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Articles on this Page
- 12/04/17--23:00: _Raoul Wallenberg: a...
- 12/08/17--11:00: _First women in the ...
- 12/11/17--23:00: _V & A Museum restau...
- 12/15/17--11:00: _Annie Oakley - mark...
- 12/18/17--23:00: _The history of yout...
- 12/22/17--11:00: _The Borgia papacy, ...
- 12/25/17--23:00: _Tashkent: silk rout...
- 12/29/17--11:00: _Poor, tragic, brill...
- 01/01/18--23:00: _Valletta in Malta -...
- 01/05/18--11:00: _Acland St StKilda -...
- 01/08/18--23:00: _Muriel Matters: Aus...
- 01/12/18--11:00: _Acre/Akko - an arch...
- 01/15/18--23:00: _The true story of P...
- 01/17/18--23:00: _ Krakow Salt Works ...
- 01/20/18--21:10: _King Charles II: Ar...
- 01/23/18--07:00: _Gibraltar: Islamic,...
- 01/26/18--11:00: _Lady Lucan died rec...
- 01/29/18--23:00: _Petra - a Nabatean,...
- 02/02/18--11:00: _ London Silver Vaul...
- 02/05/18--23:00: _Burke and Hare: Edi...
- 02/09/18--11:00: _Canada's most speci...
- 02/12/18--23:00: _Prince Edward's Wor...
- 02/16/18--11:00: _Charles Dodgson and...
- 02/19/18--23:00: _Porto in Portugal -...
- 02/23/18--11:00: _Gun control in Aust...
- 12/04/17--23:00: Raoul Wallenberg: a great biography
- 12/08/17--11:00: First women in the world to be enfranchised - New Zealand 1893
- 12/11/17--23:00: V & A Museum restaurants - high Victorian art in London
- 12/15/17--11:00: Annie Oakley - marksman, actress, feminist
- 12/18/17--23:00: The history of youth hostels - from Israel to Britain!
- 12/22/17--11:00: The Borgia papacy, sex, politics and power
- 12/25/17--23:00: Tashkent: silk route history... and modern history
- 12/29/17--11:00: Poor, tragic, brilliant Franz Kafka
- 01/08/18--23:00: Muriel Matters: Australian-British women's rights heroine
- 01/15/18--23:00: The true story of Pocahontas - in Virginia and in England
- 01/17/18--23:00: Krakow Salt Works Museum, under- and over-ground
- 01/20/18--21:10: King Charles II: Art and Power at the Queen’s Gallery
- 01/23/18--07:00: Gibraltar: Islamic, Spanish, British and modern
- 01/26/18--11:00: Lady Lucan died recently, but where is Lord John Lucan???
- 01/29/18--23:00: Petra - a Nabatean, Roman and Byzantine sandstone city in Jordan
- 02/05/18--23:00: Burke and Hare: Edinburgh's grave snatchers or murderers?
- 02/09/18--11:00: Canada's most special provinces - the Maritimes
- 02/12/18--23:00: Prince Edward's World War 1 experiences and his pro-Fascist views
- 02/16/18--11:00: Charles Dodgson and Alice (Lidell) in Wonderland
- 02/19/18--23:00: Porto in Portugal - one of the loveliest cities in Western Europe
- 02/23/18--11:00: Gun control in Australia and the USA
Ingrid Carlberg’s book RAOUL WALLENBERG: The Biography has 3 parts: the early years; Budapest heroism; and the family’s post-war attempts to get him home. I have concentrated on the first two parts, backed up by Jan Larsson’s journal article. And from my mother in law who lived in Budapest in 1944-5; she would have loved this book.
Raoul Wallenberg (1912-?) was born near Stockholm. The family had been leading bankers and diplomats for many years. His father was a naval officer and a cousin of two of Sweden’s best-known C20th financiers and industrialists. But dad died just before the baby’s birth.
After compulsory military service, in 1931-5 Raoul studied architecture the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Then grandpa sent him to Cape Town to train in a Swedish building materials firm. Finally grandpa arranged another job at a Dutch bank in Haifa where Wallenberg met German Jewish exiles for the first time.
After returning to Sweden in 1936, Wallenberg went into international trade. Through the Wallenberg network of business world links, he was introduced to a Hungarian Jew, Koloman Lauer, who ran a Swedish based food import-export firm. Wallenberg spoke fluent Swedish, Russian, English and German, and could travel freely around Europe, so he was a perfect business partner for Lauer. Wallenberg was soon a major shareholder and the international manager of the Hungarian firm, making frequent trips to Hungary.
By early 1944 Hitler’s plan to annihilate the entire Jewish population in German-occupied countries was finalised. Only Hungary still had its 700,000 Jewish residents alive! Then the Fascists started putting Jews from the Hungarian rural areas into deportation trains to Polish death camps.
USA's government-backed War Refugee Board/WRB wanted to send an emissary, under Swedish diplomatic cover, to save Hungary’s Jews. The choice of Raoul Wallenberg as the WRB’s emissary proved inspired. In June 1944 he wrote to the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, asking for decision-making independence from Budapest’s Swedish ambassador. Prime Minister Per Albin Hansson and King Gustav V agreed!
Even before Wallenberg arrived, the head of Swedish Red Cross Valdemar Langlet was assisting the Swedish Legation. Langlet rented buildings for the Red Cross and named the buildings Swedish Library or Swedish Research Institute. They were then used as hiding places for Jews.
Horthy hadn't started deportations of Budapest Jews, but the city's residents knew that their deaths would follow. Many of them sought help from the embassies of neutral states who did issue temporary passports to Jews who already had special ties with these countries. But it was too few, and too late. Wallenberg personally intervened to secure the release of bearers of protection documents from the columns of marching people.
Horthy received a letter from Swedish King Gustav V in Mar 1944 with an appeal to stop Jewish deportations. Horthy bravely attempted to assure that justice prevailed and the deportation trains were cancelled. Horthy even discussed making peace with the Allies, to halt the inevitable assault from the East.
When Wallenberg arrived in Budapest in July 1944, time was running out. As first secretary of the Swedish diplomatic mission with few resources, he quickly built up a team of helpers. Luckily his office was in the same building as the American Embassy. The WRB rescue mission was an initiative from American authorities, created as an unofficial cooperation with the neutral Swedish government.
Under Adolf Eichmann, the Germans had already deported 400,000+ Jews in freight trains; there were only c200,000 Jews left in the capital. Eichmann’s plans to exterminate Hungarian Jews were relentless. So Wallenberg issued Swedish schutz-pass/protection certificates to enable Hungarian Jews to claim immunity from persecution as “foreign citizens". He intervened in Nazi and Arrow Cross raids to save Jews from transportation to the death camps. He rented buildings and made them Swedish territory, to give hiding spaces.
When conditions were desperate, Wallenberg issued a simplified version of his protective Swedish passport, a mimeographed page with his signature! The new Hungarian Nazi government immediately announced that all protective passports were invalid. But Baroness Elizabeth Liesel Kemény, wife of the foreign minister, allowed Wallenberg to get his protective passports reinstated. As the freight cars full of Jews stood in the railway station, he heroically climbed on top of them, ran along the roof of the cars and handed bundles of protective passports to the occupants. He then demanded that those Jews who received his protective passports be allowed to leave the train!
Wallenberg successfully used every technique available to him, including forged documents, bribery and blackmail. Yet in Jan 1945 friends urged Wallenberg to seek shelter, especially since the Hungarian Arrow Cross were searching for him. He had been responsible for saving the lives of 30-40,000 Hungarian Jews.
In Jan, Wallenberg approached the advancing Soviet troops, saying he was the Swedish chargé d’affaires for the parts of Hungary liberated by the Soviets. En route to Soviet military headquarters in Debrecen, Wallenberg stopped at the Swedish houses, to say goodbye for the last time.
In the end Wallenberg had to place his faith in the Russians; thankfully the Soviet troops did heroically free 100,000+ Jews in the sealed Budapest ghetto.
When reports showed that Wallenberg had disappeared, the Russians first claimed he’d been murdered by the Hungarian Arrow Cross. Later the Russians admitted that he’d been swallowed up by the Moscow prison system in 1945. Worse still, the Swedish government did not help the Wallenberg family get their son returned to Sweden, and they stopped the Wallenberg story appearing in Swedish newspapers. Sofar the Russian files have not yet been opened to historians :(
Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Memorial, erected 1953, stands to the Jews murdered by German, Hungarian and Ukrainian and other Fascists. The Avenue of the Righteous has 600 trees planted to honour the memory of Gentiles who risked their lives to save Jews. Wallenberg is the best known hero there. In 1981 the late Raoul Wallenberg was declared an honorary citizen of the USA, Canada in 1985, Israel in 1986 and Australia in 2013.
As in other European societies, New Zealand women were excluded from any involvement in politics in early colonial times. Most people accepted the idea that women were naturally suited for domestic affairs i.e home and children. Only men were fitted for public life and the hurly-burly of politics. New Zealand History has provided the first half of this post.
Some women began to challenge this narrow view. New opportunities were opening up for women, especially those from upper or middle-class families, in education, medicine, church and charities. Attention soon turned to women’s legal and political rights.
The suffrage campaign in New Zealand began as part of a broad late C19th movement for women’s rights that spread through Britain and its Empire, the USA and northern Europe. This movement was shaped by two main themes: a] equal political rights for women and b] a desire to use them for the moral reform of society eg through prohibition.
New Zealand’s pioneering suffragists were inspired both by equal-rights arguments of philosopher John Stuart Mill and British feminists, and by the American-based missionary efforts of Women’s Christian Temperance Union - WCTU.
Some of New Zealand’s leading male politicians, including John Ballance, supported women’s suffrage. In 1878, 1879 and 1887 bills or amendments extending the vote to female ratepayers only narrowly failed to pass in Parliament.
Outside Parliament the movement gathered momentum from the mid-1880s, especially following the establishment of a New Zealand WCTU in 1885. Led by Kate Sheppard, WCTU campaigners and others organised huge petitions to Parliament: in 1891, in 1892 and finally in 1893 tens of thousands of signatures were obtained, a quarter of New Zealand’s adult European female population.
By the early 1890s opponents of women’s suffrage were mobilising. They warned that any disturbance to the natural gender roles might have terrible consequences. The liquor industry, fearful that women would support growing demands for Prohibition, lobbied sympathetic Members of Parliament and organised counter-petitions.
The suffragists’ arch-enemy was Henry Smith Fish, a boorish Dunedin politician who hired canvassers to circulate anti-suffrage petitions in pubs. But this tactic backfired when some signatures proved to be false or obtained by trickery.
The Liberal government came to office in 1891 and was divided over the issue. Premier John Ballance supported women's suffrage in principle, but he was anxious that women would vote for his Conservative opponents. Many of his Cabinet colleagues, including friends of the liquor trade, strongly opposed women’s suffrage.
In 1891 & 92 the House of Representatives passed electoral bills that would have enfranchised all adult women. But on each occasion opponents sabotaged the legislation in the conservative upper house, the Legislative Council.
In Ap 1893 Ballance died and was succeeded by Richard Seddon. Suffragists groaned, but following the presentation of the massive third petition, another bill easily passed in the House. Once again, all eyes were on the Legislative Council. Liquor interests petitioned the council to reject the bill. Suffragists responded with mass rallies and telegrams to members. They also gave their supporters in Parliament white camellias to wear in their buttonholes.
Voting in Auckland, 1899
photo credit: Ministry for Culture and Heritage
For the women of New Zealand, Sept 1893 was a special time. Seddon and others again tried to torpedo the bill by underhand manoeuvres, but this time their interference backfired. Two opposition councillors, who had previously opposed women's suffrage, changed their votes to embarrass Seddon. The bill was passed by 20 votes to 18.
The battle was still not over. New anti-suffrage petitions were circulated, and some members of the Legislative Council petitioned the governor to withhold his consent. In a buttonhole battle, anti-suffragists gave their parliamentary supporters red camellias.
Lord Glasgow finally signed the bill into law in Sept. Women celebrated throughout the country, and congratulations poured in from campaigners in Australia and overseas: New Zealand’s achievement gave new hope to women struggling for emancipation across many countries.
Not everyone in New Zealand rejoiced at the outcome. For some men at least, the prospect of such activists influencing politics was an evil thought. Men opposing female suffrage could only call in the aid of the women who would prefer to leave the game of politics to men.
Suffrage opponents had warned that delicate lady voters would be jostled and harassed in polling booths by ‘boorish and half-drunken men’. But the 1893 election was actually described as the ‘best-conducted and most orderly’ ever held in New Zealand.
Invigorated by the New Zealand suffrage victory in 1893, Mary Lee and Elizabeth Nicholls, like many other WCTU activists, travelled all over the South Australian colony to obtain signatures for a suffrage petition. The WCTU suffragists were critical to the success of the campaign, first in South Australia and, eventually, nationally. So it is not surprising that in Australia, women were first able to vote in the State elections of South Australia in 1894.
Western Australia followed in 1899. But it was only in 1902 that the newly federated nation allowed white women to both vote and stand for Federal elections on a universal and equal basis with white men. This dual right, the complete electoral franchise AND eligibility to sit in parliament, was what political philosopher John Stuart Mill called perfect equality. In New South Wales women gained the vote for State government in 1902, in Tasmania it happened in 1903, in Queensland in 1905 and Victorian women gained the vote for state government in 1908. Indigenous Australians were excluded from Federal elections for decades more.
The Christchurch Memorial, made by sculptor Margriet Windhausen,
3.3 x 2m bronze bas-relief. Unveiled 1993.
The camellia and white ribbons were symbols of the suffrage campaign.
In the same year, 1902, Vida Goldstein was in Washington DC as Australia and New Zealand’s sole delegate to the International Woman Suffrage Conference. She addressed huge American audiences on one of the most pressing global issues of the day: Votes for Women. Alas by 1908 only Finland and Norway had joined New Zealand and Australia in enfranchising women.
When a new home for the South Kensington Museum (later the Victoria and Albert) was needed, they used the estate recently bought by the Commissioners for the Great Exhibition of 1851. The Museum was established in 1852 and funded by the financial surpluses from the Great Exhibition - to educate working people with works of art, and to inspire British designers and manufacturers. Sir Henry Cole (1808–82) became first director of the V & A, with the approval of Prince Albert.
