Yesterday I received a comment from JP, the author in Southwark, London of Itsmyhusbandandme. Loved that blog and all the funny posts, it was like a novel with regular new chapters about JP’s and Guido’s life in London. JP’s message was a sad one, he informed me that Guido had died of cancer last month. In his last post on his blog some months ago, JP had revealed that Guido was ill with cancer and it was a difficult fight. So sad to read this news.
I often thought of them since the end of his blog. Wishing Guido Peace and JP courage.
Renovations to Buckingham Palace have been planned for some years and in the last 24 months they have been moving along. Some 385 million Sterling Pounds are being spent to upgrade the wiring and plumbing and do many more infrastructure repairs. Not much has been done since the 1950’s and given the age of the building it was time before an accident happened.
What I did not know was how much the building changed over the course of the last 260 years. Originally Buckingham House was a country house on the outskirts of London and did not have the look nor the shape we see today. It was also not used as a Residence for the Sovereign until Victoria became Queen in 1837 and moved in.
George III bought Buckingham House in 1761 for his wife Queen Charlotte to use as a comfortable family home close to St James’s Palace, where many court functions were held. Buckingham House became known as the Queen’s House, and 14 of George III’s 15 children were born there.
George IV, on his accession in 1820, decided to reconstruct the house into a pied-à-terre, using it for the same purpose as his father George III.
As work progressed, and as late as the end of 1826, The King had a change of heart. With the assistance of his architect, John Nash, he set about transforming the house into a palace. Parliament agreed to a budget of £150,000, but the King pressed for £450,000 as a more realistic figure.Nash retained the main block but doubled its size by adding a new suite of rooms on the garden side facing west. Faced with mellow Bath stone, the external style reflected the French neo-classical influence favoured by George IV.
The remodelled rooms are the State and semi-State Rooms, which remain virtually unchanged since Nash’s time.
The north and south wings of Buckingham House were demolished and rebuilt on a larger scale with a triumphal arch – the Marble Arch – as the centrepiece of an enlarged courtyard, to commemorate the British victories at Trafalgar and Waterloo.
By 1829 the costs had escalated to nearly half a million pounds. Nash’s extravagance cost him his job, and on the death of George IV in 1830, his younger brother William IV took on Edward Blore to finish the work. The King never moved into the Palace. Indeed, when the Houses of Parliament were destroyed by fire in 1834, the King offered the Palace as a new home for Parliament, but the offer was declined.
Queen Victoria was the first sovereign to take up residence in July 1837 and in June 1838 she was the first British sovereign to leave from Buckingham Palace for a Coronation. Her marriage to Prince Albert in 1840 soon showed up the Palace’s shortcomings.
A serious problem for the newly married couple was the absence of any nurseries and too few bedrooms for visitors. The only solution was to move the Marble Arch – it now stands at the north-east corner of Hyde Park – and build a fourth wing, thereby creating a quadrangle. The cost of the new wing was largely covered by the sale of George IV’s Royal Pavilion at Brighton.
Blore added an attic floor to the main block of the Palace and decorated it externally with marble friezes originally intended for Nash’s Marble Arch. The work was completed in 1847. By the turn of the century the soft French stone used in Blore’s East Front was showing signs of deterioration, largely due to London’s notorious soot, and required replacing.
In 1913 the decision was taken to reface the façade. Sir Aston Webb, with a number of large public buildings to his credit, was commissioned to create a new design. Webb chose Portland Stone, which took 12 months to prepare before building work could begin. When work did start it took 13 weeks to complete the refacing, a process that included removing the old stonework.
The present forecourt of the Palace, where Changing the Guard takes place, was formed in 1911, as part of the Victoria Memorial scheme.
The gates and railings were also completed in 1911; the North-Centre Gate is now the everyday entrance to the Palace, whilst the Central Gate is used for State occasions and the departure of the guard after Changing the Guard. The work was completed just before the outbreak of the First World War in 1914.
Here are some images of the Palace as it evolved to today’s look.
Today the palace is the central administrative centre of the Monarchy and is used for State functions but rarely used as a residence. The offices of those who support the day-to-day activities and duties of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh and their immediate family, such as the Private Secretary’s Office and the Privy Purse and Treasurer’s Office are located at Buckingham Palace. The Palace has 775 rooms. These include 19 State rooms, 52 Royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 bathrooms.
