Royal dining – our talk on Monday 9 December
On Monday 9 December Susanne Groom, former curator at Historic Royal Palaces, will give a lecture on At the King’s Table: Royal Dining Through the Ages. Download a publicity flyer
Susanne Groom will explore the fascinating history of royal dining from the bustling kitchens of the Middle Ages to the informal dinner parties of today. Her lecture will explore: the diets of monarchs from Richard II to Elizabeth II; the exotic beasts served at medieval courts; the 48-day picnic prepared for Henry VIII and François I of France at the Field of Cloth of Gold; the romantic suppers made for Charles II and his mistresses; Queen Victoria’s love of nursery food; and the gluttonous appetite of Edward VII. Susanne will also discuss royal table manners, the earliest cookbooks, the hiring of flamboyant chefs and the intrigues of unscrupulous kitchen staff, the ever-changing health advice given to the sovereign, and the influence of royal diet on the average family fare.
Susanne’s lecture will followed by the Christmas Party, which may – but more probably will not – include roast swan.
A vision of Richmond – famous views, changing landscapes and artists’ impressions: our talks in 2014
Catherine Parry-Wingfield, Chairman of Turner’s House Trust, will talk about Sir Joshua Reynolds and his house on Richmond Hill at our meeting on Monday 13 January.
Wick House, at the top of Richmond Hill, overlooks the famous view of the river; it was built for Sir Joshua Reynolds by Sir William Chambers in 1772. Catherine Parry-Wingfield, author of J. M. W. Turner, RA: the Artist and his House at Twickenham (published by Turner’s House Trust in 2012) will give a talk about Reynolds’s house on the opposite bank, but says she has ways “of working Turner into it . . .”
On Monday 10 February, Sir David Williams will present a visual history of Ham and Petersham.
On Monday 10 March, Paul Velluet, architect, former Chairman of the Richmond Society, will talk about St Margarets and the impact of the building of Twickenham Bridge and the Great Chertsey Road.
On Monday 14 April we will be marking the centenary of the death of the artist Spencer Gore, who lived from 1913 at Cambrian Road, Richmond, just outside Richmond Park, where he produced 32 paintings, many of them painted outside in the park in all weathers. He died of pneumonia the following year, aged only 35. Helena Bonett, curator and researcher at Tate and the Royal College of Art, will talk about Gore’s life and work, with particular reference to Richmond.
Our final meeting of the 2013/14 lecture season is on Monday 19 May, when we will hold a short annual general meeting, followed by short talks on current research and a party.
Coping with the Blitz in Richmond
How would you have reacted to the Blitz? It’s not something, thank goodness, that many of us have gone through.
Richmond Local Studies Library has the diary of a young woman, May Lawrence, who lived through the Blitz in the town. Her experiences make graphic reading.
Miss Lawrence lived with her parents just off the Lower Mortlake Road. She was a clerk with Richmond council.
Nearly 100 civilians were killed in the town during the Blitz which was at its worst locally in October 1940.
On October 1st she: “woke up to an awful whistling noise as if something was rushing through the air, then a dreadful bang which lifted us from our bunks [in the shelter in their garden]. We shouted we are hit the house will be gone. Anyway after noting our house had not been hit, we managed to sleep a little.” The noise came from a blast that destroyed St Paul’s Church Hall in Stanmore Gardens and damaged the houses opposite (now Finucane Court). “We saw Mr and Mrs James whose house is all holes and windows out. She looks terribly white and so does Mr James.”
On the 17th at “7pm Jerry was overhead again. It was a dreadful night. One bomb came down at 11 it was a screamer, terrific thing, and fell on Park Road No 1. There was another huge bang at 6 this morning.”
And on the 24th: “We had two raids today. This afternoon we heard machine gunning and George [a work colleague] and I ran below for shelter. I never ran so much in all my life… “
A few days later the windows in their house were blown in. It took a week for replacement glass to arrive.
Her father was a handyman and took considerable trouble to make the shelter in their garden as homely as possible. On October 12th she writes that “Dad has put a door on our shelter and we have the curtains on rings now and it is very good.” A few days later he papers the whole shelter.
But occasionally they saw the RAF take on the Luftwaffe. She was at Langholm Lodge at lunchtime on the 9th. “We saw Jerry being fired at from the river bank and… I raced to the water’s edge and followed Jerry as they were firing. Then we saw three Spitfires after him flying low. The first one fell out injured unfortunately. Then the other two raced after Jerry and went after him into a cloud.”
Several entries showed how scared she was. On the 29th, she confides to her diary that “all our nerves very bad indeed. We hear that they are changing the [anti-aircraft] guns to further out as we have had such a bad time. I hope this is true for I do not know how much longer we are going to stand up to it.”
Fortunately May survived the Blitz and, indeed, the war.
Winning with Richmond Local History Society
In the Know, the Local History Quiz Night at Richmond’s Old Town Hall, on Tuesday 10 September, organised by Jane Baxter and Richmond’s Local Studies team as part of Richmond upon Thames Heritage Festival, was a great success. Seven teams fielded questions from Bamber Gascoigne, and the winning (or should that be wining?) team was… the Richmond Local History Society! Two of our committee members were in the Wizzards team of Richmond Heritage Guides who came a close second.
The quiz was just one of many events that took place in September as part of the first-ever Richmond upon Thames Heritage Festival. We hope the quiz will become a regular event and that we will have an opportunity next year to defend our title!
Coach trip in July to Standen,
a showcase of the Arts and Crafts Movement
The Society organised a coach trip to Standen in West Sussex on 25 July. Find out more
Visiting Kew Green
Members of the Society enjoyed a visit to Kew Green on Wednesday 15 May conducted by Jane Short, who is a member of the Society and is also a Heritage Guide. On the tour, which was followed by refreshments, Jane described the history of many of the houses on the Green, some of them associated with the Royal Household and with the several artists who lived or stayed in Kew. Unexpectedly, the group was also able to step inside St Anne’s Church, which is currently being renovated. In the churchyard there is a substantial family tomb – pictured here – for William Aiton, the first botanic gardener at Princess Augusta’s gardens in Kew, and his son William Townsend Aiton, a landscape gardener involved in the development of the gardens at Windsor and Buckingham Palace. You can read more about them in the Society’s book The Aitons: Gardeners to Their Majesties.
The Society organises a programme of visits to local houses and buildings of historic interest, some of them not normally open to the public, as well as guided walks around local areas of interest: just some of the many benefits of being a Richmond Local History Society member.
Our latest books
Richmond History no 34 is the latest issue of the Society’s annual journal, featuring the most recent research on the history of Richmond, Kew, Ham and Petersham.
Our publication Virginia Woolf and the Hogarth Press in Richmond has been reprinted and we have also published a second edition of our popular publication Kew at War.