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On Monday, June 3, 2019, President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrived in London for a three-day State Visit:

The Daily Mail has a full itinerary of the trip.

The president’s adult children accompanied them, along with Cabinet members and senior staff.

America’s first couple stayed at the US ambassador’s residence in Regent’s Park, Winfield House. The Trump offspring stayed at the Corinthia Hotel in central London.

Monday was packed with events for the Trumps. This video recaps the day, which began by landing at Winfield House, meeting the Queen for lunch at Buckingham Palace, taking tea as guests of Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall at Clarence House and being the guests of honour at a State Dinner at the palace:

I was out of the country at the time and wanted to have a record of his trip by posting about it here. I am not sure how much made the media outlets and how it was reported.

One thing that did surprise me — and my better half, who is English — was that the president spoke with the honour guard as he was inspecting them. Both of us were shocked. This is a no-no. Then, Prince Charles did the same. See a brief glimpse at 11:40:

France’s BFMTV showed much more of Trump’s talking to the honour guard. The French commentators were equally surprised.

Meanwhile, the Queen, her daughter-in-law Camilla Duchess of Cornwall and Mrs Trump enjoyed a light moment:

Afterwards, the Queen hosted a private lunch and showed the Trumps various items and documents from the Royal Collection pertaining to the United States.

Then it was time to go to Westminster Abbey. The Duke of York — Prince Andrew — accompanied the Trumps, who received a tour of the Abbey from clergy and placed a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Despite its title, the video below does not include tea with Prince Charles but does have extensive coverage from the visit to Westminster Abbey:

 

The State Banquet took place that evening:

Protests took place outside the palace, but guests were undisturbed:

As one would imagine, much preparation went into this dinner:

This is what the ballroom looked like as the Queen’s guests filed in:

Sarah Sanders, who also accompanied the Trumps on their 2018 visit to Windsor Castle, will have another lovely memory of her time as press secretary:

At the State Banquet, the president remembered the events of D-Day and those who bravely fought for freedom:

He also made another faux pas. Like Michelle Obama, he touched the Queen. Unlike Michelle Obama, he did it twice. The Daily Mail reported (emphases mine):

The Special Relationship between Britain and the United States was reaffirmed last night with moving toasts in the Buckingham Palace ballroom as Donald Trump clinked glasses with the Queen and patted her shoulder having called her a ‘great, great woman’.

Amid the splendour and ceremony of a state banquet for 170 dignitaries and guests, the US President thanked the monarch for her ‘gracious hospitality’ and ‘nearly seven decades’ of personal friendship with the United States.

He spoke of the Blitz and the bombing of Buckingham Palace, saying that ‘in their dark hour the people of this nation showed the world what it means to be British’.

He praised the Queen a ‘great, great woman’ recalling her service on the Home Front during the war, and said ‘the bond between our nations was forever sealed in that great crusade’.

He said the Queen embodied ‘the spirit of dignity, duty, and patriotism that beats proudly in every British heart’.

Raising his glass the 45th President of the United States said: ‘On behalf of all Americans, I offer a toast to the eternal friendship of our people, the vitality of our nations and to the long cherished and truly remarkable reign of Her Majesty, the Queen.’

Shortly before retaking his seat Mr Trump appeared briefly to breach royal protocol by placing his hand on the Queen’s back in a gesture of personal thanks. By tradition the Queen should not be touched, but the President’s host seemed unperturbed following his warm personal toast.

In her address, the Queen welcomed the Trumps, celebrated the Special Relationship between the UK and the US, and while Brexit was not mentioned she highlighted how the two countries faced ‘new challenges of the 21st century’. 

The article includes a brilliant set of photos, by the way.

Here is another terrific photograph:

The Queen’s remarks followed:

Mr President,

I am delighted to welcome you and Mrs Trump to Buckingham Palace this evening, just twelve months after our first meeting at Windsor Castle. Visits by American Presidents always remind us of the close and longstanding friendship between the United Kingdom and the United States, and I am so glad that we have another opportunity to demonstrate the immense importance that both our countries attach to our relationship.

In the coming days, you will see some of our most treasured historical buildings, speak to the business leaders whose expertise and innovation drive our economies, and meet members of our Armed Services, past and present. You will also travel to Portsmouth and Normandy to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of D-Day.

On that day – and on many occasions since – the Armed Forces of both our countries fought side-by-side to defend our cherished values of liberty and democracy. Mr President, in your State of the Union Address this year, you paid tribute to some of the American heroes who risked their lives, and we owe an immeasurable debt to the British, American and Allied soldiers who began the liberation of Europe on 6th June 1944.

I paid my first State Visit to your country at the invitation of President Eisenhower. As Supreme Allied Commander, he had ultimate responsibility for the execution of the Normandy landings. In his headquarters in St James’s Square – not far from Buckingham Palace – British and American officers worked closely together to plan the freedom of a continent, and it would be no exaggeration to say that millions of lives depended on their common endeavour.

