NEW SERIES: THE SECRET LIVES OF ICONIC LONDONERS
The perfect way to travel the UK
a royal weekend in London
Sign language The hidden meaning of pub names
Fit for a Queen
Windsor Castle celebrates our sovereign’s 90th birthday
Daphne du Maurier’s Cornwall
Pirates, shipwrecks and smugglers’ dens
Jewel in the crown
Why the Cotswolds are a royal treasure
Two towns in one city
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WELCOME TO A VERY ROYAL issue
of Discover Britain. In celebration of the Queen’s 90th this summer we visit not one but three of her royal residences: Buckingham Palace (p56), Windsor Castle (p18) and the Palace of Holyroodhouse (p8). We even pay a trip to Royal Greenwich, where the Queen’s House (p68) opens its doors later this year after a huge refurbishment project. What we hadn’t realised before putting together this issue is how the stories of other monarchs would recur in the history of these different buildings. For example, Charles II, who redeveloped Greenwich after the English Civil War, moved to Windsor Castle, a safer fortress, to implement changes there as well, so a visit to one of these historic sites informs the other. George IV’s name is another that crops up a lot – playing, as he did, such a crucial role in making Buckingham Palace what it is today, as well as bringing his lavish tastes to the State Apartments of Windsor Castle. As with so much of British history, these iconic sites are not isolated buildings but contain stories that feed into each other: a good reason to visit them all. But we have simpler pleasures in this issue too – from the rich history of Britain’s quirky pub signs (p37) to our new series on the secret lives of London’s unsung heroes, such as our blackcab driver, Paul Kirby (p75). And to mark the arrival of summer, we visit the beautiful Cornish landscape of Daphne du Maurier (p28), the unspoilt rural charm of the Cotswolds (p82) and get our diaries out for the highlights of the Season (p44). NICOLA RAYNER Interim Editor
Page 8 Edinburgh Castle overlooks the city’s contrasting medieval Old Town and Georgian New Town
A TALE OF TWO CITIES
Diana Wright explores the contrast between Edinburgh’s Old Town and New Town
Win a royal weekend in London, including tickets to Buckingham Palace and a night in a five-star hotel
’TIS THE SEASON
A VERY ROYAL RESIDENCE
As the Queen celebrates turning 90, Alice Rush visits her weekend home, Windsor Castle
Page 28 Readymoney in Cornwall
On a summer tour of Britain, Brenda Cook explores hidden gems and secret traditions and asks… did you know?
We tour the pretty Cornish coast that inspired novelist Daphne du Maurier’s work
SIGNS OF THE TIMES
Nicola Rayner discovers the delightful history of the pub sign
DREAMING OF MANDERLEY
37 On the cover: Windsor Castle, Windsor: Travel Pictures Ltd
From husband-hunting to spotting the royals, Nancy Alsop finds out how the Season developed
Page 44 The Queen at Royal Ascot
Marianka Swain delights in the charms of Gloucestershire
Contents DISCOVER LONDON
Discover Britain is published by The Chelsea Magazine Company Ltd, Jubilee House, 2 Jubilee Place, London SW3 3TQ Tel: 020 7349 3700 Fax: 020 7901 3701 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Interim Editor Nicola Rayner Art Editor Clare White Sub Editor Sally Hales
ON THE TOWN
Theatres, museums, shows
Group Advertisement Manager Natasha Syed Senior Sales Executive Terri Weyers Sales Executives James Davis, Daniela Rizzo
Alexander Larman visits Buckingham Palace State Rooms
MANAGEMENT Managing Director Paul Dobson Deputy Managing Director Steve Ross Commercial Director Vicki Gavin Publisher Camilla Akers-Douglas Digital Marketing Manager James Dobson Circulation Manager William Delmont Brand Manager Chatty Dobson
WITHIN THESE WALLS
We uncover the history of London’s blue plaques scheme
ONLINE Digital Product Manager Oliver Morley-Norris Digital Executive Scarlett Lill Digital Assistant Megan Wrafter
A first look at the refurbished Queen’s House in Greenwich
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A cabbie gives Marianka Swain an insider’s view of the city
MADE IN BRITAIN
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Page 56 Buckingham Palace’s famous Grand Staircase
Page 75 Black-cab driver Paul Kirby tells us about his London
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Discover Britain (ISSN 0950-5245, USPS 000-135 Digital ISSN 2397-7108) is published bi-monthly by The Chelsea Magazine Company, LTD., Jubilee House, 2 Jubilee Place, London SW3 3TQ, UK. Distributed in the US by Circulation Specialists LLC, 2 Corporate Drive, Suite 945, Shelton, CT 06484. Periodicals postage paid at Shelton, CT and other offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Discover Britain, PO BOX 37518, Boone, IA 50037-0518. News distribution Australia and New Zealand: Seymour 2 East Poultry Avenue, London EC1A 9PT, England, UK Tel: +44 20 7429 4000
© The Chelsea Magazine Company Ltd 2016. All rights reserved. Text and pictures are copyright restricted and must not be reproduced without permission of the publishers The information contained in Discover Britain has been published in good faith and every effort has been made to ensure its accuracy. However, where appropriate, you are strongly advised to check prices, opening times, dates, etc, before making final arrangements. All liability for loss, disappointment, negligence or damage caused by reliance on the information contained within this publication is hereby excluded. The opinions expressed by contributors to Discover Britain are not necessarily those of the publisher.
Page 68 The Queen’s House is due to reopen after renovations
THE ROYAL COLLECTION © HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH II 2016/ARNHEL DE SERRA/NATIONAL MARITIME MUSEUM/KENNY HICKEY
FIT FOR A QUEEN
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We’re social, join us on
Sally Hales tours Britain to bring you the latest travel news
A NIGHT ON THE TILES A rare medieval tiled floor at Cleeve Abbey in Somerset – one of the most spectacular in Europe – has gone on permanent display. Dating from the 13th century, the tiles, which are inlaid with heraldic motifs, were buried and forgotten for centuries after the monks built a new dining room. Still in its original position, the old refectory pavement is the only large-scale example of a decorated monastic refectory floor still in existence in Britain. Thanks to conservation work by English Heritage, an oak shelter now covers the medieval pavement and offers seating and viewing platforms. www.english-heritage.co.uk
SHAKESPEARE IN SCOTLAND It’s like something from a detective story: as Britain marks 400 years since Shakespeare’s death, a previously unknown copy of the First Folio has been discovered, authenticated and put on display on a Scottish island. The three-volume work was found in a collection at stately home Mount Stuart on the Isle of Bute, in the Firth of Clyde. The find is extremely significant. Printed in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare’s death, it is one of the rarest and most sought-after books in the world and is worth millions of pounds. There are around 230 known copies of the First Folio, which brought together 36 of the Bard’s plays and is credited with ensuring the playwright’s legacy. The First Folio will be on display at Mount Stuart until 30 October. www.mountstuart.com
News WHO ARE THE CELTS? The image of a Celtic heritage across ancient Europe retains a powerful hold on the popular imagination, yet ideas about historic Celts are, in fact, more recent re-imaginings, reinvented over the centuries. Now, a major exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh tells the story of the different peoples who have used, or been given, the name “Celts” through the stunning art objects that they made. Running until 25 September, Celts: Art and Identity spans more than 2,500 years and features intricately decorated jewellery (top left), objects of religious devotion and decorative arts of the late 19th century to explore the nature of Celtic culture and examine the similarities and difference between Celtic races. Among the exhibition’s highlights will be the stunning Iron Age Gundestrup Cauldron (right), a silver bowl with relief scenes of gods, warriors, a bull sacrifice and an antler god surrounded by beasts. www.nms.ac.uk
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IT’S A FAMILY AFFAIR
Renishaw Hall in rugged north Derbyshire has been the home of the Sitwell family for 400 years. Generations of the famous family have been avid collectors and patrons of the arts, writers, innovators and eccentrics – including poet and critic Edith – making the hall a truly fascinating place to explore. New specialist tours bring the family history to life, while a visit to the award-winning Italianate gardens – laid out in the late 19th century by Sir George Sitwell – is a must. The hall offers expert garden tours, with a specialist plant fair and a food and craft fair in August. www.renishaw-hall.co.uk
POTTER OFF TO CUMBRIA This July marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of much-loved children’s author Beatrix Potter. To celebrate her life and work, a wonderful new exhibition has been put together at the Beatrix Potter Gallery and Hawkshead, in the writer’s beloved Cumbria. Realism and Romance, which runs until 30 October, explores Beatrix’s love of nature and the lifelong inspiration she found in the natural world with new pieces on display from the gallery’s collection of original artwork. Highlights include original illustrations from classics such as The Tale of Jemima Puddleduck, some of Beatrix’s sketchbooks and excerpts from her coded journal. www.nationaltrust.org.uk
A Tale of Two Cities The world flocks to Edinburghâ€™s Old Town in August for its festivals but, as Diana Wright discovers, the cityâ€™s New Town offers an elegant contrast
he author and adventurer Daniel Defoe, writing in 1724, declared Edinburgh’s Royal Mile “the largest, longest and finest street for Buildings and Number of Inhabitants... in the World.” Visitors flocking here today, notably in August for Edinburgh International Festival and its irrepressible sibling, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, no doubt get that same feeling of cultural bustle. Threading through the heart of the medieval Old Town, from the imposing castle in the west to the Palace of Holyroodhouse in the east, the famous thoroughfare links many of the city’s historic sights. St Giles’ Cathedral, museums, shops, pubs and restaurants are all eminently walkable. Yet Edinburgh’s is a tale of two cities: the Old Town to the south of Princes Street Gardens, where a short step from the Royal Mile’s august landmarks, curious wynds (lanes) and closes (alleys) whisper of ghosts, villains and mysteries. To the north, the New Town – conceived 250 years ago – is a picture of Georgian elegance. World Heritage status, conferred on Scotland’s capital in 1995, acknowledged this remarkable marriage of contrasts.
Clockwise from above: Edinburgh Castle; the Palace of Holyroodhouse; Mary, Queen of Scots Previous page: A winding Old Town alleyway; the beautiful buildings of the New Town
The key to Edinburgh’s early development can be found in its castle, strategically dominating the landscape from atop a volcanic rock. Diverse buildings dating from the 12th to the 20th centuries reflect its changing role as fortress, royal palace, military garrison and state prison. It’s here in the magnificent medieval hammerbeam-roofed Great Hall that the Scottish Parliament once met; here in the palace in 1566 that Mary, Queen of Scots, gave birth to the son who would unite the crowns of Scotland and England as James VI/I. At the opposite end of the Royal Mile, in more secluded comfort than the draughty castle, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, known today as HM The Queen’s official residence in Scotland, opens a door to the changing tastes of successive monarchs: tours of the State Apartments reveal fine plasterwork ceilings, paintings and tapestries. By the 17th century, the busy city that had spread along the Royal Mile below the castle was bursting at the seams. Confined by a city wall, buildings could only grow taller – and they did, giving rise to typically lofty, narrow tenements ➤
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MAP ILLUSTRATION: LISA HELLIER
such as six-storey Gladstone’s Land. Step inside to sample the lifestyle of merchant Thomas Gledstanes who, as the decor of his striking Painted Chamber shows, was clearly prospering. But even here, on the tightly winding staircases and in the tiny rooms Gledstanes rented out, you sense growing overcrowding. A little further along the Royal Mile the seething squalor of the poor – uncomfortably close to Gledstanes and his ilk – comes to life in the underground warren of passageways and spaces of the Real Mary King’s Close. Buried beneath later building, the close – and others like it – were open to the skies in the 1600s. But life was grim, as retold by costumed guides based on real former residents such as “foul clenger” Walter who cleaned houses affected by the plague. You will hear of widow Mary King, who traded in fabrics, about cramped living, cholera and murder, about plague victims quarantined and left to their fate. Amid the spooky cold stone shells of houses maybe you’ll even feel the tug of a child’s hand on your coat: the ghost of little Annie, abandoned to the plague and searching for her lost doll. Relief from all this congestion came thanks to the vision of George Drummond, Edinburgh’s Lord Provost (equivalent to mayor) from 1725, who began plans for the expansion of the city. In 1766 an unknown, 22-year-old architect, James Craig, won a public competition with his gridiron design for a new residential area on farmland to ➤ the north of the Old Town.
Above: Tall Old Town tenements hint at the historic overcrowding Left: Real Mary King’s Close tells of the squalid life of the city’s poor
And so began the building of the neoclassical masterpiece, New Town, with its broad, straight streets and handsome squares, circuses, terraces, sweeping crescents and parks. While Princes Street was built up on only one side – leaving views open to the Old Town – and the grandiose buildings and monuments of Calton Hill helped to earn Edinburgh the nickname of the “Athens of the North”, Charlotte Square, masterminded by Robert Adam, provided lavish townhouses much coveted by merchants escaping the Old Town. At No 7 Charlotte Square, built in 1796 for John Lamont, 18th Chief of the Clan Lamont, you can get a flavour of the refined lifestyle of the well-to-do. Filled with period furniture, porcelain, silver and glass, it’s a world of delicate green and sombre-coloured rooms so ➤
DISCOVER EDINBURGH Visit The Palace of Holyroodhouse (www. royalcollection.org.uk) and Edinburgh Castle (www.edinburghcastle.gov.uk) with the Scottish Crown Jewels are a must-see for royal history. Then, also in the Old Town, explore the contrasting lives of ordinary folk at the People’s Story Museum (www.edinburghmuseums.org.uk), and of literary giants Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson at the Writers’ Museum (www.edinburghmuseums.org.uk). In the New Town, the Scott Monument (www. edinburghmuseums.org.uk) commemorating Sir Walter provides superb views over the city.
