More London exploits to come: Courtauld Gallery, the Guildhall, Kensington Palace, and Frederick Leighton;s House, to name a few.
Above, an evening view of the Palace of Westminster, or as it is familiarly known, the Houses of Parliament, seen from across the Thames in London. Below, a view of the cluster of buildings that comprised the Palace of Westminster before the great fire of 1834.
The fire began on October 16, 1834, and burned all night, observed by large crowds of spectators. Government officials, including the Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, and even many artists watched as almost the entire complex was destroyed.
Among the spectators was Joseph Mallord William Turner, who later painted oil studies of the scene.
About all that was left was Westminster Hall and various objects saved from the fire by volunteers. Both Houses soon found temporary quarters, but clearly, a new structure would have to be established.
After a competition for design, construction began on a vast neo-Gothic building on the old site on the riverside. The winning architect was Charles Barry, later knighted, with Augustus Pugin, his assistant. By the time construction actually began in 1839, Queen Victoria was on the throne.
Before the fire, the House of Lords looked like this, as published in Ackermann's 1808 Microcosm of London
After the new building was complete, the House of Lords looked much as it does in the 21st Century.
In both Houses, we tourists were not allowed to sit on the benches or chairs. for these are reserved for the elected or appointed members. Fortunately, there were other "allowable" seats along the way. Below, for special occasions, such as the monarch's annual address, members of the Commons join the Lords in this chamber, as below pictured in 2015.
Here is the House of Commons in 1808, as drawn for the Microcosm of London.
The House of Commons today.
Prime Minister Theresa May addresses the House of Commons.
When the Houses are in session it is possible to obtain passes to the Visitor's Gallery to listen to debates, but often the remainder of the building may be closed to tourists.
As usual, the tour ended with a visit to the gift shop and tea room. Time for a cuppa.
More London exploits to come: Courtauld Gallery, the Guildhall, Kensington Palace, and Frederick Leighton;s House, to name a few.
You will note the scaffolding around the Elizabeth Tower (topped by the clock and bell, known as Big Ben). Repairs to the Houses of Parliament began in 2017 and will continue for decades. Plans currently call for both houses to meet in nearby buildings while their chambers are being renovated, beginning in the 2020's. Costs are estimated to be in the billions of pounds.
Outside, in Parliament Square, there is almost always a demonstration of some sort, this one being supporters of ending the Brexit process of leaving the EU.
We entered through Westminster Hall, the ancient remnant of the original Palace of Westminster. It was saved during the fire of 1834 which otherwise destroyed the Palace.
The Hall, dating from 1097, is famous for the hammer-beam ceiling, erected in the reign of Richard II, and the largest of its kind in England. Currently, it is filled with displays telling the story of Parliament and the building, perhaps to build public support for its preservation and repair.
This model of the current Palace of Westminster, (the official name, though most people refer to it simply as Parliament) shows Westminster Hall in the foreground, attached to the neo-Gothic building completed in the 1860's by architects Sir Charles Berry and Augustus Pugin. The House of Commons occupies the north (left) end and the House of Lords, the south right),
Some of the displays were related to the commemoration of the Votes for Women's 100th anniversary. A new window, designed by artist Mary Branson, was installed. It changes in effect with the movement of the sun, entitled New Dawn.
Once through the door below the stunning artwork, we could no longer use our cameras, so the following pictures will be taken from websites. The building has hundreds of rooms, many offices, but our tour was confined to the main reception rooms, halls, and chambers.
St. Stephen's Hall leads from Westminster Hall into the post-fire building. Filled with mosaics, paintings, stained-glass windows, and statuary, it is a feast for the eyes and a compendium of British history. The Hall was damaged by bombing in World War II.
The Central Lobby is open for meetings of MPs with their constituents, also full of historical artwork.
In the Royal Gallery toward the House of Lords, two huge murals dominate the room. Both by artist Daniel Maclise (1806-1870), they were executed in the technique known as Water-Glass painting, which unfortunately has not aged well, letting the colors fade somewhat. One portrays the Death Of Nelson, the loss of the Admiral in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
Facing across the Gallery is The Meeting of Wellington and Blucher after the Battle of Waterloo, completed in 1861.
In preparation for this mural, Maclise drew a full-size cartoon, which had been in storage at the Royal Academy. For the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of Waterloo in 1815, the cartoon was conserved and exhibited at the RA in Burlington House.
Also near the House of Lords Chambers is the Robing Room where the monarch prepares to address both houses in her annual speech, usually in full regalia, as in this photo from 2016.
More information on the history of Parliament will be posted soon!
