As the final part of the redecoration of the Reference section at Kensington Central Library a quartet of large prints of images from the Local Studies collection have been put up in the IT section of Reference (East Wing). They were chosen by staff from Reference and Local Studies to represent the historical heritage of the area around Kensington High Street, the former Kensington Turnpike around which the old Borough of Kensington grew.
On either side of the window are the two great houses of Kensington. Kensington Palace was built in 1610 but has been much altered since William and Mary adopted it as their winter palace in 1689. This engraving from 1730 shows it as the home of George II, the last reigning monarch to live there. (His grandson George III moved to Buckingham Palace).
On the other side of the window is Holland House.
Holland House, once the centre of an estate of two hundred acres, was built for Sir Walter Cope but took its name from the first Earl of Holland who married Cope’s daughter. At the time of this picture (about 1769) it was the home of the politician Henry Fox, Baron Holland. It suffered considerable damage during the Second World War but parts of it have now been incorporated into buildings in the modern Holland park.
On the right hand wall is a view of St Mary Abbots Church.
This is not of course the St Mary Abbots we know today with its high spire. That was built in 1869 to replace the building shown here.
This St Mary Abbots was built in 1772, replacing a building of 1683 which was itself a rebuilt medieval church. Kensington has been a parish since the 13th century.
The final image is a tower which you can still see today.
The Queen’s Tower was once part of the Imperial Institute, one of the buildings which formed part of Albertopolis, the complex of museums and educational institutions which was the brainchild of Prince Albert. It was his son, the future Edward VII, who pushed for the creation of the Imperial Institute. It was completed in 1893. For a view of the interior see my blog post at :
Despite its ambitious intentions the Institute struggled to find a role for itself and was demolished in 1965. The Queen’s Tower remains though as a reminder of the splendour of the Imperial Institute.
When you’re sitting in the new IT area we hope you enjoy these views of Kensington before the age of information.
Working at Chelsea Library, with unlimited access to the Costume Collection, my interest in fashion has been revitalised. With the final days of my National Art Pass discount to be used, I went along to the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey Street, SE1. If you’ve not been – here’s a great description of the museum taken from their website:
The Fashion and Textile Museum is a cutting edge centre for contemporary fashion, textiles and jewellery in London. Founded by iconic British designer Zandra Rhodes, the centre showcases a programme of changing exhibitions exploring elements of fashion, textile and jewellery as well as the Academy which runs courses for creative students and businesses.
This pink chiffon and pearl dress with a zig zag hem was worn in Japan and was sold at a sale of Princess Diana’s garments at Chrisities.
Years earlier I attended a talk at the Commonwealth Institute given by Zandra Rhodes and I was interested to find out more. Back at Chelsea Reference Library I trawled through the back issues of Vogue and Harpers. I even put together a display in Chelsea Gallery (part of Chelsea Reference Library) of the materials I found to write this post.
There’s some great information about Zandra Rhodes on Voguepedia:
When she realized her prints were too bold and boisterous for other designers, Rhodes began crafting clothing, as well. Still, she never lost sight of the methodical approach that she learned in textiles. For early collections, she visited the Victoria and Albert Museum and studied ethnic costume in the field. With a scholarly eye, she filled her sketchbook with drawings of Maasai warriors in Kenya, cacti from the Mojave Desert, Australian rock formations, and even celestial bodies that she discovered at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. For her book The Art of Zandra Rhodes, she wanted her garments displayed flat, like mounted butterflies, rather than worn by models. That way, their extraordinary patterns were revealed.
Zandra, Queen of the Desert
Be inspired by the art of seventies icon Zandra Rhodes. The pink lady’s fantasy fashion delivered a fix of culture clash glamour that lives on and on: graphic textiles, bold prints and swathes of diaphanous chiffon.
This silk devore dress was from the same shoot – worn with a Philip Treacy Couture hat and leather, feather, sand shells and beaded necklaces by Erickson Bearmon.
How to do….Zandra Rhodes
The same issue of Harpers and Queen has a very handy guide on how to dress in the Zandra Rhodes style or as Harpers and Queen describe it:
The original – and still the best for jet-set chiffon and inspirational prints.
This silk chiffon dress is by Salvatore Ferragamo and it’s worn with lace leggings by Zandra Rhodes – you don’t have to dress head to toe to get the Zandra Rhodes look.
Attention! Diversion! Zigzag Rhodes!
