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Ranger’s House, Greenwich

The Ranger’s House in Greenwich has achieved recent celebrity with its role in hit Netflix drama Bridgerton, where the building’s exterior plays the part of ‘Bridgerton House’, home of the fictional Bridgerton family, transported to a CGI version of Grosvenor Square in central London, in 1813. In reality this 18th-century mansion is located on a green hill outside Greenwich in south-east London, and houses a small and quirky art collection.

Greenwich is one of the best destinations for a varied London day out, but of the crowds who visit the big attractions near the Thames, few head up the hill to this more hidden treasure. Built to take advantage of the green surroundings and impressive views, the brick Ranger’s House was first home to a naval captain, and later to Lord Chesterfield before becoming the residence of the Ranger of Greenwich Park – an honorary position awarded by the monarch. The first Ranger to live in this building was Princess Sophia Matilda, a niece of George III. The previous residence, standing alongside, was demolished but had been home to Queen Caroline – read on for how to see a surprising relic of this dwelling.

Nowadays the Ranger’s House is in the hands of English Heritage and houses a long-term loan: a collection of art assembled by the diamond magnate and collector Sir Julius Wernher (1850-1912). The Wernhers had no connection to this building, but the mansion’s interior has been arranged to evoke the grand rooms of their homes, Bath House, Piccadilly and Luton Hoo in Bedfordshire. There are some fine artworks, and some unusual curiosities to admire; Wernher said his passion was for the ‘splendidly ugly’. The Ranger’s House is worth the uphill walk from central Greenwich to visit, can be combined with a roam through the fabulous parkland and is free to English Heritage members, so it’s a great place to visit for many reasons, not least if you are on a budget staycation.

I visited while Covid precautionary measures were in place; booking ahead the evening before (plenty of slots available). Detailed catalogues for each room had been removed for hygiene reasons, replaced by a QR code to access a webpage with room information and highlighted objects. Guides were on hand to help identify the many fascinating exhibits not included in the online companion. Photography isn’t allowed, though guidebooks and free postcards were available from the small shop (along with fudge, fruit wine and other treats).

With the collection encompassing artworks from tiny jewels to marble sculptures, there is a lot of variety to take in, but the collection is small enough to be manageable and enjoyable, rather than overwhelming.


One of the collection’s most celebrated pieces is a painting from the workshop of Botticelli, a version of the elegant Madonna of the Pomegranate, but my favourites were two other Italian Renaissance paintings, unlabelled but identified for me by the friendly guides: Rest on the Flight into Egypt by Filippino Lippi, with its lovely background details, and a Madonna with Saints, listed as by a follower of Il Francia. I haven’t managed to find out much about the latter painting, though in the past it appears to have been attributed to Francesco Francia himself. (I first discovered the works of this artist, real name Francesco Raibolini, c.1447-1517, in the Pinacoteca Nazionale in Bologna, where his paintings and the faces in them really stood out for me). I regret not being able to photograph or find a good reproduction of this painting; in which I particularly admired one of the saints – I think identifiable as St Nicholas.

Memento Mori

One of Sir Julius’s special interests was evidently the memento mori. There are a number of these reminders of death and mortality on display here, including a tiny intricately-carved boxwood coffin which can be opened to reveal panels depicting the Last Judgement, a decomposing corpse and a skeleton. Another exquisitely crafted memento mori is a two-sided ivory pendant: one one side, a well-dressed woman, on the other side a rotting skull covered with scavenging creepy-crawlies, and the words ECCE FINE (Here is the End) on the forehead.

Jewels, ceramics and more

Another of my highlights of the Ranger’s House Wernher Collection was the Jewellery Vault, filled with exquisite rings, cameos and seals, mostly Renaissance but also featuring the oldest object in the museum, a Greek Hellenistic gold earring depicting Nike, her wings aloft, dated to the 2nd Century BC.