The big date on the cultural calendar, this year from 5-29 August, is Edinburgh International Festival (www.eif.co.uk), where the giants of the arts have performed since 1947, with the famous Edinburgh Festival Fringe events (www.edfringe. com) forming the world’s largest performing arts extravaganza (right) during the same month. Eat and drink For gourmet tea and coffee, homemade shepherd’s pie and maybe literary inspiration, sample the Elephant House (www. elephanthouse.biz) on George IV Bridge, where Harry Potter novelist JK Rowling sat writing, or luxuriate over
Left: The New Town’s sweeping crescents contrast with the tightly packed Old Town buildings This page: The Royal Scottish Academy, founded in 1826, with the Old Town rising up behind
afternoon scones in the Georgian elegance of the Roxburghe Hotel (www.theroxburghe.com), Charlotte Square. Haggis, neeps and tatties are on the menu in the opulent Dome (www.thedomeedinburgh.com), George Street, while Angus beef steak tartare at the magical Witchery (right) by the Castle (www.thewitchery.com) has entered into legend. Sleep With a clock tower, Michelin-starred restaurant, spa and bedrooms designed by Olga Polizzi, the five-star Balmoral (www.roccofortehotels. com) in Princes Street has hosted everyone from Elizabeth Taylor to Sir Paul McCartney. For a boutique
experience, try Nira Caledonia (www. niracaledonia.com), which is in a Grade A-listed New Town building and effortlessly blends Bohemian chic with contemporary comfort. For a touch of Old Town heritage, holiday at Gladstone’s Land (www.nts.org.uk/ Holidays/Accommodation), which has three cosy self-catering apartments. Travel Train journeys from London’s King’s Cross Station to Waverley Station take from around four hours and 20 mins. UK and international flights arrive at Edinburgh Airport, five miles west of the city (www.thisisedinburgh.com). For more on Edinburgh, see www.discoverbritainmag.com
Left: The New Town’s sweeping crescents contrast with the tightly packed Old Town buildings This page: The Royal Scottish Academy, founded in 1826, with the Old Town rising up behind
afternoon scones in the Georgian elegance of the Roxburghe Hotel (www.theroxburghe.com), Charlotte Square. Haggis, neeps and tatties are on the menu in the opulent Dome (www.thedomeedinburgh.com), George Street, while Angus beef steak tartare at the magical Witchery (right) by the Castle (www.thewitchery.com) has entered into legend. Sleep With a clock tower, Michelin-starred restaurant, spa and bedrooms designed by Olga Polizzi, the five-star Balmoral (www.roccofortehotels. com) in Princes Street has hosted everyone from Elizabeth Taylor to Sir Paul McCartney. For a boutique
experience, try Nira Caledonia (www. niracaledonia.com), which is in a Grade A-listed New Town building and effortlessly blends Bohemian chic with contemporary comfort. For a touch of Old Town heritage, holiday at Gladstone’s Land (www.nts.org.uk/ Holidays/Accommodation), which has three cosy self-catering apartments. Travel Train journeys from London’s King’s Cross Station to Waverley Station take from around four hours and 20 mins. UK and international flights arrive at Edinburgh Airport, five miles west of the city (www.thisisedinburgh.com). For more on Edinburgh, see www.discoverbritainmag.com
popular at the time. If you imagine yourself lording it in the splendid drawing and dining rooms, pandered to by servants beavering in kitchen and scullery, take heed: John’s extravagant lifestyle forced him to sell the house in 1815, although it was subsequently snapped up by a series of wealthy citizens. Contemporary New Town residents would have included Edinburgh native Sir Walter Scott, who wrote fondly of “mine own Romantic town”. Meanwhile, “Auld Reekie” (Old Smokey, the Old Town) grew seedier, producing such infamous villains as Deacon Brodie, respectable cabinet-maker by day, burglar by night. Another Edinburgh native, Robert Louis Stevenson, found plenty of atmosphere to pour into his “shilling shocker”, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, in 1886: despite its nominal London setting, an allegory of the Old Town’s dual personality of prosperity and squalor. Today, of course, the Old Town has regained its panache and hundreds of years of visible history along the Royal Mile have a new landmark: Enric Miralles’ dramatic buildings for the Scottish Parliament, re-established in 1999 almost three centuries after its abolition following the Act of Union with England in 1707. In this city of contrasting tales you would expect no less a thrilling neighbour for the nearby Palace of Holyroodhouse. n
Above: The view from Calton Hill reveals Edinburgh’s varied architecture Right: Edinburgh’s dual character may have inspired native son Robert Louis Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde
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A VERY ROYAL RESIDENCE As the Queen celebrates her 90th birthday this summer, Alice Rush visits her weekend home at Windsor Castle and treads in the footsteps of some of its most famous royal inhabitants
Previous page: Windsor Castle with the Royal Standard flying from the Round Tower Clockwise from right: The King’s Drawing Room; the Queen attending the Garter Ceremony procession to St George’s Chapel; Windsor Castle towering above the Thames
For more of the Queen’s favourite places, visit www. discoverbritainmag.com
he most Romantique castle that is in the world,” according to Samuel Pepys, Windsor Castle looks precisely as a fairytale fortress should, most notably for its famous Round Tower. Standing a proud 40 metres above the town below, the central tower answers the question most commonly asked by visitors: is the Queen in? When the Royal Standard flies from the 15-metre flagpole, the answer is yes; when the Union Flag is up, the castle’s most famous resident is elsewhere. Windsor is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. It has been the home of no less than 39 monarchs since its foundation by William the Conqueror at the end of the 11th century. Today, on entering the site, which is open to the public all year except on special occasions, one has the sense of a living, breathing place, closer to a fortified town than the residence of a single family – in fact, more than 160 people live within the precincts of the castle and over 200 people work there – more at Easter and in June when the court relocates to Windsor. Occupying 10.5 hectares, or more than 268 tennis courts, the castle towers above the small town below. Its defensive position in the Thames valley, above the river, makes it clear why William the Conqueror chose the spot. At the time, Windsor was one in a ring of castles constructed by the conquering king around London. Built to secure the western approach to the capital, Windsor’s proximity to town and its rich hunting forest (of which Windsor Great Park is the surviving segment) later recommended it as a royal residence too: King Henry I had domestic quarters in the castle as early as 1110. Norman beginnings Typical of a Norman castle, Windsor features a motte – the artificial earth mound that supports the keep, the Round Tower – and, unusually, not one but two baileys, or fenced yards, known today as the Upper and Lower Wards. The latter is the most “public” of the precincts,
VISITENGLAND/DOUG HARDING/THE ROYAL COLLECTION © HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH II 2016/PETER SMITH/DPA PICTURE ALLIANCE ARCHIVE/ALAMY/ISTOCK/JEREMY VOISEY
“For Charles II, Windsor was significant as the burial place of his father... The castle’s restoration, as well as that of the Garter, was symbolic”
where visitors can watch the Changing of the Guard or explore St George’s Chapel, while the Upper Ward is home to 951 rooms, including the State Apartments, which have been open to the public since the 1840s and are crammed with some of the Royal Collection’s finest treasures. The third of the three wards – what is known as the Middle Ward – is focused around the motte. The original Norman castle was built out of wood, but in the late 12th century King Henry II began to replace the outer fortifications in stone. Nor was he the last, by a long shot, to make his mark. Windsor Castle bears traces of the many monarchs who have lived within its walls over the last 1,000 years – from Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, designed with electricity and running water by architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, to King Henry VIII’s armour
on display in the Lantern Lobby, on the site of the former private chapel where the catastrophic fire of 1992 began, there are treasures and stories in every corner. One sovereign’s name comes up more than most, however: that of the warrior King Edward III, best known for his lengthy campaigns in France during the Hundred Years War. Edward spent £50,000 transforming Windsor from a military fortification to a Gothic palace. In 1348, he also founded, on his victorious return after the Battle of Crécy, what is now one of the oldest and most important orders of chivalry in the world – the Order of the Garter – comprising the sovereign, Prince of Wales and 24 Knights Companion. The cross of St George, the patron saint of the Order, with the garter around it can be spotted in many places ➤
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“One of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in England, St George’s Chapel houses the tombs of ten sovereigns”
throughout Windsor Castle – from the Jubilee Gardens, one of the castle’s more recent additions in 2002, to paintings in the Garter Throne Room, where the formal ceremony for creating new knights begins on Garter Day in June, or the ceiling of St George’s Chapel, the spiritual home of the Order of the Garter. St George’s Chapel Edward III’s great-grandson, King Edward IV, began work in 1475 on the current chapel, which was finished by Henry VIII. As they enter, schoolchildren are told to look out for “the biggest sword you’ll ever see” and the promise is fulfilled in the south, or “pilgrimage”, aisle of the chapel where Edward III’s sword, two metres in length, hangs next to a painting of the ageing king with the same long weapon encircled by two crowns, which are said to represent Scotland and France (at one time he held the kings of Scotland and France captive). One of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in England, the chapel is famous for its magnificent stone fan vaulting and houses the tombs of ten sovereigns, including Henry VIII and his third and favourite wife, Jane Seymour, who died shortly after giving birth to the future
Edward VI. King Charles I was laid to rest at the chapel too after spending his last and what one imagines must have been a singularly unhappy Christmas at the castle as a prisoner before his execution on 30 January 1649. The Quire at St George’s Chapel is like nothing you will see elsewhere. In his creation of the Order of the Garter, Edward III was said to have been inspired by the legends of King Arthur and that influence can be seen in the banners of the current Knights of the Garter hanging above the Quire seats, with heraldic helms, or helmets, and half-drawn swords indicating that the knights are ready to defend their monarch. When a knight dies, the banner comes down but small brass stallplates record their presence – the earliest at Windsor goes back to 1390. Yet, despite its pomp and pageantry, there are reminders that St George’s is not a museum piece, but a family chapel too: King George VI and the Queen Mother are interred in a memorial chapel off the north Quire aisle, 50 years separating the deaths of husband and wife. Another sight that lingers in the memory is Matthew Wyatt’s poignant marble memorial to King George IV’s daughter, Princess Charlotte, who died giving birth to a ➤ stillborn child in 1817 at just 21.
Above left: The King’s Bedchamber Above right: Queen Victoria and Prince Albert at a service in St George’s Chapel with the banners of the Knights of the Garter above them
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Xxx Left: The Long Walk, to the south of Windsor Castle, started by Charles II Bottom: This crinoline evening gown, designed by Sir Norman Hartnell, was worn by the Queen in 1957 during her visit to the US
NINETY YEARS OF STYLE To celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday, three special exhibitions will be staged across each of her official residences during 2016. Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from The Queen’s Wardrobe – the largest collective display of the Queen’s dress ever mounted – runs at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh until 16 October, with the second and largest exhibition opening for the summer in the State Rooms of Buckingham Palace from 23 July to 2 October and the third running at Windsor Castle from 17 September 2016 to 8 January 2017. At Windsor, magnificent evening gowns and elegant daywear worn at official events will contrast with fancy dress costumes worn by the young Princess Elizabeth for wartime pantomimes at the castle. www. royalcollection.org.uk
A tale of two kings The presence of two kings, in particular, is keenly felt in the State Apartments: King Charles II and George IV. For Charles II, Windsor was significant as the burial place of his father. The castle had been used by Oliver Cromwell as headquarters in the Civil War, as well as a prison for captured Royalist officers. The castle’s restoration, as well as that of the full ceremonial of the Garter, was symbolic of the Restoration of the monarchy itself. Appointing, in 1673, the gentleman-architect Hugh May, with whom he had been in exile in Holland, Charles determined to rival the achievements of his cousin, Louis XIV, at Versailles in France. Windsor’s interiors were to be transformed into the grandest baroque State Apartments in England, with carvings by Grinling Gibbons and painted ceilings by Antonio Verrio glorifying the restored dynasty. Charles II emulated his French cousin in other ways too, using his bedchamber for the formal ceremonies of levée and couchée – rising and going to bed attended by members of the court – rather than as his actual bedroom. The Long Walk, an avenue of elm trees stretching four kilometres south of the castle that was planted in 1680, also resembles the landscaping at Versailles. Another king who liked things to look impressive was George IV, the monarch who transformed Buckingham House to the palace it is today. The king and his artistic advisor, Sir Charles Long, determined that Windsor’s exterior should be as “castle-like” as possible, heightened the Round Tower and added other towers and battlements. With his architect Sir Jeffry Wyatville, George IV also gave the State Apartments on the north side a grand new entrance and staircase, with two huge new spaces: the colossal Waterloo Chamber, celebrating the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1815 and displaying Sir Thomas Lawrence’s lively portraits, and an extended St George’s Hall, where the Queen holds state banquets today. George IV’s improvements might have cost him almost £300,000, but they resulted in “the most strikingly beautiful thing you can conceive”, according to a visiting Lady Dover. Throughout the ages – and many memorable monarchs – Windsor Castle has never lost its power to dazzle. n
VISITENGLAND/DOUG HARDING/ROYAL COLLECTION TRUST/© HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH II 2016
In the State Apartments at Windsor there are also intriguing glimpses of the private people behind the famous portraits. In the Grand Vestibule, a room largely filled with weaponry, Queen Victoria’s favourite collie, Sharp, looks up adoringly at his mistress, for example, and there is a poignancy to Van Dyck’s lavish portrayals of Charles I, knowing, as we do, how that story ended.
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For further details and reservations contact Elizabeth Perrée on (01481) 832061 • Fax (01481) 832408 firstname.lastname@example.org • www.lasablonnerie.com Don’t leave the Channel Islands without visiting Sark and Little Sark. ‘It will be an experience that will live with you forever’.
