Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Day in London and the Wallace Collection

My friend, Meg and I met at noon last Saturday in London to figure out what we wanted to do for the day. We were trying to decide between the play, War Horse or the museum, The Wallace Collection at Hertford House. War Horse was completely sold out, so off to the Wallace Collection we went. Taking the bus to Marble Arch on Oxford Street, we found Hertford House tucked on a square a few blocks behind Selfridges department store. The madding crowds of shoppers seemed a world away from the mansion. The Wallace Collection is a small museum filled with opulent visual gems of history on 3 levels. According to Wikipedia, "It was established in 1897 from the private collection mainly created by Richard Seymour-Conway, 4th Marquess of Hertford (1800–1870), who left it and the house to his illegitimate son Sir Richard Wallace (1818–1890), whose widow bequeathed the entire collection to the nation. The museum opened to the public in 1900 in Hertford House, Manchester Square, and remains there, housed in its entirety, to this day. A condition of the bequest was that no object ever leave the collection, even for loan exhibitions." Besides the intricate history, there is a romantic and rich feeling to each room and its color scheme. Walking from room to room, you could feel the presence of the past. Even though this is London, there was a definite French flair. But in general, you feel as if you are in the home of a well-heeled collector...and you are. One room was as magnificent as the next with its grand chandeliers, artwork, fine furniture and of course, the drapery. A room of lively jewel tones broke up the more monochromatic settings, where Camille Roqueplans, "The Lion in Love" hung proudly. Are you jaded yet? Then there is Frans Hals, "Laughing Cavalier" and a place to rest. Well, maybe not quite time to sit. We walked down the ornate staircase and saw the courtyard restaurant through a window. That looked like the perfect resting place after we saw the 2 rooms of medieval armor. And some people watching....don't ask! Now for the much needed break. Cream tea is one of my favorites. Meg had Earl Grey and I had Darjeeling tea. It came in individual pots filled with loose tea, and strainers on the side. I think we sat in the skylight covered courtyard for about an hour talking about kids, life, and the exhibits we just saw. I'm so glad they allow photography in the museum, it helps to remember the treasures. We spread the scoop of light and creamy clotted cream and strawberry jam on the large scones, as we chatted and sipped our warming tea. The English in me came out as I heaved a sigh. By this time, the sun had set on Hertford House as we made our way back to busy Oxford Street. There was a little window shopping and some real shopping before catching the bus back to the hotel. We had dinner to think about and Indian food at a favorite restaurant was on the agenda :-)

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11 comments:

La Table De Nana said...

I ♥ your posts.. so nicely written..so beautifully photographed..I learn something new all the time..Love that bed shop..
What a collector is right..and I love how prettily the tea is served w/ individual stainers:) I think I would like on of those..The nicest place I ad tea..is at The Ritz Carlton Gardens.in Mtl..have never been to England..It is so tempting.. of course Paris too..
Thank you Diane..you are so well traveled..and shared everything with such generosity.

La Table De Nana said...

Hmm..I see I wrote Had w/ a British accent :)I adore their accents..:)

linda said...

from your beautifully lit photographs & your very descriptive written words, what a grand london afternoon!

diane, when you pen your travel book london is a Must include!

Meredith said...

As always, beautifully written and gorgeous photography! I always feel that I have taken flight and been on an adventure when I soak up 2Stews! I hope all of Diane's fans agree with me..."I can't wait for the book!"

lostpastremembered said...

So many great little museums that I don't know about... another to put on the list, Diane. I have loved the idea of wine rinsers forever and had to buy one for fun... but those are glorious. Absolutely wonderful post of a small museum... and that they won't lend... well you just have to go there!

Lisa said...

Thank you for taking me on these little trips. I feel like I was in London but never left my comfy chair. I just LOVE your posts.

Nancy said...

You make me want to be in LONDON? Your photography is amazing as well as all your posts. Only you can make London look enticing!

Kate said...

Beautifully written. I so enjoy going on the little tours with you. Your writing and lovely photographs make the tour very real!

Danilo Sergio Pallar Lemos said...

Always visiting your blog, I realize how much you possess creativity, emphasizing the culture so diverse.
I am from brasiliam.

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Jonny said...

i agree with (you and) Deana, it's often the smaller, boutique museums where you get the most surprises both in London and Paris - think the Somerset House in London vs Tate Modern or Espace Dali in Montmartre vs the Louvre. Love those shots of a cream tea. God how I miss them. Quite why they are so hard to find over here is a mystery - what's so hard about making clotted cream? My left arm is going numb just thinking about it!

buyffxivgil said...

Lovely photos plus enticing captions equals yearning for afternoon tea in London. The experience narrated is quite wonderful I want to try out visiting.