The collection of ceramics is also very fine, including some handsome Italian Renaissance maiolica, and a magnificent dish from France with a moulded eel slithering across its surface.

Grand reception rooms on the lower floor are decorated in keeping with the homes of the Wernhers where they were once displayed. Paintings include fine portraits by Joshua Reynolds.

The walls of the elegant Long Gallery are hung with historic tapestries and the room’s focal point is the seductive (or sickly-sweet, depending on your tastes) 19th-century marble sculpture titled The Love of Angels, by Giulio Bergonzoli.

Outside the Ranger’s House: rose garden and ruins

The Ranger’s House now has a rather downbeat vista looking over lawns and a main road. If you’re a Bridgerton fan, of course, you will want to take the obligatory selfies at the front of the house. But afterwards, head through a small gateway in the garden at the side of the building, and you’ll find yourself in a far more romantic environment, the beautiful rose garden of Greenwich Park. When I visited, some of the beds were filled with wild flowers and between these colourful displays, alive with insects, and the luxuriant blooming roses, the garden was a wonderful setting to sit and admire the mansion, think about the art, or just plan your next move. Greenwich Park, one of London’s Royal Parks, is a remarkable, beautiful place to explore, and I’ll write about its riches another time.

Before you head away from the Ranger’s House, though, just walk for a few yards away from the rose garden along the park’s inner perimeter to the south (to your left as you look at the rear of the house). Here, by a hedge and against a wall, is a surviving feature from Montague (or Montagu) House, once home to Princess Caroline, later Queen Caroline, estranged wife of the future George IV. Princess Caroline’s Bath is exactly what it says it is: a sunken tiled bath, all that is left of the building demolished in 1815.

How to get to the Ranger’s House in Greenwich

From Greenwich’s ‘main attractions’ near the Thames and the Cutty Sark DLR station, Ranger’s House is a 10-15-minute walk uphill through the park, a very pleasant, green and scenic stroll. It’s located on the park’s western boundary (head towards the right-hand perimeter as you head up the slopes).

The entrance to the house faces away from the park, on a lane called Chesterfield Walk. But from the rose garden within the park you can reach the entrance by following English Heritage signs through the small gateway in the garden wall. Alternatively, there is a gateway from the park out towards Chesterfield Walk a little way north of the house, called Croom’s Hill Gate, a route which passes some other handsome buildings. A printable map of the park is available on the Royal Parks website (see below), and this is a useful tool to take to help make the most of your visit.

I actually walked to Greenwich from central London, which is entirely do-able – allow 2.5 – 3 hours from the City of London, and enjoy a scenic hike along the Thames, or cut some time off with shortcuts by road.

If you’d rather not walk, and would like to avoid the uphill stretch from central Greenwich, there are limited parking spaces at the house (check the English Heritage website), and it is on bus route 53, which passes Deptford Bridge station (DLR) as well as the 386, which passes Greenwich station and the National Maritime Museum.

Cornwall England

Tregenna Castle Resort – a presidential hotel and gardens

When my mother and I took refuge from the rain at the Tregenna Castle Resort we would have been extremely surprised to be told that two years later the President of the US would be staying here, along with the First Lady and entourage. But the G7 Summit in Cornwall, at Carbis Bay, has brought many surprises to this beautiful part of the English coast.

Tregenna Castle Hotel

On a hill and slightly inland between Carbis Bay and the beautiful fishing/artist/tourist harbour of St Ives, the picturesque Tregenna Castle was built as a private home in the 18th century and 100 years later it became a railway hotel, operated by the Great Western Railway (GWR) which subsequently bought the hotel. It’s changed a hands a few times since then, and is now operated as a hotel with an estate including a golf course, hotel, self-catering lodges, tennis courts, swimming pool and gardens. We learned some of this history while waiting for the rain to lessen and looking at old photos displayed in the hotel reception rooms.