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Made in Britain The first Toby jugs were made by Staffordshire potters in the 1760s
ot, perhaps, the most glamorous of British icons, Toby jugs have a unique earthy appeal that captures the bawdy fun of 18th-century taverns and shows off the considerable skill of the Staffordshire potters who first created them in the 1760s. Taking the form of a jovial seated person – often a popular figure from history, such as an English king – the typical Toby character clutches a mug of foaming ale in one hand, possibly with a pipe in the other, and wears an 18th-century tricorne and long coat. Jugs depicting just the head and shoulders of a figure should strictly be called character jugs. A question still hangs over who the original Toby was, though one story goes that the jugs are named after the hedonistic Sir Toby Belch from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. The most widely believed theory, however, is that they take their name from Toby Fillpot – the nickname of an infamous 18th-century Yorkshire boozer, Henry Elwes, who features in an old English drinking song, The Brown Jug, the popular verses of which were first published in 1761. The original Toby jug, with its brown salt glaze, appears to be a development of similar Delftware produced in the Netherlands. The creator of the first Toby jug is thought to have been either John Astbury, who is said to have conned his way into working with the Dutch Elers brothers, or Thomas Whieldon,
who went on to employ Josiah Spode. However, similar designs were adapted by many famous potters, first in Staffordshire, then around England, and eventually further afield. In 18th-century British taverns, Toby jugs became common pouring vessels filled with the same stingo, or strong ale, their characters also swigged, with the removable tricornes serving as cups. In addition to the ordinary Toby, other archetypes developed in the 18th and early 19th centuries, such as the Thin Man, Squire, Hearty Goodfellow, Sailor, Man on a Barrel, Collier, Drunken Sal, Gin Woman or Martha Gunn – a famous Brighton “dipper” or operator of a bathing machine used by female bathers. Toby jug production grew throughout the 19th century with the creation of many new humorous depictions of fictional and historical figures such as the Cross-legged Toby and Sir John Falstaff. By the end of the 19th century, Toby jugs were being produced all over the world. Later, a number had music boxes attached to the bottom that played tunes related to their themes, though nowadays these are rarer and therefore more valuable to collectors. Additional Toby characters from the 20th century include Winston Churchill, Paul McCartney and Marilyn Monroe. Despite their British origins, the world’s largest collection of Toby and characters jugs can be found in Evanston, Illinois in the US. n
FULL OF CHARACTER Alice Rush investigates the bawdy background of the Toby jug
Cornwall Right: Picturesque Fowey inspired Daphne du Maurier’s first novel Left, top to bottom: Daphne on the staircase at Menabilly; Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier in the 1940 film of Rebecca; Daphne and her children at Menabilly
Dreaming of Manderley Jamaica Inn, Daphne du Maurier’s first big commercial success, was published 80 years ago. Nicola Rayner jumps at the chance to visit Du Maurier’s Cornwall 28 discoverbritainmag.com
“The impact of the Norman conquest on our country cannot be underestimated – it laid down the bedrock of English language and culture”
Cornwall Below: Re-enactments of the Battle of Hastings take place every October Left: Hastings Castle, built by William the Conqueror, was a casualty of a storm Right, top to bottom: Richard III; Charles “Bonnie Prince Charlie” Stuart
Is there a more atmospheric first line of a British novel than the beginning of Rebecca? The unnamed narrator of Daphne du Maurier’s most famous book dreams of looking through the gates of Manderley, the fictional West Country estate, and drifting up the drive, “a ribbon now, a thread of its former self”, to find Manderley, “secretive and silent as it had always been... a jewel in the hollow of a hand”. From the novel’s opening pages Du Maurier’s deep love for the Cornish landscape shines from the pages. Menabilly, the estate that inspired the creation of Manderley, captured Daphne’s attention early on in life, when she determined to find the hidden house as a teenager. Her family had bought a holiday home in nearby Bodinnick in 1926 and Daphne heard stories of the beautiful seat of the Rashleigh family, which had been built so that it couldn’t be seen from the sea, except for one secret point, to keep it safe from unwanted attention. “Menabilly was always more than a house to Daphne du Maurier,” writes Margaret Forster, Du Maurier’s biographer. “Its chief attraction for her was its secrecy...” Looking for Menabilly became a favourite hobby of Daphne and her sister Angela and, after a couple of attempts, their mission finally succeeded. It wasn’t quite the grand stately home Daphne had imagined – and it was almost 20 years before she was to rent the house herself – but the long, low two-storey building, covered in ivy, captured her heart – and her imagination. For fans of Du Maurier, who captured teenage hearts of her own with her gripping Cornish novels, Menabilly, which also features in The King’s General and My Cousin Rachel, remains the Holy Grail on the Du Maurier trail – perhaps made all the more alluring by the fact it remains hidden away, closed to the public to this day, though there are plenty of riches to explore nearby.
“No place for a girl” On the way to the Fowey estuary, where Menabilly lies hidden, do stop for a drink at Jamaica Inn. Du Maurier wrote in an introductory note to the book: “Jamaica Inn stands today, hospitable and kindly, a temperance house on the 20-mile road between Bodmin and Launceston. In the following story of adventure I have pictured it as it might have been over 120 years ago.” Jamaica Inn’s heroine, the plucky Mary Yellan, who is told in no uncertain terms her new home is “no place for a girl”, is struck by the sinister desolation of the place as she arrives: “On either side of the road the country stretched interminably into space... mile upon mile of bleak moorland, dark and untraversed, rolling like a desert land to some unseen horizon.” Perched on the black volcanic moorland since the 1750s, the inn as it appears today in sunshine doesn’t, perhaps, have the intimidating appearance of its fictional counterpart, but when the mists rise over Bodmin Moor ➤
CORBIS/DOUG ARMAND/OCEAN/MICHAEL NOLAN/ROBERTHARDING/GETTY IMAGES/POPPERFOTO/J WILDS/KEYSTONE FEATURES/ALAMY/PHOTOS 12/IAN DAGNALL/ENGLISH HERITAGE/HISTORIC ENGLAND
“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again…”
Clockwise from above: St Catherine’s Castle was built by Henry VIII to defend Fowey harbour; Fowey Parish Church and the castellated tower of Place House; pretty Cornish cottages; Jamaica Inn
you quickly understand why guests don’t always sleep easy – woken, it’s said, by the sounds of horses’ hooves and barrels of rum crashing over the cobbles. (One theory is that the name comes from smuggled Jamaican rum.) The rising mist is a reminder of how easy it is to get lost on the moor, which is how Daphne and her friend Foy Quiller-Couch found the place themselves. Allowing their horses to take the reins, they came across Jamaica Inn where they dined with the vicar of Altarnun – the inspiration for the character in the novel. The resulting gothic tale of smuggling and wreckers sold more than Daphne’s first three novels put together and today the inn is proud of its Du Maurier connection, which is documented in a room dedicated to the writer, featuring her desk from Kilmarth, her final Cornish home where she moved in 1969, as well as in its Smugglers Museum.
“The gateway to another world” The heart of Du Maurier’s Cornwall, however, is further south: the Fowey (pronounced “Foy”) estuary is home to Bodinnick on the east side of the river, where Daphne’s family bought Ferryside in 1926, and Fowey on the west side, where Daphne lived later in the 1940s. Ferryside was where it all began for Daphne: her love affair with Cornwall and her first novel. When her father, the actor-manager Gerald du Maurier, decided to buy a holiday home in Cornwall with the money he had made from the play The Ringer, his wife and three daughters were sent on a recce to Fowey to find a suitable property. Remembering later in Vanishing Cornwall, Daphne wrote: “The hired car swept round the curve of the hill and suddenly the full expanse of Fowey harbour was spread beneath us... like the gateway to another world.” Clinging to the rocks overlooking the estuary, Ferryside, formerly part of a working boatyard, piqued their interest. As a commercial property, it had been built into the rocks behind it with the ground floor operating as the boathouse. The Du Mauriers converted it into a family home, with Daphne’s room upstairs, where she wrote her first novel, The Loving Spirit, overlooking the busy working harbour. Today it is a striking building painted in cream and blue. Look closely and you’ll see the figurehead from a schooner called the Jane Slade, which appears in The Loving Spirit as the Janet Coombe: a gift from the boat-making Slade family who owned it. An integral part of the Du Maurier trail is the Hall Walk, which runs above Ferryside and follows Pont Pill east to the head of the river, where you cross the water, and then travel west to Polruan. Named after the Hall that belonged to the Mohun family, the wooded pathway offers inviting windows through the trees on to the pretty creek below and leads you past a memorial to Arthur Quiller-Couch, Foy Quiller-Couch’s father and an influential literary figure in Daphne’s life as chair of English at Cambridge and a friend of JM Barrie. The ➤ family lived in a house called The Haven in Fowey.
Clockwise from above: Polridmouth, on the Menabilly estate, inspired the beach in Rebecca; Ferryside in Bodinnick, where Daphne du Maurier wrote The Loving Spirit; atmospheric Bodmin Moor features in Jamaica Inn
Cornwall Top: The picturesque Bosinver Farm Cottages are a short drive from Fowey Bottom: Frenchman’s Creek, where Du Maurier spent her honeymoon
Visit The Ticket Shop and Du Maurier Literary Centre (www.fowey.co.uk) features a display relating to Du Maurier, as well as a wide selection of reading material. Lynn Goold, who runs the literary centre, is both a wonderfully knowledgeable registered blue badge guide and a trustee of Fowey’s Du Maurier Festival, now renamed the Fowey Festival (www. foweyfestival.com), which takes place in May (always covering 13 May, Du Maurier’s birthday). For background on Fowey’s history as a china clay port, do visit the Wheal Martyn Museum (www. wheal-martyn.com). St Catherine’s Castle (www.english-heritage.org.uk), built by Henry VIII in the 1530s to defend Fowey harbour, is just under a mile’s walk from Readymoney Cove car park. For creative and cultural events across Cornwall, all year round, Cornwall 365 is an excellent starting point (www.cornwall365.org.uk).
Eat and drink With fresh fish dishes and Cornish ales, the Ship Inn, Fowey’s oldest pub, features in Frenchman’s Creek and was built in 1570 by local adventurer John Rashleigh, who helped defeat the Spanish Armada, leaving from Fowey in 1588. Food for Thought (www.foodforthought. foweyrestaurants. com), set in a building dating back to the 1300s, specialises in seafood, while the Dwelling House (www. thedwellinghouse.co.uk), in a former Georgian
merchant’s home, makes delicious cakes on the premises.
Sleep You’ll be spoilt for choice for idyllic Cornish cottages in Du Maurier country. Bosinver Farm Cottages (www.bosinver. co.uk) offers 20 exquisite properties, sleeping from four to 12 people, on a 30-acre farm. At Pont Pill, where Daphne moored on her wedding day, the National Trust manages a selection of cottages (www.nationaltrustholidays. org.uk) or to get even closer to the golden goose, Menabilly estate (www. menabilly.com) offers two properties as holiday lettings, one on Polridmouth (pronounced “Pridmouth”) thought to be the inspiration for Rebecca’s boathouse, where the first Mrs de Winter met her maker. In town, Daphne used to meet Arthur Quiller-Couch for tea at Foy Hotel (www.thefoweyhotel.co.uk), which was also a favourite of Kenneth Grahame, author of The Wind in the Willows.
Travel The nearest train stations are at Par and St Austell, but Fowey is best navigated by car or, even better, by boat. Passenger ferries run between Fowey and Polruan, and Fowey and Mevagissey, and there is a car ferry between Fowey and Bodinnick. For more about Cornwall, see www. discoverbritainmag.com
“The creek itself would seem still and silent” The glimpses of the green water below, during the Hall Walk, call to mind Du Maurier’s swashbuckling Restoration romance Frenchman’s Creek inspired by a real place – this time Du Maurier didn’t change the name – an hour west on the Helford River, where Tommy and Daphne spent their honeymoon on Tommy’s boat Ygdrasil. Further downstream in Polruan, one can trace the movements of the heroine of Frenchman’s Creek, Dona St Columb, who steals a boat with her pirate lover and crosses over the river to Fowey, though today the passenger ferry is a more sensible option. A stroll along the Esplanade in Fowey leads you to Readymoney Cove, where Daphne lived in 1942, before she was offered the lease at Menabilly by an elderly Dr Rashleigh (the house returned to his son in 1969). On the road to Readymoney, the iron gates at Point Neptune, a large Victorian house, are thought to be similar to or possibly even the very ones that were removed from Menabilly’s East Lodge. And although the location isn’t quite right, it is tempting nevertheless to imagine coming across them in a dream and drifting through. ■ ALAMY/CHRISTOPHER JONES/NATIONAL TRUST PHOTOLIBRARY/ ISTOCK/ROSS HODDINOTT/BOSINVER FARM COTTAGES/JAMAICA INN
DISCOVER DU MAURIER COUNTRY
The Hall Walk also passes what are thought to be the remains of the Jane Slade, which Daphne was taken to see by a local, Adams, who taught her to sail and whose wife was a descendant of the woman after whom the boat was named. In The Loving Spirit, Du Maurier writes evocatively of the scene: “Half buried in this bed of mud and slime... The water gushed from her side, rust coloured like blood from a living thing.” One reader much affected by The Loving Spirit was Major Tommy “Boy” Browning, who sailed to Fowey to meet the author. Three months later, in July 1932, the pair were moored at Pont, in the very creek where the Jane Slade had been left to rot, on their wedding day. Today it is possible to follow in their footsteps up from Pont, past primroses and mossy waterfalls, to St Wyllow church in Lanteglos, where the wedding took place and, afterwards, to visit the grave of Jane Slade herself.
Visit Daphne du Maurier’s Museum of Memorabilia t
A JAMAICA INN’S SMUGGLING MUSEUM
See her fascinating personal possessions such as her Sheraton writing desk that she wrote novels on family photos - signed novels and much more ... Why not stay in one of the Inn’s 20 en-suite berooms. Daphne stayed in room 3 in November 1930 and you can dine in the restaurant she ate in!
Book online: at www.JamaicaInn.co.uk Just off A30 midway between Launceston and Bodmin. SAT NAV PL15 7TS www.JamaicaInn.co.uk enquiry@JamaicaInn.co.uk
CJ_DiscoverBritain_4.11.16_Layout 1 4/11/16 8:33 AM Page 1
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Signs of the times Nothing says Britain like a quirky sign swinging outside a pretty country pub. Nicola Rayner explores their history and meets a traditional sign painter
hat do a red lion, blue boar and white hart have in common? No, it’s not the beginning of a joke you’ll hear in a bar, but you’ll find all three, and many more colourful creatures and people besides, on signs outside pubs throughout the UK – as much part of Britain’s heritage as the buildings themselves. “Pub signs are one of those iconic cultural things that speak of Britain louder than almost anything else,” says sign painter Andrew Grundon. David Roe, of the Inn Sign Society, agrees: “The sign has been an integral part of the traditional English pub
and its predecessors – the inns, taverns and alehouses – for over a thousand years. Pub signs are part of our heritage. They are good examples of ‘accessible art’: the picture on a sign can tell us something about events, customs and people from the past, or simply entertain and delight us with some amusing or fine painting.” Pub signs originated with the Romans. The taverns along their roads were identifiable by branches of evergreens, symbolising Bacchus, the god of wine, giving rise to one of the earliest pub names: the Bush. Roe explains: “The practice of having a bush of evergreen leaves on the
end of a stake of wood stuck into the eaves of the alehouse – the ale stake – continued through the Dark Ages in England after the Roman occupation. The leaves evolved into a bundle of twigs like a broom, presumably because this was lower maintenance. One pub at least is known to have had this type of sign within living memory. “Displaying a garland of leaves when a new ale or beer was brewed continued into the 20th century. It was necessary initially to ensure that the official ‘ale conners’ could test the strength of the new ale. As the number of alehouses increased in the early Middle Ages, ➤
to distinguish one from another, an object was hung on the ale stake.” Items, such as a pewter tankard, might work as such a symbol, but as early as the 12th century, and certainly by the 1300s, painted wooden boards began to be suspended from the ale stakes as well. In 1393 King Richard II decreed that all alehouses should display a sign, so that they could be more easily licensed or taxed and the quality of the ale better controlled. His own heraldic emblem, the white hart, was among the first to be used on a sign. “In the early Middle Ages it was the custom for pilgrims to be given overnight
free hospitality at the great Catholic monasteries, or at the houses of the lords of the manor,” Roe explains. “As the numbers of travelling pilgrims increased, particularly after the death of Thomas a Becket in 1170, there was a growth in the number of commercial inns. “Many had been, or were associated with, the monastery gatehouses and the manor house lodges, which had often displayed heraldic badges or coats of arms. It was natural therefore to adopt the relevant religious or heraldic symbols as a sign – such as ‘Angel’, ‘Mitre’, ‘Red Lion’, ‘Spread Eagle’, ‘Green Dragon’, ‘Swan’ and so on.”
