My kind of sign!!! Below mosaics from the National Gallery floor...worth a close view. Please click on the smaller photos to see a complete version.
Above, two of the "The Modern Virtues" mosaics laid in 1952 by Russian-born artist Boris Anrep (1885-1969), a member of the Bloomsbury group, in the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. 'Wonder' is, of course, Alice of Wonderland fame, and 'Defiance' is Sir Winston Churchill.
Above left, warning signs to tourists at the Shugborough Estate, and another, right, at Harewood where the international drought upset the ferry. Below, one of the many bucolic shots I took as we drove around the rural countryside from stately home to stately home.
Below, a unique umbrella stand. Whatever.
In the Peak District, Bakewell serves as an excellent base for exploring nearby -- and even distant -- stately homes. Below, our home away from home at the Rutland Arms and the local specialty, variously known as a Bakewell Tart or Bakewell pudding. All the versions we tried were delicious.
This was my second visit to the Rutland Arms in Bakewell and I found the hotel much updated and still charming. It is very close to Chatsworth, country estate of the Dukes of Devonshire, and Haddon Hall, which still belongs to a branch of the Rutland family. I had a cozy single room in the annex. Many photos and paintings of local luminaries and antique costumes adorned the walls.
Above, two photos of hotel windows into which are scratched names and dates which some think were done by Jane Austen herself. Most Austen scholars do not agree and point out there is no evidence at all that Miss Austen ever visited Derbyshire or saw Chatsworth, even though the estate is mentioned in Pride and Prejudice. Only if you greatly enlarge the photos can you see faint traces of the writing. Personally. I doubt Miss Austen would have scratched her name into window glass, and I wonder what she would have used if she tried. Nevertheless the legend reappears from time to time.
Above, the suite in which we gathered to watch the funeral and burial of Queen Elizabeth II. Below, left, the river Wye in Bakewell from the 14th Century bridge; right, All-Saints Church.
One afternoon we decided to ride around on the hop-on-hop-off bus and enjoy the changing skies from full sun to heavy clouds. Note the crowded streets as London filled up with those who came to pay their respects and experience the pageantry. The pictures are in no particular order, and please remember to click on them for full versions. Below, left, the Wellington Monument in Hyde Park, aka Statue of Achilles by sculptor Richard Westmacott cast from melted down cannons used in battle; right, Grand Trunk Railway Building in Cockspur Street. Please remember to click on the photos for full size versions.
Above, left, Theatre Royal Haymarket; right, The South Bank Lion made of Coade Stone, on the Westminster Bridge.
Below, left, Somerset House; right, The Wellington, a pub on the Strand.
Above, the Temple Bar Dragon in Fleet Street, marking the site of the old gates of the City of London, sculpted by Charles Bell Birch, 1880; right, almost past Prince Henry's Room, 17 Fleet Street, remnant of a Tudor Building that survived the Great Fire.
Below, left, looking east on Fleet Street; right, passing St. Paul's Cathedral.
Above, left, St. Paul's Cathedral facade; right, the Royal Exchange, from which a new monarch must be proclaimed.
Below, left, the Monument to the Great Fire of 1666; right, crossing the Thames looking toward Tower Bridge.
Above, left, crossing Tower Bridge; right, View from the bridge with the "Walkie Talkie" at the left, aka 20 Fenchurch Street, and the Tower of London on the river bank at the right.
Below, left, The Tower of London from the Tower Bridge; right, a view of the gardens now being cultivated in the former moat.
Above, left, the river looking across the London Eye; right, a closer view.
Below. left Big Ben atop The Elizabeth Tower; right, Boadicea and Her Daughters, a sculpture on the Victoria Embankment, showing the Celtic Warrior Queen who led an uprising against Roman rule in the first century AD.
Above, left, the Albert, a fine pub which has kept its Victorian charm, in Victoria Street; right, back to the Royal Exchange for a closer view of the equestrian statue of the first Duke of Wellington by Sir Francis Chantrey.
Below, left, sic transit Gloria. Right, I, II, or III?
Although we all were mourning the Queen, we put our sadness aside and enjoyed a wonderful luncheon at the home of Rictor Norton and David Allen. In Kristine's honor, they named it the Wellington Lunch, featuring Poulet Marengo and Glace Nesselrode.
Please click to enlarge the pictures and experience the fine collection of antiques as well as their gorgeous garden.
Though it was mid-September, the abundance was lovely.
We had a delightful time and thank everyone for the delicious meal and the sparkling conversation.
When we headed to London on September 6, 2022, we were looking forward to several upcoming events, but subsequent sad news changed everything. We first learned of the imminent death of Elizabeth II at a reception at Apsley House on the afternoon of September 8. Needless to say, all of us in attendance were plunged from one set of expectations for a conference on the Napoleonic Wars into wondering what would come next...where and when.