As we face the new challenges of the Twenty First Century, the anniversary of D-Day reminds us of all that our countries have achieved together. After the shared sacrifices of the Second World War, Britain and the United States worked with other allies to build an assembly of international institutions, to ensure that the horrors of conflict would never be repeated. While the world has changed, we are forever mindful of the original purpose of these structures: nations working together to safeguard a hard won peace

Mr President, as we look to the future, I am confident that our common values and shared interests will continue to unite us. Tonight we celebrate an alliance that has helped to ensure the safety and prosperity of both our peoples for decades, and which I believe will endure for many years to come

The Queen then proposed a toast:

At the end of the day, Trump tweeted:

Protests did take place around the country, but a crowd of well wishers was on hand in front of Buckingham Palace to greet him.

Events on Tuesday, June 4 involved talks about trade:

More protests took place in London:

Interestingly, Prime Minister Theresa May and President Trump did not shake hands when he and his wife arrived:

The Trumps received a tour of No. 10:

Mrs Trump was with Mr May during the meeting between the president and our outgoing Prime Minister:

Here are clips from the May-Trump press conference:

Meanwhile, a British woman burst the Trump baby balloon. Great news, even if she was arrested:

The Gateway Pundit reported:

“I’m going in..I’m going,” the woman says as she walked up to the baby Trump blimp.

The woman then stabbed the blimp with a pen and a small popping sound is heard followed by gasps from onlookers.

The woman screamed “It’s a national a disgrace! The President of the United States is the best President ever! Shame on you!” after she popped the balloon.

Police quickly moved in for the arrest as the woman walked away.

“It’s going down baby,” the woman said as police approached her and cuffed her.

The woman, whose hand was bleeding, had a fiery exchange with the police and pleaded for them to stop manhandling her.

That evening, the Trumps hosted a dinner for Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall at Winfield House:

The Daily Caller has more photos.

It should be noted that the Trumps did not experience all the trappings of a full State Visit, which includes staying at a royal residence and addressing either house of Parliament.

The Washington Examiner explained:

… royal watchers said the Trumps will be missing out on many of the trappings of a state visit, such as staying at Buckingham Palace. “Not being invited to speak before Parliament is testament to the fact they know he is going to be rude and there’s going to be massive protests,” said Marlene Koenig, an author and expert on British and European royalty.

“They are doing the bare minimum of what they would do for a state visit of a major ally.”

Several honors afforded visiting American presidents or other heads of state will be missing.

He will not get the usual welcome in Horse Guards Parade, the grand parade ground in central London where visiting heads of state are usually invited to inspect the honor guard with the queen before a carriage procession to Buckingham Palace.

Instead, he will follow the example of President George W. Bush, who was given his royal welcome in the garden of Buckingham Palace in 2003 because of fears protesters would line the route through London

Trump will not get to stay at Buckingham Palace with the Queen. Both Bush and Obama, the only two American presidents to have been granted official state visits, stayed at the royal residence, but Trump has been told that renovations to the east wing of the palace meant its guest rooms were out of service

The run-up to this visit featured speculation about whether Trump would be invited to address the British Parliament.

In the end, the speaker — the figure who presides over the House of Commons and who had previously said Trump’s attendance would run counter to Parliament’s longstanding opposition to sexism and racism — said he had not been asked by British officials to host the president. Presidents Obama, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton all addressed Parliament.

A U.K. official said Trump had not requested to address Parliament. “The president not asking to do that is the norm,” he said. On both sides of the Atlantic, a mutually-convenient cover story of Trump not being asked to be invited in order to avoid being told he will not be invited appears to have been adopted

Previous visits have sometimes reflected the warm relations between individual leaders.

In 1982 the queen invited Ronald Reagan to stay with her at Windsor Castle and took him horse riding. A decade late, Bill and Hillary Clinton were treated to a night aboard the royal yacht Britannia.

And in 2011, Obama grilled sausages with David Cameron in the garden of Number 10 during an event for British and American service personnel.

That said, in summing up his stay in the UK, Trump tweeted:

I will cover the president’s attendance at D-Day commemorations in Portsmouth and in Normandy in tomorrow’s post.

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In the coming days, I hope to have time to post on President Trump’s recent trips to Japan, the United Kingdom, Ireland and France.

For now, here is an interesting conversation wherein British Trump supporters talk about the Left and media manipulation:

In case the tweet gets censored, this is what the black supporter says:

The left say I shouldn’t exist, if you’re a particular person you should vote a particular way. That’s why they’re going to lose again to Trump in 2020.

Good man. The other men seem to be from Northern Ireland. They all understand what is going on.

Having been out of the country at the time, I was heartened to see that a great crowd of supporters, like these gentlemen, welcomed the American president to London. They were along The Mall, which leads to Buckingham Palace, and in front of the palace itself:

I would love to hear what these good people have to say about Brexit!

On Thursday, May 23, 2019, the author Judith Kerr went to her eternal rest.

A survivor of Nazi Germany, she was best known for her children’s book, The Tiger Who Came to Tea, a modern classic in Britain and the Commonwealth:

I am unfamiliar with the book and Ms Kerr’s other works. However, from reading and hearing about The Tiger Who Came to Tea, I had the mistaken impression it was for adults. People have been saying it is about the sexual revolution of the 1960s, or feminism, or an unhappy marriage, or alcoholism or depression.

