral, the masterpiece of Sir Christopher Wren, has been comprehensively restored inside and out, and provision for visitors with disabilities has been improved.
The cathedral was completed in 1710 but the 'topping out' ceremony (marking the completion of the highest part of a building) took place two years earlier. To celebrate the 300th anniversary, there will be a special Choral Evensong service on 26 November 2008, as well as 'The Question Mark Inside' by Martin Firrell – text projections asking what St Paul's means to us in 2008. From 8 to 15 November these will illuminate the dome, west end and Whispering Gallery.
The funerals of Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington and Sir Winston Churchill were held at St Paul's. So was the wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales to Lady Diana Spencer and the recent thanksgiving for the 80th birthday of Her Majesty the Queen. The area behind the High Altar was bomb-damaged during the Second World War. The American Memorial Chapel was built there in the 1950s, funded by the British people to commemorate the members of the US forces based in Britain who gave their lives defending liberty during the war.
St Paul's crypt has a café, restaurant and shop. The Cathedral is open to sightseers from Monday to Saturday 8.30am–4pm. Admission currently costs £10 adults, £9 seniors, £8.50 students, £3.50 children 7–16, £23.50 family ticket (two adults and two children). Special services and events may close all or part of the Cathedral at short notice.
St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul's Churchyard, London EC4M 8AD
Tel: +44 20 7236 4128
Touring the Thames by kayak
It is now possible to see the sights of London from a canoe on the River
Thames. A new company called Thames River Adventures offers escorted kayaking tours on the non-tidal stretches of the river and organises river tours around Hampton Court Palace and Windsor.
Options include sunrise and sunset tours, and day-long tours with a stop for a riverside pub lunch. Beginners and experienced kayakers and canoeists are catered for, with a British Canoe Union Qualified Instructor guiding every tour.
The kayaks, canoes and equipment are supplied and delivered to the booked location. The company is also licensed to operate on the London canal network.
Thames River Adventures operate from Easter to the end of October. Prices start at £50 for an hour with a maximum of six people per tour.
Thames River Adventures
Tel: +44 20 8361 3009
A facelift for Wren's Monument
The Monument in the City of London is being refurbished and will reopen to the public in spring 2009. The stonework is being cleaned and repaired and the golden orb at the top of the column is being re-gilded.
There will be a new gallery for visitors who climb the 311 spiral steps to the top to enjoy the views over London. Live views from the gallery will be relayed to visitors on the ground. New facilities will also enable the Monument to host firework and laser displays.
The simple Doric column is made of Portland stone. It is 61.5 metres (202 ft) high and when it was built it was the tallest, free-standing stone column in the world. The Monument was designed by Sir Christopher Wren to commemorate the Great Fire of London of 1666 and was completed in 1677. It is 61.5 metres from the spot in Pudding Lane where the fire is believed to have started.
Repairs to the Monument have been carried out approximately every 100 years. The last repair work was undertaken in 1888. The current refurbishment is funded by the City of London Corporation and is costing £4.5 million.
The Monument
Monument Street, London EC3
Tel: +44 20 7626 2717
A poet's house to re-open in spring
The house where the poet John Keats once lived, in Hampstead, north-west London, is being restored and will re-open to the public in spring 2009.
Keats, one of Britain's most famous poets, lived in the Regency house from 1818 to 1820. He composed some of his most memorable work here including Ode to a Nightingale, which he wrote sitting under a plum tree in the garden.
He fell in love with the girl next door, Fanny Brawne, and the couple became engaged. However the marriage never took place. Keats suffered from consumption (tuberculosis) and was advised to spend the winter in the warmer climate of Italy. He never returned to England but died in Rome in 1821, aged 25.
The restoration of the house, a Grade 1 listed building, will enable visitors to see more of the collection of original manuscripts and books. Mementos include one of Keats's love letters to Fanny, the engagement ring, and a lock of her hair.
Keats House was first opened to the public in 1925. The interior, in Regency style, retains much of the character of the house as Keats knew it. A new plum tree in the garden marks the position of the tree under which Keats sat to write.
The restoration work is funded by a £424,000 grant from the UK's Heritage Lottery Fund.
Keats House
Wentworth Place, Keats Grove, London NW3 2RR
A new hotel on an old estate
A new hotel and spa is to open in May 2009 in the grounds of Bowood House, a stately home in Wiltshire owned by Lord Lansdowne.
The hotel will have 43 bedrooms, including six luxury suites. The hotel is being built next to the Bowood Golf and Country Club. There will also be a new spa which will have a 15 x 6 metre swimming pool, gym, rock sauna, crystal steam room and aromatherapy showers. The spa will also offer a range of health and beauty treatments.
A biomass system will be used to provide hot water and heating to the hotel and the Golf and Country Club. The system uses timber thinnings from the estate converted into wood chips for carbon-neutral fuel.
Guests will be able to fish on the estate, practise their archery and golf, and follow walking trails through the grounds and gardens. It will also be possible to book the venue for weddings and other celebrations.
The Bowood Estate was bought in 1754 by John Petty Fitzmaurice, 1st Earl of Shelburne (1706–61) and has since stayed in the family. Bowood is now the home of Charles Maurice and Fiona, 9th Marquis and Marchioness of Lansdowne.
The estate is less than an hour by road from Bristol, Bath, Gloucester and Swindon. Hotel rates will start from £180 a room, based on two sharing and including breakfast.
Derry Hill, Calne, Wiltshire SN11 9PQ
Tel: +44 1249 822228

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