Google+ Followers

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

A Right Royal Fascination

The Sepia Saturday prompt photo for this week shows Princess Elizabeth, as she then was, and her sister Margaret, in costumes they wore for a performance of the pantomime Aladdin in December 1943. I found several reports of this Royal event in both the Australian and New Zealand press and have cut and pasted several of the NZ articles below.

Evening Post, 22 March 1944, snipped from Paperspast web site

NZ Herald, 23 December 1943; Ellesmere Guardian, 28 April 1944, snipped from Paperspast web site

NZ Herald, 6 March 1944, snipped from Paperspast web site

I'm not sure why some of the articles published in the NZ press seem to have been repeated several months after the pantomime took place, but it may have been because the then Princess's 18th birthday was approaching. Here is an article about that event, transcribed on the Paperspast site from the New Zealand Herald of 21 April 1944. The witty lines referred to in the fourth paragraph would have been spoken by Princess Elizabeth in the performance of Aladdin above.

Written for the New Zealand Herald When Princess Elizabeth attains her 18th birthday on April 21, she will come of age, as Heiress-Presumptive, but remain a minor, like anyone else under 21, as one of her father's subjects. This paradoxical position has been established as the result of intense researches into the law governing minors by Lord Simon, the Lord Chancellor, undertaken on the instructions of the King, who is keenly anxious that every possible loose end in connection with the status of his daughters should be clearly and firmly tied up. As soon as she is 18, the Princess can succeed her father as a full Queen, with exercise and control of all the Royal powers and prerogatives, and no necessity whatever for a Council of Regency to guide her. And from April 21 onward, she is available and liable. under the terms of the Regency Act of I 1037, amended at the King's request last year, to act as one of the five Counsellors of State who must act for him in the event of His Majesty's absence abroad or severe illness. But not for another three years, till April 21, 19-17, will Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth of Windsor be legally able to sign documents on her own responsibility, deal with or control the private fortune which was left to her by her grandfather, King George V., or otherwise act as a fully grown-up person, unless she becomes Queen in the meantime, in which case she automatically assumes her majority, as did Queen Victoria, who acceded when she was just over 18. 
Knowledge of World Affairs
 So much for the Princess' legal position. But what every one of the millions who will be her subjects in the future wants to know is what kind of girl is she. And because of the fairlv strict seclusion in which she has been brought up, that is a question to which few people know the answer. Tall and slender, the Princess has blue-grey eyes of a very lively intelligence, darkish brown hair with a natural wave in it, a quick brain, her father's and grandfather's eye for detail, and a manner of rather shy charm. Pier voice is clear and well modulated, and she sings in a pleasant contralto of not very great volume. In knowledge of world affairs, of history and geography, with special attention to the British Empire, she is well above the average of well-educated English girls of her own age. and she speaks French fluently, with little accent and a good command of vocabulary. Mathematics is not a strong subject with her, and Latin and Greek are also not her favourites. She has learned a good deal of German and knows many of the poems of Schiller and Goethe by heart, as well as, of course, having Ions: passages of Shakespeare, Tennyson and other English poets by rote, besides Francois de Villon and other French writers. 
An Outdoor Girl 
 But she is far from a blue-stocking. The Princess is emphatically an outdoor girl and she is never happier than when cantering through Windsor Park astride or side-saddle on her chestnut hunter, riding at the side of her father, with whom she has the very closest bonds of affection. She began to learn riding when she was four years old, and like a true horsewoman readily agrees that she is still learning to-day and will go on always learning more about horses and their ways. At present her riding instructor is Colonel Dermot McMurrough Kavanagh. the Crown Equerry, himself an officer of the Hussars, and a martinet for correct behaviour in the saddle whether his pupil is a Royal Princess or a newly-joined trooper. The Princess rides with a ramrod-straight back, and has naturally good, easy hands. She can jump equally well astride or side-saddle, and is looking forward, when peace comes, to adding to her  brief experience of hunting—so far she has been out only once with hounds, when she rode with the Duke of Beaufort's pack during a visit to Queen Mary last winter. One other outdoor exercise has great fascination for the Princess —swimming and diving. She has been able to get a lot of practice at her wartime home in the country, for there is a river close by. Unfortunately the elaborately-equipped private pool which the King had built on the site of the old tennis court at Buckingham Palace for his daughters is wrecked as a result of a Nazi bomb.
 Strong and Fast Swimmer