The Red Lion remains one of the most common pub names today. In addition to appearing in the coats of arms of many nobles and landowners, it was the emblem of James I of England (and VI of Scotland), who decreed, when he inherited the throne of England, that certain public buildings should display the red lion to signify loyalty to the monarch. Another very popular name is the Crown, which, again, shows allegiance to the sovereign, but doesn’t have to be altered when the monarch changes. The names of pubs provide a commentary on the times in which they were established. New monarchs, the rise to fame of certain
Clockwise from top left: The Napoleon Inn sign reproduces a portrait by Jacques-Louis David; beautiful signs in Feock, Banbury, Bletchingley and Swanage Previous page: Andrew Grundon was an artist before he trained as a sign painter
people, battles and historic events have all left their mark on pub names. The Royal Oak, for example, came to prominence following widespread support for the return to the throne of Charles II, who famously hid in an oak tree to escape the Roundheads following the Battle of Worcester in 1651. Name changes tell a story, too. A pub sign you rarely see these days is the Pope’s Head, though before King Henry VIII’s split from Rome and the English Reformation it would have been common. After, however, astute proprietors renamed after the king instead. “Then you get buildings that used to be something else which have switched over
– for example, the Old Smithy or the Old Bakery,” says Grundon. “There’s a great pub in Phillack, near Hayle, called the Bucket of Blood, which apparently used to be a smugglers’ pub. One morning one of the serving staff went to draw water from the well and when he pulled up the bucket, it was full of blood and a severed human head. “An excise man, who had been poking around, was caught, chopped to pieces and thrown down the well. In the 1970s, they tried to change the name and call it the New Inn, trying to be very politically correct, but the locals were so incensed they had to change it back straight away.” ➤
Pub signs Top to bottom: The evocative sign on the Bucket of Blood pub, near Hayle in Cornwall; a lively St George appears on the sign for Ye Olde George Inn, in the Meon Valley
on his horse crossing the Alps and the other standing in his study with his hand in his waistcoat pocket. They are such iconic images – to get the opportunity to reproduce them on a pub sign was very satisfying.” Unfortunately, his craft is one under threat. “Around the 1970s, when the vinyl plotters came in – the machines that cut letters out of sticky-back plastic – most of the sign companies thought, ‘This is the future,’ and bought machines and stopped teaching apprentices hand-painting.” Many pubs today use computers to create their signs. “Often they will take stock
images from websites and then print them on to vinyl or directly on to a substrate. “Sometimes they will go to the bother of getting an artist to design something but, more often than not, it’s something that is Photoshopped from various different images, so it doesn’t tend to have – though you realise this is a biased opinion – the same soul about it as something that is designed from scratch and lovingly pored over until the small hours of the morning.” Nor is the lack of soul the only problem. “When they fade they tend to look tatty: the vinyl will shrink away or it will start to peel and look quite nasty. “With a hand-painted sign it will start to develop a patina over time. It gets distressed, but in a nice sort of way and, of course, it’s easier to do refurbishment work on them, as long as it hasn’t gone too far. They have a more organic and a more alive feel about them.” More recently, however, there has been a resurgence of interest in hand-crafted signs. “I get two or three enquiries a year from people who want to come and be an apprentice,” says Grundon. Although he has trained a couple, Andrew says he works best in his own company in his converted garage in Cornwall. “When I open the windows, there’s birdsong and wind in the trees.” He adds: “It’s not the easiest thing to master, but most things that are worth doing are worth practising for. “So many people get to see your work. When I used to paint for a living, I would sell a painting to a client, they would stick it in their home and a small circle of their friends would get to see it, but if you hang something in front of a pub, the world and its dog gets to see it. It’s a deeply, deeply satisfying thing to do.” n www.innsignsociety.com www.signaturesignsuk.com
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Grundon started his working life as an artist. “Although I had a good customer base and a good reputation I was slowly starving to death. A friend of mine said to me that the sign writer at St Austell Brewery was retiring, so I applied for the job and I got it on the strength of the fact that I could paint pictorials. “I had never done any lettering, but I had always painted pictures. The old sign writer stayed on to teach me the basics of lettering.” How does painting letters differ from pictures? “The fewer strokes you can paint a letter in, the better it’s going to look. That is something that really does take practice, a steady hand, the right materials and the right tools as well.” The process of painting the picture varies. “Some of the pubs have very traditional signs that go back to medieval times. When they have one of those, they want to keep it as it becomes part of the character of the building. Then, it’s just a question of taking photographs or, if you’re fortunate enough to be able to take the sign down, taking a direct trace off the picture and reproducing that as accurately as you can. “At other times, I just get presented with a concept, a name and a basic nudge in the direction of what the client would like. I come up with rough sketches, and we go backwards and forwards until they get what they want. “Then I’ll draw it up in full colour and paint it on to the sign for them.” The process itself is very similar to creating “a large-scale oil painting”, says Grundon, “only sometimes you’ve got to paint it twice exactly the same for both sides of the sign, which in itself can present interesting problems.” He is particularly proud of the signs that he created for the Napoleon Inn at Boscastle, Cornwall. “I had to do two reproductions of the two most famous portraits of Napoleon by Jacques-Louis David – one of him sitting
For more iconic pub signs and the stories behind their names, see www. discoverbritainmag.com
LORD’S MUSEUM & TOURS Walk in the footsteps of cricket legends
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Flowers, Fireworks & Fun for all the Family
Performances by the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment Musical Ride
The Red Hot Chilli Pipers
GARDEN FESTIVAL Saturday 25th & Sunday 26th June 2016
10am -FESTIVAL 5pm GARDEN
There’s Something for everyone to enjoy... C Spectacular Floral Displays in the Floral Marquee C Guided Tours Saturday & Sunday 26th June Gordon 2016 Baillie of the Gardens with 25th Lord Ashbrook & Head Gardener C Countryside Marquee C Horticultural Accessories C Food Fair C Creative Crafts Marquee C Classic Car Display C Live Music C Children’s Entertainment
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WIN a royal weekend in London Celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday with a perfect patriotic weekend including a Royal Day Out at Buckingham Palace, a Royal Afternoon Tea and a one-night stay in five-star hotel The Arch London TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice awards, ranking ninth out of 25 among the best hotels in the UK. For this very special summer the hotel has designed a patriotic Royal Afternoon Tea. The stately spread will feature a procession of dishes worthy of the royal seal of approval. Classic British savoury delights will include chicken liver parfait with spiced fig chutney and rare roast beef, watercress and crispy shallots. With a nod to the royal favourite Wimbledon, the quintessentially British Eton mess will then be served, along with Victoria sponge, Battenberg and strawberry tart. The Royal Afternoon Tea, priced at £25 per person, or £38 with a glass of Taittinger Brut Reserve, will be available from 1 May until 31 July 2016 throughout this summer’s royal events, but The Arch London will bring it back in October as a complimentary treat for our winning pair during their stay. www.thearchlondon.com
How to enter To be in with the chance of winning this special prize go to www.discoverbritainmag. com/Win-a-royal-weekend or fill in the coupon below with the answer to the question. Question: How many State Rooms are there in Buckingham Palace? a) 3 b) 19 c) 28 TERMS AND CONDITIONS
For full terms and conditions go to www. discoverbritainmag.com/Win-a-royal-weekend. Closing date for entries is 15 August 2016. Winner will be notified by 19 August 2016. Prize to be used between 1 October 2016 and 2 October 2016.
ENTRY FORM SEND YOUR COUPON TO: US readers – A Royal Weekend, C/O Circulation Specialists, 2 Corporate Drive, Suite 945, Shelton, CT 06484 UK and ROW – A Royal Weekend, Discover Britain Magazine, Jubilee House, 2 Jubilee Place, London SW3 3TQ, UK My answer: Name: Address: Postcode: Tel no:
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o celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday, allow Discover Britain to treat you like royalty. We have a pair of tickets for our winning reader on 1 October to enjoy a Royal Day Out at Buckingham Palace, the headquarters of the British monarchy, starting at 11am, including admission to the magnificent State Rooms (which we explore on page 56), the Royal Mews and the Queen’s Gallery. The tickets also include entry to Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from The Queen’s Wardrobe, the exhibition at the palace this summer which tells the story of the Queen’s reign through her beautiful clothes. Our winning pair will also receive a copy of the Buckingham Palace: Official Souvenir Guide. To make your trip one to remember, Discover Britain has teamed up with The Arch London, a luxurious five-star hotel just north of Hyde Park from Buckingham Palace, which has offered a night’s stay from 1 October to 2 October for our winner and his or her guest in a deluxe room. The Arch London is the perfect place to make patriotic guests feel like royalty during their stay. One of London’s secret gems, the hotel is discreetly tucked away on a calm residential street a stone’s throw from the bustle of the West End, Bond Street and Hyde Park – the perfect position for sightseeing. Spanning seven Grade II-listed Georgian townhouses and two mews homes, The Arch London is sublimely comfortable and stylish and was recently recognised as a winner in the 2016
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elite marriage market in the world. In the memoirs of one debutante, Lady Dorothy Nevill, she writes that during her first Season, she attended “50 balls, 60 parties, 30 dinners and 25 breakfasts”. It was not for the faint-hearted; dedicated debs could start the day’s social activities at 10am and wind up at 3am delighting similarly spirited survivors at a ball. But while 1958 remains significant as the last year the Queen would receive these curtseying well-bred ladies, having called time on the tradition as outmoded, the Season has nonetheless triumphed and evolved – albeit minus the matchmaking. From the races at Glorious Goodwood in West Sussex to the manicured lawns of Wimbledon where the titans of tennis do battle, from the fashion parade at Royal Ascot’s races to the grand finale upon the seas at Cowes Week, these quintessential institutions and social calendar milestones, with their strict dress codes, are preserved in aspic – to the relief of the aristocrats, and to the fascination of those who don their hats and go along to observe the jollity. ➤
MAP ILLUSTRATION: BEK CRUDDACE
n March 1958, 400 chaperoned girls lined up at Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen, floating in on an ocean of toile and taffeta. The tableau was a familiar one to Her Majesty; the annual round of debutantes eager to curtsey at their formal presentation to her was a ritual deeply ingrained in British high society – and as one such deb, Jessica Mitford, put it, “coming out” was “the specific, upper-class version of a puberty rite.” It also spelled the beginning of what the upper crust call “the Season”, an endless social whirl of activities between the months of May and August, staged variously across sporting and society events – in ballrooms public and private – and for which participants would decamp from their country piles to take a house for the convivial spell in a grand Mayfair or Belgravia square (Cadogan, Grosvenor or Berkeley would all do admirably). It was against the backdrop of such sporting prowess that the debutantes were encouraged to meet the right sort of husband, making it just about the most
’TIS THE SEASON From husband-hunting Georgians to spotting royalty at the races today, Nancy Alsop explores how the Season developed 44 discoverbritainmag.com
ALAMY/NEWSPHOTO/GETTY IMAGES/CHRIS JACKSON
The Royal Enclosure at Ascot is the place to see and be seen Inset: Prince Harry, the Seasonâ€™s most eligible bachelor, mingles at Ascot
The Season described her debut dinner thus: “Eager as I was to be grown up, I found the rite bewildering and painful. For the first time in my life the hair that dangled down my back was put up... I was laced into a white satin dress by Worth and feeling rather breathless and a little cold, I went downstairs to face the 40 strangers who had come to dinner...” There are two schools of thought as to why the Season took place when it did. The first is predicated on the movements of the royal family, in residence in London from April until July and once again from October until Christmas, occasioning the aristocracy to reside in the capital, too. The other is that it developed with the sitting of Parliament, so that members of both Houses could bring their families with them to London. As such there was a shift in the London Season as, according to an article in the Penny Magazine in the 19th century, the opening session of Parliament began to shift to later in the year, meaning “the commencement of the London ‘season’ has been gradually postponed... thrown into the months of spring and summer.” ➤
Top to bottom: Eliza Doolittle, played by Audrey Hepburn, causes outrage at Ascot in the film My Fair Lady; members of the nobility are presented to court at St James’s Palace, around 1750, in a bid to establish their position in society
ALAMY/PICTORIAL PRESS LTD/MARY EVANS PICTURE LIBRARY
For the Season’s historic foundations, we must look to the 17th and 18th centuries, when the gentry began to designate an annual period for the substitution of country pursuits for those political and social; it reached its pinnacle in the 19th century. Literature abounds with tales of the Season: Jane Austen, chronicler of 18th-century social mores details the Bingley sisters in Pride and Prejudice abandoning their new Hertfordshire home for the glamour of London for the Season; while Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love heroine Linda Radlett is proposed to during it; EF Benson’s titular Lucia plots deviously for invitations to all the top society events in Lucia in London; and Eliza Doolittle famously outrages at Royal Ascot when the former flower girl is paraded there, regaling the snooty assembly with stories of her aunt “what was done in”. History, too, provides notable incidents, not least when suffragette Emily Davison threw herself under King George V’s horse at the Derby in 1913. Some girls, meanwhile, felt cowed by the whole affair. Lady Violet Bonham Carter
The Season And this sudden influx of aristocrats would, naturally, be in need of entertainment, while those of marriageable age would have to be launched into society. It seems likely, however, that Parliament sat at times that would accommodate the sporting events, as opposed to the other way round. As Harper’s Magazine wrote in 1886: “The season depends on Parliament, and Parliament depends on sport,” though generally speaking, the London Season fell between May and 12 August, when grouse season began. And when King George III began to host a May ball to raise money for a new maternity hospital named after his wife, it became an annual event; thereafter Queen Charlotte’s Ball was the most important of the Season. It is still held today. Days spent as part of the Victorian social whirl were busy. Starting with the near-obligatory trip to Paris to purchase a wardrobe to see both mother and daughter through the Season at Maison Worth (the designer du jour), it was hard work, not to mention expensive. Young ladies would
Today’s happy legacy of these historic traditions is a compelling series of social fixtures, whose customs outlive the Season’s formal role in the lives of the nobility. But as they have evolved, so newer events too have claimed stellar spots on the calendar. Here we round up the best of the old and the cream of the new.