So it was interesting to run across a tweet from the BBC’s Emily Maitlis:

Her colleague Nick Robinson tweeted this reply:

She told me that some told her the tiger was really the Gestapo. Even when she said “No, he’s just a tiger” they said “Ah, you may think that but it’s your subconscious conjuring up the Gestapo”

Sometimes, a story is just a story.

Writers and playwrights have had to deal with readers’ deep introspection for years. Arthur Miller was one of them:

Sometimes a name is just that: a name. Nothing more. No deep symbolism.

In closing, here is Emily Maitlis’s interview with Judith Kerr, who was 92 at the time. She describes her happy childhood in Paris, then London. Her parents, who were going through endless difficulties during the war in Paris, protected her from it all. She did not know that her mother was suicidal for a time. She found out only when she read a collection of family papers as an adult:

Kerr, a former screenwriter for the BBC, told Maitlis that she came to writing books ‘late’, as a wife and mother. Her husband, Tom (Quatermass) Kneale — a fellow BBC screenwriter — strongly encouraged her. She said that, had she not started writing books, she would have become religious.

As it turned out, she said she never was religious. She said near the end of the video that she strongly supported euthanasia.

Maitlis says she was ‘inspired’ by meeting her idol. Oh, well.

I should think it would be impossible not to embrace religion after what she and her family went through. Personally, I would be giving hearty thanks to God daily. Then again, perhaps her parents were not religious in the first place, so she never had the example.

More’s the pity.

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall have issued an invitation to President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump for tea when they visit the UK next week.

This is a first for any US president, according to the Daily Mail:

Mr Trump will be the first serving American president to meet Prince Charles on such intimate terms.

This is partly because the Queen has been handing over a number of her responsibilities to him, the heir to the throne.

The Mail reported (emphases mine):

The unexpected meeting will take place at Clarence House, the heir to the throne’s official residence in London.

It will come on the same day as the Queen’s official state banquet for Mr Trump, which Charles will also attend. The prince did not meet the President on his working visit to Britain last year, which included a meeting with the Queen at Windsor Castle amid massive protests in the capital.

His sons, Princes William and Harry did not meet with the president, either:

Reports at the time suggested Charles and his sons William and Harry had refused to have anything to do with the arrangements, which was seen as a snub by the Americans.

However, this year, The Daily Caller says that the Trumps will meet the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the State Banquet, which the Queen will host:

Kate Middleton and Prince William are also expected to be at the banquet.

The Daily Mail points out:

The Donald Trump Prince Charles met on a visit to New York, soon after his wedding to Camilla in 2005, is a very different figure from the outspoken president he will welcome into his home.

Despite their intrinsic disagreement on climate change and chlorinated chicken, Prince Charles and President Trump will no doubt find subjects on which they do agree.

Camilla is highly regarded as someone who puts everyone at ease. She also has a sparkling wit.

The Trumps are sure to have a delightful afternoon.

Those going into London that day will find increased security measures and road closures in the vicinity around Clarence House, no doubt.

President Trump and First Lady Melania visited the UK in July 2018, which I covered at the time:

When Mr May hosted Mrs Trump in London (July 13)

When Trump met with Britain’s two most powerful women (July 13)

July 13: Piers Morgan’s exclusive interview with President Trump

July 13-15 : Trump’s weekend in Scotland — memorable for the wrong reason

I hope the Trumps have a safe, enjoyable and productive visit.

Regardless of what one thinks about Theresa May’s premiership, giving her a media kicking on the day she stood down as party leader and imminently as Prime Minister is not a good look.

George Osborne was David Cameron’s Chancellor to the Exchequer.

When Theresa May became PM in July 2016, one of the first things she did was to sack him. He then sat on the backbenches as a Conservative MP until he stood down early in 2017.

As Osborne has somewhat of a journalistic background, the owner of the London Evening Standard hired him as the daily paper’s editor in May 2017.

Since then, the freebie paper’s editorial line has been anti-Brexit — and anti-May.

He tweeted this himself. I bet he could hardly wait to be the first paper to publish this photo last Friday afternoon:

The editorial pages stuck the boot in further.

Here are the first two paragraphs of the editorial, accompanied by another photo of her as above:

Her resignation speech this morning pointed to a premiership that might have been: human, understanding of modern Britain, respectful of the achievements of her predecessors, and straight about the compromise needed if we are to move forward as a country.

Sadly, little of this was on display during her premiership. As a result, the central objective she set herself — leaving the European Union in an orderly fashion — looks less certain than it did the day she entered Number 10 less than three years ago.

Then, there was the political cartoon on the opposite page:

It was good to see that Osborne received a lot of negative Twitter comments on both tweets.

I’ve been reading the Evening Standard for decades. That was when they still charged money for it. The news coverage and journalism were top-notch.

These days, I go straight to the puzzle page and skim the rest.

The Standard used to offer objectivity in its editorial line. Unfortunately, the paper’s standards have fallen significantly in the past few years, and it has become not only politically biased, but also too focused on celebrities. I hold George Osborne partly responsible. If he is able to get his staff access to celebrity news, surely he can get them access to substantial news.

On Saturday, May 11, 2019, March for Life UK held their annual march in London which finished in Parliament Square:

This march does not receive much publicity from either the media or the Church:

Despite that, the march attracted over 5,000 people:

Despite the running narrative that young people support abortion, that did not appear to be the case last Saturday:

The event also had a number of pro-life speakers, some of whom travel the world for the cause.

