Was one of the Dukes of Wellington once convicted of grievious rose abuse and thus all future Dukes of Wellington were subsequently prohibited from ever owning a rose again, on pain of incarceration?
On a farm in Britain during World War II, Mrs. Green (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is driven to her wits end by her hectic life. Between trying to keep the family farm up and her job in the village shop, aided by the elderly and slightly mad Mrs. Doherty (Maggie Smith), she also has three boisterous children to look after, Norman (Asa Butterfield), Megsie (Lil Woods) and Vincent (Oscar Steer). All of this she has to do while her husband is away at war. So when her children’s two spoiled cousins, Cyril (Eros Vlahos) and Celia (Rosie Taylor-Ritson) are sent to live on their farm and another war is being fought between the two sets of children, she is in need of a little magic.
At first, it takes a big bang of Nanny McPhee’s stick to make the children realise that they cannot go on fighting and they eventually learn to tolerate each other. Meanwhile, Mrs. Green’s brother in law, Uncle Phil (Rhys Ifans), has gambled away the farm and is being chased down by two hit women. He desperately attempts to make Mrs. Green sell her half of the farm, using many mean and spiteful schemes. One day, Mrs Green takes all the children on a picnic, at the end of which Uncle Phil delivers a telegram saying that Mr. Green has been ‘killed in action’ in the war. Mrs Green believes the telegram, along with everybody else. But Norman says that he can “feel it in his bones” that his father is not dead. Soon, the children, with Nanny at their head, are off to the war office in London to get to the bottom of things.
I won’t tell you any more – that should be enough to whet your appetitie if you’re a Nanny McPhee fan, as am I. The film has already been released in Britain and is scheduled for release here on August 20th. In the meantime, you can visit the film’s official site here. The Telegraph sums up their review of the film by saying “This is a shrewd, heartfelt piece of work.”
Victoria here, continuing with a report on our Sunday, June 13, as we tried to get to as many open square gardens as we could. We made a small detour on our trek from Markham Square to the next garden on our agenda in Belgravia. While we were walking up King’s Road in Chelsea, we came across a Jo Malone shop. Kristine is a devotee of their products and I had my introduction, so we had a brief shopping opportunity sandwiched among our gardens. I was amused by their shades with similar arrangements to their windows.
Here is the description from the Open Squares Weekend booklet: “Eaton Square is one of London’s premier addresses. Together with Belgrave Square, layout was started in 1826 by Thomas Cubitt (1788–1855) for the Grosvenor Estate. The gardens were named after Eaton Hall in Cheshire, home of the landowners, the Dukes of Westminster.”
Planters, pools, lawns, many trees and flower borders all add to the comfortable effect.
I love contrasts, such as these plants show. Of course I don’t know their names, but the yellow-green against the orange and dark green is perfect.
Here is the description: At the end of the 18th century this garden was originally known as the London Botanic Garden.
se stately white stucco houses. If you look closely at the photo, you will see one of the metal sculptures of a tree that decorate the garden.
ecure a table since The Grenadier was packed. Not that it takes very many people to fill its two tiny dining rooms and taproom. We all four enjoyed the Sunday Roast dinner — beef with potatoes, bed and Yorkshire pudding. Yum!
England has always been a land of gardens and gardeners and so we thought it appropriate to begin a few posts which deal with the subject. Of course, if you’re going to garden you are going to need plants. One of the most respected and most successful nursery gardens was that of Messrs. Lee, of Hammersmith, one of the oldest in the neighbourhood of London, which survived until the early part of the 20th century.
