Welcome to our new blog, where we hope to entertain and inform you about everything to do with Kensington and Chelsea’s libraries! Sign up for posts about fun things that that we do, events that we’ve organised, what our bookclubs think about their current read, and more. We’ll also be posting regularly about our special collections, so you can find out more about the treasures we have on our shelves…
Here at Festival HQ (my lair in the archives) we’re all engaged in frantic last minute activity preparing for the 7th annual London History Festival which starts on Monday 16th October. We have another line-up of eminent historians who will be covering wide range of historical eras.
On the 17th Mark Morris and Thomas Asbridge will be interviewed by Sophie Ambler about their latest books. It is of course 800 years since the signing of Magna Carta, a good time to look back at this crucial part of British history The next evening Jessie Child looks at security threats, repression and radicalisation – but not in the modern world but the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. The last event of the first week is also about security and intelligence – Max Hastings speaks about the secret war which went on behind the scenes in WW2.
In the second week we go back to Imperial Rome with Tom Holland who has written many books about the ancient world. Dynasty is about the early years of the Empire and the Emperors who ruled it. On the 24th November we return to the secret was with Sinclair McKay and David Boyle who will discuss Bletchley Park, its effects on the course of the war and the character of its most famous figure Alan Turing, the father of modern computing.
Finally Dan Jones and Helen Castor talk about a British dynasty – the Plantagenets and their struggle to take and retain power.
This year’s programme of author events is as good as any of the previous six programmes. If you’ve been before you know about the quality of the speakers and if you haven’t why not give one of the events a try? The Library service is committed to providing added value for regular users and visitors and what could be better than bringing together authors and readers for learning and entertainment.
The Tri-Borough Library Service of which Kensington and Chelsea is part has a million books in its stock available for users in three boroughs. For the Festival we are in partnership with Chalke Author, the freelance consultancy and publicity agency for authors, who provide the speakers, History Today, the best known British magazine devoted to history and Waterstones Kensington branch who will be selling signed copies of books by the speakers at all the events.
I’ve been associated with the London History Festival since it started. It’s always hard work and always fun (I tell myself afterwards.)
Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Local Studies Librarian
Lucy Yates, WW1 Centenary Project Support Officer, writes….
Do you know where shrapnel fell on Kensington during the First World War? That the Suffragettes started a nursery for WWI orphans near Notting Hill, or why Rodin gave eighteen of his sculptures to the V&A during the war?
You can find out all this and more by downloading the interactive scavenger hunt/ tour guide app ‘Huntzz’ on your smart device.
Designed in conjunction with local cadets, this interactive online walk (with ten clues for you to solve along the way) showcases the World War One history of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
The 236 cadets, pictured above with their leader, braved the late evening darkness to help map the World War One sites they’d researched so as to turn this information into a guided online walk of World War One heritage around the borough.
Andy Norton, North Kensington library, writes:
Last Friday we spent an afternoon at Portobello Road Market, celebrating 150 years of local markets and promoting our own markets-inspired writing competition (more on that, below).
Despite the cold, the market was bustling and many residents stopped by to look at our photos, which showed the market from its early days.
Portobello Road began life in the 1860s as a humble country lane where farmers sold produce to local people. In 1864 the area was transformed by the opening of the Metropolitan Railway Notting Hill station – now known as Ladbroke Grove Station.
During the 1920s and 30s, Portobello and Golborne Road Market further expanded with discharged soldiers and sailors, Spanish immigrants fleeing the civil war adding to the area’s diversity. By this time, second hand clothes, shoes and ornament stalls had joined the traditional fruit, vegetables, salad, meat, fish and flowers. After the Second World War, Portuguese people settled in the area, opening several specialist shops which are still trading in Golborne Road.
Antiques started to appear in the 1940s and 50s. Most antique stalls are open only on Saturday, which has always been the market’s busiest day.
The 1940s and 50s also saw the arrival of Caribbean immigrants who came in response to post-war labour shortages.
The market has also featured in films such as Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971), Notting Hill (1999), and Paddington Bear (2014), as well as many television programmes, popular songs and literary works. Each has sparked the curiosity of a new generation of visitors and traders. We are hoping residents will be similarly inspired and take part in our short story competition which offers the opportunity to become a published author.
Portobello and Golborne Market is so big, so diverse, and so fast-changing, that chances are – even if you’re a frequent visitor – there’ll be stalls you’ve never discovered; arcades, nooks and crannies that you’ve never explored.