Obianuju Ekeocha is one of them:

Melissa Ohden is another:

Britons also spoke in favour of life in the womb:

There was also entertainment:

Workshops were held before the march began at The Emmanuel Centre and Westminster Church House:

The next day — May 12 — was National Children’s Day:

Hundreds of abortions are performed every day in the UK:

Mental health is the subject we rarely hear about when abortion is discussed, yet it is a very important one.

This lady knows from first hand experience and explained it all in her workshop (see above):

Any woman in the UK reading this who needs to talk to someone after their abortion might wish to contact and visit Rachel’s Vineyard in Wetherby, West Yorkshire.

At the end of May 2018, I wrote about the splendid dinner my better half and I enjoyed at Villandry Great Portland Street in London.

We had planned to return this month. Unfortunately, only yesterday, we discovered that all three Villandry restaurants — including the one in Bicester Village, Oxfordshire — closed on August 9.

What awful news. The one in Great Portland Street offered exceptionally good value, especially on wine.

Investigating, I found that London Eater had a post on August 6, based on a Sunday Times article. The post said, in part:

Accounts made up to March 2017 show that Bicester — lost to the site’s landlord in return for a “substantial payment to the company” — made up 47 percent of the group’s entire sales annually. Paired with a 100 percent rent increase at Great Portland Street and a 16 percent increase at St. James’s, losses amounted to almost £1.5 million, compared to £683,564 the previous year.

London Eater noted that Villandry was not the only mid-market restaurant group in trouble:

In the last week, steak restaurants Gaucho and Cau have been lined up for sale, while burger chain Byron admitted that its finances were in serious trouble despite wholesale changes to operational strategy. Villandry, open since 1998, has introduced “pizza and prosecco” and bottomless brunches in an attempt to improve sales, but the news suggests that these innovations aren’t doing enough to account for such a sharp rise in costs.

On August 9, Eater announced that the restaurants had closed:

Eater first learned of the closure from a tipster, who reported that the Great Portland street restaurant was being boarded up this morning. Later, both the Great Portland Street and St. James’s reservation lines rang dead …

Eater reported that the restaurants were struggling last week, with recently filed accounts showing substantial losses. These were mostly accounted for by the closure of a restaurant in Bicester, which had accounted for 47 percent of group turnover 2016-17. Coupled with a doubling of rent at Great Portland Street and a 16 percent increase at St James’s, the restaurants simply could not survive.

Villandry’s final tweet appeared that day, announcing their closure:

On July 10, Time Out posted a brief review that captured the essence of Villandry Portland Street perfectly (emphases mine):

It’s not often you find a restaurant where diners are happy to eat alone, but this is one such place, owing to the unshowy, affordable menu and the chance to sit unhurried and unjudged by easy-going staff. The menu covers all bases: burgers, salads, steaks, plenty of fish and seafood, and weekend brunch. Duck confit was tender and moist, and plum crumble a deliciously fruity concoction topped with chantilly cream.

Villandry seems genuinely happy to accommodate your whims, whether that’s a simple quiche in the restaurant or takeaway chocolates from the compact grocery area. It seems they’ve thought of everything: come summer, there’s a juice bar and a counter serving frozen yoghurt and ice-cream.

We are sorry to see this loss from the London restaurant scene. I wish Villandry’s former employees well.

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump left NATO for England on the afternoon of Thursday, July 12, 2018.

Mrs Trump enjoyed her time in Brussels:

The day before the Trumps’ arrival in England, a distinguished former British ambassador to the United States had been brutally attacked at Victoria Station. One possible reason? He defended President Trump:

Prayers for Sir Christopher’s full and swift recovery. He must be in much pain. The Daily Mail reported (emphases mine):

Sir Christopher Meyer, 74, was at Victoria when he was set upon by two attackers, his wife said to The Times

The retired diplomat, who was on his way home, was left with a bleeding and swollen eye socket, a burst lip and a suspected broken nose

Sir Christopher’s wife, Baroness Meyer, said he does not remember the attack, but that police believe the pair may have wanted to rob him.

I’m absolutely shocked by the level of the brutality. They really beat him. It’s appalling — like something you would see in a war zone,’ she said.

‘He looks terrible.  

His left eye is like a golf ball and bleeding, the nose looks like it could be broken. At first I thought that the attack was politically motivated

He is opinionated, and sometimes people have different opinions, but the police told me they believe that it is more likely that they might have wanted to rob him’ …

Fortunately:

Baroness Meyer told The Times nothing was stolen and police ‘acted quickly’ and the first thing her husband remembers was them being by his side.

Sir Christopher served as ambassador to the US during the latter end of the Clinton years and the first two of Bush II’s tenure:

He spent six years in Washington, from 1997 to 2003, becoming the longest-serving holder of his office since 1945.

As ambassador, he welcomed around 35,000 guests to his home a year and was made Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George.

After retiring, he became chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, the former newspaper regulatory body.

