Pre Raphaelite Ridiculousness

27459055_10157044953309128_2997197172210892348_nThe above Pre-Raphaelite masterpiece back on public display after its temporary removal.

The painting – part of Manchester gallery’s highly prized collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings – was temporarily removed from display as part of a project the gallery is working on with the contemporary artist Sonia Boyce, in the build-up to a solo exhibition of her work at the gallery opening on 23 March 2018.

Apparently Manchester Art Gallery said it took down Hylas and the Nymphs by JW Waterhouse to “encourage debate” about how such images should be displayed.

But critics accused curators of being puritanical and politically correct and the painting was put back today.

“It’s been clear that many people feel very strongly about the issues raised,” Manchester City Council said.

Professor Liz Prettejohn, who curated a Waterhouse exhibition at the Royal Academy in London in 2009, told BBC News: “Taking it off display is killing any kind of debate that you might be able to have about it in relation to some of the really interesting issues that it might raise about sexuality and gender relationships.

“The Victorians are always getting criticised because they’re supposed to be prudish. But here it would seem it’s us who are taking the roles of what we think of as the very moralistic Victorians.”

To be honest it does seem a little odd.

It is art, good art, a beautiful piece of artwork and quite why there even needs to be a discussion around this image seem rather childish and immature, it smacks of child giggling at a nude in a gallery.

Other were equally annoyed by this somewhat daft idea leaving post-its such as the one below.


Political correctness once again seems to have got a little out of hand…

What do you think?



An interesting read

https_cdn.evbuc.comimages37917558778825813511originalEithne Cullen’s story The Ogress of Reading is part fact, part fiction, and tells of the chilling case of Amelia Dyer, who admitted 400 murders of young children in the 1890s.

Despite the shocking nature of her crimes, Amelia Dyer is still relatively unheard of, something that Eithne, 60, is keen to change.

“Jack the Ripper killed five people, and everyone has heard 
of him. Dyer killed hundreds,” she said.

The horrifying tale centres on the then widespread practice of baby farming, where people were paid to adopt children born out of wedlock, a terrible shame in Victorian times.

However, Amelia did not 
raise the children as promised. Instead she started to drown them in a river.

A police investigation ensued, leading to Amelia admitting her crimes and being executed in Holloway prison, which is where Eithne, of High View Road, picked up on the story.

She said: “I was doing some research on dangerous women 
in Holloway prison when I 
came upon the story which fascinated me.”

Although the retired English teacher has always written 
poetry and taken part in creative writing classes, this is her first published book.

Her efforts were greatly helped by Barking and Dagenham Council, and in particular its Pen to Print scheme.

Run by the council’s library service, the scheme is aimed at anyone interested in poetry, short stories, play writing or novels.

Eithne was given a mentor to help with her work, and credits the scheme as being a big 
help to her efforts.

She is now writing her second book, about obsessive love, entitled Never Not in my Thoughts.

Her advice to anyone interested in writing is, if they have the time, to “go for it”.

Eithne will be launching her book at Barking Library on Thursday, January 18. Free tickets can be obtained from

The Ogress of Reading is published by New Generation Publishing and is available from Amazon, priced £6.99 in paperback or £4.99 for an ebook version.

Anyone interested in the Pen to Print project can find out more at

Gaslight and Ingrid Bergman

I have recently found a bit of a passion for Victorian Era black and white movies and have set about acquiring some to watch.


This is such a great film. It stars the very lovely Ingrid Bergman and

Made in 1944. the film was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Screenplay; it also won the Academy Award for Best Actress and Best Production Design.

It is a beautiful looking film and the monochrome just adds to the depth of it.

The plot revolves around a  newly married couple, Paula and Gregory. Paula moved to Italy as a youngster after her Aunt was murdered in London, Gregory wants to move back to London to live in the house left in Auntie’s will.

Is the suave Gregory everything he claims to be?

Or is there an ulterior motive for wanting to gain access to the house?

Is Paula going insane…?

A great film and well worth a watch.

Dickens series coming

Press Release from the BBC
From the author of Peaky Blinders and Taboo, comes Steven Knight’s vision of Charles Dickens in a series of adaptations of his classic novels for BBC One.
  • A Christmas Carol announced as the first in a series of adaptations
  • Produced by Ridley Scott’s Scott Free London in association with Tom Hardy’s Hardy Son and Baker

624Commissioned by Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, and Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content, and produced by Scott Free London in association with Hardy Son and Baker, Knight will use his trademark style to create a boxset of Dickens’ most iconic novels in the next few years.

A Christmas Carol will be the first adaptation in this planned series. As Ebenzer Scrooge, the miserly cold-hearted boss, is visited by four ghosts from the past, present and the future, on a freezing Christmas Eve, he must face up to how his self-interested, penny pinching behaviour has impacted his own life and those around him, leaving him in a paranoid bubble of fear. Is it too late for him to save the spirit of Christmas, and himself?

Knight says: “Any question about narrative storytelling is answered by Dickens. To have the chance to revisit the text and interpret in a new way is the greatest privilege. We need luck and wisdom to do this justice.”

Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, says: “Steven’s unique ability to reimagine the past and to turn it in to must see drama make him the perfect writer to reimagine Dickens’ most famous works for a new generation. And in A Christmas Carol, that most familiar of Dickens’ stories, he has found the perfect place to start.”

Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content says: “It’s incredibly exciting to have a genius like Steven Knight embark on a series of Dickens adaptations. What can I say? Be prepared to be blown away by his wholly original and visionary take on some of Britain’s best loved classics.”

