The Wellington Tour: Frogmore House…in Windsor Great Park

The Wellington Tour will visit Frogmore House on  September 13, 2014, a special treat,  for all of you can come with Kristine and me, Victoria, on our great adventure.  For all the details on the tour, click here.

Frogmore House, from the lake

For the Frogmore House website, click here.

Aerial View, House is center right

Frogmore House has served as a sort of refuge for various members of the royal family for several centuries.  The property became part of the royal holdings in the 16th century and was leased out to others. The land was acquired because it was adjacent to Windsor Great Park, though it was as marshy as its name indicates.  Several houses were built  by the Aldworth family, and the larger, known as Great Frogmore, was eventually leased to the Duke of Northumberland, (1665-1716), who was the natural son of Charles II and the Duchess of Cleveland. Eventually it was purchased for ‘
Queen Charlotte (1744-1818), wife of George III, in 1792.

Queen Charlotte, c. 1789-90, by Sir Thomas Lawrence
National Gallery, London
 Charlotte and her daughters often fled to Frogmore to escape from the confines of palaces and castles, to this comparatively modest house where they could enjoy a bit more relaxation.  Queen Charlotte was an avid gardener and brought a number of unusual plants to this estate. Several of the princesses painted or sketched works shown here.
For a brief segment of the conversation of HRH Charles, Prince of Wales with the Royal Librarian about Frogmore interiors, click here.

The Green Pavilion, 1817, from Pyne’s Royal Residences
The Green Pavilion has been restored to its look during Queen Charlotte’s lifetime.  Upon her death, Frogmore was left to her eldest unmarried daughter, Princess Augusta, though most of the furnishings were sold for the benefit of all the princesses.
The Mary Moser Room, photographer: Christopher Simon Sykes
The Royal Collection © 2009 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
The flowered panels by artist Mary Moser (1744-1819) were commissioned by Queen Charlotte, who chose the artist’s name for the room.  The unusual four-tier revolving bookstand at the right dates from this same period of time.
After the death of Princess Augusta in 1840, the crown repurchased the estate and Queen Victoria gave it to her mother, Victoria, Duchess of Kent, as her home. Many alterations and modernizations were made once more and the Duchess presided over the redecoration of several principal rooms.
The Duchess of Kent’s Drawing Room, photographer: Derry Moore
The Royal Collection © 2009 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
 In addition to artistic interests, reading and stitching, the ladies who enjoyed the informality of Frogmore sometimes organized theatrical programs and concerts by their friends as well as professional musicians. I suspect that after seeing the grandeur of nearby Windsor Castle, we will thoroughly understand why time at Frogmore was so precious.


The Colonnade
 All of the residents of Frogmore have enjoyed the garden, and like the rooms, re-imagination often reigned. After the Indian Mutiny, Lord Canning, Governor-General of India, presented an Indian Kiosk captured at Lucknow in 1858  to Queen Victoria who had it placed near the house.
Indian Kiosk
After the death of her mother and her husband, both in 1861, Queen Victoria often sought seclusion at Frogmore She loved the house and garden where  ‘all is peace and quiet and you only hear the hum of the bees, the singing of the birds’. She built a mausoleum for Prince Albert and herself on the grounds. It is rarely open to the public due to ongoing restoration projects. 
Though no royals have lived at Frogmore for some time, it is often used for meetings and other activities.  Below is the family portrait taken at the reception held at Frogmore after the wedding of the Queen’s eldest grandson to Autumn Kelly in 2008. 
This image released by the family shows the wedding group of Peter Phillips, top center left, and his bride Autumn Kelly, top center right, at Frogmore House, Windsor Castle, England and (seated left to right front row) Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth II, Ivy Kelly, Edith McCarthy, (standing left to right) Mark Phillips, Princess Anne, Kity Kelly, Brian Kelly. (AP Photo/Sir Geoffrey Shakerley, HO)

This image released by the family shows the wedding group of Peter Phillips, top center left, and his bride Autumn Kelly, top center right, at Frogmore House, Windsor Castle, England and (seated left to right front row) Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth II, Ivy Kelly, Edith McCarthy, (standing left to right) Mark Phillips, Princess Anne, Kitty Kelly, Brian Kelly. (AP Photo/Sir Geoffrey Shakerley, HO)

I am looking forward to seeing this lovely house which has been so dear to many generations of the royal family.  It is open only a few days each year, so The Wellington Tour is fortunate to be eligible.
Consider joining us for The Wellington Tour in September 2014.

The Magnificent Waterloo Chamber: The Wellington Tour

Victoria here, inviting you to join Kristine and me on The Wellington Tour, 4-14 September, 2014.  For details on our planned itinerary, costs and other info, click here.  Among the features of the tour is a visit to Windsor Castle and especially to its Waterloo Chamber.

