Actor Sean Bean has been spotted filming at Chatham’s Fort Amherst. The star joined dozens of re-enactors at the Napoleonic fort to make a Battle of Waterloo documentary.

Fort Amherst was used extensively during the filming of acclaimed television series Sharpe in the 1990s, which starred Sean Bean as Richard Sharpe, a fictional British soldier in the Napoleonic Wars.

Actor and director Sean Bean
Actor and director Sean Bean

He was back at the Fort in Dock Road to front the two-hour show to be aired on History UK.
Through the analysis of present-day military experts and the use of historical eyewitness accounts, the programme is planning to provide a ground-level perspective on the events of June 18, 1815.
It will air on the 200th anniversary of the battle in June this year.

Sean spent the day working with a team of soldiers and experts, testing the weapons and tactics that shaped the outcome of the battle. Guns and cannons were fired throughout the day. He said: “I am excited to be following the footsteps of Sharpe and those who fought in the Battle of Waterloo to tell the story of this iconic battle on History.”

Guns and cannons were fired throughout the day and could be heard all around Chatham during the filming on Sunday. Chairman of Fort Amherst Trust Les Snowdon said: “It was freezing cold but everyone stayed in great spirits all day, including Sean who arrived at 9.15am and didn’t leave until about 6pm.”

The Fort was filled with reenactors

The Fort was filled with re-enactors. Picture: Colin Davis

The filming at Fort Amherst
The filming at Fort Amherst. Picture: Colin Davis

Edmund Gulvin, a trustee and a Napoleonic re-enactor, enjoyed the day from start to finish.
He said: “It was amazing to see the artillery being used surrounded by so many uniformed soldiers.
“It really brought history alive – and as that’s one of our main objectives here at Fort Amherst we’re very grateful to the documentary makers for choosing our site for filming.”

Executive producer Patrick McGrady said: “We are excited to be embarking on a partnership with History to tell the story of Waterloo. “His interest in this period makes Sean Bean the perfect choice to present this special program.”

From the website The Mighty Bean:

Actor Sean Bean is to present a two-hour documentary marking the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo for pay-TV broadcaster History.

The A+E Networks UK channel has commissioned Wavelength Films, which produced BBC4’s Stephen Fry And The Gutenberg Press and Suggs’ Italian Job for Sky Arts, to make The Battle Of Waterloo Presented By Sean Bean (w/t).

It will air in June 2015 around the anniversary of the epic battle, in which Napoleon’s French Army was defeated in Belgium.
Game Of Thrones star Bean will be familiar with the story, having played Richard Sharpe in ITV’s Napoleonic War drama Sharpe, based on Bernard Cornwell’s novels about a fictional soldier.

History and H2 director of programming Rachel Job said Bean was top of the list of talent to front the documentary. “We didn’t go after him in a massive way because we thought he’s really busy and really famous, and then Wavelength came to us with him and the idea about Waterloo,” she said. “It’s about picking the subject matter that the talent wants to do, and he’s always been interested in Waterloo and the Napoleonic War.”

The Battle Of Waterloo Presented By Sean Bean will use evidence from eyewitness accounts alongside present-day military experts to tell the story of the battle. Bean will work with these experts to test the weapons and tactics that shaped the outcome of the conflict and compare them with modern strategies.

Job said the commission highlights History’s strategy of presenting traditional documentaries “through a different lens” and follows Bannockburn, a graphic novel-style film produced by Sky Vision and Arcadia Content.

The Battle Of Waterloo Presented By Sean Bean has also been prebought by History’s sister channels in Germany, Latin America, Italy, Iberia, Australia and New Zealand. Job said although it is a UK commission, these deals will help boost the show’s budget. “As soon as I mentioned it to the other channels, they jumped on it. Game Of Thrones is massive around the world,” she added. The doc begins filming in the UK and Belgium this month. It will be executive produced by Wavelength Films’ Patrick McGrady.


Anthony Trollope (24 April 1815 – 6 December 1882) was a remarkable man. After an unhappy childhood, and an unpromising start to his career, he went on to write 47 novels and rise to the top of his profession as a senior civil servant in the Post Office. Visit The Trollope Society here.

Victoria here, marveling at the achievements of a prolific author whose work is familiar to me more from the television adaptations than from the novels themselves. Shame on me. But I excuse myself on the grounds that a year of Dickens, Elliott, Hardy, et. al.  in a college English Victorian lit class filled my head with so many characters I dared not take on Trollope.  So now is the time for all those novels, a delightful prospect ahead.