 In the water. Princess Elizabeth is strong and fast as a swimmer, and she can dive well in n number of different styles. Without any question of the results being "rigged" she won. much to the King's delight, the last Open Children's competition at the Bath Club before that hath. too. was destroyed by a bomb Royal witicisms do not have to be very scintillating to raise a laugh from courtiers, but Princess Elizabeth's sense of humour is genuinely keen, and she can crack a joke with such a serious expression that the point is doubled. In the pantomime which the Princesses give each year in aid of the Royal Household Wool Fund, there were, last Christmas, half a dozen "lines" which carried barbed shafts of wit against various members of the Royal entourage. They were the work of Princess Elizabeth, and when the King heard them for the first time he literally doubled up with laughter, turning round to see how those victims who were in the audience were taking it. All the fun was good-humoured and courtiers who had not been dealt with by the Elizabethan wit were very jealous of those who had! Writing in a neat., round hand, not unlike the King's, the Princess, like her great-great-grandmother. Queen Victoria, is an indefatigable diarist and in addition, all through the war has kept up a daily correspondence with Queen Mary. 
More Public Appearances
 This year will see a certain number of changes in the Princess' life. Her appearance at the England-Scotland match at Wembley was the forerunner of many more public appearances at sporting and other events which she will make after her 18th birthday, but the change will not be dramatic or drastic. There is, for instance, no substance in stories that she will set up her own household, or be given a separate establishment by the King. She will continue to live, as she does now, with her sister Margaret, attended by one footman, a maid and her old nurse. Mrs. Knight, with Scots-born Miss Marion Crawford, the governess.- in general charge. Had it not been for the war, of course, there would have been a fullscale, elaborate "coming out" party for thePrincess as the principal event of a more-than-usually glittering London season. As it is, the Princess will have only a small private dance, of the kind the King and Queen have given several times in the last few months for her, as her "coming-of-Royal-age celebration. She dances well, with a good sense of time and rhythm, as befits one who has had many, many hours oi tuition, and she can perform the intricacies of a Highland reel or fling; as well as the simpler steps of a foxtrot or waltz. "Hot" music does not appeal very much to her. She prefers quieter, "sweeter" tunes, and is herself an up-to-average piano player. She has her own grand, and on it often plays duets with the Queen, who has been a music lover since her girlhood. Princess Margaret, too, sometimes plays with her sister while the Queen listens, and between the two Princesses, one four years younger than the other, there is a, very deep sympathy and understanding. Up to now they have been inseparables; and one of the features of her new life, as she takes a growing part in public affairs, which definitely does not please Princess Elizabeth is that Princess Margaret will not always be with her.
 No New Title 
At Palace parties, for instance, where the King and Queen mingle separately with their guests, the two Princesses remain always together, talking to whom they will, but never apart, so that one fits into the other's conversation with charming effect. Everyone knows now that the Princess will have no new title on her birthday. Though the King will probably make her a Privy Councillor, she will continue to be known as Princess Elizabeth. But few people know that this decision was reached by the King alter asking bis daughter her own wishes. And the fact that she prefers the simple style and title which has been hers since birth is a symbol of the straightforward simple character of the young woman who one day will inherit the greatest responsibilities in the world."

My New Zealand born mother Jean was a big fan of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth all her life, and one reason may have been that they were born in the same year, 1926. Jean would have loved to have been celebrating the Queen's 90th birthday together with her own later this year, but she did not enjoy such good health as the Queen and sadly it was not to be, and she passed away in 2014. 
The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh visited New Zealand in December 1953, not long after the Coronation, but by then Jean and Ian and I were in England for a year, so we were not numbered among the estimated 3 out of every 4 New Zealanders who saw the Royal couple during their month-long tour. One woman reportedly saw the Queen 30 times, and people did things like dyeing their sheep red, white and blue for the occasion, and planting flowers in the appropriate colours. Anyone interested can read more about the tour in considerable detail here in an article on the New Zealand |History web site.
Someone back in New Zealand sent me a letter in this commemorative envelope, dutifully pasted into my trip scrapbook by Jean, but there's no letter inside, so I don't know if whoever wrote it was one of those 3 out of 4 New Zealanders who saw the Queen on her travels. In the words of Elizabethan poet Thomas Ford, famously quoted by Australian Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies during the Queen's visit to Australia in 1963,  they 'did but see her passing by ...'  That was certainly the case when I saw her as a schoolchild that year in Canberra, having waited for hours in the sun to see nothing more than a blurry wave of a hand in a limousine.