Windsor Castle from the Thames
The Waterloo Chamber was constructed within the Castle to commemorate the victory of the Allied Armies over the French in the Battle of Waterloo, June 18, 1815.  Architect Sir Jeffry Wyattville (1766 – 1840) created the Chamber in 1824 out of several existing rooms. Parliament designated £300,000 for the project. Like most of King George IV’s inspirations, it ran well over budget, eventually costing about £1,000,000.  Wyattville also remodeled many other areas of Windsor Castle for George IV, William IV, and Queen Victoria; he was buried in the Castle’s St. George’s Chapel in 1840.

 Watercolour of the Waterloo Chamber in 1844 by Joseph Nash
Waterloo Chamber, currently
For a virtual tour of the entire Waterloo Chamber, click here.
Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington
Commander of the Victorious Allied Armies
The walls of the Waterloo Chamber are  filled with large portraits of the leaders of the Allied efforts.  Most of them are painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence  (1769-1830), the Regency era’s favorite artist.  Many were reproduced several times by his studio for numerous placements in other palaces, stately homes and distinguished galleries.
Prussian General Gebhardt von Blücher
Wellington’s Comrade-in-arms at Waterloo
Sir Thomas Lawrence 1816
The Prince Regent (later George IV) commissioned Lawrence to paint all the Allied Sovereigns, military leaders, and statesmen.  Lawrence traveled around Europe to complete the portraits.
Austrian Field Marshal Karl Philipp, Prince of Schwartzenberg,

Alexander I, Emperor of Russia (1777-1825)
painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1818
According to the Royal Collection Website, “While working on the portrait Lawrence altered the position of the legs, much to the consternation of the Tzar and those courtiers attending the portrait sitting, especially when for a while the sitter was shown with four legs.”  Obviously, this condition was  corrected!
Pope Pius VII, 1819-20
The portrait of Pope Pius VII (1742-1823), painted in Rome, is widely agreed to be Lawrence’s masterpiece, both incisive and sympathetic.
While heads of state and leading generals were depicted full length, politicians and statesmen were honored with 3/4 length portraits, perhaps putting them in their place? 
  Viscount Castlereagh
Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1830
Robert Stewart (1769-1822), Viscount Castlereagh, later second Marquess of Londonderry, served as Secretary of State for War 1805-09, and  Foreign Secretary 1812-1822
Robert Banks Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool
Robert Banks Jenkinson (1770-1828), 2nd Earl of Liverpool was Prime Minister from 1812 to 1827, and also preceded the Duke of Wellington as the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, about which more soon!!
In the words of the Windsor Castle guidebook, “Most of the twenty eight portraits were delivered after his [Lawrence’s] death on 7 January 1830. By this time work was already begun of the space of the Waterloo Chamber created by covering a courtyard at Windsor Castle with a huge sky-lit vault; the room was completed during the reign of William IV (1830-7)…the arrangement which survives to this day: full-length portraits of warriors hang high, over the two end balconies and around the walls; at ground level full-length portraits of monarchs alternate with half-lengths of diplomats and statesmen.”
The limewood carvings on the walls were removed from the former Royal Chapel before it was demolished in the 1820s.  The carvings date from the 1680’s, the work of renowned artist Grinling Gibbons.  According to the Castle Guidebook, “The Indian carpet was woven for this room by the inmates of Agra prison for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, finally reaching Windsor in 1894. Thought to be the largest seamless carpet in existence, it weighs two tonnes. During the 1992 fire it took 50 soldiers to roll it up and move it to safety.”
  Which brings up a sorrowful subject, the terrible fire of eleven years ago.
20 November, 1992
Extensive damage resulted from the fire though the Waterloo Chamber was only slightly damaged, due to the thickness of the walls.  Other areas were destroyed and eventually repaired.  To pay for the
£36.5 million repairs, the Queen opened  the State Rooms of Buckingham Palace to the Public, but only when she is in residence elsewhere.
When you tour Windsor Castle with Kristine and me, you will see the renovated areas and where the fire burned.  And we will view the Waterloo Chamber — and all the State rooms, most of them still very much as they were when redone for George IV by Sir Jeffry Wyattville.
Again to access more information on the Wellington Tour, go to


A Couple In England – Day 10 – Part Two

After leaving the Guildhall, Hester and I took a leisurely stroll down to the Thames and stood on the bridge.

“One day I’m going to come back and take the boat ride,” I sighed.

“You’ve never done the boat?” Hester asked.

“No. I never have the time. There’s always somewhere to rush off to see.”

