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The history, art history and architecture of Britain and its Empire, Europe, the Mediterranean and North America, 1640-1940.
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    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.

    The King of Castile’s troops finally captured Gibraltar from the Moors in 1462 and perman­ently expelled them. 3 years later, the Duke of Medina's son was confir­med as the owner of the Rock by Royal Decr­ee. When Isabella bec­ame Queen of Castile in 1474, she wanted Gibral­tar back. She granted Gibraltar the Castle, Key and Coat of Arms. Note Gibral­tar’s flag: a three-towered red castle and key.

     marinas, Gibraltar

    Spain retained the Rock, and used it as an important naval base. The opp­ort­un­­ity for Brit­ain to capt­ure Gib­raltar arose with the War of the Sp­an­ish Succes­sion (1702-13). The Rock became a pawn in the strug­gle between rival claim­ants to the Spanish throne, Frenchman Philip V of Anjou & Austrian Archduke Charles III. When the Rock fell to an Anglo-Dutch force in 1704, all Spanish inhabit­ants left for  Spain.

    The Cable Car, Gibraltar

    The Rock was for­mally ceded by Spain to Britain under the Treaty of Utrecht 1713 and was used as a trad­ing post. But Spain was never able to accept their lost terr­it­ory. The worst siege was France and Spain’s Great Siege in 1779, which last­ed 3.5 years. The Gov­er­nor put guns into the precipitous north­ern face by tun­n­el­ling through the rockface.

    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.

    The promenade was ex­pan­ded to include 8 hectares of land for the Alameda Poplar Gardens. The gar­dens were laid out with int­er­connect­ing paths and terr­ac­ed beds of local limestone. Gas light­ing was intro­d­uced along Grand Parade.

    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. 

    St Michael's Cave, Gibraltar
    Used for concerts

    By 1939 Mussolini join­ed Hitler, and a new theatre of war op­en­ed in the Medit­er­ranean. There was a very real danger that France’s Gen Franco would join the men who had help­ed him win Spain, imperilling Gib­ral­tar. The Royal Eng­ineers added c40Km of tun­nels and chambers, dug out of the lime­stone. An un­derground city grew, with its own hospit­als, elec­tric­ity, telephones, water distillers and foodstores. 

    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.

    Botanical Gardens

    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.


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    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.

    Lord John Bingham, 7th Earl of Lucan
    1934 - ?

    Because of the canings, Lucan had his wife cer­tif­ied on the grounds of mental illness; SHE lost custody of her children.

    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.

    Lady Veronica Lucan
    died 2017

     The children's nanny, Sandra Rivett
    died 1974

    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.

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    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.


    The treasury

    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.

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    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.

    starkly underdecorated silver toilet set 
    made in London by a Huguenot silversmith (who?)

    A shop display in the Silver Vaults

    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. 

    Each small shop is protected by a sturdy iron door off a long, prison-like corridor
    photo credit: Londonist

    The entrance to the Silver Vaults does not attract much attention
    photo credit: Londonist

    Koopman & Son has one of London's finest collections of antique silver. All the best Hug­uenot and early C18th British silversmiths eg Paul de Lamer­ie, Matthew Boulton, Paul Storr, John Bateman and sons, are there. The items include large silver-gilt epergnes and candelabra, bowls, ewers, coffeepots, teapots and chocolate pots, with their original ebony or ivory hand­les. A set of three Queen Anne muffin­eer shakers 1709, made in Edinburgh, was $5,700, while a rare Queen Anne choco­late pot by Thomas Parr, with the original swizzle stick, was $54,000. Two Hester Bateman sugar basins 1788 cost $1,740.

    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)

    Ivor Mazure has a fine collection of Faberge eggs made with prec­ious and semiprecious stones, as well as Art Nouveau and Art Deco jewellery. There are cigarette cases, desk seals, picture frames, sweetmeat dishes, jewellery & clocks att­ributed to the Faberge workshop. An Art Nouveau gold-enamel pendant by Henri Teterger has stylised organics set with diamonds, emeralds & large baroque pearl ($27,600)

    silver teapot and stand
    by French Huguenot Louis Cuny, 
    made in London in 1706. Pinterest

    silver gilt ewer and basin 
    by French Huguenot Paul de Lamerie, 
    made in London in 1715. Pinterest

    Then wander into Steven Lind­en's antique home­ware and giftware shop, another 3rd-generation business. Kalms Antiques has a beaut­iful silver nef/ship, roll­ed along the table top to carry a cargo of spices or condim­ents to the ass­embled diners. Such devices were popular table ornaments in the Renaissance when spices were a costly commodity. One is a C19th pastiche from Portugal, but would still fetch almost £30,000.

    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.

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    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.

    Irishmen William Burke (1792-1829) and William Hare (1804-?) both came from Ulster and moved to Edinburgh to work on the Union Canal. The pair met and became close friends when Burke moved with his mistress Helen McDougal to lodg­ings in Tanner’s Close in Edinburgh. Hare lived on the same street and was running a boarding house there with Marg­aret Laird-Hare, his “wife”.

     Hare and Burke, 

    Burke and Hare’s first experience in the world of medical science came in Dec 1827 when one of Hare’s tenants, an elderly army pen­s­ioner called Old Donald Bark, died still owing £4 in rent. Hare knew that there was a high demand for bodies for anat­omical study and saw a way the dead man could pay back his debt. On the day of Old Donald's funeral the two men removed his body from the coffin and filled it up. Later they took the body to Prof Robert Knox at Surgeon Square and were paid £7 and 10s for it.

    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!

    The two men murdered a disabled young man

    An elderly grandmother was killed with an overdose of painkillers and Hare murdered her blind young grandson by breaking the boy’s back. Even Ann McDougal, a rel­ative of Burke's partner Helen, was murdered; Burke had no qualms about kil­ling her, but he asked Hare to do that deed! They enticed elderly Abigail Simpson in with whiskey, then both men killed, placed her in a box and sold off the body.

    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.

    William Burke, hanged in Edinburgh
    Jan 1829

    William Burke was hanged before 25,000 noisy people in Jan 1829, then his body was put on public exhibition. How apt that his body was then donated to medical science! Burke’s skeleton and death mask are still on display at Edinburgh’s Surgeon’s Hall.

    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.
    Thanks to Horrorpedia for the images.

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    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.

    Nova Scotia’s geography creates many fishing villages, so the signature food in the Canadian Maritimes is seafood - crab, lobster, cod, Atlantic salmon, clams, mussels and oysters. See Peggy’s Cove, with its rounded glacial rocks and iconic lighthouse. Nova Scotia has a small popul­at­ion but a coast with cosy harbours, boats and gorgeous colours.

    There are many natural wonders. Hopewell Rocks formations sprout from the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick where the lowest high tides are 10m. Visitors can walk the very muddy ocean floor when the tide is out. The Fundy Trail is a huge parkland that was the vision of the late philanthropist Mitchell Franklin.

    A very scenic drive is Cape Bret­on’s Cabot Trail, a 300 km highway that takes in beaut­iful highlands. Hike, cycle, golf or watch for whales. A man-made wonder­ is the Confed­er­ation Bridge, which links Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick – it is 13km long and sits 40m over the Northum­b­erland Strait.

    Visitors can see plenty of animals (bear, deer, moose, lynx, red squirrel) and birds (rock doves, seagulls and wild geese). Key crops are the Russet Burbank potato, corn and soy beans. Blueberries are popular. Winemakers in the region have been producing a brand called Tidal Bay, where the grape varieties are 100% grown in Nova Scotia. There’s also a local whisky, homage to the region’s Scottish heritage.

    Brightly painted houses,
    Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

    Maritime Museum of the Atlantic 
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    photo credit: NOVA SCOTIA Canada

    Sussex murals, 
    New Brunswick

    Confed­er­ation Bridge, 
    Prince Edward Island 
    built 1993-97

    Susan Skelly was interested mainly in natural history. But she did mention some fine mus­eums dotted across the Maritimes which provide rich cultural insights dedicated to the First Nation Mi’kmaq, Gaelic traditions or Anne of Green Gab­les. The village of Grand-Pre in Nova Scotia explores the history of struggling Arcad­ians; the Immigrat­ion Museum where the cruise ships dock in Halifax is a reminder of the early settlers: Scottish, English, Irish, French, German and Dutch.

    Visit the Maritime Museum of the At­lan­tic in Halifax. This museum has models of passenger liners, freight vessels, armed merchant raiders, petroleum carriers and a Morse code workshop. In Dec 1917, the Halifax Explosion occurred when a French munitions ship carrying­ explosives collided with a Norwegian relief ship in the harbour, burning the city, killing 1600, maiming 9000 and leaving 6000 homeless. And there is a detailed record of the Titan­­ic’s tragic voyage, in April 1912. While sur­vivors were taken to New York, hundreds of the dead were brought to Halifax where the deputy registrar of deaths logged tatt­oos, scars and dental work, bagged personal effects­, and took photos to circulate to identify whichever bodies were located.

    The Nova Scotia port of Lunenburg has a new memorial that honours the 650 fish­er­­men who died in this town. See Bluenose II, a 46m replica of the schooner designed to fish for cod off Newfound­land. It was launched in 1921, and became an ambassador for the prov­ince’s seafaring history. The town has many restaurants, colourful herit­age shop­fronts, and houses with the signature Lunenburg dormer, popular in late C19th architect­ure.

    Now let me add my personal favourites in the Maritimes. Visit the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Since it opened in 1908 this gallery has grown significantly, in order to preserve the growing art collection. There are three public galleries which feature work from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. A complete surprise will be a collection of works by photographer Annie Leib­ovitz.

    And see Lunenburg’s Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic. The newest exhibition invites exploration of the history of the Atlantic Canadian fishery, from the earliest days of the Mi’kmaq to today. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, visitors can experience life in a fishing community and discover life at sea firsthand. Explore the living fish exhibit and wharf-side vessels. Then go into the Ice House Film Theatre.

    New Brunswick entered the Canadian Confeder­at­ion along with Nova Scotia, Quebec and Ontario in 1867. The Inter-colonial Railway linked the Nova Scotia Railway, European & North American Railway and Grand Trunk Railway in 1872. In 1879 John Macdonald's Conservatives enacted high tariffs and opposed free trade, disrupting the trading relationship between the Maritimes and New England. The economic situation was worsened by the decline of the wooden ship-building industry. The railways and tariffs did foster the growth of new industries in the province eg iron mills, textile manufacturing and sugar refineries, but they failed eventually. The New Brunswick Railway Museum, run by the Canadian Railroad Historical Ass­ociation, is therefore well worth analysing.

    In New Brunswick, see the rich local history represented in impressive murals, painted on walls throughout the beautiful town of Sussex. These world-renowned mural artists did the first 11 murals in summer 2006, with 15 more created during summer 2007.

    St John’s,  New­foundland
    The cathedral dominates the cityscape
    Photo credit: Brit + Co

    Newfoundland only joined the Confederation in 1949, when the term Maritimes had long been defined as Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. Nonetheless Newfoundland is now a Maritime province. Happ­ily bright colours can be seen in many coastal sites in the Maritimes - think of the brightly painted rowhouses of Jelly Bean Row St John’s New­foundland. Were they painted brightly to make home visible to sailors at sea during foggy conditions? Was Maritime weather so grey that brightly coloured homes were meant to make residents feel less depressed?

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    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. 
    Photo credit: Express

    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. 

    He enjoyed a hectic social life, travelling the world (Canada, USA, the Caribbean, India, Australia, New Zealand etc) formally rep­res­ent­ing his father the king, and making many private visits to Germany throughout the 1920s and 1930s.
    King George V and Tsar Nicolas II, 1913
    first cousins and close friends, sharing a family wedding in Berlin
    Photo credit: Rare Historical Photos 2018

    Dr Jones showed that the war had a fundamental impact on Ed­ward’s political views. It left him with an abhorrence for Commun­ism and anger that the Bolsheviks had killed his Russian cousins, Tsar Nicholas II and his family. [So why did Edward not blame his father King George V, for banning the Russian royals’ entry into Britain when the Tsar was desperate for a safe haven in 1917?]

    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.

    King Edward VIII on an unofficial tour to Germany
    giving a Hitler salute in 1937
    Photo credit: Daily Mail

    A weak personality himself, Edward was most vulnerable to the myths Fascism propagated – anti-Semitism, a need for new rad­ical politics of the right and a strongman leader. Perhaps this was appealing because the war had left Edward deeply insecure about his own mas­culinity. By abandoning crown and nation in a passion for the last of many women he had loved, Edward could finally publicly prove his manliness.