Mr. James Lee, who established the nursery, was born at Selkirk in 1715. When he first came to London he was employed at Syon, and afterwards at Whitton (pictured above), by the Duke of Argyll. About the year 1760 he entered into partnership with Mr. Lewis Kennedy, gardener to Lord Bolton, at Chiswick, and commenced a nursery, in what was called The Vineyard, at Hammersmith. About the middle of the 18th century, the vineyard was producing a considerable quantity of Burgundy wine each year. A thatched house was built in the grounds; with wine cellars beneath. Mr. James Lee and his partner took it and established a most successful Horticultural Nursery, remarkable for obtaining from distant countries everything rare and beautiful to be obtained. They maintained collector at the Cape of Good Hope, and another in America and enjoyed world-wide celebrity. Every known, rare, or new plant could be obtained there. They once received a letter addressed, “Lees Nursery, England” which reached them readily. They were the first to obtain a China rose (right) in 1787. These roses changed the cultivation of
roses in many ways, including the fact that they broadened the scents of rosesm new blends becoming apparent as they were hybridized with other roses, such as damasks.
James Lee had an encyclopedic knowledge of plants and the greenhouses were quite extensive and almost as old as the nursery itself, offering a good stock of many species with a very full collection of Fuchsias, the best being F. ignea, a variety raised by Messrs. Veitch of Exeter. The flowers are very large, with the colours (crimson sepals and purple corolla) bright and strong, and the sepals reflexed. Other good varieties on offer were striata (Veitch); Don Giovanni, with a fine open corolla; Grand Master, similarly fine; and Prince of Orange, with pale and large flowers, shown at left.
In fact, so well known were Mr. Lee’s Fuchsia’s that there is a legend surrounding his acquisition of a certain variety. This tale has been told and appears in print numerous times, most floridly perhaps in the Ladies Repository of 1871. Here is the version that appeared in Sharpe’s London Magazine in 1846, entitled The Fuchsia Tree:
MR. SHEPHERD, the respectable and well-informed conservator of the Botanical Gardens at Liverpool, gives the following curious account of the introduction of that elegant little flowering shrub, the Fuchsia, into our English green-houses and parlour windows. Old Mr. Lee, a nurseryman and gardener, near London, well known fifty or sixty years ago, was one day showing his variegated treasures to a friend, who suddenly turned to him, and declared, “Well, you have not in your collection a prettier flower than I saw this morning at Wapping.”—”No! and ‘pray what was this phoenix like?”—”Why, the plant was elegant, and the flower hung in rows like tassels from the pendant branches; their colour the richest crimson; in the centre a fold of deep purple,” and so forth.
Particular directions being demanded and given, Mr. Lee posted off to Wapping, where he at once perceived that the plant was new in this part of the world. He saw and admired. Entering the house, he said, “My good woman, this is a nice plant, I should like to buy it.”—”I could not sell it for no money, for it was brought me from the West Indies by my husband, who has now left again, and I must keep it for his sake.”—”But I must have it.”—”No, Sir!”—” Here,” emptying his pocket, “here are gold, silver, copper;” (his stock was something more than eight guineas.)—”Well-a-day I but this is a power of money, sure and sure.”—”Tis yours, and the plant is mine; and, my good dame, you shall have one of the first young ones I rear, to keep for your husband’s sake.” —”Alack, alack!”—”You shall, I say, by Jove!” A coach was called, in which was safely deposited our florist and his seemingly dear purchase. His first work was to pull off and utterly destroy every vestige of blossom and blossom-bud; it was divided into cuttings, which were forced in bark-beds, and hot-beds; were re-divided, and sub-divided. Every effort was used to multiply the plant. By the commencement of the next flowering season, Mr. Lee was the delighted possessor of 300 Fuchsia plants, all giving promise of blossom. The two which opened first, were removed into his show-house, A lady came;—” Why, Mr. Lee, my dear Mr. Lee, where did you get this charming flower?”—” Hem! ’tis a new thing, my lady—pretty, is it not?”—” Pretty! ’tis lovely. Its price?— ” A guinea—thank your ladyship;” and one of the two plants stood proudly in her ladyship’s boudoir. “My dear Charlotte, where did you get it?” —” Oh! ’tis a new thing; I saw it at old Lee’s; pretty, is it not I”—” Pretty! ’tis beautiful! Its price?” —” A guinea; there was another left” The visitor’s horses smoked off to the suburb; a third flowering plant stood on the spot whence the first had been taken. The second guinea was paid, and the second chosen Fuchsia adorned the drawing-room of her second ladyship. The scene was repeated as new comers saw, and were attracted by the beauty of the plant. New chariots flew to the gates of old Lee’s nursery-ground. Two Fuchsias, young, graceful, and bursting into healthy flower, were constantly seen on the same spot in his repository.
