This Week in London – New gallery at Hampton Court; Northwest Passage explorers remembered; and, celebrating Churchill’s birthday…

A new gallery opens today in the restored Cumberland Suite at Hampton Court Palace. The Gothic Revival suite of rooms, designed by William Kent for William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland and the youngest son of King George II, were the last major royal commission ever undertaken at the palace. They will now house a selection of the Royal Collection’s finest paintings including masterpieces by Holbein, Van Dyck, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Bassano and Gainsborough. The restoration followed two years of research aimed at returning the rooms to a state which as closely as possible represents Kent’s original decorative scheme. One of the rooms – the duke’s large light closet – is being opened to the public for the first time in 25 years and will house 12 of Canaletto’s smaller Grand Canal views of Venice. Admission charge applies. For more, see

Map• The exploration of the Northwest Passage is the subject of a new exhibition which has opened at the British Library in King’s Cross. Lines in the Ice: Seeking the Northwest Passage looks back over 400 years with exhibits including King Charles II’s personal atlas, 19th century woodcut illustrations and wooden maps made by Inuit communities, and artefacts related to three of the most eminent explorer to seek out the Northwest Passage – Martin Frobisher, Sir John Franklin and Roald Amundsen, the first man to reach the South Pole. The exhibition has opened just weeks after the discovery of the HMS Erebus, one of Sir John Franklin’s lost ships. There’s a full programme of events to accompany the exhibition. Runs until 29th March. Admission is free. For more, see PICTURE: The world we live in, c. 1958, on display in Lines in the Ice. Courtesy of British Library.

Celebrate Winston Churchill’s birthday at a special after-hours event in the Churchill War Rooms in Whitehall next week. Advance booking is required to buy tickets for the event which will include a silent disco, drink tasting workshops and the chance to strike your best Churchill pose in a special photo booth. The event runs on the evening of 27th November. To book, head to

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London Pub Signs – The Enterprise…

Not surprisingly, this Holborn pub is named after a ship – in the case a vessel that was sent to search for the doomed fourth expedition of Sir John Franklin in the Arctic.

Franklin’s expedition – which consisted of two ships, the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror – had departed England in 1845 with the aim of traveling through the last un-navigated section of the Northwest Passage. But the ships became icebound near King William Island off the coast of Canada and all 129 people, including Sir John, on the expedition were lost.

Pressure from Franklin’s wife, Lady Jane Franklin, and a reward offered by the Admiralty led to many attempts to find the lost expedition involving numerous ships. These included the HMS Enterprise which twice set off to find Franklin’s ships, failing in the attempt both times.

The lost expedition and the numerous attempts to find it captured public attention and The Enterprise in Holborn is one of a couple of pubs in London that bears the ship’s name.

While some human remains and parts of the ships from the Franklin Expedition were found in the years following, the exact fate of the crew on the lost expedition remains something of a mystery.

The pub in Red Lion Street features a wonderful mosaic on an external wall depicting the ship sailing past an iceberg on which stands a polar bear (pictured). The work Tessa Hunkin, it was installed in 2006.

For more on the Victorian era pub – much of which has been restored, see