I remember the interior and general ambience as being somewhat institutional and tired in feel, despite the grand potential of the property and its extensive, panoramic grounds. My mother disputes this, though – while agreeing it isn’t somewhere she’d necessarily choose to stay. You’ll find equally mixed opinions if you read reviews from the hotel’s guests.

But the hotel’s facilities have very likely been improved and updated for the illustrious G7 visitors. And one thing no-one could dispute is that the hotel has some real treasures, chief among them a gorgeous subtropical walled garden. We found this by chance, having no idea it existed, and were captivated by its magic, despite the Cornish drizzle. The hotel obviously has an excellent gardening team and really values its outdoor spaces.

Until the heavens opened we’d simply been crossing the hotel’s grounds on a walk from Carbis Bay to St Ives as an alternative to the pretty clifftop route (we were unsure if their paths were open to the public, but no-one stopped us). After the joy of the walled garden we followed the hotel’s footpath downhill into St Ives. This too, is charming, even though modern chalets have been built alongside. The lush valley garden was another unexpected treat as we descended towards the town and the sea, bringing back memories of some of Cornwall’s finest coastal gardens.

As well as global political summits, the hotel also hosts weddings and other events. Its size and multiplicity of offerings is maybe partly what gave it the ‘institutional’ feel that put me off; I’m used to smaller, more intimate Italian hotels.

I think there would certainly be some big advantages to staying in this attractive hilltop location and spending time in Tregenna Castle’s glorious well-tended grounds, especially if you want to use the swimming/leisure facilities – but if you’re thinking of it, I’d suggest reading recent reviews to get a realistic idea of what to expect, so your ideas aren’t too romanticised. I imagine the self-catering cottages and lodges could be quite appealing bases for a family holiday.

Read reviews, and check prices and availability for the Tregenna Castle Resort

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View towards St Ives from the hotel grounds

> Read about Carbis Bay and its beach

Cornwall England

Carbis Bay, Cornwall

The venue for the G7 Summit in 2021, Carbis Bay in Cornwall is a beach resort just over a headland from St Ives, built around a steep-sided sandy bay, with a hotel at sea level and modern streets spread over the slopes above.

Carbis Bay

Having stayed twice in Carbis Bay, I’d say it’s a good base for a holiday if you know what to expect and don’t mind a slightly surburban atmosphere. Neither a character-filled fishing village, nor a buzzing established town, this satellite of St Ives is mostly modern-built, with the feel of a retirement or commuter suburb, with a dash of holiday resort thrown in. It has three big advantages as a holiday destination: a wide sandy beach,  a railway station, and proximity to St Ives – and if you pick the right accommodation you can get fabulous views.

Carbis Bay wouldn’t have been much more than scattered dwellings, big houses and a hotel until the twentieth century advanced. Then the developers moved into this scenic spot, building streets of suburban bungalows, villas and terraces winding along the slopes above the railway line and around the main St Ives road. The first time I arrived I was surprised by how unchecked this urban growth seemed to be by the planning controls which keep most of Cornwall’s coastline attractive and unspoilt. Considerable development has been permitted in recent decades and is ongoing,  with smarter, larger houses being built in ‘gaps’ between existing buildings, or replacing demolished earlier buildings.

There are increasing numbers of holiday apartments and house rentals in Carbis Bay, as well as a limited amount of hotel and B&B accommodation. The beach itself has public access but is privately owned by the seafront Carbis Bay Estate, a historic hotel which has also expanded in the last few years, even before the G7 led to another building frenzy. The hotel operates seasonal beach facilities including a restaurant-café, beach shop and sports.Carbis Bay - the beach

With its wide expanse of clean, smooth sand extending gently into the sea, Carbis Bay is an excellent beach for small children and families. As most of the beach is backed by green slopes and low cliffs, it has a more idyllic and natural feel than the town beaches of St Ives. The long stretch of sand is ideal for playing, building sandcastles, paddling and swimming. There are even the remains of shipwrecks visible sticking out of the sand at low tides. The proximity of other fine, sandy beaches along this stretch of coast means that this particular bay doesn’t get as crowded as it would in any other location.