150 Years of Portobello & Golborne Market Short Story Competition!
Join RBKC Libraries & Markets for a unique literary collaboration, inspired by the rich history of our local markets.
Your short story can be written against any setting and from any period, including modern day. The only necessary link is that your inspiration should come from your thoughts about Portobello or Golborne Market.
All winning entries will be published in an anthology that will be added to the library collection.
Deadline for submissions 30th June
To register your interest and for full Terms and Conditions please email email@example.com
Hello from us all at Kensington Central Library! We’ve certainly been enjoying the better weather (& we hope you all have too) – so our blog post this month certainly has a summery feel – from Wimbledon to summer reading.
Well done Andy Murray!
Well that was certainly an exciting Sunday afternoon! I did at times think that Andy was keeping it going so that I could get home in time for match point. Sadly I wasn’t but I’m not sure my nerves could have coped with the tension anyway so probably not a bad thing! Indeed, he managed to finish him off relatively quickly in the end and I was able to have my celebratory ice cream and watch his Centre Court celebrations!
After a long wait there is certainly an element of relief as well as cheer in my heart at Murray’s victory; it was certainly a while since a British player won the Men’s singles Wimbledon – although I suppose he did win last year as well – does Olympic gold count?
We must all have had a feeling that this was coming after that gold medal, last year’s final, the doubles victories of Jonny Marray (last year) and Jamie Murray in 2007 and all those years of Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski so nearly getting to the final! You can read the stories about these victories and Andy Murray’s in the newspaper articles within UKNewsstand – a fully searchable database of UK national and local newspapers.
So although we may’ve been provided some consolation by the doubles victories, it was really the singles where we wanted to be victorious; it was certainly a long time since anyone had been singles champion. Virginia Wade “fought for 16 years” to win her women’s singles title in 1977 and for a men’s winner you had to go even further back – to 1936 with Fred Perry winning his third title. Fred’s final was much easier than Andy’s as von Cramm injured himself in the first game of the match.
You can read about both of their victories and the reaction in the Times Digital Archive – this is an online, full-text facsimile of more than 200 years of The Times. Judging by the reaction to Fred’s win with his “murderous forehand” I don’t think they knew just how long we would have to wait until they could next celebrate such a victory at Wimbledon!
Fred was a very interesting chap as well. You only have to read his biography, did you know he had also been the world table tennis champion?! And it wasn’t just these competitions that he won – have a whiz through his fascinating life story in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography – this lists remarkable people in any walk of life who were connected with the British Isles, excluding living people.
Finally, as we look on into the future wondering whether Andy can compete with Fred’s records why not have a read of the Oxford University Press’ blog piece, ‘An Oxford Companion to Wimbledon’ (I especially like the ending) which perhaps expresses some of our pre-victory feelings.
Triborough Reference Librarian
The heat is on – so cool down with a book!
The hot weather has inspired us to have a look at some books about cooling down, such as a great book about ‘Wild Swimming’ by Daniel Start. And we have also been picking out some great stories to get stuck into on lazy summer days. Take a look at our selection at the Kensington Central Library.
The 19 to 28 July is London 60s Week – an annual festival celebrating the golden anniversary of the 60s. The festival celebrates the creative explosion from this period, and we have found lots of evidence of this creative talent in our books!
More information about this festival can be found on the London 60s Week website.
We’ve also got some summer reading displays in our children’s library – especially for this year’s Summer Reading Challenge! More information about the challenge and our special events during the school holidays can be found on our Summer Reading Challenge webpage.
Dave Walker, our Local Studies Librarian writes our weekly local studies blog, The Library Time Machine. We’re very lucky that he writes for us occasionally too! Over to Dave….
Following my recent post Rites of Spring: Mr Ruskin’s May Queen on the Library Time Machine blog, I was invited to visit the May Queen archive at Roehampton University. Whitelands College, a teacher training college was one of the first educational establishments for women and was started at Whitelands House in the King’s Road in the 1840s.
The art critic John Ruskin, together with the Principal of Whitelands College John Faunthorpe devised the idea for an annual May Queen festival at the College. The first May Queen Ellen I was elected by her fellow students in 1881 and there has been a May Queen or (from 1986 when King Gary was elected) a May King ever since. Whitelands College left Chelsea for a bigger building in Putney in 1930 and subsequently amalgamated with a number of other colleges to form the University of Roehampton. The Whitelands campus is now in a part Georgian part modern building originally called Manresa House which is an odd coincidence as the other Manresa in London is Manresa Road home of the first Chelsea Library.