The South Kensington site architect was Captain Francis Fowke (1823-65), Inspector of Science and Art. Ignoring the contemporary fashion for Gothic architecture, Fowke chose a North Italian Renaissance style, two storeys high, with a grand Lecture Theatre complex forming the centrepiece.
In 1861 designer Godfrey Sykes (1824-66) was invited by Henry Cole to assist Francis Fowke on the buildings connected with the gardens and the arcades. Many of the decorative schemes in the North and South Courts were Sykes’ work, as was the choice of terracotta as the museum’s distinctive decorative material.
The first decoration in the Lecture Theatre building, the showpiece southern exterior, was completed by Fowke and Sykes. The main feature of the red-brick, terracotta and mosaic-faced façade was its three large recessed arches, supported by terracotta columns bearing figures. Portraits of key members of the Museum team and from the fields of art and science appeared in the mosaic panels and lunettes.
The Gamble, Poynter and Morris Rooms were the three interlinked rooms that made up the lavishly decorated Museum restaurants.
The walls and columns of the original Refreshment Room/now The Gamble Room, influenced by the Prince Consort's completed dairy at Frogmore, were faced with majolica created by Minton. Much of the decoration was planned by Sykes, just before he died (1866). The room was opened in 1867, when the décoration was still incomplete.
John Everett Millais (1829-96) selected the original colours. But in 1874–5 the Gamble Room’s plaster ceiling was replaced by the Enamelled Iron Co; they used sheet-iron enamelled in colours suggested by the metal advertisements on railway stations. Thus the ventilation grilles were surrounded by very heavy, ornate enamelled iron plates.
The windows and frieze were full of Victorian mottoes about the joys of eating and drinking. With ceramic tiled walls and columns, they were clean and easily washed for dining. As a precaution against fire, food for this main refreshment room was prepared in kitchens outside the walls.
Henry Cole was also responsible for other innovations: the V&A was the first public museum in the world to be artificially lit so that workers could come in the evenings. This was to “furnish a powerful antidote to the Gin Palace”, to give working families culture instead of booze. Cole's concept of a museum restaurant was completely new; as a way of getting people to enjoy culture, it was a world first for South Kensington. Even the Victorians, used to dazzle, would have been struck by the decoration.
For the decoration of the smaller flanking rooms, in quieter colours, other talents were called in. Edward Poynter (1836-1919), recently successful at the Royal Academy, was invited in Nov 1865 to decorate the easternmost restaurant, the Grill Room/Poynter Room. Students were involved on a practical level because the glazed blue Dutch tiles, designed by Edward Poynter, were painted by a special tile-painting class for ladies at the Schools of Design. It was rare for women to train professionally, so for them to be engaged in this very public commission was progressive. This radical spirit at South Kensington possibly predicted the Arts and Crafts designs of the 1880-1910 era.
Poynter designed the windows and also the iron and brass steaks grill which The Building News thought showed 'the hands of a first rate Gothic architect rather than those of a painter'. The Poynter Room was opened in 1867, furnished with little tables of iron with white marble tops and decorated like the great iron stove.
Visitors could come here for breakfast when the catering contractor offered a long menu, divided according to social standing. The 1st class menu was elaborate and expensive; the 2nd class menu was more limited and cheaper. The 3rd class menu was only available to workmen at the Museum.
The westernmost room, originally called the Green Dining Room and now the Morris Room, was designed by William Morris himself. The subdued colours of the scheme show that at the time he was still under the influence of the Gothic Revival. He decorated the walls with panelling below the green plaster, and a low relief of olive branches. William Morris had been Pre-Raphaelite friends with Philip Webb, Edward Burne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and in 1861, they all became partners in the interior decorating and furnishing business. Thus the stained-glass windows bore female figures painted by Edward Burne-Jones and Philip Webb.
Towering stain glass windows, lavish dark teal-stained wood and gold painted panelling adorned the Morris Room walls. Crisp linens covered the circular tables with matching green British Burleigh crockery.
The Museum bought some stained glass from Morris, Marshall & Faulkner Co. and, along with the ceiling and panelled dados, the work was finished in 1868–9. Burne Jones' figure-panels in the dado, which were completed soon after, were based on the signs of the zodiac, and his windows designs showed medieval domestic tasks.
The rest of the decoration was by Morris' friend, architect Philip Webb. Webb took his inspiration from medieval and clerical sources for the frieze, and medieval manuscripts for the ceiling decoration. The four hanging lights were designed much later, based on a drawing by Philip Webb, and were installed in 1926. The only part of the decoration that was influenced by Morris’ pattern-making was in the plaster-work on the walls - leaves, flowers and berries.
"The Building News" in 1870 found the rooms bright and cheerful, like the richly and gaily-adorned cafés of Paris. But after Cole's retirement in 1873, his planned building programme stopped. It was only in 1889 that public opinion demanded that the building of the Museum be completed .. somehow. The facades of the Victoria and Albert Museum built in 1899-1909 displayed the museum as a treasure house of priceless objects in marble halls.
The lavishly decorated, historic refreshment rooms that stunned and delighted visitors in the Victorian era were way beyond my personal taste. But as works of Victorian art in their own right, they are well worth visiting.
For those of you who remember 1956 clearly, Australian television exposed Annie Oakley (1860-1926) for the first time in a fictional American Western series. Featuring actress Gail Davis, each weekly programme lasted half an hour. My parents didn’t have a tv in the 1950s, but our elderly neighbours let the local children watch between 7-7.30 PM.
Thank you Wild West Magazine for the historical data.
Early Family life
Phoebe Ann Moses was born to Jacob and Susan, Quakers who had migrated from Pennsylvania to a farm in rural Darke County Ohio. Annie was the sixth of their seven children. In 1866 her father died, leaving her mother and the seven young children in poverty, so mother sent Annie to the live at the Darke County Infirmary/poor house.
At 10 Annie become a servant for another local farming family. She stayed with them in dismal conditions for two years before running away, then she returned home to her mother, again in poverty.
Annie did not live in the West but she first fired a gun at an early age. She ended up supporting her own family by hunting and trapping pheasants and quail, then selling the game to locals in Greenville Ohio and to hotels.
Annie Oakley as a teenager
Marriage and career
Annie met Frank Butler while he performed his travelling marksman show in Cincinnati. Part of Frank’s act was accepting challenges from local marks-men, with bets being placed. Frank knew he was a beaten man, the moment the 15-year-old girl appeared to challenged him.They began a courtship and married in Windsor Canada in 1882. The Butlers began performing together, but Frank immediately recognised that his wife, now called Annie Oakley, was the bigger draw.
In the early days of her stage career, Annie played with Frank at small theatres, skating rinks and circuses. While working for the Sells Brothers Circus in New Orleans in 1884, Annie and Frank met William Buffalo Bill Cody and performed with them for 16 seasons. Cody had her perform early in the show to help audiences get used to the sound of gunfire. She could shoot a cork out of a bottle at a distance!
In 1884, Sioux spiritual leader and medicine man Sitting Bull, victor at the Battle of Little Bighorn, saw Annie in a theatre in St Paul Minnesota. Sitting Bull and Annie were happily reunited the next year as employees of Cody’s Wild West.
When Annie and Frank left the Wild West Show in Dec 1888, she worked as an actress in a Western melodrama called Deadwood Dick. The play was not a success, and by Feb 1889 the theatre company had folded.
In mid-1889, they re-joined the Wild West Show for a tour of Europe, beginning with Paris’ Exposition Universelle. Having no children, they toured Europe whenever they wanted, including two more European tours in 1891-1892.
Annie was a celebrity, earning more than other employees in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. They bought a house in Nutley N.J in which they lived between their country-wide tours.
In 1894, Buffalo Bill Cody, Annie Oakley and the Indians performed in front of Thomas Edison’s moving-picture machine at the inventor’s laboratory in New Jersey. The public could go to kinetoscope parlours and cheaply view the early Edison films in peep-show machines. Anne was the first cowgirl in motion pictures, surrounded by faked gun smoke.
Annie and Frank toured with vaudeville impresario Tony Pastor’s show in the spring of 1888. Then they re-joined Buffalo Bill for a spring run in Paris. At first the French thought Buffalo Bill’s whole spectacle was faked, but when they saw Annie Oakley perform, they believed she was the real thing.
Buffalo Bill’s Wild West played in 130+ towns in 1895-6. And in 1897 the Wild West played in Canada for the first time for decades.
In Oct 1901 in NC, while the Company was headed to Danville Virginia to end the season, their train ran into an oncoming train. Annie Oakley was found pinned beneath the rubble and it took several hours before she could be rescued. After touring continuously for 20 years, she retired from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.
Annie Oakley tried acting again, appearing as the lead in a play called The Western Girl, which opened in New Jersey in Nov 1902. She also taught shooting at exclusive gun clubs. Meanwhile her husband worked for the Union Metallic Cartridge Company, promoting its products to shooters.
In 1912, Frank and Annie had begun building a retirement house in Cambridge Maryland where hunting and shooting remained a big part of their lives. The roof of the house was designed so that Annie could step out onto it and shoot game off the Choptank River.
In 1922 Annie performed in a show on Long Island and was rumoured to be making a comeback, but in Nov, at 62, she was in a car accident in Florida and broke bones. Fortunately the steel leg brace she wore did not immobilise her.
As a star with the stature and ability of Buffalo Bill himself, Annie Oakley valued her platform to promote egalitarian views about women. She believed that women needed to learn to be proficient with firearms, to defend themselves. Annie taught 15,000 women to shoot, and promoted guns as a symbol of female empowerment. [I love her feminist politics, but access to guns by any private citizen is now an abomination here in Australia.]
Over the next four years, her health began to decline, and the couple returned to Ohio. In Nov 1926, she died of pernicious anaemia at 66. Frank mourned so deeply, he died within 18 days.
Read Shirl Kasper's 1992 biography Annie Oakley, published by University of Oklahoma Press. And visit Buffalo Bill Historical Centre which is a complex of five museums and a research library featuring art and artefacts of the American West, located in Cody Wyoming.
The German Youth Movement, a cultural and educational movement that started in 1896, worried about the health of poor city youngsters. The children needed to enjoy the fresh air outdoors and to be physically active in team sports and physical education.
Now to the German citizen Richard Schirrmann (1874-1961) who studied to become a teacher, graduated in 1895 and was sent to Altena in Westphalia in 1903. On a trip out of town, the students had to spend their nights in dismal barns or inappropriate village school buildings. Schirrmann felt that students should see new sights and have new experiences outside the classroom, because people learned best by observation.
Schirrmann had became alarmed, he wrote, at the impact of Germany’s industrial revolution on students' health and welfare. So in 1909 he first published his idea of cheap and healthy overnight accommodation for young people. He received plenty of support, enabling him in 1912 to open his first youth hostel in the rebuilt Altena castle, above the River Lenne.
Although Schirrmann’s first youth hostels in Germany had no connection to do with the German Youth Movement, timing was critical! Not only did poor city youngsters need to enjoy the outdoors; they had to care for the hostel themselves wherever possible. This kept the costs down, built character and a sense of independence, and helped make new friends.
Schirrmann served during the tragic WW1. But after the war, Schirrmann wondered if "thoughtful young people of all countries could be provided with suitable meeting places where they could get to know each other". So in 1919, he founded a youth hostel association, and in 1922, he retired from teaching to focus entirely on his project.
The movement flourished in Germany, with 2000+ youth hostels operating before the Depression. By then the youth hostel concept had spread all over Europe and beyond! In 1932, a formal organisation called the International Youth Hostel Federation was founded in Amsterdam, consisting of youth hostels from Switzerland, Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, Norway, UK, Ireland, France, Czechoslovakia, Denmark and Belgium. Under Schirrmann’s chairmanship, the organisation grew and grew.
These hostels provided budget-oriented accommodation where young people could rent a bunk bed in a dormitory, and share a bathroom, lounge and sometimes a kitchen. Hostels were often cheaper for both the operator and occupants; many hostels had long-term residents whom they employed as desk agents or housekeepers, in exchange for cut-rate accommodation.
Americans Isabel and Monroe Smith attended the 2nd world meeting of the International Youth Hostel Federation in 1933. The very next year they opened the first American youth hostel in Northfield Mass. And soon the American Youth Hostels network had 30+ hostels throughout rural New England, primarily to serve outdoor enthusiasts. Its growth received wide attention and the warm endorsement of President Franklin D Roosevelt in 1936.
Ominous European political currents overshadowed much of the international movement in the late 1930s. Some hostels were closed, and others were appropriated by governments for military purposes. The operations of many European associations were suspended.
By the time Joe and I were in Europe (1970-5) we stayed in youth hostels in Israel, Cyprus, Greece and every country en route to Britain. In any case, in the later C20th the needs of the modern-day traveller were changing. Young people who travelled widely wanted more private rooms, better toilets and hot showers, and they wanted to book on-line.
Today there are Youth Hostels in cottages, castles, mansions and in modern buildings, in towns and in the countryside. These sociable places are open to everyone and they don't pay any kind of profit to private concerns.
Dining room 1936
photo credit: YHA Archive
To show that youth hostels can be cheap AND fascinating, the Daily Mail suggested some great places. Guests go through the old triple portcullis gatehouse of St Briavels Castle, Gloucs and into a secluded courtyard and walled garden. Then go into the West Tower for a royal welcome to King John's C13th hunting lodge. The Castle also boasts a Chapel, gallows and a prison. It costs £18 for bunk bed.
Beverley Friary is nestled in East Yorkshire, in the heart of the market town of Beverley. Visit the Yorkshire coast line and nearby Hull during the day, and at night, retire back to beautifully restored Dominican friary (£13 a bed), cited in the Canterbury Tales.
The Guardian recommended Abbey House in Whitby, North Yorkshire. Whitby youth hostel sits on a magnificent headland. The pastel-hued rooftops of the town are spread out below, while the North Sea crashes beyond the harbour wall. And see the well preserved ruins of Whitby Abbey behind. The bedrooms (£18.50 per night) are very spartan, but the building is well preserved C17th hand-carved banisters. And note it was from Whitby that Capt Cook sailed to Australia.
Ottawa Jail Hostel in Canada offers a unique mix of shared and private jail cells, as well as traditional hostel style rooms, starting at £12. Formerly the Carleton County Gaol Jail, it is an historic landmark in the heart of the city.
