When We Win the Lottery

Like the departments Do You Know About? and On the Shelf , When We Win the Lottery will be a regular department on this blog, bringing you items to covet and add to your list of things to buy when that winning ticket finally comes in.

Dominic Winter Book Auctions is previewing the following item from their forthcoming Medals and Military Sale on Wednesday, 14th April.

Order of the Bath – A particularly fine and handsome example of the breast Star of a Civil Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath by Rundell, Bridge, and Rundell, the articulated silver flames pierced in places to allow for sewing to court dress, the central three crowns on white enamel and the outer motto ring “Tria Juncta In Uno” on red enamel, separated by two circlets of small rubies, the reverse engraved Rundell Bridge and Rundell, JEWELLERS to their MAJESTIES and his Royal Highness the PRINCE REGENT, condition EF (extra fine).

In 1815 the Order was re-organised and whilst the Military Division had three classes, the Civil Division retained purely the highest class of Knight Grand Cross. This scarce example of the Civil Division of the Order dates from the five years from then until 1820 when the Prince Regent finally succeeded George III and the royal appointment of the jeweller changed. As a pointer to rarity it can be noted that in 1821 there were 77 Military GCBs but only 13 Civil. Estimated sale price is £600-800.

Lansdowne House and the 1st Marquess of Lansdowne

Lansdowne House, c. 1920
Lansdowne House, located adjacent to Berkeley Square, was begun by Lord Bute. Architect Robert Adam, had not finished the house when it was sold to William Petty-Fitzmaurice (1737–1805), Earl of Shelburne, later named first Marquess of Lansdowne. After Adam completed the house in 1768, the house was often the scene of social and political maneuvering among London’s leading Whigs. 
William Petty-FitzMaurice, 1st Marquess of Lansdowne, KG, PC (1737 – 1805), known as The Earl of Shelburne between 1761 and 1784, was Prime Minister 1782 – 1783 during the final months of the American War of Independence.

Shellburne/Lansdowne was a fascinating example of the quintessential 18th C. British gentleman, wealthy, politically active, supportive of scientific experimentation, an avid collector of art treasures, and occasionally quite eccentric. Horace Walpole mistrusted him, writing, “He was so well known that he could only deceive by speaking truth.” But Shelburne/Lansdowne was a friend of many: he advocated for the rights of Nonconformists,worked to soothe relationships with the former colonies in North America, both US and Canadian, and befriended Jeremy Bentham, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Dr. Johnson, David Garrick, and Benjamin Franklin. For more information on the building, which presently houses the Lansdowne Club, please see my previous post of March 29, 2010.
Lansdowne Club, London, c. 2009
One of Lord Shelburne’s friends was Joseph Priestley (1733–1804), who discovered oxygen in the laboratory supplied to him at the Shelburne country house of Bowood. A version of this room can be seen today at the estate near Chippenham in Wiltshire.

Priestley was also a dissenter and clergyman as well as an educator, political observer, and scientist. He conducted many experiments with gasses and electricity. His religious and political writings were controversial and he was several times persecuted by mobs for his views. Lord Shelburne supported Priestly and his family for a number of years. Priestly was able to pursue his scientific interests as well as advising Lord Shelburne on political matters. But they had a falling out about 1779 and Priestly moved to Birmingham, England, where he continued his religious, scientific and philosophical pursuits.

About the time his portrait was done by Ellen Sharples in 1794, Priestley emigrated to the United States and lived in Pennsylvania for the rest of his life.

The first Marquess of Lansdowne, after he received the title, largely for his work in negotiating the end of the war, withdrew from active political participation. He continued his many interests in scientific pursuits, philosophy and in his collections. 

His descendents still live at Bowood, about which I shall post soon.

Will the Real Sherlock Please Stand Up?

from Victoria

In honor of the DVD release today, I thought it would be fun to play a game and identify the various actors who played Holmes over the years.

So I googled. And googled.  And googled.  There have been dozens of actors on stage, screen, television, and radio. I was thinking of these three:

Basil Rathbone

Jeremy Brett
And of course,  Robert Downey Jr.
But who’da thunk George C. Scott?
George C. Scott as Holmes-Patton
This one I definitely have to order from Netflix!!!
For more pictures and notes, see this article in the Independent.

Sherlock Holmes Releases Today on DVD!