For President Trump, the UK is a yuge danger zone. The Conservative Treehouse explained:

The U.K. is considered the most dangerous nation in the world for a terror threat against the President. The scale of the security force assigned to protect President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump is three times larger than the traveling military deployed/needed during the 2017 Mid-east trip to Saudi Arabia.

The following video shows the arrival of Air Force One at Stansted Airport in the county of Essex, just outside of London. Ambassador Robert Wood ‘Woody’ Johnson and UK Trade Secretary Liam Fox met the couple, who took Marine One to the centre of the capital, where they stayed at the US ambassador’s residence, Winfield House, in Regents Park:

Winfield House was commissioned by and owned by Barbara Woolworth Hutton, heiress to the Woolworth fortune, in 1936. Her grandfather Frank’s middle name was Winfield, hence the name and the branded line of Woolworth’s products.

During the Second World War, the Royal Air Force used Winfield House as a 906 barrage balloon unit and as an officer’s club. Interestingly, Hutton was married to actor Cary Grant at the time. They divorced in 1945, after three years. He used to visit Winfield House from time to time.

After the war, Hutton sold the house to the US government for one dollar. Initially, the US Third Air Force used the building as an officer’s club. It became the official US ambassador’s residence in 1955 and remains so to this day:

That evening, America’s first couple were guests of Prime Minister Theresa May at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, home to the Dukes of Marlborough and Winston Churchill during his early life. The Spencer-Churchill family still live there and parts of the palace — e.g. the state apartments — are open to the public.

The Trumps left Winfield House to be airlifted to Blenheim Palace:

The Prime Minister and her husband, Philip May, greeted the Trumps upon arrival:

The purpose of the dinner was to introduce the president to British business leaders in the hopes of forging trade between the two countries post-Brexit.

With that in mind, the Americans from Trump’s cabinet and administration were also invited:

Beforehand, there was time for a photo op and a military ceremony with music:

Then, they went inside:

Sky News reported:

The US president and First Lady Melania Trump were given a red carpet reception at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, where the prime minister pressed her case for an ambitious new trade deal after Brexit.

Addressing Mr Trump in front of an audience of business leaders at Winston Churchill’s birthplace, Mrs May insisted that Brexit provides an opportunity for an “unprecedented” agreement to boost jobs and growth.

And in an apparent plea to the president to remember his allies when he meets Vladimir Putin on Monday, Mrs May noted that Britain and America work closely on security “whether through targeting Daesh terrorists or standing up to Russian aggression”.

The military bands played music prior to departure:

No doubt the evening ended all too soon for some:

I can appreciate Dan Scavino’s enthusiasm. Everyone who visits Blenheim Palace enjoys it.

Tomorrow’s post will look at what happened on Friday, July 13.

Detailed posts on the NATO summit and President Trump’s visit to the UK will follow next week.

For now, Prime Minister Theresa May’s husband Philip May hosted First Lady Melania Trump on Friday, July 13, 2018, more about which below.

As the Trump baby balloon was being inflated before floating over Parliament Square, President Trump was on his way to Sandhurst with the US ambassador to Britain, Robert Wood ‘Woody’ Johnson.

BT.com reports:

He is expected to view a joint US-UK special forces military demonstration at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst …

The president flew into the British Army’s official training centre on Marine One, preceded by two accompanying helicopters.

Woody Johnson, the US ambassador to Britain, was onboard with Mr Trump.

Also attending Sandhurst are several of the president’s aides, including John Kelly, John Bolton and Stephen Miller.

The report left out the Prime Minister:

Meanwhile, Philip May met Mrs Trump at the historic Royal Hospital Chelsea. Suzanne Johnson, the ambassador’s wife, accompanied her. They were greeted by Lieutenant Colonel Nicky Mott, hospital CEO Gary Lashko and Chelsea pensioners John Riley, Alan Collins and Marjorie Cole:

Mrs Trump also met pupils from Saint George’s Church of England primary school, who were making Remembrance Day poppies:

When she arrived into the room, she said “good morning” and asked the children if they would like to show her how to make the poppies.

Mrs Trump had a go at making one, and told the children: “Thank you for helping me.”

She showed Mr May her effort and joked: “Very professional.”

After the poppy making, Mrs Trump listened to school children talk about values and service.

Mrs Trump sat in front of a poster which said “Be the best you can be”.

Mrs Trump recently launched a campaign for American schoolchildren called ‘Be Best’, a poster for which shows in the following tweet:

St George’s has a programme called ‘Be the Best You Can Be’:

Then it was time for bowls:

Meanwhile, Prime Minister May and President Trump were engaging in talks at the weekend home of British prime ministers, Chequers:

One can only imagine what is going through Trump’s mind. Probably something along the lines of, ‘This is a historic moment, because, next time I come here, Theresa May will no longer be Prime Minister’. Sadly, that is a very real possibility — through her own doing for a ‘soft’ Brexit.

By the time this post appears, President and Mrs Trump will have enjoyed tea with the Queen at Windsor Castle and will be in Scotland at Trump’s golf resort, Turnberry, for the weekend.

Mrs Trump tweeted her thanks for a lovely Friday morning:

In closing, for those who are interested, this BT.com article has more information on Mrs Trump’s attire.

It was a year ago at this time in May that I visited one of London’s best kept secrets, Pollock’s Toy Museum.