The Chelsea Flower Show For the uninitiated, the Season must start in May with the Chelsea Flower
Show (below). A great favourite with the Queen, the Royal Horticultural Society extravaganza at the Chelsea Royal Hospital is one event on the calendar at which sensible shoes are actively encouraged. At Chelsea, there’s a sporting chance of glimpsing Her Majesty among the manicured borders. Royal Ascot Put on your finest fascinator (though do note: it must be “substantial”) and most magisterial morning suit
for the premier event in the racing calendar, as the best-bred fillies compete for the sport’s richest purse, and the equally well brought up try to outdo one another in sartorial elegance. This year’s event takes place from 14 to 18 June. Wimbledon Championships This is the tennis tournament every player wants to win. But don’t worry if you don’t know your volleys from your backhands; there’s plenty to delight in at Wimbledon besides the sport itself. Strawberries and cream and champagne are de rigueur, but it’s also the place to spot big names off the court (the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are regular attendees). This year’s dates are 27 June to 10 July. If you didn’t score a ticket in the ballot, grab a spot on Henman Hill and cheer along with the hordes. Do bring a brolly. Henley Royal Regatta The best-known regatta in the world has existed since 1839, and little has changed since then. The place to be, from 29 June to 3 July this year, as always, is the Stewards’ Enclosure,
but it is members only and the waiting list is over a decade, so you might be advised to find a rowing enthusiast and tag along with them.
IN WITH THE NEW
Badminton Horse Trials Britain’s leading horse trials in May see as many as 200,000 people turn up to the beautiful grounds of Badminton Park (above right) in Gloucestershire to watch the nation’s finest steeds put through their paces. Barbours and wellies are the order of the day, but an enthusiasm for all things equestrian is even more important.
GETTY/OLI SCARFF/BRYN LENNON/SHAUN BOTTERILL/MARY EVANS/LLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS/RHS/BRITAIN ON VIEW/VISITBRITAIN
GUIDE TO THE SEASON: OLD V NEW
SUBSCRIBE TO typically start the day with riding down Rotten Row in Hyde Park, Kensington, before hosting or attending a formal breakfast. This was all before an elaborate lunch, which would set them up for afternoon activities that ranged from picnics to polo, garden parties to cricket matches and always, always, afternoon tea. At 7pm, formal dress would be required for dinner served by butlers, before the opera or theatre followed by a ball. And so, when King Edward VII described horse racing at Goodwood as “a garden party with some racing tacked on,” he really described the entire Season in microcosm; England’s famous sportsmanship is as it may be, but the Season remains now, as then, a wonderful excuse for a party – and some serious social climbing. Whether or not you meet your match by the end. ■
“When King George III began to host a May ball to raise money for a new maternity hospital named after his wife Charlotte… Queen Charlotte’s Ball became the most important of the season. It is still held today”
Left to right: Young women are still presented to society at Queen Charlotte’s Debutante Ball; in 1939, the ball was a highlight of the Season
Glyndebourne “New” may be a relative term here but, given that some of our events have celebrated 300-year anniversaries, Glyndebourne is a veritable newbie. It started when a visionary named John Christie had the mad, but brilliant, idea of building an opera house in his back garden in 1934. Eighty years on, culture vultures put on black tie and evening dress to hear world-class opera and relax in the beautiful Sussex gardens; picnics are obligatory for the 90-minute interval between acts. This year’s festival runs from 21 May to 28 August. Frieze Art Fair Unlike most of the Season’s other events, it’s quite common to see middle-aged men in the most casual of dress at London’s leading art fair, which runs from 6 to 9 October. However these people tend to be oligarchs and billionaire businessmen eyeing up their latest purchase from one of the leading galleries, all of whom come armed with the crème de la crème of their sizable collections. For more on the Season, see www.discoverbritainmag.com
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A warm welcome to Renishaw Hall & Gardens in 2016
Visit the historic hall: see the place where generations of Sitwells lived, entertained and drew inspiration to write and create. Public hall tours on Fridays throughout season & Fri, Sat, Sun in August. Group tours available all year. Explore the acres of award-winning gardens, including: water features, formal terraces, specialist plants, a new display of roses, stunning woodland flowers. Open Wed to Sun and BH Mon. The newly refurbished Cafe at Renishaw Hall serves morning coffee, lunch and afternoon tea, with private group dining area available.
Open until 2 October 2016
visit www.renishaw-hall.co.uk or call 01246 432310
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On the town
“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life”
MUSEUM OF LONDON/JOHAN PERSSON
MR DARCY ON STAGE
The effects of the 1666 blaze that rampaged for days through London’s streets can still clearly be seen on the skyline and the Great Fire remains a watershed moment in the city’s history. To mark the 350th anniversary of the fire this September, the Museum of London – which tells the changing story of the city from 450,000 BC to the present day – opens a major immersive and interactive exhibition exploring the dramatic events. Running from 23 July to 17 April 2017, Fire! Fire! will focus on life on the eve of the blaze, follow the fire’s path through a the city and show how London recovered from the devastation, as well as offering the chance to get close to rarely seen 17th-century artefacts such as a burned ceramic roof tile, padlocks and keys. www.museumoflondon.org.uk
Enjoy a new take on a classic novel later this summer as the enduringly appealing tale of the Bennet sisters’ search for love in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice comes to the stage in the delightful environs of Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. Elizabeth Bennet’s journey towards Mr Darcy, adapted by Simon Reade and directed by Deborah Bruce, is sure to charm audiences when it returns to the theatre from 2 to 17 September, following a sell-out run in 2013. Set in the heart of one of London’s Royal Parks, the Open Air Theatre is the perfect place for a spot of romantic comedy, offering an incomparable atmosphere, with theatregoers setting up their hampers on the picnic lawn as fairy lights twinkle away in the trees. www.openairtheatre.com discoverbritainmag.com 53
BRAND NEW LOCATION
One of Britain’s greatest living painters, David Hockney, comes to the Royal Academy of Arts with a remarkable exhibition of new work. David Hockney RA: 82 Portraits and 1 Still Life, from 2 July to 2 October, sees the artist return to portraiture, painting his friends, family and acquaintances the same size, in the same chair, against the same vivid blue background and in the same three-day time frame. Yet their differing personalities leap from the canvas. And, in February next year, to mark his 80th birthday, Tate Britain will open the first major British retrospective of Hockney’s work in 30 years, with six decades of artwork set to go on display and a room left over for work the artist has yet to create. www.royalacademy.org.uk; www.tate.org.uk
Not far from Portobello Road Market, the Museum of Brands Packaging and Advertising, a treasure trove of retro design founded by consumer historian Robert Opie, has relocated and expanded. With Rimmel cosmetics from the 1890s, Oxo cubes dating back to the First World War and around 12,000 other items that reveal intriguing snapshots of how everyday Britons lived, the revamped museum includes the revitalised Time Tunnel, telling the evocative story of the consumer revolution. www.museumofbrands.com
THIS SUN OF YORK Following his acclaimed performance in The Master Builder at the Old Vic earlier this year, Ralph Fiennes returns to the 325-seat Almeida theatre this summer, after 16 years away, to play Shakespeare’s most notorious English king. The production of Richard III will be directed by the theatre’s artistic director, Rupert Goold, whose King Charles III had an extended run in the West End, as well as transferring to Broadway. The play, which runs from 7 June to 6 August, will also star Vanessa Redgrave as Queen Margaret. Prepare to do battle for tickets. www.almeida.co.uk
OPEN SEASON A highlight of the summer is the opening of over 200 hidden and little-known gardens to the public during Open Garden Squares Weekend from 18 to 19 June. The exquisite gardens on display will range from the traditional to the experimental, including those of historic buildings, rooftops, private houses, community allotments, cafes, schools and shops. www.opensquares.org 54 discoverbritainmag.com
©DAVID HOCKNEY/RICHARD SCHMIDT/MUSEUM OF BRANDS/JULIAN HANFORD/MILES ALDRIDGE/DIANA JARVIS
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As Buckingham Palace opens its doors for the summer, Alexander Larman introduces the treasures of the famous State Rooms in HM The Queenâ€™s official London residence
here exists a popular misconception that every room in Buckingham Palace is a State Room of sorts; after all, it is a royal palace, rather than merely an extremely large and grand house. However, the famous State Rooms only make up 19 of the 775 rooms. To put that in perspective, there are more than four times as many bathrooms and more than 12 times as many bedrooms as there are the best-known rooms inside the building. Nonetheless, it is these that are synonymous with official entertaining and general court ceremonies, and which are open to the public from 23 July to 2 October this year. But what is it about the State Rooms that makes them unique in royal circles? Buckingham Palace as we know it was built in the early 19th century by the architect John Nash, although the first building on the
ALAMY/MICHAEL HUDSON/DAVID PARKER/SHUTTERSTOCK/MONKEY BUSINESS IMAGES
Clockwise from below: Buckingham Palace in sunshine; the Ballroom set for a state banquet; the royal family on the balcony following the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
site was constructed in the 17th century and known as “Buckingham House” after its owner John Sheffield, the Duke of Buckingham. It was then sold in 1761 to King George III, who planned to use it as a family residence for his wife, Queen Charlotte, and himself, although “family residence” and royal expenditure made for extravagant bedfellows; between 1762 and 1776, George spent £73,000 on the expansion and modernisation of Buckingham House. Despite the close associations with his father, with whom he had a troubled relationship, King George IV requested that Nash expand and reconstruct the existing building so it might be a suitable royal palace, using furniture, chandeliers and works of art from his other London residence, Carlton House. Nash did so at staggering cost: by 1828 he had spent £496,169 on changes to the building – and so ➤
THE ROYAL COLLECTION/ÂŠ HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH II 2016/DERRY MOORE/PETER SMITH
Left to right: The Grand Staircase at Buckingham Palace; perhaps the grandest of the State Rooms, the White Drawing Room serves as a reception room for the royal family before official occasions
found himself dismissed from his post two years later, after the death to complete Nash’s designs from two decades before, including the construction of an entirely new wing, which would enclose the of George IV, by none other than the prime minister, the Duke of forecourt on the eastern side and create a new façade. Wellington, for the perceived overspending. It is this East Front, facing the Mall, from which the royal family Nonetheless, it was Queen Victoria who rescued Buckingham Palace from private hands. She liked Nash’s construction and became greets the public on the balcony on special occasions. Two new state rooms, the Ballroom, and the Ball Supper Room, were created in the first monarch to rule from there, acceding to the throne on 1852 by the architect James Pennethorne, thus allowing large spaces 20 June 1837 at the age of 18. She lost little time in holding for musical entertainments and decorous dancing. celebrations within the existing State Rooms and, after her marriage After Victoria abandoned the palace in her to Prince Albert in 1840, Buckingham Palace grief at the death of Prince Albert, little was done became known as much for celebration and AT A GLANCE… in terms of creating new State Rooms, but the parties as it was for official state business. In the Throne Room, don’t existing ones underwent a great deal of change Costume balls were the norm in the 1840s, and miss the pair of chairs made and refurbishment throughout the 20th century. the celebrated composer Felix Mendelssohn gave for the Queen’s coronation in King Edward VII and King George V redecorated no fewer than five concerts at the palace, as did 1953 labelled “ER” and “P”. the palace in more appropriate styles and, under the equally famous Johann Strauss II. Queen Elizabeth II, the State Rooms are frequently However, despite the huge sums George III The palace is home to more used for grand public occasions, such as the wedding and IV had spent on the palace and its interiors, than 350 clocks and watches. of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, including Victoria was dissatisfied and so in 1845 she the Picture Gallery, Throne Room and Green and complained to the then prime minister, Robert Look out for Sèvres porcelain – White Drawing Rooms. It is the latter that is the Peel, that she felt cramped. Peel’s diplomatic the State Rooms have one of the grandest and most elaborately decorated, perhaps response was to hire the architect Edward Blore finest collections in the world.
THE ROYAL COLLECTION © HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH II 2016/DERRY MOORE/ALAMY/TIMEWATCH IMAGES/ACTIVE MUSEUM
Left to right: Queen Victoria in the Yellow Drawing Room as pictured by the Illustrated London News, July 1844; Buckingham Palace Throne Room; the palace’s 19 State Rooms predominantly reflect the taste of King George IV
fittingly given its status as somewhere the royal family gathers before major occasions; it features an enormous gold piano from the firm S&P Erard, and a fine 19th-century statue of the poet Sappho by the sculptor William Theed. It also, intriguingly, features a hidden antechamber where the royal party can enjoy their pre-function gin and tonics. The palace’s Music Room, much beloved by Victoria, today has a rather different purpose: the Prince of Wales, the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and Prince William have all been christened in it by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The State Rooms are furnished with a variety of stunning pieces of art and furniture from the Royal Collection, which can be seen when the rooms are open to the public. Highlights include one of the treasures of the Royal Collection, Vermeer’s great masterpiece The Music Lesson; a Rubens self-portrait; Van Dyck’s portrait of Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I; and a number of scenes of Venice by Canaletto. These, along with many others, are housed within the great Picture Gallery, which was originally designed by Nash as a space to exhibit the family’s art collection and has continued to serve as one of the focal points for anyone visiting the palace. One of the particular highlights of a visit to the State Rooms is that every year sees a new exhibition with an interesting royal
connection. These have included a display of the Queen’s jewellery and evening dresses, her coronation gown and wedding dress, and the Ballroom being set up as if for a full state banquet. This year’s exhibition is no exception: Fashioning a Reign will explore how the Queen’s life and key events in Britain’s history have been counterpointed by shifts in fashion, showcasing some of the many designers who have worked on her wardrobe, including Ian Thomas, Norman Hartnell and Hardy Amies. So, what gossip is there to be found? While the history of English kings and queens is chequered with scandal, there is remarkably little in the way of tittle-tattle to be unearthed in the history of these palatial chambers. Perhaps those doing the excellent guided tours in the summer might be persuaded to divulge one or two titbits of information, but as for the really spectacular stories, you’ve either got to use your imagination as to what has gone on behind closed doors, or somehow ingratiate yourself with the present-day royal family and become an honoured guest. For the rest of us, just having the chance to visit these stunning rooms is enough to make you feel positively regal – if only for a couple of hours. n www.royalcollection.org.uk
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Within these walls
Sally Hales explores the history of London’s ground-breaking blue plaques project as it celebrates its 150th birthday
f London’s past is written in its buildings, the blue plaques that adorn them, commemorating their illustrious residents, are that tale’s punctuation. These colourful spots of history, on sites handsome and humble, link the people of the past, and their achievements, with the buildings of the present. Since the scheme’s inception 150 years ago, more than 900 plaques have been erected to honour notable – and notorious – men and women. Now run by English Heritage, the original vision has sparked countless imitations and gone through many transformations to become the iconic project it is today. The first of its kind in the world, it sprang to life in 1866 when the (Royal) Society of Arts sought “to increase the public estimation for places which have been the abodes of men who have made England what it is”.
