WELLINGTON’S WATERLOO BREECHES

After the Battle of Waterloo, the nation presented the Duke of Wellington (left) with Strathfieldsaye, an estate between Basingstoke and Reading. The Duke, wishing to commemorate the event, planted a number of beech trees as a lasting memorial, which were known as “the Waterloo beeches.” Perhaps the Duke chose beeches due to the beech forest of Soignes, which lines the road between Brussels and Waterloo and through which the Duke would have ridden many times. In fact, the forest is so impressive that many contemporary odes and poems about Waterloo mention these “noble beeches.”

Some years later, the eminent arboricultural author, John Loudon (below), writing on the subject of the relative ages and sizes of trees, wrote to the Duke for permission to view the beeches at Stratfield Saye.

The Duke of Wellington received Loudon’s letter while sitting in the House of Lords. It was a note to this effect: “My Lord Duke—-It would gratify me extremely if you would permit me to visit Strathfieldsaye at any time convenient to your grace, and to inspect the Waterloo beeches. Your grace’s faithful servant, J. C. Loudon.”

Now, while Louden was an eminent horticulturalist, his handwritting could have stood some improvement.  The Duke read the letter twice, the writing of which was not very clear, and he took the signature to be that of J.C. London – the Bishop of London. He also mistook the word “beeches” to read “breeches.”

With his usual promptness and politeness, the Duke replied as follows, “My dear Bishop of London—It will always give me great pleasure to see you at Strathfieldsaye. Pray come there whenever it suits your convenience, whether I am at home or not. My servant will receive orders to show you as many pairs of my breeches as you may wish, but why you should wish to inspect those I wore at the battle of Waterloo is quite beyond the comprehension of Yours most truly, Wellington.”

The letter was received, as may be supposed, with great surprise by the Bishop of London (at left). He showed it to the Archbishop of Canterbury and to other discreet persons; they came to the melancholy conclusion that the great Duke of Wellington had evidently lost his senses. The Bishop of London (Blomfield) declared that he had not written to the duke for two years and to receive this extraordinary intimation puzzled the whole bench of bishops. Likewise, the Duke of Wellington had been having his own doubts as to the sanity of the Bishop of London and had been making his own discreet inquiries. Finally, the mistake was discovered, the original writer identified and all doubts about the sanity of two of England’s greatest minds were put to rest. No doubt Loudon was, indeed, allowed to visit the beeches and we have, preserved for posterity, yet another wonderful anecdote concerning the Duke of Wellington.

The Wellington Connection: Vauxhall Gardens

In the run up to the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, we’ll first take a look at the connection between Wellington, Waterloo and Vauxhall Gardens. The Gardens, known for it’s dark walks, supper boxes, fireworks, balloon ascents and other assorted amusements, also regularly cashed in on events that captured the public interest, including the Battle of Waterloo. As best as I can discover, a recreation of the Battle was held each year, the event attracting thousands to the Gardens.

In 1817, the Battle of Waterloo was re-enacted with 1,000 soldiers participating, for which E. A. Theleur composed The Soldier’s Return, a “Military Divertissement.”

The European Magazine tells us that in 1824 –

“On the 19th of June, the anniversary of the battle of Waterloo was commemorated at these gardens by a grand military fete. Flags of all the nations of Europe waved from the trees, whose dark foliage was finely contrasted with the uncommon brilliancy of the lamps, of which there were upwards of 12,000 additional, arranged in various devices. A transparency of the Duke of Wellington presented itself in the most conspicuous part of the garden, flanked on each side by the word ‘Waterloo’ in variegated colours. In the ballet of the Chinese Wedding the Minuet de la Cour, the Gavutte, and a quadrille, were introduced by the pupils of Monsieur Hullin. The concert consisted of appropriate military songs, &c; and amongst the cosmoramas was one piece painted expressly for the occasion, representing the Battle of Waterloo. The fire-works were more than usually splendid, and concluded with a double glory of sixty-two rays, with ‘Wellington” in the centre, and the words ‘Long may he live.’ The company was numerous and respectable, comprising many persons of fashion; and, upon the whole, the fete passed off without considerable trial.”

