In celebration of the end of my semester, I was able to spend a long weekend in London. Since my only time in London was a mad dash through Heathrow in order to make my connecting flight to Edinburgh way back in September (and I don’t think I so much as glanced out a window during the flight out of London because of the ensuing exhaustion), I was happy to actually go back and experience the place. You know, for real and all. I also had the benefit of a London-savvy friend who was willing to take me to the major tourist sites and was the soul of patience as I went camera mad for the next three days. It was an excellent trip.
Because I took about 800 photos, they are going to be divided into bite sized pieces. I don’t want anyone to be overwhelmed with the awesomeness of my photographic endeavours. Or possibly get bored of scrolling through pictures. So here is Day 1, Part 1.
I thought I had picked the ideal seat on the train when I first sat down because I had a perfect view of the sunset for the first hour and a half of the ride. However, I happened to glance across to the view of the other side of the train and noticed extremely idyllic scenery passing by.
Luckily for me (and for you because you get to see the pictures! Yay!), there was no one sitting in the row across from me, so I cast my dignity to the wind and spent the last hours of daylight hopping back and forth across the rows to get as many pictures from both sides as I could.
There was sunset on one side, but there was a sea on the other. Understand why I had to run back and forth?
I saw about a million sheep during the trip. Some of them even frolicked.
Glorious sunset! I just wish that I’d had more daylight before the glorious sunset so I could pass the five hour ride with photos. Silly winter.
I got to London at about 8:30 and then proceeded to get well and truly lost. I managed to take the right tube line and emerged at the right station near the hotel, but I didn’t go out of the station from the right exit so I couldn’t find the street. An hour later, I stumbled upon the road and made my desperate, stumbling trek to the hotel. There, my London-savvy friend Meghan and I planned out Epic London Adventure Day One, which would begin with a trip to the Victoria and Albert museum.
As a bonus, London was all decked out for Christmas.
This museum is truly excellent. It is laid out in such a way that you can basically wander from room to room and turn odd corners and go down tucked away stairs and find yourself in new places for hours and still not see everything that it has to offer.
Below is a plaque explaining that the museum was finished in 1909 under the directions of King Edward VII.
You will now be treated to a series of photos of the things I saw in the museum that I loved enough to take a picture of. I will also give commentary on some of them, just so you know what they are and so I can remember, as well.
Feel free to scroll speedily if you’d rather just ooh and ahh at the prettiness. I am not offended, since that is mostly what I did as well.
This is one of the first rooms we entered. I fell in love. It had no furniture, except one lonely couch at the far end, and it seemed to be begging for people to come in and enact a small Pride and Prejudice scenario.
No scenario was enacted, but we did stand and look pretty in the room.
There may also have been some goofy little twirls and dancing, but that, you will never see.
Candle sconces are shiny. We like shiny.
As a testimony to their love of tea, the Brits had some incredible tea kettles and sets. They also painted themselves drinking tea elegantly.
All hail tea!
The tea service here was produced at a factory in Chelsea in the mid 1700’s. It comes with extra dishes to serve coffee as well.
This display immediately made me think of my mother, because she can make this sort of thing. Take that, museum!
Since I have seen Mom working on this sort of project, I know how incredibly time consuming and painstaking it is (which is why I prefer the relative ease of crocheting).
This one to the left (mid 1700’s) is in the style of a master weaver named James Leman from the late 1600’s, characterized (so the plaque told me) by bold bright disproportionate floral designs against a more formal architectural background. You just learned things!
This one from 1726-27 was part of a canopy used at the coronation of King George II in 1727.
In my professional opinion, it is very shiny.
The dress looks much billowier in the portrait (how many petticoats is that woman wearing?). It is a dress from 1744, but was apparently altered twice, so maybe that is why it looks so different. The silk was valuable enough to make it worth remaking into new dresses.
This museum was so fun because the doors between the rooms were this awesome. It made going from room to room so much more exciting somehow.
Fabulous tea service is fabulous.
Also epic clock.
And a soup tureen that makes other soup tureens ashamed of their existence. This one is from 1760 and represents the growing tendency of the Brits to imitate the French in their dining and starting with a soup. The tureen is in a French style of the time as well.
Also a sword.
I would be afraid to sit on this seat cover. Cool backstory to this one. It was done between 1730-40, almost certainly by a woman named Jane Vigor, who wrote accounts of her life in Russia married to two consecutive British Consuls. So this was probably embroidered while she was in Russia.
A whole room, complete with gorgeous ceiling. And a cut-out aristocrat lurking creepily in the corner.
This is a parlour from a 1700’s townhouse in London.
Ginormous embroidered tapestry from Stoke Edith, Herefordshire (1710-1720). It used to hang in a bedroom. That must have been an impressive bedroom…
Creepy dolls are creepy. These would never come anywhere near my home. If they knew where I lived, I would not survive. They are from the late 1600’s. The plaque said they were named ‘Lord and Lady Clapham’ by a family who lived in Clapham, London. And then the family was found mysteriously murdered in their beds…
Okay, I made that last part up, but seriously.