During the renovation period, the rooms have to be emptied of their furniture, carpets, paintings and all objects. This requires a lot of attention given how rare and unique the furnishings and works of art are. The electrical work cannot be intrusive given the age of the building and original decorations and plaster work.
During this year long pandemic and counting, we have stayed home a lot and have not travelled anywhere. We also skipped the take out and other food plans. In our household known as the Dachshund House on the River, I do the grocery shopping and Mr Will cooks and bakes.
The other night we had Halibut, my favourite fish. It is in fact a very big fish. Growing to more than 2.5 m in length and exceeding 300 kg in weight, Atlantic halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus) is the largest, most widely-ranging and commercially-valuable ground fish in the Atlantic Ocean. Their geographic range in the Northwest Atlantic extends from the coast of Virginia in the south to the waters off Disko Bay, Greenland in the north.
We had 2 pieces and Will made a wonderful rice with vegetables. It was however too much and we had some leftover. So Will proposed an old recipe developed for Breakfast in India under the Raj and called by the British, Kedgeree, the Hindi call it Khichri .
Will found the recipe at the Ritz in London, as part of their breakfast menu, it was invented around 1885 as part of what was called the Reformed cookery of British-Indian exiles. It consist of a hotchpotch of boiled rice, cold minced fish, hard boiled eggs chopped, a lump of butter, all tossed together in a frying pan and served hot with herbs from the garden like crest and parsley for garnish. At the Ritz, the chef added a mild Madras curry and a mango chutney, mixing in a small sliced onion, 1 zucchini small, one sliced green pepper small.
I had the simpler version and it was good, I am sure that with the mild curry it would be very good and all for a different kind of breakfast.
Well yes today we had glorious sunshine at 6C but it was brilliant and despite the wind, very nice. I went for a walk along mostly deserted streets and if I encounter someone, we both were good about keeping a wide distance as required by Health PEI. The snow and ice is mostly gone now, it’s Spring but with no one around to enjoy it.
Listened to the Queen’s message today to the people of Canada, the UK and the Commonwealth. Four minutes long, calm and reassuring, asking that we all practice self-discipline, good fellowship and show resolve. Good days will return, she said. Observe the guidance given to you by the Health Authorities. Here in PEI we have been very lucky with 22 cases and 6 now recovered and no deaths. I really believe our Provincial Government has done a lot immediately and our Premier is following to the letter recommendations of our Chief Medical Officer. Our Prime Minister and the Government of Canada is doing their utmost to offer economic support to Canadians.
Talking of observing the guidance of our Health Authorities I was just reading an article on the Mausoleum of the Museum of London at the Barbican. If you have ever been to the Barbican you will see this big rotunda from the outside but it is not clear what it is and for most people it draws a blank. I follow a blog which is devoted to London’s East end and Spitalfield. The author is a wealth of knowledge on the area and all the intricacies of one of the oldest neighbourhoods of London going back to Roman times.
Many years ago one of the largest cemeteries in London was Spitalfield, the word Hospital was deformed to Spital, there was St-Mary’s Spital in the area and also a large market. It is or was I should say, a poor area of the city and full of immigrants from Eastern Europe and elsewhere. It was also a beehive of commercial activities, in the last 40 years as the markets moved the area has become gentrified and changed a lot. The cemetery of Spitalfield was in use since the 11th century, so when it was moved for re-development all the dead moved to the Barbican and the remains were turned over to archeologists, medical forensic experts and historians. Thousands of remains are neatly classified and documented in boxes in the rotunda (mausoleum) of the Museum of London at the Barbican.
What was discovered was that humans use to be a lot tougher to kill than we are today. If you survived the first 5 years of life you had it made. Many children in the Middle-Ages had tuberculosis but most survived, people suffered horrible injuries and survived, life was brutal and short but the lack of hygiene toughened people up with all kinds of immunities. You just made due and got on with life, the tolerance to pain was also much higher than it is today. It looks like our manic cleanliness habit has made us vulnerable. It is said that people today whose ancestors survived the plague centuries ago have developed in their genetic profile more resistance to some form of cancers and HIV infections. This part of the Museum of London is not open to the public only researchers have access to the dead who now rest there. Strangely enough, the curator confided that from time to time workmen come into the area to do repair or maintenance and many are unnerved to be surrounded by thousands of dead people. If you are interested in this blog, I highly recommend it, a part of London we do not think about when visiting.
