Saturday, 3 August 2013

Last Day in London and Final Looks at London

Days 30 and 31:

On my last day in London, I decided to pack all my stuff before heading out to wander around the river front with a few girls from my class.  We turned in our Oyster cards (London subway system cards) to see whether we had any money left.  Then we got Slush Puppies and wandered through the Turkish Festival and down to the Globe Theatre and the Millennium Bridge. 


Sand art on the banks of the Thames
Millennium Bridge from below
Millennium Bridge
View of Globe Theatre from Millennium Bridge
I ended my day at Gourmet Burger Kitchen having dinner with a group of my classmates.  The oreo milkshake and the burger were delicious, and the company was entertaining!  Since it was raining on our walk home, I decided to embrace the rain and stomp in puddles.

*   *   *

The next morning, I woke up at 4:00am (yikes!) to be ready to leave for the airport on a 5:30 coach bus.  Here are the pictures of my last looks at London.

Goodbye, London!  I have enjoyed my time here, and I will be back one day :) 

Bath Time

Day 29:

With our free day, a few of us decided to take a train to Bath, England, to visit the Roman Baths and the Jane Austen Centre.  We started our day at the Jane Austen Centre, where we learned about Austen's life in Bath and her work.   We even learned about the "language of the fan" and how to send a message just by using a fan and body language.  This is a very useful 21st century skill! 

We decided to have tea at the Regency Tea Room at the Jane Austen Centre, which allowed us to experience a true English Tea.  I had a sandwich with country ham and English cheese (yum!!) and some Earl Grey tea (also, yum!).  My friends had scones with jam and crumpets with honey.  One also had Earl Grey tea, and the other had hot chocolate (which looked divine!).  

After lunch, we headed to the Roman Baths in the center of town to see the bath rooms and learn about the Roman influence on the city.  Although you aren't allowed to touch or drink the water in the pool of the bath, they do have spa water which they offer for consumption.  I tried it, just to be able to say that I had.  It tasted like warm mineral water.

The bath with the Abbey in the background
Spa Water Outlet under the Baths
After the baths, we wandered around Bath for awhile, seeing the bridge, the Assembly Room building (they were closed, so we couldn't go in), the Oxford Circus (which is just a round park area surrounded by really expensive properties), and ended up at Sally Lunns for dinner. 

Bridge in Bath
Sally Lunn's has been there since 1680.  They serve tea and lunch in the afternoon and dinner at night. Their specialty are Sally Lunn buns, which are rolls that are as big as your head!  They are delicious and served with every meal.  If you ever go to Bath, go to Sally Lunn's!

Sally Lunn's Window (you can see the bun in the background)
At the end of the night, we took the train back to London with all of our goodies (of both the edible and Cath Kidston bag varieties). 

Friday, 2 August 2013

Beatrix Potter

Day 28:

On our last official class day, we headed to one of the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum's storage facilities to see their special collection about Beatrix Potter.  Blythe House houses the extensive children's book collection (over 100,000 items).  The building wasn't originally built to be a library storage area, instead it was built in the 1900s as the headquarters of the post office.  It served this purpose until the 1970s when the British Museum, the V&A, and the Science Museum acquired it and began to share it as a storage facility.

Although it is mostly used for storage, they do have a reading room available for accessing archival material.  The public also has access to the online catalog which allows them to search the collections.  The museum has an online object database.  One challenge for the archivists is to determine the best way to catalog the items and link the object database to the archival catalog to best serve the public's needs.

The representatives of Blythe House showed us examples from the 19th century before we got to see the Beatrix Potter collection.  We saw a loan record book from the V&A from the 1860s.  The book included an entry from Queen Victoria about lending stained glass windows to the museum.  Additionally, we saw posters from advertising agencies showing the graphic design concepts from 1988.  The marketing ideas were a bit racy, and some people found them controversial.

Ad Posters from 1988
We also got to hear from an archivist who focuses her work on art and design.  They collect archives from British or Britain-based artists and designers, and the majority of their collection is from the 20th and 21st century.  However, they do have some archives and items from earlier, such as the archives from Garrard & Co. (the company who designed the crown jewels) which dates from the 1730s.  They concentrate on design and decorative arts, and their collections include anything related to art, design, interior design, stained glass, fashion, etc.  They focus on big-name designers and on everyday ephemera related to art and design.  They do not include archives about fine art (that would be the Tate Museum) or architecture.

She showed us examples of some of their collection including archives from Lucile Dove Gordon (a fashion designer in the 1890s-1930s).  Gordon had fashion houses in London, Paris, New York City, and Chicago.  She was an early developer of the catwalk show.  Also, she was known for naming her dresses instead of just numbering them.