On 7 May 1866, the precursor to today’s panel met for the first time and the result was two plaques, both erected in 1867. The first commemorated Romantic poet Lord Byron (1788-1824) at his birthplace of 24 Holles Street, Cavendish Square, however that house was demolished in 1889. The second, and earliest surviving plaque, honours Napoleon III (1808-73), the last emperor of the French, in King Street, St James’s. Prince Louis Napoleon Bonaparte fled to England (for a second time) after escaping imprisonment in 1846. In 1847, he took the lease on the King Street house and quickly became a leading figure in London society – his is the only plaque to have been installed ➤ Main image: Keats House in Hampstead Bottom, from left to right: The plaques for Lord Byron, Samuel Beckett and Napoleon III
“On 7 May 1866, the precursor to today’s expert panel met for the first time and the result was two plaques, both erected in 1867. The first commemorated flamboyant Romantic poet Lord Byron” For more on the best of London’s blue plaques, see www.discoverbritainmag.com
during a recipient’s lifetime – before heading back to France in 1848 to become president and, in 1852, emperor. He seems to have left King Street in haste, as his landlord found “the prince’s bed unmade and his marble bath still full of water”. While Napoleon III’s plaque is blue, the colour scheme has varied over the years as has the preferred design: plaques have been made in bronze, stone, lead and ceramics in square, round and rectangular forms, and finished in shades of brown, sage, terracotta as well as, of course, blue. In the 35 years the Society of Arts ran the scheme, 35 plaques went up. Fewer than half survive, although those that do honour some of our greatest historical figures, such as poet John Keats (1795-1821) and the great literary figure Dr Johnson (1709-1784). Keats’ plaque, erected in 1896, is above the
door of the Regency villa once known as Wentworth Place, Hampstead, which the poet called home from 1818 for 17 months before travelling to Italy where he died. It’s well worth seeking out: the building has been transformed into Keats House, a museum and literary centre where you can explore the poet’s life and work through exhibits of his original manuscripts and artefacts. In 1876 the only plaque in the City of London – the historic square mile at the heart of the city – was erected on Dr Samuel Johnson’s Gough Square home, just north of Fleet Street. Three years later, the Corporation of the City of London and the Society of the Arts agreed that the former would take responsibility for commemorating historic sites in the square mile. This demarcation has stayed in place ever since.
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Dr Johnson’s House, built at the end of the 17th century, is the home in which the writer and wit lived and worked in the mid-18th century, compiling his Dictionary of the English Language in the garret. Four storeys high and nestled among a maze of courts and alleys, it is now a museum providing an insight into the man, the era and his incredible lexicographical project, with restored interiors and original features. At the turn of the 20th century, London County Council (LCC) took over the scheme. One of its earliest honours was the Doughty Street home of Charles Dickens (1812-1870). The plaque pre-dated the house’s opening as the Dickens Museum in 1925 and probably helped to preserve the property when it was threatened with demolition in 1923. Erected in 1903, the plaque sits near the door of the Georgian terraced house, the
novelist’s only remaining London home. Doughty Street was an important place in the writer’s life: it was where his eldest two daughters were born and some of his best-loved novels written, including Oliver Twist. Today, it is one of the world’s finest literary museums with more than 100,000 items, including manuscripts, rare editions and paintings, that allow you to step back in time and walk in the writer’s footsteps. London County Council tried different colours and designs of plaque but, by 1921, the blue ceramic style had become standard. The blue plaque we know today was, in fact, designed in 1938 by an unnamed student from the Central School of Arts and Crafts, who was paid just four guineas. When the Greater London Council (GLC) succeeded the LCC in 1965, it broadened the range of people commemorated and widened
the area covered to the outer city boroughs. Thanks to the GLC there are plaques across Greater London for everyone from the modest Syndenham home of TV pioneer John Logie Baird (1888-1946), a few miles south of central London, to the more grandly located home of Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965) at Hyde Park Gate. English Heritage took over the scheme in 1986 and has run it along similar lines ever since: a Blue Plaques Panel decides on suggestions from the public which meet the criteria. In the scheme’s anniversary year, the organisation is striving to broaden the ➤ Clockwise from left: Actress Sarah Siddons was the first woman to have a plaque; novelist Charles Dickens; TV pioneer John Logie Baird (right); Sir Winston Churchill’s plaque; the statesman with his wife, Clementine; Baird’s and Burney’s plaques discoverbritainmag.com 65
remit further by encouraging nominations from under-represented fields and correcting historical imbalances. For example, women make up just 13 per cent of recipients. While the scheme began in 1866, it took a decade before the first woman was recognised: one of the greatest tragic actresses Sarah Siddons (1755-1831). Sadly, however, this plaque no longer exists. The women who were commemorated in the early years were largely writers and stage performers, reflecting the fact these were essentially the only celebrated occupations open to them. Nonetheless, the achievements of these women were immense. The second plaque, the oldest to Clockwise from left: Dr Johnson’s House on Gough Square; Samuel Johnson; the blue plaque for scientist Luke Howard, “namer of clouds” 66 discoverbritainmag.com
a woman to survive, was put up in 1885 to honour novelist and playwright Fanny Burney (1752-1840) – described by Virginia Woolf as the mother of English fiction – at her home in Bolton Street, Mayfair. To date, English Heritage has erected more than 360 plaques and, in recent years, has done much to recognise those lesser known heroes and heroines who have had an enormous impact on the city and the world at large, from aviators to doctors. One of the best examples – and one of the loveliest – is the 2002 plaque to meteorologist Luke Howard (1772-1864) on his home in Bruce Grove, Tottenham. In 1802, the scientist gave a paper that proposed some names for clouds, including cirrus, cumulus and stratus, which we still use today. His plaque rather charmingly reads “namer of clouds”.
This year’s celebrations include the launch of a new app that will help people to discover which plaque is closest to them and to plot their own personal tour across the capital. In September, English Heritage will publish the first official guidebook to London’s blue plaques, offering a throughthe-keyhole look at those commemorated and the houses in which they lived. English Heritage will also unveil at least eight new plaques across the city honouring a diverse range of people – from Hollywood film star Ava Gardner and playwright Samuel Beckett to singer Freddie Mercury and ballerina Margot Fonteyn, ensuring the amazing achievements of London’s residents are remembered for generations to come. n For more on London’s blue plaques, see www.english-heritage.co.uk
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From the ancient city walls of York to the natural beauty of the Lake District, here is an adventure in northern England that takes you behind the usual tourist facade.
The southwest peninsula of England, made up of the counties of Cornwall, Devon and Somerset, is known as the West Country. It is an ancient land, full of myth and legend, and brings to life many of the ancient Celtic tales.
The county of Kent takes up most of the southeastern tip of England. In this mild climate the gentle slopes of chalk hills and the rich clay soils of central valleys combine in a special place known as the Garden of England.
From the busy streets of beautiful Edinburgh to the dramatic Scottish countryside, celebrate the holidays with a Christmas season full of an abundance of warmth and good cheer.
The city of York is a living history book, spanning the time of the Romans, the Viking invasion, a glorious medieval period and its Victorian heyday as the railway centre of the north. From York, we wind our way past ruined abbeys, country mansions and breathtaking scenery, traversing from one side of the country to the other.
The county is fertile and generous in its history. Spend time in this unique corner of England where you can walk in the footsteps of Anne Boleyn and Sir Winston Churchill. See centuries of inspiration from the vast arches of Canterbury Cathedral to the ornamental, hand-crafted splendour of the Morris & Co interior at Standen House in nearby West Sussex. Move in time from 14th-century Ightham Mote to the underground tunnels at Dover used during the Second World War. Immerse yourself in the county’s rich history. Come to Kent this fall and discover this amazing corner of England.
Our stay in Cumbria takes in several literary locales – Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage and Beatrix Potter’s charming home at Near Sawrey – and will give you an indication of why Wordsworth and the other Lake poets decided to make this area their home. Discover these treasures and more in northern England.
Our base at Stoneﬁeld Castle has gorgeous panoramic views over Loch Fyne, and embodies the character and elegance of a bygone era. Experience the festive season in Scotland complete with a mouthwatering Christmas feast and Christmas Eve services at the local church to round oﬀ a restful, joyful and timeless Scottish experience.
St Michael’s Mount
We’ll cover the long distance from London to Land’s End in speed and comfort on the intercity train and then wend a leisurely route back by private motor coach. We’ll visit gardens, castles, cathedrals, and ancient unspoiled towns and villages, and see areas of unparalleled natural beauty. Through it all will run the theme of the Arthurian legends. From Arthur’s birthplace at Tintagel, through the lost land of Lyonesse, and on to Avalon and the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey. Why not join us in the West Country?
A highland cow
“We like the small-group experience and the balance of active and leisure time. The itinerary always includes learning opportunities and meaningful engagement with whatever place we visit.” – Marguerite O.
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Discover Britain Travel Oﬀers, c/o Discover Europe, Ltd., 95 Adams Street, Keene, NH 03431, USA or call toll-free (866) 563-7077. You can also visit the website at www.discovereuropeltd.com Please send me complete details of the trip listed below with the free European Travel newsletter.
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Fit for a
Nicola Rayner visits the Queenâ€™s House in Greenwich, which reopens after refurbishment for its 400th anniversary later this year
Clockwise from above: The Queenâ€™s House; Henrietta Maria, who completed the house; Anne of Denmark, for whom the building was commissioned
Top to bottom: Greenwich Hospital from the North Bank of the Thames by Canaletto (1750-52); gilders work on the ceiling of the King’s Presence Chamber
et like a jewel between the two buildings of the Old Royal Naval College as you look up from the Thames, the Queen’s House is an exquisite white cube of a building, perfectly framed by Greenwich Park. The background of the former royal hunting ground is appropriate. The house was commissioned 400 years ago for Anne of Denmark as an apology from her husband, James I, who swore at her while hunting. (His cursing was not entirely unprovoked – she had accidentally killed one of his favourite dogs.) The first fully classical building in England, designed by Inigo Jones on his return from Italy where he had been inspired by the architecture of Andrea Palladio, the Queen’s House possesses perfect proportions and
symmetry, and was notable for its break with the traditional, red-brick Tudor style of building. Anne, who died in 1619, never lived to see her “apology” completed. Her son, King Charles I, inherited the house and another queen consort, his wife, the French princess Henrietta Maria, made her mark on the building, working closely with her husband and Jones to complete the project around 1638. “The grotesque ceiling in the Queen’s Presence Chamber is all about Henrietta Maria and Charles I,” explains Christine Riding, head of arts and curator of the Queen’s House, on a tour during the building’s refurbishment for its 400th anniversary. “Gentileschi and Guido Reni are the favourite artists of Henrietta Maria, not Charles I. Everyone assumes it was Charles I, as he was the great art patron of the 17th century, but she was heavily involved. It really is the Queen’s House.”
Changing roles Henrietta Maria’s white and gold colours, fleur-de-lis symbol and initials can be found in the house’s original features. The start of the English Civil War in 1642, however, meant she had little time to enjoy it – Henrietta Maria escaped to France, where she heard the news that her husband had been executed in 1649. When his son, Charles II, returned from Holland as king in 1660, one of the first things he did was redevelop Greenwich. (The Palace of Placentia by the river, where the Old Royal Naval College now stands, had fallen into disrepair during the English Civil War.) ➤
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Clockwise from above: The Tulip Stairs will be painted in blue smalt; the design of the Old Royal Naval College allowed the Queen’s House to keep its view; the Great Hall; Orazio Gentileschi’s Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife
“And then, as they’re redeveloping the site, Charles II has a change of heart and decides – perhaps wisely given his history – to redevelop Windsor Castle, which is a fortress,” says Riding. “In other words, he can defend the royal family from there, but he cannot defend them from Greenwich, and I think that he moves there very deliberately. “The Queen’s House still belongs to members of the royal family; it’s just they’re no longer living in it. The idea of royalty abandoning Greenwich is simply not true. The patronage of the royal family has continued up to the present day.” When a new hospital for sailors was built on the site of the old Tudor palace in the 1690s, the royal family was still sufficiently involved for Queen Mary to request that the view from the Queen’s House to the River Thames remained clear. “Christopher Wren and others had to respond by splitting the Royal Hospital into two: these wonderful arms that come forwards as a baroque palace with the Queen’s House almost filling the gap to create that Versailles-like layout,” Riding explains. After hosting various aristocrats, members of the royal family and Dutch maritime artists the Van de Veldes, who had a studio at the Queen’s House for 20 years, the building was finally granted to a charity for the orphans of seamen called the Royal Naval Asylum by King George III. This function remained until 1933, when the school moved to Suffolk. The Queen’s House was taken over by the National Maritime Museum in 1934, becoming an art gallery featuring masters such as Gainsborough, Reynolds, Turner and Hogarth. This latest refurbishment gives Royal Museums Greenwich the opportunity to refresh galleries, including the King’s Presence Chamber and the Tulip Stairs, which will both feature a bright blue smalt finish made from crushed glass and often found in 17th-century palaces, as
DISCOVER MORE The Tulip Stairs are one of the original features of the Queen’s House, but opinion is divided as to whether the tulips were integral to Inigo Jones’s original balustrade design – and are fleur-de-lis (marking the fact it was created for a French princess, Henrietta Maria) – or added later as the fashion for the flowers developed in the late 17th century. Adding to the mystery, the staircase is said to be haunted by the Queen’s House ghost, as captured on a camera by a retired Canadian reverend in 1966.
well as introducing bespoke lighting and a fresh 21st-century interpretation of the 17th-century site. The queens of the house will be remembered in the Queen’s Presence Chamber, with a full-length equestrian painting of Anne of Denmark given pride of place featuring, aptly, an archway designed by Inigo Jones in the background as a reminder of her patronage of him, as well as her love of hunting. “We are bringing in loans from the National Portrait Gallery and the Royal Collection to make the point that this is the queen’s side of the house,” says Riding. “Above the fireplace will hang a double portrait by Mytens and Van Dyck of Henrietta Maria and Charles I. The iconography on the ceiling is all about their relationship, so to have something about their marriage is very, very appropriate.” Like any house with the builders in, there are paint samples on the wall for the new colour schemes when we visit, though these have been developed by Patrick Baty, a historical paint expert, with bright red planned for the Queen’s Presence Chamber, bright blue for the King’s. “In the 17th century red was a very royal colour and it works beautifully with the ceiling,” Riding explains.
