Category Archives: London

Brother of the More Famous Jan

One of the treasures of the Fairhaven Bequest at the Fitzwilliam Museum is the series of twelve flower paintings, one for each month of the year, by van Huysum. Until a few days ago, I had assumed that the artist … Continue reading

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Two Graven Stones

I had a Grand Day Out in London this week, not the least of its grandeur being my success in walking from Pimlico (where the plane trees have suffered remarkable pruning) to the Garden Museum at Lambeth, then back past … Continue reading

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The Duke of Argyll’s Tea Tree

In a recent stroll around the Systematic Beds in the Botanic Gardens, I was intrigued to spot this label:

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Mr Kick and Mr Frankcom

Mary Capel (1630–1715, also spelled Capell), was the daughter of Arthur Capel, first Baron Capel of Hadham, Herts. (1604–49). He was already, by inheritance, a very rich man, but by his marriage in 1627 to Elizabeth Morrison, heiress of Cassiobury, … Continue reading

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St Jerome

One of the Christmas gifts which I most appreciate every year is a diary from the National Gallery, donated by family members who understand that, as senility advances, I really do need to write down what (if anything) I have … Continue reading

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Virtual Knowledge

Now that The End may be in sight (touching wood, not counting my chickens, not jinxing it by booking holidays, etc. etc.), I’ve been pondering what, if anything, about life in lockdown I might actually miss. It is of course … Continue reading

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A Lost Museum

I have just come across the Leverian Museum, which sadly was broken up, after about thirty years, in 1806. Sir Ashton Lever, its founder, was born in 1729 at Alkrington Hall, then near, now in, Manchester. His father, Sir James … Continue reading

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Anna Maria Garthwaite

It is a well-known fact that the Spitalfields district of London was, during the eighteenth century, entirely populated by French Huguenot refugees, all busy weaving away in their loft workshops, producing gorgeous silks for worldwide trade, and breeding auriculas and … Continue reading

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Plant of the Month: August 2020

The name ‘acanthus’ was taken by Linnaeus from the Greek ἄκανθος, used by Aristotle among others to mean a prickly Mediterranean plant (today A. mollis), imitated in the Corinthian columns of Greek architecture; the related ἄκανθα means ‘thistle’. The family … Continue reading

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The Unhappy Countess

I was lured into reading about the melodramatic and unhappy life of Mary Eleanor Bowes (1749–1800), by the National Trust, who said, on its website on Gibside, one of her many homes, that she was a botanist. Further investigation revealed … Continue reading

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