With a railway station and bus service, proximity to St Ives and wide-sweeping views, this is a practical base for a holiday. It lacks the picturesque old buildings and lanes, and the historic atmosphere of traditional Cornish fishing villages, but in other respects Carbis Bay has a good deal to offer.

Fireworks at the Carbis Bay Hotel
Fireworks at the Carbis Bay Hotel

A steep narrow road leads down from the main road to the sands. Note that it can be a tiring walk climbing back up at the end of the day (especially if you are with young children or elderly relatives); I wouldn’t recommend this as a beach destination for visitors with mobility issues. Down by the sea is the Carbis Bay Hotel with its restaurant and seasonal beach facilities, takeaway food and beach equipment for hire. A few holiday homes are also located lower down, not far above sea level, but the majority of the settlement is a 10-15 minute walk uphill. The railway branch line connecting St Ives with the mainline at St Erth runs across the slope between the main part of the town and the beach. In the higher part of town there is a Tesco supermarket, a pharmacy, a take-away and a small number of restaurants and pubs. Visitors won’t find a huge choice of shops or eateries here; Carbis Bay is more like a dormitory suburb than a town centre.

St. Ives is visible from parts of Carbis Bay, the pretty little town shimmering on its headland, with the promise of glorious sunsets. It’s a 3-minute scenic train journey away, or a pleasant 45-minute walk along paths and lanes which begin at the Carbis Bay Hotel, climb up over the headland through woods and houses, and descend through trees to Porthminster beach in St Ives.

Sunset over St Ives, from Carbis Bay
The sun setting behind St Ives, seen from Carbis Bay

Unless you are content with the beach and the views, you’ll probably be taking the train or driving out to other attractions -the National Trust headland at Godrevy Point offers epic views and the chance to see seals. St Ives itself is a really delightful and lively fishing town famous for its artistic connections and its three glorious beaches.

In Carbis Bay you’ll find a very small number of places to eat, near the main road (I liked the vegetarian/vegan The Bean Inn) and no really notable sights other than the beach and views. But the walk or rail journey into St Ives offers a big range of places to eat, drink and enjoy culture, including the Tate St Ives art gallery and the excellent Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden. And as St Ives can be so busy, it may be a relief to return to the more peaceful surroundings of Carbis Bay after an excursion or evening out.

Carbis Bay

Family holidays in Carbis Bay

I stayed in Carbis Bay as part of an extended family group, and it is a very suitable destination for the kind of vacation which encompasses different age groups and interests. There are large holiday houses with gardens and views, suitable for families, and the beach is ideal for young children, who’ll also enjoy seeing trains passing along the single-track clifftop railway. By public transport and car you can tour other Cornish attractions. And St Ives offers bustle, shops, marauding seagulls, more beaches, and as many ice creams and Cornish pasties as you can find room for (and keep safe from the seagulls).  So there really should be something for everyone and a range of options for activities to enjoy together and separately.

View of St Ives
View of St Ives, walking from Carbis Bay


I enjoyed the easy scenic walk from Carbis Bay into St Ives, and felt that partly compensated for what I felt Carbis Bay lacked in picturesque ‘colour’. Dotted along the route are some of the larger houses built here by the wealthy before Carbis Bay was urbanised, as well as modern additions, and you can imagine a Riviera-style Cornwall as it might have been a century ago. Keep your eyes open for local notices, as some of the pretty private gardens around here are occasionally opened for charity.

If you’re a keen walker, the stretch of coastline on the other side of St Ives, stretching westwards in the direction of Land’s End, is gloriously wild and unspoilt. A highlight of my local stays was hiking along the coast path to Zennor, where you can relax with a pint at the local pub, visit the historic church, and catch a bus back to St Ives. There are open-top buses (Land’s End Coaster) on this route, adding to the pleasure of the excursion.

