Do You Know About Foyle's War?

Oh, boy. This one’s a winner. Not Regency, not Victorian, but a series that will quietly grab you and have you hooked by the end of the first episode.

I’d written this post in draft weeks ago and only found out yesterday from Jo Manning that the new episodes were being aired on PBS Mystery starting last night. Sorry, sorry, sorry for missing the boat on this, but there’s no time like the present to let you know about Foyle’s War if you aren’t familiar with it. And if you are, there’s no time like the present to tell you that next two new episodes in the series will air on Sunday, May 9 (Killing Time) and Sunday, May 16 (The Hide).

In early World War II Britain, as British soldiers and pilots valiantly resist the German forces on land and in the air, their kinsmen at home face head-on the effects of the awful war that has engulfed their nation. Food rationing, black-outs, German bombing raids, all these and more are daily reminders that no one is to be spared.

For Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle of the Hastings police department, a man who served his country in World War I and then rose through the ranks of the police force to his current position, sitting on the sidelines during this war is frustrating. Requesting more direct involvement but continually rebuffed by his superior officer, DCS Foyle is further frustrated by a shortage of manpower that impedes his powers of policing.

As Foyle quickly learns, however, the role he plays is in no way a small one, for the war has certainly not brought a cessation of crime. If anything, it has intensified the heinous nature of domestic crime when carried out against innocent people already suffering, sacrificing, and struggling to persevere in such a brutal time.

Each episode of Foyle’s War, created by Anthony Horowitz (Midsomer Murders), blends real-life war stories with tales of treachery and suspense. Whether investigating sabotage, looting, stolen food or fuel supplies, police brutality of conscientious objectors, treason, or murder, Foyle and his colleagues must wage their own personal war amidst the tumult of a larger one. But more than a period whodunnit, Foyle’s War is redolent with rich human drama subtly revealed through the lives of these main characters who make up the heart of the series. Steadfast and loyal to each other, they strive to uphold the values for which they and their countrymen – their loved ones – are fighting and dying.
 

Michael Kitchen, as Foyle, doesn’t say much and prefers fly fishing to socializing, but Oh My is he clever. The human side of the war is emphasized through continuing secondary plot lines that involve the ongoing love life of Foyle’s female driver, Samantha. She even has an ongoing fling with Foyle’s son, an ace fighter pilot. Foyle’s second in command, Sergeant Milner is a wounded vet who lost a leg in the war – a fact his wife is unable to deal with.

Foyle’s War was created in 2001 by author Anthony Horowitz and commissioned by ITV1 to fill the void following the end of long-running detective series Inspector Morse. Set in Hastings, it ran to 19 episodes and featured Foyle’s attempts to catch criminals taking advantage of wartime confusion. Now, three more episodes have been made (wooo hooo!), with Michael Kitchen reprising his role and Foyle’s peacetime exploits are likely to feature his female driver, Sam, more prominently. Foyle’s War will return to ITV1 with a “new style series” set in June 1945, after VE Day signalled the end of the conflict in Europe, but with the war against Japan in the Far East not yet concluded.

“Like everyone else, detective chief superintendent Christopher Foyle needs to feel his way in this new world. Keen to retire, but bound to his old job by the shortage of senior men, Foyle is thrust into the dangerous worlds of international conspiracy and execution, military racism and national betrayal,” ITV said.

The series producer, Jill Green, added: “This fascinating period post-VE day has rarely been featured on TV and once more Foyle’s War will be unearthing true stories that reflect tougher, moodier times.”

The Anniversary of a Short Marriage

On 2 May, 1816, Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales married Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld in Carlton House, the home of her father, the Prince Regent.

The occasion was full of joy for the British public for the masses loved the Princess and they knew her life had not been easy.
The only legitimate grandchild of George III, Princess Charlotte was second in line to become the monarch of Great Britain. Her mother and father separated shortly after their marriage and never lived together. The Prince Regent was envious of the public interest in Charlotte and he restricted her movements and even her contact with her mother, Caroline, Princess of Wales.
Her wedding dress can be seen in the Royal Collection in various exhibitions. Here is the description of the gown from a regency era periodical, La Belle Assemblee, Vol. 12, no. 84 (May 1816), “Her dress was silver lama on net, over a silver tissue slip, embroidered at the bottom with silver lama in shells and flowers. Body and sleeves to correspond, elegantly trimmed with point Brussels lace. The manteau was of silver tissue lined with white satin, with a border of embroidery to answer that on the dress, and fastened in front with a splendid diamond ornament.”

Prince Leopold and Princess Charlotte lived at Claremont, an estate in Surrey. There, just over a year after the wedding, Charlotte died after giving birth to a stillborn son. The people mourned their Princess on an unprecedented level.

Many kinds of memorials were sold throughout the country:


Charlotte was buried in the Royal Chapel at Windsor. A large memorial to her shows her descending into heaven, her infant son held by an angel.
Prince Leopold remained involved in the British Royal Family. He helped the Duke of Kent marry his sister, Victoire, who eventually became the parents of Princess Victoria. He advised his niece before and after her accession to the throne.
And he also facilitated the marriage of his nephew Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg- Gotha to Queen Victoria. In 1831, Leopold became King of the Belgians. He married again and had three children. His daughter was named Charlotte after his first wife.

Right, Princess Charlotte of Wales 1796-1817.                             

