And The Collection Continues To Grow . . . .

In a previous post, I told you about my latest Duke of Wellington aquisition, found in Cecil Court, London. I’m happy to say that the Duke has arrived home from being framed and is now in his new place of honour on my wall.

The hand-coloured engraving is after an 1821 painting by Sir Thomas Lawrence and I had it museum mounted, double matted and placed under conservation glass. It is, if I do say so, a magnificent piece. When I arrived home with Arthur, my husband decided to help me hang the portrait. The conversation went something like this:

“Where’s my stud finder?”

“What for?”

“To find the stud. So we can hang the picture.”

“It weighs less than 20 pounds. We don’t need to find a stud. Instead we need to measure the distance between the end of the dresser and the wall and hang it at the midway point. So it’s centered in that space.”

Grumble. Grumble.

“Where do you want the nail? Here?”

“Pictures should be hung at eye level. I suppose that’s eye level if you’re Wilt Chamberlain.”

“Alright then. Whose eye level? Yours or mine?”

“Split the difference.”

Grumble. Grumble.

“Oh, it looks perfect. Just perfect!”


Look at it! Isn’t it wonderful?”

“It’s the Duke of Wellington. Again. Don’t ask me to get excited over it. If you like it, that’s all that matters.”

“You could show some enthusiasm.”

“What do you want me to do, drool over it?”

“No. But can’t you muster some Victoria-like enthusiasm?”

“You should have married Victoria.”

“I’m not asking you to be Victoria 24/7. Just for about 30 seconds during the official hanging ceremony.”

“Ain’t gonna do it.”

Things went alot smoother when I framed, matted and hung the three fashion pirnts I’d bought in Paris. They went smoother because I did it all last week, when my husband was in Pennsylvania for a few days. They were hung with no fuss, no muss and no stud finder (men!).

Typically, Victoria has the market cornered on fashion prints. I’ve been urging her to do a post on her large collection for this blog. However, strolling past the book and print seller kiosks that line the Seine in Paris, I was charmed by these three prints and their floral subject matter and delicate hand colouring.

I told Victoria that the style of drawing led me to think they’d been done in the 1930’s or 40’s, but while doing some reseasrch on the web, I found that these drypoint etchings were done by Henri Boutet in 1902 for a book called “Les Modes Feminines du XIXe Siecle.” His 100 etchings traced fashions for each year from 1801 to 1900. Boutet used a  drypoint etching technique that produces an intrinsic softness of texture. The illustrations were closely detailed and hand-coloured and the original etchings were limited to 600 copies. I did find prints from the same book, though not those I bought, selling online for $75 each. I paid 40 euros, or $52, for all three together. Nothing for my husband to grumble about there. I have my portrait of the second Duchess of Wellington out at the framer’s now. While the engraving is not new, I never liked the way it had been framed and so decided to give her a facelift, so to speak. I’ll let you know when the Duchess is at home.

Street Lights – Royal and Otherwise

Stange to say, I became enchanted with street lights on our tour. I was first charmed by these, above and below, located at Windsor Castle and kitted out tiny crowns.

The two lamps below stand on the Queen’s Walk at the Embankment, south of the River Thames.

I didn’t really get into my streetlight stride until Paris, where I took almost as many photos of lights as I did of birds and the Eiffel Tower – see below. I’m thinking that I might print the streetlamp photos in black and white and frame them and make a grouping to hang on the wall. I’m also thinking that I shouldn’t be trusted with a camera.


A Visit to Royal Windsor

And when we say Royal, we mean it. When Hester Davenport met us at the train station on the day we went to Windsor, one of the first things she asked Victoria, myself and Brooke was, “I forgot to ask . . . did you want to see the Queen?”

“Ha Ha . . .  see the Queen! Really, Hester, you are too funny.”

“No, I mean it,” Hester replied. “I quite forgot when we made our date that today is Royal Ascot. The Royal Family will be leaving the Castle at 1:30. I need to know if you’re interested in seeing them in order to plan our day.”

Were we interested in seeing the Royals?!?

Honestly, I don’t know if all the pomp and circumstance we were treated to from then on was connected to the Royals and Ascot, but the entire day was pretty royal, if you ask us. First of all, we saw the Guards approaching the Castle . . . .

Victoria believes they were Welsh Guards (as seen from the Guildhall).

