Forgotten London Mansion Was Empty Since 1895…

This is well worth looking at.

The city of London is full of history, though it’s easy to forget that when you see what is now a thriving, modern city. As generations pass and more of the city becomes modernized, it becomes harder and harder to learn about previous inhabitants’ lives.

mansion.jpgBut every once in a while, a piece of history remains that practically acts as a time capsule. That’s the case with one building in London that’s been so well-preserved that it allows us to take a one-of-a-kind look at the way the world used to be.

When you see inside of this stunning building, it’s like you’re transported back in time. What an incredible reminder of what the city used to be like, and what history we live among every day!


Crystal Palace: revisited?

great-exhibition-03-gtyI like this idea quite a lot, in fact lots. Plans have been drawn up to build a replica of the Crystal Palace which housed the 1851 exhibition.

A billionaire Chinese developer has backed the plan to copy the cast-iron and plate-glass building designed by Sir Joseph Paxton in London’s Crystal Palace Park.

brett-ticketBuilt specifically for the Great Exhibition of 1851 and was the largest enclosed space in the world at the time.During the five months that the exhibition was open, over 6,000,000 people paid at least a shilling to visit and at its peak some 40,000 people were admitted each day from around the world who saw all manner of items brought back from the British empire, they would’ve seen stuffed elephants and Tunisian bazaars among the 7000 British and 6000 foreign entries.  

While the building, boasting 300,000 panes of glass, was first built in Hyde Park, it was moved to Crystal Palace in south east London, where it remained until it burnt down in 1936.

Shanghai based ZhongRong Holdings, which was set up by Ni Zhaoxing who has what is thought to be a $1.25 billion fortune, hopes to recreate the building, Property Week has reported.

I think it would be awesome and a huge attraction.

Queen Victoria’s Christmas recreated

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I have always imagined Queen Victoria’s Christmas would have been something to behold.

Well if you happen to be anywhere near Windsor Castle (and I hopefully will be in a few weeks) from the 7th Dec (or 26th Nov according to the press association – take you pick!) to Jan 8th you will find that The royal residence has been transformed with decorations the monarch and her consort Prince Albert would have recognised complete with a Christmas tree suspended from the ceiling,

The ‘festive’ or Christmas tree was made popular by Queen Victoria’s consort (her husband) Prince Albert when he presented large numbers to schools and Army barracks.

In 1846 the Illustrated London News featured the above image and the tradition for the Christmas Tree became firmly established.

The exhibition will feature a tree hanging in place of a chandelier, as in Victoria’s day, in the Octagon dining room. The tree will be covered with items inspired by decorations featured on the Queen’s firs including swags (ornamental drapery) ribbons, replica candles and imitation snow and should be quite interesting and maybe present some good ideas for our own Victorian Christmas.

At Windsor two gift tables will be recreated with presents exchanged by Victoria and Albert.

Among them is a painting of a young nun and her suitor by Sir Charles Eastlake. It was commissioned by Victoria in 1844 as a gift for her husband.

Solar Eclipse July 28,1851












A solar eclipse is a sight to behold, we had a partial one a few years (2006 I think) back in London and myself and some friend gathered on the banks of the Thames to watch or rather to experience. I looked up (not recommended) at the sun as the moon passed across the sun and a strange and somewhat eerie twilight settled across the the Thames, the birdsong ceased and the ducks clearly thinking they in for a good nights sleep settled down.

Then as the moon cleared the sun the birdsong slowly reappeared and the ducks awoke and took to flight…it was just odd.

Anyway the photo above was taken in on July 28,1851 in Prussia (was a German kingdom coming out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. Prussia shaped the history of Germany its capital being Berlin after 1451, but it was during the late Victorian era that Prussia was increasingly merged into Germany and lost its own identity. and would be officially abolished in 1947) at the Royal Observatory in Königsberg. It was taken using the daguerreotype process developed by astronomers Franchois Arago and John Herschel.

The technical bit:

Berkowsky connected a six centimeter telescope to a 15.8 centimeter Fraunhofer heliometer. Berkowsky was then able to take a 84 second exposure photograph showing the total eclipse of the sun. Incidentally, the Royal Observatory has the largest heliometer in the world today and takes amazing solar photographs using a similar process. The result of the daguerreotype process was a photo, developed using hyposulphite of soda, just slightly larger than 12 centimeters that must be protected behind glass from air. The frame of the solar eclipse photo has had all air removed and the space filled with nitrogen.

It a wonderful image.

Alice in Wonderland Exhibition

Of all the great Authors from the Victorian Era Charles Lutwidge Dodgson stands out as one of the most memorable for his rather amusing and odd characters in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Alice Through the looking Glass.

