Monday 29 April 2013

(6) Carlton House London- A Virtual Tour of the East Range of State Apartments on the Lower Floor

An alcove in the Gothic Dining Room showing
the Heraldic Shields and display of silver-gilt plate

This is a continuation of our fully guided 'virtual tour' of Carlton House, London. Should you not have read the earlier instalments in this series, please commence from HERE.

Should you reference this Blog elsewhere, please cite

Marked plans of each floor will show your location as you progress through each room.

To refresh our memory, we are now on the Basement Floor at the foot of the 'Great Staircase' .

Location of the Great Staircase as viewed on a plan of the
 Basement Floor. 

The previously viewed engraving below reminds us of the view as we reach the Basement Level of the 'Great Staircase'. We are now standing in front of the gilt ormolu clock and about to enter the 'Ante-Room' or Lower Vestibule directly ahead of us.

The 'Great Staircase', as viewed
from just above the Basement Floor

Prior to the rebuilding of Carlton House after 1783, the basement floor had been used as domestic offices and apartments for the household. What we shall view is primarily the work of the Architect John Nash, completed during the last great rebuilding of 1814-15; "An elegant suite of rooms have been formed, of the most splendid description, rivalling, in every respect, (but height) the grandeur of the state apartments." 

While the Basement Floor had some height restrictions, the south range provided a pleasant and useful enfilade of 'flow-through' rooms. The windows are in the French Style with at least some, if not all, opening inwards to give ready access to the front lawn and Carlton House Gardens. But windows on the opposite north side were below the level of the 'Principal Court' fronting Pall Mall. Daylight was only admitted by means of the Court being set back from the walls with decorative iron railings at ground level, a common design in period Georgian buildings. 

Other 'below ground' rooms on the north side remained almost exclusively as service rooms. We know that the large room at the north-east corner of the Basement Floor, and directly below the kitchen, was used as the Servant's Hall. Other service rooms on this floor included the maids kitchen, confectioner's room, coffee room, pantries, larders, sculleries, a waiting room, wine cellars, silver and plate rooms, dressing room, cold baths, warm baths, and a 'chair passage'.    

The Basement floor, as we shall observe, is also characterised by some ingenious architectural elements to lessen the impact of the slightly lower and (necessarily) flat ceilings and of the visibility of some (again necessary) structural elements. 

We now walk straight ahead into the 'Ante Chamber' or Lower Vestibule then turn right to face the columns which are shown as black dots on the floor plan below.

Location of the Ante-Chamber of Lower Vestibule

We then walk through the double row of green scagliola Corinthian style columns and pilasters [matching pillars built into the walls], characterised by a profusion of decorative gilding to the capitals, bases and architraves. Between the pilasters on both sides "are splendid looking-glasses, which, from their reflection, produce the appearance of an interminable colonnadeThe effect is delightful". The walls are covered with scarlet cloth with gilt mouldings, and the window curtains and draperies in a corresponding fabric. The chimney-piece is of statuary marble, over which is a clock that has neither a dial, face or hand and "is viewed as a great curiosity". [one assumes it merely struck the hours and possibly the quarters]. Also adorning this room are "a splendid collection of Bijouterie [trinkets and ornaments] and articles of Virtu [curios and objects of art], in vases, candelabra, pier tables , and other ornaments of most exquisite beauty and design".

Paintings which embellish this room have been selected with great taste including, an "Architectural Painting" by Van der Heyden; "A Landscape With Figures" by Teniers; "A Family Piece" by Graat; "A Castle Piece" by Berchem, "Interior of a Durch Musico" by Steen; "A Water Mill" by Hobbema; "A Stag Hunt with Lansdscape" by Hackaert; "An Old Woman Buying Fruit" by Douw; "Horses" by Vandyke, "The Oyster Feast" by Mieris; two landscapes by Teniers; and "A River Scene" by Cuyp.

"The whole of these paintings are so delightfully finished, that it almost seems a libel on the visitor's taste, from the hurried manner he is compelled to pass them over."

 The view below is as we glance back behind us.

While the columns not only look imposing they more importantly give structural support by holding up the wall between the 'Octagon' and the 'First Ante-Chamber' above. The ceilings on this floor are primarily painted with clouds on a blue sky, an allusion designed to give the impression of an open sky and emphasize height within these long, low (by the Prince Regent's standards!) rooms. The door at left, which leads through to the Bow Room, has large folding doors.

Lower Vestibule or Ante-Room

We now turn to our right and walk though to the 'Gothic Library'. Unfortunately there appear to be no extant images of the library, nor of any other previous library within Carlton House. We know that a second "Gothic library" was installed at the same time as the rebuilding of the Basement Floor rooms in 1814-15 so this will be the library referred to.

Location of the Library

The Library is describes as having five window facing the garden (again in the French style), and being "conveniently appointed" :

"[The Library] is a splendid apartment, containing many thousand volumes of the choicest books, in all languages, and in the most splendid bindings."

"The books are handsomely bound and arranged in classes, under the Librarian, Dr Stanier Clarke. The appearance of the Library not only displays considerable taste, but convenience has also been consulted. A fine collection of maps, concealed by the cornices of the book-cases, on spring rollers, can be referred to without the least trouble. The doors are also concealed by imitation books."

In the three window recesses and upon Boulle [Buhl] pedestals, are placed "three highly finished models of the triumphal arches of Constantine, Septimus Severus, and Titus Vespasian, executed in statuary marble with chased ornaments in ormolu, basso relievos [bass relief], and alto relievo [high relief], representing groups of figures, busts, and horses, executed by the finest Italian artists." All are modelled to scale and admirably executed.