Over to Vogue now…..
These pictures were taken from the article about Zandra Rhodes’ home:
Powerful patterns and coloured cover Zandra Rhodes house and her person, all is idiosyncratic, instantly recognisable decoration…The house, salmon pink outside, has mottled marbled sea-pinks and blues inside, a Martin Sharp mural up the stairwell meeting painted columns, urns, banked plastic flowers on the landing, with scarlet pleated bath alcove and Zandra in the tub.
Vogue’s own motor show
Here’s Jerry Hall in a Zandra Rhodes satin sarong – with a Rover to match!
Frilled sarong of pleated satin in whipped cream print, tendrils of rouleaux and gilded cords keeping body and soul together.
West Coast style
With more time, I’m sure I would find a lot more – I feel as if I am just scratching the surface. I really enjoyed researching this subject – so if you feel inspired come and take a look at our Costume Collection at Chelsea Reference Library.
Debby Wale, Triborough Reference Librarian
Chelsea Reference Library
‘The Art of Zandra Rhodes’ by Anne Knight is available to view in the Costume Collection – it documents her designs inspired by Africa, China and India
Vogue and Harpers and Queens – back copies of these magazines can be viewed in the Costume Collection too
Berg Fashion Library has more information about Zandra Rhodes – you’ll need a Kensington and Chelsea library card to access this amazing online fashion resource
Kensington and Chelsea libraries and Historic Royal Palaces recently joined together to run a creative writing course.
The Tri-Borough Stock Team and Kensington Palace ran fortnightly sessions led by author, Tamara Pollock. These sessions were aimed at beginners who wished to develop their writing talent and create original stories inspired by characters and tales from the history of Kensington Palace. At the end of the course 13 participants submitted stories which were collected together and published in an anthology entitled ‘Stories From Kensington Palace’.
On Thursday 23 May the writers came together to celebrate the publication of the anthology at a launch event held at Kensington Central Library. The boxes of the newly printed and just delivered books were opened and the authors saw their work in print for the very first time.
A number of extracts were read out by the authors themselves and ideas for new stories and similar course and events were discussed. Watch this space!
The anthology is available for loan from all Kensington and Chelsea libraries.
Tri-Borough Stock Librarian
The launch made the front page of the Kensington and Chelsea Chronicle on Friday 31 May 2013. The article isn’t on their website but there’s information on the Kensington and Chelsea Chronicle website regarding where to collect a copy.
Welcome to our May 2013 blog post. We’ve lots of events happening at Kensington Central Library in next few months for adults and children – check out our events page for full details.
This week is Adult Learners’ Week so if you fancy trying a new skill such as creative writing or hand sewing – take a look at our taster sessions happening in Kensington Central Library. And there’s more information about this festival of learning on the Adult Learners’ Week website.
Fit to Rule – How Royal Illness Changed History
This month we have a special display of books to support the recent BBC TV series, ‘Fit to Rule: How Royal Illness Changed History’. This series was by Dr Lucy Worsley, Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces.
In the series, Lucy Worsley argued that the success of kings and queens was dictated less by their strengths, than by their weaknesses.
You can use this collection to make up your own minds, not only by reading the biographies of a range of monarchs, but also by comparing how they handled their illnesses with contemporary books on the same topics.
Did you know?
William III suffered from asthma – he bought Nottingham House in the village of Kensington so that he had a residence close to London which was surrounded by fields and so had clean, fresh air – this house would eventually become Kensington Palace.
George II suffered a heart attack – whilst having a hot chocolate as he sat on the toilet in Kensington Palace!
For more facts like this – come and see our special display.
There’s a more information about the series on the BBC website.
Pirates story and craft session
Ahoy, me hearties! This month’s story and crafts session was all about pirates! Aaaarrrrgggghhhh!
We started off a lot fuller then before, with growing levels of kids and parents, after a lovely read by Gemma of “My Gran is a Pirate” by Val McDermid, we continued by making pirate hats.
Was all the mess at the end worth it? Yes! Both the kids and parents as well as myself and Gemma had a great laugh with the whole crafts section. An all round great session, with lots of smiling faces, laughter and pirate lingo!! Aaaarrrrgggghhhh me matey.
We thought we’d use the picture of Kensington Central Library in the snow again as it was snowing a little last week- really it was an excuse to use this picture again!