Apsley House, Number One London, is the Wellington Museum, the 1st Duke's residence for several decades and now repository of his collections of paintings and relics of his career as a military and political hero, administered by English Heritage.
Apsley House had mounted a small exhibition Wellington, Women, and Friendship in one room and a small lower level gallery. The exhibition closes soon. For many years those of us who study the period in general and the 1st Duke in particular have watched the varied opinions about his relationships with women, ranging from the unhappiness of his marriage to scandalous gossip about his many alleged affairs. This presentation apparently focused on his friendships.
Above, left, sketch of Kitty, Duchess of Wellington by Sir Thomas Lawrence, and right, a sketch of the very near-sighted Kitty at her easel. Please remember to click on the photos for larger versions. I had been looking forward to seeing the exhibition but the impact of the Queen's imminent demise meant that I hardly even noticed the exhibition. I looked at what it offered but I admit I didn't absorb it sufficiently.
The website describes the exhibition: "In the 170-years since his death, the Duke’s reputation as a great military strategist and statesman has tended to overshadow his reputation during his lifetime, which was that he was something of a ‘ladies’ man’. Through letters, portraits and much more, on loan from public and private collections, Wellington, Women and Friendship presents an intimate picture of a very public life; revealing Wellington's social circle, his marriage and how his friendships with women could sometimes provoke rumour and gossip."
The tale is well known of young Wellesley's 1793 proposal to Kitty Pakenham in Dublin, a proposal her family refused since Wellesley's prospects were not encouraging. He pursued his military career, and nine years later, after his successes in India, he apparently felt obligated to renew his suit, even though the two had not corresponded in all that time.
They were married in Dublin in 1806, had two sons, though they were often apart when he was fighting elsewhere. It was no secret in Britain that the marriage was a disappointment to him. Kitty was simply unsuited to make herself the kind of companion he desired.
Below, left, Georgiana Lennox; right, Niece Priscilla Wellesley-Pole, later Lady Burghersh, then Countess Westmorland.
Above, left, Harriet Arbuthnot; right. sketch of the Duke and Mrs. Arbuthnot strolling. It was also well known that Wellington enjoyed the company of many women with whom he could talk, clever women whose conversations brought him great pleasure. Both before and after Kitty's death in 1831, his name was associated with numerous ladies, some of whom boasted shamelessly about their relationship. We shall never know how to sort the truth from the fiction perhaps, but we know he was very helpful to many women as they struggled with legalities and other delicate situations in their often circumscribed lives. Below, paintings in Apsley House of friends.
Pictured in the top row above, from the left. Isabella Freese; Lady Charlotte Greville; Mary, Marchioness Salisbury; Charles Arbuhnot. Lower row, Frances Gascoyne Cecil, Lady Salisbury; the first duke; Marianne Caton Patterson, Lady Wellesley; and Harriet Arbuthnot. Although I looked at the exhibition, my mind was elsewhere and either no photos were allowed or I simply never took any. Below, left Marianne again, and Angela Burdett-Coutts, of the London banking family. At age 33 in 1847, she is said to have proposed marriage to the duke, then aged 78, which he declined due to the vast difference in their ages. Before she died in 1906, she is said to have given more than £ three million to charitable causes.
Based on what I could recall as well as on published reviews, the exhibition did not deal with the more salacious stories about the duke and his alleged amours. Above, left, the courtesan Harriette Wilson, who supposedly threatened to publish her memoir of their relationship unless he compensated her, to which the duke is reported to have responded, "Publish and be damned." Above, right is Giuseppina Grassini, famed opera star in both Paris and London who supposedly compared her affairs with both Napoleon and Wellington, finding the latter superior. Below, left, Frances, Lady Salisbury, whose family was close to the duke; right, Caroline Lamb, who claimed an affair with the duke as well as others, including Lord Byron.
Above, left, Sarah Sophia, Lady Jersey; right, Madame Germaine de Stael.
These ladies undoubtedly enjoyed attention from the duke, and there were many others not included in the exhibition, at least the parts I saw. The nature of his attentions will have to be left to either future discovery or your imagination.
Back to the exhibition: Below left, Anne Wellesley, Countess of Mornington (1741-1831), mother of Arthur Wellesley and his five siblings, as painted by his niece Priscilla; right, 1st Duke of Wellington and his daughter-in-law, Elizabeth, Lady Douro, of whom he was particularly fond, pictured c. 1844.
So soon after Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee, we were not prepared for the demise of the monarch we've known for seventy years, a lifetime. We (Kristine Hughes and I) met in London on September 7 to attend a conference on the Napoleonic Wars at the National Army Museum. At the opening reception on the afternoon of September 8, the din of conversation was silenced when everyone's phone chimed with one of two messages: The Royal Family had been called to Balmoral; the TV presenters at the BBC had gone into black suits.