“Speaking of which,” Hester said, looking at her watch, “we’d better get ourselves some lunch before it’s time for the kitchen tour at the Castle.”

So off we went and found ourselves a nearby restaurant, where we ordered tomato basil soup accompanied by warm bread with lashings of butter and two lattes. I can’t recall exactly what Hester and I discussed over the meal, though it had something to do with conducting research at the Royal Archives, the families (ours, rather than Royal) and other odds and ends. Afterwards, we made our way to the Castle.

“Tell me the truth,” I said to Hester as we made our way to the entrance, “are you heartily sick of my dragging you to the Castle? It seems like I make you do it every time I visit.”

“But I’ve never seen the kitchens,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to it.”

We arrived early enough for us to visit the gift shop.

I was on the hunt for a Golden Jubilee item to add to my collection and there wasn’t a shortage of items on offer. Which should I choose?  Hhhmmmm. Before I could decide, it was time for the Kitchen Tour, so Hester and I made our way over to the meeting point.

Above is a rendering of the vast Windsor Castle kitchen in late Georgian days. The present day kitchen tour “takes you behind the scenes to the oldest working kitchen in the country, in constant use for nearly 750 years. Today, staff of the Royal Household use the Great Kitchen to prepare food for both grand ceremonial occasions, such as State Banquets, and more informal events in the royal diary. Your guide will tell you about the devastating fire of 1992 and how restoration work uncovered the Great Kitchen’s original medieval structure. You will hear about royal dining, past and present, and have a fascinating insight into Windsor Castle as a working royal palace.” In addition, the tour includes the State Entrance and the medieval Undercroft, areas not normally open to the public.

 The copper cookware you see in the photo above all bear the cypher of King George IV and the cast iron stoves installed by Prince Albert are still in place, though now rarely used. The kitchens were deserted when we tour them, the photo below being one I swiped off the internet, as photography was not allowed.
As stated above, the tour also included halls and passages that are rarely on show, so that we found ourselves walking through stone corridors that appeared untouched since at least the Georgian era. It was a rare insight into this magnificent building.   

After the tour, we returned to the gift shop, where I finally made up my mind and purchased the Jubilee beaker above. It now holds pride of place on my living room mantle.

The Final Installment In This Series Coming Soon!

A Couple In England – Day 10

After Hampton Court Palace, Hubby and I went back to the Castle Hotel and rested for a while before venturing out again for dinner. This time, we ventured a whole two blocks away, just down the High Street to the Duchess of Cambridge pub.

Soon after we’d sat down, I realized that the three blokes at the next table were ardently discussing Downton Abbey. I tried to eavesdrop, naturally, but it was hard to decipher every word and, besides, I was distracted by the Duchess of Cambridge. The Duchess of Cambridge who? I wracked my brain for an historical Duchess of Cambridge who’d rank pub name status. In Windsor, no less. Which Duchess of Cambridge had ties to Windsor? Princess Augusta, who’d married Prinny’s brother, the Duke of Cambridge? Hadn’t they spent a good portion of their time in Hanover, rather than England? And his son, George, had married an actress, whose existence was ignored by the entire Royal Family and she’d been denied the title HRH, anyway. And upon George’s death, the title became extinct until it was bestowed upon the present Prince William. Hhhmmmm . . . .



“You were off in a cloud. What are you thinking about?” Hubby asked.

I opened my mouth to answer, realized what I’d been thinking about, and said instead, “Nothing.”

Our waiter approached to take our orders. “Can you tell me which Duchess of Cambridge the pub is named for?” I asked.

“Er, Kate Middleton?” he answered.

This brought me up short. “But the pub’s been here for years. I’ve been here before, long before Kate was the Duchess of Cambridge.”

“Oh, yeah, it’s been here for centuries, but it wasn’t named the Duchess of Cambridge then. We just changed the name last year.”

Ah, now I felt better, although slightly tricked.

After dinner, we made an early night of it and the next day I met Hester at the Guildhall for a private, guided tour of the Museum – where Hester got to meet the Queen.


The present Guildhall replaced an older cornmarket and was built in the late 17th century and is often associated with Christopher Wren, although there’s no evidence of this. The Museum itself is housed in a 19th century extension and serves to display items of local history.

Upstairs, royal portraits adorn the walls, including one of himself given by Prinny which was so large the council had to take a window out to fit it in. Also upstairs is the room where Prince Charles married Camilla – dubbed by myself as “the scene of the crime.” The room contains several stained glass windows and more portraits, including a grim one of Queen Victoria and a rather nice one of the present Queen when young.