Yesterday I wrote that JP’s blog had disappeared and was wondering what had happened. I am not the only one who was wondering. Tonight after dinner I looked at my blog and saw of all things, a comment from JP. Very kind of him to have left a comment and much appreciated. Here it is for all of you to read.
I also saw Steven on Blogger posted a blog about my blog’s “demise”. I really do hope you’ll direct him, and those other people on other blog platforms who left such lovely comments, over here to your blog. I tried to leave a message on his site but couldn’t. I don’t think WordPress and blogger will cross over in that way.
Let me explain.
I started my blog in 2015. I haven’t written about this before but at the time I started blogging, my husband Guido had been diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia. I wrote as a weird form of creative escape. Not from my husband, but the circumstances we found ourselves in. It made me SO angry! But it also gave me a lot of energy. I read a lot. I wrote a lot. And, I discovered all these amazing people writing such terrific blogs. Yours, the lovely Will, and many more over the years.
On my blog I opened the door to our lives so that everyone could read about love, chaos, gay life, recipes, and our own type of madness. I wanted others to come to a blog where nothing horrible happened. It would be fun, a laugh – an escape, just as it had been for me writing it.
5 years on? Guido is stable. Not cured, but stable. My interior design business has taken off. We have 2 restaurants. Busy awkward and difficult lives. And rather than blog numbers going up – they went down. But… As a result of my blog I’ve started writing for a magazine. We move on. As we all do. Who knows what will happen in the future.
A few days ago I tried to archive my blog but accidentally hit the delete button! Thankfully I still have my writing as a personal record but it’s gone from on line. I’m sorry about that. But, perhaps it was meant to be? In a clogged up blogshere it makes a space for others to write about their lives.
Steven said that reading my blog gave him hope that he too might one day meet a wonderful man and fall in love. Goodness. What a wonderful epitaph Itsmyhusbandandme.wordpress.com will be when that happens. Not if but when!
I give a special shout out to Anne Marie. My online sister. I love your passion.
Larry – good luck and love to you and Will. Keep blogging.
JP in London wrote a blog called MyHusbandandI , the husband was Guido a chef and they lived above a Café in Southwark. JP it would appear deleted the whole blog and it has disappeared as if it never existed. The last post a few days ago was about him not being able to write more often, he was, he said working out of town but was back now.
This is unfortunate, his blog was interesting and well written. Really JP I think you should have said goodbye.
This photo taken in London just recently shows how the city is changing in terms of its architecture and urban design. The photo shows a cluster of tall modern towers next to the ancient Tower of London, it is utterly strange to me and not an image shown in tourism promotion. If those modern towers had been built across the river I would have said ok there is distance and perspective but in this case, no I do not like it at all.
For some time now I have been reading The Gentle Author who has a blog on an area of London I do not know at all. When you travel to London usually travellers will stay in an around the famous spots and those widely known around the world and miss out on the equally fascinating but not well known unless you happen to live in the Capital and have all the time in the world to explore.
The Gentle Author specializes in unknown places of London but once you read about it you want to see for yourself. Recently he was re-publishing stories he had written about people in the East End of London around Spitalfields, Bethnal Green, Shoreditch, Stepney, a cosmopolitan area of the City, poor and not necessarily affluent. However by reading The Gentle Author one understands there are lots of treasures to see and appreciate outside of the well trodden path.
Recently there was the story of Malplaquet House a Georgian house at 137–139 Mile End Road, Stepney, London. The four-storey house was built as one of three in 1742 by Thomas Andrews. Here is the link to his blog:
On 22 October The Gentle Author wrote about the Dead Man of Clerkenwell, a fascinating story and well worth reading, do have a look. He has also written books on topics of interest to him, his most recent on Facadism the modern way of saving historical facade of buildings but demolishing everything else behind. Canada is not spared this architectural fashion. Think of Sherbrooke Street in Montreal in the area of the Musée des Beaux-Arts. Or in other cities like Toronto where giant condo buildings are built behind or on top of much older buildings who are dwarfed by the modern additions.
I find his blog has a way to make you think of what is around you and appreciate it more.
