I confess I was delighted to be asked to write the foreword to this pamphlet as I have spent a considerable time over the past few months conducting research in the British Council archives in respect of our presence in Romania. I now believe I know a little bit more about the footprints some of my compatriots from the past have left amidst the historical landscape of Bucharest. But what I have learned serves merely as an hors d'oeuvre and has left me hungry for more.

So the launch of this publication is timely from a personal point of view, and even more so from a professional perspective. The British Council is the United Kingdom's organisation for cultural relations. The Council first started working in Romania 75 years ago, in 1938, so this year is a very significant anniversary for us. At that time Lord Lloyd, the Council's Chair, stayed as a guest of princess Bibesco and had an audience with King Carol before formalising our presence by opening what was then called the British Institute – housed in a rather shabby building on str. Boteanu – on October 12th in a ceremony which was widely reported in the press. It was the subject of a particularly flattering piece in L'Independence Roumaine of October 14th.

But the British presence in Bucharest far predates those times, and this pamphlet explores in delightful detail the stories and personalities which have contributed in significant manner to the cultural tapestry of the city. Names such as Mazar Pasha and Maria Rosetti are familiar to many of us, but I would expect that there are many Romanians and Brits who know little or nothing about their British backgrounds, and even less about the lasting impact they had on the architectural heritage of the Romanian Capital.

Then, of course, there is Queen Marie, undoubtedly the most famous of my compatriots to have left her mark on this country. Born in Kent and a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, she came to love Romania, as is evident from the diaries she kept, and her legacy serves as a timely reminder of the historical bonds that unite our two countries.

On behalf of all those of my fellow countrymen and women who have ever lived here, I invite you to take a historical stroll through the streets, parks and monumental buildings of this fascinating city.

Nigel Townson - Director British Council Romania