Here’s Hester standing in the very room where, by the way, Elton John was also married. To the left in the picture above can be seen one of the new Diamond Jubilee windows, showing Balmoral Castle.
Here’s the story of the dock, or pulpit, Hester is standing upon in Hester’s own words: “In 1882 a Scotsman, Roderick McLean, attempted to shoot Queen Victoria at the railway station. He missed, but was arrested and was to be brought before the magistrates in the Guildhall next day, for formal proceedings to send him for full trial in Reading (county town). But there wasn’t a dock. So overnight a carpenter knocked up the piece of furniture you see. McLean was duly arraigned and despatched for a full trial at Reading. There he was found ‘Not guilty but insane.’ The Queen was furious, there was a big fuss and the result was that today in such cases the verdict is recorded ‘Guilty but insane.’ McLean spent the rest of his life in a mental asylum. Why did he want to shoot the Queen? He had sent her some poetry he’d written, and she hadn’t said thank you! (I always draw the moral when children are present.) Nowadays this dock is used by witnesses giving evidence at Coroners’ Courts.”

Part Two Coming Soon!

A Couple In England – Day 8 – Part 3

When I got back to our room at the Castle Hotel, I was shocked to find that Hubby had unpacked our bags and had actually hung some of our clothes in the closet.

“Feeling better?” I asked. Hubby pointed to a low table that sat between two chairs by the window. On it were our trusty bottle of rum, a bottle of Coke and an ice bucket. I made myself a drink and took a long, lovely pull.


“How’s Hester?”

“Good. She couldn’t believe how bad I looked. I can’t wait till she gets a load of you.”

“At least I don’t feel like I’m going die. I don’t feel great, but I really think I might live.”

We sipped our drinks in silence for a while and then I brought up the subject of food.

“Are you hungry?”

“Yeah, we haven’t eaten anything all day. Come to think of it, neither of us has eaten much of anything for a long time. I don’t want anything fancy shmancy, Hon. I’m not up for that.”

“Fancy shmancy? You’re joking, right? I was thinking more like going straight across the road to the pub.”

“There’s a pub across the street?” Hubby looked out the window.

“Two. You can’t see them because they’re directly behind the Guildhall.”

So we finished our drinks, bundled up and headed out.

I pointed to the Guildhall as we passed. “That’s where Chuck and Camilla were married.”

There? Why didn’t they get married at the Castle around the corner? Boy, that must have been a dark day for you, Hon. Did you cry?”

“I contained myself. But it really should have been me who married Chuck.”

“No kidding. Think of the jewels you’re missing out on.”

Jewels? I could care less about the jewels. What I want is the key to the Royal Archives. And to every other archive in the land that’s usually off limits. One of the first things I’d have done would’ve been to call Stratfield Saye and say `It’s me. Chuck’s wife. Let me in and lead me to the personal papers.’ Here we go, the Carpenter’s Arms.”

Because it was relatively early, we had the whole place to ourselves. I ordered the bangers and mash and I can’t for the life of me remember what Hubby had – and neither can he. Suffice it to say that we ordered another round of drinks and then settled down to wait for the food.

“We’re meeting Hester in the car park at the hotel tomorrow morning and she’s going to drive us to Oatlands. All you have to do is get into the car. No trains or cabs or anything else resembling work.”

“What’s Oatlands?”

“It was Freddy’s house.”

Freddy? Who’s Freddy? Is he related to the Duke of Wellington? Is that the guy with the fake leg?”

“Freddy was a woman. Frederica, Duchess of York.”


“Remember the Duke of York’s column in London?”

“The guy with the mistress?”

“Yes. Freddy was his wife.”


Sigh. “She was a Prussian princess and was rather eccentric and homely, but she was incredibly kind. Some of the greatest people of the age adored Freddy. When Tom Sheridan’s wife was gravely ill, Freddy invited her to Oatland’s to rest and recuperate. And then there was Prince Leopold.”


Leopold. Princess Charlotte’s widower. He went to pieces when Charlotte died and Freddy was very patient with him and had him at Oatlands with her in order take his mind off things.” Our food arrived and we began to eat.

“And of course there was Beau Brummell.”

“Did you know there was a singing group called the Beau Brummells?”

I stared at Hubby. “Yes.”

Laugh, laugh. That was the name of their hit. You know it? Laugh, laugh, la la la la. Da da de da laugh, laugh . . . Remember?”

“Can’t say that I do.” It was obvious that there was no use my going on about the life and times of Freddy, but I felt honour bound to mention that after we’d seen Oatlands we’d be going on the Hampton Court.

“And then after Oatlands we’re going to Hampton Court.”

“What’s that?”

I smiled. “Oh, trust me. You’re going to love it.”

“I bet.”

Day Nine Coming Soon!