The return of the artists The original grotesque ceiling in the Queen’s Presence Chamber, which dates back to the 1630s, was restored in 2013 and gilders are hard at work on the ceiling in the King’s Presence Chamber. “But the real centrepiece, because this is where the male courtiers would have assembled in the presence of the king, will be Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife, which was actually painted for the Queen’s House,” says Riding. Orazio Gentileschi’s painting, which will be displayed in the house for the first time since 1650, shows Joseph resisting the allure of Potiphar’s wife – “the ideal of the ultimate courtier,” explains Riding. Downstairs in the cube-shaped Great Hall another artist – Turner Prize-winner Richard Wright – will step into Gentileschi’s shoes for the first time since 1639, hand-gilding the ceiling in an intricate gold leaf pattern that will pay homage to the Tulip Stairs. “This has been some time in the waiting,” says Riding. “In some ways we’ve been grappling with the absence of a Gentileschi since the first part of the 18th century.” The artist’s series of nine paintings were removed from the ceiling by Queen Anne and given to Sarah Churchill. “The wonderful black and white marble floor from the 1630s is original to the house and, in terms of its geometry, apes what’s going on in the ceiling above,” adds Riding. Wright’s ceiling will be unveiled to the public later this year when the Queen’s House reopens, along with the rest of the refurbishments and more than 450 artworks, including paintings, mirrors and sculptures. But Riding warns: “If you think it’s going to be done and dusted in 2016, you’ve got another thing coming. The Queen’s House deserves to be re-invented and re-discussed. We are just temporary custodians of this tremendously important building.” n www.rmg.co.uk/queens-house
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MAYBE IT’S BECAUSE I’M A LONDONER In a new series exploring the lives of iconic Londoners, Marianka Swain gets an insider’s tour from a black-cab driver. Photography by Arnhel de Serra
P Paul Kirby takes a break from his black cab outside the taxi drivers’ cafe in Notting Hill
aul Kirby’s most unusual passenger? A four-legged one. “A gentleman asked if I take dogs. When I said yes, he put his Labrador in the taxi on its own! Turns out he was divorced and shared custody with his ex. The whole way, I wondered if I’d end up at Battersea Dogs Home or telling my wife we’ve got a new addition to the family. But it was fine in the end – and the dog was one of my better-behaved passengers...” It’s all part of the job for Paul, who’s spent 25 years driving one of London’s iconic black cabs. “I’m a Londoner born and bred, and I
liked the idea of being my own boss, plus the honour of joining the best taxi service in the world.” It took him two years to master the Knowledge, learning about 25,000 streets and 20,000 landmarks. “They’re always changing: new landmarks, new names for hotels, theatres, restaurants, clubs. London never stops.” One upcoming change is the new Crossrail service, which Paul hopes will “spread the work out”. Technology hasn’t affected him, as he prefers local knowledge to satnav, though a black-cab app flags up jobs if needed. Otherwise the network of some 25,000 drivers is his most valuable resource. “We compare notes: that ➤
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“One of Paul’s favourite areas is the Southwark stretch of the Thames. ‘There’s the replica of Francis Drake’s Golden Hind, the Clink prison, Shakespeare’s Globe’”
street’s shut off, that hotel’s changed its name again. If a passenger asks for somewhere you’ve never heard of, you call round – someone always knows. And there’s mutual respect. We’ll always let another taxi out of a junction, as we know what they’ve gone through to be able to drive a black cab.” Passengers vary “from locals to tourists, young, old, businessmen, shoppers... I drive kids on their own too – parents know they can trust us.” One of Paul’s longest journeys was all the way to Oxfordshire, when an enterprising passenger gathered a group of strangers following a train crash near Paddington. “Another bloke was so stressed out from work we got all the way home, and then he remembered he had moved two days ago. Lots of people tell me their problems. A shrink explained it is because there’s not much eye contact, so even Londoners are comfortable opening up.” Celebrity passengers include Kate Moss, Hugh Grant, Jude Law, boxer Barry McGuigan and the late Terry Wogan. Paul, who mixes up his hours, has become adept at finding late-night cafes. “London really is a 24-hour city if you know where to go. And I always meet up with friends at the Sea Shell of Lisson Grove – brilliant fish and chips. The takeaway side is half the price of the restaurant, and they offer a discount for taxi drivers.” Getting caught short is tricky, with so few public toilets, “but the hotels usually let us in”.
One of his favourite areas is the Southwark stretch of the Thames. “There’s the replica of Francis Drake’s Golden Hind, the Clink Prison – the oldest in England – Shakespeare’s Globe, the old bear-baiting pits, and the Anchor Bankside pub where Samuel Pepys wrote his diary entry about the Great Fire of London, which he could see across the river. “It’s proper history. I love walking round, imagining it all. The Monument to the Great Fire is well worth a look, and has fantastic views from the top.” There are hidden gems everywhere, notes Paul – sometimes tiny ones. London’s smallest statue, in Eastcheap, is a 19th-century rendering of two mice fighting over a piece of cheese. “It’s from when they were working on the Monument, and one worker accused another of eating his lunchtime cheese sandwich. They got in a fight and fell to their deaths. Turns out, it was a mouse all along.” He also loves the flower-filled boats of Little Venice in west London, “which feels like another world, even though you’re a mile from Oxford Street”, and the disused tube tunnels and stations, “a part of London no one sees, like stepping back in time. It’s a privilege to drive in this amazing city – so full of history, and also growing every day.” n For more on iconic Londoners, visit www.discoverbritainmag.com/london
THE INSIDE TRACK: A BLACK-CAB DRIVER’S PICKS Favourite London attraction “I like watching the street entertainers in Covent Garden, then walking to Waterloo Bridge. Any way you look, there’s this great mix of old and new: Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament next to the London Eye, St Paul’s next to the Shard and the Gherkin.” Favourite London view “From Primrose Hill, that whole cityscape is laid out in front of you. Galvin at Windows on top of the Park Lane Hilton is pricey – just go for one drink – but you get a great bird’s-eye view.” Favourite London meal “Our favourite local is a Greek restaurant on Uxbridge Road called Vine Leaves. The same couple’s run it for 25 years – it’s a proper family place.” Favourite Londoner “Suggs, the lead singer of Madness. I’ve grown up with their songs of Londoners and London life.”
On a summer tour of Britain, Brenda Cook explores hidden gems and asks… did you know?
NOT IN THE SAME BOAT Summer is the time for messing about on the river in England’s oldest university cities, but did you know that Oxford and Cambridge favour different punting styles? Punts are famously propelled along by pushing a pole against the riverbed and were first used for ferrying cargo or as platforms for fishing in the Fens as their flat-bottomed design is perfect for shallow waters. In Cambridge, punters stand on raised platform, or till, towards the stern, or back, of the boat, a practice that is said to have developed to allow the first female students at Cambridge to punt without getting their long skirts wet. At Oxford, the traditional technique is to stand inside the boat, nearer to its centre, and punt with the till forwards, which is said to make steering easier in the deeper Oxford waterways. Of course, each university believes “the other place” has got it wrong.
As Britain’s gardens burst to life in the summer months, they are a delight to explore during the day, but did you know that some National Trust properties also keep their doors open until later in the evening so you can dine al fresco in stunning surroundings? With musical performances and a relaxed atmosphere, Dyffryn Gardens, in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, promises a summer to remember with its late-night Fridays on 24 June and 8 July, keeping the grounds open until 8pm. Just bring a picnic and bottle of bubbly. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ dyffryn-gardens
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PILGRIM’S PROGRESS St Cross in Winchester – officially the Hospital of St Cross and Almshouse of Noble Poverty – is England’s oldest charitable institution. It was founded by Bishop Henry of Blois, a grandson of William the Conqueror, in 1132 who was inspired, as the story goes, by an encounter with a hungry peasant girl he met on a walk through nearby Itchen Meadows, who begged him to help her people. Further along the river, he came across the ruins of a religious house, where he resolved to establish a community to help the poor. Later, the hospital provided sustenance to pilgrims on the way to Canterbury or Southampton and, to this day, the 900-year-old tradition dictates that, if you request the Wayfarer’s Dole on arrival at the porter’s lodge, you’ll be served a morsel of bread and a beaker of ale. The walk to the hospital and almshouse was immortalised by the poet John Keats in his Ode to Autumn, though it’s possible to do Keats’ Walk in any season. www.hospitalofstcross.co.uk/history
AN ENGLISH ROSE We all know an English Rose when we see one – a natural beauty with a delicate, fair-skinned complexion, such as the Duchess of Cambridge, Keira Knightley, Emma Watson or Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary in Downton Abbey). But did you know such ideals about attractiveness have been around for over 400 years? A new exhibition of portraits by some of the finest painters at the Bowes Museum in Durham explores English female allure, from court beauties of the 17th century to society ladies of Edwardian England. Running until 25 September, The English Rose – Feminine Beauty from Van Dyck to Sargent traces the development of artists’ representations of their sitters, and was inspired by the identification of a portrait by Anthony van Dyck of Olivia Boteler Porter, depicting her as a beauty of the court of King Charles I. The Van Dyck will be shown alongside a range of English beauties painted through the years by Reynolds, Gainsborough, Romney, Millais and Sargent. www.thebowesmuseum.org.uk
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“Come on! Come on! This hillock hides the spire,” wrote John Betjeman in his famous poem Sunday Afternoon Service at St Enodoc. The former poet laureate’s words perfectly capture the sense of approaching St Enodoc, in Trebetherick on the north coast of Cornwall, Betjeman’s final resting place. Nestled among sand dunes and overlooking the Camel Estuary and Daymer Bay, the chapel stands in a magical spot, but did you know the building, some of which can be dated back to the 12th century, was almost completely buried in sand before its renovation in 1864? Until then, the vicar and parishioners had to enter via a hole in the roof for St Enodoc’s annual service, which it had to host at least once a year in order to maintain the tithes required by the church.
It’s possible that there’s nothing lovelier or more British than pottering up and down on the waterways that criss-cross the landscape on a canal boat but did you that, during their golden age, canals served a more serious purpose? Used for trade, they acted as a catalyst to the Industrial Revolution, helping to transform the UK. Get to grips with this fascinating history at the Gloucester Waterways Museum which, following a £1m grant, has reopened with new galleries offering an insight into the significance of the River Severn, and Gloucester and Sharpness Canal – once the broadest and deepest in the world with immense swing-bridges and ornate bridge-keepers’ houses – as well as the importance of Gloucester Docks. Based in a former Victorian warehouse in Gloucester Docks, the museum is one of three owned by the Canal & River Trust – the charity entrusted with the care of 2,000 miles of waterways in England and Wales – which also offers scheduled cruises on the River Severn and Gloucester and Sharpness Canal, so you can put your new knowledge into action. www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/Gloucester
NE W STEPPING OUT IN STYLE The city of Bath, where Jane Austen set two of her novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, and lived from 1801 to 1806, celebrates the famous novelist every year with the Jane Austen Festival. But did you know the festival officially opens with the Grand Regency Costumed Promenade, with hundreds of people in 18th-century costume taking part in the procession through the streets. In 2014 the Jane Austen Festival achieved the Guinness World Record for “the largest gathering of people dressed in Regency costumes”. This year’s festival, which takes place from 9 to 18 September, includes the Country Dance Ball at the Pavilion on 10 September and the Masked Ball at the Pump Rooms on 16 September. www.janeaustenfestivalbath.co.uk
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SHIVER ME TIMBERS As an island nation, Britain has a proud seafaring history so learning to sail is a great way to get in touch with its heritage. But historic naval adventures also came with a dubious flip-side – pirates. And Adventure Under Sail, which operates the sail-training vessel Tall Ship Pelican, offers the chance to get your sea legs on a ship with a dash of pirating history. Originally built in France in 1946, Pelican was converted from an Arctic trawler to a tall ship in 2007. She has no equivalent among square-riggers – her mast is modelled on the Barbary Coast pirate ships, and is possibly one of a kind. Operating out of Weymouth in Dorset, on the stunning Jurassic Coast, Tall Ship Pelican sails around the UK throughout the year. And, with no previous sailing experience necessary to sign up, there really is no excuse not to climb aboard and have your own swashbuckling adventure on the high seas. www.adventureundersail.com
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Rolling hills, chocolate-box villages and a rich Tudor history: Marianka Swain salutes the majestic charms of Gloucestershire
GLOUCESTERSHIRE From a Tudor stronghold and King Edward II’s resting place to current residents the Prince of Wales and Zara Phillips, the Cotswolds have always had the royal seal of approval. And no wonder: this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a haven of quintessentially English country charm. Its rolling hills are bedecked by sheep – “wold’ is Old English for “upland common” – and its villages characterised by warm honey-coloured buildings created from local limestone. Cotswolds country covers five different counties, but the bulk of it is in Gloucestershire. In the medieval period, Cotswold wool was prized throughout Europe, which led to the construction of magnificent houses and churches, many of which are still standing in Gloucestershire. There are also remnants of earlier history, in the form of Roman villas, such as Chedworth, and the Fosse Way, which forms part of modern lanes and parish boundaries. The region is also beloved by artists. Holst dedicated a symphony to the Cotswolds and Vaughan Williams based an opera on local village life, while current occupants include Blur’s Alex James, Sam Mendes, Stella McCartney and Damien Hirst. JK Rowling was born in Chipping Sodbury, and Laurie Lee dedicated the gorgeously evocative Cider with Rosie to his idyllic childhood home. Gloucestershire’s combination of significant sites, charming market towns, unspoilt landscapes and illustrious residents is simply irresistible. Long may it reign. 84 discoverbritainmag.com
Immortalised in Laurie Lee’s lyrical classic Cider with Rosie, this idyllic village is still wonderfully unspoilt. Your Lee pilgrimage can begin at childhood cottage Rosebank, part of a 17th-century manor where he and his many siblings were raised, then on to Rose Cottage, his home from 1961, and finally his resting place in the local churchyard, plus book locations like nearby hill town Painswick, haunted Bulls Cross, and the valley itself, as lush and evocative as Lee recalls. Finish up at the Woolpack pub, once the author’s local and now home to real ales and delicious seasonal fare. www.thewoolpackslad.com
Gloucestershire SNOWSHILL MANOR Snowshill is a real treasure trove, packed with remarkable curiosities collected over a lifetime by architect Charles Wade, whose motto was “Let nothing perish”. Rooms are filled to the brim with everything from Samurai armour to musical instruments – Wade himself lived in the Priest’s House. Part of the main house, built with honey-coloured Cotswold stone, dates from the 16th century, and it has a delightful Arts and Crafts garden. King Henry VIII took over Snowshill from Winchcombe Abbey in 1539 and gifted it to Katherine Parr – you can still see her coat of arms.