A train on the St Ives branch line, Carbis Bay
A train on the St Ives branch line, Carbis Bay

Where to stay in Carbis Bay

Bear in mind that between the main road running through Carbis Bay and the beach there is a steepish walk. The only option next to the beach is the G7-hosting 4-star hotel and spa Carbis Bay Estate – this is convenient for beach-lovers, and has car parking, but as well as taking care to read the (mixed) reviews, it’s worth remembering the hotel is at the bottom of  the slopes below the railway line, with the other local amenities some way uphill – this is fine if you want to stay by the beach, drive out or follow the footpath to St Ives, though. I have elderly relatives who’ve stayed at the hotel on Saga holidays; but it’s been expanding in recent years with bigger, fancier ambitions, sometimes at the expense of the neighbouring woodland and coast path. They offer villas and suites and a range of rooms, and the beachfront location, at least, couldn’t be bettered. A convenient choice if you want a fuss-free full-service break by the sea.

One of the next-nearest places to stay for the beach is Headland Road, where you’ll find a scattering of holiday apartments and B&B accommodation, including the Beach View apartment, sleeping 5.  This clifftop road just above the railway line has great views – though as it’s midway between main road restaurants and bus stops and the beach, you may find yourself walking a lot.

Further inland and higher above the sea, though near enough for convenient access and still offering some more distant sea views, is a choice of holiday rentals and B&Bs, mostly on or around the main St Ives road. While the walk to the beach and railway station may be longer, these accommodation options are practical for public transport and for eating out. These include Thurlestone House, a B&B (adults-only) in a handsome stone building, the quirky, colourful Sailaway B&B and the well-reviewed Green Apple B&B which offers some sea views from its position on the main road.

Between Carbis Bay and St Ives, with access towards the scenic coastal walk, is the popular Chy an Gwedhan B&B – a good-value compromise between the two locations. Situated on a headland away from the busy centre of St Ives, the small B&B has sea-view rooms, parking and a nice stroll down  to the beaches and the town.

If you’d like to stay independently in self-catering accommodation, one option for couples is the practical 11 Longstone House, on the edge of Carbis Bay. The two-bedroom Offshore apartment is on Headland Road, and convenient for beach and railway, with a terrace. Another modern two-bed apartment is Saffron, on the St Ives road and close to Carbis Bay’s amenities. Sleeping six, the smartly-refurbished bungalow Menhyr is on the upper side of Carbis Bay with a garden and parking, recommended by guests as a peaceful place to stay with convenient access to St Ives and public transport.

Find a place to stay in Carbis Bay – with map, availability search and prices.

THANK YOU: The links above are all affiliate links – if you book through these, you won’t pay any extra but you’ll be supporting this website.

Holiday letting companies with holiday homes, cottages and apartments in the area include Cornish Gems, St Ives Holidays, and Aspects Holidays.

Evening stroll, Carbis Bay


How to get to Carbis Bay

Carbis Bay is a practical place to stay if you are travelling by car: St Ives is notorious for its parking and traffic problems but at Carbis Bay you’ll find easy road access, and accommodation with parking spaces. You can then travel the short distance into St Ives by train, bus or on foot and be spared the bother of finding parking.

Carbis Bay is one of the easiest-to-reach seaside resorts in Cornwall for visitors arriving by public transport. Trains from London to Penzance stop at St Erth, a little branch-line station with a small waiting room and a little shop/café. From here frequent trains run along the single-track St Ives Bay Line, stopping at Lelant, Carbis Bay and St Ives; one of the most scenic railway lines in the country. Carbis Bay is also served by buses to destinations including St Ives, Newquay, Padstow, Land’s End, Marazion, Zennor, Penzance and Truro.

St Ives Bay Line

First Bus, Cornwall

GWR trains


Shipwreck at low tide, Carbis Bay
Shipwreck at low tide, Carbis Bay

Cornish wine in Carbis Bay
Cornish wine in the garden, Carbis Bay