So Jean did not get to see the Queen on that NZ visit, but she and Ian did attend a Royal garden party at Buckingham Palace in 1954. I've posted this photograph of them dressed in their finery in a previous post, but it seems appropriate to show it again here.

Jean had a baby Staffordshire Fine China cup that was issued for the Queen's coronation and looked just like the one above, but I'm sad to say it broke and I no longer have it. Mum would have been very disappointed, and perhaps I should buy a replacement, but meanwhile I just have to be satisfied with this:

Coincidentally we are flying off to England tonight, but we won't arrive there until the day after the Queen's actual birthday, and are not expecting to attend any celebrations, unless we run into them by accident. I expect to be on a blogging break for a few weeks.

Now for more Sepian thoughts on this week's prompt, just click here

Saturday, 16 April 2016

A Tribute to Ann

This week's Sepia Saturday prompt shows what was called a Polyphoto, produced by a company whose slogan was "one of them must be good!".  Last week I wrote a small tribute to my late sister-in-law Penny, and this week I'm writing one to my other sister-in-law Ann, who also died too young, at just 52.  I found the following two photographs printed together just as they appear below, in proof size, when I was looking through my late father-in-law Bob Featherston's collection in the hope of finding a baby photograph or two of my husband, Ann's brother. I can't say there were 48, like the polyphoto set above, but there certainly were lots more very similar small photos of Ann, first child of her parents Bob and Mary.

These photos were taken at East Park Hull in June 1950. Ann and her parents traveled from Melbourne to the UK when she was just a few months old.
More small prints of Ann as a young child, now back in Australia. The little red cane chair she is sitting in still decorates the front room of her mother's house.

Ann on the occasion of her LLB graduation in April 1973

Ann went on to pursue a successful career as a lawyer, practising both as a solicitor and later as a senior lawyer in the Commonwealth Government. In her spare time she was a very keen sewer and embroiderer and we have many framed examples of her work. She also travelled extensively. Ann was diagnosed with breast cancer in her early 30s, but she recovered and enjoyed a full life until 2001, when despite never having smoked, she was found to have developed lung cancer. Although not proved, this later cancer may have been caused by the burning effect of the strong radiation treatment that Ann had undergone some 16 years earlier.

A small example of Ann's cross stitch work 

I'm not sure if this is Ann's own garden, but when she wasn't stitching she was a keen gardener

Ann's last Christmas, in 2001, seen here with six of her eight nieces and nephews. She was their favourite aunty, who always made time to have fun with them. They valued her advice and also greatly enjoyed her cooking.

Some of the many faces of our new granddaughter Lucy Ann, named for her Great Aunty Ann, who would no doubt have loved her dearly, as we do. Lucy is just three months old, but the next time she visits her great grandmother Mary she'll probably be big enough to sit in that same little red chair, and we'll tell her stories about Ann.

Ann Lesley Featherston, 1949-2002

For more takes on this week's theme, visit Sepia Saturday #326

Thursday, 7 April 2016

In Memory of Penny

This week's Sepia Saturday image shows a team of men rowing on the Thames with an Olympic flag. I was just reading the other day about the precursor to the first modern Olympics, that were held in 1850 in Much Wenlock, a black and white village in Shropshire that we've passed through several times without knowing anything about this aspect of its history. Next time we are nearby we'll definitely take a closer look! 

    I have one sepia boating photograph that I have posted on my blog previously, which you can see here, but today I'm posting some more recent photographs. They were taken in August 2011 and show my brother and one of his boys on a dragon boat, together with a team of pink ladies from the Dragons Abreast Gold Coast dragon boating club, rowing out into the middle of Currumbin Creek to scatter pink camelias in the water, in memory of my brother's late wife, Penny, who had passed away after a four year battle with breast cancer. Penny would have turned 60 today (7 April) , but sadly was only 55 when she died.

