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By George! 2014 is year of The Georgians

31st October 2013 Print
Kensington Palace

2014 marks the 300th anniversary of the accession to the throne of George I. From theatre-going and wining and dining to strolls through stunning English Country Gardens, VisitEngland rounds up the most timeless hand- me-downs from the 18th century.

Historic Royal Palaces

The accession to the British Throne by George I was celebrated in the decadent manner associated with the Hanoverian reign. A huge bonfire was held at Kensington Palace during not only the Coronation year but annually afterwards on the 1 August. After inheriting the throne from his father, George II continued with the theme of excess.  Discover his elaborate taste at this royal home, where the grandiose Georgian culture comes alive in in a new exhibition next April, telling the story of the glittering court of George II and Queen Caroline.

Like with most entertainment at the time, splurging was part of the psyche. Fine dining and exotic delicacies became the trend of the day, an experience you can recreate at Hampton Court Palace's new Chocolate Kitchens. Explore England's rich culinary past in these historic kitchens, and learn how the craze for hot chocolate swept the nation thanks to Thomas Tosier, personal chocolate maker to George I and George II .

For another George-ian experience altogether, follow instead in the footsteps of King George III with a visit to the royal retreat of Kew Palace. Tour the Princesses' bedrooms and the ailing King's chambers before taking your own royal walk through the 300-acre World Heritage Site. Picnic in the 18th century Orangery, look out for the exotics pets of the Georgian King and Queen and admire the trees planted during this reign from the canopy walk way. New for 2014, visitors can also watch Georgian cookery demonstrations at Kew.

Showpiece Homes

Lavish and over the top, this was the era when Palladianism slowly overtook Baroque style to shape architecture and art. The over-indulgent Georgians indulged in a never-ending pursuit for the perfect party house and, in a bid to outdo one another, gifted our country with numerous heritage gems.

We owe the transformation from Buckingham House to Buckingham Palace to the 18th Century monarchs, as well as Holkham Hall and Chiswick House, though perhaps the most notable country home of this opulent era is John Nash's Brighton Pavilion. Using ethnic inspiration from the great palaces of the moguls and ornate embellishments from the orient, this palace for the Prince Regent surpassed expectations of extraordinary and extravagant pleasure. Revered by fashionable Regency society, the pavilion is still a distinctive landmark for Brighton today and is home to some of the finest collections of the chinoiserie style in Britain.

English Landscape Gardens

Emerald and peridot greens, ancient temples, gothic bridges and reflecting pools - this idyllic pastoral scene swept through the Georgian era as the English pleasure garden came in to vogue. Landscape gardening, made popular by the works of Lancelot Capability Brown and William Kent, took not only the country by storm but spread Europe across like wildfire. You can still catch notable examples at the grounds of Blenheim Palace and the gardens at Rousham House.

Don't miss Stowe Gardens and its striking rotunda, ripped right out of Pride and Prejudice for romances between Mr Darcy and Lizzie, and the gardens at Bowood House, a beautiful example of Georgian architecture in Wiltshire with extensive Capability Brown designed gardens.


The stylish Georgians loved a shopping spree. From filling London's Regent Street with the designers of the day - a tradition not lost - to jaunts to the trendy spa town of Harrogate, the fashionista was created under the Georgians.  Re-create the indulgence with a visit to Bath, which became a popular spa time in the Georgian era. Here, material boys and girls will find designer boutiques set among Georgian terraces and open courtyards at Milsom Place. Take a break from filling bags and loosening wallets by bathing in the city's natural thermal waters just as they would have in the 18th Century. While you're looking the part and in the mind-set, take part in some traditional dancing at a Regency Ball during the annual Jane Austen Festival.

Forget Broadway, we have the original West End, a term first used in fact during the 19th Century. Developed originally as a series of palaces, expensive town houses and fashionable shops, this area of London was created as a hub of entertainment that still exists today. Best known for the location of England's iconic Theatreland, our tradition of going to the theatre can be attributed to the Georgians . Catch a show at one of these bustling buildings to channel the mingling and merriment of our social ancestors, or venture outside of the capital to discover The Madness of King George at Newcastle's Theatre Royal - the very same George who bestowed the royal charter on the playhouse.

To discover more about the Georgians and what they did for us, don't miss the upcoming exhibition at the British Library, which opens on 8 November.

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Kensington Palace