Friday, 20 November 2015

The Edwardian Seaside

My love for the seaside began with Sunday school outings in the 1950s to places like Brighton, Eastbourne, Margate and Bognor, but the height of popularity for seaside towns was in Edwardian times at the beginning of the 20th century.

A family poses next to the beach
Many seaside resorts became popular destinations during the Victorian era when the expansion of the railways made travel accessible and affordable.  Most, but not all of the visitors, were middle class and their visits coincided with the popularity of the picture postcard. 

While sitting on a deckchair listening to the Municipal Band many young ladies and young men penned a postcard to friends and relations.  They would show donkeys, boat trips, walking en masse along the promenade or venturing along the pier to visit a place of entertainment.

There was no need to worry about getting sunburnt

and there were often beach tents or chalets for shelter

And if it rained there was always somewhere to go.

but sometimes you just needed a balmy evening.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Postcards from a soldier

Sorting through my Grandma's postcard collection, I realised that some of the cards were all sent in 1917 from my grandfather, who was in the Royal Field Artillery, to his young son George.

My grandfather trained as an architect in Bournemouth at the very beginning of the 20th century.  In 1910 he went to work in New York, which must have been an interesting experience.  In 1912 he moved to Montreal where my grandmother travelled to marry him.  Two years later their first son was born and they probably planned to stay living in Canada.  However, after the onset of the First World War, they returned to England.  By 1916 Grandpa was a Lieutenant in the Royal Horse Artillery.  While training at Catterick Camp, he sent several postcards of nearby Richmond in Yorkshire to George and to his wife Connie.

Some of the postcards used patriotic propaganda about the country's brave young men.

Others showed the history of the Royal Artillery.


The motto Ubique reflects that "wherever" the British Army fought there would be members of the Royal Artillery.   Quo fas et gloria ducum means "where right and glory lead."

My grandfather survived the war but he was gassed so this might explain the following two pcs.


The second card shows a soldier wearing hospital blues so that anyone seeing him would know that he had fought and was not a shirker.

The following postcard was sent in December 1917 from an army post office in France.

Finally here are two of the beautiful silk embroidered cards which George received.

Which show the badge my grandfather wore on his hat.

My grandfather returned home safely.  His son George died of peritonitis in 1924 aged 10.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

The church of São Lourenço

As you drive west from Faro in the Algarve along the busy N125 towards the popular holiday resorts of Quinta do Lago, Vilamoura and Albufeira you might catch sight of the roof of an intriguing church.  Once you know that this is the amazing Igreja de São Lourenço you can follow the signs and visit the church.

Originally a crumbling medieval church it was rebuilt in the mid-18th century after the villagers prayed to Saint Lawrence for water as they dug a well, during a desperately dry season.  As an abundant gush of water appeared, they determined to build a new church, in gratitude.  The Brotherhood of the Church of São Lourenço had important connections within the Algarve and worshippers contributed to the building of a simple white church with an extravagantly ornamented interior.

Two brothers, Manuel Borges from Faro and Antão Borges, an azulejo artist, from Lisbon started the rebuilding.  Azulejos are the beautiful blue and white tiles which can be found on buildings, especially churches, all over Portugal, but in this case the entire church surface was lined with the tiles apart from the gilded areas.  Generally, the tiles are attributed to Policarpo de Oliveira Bernardes, a famous painter from Lisbon, but possibly some of the azulejos may have been made by a painter in his vicinity.

Luckily the earthquake of 1755 which so badly damaged Lisbon and was strongly felt in the Algarve, only damaged 5 glazed tiles.  There is a barrel-vaulted nave and a small cupola.  The azulejos show scenes from the life of St Lawrence, who was martyred in 258 AD.

On the pillars of the church are the seven virtues: wisdom, justice, temperance, courage, faith, hope and love.  This stunning Baroque church is well worth visiting, preferably when there are no coach parties present.