We were taken by the Archivist, Gilly King to the secure archives room in the old part of the building. I was expecting to see photographs and college records preserved in archive boxes which we did find but I hadn’t anticipated what you can see below: two racks on which were hanging the dresses of the May Queens.
The dresses (and one May King’s suit on the left) in the pictures are for the living May Queens and Kings who can come back to the festival each year. The archive boxes contain the dresses of the dead queens packed away carefully as they will never be worn again although a few of them are on display in the College. There was also the one below.
This is the dress first worn in 1898 by Queen Ellen II which had been on display and was now waiting to go back in its box.
I was accompanied on the visit by an Australian archives student who was doing a placement with us. I thought it would be useful for her to see a small specialist archive as part of her programme but my main purpose in going was to see the scrapbooks of photographs which cover the history of the May Queen festival, especially the ones that cover the period when the College was in Chelsea. I’ve been trying to get an image of each May Queen and to identify the previous queens in the group photos like this one.
From the left: Mildred I (1904), Florence (1906), Elizabeth II (1892), Ellen I (1881), Agnes II (1909),Dorothy I (1908), Elsie II (1907) ,Evelyn (1905), Elizabeth I (1886)(I think),Muriel I (1903), Annie II (1895), Edith (1883)
The archive at Whitelands College is a fascinating and significant collection. It’s not open to the general public but the College does take part in the annual Open House event and there are also group tours.
On our way out we saw some more May Queen dresses on display.
These are the dresses of Elsie II who you can see in the group photos and Queen Edna (1924).
Here, in the May Queen corridor you can see Queen Thyra (1890) on the far right.
I managed to get a decent picture of Queen Elizabeth II (1892) who was also in the group photo as she was seventeen years before in the year when she was elected.
I took plenty of other pictures in the archives which will form part of an extensive file on this fascinating part of Chelsea’s history. The final picture is one for Shari to send home.
Local Studies Librarian
The Queen marks the 60th anniversary of her Coronation this month. Karen Ullersperger, Tri-Borough Reference Manager has taken a look at coronations using our varied collections.
On 2 June 1953 Queen Elizabeth ll was crowned in Westminster Abbey. The coronation is the greatest of royal ceremonies and to mark the 60th anniversary of this great occasion I will take a look at some of the customs and history behind the crowning of the monarch through the ages.
The origins of the coronation can be found in the pagan custom of installing their leader, usually warrior kings, by seating them upon a stone and investing them with symbols of their office for example a spear. With the arrival of Christianity this ceremony then acquired a religious element and kings were anointed and consecrated. In the ceremony the King binds himself on oath to serve the people and in return the people pledge their allegiance to the King.
The ceremony last seen in 1952 is very similar to coronation of King Edgar in 973. For which there is a written record. Early coronations were held at Kingston upon Thames and you can still see the stone on which the Anglo-Saxon kings were crowned.
Coronations were not always held at Westminster Abbey and have also taken place at Bath Abbey, Canterbury Cathedral, Oxford, Winchester Cathedral and St Paul’s Cathedral. It was only in the middle ages Westminster Abbey was granted the sole right to hold the ceremony and to date there have been 38 coronations there.
The ceremony in 1952 took 16 months preparation and looked spectacular on a cold, rainy June day even in black and white on the small televisions then in use. Yet our books on coronations and their customs give us an insight into even bigger events in the past.
In the thirteenth century it became the custom for the monarch to spend time before the coronation at the Tower of London and then formally process through the City to Westminster Hall. On the day itself a there was procession from the Hall to the Abbey and following the service the monarch returned to Westminster Hall for a lavish banquet. The procession was abandoned in 1685 and the banquet in 1821 as a cost saving measure, the pageant alone had cost a mere £243,000.
One custom which sadly no longer takes place is the arrival of the King’s Champion during the coronation banquet. Dressed in full armour with lance and shield and mounted on a horse – the champion threw down his gauntlet asking if anyone denied the rightful title of the King or Queen. As a reward for performing the service the champion got to keep the horse, trappings, armour and was given a gold cup filled with at least 36 ounces of gold.
We can see from this picture of the procession that there were minor roles including strewing fragrant herbs before the King on his way to the Abbey. This probably originated as an antidote to the plague. This picture show the last named herb woman, Miss Fellowes leading her ladies in 1821.
A few chosen facts about coronations
William the Conqueror was crowned on Christmas Day 1066 but during the ceremony the noise of from inside the Abbey alarmed the Norman guards outside who fearing a revolt began to massacre the local Saxon populace in the local area.