    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.

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    Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll 1832-98) was born in a NW English vil­l­age, third child of Rev Charles Dodgson. As the fam­ily grew to in­clude 11 children, Charles told stor­ies to his siblings, made up games and wrote magazines with them.

    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.
    Dodgson’s love for girls was elusive, and filled with yearn­ing. He wrote to a 10-year-old girl, thank­­ing her for her lock of hair. “I have kissed it sev­eral times - for want of having you to kiss, you know, even hair is better than nothing." There was a romantic intensity to the friendships, a hunger, of nev­er quite getting enough, want­ing more of Alice.
    If the man did not ever literally shag a child, was he still culpable? Yes!! He carefully groomed the youngsters and he changed those girls’ lives forever.

    The Queen of Heart by John Tenniel
    The queen was a foul-tempered monarch 
    whose favourite line was “Off with their heads!"

    He loved little girls, but, like Peter Pan, he couldn’t marry them. So Katie Roiphe asked if there were other famous C19th men who disliked overt adult phys­icality and who found them­selves drawn to children/teens instead.Yes! John Ruskin also fell under the spell of young girls he met, yet he couldn’t consummate his marriage to an adult woman. Anne Isba said Charles Dickens met his wife Cath­erine when she was 14; she had 10 children before being dumped for her young sister Mary (who died at 17) and the young teenage actress Nelly Ternan.

    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.

    Although the camera was still new technology, in 1856 Dodgson had been an early and skilled portraitist. He found plenty of friends who wanted him to take family port­raits eg Engl­and’s poet laureate, Alfred Lord Tennyson. In total Dodgson took c3,000 photo­graphs, just over half were of child­ren, mostly dressed. Some of his portraits might offend us, but by Victorian stand­ards they were innocent. They were prais­ed as art studies, a la Julia Margaret Cameron. Yet modern critics have condemned the photos that showed his fascination with the immature female body.

    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?

    Charles Dodgson photo, self portrait, 1857

    Charles Dodgson photo, Alice Lidell dressed as a beggar-maid, 1858

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    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.

    Sao Bento Railway Station

    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
    pointing to a far-off place across the Atlantic

    Once Portugal became an economic power in the age of the great geo­graph­ical discoveries (C15th – C17th), it was Porto that became the largest shipyard of the country. The town was ready for the the estab­lish­ment of Duoro’s wine region and port wine trade.

    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.

    Douro Valley with endless vineyards

    The Douro Valley is at the heart of the country’s wine industry and its namesake waterway is becoming the hottest ticket for European river cruising. These journeys take the visitor through rural idylls and rugged terrain, stopping at charming towns and villages. Discover the beauty of the Portuguese countryside during this full-day trip through the Douro Valley from Porto. Travel through sweet villages such as Pinhão, Régua and Lamego.

    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.

    As well as drinking a LOT of port, we also enjoyed buying Claus Porto hand-crafted soaps, permeated with fragrances drawn from the Portuguese country side and hand-wrapped in Belle Epoque papers.

    Portugal and Spain


    On the last day in the north, en route back to Lisbon, we visited the univers­ity town of Coimbra on a day trip of cultural experiences.  Even further south we explored one of Portugal’s most holy sites Fatima. We watched people attending mass at the basilica inside the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Rosary. This was where the Virgin Mary appeared to three shepherd children in October 1917.

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    Two proposals have convinced the world that the USA is going mad vis a vis gun massacres.

    The BBC reported that President Trump endorses hidden guns for teachers to stop shootings inside schools. Arming teachers could prevent school shootings like that which left 17 people dead last week in Florida, he said. Trump explained that if you had a teacher who was adept at firearms, they could very well end the attack very quickly. His exact words were "Where a teacher would have a concealed gun on them, they would go for special training and they would be there, and you would no longer have a gun-free zone. A gun-free zone, to a maniac, because they are all cowards, a gun-free zone is, let's go in and let's attack."

    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.

    American guns displaying national pride.
    Yet in the 2013-15 period, there were 32,000 firearm deaths in the US. 
    Photo credit:


    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.

    Illegal guns in a scrap metal yard in Sydney, 
    soon after Australia's buy-back laws were passed in 1996.
    Photo credit: ABC

    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. 

    It was not a perfect solution, however. At the Lindt Cafe Siege in 2014, 2 hostages and the gunman were shot. We saw very clearly that Australia is not immune from terrible violence, presumably caused by imported illegal guns.


    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.

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    Lasting only from May-Sept 1212, the Children’s Crusade was a popular religious movement in which thousands of young people took crusading vows and set out to rec­over Jerusalem from the Muslims. This was probably not as surprising an event back then, as it sounds to our ears.

    Popular movements of religious fervour appeared whenever off­icial crusades were preach­ed. Preach­ing aroused mass enthusiasm, mostly in areas with a long tradition of crusad­ing, as in and around the French town of Char­tres. From the time of the First Crusade in the late C11th and cont­in­uing into the C13th, successive waves of crusading fervour swept over this region.

    This was already a turbulent era. The Albig­en­sian Crusade (1209–29) was being preach­ed against the heretic­al southern Cath­ars, result­ing in strong military recruit­ment from Chart­r­es. Spain was the scene of another Crus­ad­ing crisis. A Muslim invasion from North Africa in 1210 led to the fall of Salvatierra Castle in Spain in 1211. A fearful war was ex­pected in 1212. Pope In­n­ocent III quickly coord­inated Christ­ian prayers on behalf of the threat­ened Spanish church by holding processions in Rome in May 1212.

    Similar processions were held at Chartres in May where the shepherd boy Stephen of Cloyes and his fellow workers par­ticipated. This young preacher believed he’d been chos­en by Je­s­us to lead the divine mission: to lead pueri and puelle (Latin for boys and girls) to save Jerus­al­em’s Holy Sepul­ch­re. He gathered foll­owers by predicting mir­­acles eg by claiming that the Mediter­ranean Sea would part for them en route to Jerusalem! Masses of children became wild with excite­ment, dropped their ploughs and sheep, took the crusader’s vow and flocked to the rendez­vous point.

    The Children's Crusade, c1875
    A woodcut after a drawing by Heinrich Merte
    photo credit: BBC History Magazine

    Some adults believed the children’s movement was inspired by the Holy Spirit. Other ad­ults be­lieved that sending off 11-12 year olds was the work of the Dev­il. Some parents were so anxious for the young lives that they locked up their children in the home, to pre­v­ent their departure. [I would certainly have locked my 11 year old sons up!]

    Under Stephen’s leadership, French children assembled at St Denis during a popular annual June event, the Lendit Fair. The num­bers of Stephen’s followers were uncertain but presumably c30,000 French children assembled in bands and mar­ch­ed through French towns. Carrying banners and crosses, some of the French children went all the way to Marseil­les. Those that sailed from that port were probably sold as slaves in Alexandria or Tunisia. Other children were too hungry to go on, and returned home.

    From the records of a German Child­ren’s Crus­ade, we know that some of the French children arrived in Ger­m­any in mid-July. A lad named Nicholas from Cologne DID succeed in laun­ch­ing a crusade, carrying his charismatic tau cross and leading the German pueri southward to Mainz and Speyer.

    Nicholas led his c50,000 lads to go over the Alps into Italy via Piac­enza and Genoa, then onto the pope in Rome. The pope praised the children for their bravery, but stated that they were too young to crusade. From the port of Brindisi, a few thous­and young crusaders got onto ships to sail to Jerusalem .. and disappeared. Quite separately we heard that of the 7,000 German pueri who arrived in Genoa, many rem­ained because cheap labour was needed there. Only a few German children returned home to their frantic parents.

    Children's Crusade by Gary Dickson (Palgrave Macmillan, NY, 2008)
    The engraving is The Children’s Crusade by Gustave Doré (1877).

    All in all, the Children’s Crusade was an utter disaster. As it was doomed to be from the beginning.

    The Children's Crusade provided the strongest display of the ignor­an­ce, sup­erstition and fanatic­ism that typified the C13th. It was fil­l­ed with a holiness that was prepared to sac­rifice innoc­ent child­ren, in obedience to the will of God. In one sense the event marked the culmination of the Crusades, con­firming Pope Inn­oc­ent III’s belief that crusading would continue - with the 5th Crusade (1218). 

    Yet it also represented the decline of the Crusades. Innoc­ent III had already planned a crusade to recapture Jerusalem; in 1213 and 1215 he issued papal bulls calling on Christians to join in. The eventual failure of this 5th Crusade predicted the end. In 1270-2 the 8th and 9th Crus­ades failed totally; the mainland Crusader states ended with the fall of Trip­oli (1289) and Acre (1291).

    Gary Dickson noted that 1212 was a year of great fervour, due to recruit­ing for the Al­big­ensian Crusade. Yet the Chil­d­ren’s Crusade was of­f­­ic­ially never called by Pope Innocent III (1198–1216). Thus it was an unsanct­ioned “pop­ular move­­ment”, whose start and end were hard to pin down.  Were the pueri really pre-teens? In fact many of the participants could have belong­ed to the impoverished peasant class or day lab­ourers. Yet the chronicl­ers emphasised the youthfulness of the par­ticipants, probably because the young people were the most visible, and unusual. 

    Although 50 versions of the story have been found in chron­ic­les dating back to the mid C13th, the true facts were always un­cer­­tain. Mentions were often very short, or mythologised. A Laon re­port noted that Stephen of Cloyes was instructed by a poor pil­grim to deliver letters to French King Philip II. Nothing was rec­orded about the contents of these letters, if indeed they existed, nor of any meet­ing with the king - only that the king ordered the pueri to disperse.

    Johann Sporschil: Geschichte der Kreuzzüge. 
    Leipzig 1843
    Wikimedia Commons

    I can easily imagine the excitement that these self-proclaimed, unarmed Crus­ad­ers evoked when they planned to regain Jerusalem and recover the True Cross. So des­pite the very short amount of time taken up by the children’s crusading movement, interest in the story continued over the centuries. Count­less children’s books were writ­t­en in later generations. Highly romanticised illustrations of the Children’s Crusade were still being published in prints and books, especially in the 18th and 19th centuries.

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    Danila Ivanovich Vassilieff (1897-1958) was born at Kagalnitskaya, near Rostov-on-Don Russia. Educated at a technical school at Novocherkassk and at a milit­ary academy in St Petersburg, Danila specialised in mechanical eng­ineering. In WW1 he served on the Eastern Front with a Cossack cavalry regiment. Then he saw action with the White forces in the Russian Civil War. 

    After being captured and imprisoned by the Reds at Baku in 1920, Danila escaped on a motor bike, event­ual­­ly travelling to China. Due to his wartime experiences, Vassil­ieff felt free to continue life as a womaniser; until  he married Anisia Nicolaevna at the Shanghai Russian Church in 1923.

    From Shanghai the couple sailed to Australia  in 1923. In 1923 they bought a sugar-plantation near Towns­ville but in 1928 he separated from his wife and was employed on the Northern Territory railway.

    In 1929 he left Australia, studying art in Brasil (1930-1) and in the West Indies and South America (1932-3). Then he spent two years in England, Spain and Portugal (1933-4), mixing with White Rus­sian ex-pats and creating a rel­ation­ship between modernist art and Russian decorative art.

    During his 5 years trav­elling, the UK was where he met fel­low Russian Vladimir Polunin who was a teacher at the Slade School of Fine Art. The period emphasised Vas­silieff’s Russian heritage of strong colour.

    In 1934 Vassilieff returned to Australia and became the link between Australian and European art hist­ory. Complete with his dark beret, nicotine-stained clothes and intense gaze, the Rus­s­ian became a colour­ful man. In Oct 1935 Vassil­ieff settled in Sydney, painting stormy, inner-city street scenes. Only now did enth­usiastic reviews of his work estab­lish his reput­at­ion eg scruffy children playing in workingclass suburbs, still lifes and portraits. His expres­sionist works were shown twice at the Macquarie Galleries. His biggest supporter was the famous art crit­ic Basil Burdett.