He neglected not to gladden the faithful sailor’s wife by the promised gill; but ere the flower-season closed, 300 golden guineas chinked in his purse, the produce of the single shrub of the widow of Wapping; the reward of the taste, decision, skill, and perseverance of old Mr. Lee.
Along with Carl Von Linne, Mr. Lee wrote An Introduction to Botany, published in 1760, which went through five editions, and for many years was in the highest repute. James Lee died in the year 1795, at the age of eighty years, his partner,
Mr. Kennedy, having died previously.
The nursery was carried on by the sons of the two founders till 1817, when they dissolved partnership. It then became the sole property of James Lee, the second, who died in 1824, leaving it to his family. In 1827 John Lee was joined in the conduct of this important business by his brother Charles, who was born at the Royal Vineyard Nursery on February 8, 1808, and died on September 2, 1881. The firm was conducted under the title of John &; Charles Lee till 1877, when Mr. John Lee retired, and William Lee, the Son of Charles, joined his father in the management of the business. In 1881, however, upon the death of Charles Lee, the veteran John again, for a time, accepted harness, coming to the assistance of his nephew, who was very deeply affected by the loss of his father. The firm limped along until the early part of the 20th century and is, alas, no more.
Empress Josephine’s Connection to Mr. John Lee coming soon!
Lord only knows how, but Vicky, Brooke and I also found time to visit Gray’s Antiques Market in London. It’s a warren of little shops selling all manner of stuff. We found a military specialist who had a samll, framed, woven silk Waterloo commemorative picture that he wanted L650 for (!?!?!) and assorted other incidentally Wellington stuff that was likewise priced outrageously. As Vicky and I were walking out, Brooke came to tell us that she’d found another shop nearby where Artie-facts were going for a reasonable sum. Off we raced and Vicky found a smaller version of the Wellington portrait I’d gotten at Storey’s, while I found a framed color cartoon of the Duke done in 1831 for McLean’s Magazine. In fact, Brooke got so good at sussing out Artie-facts this trip, Vicky and I nicknamed her “Scout.” (You’ll be seeing photos of Vicky’s Wellington portrait in future posts).
(Yes, that is my finger in front of the lens)
Well, the first room you enter is the gift shop. And it was absolutely chock full of . . . . Napoleon stuff. No, I’m not kidding. Believe me, I searched every item in the joint for something Artie related. Nada. Nil. Nuttin’ Honey. And all of the display signs are in French. As far as I could tell, there was no indication as to which room Gordon had died in. Upstairs, there’s a room where there’s a desk and seated behind the desk is a wax figure that looks like Wellington if Wellington had been a crackhead who had been on a four day bender. I’m assuming this was the room Wellington used as an office, but who knows?
The redeeming portion of the visit was what lay out back – Paget’s leg. Okay, okay, it’s really only the spot where Paget’s leg once lay. It seems that when he died, his family had the leg disinterred, sent to England and buried with the rest of Paget – or Lord Uxbridge, who became the Marquess of Anglesey. But still . . . Paget’s leg. I mean everyone who was anyone who travelled to Waterloo after the Battle made a pilgrimage to see the grave. And now I was there, too.
led our intentions of doing all things Artie this trip over. We’re already thinking about our next visit, which will take place sometime between now and 2015, when I/we attend the next Wellington Conference held in Southampton, England (will also be doing Walmer Castle and Stratfield Saye). And 2012 is obviously out, as we don’t want to have to contend with Olympic Fever in London. In the meantime, watch this space for many more posts related to our Tour.