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BERKELEY CASTLE Incredibly, Berkeley has been in the same family for 850 years. Once a fortress against the invading Welsh – it still has arrow slits and murder holes – the 12th-century castle has seen its share of bloodshed, including the brutal 1327 murder of King Edward II. The Berkeleys have since transformed it into a beloved family house, complete with an impressive collection of treasures such as Francis Drake’s cabin chest. Wolf Hall fans will spot locations from the hit BBC series, and there’s also a 6,000-acre estate featuring rare plants, a medieval deer park, tropical Butterfly House and Queen Elizabeth I’s bowling green. www.berkeley-castle.com
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24 mile round trip through glorious scenery Travel from Toddington, Winchcombe or Cheltenham Race Course stations 693 yard tunnel at Greet Heritage steam engines, diesel locomotives and diesel railcars Famous 15 arch Stanway viaduct Tea room, shop and small museum at Toddington, cafĂŠ at Winchcombe Free car and coach parking GWR heritage trail
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HIGHGROVE GARDENS The Prince of Wales’s residence reflects his environmental beliefs, from the solar panels and woodchip boiler at the house to the organic garden and farm. With advice from Lady Salisbury and Miriam Rothschild, Prince Charles created a wildflower meadow with endangered native plants and some of the national collection of beeches. Other highlights include classical temples made from green oak and a stone sundial given as a wedding present to Prince Charles and Princess Diana. After your tour, enjoy afternoon tea at the Orchard Restaurant. www.highgrovegardens.com
SUDELEY CASTLE Tudor fanatics will adore Sudeley, one of Henry VIII’s royal residences. During a visit, he planned the dissolution of the monasteries, while later resident Thomas Seymour brought ward Lady Jane Grey and wife Katherine Parr, Henry VIII’s widow; Katherine is entombed here. The estate includes the Queens’ Gardens, named for the four queens who walked the parterre. There are more gems inside, such as Charles I’s despatch box.
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GLOUCESTER CATHEDRAL A site of continuous Christian worship for over 1,300 years, the 7th-century Anglo-Saxon religious house was reborn in the 11th century as the Norman abbey where King Henry III was crowned and Edward II buried. Henry VIII dissolved the monastery in 1540 and Oliver Cromwell almost demolished it. The cathedral has exemplary Gothic architecture and history, plus it hosts the world’s oldest music festival, Three Choirs, in July. www.gloucestercathedral.org.uk
BOURTON-ON-THE-WATER MODEL VILLAGE
Small is beautiful. This one-ninth scale replica of a picturesque 1930s Cotswold village contains: all its buildings, from the Old Water Mill to the ford; gardens (pruned to scale) with miniature greenhouses and furniture; churches featuring real choral singing; a running River Windrush; Bourton-on-the-Water’s famous stone bridges; and, best of all, a model of the Model Village. Alongside this exquisite time capsule, created by the Old New Inn’s landlord and opened on the coronation day of King George VI, there’s an exhibition of miniature scenes, room sets and replicas of iconic cottages such as Willy Lott’s House, depicted in Constable’s The Hay Wain. www.themodelvillage.com
GLOUCESTERSHIRE WARWICKSHIRE RAILWAY For a taste of the train travel of 50 years ago, the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway offers a 24-mile round trip between picturesque Laverton and Cheltenham Racecourse on which you can sample the glories of steam travel, as well as panoramic views of Cotswolds scenery. The Toddington and Winchcombe stations provide refreshments with a delightful 1950s cafe at the latter. Themed events are held throughout the year. www.gwsr.com
CHELTENHAM Britain’s most complete Regency town is a study in elegance. It features in the Gloucestershire section of the Domesday Book, but was really put on the map when King George III visited the spa in 1788 – you can still sample the healing waters at the Pittville Pump Room. Other attractions include the fine Regency terraces, tree-lined Promenade, smart shops and eateries like Raymond Blanc’s Brasserie Blanc, Holst Birthplace Museum and blooming Montpellier Gardens, plus the world-class horse racing and annual festivals. Lewis Carroll used to visit Alice Liddell here – the mirror in her grandparents’ house inspired Through the Looking-Glass. www.visitcheltenham.com
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The former Benedictine monastery, which dominates the surrounding countryside, is a superb example of Norman architecture, with its impressive arch and flanking turrets, historic stained glass and one of the largest and finest Romanesque crossing towers in Europe. Robert Fitzhamon, a kinsman of William the Conqueror, acquired it in 1087, but didn’t live to see the abbey’s completion; he was subsequently buried in the Chapter House. During the Wars of the Roses, defeated Lancastrians seeking sanctuary here were slaughtered by the Yorkists, meaning the building had to be reconsecrated, and Henry VIII used its bells for warship cannon – they’ve since been restored to full glory.
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Dating back to the 15th century, the Lion Inn in Winchcombe (below) started life as a coaching inn. In the centuries since the building has gone through many changes, but today the beautifully refurbished property, with seven exquisite bedrooms all with en suite bathrooms, is an ideal base from which to explore some of the most beautiful locations in the Cotswolds, including Sudeley Castle, which is within walking distance.
A sumptuous Cotswold manor house on the outskirts of Cheltenham, Ellenborough Park has a wonderfully scandalous history. The main house of the estate dates back to the 15th century, but the manor achieved notoriety in the 19th century when Lord Ellenborough married society beauty Jane Digby, 17 years his junior, after the death of his first wife. Digby soon abandoned her husband for an Austrian prince, but left her stamp of individuality on Ellenborough Park, which opened as a hotel in 2008 with 60 luxurious rooms that mix original features with modern comforts.
THE LION INN
Dubbed â€œthe epitome of the English villageâ€? by the Prince of Wales, lovely Owlpen is one of the most romantic spots in the Cotswolds. The famous Tudor manor house that was built for the De Olepenne family in the 1450s is said to be haunted by Queen Margaret of Anjou, wife of King Henry VI, but the cluster of lovely Cotswold cottages that surround it offers nine dreamy hideaways, including a watermill that dates back to 1728, a Victorian cottage and a gabled garden gazebo. www.owlpen.com
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Beside the seaside As the sun comes out, Jemima Coxshaw shares her pick of hotels on the coast
Built in the 1920s, Bailiffscourt Hotel and Spa was created from authentic materials collected from derelict buildings dating back as far as the 13th century. Its story began when Lord Moyne, then Walter Guinness, charged antiquarian and architect Amyas Phillips to create a house in the medieval style favoured by his wife, Evelyn. Phillips went on to landscape the garden too and Lady Moyne lived there until her death in 1938. With narrow passageways, oak beams, flagstone floors and four-poster beds inside, and 30 acres of parkland, a moat and rose-filled courtyard beyond its walls, the captivating property is a short walk from pretty Climping Beach.
One of Britain’s most beautiful beaches, the golden sands of Holkham came to the world’s attention in the closing scenes of 1998’s Oscar-winning Shakespeare in Love. Just a short walk away from the beach and the ancestral home of the 8th Earl of Leicester, Holkham Hall, the Victoria Inn has recently been extended with the opening of the 16th-century Ancient House. Featuring 10 stylish rooms, including three split-level suites, Ancient House overlooks the National Nature Reserve and boasts a walled rose garden. Dining at the main hotel includes shellfish, fish and samphire from the north Norfolk coast and beef from the Holkham Estate.
Bailiffscourt Hotel & Spa
The Victoria Inn
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3 Seaham Hall
4 The Nare Hotel
In a wildly romantic clifftop location overlooking Durham’s heritage coastline, Seaham Hall was the location of the wedding of the Romantic poet Lord Byron to Anne Isabella Milbanke in 1815. The latter’s father, Sir Ralph Milbanke, built himself an impressive new house overlooking the North Sea coast in 1791. While his daughter’s marriage to Byron was not a huge success, it did produce one remarkable offspring: mathematician Ada Lovelace. Situated in 37 acres of landscaped gardens, Seaham Hall has been restored to its former Georgian splendour with an award-winning Serenity Spa and the aptly named Byron’s Restaurant.
Overlooking Carne Beach and surrounded by National Trust land, the Nare Hotel has been rated by the AA as the best hotel in Cornwall every year for the last 15 years. The hotel is in the perfect position for exploring the Roseland Peninsula with its secret creeks, hidden churches and legendary gardens – the Eden Project and Lost Gardens of Heligan are a short drive away – while St Ives and St Michael’s Mount are accessible in a day trip. It even has its own yacht, a Cornish Crabber called Maggie O’Nare, available for private hire. But with the hotel’s famous country-house comforts and unbeatable location, you may find you want to stay closer to home.
With breathtaking views across Morecambe Bay to the Lake District fells, the Midland Hotel stands white and gleaming on Morecambe’s seafront like an ocean liner. The sight will be a familiar one to fans of Agatha Christie. The iconic edifice, epitomising Art Deco elegance, has been visited more than once by Hercule Poirot on screen – and it’s easy to see why. Designed by architect Oliver Hill, with interiors by Eric Gill and murals by Eric Ravilious (sadly subsequently lost), the 1930s hotel has recently been lovingly restored. Unwind after a coastal walk with the Midland’s legendary afternoon tea in the Sun Terrace Restaurant with magnificent sea views.
The Midland Hotel
1: The medieval-style Bailiffscourt Hotel and Spa 2: The Victoria Inn near beautiful Holkham Beach 3: Seaham Hall overlooks Durham’s heritage coastline 4: The Nare on Carne Beach in Cornwall 5: The Art Deco Midland
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Quiz Crossword no 191 SAY WHAT? Can you identify which great Briton uttered these words of wisdom?
Across 1 Edith —, author of The Railway
Children (6) 5 Caledonian (8) 9 The Laughing —, a famous painting by Frans Hals in the Wallace Collection (8) 10 Dawlish —, National Nature Reserve in south Devon (6) 11 — Waltham, moated palace ruin in Hampshire (7) 12 Area of the City of Westminster renowned for its theatres, pubs, restaurants and so on (4) 14 Pen-name of the satirical author Hector Hugh Munro (4) 15 Town on the River Ehen in Cumbria with a famous annual Crab Fair (8) 18 Wensleydale village with three sets of waterfalls (8) 19 Norse god of thunder (4) 21 Island base of St Columba, in the Inner Hebrides (4) 23 City in south Wales, birthplace in 1914 of the poet Dylan Thomas (7) 25 Lytham St Annes is a resort on the estuary of this river (6) 26 A formerly wooded district including parts of Kent, Surrey and East Sussex (3,5) 27 A temple to all the gods (8) 28 Canopy over a four-poster bed (6)
Down 2 Small village in Northumberland with the substantial ruins of a medieval castle now owned by English Heritage (4) 3 A bird closely related to the chaffinch (9) 4 Yorkshire birthplace of Thomas Lord, creator of Lord’s cricket ground (6) 5 Designer of the Crystal Palace for the Great Exhibition of 1851 (3,6,6) 6 Historic Shropshire town near the border with Wales (8) 7 Small mountain lakes (5) 8 George —, English engineer (1781-1848), a pioneer of steam locomotives and railways (10) 13 According to legend she rode naked through the streets of Coventry (4,6) 16 Worth —, village in the Isle of Purbeck with one of the oldest churches in Dorset (9) 17 Cumbrian village where the poet William Wordsworth is buried (8) 20 Brother of Edith and Sacheverell Sitwell (6) 22 Newton —, market town in Devon, on the River Teign (5) 24 River near Snape Maltings in Suffolk (4) Visit www.discoverbritainmag.com for answers
“The use of travelling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are” B
“I always admired virtue – but I could never imitate it” C
“Here was the freedom I desired, long sought-for, not yet known… Freedom to write, to walk, to wander, freedom to climb hills, to pull a boat, to be alone” D
“I almost wish we were butterflies and liv’d but three summer days – three such days with you I could fill with more delight than 50 common years could ever contain” E
“Oh dear, I hope it wasn’t anyone important” Turn to page 98 for the answers
Solution to crossword 190 Across: 1 Crabbe, 4 Worksop, 9 Islington, 10 Devon, 11 Thane, 12 East Lynne, 13 Newbury, 15 Raglan, 17 Nymans, 19 Spenser, 21 Christian, 23 Synod, 25 Wader, 26 The Solent, 27 Stephen, 28 Nelson Down: 1 Clinton, 2 Alloa, 3 Benbecula, 4 Windsor, 5 Rydal, 6 Sevenoaks, 7 Pence, 8 Ottery, 14 Weybridge, 16 Greystoke, 18 Skipton, 19 Sonnet, 20 Rudston, 21 Cowes, 22 Sarah, 24 Neeps discoverbritainmag.com 97
English eccentrics “His habit of taking roast joints of meat into the water with him was the cause of embarrassment to his sisters”
Water, water, everywhere he “amphibious” Lord Rokeby lived up to his name. After a relatively distinguished start in life – he was born Matthew Robinson in 1713 to a large and accomplished family – his obsession with water began after a spa holiday abroad and gradually consumed him. The 2nd Baron Rokeby, though eccentric, was not an unkind man. Edith Sitwell in English Eccentrics describes him as “famous for his amphibious habits, and for possessing benevolence and a beard”. His beard was legendary – described by Sitwell and various biographers in some detail as forked and almost reaching his waist. The hirsute appearance seems to have been part of Rokeby’s return to nature. As for his belief in the healing powers of water, a trip to Aix-la-Chapelle (now Aachen in Germany) seems to have opened the floodgates. On his visits to the seashore at home to take the waters, Sitwell describes Rokeby as resembling a troll “whose back was bent as if he carried the weight of his winter forests” making his way to his hut on the beach at Hythe near Mount Morris. Usually, a despondent servant, dressed in full livery, would trail behind Rokeby on these daily walks – on wet days the servant would travel in a carriage – to be at hand to haul him out of the water should he faint, which happened on occasion. He had fresh water fountains placed along the route to the beach and Rokeby bestowed
half-crowns upon those found drinking from them – which, unsurprisingly, made the practice rather popular. One imagines the immersion baths Rokeby constructed closer to home were less worrying to his nearest and dearest than his expeditions out to sea, though his habit of taking roast joints of meat into the water with him was the cause of embarrassment to his sisters, Elizabeth Montagu and Sarah Scott, social reformers and writers who were friends with Horace Walpole, the Garricks and Dr Johnson. Elizabeth, who founded the Bluestocking Society, worried that her brother might be tempted to frequent the waters of Bath: “I shall never be able to stand the joke of a gentleman’s bathing with a roast loin of veal floating at his elbows, all the Belles and Beaux of the Pump Room looking on and admiring.” Perhaps such habits led to the rumours that Rokeby was a cannibal or ate only raw meat. His was certainly a strange path for a man whose start in life had been so conventional: Rokeby studied law at Cambridge, working as a member of parliament for Canterbury from 1747 to 1761. Some say his disillusionment with the corruption of the House of Commons caused him to retreat as he did. Later in life he wrote inflammatory pamphlets about the prime minster from his bath, though it is difficult to imagine how. His end, when it came in 1800, occurred on dry land. n
ANSWERS TO SAY WHAT? A SAMUEL JOHNSON B CHARLES II C DAPHNE DU MAURIER D JOHN KEATS E QUEEN ELIZABETH II
BRIDGEMAN ART LIBRARY/WWW.BRIDGEMANART.COM
Lord Rokeby was like a fish out of water – and the source of some concern for his famous siblings
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‘And to thee and thy company I bid A hearty welcome’ The Tempest, Act 5 Scene 1