Everyone knew the Queen was frail but she had met with a new British Prime Minister two days earlier, the fifteenth PM of her reign (#1 was Winston Churchill). Amid surprise and regret, our conference was cancelled (actually, postponed) and we all went our separate ways to await developments. Below, our hotel, Royal Horseguards (l) and (r) the WWII Royal Tank Regiment Memorial across Whitehall Place.
Above, the Embankment Gardens (l) between the hotel and the Embankment tube station and (r) the ever-changing floral displays in the lobby. Below, the rainbows shining at about the moment of the Queen's death on September 8.
We were in a restaurant in Whitehall when the definitive statement was broadcast, but the flag on Parliament was already at half-mast at the other end of the street. Below, Charles III addressed the nation the next day.
All over town we saw photos of the Queen in shop windows, notices of sorrow, and plenty of memorabilia.
Below, left, a statue of explorer Captain James Cook just outside the Old Admiralty on the Mall on September 9, as we walked toward Buckingham Palace with large crowds of people, many carrying bouquets.
The Mall was closed to traffic other than horses and military equipment moving toward the parks for memorial salutes. We left our flowers at the place gates, with hundreds more, eventually thousands.
A few days later, the Queen's coffin was brought to St. Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh, for a memorial service in Scotland.
Topped by the Crown of Scotland, the coffin was guarded by British soldiers and by King Charles III.
In the next few days, the neighborhood around our London hotel became a staging area for security coverage. Police and soldiers filled the streets.
The only access was on foot, as the bollards blocked off the streets and even taxis could not get to us.
At one point, as we left the hotel, Kristine asked a policemen if we could get back to the hotel later, and he answered, "Maybe."
Although we were close to various processions, we found it better to rely on the BBC television cameras for the best views.
After being flown back from Scotland, the Queen was returned to London and spent a final night at Buckingham Palace
The coffin was brought from the palace in procession down the Mall, across Horse Guards Parade, and along Whitehall to Westminster Hall, where the catafalque awaited.
The pall bearers carried the Queen's remains into the ancient Hall where she was to lie in state for several days, allowing tens of thousands to pay their respects.
As London filled up with world leaders and ordinary folks, the security tightened even more around our hotel. We were glad when we moved on to Derbyshire to explore five country houses, though we set aside the day of the funeral to watch together on television where we would see much more than if we stayed on the streets of the capital city.
Starting a sequence of Victoria's Vibes posts on my September 2022 in England...
On September 8, 2022, unaware of the tumultuous events about to unfold in London, Kristine and I decided to visit the National Gallery, on the left above, across Trafalgar Square. We would head to Apsley House for a reception later, but we took the opportunity to browse again among some of Britain's treasured paintings from the late 18th and early 19th centuries
The galleries were full of people, many of them young and vigorous. We went first to the wonderful 1762 painting by George Stubbs (1724-1806) of Whistlejacket, the championship racehorse owned by the 2nd Marquess of Rockingham. Originally, it hung in his former home, Wentworth Woodhouse, in Yorkshire, but it came to the nation in 1997. The house (below, left), now managed by a trust, exhibits a copy (below, right), which we saw in 2017. Please click on the thumbnail pictures for larger versions.
In the tradition of royal portraiture, Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830) painted Queen Charlotte in 1787, on the left above. Perhaps less elegant was his 1804 canvas of Caroline Amelia Elizabeth of Brunswick, right, estranged wife of the Prince Regent, later George IV.
Below left, The Morning Walk by Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788), his 1785 portrait of Mr. and Mrs. William Hallett; right, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Coltman, 1770-72, by Joseph Wright of Derby (1734-1797).
Above, left, the Milbanke & Melbourne Families, 1765, by George Stubbs (1724-1806); right, Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792) painted Lady Cockburn and her Three Eldest Sons, in 1773.
Below, left, Canaletto (1697-1760) portrayed Eton College c. 1754; right, The Hay Wain, 1821 by John Constable (1776-1837).
Above left, Sir Thomas Lawrence painted The Red Boy,1825, Charles William Lambton; right, Sarah Siddons, 1785, by Thomas Gainsborough.
Below, Joseph Mallord William Turner's (1775-1851) Dutch Boats in a Gale, also known as The Bridgewater Sea Piece, 1801, on the left. Right, The Fighting Temeraire Tugged to her last Berth to be broken up, 1838-39. The painting shows the famous warship which did heroic service in the British Navy particularly in the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar, and has been named the favorite painting of the British people.
