Sunday, December 30, 2018
Sunday, December 16, 2018
That was only fair.
Good Sir Walter followed her,
And armed her up the stair.
Henry and Tobias,
And Miguel of Spain,
Stood with Shakespeare at the top
To welcome Jane.
Then the Three Archangels
Offered out of hand,
Anything in Heaven’s gift
That she might command.
Azrael’s eyes upon her,
Raphael’s wings above,
Michael’s sword against her heart,
Jane said, ‘Love.’
Instantly the under-
Laid their fingers to their lips
And went to look for him.
Stole across the Zodiac,
Harnessed Charles’s Wain,
And whispered round the Nebulæ
‘Who loved Jane?’
In a private limbo
Where none had thought to look,
Sat a Hampshire gentleman
Reading of a book.
It was called Persuasion
And it told the plain
Story of the love between
Him and Jane.
He heard the question
Circle Heaven through –
Closed the book and answered:
‘I did – and do!’
Quietly but speedily
(as Captain Wentworth moved)
Entered into Paradise
The man Jane loved!
Jane lies in Winchester, blessed be her shade!
Praise the Lord for making her, and her for all she made.
And, while the stones of Winchester – or Milsom Street – remain,
Glory, Love, and Honour unto England’s Jane!
Happy Birthday, Jane!
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
Fabergé Mosaic egg and surprise, 1914
The 'surprise' inside is a jewelled and enamelled miniature of the silhouettes of the Tsar and Tsarina's five children, l - r in order of birth: Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia and Alexei. The designer was the Finnish Alma Theresia Pihi, who worked for Fabergé.
Fabergé silver, amethyst and diamond brooch, c.1909
This brooch was given to Princess Mary, later Queen Mary, in 1909 by the Tsar Nicholas II and the Tsarina Alexandra during their visit to Cowes to enjoy the regatta. Their whole family was there; it was to be the last time that the twoRoyal families met before the First World War broke out. They dined on each others' yachts.
Siberian amethysts are famed for their intense purple hue as you can see from the example above. It is a hexagon with a diamond framed border and a diamond bow at the top. It can be worn as a brooch or as a pendant.
Fabergé cigarette case, 1908
enamelFabergé cigarette case with a sinuous two colour gold snake decorated with brilliant and rosé cut diamonds grasping its tail in its mouth was given to King Edward VII by his mistress, Mrs Keppel in 1908. The snake holding it's own tail is a symbol of everlasting love. It is noticeably plainer than most Fabergé objects we see associated with royalty - but it is supremely elegant. - as, indeed was Mrs Keppel.
After his death, Queen Alexandra returned the cigarette case to Mrs Keppel, who remained on the Dowager Queen's guest list. That changed when Queen Alexandra died in 1925. Court life under Queen Mary and King George was much stricter (and possibly duller) and Mrs Keppel was firmly dropped. Then, in 1936, Mrs Keppel returned the cigarette case to Queen Mary so that it could always stay in the Royal Collection.
An interesting move and I can't help wondering why she did it. I don't altogether buy the 'official' reason.
Vladimir tiara made by court jeweller Bolin for the Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, wife of Grand Duke Vladimir, 3rd son of Tsar Alexander II, 1874
This beautiful tiara is made of interlocking diamond circles set in gold and silver with pear-shaped pearl drops. It also has an extraordinary story. The Grand Duchess Maria, the first owner of the tiara, was living in the sumptuous Vladimir Palace in St Petersburg when the Russian Revolution broke out.
In 1917, things got too hot and she fled, leaving her jewels hidden in her bedroom. But exile was expensive and she soon needed money. At the point, the story began to remind me of the Edwardian anti-hero, Raffles, creation of the novelist E. W. Hornung. Raffles, an ex-public school and gentleman burglar with bags of charm, is invited to various country houses, accompanied by his ex-fag, Bunny as his valet, where he steals the other guests'jewels.. Naturally he gets away with it.