I've visited Basildon Park several times, and on my last visit in September 2014, I was delighted to find the National Trust now allows non-flash photographs and I went wild with snapping. Above and below, the East Front.
Basildon Park was built between 1776 and 1782 by Sir Francis Sykes, created a baronet in 1781. His roots were in Yorkshire and he chose architect John Carr of York (1723–1807) to build his house, a classical Palladian villa with a main block of rooms joined to pavilions on either side. The Sykes fortune was made during his service in India.
Carr had previously worked with Robert Adam, and Adam's style clearly influenced the Palladian exterior as well as the decor of many rooms in the interior. The house as it stands today is the survivor of multiple owners, periods of abandonment, and occupation by soldiers and war prisoners in World Wars I and II. So it combines dazzling restorations of original features with comfortable furnishings and artwork from the 1950's when the house was acquired and restored by Lord and Lady Iliffe. Below, the Entrance Hall.
Above, L, the Library....R, the middle hall.
Piano Nobile (main floor) Key: The first floor. 1: The four service courts; 2: Portico and West front; 3: North Pavilion; 4: South Pavilion; 5: Entrance Hall; 6: Staircase Hall; 7: Octagon Drawing Room; 8: Dining Room; 9: Study; 10: Library; 11: Sutherland Room (formerly lady Iliffe's sitting room); 12: Kitchen (since 1952); 13: larder (?); 14: Green Drawing Room (formerly Breakfast or Small Dining Room).
Below, L, Dining Room fireplace; R, Dining Room Table
At the center back of the house is the Octagon Drawing Room. L, Pier Glass and Table; R, Venetian windows overlook the park and beyond to the Thames. The tv program Downton Abbey used the Octagon Drawing Room to serve as the drawing room of the Grantham House, the family's London residence. The dining room was also used in DA for ballroom scenes.
Below, another Pier Glass and Table; R, another view of the room.
Above, L, Green Drawing Room, originally the breakfast room; R, ceiling medallion in the Green Drawing Room.
Below, L, Going upstairs; R, the Crimson Bedroom
Lord and Lady Iliffe acquired this state bed form the sale at Ashburnham Place in 1953.
Above, L, a mahogany cheval glass; R, the Spode service on the washstand also comes from Ashburnham Place.
Below, two views of the collection in the Shell Room.
Above, L, upstairs sitting room; R, as befit a grand house of the 1950's,Basildon was equipped with luxurious bathrooms,
definitely not in the 18th century style.
Below, the kitchen reflect the 1950's as well.
Below, the gardens are lovely and the grounds lead down to the Thames, in the distance. Basildon is near London and well worth a visit. The website:
Frogmore House in Windsor Great Park, about a mile from Windsor Castle, was built in the 17th century and updated many times. It has provided a private retreat for the royals since the late 18th c. days of Queen Charlotte and George III. Queen Victoria's mother, the Duchess of Kent (1786-1861), lived here as her country residence until her death.
historic prints from the royal collection
Mary Moser room: Queen Charlotte (1744-1818) invited prominent artist Mary Moser, RA (1744-1819), to decorate the room with her floral designs.
mausoleum: Above, the Duchess of Kent; Below, Victoria and Albert
Georgette Heyer wrote nearly sixty novels in various genres. She was known for her historical fiction, detective stories, and contemporary novels of her day. By far the most popular of her prodigious output where her historical romances set in the Regency Era in Britain. The first of these was Regency Buck, published in 1935. The story begins in 1811, the first "official year of the Regency of George, Prince of Wales, who ruled in the name of his father, George III, until the latter's death in 1820 when the Prince Regent became George the IV for the remaining decade of his life.
Ms. Heyer did extensive research into the manners and mores of the period from 1811 to 1820, its language, and its society customs and traditions. Pictured at the rights is one of the early covers of Regency Buck showing the Regent's flamboyant pavilion in Brighton, at which scenes are set portraying the entertainments hosted by the spendthrift Regent.
A favorite among Heyer's regencies is The Grand Sophy, almost always among the top three listed by her fans. For those who have not fallen in love with Heyer's Regencies, this one has all the fascinating characters and sparkling wit for which she is known.
Author Fanny Burney lived through the Battle of Waterloo in the nearby city of Brussels, where she had fled from Paris when Napoleon regained power in the spring of 1815, Burney's husband, General d'Arblay was a member of the guard of King Louis XVIII, who fled Paris with his retinue and waited for a time in Belgium.
