Category Archives: History

Afternoon Tea at Lickleyhead Castle

On a rare open day, the Mum and I went to visit the privately owned Lickleyhead Castle.

Included was afternoon tea too!  We really enjoyed ourselves on the quick castle tour (mostly modern decoration) and our lovely sit down tea.  Good chance to chat to other interested folks too.

Hope they do it again next year!


Lickleyhead Castle

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Filed under Architecture, History, Places to go

Eleanor in St. Albans

I must thank Adrian for a) showing me the following photo and b) allowing me to post it here for your delectation.

Eleanor is feeling a bit neglected you know, and demanded something of a short update.

The following is an image of the plaque placed on the clock tower in St. Albans near where Eleanor’s cross used to stand.  I’m loving the flint in the tower by the way.

Eleanor’s cortège from Harby arrived at St. Albans on the 12 December 1290.  Unfortunately, none of this cross survives, the last accounts for it are from 1721, when the base was demolished to make way for a market cross, and then finally in 1810, when the cross was demolished.

Eleanor’s cortège moves on from St. Albans, to Waltham, where the lovely Waltham Cross (restored) still stands.  It’s a shame that it’s current location is in the middle of a modern shopping centre.  For those of you looking to see the original statues or sculptures of Eleanor, they have them at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

They also have a rather nice plaster cast of her tomb from Westminster Abbey, the original of which I’ve been able to visit with special permission.

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Filed under Eleanor, History, Photos

Books I’ve Been Lusting After Lately

Some brand new, some fairly new ones here:

  • English Country Houses Interiors by Jeremy Musson

I love any books by Musson.

  • Bergere, Poke and Cottage: Understanding Early Nineteenth Century Headwear by Serena Dyer

I am really in need of some good hat books!

  • The Late King’s Goods by Jeremy Brotton

Charles I’s art collection was amazing. I know a little about what was recovered, but not enough…

  • Spas, Wells & Pleasure Gardens of London by James Stevens Curl

I have his book on the Victorian way of death – and:

  • Vauxhall Gardens by David E. Coke

I’ve always been fascinated by the pleasure gardens, as so little of them survives.


Filed under Architecture, Art, Books, Costume, History

In Which Alexander Presents Himself

I am excited to say that – sadly not due to my recent post about some original Raeburns I’m trying to track down – but due to some lovely visitors I spoke to last week, I can finally say I now know where Alexander Mackenzie Fraser’s portrait is!

I have been given the name of the London Club in which it hangs, as he was positively identified as such – name and everything!  If I am able I will update further.

Now, just to find Martha and Elyza…

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Filed under Art, History

City Graveyard Wanderings

I have been over the Summer wandering around some city graveyards during my lunch – the largest of which is St Peter’s Cemetery, Aberdeen.

This is a massive cemetery on King Street, and has graves from the Eighteenth Century, but the majority are Victorian.  There’s some great monuments and carvings, I especially like that many occupations are included and the Scottish tradition of including women’s maiden names.  Very handy if you’re a genealogist.

I took some pictures of some of the more unusual monuments (there were A LOT of broken shaft style ones, must have been a buy one get one free offer!) but the most intriguing one, is below.  Read the top part carefully…

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Filed under Architecture, Genealogy, History, Photos

The Cowdray Park Sale

This sale is certainly interesting to me for a number of reasons historically and art-wise, but not least because the contents of Dunecht House are included in the sale.

Cowdray Park, when I last heard is also up for sale, but this September sale is the contents of both the houses.  From pictures to light fittings, furniture to carpets – though officially it is classed as an art sale.

The sale is from the 13-15 September 2011, and you can view an e-catalogue, listings or buy the catalogue online from Christie’s.  You may even be able to bid online should you wish to.

Cowdray Park Sale: Works of Art from Cowdray Park and Dunecht House – at Cowdray Park, West Sussex.

Hmm, to buy or not to buy a catalogue…


Filed under Antique, Architecture, Art, History

Have You Seen This Man?

(Or Woman).  As many of you know a hobby of sorts of mine is tracking down lost and missing paintings.  Hey, this art historian in training does not have an off button…

In particular at the moment I am looking at copies of Raeburns the originals of which I know were sold at the beginning of the 20th Century, and I’d love to know if any of you have seen them anywhere.  If the information is private, you are welcome to email me – I would not make this information public, it would only be noted.  Otherwise, please give me a shout if you have seen any of them in public collections anywhere!

The most prominent one I am looking for handily has a photograph on the web – Lt Gen Alexander Mackenzie Fraser.  Now, this is the photograph of the copy that was sold at Christie’s in 2001, and the one I am interested in, of course, is the original.  This is rumoured to be on display in London.  I am aware of one copy allegedly being in Essen, and I know where the other one is!

Another where there is a photo of the copy (though you may need to squint) is that of Elyza Fraser, who poses more of a problem, as I can only find a record of her sitting for Raeburn in a 1908 book about the artist.  The NGS has no record of her at all, or of where the original may be.  Another is her sister Martha Mackenzie, nee Fraser.  I know this was sold, and I have record of this, but I am assuming this is in a private collection as it has not been sighted since before 1920 and may possibly be in the USA.  No picture of her, I’m afraid!  She does look similar to her sister Elyza however, and if you think you may have seen her, but are not sure if you can find me a picture I can confirm it either way.

Any information appreciated, so do let me know!

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Filed under Art, History

The (More Than) Six Month Book Haul

Two things I love – hunting for interesting things in junk/collectible/antique shops and finding history/art books.  So, in over six months, I have hunted down the following lovelies that I have been looking for for a while:

  • Mark Girouard, Life in the English Country House & The Victorian Country House
  • Stella Tillyard, Citizen Lord (First edition!)
  • Eugenie Fraser, The House by the Dvina & A Home by the Hooghly
  • Colin Thompson, Pictures for Scotland: National Gallery of Scotland and its Collection
  • Christy Bing, The Lairds of Arbuthnott
  • Richard Taylor, How to Read Churches
  • Alison Weir, Katherine Swynford
  • Ronald Pearsall, Table-Rappers: The Victorians and the Occult
  • Leonardo da Vinci 1989 Exhibition Catalogue
  • Margaret Whinney, English Sculpture 1720-1830
  • Jan Marsh, The Venetian Empire
  • Titian Exhibition Catalogue
  • Paintings from the Royal Collection
  • The Edwardian Country House
  • Plumb and Wheldon, Royal Heritage
  • Marghanita Laski, Jane Austen and Her World
  • Phyllis Bentley, The Brontes and Their World
  • Arthur Foss, Country House Treasures
  • Susan Lasdun, Victorians at Home
  • Duchess of Devonshire, Chatsworth the House

That’s without the novels of course!

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Filed under Architecture, Art, Books, History

New Castle Purchase?

Since I haven’t managed to set up my property empire yet with either Tillycairn or Midmar Castles, how about Blair Castle, Ayrshire instead?

Any takers?  It looks lovely inside…and it’s only 8 million.

Blair Castle, Ayrshire

Article about sale of Blair Castle

See posts – Anyone Want to Buy a Castle With Me?, How About This One Then? and Time For a New Castle, I Think for the previous castles for sale.

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Filed under Architecture, BlahBlahBlah, History

A Right Royal Post

This is not actually a post about the Royal Wedding (though I did enjoy the spectacle), but I thought I’d take a long overdue opportunity to introduce a ‘new’ vintage item of mine, the Coronation Tin:

I’ve had this one for a while, but just got around to photographing it!  Appropriate I thought in the circumstances…


Filed under History, Photos