Always looking for a new London adventure, one night Victoria and I took Diane and her sister, Marilyn, to Mr. Foggs in Mayfair for a drink. Hidden away on Bruton Lane, there’s no outward sign that an establishment of any sort is housed behind the Victorian facades that line the street. Up a few steps to the door, one has to knock in order to summon the door keep to slide the peep hole back. It’s at this point that one is tempted to say something suitably snarky, such as “Rick sent me” or “Let us in, we’e got a fresh body for ye” or even “The password is Brummell.” None of these are necessary as, unless one looks truly iffy, the door is typically opened to admit you into another world – the world of Victorian London and the townhouse of Around the World in 80 Days adventurer Phinneas Fog. 

Here a review of the place from The Nudge

Picture the scene.
You’ve instructed your date to meet you on Conduit Street in Mayfair.
They’re excited. And happy.
You stroll together through Mayfair, past restaurants and designer boutiques; past jewellers and art galleries. There’s a spring in their step, and a smile on their face…
….until you direct them down a dingy back alleyway – menacingly encased on every side by concrete, shadows and high-rise office buildings – which they intuitively believe can only lead in one direction: towards their brutal and untimely death. 
But just around the corner relief sets in, as they spot Victorian lanterns hanging outside the immaculate exterior of a truly glimmering beacon of peculiarity: the fictional home of Mr. Phileas Fogg… which you can call “Mr. Fogg’s”.
Because that’s its name.
After climbing the steps to Fogg’s abode – having possibly just manoeuvred yourself around a horse and carriage in the street, depending on which night you go – you’ll enter the madcap home of one of fiction’s most eccentric adventurers, which overflows with artifacts and trinkets collected from his travels. Stuffed Indian tiger heads, whole crocodiles and umbrella stands made from elephants’ feet; portraits of Fogg’s ancestors; wall-mounted busts of the man’s favourite pets; annotated maps and pictures from his travels; birdcages, bicycles and one large penny-farthing swinging from the ceiling, alongside the very hot air balloon in which he travelled the world for 80 days.

Expect to see staff clad in military uniforms – coloured according to their seniority within the household – serving up absinthe aperitifs, sazeracs and stirrup cups. Expect to enjoy live sing-alongs around the piano; expect monthly visits from Mr.Fogg himself, who will regale you with tales from his most recent travels…
…and expect your date to be excited.  And happy.

And happy we were, as you can see by the photo below – drinks in a Victorian parlor, served up by attractive men in period uniforms . . . . . . bliss.

Period details abounded and were arranged around the walls – and floors, and ceiling – as far as the eye could see. In fact, period details were also found in the ladies loo.

From here we took a cab to Soho for dinner – stay tuned for that adventure, coming soon!


Go back to 1815 with the National Army Museum’s pop-up pub. Marking the 200-year anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo on 18 June 2015 the National Army Museum is launching a touring pub, aptly named the Duke of Wellington, to educate and entertain families and budding historians around the country.

The pop-up pub will be starting its journey at Waterloo Station on 1 May 2015, where Napoleonic soldiers will serve commuters pints of history. The pub will then travel across the country – serving up Waterloo facts to the nation. The Duke of Wellington pop-up pub will be visiting the following locations:

       Halifax: Woolshops Shopping Centre (9 May)
       Taunton: Castle Green (16 May)
       Liverpool: Paradise Place (28 May)
       Royal Norfolk County Show (1 and 2 July)
Inside this family-friendly pub are also a number of fun activities; each designed to teach a little more about Waterloo.

       Meet the publican, bar maid, soldier and civilian and hear them recount their stories from the time of Waterloo
       See if the styles of the time would have suited you by dressing up in period clothing
       Take the place of one of Wellington’s soldiers at the fun photoboard
       Play an iPad game offering brave souls the chance to try their luck on the Battlefield, and work their way up the ranks
       Pick up a ‘pint of information’ and a Waterloo medal sticker

New research released early this month from the National Army Museum revealed that three-quarters of Brits have little or no knowledge about the Battle of Waterloo. Just half of Brits know Wellington led the British Army at Waterloo and it showed that young people associate Waterloo with the London station, ABBA song and BBC’s Waterloo Road over the Battle.
The National Army Museum’s pop-up pub is the perfect way to ensure you know your Waterloo history in time for the bicentenary. Designed to replicate pubs from the early 19th Century, visitors will be greeted by one of a number of period characters all with their own Waterloo tales to tell. Find out what Waterloo was like for those who affected by the Battle. Meet Private Edward Dooley, a returning solider, whose battalion was very inexperienced and known for recruiting underage soldiers into their ranks.  Or John Harrison, a 19th Century farm labourer who refused to join the army a year before the Battle. Visitors may even come across the Joseph Hill, the publican and ex solider, or his barmaid Elizabeth McMullen, whose husband was badly wounded at the Battle.

