Windsor Castle, female accomplishments & a broken fan

Windsor
On Bastille Day I went to Windsor with my family and got horribly sunburnt. It was probably a fair punishment for not celebrating in an appropriately revolutionary manner. It was the first time any of us had been to Windsor and we spent most of the day inside the State Apartments.

Windsor
Upon our arrival I was taken aback by this sign, as I had no idea these two ever stayed at Windsor, despite me being quite besotted with both of them. Mrs Delany was an artist and lady of letters with exceptional botanical knowledge. She individually cut out pieces of flowers from paper to compose botanically accurate flowers, and some of these are currently on display in the Enlightenment Room at the British Museum.

What I love about Delany is that she kept within the borders of ‘womanly behaviour’ throughout her life, and that although her interest was paper art (as was fashionable among genteel women in the 18th century), she managed to make it intellectual, although such ‘female accomplishments’ have often been dismissed by historians. In reality women’s ‘accomplishments’ were widely discussed in the 18th century and no final consensus was decided upon. Since women could not become professionals they had to remain amateurs and that word has predominantly negative connotations today. Whenever someone is described as an amateur today, it usually means that this person’s attempts are inferior or of a bad quality, whereas in the 18th century it simply meant not-professional. (Further reading: Amanda Vickery’s Behind Closed Doors: At Home In Georgian England. The chapter called “What Women Made” is specifically concerned with female accomplishments. She also did a great BBC documentary which is brilliant.)

WindsorWindsor
Windsor
Windsor
Windsor
Since this summer was sweltering hot I kept a fan on me at all times. I got this one in Versailles years ago and it served me well until I managed to break it during this trip.

Windsor
We gawped at this with misty eyes for the better part of half an hour after spotting once inside the castle. I really wasn’t prepared for the immense amount of objects on display in the State Apartments: gilded swords from a multitude of centuries and so many ‘souvenirs’ from the golden age of the British Empire.

Windsor
A beautiful garden I could loose myself in for hours.

Windsor
Windsor
Windsor
After a long and insanely hot day we caught the train back to London and had supper at Richoux in Picadilly.

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Family visit and a fieldtrip to the V&A

V&A
This summer, while I was still working on my MA, my family came to visit for a week. Since I moved in 2009 they have usually been over at least once a year and my mother even claims she feels more at home doing her shopping London. This year the entire trip was planned so that my mother could go to see the David Bowie exhibition at the V&A. After spending at least three hours at the exhibition (which was amazing), I took them to see the Fashion Galleries (my second favourite part of the V&A), before we did a quick walk /literally, as they were closing) through the British Galleries (my favorite part of the V&A.) The rest of their visit we spent walking around town, going to the theatre and doing some shopping before we went on a day trip to Windsor – but that will be the subject of another post. For now I leave you with some of the photos my sister Christine took at the V&A. Some of them overlap with the one’s I took during my last visit, as I cannot seem to stay away from my favourites!

V&A
Walking dress from 1817-20 (my favourite) & muslin wedding dress, c. 1851.

V&A
A dress from 1878-80 & a dress from 1869-70 (Christine’s favourite) by Madame Vignon.

V&A
An evening dress from 1938-9, with textile design by Jean Cocteau.

V&A
An  Elsa Schiaparelli evening dress from 1936 with a fantastic necklace from her Pagan Collection & an Edwardian day dress, c. 1908.

V&AV&A
Posing for a portrait in the Norfolk House music room & Peg Woffington by Jean-Baptiste van Loo (attributed.)

“Colonial” Lunch at the Hurlingham Club

The Hurlingham Club
The Hurlingham Club
The Hurlingham ClubThe Hurlingham Club
The Hurlingham Club
The Hurlingham Club
The Hurlingham ClubThe Hurlingham ClubThe Hurlingham Club
The Hurlingham Club
The Hurlingham Club
Remember the hiatus I announced in the last post? Well, I have broken it already. Apparently spending my day doing research and drafting only makes me yearn for yet more writing! This post is quite a dated one as it concerns a lunch I had with some friends back in the beginning of July. One of them was visiting from abroad, so we decided that nothing but a luxurious lunch in the sunshine would do, more spesifically, at The Hurlingham Club in Putney – complete with a residential peahen! The main building is Georgian whereas the rest of the club fairly Victorian, complete with the most beautiful greenhouse.

I had only ever visited in winter or spring before, so I was thrilled to finally get a chance to see the rose garden in summer. We had our lunch outdoors, as this was in the early days of that insane heat we have had in London this summer. When the staff started to put out tablecloths to prepare for a party in the evening, our visiting friend pointed out that it all felt very colonial: the staff at work in the Georgian and Victorian surroundings, us lazily ating our lunch with a jug of Pimms under an old tree, protected from the blazing sun by the rich leaves overhead…