Ridley Scott says: “It’s terrific to be continuing the creative partnership of Scott Free London with Tom and Steve that started with Taboo and continues with this exciting and ambitious anthology of British classics.”

Kate Crowe, Head of TV, Scott Free London, says: “A Christmas Carol explores miserliness, isolation and selfishness against generosity, charity and open-heartedness; a clash of ideologies that is as significant today as it ever has been.”

Tom Hardy, Hardy Son and Baker, says: “It’s extremely exciting to have the opportunity to team up with Ridley Scott, Steven Knight and our partners at the BBC with this rare and wonderful opportunity to revisit and interpret Dickens’ classic works. A Christmas Carol is a fabulous magical piece of theatre and an embarrassment of riches for our creative team – from character all the way through to design. Here’s to having a lot of intricate and wonderful fun. We feel very lucky.”

A Christmas Carol is a 3×60’ drama for Christmas 2019. It will be produced by Scott Free London in association with Hardy Son and Baker for BBC One. It will be executive produced by Steven Knight, Ridley Scott, Tom Hardy, Kate Crowe and Dean Baker, alongside Piers Wenger for the BBC.

Further details will be announced in due course.

A Victorian Christmas at Harewood House

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This would be great to go to…just fantastic.

More than 200 volunteers spent the last three days creating a Victorian Christmas at Harewood House. It is the first time in five years that the house has been opened to the public at Christmas. The volunteers were working under the guidance of award-winning film creative director Michael Howells – who produced the set design for the ITV drama Victoria some of which was shot at Harewood.

“Harewood was incredible place to work filming Victoria for the last two years and has provided us with fantastic inspiration. It’s special place, filled with history and wonderful stories to tell,” said Mr Howells.


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!

Victoria – fact or fiction?

Jenna Coleman and Tom Hughes are back on our screens as Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, which means it’s time for a return to that fine old British tradition of historical nit-picking. This is our week-by-week guide to the true history behind the ITV drama.

Was Dr Brydon really the only survivor of the retreat from Kabul?

In the Victorian era, it became a well-established myth that only one man survived the disastrous retreat from Kabul: William Brydon, an assistant surgeon in General Elphinstone’s army.


William Brydon

The late Victorian artist Elizabeth Butler’s famous painting ‘Remains of an Army’ shows Brydon alone in a desolate landscape, and ITV’s Victoria paints a similar version of events.

But the reality of the First Anglo-Afghan War was slightly complicated. Brydon was the only British soldier to make it back to Jalalabad from Kabul without being captured, but there were also several Indian soldiers (then called sepoys) from his army who achieved the same feat.

Nor were they the only survivors of the Khyber Pass massacre; more than 100 officers, women and children were taken captive, only to be later released.

But the most extraordinary part of Brydon’s story to feature in ITV’s Victoria was completely true: Brydon’s life was saved by a frozen copy of Blackwood’s Magazine which he had tucked inside his hat. In fact, the TV retelling didn’t do justice to quite how close Brydon’s scrape was; the sword-blow that cut through the magazine also shaved off a fragment of his skull.

All joking aside, what’s up with Prince Albert’s helmet?

The first episode told us (a little unnecessarily, one might add) that Prince Albert dressed “on the left” – but we don’t mean that kind of helmet.

The helmet in question is the Albert Shako, which Tom Hughes’s prince brought up almost every time he opened his mouth, throughout episode one.

Introduced in 1844 as a more practical alternative to existing military headgear, we can’t be certain that it really was designed by Albert himself. What is certain, however, is that people hated it. Regardless of who really came up with the design, the idea that Prince Albert spent his spare time faffing about with hats was just as funny to Victorians as it is to today’s ITV viewers. In 1843, the satirical magazine Punch published a cartoon of “Prince Albert’s Studio”, in which the would-be hatter is shown proudly displaying his handiwork to a bemused Victoria.

Who on earth would eat that soup?

Lots of people. The departure of Victoria’s preferred chef, Charles Elmé Francatelli, meant guests at the royal table were forced to pick over a vile dinner of soup, made from leeks, prunes and (best of all) a whole boiled chicken’s head. Don’t pull that face – it’s actually rather popular.

TV chef James Martin would like you to know that cock-a-leekie soup is making a comeback, prunes and all. You can read his recipe for a modern take on the traditional Scottish dish at the BBC Good Food website. The Duchess of Bucchleuch certainly enjoys it.

How old was the Duchess of Bucchleuch really?

Much younger than she is on TV. Last night, viewers were introduced to Victoria’s new Mistress of the Robes, a fearsome Caledonian duchess played with aplomb by Diana Rigg. The real Charlotte, Duchess of Bucchleuch, was born in 1811. In 1844, when the show is set, she would have been 33 – just eight years older than Victoria.

Yes, that’s almost half a century younger than Rigg (79), but why not bend the truth if it allows for such a great bit of casting? It’s a certified historical fact that every TV show with Diana Rigg in it has been 35% better than the Rigg-less alternatives. So there.

Why did Francatelli really leave?

In the show, heartbroken Francatelli (Ferdinand Kingsley) left because he couldn’t bear to be near the newly promoted Mrs Skerrett (Nell Hudson), after she refused his offer of marriage back in series one.

In real life, however, the given reason for Francatelli’s abrupt departure from the palace was a fracas with another member of the household staff, Mr Norton the Clerk Comptroller. At the time, it was reported that Francatelli “took the opportunity of insulting Mr Norton in the presence of all the Pages and about 40 others”. After “high words ensued”, they called for a policeman to arrest him, but the hot-headed chef had done a runner by the time the police arrived.