A carved Gothic style Throne supplied
in 1808 for the Gothic Library.
[Source : The Royal Collection]

Additionally embellishing this handsome room were "...several figures, busts, and horses,.... Ebony chairs of the time of Henry VIII., with scarlet cushions, and the furniture, &c. to correspond. The chimney-piece is supported by four columns of the Corinthian order, and on which is placed a curious clock, constructed by Sir W. Congreve." [Pierce Egan, 1821]

The 'Congreve'  clock is recorded as having been in the Carlton House Library since 1808.

The brass skeleton clock referred to above, being designed
by Sir William Congreve and made by John Moxon
[Source : The Royal Collection]   

The Prince Regent was in fact recorded as being an avid reader and it would appear that he encouraged his household to do the same. "...The King is in the habit of reading every newspaper that is published." [Earl Gray, 1829]. And no less than 546 copies of eight different newspapers were delivered to Carlton House every day for the King and his household to read.

We now continue through the folding doors to the elegant "Corinthian Room" or Drawing Room.

Location of the Corinthian or Drawing Room

This imposing and "regal" room did not exist prior to 1814, being created out of three rooms which contained a cold bath, a warm bath, and dressing room, plus a slight extension to the east wall. Our first impression upon entering is of the profusion of elegant gilded Corinthian columns with burnished and matted gold. Large panels on the doors contain whole pieces of looking-glass, while additionally, large framed looking glasses are hung facing each other on the walls of the two small corner rooms, all reflecting light, each other, and overall giving the illusion of infinite spaciousness, or as a period commentator described, "representing no end". The two small corners rooms lead on one side to a small private staircase up to what had been (pre 1814) the Prince's personal quarters, and on the other nothing more than a 'cabinet' for storage and to 'balance' the look of the room. With couches placed under the looking glasses and with bookcases and a fireplace along the north wall it does create a somewhat more convivial area within this rather large space. 

With the profusion of elegant draperies, the China jars on display, the candlesticks, the tables and the sofas, led one period commentator to describe this room thus : 

"All that invention could suggest, all that the powers of art could master, and all that talents could supply, have been united with such a felicity of effect in this Golden Drawing-Room, as proudly to bid anything like competition defiance."

Additionally adorning this magnificent room were paintings "Two pictures of Village Festivals [The Village Fête], both by Teniers and hung in recesses either side of the fireplace; "A Horse-Market" by Wouvermans; and "A Laboratory" also by Teniers. This room also included a beautiful white marble time-piece. 

"A Horse Fair in front of a Town" by Wouvermans
[Source : The Royal Collection]

The view below is looking towards the Gothic Dining Room which we shall enter next.  

Golden Drawing Room / Corinthian Room

The Prince Regent delighted in holding "splendid levees [receptions] and admirable dinners" and these flow-through rooms, with large doorways or openings affording large inter-connected gathering spaces, would have been made good use of. One can almost imagine this room full of chattering guests in full Court evening dress enjoying the Prince Regent's generous hospitality prior to walking through to the adjoining Dining Room to partake of a large banquet. 

Court dress for men at this time consisted of dress coats, almost always including embroidered detail in gold thread or similar, being commonly in black, brown, dark green, purple or blue, with silk breeches to match. Waistcoats were generally in white satin, again sometimes embroidered. The outfit would be worn with white silk stockings, black shoes with shoe buckles, and a sword. A woven wig would generally be worn including a 'wig-bag' on the back of the neck. But after political opponents put a tax on wig powder the Prince Regent dispensed with his wig, thus starting a new fashion trend. Hats (not worn indoors) were crescent-shaped 'chapeau-bras', known as an opera-hat, being developed in the 1760's-1770's from the three-cornered hat. In the second decade of the nineteenth century, this hat became commonly known as 'the cocked hat'. Those entitled to wear formal military attire would of course have done so. 

For women, Court dress also meant wearing the most opulent style of clothing. Fashion and wealth had usually dictated what was worn but by the early 19th century a particular style of Court Dress had emerged. Women in attendance at the Royal Court were still to be seen in garments fitted with side-hoops, being redolent of forms of dress which had been fashionable back in the mid-18th century. After his coronation in 1820, King George IV made known his opinion that obsolete 'side-hooped' dresses should no longer be worn at Court; and thereafter current fashion again began to have more of an impact on the style of dress worn at court. Dresses were still full length touching the ground or flowing, including added detail such as an exuberance of lace around the chest, visible layering to the silk fabric, and decorated with ruffles or other decorative stitching. For reasons of propriety, dresses were still reasonably bulked up with bloomers and under-skirts. Such attire would normally include a full length cape or train which would generally (but not always as in the case of a train) be removed once indoors. Headdress originally included a wig but this attire appears to have later been dispensed with, being replaced with curled natural hair and a 'head-dress' of plumed feathers placed in an upright manner so as not to become an annoyance as they were also worn indoors. Silk gloves would be worn, covering the entire arm to the elbow. A delicate hand-held fan would be a necessary fashion accessory. Finally, make-up and expensive necklaces or 'choker' necklaces would be worn to impress [Edited source on Court Dress : Wikipedia]

In the view below we have a side view within the above-mentioned space between the two corner rooms. You are not looking at a painting on the wall but a large gilt-framed 'looking glass'. The profusion of red upholstery and bright gilding under a plain, light coloured ceiling accentuate the bright colours. A heavily painted or moulded plaster ceiling would have created the illusion of a heavy, low ceiling in such a large room rather than of height which the architect has admirably achieved. The profusion of upright pillars accentuate the illusion of height and do not detract from the overall aesthetics of the room. The ornate round table appears to be the twin of the one we noted in the Blue Velvet Closet.

The Alcove in the Golden Drawing Room

We now pass through folding doors to the Gothic Dining Room at the extreme east end of the Basement Floor. 

Location of the Gothic Dining Room

This room also did not exist prior to 1814, being added by the Architect John Nash by means of a single-storied extension out into the 'Second Court'. Here we can fully appreciate - and no doubt proffer an opinion - on the distinct Gothic Revival style employed in this room. 