The Pallisers was filmed over 13 months and shown in 1974 in 26 episodes.  It is available wherever BBC CDs are sold or streamed. Many of your favorite British stars are featured: Susan Hampshire, Derek Jacobi, Penelope Keith, Anthony Andrews, Anna Massey, and Jeremy Irons.,

The Barchester Chronicles was broadcast in 1982, also by the BBC. It combined several of Trollope’s novels set in Barsetshire: The Warden, Barchester Towers, and others.

I was surprised to see that many consider the series to be Alan Rickman’s break-out role.  He plays Rev. Obadiah Slope, an oily character who duels verbally with Mrs. Proudie, the Bishop’s wife.

In the series, Geraldine McEwan plays Mrs. Proudie, with other stars such as Donald Pleasence, Susan Hampshire, and Nigel Hawthorne in starring roles.

To watch an excerpt here, click on the arrow on the BBC site.  Clive Swift appears as Bishop Proudie, Geraldine McEwan as Mrs. Proudie, and Alan Rickman as Obadiah Slope.

In the above illustrated set, Barchester Chronicles is combined with two additional Trolloppe stories produced by the BBC, both scripted by Andrew Davies.

The Way We Live Now :Trollope’s story of power, greed and corruption set in the political and financial world of London is startlingly contemporary, with many parallels to recent city scandals. Its four episodes won the BAFTA for Best Drama Serial in 2002, and featured David Suchet.

He Knew He Was Right  2004, was also scripted by Andrew Davies and had four episodes

Trollope wrote every day from 5-8 am before going to his job in the Post Office. this is an example I would dearly love to emulate. Alas, I have too little self-discipline!

Trollope traveled the world in his capacity as an inspector for the post office.  He also instituted the use of the famous pillar box in 1853, familiar to all travelers in the UK.

One of many varied styles of Royal Mail Pillar Boxes

Anthony Trollope’s mother, Frances Milton Trollope (1779 – 1863) was an English novelist and travel writer. She took her children to America to live in a utopian community, but their fortunes fared no better there than in England.

Fanny Trollope by Auguste Hervieu c. 1832

After their return to England, she wrote Domestic Manners of the Americans (1832), which sold well. Subsequent novels were also moderately successful and she is cited as an influence on the anti-slavery movement. Her novels generally dealt with social issues, though she was also well known for her travel writings; her books number over a hundred. She spent most of her later life in Florence where she died and is buried.

The contemporary British novelist Joanna Trollope (b. 1943) is an indirect descendant of Anthony Trollope.  She has written almost twenty novels and received an OBE from the Queen in 19996.

Joanna Trollope, 2011

She is the author of last year’s re-working of Jane Austens Sense and Sensibility, part of a project to have illustrious modern writers re-do the famous plots and characters of the Austen novels after 200 years. Her website is here.

Angela Thirkell ia not in anyway related to Anthony Trollope, but she is a popular writer who has used his imaginary Barsetshire as the setting for many of her novels.

Angela Thirkell by John Collier, 1914

Her novels are witty and often ironic examinations of county and parish life in 1930’s, 1940’s and post-war England. Educated in London and Paris, she moved to Australia with her second husband. Never happy there, she returned to England in 1929 and stayed. High Rising, her second novel, published in 1933, was the first of many set in upper middle class circles.Getting to know here work is a delight.  I am a proud member of The Angela Thirkell Society; click here to learn more.

Pomfret Towers by Angela Thirkell
, a good place to start if you are not familiar with her work

To return to our birthday boy, I am sure it will be easy to find a readers group pursuing a deeper knowledge of Anthony Trollope in this bicentennial year.  Want to join me?

Royal Mail Stamp to be issued soon
It seems only fitting that the Royal Mail will issues a stamp honoring Trollope on his bicentennial, After alll, he was one of their own.  For more information, click here,


Saturday, May 9th

To celebrate the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo, the Costume Society is holding the first of their Jubilee Year Study Days in Bath.
The morning will have Uniformly Splendid: Dress and Death on the field of Waterloo. Nigel Arch, former Director of Kensington Palace and a military dress historian, will be considering the Battle of Waterloo, fought on Sunday 18 June 1815, as the last great encounter between European armies wearing the superb uniforms of the eighteenth century.