Karei Deshe Youth Hostel, Israel
Dormitory with bunk beds
Kyoto Youth Hostel
For an ancient castle overlooking Germany’s Rhine Valley, see the C12th Castle Stahleck which became Bacharach Hostel (£15 a night). This UNESCO World Heritage Site sits in the town’s main street that has also been restored to its Middle Ages glory - half-timbered houses, picturesque court yards and taverns.
My own favourite is Karei Deshe Youth Hostel Guest House, situated on the Sea of Galilee in Israel. The guest house is built around a beautiful inner courtyard, with palm trees, lawns and great sea views. Each room has 2, 4 or 6 beds and each has its own bathroom.
The Youth Hostels’ Historical Archive is now available at the Cadbury Research Library, Birmingham University. Researchers can access YHA’s archives which hold national and regional records, reports, handbooks, publications, personal memories and photos.
Rodrigo de Borja was born near Valencia in 1431; he was the son of a Spanish noble family who lived comfortably in the court of Aragon. The family did even better when Alonso de Borja, Rodrigo's uncle, was made bishop of Valencia. Later the very elderly Alonso became Pope Callixtus III in 1455.
Alfonso, king of Aragon & Naples, pursued his own territorial aims rather than supporting the Pope’s war against the Turks in Constantinople, so Pope Callixtus determined to appoint his own family as the next king of Naples. He also put two nephews in as cardinals, and made one nephew Prefect of Rome. The papal court started to look like a Spanish club.
It didn’t last, but Rodrigo Borgia did well. He studied in Valencia and then specialised in law at Bologna. In 1456, Uncle Alonso made him a cardinal, and then vice chancellor of the Curia. Apparently this was a VERY lucrative position; Rodrigo held it during the next four pontificates.
Rodrigo was endowed with bishoprics and abbeys around Rome. These benefices brought him so much money that he build the most luxurious palace in all of Italy. Rodrigo’s plate, pearls, his stuffs embroidered with silk and gold, his books were all of such quality as would befit a king or a pope. He possessed more gold and riches of every sort than all the other cardinals put together.
Rodrigo had many children, including 3 acknowledged children early on, and another four (Juan, Cesare, Lucrezia and Joffre) with Vannozza Catanei. At 61, Rodrigo Borgia became Pope Alexander VI (1492-1503). So how did a man who openly made a fortune out of his family connections in the papacy, and who opened fathered children all over Rome, become Pope? He bribed his way through the entire college of cardinals! They said of him "Alexander sells the Key, the Altar, Christ Himself - he has a right to, for he bought them".
But somehow we mostly seem to remember his nepotism. Nepotism was already widely practised in the papacy; after all, a pope could trust his own family marginally more than he could trust strangers. But the Borgias raised nepotism to record levels.
Son Juan was made Spanish duke and married the cousin of the King of Castille. Daughter Lucrezia was left as regent in charge of official business when the Pope had to leave Rome. Son Joffre was married off to a Neapolitan princess. Teenage son Cesare was given a number of bishoprics, and on the day of his father's coronation, Cesare received the premier Archbishopric in Spain, Valencia. In time, Pope Alexander changed in his attitudes towards Spain, marrying Cesare to a French princess, and agreeing to partition the Kingdom of Naples between France and Spain.
At the end Pope Alexander had been well; suddenly he and his son Cesare were desperately ill. Was it malaria? was it poison? Pope Alexander VI died and was buried in St Peter's, later to be moved to the Spanish national church in Rome, Santa Maria di Monserrato. He was buried with the other Borgia pope, his uncle.
Cesare Borgia’s military campaigns were at the centre of the novel. As was Lucrezia third marriage, to Alfonso d’Este of Ferrara. I was not thrilled to read about the French Pox, which hit Naples in the 1490s, despite clearly understanding its shocking impact.
Diplomat and writer Niccolò Machiavelli (1469–1527) became more central to this novel because he really did witness the fierce state-building methods of Pope Alexander and his son Cesare Borgia. Another important source of “information” for Sarah Dunant was the poet-scholar and Cardinal, Pietro Bembo (1470–1547).
Can we learn history from imagined data, even if it sounds substantial? And can we rethink the reputations of disreputable, defamed characters we have known for a long time? Donizetti opera presented Lucrezia Borgia as a mass murderer who slept with most of the men in her own and other leading families, as did Victor Hugo in his play by the same name. The Prince was a political treatise by Niccolò Machiavelli that proposed Cesare was a clever, ultra-ambitious and deceitful man who never did what anyone expected. Eventually “Machiavellian” has gone into the language as an adjective for this extreme ambition.
One reviewer described in gross detail, how Dunant’s characters copulated, defecated and menstruated; they got flu and suffered constipation, sweated from fever, shivered from cold, and scratched at pox-scabs note what prostitutes used for greasy contraception and how people cleaned their teeth with vinegar mixtures. Mark Lawson also focused on dramatic natural events: sea storms, plagues and childbirth.
Dunant’s novel about Machiavelli and the Borgias is a good way to learn Italian history, but don’t read it if you already know a great deal about this historical era. You will feel obligated to make corrections on the novel’s pages, over and over again.
The Arabs declared war on the Tang Chinese forces and eventually crushed them at The Battle of Talas 751 AD. This led to the expulsion of the Tang Chinese from Central Asia.
While crossing Central Asia, different routes developed. Kashgar in far Western China became the new crossroads of Asia; from here the routes again divided, heading across the Pamirs to Samarkand and to the south of the Caspian Sea, or to the South into India. Eventually the road reached the shores of the Caspian Sea, via Tashkent. Thus the 8,000 km long Silk Road connected Beijing to Constantinople via the movement of religions and products. And Tashkent emerged as a major trading city en route.
The rise of Islam impacted on Asia, separating the East and West. The Islamic State of the Ghaznavids (962-1186) extended from Persia to India, with Lahore as the capital.
Timur/Tamerlane (1336–1405) was an Islamic Turco-Mongol conqueror. In 1390 Tamerlane ravaged Kashgar, Andijan and the intervening country. Tamerlane was recognised as a great patron of art and architecture, as he interacted with Muslim intellectuals. Tashkent Museum’s architecture reflects the beauty of Islam, from his era on.
Tamerlane’s son Miran Shah (1366–1408) was the father of Sultan Mahmud Mirza and the grandfather of Babur (1483-1530), founder of the Mughal Empire that ruled South Asia for 3.5 centuries, from 1526-1857.
Babur based his administration on the Persian model; the Persian language became official. The birth place of Babur was not in Tashkent but in Andijan - see his house-museum, memorial and symbolic tomb. Also note that the University and a large library of Andijan are named after him. These days many streets, parks and monuments are named after Babur in Tashkent as well. A small Tashkent museum presents Babur’s life and work, miniatures and gifts.
Moslems played the part of middlemen in trade. Muslim architecture became the motor of the Turkic-Persian culture and, for the first time, Islamic religious and educational facilities were established en route. Tourists to Tashkent will want to see Kaffal Shashi Mausoleum, built in Imam Square in 1542 in honour of a C10th polymath i.e a philosopher-linguist-Sharia judge-author-poet. In the heyday of Islamic Renaissance, the world was given hundreds of wonderful scientists, theologians and writers. Now the building is the residence of the Head of Central Asia’s Islam.
Juma Mosque/Friday Mosque was built in the C15th. After the recent earthquake, the mosque was completely renovated and looks modern. As 88% of Tashkent’s population is Islamic and only 10% Russian Orthodox, mosques and Madrassas are well used.
Next door to the Friday Mosque is the city’s Kukeldash Madrassa which was built in the mid C16th by Vezir Kukeldash. With only 38 cells for students, it was tiny compared to the ones in Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva. It was built in brick; only the façade was décorated with geometrical tilework. The original square shape with a big portal, towers and a shady inner yard that enabled the madrassa to be used as a caravanserai or fortress in more modern times. Only in mid C20th was the building restored as a madrassa again.
On the other side of the Kukeldash Madrassa, Chorsu Bazaar is huge and crowded. Chorsu is the very centre of Old Tashkent where markets are held either under the blue-colored domed buildings, for climate control, or in the open-air spaces. Alay Bazaar is one of the oldest bazaars of Tashkent, emerging a site on the livestock trade route. In the C19th, this space became a full-fledged bazaar and one of the most visited place for locals. This bazaar now has rows of foods and desert sellers especially Tashkent Plov, lamb stew and rice.
Alisher Navoi Theatre
In late C19th Grand Duke Nikolai Konstantinovich (d1918), cousin of Czar Alexander III, was banished to Tashkent for shady deals involving the Russian Crown Jewels. His 1891 Romanov Palace still stands in the centre of town. The large collection of works borrowed from the Hermitage back in Grand Duke Romanov’s days, to decorate his palace-in-exile, is now in Tashkent’s Fine Arts Museum of Uzbekistan. See paintings, carved woodwork, metalwork, plaster and stucco work, ceramic tiles and exquisite textiles.
Until 1865 Tashkent was under the rule of the Central Asian Khanate of Kokand; then the Russian colonial conquest of Turkestan was complete. Tashkent became Russian Turkestan’s main city!
In 1917 the Russian Revolution broke out, a terrible time for Tashkent’s citizens, although at least Tashkent soon became the capital of the Turkestan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1930 Tashkent took capital city honour from Samarkand and became the green capital and largest city of Uzbekistan. So Tashkent has a] Uzbek, b] Imperial Russian and c] Soviet modern buildings.
As German armies sped across the Soviet Union in 1941, the Soviets embarked on a desperate attempt to safeguard its population and industrial resources right in the middle of WW2. Soviet authorities transported people and industry away from the western war fronts into the safety of the east. The Urals, Siberia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan together received 16 million evacuees. With Tashkent as the favoured destination, this movement of desperate refugees remains the largest organised movement of civilians in history. I have a vested interest in this city - my mother’s Russian aunt and first cousin were moved to the hospitable safe-haven of Uzbekistan during WW2 ... and survived.
The present population of Tashkent is 2.5 million people.
The city has immense buildings in the Soviet architecture style, a style associated with social, utopian ideology. After the devastating 1966 Tashkent earthquake, large-scale apartment blocks were quickly built to house the homeless. And grand buildings were constructed, as well as the marvellous metro. The massive Hotel Uzbekistan, centrally located in Tashkent’s Amir Timur square, is a classic example of the 1970s Soviet style. This is also Central Asia’s most important political and commercial city, and transportation hub. Parliament Building was completed by 1997. The National History Museum, an impressive building with brilliant blue dome and ornate interior, celebrates Uzbek history. And amazing gardens.
Southern China Silk Road Tour spends 3.5 days in Tashkent and Samarkand. Nowhere else in Central Asia is as evocative of the Silk Road as Uzbekistan. In terms of architecture and historical sights, Uzbekistan still attracts the historically-minded tourists away from other neighbouring countries.
When I met my Czech born boyfriend (now husband) in 1969, I thought I better read some Kafka, listen to Dvořák and Janáček, and eat palačinkas. It all worked well, except for the Kafka.
Now the German scholar Reiner Stach's excellen Biography of Franz Kafka (1883-1924) filled in a lot of gaps. Stach spent 20+ years working on Kafka’s life, translated into English. The biography started with Kafka’s childhood in the dying days of the Hapsburg empire in 1883: family life in the Prague flat, schooling, law studies at university and career as an insurance clerk. Alas young Franz’s relationship with his overbearing father was horrible. Hermann Kafka was a stocky, ambitious and successful merchant, while his only son was tall, thin and fragile. So they were physically, emotionally and intellectually opposed.
Biography of Franz Kafka: Vol. 1 The Early Years, Vol. 2 The Decisive Years and Vol. 3 The Years of Insight
Kafka knew himself well. He wrote “The way I am, I am as the outcome of your (father’s) upbringing and of my compliance.” He was reflective and introspective, and saw the way that confrontation sank into him. A crucial night occurred when his father locked the child outside and refused his pleas for water. The impact of this traumatic scene repeated itself through Kafka’s life.
For young Kafka, Yiddish was his family’s spoken language at home and German was his medium for school and written work. Yet Czech was the affectionate language used by his caregivers in childhood. So Stach emphasised that Kafka was a German-speaking Jew who matured in Prague at the end of the brilliant Austrian Empire. He noted the dress conventions of the Bohemian capital in Kafka’s writing and the cultured life of the coffee houses where writers/artists got together, using local Czech and elite German.
The divide between the two cultures of Prague was replicated in Kafka’s mind, even as the heart of old Prague was being reshaped. The medieval Jewish ghetto was replaced with smart avenues and smart architecture. But a crazed mob of German students late in 1897 targetted the Jews. They looted homes, shops and Kafka’s school. This in turn provoked a counter-surge of Czech nationalist riots targetting German shops, clubs and businesses in the capital.
For Kafka, the Prague Riots created something menacing in his city. The teenager was also increasingly fearful at school. For all his brilliance in high school, he feared examinations and assessments.
Even at university, Kafka was very intellectual but lacked confidence. He recognised that life trapped him yet he was certain that he could use his ideas to free himself. Kafka was a full-time Law student, writing on weekends at the Reading and Lecture Hall of German Students. It was here, in 1902, he met Max Brod.
Kafka was exempted from WW1 service at the front because of TB, yet he was witness to unspeakable misery. In fact the diagnosis of his TB and the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire constituted a double shock for Kafka. He lost the financial security he had been counting on to survive as a writer. He began to pose broader existential questions, and his writing grew jagged and more reflective.
Kafka gave a vigorous nod to his literary models and heroes — Friedrich Hebbel, Thomas Mann, Charles Dickens and above all Gustave Flaubert, the cool writer who Kafka and Brod read together, in French! And although he had written several prose pieces since graduation, it was only with The Judgment, written in 1912, that Kafka felt he had made his breakthrough. Note that the story dealt with a young man who was condemned to death by his father!
Was Kafka unknown in his lifetime? No! Publishers printed his books and begged for more, and he belonged to an influential band of writers who met in Prague’s coffee shops. But he was difficult to socialise with. He suffered from:
total lack of confidence in his own skills,
disease and fear of disease,
very strange diets and exercise fads and
a particularly unskilled love life.
