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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Sunday in the Park....London Style, Part One

Victoria here, with an account of our busy Sunday, June 13. London Open Squares Weekend was a surprise to us, discovered only a couple of days before we left for London, but it was a great opportunity to supplement our Artie Trail.

Kristine and I started our Sunday at the Queen's Gallery, attached to Buckingham Palace where we visited the "Victoria and Albert in Love" exhibition that will take several blogs to describe in detail, but of course, no pictures allowed inside.
After we had our fill of the wonderful exhibit, we walked around Buckingham Palace just for the fun of it.  Changing of the Guard was long over and the crowds small.

We passed the Diplomatic Entrance where one enters for the tour of the Palace later in the summer while the Royal Family are in Balmoral.  I was lucky enough to go through the palace a few years ago. Amazing decoration, furniture and enough paintings to fill several huge museums. Truly masterpieces collected throughout the centuries.











You know what this is!

And this.










A lonely sentinel stands guard at the empty palace. The Royal Family were in Windsor for the Ascot Races.









Just in case someone wonders to whom this place belongs, this coat of arms should tell the story.

And this is a very bad picture of the memorial to Queen Victoria that stands in front of the Palace.


Here's a better picture I found on a tourist site. It's a different side.
A view of St. James Park from the Palace frontage as we walked to find a taxi to the next item on our agenda.
  The National Army Museum stands just south of the Chelsea Hospital in Royal Hospital Road. This museum is devoted to the history of the Army.  The larger Imperial War Museum in Lambeth Road (housed in the former Bedlam) has even more displays covering all the military.

To get us in the mood for the rest of the day in the Open Squares gardens, I just had to photograph some of the lovely geraniums outside the museum.
At right  is the model of the Waterloo Battlefield constructed by Captain William Siborne which now sits in the Army Museum. It's huge and has several accompanying narratives to explain the sequence of action. Siborne worked on it for many years and his story is a fascinating one. But he made the mistake of crossing the Duke of Wellington by trying to reconstruct the battle logically when, the Duke said, it was not possible. Wellington is quoted as saying there was "no hope of ever seeing an account of all its details which shall be true." 

Many of the displays at the Army Museum show uniforms, medals, weapons, surgical instruments and camp equipment actually used at Waterloo.  Kristine has already described the saw used to amputate Lord Uxbridge's leg (he was later named Marquess of Anglesey) and the bloody glove the surgeon wore. On exhibit is the Duke of Wellington's barometer that survived the Peninsular Wars and Waterloo.  There's more of the same...

One painting showed the army followers, sutlers selling provisions, the cattle driven along in its wake, and the many camp-followers. The label read, "Soldiers of both armies concentrated on trying to keep warm, dry, healthy and fed." 

When we had spent sufficient time in the gift/book shop and cafe at the museum, we set out to spend a few hours overcoming the horrors of war by looking at some gardens. One was just a few blocks from the museum in Chelsea.
Here is the descripton of Markham Square, usually open only to residents, from the Open Squares booklet: "The building of the original square was begun in 1836 on the site of the old orchard of Box Farm, owned by the Markham family who had had common rights since the ‘29th year of Elizabeth'. In 1935 the garden was laid out as a cherry orchard in celebration of the Silver Jubilee of George V.



After WW2, the square was redesigned in the style of a private country garden by the head gardener at the Royal Hospital. The garden is notable for its light, open aspects and unusual trees, none of which has been allowed to obscure the colourful borders."







All above photographed at Markham Square.

Almost across King's Road was Wellington Square, where Kristine is currently house-hunting.




On this note of "Pretty in Pink" we moved on to Belgravia and our dinner with Carrie Bebris.  See Part Two.  But just so you don't think we were worn out yet, here's a little picture of Victoria and Kristine exactly as we looked that day.



Too bad the artist* was unable to complete the garden vista on the right as he painted us consulting the local maps. And we didn't even get our hems dusty!




*Sir Thomas Lawrence, who else?

2 comments:

Kristine said...

Ooooh, Victoria - Mr. Lawrence's picture of us is dashed fine, non? Though I consider he made our waists appear too large. The complexions and décolletages, however, are spot on.

Roses! The National Army Museum! Buck House! Wellington Square! Aaarrgghhhh!

Anonymous said...

Beautés de la boule!!