The Dining Room " divided into five compartments, each being circumscribed by a Gothic arch, supported by clusters of pillars with capitals composed of the Prince's plume. Enriched brackets spring across the ceiling with spandrels of elegant tracery work; the panel, screen and frame-work of the room are of wainscot, highly varnished;  on the panels are twenty-six shields, emblazoned with the quarterings and heraldic bearings of the royal arms of England from the reign of Edward the Confessor to that of Queen Anne.

Suspended from the ceiling 'brackets' are chandeliers while a cloudy sky again gives the illusion of height on an otherwise flat ceiling. The east end of the room is characterised by a 'screen' of four gold arches, each containing looking-glasses flanked by pedestals to hold candelabra. Here too is placed a magnificent side-board or 'buffet'. The west end of the room is nearly similar in style. The window surrounds, which correspond in style to the decoration and gold mouldings evident on the opposite side of the room, are additionally adorned with rich crimson silk draperies. The overall effect at night during a banquet would be most impressive. 

A number of "brackets, shelves and tables" are used to display a large and valuable collection of precious silver gilt plate belonging to the Prince. These, together with the "embellishments" found in this room together with the "...elaborate scheme of heraldry", being the afore-mentioned panels emblazoned with shields of the Royal Arms of England from the reign of Edward the Confessor to the time of Queen Anne, all create a room of noble appearance.

Some period commentators considered that the use of the Gothic style 'brackets', together with the flat ceiling, produced "a very bad effect", being quite incongruous to the style adopted. Gothic architecture lent itself to a lofty vaulted ceiling but this was simply not possible due to the rooms situated directly above.

The Gothic Dining Room

As the caricature below infers, The Prince was well known for his love of good food and wine and naturally his banquets were extravagant and lengthy affairs. At formal gatherings and dinners more than one commentator also noted the Prince's "loquacity" [talkativeness], "He talked at inordinate length on all manner of subjects, political and otherwise" [Hibbert], and "When we meet His Royal Highness there is in general an end of everything but speeches from him." [Charles Grey]. Large parties invariable lasted until well into the night, or more commonly, into the following morning.

"A Voluptuary Under the Horrors of Digestion"-
A cartoon of the Prince which alludes to his love of
good food and wine, as drawn by James Gillray, 1792.
[Source : The British Museum]

We shall now retrace our steps through the Corinthian Room and the Library back to the Ante-Chamber.

Retracing our steps to the Lower Ante-Chamber

The next Blog in this series, which takes us on a 'Virtual Tour' of the western State Apartments on the Ground Floor and a look at the old Carlton House Gardens, may be viewed HERE.

Comments or corrections of any unintentional errors are appreciated however please cite your source.

Bibliography :

- Unless otherwise stated all images are from Wikipedia Commons and are in the Public Domain.
- Please refer to the first instalment in this series for the full bibliography.

Friday 26 April 2013

(5) Carlton House London - A Virtual Tour of the Staircase, Gallery and Upper Floor

Sultan Tipu astride his Horse

This is a continuation of our fully guided 'virtual tour' of Carlton House, London. Should you not have read the earlier instalments in this series, please commence from HERE.

Should you reference this Blog elsewhere, please cite

Marked plans of each floor will show your location as you progress through each room.

To refresh our memory, we are again in the 'Octagon Room' or Vestibule.

Location of The Octagon Room

Although we have viewed this engraving of the 'Octagon' Room (or Vestibule) before, we should first take another look up at the gallery above from which we may very shortly again view the 'Octagon' room below us.

The Vestibule (Octagon Room) with the Gallery above

To view the Gallery we must pass through the doorway on the western side of the Octagon (to our left on the above engraving) and ascend the Great Staircase to the upper level.

The Entrance to the
Great Staircase

So, let us now ascend the Great Staircase :

Location of the Great Staircase

Leading from the Basement level of Carlton House (we shall descend down here shortly), a graceful double staircase (as shown in the 1812 engraving below) sweeps up the oval shaped circular walls past the Principal Floor to the 'Chamber Floor' above. Although major remodelling of the 'Great Staircase' appears to have taken place around 1814, the engraving below illustrates some of the figures and termini within the wall recesses (which are at Principal Floor level) referred to below by our visitor from 1816.

"....It is not placed in too conspicuous a situation : the access to it is perfectly easy; it is well and equally lighted in every part;... The [staircase] cannot be seen till you advance close to it, when the most brilliant effect is produced by the magical management of the light. Opposite the entrance is a flight of twelve steps, thirteen feet long; and on either side of the landing-place at the top of these is another flight of steps of the same length, which takes a circular sweep up to the chamber-floor.
On a level with the first floor are eight divisions, arched over; two of these are occupied by Time pointing to the hours on a dial; and AEolus supporting a map of a circular form, with the points of the compass marked round it. [one period commentator acknowledged the two "bronzed colossal figures" referring to one figure to "Atlas" but also to the latter  figure as "Time" - and not AEolus - as supporting a circular map of Europe].

The central division forms the entrance to an anti-room; and the others are adorned with female figures of bronze in the form of termini, supporting lamps." [J.N.B., 1816]

The Great Staircase as it appeared around 1812
From "Microcosms of London"

The railing is particularly rich, glittering with ornaments of gold, intermixed with bronze beads. The sky-light is embellished with rich painted glass, in panes of circles, lozenges, prince's plumes, roses &c." [J.N.B., 1816]

Hung on the staircase wall is an equestrian portrait of "King George II" by Morier; and "The Archangel Michael" by Reynolds.

King George II on a Horse by Morier, c.1745

Below is the 'Floor Standing Clock' by 'Breguet et Fils' of Paris which King George IV acquired in 1824, being placed at the top of the Great Staircase. It does not appear on our engravings which pre-date this period.