We take up Burney’s account of Brussels again on the day of the Battle of Quatre Bras. “I was again awakened at about five o'clock in the morning Friday, 16th June, by the sound of a bugle in the March aux Bois: I started up and opened the window. But I only perceived some straggling soldiers, hurrying in different directions, and saw lights gleaming from some of the chambers in the neighbourhood: all again was soon still, and my own dwelling in profound silence, and therefore I concluded there had been some disturbance in exchanging sentinels at the various posts, which was already appeased: and I retired once more to my pillow, and remained till my usual hour…
(Later) “… my ears were alarmed by the sound of military music, and my eyes equally struck with the sight of a body of troops marching to its measured time. But I soon found that what I had supposed to be an occasionally passing troop, was a complete corps; infantry, cavalry artillery, bag and baggage, with all its officers in full uniform, and that uniform was black.... I learned it was the army of Brunswick. How much deeper yet had been my heartache had I foreknown that nearly all those brave men, thus marching on in gallant though dark array, with their valiant royal chief at their head, the nephew** of my own king, George III., were amongst the first destined victims to this dreadful contest, and that neither the chief, nor the greater part of his warlike associates, would within a few short hours, breathe again the vital air!...
“What a day of confusion and alarm did we all spend on the 17th!...That day, and June 18th, I passed in hearing the cannon! Good heaven! what indescribable horror to be so near the field of slaughter! such I call it, for the preparation to the ear by the tremendous sound was soon followed by its fullest effect, in the view of the wounded, the bleeding martyrs to the formidable contention that was soon to terminate the history of the war. And hardly more afflicting was this disabled return from the battle, than the sight of the continually pouring forth ready-armed and vigorous victims that marched past my windows to meet similar destruction.”
Above, the Wounded Arriving in Brussels
The above picture is a detail from the great glass apinting in the Gallery of the House of Lords in the Palace of Westminster. It depicts the victorious field marshals, Duke of Wellington and Prussian General von Blucher shaking hands after the fighting was over. The Prussians pursued the fleeing French army and the British and Allies stayed behind to rest, bury the dead, treat the wounded , and take up the chase again later.
This painting by Joseph William Mallord Turner was painted after he toured the battlefield and sketched the scene. It emphasizes the tragedy of so many deaths, so many lost forever. Below, the Duke of Wellington rides through the carnage back to his headquarters in the village of Waterloo where he would write his despatch to Lord Bathurst in London declaring victory. Later the Duke of Wellington said, “I hope to God I have fought my last battle…I am wretched even at the moment of victory, and I always say that next to a battle lost, the greatest misery is a battle gained.”
It was the first battle in which Napoleon faced Wellington, and for both men, indeed their last military battle. The Battle of Waterloo left 9,500 dead; 32,000 wounded.
This caricature expresses the views that Napoleon was principally to blame for the millions of dead in Europe during his years of power. He may have had sokme positive effects on French laws, but it is hard not to blame him for the dreadful number of casualties.
The Duke of Wellington showing the Prince Regent (later George IV) the battlefield of Waterloo by Benjamin Robert Haydon, c. 1844. Copyright: Stratfield Saye Preservation Trust. The Prince Regent had convinced himself he was present at the battle, and the Duke was often required to respond when George recalled his glorious participation. "So you say, Your Royal Highness," the Duke would have to reply.
On a sunny day last August, 2014, we had pre-booked tickets for a combined visit to the Royal Mews, the Queen's Gallery, and Buckingham Palace...that's about as Royal as it gets!
Above, the Gold State Coach, c. 1764; below l to r: The Irish State Coach, the Scottish State Coach, the Glass Coach
From the Mews, it is a short walk to the Queen's Gallery, where interesting exhibitions from the Royal Collection are always on show and open to the public. In this case, the subject was The First Georgians, marking the 300th anniversary of the House of Hanover ascending to the British Throne.
George I, King of Great Britain and Ireland, Elector of Hanover, came to London in 1714; he never learned to speak English. When he died in 17 he was succeeded by his son.
George II became King in 1727 and reigned until his death in 1760. He was succeeded by his grandson George III.
Crowds admire the paintings and objects from the Royal Collection dating from the time of the first two Georges. Next was the visit to Buckingham Palace. Of course no pictures were allowed inside.
Behind the Palace, many tents housed a huge tea room (most welcome indeed!) .and gift shops. Though we were not allowed to wander the gardens, we did follow the long path beside the wilderness and the lake to the exit. A wonderful, if exhausting, day.
I regret they do not allow pictures inside the Palace, but if you google Buckingham Palace interiors, you will find many views of the sumptuous rooms still similar to the styles favored by King George IV who was responsible for most of the remodeling of State Rooms in both the Palace and Windsor Castle.