The Battle of Waterloo, complete with horses, foot soldiers, and set scenes, was again presented at Vauxhall in 1827 and 1828. In 1827, Charles Farley, of Covent Garden Theatre, produced in the Gardens a representation of the Battle of Waterloo, with set-scenes of La Belle Alliance and the wood and chateau of Hougomont; also horse and foot soldiers, artillery, ammunition-wagons, &c.

From Bell’s Weekly Messenger for Sunday, June 26, 1831 –

“On Monday night the grand Annual Fete in commemoration of the Battle of Waterloo was given at these gardens. The proprietors of this elegant place of amusement exerted themselves to render the embellishments worthy of the occasion. Immediately on entering the gardens the name of Wellington presented itself in the brilliant illumination. Many thousand additional lamps, arranged in emblematical devices, were put up, interspersed with appropriate banners and devices. These attractions, added to the Concert, the Singers of the Alps, the Dioramic Views, the Optical Illusions, the new Cosmoramas, the Chin Melodist, and the German Whistler, seemed to give the company, which was numerous, a high degree of pleasure. The whole closed with a brilliant display of Fireworks and a Water Scene.”

What the Alps, a Chin Melodist and a German Whistler had in common with the Duke, or Waterloo, I have no idea. However, it seems that all who deigned to write about the event mention the fabulous fireworks. This next bit is from The Idler and Breakfast-Table Companion – “The anniversary of the “Battle of Waterloo” was celebrated on Monday last, by a magnificent gala at these gardens. The company were particularly select and numerous, and the entertainments of the most brilliant description;—the fireworks especially. The weather appears now to be settled; the worthy proprietors may therefore calculate on a host of visitors. A walk round the ‘Royal Property,’ on a fine evening, is a great treat.”

And, from The London Literary Gazette and Journal of Belles Lettres, Arts, Sciences, Etc 1828 –

“It happened to be the night of the re-celebration of the battle of Waterloo. For at Vauxhall it was found profitable to keep such festivals twice over, and the place was all in a blaze with emblems of military glory. The names of Wellington and Waterloo showed fiery off indeed in particoloured flame, and seemed a pattern for History to write of the hero—` With a pencil of light.’”

From The Works of Thomas Hood: Comic and Serious – “There was an abundance of illumination, but we think we have seen the ornaments more tastefully and airily disposed. The trophy shields were formal, and the crowns somewhat lumpish and heavy—light, as Dr. Donne would quibble, should be light— but there was a seasonable and splendid rose in June that did honour to the genius of the lamps.”

The tendency towards nit-picking evident in the passage above was expounded upon by the correspondent for The Mirror of Literature, Amusement and Instruction (1828) –