Henry lll was the first child to be crowned King at the age of 9 at Gloucester Cathedral in 1216. The ceremony could not take place at Westminster Abbey because London was occupied by the French who had invaded England. The regalia was still in London so Henry was crowned with his mother’s gold head circlet. He was crowned again in 1220 in a full ceremony at Westminster Abbey.
Henry Vl was even younger becoming King at the age of 8 months in 1422 but was not crowned until the age of eight in 1429. He remains the only King to also be crowned King of France, at Notre Dame Paris in 1431.
William lll and Mary ll had the first ever joint coronation in 1689. A duplicate coronation chair and regalia were made for Mary and William using the originals.
Two kings were never crowned, Edward Vlll who abdicated in 1936,and Edward V who went into the Tower prior to his coronation in 1483 and with his brother Richard, Duke of York was never seen again.
In 1821 George IV’s estranged wife Caroline of Brunswick arrived expecting to be crowned Queen but was refused admittance to the ceremony – she was turned away from every door.
Central to the crowning of the monarch is the regalia which has its own very colourful history. The most significant being the destruction of the original regalia following the execution of Charles l in 1649 on the orders of Oliver Cromwell. The gold and silver were melted down and the jewels were sold. At the restoration new regalia had to be made and this is what we are familiar with today which is on display at the Tower of London.
Karen Ullersperger, Tri-Borough Reference Manager
- You can find more information the lives of all our King and Queens in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, which is available online on the library website (you’ll need a Kensington and Chelsea library membership to access this database) or you can borrow a book from the special biography collection at Kensington Central Library.
- Books on the history and customs of the coronation through the ages be found in the Folklore and Customs collection in Kensington Central Reference Library
- More information on coronations can be found on the Westminster Abbey website.
Books that were used for this piece – all are available in the Folklore and Customs collection:
- Shramm, Percy Ernst, A History of the English Coronation, Oxford, (Clarendon Press) 1937
- Passingham, W. J, A History of the Coronation, London, (Samson Low Marston Ltd ) 1937
- Brooke-Little,John, Royal Ceremonies of State, London, (Country life, Hamlyn press) 1980
- Roe, F Gordon, Coronation Cavalcade, (P. R . Gawthorne) 1937
Kensington Mums Motherhood Exhibition
This is the second guest blog post that has been written by Dina from Kensington Mums – many thanks to her!
I am a contented Mummy of two healthy and vivacious kids and a Kensington lover. It all started when I had my first baby. It occurred to me that I was not the only one struggling with interrupted sleep, being on call 24/7 with no time off. Kensington Mums was created with the aim of sharing knowledge and experiences and helping my yummy Kensington Mums learn from one another. Since its launch, Kensington Mums has proved to be a vital support network for the community where Mums can connect, share parenting tips and capture all those invaluable word of mouth recommendations. Not even one year after its launch, I was truly honoured when Kensington Mums made it into the Top 100 winner of the 2012 Business Mum Award.
I run this group with pure passion and determination and honestly enjoy reaching out to Mums. I captured so many invaluable word of mouth recommendations from other mums that I would not be able to live without. After having my second baby, the idea of having a bigger network support came to mind and in a sense created a passion in me to help mums outside my group of friends. It occurred to me that mums really need a network support so that they won’t feel alone in a haze of milky delight during the first few months of being a mum. If you have family around you to help you then that is ideal but in a country where you don’t have family, your network of mummy friends become part of the family.
As a Mum myself, I can relate to the ups and downs of motherhood. To me motherhood is the most exhausting yet most rewarding job (I only wish we could get paid for being a full time mama!). So what better way to share the many different motherhood journeys than to exhibit them.
Kensington Mums Motherhood exhibition will showcase and support mums to develop and share their own motherhood stories using their own personal pictures which to them illustrate the definition of motherhood. I want Mums to celebrate Mother’s Day every day! This day should be celebrated because so many Mother’s work super hard all year round and rarely get the merit they deserve. Nurturing and celebrating ourselves is the first step towards nurturing and bringing joy to others. We are not just Mums; we are more than a Mum’.
The exhibition itself aims to engage a wide community of UK and international mums from diverse backgrounds and cultures. The legacy will be increased social awareness of mums’ creative role and value. The exhibition welcomes ALL Mums to take part in this honest exhibition whether they are grandparents, single mums, and teenage mums or widowed. This exhibition will be included for the touring exhibition and events programme: “Story of Mum: Mums making an exhibition of themselves” culminating in an exhibition at the Museum of Motherhood in New York.