You can see other Azulejos on my Pinterest page here

Once again Ed Mooney has kindly included me on his Capturing History Challenge here

Sunday, 18 October 2015

La Tour de Bridiers near La Souterraine

Last week we were staying near the small French town of La Souterraine in the Limousin area.  Just on the outskirts of the town are the ruins of what appears to be a small castle.

The tower of Viscount de Bridiers was first built on its feudal motte towards the end of the 12th century but after it collapsed, the tower was rebuilt in the 13th century in the newly fashionable cylindrical style and the castle was enlarged in the 15th century.  It was abandoned for many years until its restoration in 1993.

The tower itself is only open during the summer but we were able to walk all around the site.

We were surprised to discover a happy band of goats living inside the outer walls.

The most charming part of the grounds is the medieval garden with its guard lion and pig(?)

In front of the castle is a wide amphitheatre where, each August since 2006, the Fresque de Bridiers, a Son et Lumieres production, depicting the history of the area, has been re-enacted by 400 amateur actors.  In 2016 the story will be about a local soldier and a nurse at Verdun during the First World War.

I am thrilled to be included in this week's Capturing History Challenge at Ed Mooney Photography
This week's selection of Heritage sites are from all over the globe.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

On the Road Again

We have just returned from a holiday on which we drove to Portugal through France and Spain.  In recent years we have flown away on holiday so this was a return to our roots.

Motoring along the fairly quiet French motorways and smaller roads listening to Best of Queen, Simon and Garfunkel and Elton John took us back to holidays in the 70s, 80s and 90s.

My husband took me camping for the first time in the sweltering summer of 1976 so of course I was sold on how wonderful it is to sleep in a tent on dry balmy nights.  We bought a tent called an igloo, with rubber tubes at the corners inflated by a foot pump and managed to cram all we needed into our small MG Midget.

But then he took me to Wales.  For a week in Bala followed by a week in Brecon it rained non-stop.  It was time to buy a very slightly bigger car and a trailer tent.  By this time we had two children and they loved the freedom of camping too.

After an August holiday by Loch Lomond, when we found frost on the tent at night, we moved on to a VW camper.  Now we were kings of the road, driving to Switzerland, Germany, Holland and all over France with our own cooker, sink and a bracket on the side of the roof for the windsurfer.

 These days we drive to hotels but there is nothing like the freedom of the open road.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Out of the Ashes- The next stage for Clandon Park House

Clandon House September 2015

At about 4 pm on 29th April 2015, a catastrophic fire broke out in Clandon House.  Despite the efforts of nearly 80 firefighters it took until noon the following day to damp down the fire.  Everyone had been safely evacuated and some of the artefacts recovered but much of the 18th century furniture and ceramics have been destroyed.

This month the gardens have been opened by ticketed sessions on Saturdays so I was able to see for myself the shell of the building before it is completely covered for its protection.

The original Elizabethan house in Clandon Park was replaced by this Palladian Mansion, designed by Giacomo Leoni, in approximately 1730.  The park had been purchased in 1641 by Sir Richard Onslow, MP for Surrey.  It remained in the Onslow family until 1956 when, experiencing the same problems of maintenance costs seen in last night's episode of Downton Abbey, Lady Iveagh donated it to the National Trust.

The gardens, which were landscaped by Capability Brown, were later added to by a Grotto and a Maori Meeting house.

The Maori Meeting House called Hihemihi was brought from New Zealand by the 4th Earl of Onslow, William Hillier Onslow, when he returned from his duties as Governor of New Zealand.

During World War One, the 5th Earl, Richard Onslow offered the house as a war hospital.  His wife, Violet, Countess of Onslow became Commandant of the Military Hospital, from 1915 until 1919.

The National Trust welcome ideas from the public as to what they should do next with Clandon House.  The limited area of the grounds is still a lovely environment though the view of the house is quite upsetting.

My memories of The Surrey Infantry Museum at Clandon House