“On Wednesday, being a grand gala night in honour of the victory of Waterloo, we were induced to visit this place of resort—we would say of entertainment, had we found any; but a more miserably perverted source of public amusement than these same ‘Royal Gardens’ have become, it has never been our lot to endure. The entire character of the thing is altered, and glare and mummery have destroyed the original form and nature of the scene. Time was, when, from the bustling of business and the turmoil of the city, and even from the routs and crowded assemblies of fashionable life,—persons found an agreeable variety at Vauxhall. There was a lamp illumination, it is true—but here and there the turf was verdant, and every where the trees were green: there were sights—but they properly belonged to a rustic order, such as gentle transparencies, congenial landscapes, and at the utmost a fantoccini to divert the younger classes: there was music, too—but it was in the single orchestra, to which the promenader approached at times to hear a pretty ballad, and thus diversify the gossip-spent hour. Altogether, the Gardens were what they ought to be—essentially rural and recreative; now they are a hot, glittering, and noisy compound of all that is inferior in theatrical representations, shows, and vulgar nonsense-—a mixture of Astley’s, Bartholomew Fair . . . offensive to the eye and ear, and either tedious or distracting to the mind, as you happen to witness one performance, or be hurried to another. The company, too, which was always rather of a mixed description, is now much lowered, in consequence of the altered kind of the amusements. A mob of less attractive London materiel than we met on Wednesday can hardly be imagined. Low varlets, from the desk, the counter, and the shop-board, staring most impudently in the face of every woman, were only not so disgusting as usual, because the vast majority of the females were precisely of castes to whom such vulgarity could give no displeasure — in short, the Joes were well matched with the Jills; and a premium might have been safely offered for the discovery of any one gentleman or lady in ‘the hundred,’ or, indeed, of twenty persons of respectability in the whole mass. Then there was prepared for this worshipful company a poor vaudeville in the Row-tunder (as most of them called it), and a wretched ballet in the theatre. There were pictures, and cosmoramas, and Ching Louro, and a consort (also agreeably to the language of the place). But, above all, there was a mimic battle of Waterloo; and such a battle as ear never saw, nor eye heard! At the end of a walk, a crowd of men in uniform marched in and marched out; and Mr. Ducrow, dressed like the portrait of Buonaparte, capered and fidgetted about on a pale horse; while his Grace of Wellington curvetted on a piebald with a white face, which had nearly floored his excellent rider several times in the course of his masterly though limited evolutions on the field of war. After the footmen had walked here and there for about half an hour, and the horsemen had cantered up and down through the ten or a dozen trees and back again for as long a space of wasted time—the patient crowd of spectators waiting all the while and wondering what would come of it—a fierce attack was made upon a canvas ‘Hugomont,’ muskets were popped off, squibs thrown, and at last a rocket or a Chinese candle was supposed to set fire to the place, which was burnt down, to our great edification, and the curtain drawn. To this puerile and absurd spectacle succeeded the fire-works; and the weary visitors began to troop off as fast as they could, from so gay, so grand, and so delightful a treat—except a few of the most carnivorous and tipsy, who remained in congenial society—how long we cannot tell.

“The expense incurred in rendering Vauxhall so stupid and tiresome must be very considerable—but as complete success seems to have attended the effort, it is not to be grudged; and in these times of national distress the citizens of London, their wives and children, have no right to any relaxation. To be sure it must be paid for pretty smartly, if they are admitted to any comfort in these Gardens. Of old, a half-crown at the door, and the price of such comestibles as were devoured, were grumbled at, as tax enough; but now the account stands in a fairer form, because you are distinctly charged for every item separately, so that you know what you are paying for, and may choose or reject as you think fit. Thus Mr. Bull, from Aldgate, with Mrs. Bull, and only four of the younger Bulls and Cows, numbering six in all, makes good his entry at the cost of 1/. s.— Books to tell them what they are to see and hear, the when and the how, are 3s. — Seats for the vaudeville (average of modest places), 9s ditto for the ballet, ditto for the battle, 6s.—ditto for the fire-works, 6s., total, 21. 14. But, then, they are not charged for seeing the lamps; there is no charge for walking round the walks; there is no charge for looking at the cosmoramic pictures; there is no charge for casting a glance at the orchestra; there is no charge for staring at the other people; there is no charge for bowing or talking to an acquaintance, if you meet one—all these are gratis; and if you neither eat nor drink, there is no charge for witnessing those who do mangle the long-murdered honours of the coop, and gulp down the most renovating of liquors, be they hale or stout, vite vine, red port, or rack punch.

“Our account of these superb and captivating entertainments has, we regret to observe, stretched to a greater length than we could have wished; but when it is recollected that we do not intend to go to Vauxhall again very soon, we trust our particularity will be excused, and our tedious prolixity thought very appropriate to the subject.”

Despite such scathing reviews, Vauxhall Gardens continued to endure, and to mount recreations of the Battle. Perhaps the year 1849 was the crowning re-enactment, for the Duke (at left) himself made an appearance, as described by Edward Walford in Old and New London

“Vauxhall Gardens, down to a very late date, still attracted ‘the upper ten thousand ‘—occasionally, at least. We are told incidentally, in Forster’s ‘Life of Dickens,’ that one famous night, the 29th of June, 1849, Dickens went there with Judge Talfourd, Stanfield, and Sir Edwin Landseer. The ‘Battle of Waterloo’ formed part of the entertainment on that occasion. ‘We were astounded,’ writes Mr. Forster, ‘to see pass in immediately before us, in a bright white overcoat, the ‘great duke’ himself, with Lady Douro (his daughter-in-law) on his arm, the little Lady Ramsays (daughters of the Earl of Dalhousie) by his side, and everybody cheering and clearing the way for him. That the old hero enjoyed it all there could be no doubt, and he made no secret of his delight . . but the battle was undeniably tedious, and it was impossible not to sympathise with the repeatedly and audibly expressed wish of Talfourd that ‘the Prussians would come up!’ It must have been one of the old duke’s last appearances in a place of amusement, as he lived only three years longer.”