This 'Floor Standing Clock'
by Breguet et Fils, 1824

Ascending the 'Great Staircase' to the upper 'Bedchamber Floor', we enter the adjoining 'Gallery of the Staircase' where we can then look down on the 'Octagon' room below. But first our eyes are instinctively drawn up to the delightful fan vaulting and the octagonal shaped fan-light window which allows light to filter through the open centre of the gallery down to the 'Octagon' Room below and, it would appear, also to the staircase. Arranged around the walls are a number of statuettes on plinths.

The Gallery of the Staircase

Views of the interiors of the 'Bedchamber' floor of Carlton House are sadly lacking. Britton and Pugin in their 1838 work "Illustrations of the Public Buildings of London" note that the house "....can henceforth be known only by the records that have been preserved of it." But for even these images we must be thankful.

Windows on the upper [Bedchamber] Floor facing Carlton House Gardens, were of the sash type (sliding up and down) and almost square but, as with the Principal Floor, also included a small decorative iron railing. Those windows facing the Principal Court and Pall Mall lacked the iron railing.

But surprisingly, the eastern side of the upper floor also contained not only a valuable and unique "Armoury Museum" containing arms and armoury, but also displays "... of various works of art, dresses, &c.". This area was not generally shown to guests, nor were any of these rooms specifically engraved for the 1819 work in which the majority of the engravings shown here appeared. The Armoury rooms are described in 1824 as being situated "....on the attic-story of the eastern wing and gallery, which leads to the upper vestibule....".

"It is arranged with great order, skill, and taste, under the immediate inspection of his Royal Highness... [and] occupies five rooms in the attic story; the swords, fire-arms, &c. disposed in various figures upon scarlet cloth, and inclosed [sic] in glass cases;... Here are swords of every country.... In another room are various specimens of plate armour, helmets, and weapons...; a curious collection of fire-arms, from the match-lock to the modern improvement in the firelock, air-guns, pistols, &c. In this room are also some curious saddles, Mameluke, Turkish, &c... Another room contains Asiatic armour; and effigy of Tippoo [Tipu] Sultan on horseback, in a dress that he wore; also models of cannon and a mortar... ; some delicate and curious Chinese works of art in ivory, many rich Eastern dresses, and palanquin of very costly materials. In another apartment are some curious old English weapons, battle-axes, maces, daggers, arrows, &c.; several specimens from the Sandwich and other South Sea Islands, of weapons, stone hatchets, &c. Boots, series of them, as worn in various ages... In presses are kept an immense collection of rich dresses of all countries; also sets of uniforms... All sorts of banners, colours, hore-tails, &c.; Roman swords, daggers, stilettoes, sabres, the great two-handed sword,.... Besides the portraits of several Dukes of Brunswick, and Count de Lippe, are those of the Emperor Joseph II [as shown below], Frederick [sic Peter?] the Great, and of various Princes and great men renowned for their talent in the art of war."  [David Hughson LL.D., 1809]

A Room in the Armoury, as drawn by Pugin in 1814
The effigy on horseback is Sultan Tippoo.
Note the weaponry even decorating the ceiling!
[Source : The Royal Collection]

Not mentioned by Hughson, but perhaps even acquired later, were another model of a horse [placed alongside that of Sultan Tipu and visible in the image above] and described as being "comparisoned with the ornaments which belonged to Murat Bey", the saddle and bridle of Herman Platoff, a coat of mail belonging to Elphi Bey, a Persian war-dress, the war-dress of a Chinese Tartar, the dagger of Zhingis [Genghis] Khan, and a magnificent palauquin of ivory and gold belonging to Sultan Tipu. The whole collection was observed as being "unrivalled".

A monochrome copy of the painting of "Peter the Great" of
Russia acquired by the Prince Regent and hung in the
Armoury. Restoration in 1905 identified the portrait as
King Carlos II of Spain.
After Luca Giordano, c.1680-1720
[Source : The Royal Collection]

Monochrome copy of the painting of Joseph II,
the Emperor of Austria, by Hickel, c.1785
[Source : The Royal Collection]

Another observer, with his account being published in "The Crypt, Or Receptacle For Things Past" in 1828 [after the demolition of Carlton House] additionally describes the 'Plate Room' :

 "Next to the armoury... was the plate-room. This has been allowed to contain the finest collection of the kind in Europe. The plate is chiefly silver-gilt, and most of it in modern fashion. It occupied three sides of a large room, the fourth side being formed of bronze rail-work. The larger portions of plate were tastefully spread within glass cases, and an uncommonly beautiful sight was thus presented to the spectator. The fronts of the cases were formed of plate-glass, each square of which cost £30 to £40. In this room were preserved some fine specimens of King Charles's plate, as well as some splendid presents from various branches of the Royal Family; particularly a curious silver-gilt antique salt-stand; &c. from the Princess Elizabeth, given on the day of her marriage. The centre of the room was occupied with closets so formed and closed so as to appear like, and in reality to make, a large round table : the interior was wholly composed of plate, columns being formed by piles of gold and silver knives, forks, spoons &c. The service of plate spread out in the glass cases, and the masses of plate when opened, which formed the centre of the room astonished everyone who beheld them."

This now brings us to another mystery which involves some detective work. We know that a set of four Gobelins tapestries depicting the story of Don Quixote were acquired by the [then] Prince of Wales. An account dated 1794 refers to the cost of purchasing crimson damask curtains for the "Princess' Private Drawing Room" at Carlton House. George had married Princess Caroline of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel in April 1795, a disastrous marriage but that's another story!