    Fitzroy Girls, 1936

      St Martin Place, Sydney 1936

    Fitzroy Street Scene, Boy with a Sling Shot, 1937

    Weakening sales pushed Vassilieff away from inner city art, so he went into teaching instead. In 1939 he became the first art teacher at Clive and Janet Nield's Koornong Modern School in Warran­dyte, in outer Melbourne. Danil’s newest lover, Helen Macdon­ald, was a music teacher there. And he sang in the Russian Orthodox Church choir.

    Heide was the home built around bourgeois art patrons John and Sun­d­ay Reed in the 1930s, and attracted artists Sidney Nolan, Bert Tuck­er and Joy Hester. Not far from Heide in Bul­l­­een, Danila Vassilieff created his own bohemian stone-and-log house in North Warrandyte, a home he called Stony­grad. Here he created a terraced garden with fruit trees and flow­ers, and sculp­t­ures out of local stone.

    Stonygrad became a focal point for the Angry Penguins and other loc­als. In the late 1930s-40s, Danila influenced many of the younger painters who later became Austral­ia's stars - Arthur Boyd, Charles Blackman, Joy Hester and Sid Nolan.

    In 1944 his relationship with Helen Macdonald ended. Vassilieff had separated from his first wife way back in 1929 but they were not div­orced until 1947. Because his art was unappreciated in Australia, he decided to sell Stonygrad and move to South Africa. In true Vas­s­il­­ieff style, he fell in love with the purchaser of Stonygrad, ac­ad­emic El­izabeth Orme Hamill. 3 months later they married and, newly inspired, the artist turn­ed to sculp­ture using lime-stone from Lilydale.

    Vassilieff building Stonygrad
    in outer Melbourne

    Welcomed into Melbourne's artistic circles, Vass­ilieff joined the Contemporary Art Society, supported by George Bell, Vance & Nettie Palmer, Adrian Lawlor, and John and Sunday Reed. In 1953 the Russian-Australian artist became vice-president of the Contemporary Art Society.

    He and Elizabeth separated and he moved first to Mildura High School and then to Swan Hill High in rural Victoria. Vassilieff was living in lodgings in both towns, earning an income, but never surviving long at any teach­ing positions. In the last months of his life he was living in a fishing shack owned by a fellow teacher on the banks of the Murray River. The artist had been dismissed from his last teaching job and his health was bad. He fished in the day, and at night painted the river by the light of a kerosene lamp.

     His view that immediacy and message mattered more than in­tellect and aesthetics, influenced younger artists: Al­bert Tucker, Lina Bryans, Joy Hest­er and Sid­ney Nolan. He did exhibit again later at the Gallery of Contemporary Art in Mel­bourne, but now his work was not in great demand.

    Sickly and slim, Vassilieff had always spoken English in a low, accented voice. As he sold few paintings, he never had any money and traded portraits for hot dinners. He also traded on his roman­tic image to get women into bed. Sadly he spent his final mon­ths in a shack near Mild­ura painting unhappy water-colours, the last in 1958.

    Vassilieff died of a heart attack alongside John Reed at Heide, who stood by the artist to the end. A memorial exhib­ition of Danil’s oeuvre was held at Melbourne’s Museum of Modern Art of Australia in 1959. His work is now repr­es­ented in major Australian galleries.

    Vassilieff sculpture, 1953

    Vassilieff's biographer Felicity St John Moore published Vassilieff and His Art in 2012. Vassilieff brought a stream of Russian folk art into Australian art, as well as exciting ideas about the indivis­ib­ility of art and life. The bright colours ref­l­ect­ed his exuberant love of the river, its flora and fauna. Sadly, Felicity said, he divided critics and friends, thanks to a peculiarly Cossack chauv­inism, fierce anti-intellectualism, dys­funct­ion­al relationships with women and crude painterly language.

    In 2012 an exhibition at Heidi examined the profound infl­uence of this artist in the hist­ory of Austr­al­­ian art. It comprised key paint­ings from the mid-1930s to mid-1940s, works on paper and sculp­ture. This project highlighted Vassil­ieff’s role in linking the expressive tradition of Russian folk art with mod­ern Australia art.

    In 2015 director Richard Moore's film, The Wolf in Australian Art: Life and Art of Danila Vassilieff was based on a book published by his mother, Felicity St John Moore. She also co-curated a 2012 show at Heide that did much to restore Vas­s­ilieff to the modern public.

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    Let me quote from the excellent Napoleon’s Last Stand paper, written by historian Jean-Noel Bregeon.  Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, skilfully managed to expel Emperor Napoleon from Portugal in 1811 and won decisive victories against the French in Spain in 1813. After the French Grand Army’s ruinous attempt to invade Russia, Allied forces invaded France from all sides in 1813.

    The French Empire was weakening, damaging the Emperor’s plans for European domination. By April 1814 it looked as if the anti-French Allies had succeeded. Napoleon abdicated and was exiled to the Italian island of Elba; Bourbon King Louis XVIII was restored to power instead.

    Napoleon was not a prisoner on Elba; he was granted sov­er­eignty of the island plus an armed guard. A flow of intell­igence from French informants & letters helped him secretly plan for his future. Even from Elba, Napoleon knew the Bourbon government was unpopular and by May 1814, he expected he would be sent for... to "tranquilise" France.

    Then in Feb 1815, Europe received a shock: the audacious Nap­ol­­eon escaped from Elba and sailed for France. It is hard to over­-estimate the horror this news provoked. Many nations feared that Napol­eon’s escape would restart French imperial expansion, and re-plunge Europe into war.

    In spring 1815 British, Prussian, Austrian and Russian forces re-­grouped as Napoleon again mobilised the French army. A last, epic showdown loomed. This time Nap­oleon faced a coalition of nations led by his old skilled adversary, the Duke of Wellington.

    In March, Napoleon reached Paris with the applause of the masses in his ears. Despite his claims to want peace, the Allies were wary. Together they signed what amounted to a declaration of war.

    Events moved swiftly, and the restored French emperor had little time to organise. With enemy armies massing on France’s northern frontiers, he tried to organise a vol­un­teer force to supplement the standing army. Even so, the French army was a fearful opponent. Its troops were ex­perienced fighters, and its commander still inspired passionate loyalty.

    Napoleon’s Return to France, painted by Charles Steuben in  1818. 

    The Allied forces consisted of British, Prussian and other troops who were divided into detachments. British command­er, the Duke of Wellington, patiently decided to wait for the enemy to attack rather than force their hand.

    Brimming with confidence, Napoleon was planning for a decisive victory. Ignoring advice to postpone engagement with the enemy, he left Paris on 12th June 1815 to join his army in Belgium where Welling­ton’s and Gebhard von Blücher’s troops lay in wait. On 14th June Napoleon proclaimed: “The honour and happiness of our country are at stake; Frenchmen, the moment has arrived when we must conqueror or die!”

    A double battle took place on 16th June in Quatre-Bras and Ligny; both were French victories, although neither was a fatal blow to Napoleon’s enemies. On 17th June, heavy rains soaked the ground and the French soldiers. The wet fields and muddy roads became a swampy mess.

    At dawn on 18th June, Wellington and Napoleon organised their for­c­es. Wellington set up his headquarters in Mont-Saint-Jean, not far from Waterloo. He had de­ployed most of his 68,000 troops along a long ridge with three farms. The British commander stuck to his def­ensive tactic, knowing he needed to wait for Blücher’s detachments (c50,000 men) to arrive. After the clash at Ligny, Blücher with­drew to Wavre, closer to Waterloo.

    Napoleon’s camp was in the village of Maison du Roi. Because Fren­ch forces totalled c72,000 men, Napoleon hoped to take advantage of the distance between the Prussians and the British, to quickly destroy Well­ington’s forces. The emperor believed that victory was within his grasp! But the emperor’s plan was thwarted by the mud and fog, which prevented an early start. Nap­oleon believed that had it not rained, he would have quickly de­feated the Allied army, before the Prussians arrived.

    But none of the French attacks breached the front. The Allied infantry, especially the British, showed determined resil­ience in facing the French onslaught. As a result, some formations suffered unpreced­ented losses e.g the Inniskilling Regiment lost two-thirds of its men in 45 minutes.

    The strain was becoming intolerable on Wellington. He desperately awaited news of Blücher’s arrival so that the Prussians could save them. At 4 PM Blücher’s forces started to attack the French flanks but the danger for Well­ington was not over yet. One farmhouse fell to the French at 6 PM. An hour later, the allied forces faced the terrifying charge from the Imperial Guard, the force Napol­eon always reserved to decide bat­tles. The Emperor thought the Imperial Guard would break the Allies, but he miscalculated. He had to send several regiments of his Imperial Guard to fight the Prussians, men who were sorely missed by their comrades during the final push. As they charged, Allied gunfire ripped them apart. The Imperial Guard faltered and the French troops scattered in terror-filled retreat.

    Wellington at Waterloo, by Robert Hillingford, 
    Musée Wellington, Waterloo.

    At 8:15 PM Napoleon ordered a retreat, once he realised the mortal blow had been struck. But the Allies’ victory came at a heavy cost. Historians estim­ated Wellington’s casualties c15,000 and Blücher’s at c8,000. Napoleon suffered c25,000 casualties and 9,000 Frenchmen were captured. Wellington was overwhelmed by the loss of life.

    Napoleon immediately returned to Paris where he abdicated in favour of his son on 22th June. A month after the battle, Napoleon gave himself up to the British, who banished him to St Helena, a mid-Atlantic island. The Napoleonic Era was over for good.


    Yet... yet....whilst on Elba, Napoleon knew the Bourbon government was unpopular and that he would have to save France. So why, despite solid advice to postpone the battle, did Napoleon take full command of an unnecessary bat­t­le, stating that he could easily defeat the inept British soldiers and the remote Prussian soldiers?

    We can acknowledge that the French under Marshal Michel Ney event­ually captured a farmhouse in the Allied area and began decimating Wellington’s troops with artillery. But why was Napoleon so pre­occupied with the 30,000 Prussians attacking his flank that he did not release troops to aid Ney’s attack until later? By that time, Wellington had reorganised the British def­ences, and the French at­tack was repulsed. Fifteen minutes later, the allied army launched a general advance and the Prussians att­acked in the east, throwing the French troops into chaotic retreat. 

    For a skilled and exper­ien­c­ed general, Napoleon’s speedy loss didn’t make sense.

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    I know that ceramics from the later 17th century and all the 18th century are greatly prized by Chinese collectors, for their technical skills and often coloured decoration. The best work came from the three great Qing Dynasty emperors, Kangxi (ruled 1661-1722), Yongzheng (1722-35) and Qianlong (1735-96).

    The Yongzheng Emperor (1678–1735) was the 5th emperor of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty, reigning for 13 years. According to the National Palace Museum in Taiwan the Yongzheng Emperor promulgated an order in 1727 for court objects that had to differ in appearance from those outside, thus establish­ing a unique style for his court. The painted enamel motifs that Yongzheng loved were blue landscapes, landscapes with flowers, peacocks and wild goose, plums, orchids, bamboo and chrys­anthemums. The exquisite under-glaze blue wares made in Yongzheng’s imperial kilns are some the best creations of the entire Qing era.

    In 2009 the Taiwan museum borrowed 37 relics from the Palace Museum in Beijing for its exhibition on Qing Dynasty Emperor Yongzheng. The pieces included an imperial stone seal and a massive Yongzheng portrait.

    Yongzheng doucai lingzhi wine bowl, 1722-35
    10.4 cm high
    photo credit: Woolley and Wallis, Salisbury

    Recently a ceramic object from the Yongzheng dynasty, in the Woolley and Wallis catalogue from their Salisbury Sales of May 2015, caught my attention. A 10.4 cm Yongzheng doucai lingzhi wine bowl had a gently flaring body was delicately decorated with four pairs of ruyi-heads separated by florets extending to leafy tendrils. All the exterior decoration was contained within concentric bands, while the interior was glazed white.

    The original estimate was £100,000-150,000, but on the day of the auction, the bids came thick and fast. The successful buyer was a Chinese private collector who paid £482,800 ($740,000) for the lot, including auction costs.

    Two references for Qing porcelain are very useful. Firstly consider For the Imperial Court: Qing Porcelain from the Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art, written by Rosemary E Scott and pub­lished in 1997. Secondly Imperial Perfection: The Palace Porcel­ain of Three Chinese Emperors: Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong, published in 2004, is valuable.