ON THE SHELF: THE QUEST FOR QUEEN MARY

Recently, I was reading a royal biography and, as so often happens, it led me to another title, The Quest for Queen Mary, by James Pope-Hennessy (2018). The mention of this book described how screamingly funny the Queen Mary book was in parts. Of course, I went straight to Amazon Books online and searched for it, when I found other, similar quotes on the book jacket:

“One of this year’s funniest and most eccentric books.” Mail on Sunday.

“. . . Arguably the most riotously funny volume published this year.” The Sunday Times.

“Illuminating, intriguing and boundlessly entertaining.” Country Life

Naturally, I clicked the buy now button.

The Quest for Queen Mary is not a biography (find that here), but a compilation of the notes Pope-Hennessy wrote up regarding the people he met and the interviews he conducted while researching the biography, the whole edited by Hugo Vickers.

James Pope-Hennessy by Cecil Beaton

I was familiar with P-H (Pope-Hennessy) through the various inter-war diaries, letters and biographies I had read. He was a mainstay of the Bright Young Things set, socializing with the likes of the Mitfords, Cecil Beaton, Lord Berners, Rex Whistler, Duff and Diana Cooper, et al. For the life of me, I couldn’t recall that anyone had ever said that P-H had been particularly funny.

At one time, Richard James Arthur Pope-Hennessy had been editor of The Spectator. He was also a travel writer and a biographer whose book on Lord Crewe led to his being commissioned by the Queen in 1955 to write the biography of Queen Mary.  His brother was Sir John Pope-Hennessy, who had served as the Director of both the V&A and British Museums.

Friends did describe P-H as being two different people inhabiting one body. He could be a brilliant and talented work horse of a writer, but he was also known to have a darker, somewhat brooding side. James Lees-Milne once wrote of Pope-Hennessy that ‘the devil got a firm grip of him in his twenties and early thirties.’  He spent the money of older women whilst frankly discussing his homosexual life to them.

At one time, P-H had been in a relationship with Harold Nicolson, the former diplomat, writer and MP, and had also once shared a flat with the disgraced spy, Guy Burgess. His friends knew that he often sought the company of shady individuals and on occasion P-H paid for the services of ‘rent boys,’ one of whom lived at P-H’s flat at the time that newspapers reported that P-H had received $150,000 to write a book about Sir Noel Coward (1974). Believing that the money was in the flat, the rent boy recruited two friends and the trio bound P-H, who was then 57, and viciously beat him. P-H’s valet, Leslie (Walter) Smith, 25, returned to the property during the course of the attack and was stabbed. He managed to make it out into the street and summon help. Smith survived, Pope-Hennessy did not.

What makes The Quest for Queen Mary funny are P-H’s wonderfully drawn descriptions of the places he visited and the people he interviewed. His razor sharp perceptions and eye for both detail and the absurd all contribute to the laugh out loud moments in his book.

Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence, who died 14 January 1892 at Sandringham.

Regarding Sandringham – Across the head of the main stairs is situated a truly sinister warren of small rooms . . . You go through and down two or three steps in a very narrow carpeted passage; the first door on the left is where the Duke of Clarence died. This dim and cheerless hole is surprisingly small: opposite the door a window, to the right of the door a fire-place and immediately on the r-hand wall the brass bedstead, so that you could touch the mantlepiece with your hand if lying on the bed. . . How 14 people, including the (rather fat) Duchess of Teck crammed into this room on the morning of 14 January 1892 foxes me completely . . . To sum up: this is a hideous house with a horrible atmosphere in parts, and in others no atmosphere at all. It is like a vast morgue . . . .