Have you heard about the Six Book Challenge? This is taking place in all six of our libraries and is aimed at anyone who wishing to improve their reading or would like to read more. There’s more information about the challenge on The Reading Agency’s website.
If you’d like to take part you can register at any of our libraries in Kensington and Chelsea. You complete six reads and record your reading in a diary which we provide. There are incentives along the way to encourage you to keep reading, after two reads a free CD loan and three reads a free DVD loan. If you complete by 28 June 2013 you can enter the national prize draw for a trip to London with a friend to see a show and £150 spending money. We also have a local draw for completers at the end of the summer for two Sony e-readers.
Lots of exciting things have been happening here since the last time we blogged so I’ll hand over to some of the staff here to tell you more.
A magical storytime
On Monday 28 January, a magical storytime happened here with storyteller, Helen East. She guided parents and children alike though a fairy tale of Queen Mary II’s desire of a little a girl to love.
Through the use of excellent props and music Helen engaged the children’s imagination and provided a unique hands-on storytelling experience.
Following on from the theme of the story was a craft session making happy Queen Mary II finger puppets, with fabric feathers and felts, which the children could take home to act out their own stories.
This session was arranged with staff from Kensington Palace, Natalie Cain and Joy Drury to celebrate National Storytelling Week- there’s more information about this week on the Society for Storytelling’s website. Many thanks to them for doing this and for taking the amazing photos!
Senior Customer Services Assistant
On the 31 January we had acclaimed author, Keith Lowe giving a very informative talk here around his latest novel Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II.
He showed some slides to illustrate some of the key moments in his book – such as the rampant chaos that ensued between the Second World War ending and the beginning of the Cold War. There was time after the talk for questions and the audience took the opportunity to ask questions about the war crimes trials and how the Cold War played a part in bringing these trials to an end.
To find out more, why not borrow a copy of Keith’s book from one of our libraries? There’s also more information on Keith Lowe’s website.
And if you’d like to attend any of events- just take a look at our what’s on page to see what’s coming up. We have events with Neil Mckenna and Jessica Fellowes coming up soon- get a ticket soon!
Senior Customer Services Assistant
National Libraries Day
Saturday 9 February was National Libraries Day and to celebrate we had a special children’s story and craft event based on Chinese New Year.
Since we were saying hello to the Year of the Snake we made fun spirally snakes! The children had great fun decorating their snakes with glitter, sequins, stickers and googly eyes!
We gathered a collection of stories with snakes in and Bochra (who’s doing work experience with us at the moment) read a few of these to the children. The children really enjoyed looking at the pictures in these books which inspired them when they were making their spirally snakes.
Welcome to the latest edition of our blog. We have been exceptionally busy since the start of the year with a range of events and activities that appeal to all ages across the community and a constant influx of new members and regulars making our library a popular hub of learning and enjoyment for the community.
A special storytime
The week of 28 January to 2 February was National Storytelling Week (more information is available from the Society for Storytelling’s website) and to celebrate that Kensington Palace have been telling stories and giving craft sessions at some of our libraries throughout the week. Parents and children who came to any of those sessions were rewarded at Kensington Palace with a special performance of all the stories on the Saturday and reduced price entrance to the palace itself. This was all possible due to the partnership we have built up with our Outreach & Community Involvement colleagues at the palace over the last two years.
At Brompton Library we had a full house, our best turnout ever for a storytime, and that was before a local nursery turned up with 16 children!
Helen, the storyteller, managed not to tread on anyone while keeping the kids and adults enthralled with the help of glove and finger puppets, an African drum and some strangely coloured eggs! We’d all love to have Helen back for another special storytime. And after the story came the craft!
With a little help from their parents and carers the children then made their own finger puppets from press-out templates supplied by the palace and showed a concentration and attention span never before seen (not by me, anyway!)
Brompton Library’s Saturday Storyland sessions have an increasing number of dads bringing and participating with their children. We started Saturday Storyland on 27 October and ten children and eight adults attended that very first session. Three of the adults were dads. More and more dads are coming along now and it’s great to see them engaging with their children.
National Libraries Day
So far February has been really busy with events for adults and children. On National Libraries Day we launched our new monthly craft session (11am every first Saturday of the month following on from Saturday Storyland) and as it was the Chinese New Year we had a story about the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac and worked out which animal was the year we were born. We celebrated the Year of the Snake and the kids loved making Chinese lanterns with crepe paper and brilliant, curly snakes. We also coloured in Chinese New Year snake pictures.
