by Victoria Hinshaw
Tucked away in Hampshire is a stately home I have long wanted to visit for several reasons. The estate encompasses the ruins of an Augustinian priory (the title Abbey was added later — and incorrectly, according to the NT); the gardens are renowned; and Rex Whistler painted some famous trompe d’oeil decorations in the drawing room.
During the course of my research with Kristine at the various Wellington archives, we were able to steal off for the day to meet with fellow authors Alicia Rasley and Nonnie St. George. Of course the best reason for the visit was the opportunity to connect with friends from many a meeting of The Beau Monde…and fellow writers one and all. If we missed any of the relevant treasures of the estate, it was because we were so full of conversation catching up on our latest activities.
First stop was the cellarium, a remnant of the original priory building, dating from the 13th century.
The morning room was the perfect place to enjoy reading and conversing. It was a favorite spot for Maud Russell, the lady responsible for the current appearance of the estate.
In this handsome bedchamber, several remnants of the old priory building have been left uncovered.
The painting over the fireplace is Johanna Warner, Mrs. Robert of Bedhampton and her daughter, Kitty, later Mrs. Jervoise Clarke, 1736; by Joseph Highmore.
To the Right of the fireplace is another of the secret doors which show the old structure behind the walls of the current house.
The charming picture above (and below) is The Challoner Daughters by John Roger Herbert, RA (1810-1890), described as “three little girls in a woodland scene with a pony and dogs.”
The dining room was a popular venue for gatherings of the Russells’ artistic and intellectual friends in the 1930’s.
The piece d’resistance of the Montisont House: The Whistler Room. Maud Russell commissioned artist Rex Whistler to decorate her drawing room in the late 1930’s.
Whistler (1905-1944) painted many murals and trompe d’oeil works in England, including the famous murals in the restaurant of the Tate Britain, ad the fantasy landscape at Plas Newydd, from which the self-portrait below is a detail.
In addition to his renown as an artist, Whistler was a member of the set known as the “bright young things” between the wars, a friend not only of Mrs. Russell, but of Lady Caroline Paget, Cecil Beaton, and many others. Whistler died fighting in Normandy in 1944.
Above three pictures ©National Trust. All others in this post were taken by me.
In May, we were a little early for the roses in the NT Rose Collection of pre-20th Century species. But we thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful font (spring) and stream which feeds into the River Test, as well as the many families enjoying picnics and games on the lawns.
Would you like to experience travel in England first-hand?
Visit our website for a list of upcoming Number One London Tours.
In this 60 minute documentary, dialect coach Joan Washington learns that the German government had made recordings of British prisoners during the First World War. Using these recordings, Washington takes us on a fascinating journey as she explores the history, the differences and the preservation of regional accents and dialects throughout Britain.
In addition, I regularly found mourning photographs, or postcards, featuring royal figures. The advent of photographs, and especially daguerreotypes in 1839, made portraiture available to everyone and it was soon adapted for mourning purposes, with Queen Victoria embracing the medium wholeheartedly. Due to published images of Queen Victoria and her family in mourning for Prince Albert like those below, it soon became the vogue to have photos made of oneself in mourning.
In addition, the old fashioned mourning, or momento mori, memorabilia issued upon the deaths of public figures also adapted photographs into their designs.
When Napoleon III died, the Illustrated London News of January 25, 1873 ran the following engraving, which was drawn from a post mortem photograph taken by Mssrs. Downey. By this time, photographs of mourners and funerals had taken a back seat to photographs of the dead themselves.
Myself and many others (including Prince Charles, Benedict Cumberbatch, David Bowie and Anthony Hopkins) have been longtime fans of the British soap opera, Coronation Street. On 17 September 2010, Coronation Street (affectionately known as Corrie) became the world’s longest-running television soap opera, to date having racked up 58 years on air. Over the years, many actors started out on Coronation Street, cutting their teeth on parts in the soap before they were famous. Below are just a few of the stars who got their start on the Cobbles.