Turner's Rain, Steam & Speed--The Great Western Railway, 1844, above left, shows his atmospheric best. Right, peering into another gallery.
These paintings are among the treasures of British art, including most of the major figures working in "our" era, the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The National Gallery exhibits hundreds more outstanding works in its many galleries, but these were the gems to which we wanted to briefly pay our respects.
Off we went to Apsley House for the reception, covered in the next post.
Soon after this is posted, I will be on my way to London again, trying to catch up on all that lost pandemic time I missed. This post will finish off our trip back to Blighty after two years...arriving in March 2022 via Cunard's Queen Mary 2 and leaving from LHR on Delta. Which travel method did I prefer???
You have to ask?
Below, A visit to Portobello Market, Sunday Roast with Kristine, Rictor, David, and Beth. Middle, Albert Memorial in the haze, Roast Lamb at Wilton's, and a few guys who obviously have no idea what the subject of the Statue would have thought of their outfits.
Which of the many places we visited in March and April will be haunt again in September? Let me count the ways... Hatchards, F&M, Wiltons, plus lots more. Stay tuned.
The Lanesborough Hotel in London is an historic building, repurposed more than once. Originally built as a country house by James Lane, 2nd Viscount Lanesborough (1649-1724), in 1719, it was then on the outskirts of London. In 1733, it was converted into St. George's Hospital. Rebuilt in 1827 by architect William Wilkins (also designer of London's National Gallery) in the Neo-classic style, it served as a hospital until 1980 when St. George's moved to larger premises.
The hotel claims to have undergone a £100 million, four-year renovation to convert it to a luxury hotel opening in 1990. Further remodeling was completed in 2015 when it changed hands again, now managed by Oetker Collection Masterpiece hotels. According to Google, it is owned by the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. It stands at Hyde Park Corner, across from Apsley House, The Wellington Museum. Just think when the 1st Duke was in residence, there must have been quite a bustle around St George's Hospital, nothing like today's elegant edifice.
Above, the Great Hall, at the original entrance of the building. It has been decorated in trompe l'oeil draperies, cleverly appearing to be a tent. Right, looking out at the statue of the 1st Duke of Wellington and the Wellington Arch. Right, ceiling of the neo-classic Drawing Room.
Above, views of the Drawing Room, perfect for a tea party. Below, exterior of the original main entrance, now closed in favor of a more convenient doorway with parking facilities. So much for a grand impression??
We very much appreciated the courtesy and assistance of the Lanesborough staff. They showed us around and were happy to talk about the history of the building.
Next: A Day at the Victoria and Albert Museum
No matter how many times I visit, the V&A always has a new exhibition or installation to tickle my fancy. Last March there were three...stunning examples from Faberge, at which no photos were allowed; Beatrix Potter, always a favorite; and Fashioning Masculinity, exploring creativity in men's fashions.
The exhibition turned out to be fascinating and fun. As the Tatler magazine wrote, "This exhibition is an active investigation into the way men dress and the very idea of masculinity itself." Below, left, Apollo Belvedere, a cast of the ancient Greek statue in the first section, Undressed; on the right, beginning the clothing for a man of the 18th century.
Above left, in the second section, Overdressed, see some of the favorite adornments in the 17th century such as lacey collars; right, Laceing a Dandy, a popular and anonymous caricature of an overdressed fellow achieving his wasp waist, 1819. Below, left, portrait of Richard Milles by Pompeo Batoni in the 1760's; Right, Elegant satin garb from the 17th to the 21st centuries.
Above left, Hessian boots, breeches, and black coat as worn by a Regency blade; right, W. Graham Robertson in a grey overcoat by John Singer Sargent, who portrayed the artist Robertson as a London dandy, 1894; Below Left, Fuchsia-lined cloak and flower-embellished suit for Billy Porter by Designer Randy Rahm, making a political statement at the 2019 Golden Globes; right, Billy Porter on the Oscars red carpet in 2019 wearing a Christian Siriano tuxedo gown. These contemporary examples mirror the exhibition's goal of investigating gender roles and fluidity in the third section, Redressed..
Above, left; Gown worn by drag-queen Bimini on Ru Paul's Drag Race; right, Portrait of Charles Coote, 1st Earl of Bellamont,1773-74, by Sir Joshua Reynolds in the section Overdressed. Below, luncheon in the Member's Room.
Above, could there be a more startling contrast to the men's fashions than Ms. Potter's adorable drawings? On the right, my all time favorite, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle. Below left, from The Tale of Benjamin Bunny; right, from The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck.
Too much temptation in the V&A's gift shops. Good thing I didn't have a smidgen of space in my luggage. As we returned to Notting Hill, we gave a wave to Royal Albert Hall. Saving that for next time??
Victoria Hinshaw, Author