I’d not heard of it until a good friend of mine suggested it as a place I could take my two American friends who were in town during the Whit Sun (Pentecost) Bank Holiday weekend. (Incidentally, this particular weekend was renamed some time ago to Spring Bank Holiday. But, I digress.)

My friends asked to go to a place that was non-touristy. We couldn’t have asked for a better venue, and, for that, I am ever grateful to my friend for the suggestion. He had been there as a boy.

If you want information only about the museum, skip the History part which follows and go to The Pollock’s Toy Museum experience section near the end.

History

The museum

How Pollack’s got to be a museum and in its current location near Goodge Street Tube station is a real rabbit hole.

The museum’s website glosses over a number of moves and transitions. No doubt most visitors aren’t that interested in the finer details:

Pollock’s was originally a shop and printers, dating back to the 1850’s, based in Hoxton, then a poor quarter of London. Benjamin Pollock’s hand printed, constructed and coloured much of the toy theatre material housed in the museum today.

The museum was created and the shop stock re-designed during the 1950’s and 60’s by Marguerite Fawdry It came to it’s current location in the late 1960’s where it has remained. The collection has been built up by purchases, donations from friends, family and the public. It is an independent family run concern. It is run more for the benefit of the public and to display the collection than for profit.

The museum’s Wikipedia page states:

The museum was started in 1956 in a single attic room at 44 Monmouth Street, near Covent Garden, above Benjamin Pollock’s Toy Shop, where Pollock’s Toy Theatres were also sold. As the enterprise flourished, other rooms were taken over for the museum and the ground floor became a toyshop. By 1969 the collection had outgrown the Monmouth Street premises and Pollock’s Toy Museum moved to 1 Scala Street, with a museum shop on the ground floor to contribute to its support. The museum continues today to be run by the grandson of the founder Marguerite Fawdry.[2]

I then ran across a December 2014 page at ArenaPAL, ‘Behind the Scenes at the Pollocks Toy Theatre Shop Factory Workshop’, which begins with this (emphasis in the original):

‘If you love art, folly or the bright eyes of children, speed to Pollock’s’ …wrote Robert Louis Stevenson in an essay which immortalised Pollock’s Toy Shop – a business that was started in 1856 and still runs today from Covent Garden in London.

Robert Louis Stevenson? I will get to his role in a moment.

ArenaPAL‘s page has interesting photographs from the mid-1940s, showing a little boy admiring one of the toy theatres and men in the workshop building them out of Bakelite and wood.

The text went on to say (emphases mine below):

Pollock’s speciality was in fact the sale and manufacture of Toy Theatres – otherwise known as Juvenile Drama. Traditionally the kits comprised a paperboard stage and accompanying set design with cut out characters according to the play being sold – and sometimes the likeness of popular actors of the time. The miniature production would be performed to family and friends using an abridged script and, until the introduction of the television, was one of the most popular forms of home entertainment in Europe. Toy theatre has seen a resurgence in recent years and there are numerous international toy theatre festivals throughout the Americas and Europe.

That, I did not know.

The museum has a lot of these toy theatres of varying sizes and with different scripts.

Benjamin Pollock’s Toy Shop

The Wikipedia page on Benjamin Pollock’s Toy Shop clears up much of the confusion. A summary and excerpts follow.

The original shop was in Hoxton (east London). Its proprietor was:

John Redington (1819–1876), who described himself as a “Printer, Bookbinder and Stationer; Tobacconist; and Dealer in miscellaneous articles” …

The premises were located at 73 Hoxton Street. In 1851, Redington opened a theatrical print warehouse there:

Redington was an agent for the toy theatre publisher John Kilby Green, and when Green died in 1860 Redington bought up his engraved copper plates. Redington ran the Hoxton Street business until his death in 1876, following which his widow, youngest son William, and daughter Eliza carried on with the business; but soon only Eliza Redington was left to run the print business.[2]

In 1877, Eliza Redington married Benjamin Pollock. The couple ran the shop together. They also had eight children — four boys and four girls.

Pollock was still using Green’s and Redington’s plates and theatre sheets, although:

with the imprint changed to ‘B. Pollock’.[5]

The shop was in an excellent location. The Britannia Theatre was across the street.

Despite that, Pollock wasn’t exactly making a fortune. In the 1880s, he began making toy theatres:

or the ‘juvenile drama’ as it was called at the time, selling toy theatre drops and characters from contemporary dramas for “a penny plain, twopence coloured”. Pollock generally republished older plays by using existing plates, simply changing the names of the actors. His version of Cinderella, for example, which could be bought from Pollock in the 1880s, used plates from 1844.[6]

Pollock’s business was not a success as tastes in the 1880s changed towards magic lantern shows and other innovations

Magic lanterns were early slide shows. The museum has a collection of these.

Robert Louis Stevenson

One day in 1884, Robert Louis Stevenson paid Pollock a visit at his shop. Stevenson’s subsequent essay about his visit proved to be a boon for Pollock’s business.

A considered article from 2009 about that visit appears on Spitalfields Life, ‘Benjamin Pollock, a penny plain, tuppence coloured’.