Pope-Hennessy related how he’d told Sir Owen Morshead (Royal Librarian) about being introduced (to Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone) as Mr. Poke-Henderson. Sir Owen duly addressed his next letter: “My dear Poke-Henderson . . . “ and told him that he had been called every possible name, including “Alan Horsehead.”

The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester in 1935

P-H was invited to stay with the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester at Bramwell in order to conduct his interviews with them – I returned to the drawing room, having seen my very comfortable room, and observed with pleasure a small, framed notice on the dressing table . . . ‘Guests are particularly requested not to offer gratuities to the indoor or outdoor staff as they are NOT allowed to accept them.’ I sat down, waiting for the next episode and looking at the drink tray, and smoking. There was a huge, high, Coromandel screen with six folds hiding the door, so that it was rather exciting, like a good play with new characters, waiting to see who was going to enter next. There was a good deal of heavy breathing and heavy martial shuffle, and the Duke of Gloucester, eyes bulging and his hair standing on end from the wind, entered, wearing corduroys, a jersey, a Guards tie and a tweed coat. . . he veered off like a tacking sailing ship towards the drink tray and began delicately dropping angostura bitters out of a tiny silver-topped bottle into a large glass. He then took the gin bottle out of the three bottle canister on the table and said: “Haven’t you had a drink?” . . . He struggled to get the ice, which was a half moon shape I had never seen anywhere before, out of the silver ice pincers. “Oh, damn.” There was a long silence while we stood by the window and looked at the floor.

Staying with the Duke and Duchess of Beaufort at Badminton – P-H joined the Duke and Duchess at the breakfast table on the morning after his arrival. The Duchess was busy giving the dogs their porridge out of plastic saucers coloured pink and pale green. They related how when Lord Digby stayed for three days during the Badminton Horse Trials, he had eaten the dogs’ porridge by mistake one morning and none of them knew how to break it to him, so he went on doing it throughout his stay.

Lady Reid, Maid of Honour to Queen Victoria and widow of James Reid, Queen Victoria’s doctor, told P-H how as a new Maid of Honour, she accompanied Queen Victoria while she was out for a drive at Osborne – Miss Baring (as she was then) trotted beside the pony-carriage. These were the only times one was alone with her, and could speak of anything, but it was all rather breathless, ‘keepin’ up with the pony.’ Her first real outing with the Queen was soon after her arrival for first duty. Miss Phipps explained to her that the Queen liked to distribute her Christmas presents herself at Osborne, and off they set in a great high royal carriage, the Queen and Miss Phipps facing the horses, Miss Baring with her back to them and a pile of presents beside her. At the first cottage a woman came out and stood on the steps of the carriage (‘poor woman it was agonizing for her to hold on’); Miss Baring took the appropriate parcel and handed it to the Queen, saying, “It’s a rug, your Majesty.”

The Queen said nothing and turned to Miss Phipps. “What an odd thing to say, a rug, a r-r-r-rug! I have never heard it called that before. A rug is something which one stands on. It can be called a plaid, or a shawl, or even a wrap. But not a rug. And Susan calls it a r-r-r-rug. I have heard it called a plaid or a wrap, but never a rug. This monologue went on for several minutes, over and over again while the woman was clinging to the steps; and Miss Baring, overcome by it all, laughed and laughed till she nearly died.

The Duke and Duchess of Windsor

About the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, with whom P-H stayed twice at their house in France while conducting interviews – The Duke of Windsor is, on first sight, much less small than I had been led to believe; he is not at all a manikin, but a well-proportioned human being. . . I was soon startled to find that, except for occasionally repeating a complete story (which the Duchess stops when she can), he is not only the one member of the Royal Family for whom one needs to make no allowances whatever, but that he is exceedingly intelligent, original, liberal minded and quite capable of either leading a conversation or taking a constructive part in one. He is also one of the most considerate men I have ever met of his generation. Like the Duchess, he is perhaps too open and trusting towards others; or else he was determined to be specially helpful to me.