Lucile Dove Gordon's exhibition pamphlets

Pictures from a runway show
Some of Lucile Dove Gordon's Designs
Student Designs Based on Lucile Dove Gordon

We also got to hear about the children's literature collection, including the 80,000 books that were donated by the Rainiers and were collected between the 1950s and the 1970s.  One of the gems of the collection is the Beatrix Potter archives, which is the largest archive of Beatrix Potter in the world.  The majority of the archival items were donated by Leslie Linder and includes watercolors, sketches, manuscripts, photographs, etc.  

Beatrix Potter's sketch of her pet rabbit
Beatrix Potter's Hedgehog Sketches

Beatrix Potter's Sketches

Beatrix Potter and her husband actively distributed her work to different institutions across the United Kingdom so that it was spread out and more people could access it.  One of the items we got to see was a original, privately printed version of the Tale of Peter Rabbit from 1901.  It is in Beatrix Potter's handwriting and includes black and white line sketches as illustrations.

1901 Version of Peter Rabbit that was privately printed

Following the presentations by the V&A archivists, Leslie Linder's neighbor Andrew Wiltshire spoke to us about his relationship with the Linders and their importance to the resurgence in the popularity of Beatrix Potter.  Linder was the one who decoded Potter's diary, which led to more information about her life and work. Linder also is the one who donated much of the archive to the V&A.  

*   *   *

Following our time at Blythe House, we headed home for lunch and fortuitously ended up in Trafalgar Square because our bus ended its service.  We visited the lions and touched them to be sure that we would return to London one day (according to tradition or superstition).  Then we saw that the National Gallery had changed the sculpture to the big, blue chicken.  Finally, we decided to take advantage of being near St. Martin's in the Field and eat lunch at their restaurant in the crypt.  The meal was delicious!

Proof that I will return to London!

Big, blue chicken statue

*   *   *

Tonight all of the British Studies Program students, faculty, and staff gathered at the Research Symposium and learned about what all of the classes have been studying throughout the month.  It was really interesting to hear about the research that the other students were working on and what their classes have been doing while we have been in London and our other LondonAway cities. 

After the Research Symposium, we went to Nando's for dinner and ate in a nest (which is appropriate for a chicken restaurant).  Once we were finished with dinner, we decided to go down to the Thames to hang out by the river and enjoy one of our last nights together in London. 

London Eye all lit up for Prince George's birth

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Temples and Towers

Day 27:

Our group started today at the Middle Temple Library, which is a law library at one of the four main Inns of Court (legal groups) in London. The four Inns of Court (Middle Temple, Inner Temple, Lincoln's Inn, and Gray's Inn) share material because each has a different legal focus.  The Middle Temple Library first began when Robert Ashley donated his personal collection, including mostly non-legal books in 1641.  In the 18th century, the teaching of the law slowed down, but by the 19th century there was a resurgence of legal studies.  The library was built in 1861, but it was bombed twice during World War II.  In 1958, the current building was designed by Edward Maufe, who used reinforced concrete because he was afraid of bombings.  He also included offices for librarians, which was a progressive for the times.

The library collections include English Law (which is quite a large portion of the collection since they have to keep everything because English law is based on precedent), European Union, American Law (much of which was donated by the Carnegie Foundation), and African and Indian Law.  The collection also includes material on Insurances, Tax, and Eccelesiastical Law.

The library has a few items that are of particular interest to visitors.  They have portraits of all of the British Prime Ministers that were donated in the 1970s.  They have the Molyneux Globes, which are the earliest globes made in England.  They are made of paper-mache' and have sand inside to weigh them down and keep them in place.

Molyneux Globes (sorry about the reflections on the glass cases)

The third-floor American Law section was dedicated in honor of the 400th anniversary of Jamestown, VA.  The Middle Temple has had a close relationship with the United States since the 18th century, even after the American Revolution.  Even today, they maintain a close rapport with American law schools such as Pepperdine University.  Part of the relationship was built on the Middle Temple's investments in the Virginia Company (both monetary and personnel) during the 17th century.  There were even members of the Middle Temple who signed the Declaration of Independence.

Lithograph of Declaration of Independence
The five signatures with a red star indicate Middle Temple members.

 We also got to see the bench apartments, which are the rooms where the benchers and barristers relax and socialize.  Benchers are people who hold honorary positions because they have achieved certain accomplishments.  Prince William and Queen Elizabeth are two of the Middle Temple's royal benchers, and they have special rooms named after them.  Originally, the members of the inns of court lived in the "chambers" at the inns.