I like to think that somehow the bird flying above the boat as I took this photograph was an embodiment of Penny's strong and courageous spirit. Tasmanian born, she moved to Canberra and then up to the much warmer climate of Queensland, where she and my brother had two sons and several dogs, ran a plant nursery and operated a furniture removals business. Thoughtful and caring, Penny got on well with everyone she met. Life was busy but Penny was always cheerful and positive. We lived in different States so we didn't get to catch up in person very often, but I always enjoyed it when we did.

Dragon boating is recognised as very good exercise for strenthening muscles after a mastectomy, which is one reason why many breast cancer survivors join similar clubs. You can read more about the Dragons Abreast club and in partcular about Penny here on the club web site: My brother very generously donated a new dragon boat to the club in memory of his late wife. 

               Penelope Cruickshank nee Wilson, 1956-2011


                          Vale Penny. Forever Young.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Charles James Byles, Innkeeper of Note

Charles James Byles, Innkeeper of Note

This week's Sepia Saturday image of the New Inn in the village of Clovelly in Cornwall prompts me to tell you about my 3 times great grandfather Charles James Byles, who was an innkeeper from the 1830s until the early 1850s in Hampshire and Windsor. 

 Charles was baptized Charles James Biles in the parish of St Mary’s Southampton on 7 April 1798. He was the third child of George Byles and his wife Catharine Greenway, who were married in the All Saints Parish of Southampton on 27 October 1792.

At the age of 22, following a period of service in the Royal Regiment of Artillery during the Napoleonic Wars, Charles married Ann Curby in 1820. His father-in-law William Curby was a yeoman and a victualler, and his will dated 1833 is very informative. He had six daughters and appears to have owned considerable property.  To his daughter Ann, the “wife of Charles Byles of Frimley in the county of Surrey, schoolmaster”, he gave freehold property including what was described as a malthouse, which was tenanted at the time. Ann was not to receive this property until after the death of her mother Sarah, who died aged 79 in Yateley in 1836.

 Either as a consequence of, or perhaps in anticipation of, this property being inherited by his wife Ann, Charles appears to have decided to give up teaching and instead become an innkeeper like his late father-in-law, because when their fifth child Frederick Curby Byles was born in Newnham parish, in 1834, Charles’ occupation in the baptism record is given as ‘Innkeeper of Hook'.  Daughter Amelia was also born in Hook in about 1835, according to the 1851 Census. The Hook parish Council web site says that Hook was located on the main road from London to Exeter, and contained a number of inns, which had prospered as a result of serving the weary stagecoach travellers.  A railway was built from London to Basingstoke in the 1830s, but it was not until 1883 that Hook railway station was constructed near Hook, and meanwhile the boom time for local innkeepers declined with the gradual disappearance of the stage coaches.

 The White Hart Inn, an example of an inn still operating in Hook, Hampshire

Charles and Ann must have decided it was again time to move on, and this time they settled in Windsor, in or around 1835. They may have been influenced by the fact that Charles’ youngest brother John Owen Byles was living in nearby Eton with his wife Sarah at that time.

In the 1841 Census Charles Byles is recorded as being the publican of the Hope Inn, Frogmore Road, Windsor, and his wife Ann and their four youngest children are living there with him. Children Ann and Edward were born in Windsor in 1838 and 1840 respectively. Charles appears to have become a playing member of the Windsor and Eton Junior Cricket Club, according to newspaper reports from 1834 onwards, and the Hope Inn would have provided a convenient venue for the players to socialise after their games. Charles was a bowler rather than a batsman, on one occasion bowling eight wickets and catching another batsman out, and in 1835 he was chosen as a steward of the club for the ensuing year.

As publican of the Hope Inn, Charles achieved some measure of fame, due to the proximity of his establishment to Frogmore House, which was itself very close to Windsor Castle, so it is relevant to know a little of the history of nearby Frogmore House and Mausoleum.  Frogmore House was built in the 1680s, and was then known as Great Frogmore.  The lease to the house was purchased in 1790 by Queen Charlotte, wife of ‘mad’ King George III. On her death, Frogmore house passed to her eldest unmarried daughter, the Princess Augusta.  Then when Princess Augusta died in 1840, her niece Queen Victoria gave Frogmore to her mother, the Duchess of Kent, who died there in 1861.  The Queen ordered the Frogmore Mausoleum to be built in the grounds of Frogmore House, to contain the remains of her husband Prince Albert, and to also be a future resting place for Victoria herself.