All newly qualified Waterloo experts will be served up a ‘pint of information’ and given a Waterloo Medal sticker to take away with them. Furthermore, for one lucky gamer there’s even a chance to win a trip for four people to stay on the battle ground at Hougoumont, Belgium, courtesy of The Landmark Trust and Eurostar.

The Battle of Waterloo was the first time soldiers were awarded with a medal and pension. Upon returning home, a number of soldiers used their pensions to open their own pubs. These publicans named their pubs after Waterloo related events – ever drunk in The Calvary Arms, The Cannon or The Wellington? – these are all nods to Waterloo.

The Duke of Wellington Pop-Up Pub tour is a part of the Waterloo Lives programme from the National Army Museum, offering a number of entertaining and educational events across the country, including exhibitions, art displays and lectures.

The Battle of Waterloo took place on 18 June 1815, when the British and Prussian forces, under the command of Duke of Wellington, halted the advance of French Army in Belgium. The bloody battle claimed the lives of 65,000 of the 200,000 men that took part, and saw the defeat of Napoleon, ending his reign as Emperor of France and ushering in a period of peace following years of war in Europe.
The National Army Museum is commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo with a this with a nationwide programme of events, activities and displays, under the theme ‘Waterloo Lives’. This stream of events aims to bring Waterloo to life through the stories of those who fought in the Battle. Through family-friendly and captivating activities NAM hopes to educate Britons of all ages about the importance of Waterloo. The events include a number of Pop Up activities and regimental museum exhibitions.

For more information about the National Army Museum’s Waterloo Lives programme, or to learn more about the Battle through digital gallery of 200 objects please visit www.waterloo200.org

The Pop-Up Pub activity and Waterloo Lives programme is part of the National Army Museum’s ‘Building for the Future’ project, which has been generously funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. 

About the National Army Museum:
Founded in 1960 by Royal Charter, the National Army Museum was established for the purpose of collecting, preserving and exhibiting objects and records relating to the Land Forces of the British Crown.
The Museum seeks to tell the story of the British Army and the personal experiences of the soldiers who have served in it. Working to inspire, challenge and educate, the Museum aims to connect the British public and its Army, demonstrating how the role of the Army and its actions are still relevant today. 
HM The Queen opened the National Army Museum in 1970 but a major transformation, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund means the Museum’s site in Chelsea is currently closed until 2016.  In the meantime, visit: www.nam.ac.uk for a wealth of British Army history, research tools, learning facilities and details of outreach events around the country.
The Museum is now closed for preparatory activity for the project, set to reopen in 2016. For more information and updates on Building for the Future visit www.nam.ac.uk/future.
About Heritage Lottery Fund
Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. HLF has supported 36,000 projects with £6bn across the UK. www.hlf.org.uk @heritagelottery


Wouldn’t we rejoice if we could see London, Hampshire — ANYTHING — through Jane Austen’s eyes?

Print by Rowlandson, 1796

Of course we can, all due to Austen Scholar and University of Texas professor Janine Barchas and her students.  They have recreated digitally the exhibition of 1814 which Jane Austen atttended at the British Institution, 52 Pall Mall, and you can visit too. Just click on the caption above and you will arrive ready to see the display.

U. of Texas Professor Barchas
And how about the plays Jane Austen saw in London, Bath, or even in the barn at the Austen family home in Steventon?  We had a taste of these too at the Chicago Spring Gala, presented by William Phillips and the Terra Mysterium Theatre group featuring Debra Ann Miller.
William Phillips
Terra Mysterium Theater Ensemble

First, the art Jane saw.  The exhibition we see was a first for London: a one-man show, in fact a retrospective of paintings by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), the first president of the Royal Academy.  Jane Austen wrote of visiting several galleries in May of 1814, mentioning this one in particular. But how do we know what she saw?