Brod introduced Kafka to his Prussian Jewish cousin Felice Bauer in 1912. She became the writer’s long-suffering fiancée, but when he contracted the TB that led to his death, Kafka broke off the engagement. When he eventually felt obliged to marry Felice, he did so in an 18-page letter that included a pathetic marriage proposal. Felice did recognise his miserable selfishness, and finally run away. Nonetheless she held onto Kafka’s 500 deepest confessional letters! Sometimes daily letters! Stach wrote tellingly of this strange literary friendship and its usefulness for Kafka.
How sad that Kafka finally met the right woman when he was 40 years old. Had he met Dora Diamant earlier, he might have finally been happily married.
Kafka was resting at a sanatorium on Lake Zurich, a time that became typical of the long stays he spent at health clinics across Central Europe. He died of consumption at 40, and was buried in the New Jewish Cemetery in Prague.
Was Max Brod clever and insightful, or a mere hanger-on? Of one thing I am certain: Brod, who revered Kafka and adored his work, HAD to became the literary executor. Because very little of Kafka’s writing was published before his death in 1924, he luckily left his letters, diaries and early writings to Brod, instructing him to burn the documents unread.
If Brod had not refused Kafka’s direct instructions to destroy the unpublished manuscripts, we probably would not know Kafka’s name today. And not surprisingly it was Brod who wrote the first biography of his friend and prepared Kafka’s posthumous works for publication. Brod actually collated, edited and published Kafka’s writing, including The Trial and The Castle– now literary classics. When Brod fled Germany for Israel in 1939, he took the documents with him. The two men's friendship was more important for us than for Kafka.
"Kafka, The Early Years" was written by Rainer Stach, translated by Shelley Frisch and published by Princeton University Press in 2016. The other volumes were published separately.
Malta (pop c370,000) is in the mid Mediterranean Sea, half way between Europe and Africa; Spain and Israel. So the country’s strategic position attracted every expansionist nation to take over the tiny Maltese archipelago. The ancient Phoenicians settled around the natural Grand Harbour. But it was the Romans who governed these islands for centuries and first built the city of Medina.
Consider the 60 AD shipwreck of the Apostle St Paul. During his 3 months on Malta living in the Medina catacombs, he taught Christianity and nominated Malta’s first bishop. In St Paul's Church, the catacombs were for Christian burials and rock altars.
Malta gained from the expanding Mediterranean trade conducted by the rival commercial, maritime empires of Pisa, Genoa and Venice. Important sea lanes were secured for Christian shipping when Arab pirate ships were destroyed. And during the Crusades, the maritime cities organised the crusaders’ transport and their supplies to Jerusalem.
Because Malta had been Muslim, the Normans warmly encouraged the establishment of Christian communities in the islands. One small island was given to the Benedictines for a monastery in 1151. A Norman cathedral was built in Medina which was similar to the great Norman churches in Sicily. Soon Franciscans, Carmelites, Augustinians and Dominicans established themselves.
Nave of St John's Co-Cathedral , built in the 1570s
Frederick II Catholic Emperor of Germany had combined the Norman tradition of diversity and tolerance with patronage of Islamic arts and sciences. Only in 1250 did the repressive Aragon kingdom took over did the good times end.
The Order of the Hospital of St John militarily defended pilgrims in Jerusalem against Moslem attacks. But Saladin's forces eventually defeated them and they withdrew to Acre. In 1291 they moved their base to Cyprus. Then in 1306 they became The Knights of Rhodes. When Suleiman the Magnificent ruled in 1521, he expelled the Knightly Order and Emperor Charles V offered them Malta instead. From 1521-1798, they were the Knights of Malta.
Malta suffered frequent attacks by the dreaded Ottoman Turks so they built the star-shaped Fort of St Elmo, to fortify the harbour. By 1530 they’d reinforced the St Angelo stronghold. Fort St Angelo was held by the French during the Napoleonic wars, then by the British and is now a National War Museum. Eventually another massive fortress was needed on Grand Harbour’s southside - Fort Ricasoli.
The Ottoman Turkish invaders struck again in May 1565: the Great Siege of Malta was one of their most glorious, tragic moments. Tens of thousands of Turks fought a pitch battle, and although the Maltese knights under Grand Master Jean de la Valette were outnumbered, the Turks still couldn’t penetrate Grand Harbour for months. “Lifting the Great Siege” is still memorialised every Sept.
The Knights, devout, aristocratic and warlike, formed one of the most powerful and rich groups in Europe. But they lacked permanent HQs, and with increasingly frequent skirmishes against the Ottomans, protection was needed. Grand Master La Vallette started construction of a new walled city: Valletta. Pope Pius V and King Philip II of Spain both gave aid and the Pope sent a military engineer in 1566. 8,000 workers started building Valetta: Maltese, slaves and foreigners.
By 1571 the knights transferred their residence to the new capital. In order to preserve each’s identity, each Langue-language group paid for and built its own Auberge-residential inn. Each had a church attached. The knights needed city buildings, gardens, public festivals, moats, massive walls and 50 guns. The old capital, Medina, lost its population and importance.
St John's Co-Cathedral 1573-7 has an austere rectangular exterior, but inside is a blaze of Baroque: carving, gilt work, inlaid marble and knightly armorials. The massive barrel vault (1660s) shows episodes from St John the Baptist’s life. The nave is flanked by the 7 sumptuous Langues’ chapels and marble knightly tombs. The Cathedral Oratory has Caravaggio’s masterpiece Beheading of St John 1608 and his St Jerome is in a side chapel.
Valletta, rebuilt after WW2 bombing.
The monks needed a library, so in 1555 a HUGE building was erected next to the cathedral. It later became the National Library.
In the 1570s the Grand Master's Palace was built. Later Grand Masters enlarged the Palace, had their portraits and names honoured on palace walls and built the Chapel of Our Lady. When the British ruled Malta, the British Governor lived in the same palace. Appropriately it is now the seat of the Maltese Parliament.
Jesuit College, opened in 1592, was later empowered by Pope Gregory XIII to confer Masters and Doctorates of Divinity. With the 1675 plague, the Grand Master appointed a lecturer in Anatomy and Surgery at Sacra Infirmary and built a medical library. After the Jesuits were expelled in 1768, the Grand Master appropriated the Jesuits’ properties and established The University of Malta.
A lovely guest house of the Knights in Valletta was later used by the British fleet as their headquarters. Only in 1974 did it become the National Museum of Fine Arts, with C15th-18th Italian paintings.
When Napoleon's troops arrived in the 1790s, the Knights of Malta did not want to fight fellow Christians and fellow Frenchmen. So they voluntarily left Malta for good. The British took over Malta in 1814 and English was made the first official language of Malta. Malta was not granted self-government until 1921 but Valletta was already beautiful, steep, Baroque and water fronted.
Perfect timing! Valletta is hosting the title of European Capital of Culture in 2018. Thank you to Lonely Planet for the photos.
I have happily read the book Acland Street: The Grand Lady of St Kilda, written by Dr Judith Buckrich (Nov 2017). It explores the history of architecture on Acland St, starting from the 1850s and early settlement, through swamps, race courses, development of the Acland St village, Victorian prosperity and boarding house poverty.
Buckrich searched the archives and interviewed famous people from the Melbourne Jewish community who had a connection to Acland St. She recognised that the street was one of Melbourne's most important because it mirrored so much of the social change that occurred in Australian cities over 175 years. It encapsulated the social and cultural history of the city in a unique way, having been part of Melbourne’s entertainment scene for decades, as well as home to the wealthiest and poorest of its citizens.
The Melbourne suburb of St Kilda was named after Sir Thomas Dyke Acland, 10th Baronet (1787–1871) of Killerton Manor in Devon, a British politician and land owner. He owned the cruiser yacht Lady of St Kilda from 1834-40, after which the area was named during one of the ship's visits to Melbourne in 1842. His wife Lady Lydia Hoare was the first English lady to set foot in St Kilda.
This land was once shrubland, lagoons and dunes. For its traditional owners, the Kulin Nation, the St Kilda Triangle was part of an area called Euroe Yroke. After European settlement, St Kilda became a bustling seaside suburb, and the Triangle site became a recreational space for decades.
Acland St StKilda 2017
Cars can no longer drive through. Trams must turn around at the end of the street.
St Kilda became a municipality in 1857, and in the same year a railwayline was built connecting it to Melbourne’s city centre. Regular train services resulted in increased visitors to St Kilda’s sea baths, jetty promenade, cricket, bowling clubs and the St Kilda Cup. By the mid-1860s, St Kilda had 15 residential hotels, including the famous George Hotel.
During the 1880s land boom, it became a densely populated district of large stone mansions and palatial hotels, mostly along the broad Fitzroy, Grey and Acland streets. From the 1890s, many mansions became boarding houses and brothels.
After WW1, the suburb was a magnet for European migrants and singles from less acceptable sub-cultures. There were artists, musicians, writers, the LGB community and anyone who was poor but wanted the joys of seaside life. This suburb of contrasts was, and is, impossible to pin down economically and socially.
After the opening of the cable tramway in 1891, the St Kilda Foreshore Committee was formed by the government to make their area into a Mediterranean seaside resort. Carlo Catani was contracted to prepare a masterplan for St Kilda’s beautification in 1906. Catani’s famous leisure precinct along the bay, as far as Point Ormond, included notable features like the Sea Baths (1910), Luna Park (1912), Palais de Danse I (1913), Palais de Danse II (1926) and Palais Theatre (1927).
European migrants and refugees were arriving by 1946, often taken there straight off the boat - they gave the street a totally cosmopolitan flavour! And Jews like my parents, who had been living in Carlton before the war, started to migrate south to St Kilda, Elwood and Caulfield. They too frequented the cafés, delicatessens and cake shops in Acland St.
Sundays mornings was standing-room only as Jewish men gathered on the street to sort out the politics of the day, eat latkes at Café Scheherazade, buy kugelhopf from Monarch and the latest novels from the Balberyszski Bookshop. Monarch opened in 1934 and was the first of the cake shops here. Two doors away was Scheherazade Coffee Lounge, founded in 1958 by Avram and Masha Zeleznikow who had migrated from Paris a few years earlier. Regulars ordered traditional fare like gefilte fish, chopped chicken liver, potato latkes and kreplach.
Modern visitors to the continental cake shops in Acland St find reminders of a dwindling European-Jewish ambience; alas (for me) the cultural shift has led to the departure of small, but important businesses. Today Balberszki book sellers, Wielunski milk bar, Berioska, Eilat and Carmel restaurants, the Budapest delicatessen, Eat-More Poultry are gone, while Chinese businesses such as Fairy Stork restaurant are going too. The cake shops that were bastions of yesteryear, are now part of a gradual shift from “remnant European” to a "more international beachside" culture.
More recently the Palais de Danse III opened on the Triangle site, and was later renamed Palace Entertainment Centre. Destroyed by fire in 2007, a masterplan was later approved by Council incorporating repairs to the Palais Theatre and a redevelopment of the Triangle site. Traders fear that Acland St will lose its distinctiveness. Nonetheless it is still a colourful street adorned with art on the footpath and an assortment of talented street performers. In Aug 2014, the Council and the community delivered a project for the St Kilda Triangle site.
In the book, Acland St's cake shops provided a link to St Kilda's European heritage, and to my childhood. Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, my parents and their friends spent Sunday afternoons eating cheesecake and sour cream in East European restaurants, especially Scheherazade. The best year was 1956 when my father was integrally involved in the Melbourne Olympic Games. He arranged outings for the homesick Israeli team (all 3 athletes and some older managers) in Acland St.
Happily the fabulous Esplanade Market is still open every Sunday. There's also live entertainment, good food and an attractive atmosphere at famous local bar/restaurant, the Vineyard. And Luna Park of course.
The women’s suffrage movement in Britain had been fractured in 1903. This was when Emmeline Pankhurst led a breakaway group from the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, arguing that it had become too content waiting for male approval, rather than actively demanding women’s rights. The militant Women’s Social and Political Union, run by the Pankhursts, had begun disrupting political meetings attended by prominent MPs. The suffragettes’ tactics reawakened public interest in the issue, but the Pankhursts were often seen as overly autocratic.
Robert Wainwright* wrote of a young actress named Muriel Matters (1877-1969) who grew up in South Australia. The art of elocution back then required its exponents to weave a tale onstage, often set to music or poetry. Muriel trained with Lionel Logue, a family friend who later helped the stuttering King George VI.
From an Australian state where women got the vote in 1894, Muriel arrived in London with little money, some letters of introduction and dreams to become a West End star. At 28 Muriel was an intellectual, reinforced by other intellectuals who imbued her with socialist ideals. Two people were important in encouraging Muriel’s radical thinking – a] British journalist WT Stead and b] Peter Prince Kropotkin, exiled Russian revolutionary, who persuaded her to use her oratory skills “for the greater good”.
Muriel’s new direction emerged when she joined the Women's Freedom League/WFL. She led a campaign to protect young female actresses and stagehands from exploitation at the hands of low-paying, predatory agents and production companies. Her enthusiasm, eloquence and magical voice had to be used for the cause. Muriel’s magnetism, the WFL committee agreed, would be wasted if she was just speaking in town halls to the converted.
Instead she needed to do mobile recruitment, talking in regional areas. In 1908, Muriel travelled on a horse-drawn caravan from town to town, speaking in halls and fields, standing on town memorials to speak to hundreds of listeners. Unfortunately she had to be flanked by police, given the attendant male violence.
Womens’ Sunday was the first monster meeting to be organised by the Women's Social and Political Union. Specially chartered trains transported suffragettes from across Britain to march in processions through central London, rallying in Hyde Park. Platforms were erected for 80 speakers to address the crowds; 300,000-500,000 saw the delegates dressed in the suffragette tricolour and carrying embroidered banners.
How appropriate that another Australian, artist Dora Meeson, was an active member of the British Artists' Suffrage League. Dora designed and painted the banner used in the 1908 parade. It depicted a young woman personifying Australia, imploring a mature woman representing Britain.
Parliament became the focus of suffragist protest and the WFL were looking for a high-profile statement. They created a series of protests outside Parliament, to divert attention from the protesters inside; Muriel would be their non-violent champion and leader.
In Oct 1908 Muriel brought a chain into the House of Commons under her dress. Just as the MPs started debating a finance bill, Muriel locked herself to the iron grille in the ladies' gallery, used to obscure the women’s view of parliamentary debates. After her speech about women's rights and still attached to the grille, Muriel was charged with disorderly conduct and gaoled in Holloway.
