I found this wonderful item on The British Monarchy’s photostream on Flickr. British residents in Hollywood sent greetings to King George V on the occasion of his Silver Jubilee in 1935. Click the link to see a few famous signatures. Even more fascinating to me as a former full-time graphic designer, is that the copyright on the image is to Queen Elizabeth II 2013! Her Majesty has a Flickr account AND a copyright.
We continued through the countryside in Kent, and came across another great estate, Penshurst Place, surrounded by ancient parkland. I had read about this grand building, parts of which dated back to the 14th century. The halls and rooms were incredible and even more so when you realized that the heart of the house was medieval from the Tudor period. Henry VIII was said to have used it as a hunting lodge.
It has been described as “the grandest and most perfectly preserved example of a fortified manor house in all England”.
I loved the sense of history here. It really was just a family historic home, but every time you turned a corner, you expected to run into a medieval nobleman or lady. We just have nothing that can compare to this in the United States, and it humbles you to realize the long, vast history of English-speaking people.
Many films have been made here, including The Other Boleyn Girl. Sound recordists from the Harry Potter film series came and recorded floor creaks in the Long Gallery to get authentic sound effects.
After a quick tour of the building, My Beloved Brit and I went out in to the gardens. We started by crossing the sunken garden outside the main structure.
We passed down a few long passages of gardens in rainbow hues, some quite whimsical in their design…
…and then we entered a maze of exquisite garden “rooms”. Each had their own personality.
They were varied and lovely, even in the rain which kept starting and stopping. It didn’t matter at all. Sun or grey, they were lovely.
You could get lost in the many passages as you cut through the “doorways” in the hedge walls that separated them.
It was unique and lovely and made for a truly wonderful afternoon.
I love Kent, fondly known as “England’s Garden”. Aptly named.
Every time you are tempted to curse the rain, you realize that it is responsible for these extraordinary explosions of nature. I love every drop.
A new Bond movie is in the works, Skyfall, with Daniel Craig once again playing Bond. The new film will be released October 26th in the UK, November 9th, 2012 in the US. Judi Dench returns as M, and the new plot revolves around her character as “her past comes back to haunt her”. Javier Bardem joins the cast as the “villain”, and the new Bond Girl is Berenice Marlohe as Severine. Sounds intriguing.
According to speculation in an article in The Telegraph, The Queen agreed to make a cameo appearance in the film. James Bond 007 is to have knighthood bestowed on him by the Queen, and the scene will reportedly be beamed around the world during the opening ceremony at the Olympic Games.
Bond, of course, cannot comment. His future missions are top secret, after all.
I am on the waiting list at my local library for the new bestseller Death Comes To Pemberley, a thrilling romp with the Pride and Prejudice characters. It was recently penned by the 91-year-old detective novelist P.D. James. I can only hope I am that active and creative at 91!
The novel is set at Pemberley 6 years after the marriage of Elizabeth and Darcy, two of Jane Austen’s best-loved characters from her novel Pride and Prejudice. You can just never get too much of P&P.
Over the years there have been various tv and movie adaptations of the novel, each with its own engaging cast members. And of course, Mr. Darcy is one of the greatest male romance heroes of all times, and a popular choice to focus on.
These were 4 very different Mr. Darcy’s on film… Peter Cushing in a 1952 TV version (can’t find a photo of him, sorry), Colin Firth in 1995, Matthew Macfayden in 2005 and Elliot Cowan in 2008 (in “Lost in Austen”, a 4 part British TV series).
My favorite is the classic 6 hour BBC mini-series featuring Firth. The story unfolds beautifully with the expansive time of the series, the costumes are appropriately lovely, and Colin Firth just hit the mark for me as the perfect Darcy.
If you get a chance, rent all you can and compare. Meanwhile I’m waiting for my email from the library to see what P.D. James has to say.
The Holiday. I love this movie and especially this time of year. It highlights my two favorite fantasy locations–England and LA. England, because, well, you know, it’s just so British, and LA because it is so entirely different and exotic in its own way from the east coast location where I grew up and lived most of my life.
‘The Holiday’ brings together the star talents of Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law and Jack Black in a charming romantic comedy with an international twist. The plot revolves around two women who swap houses for Christmas with the idea of escaping from their current lives and romantic problems.
Much of the English side of the story was shot in the village of Shere in Surrey, a quintessentially English village with antiques shops, tea rooms and several excellent pubs. The other Surrey town of Godalming also stars and is well worth a visit for its fine architecture, independent shops and peaceful riverside setting.
There is a wonderful blog called “Hooked on Houses” that goes into lots of detail about the two houses featured in The Holiday and even has a poll that talks about which of the two her readers prefer. Thank you Julie. It is still a fun read.
Here is Iris’s house in England (which was actually just a shell of the cottage built near an empty field for the movie set)
And here is Amanda’s house set in the movie at a Brentwood section of LA.
(actually the exterior shots of the house showing the gated property were filmed in front of Southern California architect Wallace Neff‘s Mission Revival house in San Marino, a suburb adjacent to Pasadena. Neff had built the house for his family in 1928.) Other Los Angeles locations included Arthur’s house in Brentwood and Miles’ house, designed by Richard Neutra, which is situated on Neutra Place in L.A.’s Silver Lake area, near downtown. The interiors were all shot at Sony Studio. But I digress.
The thing I find so interesting about this movie is how Iris’s house and location reflect such unique characteristics of the English way of life…the narrow roads (which still can scare the wits out of an American driver), the houses that simply don’t have enough heat when it is always cold and damp (not really), the interiors of many of the houses with every square inch covered with some kind of pattern or books or collectables. Then there is the local village and pub that is the center of life. We have yet to visit a village where we did not seek out the best pub to get a read on the true character of the area.
The movie is a fun time, if a bit light on the true cultural differences, but it does make the point beautifully that as different as we are, we are really just the same. I could have told you that, but not nearly with such charm.
One of My Beloved Brit’s mates in England suggested a fabulous movie, “Hope & Glory”. It is about being a young boy in England during WWII, and this friend said it is exactly how he remembers it as a boy. It depicts family life in London during the Blitz from a child’s point of view. The school scenes are priceless.
Rent it if you get a chance. It still comes up in our conversations often when we talk about life in London years ago.
I should have seen a pattern developing here. I was going through My Beloved Britt’s old photos again and found this adorable snap of him as a baby. He probably could barely walk, but he is already behind the wheel of a car.
Not only does the man adore sailing, but MBB’s love continues for anything with a motor in it. Obviously from this photo and the expression on his face, this love of power and speed started when he was very young indeed.
I think this particular interest in cars comes partially from one of his earliest jobs at Ford Motor Company in Dagenham, England. He was a maintenance and repair novice on the big equipment in the plant, but I think being around all those new cars rubbed off on him.
Last year, they came out with a tremendous movie “Made in Dagenham“, starring Sally Hawkins and Bob Hoskins, that we saw together. It is about the beginning of the women’s equal pay for equal work movement that spread throughout the world. MBB said the movie was spot on, a very true picture of what it was like in the early factory days of his youth at Ford’s.
If you get a chance, watch the movie.