The Wallace Collection
Outings Group member Chris Hollitzer writes: The February Outings visit was to the Wallace Collection, sumptuously displayed at Hertford House. Our inspired volunteer guide gave us the history and tour of the highlights. Begun as a hunting lodge, then bought by the Marquess of Hertford and 5 generations purchased art to furnish it. The 4th Marquess grew up in Paris and was the greatest family collector. Moving to London he extended Hertford House and filled it with Baroque and Rococo wonders and a strong collection of Dutch art. Paintings by Rembrandt, Van Dyke, Murillo, Canaletto, Rubens, Velasquez, Fragonard, Frans Hals, Titian – astonishing French furniture, Sevres porcelain, timepieces, sculpture, armour and more. It is now part of the National Collection, bequeathed in 1897 by Lady Wallace, widow of Richard, son of the 4th Marquess.
The Jewish Museum, Camden
21 Outings Group members descended on this very interesting museum this afternoon. Such a lot to see and learn, e.g. how stages of the lifecycle are marked or celebrated, mock up of a Friday night Sabb.ath service and an East End tailor’s shop, striking art exhibition, information on all the different festivals and rituals. Too much for one visit!
Senate House Library, University of London
“Outings Group was fortunate … to get a guided tour of its interesting Writing in Times of Conflict exhibition … and also get offered free items usually sold, e.g. tote bags and pencils. Over 100 items on display across four themes, e.g. writing for peace, writing in protest etc. The library has been given some fascinating items including ephemera such as posters (Troops Out movement, etc). The most chilling to me was the Nazi Black Book, compiled from microfiche found by the Americans in 1945, listing all the people to be targeted and taken out following invasion of Britain.” – Roslyn Byfield, Group Convener.
“A large group of Outings Group members came here … and had a private tour of the Medicine Man exhibition, followed by viewing the other exhibitions and lunch. It’s a great achievement how Sir Henry Wellcome, pharmaceutical entrepreneur who invented the pill press, amassed so many objects, of which only a percentage can be displayed. I was very pleased in the play exhibition to see examples of psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott’s ‘squiggle’ drawings, from which he deprived information about the child’s internal world.” – Roslyn Byfield, Group Convener.
Culture Under Attack at the Imperial War Museum
Another well-attended visit for Outings Group. The Culture Under Attack trio of exhibitions are well worth seeing and highlight key issues around the meaning of the destruction of a people’s culture, the attack in identity and when key monuments are destroyed how and in what form should they be reconstructed? Moving film clips of Isis fighters smashing up priceless statues and of the National Library of Bosnia on fire.
To Fulham Palace for a guided tour. The former home of the Bishops of London for centuries, this Tudor, Georgian and Victorian palace fell into disrepair before being rescued by Heritage Lottery grants and much hard work by staff and volunteers. This was all precipitated by the accidental discovery of a Rococo ceiling hidden behind a false one. The chapel and amazing walled garden are not be missed. The garden was designed by Bishop Compton who brought a thousand species of plants from his travels.
The Sacred Year 1919: Women and the Professions exhibition at the London School of Economics
Wilton’s Music Hall
“Good tour around Wilton’s Music Hall, courtesy of Nathan, for the Outings Group August visit. Several times saved from demolition thanks to high profile campaigning by Spike Milligan, Sir John Betjeman and others, it more recently benefited from refurbishment and lottery funding. Very tasteful combo of old and new. A nice cafe break in the Whitechapel Gallery afterwards.” – Roslyn Byfield.
Writing : Making Your Mark
exhibition at the British Library
Group Convener, Roslyn Byfield writes: “A select group of Outings Group members visited the British Library Making your Mark exhibition and learned interesting facts about the history of writing, for example how the Romans changed reading to left to right, how the letter A evolved from its first representation as an ox head and how quill pens were formed from goose flight feathers. It was lovely sitting in the piazza cafe afterwards, too, not often we have the right weather for that.”