The London and Waterloo Tour – Victoria and Albert: Art in Love at the Queen's Gallery

Victoria and I are looking forward to the Victoria and Albert: Art in Love exhibit at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace. The Exhibition features 400 items from The Royal Collection including gifts exchanged by Victoria and Albert such as drawings, paintings, sculpture, furniture, musical scores and jewellery and encompasses their mutual love of music and art. The display also touches upon Prince Albert’s work on ‘The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations in 1851’ as well Queen Victoria in the years after Albert’s death in 1861.

Works by the couple’s favorite artist, Franz Xaver Winterhalter, are on display, as are photographs taken of the Royal couple. A German painter first recommended to Queen Victoria by Louise, Queen of the Belgians, Winterhalter came to England in 1842 and subsequently worked regularly for the queen and her family over the next two decades. Winterhalter was granted the largest number of royal commissions and produced numerous formal portraits, including the one pictured above, which Queen Victoria commissioned in 1843 as a surprise for her husband’s 24th birthday. The artist presents the Queen in an intimate pose, leaning against a red cushion with her hair half unravelled from its fashionable knot.

Winterhalter (at left) was born in the Grand Duchy of Baden in 1805. He excelled at painting and drawing as a teen and went to Munich where he studied at the Academy of Arts. By the late 1830’s he drew attention as a painter of royal subjects. He traveled and painted in almost every court of Europe until the last few years of his life. Though art critics were never very enthusiastic about his work, his portraits were well executed and conveniently flattering.

Costumes are also displayed in the exhibit, including Queen Victoria’s costume for the 1851 Stuart Ball  designed by French artist Eugène Lami. The French silk gown is rich in lace and brocade.
You can take a really in-depth video tour of the exhibition here and/or visit the Royal Collection website.

Winterhalter’s The First of May 1851, at right,  shows the Duke of Wellington presenting a casket to his one-year-old godson, Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught, who is supported by Queen Victoria. Behind these figures and forming the apex of a pyramidal composition is Prince Albert, half looking over his shoulder towards the Crystal Palace in the left background. Both the Duke of Wellington and Prince Albert are dressed in the uniform of Field Marshal and wear the Order of the Garter. The painting derives its title from the fact that both the Duke of Wellington and Prince Arthur were born on 1 May, which was also the date of the inauguration of the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park.

 The painting was commissioned by Queen Victoria, but Winterhalter clearly encountered some difficulties in devising an appropriate composition. In the queen’s words, he ‘did not seem to know how to carry it out’ and it was Prince Albert ‘with his wonderful knowledge and taste’ who gave Winterhalter the idea of using a casket, instead of the gold cup the Duke had actually presented to the child. The painting hangs at the Duke’s country home, Stratfield Saye.

Above, Victoria and Albert with their children in 1846, Buckingham Palace

The Young Victoria

Victoria H. (as opposed to Victoria R) loved this film when she saw it in London in May 2009. And she will buy a copy as soon as it comes out on DVD. It’s still in Kristine’s Blockbuster queue.

We’d love to know what you think of it, so if you’ve already seen it, do tell us all. Wasn’t Emily Blunt wonderful? She even looked the part.

Victoria H. has this warning.  Do not expect the film to be entirely historically accurate. They played a little fast and loose with a couple of aspects.  For the benefit of the drama, of course.

 For example, Prime Minister Lord Melbourne was almost 60 when Victoria came to the throne. He might have had a long history of being a ladies’ man (and he had been married to Lady Caroline Lamb, remember), but  he was not the studly figure that Paul Bettany presented in the film, see left. Not that anyone could complain about Paul’s looks.  And Prince Albert did not take a bullet for his bride — he was as uninjured in the attack as she was.

Kristine tells an amusing bon mot regarding Patty Suchy of Novel Explorations . . One year we went to England to do a Queen Victoria tour and arrived a day or so early. The movie Mrs. Brown had just come out and we both wanted to see it, so we went to a cinema in Baker Street, where after buying our tickets we were presented with a floor plan and asked to reserve our seats. And what seats they were – plush red velvet, deep and supremely comfortable. Well, it also happened to have been the day we landed in Merry Old. And you know what air travel does to one. So, here we settled into our seats, the picture started and sometime later I turned to Patty in order to impart some witty aside or other, only to find her fast asleep! She missed the entire film. However, Patty embodies true friendship and after she’d awoken, she said, “Well, as long as you enjoyed it.”  Have you ever!?

Author Hester Davenport to Speak at Burney Society Conference

Hester Davenport, author of The Prince’s Mistress: A Life of Perdita, Mary Robinson and Faithful  Handmaid: Fanny Burney at the Court of King George III, (Sutton Publishing) will be speaking at a conference entitled “Women under Napoleon 1802–12” that has been jointly organised by  The Burney Society and the Université-Paris Diderot, to celebrate the life of Frances Burney in Paris, and to promote Anglo-French relations and the study of women’s writing on revolution and empire. The conference will take place 10–11 June 2010 at the Institut Charles V, rue Charles V, Paris.
Hester’s talk English Women and the Revolution, will include dramatised readings by Hester and Karin Fernald. Other seminars include Napoleon through British and French Caricatures (1799–1815), Germaine de Staël’s 1812 Dilemma by Flora Fraser,  Pauline Bonaparte: Procuress for her Brother the Emperor Napoleon?, Florence Filippi on French actresses and Napoleon and Madame d’Arblay’s ’French Notebooks’ by Peter Sabor of McGill University.
For more details, a list of hotels and to make a reservation, contact David Tregear (Burney Society secretary): 36 Henty Gardens, Chichester PO19 3DL Email: tregear.david@virgin.net