THE 2019 SCOTTISH RETREAT – GLAMIS CASTLE

 

We’re looking forward to our Scottish Retreat in September and thinking about our upcoming visit to Glamis Castle, a site that is steeped in history. Glamis (above) has been the ancestral seat to the Earls of Strathmore and Kinghorne since 1372, the inspiration for Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the childhood home of HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, and birthplace of HRH The Princess Margaret.

While the Castle has been used in the past as a stronghold, a barrack and a hospital, Glamis is first and foremost a beloved family home, as these pictures of the interiors attest, many of which we’ll be seeing during our guided tour of the Castle –

 

 

 

 

Unsurprisingly, many legends surround the Castle, most notably that of the “Monster of Glamis,” a hideously deformed heir who was hidden away in a secret room for life. Then there’s the stubborn bloodstain that cannot be removed from the floorboards in one of the castle rooms, said to be the blood of King Malcolm II, who was cut down by the Claymore swords of his rebellious subjects in the castle in 1084, and the tale of the Ogilvies, neighboring aristocrats who came to Glamis and begged for protection from their sworn enemies, the Lindsay family. The Ogilvies were escorted to a chamber under the castle and left there without food or water for over a month. When the chamber was opened, only one of the Ogilvies was barely alive. Rumour goes that their skulls are still kept in yet another secret chamber within the Castle.

While every Castle needs a good legend, or three, I prefer the real life story of the bravery of Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, who visited Glamis often throughout her lifetime.

From the Castle website – “During the First World War Glamis Castle became a convalescent hospital. Lady Elizabeth’s kindness won her the hearts of many of the soldiers who passed through Glamis. On 16th September 1916 two soldiers discovered a fire in a room under the castle roof. As they ran to raise the alarm, the first person they came across was Lady Elizabeth who showed great presence of mind and immediately telephoned both the local and Dundee fire brigades. She then marshalled everyone to fight the fire, organising a chain to convey buckets of water from the river. Later, with the fire raging above them, she organised the removal of the valuables out onto the Lawn. In 1918 the armistice signalled the end of the war and the end of an era. Once the last soldier had left Glamis in 1919 Lady Elizabeth was launched into the high society of the day at her coming out party.”

Outside, you’ll find the walled and the Italian gardens.

 

During the Scottish Retreat in September, we’ll be staying at Gargunnock House, a classic example of the gentleman’s shooting box, complete with open fires, flagstone floors, period details, spiraling staircases and Georgian furnishings.

 

 

Being a period property, Gargunnock House has a limited number of bedrooms and there are only 5 spaces left on the tour.

Visit our website for dates and complete itinerary.

A TOUR GUIDE IN ENGLAND – CAVERSHAM

Following the Number One London Georgian Tour, Vicky flew in and met me in London for a night before we headed off on our epic research journey, visiting three Archives that hold documents related to the Duke of Wellington. Our first stop was the Museum of English Rural Life in Reading. We had booked a hotel in nearby Caversham and our good friend, author Beth Elliott was kind enough to pick us up at the station.

You’ve heard me speak of Beth here on the blog before. She’s the sort of friend who is a comfort, a joy and who also happens to be very funny. In an understated English way. So, Beth collected us at the train station and drove Vicky and me to our riverside hotel, where we met a gaggle of other local residents.

Later that evening, we all went out to the nearby carvery and indulged in that most comforting of British food, the Sunday Roast, even though it was actually a Wednesday.

Next day, Vicky and I headed off to the Museum of English Rural Life.

We had ordered the documents we wished to see in advance, one of which was the Marriage Settlement between Richard, Marquis Wellesley and Maryanne Patterson, below. You’ll see that the Duke of Wellington was one of the executors of the Settlement. Between his brother and his former mistress. Yes, you read that correctly.

We spent the entire day reading historic documents and attempting to read Wellington’s handwriting. Boxes and boxes of letters and documents. Naturally, by the end of the day, Vicky and I were ready for a drink. And when we met up with Beth later that evening, we told her we’d love to have a plate of roast beef for dinner. Again. So we did.

Afterwards, we strolled through historic Caversham, which, as Cavesham, was mentioned in the Domesday Book and which sits on the north bank of the Thames.

Good friends, good food and good Wellington documents. As you can imagine, it was a wonderfully satisfying day. And one I’ll always remember. More to come . . . .

REVISITING MINSTER LOVELL CHURCH AND RUINS

Originally published in 2010

So, here we are at St. Kenelm’s Church on a cold, wet, foggy December day when our surroundings look for all the world like a Hammer Studios horror movie set. On the day we visited, the air was crisp and cold and the place was as deserted as it looks in the photos below. There was nary a footprint to be seen in the graveyard and it was so quiet that you could hear the snow crunch beneath your boots with each step. . . no one spoke . . . . . no one dared to break the eerie silence as we made our way through the ancient tombstones . . . . .  don’t be afraid – I’m sure the legends of the Minster Lovell Hall ghost are just rumour . . . . . . . .

St Kenelm’s church in Minster Lovell (above) is mainly 15th century, built on the foundations of an earlier priory minster. This explains the unusual cruciform shape with a central tower. The whole church is “almost entirely unaltered and has handsome details” (Pevsner). It is situated next to the ruins of Minster Lovell Hall, pictured below.