Sarah Lancashire (Raquel Watts, 1991–96)
Sarah played Curly Watts’ on-off love interest/wife Raquel Wolstenhulme, a barmaid and aspiring model who left Coronation Street after moving to Kuala Lumpur to work as an aromatherapist. Raquel became beloved of fans during her time on the Street, whle Sarah herself went on to appear in several highly acclaimed dramas before signing a two-year “golden handcuffs” contract with ITV – the first of its kind, making her the highest-paid actress in UK television.
In 2004, Sarah made her directorial debut on the anthology series The Afternoon Play and went on to win a BAFTA for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Caroline in drama series Last Tango in Halifax. In recent years, she’s earned further accolades for her leading role as sergeant Catherine Cawood in the crime thriller series Happy Valley.
Watch Sarah in Coronation Street here.
Suranne Jones (Karen McDonald, 2000-04)
Suranne had a highly eventful time playing Weatherfield’s Karen McDonald, but Suranne has remained busy since, garnering rolls in hit TV shows and appearing in Doctor Who in 2011 and co-creating and starring in the ITV detective series Scott And Bailey. Later, Suranne was hailed by critics for her role in BBC One’s Doctor Foster, and most recently, has starred in the title role of Gentleman Jack.
Watch Suranne in Coronation Street here.
Katherine Kelly (Becky McDonald, 2006-12)
After Karen, Steve McDonald met and married Becky, and boy do fans miss this character, who was by turns bad ass, vulnerable and comic. Becky left the street to live in Barbados, leaving the door open for a return. After six award winning years on the Cobbles, Katherine went on to star in hit dramas Happy Valley, Mr Selfridge and The Night Manager.
Watch Katherine in (a classic scene from) Coronation Street here.
Rob James Collier (Liam Connor, 2006–08)
Playing Liam, one member of the seemingly endless Connor dynasty, Rob was killed off after he’d asked to leave the soap, fearing that he’d be typecast. He went on to play butler Thomas Barrow in Downton Abbey. Oh, the irony.
Watch Rob in Coronation Street here.
Joanne Froggatt (Zoe Tattersall, 1997 – 1998)
Joanne played troubled teen and eventual cult inductee Zoe in Coronation Street before going on to the role of lady’s maid Anna Bates in Downton Abbey.
Watch Joanne in Coronation Street here.
Anne Reid (Valerie Barlow, nee Tatlock, 1961 – 1971)
Anne played Valerie Barlow, first of a long line of wives for Ken Barlow, before going on to many other roles, including in the sitcom Dinnerladies (1998–2000); and her BAFTA-nominated role as Celia Dawson in Last Tango in Halifax (2012–2016), with fellow Corrie alum Sarah Lancashire. She won the London Film Critics Circle Award for British Actress of the Year for the film The Mother (2003).
Watch Anne in Coronation Street here.
Uniquely, Sue appeared on after she’d become a household name with roles in the Channel 4 soap opera Brookside (1982–1990), Barbara Royle in the BBC comedy The Royle Family (1998–2012), Grace Foley in the BBC drama Waking the Dead (2000–2011), and Miss Denker in Downton Abbey (2014–2015).
Watch Sue in Coronation Street here.
Various other actors had lesser roles in Coronation Street, including Mollie Sugden, who had a recurring role as Nellie Harvey, Ann Walker’s sister, 1965-76. Her appearances were both before and during her iconic role as Mrs. Slocombe on Are You Being Served 1972-85.
Watch Mollie in Coronation Street here.
Geoffrey Palmer made a single appearance on Coronation Street in May 1968 when he played Victor Finlay, the superintendent registrar at the wedding of Dennis Tanner and Jenny Sutton. Afterwards, of course, he went on to star in The Rise and Fall of Reginald Perrin, 1976 – 79, and then in As Time Goes By from 1992-2005.