And later we saw the Guards leaving the Castle led by a drum major
Hey, haven’t I seen these guys on a postcard somewhere?
They carry some pretty lethal-looking weapons

Honestly, the entire morning was grand. We bought our Castle tickets and viewed Queen Mary’s Doll House  (which is an incredible structure indeed. Maybe I’ll do a blog just on doll houses someday, one of V’s minor passions)
and visited the nearby exhbition of photos of the young Queen Elizabeth and her late sister Margaret, plus the royal children and grandchildren. Wasn’t (isn’t) she  adorable?
 Soon, it was time for us to queue up to see the Royal motorcade leaving the Castle for Ascot and so we all got wristbands for re-entry into the Castle later and went to claim our places along the drive leading to Ascot.
Above is the Queen’s departure point at the Castle, and she drives down the Long Drive
right past all of us gapers. In the distance, closer to
Ascot, she transfers into an open carriage, as does the entire royal party, to parade into the racetrack in their finery. We saw quite a few people around town in the morning dressed in those quirky hats  that British ladies so adore.
 The crowd wasn’t as large as I’d expected and we found spots right near the Castle gates. Can I tell you how thrilling this was? Of course, it can’t compare to that time I encountered Prince Charles by chance in London, but it certainly came in second.
Here’s the unedited video I shot of the Royal Family motorcade. You’ll hear Vicky asking the policeman which side of the car the Queen will be on and you’ll here me saying, “Here they come!”

What a bunch of tourists.

You’ll also have heard me asking where Chuck was, as I hadn’t spotted him then. I was a tad occupied with gawking, waving and taking video. However, the blow-up of the photo taken by Victoria below may indeed show Chuck in the front passenger seat. That’s Camilla in the rear in red.

I blew up a few frames from the video clip, which will give you only a slightly better view of the Queen. And Prince Phillip. Actually, once the motorcade had gone by, I asked Brooke if she’d been able to get a clear view. She said yes, she’d seen just fine. “But,” she said, “Who was that old guy sitting next to the Queen?”

Here’s a picture from the web of what she looked like in the carriage, June 15, 2010, at Ascot.

At this point, we returned to the Castle in order to complete our tour, our Royal sightings now just a fond memory. In the above aerial photo, the Queen’s residence in the Upper Ward is at the top, right. The round tower and its garden/moat is in the upper middle, and the state rooms are in the area just above the Round Tower, at the right. Toward the lower left, you can see St. George’s chapel and the middle and lower wards surrounded by thick walls.

Whoops, another royal in the sign on the ticket office, which one suspects might be meant to portray Henry VIII.

and this equestrian statue of Charles II as you’re heading into the Castle grounds.

Finally, Kristine bought some ornaments to add to her Royal Christmas tree ornament collection, this guard being one of about eight she finally came home with, including ornaments meant to be the young Victoria and Albert.

God Save The Queen.
The Round
Tower is the dominant feature of the castle. It is sort of a remnant from the original fortress built here by none other then William the Conqueror almost a thousand years ago.
All over the castle grounds are lovely gardens.
Just a couple of the gorgeous roses that proliferate in England in June.
As we walked back to the Tourist’s entrance to the state rooms, we stopped to admire the view of Eton College, across the river from Windsor.
A few more guards on patrol.
The state rooms are overwhelming in their magnificence. These areas have been updated since the days of George IV (1762-1830, but are based on the designs he approved for the remodeling of Windsor. We all know him (once the Prince Regent) as a profligate spender, but much of what he created has lasted quite well. Above, the Grand Staircase.
At left, the Crimson Drawing room.
The Waterloo Chamber is adorned with paintings of all the Allied Heads of State as commissioned by George IV from Sir Thomas Lawrence. Kristine and Victoria are particularly fond of the portrait of our pal, Artie, the Duke of Wellington.

When we finished touring the State Rooms in Windsor Castle, we sat outside and rested up (all but the photographer, of course). Left to right: Kristine (holding her ornaments), Brooke (thrilled to have seen Henry VIII’s grave0 and Hester Davenport (the best guide for a day out in Windsor).

We were right outside St. George’s Chapel.
Their website has a 360 degree tour.
Apartments and meetings rooms are built into the walls of the lower ward. Here is one rather colorful section.
About 300 people work in the castle and about half live on the premises. 
If you plan a trip to Windsor, just a quick train ride from London, be sure to allow a whole day to see the Castle, the chapel, the grounds, the town and its charming restaurants and shops.