In Feb 1909 Muriel Matters was hoisted into a wicker basket beneath an airship. The basket was loaded up with WFL leaflets, to be dropped over King Edward VII as his golden carriage moved down The Mall. But the wind conditions and the primitive balloon-motor ensured she never made it to Westminster. Nevertheless her exploit created headlines in newspapers everywhere.
In 1910 Muriel returned to Australia and lectured about feminism and socialism. With another Australian, Vida Goldstein, Muriel secured a resolution from the Australian Senate to the British prime minister, celebrating the enfranchisement of Australian women.
She returned to Britain and broadened her involvement from suffrage .. to impoverished families. For the next two years she lived in the grim slums of London’s Lambeth as a journalist, writing for a Christian newspaper. She continued making speeches and became involved in Ireland and Scotland’s industrial turmoil. She criticised sweat shops and advocated women's unions, equal divorce laws, equal pay and support for unmarried mothers.
So why was the remarkable Muriel Matters not hugely famous? Part of her problem in Australia was that white women in Australia already had the vote and had moved on. Plus we have to assume that the Australian press was largely conservative during Matters’ life here. Editors might have been offended by coverage of an unknown Australian woman’s attack on Mother Britain. We all know about the colonial cringe ☹
Even in Britain, Muriel Matters faced a few problems. Firstly she was from the colonies, not a real Brit. Secondly she was not one of the Pankhurst People. Thirdly she was against WW1, much to the horror of many suffragettes. Finally she married a divorced man who possibly left his wife for her. Scandal!
With WW1 in 1914, Muriel Matters became a prominent pacifist. This slim and vivacious woman with a mass of golden hair turned down marriage proposals from divorced Bostonian dentist Dr William Porter, then finally married him in London. Marriage did not divert her attention totally; she still organised a national conference of women in London to discuss peace and disarmament.
Muriel had to spend energy on early childhood education. In 1916 she attended a training course by Italian educationalist Dr Maria Montessori in Barcelona, and soon this new child free disciple opened an early British Montessori school.
At the behest of the prime minister, Ramsay MacDonald, Ms Matters unsuccessfully stood as a Labour candidate for Hastings in 1924. Nonetheless full suffrage for British women was finally granted in 1928. After retirement Muriel moved to Hastings, until her death in 1969, at 92.
*This excellent book is Miss Muriel Matters: The Australian Actress Who Became One of London’s Most Famous Suffragists by Robert Wainwright (ABC Books, 2017). Or see an ABC 2015 docudrama called Muriel Matters!
Acre/Akko was conquered by Pharaoh Ramses II (1279-1213 BC), then by the Greeks, the Persians and the Syrian Seleucids. Herod the Great and Roman Emperor Vespasian (69-79 AD) used Akko and Caesarea for their campaign. The town prospered in Byzantine times and Ommayad times, when it was the port for their capital in Damascus.
The Crusaders conquered Jerusalem in 1099 and Akko in 1104. They renamed it St Jean d'Acre and made it the head quarters of the Knights of St John. The Italian port cities established trading posts in Acre, and made it a flourishing port. After Jerusalem fell in 1187, Acre became the large capital of the Crusader kingdom. In 1219 St Francis of Assisi visited the town and established a nunnery. In 1228 Emperor Frederick II landed here during his Crusade, as did Louis IX of France in 1250. Soon afterwards there was a bitter civil war, between the two Christian orders, The Knights Hospitallers of St John and The Templars. In 1290, the Crusaders slaughtered large numbers of Muslims. When the Mameluke Sultan arrived in 1291, the Crusader kingdom ended.
Visit the City
With its caravanserais, fortifications and Crusader buildings packed in the narrow alleyways, history-lovers will be very happy. Akko's incredible surviving walls around the Old City are the town's most distinctive fortifications. They were built in their present form by Ahmed el-Jazzar in the C18th. Climb up onto the ramparts and walk along the walls. The northeast corner is dominated by the massive tower that stands on the foundations of Richard the Lionheart’s tower. Further south is the Treasures in the Wall Museum, which has a collection of artefacts from C19th Jewish settlers in the area. Along the sea-side wall, inspect the Ottoman Tower of the Vine, built to defend against sea attacks.
Akko harbour was an important port from the classical age until the medieval period. During the Crusader era, it could be occupied by up to 80 ships. That port has now silted up, and all that is left is a small tranquil fishing harbour. From here the tourist boats sail out to give excellent views of Akko Old City.
In the underground Crusader Tunnel, the sea above is audible. The 350m passage originally connected the harbour with a Templar palace, providing a secret escape route to the sea during attacks.
On the Crusader cathedral site, Ahmed el-Jazzar Mosque was built in 1781. The mosque has its tall slender minaret, a fine example of Turkish rococo architecture with a mammoth interior decorated in ornate blue, brown and white. A small plain domed building to the right of the prayer hall entrance which had the mausoleum of Ahmed el-Jazzar (d1804) and of his successor Sulieman Pasha. The arcaded courtyard has a small rococo-style kiosk and accommodation spaces for pilgrims and Islamic scholars. On the east side of the gallery, a cistern dating from the Crusader era ran a water supply for the population, whenever the town was under siege.
Akko's finest church, St John's Church, was built in 1737 and occupies the site of a C12th Crusader church dedicated to St Andrew. Note the juxtaposition of its white walls and red bell tower surrounded by the crumbling stone walls.
An C18th hammam/Turkish Bath now houses the Hammam al-Pasha Museum with exhibits on the history and culture of Turkish baths. This preserved hammam has colourful tiles walls enclosing the space where important men bathed and women held parties in a separate enclosure.
Underneath Ahmed el-Jazzar's citadel is a series of gothic vaulted halls, which were once head-quarters for the Crusader armies. See their Knights Hall and the Dining Hall, a series of narrow subterranean tunnels and a crypt. The grand bulk of Ahmed el-Jazzar's C18th citadel sits just inside the Old City walls.
During the British Mandate, the Citadel was used as a prison; today it houses the Museum of Underground Prisoners. This museum commemorates the Jewish fighters who were imprisoned or executed here by the British authorities.
Lohamei Hageta'ot Kibbutz was founded in 1949 by Polish and Lithuanian Jews. Now is home to a moving museum dedicated to the Jewish resistance against the Nazis and the Holocaust. On the ground floor are displays illustrating the history of Jewish Vilnius until 1940. There is material on the early days of Jewish nationalism at the end of the C19th, the everyday life of Polish Jews and an exhibit of art works by concentration camp prisoners.
Just north of Akko, the lovely gardens of Bahje Baha'i Centre contain the shrine of Bahu Ullah, founder of Baha'i faith. He was exiled to Akko in 1868 and spent the later life in the red-roofed house in the gardens. Just like the Baha'i Gardens in Haifa.
English King James I granted a charter to the Virginia Co. to form a North America settlement in 1606. The Virginia Co. was to search for local riches and a sea trade route to the Pacific Ocean. 100 colonists left England on three ships and landed on a narrow peninsula in the James River. Captain John Smith chose the inland location to hide them from Spanish ships and to provide protection from any Native American enemies.
John Smith and the English colonists stayed near the Powhatan on nearby Jamestown Island, but later began to explore out-lying areas.
In the meantime Smith terrorised Native people when he put guns to heads of village chiefs, demanding food and supplies. In fact the early 1600s were a horrible time for all local tribes. Young children were targets of rape, so the Native women offered themselves to men, to keep their children safe. The Powhatan people were in an unwinnable situation since the English government offered them no protection.
The true story of Matoaka (later Pocahontas c1596-1616) has been gathered from years of extensive research of the written records and oral histories from her descendants and tribal peoples of Virginia. Read Vincent Schilling who tells a tale of tragedy and heartbreak about a young Native girl Matoaka who was kidnapped, raped and perhaps murdered by those who were supposed to keep her safe.
Matoaka’s mother was Pocahontas (who died giving birth) and her father was Wahunsenaca, the tribal chief. Little Matoaka was raised by the Mattaponi women, along with her many siblings.
Matoaka was c10 when John Smith and English colonists arrived. Since Pocahontas was living with her father Chief Powhatan Wahunsenaca, she seemed to be protected. In winter 1607, the colonists and Smith met with Powhatan warriors and Smith was captured by the chief’s younger brother. Later Wahunsenaca grew to like Smith, offering him the position of werowance/colonists’ leader, plus land with great access to game and seafood.
In 1608-09, Smith’s role as the colonists’ werowance had failed. The colonists made inadequate attempts to plant crops to harvest, and Smith violently demanded supplies from surrounding villages. Pocahontas’ father was disgusted.
When Matoaka turned 14, she choose a new name after her mother, Pocahontas. During a ceremony she danced a courtship dance with Kocoum, younger brother of Potowomac Chief Japazaw. She married the young warrior and soon became pregnant. It was at this time rumours surfaced that colonists planned to kidnap Pocahontas.
An English colonist Captain Samuel Argall was particularly keen to find her, thinking that a captured daughter of the chief would prevent Native attacks. Argall came to the village and demanded Chief Japazaw, Pocahontas’ brother-in-law, to give up Pocahontas or suffer violence against his village. So he relented in the ridiculous hope that she would only be gone temporarily. Before Argall left the village, he gave Chief Japazaw a copper pot as a “trade” for her.
Pocahontas had to give her baby, Kocoum, to the women of the village. She was trapped onboard an English ship and her husband was killed by the colonists. The tribal chiefs of the Powhatan never retaliated for the kidnapping of Pocahontas, fearing they would suffer!
Pocahontas’ anxiety was so severe that her English captors allowed sister Mattachanna and brother-in-law Uttamattamakin to help. In The True Story of Pocahontas, The Other Side of History, Linwood Custalow wrote that when Mattachanna and Uttamattamakin arrived at Jamestown, Pocahontas confided she had been brutally raped.
By the time John Rolfe arrived in Virginia in May 1610, 600 colonists had been reduced to 70 by famine, disease and clashes. Mattaponi history is clear that Pocahontas and Rolfe had a son out of wedlock, Thomas. Eventually Pocahontas was converted to Christianity and took the name Rebecca.
During her captivity, the English colony of Jamestown was failing. John Rolfe was under a 1616 deadline to become profitable or lose financial support from home. Rolfe sought to learn tobacco-curing techniques from the Powhatan, but curing tobacco was a sacred Native practice. Realising the value of aligning himself with the tribe, he eventually married Pocahontas.
Only then did the Powhatan spiritual leaders and family share the curing practice with Rolfe. And soon Rolfe’s tobacco was a sensation; he saved the colony of Jamestown!
The Powhatan tribal lands were now highly sought after for the tobacco trade and the tribe suffered badly of greedy tobacco farmers. Rumours of the colonists’ desire to take Pocahontas made its way to the Powhatan, who feared for her well-being. They thought of rescuing her, but once again Wahunsenaca did nothing because he feared his daughter might “be harmed”.
Rebecca Pocahontas Rolfe travelled to England in 1616 with John Rolfe, son Thomas Rolfe, John Argall and some Native tribal members. The bringing of Pocahontas to England was to show friendship with Native nations; it was a key to continued financial support for the struggling colonists.
According to Mattachanna’s record, Pocahontas realised that she was being used and desperately desired to return home. According to Jane Dismore, Pocahontas carried herself with great dignity. The Bishop wrote he ‘accustomed her selfe to civilitie’ and ‘still carried her selfe as the Daughter of a King, and was accordingly respected [by] persons of Honor, in their hopefull zeale by her to advance Christianitie’. Clearly she was very popular in King James’ court, and did not want to go home.
Plans were made to return to Virginia in 1617 when Pocahontas was in good health. Yet at only 20 she died (of TB?) in March 1617 and was buried in St George’s Church Gravesend.
Since first writing about art stolen by the Nazis during WW2 and hidden in various underground salt mines in Germany and Austria, I have read everything I could on The Monument Men. When the Nazis found the Altaussee Salt Mines in Alpine Bavaria, for example, they were delighted to ship their 6500 stolen art treasures into this salt-heavy, pastoral hideout. Today, ever since the film Monument Men appeared in our cinemas, tourists have flocked to the Altaussee Mines.
When I heard of the Krakow Salt Mines Museum of Art on tv, I assumed it was another amazing memorial to art stolen by the Nazis during WW2. Wrong! Nonetheless it is fascinating.
The Krakow Salt Works Museum is a large exhibition space in the Wieliczka Salt Mine in Southern Poland, established after WW2. The mine, which continuously produced table salt from the Middle Ages on, now consists of Two Worlds, A] an underground with a large exhibit in the salt mine 135m below and B] an aboveground in the Salt Works Castle.
A] The Underground World is located in 17 historic mine workings, designed out in the 19th and early C20th. The museum has a rich collection of mining technology, including a collection of treadmills for horses, an early form of lifting gear which is displayed in its original environment.
The tourist route takes up only 2% of the mine’s total length. The large Underground Salt Cathedral of Poland, with walls carved to replicate chapels from the earlier centuries, has chandeliers made from rock salt which have a glassy appearance, and religious sculpture. Plus there are historic and modern statues eg Copernicus, Goethe, Chopin.
Wide salt stairs, from which one can admire St Kinga's Chapel (started in 1896) in its full splendour, lead inside. Opposite the entrance to the chapel is the main altar with a statue of St Kinga, carved by Józef Markowski. The chapel walls are adorned with salt reliefs featuring various scenes from the New Testament and decorated by the Wieliczka miner sculptors. It is here that the only existing underground salt-carved monument of Polish Pope John Paul II.
Many shafts were dug throughout the time the mine was operating. See the preserved mining equipment, small under-ground brine lakes, and salt-hewn spaces. The underground exhibition features a unique collection of horse powered extracting treadmills of three different types: Polish, Saxon and Hungarian, and machines to haul the salt to the top of the surface.
There is wide range of exhibits: specimens of beautiful salt crystals, ancient utensils for salt production, documents and maps, paintings and sculptures from the non-existent underground chapels, ceremonial mining weapons, a Miner’s Union Horn, a collection of mining lamps and tools illustrating the various historical stages of salt production locally.
B] The Aboveground World is located in Żupny Castle, built on the hillside above Wieliczka, started under the C14th reign of Casimir III the Great and completed in the C16th reign of Sigismund I the Old. It was built in a square formation, including living quarters outside the castle walls. Until 1945, this defensive castle was the administrative and business headquarters of the salt mine.