"Sancho Panza Despairs at the Loss of his Donkey" - one
of a set of four Gobelins tapestries from c.1786 believed
 to have decorated the Queen's Private Drawing Room.
[Source : The Royal Collection

As was the custom at Carlton House, the curtains were almost certainly intended to match the other hangings in the room. As there were no other Gobelins tapestries in the Royal collection at this time with a crimson background it is assumed that these four Gobelins tapestries were used to decorate Queen Caroline's Private Drawing Room. As no suite of rooms are marked for the Queen's use in our 1795 plan of the principal floor it must be assumed that they were located on the upper floor. It is recorded that prior to 1814 the basement floor had primarily contained service rooms (although the 'Prince's Dining Room' had apparently been on the basement floor in the same location as post 1814). So it is most unfortunate that there does not appear to be an extant upper floor plan.

My previous Blog in this series would lead one to the assumption that the Prince's Daughter Charlotte occupied this suite of rooms with her Governesses, which would have included a bedchamber, until Charlotte moved to Montague House in 1804. We simply don't know if the Prince himself then occupied this particular suite of rooms.

We must now return to the 'Great Staircase' and descend fully two floors down the elliptical staircase to the Basement Floor where the Lower Apartments are located. 

"Underneath is another staircase, descending to the lower apartments. The general form is an ellipsis, forty-one feet long, by twenty-three feet wide, lighted by a sky light of the whole extent." [J.N.B., 1816] 

The remodelled Great Staircase, as viewed
from just above the Basement Floor

This is the view we see in the engraving of the remodelled 'Great Staircase' above. We can also clearly see the French Pedestal Clock made by Jean-Baptiste Farine in 1740, which had formerly resided at the Palace of Versailles, being acquired by the Prince Regent in 1816. 

The French Pedestal Clock by
Jean-Baptiste Farine dated 1740
which can be seen in the
engraving above, having been
 acquired in 1816
[Source : The Royal Collection]

We can also observe a servant carrying a tray down the staircase to the Basement Floor. The life of a servant would have involved a daily ritual of waiting, carrying, fetching, and running up and down stairs, but wherever practicable via the servants back-stairs rather than the Great Staircase lest he pass his Royal Master. Etiquette demanded that servants not speak and look down or turn away should they be passed by any member of the Royal family. The Prince "constantly complained of the servants staring at him, and that strict orders had been given to discharge any one caught repeating the offence" [Gronow, 1866] 

Location of the Great Staircase as viewed on a plan of the
 Basement Floor. This plan of the Basement Floor is post
1813 after rebuilding work was completed. 

The next Blog in this series, which takes us on a 'Virtual Tour' of the varied and magnificent East Range of State Apartments on the Lower Floor may be viewed HERE.

Comments or corrections of any unintentional errors are appreciated however please cite your source.

Bibliography :

- Unless otherwise stated all images are from Wikipedia Commons and are in the Public Domain.
- Please refer to the first instalment in this series for the full bibliography.

Thursday 18 April 2013

ANZAC Day Remembrance 25th April 2013

New Zealand troops marching through Whitehall London
towards Trafalgar Square during The Victory March
on the 3rd May 1919. All these buildings survived World
War Two bombs and are still extant today.
 [From a photograph in my collection]

ANZAC Day, being the 25th of April, again marks that day when the Sovereign nations of Australia and New Zealand both commemorate those servicemen and servicewomen who have served and also fallen in military operations for their respective countries. The date itself is significant as being the anniversary of the landing of Australian and New Zealand soldiers on the Gallipoli Peninsula during "The Great War" [World War One] in 1915. My previous Blog on ANZAC Day can be viewed HERE.

The image featured above shows New Zealand troops marching through Whitehall London during the Victory March of British, Commonwealth and Allied servicemen through London which took place on the 3rd May 1919. My own Uncle appears to have taken part in this march. The route passed a dais in front of Buckingham Palace where His Majesty King George V reviewed the passing servicemen. You can view a cine film showing excerpts from the Victory March HERE.

Men of the Otago & Southland 7th Reinforcements being farewelled
at Dunedin Railway Station, June 1915. My own Great Uncle is
amongst those standing in the rain. Many of these men would
not return home. The still extant McCarthy's Building on the
corner of Castle Street and Lower Stuart Street is just
visible at upper left.
[Otago Witness Photo]

"When we got to Dunedin [from Invercargill] we were marched round several of the streets there and then halted with the Dunedin quota in front of the railway station where we were officially farewelled by the mayor and council etc. We then joined a troop train which took us straight to Lyttleton, picking up several more lots of troops at Oamaru, Timaru, and Ashburton. During the run we had lunch and tea on the train consisting of sandwiches, meat pies and tea." [Jack Watson from Heddon Bush, Southland, writing from Trentham Camp in June 1915]

The 40th Reinforcements being farewelled at Dunedin Railway Station
in 1918. My own Uncle appears 3rd from left in the centre of the
forward group. These men would all safely return to New Zealand.
[From my own collection]

"The routine of each day is something like this - Reveille at 6am, Parade for physical drill 6.30, Breakfast 7.30, Morning parade for squad drill 9, Dinner 12, Afternoon parade for squad drill 1.30, Dismiss 4.30, tea 5.30, Lights out 10.15 p.m. In the middle of the forenoon and afternoon there is always a spell for 15 minutes so you see we are not very hard worked though for a few days one feels his back a little sore.... In the way of food we are well treated. The supply is plentiful and the quality surprisingly good considering the difficulties in the way. At reveille there is coffee for those who wish it, for breakfast Porridge (without milk), stew, bread, butter and tea. Dinner : tea, bread butter cheese and jam. Tea : Roast beef or mutton, potatoes, tea, bread and butter. The meals are served in the tents and two men are detailed each day to bring them from the cookhouse wash the dishes etc...." [Jack Watson writing on the 21st June 1915]

The 'Tent City' that was Trentham Military Training Camp in 1915.
The only permanent buildings appears to be service buildings.
At left rear can be seen Trentham Racecourse.
[From my own collection]