Written under the pseudonym of Lewis Carroll (a much better name by far in my opinion!) it is basically about a young girl, Alice. She falls down a rabbit hole and enters a fantasy world inhabited by the oddest creatures.

The White Rabbit is the one she follows down the rabbit hole and there finds a bottle on a table labelled “DRINK ME”. This makes her to shrink too small to reach the key which she has left on the table. A cake with “EAT ME” on it causes her to grow to such a tremendous size her head hits the ceiling. There is the Cheshire cat who she first meets at  the Duchess’s house in her kitchen, then later outside on the branches of a tree. The cat has a very annoying habit of disappearing at will and on occasion engaging Alice in amusing but sometimes perplexing conversation.

There’s the Hatter, commonly known as the Mad Hatter explains to Alice

‘that he and the March Hare are always having tea because, when he tried to sing for the Queen of Hearts at her celebration, she sentenced him to death for “murdering the time,” but he escapes decapitation’

Lewis carrol also brought in some of his own culture into the story

Then the Queen left off, quite out of breath, and said to Alice, “Have you seen the Mock Turtle yet?””No,” said Alice. “I don’t even know what a Mock Turtle is.””It’s the thing Mock Turtle Soup is made from,” said the Queen.

Mock Turtle soup is actually made using half a calf’s head…boiled. The Queen of Hearts (as per the playing cards) is a bad tempered vindictive psychopath who is quick to decree death sentences at the slightest offense and scream ‘off with their heads’ at any given moment. And not forgetting there is also the wonderful croquet where the balls are live hedgehogs and the mallets are flamingos.

There have been several adaptations of this great novel of literary nonsense. Most recently Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland which was spectacular with the ever brilliant Johnny Depp but for me the most memorable has to be Disney’s 1951 animated adaption.

However there is an exhibition at the Tate Liverpool running from 4 November 2011  –  29 January 2012.

Lewis Carroll’s timeless novels, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, have fascinated children and adults alike since their publication over 150 years ago. Alice in Wonderland at Tate Liverpool is the first exhibition of its kind to explore how Lewis Carroll’s stories have influenced the visual arts, inspiring generations of artists. The exhibition will provide insight into the creation of the novels and the inspiration they have provided for artists through the decades.

The starting point for the exhibition is Carroll’s original manuscript, written in 1864 as a present for ten year old Alice Liddell.  Carroll’s own illustrations ensured that images were central to the story, creating a visual world which took on a life of its own.

Alice in Wonderland will offer visitors a rare opportunity to view Carroll’s own drawings and photographs, alongside Victorian Alice memorabilia and John Tenniel’s preliminary drawings for the first edition of the novel.

Carroll’s stories were soon adopted by other artists.  Surrealist artists from the 1930s onwards were drawn towards the fantastical world of Wonderland where natural laws were suspended. From the 1960s through the 1970s, Carroll’s Alice tales also prompted conceptual artists to explore language and its relationship to perception, and the stories inspired further responses in Pop and Psychedelic art.  Expect to see works by artists ranging from Salvador Dalí and René Magritte, to Peter Blake and Yayoi Kusama.

Alice in Wonderland will also showcase an exciting selection of contemporary art, demonstrating the continuing artistic relevance of Carroll’s novels.  Works by Anna Gaskell, Annelies Strba and Torsten Lauschmann will all appear, exploring ideas such as the journey from childhood to adulthood; language, meaning and nonsense; scale and perspective; and perception and reality. Tate Liverpool

You can download Epub/Kindle/PDF/Plucker of ‘Alice in Wonderland‘ and ‘Through the looking Glass‘ for free as they are out of copyright.


1851 The Great Exhibition of the works of Industry of all Nations or the Crystal Palace Exhibition

The Great Exhibition of the works of Industry of all Nations or the Crystal Palace Exhibition ran from 1st May to 15th October 15, 1851. It was opened by Queen Victoria and really was a symbol of the Victorian age and the role of Great Britain and the British Empire.

A photograph of the interior of the palace

Held in Hyde Park, it was spread across 19 acres and was was the first major effort to bring together many nations (and possibly to prevent war) but also to promote the British Empires industrial, military and economic superiority. Entrance fees were variable, between one shilling and one pound.

It was a success in that it attracted a record 6 million visitors, had 13,937 exhibitors of which were 6556 foreign.

The Crystal Palace was conceived and designed by Sir Joseph Paxton in just a remarkable 10 days. It resembled a massive greenhouse (to get a vague idea check out Kew Gardens) with over a million feet of glass. It was an engineering masterpiece. Swedish author Fredrika Bremer described it as “a magic castle and fairy tale’!

The building was divided up into sections, each depicting the history of art and architecture from ancient Egypt through to the Renaissance and also included exhibits from industry and the natural world.

Many concerts were held in the Palace’s huge arched Centre Transept, which also contained the world’s largest organ.

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