 Rosemary Harden, Manager of the Fashion Museum, will be discussing A Brilliant Affair: Dress and Fashion at the Waterloo Ball, looking at some of the dresses worn at the Duchess of Richmond’s famous ball held in Brussels on 15 June 1815 just before the Battle of Waterloo. Two of these dresses are now in the collection at Bath.
In the afternoon there will be a ‘dressing’ of two of Bath’s residents in outfits of the period from their linens out.

You are invited (encouraged even) to come in costume – rest assured that you will not be alone! But you might need a bit of time to arrange an outfit.

 Some members have agreed to join in with advice and possible hands-on help. If you’d like to help (with or without professional charges), can provide advice or even an outfit, please contact Fiona Starkey: email membership@costumesociety.org.uk who is compiling a list of the willing and the wanting.

 And if you really want to push the boat out – the Jane Austen dancers are holding their Waterloo ball in the Assembly Rooms, Bath on the same evening. www.janeaustendancersbath.co.uk for details.

For more information download the poster Waterloo_trailer.pdf

The Study Day is being held at The Old Theatre (Masonic Hall) in Orchard Street, Bath BA1 1JU. Five minutes’ walk from Bus and Train stations and worth a visit in its own right.

10.00 Coffee on arrival
10.30 Rosemary Harden on A Brilliant Affair: Dress and Fashion at the Waterloo Ball. Ballgowns in the fashion museum
11.30 Nigel Arch on Dress and Death on the field of Waterloo: military uniforms12.30 lunch break. Buffet available as an option (see booking form)
14.00 The ‘Crinoline’ group with two 1805 outfits (his and hers) recreated and dressed on stage from shirt out. Based on Janet Arnold patterns.
15.15 tea
16.00 end



Catalogue of the Exhibition

Victoria here. The Baker Museum in Naples, FL, is currently hosting the exhibition Gods and Heroes, through May 17, 2015. Organized by the American Federation of Arts (AFA) and the École des Beaux -Arts, Paris. it has been shown previously in Oklahoma City and Albuquerque and will travel to Portland, OR, June 13-September 13, 2015.

École des Beaux -Arts, Paris.

According to the AFA, “This rich overview of masterpieces from the École des Beaux-Arts—the original school of fine arts in Paris and a repository for work by Europe’s most renowned artists since the fifteenth century—includes approximately 140 paintings, sculptures, and works on paper dating from the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries. The focus is on epic themes such as courage, sacrifice, and death, as well as the ways that changing political and philosophical systems affected the choice and execution of these subjects.”

Pierre-Charles Jombert Apollo and Diana Killing the children of Niobe 1772

Describing the exhibition, the AFA writes:  “The epic deeds of gods and heroes, enshrined in the Bible and the works of Homer, were the primary narratives from which both aspiring and established academicians drew their inspiration.  Their ideology was rooted in the study of the idealized human form as envisioned in classical art. At the École, learning how to construct persuasive and powerful paintings from carefully delineated anatomy, expressive faces, and convincing architectural and landscape settings was understood by aspiring artists to be the route to success and recognition.”