The Grand Duchess's son, Boris, accompanied by a British friend, Bertie Stopford, an art dealer with diplomatic ties (or, in some versions, a spy) came up with a highly dangerous plan. Disguised as workmen, they managed to gain access to the Vladimir Palace, get into the Grand Duchess's bedroom, retrieve the jewels and smuggle them out in the diplomatic bag. The jewels were taken to London but, en route, some of them were damaged.
In 1920, Maria was the last Grand Duchess to escape from Russia; her journey, via Italy and France, was traumatic and she died a few years' later, leaving her jewellery to her daughter, Elena, Queen of Greece and Denmark - and, incidentally, Prince Philip's aunt.
Queen Mary, who loved collecting objects once owned by her murdered Russian relations, bought a number of jewels from Elena, including the Vladimir tiara. It was in a bad state and needed restoring. Queen Mary wanted to make it more adaptable and it now has emerald drops as well as the original pear-shaped pearls.
So, dear reader, if you want an idea for a novel, you could do a lot worse than go for the story of the Vladimir tiara.
The exhibition, Russia: Royalty & the Romanovs, is on at the Queen's Gallery until 28th April, 2019. It is well worth seeing and it certainly has the 'Wow!' factor.
I did a companion blog on the exhibition itself on 18th November, 2018 on my http://elizabethhawksley.com website. I have listed it under 'Exhibitions', 'Royal Connections', 'Celebrating the Arts' and 'Victorian Age' categories.
Photographs: courtesy of the Royal Collection Trust, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 2018
Friday, November 30, 2018
Sunday, November 25, 2018
Orphanages. At the start of Boundless, Livia is attacked by some skinny children from the orphanage she has just visited.
Georgian London had good ones and bad ones.
|Thomas Coram's Foundling Hospital|
The children were brought up strictly to be good Christians and to have a trade. Eventually they'd be apprenticed out or sent as servants somewhere.
And that was the good version.
In the bad one, like the one my heroine Livia visited, the orphanage was little better than a thieves' kitchen. they were taught a trade all right, but that might be pickpocketing or burglary. Remember Fagin in Oliver Twist? That was written when the rookeries were still swamps of filth and danger in the middle of London - turn the wrong way on The Strand and you could find yourself in an area the authorities left alone, and if you were wearing good clothes, you might not come out alive.
Livia mistakenly visits the kind of orphanage where children were trained to steal, and my hero has to rescue her. Oliver is very attracted to Livia, and astonished to see her in this part of London, but from that moment their fate is set.
And you'll have to read Boundless to find out what happens next!
Attacked on the streets of London, Lady Livia Shaw is relieved when a gentleman comes to her aid—and startled to discover her rescuer is Adrian, the Duke of Preston, a notorious rogue. But their association—and instant attraction—does not end there, much to the Shaws’ distress. For Livia was robbed of a memento—one that is both her most precious possession and a reminder of a shameful secret. It is a secret she knows will cause her to lose Adrian forever, yet he is determined to track down the thief . . .
Adrian never wanted to be anyone’s hero, but now he’s finding the prospect as pleasing as he does Livia’s company, and her beauty. Certainly he wants her in his bed, but what surprises him is how much she comes to mean to him. Which is why the revelation of her scandalous past is nearly his undoing. Arrogantly, he had assumed only he had the power to shock. But it is too late to turn back, and now Adrian may have to risk everything for Livia, even his heart . . .
You can preorder the book here!
Saturday, November 10, 2018
|HMS Trincomalee, Hartlepool|
Monday, November 05, 2018
Contemporary ceremonial dress Life Guards and Blues and Royals
Tuesday, October 30, 2018
According to a book I acquired long ago, Napoleon is said to have consulted his oracle on every important occasion. The book is supposed to be, it states, “a fac simile of the one used by NAPOLEON” (their spelling of facsimile).