This FREE event is taking place on the 7th of June 2013 at Beaufort House, Chelsea. There are still opportunities to take part – all you need to do is email firstname.lastname@example.org with subject heading ‘Participate in Kensington Mums Motherhood Exhibition’. You must attend one of the meet ups. Dates for meet ups are: 3 May 2013 10am-12pm, 8 May 2013 7-9pm, 10 May 2013 10am-12pm, 15 May 2013 7-9pm and 17th May 2013 10-12pm. You will be emailed the location.
To participate or attend on the 7th, email Dina at email@example.com to book your place.
I look forwards in seeing many of you there.
Let’s put the mmmm into motherhood!
More information about Kensington Mums
To be kept in the loop with the local scoop with the latest in children activities, playgroup and family outings, join Kensington Mums where you get free updates with what’s on for you and your little one(s). You are welcome to connect with other Mums to share your tips and recommendation and capture all those invaluable word of mouth recommendations.
It’s a fantastic support network! Kensington Mums also organises Mummy and baby outings as well as Mums Night out and pamper events! Visit www.kensingtonmums.co.uk You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter @KensingtonMums. Enjoy your time with your little ones, as they are only little for a short while!
Following immediately after Halloween and Bonfire night is another great spectacle that of the Lord Mayor’s Show.
Our collection of books on customs cover great ceremonial occasions and the Lord Mayor’s show is one of the best. It takes place annually on the second Saturday in November and this year it falls on 10th November – best of all its free!
The post of Lord Mayor of the City London dates back more than 700 years and it was in the reign of King John who needing the support of the city in 1215 against rebellious barons gave the citizens of London the right to elect their own Mayor.
As the choice of Mayor has to be approved by the monarchy, each year (he or she) proceeds through the city to swear and oath of loyalty at the Royal Courts of Justice.
Up until 1453 the procession went through the City of London and was a great public holiday. One of the highlights of the procession was a chariot containing the two fearsome giants, Gog and Magog, who normally lived at the Guildhall. They represent the ancient legend that London was founded in the year 1000 by Trojan invaders after they had been helped by the two giants. Apparently these were made of wickerwork and were frequently eaten by the rats in the city. Therefore in 1708 two wooden figure were carved which unfortunately were later destroyed in the Blitz – luckily another pair were made and can still be seen in the Guildhall.
After this date the Lord mayor travelled to Westminster by barge in a river pageant – similar to the one we saw this year for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Apparently some of barges were so big that in one report they could hold a dinner and dance for eighty people. There were musicians, flags and guns firing along the way and on some occasions there were boats with dragons casting fire over the water. Unfortunately the river pageant ceased in 1856 and it went back to the processional route along the streets.
The Lord Mayor now travels through the City from Mansion House the official residence of the Lord Mayor to the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand and returns in procession to Mansion House to hold a huge banquet. He travels in a richly decorated state coach. The coach was built in 1757 and cost the grand sum of £1065 0s 3d. It weighs over 3 tons and is 19.8 metres long (approx 65 feet).
The procession is held each year and there is great account in the Illustrated London News of 17th November 1883 describing all the floats. You can also find them on our online database Times Digital Archive which include such wonderful phrase as “the window of the houses were filled with persons mostly ladies of most respectable appearance” and in the procession an “ancient knight mounted on a charger armed cap a pie in suit of polishes tell armour and plumed”.
Some famous Lord Mayors include Richard (Dick) Whittington who really was Lord Mayor three times and which I have found out was worth the amazing sum of £7000 at his death in 1423. Sir William Walworth, was the Lord Mayor who killed Wat Tyler during the peasants revolt of 1381. One of the more inept Mayors was Sir Thomas Bludworth who famously underestimated the impact of a small fire in Pudding Lane in 1666, the result of which was the burning down of most of London, more famously known as the Great Fire.
- You can find out more about these characters in another of our online databases the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
- For more information on the upcoming Lord Mayor’s Show please vist the City of London, Lords Mayor’s Show website.
Bibliography for the above blog post, was done using the following references:
- Roud, Steve, London Lore the legend and traditions of the world’s most vibrant city , London, (Random House) 2008
- Brentnall, Margaret, Old customs and ceremonies of London, Norfolk, (B.T Batsford Ltd) 1975.
- Hayward Girtin, T, The Lord Mayor of London, London, (Oxford University press) 1948
Karen Ullersperger, Tri-Borough Reference Manager