C] World War Two
The complex of Kraków-Płaszów concentration camps was located nearby and slave labour was readily available. So the mine shafts were used by the Germans to create war industries here, doubly suitable because the underground spaces were safe from Allied bombing raids. How ironic that thousands of Jews were trucked from the slave labour camps in Plaszow and Mielec to the Wieliczka mine; ever since the laws of Polish king Sigimund August (mid C16th), Jewish settlement in Wieliczka was banned until 1867.
As soon as the Soviets were about to liberate the area, the German war industry was disassembled and transported to Liebenau slave labour camp in the Sudetes mountains. The Jewish labourers were trucked to camps in the Czech Republic and Austria.
In 1978, was placed on UNESCO World Heritage Site because The Wieliczka salt mine reflects all the historic stages of development in mining techniques from the 13th to the C20th, while the preserved devices and tools document the old systems of working the deposits, drainage, lighting and ventilation of the mine in a unique manner by world standards. In 2010 a sister mine 28ks apart, historic Bochnia Salt Mine, was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. In 2013 Żupny Castle was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage Site.
After over a decade of austere Cromwellian rule, the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 led to a resurgence of the arts in England. The court of King Charles II ((1630-85) became the centre for the patronage of leading artists and the collecting of great works of art, which served a) as decoration for the royal apartments and b) to glorify the restored monarchy and reinforce Charles’ position as the rightful king. Now an exhibition called Charles II: Art and Power at the Queen’s Gallery is on at Buckingham Palace, until 13th May 2018.
In May 1660 Charles II made his triumphant return to the thrones of England and Ireland, ending a decade of republican Commonwealth under Oliver Cromwell. After 14 years in exile, Charles II was keenly aware of the importance of princely tradition and magnificent display in enforcing his right to the throne and his position as Head of the Church.
He ordered royal regalia and crown jewels to replace those sold off or melted down by the Parliamentarians, and his coronation in April 1661 was the most extravagant since that of Elizabeth I. See the stunning altar plate in Westminster Abbey, including the silver-gilt alms dish by Henry Greenway, a metre in diameter, and a solid-gold chalice and gold paten.
Charles planned to regain legitimacy, amongst other ways, by re-claiming his father’s fabulous art collection. Although the royal residences had survived the Civil War largely undisturbed, the Commonwealth government had sold off much of their contents. Parliament commanded that all persons holding goods formerly belonging to Charles I, Queen Henrietta Maria or the new king were to return them with immediate effect. This order was later made legally binding through the 1660 Act of Indemnity and Oblivion.
by John Michael Wright in c1661
282 × 239 cm
Charles II had placed an order for a large group of paintings from the dealer who had sold works to his father in the 1630s. Among these were Pieter Bruegel the Elder's The Massacre of the Innocents c1565–67 and Georges de la Tour's St Jerome c1621–3. In the same year the King was presented with great paintings, sculpture and furniture by the States of Holland and West Friesland. And, to strengthen the alliance between the two countries and to discourage Charles II from agreeing to a treaty with his cousin Louis XIV, they sent Paolo Veronese's Mystic Marriage of St Catherine of Alexandria c1562–69 and Titian’s Madonna and Child in a Landscape with Tobias and the Angel c1535–40.
Having grown up surrounded by his father’s art collection, Charles II knew that paintings promoted pleasure and decoration, and also promoted the king’s power. Soon after his return to England, he appointed the portraitist Sir Peter Lely as official Limner and Picture Drawer. Lely was seen as the natural successor to Van Dyck, the first holder of the post established by Charles I. The miniaturist Samuel Cooper became Royal Picture Maker in 1672. In 1674 Italian Antonio Verrio, who had assisted the artist Charles Le Brun at Versailles, was commissioned to decorate the newly built State Apartments at Windsor Castle.
Charles II's new court style was influenced by the luxurious French fashions he had seen at Louis XIV’s court when his exile started. His royal apartments at Whitehall Palace were filled with elaborate decorative arts, including tapestries woven in Parisian workshops and silver furniture in the French taste. The royal palaces were the setting for lavish masques and balls attended by poets, writers, scientists, actors and beautiful women, several of whom were painted by Sir Peter Lely in a series of Windsor Beauties, including portraits of the King's mistress Barbara Villiers, Countess of Castlemaine and Cleveland.
An image of the restored monarchy was painted by John Michael Wright in c1661. The King wore St Edward’s crown and parliamentary robes over the Garter costume, and he carried an orb and sceptre which were made specially for the. as the earlier regalia had been destroyed during the Interregnum. The King is seated in front of a tapestry apparently representing the Judgment of Solomon, which may allude to the king’s wisdom.
The gallery is displaying artefacts from the King’s Touch Ceremony in which each monarch touched tens of thousands of members of the public suffering from scrofula. God would cure the unsightly swelling disease VIA the Royal touch. The weekly ritual had become so popular that the palace was compelled to issue tokens to tens of thousands of scrofula sufferers, proving they had been blessed by the King’s hand. See the 1662 “Proclamation for the better ordering of those who repair to the Court for their Cure of the Disease called the Kings-Evil”.
The book Charles II: Art & Power by Martin Clayton and Rufus Bird was published by Royal Collection Trust in Dec 2017. It includes glittering silver-gilt plate from the high-altar of Westminster Abbey during the King's coronation, old master paintings, tapestries and spectacular furniture i.e the rich material world of Charles II's court.
The Rock of Gibraltar is a narrow sandy isthmus off the Iberian Peninsula. Being limestone, the 6sq km Rock is riddled with 140+ caves. Off the eastern cliffs of the rock a flat, sandy plain stretched out towards the Mediterranean.
The Strait of Gibraltar is the narrow neck separating Europe from Africa, the only link between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Since the Prophet died in Medina in 632 AD, the progress of Islam’s armies was rapid. Berber Tarik-ibn-Zeyad landed in 710 AD and from 742 on, the Moors defended their rock with a fort.
In 1068, the Arab Governor on Gibraltar ordered that a stronger Moorish Castle be built to watch events across the Strait. The castle had the largest keep and the tallest towers in all the Iberian Peninsula, plus buildings, gates and fortified walls. In 1160 the Caliph of Morocco commissioned a fully fortified city. The Rock remained in Arab hands until an unexpected Spanish attack between 1309-33, then it reverted to Arab control. The Moors’ City Walls surrounded the city, later strengthened by other nations.
In the Battle of Trafalgar 1805, Napoleon was allied with Spain in planning an invasion of Britain. The British fleet was commanded by Horacio Nelson and the combined Franco-Spanish fleet was commanded by Gen Villenueve. For two years, the fleets chased each other around the Atlantic and Mediterranean, before finally clashing at the Battle of Trafalgar where Nelson died.
Given Gibraltar's historical military role, it was not till the early C19th that the military governor focused on civilians’ social needs. By 1815 the governor created the Grand Parade, where locals could walk out of the extreme heat. Grand Parade became a hub of ceremonial military events.
In 1817 the Exchange and Commercial Library was founded for civilians. Soon after, a Charter of Justice was granted, civilian magistracy established and civil rights were given to citizens. A Supreme Court was created, with a chief justice and jury system. In 1830, responsibility for local affairs was transferred from the War Office to the Colonial Office, and the status of Gibraltar was changed from the “Garrison of Gibraltar in the Kingdom of Spain”, to the “Crown Colony of Gibraltar”. A local Police Force arrived in 1830.
At their peak in 1865, Gibraltar's fortifications housed 681 guns mounted in 110 batteries, guarding all land and sea approaches to Gibraltar. Lord Airey's Batteries were completed in 1891 and are located at the highest point on Gibraltar. The Military Heritage Centre is housed in one of the many batteries still found today.
In WW1 Spain remained neutral and was not a danger to Gibraltar. But Germany’s growing power led the British Government to expand its Navy. This heightened Gibraltar's role as major naval base, to keep the Straits clear of enemy shipping. The Bay developed modern dockyards, harbour and repair facilities for Allied warships.
The civilian population was evacuated to Britain and Jamaica, and 230 years of political gains under British rule seemed lost. However read how this isthmus played a role in defeating Hitler: Defending The Rock, Nicholas Rankin, Faber & Faber, 2017. In any case, the post-war years saw a growing demand for greater self-government, plus progress in medical, educational and housing services.
Perched on the peak of the Rock is the Top Station of The Cable Car 1966. There are great views across the Straits of Gibraltar to Africa, to Spain and the Mediterranean. This Cable Car was constructed by the Swiss, but within the Top Station complex there is an “English” pub and shop.
Surrounded by sea, Gibraltar has 5 beaches: Catalan Bay, Camp Bay, Eastern Beach, Sandy Bay and Little Bay. Catalan Bay beach has the charm of a fishing village with attractive pubs and marinas.
In 1963 Gibraltar's status came before the UN Special Committee on Decolonisation. A 1967 referendum asked Gibraltans whether they wanted to remain British or become Spanish. 12,000+ people voted for Britain while 44 chose Spain!! Nonetheless Spain caused the complete closure of the border in 1969. Gen Franco had besieged the territory and cut it off, by telephone, land and by sea.
Barbary Apes' Den
Gibraltar (pop 34,000) was granted a new Constitution by Britain and their House of Assembly was established. The New Constitution of May 1969 stated that Gibraltar would never be handed to Spain without an Act of Parliament and without the people's consent. Gibraltar gained control over its own civil service, and power now lay in a democratically elected government under a Chief Minister. In 1973 Gibraltar joined the EU.
Franco’s death in 1975 led to an agreement which declared that both UK and Spain were committed to solve all differences; Spain would lift the restrictions. The election of a socialist government in Madrid oversighted the full opening of the border in 1984. Today Gibraltar is a British Territory that is self-governing except for foreign policy, which is controlled by Britain.
A former building for Franciscan friars, The Convent was named in 1531 by a wealthy Spaniard. Today it is the residence of Gibraltar’s Governor, the Queen's representative in Gibraltar. The red brick Jacobean style frontage is perfect for the weekly Changing of the Guard.
These days Cathedral Cave makes a unique crystalline auditorium for music, ballets and dramas. The mosque once built in the city centre for the Muslims was later converted by the Spanish into a Catholic church, now Cathedral of St Mary the Crowned.
By 1991 Alameda Gardens were converted into the Gibraltar Botanical Gardens, a paradise for wildlife. At the Barbary Apes' Den see apes up close, and see the whales and dolphins in the Bay below.
John Bingham, 7th Earl of Lucan (1934 - ?) was the older son of George Bingham, 6th Earl of Lucan, an Anglo-Irish peer. John’s mother went into full time care when he was a toddler and he was raised by a maid. After WW2, this good-looking but cold aristocrat served with the Coldstream Guards in Germany and later worked as a merchant banker.
But in his 20s he became a member of the very classy Clermont Club, spent a fortune on racing power boats and drove a very flashy car. In 1963 he married Veronica Duncan, a woman he did not like but felt obligated to marry because of their advancing ages (nearly 30). They quickly had three children.
Veronica had been beaten by her husband throughout their marriage with a cane and lash; then he had sex with her bleeding body straight afterwards! He was gambling full time and inevitably lost everything. John moved out of the Belgravia family home and a bitter custody battle ensued. He began to spy on his wife, intending to regain custody of their children, but he had spent all his money on gambling. Until his father died, this unemployed, very angry aristocrat would have no money to support himself or the children. As it happened, George Lord Lucan 6th died in Jan 1964.
On 7th Nov 1974, Lucan went to the five-storey family home at 46 Lower Belgrave St London. In the dark basement kitchen, he met the children's nanny Sandra Rivett who’d gone downstairs to make tea for Lady Lucan. In the dark basement Lucan bludgeoned the nanny to death with lead piping, apparently mistaking the nanny for his wife.
Lady Lucan went downstairs for the cup of tea. There she met Lord Lucan, who attacked her on top of the basement stairs, hitting her over the head with the piping. After grabbing his testicles, Veronica managed to escape. And covered in blood, she ran for help at the local pub.
In the meantime Lord Lucan drove for an hour to the home of Susan Maxwell-Scott, a Sussex friend. The friend didn’t call the police because she didn’t know about the murder. Yet Lucan said he had spotted a man attacking his wife while passing the family home, and “intervened to save his wife”.
On the 8th Nov, Lucan was seen driving from the Maxwell-Scott home. On the 10th, the car was found dumped in the port town of Newhaven, lead piping in the boot.
As Scotland Yard and Fleet St struggled to find Lucan, they met patronising attitudes from the upper-crust regulars of John Aspinall’s Mayfair Clermont Club casino. The Detective Chief Superintendent believed that gambler Michael Stoop’s car (a Ford Corsair) had been left in Newhaven as a decoy and Lucan had quietly slipped out to South Africa.
The Clermont Set did everything to protect their colleague. His friends warned him that, given the murder, Lady Lucan would get custody of the children and the family-trust money. But if he were to disappear, probate could not legally be granted on his estate for 7 years. In 7 years, his children would be just old enough to control the trust money. So, they agreed, Lord Lucan needed to vanish. But how? Not by fleeing abroad.
When artist Dominic Elwes told what he knew about the murder to the press, he found himself blackballed by other Clermont Club members. In 1975 Elwes suicided at 44, probably hounded to death by some of Lucan’s more vicious gambling mates.
When confronted by sightings in exotic locations abroad, Lady Lucan always dismissed them as nonsense. Her husband was not the sort of Englishman to cope abroad; he liked England; he couldn’t speak foreign languages; and he preferred English food. She believed that Lord Lucan was indeed an expert powerboat racer, so he could bravely throw himself under a cross-Channel ferry. The ferry’s propellers would have chopped him up.
Lucan’s friend James Wilson agreed. When Lord Lucan realised he had killed the nanny by mistake, remorse and honour demanded suicide. He must have parked his car at Newhaven where he had a boat, weighed himself down and jumped over the side.
Since 1974 Lord Lucan sightings have popped up across the world, none more important than Australia. On Christmas Eve 1974, just months after the disappearance, Australian police arrested a man in Melbourne thinking they’d caught Lord Lucan. British police and newspaper reporters quickly arrived in Melbourne. So close!! In fact, they had caught 48 year old John Stonehouse, the former British government minister with a posh British accent. Two years earlier Stonehouse had faked his own death on a Florida beach.