    An unexpected find was 9 cm tall teapot, decorated with a bright blue pattern featuring two cranes under a palm tree on one side, and a man on a bridge on the other side. When found in 2016 in Britain, the teapot was already missing a lid, and the handle was repaired.

    Woolley and Wallis in Salisbury identified it as the work of John Bartlam, a Staffordshire potter who left Britain in 1763 for South Carolina, drawn by its plentiful supplies of local kaolin and its wealthy consumers. He established the first known manufacturer of porcelain in the USA. British apprais­ers said this was the only known Bartlam American teapot in existence, and thus earliest USA-made porcelain teapot to survive.

    Porcelain teapot, 9 cms high
    made by John Barlam between 1763-73
    photo credit: Woolley and Wallis, Salisbury

    Interest in the teapot unexpectedly skyrocketed, thanks in particular to strong engagement from American bidders, and the post sold for a hammer price plus fees of US$800,000. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York won the auction and will house the unique teapot in their collection.

    Woolley and Wallis Auctioneers said the vessel’s historic imp­ortance rested in its association with the beginning of Amer­ic­an porcelain product­ion. Because of era of manufacture, the pot was said to represent the unique entrepreneurial spirit and important historical era, before the Boston Tea Party of Dec 1773. Thus this art object meant so much more to the Americans than it did to the other buyers.

    The wine bowl and the porcelain tea pot are about the same size (10.4 cm Vs 9 cms respectively), were put up for auction within a couple of years of each other (2015 and 2018) and earned about the same amount of money ($740,000 Vs $800,000). Yet they succeeded at auction for totally different reasons.

    The tiny wine bowl was worth a fortune because of fine crafts­man­ship, delicate decoration and historical value to fans of early C18th Qing ceramics. The teapot was not valuable because of its fine craftsmanship or delicate decoration; rather because of its great rarity and strong nationalist sentiment.

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    What a creative life and a tragic death Amadeo Modigliani (1884–1920) had. He left home in Livorno Italy in 1906, at 21, with money from his mother, and moved to the centre of the art world: Paris. He was en­grossed by the works he saw, from artists ranging from the late Paul Cézanne to his cont­emporary Kees van Dongen.

    Modigliani lived at various addresses in the boh­emian district of Montmartre, not far from Pablo Picasso’s home. In the early days in Paris, Amadeo’s sub­jects included figures from the demimonde eg circus performers. But during the 13 years that followed, he struggled with the dark side which, in turn, strengthened his art.

    Modigliani’s years of poverty were clear from the beginning – he was tubercular, hungry and poor. The consequences of his short and disordered life have resulted in debates amongst scholars, museums, dealers, auction houses and private collectors. His official cat­al­ogue raisonné is no longer 100% trusted because of disputed forg­eries and subsequent court cases. But at least the authenticity of Dr Paul Alexandre’s wonderful collection of Modiglianis was never chall­enged.

    The very handsome AmadeusModigliani

    Now the Tate Modern in London has brought together drawings, paintings and sculptures by Modigliani which might help with understanding his art. All the early work done in Italy was destroyed at Modigliani’s own request. So the Tate Exhibition consists of paintings and carved stone sculpture done during his chaotic, artistic life in Paris.

    The paintings were sensitively hung in the Tate Mod­ern galleries, with their colours creating a radiance. And the display ref­lected Amadeus’ progress over time. In 1909, he painted a very handsome portrait of his friend Paul Alexandre with layers of al­most Turner-like brushwork. That same year he depicted the youth he referred to as a Young Gypsy with a stylised geometric angularity, posing him with legs spread apart and hands loosely resting in his lap. In 1918, Modigliani painted the Little Peasant with a simp­lif­ied classicism but left him with the same rounded hands and arms a la Paul Alexandre but in a lighter palette.

    What about the 12 nudes in the same section of the Tate, perfectly timed to mark the 100-year annivers­ary of Modigliani’s only solo show. That exhibit, at Gallerie Ber­the Weill, was closed by police on its first day because of indecency. The heroic Mrs Weill’s im­pressive list of artists included Raoul Dufy, André Derain, Georges Braque, Kees van Dongen, Maurice Utrillo and Suzanne Valadon.

    Paul Alexandre by Modigliani

     Tate is showing the 1919 Self-Portrait owned by Brasil’s Museu de Arte. This paintings crys­tallised everything Modigliani saw in his idol Cezanne, but made it person­al. Plus paintings of the saucy Maud Abrantès stand out. She may have been the mistress of both Modigliani and his patron Alexandre, but was married to an art dealer. Maud was probably the model for The Jewess, a painting that was inspired by the Fauves. Modig­liani must have loved The Jewess; he exhibited it in the 1908 Salon des Indép­endants.

    Was being Jewish in post-Dreyfus Paris a problem? Modigliani was not interested in the issue! While there were several memoirs that des­c­ribed Modigliani’s passionate response to anti-Semitism, there was no evidence that he felt himself an “outsider”. This cosmop­olitan family had come from France, Tunisia, Italy, Algeria and Sardinia; national boundaries melted away. In Paris, his friends included many Jewish artists eg Lipchitz, Soutine, Chagall, Zad­kine, Nadelman and Kisling, artists of mixed origin eg Diego Rivera, and non-Jews like Picasso, Laurens, Gris and Cocteau. If he was consid­ered Italian, it was because of his dashing, aris­tocratic style.

    The end was tragic. Amadeus’s young lover Jeanne Hébuterne was 36 weeks pregnant with their second baby. Suffering from acute kidney pain and spitting blood, Modigliani lay in bed and a frightened Hébuterne huddled by his side in their Rue de la Grande Chaumière flat. They were cold that winter, hungry and messy. When he finally fell into a coma, Modigliani was carried to hospital and tended by nuns while friends surrounded him.

    Amadeus died and the artist’s brother paid expenses for a lavish funeral, where thousands of people gathered behind a horse-drawn carriage bearing his flower-covered casket. As the funeral cortege passed by, Hébuterne leapt out the 5th storey open window and died on the footpath below. At Cimetière du Père Lachaise, the Jew­ish funeral was packed out. Hébuterne’s Catholic parents arranged their daughter’s tiny funeral early the next day.

    Decades after her parents’ deaths, Amadeus’ daughter Jeanne wrote a book called Modigliani: Man and Myth. Jeanne described her father as the pampered and indulged youngest son in an eccentric Italian family, his own bankrupted father, and Amadeus’ near-death exper­ien­­ces in childhood from pleurisy and typhoid. Perhaps by choosing the life of a Bohemian artist, he was toughening himself up physically while saving his poetic soul.

    Sleeping nude by Modigliani

    Modigliani was my favourite C20th Bohemian; he was an emotionally intense portrait painter, poet, philosopher, a consumptive and an uncontrolled son and lover. But until I see the exhibition myself, I am relying on Frances Brent in TabletThe Tate,  his daughter Jeanne’s book, Modigliani: Man and Myth and previous posts in this blog.

    The Modigliani Exhibition at the Jewish Museum in New York just ended in Feb 2018. It was largely a pre-WW1 drawing show, focused on the coll­ection of Paul Alexandre, Modigliani’s first patron, the doctor who created a meeting place for artists in Mont­parnasse. The New York exhib­it­ion was accompanied by a catalogue published by Yale UP.

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    The first Jewish settler in New Zealand was Joel Samuel Polack in 1831. Born in London to Dutch parents, he established a successful retail business and later branched out into shipping, mainly to Cal­ifornia. When New Zealand became a British colony in 1840, it was the perfect time for the Auckland Jewish community’s found­at­ion; they soon acquired land for their first cemetery.

    The first Hebrew congregation began worship in Auckland in 1843. Their first formal place of worship was in Nathan & Joseph's Ware­house in Shortland Street. By 1853 the congregation had grown to 100 and worship was held in a small building in Emily Place. By the 1860s this building had become too small for the rapidly increasing population and moneys were collected to build a new synagogue.

    In 1884, the Jewish Community purchased a section on the corner of Princes and Bowen Sts. At that time the site was occupied by the former Albert Barracks Guard House, which overlooked a vegetable garden used by soldiers.

    The community asked architects to submit synagogue designs and they chose Edward Bartley to take on the project. Bartley was an Irish carpenter and joiner arrived in New Zealand in 1854 and trained as an architect and builder. In 1872, he went into partnership with another builder, forming Matthews & Bartley Builders. He moved to the North Shore in 1872, later building his own home in Devonport. Other significant Bartley buildings included the Foundation for the Blind Jubilee Building and the original Wellesley St Opera House. And was a founding member of the New Zealand Institute of Architects.

    Princes St Synagogue in Auckland
    built by Edward Bartley by 1885

    The Princes St Synagogue structure was designed in a mixed Roman­esque and Gothic style, the project influenced by an important Glasgow Syn­agogue. It was built out of concrete at a cost of 3000 pounds and could seat a congregation of 375. As one of NZ’s oldest massed concrete buildings, the basement was set aside for social and educational purposes, and a school annexe was later added.

    The interior ornamentation was by the decorator JL Holland. The int­erior of the building featured a barrel vaulted timber ceiling and an ornate circular ark, covered by a stained glass dome im­port­ed from Australia. The blend of Arabic and Classical styles feat­uring ornate stained-glass windows; an ell­iptical stair­case; a decorated barrel-vaulted, wood-panelled ceil­ing supp­orted by graceful Arabic arches and columns; and ornate plaster work.

    During his long career Bartley served as architect to the Anglican Church, the Auckland Savings Bank and the Auckland Hospital & Charitable Aid Board. The Mount Eden Public Library designed by the firm Bartley and Wade was prob­ably his last building. For the 1913 Auckland Exhibition he was a member of the Building Committee which selected the designs and oversaw the construction of the exhibition buildings in the Auckland Domain.

    Along with his 3 sons who became archit­ects, Bartley also trained Malcolm Keith Draffin (1890-1964). Draffin later became an Auckland War Memorial Museum architect.

    The barrel-vaulted, wood-panelled ceil­ing with graceful Arabic arches and columns are still intact. The women's pews upstairs were removed and the bank office spaces remain.

    The synagogue had been Auck­land’s main synag­ogue until 1967. Only then, due to substantial growth in the Jewish Community, did the congregation move to a lar­g­er, newly synagogue opposite Myers Park.

    After the original building was de-cons­ec­rated in 1969, ownership reverted to Auckland City Council. The building was left vacant and slowly deteriorated over 20+ years, until it was renovated to oper­ate a branch of the National Bank in 1989. The interior of the form­­er syn­agogue was meticulously restored to its original condit­ion in the late 1980s, with extensive structural and streng­thening work of the interior office spaces.

    The University of Auckland has leased the old synagogue since 2003, using the building as home to the University’s Alumni Relations and Develop­ment office. It is located at the campus entrance.

    The former synagogue is registered by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust and has Historic Place Category 1 Status. The conservation project won the inaugural Auckland City Heritage Aw­ard. And they won a New Zealand Institute of Arch­itects National Award citation in 1990 for successfully reconciling the tenant’s commercial requirements with the need to conserve one of Auckland’s significant buildings.

    Decoration and lamps on the arches and columns

    This important part of Auckland’s cultural history is for sale. The synagogue is the only landmark historic building of its type in the city and one of only two extant C19th synagogues in all the country. It had acted as Auckland’s main synagogue and focal point for the Jewish community from 1885 until 1968! The ad­joining building, the Trish Clark Gallery for contemporary art that was built in 1986, is one of Auckland’s leading art spaces. Along with the old synagogue, the whole complex is for sale in Apr 2018.

    You might like to read The History of the Jews in New Zealand (1958) by Lazarus Mor­ris Goldman for an excellent and detailed analysis of Jewish settlers in C19th New Zealand.

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    In 1861 Herman Webster Mudgett was born to a respected New Hamp­sh­ire family. In childhood he was fascinated with skeletons and soon became obsessed with death. Mudgett changed his name to H.H Holmes and studied medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School.

    While a student, Holmes stole cadavers from the labor­at­ory, disfig­ured them and then planted the bodies as if they were killed in accidents. His passion for death had started early in life but his criminal skills began in med­ical school; it was only then he collected on fake insurance policies.

    Holmes was a very good medical student. In 1884 he passed his exams easily and in 1885 he moved to Chicago where he worked at a pharmacy as Dr Henry Holmes. When the owner of the business passed away, Holmes convinced the wid­ow to sell him the shop in 1887. Holmes hired the Conner family from Iowa to work in the shop and keep the books, and the widow was never seen again!