From Kelly’s Directory 1891 – To the south-east of the church, near the river Windrush, are the ruins of an ancient mansion, formerly the residence of the Lovell family: the buildings, when perfect, formed a square, the south side being parallel to the river and within a few feet of its bank; the whole of the south and east sides are now destroyed and the only portions standing are the north side, part of a tower at the south end of the western side and a low wall attached to it, with several fine but now roofless and dismantled apartments; in 1708, during the rebuilding of a chimney here, a large vault was discovered in which was found the entire skeleton of a man sitting at a table on which were writing materials and a book and it has been assumed that Lord Lovell, who disappeared after the battle of Stoke, made his way to his house here, and concealing himself in this vault, was eventually starved to death; on his death, his titles, including the baronies of Lovell and Holland, Dean Court and Grey of Rotherfield, became extinct, and that of Beaumont fell into abeyance between his sisters, but was called out 16 Oct. 1840, in favour of Miles Thomas Stapleton esq. of Carlton, Yorks, one of the co-heirs thereto. The estates of the Lovells, confiscated by Henry VII, were subsequently granted to the Comptons, Cecils and other powerful families.

** An alternate version of the story of Lord Lovell is that he returned with his faithful dog to the Hall and was locked into the secret chamber by his faithful valet, who breathed not a word of Lord Lovell’s whereabouts to a single soul and who came twice a day to feed his master and his master’s dog. The valet, unfortunately, died before he could share his secret with anyone and so Lord Lovell and the faithful dog perished together, starving to death in their self imposed hiding place.

*** Yes, the place is rumoured to be haunted. By both man and dog.  And what a perfect location for a ghost, visually. You couldn’t get much more Byron-esque if you tried.

I’ll leave you with images that are sure to conjure up visions of Christopher Lee . . . . .

LUNCHEON IN PICKERING PLACE AND A VISIT TO LOCK'S HATTERS

After a busy morning of poking our noses into various London venues, Victoria and I decided to take a much needed pause for lunch at Boulestin in St. James’s Street. Boulestin offers an intimate and elegant setting in which to enjoy modern French cuisine. The food is fabulous and the location even better – the site was once occupied by Overton’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar and its’ outdoor dining tables are in Pickering Place. Yes, that Pickering Place.

Once our food had been delivered and the wine poured I looked at Victoria and said, “We’re eating in Pickering Place.”

“I know.”

“How cool is this?” I asked.

“Tres.”

“Pickering Place.”

“Yup. Duels, even.”

“Have you heard the story about how the Duke of Wellington came back from Paris incognito in 1816 and thrashed the Hell out of Brummell for being such an idiot and getting himself into debt and insulting Prinny? It happened right here. The Duke was punching the crap out of Brummell when an old woman opened a window on the second floor, right there, and yelled `Begone, ye hooligans!’`And Brummell yelled back, `It’s not a hooligan, it’s the Duke of Wellington!’ And the old woman replied, `And I’m Queen Caroline. Now get away with ye before I call out the Watch.’

“Nope,’ Victoria said, “never heard that. Probably because you just made it up. I like it though.”

“Yeah, not bad. Do you want to go next door to Lock’s and look at the Duke’s hat when we’re done?”

“Sure. Do you want any of this brie?”

And so we made our way two doors down to Lock’s Hatters, where Wellington’s bicorn and Nelson’s hat, complete with eye patch, are both on display, as are hat forms, order books, letters from famous customers and all other manner of interesting memorabilia.

Above, the Duke of Wellington’s hat. 

Lock’s is the oldest hat shop in the world – founded in 1676 – and has been at it’s current St. James’s Street location since 1765. Anyone and everyone of note had hats made at Lock’s, especially those gentlemen in the military, who hunted or who appeared at Court. Lock’s records are a veritible who’s who of English society from the Georgian period through to the present day. And whilst Lock’s is most associated with gentlemen’s hats, they also supply millinery services for ladies, as you can see in this video.

Having just visited Lock’s Hatters earlier this month and meeting with current staff, I’m pleased to be able to announce that a visit to the shop will be a feature of several of Number One London’s upcoming tours for 2017.


In fact, most of St. James’s Street will feature on our tours, where we’ll step back in time in order to Research the Regency. In the meantime, stay tuned here for more of Kristine and Victoria’s Open House visits.

POST TOUR: EXPLORING PART OF THE CITY OF LONDON

Victoria here, relating our activities after the Duke of Wellington Tour back in September 2014. After wandering Hampstead, Kristine and I needed a good sit-down — and where better than on a London bus…so we grabbed one and had a ringside seat for the street scenes from Hampstead all the way to the City of London.  It is always fun to explore a new area — and we were looking for Cheapside, once a popular shopping area.

Here’s a bit of what we saw –
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Elia, Charles Lamb, a bust by William Reynolds-Stephens in Gitspur Street on the wall of St. Sepulchre-without-Newgate

Old Bailey

Christchurch Greyfriars Garden

St. Paul’s

St. Mary-le-Bow

St. Mary-le-Bow interior
Bank of England

Duke of Wellington by Francis Leggatt Chantrey;
The Duke, Queen Victoria, and Frederick Augustus II, King of Saxony, attended the unveiling on June 18, 1844, anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo.