Monday 31 December 2012

The Holiday Season - Rural New Zealand Style!

Washing up the dishes after an Outdoors Christmas Picnic Lunch,
Heddon Bush, New Zealand. Taken 25 Dec 1916.
[From my own collection]

That quiet holiday period in New Zealand, stretching from Christmas Eve until the first working day after New Years Day (either the 3rd of January or even later if it fell on a weekend) was right up until my late teenage years, characterized by many shops and businesses, and almost all service industries being closed. What was open operated on a skeleton staff. This led to the well-known expression that "New Zealand is Closed" during the holiday period, something which visitors found decidedly inconvenient. Especially with all schools being closed for the summer break, and if one was not away on holiday, one had to make one's own entertainment. For small rural communities the sense of community spirit was strong and local inhabitants willingly banded together to organise or promote any worthy event.

An unidentified piper in Highland costume playing
during a public event, possibly at Winton, pre 1920.
[From my own collection]

The small rural township of Heddon Bush where I was brought, being located on the vast Southland Plains of Southern New Zealand and under the shadow of the usually snow-clad Takitimu Mountains, was predominately populated by immigrants of Scottish and Irish descent. Coming as they did from the Northern Hemisphere, where winter of course fell over the Christmas period, the inhabitants were early on not slow in organising some summer entertainment. One also has to remember that, typically Scottish Presbyterian, Christmas Day itself held no religious significance for many, being treated purely as a day for family, relatives and friends. And if it fell on a nice sunny day then why not a picnic! While, of necessity, the daily grind of farm work continued, time could always be found for some communal entertainment and enjoyment.

Heddon Bush Sports Club Poster, Dec 1894
[From my own collection]

The "Heddon Bush Sports Club" appears to have successfully filled the void from around late 1892 until at least 1909. Held annually between the 28th and 28th December, this event included a full programme of horse racing, and competitive sports comprising of races, hurdles, walking races, high leap, wrestling, hammer throwing, stone throwing and a boy’s race. Competitors were charged 2s 6d entry fee, and along with Member's subscriptions, the profits were distributed pro-rata by way of prizes.

Heddon Bush Sports Club Member's Ticket, Dec 1895
[From my own collection]

The large printed poster for the 1894 Heddon Bush Races and Sports Day reproduced here was found among effects belonging to my relative Mr William Watson who acted as Treasurer. This, along with two members tickets for 1893 and 1895 respectively, are now held by the Invercargill City Libraries and Archives but were professionally scanned prior to donation. The Club appears to have waned around 1909, most likely due to increasing public mobility and other neighbouring events and entertainments which were now in easy reach by motor vehicle.

An Edwardian New Zealand New Years Greeting
Card with an image of a Maori Maiden.
[From my own collection]

New Years Day, should it fall on a nice day, was usually occasioned by a picnic in the countryside, perhaps at a river, or at the beach. Older members of my family could recall the lengthy task of "getting the car ready" for a days outing, something we hardly think twice about today. Such an event as a picnic with family and friends occasioned something more resembling an 'expedition'. Wooden crates (previously containing cans of motor spirit) would be packed with not only food but also crockery and cutlery. Latterly my family included fold-up canvas topped seats for everyone and a fold-up table.  Last but not least was the trusty Primus kerosine stove for heating the 'billy' for a cuppa. It was simply impossible to go without one's cup of tea!

Thus typically passed the "holiday season" in rural New Zealand. I wish you all a Happy New Year and the best that 2013 can bring you!

Bibliography :

- All images are from my own personal collection and may be freely copied provided a link is given back to this page.

Sunday 16 December 2012

Summer Holidays

Vintage New Zealand Holiday Poster,
circa 1940
[Source Internet]

I will now be taking a well-deserved break over the summer holiday season and will hopefully come back refreshed and inspired with more ideas to write about into 2013.

Vintage New Zealand Holiday Poster,
circa 1940
[Source : Internet]

As a bit of background, I had only just joined Blogger in 2011 when I was diagnosed with Leukaemia (AML) which then necessitated an enforced 17 week total stay in hospital and four gruelling rounds of chemotherapy.

"On Holiday"
-  an anthropomorphic Edwardian postcard from my own collection

I have since made good progress and the word defeat was never in my vocabulary. Adversity has however changed my outlook on life, my priorities and how I view the world. It has also emphasized how little control we have over our lives and the stress that others impose on us. Blogging has however proved extremely therapeutic in my recovery.

Dunedin Harbour and Peninsula, taken 16 Dec 2012

I do not work now (my choice) and balance my life between somewhat academic pursuits such as blogging and especially genealogy research; leisure and exercise, and particularly walking, and have now dusted off my trusty mountain bike and road cycle. Recreational road cycling has always been my passion and I have made a real effort to regain my full level of fitness to again do battle with Dunedin's hills as these two photos taken just this morning show.

"The Junction", North East Valley, Dunedin 16 Dec 2012

So, as we again approach Christmas I sincerely thank all those readers who have read my peripatetic wanderings. I have also greatly enjoyed reading those blogs that I subscribe to. As I look back on 2012 "Victory" does seem to have a special relevance for me. 

Taken at "Victory Beach", Dunedin. Dec 2012
(Photo Credit : S. Carroll)

Sunday 2 December 2012

Exploring an 1833 Scottish Sampler

Sampler worked by Miss Helen Dougal, Lanarkshire, Scotland, 1833 

I am indeed fortunate to have inherited a large 18 inch square embroidered sampler worked in 1833. Samplers were very commonly worked by young women to exhibit their needlework skills and many beautiful examples survive today. But sadly, damaging sunlight causing fading and rotting, unqualified attempts at cleaning and restoration, and inappropriate storage over the space of close to 200 years have taken their toll on many fine pieces. If cleaning of an old sampler is absolutely necessary I would strongly advise you to seek the assistance of an experienced fabric conservator who will test fibres for colour fastness and may also use specialised cleaning equipment including a dust vacuum. Professional museum staff are the best people to ask for advice on who should undertake such work.

Thankfully, this sampler is in good condition for its age, being worked on a backing of typically coarse weave linen which has darkened slightly with age. Being framed behind thin glass in a very old polished wood frame will at least will have kept dust and grime to a minimum. For at least the last 90 years it has always been hung in dark hall-ways well away from direct sunlight.

Rather than including the conventional elements of a sampler such as the alphabet and number sequences, this particular sampler has helpfully been designed as a genealogical family tree. But additionally, some interesting motifs also appear which have a recognised and deeper meaning. Intriguingly there is also the riddle of "Solomon's Temple". But more of that shortly.

Knowing the provenance of an artefact and the story of its creator adds considerable interest and value. Ownership of this sampler has always been retained by family descendants. Recent research on the history and format of samplers now firmly points to it being worked by Miss Helen Dougal, then aged about 16 years, and residing at Marshill Farm, Draffan [Drafan] in Lesmahagow Parish, Lanarkshire, Scotland. The names of her parents, Thomas Dougal and Mary Dykes, appear along the top of the sampler. Helen has also made a point of highlighting her own name in full but only the initials of her six siblings, all being born between 1817 and 1831. The initials of her Father and his own siblings born between 1781 and 1798 have also been included.

Marrying Thomas Watson of 'Muirhead' Farm, Dalserf Parish in 1843, Helen Dougal died in May 1882 while in a state of "melancholia" after the death of her husband in October 1881. Both were interred in Dalserf Parish Churchyard. Unfortunately there is no known photo of Helen. The sampler was then brought out to New Zealand in 1886 by Helen's daughter, Miss Helen Watson. It has subsequently passed to me, being a Great Great Great Nephew of Helen Dougal.

This sampler is primarily in a traditional two-tone green, white and gold colour scheme. A skillfully executed decorative border surrounds the work. Notably visible among the many motifs are the large Scotch thistle signifying Scottish ancestry, two doves perched on a heart over the words "Amor" signifying love, and a number of birds and animals. In the centre are the words of the almost obligatory 'moral verse', in this case :

"Be virtuous while thou art young so shall thine age be honoured

This verse is attributed to Robert Dodsley in his 1750 work "The Economy of Human Life", being frequently reprinted in subsequent years including in "Elegant Extracts in Prose : Selected for the Improvement of Young Persons" published in 1816 which ran to at least 10 reprints.

The meanings of many of the motifs may elude me but an interesting list of meanings may be found HERE. But what of the intriguing reference to and representation of "Solomon's Temple"?

While many samplers include a typical representation of a school house or even of the family home, this sampler specifically includes the words "Solomons Temple" and an image of the 'temple'. This small architectural feature on a sampler is often referred to as "Solomon's Porch". Very similar images are found on samplers of the period and it is generally believed that this was a representation of part of Solomon's Temple which appeared in The King James version of the Bible published by John Field in 1660.

A 1660 Engraving of 'Solomon's Temple' published in
The King James version of the Bible by John Field in 1660.
[Source : Needleprint]

The 'Needleprint' website records an especially great interest in Solomon's Temple between 1790 to 1850. Models of the Temple were even made and toured for display. But one factor seems to focus on the year of 1847, and that was the date predicted for the second coming of the Messiah. Therefore the Temple as a symbol of the Christian faith was topical and very much to the fore. We know that Helen Dougal was a Religious and pious woman, I hold three volumes of the sermons of the Rev. Charles H. Spurgeon which were in her possession.

But one intriguing fact has emerged in my research of this sampler. While searching for similar styles of sampler I stumbled across one which is extraordinarily similar in style, being held by the 'Wyndham and District Historical Museum', also here in Southern New Zealand [View Link HERE].

Sampler by Mary Meikle, 1833
[Source : Needleprint]

This leaves me wondering if both Mary Meikle, who worked this sampler in 1836 and Helen Dougal who worked her sampler in 1833, both lived in Lesmashagow Parish, possibly having the same needlework teacher, or if they worked from a similar pattern book. While still individual works they are quite alike. Even the temple, doves on a heart, flower and Scotch thistle are the same. Mary Meikle, like Helen, has also made a point of highlighting her name in full.

I am not an expert on needlework but would welcome any comments on aspects I may have overlooked. A further Blog on my 1795 Scottish Sampler may be viewed HERE.

Bibliography :

- Toitu Otago Settlers Museum, Dunedin, New Zealand
- Needleprint

Tuesday 20 November 2012

An Appreciation of Old Scottish Country Homes and Castles (Part Nine)

This is the ninth part of my gallery celebrating Scottish stately homes and castles. The images in this gallery were taken during the Edwardian period and are from my own family collection. I have attempted to provide a history of each home or castle however the fact that many such old homes are in ruinous, vacant or no longer exist is to be regretted. The loss of any historic building is indeed unfortunate so this gallery also serves as a celebration of this lost heritage and the various families over the centuries who built and owned these fascinating properties.

Drumlanrig Castle, pre 1905 

Drumlanrig Castle is an imposing late Stuart Baroque home near Thornhill in Dumfriesshire. The Barony of Drumlanrig was originally a property of the Earls of Mar whose heiress married the 1st Earl of Douglas. By the end of the 14th century the Douglas family had grown into a powerful Lowland dynasty with extensive landholdings. The present Drumlanrig Castle shows traces of an earlier Douglas family stronghold on the site dating from the 14th and 15th centuries. William Lukup, Master of Works at Drumlanrig, oversaw the rebuilding which took place between 1679 and 1689. The plans were most likely drawn up earlier in the 17th century by Robert Mylne, the King's Master Mason, and his son-in-law, James Smith, hence the slightly outdated style of architecture. The cladding is of local pink sandstone with lead roofing, and constructed round an open courtyard. Towers, Corinthian pilasters, a horseshoe staircase, and a Ducal coronet are among a few of the interesting architectural features. The interior contains some fine woodwork including by Grinling Gibbons. While some rebuilding and renovation has taken place many 17th century features remain. The magnificent Great Avenue leading up to the castle, provides a breath-taking view of the park like lands surrounding the castle.

The fabulous treasures contained within the castle were further enhanced with the transfer of many valuable objects from the other family seats of Dalkeith Palace near Edinburgh (which closed in 1914) and Montagu House in London (which closed in 1917). The castle happily remains in the ownership of the Dukes of Buccleugh and Queensberry, being direct descendants of the original Douglas family.  

For some up to date exterior photos of Drumlanrig Castle, including the Gardens and Scottish Cycle Museum, refer to BikELove-Scotland.

Gartincaber House, Kilmadock, pre 1905

Gartincaber House is a "B" grade listed building at Kilmadock in Stirling. It consists of a part 3-story 17th century building with curious sculptured and inscribed dormer windows bearing legends in relief, and includes 18th century alterations and additions. A large Gothic balconied window was added in 1820 with a further addition in 1843. The interior of the home is recorded as being "of interest". From the time it was built ownership had been in the Murdoch family. In 1799 William Murdoch built the nearby but now ruinous Gartincaber Tower as a "folly". John Burn-Murdoch succeeded to the estate in 1871, which comprised of 1540 acres in the shire valued at (c.1882-85) £1,791 per annum. Lord and Lady Murdoch were resident to at least 1960 but one record states that Gartincaber House has subsequently been sold (pre 2011).

Bibliography :

- Various Internet sources
- All images are from my own collection and may be freely copied provided a link is given back to this page.

Friday 9 November 2012

Remembering The 1901 Royal Visit to Dunedin, New Zealand

HRH, Prince George, The Prince of Wales, as
portrayed at the time of the Coronation of his
Father, King Edward VII, 1902
[from my own collection]

The Royal Visit of HRH Prince Charles, the Duke of Cornwall & HRH Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall to New Zealand put me in mind of the visit of [the then] HRH Prince George, Duke of Cornwall & York and HRH Princess Mary, Duchess of Cornwall & York to my home-town of Dunedin in June 1901.

HRH Princess Mary, The Princess of Wales,
as portrayed at the time of the coronation of
King Edward VII, 1902
[From my own collection]

Created Prince & Princess of Wales in November 1901, both would be crowned King and Queen of Great Britain and her Dominions in 1910. Sadly, this would be their one and only visit to New Zealand.

A mounted miniature on a decorative velour base of
HRH Princess Mary, The Duchess of Cornwall & York.
Taken by Russell & Sons, Photographers, London, c.1893.
[From my own collection]

Arriving in New Zealand on the 11th June 1901 aboard the specially converted Orient Liner 'H.M.S. Ophir', and accompanied by a Naval escort of no less than six British warships, the visit of the Royal couple was primarily to personally thank the country for supporting Britain in her conflict with the Boers in South Africa. The visit had in fact been approved by Queen Victoria not long before her death which occurred on the 22nd January 1901.

A colourful assemblage of flags on a Locomotive
used for the Royal Train, June 1901.
Photo by Albert Percy Godber.
[Source : National Library of New Zealand]

Their visit took in their arrival port of Auckland, thence by railway to the central North Island thermal wonderland of Rotorua, back by railway to Auckland and then a further voyage by the "Ophir" to Wellington.

The Official Government Programme for the
Visit of Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and
Duchess of Cornwall  & York to New Zealand,
June 1901
[Source : National Library of New Zealand]

Thence by the 'HMS Ophir' across Cook Strait to Lyttleton for Christchurch in the South Island and then further south by railway to Dunedin, before returning again by railway to Lyttleton where they departed on the 'HMS Ophir' on the 27th June 1901.

The Lounge Car used for the Royal Train, 1901.
Note the 'homely' fireplace and over-mantel mirror!
The whole car had been specially built for the tour.
[Source : National Library of New Zealand]

Their visit to New Zealand met with rapturous welcomes and a heartfelt outpouring of loyalty to Britain and the Empire. Large crowds flocked to every vantage point in cities and along Railway lines to catch even a fleeting glimpse of the Royal couple.

A modern view of the Fernhill Club Dunedin, the Dunedin Residence
of Their Royal Highnesses the Duke & Duchess of Cornwall and York,
Dunedin June 1901.

No less that 900 men guarded the line between Christchurch and Dunedin. Upon the arrival of the Royal Party at Dunedin Railway Station, on time, at 6pm on the evening of the 25th June 1901 loud cheers broke out and bands played the National Anthem.

The Royal Drawing Room at the Fernhill Club, Dunedin, 1901
[Source : Matapihi]

The Duke then inspected the Dunedin Naval Cadets who formed the guard of honour. Thereafter the Royal Party were driven past cheering crowds to the Fernhill Club, the Otago Hussars and Mounted Rifles contingents forming the escort and guard of honour whilst bands played along the route. The Octagon through which the party passed, and the four ceremonial arches spanning the route, were ablaze with electric light. These comprised of a Government, a City, a Suburban, and a novel Chinese arch. At night the Octagon was a “scene of great beauty” with illuminated decorations, and the evening was rounded off with a great fireworks display.

HRH Princess Mary's Stateroom at the Fernhill Club, Dunedin 1901
[Source : Matapihi]

That evening His Excellency Lord Ranfurly, the Governor of New Zealand, and the Countess of Ranfurly, hosted a State Dinner for the Royal Party and invited guests, including the Prime Minister, the Honourable Richard Seddon, at the Fernhill Club.  While resident at Fernhill the Royal Standard flew from the flag pole.

HRH Prince George's Stateroom at the Fernhill Club, Dunedin 1901
[Source : Matapihi]

During the evening, the Dunedin Liedertafel Group serenaded the Duke & Duchess, whereupon the Duke appeared at the window and courteously asked them if they would sing again.

A Colourful Invitation to the Presentation of the Address of Welcome
to Their Royal Highnesses the Duke & Duchess of Cornwall & York
at Dunedin, 25th June 1901.
[Source : National Library of New Zealand] 

At 11.30am the Royal party left the Fernhill Club for the gaily decorated Octagon in the centre of the City where the presentation of addresses was to take place.

HRH The Duke of Cornwall & York replying to the Citizen's Address of
Welcome at the Royal Reception in the Octagon, Dunedin, 26 June 1901.
[Source : The Auckland Weekly News]

The Reception for the Royal Couple in the Octagon,
Dunedin, 26th June 1901
[Source : The Auckland Weekly News]

Thereafter the Duke of Cornwall & York presented war medals to returned South African Troopers while the Duchess presented the South African war medal to Nurse Ross.

HRH The Duke of Cornwall & York on the dais presenting Medals to
returned South African War servicemen, Dunedin 26th June 1901
[Source : The Auckland Weekly News]

A single grainy frame from an extremely rare and historic film showing
the Duke of Cornwall & York presenting Medals to South African War
Servicemen in the Octagon, Dunedin, 26th June 1901.
Click HERE to view the full 1 minute 39 second film.

HRH The Duke of Cornwall & York Inspecting the Military Veterans
at the Royal Reception in the Octagon, Dunedin, 26 June 1901
[Source : The Auckland Weekly News]

A Royal procession then commenced through the City at 12.15pm, the party returning to the Fernhill Club half an hour later.

The NZ Government Royal Reception Arch,
The Octagon, Dunedin, June 1901
[Source : The Auckland Weekly News]

At 2.30pm the Royal Party then proceeded to the Children's Demonstration at the Caledonian Ground where they watched over 2,200 school children undertake various activities including physical drill, 'marching evolutions', wand exercises, and a mass march-past.

Dunedin School children, representing 23 schools, marching past
the Royal Visitors at the Children's demonstration, Caledonian
Grounds, Dunedin, 26th June 1901
[Source : The Auckland Weekly News]

The Royal party then visited the Agricultural & Pastoral Society's Show in the Agricultural Hall thereafter to the Dunedin Horticultural Show in Ross & Glendinning's buildings in High Street before returning to the Fernhill Club. At 9.45pm they returned to the Agricultural Hall for a reception.

HRH The Duke of Cornwall & York Laying the Foundation Stone
for the Memorial to Queen Victoria, Queen's Gardens, Dunedin,
26th June 1901.
[Source : The Auckland Weekly News]

After another night at the Fernhill Club the last official duty for the Royal party was to lay the foundation stone for the Memorial to Her Late Majesty Queen Victoria at "The Triangle" [now known as Queen's Gardens].

A grainy but historic published image of Their
Royal Highnesses, The Duke & Duchess of
Cornwall & York leaving the dais after unveiling
the foundation stone for the monument to
Queen Victoria in Dunedin, June 1901
[Source : 'The Outlook']

Rather touchingly, two children who had "tramped from Invercargill" were presented to their Royal Highnesses and given presents of autographed photographs.

Before his departure the Duke addressed the assembled crowd on behalf of himself and the Duchess :

"...We shall leave this beautiful [and] hospitable island with deep regret and shall go away with the hearty cheers of your people still ringing in our ears, bearing in our hearts grateful and unfading recollections of the happiness experienced at their hands. Kia Ora."

Fortuitously, despite it being winter, the Royal Visit to Dunedin had been accompanied by cold but clear weather.

The completed Statue to Queen Victoria
in Queen's Gardens, Dunedin.
The foundation stone was laid by HRH The Duke of
Cornwall & York on the 27th June 1901.
At rear is the Cenotaph War Memorial.
[Source : Wikipedia Commons]

Thereupon the Royal Party departed for the nearby Railway Station and at 11am took their leave of Dunedin to return north to their ship at the port of Lyttleton. At the personal invitation of the Duchess, the Mayoress of Dunedin, Mrs Denniston, was graciously invited to travel with her on the Royal Train for the long journey north. This would have been considered a great honour. As one of her three Ladies in Waiting had taken a cold in Christchurch and not come south the Duchess may have appreciated some extra - and obviously convivial - company.

The Dining Area on the Royal Train, 1901.
Photo by Albert Percy Godber.
[Source : National Library of New Zealand]

The only resounding criticism of the Royal Visit south was that it had to be curtailed so early in order that the Royal Couple could return to their ship at Lyttleton rather than head south a shorter distance by railway and board the 'HMS Ophir' at Bluff, possibly including a visit to the world famous Milford Sound. A Commodore of the British Royal Navy accompanying the 'HMS Ophir' was widely derided in the press for being afraid of taking his ships "South-about" or "to go through Cook Strait in the dark".

Nevertheless, the visit of the Royal couple to Dunedin and to New Zealand was a resounding success. And moreover, Dunedin was reported to have "proved itself one the most demonstrative of New Zealand cities".

My companion Blog on the 1901 Royal Visit to Auckland using a number of unpublished photographs from my own collection may be viewed Here.

Bibliography :

- The Encyclopedia of New Zealand.
- Nga Whare Matauranga o Tamaki Makaurau
- Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa
- Matapihi

Tuesday 6 November 2012

An Appreciation of old Scottish Country Stately Homes and Castles (Part Eight)

This is the eighth part of my gallery celebrating Scottish stately homes and castles. The images in this gallery were taken during the Edwardian period and are from my own family collection. I have attempted to provide a history of each home or castle however the fact that many such old homes are in ruinous, vacant or no longer exist is to be regretted. The loss of any historic building is indeed unfortunate so this gallery also serves as a celebration of this lost heritage and the various families over the centuries who built and owned these fascinating properties.

The Lee [Lee Castle], Lanark

The Lee at Lanark, also known as Lee Castle, is a category B listed castellated mansion in Auchenglen, South Lanarkshire. The gardens are also classed as significant.

William Locard had been granted the feudal barony of Lee in 1272. A descendant, Sir William Lockhart of Lee (1621 -1675) fought for the Royalist cause in the English Civil War, but switched sides, and later married the niece of Oliver Cromwell. In 1652 Lockhart was appointed Cromwell's Commissioner for the Administration of Justice in Scotland, also serving in 1656 as English Ambassador at the French court. His son and heir, Sir George Lockhart of Lee (1673–1731), acted as a Commissioner for the Act of Union between England and Scotland in 1707, but later adopted the Jacobite cause. He was involved in the Jacobite Rising of 1715 but escaped serious punishment. George's grandson, another George, fought with the Jacobites in the 1745 Rising, being later forced into exile. The property then came into the hands of a younger brother, James (who had been made a Count of the Holy Roman Empire in 1782), after staging the death of his traitorous older brother. His successor, Alexander Lockhart Lee, a member of Parliament for Berwick-upon-Tweed, was made first Baronet in 1806.

While a house existed at The Lee, the form at this time is unknown. The 2nd Baronet, Sir Charles Lockhart (1799–1832) built a new house at Lee in 1817, but shortly after his death the 3rd Baronet, Sir Norman Lockhart (1802–1849), commissioned the Architect James Gillespie Graham to design a much larger house. Work began in 1834, incorporating the earlier building, and continued until 1845. In 1919 the Baronetcy became extinct. A kinsman of the Lockhart family (who then changed his name to Lockhart) inherited the house and estate in 1948 but later sold the house and Barony of Lee to a Mr Alvis in 1978, apparently to pay increased taxation. The house and Title were then sold to a Canadian, Mr Leslie Peters. Shortly after moving in a disastrous fire caused much damage but was fully restored using traditional materials and craftsmanship. After Mr Peters died in 2002 the house, along with 260 acres, were sold in 2003 to an American, Mr Addison McElroy Fischer, who is now titled "The 35th Baron of Lee". The house is not open to the public but appears to be very well maintained.

Broomhill House and Millhaugh Bridge at Larkhall, Lanarkshire, pre 1908.

Broomhill House at Larkhall in Lanarkshire may have been built by John Birnie of Broomhouse after he acquired considerable wealth, possibly as early as 1637. The Birnies are recorded as occupying Broomhill for over 180 years before passing to James Bruce in 1817. Having apparently been successful in business in India, he returned and settled down at Broomhill as a country Laird. Unfortunately his death in 1835 led to extensive litigation until 1847.

In 1902, the then sea-fearing owner of Broomhill, Captain McNeil returned home with a beautiful Indian Princess called Sita ['The Black Lady']. The story is told that she was ignorant of Edwardian customs, becoming a social outcast and an embarrassment to the Captain who then forbid her from leaving the house except at night. After two years house staff reported no sign of her and were informed that she had returned to India. But staff had not witnessed her departure and locals became suspicious. She soon returned in ghostly form, beckoning to passers-by from a window at Broomhill. She was then seen roaming the surrounding orchards and the area known as Morgan Glen. In the 1960s a television documentary team visited Larkhall and attempted to perform the first televised exorcism. The cameras were frozen over in fine weather and after filming finished the director was killed in a road crash on his way to another location. He was found with a fence post impaled in his heart.

Broomhill House itself no longer exists having fallen into disrepair in the 1960s and eventually being demolished. Door lintels from Broomfield were used in the Applebank Inn which sits below where the house stood. There have been reports of paranormal activity in the Inn since these artifacts were installed. Many local residents have seen 'the Black Lady' and indeed an investigator managed to capture her ghostly image in the 1970s.

Bibliography :

- Various Internet sources
- All images are from my own collection and may be freely copied provided a link is given back to this page.

Friday 26 October 2012

The Melbourne Cup

"The Lawn" at Flemington Racecourse on Melbourne Cup Day, circa 1906.
[From my own collection]

Held annually at 3pm on the first Tuesday in November, the Melbourne Cup, being a 3200 meter horse race at Flemington Racecourse is arguably the most electrifying event in Australasia. Then, as now, parading in one's finery on the day is obviously nothing new. "The Lawn" would appear to be the place to be and the place to be seen. And what a marvellous snapshot of Edwardian summer fashions.

A contemporary view of Swanson Street looking towards Flinders Street,
Melbourne, circa 1906. The Melbourne Town Hall with clock tower at
left survives. The building behind with a high-pitched fanciful roof
unfortunately does not. Note the elegantly multi-wired phone and/or
telegraph poles. Trams still traverse this busy street today.
[From my own Collection] 

Cup Day is one day a year, more so than even ANZAC Day, when two countries virtually join as one to watch or listen to a race which has truly become an international institution. And no self-respecting office or work-place in Australia or New Zealand would be complete without an office sweepstake. To those of us who are not normally passionate about horse racing this event manages to engender a level of passion and interest which is hard explain.

The Princes Bridge, Melbourne with the earlier Flinders Street
Railway Station across the Yarra River, a passenger carriage
just being visible. Pre 1907 [From my own collection]

My family were unfortunately not in Melbourne for the above race, these cards were purchased by my Great Uncle in February 1907, having just arrived from Scotland and waiting to cross the Tasman Sea to New Zealand on another steamer.

But my own Mother and Grandfather fortuitously arrived on the 'R.M.S. Orontes' from England on the 1st November 1937 just in time to watch "Trump" win the Cup on the 2nd. Neither were of the horse racing fraternity but happily made that 'pilgrimage' to Flemington. But, despite being on an extended holiday, I doubt both were of a mind to stay and enjoy "the pleasures of a gay social season".

Newspaper article for the 1937 race

Newspaper article for the 1937 race

I will, however, not attempt to cover the history of this great annual racing and fashion event which is very capably detailed in an interesting Blog on The Melbourne Cup by Hels. While I dearly love Melbourne, truly one of my favourite cities of the world, watching the Melbourne Cup in person and to experience the electrifying atmosphere on the day is one event which still eludes me. As this vibrant city keeps drawing me back it will definitely have to be added to my 'bucket list'. 

Fire Brigade Station, Melbourne.
Happily, this building survives today.
[From my own collection]

Bibliography :

- All images are from my own personal collection and may be freely copied provided a link is given back to this page.

Friday 19 October 2012

The Royal Residences of Queen Victoria - Buckingham Palace

The original frontage of Buckingham Palace as designed by
Edward Blore, and viewed from St James's Park Lake, 1897
[From my own collection]

During Queen Victoria's long reign she made use a number of royal residences, primarily Windsor Castle in Berkshire, Buckingham Palace in London, Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, Holyrood House in Edinburgh, and Balmoral Castle in the Scottish Highlands.

This series primarily features 'behind the scenes' period images from Queen Victoria's Private Apartments which will attempt to portray something of Her Majesty's secluded world away from the public gaze. The quality of all images varies considerably. Actual original extant photographs of Queen Victoria when resident at each Royal residence are also featured. Our fourth blog in this series features images taken at Buckingham Palace. I have also included some semi-state apartments as the decoration of these less-used rooms has markedly changed since the Victorian period.

Much of the 'clutter' and even some of the early 19th century decoration of coloured scaliola columns and blue and pink lapis in the public and semi-public rooms were swept away after the accession of Kind Edward VII in 1902. The predominant colour scheme after his 'clean up' then became 'Belle Epoque' cream and gold. Much 'Victorian embellishment' was actually alien to the original Regency style of the building.

Queen Mary also left her expert mark on most of the Royal residences with one of her favourite past-times being "redecorating and re-arranging rooms" - apparently much to the despair of her staff. As an expert connoisseur of the arts and especially of the Regency style she did in fact take a keen interest in the Royal collection of furniture and art. This included not only recovering and restoring long lost original furniture and objects d'art but also returning many rooms in Buckingham Palace to an authentic - and intended - Regency style of decoration.

These views of the Victorian era Private Apartments generally follow a route from the North end of the West Wing (facing the Palace front lawn and gardens), through Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's Private Apartments in the North wing, then along to the east wing facing The Mall.

The Minister's Staircase.
Note the Memorial Window to the Duke of Clarence.

The Minister's Staircase is located in the East Wing at the end of Queen Victoria's Private Apartments. To the North East lie the State Apartments and to South East lie the Private Apartments. 

A close-up of the Memorial Window to the
Duke of Clarence, the son (and heir
apparent) of King Edward VII and Queen
Alexandra, who died in 1891.

This window, which is visible in the wall above, was later moved and the window space blocked up.

The Princess Royal sitting for a portrait in
The Throne Room, 1842

The Throne Room lies at the North end of the East Wing, and with the Royal Closet (a small Drawing Room) alongside, separated the State Apartments from Queen Victoria's Private Apartments.

The Tapestry Room

The Tapestry Room is located in the East Wing near the South East Corner of the Palace and faces the front lawn.  Separating The Royal Closet and The Tapestry Room is another Sitting Room which is recorded as having been used in the latter years of Queen Victoria's reign by Miss Charlotte Knollys who served as Lady of the Bedchamber.

The Sheraton Room

This image is believed to show the Sheraton Room which  is located at the very North end of the West Wing and also facing the Palace front lawn.  

Queen Victoria and four of her children at Buckingham Palace.
[L to R] Princess Louise, Princess Helena, Prince Alfred holding
Princess Beatrice, Princess Alice, Queen Victoria
Taken by Colonel the Hon. Dudley de Ros, 23rd Baron of Helmsley
29 February 1860

The Private Audience Chamber

This room would appear to adjoin - or be very close to - The Sheraton Room at the North end of the West Wing of the palace. It does not appear to be the current Queen's 'Audience Room' nor (as some have suggested) the current 'Regency Room' on the Ground Floor. Many rooms have changed their style of decoration - and their use - in the intervening years which makes identification as to their exact original position difficult. One would at least assume that it would be close to 'The Minister's Staircase' shown above.

Queen Victoria's Sitting Room, by James Roberts 1855

The rest of Queen Victoria and all of Prince Albert's Private Rooms are all located on the First Floor of the South Wing.

Queen Victoria's Sitting Room

Queen Victoria's Sitting Room

Queen Victoria's Sitting Room

Queen Victoria's Bedroom

Queen Victoria's Bedroom

Queen Victoria's Dressing Room

Queen Victoria's Dressing Room

Prince Albert's Dressing Room

Prince Albert's Dressing Room

Prince Albert's Writing Room

Prince Albert's Music Room (engraving)

Prince Albert's Music Room, circa 1870-1900

The Indian Room
[Source : Getty Images]

The Indian Room, [Little] Chinese Room and The Pavilion Breakfast Room all form the last three rooms at the East end of the South Wing.

Some rooms at Buckingham Palace have a Chinese theme. That is because they feature furniture and décor which were originally based in the Prince Regent's oriental-style Royal Pavilion at Brighton (later sold by Queen Victoria to fund building work at Buckingham Palace).

The [Little] Chinese Room
[Source : Getty Images]

The Pavilion Breakfast Room, which lies at the extreme east end of the South Wing included many features removed from the Brighton Pavilion Music Room and Banqueting Room which Queen Victoria sold to the town of Brighton in 1850.

The Pavilion Breakfast Room, 1850

The Private [Chinese] Breakfast Room

The Royal Visitors Gallery [Principal Corridor]

The Principal Corridor runs the length of the East Wing facing The Mall. 

The Duke of Connaught's Bedroom

Rooms in the East Wing served as suites for Victoria's children. Shown above is Arthur The Duke of Connaught's bedroom, being the third son of Queen Victoria.

The Yellow Drawing Room,
a watercolour by James Roberts,  1855

The Yellow Drawing Room lies at the south end of the East Wing shown below and served as a Drawing Room for guests. Further round into the North Wing were rooms for the Ladies in Waiting and other senior staff.

The Original East Frontage of Buckingham Palace, circa 1900

The Belgian State Apartments :

The 'Belgian Apartments' illustrated below are situated at the foot of the Minister's Staircase, on the ground floor of the West-facing garden wing of Buckingham Palace. These rooms, which form a suite, are linked by narrow corridors, one given extra height and perspective by saucer domes designed by the Architect, John Nash. A second corridor in the suite has Gothic influenced cross over vaulting. The rooms themselves are named for King Leopold I of the Belgians, the first King of the Belgians (and Uncle of Prince Albert), who was the first to occupy these rooms. This suite of rooms are now used by visiting Heads of State and other dignitaries.  

The King of the Belgian's Bedroom

The King of the Belgian's Bedroom

The Orleans Room

The Spanish Room

Directly underneath the State Apartments are a suite of slightly less grand rooms known as the semi-state apartments. Opening from the Marble Hall, these rooms have always been used for less formal entertaining, such as luncheon parties and private audiences.

The 1844 Room

The 1844 Room was decorated in that year for the State visit of Tsar Nicholas I of Russia.

The 1844 Room

The Bow Room [Library]

At the centre of this suite is the Bow Room, through which thousands of guests pass annually to the current Queen's Garden Parties on the front lawn.

The Bow Room [Library]

The 1855 Room

This 1855 Room room is named after a visit in that year by Emperor Napoleon III of France. 

Bibliography :

- "Life of Queen Victoria", T Nelson & Sons, London, 1897 (from my personal collection).
 - Various written and Internet sources.
- Most images have been "collected" over the last couple of years and I have not always recorded the source. Most appear to be in the public domain and often frequently copied or are only low resolution however if copyright has been infringed please advise me so that I can remove them or provide a link.