On the Duchess of Windsor – This is one of the very oddest women I have ever seen . . . Like her house, she is tremendously American, and specifically Southern – it was like being back in Montgomery, Alabama, without the tree moss. I should therefore be tempted to classify her simply as An American Woman par excellence, were it not for the suspicion that she is not a woman at all. She is, to look at, phenomenal. She is flat and angular, and could have been designed for a medieval playing card. The shoulders are small and high; the head very, very large, almost monumental; the expression is either anticipatory (signalling to one, ‘I know this is going to be loads of fun, don’t yew?) or appreciative – the great giglamp smile, the wide, wide open eyes, which are so very large and pale and veined, the painted lips and the cannibal teeth. . .

There’s royalty galore in this book, on both sides of the Channel, and they are infinitely amusing whether being interviewed or being spoken about by the interviewee. If you’re a fan of royalty, or Queen Mary or historic houses or the period in general, I highly recommend this book.

Oddly, no one P-H interviewed once mentioned Queen Mary’s alleged habit of pinching things from the homes she visited.

KENWOOD HOUSE – PART TWO

Victoria here, writing about one of my favorite places in London — Kenwood House.  I first visited many years ago and feasted my eyes on the stunning collection of masterworks in the Iveagh Bequest and on the justly famous Adam Library.  But I admit, the rooms used as galleries, were — aside from the paintings — quite bland.  So I was delighted a few years ago to hear that the whole house was to be renovated and restored to the period when the 1st Earl of Mansfield purchased the structure and had Robert Adam remodel it in 1764-1779.
Entrance Hall, 2014
When Lord Iveagh purchased the building to house his art collection, it was primarily to be gallery space, but over the years, English Heritage decided to make changes that complement the architecture and the paintings both. And they did a stunning job!
Entrance Hall
Typical Adam Mantelpiece in the Hall
Great Stairs
 When Lord Iveagh, one of the heirs of the Guinness Brewery fortune, bequeathed Kenwood and his incredible art collection to the nation in 1927, he specified that  his collection should be exhibited free to all.
Lord Mansfield’s portrait above the fireplace in the library
The library ceiling as it appeared when undergoing restoration.
The painting above the fireplace in the Dining Room is by Anthony Van Dyke, Princess Henrietta of Lorraine Attended by a Page.
Elsewhere in the Dining Room are two priceless masterpieces:
Rembrandt van Rijn, Portrait of the Artist, above, and
Johannes Vermeer, The Guitar Player, below
The furniture is certainly equal to the paintings and the setting: a sidetable
Above,  The Hon. E. S. Russell and His Brother by Landseer.
Above, Angelica Kauffman, RA, The Disarming of Cupid

Kauffman was an  excellent painter and did many Georgian interior medallions and other paintings — and is, in my opinion, quite underrated.

Carlton House Desk – the original was supposedly designed for the Prince of Wales by George Hepplewhite.
Portrait of Elizabeth Murray and Dido Bell, cousins, once attributed to Johann Zoffany, but currently unattributed; the version hanging at Kenwood is a copy of the original, which can be seen in Scone Palace, Perthshire, Scotland. This painting of Lord Mansfield’s wards has long fascinated art experts and social commentators.  Dido Bell was the subject of a 2013 film exploring her life and times.
In the Music Room
Sir Thomas Lawrence, Miss Murray, 1824-26
Sir Joshua Reynolds, Mrs. Musters as “Hebe”, 1782
Another version of this work can be seen in the staircase of Highclere Castle, sometimes in evidence in scenes from Downton Abbey
John Hoppner, Mrs. Jordan as Viola from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, c.1785-92
Sir Joshua Reynolds,  Kitty Fisher as Cleopatra Dissolving the Pearl, 1759
Sir Joshua Reynolds, The Brummell Children, 1782
Magnificent Chimney piece by Adam, completed in 1773,
a fantasy with mermen, flying griffins and cherubs, and panels of Chinese painted marble tiles.
Marguerite Hyde, 19th Countess of Suffolk
by John Singer Sargent, 1898
Also known as Daisy, she was the daughter of Levi Leiter of Chicago, a partner in the Marshall Field. and Co. Department Store. She presented her family’s collection of portraits to the nation. They are displayed on the upper level.  Here are a few examples, taken from the website.
Maria Constantina Trevor, Countess of Suffolk, attributed to Catherine Read
Elizabeth Home, Countess of Suffolk, artist unknown
Charles II by Sir Godfrey Kneller
You can see the fabulous collection of paintings and furniture at Kenwood House during Number One London’s Town and Country House Tour in September.
To visit the Kenwood House website, click here.
For more details on the Iveagh Bequest paintings, click here.