George III, 1781, Royal Academy, Number 1 in the exhibition 
Professor Barchas discovered a catalogue from the exhibition, numbering the pictures and providing the room numbers, sizes, and walls, though not the arrangement of pictures. Next she had to locate the contemporary location of each picture.  Some were well-known, beloved and easy to find, such as the renowned portrait below.
Mrs. Siddons as The Tragic Muse, 1784, Huntington Art Gallery
A few paintings could not be located and may have been lost in fires or other disasters. But I think every observer will agree it is an amazing feat to have reconstructed the exhibition. The full story can be found here
Though the building is London is long gone, two additional paintings of the British Institution gave the team some clues to its appearance.
John Scarlett Davis (1804-1845), Interior of British Institution, 1929
Yale Center for British Art
Alfred Joseph Woolmer (1805-1892) Interior of the British Institution 
Yale Center for British Art
The two paintings above also show the interior with its arches, center stairway, and in the lower picture, a fireplace, which turned out to be rather important for the arrangement of the pictures.
Professor Barchas’s team built the interactive website starting with a Google Sketch-up program and went from there. I can understand HOW they did it and WHY, but could I do it?  Assuredly not.  However, even non-tekky me has no trouble negotiating the website and learning about the exhibition, the building, the pictures — all of it. You can too, for it is truly user-friendly. All of the students and faculty are listed here, if you just scroll down.
The British Institution, 53 Pall Mall, as it appeared in 1851
The building was designed by George Dance the Younger and built in 1788 
for the Boydell Shakespeare Gallery.

The UT team has not rested upon its laurels.  They are deep into a new project recreating the Shakespeare Gallery as it appeared about 1796 at the same set of rooms that later became the British Institution.  On these premises John Boydell (1752-1817) created a gallery of paintings from Shakespeare’s plays. 

Hogarth’s Richard III
Using some of the same template as What Jane Saw, the University of Texas team led by Professor Barchas is recreating a version of the Boydell 
Shakespeare Gallery which operated from 1789 to the early years of the 19th century.

Puck, by Sir Joshua Reynolds, appears in both virtual galleries
In addition to charging for admission to the Shakespeare Gallery, Boydell also planned to earn his investment and a profit from selling a book of engravings of the paintings. It was for enjoyment at home, an early “coffee-table” book. Though the gallery ultimately failed as a business venture, the images of Shakespeare’s plays and how they were performed were very popular and influenced the way we see the Bard even today.
However, many of the paintings, when sold, were too large to be exhibited in buyer’s houses and many of them were cut up, as shown below.  Some of the fragments can be located and thus the colors and the original sizes can be ascertained from the black and white engravings, which were all about the same size in the folios.
Engraving of Miranda, Prospero, and Caliban
from Boydell’s folio
Only remaining fragment:  Prospero
York Museums Trust

Henry Fuseli (1741-1825)  Prospero, Miranda and Caliban, 1803
The above three images represent how the pictures have been recreated when only fragments remain, as a combination of good research, detective work , and technological skill.
from Troilus and Cressida, Lady Hamilton as Cassandra
fragment in private collection
This is only one of the myriad problems to be solved in creating the website. In addition, further technological advances and experiments are planned with such things as 3-D goggles and more.
The Shakespeare Gallery from Professor Barchas and her team will debut on the net in December, 2015, to celebrate 2016’s 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. A further exhibition will be mounted at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D. C. in the Fall of 2016.  Entitled “Will and Jane: Shakespeare, Austen, and the Cult of Celebrity,” it is co-curated by Professor Janine Barchas of the University of Texas, and theater historian Kristin Straub of Carnegie Mellon University.  The exhibit will examine the way Shakespeare’s work was presented and celebrated in Jane Austen’s Day, and it will compare the memorabilia and marketing of that day with the way Jane Austen is marketed today.

After a delicious luncheon, William Phillips presented a talk on “What Jane Saw at the Theatre.”
 Contrary to the opinion that Jane Austen was anti-theatrical, Philips explained how she enjoyed family productions in her childhood and wrote some fragmentary (and somewhat silly) plays that can be found among her juvenilia.

The enthusiastic response to Phillips’ talk and the tidbits performed
capped a delightful day at JASNA-GCR (Greater Chicago Region).

Program Chair Debra Ann Miller and GCR Coordinator Jeffrey Nigro

Victoria Hinshaw and Janine Barchas

Thanks to everyone involved for a great program.