"Until a few days ago it has been wet and unsettled here too ever since we came and things have been very disagreeable with mud and slush etc. It has also been playing the deuce with the men’s health too and almost everyone has been more or less affected with colds, sore throat’s etc. None of the tents of the 7th have been fitted with wooden floors and with men sleeping on the damp earth the surprising thing is that matters are not worse than they are. I suppose you will see that there is some commotion in parliament over the matter and we occasionally hear rumours of a fortnight’s general leave but I expect these are merely camp fables which have no foundation. At the same time the condition of the men seems to be causing them some uneasiness. On Friday afternoon, the Minister of Defence was in the camp fossicking around, yesterday Massey [Prime Minister of New Zealand], Rhodes [Minister for Public Health] and a few more were here and I understand that Massey and Allan & Joe Ward [Joseph Ward - Leader of the opposition Liberal Party] are back again today." [Jack Watson writing mid-winter on the 4th July 1915]

My Great Uncle John (Jack) Watson never fought overseas as he died of cerebro-spinal meningitis on the 14th September 1915, having contracted the disease during training when he volunteered to look after others carrying the disease. He was given a full military funeral.

Trentham Military Camp, New Zealand, c.1917.
At right can be seen part of the Trentham Racecourse track
with the Hutt River just visible in the background.
[Commercial tinted photo - From my own collection]

By 1917-18, Trentham Camp had been largely transformed from the 'tent city' we could see in the 1915 image further above to the rather more permanent camp of wooden huts we can see directly above. I myself spent some weeks "residing" in one these original huts in 1975, at that time being used as a Government Service Hostel.

Ready to Fight for King and Country - New Zealand troops in training
at Trentham Camp, 1918. My own Uncle appears 3rd from left. Fourth
from left at rear is his neighbour, Martin Patrick Forde. These men
would travel to England but be spared the bloodshed of war at the
 eleventh hour. The shorts are summer non-combat attire.
[From my own collection]

For many, "The Great War" was an adventure, but for most their desire to fight for King and country was unquestioning. Compulsory military conscription was not introduced in New Zealand until the 10th June 1916. My own Uncle commenced training at Trentham Camp in April 1918 and was completing final training at Sling Camp in England when the First World War ended at "the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month [1918]". He told me as late as 1982 [the year of his death] that he was sorry that he had not gotten to fight. Other than Serbia, New Zealand had the highest casualty and death rate per capita of any country involved in The Great War.

Time for a smoke on board the "SS Athenic"
[From my own collection]

"We left New York in the afternoon and steamed away out in a great hurry. We were all very sorry to leave N.Y. so soon and everyone was downhearted but towards dusk when there were still no boats in sight she turned around and the yarn soon got around that we had missed the convoy and were hopping it back to New York. Pleased! ... We got leave every day till Friday and crammed into those few days car rides, pictures, long rides on overhead and sub-way railways, theatres, & rides to the top of high buildings and could walk around on top and gaze down on the little specks of motor cars below and smaller black dots for people. On Friday we had a route march to Central Park and back headed by American Brass and Pipe bands and the Yanks were delighted. A moving cinema took is from quite close as we marched past and the picture is to be sent to all the principle towns in New Zealand so if you watch out you can hardly help seeing Fordie [Martin Patrick Forde] and I, we are right near the front." [My Uncle writing in 1918. Both my Uncle and Martin Forde were neighbours in the country area of Heddon Bush in Southland]

Sling Camp, Salisbury Plains, England, 1918
[Postcard photo from my own collection]

"We sailed into Liverpool on Saturday, the last day in August. We were not there very long and it looks a very smoky show. We were put aboard a troop train, cross compartments with a door opening out on each side, eight to each compartment, 3rd class and quite as comfortable at New Zealand first class.... We got here at 9.30 on Saturday night and were divided into our different draft, allotted our huts, given a feed - the first feed since morning - at a quarter to twelve and got to bed at 1am..." [My Uncle writing on the 4th September 1918]

The YMCA [Young Men's Christian Assoc.] Games Room
at Sling Camp, Bulford, Salisbury Plain, England.
[Postcard from my own collection]

"There are New Zealand soldiers from different reinforcements in this camp, all Otago men, some on leave, some just out of hospital and some waiting to go back to N.Z. I think we will have two or three months training here at the least...." [My Uncle writing on the 4th September 1918].   

Uniformed men and women being transported on a military
 troop transport truck, taken in England circa 1918.
[From my own collection]

The above photograph is interesting as it portrays uniformed New Zealand soldiers as well as uniformed women being carried on a troop transport truck in England. I believe the women could be members of the "Women's Army Auxiliary Corps" [WAAC], having been formed in July 1917. Can anyone confirm this? The women were however non-combatant, serving as cooks, waitresses, clerks and telephonists. They performed a valuable service by releasing able-bodied men in the forces for combat.

Two Unidentified New Zealand Servicemen
having the obligatory photo taken in 
Egypt, taken circa 1915-16.
[From my own collection]

The above photo is also rather interesting as the striking looking gentleman on the right would strongly appear to be New Zealand Māori. Could this photograph be taken after the Pioneer Māori Battalions were re-organised in February 1916 into four battalions together with the remnants of the New Zealand Otago Mounted Rifles? Unfortunately there are no visible badges however the young man on the left would almost definitely have come from Southland so a link to the Otago Mounted Rifles is certainly possible. I would be very interested in any further information concerning this fascinating photograph. A link to my email address appears at right or you can place a comment at the bottom of this page.

"Zeitoun [Camp near Cairo, Egypt] 1st Aug 1915, We do most of our training in the mornings and evenings, as it is too hot during the day. It never rains..." [H. George Simpson]  

"The Desert, Egypt, 2nd April 1916, ...We are out in the desert among the flies, the heat and the sand and we enjoy life immensely..." [H. George Simpson]

Although badly wounded, H. George Simpson, being a family relative, returned home after recuperating initially at Malta [known as "The Nurse of the Mediterranean" on account of the number of servicemen who recuperated there] then at the New Zealand Convalescent Hospital at "Grey Towers" in Hornchurch, England. 