The Battle of Waterloo was fought on June 18, 1815, the culmination of a short campaign by Napoleon into the Kingdom of the Netherlands to appose the Allied Army led by the Duke of Wellington and the Prussians, led by Marshal von Blucher. It ended in a rout of the French, as they fled south to cross back into France, pursued by the Prussians and the Allies. Although Wellington considered the battle a complete victory, neither the British nor the Prussians knew how long it would take to completely end the French threats to the peace established in 1814 when Napoleon was originally sent to exile on Elba.
Above left, painting in the Palace of Westminster by Daniel Maclise, the Meeting of Wellington and Blucher at La Belle Alliance, after the battle; right, the Battlefield by J.M.W.Turner. Below left, The Morning After the Battle, by John Heaviside Clark; right, Presenting the Eagles to the Prince Regent
Above left, French eagle, as it appeared at the top of captured battle flags. Right. jacket worn by Henry Percy. bloodstained o the battlefield, when he delivered the despatch to London. Percy got a chaise to the port of Ostend and embarked on the brig HMS Peruvian. Some accounts tell of the becalmed ship and the completion of the voyage by rowing – the Captain James White RN and Percy, with several other sailors, taking the oars themselves. From their landing at Broadstairs, Kent, about 3 pm on June 21, Percy hurried to London, changing horses at Canterbury, Sittingbourne, and Rochester. At first he could not find Lord Bathurst or Prime Minister Lord Liverpool. But with the French Eagles of the 45th and 105th sticking out of the windows of the carriage, they soon attracted a crowd, following them and cheering. Eventually he found the officials and together they carried the news and the Eagles to #14 (or #16 in some accounts) St. James’s Square, the home of Mr. and Mrs. Boehm who were hosting a grand party for the Prince Regent and his brother the Duke of York, C-in-C of the Army. Below left,
the Boehm residence, St. James Square, today the East India United Service Club. Right, Henry Percy (1785-1825). Colonel Percy retired in 1821 and became a member of the House of Commons in 1823; however, he died only a year later, age 40.
Above left, the monument to British Officers who fell at Waterloo in the Evere Cemetery in Brussels. Right, a lasting remnant of the Battle of Waterloo: Waterloo Teeth, removed by scavengers from dead bodies on the battlefield and sold to dentists who advertised them to customers for decades as superior for replacement dental plates.
Photo credit: Visit Belgium © Alex Kouprianoff
June 18, 1815, the culmination of the Napoleonic Wars when the forces of the Anglo Allies and the Prussians under the Duke of Wellington and Field Marshal von Blucher triumphed over the French Grand Armee of Napoleon Bonaparte. Within weeks, Napoleon had abdicated and was shipped off to the remote South Atlantic island of St. Helena where he died six years later. The victorious armies of Wellington and Blucher occupied Paris, and the Bourbon King, Louis XVIII, was restored to his throne. The decisions of the Congress of Vienna, however reactionary one might now consider them, preserved a general peace in Europe, with a few exceptions, until the outbreak of another widespread conflict, WWI, in 1914.'
In honor of the Great Battle, a group of nine authors have compiled an anthology of romantic stories. Beaux, Ballrooms, and Battles is available as an e-book for $2.99 (click here) from all relevant platforms and from Amazon.com as a trade paperback for $14.99 (click here). Below, a description of my story, "Folie Bleue."
On the night of the 30th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, Aimée, Lady Prescott, reminisces about meeting her husband in Bruxelles on the eve of the fighting. She had avoided the dashing scarlet-clad British officers, but she could not resist the tempting smile and spellbinding charm of Captain Robert Prescott of the 16th Light Dragoons who— dangerously to Aimée— wore blue.
At the left, is an image of what my hero looks like. Actually, he is a member of the Blues and Royals on duty at Horse Guards in London, but as far as I am concerned, he is Robert Prescott. Dont you think he would appeal to any heroine worth writing about? Yum.
Here is a short except from my story:
“…Robert and I wandered off again, away from the discussions of unworthy royals. We headed across a little bridge to an island in the small lake. As we came off the bridge, the ground was wet and spongy. He placed his arm around my waist, and we continued in the marshy grass. His hand was warm and I wished he would never take it away. I hoped he would leave it there for—oh, the next hundred years?...
I looked back at our footprints in the dewy grass, set off by the sun glinting off our tracks. My shoes were soaked but their ruin was a small price to pay for the lasting image of our side-by-side steps. As I write about it, my heart is full. I can see it as if it had been this morning, not more than thirty years ago.”
However you observe the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo, be sure to remember all those lost in all our wars, and those who were left behind when their loved ones never returned. It's a sobering thought.
Somehow it seems humankind has a hard time learning its lessons, n'est ce pas? Adieu.
Victoria Hinshaw, Author