A few weeks before Christmas I visited Norsk Folkemuseum (The Norwegian Museum of Cultural History.) It is largely an open air museum consisting of buildings dating from the 15th-20th century; small pre-18th century wooden houses once occupied by peasants, a Stave Church, a 19th century school, a mid-century shop and a block of flats decorated in the style of the 1870s, the early 1900s and the 1960s. My favourite part of the museum are the 18th century homes of the middling sorts, as I always enjoy having a look at how Norwegian people lived in the era I am so familiar with from a British and French perspective. Being outdoors the museum is obviously freezing in winter, although when it snows it is so very picturesque and it always gives me the impression that I have been transported into an early 20th century Christmas card.
As I was unable to locate a santa hat (I was feeling festive), I wrapped myself in a bright red shawl and although my mother claimed I would be the person wearing the loudest headdress at the museum, I sadly lost to two little boys were wearing Angry Birds-hats.
Some of the homes were decorated for Christmas; above is a Finish peasant home c.1885.
The home of the merchant brothers Chrystie, built in 1761, which I had never looked inside before. Sadly the ballroom on the first floor wasn’t open to visitors!
It was such a lovely outing and we stayed until dusk, although I knew I’d be back already the same week to catch the 1814 exhibition. There are quite a few exhibitions on this year to mark the bicentenary of the Norwegian constitution of 1814, so keep reading, as I will certainly write about the ones I am able to attend (hopefully all!)
When my family went back to Oslo after their London-trip I traveled with them, trading sweltering libraries for a (for once!) glorious Norwegian summer. I really cannot remember the last time I experienced such a lovely summer, with just the right amount of both adventure and garden-lounging.
To me, summer hasn’t really begun until I go for a swim at Hvervenbukta. The area was once the location of an 18th century country house which was destroyed in a fire in 1913, but the beach pavilion from the 1770s still exists. The above drawing was done by Peter Frederik Wergmann (1802–1869.)
Here’s me looking suitably excited about our first outing. Also, purple is my favourite colour, if you were wondering.
Normally I shun crowded beaches, but oh, what doesn’t one endure to admire an historical beach house.
My swimming sunglasses (cheap Top Shop ones, so it doesn’t matter if they fall off my face) and one of my all time favourite novels and a perfect summer read, Fanny Hill.
Some time ago when the weather was particularly nice, we dragged ourselves across town, from the dirty but familiar East End to the Holland Park district. The object of the trip was to visit the Leighton House Museum where the Victorian painter Lord Frederic Leighton lived and worked.
The main hall was inspired by the myth of Narcissus (and aptly named the Narcissus Hall.) The walls are covered in blue tiles (symbolising water) and the ceiling is gilded to signify how Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection and drowned. It was inspired by a Narcissus “themed” room found during the excavation of Pompeii in 1740s, as Leighton was very interested in ancient Rome.
The Arab Hall, which Leighton commissioned to show off his extensive collection of 17th century Syrian tiles, and one corner of the studio.
The dining room, decorated with Mediterranean and Middle Eastern ceramics, and an amazing little, oriental nook with an Egyptian latticework window, looking down on the Arab Hall. The latter immediately set my head spinning – it makes for so many marvellous decorating ideas, doesn’t it? I was very reluctant to leave and as always I found myself wishing that the museum worked like Ikea, so that I could pick up a flat-packed version of various pieces furniture at the end of the tour and take it home with me.
The Silk Room, with paintings by Tintoretto and Millais.
Another part of the studio: peacock feathers below Leighton’s painting Corinna of Tanagra from 1893. Such a splendid neoclassical frame as well!
We stayed until closing time (hardly a testament to our enthusiasm but rather because we arrived late in the day) and then headed to Holland Park, as it is apparently one of the prettiest parks in London, complete with peacocks wandering about – but that will be the subject of my next post.
Det siste halvåret har jeg dratt på flere Jane Austen relaterte eskapader i England. For et par måneder siden fikk jeg besøk fra Norge (hei, Sophie!) og vi dro til Austens hus i Chawton. Huset er bygget på 1600-tallet og var det nest siste huset hun bodde i (hun døde i Winchester og bodde i løpet av sitt liv i Hampshire, Southampton og Bath) sammen med moren og søsteren, som begge het Cassandra.
Vi kom oss med tog fra London til Alton, en liten og mindre sjarmerende landsby og bestemte oss for å gå til fots fra togstasjonen til Chawton. Austen selv måtte gå til fots eller benytte seg av esel-vognen hun delte med søsteren, så vi tenkte vi ikke kunne være dårligere og dessuten gjerne ville teste avstanden.
Høydepunktet av besøket var å se Austens skrivebord (egentlig et tebord) og dessuten alle objektene tilknyttet to av brødrene hennes, Francis og Charles, som begge tjenestegjorde i marinen under Napoleonskrigene. Francis var en del av Lord Nelsons flåte i Middelhavet, deltok i slaget ved Nilen, men gikk glipp av Trafalgar fordi han hentet forsyninger til den Britiske flåten på det tidspunktet. Chawton Cottage var i det hele tatt mye større enn vi hadde trodd og museumsamlingen var imponerende: det var en god blanding av private eiendeler som smykker (flere sørgesmykker med hårlokker!) og skrin, tidsriktige møbler, reproduksjoner og et lappeteppe Jane, Cassandra og moren hadde laget. Det hang en imponerende samling originalillustrasjoner av Hugh Thompson (fra 1890-tallet) fra alle Austen-romanene, samt et brev som kalte Francis til St. James’ Palace for å motta Order of the Bath, og brevet Cassandra skrev til niesen Fanny da Jane Austen døde. I et monter var også en av Austen’s hårlokker bevart og i et annet lå litt av Mr. Austen’s hår.
Etter å ha spist en pub-lunsj trasket vi opp hovedveien til herskapshuset der Austens bror Edward bodde med sin familie og kirken der Cassandra og Mrs. Austen ligger begravet.