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous super-sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, gets an update with this adaptation of  Lionel Wigram’s comic book series by writer/director Guy Ritchie (RocknRolla) starring Robert Downey Jr., with Jude Law as a much younger, slimmer and much more appealing Dr. Watson. The supporting cast includes  RocknRolla’s Mark Strong as the film’s villain, Blackwood, and Rachel McAdams as  love interest, Irene Adler.
Though many have critisized the film for veering widely from Conan Doyle’s idea of the taciturn detective, Robert Downey, Jr. won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes.
Rumour also has it that the costumes are incredible. Jenny Beavan, the Oscar-winning costume designer of “A Room With a View,” spoke to Vanity Fair about how she shied away from relying upon Holmes’s iconic props – the deerstalker, the pipe – when dreaming up costumes for Sherlock Holmes. In part Beavan said, “The whole thing about the perception of Sherlock Holmes as played by Basil Rathbone and many other great actors, it comes from a Sidney Paget illustration in the The Strand magazine. Conan Doyle published his stories weekly in a magazine, they were illustrated, and then Basil Rathbone adopted the deerstalker and the pipe and all that. It’s never in the Conan Doyle [books]. So, in fact, we weren’t taking any liberates at all–we were simply doing our version. The other was never Conan Doyle’s version; he never described any of that clothing. From [a sartorial] point of view, if you actually read the stories, it’s very all over the place.”

As to the sets, Visit Britian’s website includes a Sherlock Holmes itinerary that offers details about the movie’s key locations throughout the UK, as well as a slideshow of those spots with both day and night views. I can only hope the scenery is as spot on and atmospheric as it was in the Johnny Depp version of Sweeney Todd. Cor, but whennat ship drawed up ta them docks in the beginnin’, Oy didn’t half fink I were in Lunnon!

To learn more about the making of the film, click here.

To watch a movie trailer or play the Sherlock Holmes game on Facebook, click here.

And finally, here’s the new Sherlock Holmes/Robert Downey, Jr. figure unveiled at Madame Tussaud’s this past December.

Have you seen the film? Please leave a comment and let us know what you thought of Downey, Law, the costumes, the sets and the 21st century version of Sherlock Holmes. Gad, I love that suit. There’s just something about a standing collar and a cravat I can’t resist.


The London and Waterloo Tour: The Lansdowne Club

One of the spots in London that Kristine and I plan to visit is the Lansdowne Club. It occupies the remaining part of Lansdowne House, built in the 1760’s and partially torn down in the 1930’s to put through a street to Berkeley Square. In its former glory, the house had a garden which met the south side of the Square. This former garden property is now office buildings (one called Lansdowne House).
On the 1830 map of London, you can see that the original Lansdowne garden (lower left) was positioned to allow a clear view of Berkeley Square from Devonshire House on Piccadilly (fully demolished in the 1920’s). Lansdowne House itself actually faced east.
Only in our imaginations can we picture the way Lansdowne House looked before the wreckers arrived. But in the Club, some of the original rooms designed by Robert Adam (Scottish, 1728-1792) have been preserved and recently restored to their full beauty.
One of these rooms, The Round Bar, displays pictures of Benjamin Franklin, John Jay and John Adams, for it was here that these gentlemen signed the preliminary agreements that led to the Treaty of Paris of 1783 that ended the American Revolution and established the independent United States of America. In the picture from the Club’s website, Lord Lansdowne’s picture is on the wall.
At the time, Lord Shelburne (who was named Marquis of Lansdowne in 1784), prime minister for part of the war, led the British negotiators. On my first visit to the Club, one of the barmen overheard our American accents and showed us around. If you are a member of a private club in the U.S., check to see if you have reciprocity with the Lansdowne Club, and if you do, when in London you can enjoy a visit for a meal or tea or even stay in one of the lovely bedrooms on the premises.
After parts of Lansdowne House were demolished, the Club added facilities including a swimming pool, workout areas, and the dining room on an upper floor. In keeping with the styles of the day, these areas were designed and decorated in the Art Moderne style. The juxtaposition of the Adam and Deco styles works amazingly well. The entrance foyer, the Adam Room, the Round Bar, and the ballroom are the originals, beautifully restored.
Two of the rooms removed in the partial demolition are in U.S. museums. The brightly-colored saloon, a main reception room in the house, is in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The Adam designs, many based on motifs from classical sites uncovered in his lifetime in Pompeii, are brilliant. The dining room is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
Another amusing American connection is the fact that H. Gordon Selfridge, who founded the great department store on Oxford Street, leased Lansdowne House in the 1920’s before it suffered its partial demise. Selfridge was born in Wisconsin and was an executive with Marshall Field & Co. in Chicago before he moved to England. During Selfridge’s tenure, the house was the scene of many famous parties, most attended by his intimate friends, the celebrated dancing Dolly Sisters.

The Dolly Sisters, above; left, Selfridge’s on Oxford Street

More on Lansdowne House, the family, and their country home at Bowood will be posted soon.  

Below, The Adam Room in the Lansdowne Club                                                
Above, the dining room in the Metropolitan Museumn of Art, New York
Above, the Drawing Room in the Philadelphia Museum of Art