It says that Stevenson was an only child who enjoyed juvenile drama — toy theatres — at home growing up. He was also aware that as toy theatre manufacturers died and others inherited their materials, the names also changed:

the theatres of his childhood that he purchased in a shop on Leith Walk in Edinburgh were produced by Skelt’s Juvenile Drama and the names on the printing plates were altered with successive owners, “This national monument, after changing its name to Park’s, Webb’s, Reddington’s and last of all to Pollock’s, has now become, for the most part, a memory”, he wrote.

Assembling the theatres was more fun than putting on the play:

… even Stevenson admitted “The purchase and the first half hour at home, that was the summit.” As a child, I think the making of them was the greater part of the pleasure, cutting out the figures and glueing it all together. “I cannot deny the joy that attended the illumination, nor can I quite forget that child, who forgoing pleasure, stoops to tuppence coloured.” Stevenson wrote.

Pollock’s in the 20th century

Wikipedia says that the First World War altered Pollock’s intended line of succession, as his son William died in active duty. Pollock’s daughter Louise helped her father run the business.

One year before he died:

The theatre historian and writer George Speaight was first associated with Pollock’s when he gave a toy theatre performance of The Corsican Brothers at The George Inn in Southwark for Pollock’s 80th birthday in 1936. Speaight was already gaining a reputation for his juvenile drama performances using characters and settings obtained from Pollock’s.[10]

Pollock died in 1937. The Spitalfields Life article says:

toy theatres had become an anachronism and the business was in terminal decline. Yet such was the celebrity that Stevenson had brought, Benjamin Pollock received the unique accolade for a Hoxton shopkeeper of an obituary in the Times.

After Pollock’s death, Louise continued with the business, assisted by her sister Selina. In 1944, they sold the business. Shortly afterwards:

the building was destroyed by an enemy bomb.

Today, a plaque is on a brick post outside of the Hoxton Street location. Spitalfields Life has a photo. The site has council flats on it now.

Wikipedia says that, before the bomb hit, bookseller Alan Keen had bought the shop’s stock from Louise and Selina. Keen ran his business in the Adelphi Building just off The Strand — theatre district — and called it Benjamin Pollock Limited.

In 1946, Keen appointed the aforementioned George Speaight as shop manager. Speaight was associated with the shop — and, later, the museum — for the rest of his life.

Keen popularised his toy theatres by using classic films of the postwar years and their famous stars:

Keen modernised the stock to appeal to a contemporary audience with a toy theatre version of the 1948 Laurence Olivier film of Hamlet devised by Speaight[13] among other innovations. A supporter of the shop at this time was the actor Ralph Richardson, who wrote introductions to the plays.[9]

Unfortunately, nothing could return toy theatres to their previous success. In 1950, Keen had to move the premises to Little Russell Street in Bloomsbury. The following year, Benjamin Pollock Limited went into receivership.

In 1955, a BBC journalist, Marguerite Fawdry, was looking for wire character slides for her son’s toy theatre. She ended up buying not only the stock but also the business. She rented a shop at 44 Monmouth Street — in Seven Dials near Holborn (quite a smart street of boutiques and restaurants these days). In 1956, she opened Pollock’s Toy Museum in part of the shop. In 1957, she purchased the plates from Skelt’s, as George Skelt had recently died. Robert Louis Stevenson had Skelt toy theatres as a child, so this was an important acquisition for the company.

In 1969, the rent in Monmouth Street was too high for the business to survive. Fawdry moved Pollock’s to 1 Scala Street near Goodge Street Station.

In 1980, Fawdry maintained the museum in Scala Street and moved the business to the newly renovated Covent Garden Piazza.

In 1988, Fawdry sold the business to brothers Christopher and Peter Baldwin. Peter Baldwin had a collection of toy theatres and was best known for his role as Derek Walton in the long-running evening soap opera, Coronation Street. He had also managed the shop between acting jobs. A lady by the name of Louise Heard was working in the shop at this time. She, too, would play a role in developing the business.

In 2008, Christopher Baldwin retired. Louise Heard became co-owner along with Peter Baldwin. In 2010, the two opened a second Pollock’s Toy Shop at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire.

In 2015, Peter Baldwin died. Louise Heard continues to run both shops. Wikipedia tells us:

Today the shop produces its own range of toy theatres by contemporary artists such as Kate Baylay and Clive Hicks-Jenkins[19] which have been displayed at Liberty, Fortnum & Mason and the Royal Opera House. It sells reproduction and original toy theatres from around the world in addition to books, puppets, music boxes and other traditional toys.[9]

The museum and trust

Marguerite Fawdry’s grandson Eddy Fawdry currently runs the museum.

There is a Pollock’s Toy Museum Trust which helped to populate the inventory at the museum. They are no longer interested in receiving toy donations, only stories. Their main web page also states:

The trust’s collection remains there, although we have been prevented from having free use of it for the benefit of the public, as our trust deed requires us to do.

However, the museum’s contact page states:

Please note that if you come across a site calling itself Pollock’s Toy Museum Trust, this is not the museum, please ignore it.

The Trust are no longer connected to the museum but continue as a sort of strange purpose less entity!

The Pollock’s Toy Museum experience

I will never forget going to Pollock’s Toy Museum.

First, some practical information.