Elegant accoutrements. I love the lace. The plaque about the fan has a quote from the 1711 Spectator newspaper: ‘Women are armed with Fans as Men with Swords, and sometimes do more execution with them.’ Kind of funny. And disturbing.
Queen Mary’s jewel casket from 1677. It was supposed to hold jewels, but I can’t imagine the jewels being any more sparkly than the casket itself. It was thought to have contained Mary’s dowery on her marriage to William III.
And then we moved into the Asian section in which I zeroed in on a dragon shaped ladle. I wanted it. Not as a ritual ladle for blessing seed rice, as it was apparently used, but, you know, for epic soup and stuff.
Words cannot describe the glory of this chicken. Actually, it’s a goose, but it looks like a chicken to me. It’s a betel-nut container. Apparently, they were chewed, kind of like tobacco, but not? I don’t know. It was part of the regalia of King Thibaw, the last Burmese monarch, around the beginning of the 1800’s, if you wanted to know.
Ridiculous brooch. It sparkled.
And I love the hat. You see someone walking down the street in a hat like that, you know he’s not afraid of anything.
It’s a theatrical headdress that would have been worn by an actor impersonating the king of the Celestial Beings. It looks quite celestial. And pointy.
So, I wasn’t supposed to be taking pictures in this room, but I didn’t see the sign. And really they were just trying to prevent cameras with flashes, so I wasn’t doing any harm with my awesome camera that doesn’t need a flash, anyway. But still. I broke the rules. I am a museum rebel.
This was an amazing altar piece at the end of the room. Of particular note is the section in the centre of the bottom. It was something that I actually saw all over the place in paintings, pottery, jewelry, and sculpture.
And I resented it.
Why must George always be killing the poor dragon? I think there was a serious misunderstanding between the two, but I feel like they could have resolved their differences.
Why did I take a picture of a chair? It reminds me of a small rocking chair that was in my room as a child. The woven seat in particular is the same as my rocking chair. This one is from around 1700 Sri Lanka and was a popular style of Dutch settlements. So my rocking chair is related to history.
Love the dress. Makes me think of Jane Austen novels.
Excellent writing desk. I wouldn’t mind having this desk to do my writing at. I think my writing would improve dramatically.
These don’t look comfortable.
This just made me laugh. It’s a life-sized automaton of painted wood. There’s a crank handle on the side that makes the soldier’s arm go up and down and simulates roaring sounds from the tiger. It belonged to an Indian ruler Tipu Sultan. The Brits called him Tippoo Sahib. Clearly, he hated the Brits. When they defeated him 1799, they requisitioned it. One wonders if they found it funny.
A shiny turban ornament. I could not resist the shiny.
And then we proceeded to the statues. I’m not a huge fan of sculptures because most of them are either partially broken and therefore creepy or they are only partially or not at all clothed and therefore awkward or some mixture of both.
But this guy was pretty awesome. Thuner, god of thunder, one of the Saxon gods.
In the gift shop, I enjoyed the sparkly ornament displays. I like sparkly things, in case you hadn’t picked up on that subtlety of my character.
You can see my reflection several times in the bowl of ornaments below. I match!
Weird ceiling thingy. It looks like bubbles or balloons or something. Like someone’s birthday party mutated and took over the museum… And it’s still growing! Not really.
Pretty statue room. Just don’t look too closely at the statues.
Poor fountain. It tried. It really did. But it just fails.
There was this door set into the wall that you could step through. I hoped. I hoped with all my heart.
Aslan said no. Again.
This is an effigy of a knight of the Order of Santiago buried in Toledo. His name was Don Garcia de Osorio. He makes a nice effigy. His wife is the one next to him, which is kinda sweet.
The altarpieces were amazing. So much detail. I was conflicted between taking pictures of small areas to appreciate the detail or just getting shots of the whole thing. This one is from Belgium, 1520.
Here’s another one that depicts the adoration of the shepherds. It’s from Milan, Italy (1500). Appropriate for the coming season.
I wanted to make sure I got a few pictures of the rooms as well as the things I saw in the rooms, because the rooms as a whole were beautiful.
This is the St Margaret Altarpiece from about 1520. I did take a close up of one section. I would find these very distracting during services. So much prettiness up at the front to stare at…
And here is the apostle Peter looking rather… kingly. I’m sure he is up in heaven scratching his head over this one. It was done in 1520 in the Netherlands.
Remember the third Indiana Jones movie where he had to choose which goblet was the Holy Grail? That scene scarred me as a child. This room brought back memories.
Don’t choose that one! Don’t do it! (It’s from 1475-1500 so clearly it’s the wrong one. Be smart about this).
We had to cut our time in the V&A short because we had parks, palaces, and shopping to get on with. But we did come back later.
I will post more soon.