We had so much fun with our friends who were stationed at Alconbury AFB in England, which was actually an old English AFB. We trained and meet them about an hour and a half north of London in Peterborough, UK, and they took us to some great places while we were visiting.
My favorite place they took us and one of my favorite stops the entire trip was the Burghley House (which really should have been called a castle if you ask me!) in Peterborough. It was originally built for Queen Elizabeth I and kept up and decorated for her…and then she never came before she died! It’s since been restored, and I mean, LOOK AT IT-stunning! We had some lunch and tea at the Orangery Restaurant within the complex, overlooking the beautiful gardens (totally quintessential England). I never got tired of having tea in England! Then we went on a self-guided tour that explained what all the different rooms were for in the house. I’m usually not into art too much, but dude! this place had some super crazy ornate paintings-some rooms had murals on every wall and up covering the entire ceiling!
This is probably the most well known work of art at the House: the “Hell Staircase,” which shows the ceiling painted as Hell with the entrance to Hell through a large cats mouth and a bunch of people in torture. and the grim reaper hanging out on the ceiling too…I can’t make this stuff up yall! Below are some other pics from around the house.
Cambridge University & Harry Potter Studio
The next day, we visited beautiful Cambridge University! We took a little walk around the college and went punting down the river (with our own personal English Fabio driving the boat). Along the river, we got to see many famous colleges like Clare College, Christ’s College, and Trinity College. Cambridge is not all one school; it’s made up of 31 individual colleges-each governed separately with their own admissions. Super cool to see where people like Charles Darwin and Stephen Hawking studied!…below is King’s College and King’s College Chapel.
Over the river you can also see some famous bridges like the Mathematical Bridge and the Bridge of Sighs at St. John’s College.
After a short walk around the college, we ate lunch at The Eagle pub, famous as the site that Watson and Crick announced their discovery of the DNA structure. We sat in the back by the RAF bar that had a bunch of cool WWII graffiti on the walls and ceiling. Everything in England just has so much history attached to it…
Later that day we also went to the Warner Bro. Harry Potter Studio Set Exhibits outside of London in Leavesden. The movie sets were basically dismantled and reassembled in this studio warehouse, so guests get to wander from the Great Hall and Dumbledore’s Office to Diagon Alley and the Hogwarts Express! I grew up reading and watching Harry Potter, so this place definitely satisfied my inner kid. It was definitely a “magical” experience, and you won’t be disappointed if you go!
Costumes, Hogwarts Express, Dumbledore’s office, & Ollivander’s Wand Shop!
Super cool shot of the entire castle set! This exact structure was used for aerial views and panoramic shots of Hogwarts, and then colors and specifics were added in by film editors. The studio sets are a great spot to pair with Cambridge University as they are only an hour apart by car, but you could also take a train out of London for either (HP Studios is just outside London).
It was so nice to know someone while traveling abroad, ya know like a little taste of home away from home, so be sure to take advantage of connections you have when planning trips.
We had an unforgettable time in England, and I really feel like I got a good grasp on England as a whole. I loved all the guided tours we went on, but you could definitely take time and explore each place more! Rent a car and spend a day or two in each town, and remember that England is so much more than just London! I will definitely be back one day and can’t wait to come back with my husband! I checked so many places off my bucket list, and I have a list of things to do when I come back one day! Check out my FINAL posts in this series, which include Edinburgh, Scotland and a tour out to the English/Scottish borders of Northumbria!