My lovely step-mum moved down from up north to the other side of London last summer. This means that we can do things like pop over for coffee or meet up for afternoons in London instead of a pre-planned four hour journey to meet up.
A couple of weeks ago we went to The Wallace Collection for a mooch around the gallery followed by afternoon tea. The museum is a treasure trove of paintings, furniture, arms & armour and porcelain from the 15th to the 19th centuries housed in a Georgian townhouse near Marylebone. Their main focus is 18th century French paintings.
There wasn’t anything we particularly planned to see, we enjoyed wandering from room to room looking at various paintings and having a good catch up at the same time. Afterwards, I wished I had done a tiny bit of research as there is a Velazquez portrait of the 5 year old Infanta Margarita, similar to the painting in the book Katie and the Spanish Princess by James Mayhew which Seren loves. I missed the painting, so will have to go back and see it with Seren.
We did see works by Rubens (including the one of John the Baptist as a baby on the right above ^^^), Rembrandt, Canaletto, Gainsborough, Reynolds and Turner.
We were intrigued that a lady called Mrs Mary Robinson or ‘Pedita’ had three portraits, by Gainsborough (the one on the right above ^^^), Hazlitt and Reynolds. One of the staff members in the shop told us that she was an actress and a mistress of the Prince of Wales (later George IV) and he had fallen in love with her when she played Perdita in A Winter’s Tale.
We had afternoon tea booked for 2.30pm. Peyton and Byrne run the courtyard French-style brasserie. Although it’s dotted with trees and sculptures, fortunately for February, you aren’t actually outside, as it’s covered by a high, glass ceiling. The restaurant is open daily for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner on Friday or Saturday evenings. We did wait a short while to be seated and had to flag down a waiter to order and pay the bill, I guess they were busy, there was not an empty table. That was the only downside to the experience though, as the food, drink and surroundings were sublime.
We had the Champagne Afternoon Tea (£26) which includes a selection of sandwiches, homemade scones, clotted cream, preserves and a selection of mini cakes. They were happy to accommodate vegetarian sandwiches for me and extra sandwiches instead of cake for Pam. We had English Breakfast and Darjeeling teas. We were at our table for around 2 hours, with no rush to leave – either on our part or the restaurant’!
Peyton and Byrne also run the eateries at the National Gallery, Imperial War Museum London, the Orangery at Kew, the British Library and the bar at the ICA, amongst others.
Afterwards, we had a quick look around the basement including an area where you could try on armour (oh my gosh, so heavy!). There was a family in this area and I guess it’s one of the fun things for kids to do (well touch or look at the armour if not actually wear it). They do have some Family Events on too – The Little Draw, which is a drop-in art workshop held in the galleries on the first Sunday afternoon of each month and other activities during some school holidays.