After our visit to the Victoria exhibit, we re-entered the hall of the Palace and walked up the King’s Staircase to the Royal apartments under the Hanoverian Dynasty. Which started 1714 to 1837. With the death of Queen Anne having no heir the House of Stuart ended. George I of Hanover was the closest relative, 52sd in line to the Throne eligible to succeed in England because he was a Protestant Prince and the Act of Settlement stipulated that you had to be Protestant to be King. His successor was his only son George II also born in Hanover, however unlike his father, he spoke English.
When he ascended the throne he shared his father’s problem of having to fend off opposition from Jacobite supporters, with 1745 seeing ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ raise a strong army of rebellion in Scotland. This was famously crushed the following year in the notoriously bloody Battle of Culloden Moor. We got General Cornwallis, safe to say that by today’s standard, Cornwallis was a war criminal, he is infamous amongst Scots and also in Canada, despite being the founder of Halifax.
During George II’s later years he showed little interest in politics but he did involve Britain in the Seven Years War, which saw many European countries rise up against one another. In Canada, this war produce the deportation of the Acadians and the fall of New France in 1763. His reign also saw the foundation of the Industrial Revolution. After thirty-three years on the throne, he died while on the toilet and was buried at Westminster Abbey. As his eldest son Frederick had died of an abscess, the heir became the King’s grandson, George III.
The people you see in these Italian Renaissance style paintings are Courtiers of George I.
The King’s Staircase which is decorated in the Italian style and illuminated by these glass boxes in which candles were placed.
Music of Georg F. Handel played in the background, it really made our visit atmospheric.
King George II was married to Caroline Princess of Brandenburg-Ansbach, they had a happy marriage but she died young of bowel obstruction. They loved parties and Kensington Palace was party central for the Aristocracy. We saw card games displayed which at the time were very popular. People also put wagers on who might win. Dancing and music was another pastime and Georg F. Handel was the favourite composer of the King.
The Game of Court, somewhat like modern Monopoly. Some of the rules below.
Kensington Palace belongs to Queen Elizabeth II and is a Royal Palace, London home to William, Duke of Cambridge and his wife Kate and their children. Many other Royals live in the Palace, that portion is not open to the public.
What we visited are known as the King’s State Apartments and decorated in the fashion of the time 1727-1760. Queen Anne lived here and at Hampton Court. Queen Victoria was the last Sovereign to live at the Palace, she moved in 1837 to Buckingham Palace.
The window treatment here in the King’s Gallery recalls Government House in Charlottetown.
Here is Will with the statue of William III of Orange who was Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders and Overijssel in the Dutch Republic from the 1670s and King of England, Ireland and Scotland from 1689 until his death in 1702, co-reigning with his wife, Queen Mary II, they were the first monarchs to live at Kensington Palace in 1689. The building at the back on the left is the portion where members of the Royal family live today.
Back in the 1600’s prior to the purchase of the house and land by the Crown, it was known as Nottingham House. What we see today is the modified and enlarged building made by William and Mary, Queen Anne and George II and Queen Caroline. Today several apartments are allocated by H.M. the Queen to members of her family. The apartments vary greatly in size depending on rank within the Royal family. Per example when Prince Harry was single he had a small 2 bedroom apartment whereas his brother William being Heir to the Throne had a far larger apartment. Nowadays he has a 21 room apartment. Once his father Prince Charles becomes King, at that point William, Kate and the children will probably be moved to their own palace.
Part of the gardens in the orangerie, that day gardeners were busy putting the garden to sleep for Winter. Queen Anne created this space.
Apartment flats in the area, neo-classical architecture. Will told me that Mr. Darling’s, Wendy and the family in the book of James Barrie, Peter Pan, lived in this neighbourhood on the border with Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. Note the palm trees.
In the book not the play, the Fairies find baby Peter Pan in Kensington gardens after he has fallen from his pram.
The Italian Gardens within Hyde Park built on the orders of Prince Albert as a gift for his wife Victoria in 1860.
So with this last day we returned to Canada. From Paddington Station to Heathrow airport the Express train takes only 12 minutes. Flying to Montreal.
Telling the stories of the history of the port of Charlottetown and the marine heritage of Northumberland Strait on Canada's East Coast. Winner of the Heritage Award from the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation and a Heritage Preservation Award from the City of Charlottetown