We are already looking forward to next month’s craft event!
Later the same day we had a visit from the “Orbirailists” – Hilary Chittenden and Victoria Foster (from Celebrate My Library) spent National Libraries Day visiting ten libraries all accessible on the new London Overground orbital train line! We were glad they made it to Brompton Library as we were the last port of call but Senior Customer Services Assistant, Katie and myself made them very welcome and they even mentioned us on Twitter! They tweeted the picture below to their followers.
Senior Customer Services Assistant
Babita, another of our Senior Customer Service Assistants led her February Chatterbooks group on 11 February and, as ever, found some innovative things for them to do to illustrate their enthusiasm for the books they’ve read.
Chatterbooks is a huge success with the children in Brompton library; always buzzing with creative children wanting to share their ideas. This reading club encourages them to read books, write reviews, recommend the books to each other and on top of everything chatting a lot (ha ha ha!). Most of the time the children themselves select a theme for their next meeting. This month the group decided to write about favourite books, authors and characters on paper leaves and stuck them on a paper tree. They were so enthusiastic that they drew pictures of their favourite characters as well. Then they displayed it on the Chatterbooks wall in the children’s library.
In our next Chatterbooks session which is on Monday 11 March the children will be bringing one friend along. We love Chatterbooks as much as the children do and it’s great for them and other customers to see their creativity displayed in the library! (We have Chatterbooks in some of other libraries- more informaion is available on our website)
Senior Customer Services Assistant
Authors We Love: Ursula Le Guin
Last week, my husband and I were discussing audio books choices as he is taking his nephew on a long road-trip oop north. Aside from my nominations of Riordan, Morpugo and Horowitz, one author who my husband was keen to introduce to him was one from his own childhood: Ursula Le Guin, and her rather enjoyable Earthsea collection of fantasy books.
Son of a prominent anthropologist, Le Guin and her brother discovered sci-fi at the age of 11 which they both considered rather corny. It was when she was in her thirties that she came under its spell and led her to create the world of Earthsea, which begins with A Wizard of Earthsea, a motherless child who finds that he has magical powers. To my mind, it is a better imagined world than Harry Potter and a beautiful canon of work.
It was probably her interests in Greek mythology and folklore that Le Guin wrote (much later) Lavinia, a barely written character in Vergil’s Aeneid which came out as her recent adult novel. Le Guin is able to revive a real breadth of life and character into Lavinia and recreates a world in which she exists that is well drawn.
So these are just two examples of why Ursula Le Guin is a great writer and an underrated one: for half a century she has been prolific in adult and children’s fiction, short-stories, essays and poems. To me she is up there with the likes of Margaret Atwood and Donna Tartt – female authors who are able to devise dark and powerful story-telling and who push the boundaries of creativity.
We have plenty of Ursula Le Guin books in our libraries including the Earthsea series, so come and check them out!
This is a guest blog post from Sutherland Forsyth from Kensington Palace. We regularly work with staff from the palace on events for adults and children in our libraries.
To celebrate Valentine’s Day Sutherland tells us about one of the greatest love stories in history.
‘My dearest Albert put on my stockings for me. I went in and saw him shave; a great delight for me.’
Queen Victoria, 13 February 1840
Oooh-er – that’s a bit racy! A gentleman running his hand up a lady’s leg, her sneaking in to watch him as he gets ready….can this really be the prim, proper, grand old Queen Victoria – dressed in black with a scowl on her face – with whom we are all so familiar?
The answer is a resounding ‘yes’.
Queen Victoria was always a woman of passion: strong-willed and spirited as a girl, confident in her role as monarch, and loving as a wife to her husband Albert. The relationship between Victoria and Albert was one of history’s great love stories, and it started on the Stone Staircase at Kensington Palace on 18 May, 1836 when her cousin Albert arrived to visit her and her mother. She felt an instant attraction to him, and over the next few years they corresponded regularly.
After marrying in 1840, Victoria and Albert went on to have nine children, 39 grandchildren and over 1,000 other descendants. There was deep affection as well as mutual respect between this royal couple, and when Albert died at the age of 42 from typhoid fever in 1861, it left Victoria devastated, plunging her into a state of mourning which would last until her dying day, over four decades later.