Queen's Room--the ceiling and the rug mirror each other

The Queen's Room

The Prince's Room

In the hallway between the bench apartments, there is a wall of coats of arms.  The coats of arms belong to the readers who come to the Temple. 

Middle Temple Hall was built in 1570 by Edmund Ploughdon and serves as the Temple's dining hall, theater, performance area, and meeting place.  It has a double hammer beam roof, which is extremely rare.  The head table is made of four beams of oak that were floated down the Thames River from Richmond.  It matches the rest of the wood in the room, which is also all oak.  This room was the scene of the first performance of William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night in 1602.

Middle Temple Hall

*   *   *

Following our visit to the law library, our class headed to the Old Bank of England Pub for lunch.  The pub is the site of Sweeney Todd's barbershop and his mistress's pie shop.  They offer traditional English pub fare, and I tried the steak and venison pie which was delightful!

After lunch, a few of us headed to the Tower of London to continue our sight-seeing for the day.  We started out with a Beefeater tour, but we broke away because the group was too big for us to really hear the tour guide.  Seeing all of the towers, the ravens, the armor, and the information about the menagerie was really interesting.  I have always been fascinated by castles (I even did a project in middle school about castles), so I enjoyed being able to explore one in person.  Here are some pictures from our day.

Tower of London
View from the Moat

The White Tower
Beefeater Guard

Armor of King James I and his horse

Tower Bridge

The Wizarding World of Conservation

Day 26:

Today we headed back to the British Library (remember, the home of King George's really cool library tower?! If you don't remember this, go back and read my blog "Independence Day at the British Library".), but this time we had an appointment to see the British Library Conservation Centre.  This department is in charge of conserving the materials used in the British Library.  Since the library is a reference library and the items can be checked out and handled by patrons, it's important for them to be functional.

The team of six has plenty to work on since the Legacy Collection has 150 million items, which are the items on which they focus their efforts.  Newer items needing conservation go to their department based in Yorkshire.  In order to determine which items will be worked on, individual curators for each department in the library prioritize the work they need and send in bids to the conservation team.  Then the conservation team leader gets all of the bids, looks at the items, and estimates the number of hours of work each item needs. Then the curator and the conservator determine which course of action would be best based on hours available, need, frequency of handling, uniqueness, priority, and whether the item is going to be digitized.

Our guide showed us examples of his conservation work. (We weren't allowed to take pictures, so I don't have photographs of these examples.)

The first was a Dutch leather tooling example from the 1800s.  The example was like a resume' for this Dutch craftsman.

We also saw an India Office Record Box from 1832.  This book was particularly interesting because it has a spring back, which pops open.  While he was showing us this particular book, our guide explained that the marbling on the edges of pages of account books served the dual purposes of decoration and security.  Marbling stops crooked accountants from removing and replacing pages, because the marbling can't be reproduced after the fact.  

We saw a 1649 dictionary that had been rebacked (which is when the cover has been replaced or repaired) using a combination of original and new leather.  The conservator had also resewn the binding, added new boards, but left the inner manuscript notes.  The conservators do not use rice paper, only Japanese tissue to reinforce where they sew.  They use different weights of tissue paper, each costing approximately 6-7 pound per sheet.

Then we went to the Finishing Department, where two more guides told us about the process for gold finishing on leather or cloth bindings.  We got to see the tools involved, hear about the steps necessary, and even touch some gold leaf, ourselves.  Gold finishing is a very precise process, and there are very few people on staff who have reached expert-level.

I have the "golden touch"

*   *   *

Tonight, we headed to the Warner Brothers Studio Harry Potter Tour, which was A-Mazing!  Here are pictures from the tour:

Chess Pieces

Flying Ford Anglia

Harry's Cupboard Under the Stairs

Dining Hall Table (Looks just like Christ Church College)

Hagrid, Filch, and the House Points

The Proclamations from Umbridge's Era

Gryffindor Boys' Common Room

Mirror of Erised

Invisibility Cloak

Entrance to Dumbledore's Office


Potions Classroom, Complete with a Self-stirring Pot and Snape


Dumbledore's Office

Sword of Gryffindor

Hagrid's Hut and Fang

Magicked Knitting Needles at the Burrow

Ministry of Magic Statue

Ministry of Magic

Ministry of Magic--Floo Network

Daily Prophet

Black Family Tapestry

Knight Bus

Sirius/Hagrid's Motorcycle with Sidecar

Ford Anglia

Dursley Residence

Tom Riddle's Grave
Buckbeak the Hippogriff
The Potters' House
Covered Bridge at Hogwarts

Diagon Alley
Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes Puking Pastilles Display

Hogwarts Model (1:24 scale)

Hogwarts Model