Jacques-Louis David, Andromache Mourning Hector, 1783

Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Jeroboam Sacrificing to the Idols, 1752
You will encounter paintings by David, Fragonard, Ingres and Bouguereau, among many others. Also many prints and drawings used for teaching are included by artists such as da Vinci, Titian, Durer, and Rembrandt.
Pierre Monier The Conquest of the Golden Fleece 1663
The painting above, based on the Greek stories of Jason, was the first winner of the Grand Prix fro the Ecole in 1663, a reminder of how long the school has been in operation.
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Achilles Receiving the Ambassadors of Agamemnon, 1801
William-Adolphe Bouguereau. Disdain, 1850. 
Some of the paintings on view were executed for annual competitions on themes chosen by the school, such as expression (see above) or the male torso (see below.)  These competitions were watched closely for new approaches and growing expertise.
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Painted Half Torso 1800
Wandering among these paintings, illustrations of teaching techniques and as ‘simple’ as the two above and elaborate tableaux of assorted gods or heroes on crowded canvases, I could not help thinking of what college professors taught at the time I took art history courses. Speaking of the late 19th century, they told us that the academicians were stuck in the rubble of the past and ignored the new currents being developed by the Impressionists (then a title of derisiion) — while those staid old-fashioned paintings of the academicians admitted to the official salon were admired, Monet, Renoir and their like were being ignored and had to organize their Salon des Rufusés to show their work.  Thus I never really developed an appreciation for the academicians.  This show went quite a ways towaards remeding that situation. I found I could enjoy these works for their own sake — though if I were to chose one to hang on my own walls, I might have had a tough time. 
Julie Duvidal Montferrier  Self Portrait 1818
Full name, Louise Rose Julie Duvidal Monferrier (1797-1865)  exhibited works at the Salon. She married Abel Hugo, the brother of Victor Hugo.  I admire the direct gaze in this self-portrait, and it reminds me of the work of the artist below, who also did many self-portraits, though none of them are in this exhibition.
Louise Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun: Portrait of Hubert Robert, 1788
Robert was a painter who specialized in idealized landscapes for persons such as Madame du Barry. This portrait, said to be among her finest, shows Vigee Lebrun’s close rapport and respect for him. 
If you have the opportunity to visit this exhibition in Naples or Portland, I hope you will enjoy it as I did.  Always time for something old — becoming something new!


After leaving Sir John Soane’s House, Victoria, Marilyn and myself made our way over to Covent Garden – land of flower sellers, ladies of ill repute and some nefarious goings on. And that’s just today. Seriously, though, it would have been nice to see some of the old street sellers who once haunted this market. As usual, I found that with a little imagination, there are glimpses of the old market to still be seen today.

Before we explored any further, we decided that a spot of lunch wouldn’t go amiss and we left the Market in search of food.

We soon found ourselves in front of the Marquess of Angelsey pub. Now, this would have been a spot that spoke to Waterloo hearts if Victoria and I hadn’t known what was waiting for us just a street away.

The Blue Plaque explains that the offices of Charles Dickens’ magazine, All The Year Round, were once located in this building.
And just down at the corner . . . . . our favourite Duke of Wellington pub, not to be confused with the Duke of Wellington pub near our hotel in Kensington where we’d already eaten twice.

It was a glorious day and we opted for an outside table, where we ordered small plates and shared a meal.
Afterwards, we went back to Covent Garden so that Marilyn could see more of it.
Buskers/mimes in front of St. Paul’s Church, Covent Garden
We were lucky enough to be strolling by as an opera singer was belting out Ave Maria.
 The flower market now (above) and then (below).
We strolled by the ubiquitous Covent Garden pigeons. Alas, no Audrey Hepburn in sight.
The entrance to St. Paul’s Churchyard, now (above) and then (below).

Rear of St. Paul’s Church, Covent Garden which opens on a small rose garden that happened to be gloriously in bloom when we visited.

Roses behind St. Paul’s Church
Leaving the churchyard, we found ourselves near Bedford Court, where we grabbed a cab and went to my favourite antique dealer in Cecil Court.
To my great delight, they had a Copeland bust of the Duke of Wellington after Comte D’Orsay, 1846.
The Duke and all his acquaintances thought that D’Orsay’s work was the best likeness of Wellington. I did, too, and so Reader, I bought it. I was smart enough to ask them to hold on to the bust until my return to London in a week’s time.  
Being that Victoria and Marilyn were still in a shopping mood, we hoofed it over to Liberty’s before meeting up with Diane for dinner at Burger Lobster in Curzon Street.  Diane had been meeting with her Mills and Boon editors in Richmond, so she had lots to tell us in between our accounts of a busy day.  Here’s her website and book info.

After a fabulous meal, Victoria and I took Diana and Marilyn on an impromptu walking tour of Mayfair, which included a stroll past Beau Brummell’s house in Chesterfield Street.
The Beau’s House, #4 Chesterfield Street, sports two blue plaques: one for the Beau (1778-1840), the other for former PM Anthony Eden, Lord Avon (1897-1977), in office 1955-57.
At the top of the street, we turned onto Charles Street, which is chock full of period architectural detail. Here is #22 Charles Street, once the home of
HRH Prince William, Duke of Clarence,
 later King William IV who reigned from 1830-37.
We walked the Regency streets for a while longer, but by this time, we were all fairly tired and so we headed back to the hotel and called it a day. And what a day it had been. Needless to say, the four of us laid our tired heads upon our pillows and looked forward to our next adventure.
More Loose in London coming soon!