    Holmes married a few times, often to more than one woman at the same time. Emeline Cigrand became Holmes' personal secretary but after acc­ept­ing Holmes' marriage proposal, Cigrand disappeared. Soon after, Holmes sold an articulated female skeleton to a nearby medical school. Holmes later confessed to locking Cigard in the vault, before raping and murdering her.

    Photo credit: Wikipedia

    Knowing the World Fair was coming to Chicago, Holmes bought the un­d­eveloped land across the street, and began building his hotel at 63rd and South Wallace Sts Englewood. Construct­ion took two long years because Holmes was constant­ly changing labourers. By keeping turnover high, Holmes easily hid its layout from the world.

    On the ground floor of Holmes’ three-storey Murder Castle, thousands of people enter the shops, some operated by Holmes and some leased to local mer­chants. They knew nothing of what was happening above.

    The angled, nar­row corr­id­ors had poor light­ing. Most of the rooms were rigged with gas pipes connected to a con­trol panel in Holmes' closet. Stairways that led nowhere were interspersed with locked doors to which only Holmes had the key. And Holmes' personal off­ice contained a walk-in bank vault, leaving the victims to suff­ocate. There were trap doors, secret passage ways, hidden closets with sliding panels, peepholes, door­ways opening to brick walls, sound­proofed bedrooms that were either airtight and lined with asbestos-coated steel plates, false bat­tle­ments and wooden bay windows were covered in sheet iron.

    Holmes' medical training paid off. The basement was designed for a good surgeon; it had a dissecting tab­le, surgeon's cabinet, stretching rack and crematory. Sometimes he would send the bodies down the greased chute, dissect them, strip them of the flesh and sell them as skeleton models to medical schools. Or he placed the bodies into pits of quicklime vats or burnt them in the furnaces. Charles Chappell was an artic­ul­ator i.e he could strip flesh from human bodies and reassemble the bones to form complete skeletons. Holmes paid Chappell to art­iculate a cadaver, then to sell the skeleton to a medical school.

    When completed in 1891, Holm­es placed ads in news­papers offering hotel jobs for young women and ad­vert­ised the Castle for guests. He also placed ads presenting himself as a wealthy man look­ing for a wife. In May-October 1893 the Chicago World Fair was opened, to cele­brate the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ discovery of America. The event attracted millions of people from all over the world.

    All of Holmes’ employees, hotel guests, fiancés and wives were req­uired to have life insurance policies. Holmes paid the premiums, as long as he was the beneficiary. Most of his fiancés, employees and guests suddenly disappeared, leaving Holmes to collect the insurance.

    Holmes' Murder Castle in Chicago
    Photo credit: Chicago Historical Society

    Post-Wor­ld Fair Chicago’s economy slumped; so Holmes abandoned the Castle and focused on insurance scams, meanwhile comm­it­ting random murders. During this time, Holmes stole horses from Texas, shipped them to St Louis and sold them – making a fortune with accomplice Benjamin Pitezel. He was arrested and imprisoned.

    While in gaol, he devised an insurance scam with cellmate Marion Hedgepeth. Holmes would take out a valuable insurance policy, fake his own death and provide Hedgepeth with $500 in exch­an­ge for a helpful lawyer. Holmes did try his plan but the in­surance company was suspicious and refused payment. Holmes then attempted a similar plan in Philadelphia, asking Pitezel to fake his own death. But Holmes killed Pitezel and collected the insurance anyhow!

    In 1894 Hedgepath told police about Holmes’ scam. The police track­ed Holmes, arresting him in Boston for insur­ance fraud. Almost acc­id­entally, Chicago police investigated Hol­m­es’ Castle where they discovered his tortures and murders. The bodies they found were so badly dismembered and decomposed, the number was unclear.

    How did the crisis get so far? Because of the World's Fair and lim­ited police procedure, missing persons had barely been invest­igat­ed. And more difficult still, Holmes' innate charm could smooth over any major worries that neighbours and families were pursuing.

    While conducting their investigation in Toronto, police discovered the dead Pitezel children who had gone missing sometime during Holmes’ insurance fraud spree. Linking Holmes to their murd­ers, police arrested him and he then confessed to 28 other murders. Holmes' 6-day trial began in Philadelphia in late 1895. Throughout, he was charismatic to the day of his exec­ut­ion: May 1896. He was 36.

    A man named AM Clark purchased the Murder Castle soon after the police investigation. Clark intended to capitalise on the Castle's notoriety and reopen it as a tourist attraction. However in August a watchman saw flames and explosions from the bedroom windows and the roof had collapsed. Only the first floor was salvaged and served as a bookshop until the Castle was sold in 1937. It was then pulled down.

    After Holmes’ death, men who'd had dealings with Holmes came to violent ends. The last was Pat Quinlan, suspected acc­om­plice and former Murder Castle caretaker. In March 1914, Quinlan committed suicide via strychnine.

    In the next post I will examine a similar mass murderer (in Britain), and draw some conclusions. 

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    Dennis Andrew Nilsen (b1945) was born in Aberdeenshire. His father was an alcoholic and his parents divorced early, so Dennis was sent to his adored grand­parents. Sadly when grandpa died, the traumat­ised 6 years-old was shown his grandfather lying in his coffin.

    The lad joined the army in 1961 at 15. His first three years in the army were spent undergoing training at the Aldershot Barr­acks. This was a very happy time for Nilsen who thrived on the hard work, dis­cip­line and comradeship of army life. He was no longer an outsider.

    Nilsen's chosen army trade was in the catering corps - he trained as a butcher in Aden, Cyprus and Berlin. When Nilsen reached the rank of Corporal, his successful army career had lasted 11.5 years, but he disliked the Army's role in Northern Ireland and left.

    In Dec 1972, he enrolled in the Metropolitan Police, hoping to recapture army-type comradeship. He was fas­cin­ated seeing autopsied bodies in a morgue. But he wasn’t happy and resigned in Dec 1973.

    From the mid 1970s, Nilsen worked in a job centre. He met a man there who was looking for a job. They went to Nil­sen's flat but David Painter saved himself and rushed to hosp­it­al. NB Nil­sen was questioned by the police and released!

    195 Melrose Avenue North London By 1974, Nilsen's life revolved around cruising bars. One night David Gal­l­ichan came home with Nilsen and stayed. It was Nilsen’s happiest affair. The two men went flat hunting togeth­er and rented 195 Melrose Ave for 2 years. When the relationship ended, Nilsen filled the void by visiting London’s bars and drinking.

    The killings re-started a year after Gallichan left. As 1978 ended, Nil­sen sank into a deep depression, until the old death fantasy came back out to comfort him. By New Year he went to a pub and returned home with an unknown teenager. The men drank themselves into a blear, and when Nilsen awoke, he wanted to keep this lad as a companion forever. So he strang­l­ed the youth with his neck­tie, drowned him and placed him under the floorboards.

    In Oct 1979, a year after the first murder, another young stud­ent went home with Nilsen. Andrew Ho informed the police, but no charges were brought!!

    All his partners were young men whom he picked up in bars and brought home for sex or for company. Nilsen strangled and drowned his victims during the night, then carefully used his butchering skills to help him dispose of the bodies. Nilsen had access to a large garden and was able to burn many of the remains in a bonfire.

    Later on, the police inspected Nilsen's home at 195 at Melrose Avenue and found another 13 bodies.

    Dennis Nilsen standing in front of photos of his two North London flats
    Photo credit: The Mirror

    23 Cranley Gardens in Muswell Hill, North London. The new house at Cran­ley Gardens had been divided into 6 flats and an attic for Nilsen. He’d lost the use of a garden and even of a space under floor boards, so he was certain this would be a deterrent for his comp­ulsive homicides. Wrong!

    Nilsen met a student in a Soho bar and invited him home. The stud­ent awoke the next morning not remembering the previous evening, but knew enough to see a doctor because of neck bruising. The doct­or said the student had been strangled and advised him to go to the police. Alas the student would not.

    Rather than being appalled by the sight of corpses, Nilsen thought them quite beautiful. He did not really know why he had killed any young men - he just wanted them to stay. Sometimes he decided to have sex with the corpses. Or he would make dinner and watch telev­ision with a corpse propped upright on the couch.

    In just 1.5 years, Nilsen had killed twelve unemployed or homeless young men in Muswell Hill, largely unidentifiable. As his murders contin­ued in the attic, Nilsen had to dispose of the human rem­ains in suitcases; they were full of human org­ans stored in his ward­robe. Neighbours gagged at the smell. When he tried to dispose of the bodies by flushing them down the toilet, the sew­er­age clogged up. In 1983 the drain ins­p­ect­or imm­ediately called the pol­ice who discovered the bones were human.

    Despite being cautioned, Nilsen unburdened himself in nauseating detail. And he also accompanied police back to 195 Melrose Avenue and pointed out where he had buried body parts and made bonfires.

    At the 1983 trial at Old Bailey, Nilsen’s in­terviews with the pol­ice were read verbatim, taking four hours, and surv­iving vic­tims gave chilling evidence. Because this profess­ion­al butcher knew how to cut up a body well and boil flesh off the heads in a large pot, they present­ed his pot, dissecting board and butch­ering knives in court. Finally Dennis Nilsen was convicted of 6 murders and 2 attempted murders, sentenced to life in prison, never to be released. Read Killing for Company 1985, by Nilsen’s friend Brian Masters.

    Conclusion Different decades, countries, preferred victims, motives and killing methods. Yet the outcome was equally tragic for hundreds of people in the USA and Britain.

    The police were rarely told of Dr Holmes’ killings for financial windfalls and few missing person’s reports were filed. Yet Holm­es openly placed ads in news­papers offering jobs for young women, hotel rooms for guests and positions for potential wives. Did the parents do nothing when their daughters didn’t come home? And from the early insurance claims, the insurance companies must have und­er­stood what was happening. It was unthinkable that the insur­ance companies could make endless payouts to one person!

    Of the victims who manag­ed to escape lonely Nilsen’s grasp, many had made hospital records and police reports, so the police knew that they had been given solid evidence over four years. If only the various hospitals and police stations had been able to coord­inate with each other, a more urgent & proactive police investigation may have saved many lives. If only the neighbours, workmates, sexual partners and parents had not averted their eyes and noses, even when they knew (or suspected) that the army butcher was psychotic.

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    La Belle Epoque in Paris was time of peace, scientific prog­ress, prosperity and leisure, at least for those with money. Four events in the later C19th led to si­g­nificant chan­ges in how Parisians lived:

    1] Paris’s C19th layout was redesigned by Baron Haus­smann on behalf of Nap­oleon III, to beautify the city. Between 1852-72, Haus­s­mann demolish­ed medieval roads, built wide boulevards and elegant buildings, surroun­ded by greenery.

    2] the destructive Franco Prussian war of 1870-1 ended.

    3] arrival of the rail­ways by the mid C19th meant French­men could travel anywhere! And the Paris Metro opened in 1900, with the elegant Art Nouveau décor.

    4] The 1889 World Fair & Eif­fel Tower were a major stimulus to French and foreign tourism. Cafe life arrived.

    Moulin Rouge, with its windmill vanes
    opened in Montmartre in 1889.

    Moulin Rouge interior, 1898

    Great galleries and museums were created to display the treas­ures gathered from across Europe, and Paris became the art capital of the world. The Bohem­ians favoured the Left Bank; impr­es­sionism was largely based on the love these artists had for their Paris social.

    It was the Mont­mar­t­re dist­rict in particular that became imp­ortant during the Belle Epoch. Once a quiet rural district outside Pa­r­is, Mon­t­mar­t­re was opened up to easy access during Haussmann's mod­er­n­is­ation. Artists and writers flocked there.

    Nightlife and cab­arets thrived. Folies Bergère was the first music hall to op­en, in May 1869. In the early days the prod­uctions consisted of circus acts and sporty en­tert­ain­ers. Folies Berg­ere saw itself as the theatre of the ordinary people, offering unres­erved seats for a modest cost.

    Young ladies in revues began to appear al­most naked as early as 1893, initially the result of a comp­et­it­ion be­tween art­ist's models concerning which of them had the best legs. Later the entire cast wore elaborate, skimpy cos­t­umes.

