On Monday, September 8th, 2014, we will journey by private bus from London through the countryside of Kent to the coast of the British Channel at Walmer Castle.
Walmer Castle was built by Henry VIII to fortify the Kentish Coast against the invasion. The Duke lived – and died – here, his residence as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, an appointment that dates back to the 12th century. In much more recent times, Winston Churchill was the Lord Warden; and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother was Lord Warden from 1978-2002 (We’ll get to see the rose garden she planted at Walmer). Here is lovely video of the Castle and Gardens, accompanied by Bach..
In November, 1842, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, with their first two children, Vicky, the Princess Royal, and Bertie, later King Edward VII, visited Walmer Castle. One of the ladies in waiting,
Lady Lyttleton wrote of the Castle in her Correspondence:
“This is much what I expected. A Big round tower, with odd additions stuck on. Immense thick walls, and a heap of comical rooms of the odd shapes necessary as parts of a round house built close upon the shingly beach…It seems needless to go out for air, doors and windows all chatter and sing at once, and hardly keep out the dark storm of wind and rain which is howling round. All this outward rudeness mixes very oddly with the numbers of smart servants and courtly whispers and very tolerably got-up imitation of the palace mummeries we have contrived indoors…”
Lady Lyttelton by John Jackson
Lady Lyttelton (1787-1870) was the daughter of the 2nd Earl Spencer and his Countess, nee Lavinia Bingham; Lady Sarah was thus the niece of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. In 1813, Lady Sarah married William Henry Lyttelton (1782–1837) who became the 3rd Baron Lyttleton in 1828; they had three sons and two daughters. Baron Lyttleton died in 1837, and soon afterwards, Lady Lyttleton became a lady in waiting to the new Queen Victoria.
As a brief aside, the Lyttelton family resided at 17 St. James’s Place, now part of the Stafford Hotel, which we’ll be viewing as part of the St. James’s Walking Tour we’ve scheduled during the London portion of the Tour.
Stafford Hotel, St. James’s, London
The Lyttleton, fine dining room in the Stafford
Lady Lyttleton’s further comments on Walmer Castle are included in this video, from the BBC series Royal Upstairs Downstairs. Antiques expert Tim Wonnacott and chef Rosemary Shrager visit twenty of the houses visited by Queen Victoria to see what she saw and taste what she ate. In this 29-minute episode, they are at Walmer Castle.
You can see three more posts from this blog about Walmer Castle.