After leaving Horse Guards, I aimed the Hubby and myself back towards Trafalgar Square.
"Didn't we just come this way?"
"We did. Now we're going the other side of it."
"Where are we going?" Hubby asked.
"It's where my antiques dealer is. Remember we went there the last time we were in London?"
"Oh, jeez, the place where you guys talk for hours about the Duke of Wellington?"
"Not hours, surely."
"And where you buy more Wellington stuff? Are you going to buy more Wellington stuff this time? When are you going to stop buying Wellington stuff?"
"When they pry my cold, dead fingers away from my credit card."
"Honest to God, Hon, it's like we live in a museum as it is."
I didn't have a comeback for that. What could I have said? We don't live in a museum? We do. And, honest to God, there's barely any wall space left.
"Look, I promise not to buy any more Wellington stuff unless it's really outstanding. Okay?"
I took us down St. Martin's Lane and from there it was just a short walk to the turning for Cecil Court, a pedestrian thoroughfare lined with book, print and antique shops.
Now, if I had any sense in my head, or if I were the crafty sort, I wouldn't share the name of my favourite antique dealer with you, let alone his exact location, but I trust that you and I are such good mates by now that, should you visit the shop, you'll content yourself with buying things associated with William IV or Lord Nelson, or even Queen Victoria, and leave all the Wellington bits and bobs for me.
The shop is just the right size for browsing and it's absolutely crammed, floor to ceiling, with items from the Georgian period to the early 1900's. I can, and have, spent hours in the shop. Mark is very personable and always pours me a drink before encouraging me to light up. We sip, smoke and have an old fashioned chin wag as the time flies by. We discuss Florida, Wellington items that we both missed out on, Wellington items that one or the other of us haven't missed out on, dogs, restaurants, etc., etc.
On this particular day, Mark wasn't there himself, but my good mate and Mark's partner Dave was. That's Dave in the picture below, in the white shirt.
"The Wellington Woman!" Dave greeted me. "How's your daughter? Is she with you?" Dave's Boston Terrier came out from behind the counter to greet me and we spent a few minutes catching up on the past two years. It was about this time that the Hubby sidled towards the door and quietly let himself out. Then, as always, Dave threw out some Wellington trivia in his ongoing attempts to stump me.
"Publish and be damned."
I rolled my eyes at him. "Really? That's the best you have? Harriet Wilson, that slut."
"By God, I think my leg's gone," he said.
I sighed. "Henry Paget, after being shot in the leg at Waterloo. We just saw Paget's leg at Horse Guards, as a matter of fact."
"No! It was the Marquess of Angelsey," Dave cried with delight.
"No. It wasn't either. It was just plain, old Henry Paget. He wasn't created Marquess of Angelsey until a few days afterward. The same Henry Paget who had, years earlier, run off with the wife of Wellington's brother." Why did this story sound so familiar?
"I didn't know that. Really?"
"Why would I lie?"
Dave stared off into space for a few moments, his mind working. Finally, he said, "Sparrow hawks, ma'am."
"To Queen Victoria. Great Exhibition. 1851."
"I give up," Dave conceded. "Honestly, I can't believe how much you know about the Duke of Wellington. You should do something with that knowledge. You could make money at it."
"Like what?" Why did this suggestion sound so familiar?
"Like give talks. People would pay money to listen to you."
"Alas, not enough people to make a living at it. I can't see a Wellington lecture filling Albert Hall, can you? And there'd be even less people in America who would be interested in the Duke of Wellington, or who'd even know who he was."
"You're probably right. Pity, though."
We were both silent for a time, contemplating the prospects of a traveling Wellington show. Finally, I said, "So, what have you got for me?"
"Ah, not much, I'm afraid. Wellington items are a bit thin on the ground just now."
"Well, it would be hard to beat that figurine I bought from you last time, in any case."
"Yeah, that's right. Staffordshire, wasn't it? That was a beauty." Again, we were both silent, this time contemplating my acquisition of the figurine below.
"Didn't you also buy a pot lid?"
"I did. The Duke riding at Stratfield Saye." You can see me holding it, in the very same shop two years ago, below.
"I just remembered, I've got one very similar to it, but at Walmer Castle." Dave found the lid and handed it to me. "Very like the one you bought, with the Duke riding his horse in the foreground."
"He was Lord of the Cinque Ports, which is why he spent time at Walmer Castle," Dave said.
"Hhhmmm. It was his favorite residence. He lived there with Charles Arbuthnot. They'd walk the battlements together. In fact, Wellington died there."
"Yeah, that's right. He did."
"Sold. What else have you got?" Okay. The Walmer pot lid wasn't what I'd term outstanding, but it certainly was beautiful. And besides, it rounds out the collection.
"I've got a brass profile of the Duke. Here it is."
"There are a couple of bronze commemorative medallions," Dave offered.
I peered into the case. "Too like the ones I already have."
"I'm afraid that's all I have."
This was deflating news. I had hoped to find something magnificent whilst in London, on a par with the figurine. It was a bit like charging off to Waterloo only the find that the battle had taken place the day before. "I'll browse for a bit." There was an Artie-fact in the shop - I could feel it.. I took my time and peered at cigarette cases and vinagarettes, figurines and a William IV coronation jug. Mourning rings, snuff boxes and a spy glass. Scanning to the right, my eye fell upon a small, coloured portrait.
"I found the Duke of Wellington," I told Dave.
"Huh? Where?" I pointed. "So it is!"
I will leave the portrait and it's history for another post. Suffice it to say that I bought it and Dave was able to carefully wrap both pieces so that I could pack them in my suitcase and later carry them on the plane with me. I walked out of the shop and found Hubby lurking in Cecil Court.
"Want to see what I got?"
He looked at the smallish bag in my hand. "No. I'll wait till we get home. At least it's not another full length portrait. I'm hungry."
"Let's go back to the hotel and have Afternoon Tea," I suggested.
"Tea? Who drinks tea? And I said I was hungry."
I sighed. "Afternoon tea is a meal. It comes with food."
"No! Tea food. Sandwiches."
"Oh, a sandwich. That sounds good. I could go for a sub. Yeah, a nice, big hero sandwich would really hit the spot!"
Part Four Coming Soon!
Labels: A Couple in England, Duke of Wellington, Kristine Hughes