New Zealand troops sightseeing in London -
taken at The Albert Memorial, c.1918-19.
[From my own collection]

"Grantham [England] 24 Oct 1917. Dear Friend, ...I am leaving for the front this evening, going with a large draft of machine gunners. I don't know what my luck is to be this time, just as well I don't perhaps but will consider myself lucky if I get wounded and be returned to England. The New Zealand troops have had very heavy casualties on the western front, I think the people in N.Z. will be very annoyed the way their troops have been stuck into it.... W.L.A. [William (Bill) Andrews]"

William (Bill) Lowe Andrews, also a neighbour at Heddon Bush in Southland New Zealand, survived the war.

"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old :
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning 
We will remember them."

From "For the Fallen" by Laurence Binyon (1914) 

Credits :

Unless otherwise stated all images and excerpts are from my own collection and may be freely copied for personal use provided a link is given back to this page. Commercial use is prohibited without my express written permission.

Wednesday 10 April 2013

(4) Carlton House London - A Virtual Tour of the Prince's Private Apartments on the Principal Floor.

A corner of the Blue Velvet Room

This is a continuation of our fully guided 'virtual tour' of Carlton House, London. Should you not have read the earlier instalments in this series, please commence from HERE.

Should you reference this Blog elsewhere, please cite

Marked plans of each floor will show your location as you progress through each room.

To refresh our memory, we are again in the 'First Hall' or Foyer where we originally entered 'Carlton House'.

Location of the 'First Hall' or Foyer.

To now tour the Prince's Private Apartments, we must retrace our steps through the 'Great Hall', and the 'Octagon' room back to the 'First Ante Chamber' on the south range.

Retracing our steps from the First Hall to the First Ante-Chamber

The previously viewed engraving below reminds us of the view after we again exit the 'Octagon'. But instead of turning right into the State Apartments as we did previously we shall now turn left and walk through the invitingly open door to our left next to the window to view two of the enfilade of rooms on the south range of the Principal Floor which make up the Prince's Private Apartments.

The First Ante-Chamber looking south
towards Carlton House Gardens

Our first room is the 'Blue Velvet Room' or 'King's Closet' :

Location of the Blue Velvet Room

The aptly named Blue Velvet Room was used by the Prince as his Private Audience Chamber, but was also known as 'His Royal Highnesses's Personal Drawing Room', a room of more modest proportions but definitely not lacking in grandeur as befitted the Prince. Here he could either conduct the business of state, meeting the Prime Minister or other Ministers, meet with his personal advisers and friends, and conduct personal business. Based on our earlier 1795 plan, this room was created by Holland from a dressing room and a bedroom. 

The Blue Velvet Room

The decoration in this room comprises of a ceiling painted in imitation of a sky, while at the corners are representations of British naval and military triumphs. A rather large glass chandelier is suspended from the ceiling, no doubt very well anchored from above! The panels on the walls are dark blue velvet with gilt plaster and wood mouldings. Upholstery on the state chairs and sofas are of fleur-de-lis patterned light blue satin silk with a patterned blue carpet. The white marble chimney piece is by Benjamin Vulliamy, being of French manufacture, while hung in this room are some of George IV's most important Dutch paintings. Also placed against the walls between the windows are two handsome matching Boulle cabinets. The Prince's superb marquetry mahogany desk by Thomas Parker and dating from 1814 is set up in the centre of the room [One record states that the desk was by Tatham and later donated by King William IV to the 2nd Marquess Conyngham]. Numerous pier glasses reflect the sumptuous furnishings and Old Master paintings creating the most magnificent impression. 

A Magnificent Sèvres Pot-Pouri Vase which
may be seen on the cabinet by the window,
 purchased c.1812
[Source : The Royal Collection]

Old Master paintings include "The Shipwright of Antwerp" by Rembrandt; "A Boat Piece" [or 'The Passage Boat'] by Cuyp ["a pleasing picture; but without the usual glow and sparkling effect of this artist"]; "The Marriage of St. Katherine" by Van Dyke and purchased after 1818; "The Baptism of the Eunuch by [St.] Philip" by Both; and "Christ Restoring the Paralytic" by Van Dyke.    

"The Passage Boat" by Cuyp, c.1650
[Source : The Royal Collection]

We now enter the last room of this short tour of the Private Apartments, being the Prince's 'Blue Velvet Salon' or Closet, literally meaning 'a small private chamber'. 

Location of the Blue Velvet Closet

This room acts as a "corresponding appendage" to the Blue Velvet Room, being similarly furnished and decorated. 

Admittance to the Blue Velvet Closet, being a room for the Prince's personal and private use, and which directly adjoined the Prince's Bedchamber, would normally have been a privilege enjoyed only by close family and friends. 

The Blue Velvet Closet

A superb glass chandelier is suspended from the ceiling and the room is also decorated with equally attractive paintings as with the previous room. 

One of the pair of Boulle Medal Cabinets
which may be seen in the above engraving, c.1735-40
 [Source : The Royal Collection]

Paintings include "A Party Returning from Hawking" by Wouvermans; "A Camp Scene" by Cuyp; "View of a Town in Flanders" by Van der Heyden; "The Haunted Cellar" by Maas; "An Interior" by Metzell; "A View of Holland" by Van der Heyden; a Landscape by Ruysdael on the east side of the room ["painted with all the accustomed crispness of touch which distinguishes this great artist"]; and lastly a cabinet picture with portraits of King Charles I, his Queen, and the Infant prince, afterwards King Charles II by Mytens [Mijtens].  