Getting there

By Tube, alight at Goodge Street Station.

When you exit the station at street level, take a left. At the corner, take another left. When you get to the next corner, take another left. That’s three lefts in total. The museum is at the end of the first block on the opposite side. You cannot miss its colourful exterior!

Admission and opening times

The museum is closed on Sundays and Bank Holidays.

If you want to go this weekend, it will have to be Saturday. But, don’t worry, it is likely to be quiet.

Their Contact page has more details on opening hours and admission prices.

Normal admission is £7 per person, with discounts for seniors and children. Credit cards accepted.

Other notes

There is no tour guide or attendant. Once you pay, you’re on your own.

The museum is in two old adjoining buildings — one from the 1780s and the other from the 1880s — with narrow staircases, which isn’t good for anyone with mobility issues.

The museum’s content is also not recommended for young children:

We recommend it for slightly older children and adults of all ages.

Nor would I recommend it to anyone who is triggered by weird looking toys. Seriously, anyone falling into that category will have nightmares.

It will take between 90 minutes and two hours to complete the museum in full. By that, I mean reading all the brief typewritten notes with the exhibits.

There are chairs in some rooms for those who need to sit down.

There is a restroom near the reception area.

Admission

We had a rather eccentric thirtysomething man at the entrance.

There were three of us and he gave us only one pamphlet to the museum.

My friends, who paid for me (thank you!), asked him, ‘Aren’t you going to give us two more pamphlets?’

He paused, looked at us and grudgingly gave us two more.

He had no personality at all, and I think he had a ‘problem’ of sorts. It’s a charitable act giving people like him a job.

The same went for the young woman who had taken his place by the time we left. I don’t think she could feasibly work anywhere else, either.

My friends said ‘Goodbye!’ on the way out and she just stared at us. Finally, she muttered ‘Goodbye’.

The pamphlet

The pamphlet is really helpful in guiding you from room to room.

Of course, they cannot list every type of exhibit, but the text only gives you a good summary of what you’re going to see.

That said, look carefully as you are going around, because there are some unmentioned gems on the walls and in the display cases.

Touring the museum

Everything is chocka with exhibits.

The first little room before the first staircase has mostly American toys from the 19th and early 20th centuries. All are described, including the provenance of the metal of the money boxes.

The first staircase shows that toys weren’t meant to be sources of fun and jollity. There are a number of 19th century — maybe slightly older — education aids for young children, who were expected to learn, not play. These large boards have pictures on them with a variety of small squares with aphorisms and other short items to memorise. The one I recall most vividly — and not mentioned in the pamphlet — is an Italian board depicting a schoolroom scene. A very comely schoolmistress is sitting behind a desk. A long switch is next to her. A little boy is sobbing his eyes out. The other children are quietly doing their schoolwork. Some of these boards depict scientific concepts children were meant to learn. I felt rather stupid looking at them. I’m not sure I learned those until a later stage at primary school.

If you pause on the landing and look opposite, you’ll see — if I remember rightly — Buzz Lightyear. That’s the most modern toy on display.

Things got more normal in the first room on the first floorthe boys’ den. There are Dinky toys (cars, delivery vehicles), train sets and tin soldiers. There are also a number of futuristic toys from the postwar era. Near the window are 19th century optical toys.

Going up the stairs to the second floor, you’ll see early board games as well as some modern ones. There are also some boys’ comic books that are at least a century old and folk toys from the Subcontinent.

The main room on the second floor is devoted to toy theatres, many of them from Pollock’s. You can also see a photo of Pollock there.

By the time you’re on the third floor, you’ve moved from the 1880s building into the one dating from the 1780s. The first room is devoted to dolls. You can see why they were out of the reach of most little girls two centuries ago. These are quite exquisite — and were very expensive. Don’t miss the 4,000 year old toy mouse from the banks of the Nile!

The next room has toy soldiers and teddy bears interspersed with a grand collection of dolls houses. I did not know that the late Victorians and Edwardians thought that little boys should have a masculine equivalent of a doll to comfort them; that’s where the idea of the teddy bear originated. The dolls houses are fascinating, even for men. One English father built his daughter a replica of the family home, complete with vehicles in the drive. The windows on the house open, and everything is exactly as it was in real life. She must have loved that.

The next room has more dolls from the first part of the 20th century. One of these is a black doll that belonged to a London girl who was from the West Indies. It’s got a great family story associated with it, the finer details of which I cannot remember well enough. Be sure to check it out.

There are also tea sets, prams, farm carts and more.

Again, nearly every room has an international collection, so it’s worthwhile looking at everything. The staircase leading down to the gift shop has a lot of toys from Africa and China.

The gift shop is okay, nothing to write home about.

The restroom is on the way out, just past the gift shop. It’s nice and clean.

Any visitor or Londoner who hasn’t visited Pollock’s Toy Museum should certainly consider adding it to their list of activities for a day out.

I want to go again. I think I’ll treat my English friend to an afternoon out.

For more information and photos, see TripAdvisor and Yelp reviews. That said, I disagree with everyone who says it needs updating. Egads. It most certainly does not! This is about the history of toys, not the latest trends. For that, head to Hamley’s, the toy shop in Regent’s Street.

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