    At night the Montmartre district started humming: soon night clubs opened for business all over the district. The Chat Noir Cabaret opened in 1881, attracting poets, singers and painters with Boh­emian entertainment and decor.

    The original Moulin Rouge was co-founded in 1889 by impresario Jos­eph Oller, who also owned the Paris Olympia, and his supp­ort­ing showman Charles Zidler. Moulin Rouge's architecture was modelled on a mill at the foot of Mt Montmartre, on the very site of an old work­ing windmill. In Oct 1889 it opened as a dance-music hall, with cabaret. The il­l­umin­ated wind­mill vanes became a land­mark, ro­tating above roof tops on Bou­levard de Clichy. Moulin Rouge featured a big dance floor, mirrored walls and a fash­ionable ga­­l­l­ery, lit by round, moun­ted glass gas lamps. 

    Early cancan dancers had been men, peacocking through a quad­rille in ? defiance of France’s July Monarchy (1830-48). Women gradually joined in, and in 1867 the cancan dancer Finette imported the dance to Lond­on, where her high kicks inspired Kate Vaughan, first of the celebrated Gaiety Girls. They performed in black tights and foaming lacy petticoats over their flesh. Soon celeb­rated exponents like La Goulue and Jane Avril carried the cancan to a sexier show at the Folies Bergère and later in Moulin Rouge.

    The can­can was about gorgeous, erotic under­wear, and the girls doing high kicks, a dance that made the Moulin Rouge.

    At the Moulin Rouge: The Dance, by Toulouse Lautrec, 1890
    Some male patrons wanted to share the entertainment with the dancers.
    Philadelphia Museum of Art

    Jules Cheret (1836-1932)’s training as a litho­grapher raised the pos­t­er to soph­ist­ic­ated heights. His Folies Berg­ere post­ers showed how simple the design was and how dominant the colour block was. Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947) began design­ing posters in the early 1890s. For Bonnard, Moulin Rouge was an ideal place for insp­iration; he used sober palette, refined, detailed composition in his paintings.

    Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) was an integral part of Paris nightlife. He documented the city’s bohemian night life in the 18­80s & 1890s, frequenting the Moulin Rouge and other Mo­nt­mar­tre cabarets where he attracted a large group of ar­t­ists and intel­l­ectuals. He sat at a crowded nightclub table, drinking and sketching. The next morning in his studio he’d expand the sket­ches into full paintings. Lively posters by Lautrec thrilled the cabar­ets and music halls owners.

    Because the Moulin Rouge closed for the summer, the same ow­n­ers opened a summer branch. Called Jardin de Paris, this second business offered dan­ce acts, songs, sket­ches and a ball in a outdoorsy, tree lined atmosphere. At the Chat Noir, He­nri Riv­iëre and Georges Fragerolle designed Shadow Theatre wh­ich consisted of si­l­hou­ettes cut out of zinc, manip­ulated in front of a screen and lit by back lighting. Shadow Theatre product­ions appar­ently had a profound influence on Lautrec's work.

    The most famous tune associated with the cancan was written by Jac­q­ues Offenbach for his operetta Orpheus in the Underworld in 1858. The dance was originally titled the Infernal Galop and was first done by act­ors performing as the bawdy Olymp­ian gods and Orpheus’ be­loved Eurydice. He off­ered a brill­iant view of how Paris­ian society and its wealthy visit­ors lived the high life, especially when Orpheus and cancan later became synonymous.

    It is said that Par­is was a seductive Babylon; that the can­can loosened the morals of an entire generation. Clearly British men couldn’t get to Paris fa­st enough!! But would Moulin Rouge and the cancan have been famous, if it wasn’t for artists like Toulouse-Lautrec and Offen­bach? Yes!

    Cancan dancer. Was she wearing knickers under the petticoats?

    After all Moulin Rouge patrons adored the ladies’ skin and undies, wild music etc. But would we know about Moulin Rouge today, 120 years later, if it wasn’t for the permanent art, literature and music? Possibly not.

    The building burned in 1915 and was rebuilt in 1925. Today the Moulin Rouge is a musical and dance tourist attraction; the club's decor still embodies fin de siècle Paris.

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    When trade with Japan resumed in 1854 after cent­uries of isol­ation­ism and cul­t­ur­al blockade, a craze for its culture swept across France. But the French concept of Japon­is­me was not invented until the early 1870s. Art galleries in Paris were showing Oriental work, shops sold porcelain, lacquer ware, screens, fans and prints for homes, and 1878 World’s Fair showed many Far Eastern treasures to visitors.

    Van Gogh, Oiran, 105 x 61 cm, 1887. 

    French artists and designers studied Japanese woodcut prints; the development of modern painting was affect­ed by the woodcuts’ stylis­at­ion, flattened perspectives and brilliant colours. Thanks to Art Eyewitness we can see that French artists like Manet, Monet, Degas and Cassatt were influenced by the relaxed placement of figures and striking coloration in these depictions of Japan’s floating world.

    Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890)’s contact with Japonisme can be seen in his 1884 still-life in which he painted brother Theo’s cloisonné vase. Leaving his parents’ Nuenen home for Antwerp in 1885, Vincent bought his first Japanese prints. Urged by Theo to follow the Impressionist movement to make his art look more modern, Vincent was off and running.

    In 1887 he began to make copies of prints: of Hiroshige’s The Res­idence with Plum Trees at Kameido. Two of the three portraits that he painted of Père Tanguy that year showed the dealer sitting against a backdrop of the Oriental prints that he traded. Kabuki actors showed cherry trees in blossom and Mount Fuji crowned his head. 

    Van Gogh, The Sower, 1888, 33 x 40 cm.

    By 1888 his visual vocabulary, with its decorative planes of garish colour, came literally from the woodcuts that he loved. He admired the bold way that Japanese prints crop­p­ed images, made striking use of strong colours and fixed on the beauty of nature. That very year was the pivotal point in the Dutch­man’s art, refining his tech­nique.

    Vincent enjoyed painting in/near Paris throughout 1886 and it was then that he became openly interested in Japanese art. His pal­ette began to move away from his Dutch-influenced darker, tradit­ional colours, towards more vibrant hues of the Impression­ists. The art­ist amassed a large collection of c600 Japanese woodcut prints (now in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam), and his paint­ings com­bined Impressionist colours and distinct Japanese ov­er­tones. He wrote “My studio’s quite toler­able mainly because I’ve pinned a set of Japanese prints on the walls that I find very div­erting. You know, those little female figures in gardens, horsemen, flowers, gnarled thorn branches.”

    Disappointed by his futile efforts to become a priest and no longer believing that harsh suffering was the way to spir­itual achieve­ment, van Gogh turned instead what he saw as a cultural primit­iv­ism. Gauguin’s Arcadia focused on the tropics while Van Gogh preferred the Far East.

    Moving to Arles in 1888, Vincent promoted his Eastern vision on top of colourful and sunny southern France. His drawings, done with a newly adopted reed pen, used the dots, streaks and hatchings, the sharp lines and short dashes of the master Hokusai. With the Japan­ese model, he began to work with broader brushstrokes to capture their flattened effects and abstracted backgrounds.

    If Van Gogh wanted to contribute to modern art, he may have seen Japanese art as a way of doing this. His Japanese dream thrived with flowy peach blossom, a local foil to the Far Eastern cherry. Looking at Millet’s The Sower 1850, he set about modernising it with flat planes of colour and, in a man­ner adopted directly from Hir­oshige, sliced it diagonally across with a tree trunk. The close-ups was re-cast according to an Oriental model, using butterflies and flowers.

    The prints planted the seeds of van Gogh’s Japanese dream. He ex­p­erimented with their stylistic devices: omitting the horizon or playing with abrupt compositional crops, trying forceful diagonals or exaggerating bird’s-eye views.

    Two 2018 exhibitions examine Japon­is­me and van Gogh. In Tokyo’s Metropolitan Art Museum, the Van Gogh & Japan Exhibition (2018) showed how the enthusiastic assimil­at­ion of Japanese imagery encouraged bold experimentation for Van Gogh. This exhibit­ion then explored the two-way relationship between Van Gogh and Japan; it presented a lovely symmetry about Van Gogh be­ing ins­p­ired by, and in turn inspiring Japanese art in the 1920s and 30s.

    van Gogh, Flowering plum tree, 1888, 56cm x 47cm. 

    But the Van Gogh & Japan Exhibition in the van Gogh Museum Amsterdam (Mar-June 2018) is focusing more narr­ow­ly on the art­ist’s love of Japanese art, especially print making. Among the 60 paintings and drawings on display are special images such as L’Arlésienne; Irises; Orch­ard in Blossom; Self-Portrait as a Paint­er (1887) and The Bedroom (1888). The pieces that have been drawn from Van Gogh’s extensive collection are not terribly refined but there are some other great works of Japanese art eg Hok­us­ai­’s The Wave

    My most important question to ask in Amst­erdam would be: “was van Gogh’s work fundamentally altered, in response to Japan’s exotic, colourful images with their distinctive style?” The curators' answer is clear: once his enchanted world became his main artistic reference point, van Gogh assimilated the prints’ devices and positioned him­self as an artist in the Japanese tradition. He thus gained an avant-garde reputation.

    The exhibition is accompanied by a scholarly publication collating 25 years of curatorial study; this catalogue assess­es the impact Japanese printmaking had on Van Gogh’s creative output. The book details the ways in which the artist constructed his und­er­standing of a Japanese aesthetic and his utopian ideal of a “primitive society”, and incorporated them into his own vision. The size, nature and importance of Van Gogh’s own coll­ection of Japan­ese prints are analysed, and lavish illus­trations of oil paintings and drawings by Van Gogh are included. 

    van Gogh, Almond Blossom, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, 
    1890, 73cm x 92cm 

    All images are from the van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Many thanks.

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    I had enjoyed Australian holiday camps every summer throughout high school and university. Wonderful memories and activities!! But 1971 was my first year in Europe and Britain, so I was very keen to visit Butlins for the first time.

    In the 1920s, young Billy Butlin (1899-1990) was staying at a Bed & Breakfast in Barry Island, Wales. Everyone knew that guests would be locked out of their accommodation after breakfast and only let back in when the prop­rietor opened the door for tea. But But­lin hated the boredom, and decided to create a new kind of holiday de­st­ination, one where residents wouldn’t be subject to the relentless rain outside. 

    Butlin, the son of fairground owners, decided to develop a holiday facility where on-site entertainment would be provided for the guests during the day. Having arrived in Skegness at the height of the foreshore development with his hoopla stall, Butlin went on to build and operate a new amusement park. In fact he opened a perm­an­­ent fair­ground and zoo in Skegness in 1927, becoming the first Brit to franchise American Dodgems bumper cars and import them into Brit­ain.

    Rail poster to Butlin's Clacton On Seat holiday camp

    Following his success in developing amusement parks, and based on what Butlin learned in Canadian family holidays, he decided to move on to camps. The first Butlin’s Holiday Camp opened in 1936, close to Skeg­ness, officially opened by Amy Johnson, the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia. On the opening night, an eng­ineer was asked to entertain the guests with a comedy rout­ine. The guests loved it, and thus the Butlin’s Redcoat was born. The red­coat’s duty was to keep the guests amused! Skegness camp soon incl­uded exciting facilities, such as dance halls and sports fields.

    Within a year Skeg­ness had doubled in size, so two years later Billy Butlin's chose Clacton-on-Sea for his second camp. In 1938, Dovercourt Camp was built but it was taken over by the gov­ern­­ment to house the Jewish children who fled from Nazi Eastern Europe to Britain as part of the Kinder­trans­port Train.

    Construct­ion of the Filey Holiday Camp in Yorkshire began in 1939. Again, with the outbreak of WW2, building at Filey was completed by the Army. Sim­ilarly the camps at Skeg­ness and Clacton were hand­ed over as training camps for troops. Butlin built the gov­ern­­ment more camps, trusting that they would be returned to him after the war’s end.

    Dining hall at Filey Camp (above)

    Vienna Ballroom at Filey Camp (below)
    In 1945, with the war over, Filey was re-opened as a holiday camp. The camps at Skegness and Clacton re-opened in 1946, Ayr and Pwllheli in 1947 and Mosney on the Irish coast in 1948. In 1948 Billy Butlin acquired two hotels in the Bahamas, and in the 1950s Butlins began opening hotels at home: Saltdean, Brighton (1953), Blackpool (1955) and five in Cliftonville (1955–6).