Bruce Castle Museum
Great tour by curator Deborah for the Outings Group, followed by tea and Caribbean cake and a viewing of the exhibition about pioneering Muswell Hill filmmaker Robert Paul, with a useful introduction by Patsy of the Film Group. It’s a very interesting place, with a history dating from medieval times.
To Lambeth for a visit to the nascent Migration Museum, currently housed in The Workshop, a temporary community and events space a longside the London Fire Brigade pop up museum. We received the warmest welcome that we probably have ever experienced in this museum, a collection of fascinating and quirky exhibits, besides many personal migration stories, alongside a programme of all kinds of interesting events including talks, book launches and workshops. Highly recommended!
The Outings Group members had a very enjoyable bluebell walk in the extensive grounds of National Trust Osterley, and some also visited the Robert Adam house, home for many years of the Child family. The damp, overcast and chilly weather might have deterred some visitors but it also meant we had the place mostly to ourselves, besides a solitary heron, conducive to communing with nature! Besides the beautiful purple carpets, the cultivated gardens are well worth a visit, too, including the American border, Mrs Child’s garden (now displaying Queen of the Night tulips) and the walled garden. An unexpected bonus for two of us, being the last to leave the cafe, was being given lots of free cakes!
Two Temple Place : John Ruskin exhibition
“Another good visit to the impressive John Ruskin exhibition and the subject of the Outings Group’s first April meeting. One of the useful features is a timeline telling you what else was going on at the time eg 1848 political upheavals across Europe. Also two plaques listing 13 things Ruskin couldn’t stand including railway stations and Palladian architecture. It’s great this place puts on these annual exhibitions free of charge at Two Temple Place” – Roslyn Byfield, Group Convener
The Inner Temple
As part of our tour of the Inner Temple we visited the Masters of Bench (Benchers) drawing room where we were served tea or coffee (in Wedgwood china) and biscuits and were treated to a wonderfully informative talk about the history and operation of the Innner Temple by Membership & Records Assistant, Jacqueline Fenton. She showed us the original voting box used by the Inner Temple. To vote a member put their marble in the hole and dropped it either left, for Yes, or right, for No in a secret ballot. Then the marbles were counted out of the drawers. The saying lost their marbles comes from this, when a person lost the ballot. After the talk we had a tour of other rooms in the building. The building, and the surrounding area, were badly damaged by bombing in the war and was rebuilt to match the original.
The most impressive room we saw was the huge dining room, laid out for lunch, with coats of arms on the walls, beautiful stained glass and a wonderful silver collection. Unfortunatey, because a memorial service was taking place, we were unable to visit the 12th century Temple Church.
Behind the Seams at Angels Costumes
An intrepid group of Outings Group members ventured to the wilds of Hendon to visit Angels Costumes (thanks to Maggi Hutchison for suggesting it). They’re the main costumiers in the business, servicing the film, tv and theatre industries and this family firm has been in business since 1840, counting one Charles Dickens among their customers. We were taken to various departments, meeting several longstanding members of staff, and learned much from our ebullient tour leader, Mark, which turns traditional thinking upside down. One example was the common supposition that costumes had to be kept in a pristine state, but this isn’t the case as quite often the costume designer working for the production needs tat. Also the use of metal hangers, which goes against the received wisdom of padded/wood being much better for garments. But the the bottom line dictates metal, so more can be packed into the thousands of rails we saw from the upper floors.
They’re not allowed to talk about current productions they have customers working on, except if they’re in the public domain, like the film Stan and Ollie, which was one of the only three photo opportunities allowed. Altogether a fascinating tour and one, which guarantees (if we didn’t already) that we will look at costumes a bit more closely from now on!
Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising
In January members of the Outings Group visited the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising, a massive collection of domestic memorabilia, newspapers and magazines, and consumer products packaging which all reflect social changes down the ages. Trips down memory lane are inevitable eg ‘My mother had one of those’ and ‘ Remember Tide/Omo?’ etc. This is the third building the still expanding collection has occupied and even then it’s only 3 per cent of it on display. An unexpected bonus was rightly guessing that the kindly gent who engaged us in conversation in the cafe was Robert Opie, the collection’s founder!
Words and images © Roslyn Byfield