Months later he was seen in Cherbourg and St Malo, France. Fingerprints from a beer glass in Cape Town were located next. Then a Scotland Yard detective claimed that Lord Lucan had lived as a hippy in Goa India until his death in 1996. Or he was in the rural town of Marton in New Zealand. Others saw him backpacking on Mount Etna, waiting on tables in San Francisco, being treated in a private hospital in Johannesburg in 1995, in Greece or in Botswana. Later Lucan was seen working on a sheep station in the Australian outback.
Throughout her later life Veronica called herself Dowager to make her widowhood clear. Eventually Lord Lucan’s death certificate was issued by the High Court to his son, allowing George Bingham to become the 8th Earl Lucan. At her own death in 2017, Lady Lucan had been estranged from her own children for 40 years. Nor had she ever met her 5 grandchildren.
The medical records of one of the UK's most eminent Harley St plastic surgeons, Dr John Watson, remained hidden since the nanny's murder and Lord Lucan's disappearance. The records, which showed that Dr Watson did facial surgery on the Earl of Lucan after a speedboat accident, were found by daughter Carolyn Watson Allen (in Queensland) and shared with the BBC in 2013.
The Nabataean Kingdom once stretched from Damascus and included parts of the Sinai. Located amid rugged desert canyons and mountains in what is now the SW corner of Jordan, Petra was once a thriving trading centre and the capital of this kingdom from 400 BC–106 AD. I have spent only 1.5 days of my entire long life there, well worth the tour from Amman or Jerusalem.
The Nabateans were Arabic-speaking nomads who selected the best oases to settle in. And they used the inaccessible mountains to protect themselves from bandits and highway robbers.
But these people were a desert people, so they had no architectural heritage of their own. The Petra style was therefore a jumble of influences absorbed along the trading routes: Egyptian, Assyrian, Hellenistic, Mesopotamian and Roman imagery.
By the C2nd BC, Petra was already internationally famous for its natural and architectural beauty, for its wealth and its pink colours. Petra had c30,000 people who used their knowledge of the desert to become a junction of the main caravan routes; spices came from the east to Egypt and the Mediterranean, all of it taxed in Petra.
Apart from the large, carved funerary monuments, ordinary facilities were also built eg baths, houses, theatres, water pipes, cisterns, temples. The vast tracts of the Nabataean Empire can be seen in the remains of their innovative networks of water capture, storage, transport and irrigation systems, showing how survival in this desert landscape flourished.
To get in, the visitor had to go via 1.5 ks of a narrow siq-gorge, surrounded by staggering 100m cliffs made of sheer pink sandstone. The siq’s entrance used to be marked by a Roman archway, but now only the vertical ruins are visible.
Enter the city via this pink sandstone sik/gorge
Petra’s siq first opens onto the vast façade of the C3rd BC Treasury and its towers, precisely and deeply carved into the soft sandstone mountainside. Built as a royal tomb, there was a constant belief that the giant urn carved into the centre of the second tier contained vast, hidden gold. But while the grand edifice was a statement of their wealth, the building was actually just a hall.
There are dozens of tombs and other built structures within Petra. The space from the Treasury to Qasr al-Bint is Petra’s main central business district, with the outlying hills further away. Though the weather-worn rockface is still peppered with ancient dwellings and sepulchres, many are more modest and some are unfinished.
Alas for Petra, its increasing influence and prosperity was seen as a threat to Rome; in 106 AD, Emperor Trajan annexed the Nabataeans into the Roman province of Arabia, with Petra as the capital. Once Romans took control of the trade routes, diverting them towards Bosra, Petra's decline was inevitable. This decline was worsened by early C6th earth quakes.
There was a second building resurgence during the later C6th AD, this time under Byzantine rule when Christianity arrived. Many buildings were converted to churches.
Which might explain why the tomb/hall was called a monastery. Following the route walked by the faithful, the Monastery was later re-purposed by the Crusaders as a temple. Crosses etched into the walls inside the building showed the Byzantines’ priority. But, still, why did religious pilgrims come to Petra?
Petra had been the location of many Biblical events. Moses struck a rock here, in order to give water to his people en route from Egypt to Israel. And the altar where Abraham intended to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac was also here. Lastly note a small white mosque called Jebel Haroun, the biblical mountain tomb in Mount Hor where Moses’ brother Aaron was buried. Aaron was sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims.
Note the smallish platform known as the High Place of Sacrifice. The altar was a sacrificial site where priests cut the throats of beasts, in front of the pilgrims.
Ampitheatre with 8,000 seats
Next to the Treasury is the C1st AD Ampitheatre, dug out of the mountainside. Apparently there were surrounding buildings, but the Romans pulled them down because they spoilt the site’s acoustics. The 33 concentric tiers of seating could hold 8000 people in the audience!! People packed in for poetry reading, pantomimes and especially Roman gladiatorial contests.
So Petra is a place that has borne witness to the rise and fall of one civilisation after another. Yet the city remained hidden from the West since the time of the Crusades because local Bedouin tribes feared an influx of greedy treasure hunters.
In 1809, Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt moved to Aleppo, as part of his work with a British association seeing the source of the Niger River. He mastered Arabic, converted to Islam, wore a full beard and took the name Sheikh Ibrahim bin Abdullah. En route to Cairo, he heard rumour of ruins hidden in the Wadi Musa mountains!! But the locals need not have worried - the treasure Burckhardt sought was scientific not profiteering.
Map of Jordan and Israel, marking Amman, Petra, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv
Burckhardt’s plan in 1812 worked. When he entered Petra, he was the first outsider to do so for centuries. He was amazed by countless tombs and the great amphitheatre carved into the rock. Having surprised his guide with his incursions, Burckhardt was hurried to the city’s parched core, the Colonnaded St and Qasr al-Bint. Burckhardt dared venture no further; his exploration of Petra was soon over. Luckily he had secretly made notes and sketches in his diary. Burckhardt sent a letter back to his colleagues excitedly reporting his discovery, but he hardly had time to enjoy his fame. He died in 1817, at 32.
With no surviving written sources, Petra’s built environment provides academics’ most valuable resource. Scholars know the Nabataeans were in Petra since 312 BC, yet no one has found any archaeological evidence from back then. Clearly most of the city is still underground. Now modern archaeological research is continuing by Jordanian, Israeli and foreign teams. In 1985, Petra was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The date and maker’s-name symbols were required marks to add to silver objects in Britain from the late C15th on. Each piece, as it was presented for assay/content analysis, was therefore fully identifiable. Faking was possible, but improbable. Thus for hundreds of years, British silver has had the oldest quality-control standards in the world.
My personal passion for silver art started in 1685 with the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in Catholic France. The king declared Protestantism illegal, beginning an intense persecution programme of Huguenots. All Protestants could convert to Catholicism, leave France or have their children removed. Some 400,000 Huguenots did flee France, taking their silver art and silk making skills with them to Britain, Germany, Netherlands or other safe Protestant havens.
I wanted to specialise in Huguenot silver art made in Britain from 1685 on. I introduced myself to every French silversmith, his master, wife, children and church in Britain, until 1725. By that time, the Huguenots' uniqueness had disappeared and British-born artists were creating similar work.
So once financial reality set in, the next task was to go to The London Silver Vaults which began when The Chancery Lane Safe Deposit Co. first opened its doors in the mid-1880s. Since my 1994 visit might be out of date, I have relied on Londonist for any up-to-date information.
An advertisement for the vaults that appeared in The London Illustrated News of 1884 shows elegant Victorian men and ladies passing through a massive, arched entrance at 61-62 Chancery Lane. It said “The vaults are built on columns, and are entirely isolated, having patrols or corridors around, over and under them, making it utterly impossible for anyone to approach unobserved. Night watchmen are armed with revolvers”.
The rooms were used by the local wealthy upper classes and rich merchants to store their valuables, whenever the owners travelled to their country estates or where going abroad. The vaults, protected by armed guards at 53-54 Chancery Lane, were also used as a safety deposit stronghold for anxious Londoners who were aware of the crime waves affecting Victorian London. These subterranean vaults in the centre of London succeeded because the 1.2 metres thick walls were lined with steel – no thief could get through.
Additionally the Chancery Lane location was ideally suited to the needs of merchants in nearby Hatton Garden. And for the solicitors and barristers of the Inns of Court, who needed a safe place for their legal documents. Victorians clearly paid to leave their priceless items in this high-security repository. A 1890 press report, five years after its opening, described 6,000+ safes and 3,000 customers. Some of the valuable State papers were in connection with the historic enquiry called the Parnell Commission.
The vaults were badly bombed during WW2. They were revived in the 1940s by renting space at The Chancery Lane Safe Deposit Co. and invited American officers and members of the diplomatic service down to their vault, to buy silver. These were the first retail customers in WW2 and as word spread to other dealers, London Silver Vaults began their second incarnation.
Did they remind citizens of the vaults' previous life as Britain's first safe deposit site? In 1953, several jewellery and silver dealers who had used the vaults for storage moved their operations to 53-54 Chancery Lane and opened shops there. Clearly the vaults retained their secure reputation! Downstairs, inside the London Silver Vaults, each of the c30 shops is in a small cell, each protected by a sturdy iron door off a long, prison-like corridor.
Today the shops are very often run by the grandchildren of the original owners, handed down through the generations.
The silverware in William Walter Antiques is predominantly Georgian eg a pair of Georgian openwork sweetmeat baskets ($480) and a pair of George III wine coasters ($1,200). William Walter also boasts a large soup tureen with a gadroon border, made by Paul Storr ($19,200) and a pair of Queen Anne sugar casters made by Charles Adam in 1713 ($2,220). The oldest objects are a set of Tudor spoons that cost tens of thousands and one Charles I seal-top spoon dating from 1628 ($595)
Anthony Green has specialised in antique pocket watches for 30 years, some of them Georgian timepieces. Nearby Clerkenwell was, after all, a world centre of watch-making. Belmont Jewellers stocks modern jewellery while Wolfe Jewellery specialises in antique items.
The London Silver Vaults are open till 5.30pm, after which you will need good food and wine. NY Times recommended two Chancery Lane eateries i.e Hodgson's Restaurant built in 1863, and Chez Gerard.
The Judgement of Death Act 1823 saw the number of crimes punishable by death in Britain drop. And since medical and anatomical schools were only legally allowed to dissect the cadavers of those who had been condemned to death by a court, this led to an extreme shortage of available bodies for students. Inevitably medical schools paid some criminals to find more bodies via grave-robbing.
Relatives were known to guard the recently dug graves of their dearly departed and watch-towers were installed in cemeteries. The fresher the body, the more money it was worth, thus it didn’t take long before grave-robbing graduated to anatomy murder, done for monetary reward. The most infamous were in Edinburgh in 1827–8 whose university was noted for top quality medical sciences.
They liked the money that they made on Old Donald; alas the money didn’t last. Burke and Hare could have become true grave robbers but digging up corpses would have involved too much effort. When Joseph, another of Hare's lodgers, became a bit ill, Burke and Hare decided to end Joseph’s suffering. They plied him with whisky and smothered him. This became their favoured method of execution as it left the body undamaged for the students who would later dissect the cadavers.
Without any other ill tenants, the pair decided to entice poor victims to the lodging house, selectively at first and then they regarded almost anyone who breathed as a potential victim. If desperate, the men would have even contemplated killing and selling their own partners, Helen and Margaret.
A prostitute, Janet Brown, was lucky to survive when she and a teenage prostitute friend, Mary Paterson, were invited to stay with Burke. Janet returned one evening to find her friend missing and was told Mary and Burke had stepped out. Actually Mary was lying dead in the next room, her body ready to be taken to Prof Knox!
Elizabeth Halden made the terrible mistake of calling at Hare’s lodging-house. After hearing she was last seen with Hare, Halden’s daughter Peggy called at the lodgings looking for her. Both women ended up dead and were delivered to Prof Knox for £10 each.
Burke and Hare reached a new low when they brought in a well loved, handicapped children’s entertainer called Daft James Wilson. How careless of them! James had a deformed foot and was instantly recognised by paying students at Prof Knox's anatomy class.
On Halloween 1828 Burke and Hare’s 16th and last victim, an old Irish woman called Marjory Docherty, was invited to stay with Burke and Helen. Burke’s other lodgers, a couple called James and Ann Gray, were invited to stay a night at Hare’s boarding house that evening so the murder could take place. On their return to Burke’s lodgings the following day, the Grays were told that Marjory had been asked to leave because she had been flirtatious with Burke. But they later discovered Marjory’s dead body hidden under the bed, in straw. The Grays challenged Helen over their discovery and she offered them a bribe of £10 a week to stay silence. The Grays reported the murder to the Police anyhow and the game was up.
In total, Burke and Hare are said to have murdered at least 16 people for £7-10 each, although the real total was possibly higher. The murders had all taken place within one year, Nov 1827-Oct 1828. The criminals were all arrested, interviewed separately and gave conflicting accounts. However after a month of interviewing, the Police had little hard evidence. Eventually the Lord Advocate, Sir William Rae, offered Hare immunity in return for testifying against Burke and Helen. Done deal!
The trial began on Christmas Eve 1828 when Burke and Helen were both charged with Marjory Docherty’s murder. Burke was also charged with the murder of Mary Paterson and James Wilson. While Helen’s complicity in Marjory’s murder was not proven under Scottish Law and she was set free, Burke was sentenced to death by hanging.
Hare was released in Feb 1829 and spent his days as a beggar in London. Helen and Margaret also fled Edinburgh, with Helen then leaving for Australia and Margaret to Ireland. Prof Knox was never called to court, thus escaping prosecution altogether (good grief!!!). But Knox did have to move to London, to resurrect his medical career.
The Burke and Hare murders led to the Anatomy Act 1832 which allowed doctors, anatomy lecturers and medical students greater access to cadavers and allowed for the legal donation of bodies to medical science. The illegal body-snatcher trade could end.
Thanks to Nell Darby in All About History, Issue 57.
I had been to family reunions in Canada, from Toronto to Vancouver, and especially in Winnipeg. Only in 1994 did we made the first trip to the easternmost Maritimes.