    Butlins ensured that family entertain­ment and activities were available for the equivalent of a week's pay. His empire grew when he opened camps in Ayr in Scot­land, Saltdean in Essex, Blackpool and Clifton­ville Kent. New sites opened in the 1960s in Bognor Regis in Sus­s­ex, Mine­head in Somerset and, appropriately, Barry Is­land in Wales! Butlin’s Holiday Camps had become an icon of British holidaymaking. He received his knighthood in 1964.

    Then the camping world changed. As Brits fell in love with holid­aying abroad, the special quality of the British seaside and the att­ractiveness of basic holiday camps faded. Cheap air flights and package holidays provided strong comp­et­it­ion to Butlin in the 1970s. And Mediterranean resorts had much better weather and more exotic food!

    His numbers went down, but his camps remained open for business anyhow, seeking continuous development. The famous mono-rails were established in Skegness and Minehead, chairlifts became popular, and heated indoor pools with underwater viewing-windows and revolv­ing bars were sensational! The number of camps peaked at ten in the late 1960s-early 70s.

    Chalets at Butlins Skegness, used by navy recruits during WW2
    Royal Arthur

    In 1968 Billy's son Bobby Butlin took over the management of But­l­ins, and in 1972 the business was sold to the Rank Organisation for £43 million. It also had a specific image problem of being seen as providing regimented holidays, suitable only for the working class!

    Ayr and Skegness gained separate self-contained hotels within their grounds, hotels that were refined enough. In later years, they were joined by further hotels in Scarborough (1978), London (1993) and elsewhere. In the 1960s and 1970s, the company also operated the Top of the Tower revolving restaurant in London.

    The Skegness Esplanade and Tower Gardens Lincs, where Billy Butlin opened his first holiday camp in 1936, is the first Butlins holiday camp named as a Grade II Listed site.
    Redcoats dancing with women campers at Skegness
    Daily Mail

    Colin Ward’s book Goodnight Campers: The History of the British Holiday Camp 2010 records the development of the British holiday camp from the pioneer camps during the 1930s and 1940s… to the golden years of the Pontin, Butlin and Warner camps of the 1950s and 1960s. Commercial mot­ives for the Butlin camps were important, but so were ed­uc­ational ideals, trade unions and welfare consid­er­ations, cult of the outdoor life and political utopianism. Butlin’s grand vision had been to provide good value holidays to Britain’s hard working population – and he did. These were the great years when holiday camps off­ered freedom, health, family fun and possible sex.

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    The Canton Museum of Art in Ohio began as the Little Civic Art Gal­lery above Canton's Carnegie Library in 1935. In time the gall­ery brought 3 works into its permanent collection, includ­ing their first watercolour, by Clyde Singer. Although the collection would grow in different ways in the coming decades, this selection antic­ipated the eventual collection focus of the Canton Museum of Art. In 1971, Ralph Wilson began donating works from his consider­able art collection to the museum. His first donation included water­colours by Charles Demuth, Lyonel Feininger, John Marin, Maurice Prendergast and Alfred Maurer.

    Ralph Wilson continued to donate his own works to the museum until he died in 1979. By then, Wilson had donated 40+ quality works on paper by American artists, eventually becoming the heart of Cant­on’s coll­ection. Further growth of the Coll­ect­ion came with more fine watercolours by Andrew and Jamie Wyeth.

    Canton’s permanent collection already had masters like Edward Hopper & Winslow Homer. Now the Canton Museum of Art is pres­enting a special exhibition, American Masters: Watercolours from the CMA Permanent Collection.

    The central feature of the exhibition is the Museum's most recent acquisition: an 1890 Impres­s­ion­ist work Bleak House Broadstairs by the Am­er­ican artist, Childe Hassam (1859-1935). Major water-colours by Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, George Luks, John Marin, Maurice Prendergast and John Singer Sargent are also feat­ured in this special exhibition, which is on view until April 2018.

    Bleak House Broadstairs, 1890
    By Childe Hassam
    watercolour, 36 x 25cm

    Canton Museum of Art

    Frederick Childe Hassam (1859-1935) was born in Mass, descendent of a C17th English immigrant. Raised in a cultured home, Hassam decided early on to become an artist. He left high school to work for important Boston pub­lish­ers and began training as a wood-engraver and illustrator.

    Early in his career, the artist dropped his Christian name Freder­ick. With his olive skin, the artist was thought by many to be Middle Eastern, a mistake he allowed to continue. In the mid-1880s, he started adding an Islamic-type crescent moon on his work.

    In 1886 Hassam left for on a 3 year stay in Paris and enrolled at the Académie Jul­ian. Hassam saw a wide range of French and foreign styles but clearly it was Impressionism that really attracted this American. His 1887 Grand Prix Day demonstrates that after only a short time in Paris, he created a street scene that was Impressionist in its composition, broken brushstrokes and stronger colours.

    Hassam eventually returned home with the technique and sensibil­it­ies of the French Impressionists, modified by American realism. Impres­s­ionism flourished in the 1880s in Boston without the furious protest it had aroused in France. So in 1898 Hassam felt free to join the artists Julian Alden Weir and John Henry Watchman in founding the Ten American Painters, which went on to in­clude Frank Weston Benson, Robert Reid and Edmund Tarbell etc. This group of Impressionists arranged popular exhibitions.

    Bowl of Goldfish, 1912
    Childe Hassam
    64 x 77 cm
    David Owsley Art Museum, Muncie, Indiana

    Hassam created 2,000+ oils, watercolours, pastels and drawings, thus achieving critical acclaim at home. While Hassam is well known for his lush gardens and boulevard scenes of Manhattan and Par­is, examine his Flag Series. These 30 paintings were created in support of the Allied efforts in WWI eg The Avenue in the Rain (1917), vibrant street scenes, filled with patriotic banners. 

    Allies Day May 1917
    by Childe Hassam
    93 x 77 cm
    National Gallery of Art

    Together, the 7 artists featured in this "American Masters" exhibition contribute importantly to the nation's cultural heritage and the evolution of watercolour painting. Water colour is one of the most challeng­ing mediums for artists to use; the colours need to be carefully controlled or they bleed into one another. In the century following the Civil War, water-colour paint­ing became an important American medium, and it was used more freely than any­where else in the wor­ld. "American Masters" showcases creative ex­cellence in this special American medium.

    Canton was a museum dedicated to American art, with a focus on wat­er­colours. So the museum’s collection needed a Hassam that would complement the American Masters collection. Bleak House Broadstairs 1890 was that painting! Clearly inspired by the French style in the late 1800s, the image of a graceful young woman reading a book in summer, and walking a waterway in coastal Kent, is still fresh. Remember that Broadstairs was the town where Charles Dickens often spent his summer holidays, writing David Copperfield inside that very house.

    The provenance of this painting traces back via private collections to the painter himself; Bleak House was ex­hibited in 1906 at the Phil­adelphia Water Colour Club. Almost 120 years after being paint­ed, Bleak House is being exhibited until April 2018, with other prized works from the water-colour collection, including Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper and John Singer Sargent.

    Corfu The Terrace, 
    By John Singer Sargent, 
    watercolour 53 x 40 cm
    Museum Fine Arts, Boston

    For many museums, watercolour paintings have been undervalued and therefore intentionally under-represented in their collections. But for Ohio’s Canton Museum of Art, C19th and early C20th American watercolours came to the represent the primary focus of the collection, as seen in this American Masters Exhib­it­ion. And this exhib­it­ion also has a second role: to show how Childe Hassam became America's favourite Impressionist.

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    The 1400s was the peak of the Ottoman–Hungarian Wars, when Wal­lachia in Southern Romania was one of Hungary's strongest rivals. Sit­uated between Christian Europe and the Muslim lands of the Ottoman Empire, Transylvania and Wallachia (see map) were often the scene of bloody battles. The Ottoman forces pushed west­ward into Europe, and Christian Crusaders marched eastward toward the Holy Land.

    Vlad the Impaler Tepes (1431-1476) was born in Trans­yl­vania in 1431, son of the famous war lord Vlad II and the Princess of Moldavia. He had two older half-brothers and a young­er full broth­er. In his birth year Vlad's father trav­elled to Nuremberg where he was honour­ed with the Order of the Drag­on, and was grant­ed the sur­name Dracul after his induction into the Christian Military Order of the Dragon. In 1436, Vlad II Dracul ascended the Wallach­ian throne.

    When Vlad II was called to a diplomatic meeting in 1442 with Sultan Murad II, he brought his young sons along. But the meet­ing was a trap: all three were arrested and held hostage. Vlad II was released, but he had to give his sons to the Ottoman court.

    Vlad II was ousted in 1442 by rival factions in league with Hungary, but secured Ottoman support for his return, agreeing to pay the tax on non-Muslims to the Sultan!! At 11, Vlad III was imprisoned and whipped because of his verb­al ab­use tow­ards his captors. These years pres­um­ably had a great influence on the young man's char­ac­t­er and led to Vlad's hatred for the Ottoman Turks, Janissary military corps, brother Radu for con­vert­ing to Islam and the young Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II. He also distrusted his own father for trad­ing him to the dreaded Ottoman Empire.

    Vlad III, cruel and ugly, c1450 
    Castle Ambras in the Tyrol

    Vlad III was later released and taken to be educ­ated by the Ottomans, in logic, Quran, lit­er­ature, warfare, horse rid­ing, science, philosophy, arts, Turkish and Persian lang­uages. 

    Note again that the boys' father, Vlad II Dracul, got the support of the Otto­m­ans, returned to Wallachia and took back his throne from Basarab II and some unfaithful Boyars. But dad was ousted as ruler of Wallachia by the boyars and was kil­l­ed in the Wallachian swamps in 1447. Vlad's older brothers were tortured, blinded and buried alive.

    Vladislav II took Wallachia over. But once Vlad III was freed by the Ot­t­omans, he killed Vladislav with his own hands.

    In 1453, Constantinople fell to the Ottomans, threatening all of Europe with an invasion. In his battles to protect the home­ land, Vlad III became famous as a brute who took sadis­tic pleasure in torturing and killing. His weap­ons of choice were: the kilij, a curved Turkic sword, good for chopping bodies and the halberd an axe blade, topped with a spike on a long shaft and a hacking hook.

    Map of Wallachia and Transylvania
    totally surrounded by the Ottoman Empire

    Impaling was the most grotesque form of torture and death. A pole was inserted through the body vertically, through the rec­tum and out via the victim's neck. The pole was then rais­ed vert­ical­ly to display the dying vict­im's pain.

    In 1462 invading Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II fled, af­ter seeing the carn­age: 20,000 decay­ing impaled corp­s­es being eaten by crows in Vlad's capital: Târgoviște.

    Pro-Vlad propaganda started appearing, including Vlad’s port­raits, his weapons, captured enemies and religious im­ages. One splendid religious image app­eared on the altar piece of the Church of St Maria Vienna, painted in 1460.

    Anti-Vlad German woodcut pamphlets from the late C15th became popular eg Ambrosius Huber’s sadistic paintings created in 1499. The pamphlets depicted Vlad as violent and barbaric. Note that these images were printed and reprinted, even after Vlad's death.

    Vlad III was a cunning tactician, even when vastly outnumb­er­ed. He was widely credited with bringing security to Wallachia and strengthening its economy; he built new villages for the peasants and encouraged the production of new agriculture. Trade became an important source of development and revenue.

    Most importantly his Orthodox Christian victories over the invading Ottomans were cel­ebrated through­out Wall­achia, Trans­yl­vania and the rest of Europe, especial­ly by Pope Pius II (ruled 1458-64). In a very real sense, Vlad was the Christian gatekeeper of Eur­ope. But at what cost? The total number of Vlad III’s vic­t­ims was c80,000. PLUS he al­so had whole villages and fort­res­ses burned to the ground.

    Vlad the Impaler as Pontius Pilate judging Jesus Christ, 1463
    National Gallery, Ljubljana. 

    Vlad eating while presiding over the impalement of Ottoman prisonersTitle page in a German woodcut pamphlet, 1499
    Created by Ambrosius Huber

    The reputation of Vlad's cruelty was even more act­ively prom­­ot­ed by Matthias Corvinus (1430-90), King of Hungary & Croatia from 1458 on. Corvinus smeared Vlad’s political credib­il­ity on purpose, to build up his own standing.