"King Charles I"
by Mytens,
[The Royal Collection]
"Evening Landscape -
a Windmill by a Stream"
by Ruysdael, c.1650
[The Royal Collection]

The Prince Regent owned two pairs of the round ebony or Boulle-inlaid or 'loo' games-tables as shown in the engraving above, another table with subtle differences appearing in a view of the 'Corinthian Dining Room' which we are yet to visit. The first pair were supplied by Thomas Parker of Piccadilly London and delivered in 1814 while the second pair were delivered in 1817. Unfortunately only one pair of these tables are still in Royal ownership, now being in the Green Drawing Room at Windsor Castle.

A Round Boulle Table, c.1817
This is believed to be one of a pair of identical tables supplied by
Thomas Parker of London which has left the Royal collection.
[Source : Apter-Fredericks]

Unfortunately, while we have no known images of that most personal of sanctums, the Prince's Personal 'Bedchamber', the historic doors which hung between the Blue Velvet Closet and the Prince's Bedchamber do survive. This amazing discovery will be discussed in greater detail in my final blog in this series.  

The double doors in the foreground (only one
side shown) are now known to have been the
entrance doors to the [pre 1814] Prince
Regent's Bedchamber at Carlton House.
The rear door also came from Carlton House.
[Used with kind permission of Patrick Baty

The historian Hibbert amusingly writes that some favoured individuals were afforded the great privilege of visiting the Prince in his personal Bedchamber : 

"...his friends visited him of a morning as he lay in his bed rolling about from side to side in a state approaching to nudity".   

Once the necessary formalities were dispensed with the Prince could apparently be quite relaxed with his close friends, but only in private company. As long as he was initially treated with the respect he felt he deserved he would then indicate that the strict rules of Royal protocol could be relaxed. But one would of course never be over familiar with the Prince unless he were to indicate that such familiarity were to be acceptable to him.     

The plan below, and dated 1795, indicates the position of the Bedchamber until rebuilding work took place around 1814-1815. The light red rooms are (anti-clockwise from top), the Prince's en-suite  'Boudoir' and 'Toilette' with an ante-chamber separating off a corridor below leading to wardrobes, a room for an Attendant, and what appear to be other storage rooms. Prior to 1814 the corridor led directly to a Library at the north east corner of the house.

Location of the Prince's Bedchamber and
ancillary rooms prior to 1813 

The plan I have used of the principal floor is dated 1795 and at this time George's bedchamber adjoined the 'Blue Velvet Closet' as above, together with his 'Boudoir' and 'Toilette'. On a floor plan dated 1813 the Architect John Nash has extended the old bedchamber ever so slightly, also with the addition of a circular staircase at the north-east corner. This would give access to Nash's new 'Corinthian Room' below. All evidence of the adjoining 'Boudoir' and 'Toilette' have been removed and this area is now clearly marked "Temporary Room". The afore-mentioned corridor and wardrobes were also blocked off to create another staircase and unspecified rooms behind, now being included as part of the service area of the house.  

A Handsome Louis XVI style Mantle Clock by
Renacle-Nicolas Sotiau which graced the
Prince Regent's Bedchamber, circa 1782-91
  [Source : The Royal Collection]

In his work "Charlotte and Leopold" published in 2007, the historian James Chalmers states that when his daughter Charlotte was eight, which would have been 1804, the Prince decided that he wanted Carlton House to himself. As his wife Caroline had left around 1796, their daughter Charlotte must have been occupying the Queen's old suite of rooms. Charlotte was then moved, together with her household, to the adjacent Montague House. Did the Prince then move into Charlotte's quarters?

Another reference I have uncovered states that in 1814 the Prince "...took possession of the Duke of Cumberland's apartments at St James's Palace... previous to the commencement of [further] grand alterations at Carlton House." [Hibbert] 

Yet another publication, "Travels on the Continent and in England" by Dr AH Niemeyer and published in 1823 states, "The Armoury fills four rooms on the second story [on the eastern side of the house], near where the Prince himself resides." This also confirms that the Prince had his bedchamber upstairs. It would stand to reason that the Prince Regent would still have placed his bedchamber and adjoining rooms on the sunny south or south-east side facing Carlton House Gardens and thus away from the traffic noise of Pall Mall on the north side.

But regardless of where the Prince Regent's 'Bed Chamber' finally ended up once final rebuilding was completed in 1815, we can at least gain an impression of this private room. Fortuitously, the Prince's ornate four-poster tester bed, surmounted by a gilded crown, survives and may now be viewed in the State Apartments of Windsor Castle.  Although remodelled in 1855 (by what extent I have been unable to establish), the image below may give an impression of its splendour within a suitably authentic period setting. I am strongly assuming the canopy is original. 

King George IV's Bed in the King's Bed Chamber at Windsor Castle. 
[Source : 'The Anglophile']

Attributed to Georges Jacob and dating from around the 1780's, we know that the bed was re-upholstered in blue embroidered satin in 1810 with a matching blue curtain, coming to Windsor Castle in that state in 1827. Alterations to the bed took place for the visit of the Emperor Napoleon III of France in 1855, including the addition of his personal monogram on the embroidered bed end.

A Mahogany Bookcase with inlaid ebony, gilt bronze
decoration, and marble top and middle shelf, supplied for
the Prince Regent's Bedchamber in 1806
[Source : The Royal Collection]

We must now retrace our steps back to the 'First Ante-Chamber' and through to the 'Octagon' Room which we have already now passed through twice. 

Retracing our steps back to the 'Octagon' Room

The next Blog in this series, which includes a 'Virtual Tour' of the 'Great Staircase' and the unexpectedly surprising 'Upper Apartments' may be viewed HERE. We shall also meet "The Tiger of Mysore", Sultan Tipu!

Should you reference this Blog elsewhere, please cite

Comments or corrections of any unintentional errors are appreciated however please cite your source.

Bibliography :

- Unless otherwise stated all images are from Wikipedia Commons and are in the Public Domain.
- Please refer to the first instalment in this series for the full bibliography.