Susan Skelly (The Australian, 11th Nov 2017) wrote: in the Canadian Maritimes provinces notice their scents - pine resin, wood smoke, seawater, forest, tobacco, fish and peat. In unforgiving eastern Canada, the Maritimes provinces of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick have the Gulf of St Lawrence, Bay of Fundy and Atlantic Ocean to contend with.
This has been a strategic hub that has historically underpinned wars, immigration and trade. Nova Scotia’s coast has one of the highest concentrations of shipwrecks in North America, c25,000. But the forests of the Maritimes are more accommodating. They are an elegant, tight-knit community of conifers, maples and poplars, scarlet in autumn.
To understand why Edward the Prince of Wales (1894-1972) turned towards Fascism before WW2 and turned away his parents’ moral values, I will be citing the writing of Dr Heather Jones. Her journal article “Edward in the trenches” lays the blame firmly on his terrible war experiences.
So let us first canvas WW1. When Britain found itself under threat during WW1, Edward (20) had become the Prince of Wales three years earlier. Edward could easily have stayed at home in safety and inspected military training camps but he was desperate to serve on the Western Front. The Secretary of State for War naturally forbade the first in-line-to-the-throne to die in the trenches so Edward took a commission in the Grenadier Guards and accepted a junior officer role in France, far behind the front lines.
As soon as he could, Edward wanted a compromise. Although not directly involved in fighting, he was assigned to staff work on logistics. Thus Edward could go on frequent morale-boosting visits to the trenches, visit advanced positions, see the dead bodies lying unburied in the fields and smell the shell fire. The visits made him very popular with the men.
In contrast, his younger brother Prince Albert (1895-1952) would not ever become king under normal circumstances, so there was a less rigid approach to him serving in war. Everyone believed that Britain controlled the seas and the nation’s naval supremacy could not be challenged by Germany, so Albert, who was still in his teens, served in the Royal Navy as a midshipman.
However Germany embarked on a campaign of battleship building and by 1916 was ready to take on the British fleet which was blockading the North Sea. In May the Battle of Jutland was waged, becoming WW1’s biggest sea engagement. It was a catastrophe for both sides, including for the young prince in a gun turret, watching the ships being destroyed by torpedoes around him.
Thus both princes, who had lived in the lap of luxury back in their palaces, faced horror at war. Perhaps Edward seemed a little jealous of his younger brother who participated in direct action. But there was no questioning the bravery of both princes.
Edward the Prince of Wales in army uniform, and his brother in navy uniform, 1915.
During WW1, Edward had his first, hidden sexual experiences in Amiens, and then in Paris. But post war, living a vigorous social life was essential for any ex-serviceman, to regain his sanity. People were tolerant. In London Edward courted Lady Sybil Cadogan, his sister’s best friend, and wanted marriage in 1917. His next affair was with Lady Rosemary Leveson-Gower, a society beauty who the prince wanted to marry in 1918. However she married William Ward, 3rd Earl Dudley, in March 1919. Then Edward chose married women: Marian Coke, his much adored lover Freda Dudley Ward divorced wife of an MP who was vice chamberlain of the Royal House-hold and the American heiress Audrey James. Best of all was Lady Thelma Furness, daughter of an American diplomat who eloped at 16, divorced and then married the shipping magnate Viscount Furness. Thelma joined the Prince in Kenya in 1928 where the two fell in love.
first cousins and close friends, sharing a family wedding in Berlin
Edward fervently believed future European war had to be avoided, supporting the British Legion in interwar efforts at reconciliation with German ex-servicemen, even after Hitler came to power.
For King George V, individual personality had to be completely subordinated to the dignity of the office of king. But Prince Edward believed a king had to be a strong leader who embraced a cult of personality. He admired Fascist leadership because he believed appeasement with Fascism offered European peace. In particular Fascism seemed a modern answer to the Communist threat, for example by improving the lives of Germany’s poor.
I will add one more critical factor that Dr Jones did not mention. Edward VIII’s mother Queen Mary was almost entirely German and his father King George V was partly German. Edward remembered how older relatives would change to speaking German, as soon as any English-speaking staff left them in privacy. Edward himself was fluent in his "mother tongue". So asking the prince to devalue his German heritage would have been cruel, and ineffective.
After enrolling at Oxford in 1850, Dodgson became a fellow at Christ Church College. According to the rules, fellows had to be ordained, but Dodgson ignored the ordination rule and lived at the college unmarried. He was a maths lecturer and a devout deacon of the Anglican Church.
Like many Victorian bachelors, he became an “uncle” to his friends’ children, taking them out. In 1855, Dodgson’s Dean Henry Liddell arrived at Christ Church with his wife, Lorina and their first four children. As the 3 sisters grew older, Dodgson took the girls under his wing, with their parents’ blessing. In summer 1862, he took the Liddell girls on the river in Oxford and told them stories. Alice Liddell (1852-1934), then 10, was delighted that the main character shared her name and asked Dodgson to write his stories.
Dodgson wrote to Gertrude Thomson, an artist who was sketching girlish nymphs: "I am fond of children except boys." And "I confess I do not admire naked boys in pictures”. He took exquisite, melancholy photographs of little girls. But it was Alice Liddell in particular who became his passion.
So why did the Liddells trust Dodgson with their precious daughters. I suggest a few significant reasons:
1. Harry Liddell was Dodgson’s dean and had a trusting professional relationship with him;
2. The Liddells had 9 children and were delighted when an adult offered to help keep them educated and amused;
3. Dodgson was a respectable Anglican deacon; and
4. The children loved Uncle Charles’ stories and activities.
Victorian culture clearly had a very sentimental view of young girls that could co-exist with disgust about adult sex!! There is no doubt that Dodgson was tormented by what HE called "the inclinations of my sinful heart"; that his own thoughts were “unholy”. But Dodgson felt his erotic fascination was under control; he was channelling his desires into a wild and lovely literary universe instead.
One example will suffice. On the 150th anniversary of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the BBC made a documentary called The Secret World of Lewis Carroll, 2015. It explored the nature of Carroll's relationship with children, and revealed a newly-discovered photograph of Alice’s elder sister, entirely nude. Although the picture was not 100% proven to have been Carroll’s, the uncomfortable pubescent model strongly suggested he was a somewhat repressed paedophile.
In 1865 a completed version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was published as a book, published with John Tenniel's unmistakable art work. Dodgson published a sequel, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, in 1871, and a long poem in 1876.
He retired from teaching mathematics in 1881, and died in 1898 aged 66. At that stage, loving little girls was still acceptable. The London Daily Graphic’s 1898 obituary fondly noted his affection for girls. Also in 1898, Dodgson’s nephew published a biography that devoted two warm chapters to Dodgson’s child friends and their kissing.
Now my final questions. There is a gulf between how modern readers perceive an author and how they perceive his work. Is a good work of art, created by a bad person, tainted forever? Would you still read his stories to your children, thinking of them as classics of pure, innocent literature?
A settlement called Portus Cale was founded on the north bank of the Duoro River in the C4th BC. But nothing much was known before Porto was recovered in 868 AD from the Moorish empire.
Prince Henry the Navigator (1394–1460) was born to English Queen Philippa and Portuguese King John I who had earlier married in Porto, creating a political alliance between Portugal and England. It was Prince Henry who, in the new Portuguese Empire, initiated the Age of Discoveries. Henry supervised the early development of Portuguese exploration and maritime trade with other continents through the exploration of Western Africa, Atlantic Ocean islands and the search for new routes. Only thus did Portugal become a sea-trade force, so it is appropriate that a statue in a park honours Prince Henry still today.
Prince Henry, the Navigator
The granite streets are everywhere but focus on the grand avenue Rua das Flores, once it was refurbished: its frontages now shine with restored tiles in blues and greens. The avenue is lined with stately stone facades and dominated by the town hall. Granite churches also display glazed blue and white tiles.
Of great beauty is the Capela das Almas/Chapel of Souls near the city’s main shopping street, Rua Santa Catarina. The chapel has its origin in an old chapel made of wood, built to honour Santa Catarina. The construction of the building that exists today dates back to the later C18th, when the Brotherhood of the Souls and the Chagas of San Francisco moved from the Monastery of Santa Clara to the Chapel of Santa Catarina. Capela das Almas’ exterior tiles, painted with scenes from the lives of saints, are inter-war.
Capela das Almas
Visit the Church of St Francisco, the only Gothic church in Porto; the severe, grey exterior has richly gilded, highly ornate, baroque wood carvings inside. Porto’s craftsmen in 17th and early C18th were special.
Sao Bento Railway Station was built on the site of a Renaissance Benedictine monastery. Work began on the terminal in 1900, in the French Beaux Arts architectural style. São Bento mainline’s central station is one of the most beautiful in Europe, displaying 20,000 glazed azulejos-tiles that, by 1916, depicted highlights of the nation’s history.
The Monastery da Serra do Pilar is a C16th former monastery is the architectural highlight of the Gaia side. Belonging to the Order of Saint Augustine, the church was made in a circular shape and was covered by a hemispheric vault and balcony. It took 72 year to complete because of financial difficulties and because of the political turmoil between Spain and Portugal.
Some fine architecture was built during the early C18th, including Clerigos Tower. Climb the Tower, the city’s most prominent landmark; it was built by Florentine architect Nicolau Nasoni, a man who was buried in the adjoining church. It is Porto’s best example of baroque architecture and is the tallest tower in Portugal.
Dona Maria Pia bridge, 1877
designed by Gustave Eiffel
To cross to the other side of the river, there is a choice of bridges. Dona Maria Pia, designed by Gustave Eiffel and built in 1877, is a railway bridge over the Portuguese northern municipalities of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia. Another bridge, the Dom Luis I, boasts one of the biggest forged iron arches in the world.
Two water taxis cross the river as an alternative to the bridges, inspired by the design of the old rabelo cargo boats. River taxis are convenient for exploring the city on foot, with a dock at the Ribeira. The view of the city is best seen from the other side of the river, Vila Nova de Gaia, where the coloured, narrow dwellings stand out.
Book for a longer (eg 8 day) river cruise along the Douro River to see some of the most gorgeous natural scenery across Portugal, and sip on locally made port wine during a tasting session. Visit three vineyards to taste world-class wines while admiring scenic views from the Douro’s terraced vine yards. And have traditional lunches in the charming villages. All the major river-cruise operators organise Douro trips from late March to Nov eg Spain & Portugal Travel Connection or Euro River Cruises.
Two proposals have convinced the world that the USA is going mad vis a vis gun massacres.
In the second story, I cannot tell if the following newspaper article is positive advertising by right wingers or biting satire by left wingers. Neil Murphy wrote in the International Business Times that a Pennsylvania church will bless gun-toting couples in a ceremony taking place just half a mile from a local elementary school. Followers of the World Peace and Unification Sanctuary Church will be blessed by spiritual leaders at their campus in Newfoundland Pennsylvania at the end of this month. Only heterosexual couples have been asked to take part.
Attendees are requested to bring their own semi-automatic rifles, including AR-15s and AK47s, as part of the Cosmic True Parents of Heaven, Earth and Humanity Cheon Il Guk Book of Life Registration Blessing. Those who cannot legally acquire a weapon have been asked to purchase a $700 gift voucher from a gun store.
Parents whose children attend neighbouring Wallenpaupack South Elementary School have voiced concern over the event, which comes just days after the massacre near Miami. Teenage Nikolas Cruz will be tried for killing 14 students and three adults with his legally-purchased AR-15 rifle.
Tim Elder, Unification Sanctuary's director of world missions, says that the event was planned months before the Miami school shooting and says all weapons will be securely checked by staff. According to Elder, Church teachings say assault weapons symbolise the New Testament's rod of iron passage and illustrates followers' intent and the ability to defend one's family, community and nation of Cheon Il Guk."
The Sanctuary is run by 38-year-old pastor Hyung Jin Moon, the son of Unification Church founder and self-professed messiah Sun Myung Moon. The Unification Church was founded by Moon in 1957 in Seoul, Korea using teachings from the Bible and his own family beliefs. The Unification Church off-shoot is a staunch supporter of Americans' rights bear arms and will host President Trump Thank You Dinner on Saturday — a fundraiser for Gun Owners of America.
So we have established a Caulfield Gun-Coffee Club for solving the gun catastrophe in the USA. Although Australia has never had much of a visible gun culture, we have had terrible mass gun murders in the past. The Milperra Bikie Massacre killed 6 bikies and one by-stander in 1984; Hoddle Street Massacre killed 7 city commuters in 1987; Queen Street Massacre killed 8 city shoppers and workers in 1987; and worst of all, the 1996 Port Arthur Massacre that killed 35 customers in an outdoor café.
The new Australian prime minister in 1996, John Howard, headed the conservative party. In his first speech to Parliament after the Port Arthur Massacre, he called for Australian legislators to take up the vexed issue of gun control, and vowed to devote his prime ministership to the issue. In May 1996, his government unveiled the National Firearms Agreement that radically strengthened Australia’s gun laws. The NFA established a registry of all guns owned in the country and required a permit for all new firearm purchases. It totally banned all automatic and semi-automatic guns.
Since many of these guns were already in circulation, the bill included a mandatory buy-back programme, which included large-scale gun confiscation and the destruction of 700,000 guns. Gun owners were compensated for the proper dollar value of the weapons seized by the state. Polls showed the new legislation was supported by 82% of the population.
Studies since 1996 reported that the new laws greatly reduced Australia’s homicide and suicide rates. And since the law’s passage, there has not been a single mass shooting in Australia. John Howard has described this programme as his greatest accomplishment as prime minister.
The Caulfield Gun-Coffee Club recognises that the American Constitution and its gun amendments cannot be changed without a mammoth effort at the Federal level. So instead we propose that A] 49 USA states ban guns WITHIN the borders of their states and B] all devoted gun owners be moved to Alaska, along with the weapons of their choice. C] Any current Alaskan citizens who do not approve of gun murders will be guaranteed a home and job in another state of Continental USA. Alaska is big enough to take in hundreds of thousands of gun fanatics and has the advantage of not bordering any other USA state. Sorry Canada :(
There will inevitably be issues with the underage children of those gun-loving parents who move to Alaska. Would the children be kept with aunts and grandparents in states other than Alaska, to be reunited to their parents when they reach their majority (aged 18 or 21)?
For those professionals who are legally entitled to use guns, such as the police, armed forces and Olympian athletes, locked training facilities must be provided across the USA.