    Romania’s capital city was first mentioned as Buc­ur­esti in 1459, when it was recorded in a document of Vlad III. In that same year, during Vlad III’s rule, the Old Princely Court was built as a palat­ial residence. Archaeological excav­at­ions have been very successful recently, and now the site is oper­ated by the Mun­icipality in Bucharest’s historic centre.

    Each ruler ext­ended the prin­c­e­­ly resid­ence, built large cell­ars and surrounded it with stone walls. Today Drac­ula's Castle, near the town of Bran, is a major tourist attract­ion, even though its connection with Vlad is uncertain. 

    Dracula Palace in Bran

    Old Princely Court in Bucharest

    In 1476 Vlad III and a small vanguard of soldiers were march­ing to yet another bat­tle with the Ottomans when they were am­bushed and defeated. Was Vlad was killed, with his head taken to Constantinople as a trophy; his body was buried in a Roman­ian monastery? Or was he ransomed by his daughter, brought to Italy and was later buried in Santa Maria La Nova Church, Naples?

    The British consul to Wallachia, Wil­liam Wilkinson, wrote An Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia in 1820. Irish author Bram Stoker (1847–1912) never visited Vlad III's home­land, but he cert­ainly did read Wilkinson's book. And if any hist­orical figure could inspire a blood thirsty, monst­rous fictional character, Vlad III Dracula was one. Bram Stoker's 1897 novel was of course Dracula.

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    The first Martello Tower I ever saw was on a tour of Saint John in Canada, as we will see. But I have relied on LW Cowie for more detailed information.

    These curved forts first spread across Europe, inspired by the Genovese defence system at Mortella Point in Corsica. Built from 1565 on, Corsican coastal towers were built to protect the villages from brutal Barbary-coast pirates. The towers and their watchmen were paid for by local villagers, and whenever a pirate threat was seen, watchmen alerted the locals by lighting a fire on the tower’s roof. Later the Genovese built another generation of circular towers, used against other foreign invasions.

    Although close to the French coast, the island of Jersey wanted to remain British and thus constantly feared French invasion via the coastal bays. In 1779 there was an unsuccessful French attack in St Ouen’s Bay and in 1781, hundreds of French troops landed and marched on the capital, St Helier. Strengthening coastal defences became a priority. The Governor of Jersey planned to build 30 round towers to protect the island's coast line, a’ la Corsica. Although Jersey did get 22 of its towers, it took the British Navy years to realise what their defensive value might be. Some surviv­ing Jersey towers are now used as exhibition space for adjacent wildlife conservation areas.

    Portelet Tower, Jersey
    built in 1808 on a tidal island

    Carleton Martello Canada interior, now a museum.
    A guard room for 13 men, their beds, a dining table and a cannon.

    In 1793 the British government received an appeal from General Pasquale de Paoli, the leader of the Corsican insurgents who were fighting against French troops. British ships were sent there but the only secure anchorage in the Gulf of San Fiorenzo was commanded by a stone tower. To defeat the French in 1794, the Mortella Point fort was captured by the land-based British military forces, largely because the Corsican’s cannons were facing seaward and couldn't change direction fast enough. When the British withdrew in 1803 they blew up the tower, leaving a wreck. But they liked the Corsican fort and went on to replicate the design at home.

    How quickly they were needed! Early in 1805, a series of strong sites were being built along the Irish and English coast-lines, to defend against Napoleon’s army lined up across the Channel. By the time the Napol­eon­ic threat ended in 1815, 103 English towers were fully funct­ion­ing, mainly on S.E and Sth coasts. You can still see 45 of them in Essex and Suffolk etc to­day. Two supporting forts were built at Dymch­urch in Kent (now a museum) and Eastbourne in East Sussex.

    In Ireland, they were concentrated around Dublin Bay, and Cork Harbour on the south coast. The West Cork islands of Garnish, Glengarriff and Bere, along Ireland's southwest coastline, have intact towers that can still be easily visited.

    Carrick Hill Martello, Ireland
    Built in 1805

    The British towers were c40’ in height and were 2-3 storeys high. The thick round walls of solid stone­work had two great advant­ages. 1] they were very resistant to enemy cannon fire and 2] the garrison of men who lived there had complete 360 degree views from inside.

    The wide roofs made a solid base to hold a rotating cannon on a pivot. Martellos used the ground floor as a stockroom where supplies of ammunition, food and water were kept; a cistern within the fort provided rain water. The first floor provided accommod­ation for 24 men plus 1 officer, plus a separate room for cooking. Fireplaces were built into the wall on the first floor for heating, bathing and cooking.

    The Channel Islands had fortifications that included castles, forts, Martello towers, artillery batteries and seawalls. These is­lands were the only part of British soil to be occupied by the Ger­mans during WW2 and German soldiers quickly realised that the towers could be adapted for their own defence. The Martello tower at Fort Saumerez on Guernsey, for example, had a German Observation tower added during WW2 and the tower at Bel Royal Jersey was strengthened by a concrete bunker.

    Guernsey Martello Tower
    Refortified by German soldiers during WW2

    Martello towers were built in Canada (Halifax, Saint John, Québec City and Kingston) during violent times with the USA, particularly the 1812 War. The Carleton Martello Tower in Saint John New Brunswick survived, featuring a restored powder magazine, restored barracks and museum exhibition spaces. The tower's roof has a perfect view of Saint John’s city and its harbour.

    Of Halifax’s five towers in Nova Scotia, visitors can see the Prince of Wales Tower, the oldest round fort in North America. It was built in 1796 and was used as a powder magaz­ine. Restored, it too is a National Heritage site. The Duke of York Tower was built in 1798. The Duke of Clarence Martello Tower stood on the Dartmouth shore.

    Of Quebec’s four Martello towers, Tower #1 stands on the Plains of Abraham, overlooking the St Lawrence River. It has been restored as a summer museum.

    Six Martello towers were built at Kingston Ontario to defend its har­bour and naval shipyards during the Oregon Boundary Crisis. Murney Tower and the tower at Point Frederick, once serving against marine att­acks, are now summer museums. Fort Frederick Ontario had the most highly structured def­en­c­es: earthen ramparts and a limestone curtain wall. The Shoal Tower, the only tower surrounded by water, stood in Kingston's Confederation Basin. Cath­cart Tower, the 4th tower, stood on Cedar Island near Point Henry. The Oregon Boundary Crisis might have ended quickly, but the American Civil War made the Canadians fearful again. So the towers once again got armed up.

    The last Martello tower in the British Empire was in Australia; Fort Denison, built on a small island in the centre of Sydney Harbour. Construction began in 1839 when two American warships crept into Sydney Harbour. The threat of foreign attack made the government carefully examine the harbour's limited defences. Re-construction in 1855 again provided Sydney with naval protect­ion, this time against the threat of a naval attack by Russians dur­ing the Crimean War (ended 1856). Fort Denison still enjoys 360 degree views of Sydney and operates as a museum and gun powder store.

    Defensive towers in the USA were concentrated on the east coast. They were built in the harbours of Portsmouth in New Hampshire, Charleston in South Carolina, Key West in Florida and one or two others that did not survive. Although the Key West towers were constructed with different building materials and in a different design from those in Britain and Canada, the Garden Club (west tower) and the Museum (east tower) were added to the nation's National Register of Historic Places.

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    I like Grace Cossington Smith’s art very much, but was surprised to see a historical scene, rather than her more usual images of contemporary life. More about her later.

    Soon after the first load of convicts arrived at Sydney Cove in 1788, Gov Phillip travelled to the headwaters of Port Jackson. Finding good soil and fresh water there, he formed a settlement at Rose Hill and mapped out a town plan along the creek: Parramatta. There were soon 1000 people living in the district, minist­ered by the Rev Richard Johnstone once a fortnight.  A temporary church, formed out of two old huts, was opened at Parr­amatta in 1796. Services were first performed in it in Apr 1803, making this church is the oldest in the colony.

    In Mar 1794 the Rev Samuel Marsden arrived from Britain and was appointed assistant to Rev Richard Johnson, stationed at Parram­at­ta. It was an import­ant centre in the colony and Marsden remained there for some years. He was promised the position of senior chap­lain in 1802, but was not properly paid and was not formally prom­oted until later. Still, Gov Lachlan Macquarie allowed him to live at Parramatta as being more convenient for carrying out his gen­eral superintend­ing duties, and named Marsden as the resident chaplain.

    By 1802 the Rev Marsden had received hundreds of Parramatta-acres in grants, so Marsden quickly committed himself to farming. It brought financial security for a large family, and social accept­ability and power to which he could not have aspired at home. At the same time he was incited by the greedy temper of the colony; the off­icers had begun their single-minded pursuit of wealth.

    Mar­s­den was appointed magistrate and superintendent of government affairs at Parramatta. His harshness can be attributed to his vig­orous morality, his loath­ing of sin and his view that Parramatta was an immoral cesspool; thus the most rigorous discip­linary measures were required. This flogging parson was of course loathed.

    St John’s Church, Parramatta, originally opened 1803 and rebuilt after 1852
    photo credit:Parramatta Heritage Centre

    In 1799 he opened a Sunday school and progressed the building of a new church. The permanent St John’s Church (opened in 1803 but was still in­complete) had two brick towers, inspired by similar archit­ecture on Reculver’s Church in Kent. The towers were designed at the request of Mrs Macquaire, as Reculver’s was the last church she saw as she left the UK. Gov Macquarie asked his aide-de-camp to come up with designs (which can still be found in the Mit­chell Library Sydney today). 

    Marsden took an active and well-public­ised interest in the creation of an orphan home and school. When he travelled back home in 1807-09, he was able to recruit additional assistant chaplains. Later he att­racted Mrs Eliz­abeth Fry by his zeal for improving the lot of female convicts on the transport ships and in the colony. The immorality and crime that prevailed in Parramatta, he thought, was largely due to the dilapidation of the Female Work Factory.

    St John’s Parsonage Parramatta, was Francis Greenway’s  first major work as NSW’s Acting Civil Architect, the first house designed in the colony by a trained architect. The foundation-stone was laid by Marsden’s daughter in Apr 1816. Work was completed by Nov 1817, overseen by Rev Samuel Marsden who became the building’s first inhabitant.

    Marsden died in 1838, was buried at St John's Parramatta and was replaced by his son­-in­-law. Later it was decided to pull down the old church so the original chapel was demolished in 1852 and rep­laced with a new sandstone nave built in Romanesque Revival style. The first building was removed except for the two towers and later, in 1883, the transepts were added.
    Grace Cossington Smith
    Samuel Marsden After Service at St John’s Church Parramatta
    oil, 66 x 59 cm 

    For Australian artist Grace Cossington Smith (1892–1984), her car­eer was boosted after de Maistre organised her first show in 1926. In fact Grace’s art started to sh­are many of the same tech­niques as Roy de Maistre's: criss-crossing lines that separ­ated planes of discrete colours, in sequence. In the decade from 1926 on, her potential as a painter of colour and light, structure and rhythmic pattern, emerged. 1938 was her most significant year with 1] the death of her fat­her, raising her position in the family; 2] modern­ist Thea Proctor highlighted her work in Art in Australia and c] Grace was included in a professional museum exhibition.

    Shown at the Sydney’s Art Gallery of NSW, an ex­hibition called 150 Years of Australian Art was organised by the then-Dir­ector, Will Ashton. It celebrated was the Sesquicentenary of European settle­ment of Aus­tralia 1788–1938, a historical event which witnessed a round of special cel­e­brations. There was a major Comm­on­wealth Gov­ern­ment prize for the best oil painting depicting an aspect of Aust­ralia’s hist­ory. So as soon as she completed her painting in Jan 1938, Cossing­ton Smith ent­er­ed her painting, Samuel Marsden After Service at St John’s Church Parramatta.

    Deutscher & Hackett's 2018 auction catalogue said Grace Cossington Smith’s highly personal choice of subject echoed her own life as a devout Anglican Christian. Marsden stood firmly at the centre of the image, the strong geometry of the composition led the eye towards him and then to the church which he was so instrumental in founding. Uniformed figures in the distance, and the small child to the right of Mars­d­en, symbolised the development of the settlement from a penal colony to a place where the growing free population, gat­h­ered together for regular worship. This celebratory picture was infus­ed with a deeply personal spiritual values, and displayed Coss­ing­ton Smith’s belief that painting exp­resses form in colour vibrant with light.