People remain fascinated by Victoria and Albert’s love affair. When I speak to community groups, run projects with them or take them to Kensington Palace as part of my job as an Outreach & Community Involvement Officer at Historic Royal Palaces (the charity which looks after the public side of the palace), it is striking how some of the small details of their story really strike a chord. There may be well over a hundred years separating us from them, but the emotion of their story still resonates today.
Sutherland Forsyth is the Outreach & Community Involvement Officer for Adults at Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity which cares for the State Apartments at Kensington Palace
If you want to find out more about Victoria’s life you can visit Kensington Palace and see her story told in her own words and through objects which once belonged to her – from her wedding dress to her stockings, her paint set to her jewellery in the Victoria Revealed exhibition.
We’re starting to feel Christmassy at Kensington Central Library- hence the picture of the library in the snow!
The decorations are up in the library and we have Christmas books on display in the adult and children’s library. Pop in to take a look- they may help if you’re lacking in inspiration!
We’ve also had some Christmas events with the help of the fantastic staff from Kensington Palace.
On Saturday 10 December there was a Christmas event for our readers at Kensington Palace in Queen Victoria’s bedroom! Everyone had an excellent time listening to some classic Christmas poems and readings whilst munching on mince pies and Christmas cake.
On Monday 10 December the palace came to our children’s library to make Victorian Christmas cards and decorations. 25 children came along and had a fantastic time with ribbons, lace and Victorian pictures!
We thought for this month’s blog post we’d introduce you to some more of the staff at Kensington Central Library and what they do. Before I hand over to them let me wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from everyone at Kensington Central Library!
Jodie Green, Lending Librarian
All Change at Kensington Central Library
The recent re-opening of our children’s library now means that our customers, young and old, are now able to fully utilise the lending library once more.
Self service equipment has been installed across all service areas bringing us into line with all other Kensington and Chelsea libraries and it has proved a hit with the public, even self-confessed technophobes are being won round to the convenience of being able to issue and return books themselves.
The layout of the library is the most striking difference when you consider the ‘then’ and ‘now’ of the work that has gone into the refurbishment. Gone is the monolithic issue and return counter and the confusing maze of entrance and exit gates, instead Self service kiosks and a book sorter for returns are directly accessible as soon as you enter the library, flanked by attractive shelving for our new book stock as well as current displays.
Further in you can see the result of the restoration of the listed wooden shelving and pillars which literally gleam as a result of a bit much needed bit of TLC. Newer shelving snake along the middle of the library floor replacing the older, taller, metal stands used previously for our CD’s and DVD’s.
And, arguably, our pièce de résistance is the new Children’s and Young Persons space which looks so impressive! It truly is a more welcoming and brighter space for young kids and teens to enjoy.
So please pass it on, we are well and truly open for business.
Mike Green, Senior Customer Services Assistant
Our Young Readers Recommend….
We have some keen young readers returning a much enjoyed book, are invited to share their choice with others by filling in a short review. The book is then displayed with their review recommending it. These recommened reads are very popular- they fly off the display!
If you’re a teen and you’ve read a fantastic book (or you know a teen who has) then pop in and complete a card!
Penny Girling, Customer Services Assistant
The Biography Collection
As we’ve written about in a previous post, we’ve got an amazing collection of biography books at Kensington Central Library. One of our Customer Services Assistant, Lynn Terrell tells us why she enjoys working with these books:
I love working in the biography collection. There are such a lot of books, and such a variety. My own favourites are the books written by ordinary people – not politicians or celebrities, but stories about what it was like to grow up in a village during the Great War, or how it felt to have a grandmother who didn’t believe in self-indulgence (Grandma Called it Carnal by Bertha Damon).
Part of my job includes creating displays of books from the collection, so that the public have a chance to see some of what we’ve got. Sometimes I tie this in with other things that are going on, for example, in October, we had Black History Month, and at the moment we’ve got American Presidents, following the recent election. I try to change the display about once a month, and Childhood Reminiscences will be coming up in March. (Hollywood stars in January, and great lovers and love letters in February.) It will be interesting to see if others share my enthusiasm for these slightly more obscure but fascinating books.
Because a lot of the books are quite old, and difficult to replace, I have to try to make sure that they are kept in good condition, and sometimes that includes minor repairs. (Photographs in particular have a tendency to fall out, and need to be stuck back in.) Also, it’s very important that they are all labelled correctly, or they’d end up in the wrong place, and nobody would be able to find them. Everything that gets put in the biography collection has to be relabelled first, and that’s my job too.