 

KENWOOD HOUSE – PART ONE

In 2014, Victoria and I visited Kenwood House together, just one of many visits each of us have made to Kenwood before and since. What’s so special about Kenwood House? Situated in Hampstead Heath, Kenwood is one of the last examples of a private estate remaining in London.
Just inside the gate is this gardener’s cottage, but Kenwood House can boast rather more unique survivors of a bygone age in its grounds, including a bath house and dairy.
A flight of stairs lead to the baths themselves.

Just outside the baths, you’ll find these stairs and a doorway that leads to . . . . . the terrace at the rear of the house.

The Orangery
As you can see, the views were stunning and we decided to walk down to the dairy before touring the house.
On the way, we encountered several others strolling the grounds, including the cutie below, whose name, we learned, was Duke. Really. Not even kidding. Duke.
Around to the front entrance
The classical portico, added by Robert Adam for William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield
The walking the path leading to the Dairy
From the website:

Kenwood became what would be described in 1838 as ‘beyond all question, the finest country residence in the suburbs of London’. Tending a dairy was then a fashionable hobby for aristocratic women, following the example of the French queen Marie Antoinette. But such dairies were still functional, and the one at Kenwood would have supplied the house with butter, milk and cream, while ice was stored in the ice-house below.

Now, after restoration, the three dairy buildings can be appreciated once again: the small, colourfully decorated octagonal tea room, where Louisa entertained her friends, the rooms where the dairymaid lived, and the dairy room. The original marble benches in the dairy room are still here, although the more than 30 black marble milk pans and basins listed in the accounts are missing.

By this time, we were both a bit peckish, so we decided to walk back to the cafe for lunch before touring the house.

Roses in the Brewhouse Restaurant garden
Brewhouse Restaurant
“Hey, Vic,” I said through a mouthful of clotted cream once we’d been served.
“Hhhmmm?”
“I have something to say to you and I want you to look me in the eye while I say it.”
“Is it something bad?”
“Non. It’s something good. You ready?”
Victoria nodded.
“Here we are. Together. In London. At Kenwood House.”
Victoria grinned at me. “I know. It’s terrific. Alone together in England. Like minded travelers wallowing in British history.”
“We can overdose on 19th century Britain and Wellington to our hearts content.”
I’m not certain, but I think it was at this point that Victoria and I clapped our hands together and laughed with childlike glee.
Before long, we struck up a conversation with a really nice lady named Frances. The three of us walked outside and continued the conversation, talking about where Frances had been in the U.S. and where we’d been in England. Then I handed her our Number One London business card, which prompted Frances to tell us that she loved historical research, herself being a direct descendant of architect James Wyatt. Which prompted even more discussion, as you may well imagine.

Finally, Victoria and I entered the house and were greeted by two volunteer docents, who welcomed us warmly and asked us if this was our first visit to Kenwood House. Victoria told the young man that she’d been to the house before and had also seen the traveling exhibit of its artwork when it showed in Milwaukee. Which led to more discussion and mention of our blog. I handed him our card.

“I know this site,” he said. “It’s great.”

Victoria and I glanced at each other. Was he having us on?

“I have a blog about London, too. The Lost Valley of London. I travel round London and shoot videos of out of the way places and my adventures.”

This jogged my memory. “Wait a minute,” I said, “I know your site. You wear a pith helmet, right?” Really, what were the odds that Anthony and I should meet at Kenwood House? All of this led to more discussion and mutual admiration, which lasted another few minutes.

We did, finally, tour the house and for that part of our visit I hand you over to Victoria, who will be bringing you Part Two of our day at Kenwood House soon.

You can see Kenwood House up close and personal on
Number One London’s 2020 Town and Country House Tour.