 Frogmore Mausoleum in 2011, viewed from the Long Walk


In the Windsor and Eton Express a number of social items appeared over the period 1837 to 1842, in which Charles Byles and the Hope Inn are favourably mentioned. 

On 25 February 1837 the Annual Rabbit Hunt

took place in the grounds of M.R.H. the Princess Augusta at Frogmore”, and
[A]fter the day’s amusement had terminated, a party of gentlemen adjourned to the Hope Inn, where an excellent dinner was provided by the landlord (Mr. Byles)”

 Later that year, the Princess Augusta’s birthday was celebrated and there was a public dinner in honour of the day at the Hope Inn and a display of fireworks there in the evening, the report of which appeared in the Express on 11 November 1837.  

The Three Tuns Inn, Windsor 2011


On 7 May 1842 the annual dinner to celebrate the defeat of the Eton Enclosure Bill took place at the nearby Three Tuns Inn, the chair being ably filled by Mr. C. Byles, according to another report in the Windsor and Eton Express.  This was a Bill brought by John Penn, who had sought to enclose land surrounding his property the Manor of Eton, but his Bill was defeated in Parliament on 1 May 1826, and a banner was triumphantly paraded through the streets of Eton, emblazoned with the words “May Eton Flourish Free and ever Protect her Rights”. Unlike the Hope Inn, the Three Tuns Inn is still in business in 2011.

Another public dinner was held at the Hope Inn on Wednesday 12 October 1842 to commemorate her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent taking up residence at Frogmore. It was reported that

the dinner excited the admiration of all present, especially the fine fat venison which was presented to the worthy host (Mr. Byles) for the occasion by the Duchess of Kent … and the evening was spent in the utmost conviviality and harmony, the company separating at a very late hour, delighted with the entertainment, and with the successful exertions of their host”. 

 Thanks may well have been also owed to Charles’ wife Ann, who might have been hard at work in the kitchens of the Inn, making it all possible, but we will never know.

Unfortunately for Charles Byles, in the later 1840s the main road to Dachet was re-aligned and new bridges were built as a result of changes in road and rail access to the town of Windsor under the Windsor Improvement Act 1848, under which the boundaries of Home Park were set and public access was denied.  In consequence Frogmore Road was closed and so too was the Hope Inn. Charles did not own the freehold title in the land, but he received £300 compensation plus expenses for his interest as a tenant, in consequence of the Inn’s closure and subsequent demolition. The owner Mr Deacon sought permission to relocate the Inn nearby but was ultimately unsuccessful. If any remains of the Inn still exist, they are inside Crown land, near Frogmore House and its Mausoleum, which are only open to the public two or three times per year. 

 Bucks Herald, 22 February 1851

 In the 1851 Census, Charles Byles and family were found residing “next to Cherry Cottage”, Windsor, and Charles’ occupation was given as “formerly publican.” The Byles family may no longer have been enjoying the convivial life to which they had become accustomed, but after his wife Ann died in December 1852, Charles married again in 1855 and appears to have become an agent for a political association, as described in the following article.

Windsor and Eton Express, 31 March 1855

Charles James Byles died in 1863 and is buried inHastings Cemetery.

In 1954, my parents and I visited Great Great Auntie Kitt, granddaughter of Charles Byles, at her home in Margate, Kent.  Kate Annie Byles was born in 1871, 8 years after Charles' death, but perhaps she would have liked to know that this small descendant of her long-lost brother Thomas Byles who emigrated to New Zealand would one day be interested in finding out more about her Byles family, and in particular about her grandfather Charles, the publican who entertained royalty at the Hope Inn Windsor. 

         With Great Great Aunty Kitt, Margate 1954

If anyone is interested in reading a very comprehensive article about the history of the many pubs of Windsor, both old and new(er), have a look at this site here.

And of course, for other blogs prompted by this week's photograph of the New Inn, go to Sepia Saturday #324