Great Loves: Clementine and Winston

12/02/2012 § 1 Comment

In the month of February,
my mind always turns to great love stories…

Engagement photo of Winston Churchill and Clementine Hozier, 1908.

[12 August 1908]

Blenheim Palace

My dearest,

How are you? I send you my best love to salute you: & I am getting up at once in order if you like to walk to the rose garden after breakfast & pick a bunch before you start. You will have to leave here about 10:30 & I will come with you to Oxford.

Shall I not give you a letter for your Mother?



{Winston’s letter to Clementine the morning after she accepted his proposal.  He inquires if he should write a letter of engagement to present to her mother.}

(The morning after my engagement August 1908)

Blenheim Palace

My dearest

I am very well – Yes please give me a letter to take to Mother– I should love to go to the rose garden.

Yours always

During their 56 year marriage, Clementine and Winston wrote frequently to each other when they were apart — and even when they were home together — usually calling each other by pet names and including drawings.
He was her “pug,” she was his “cat”

15 September 1909 Kronprinz Hotel


My darling, We have been out all day watching these great manoeuvres. . . .

I have a very nice horse from the Emperor’s stable, & am able to ride about wherever I chose with a suitable retinue. As I am supposed to be an ‘Excellency’ I get a vy good place. Freddie on the other hand is ill-used. These people are so amazingly routinière that anything the least out of the ordinary – anything they have not considered officially & for months–upsets them dreadfully….I saw the Emperor today & had a few mintues’ talk with him. He is vy sallow–but otherwise looks quite well. . . . .

We have had a banquet tonight at the Bavarian palace. A crowd of princes & princelets & the foreign officers of various countries. It began at 6 p.m. & was extremely dull. . . .

This army is a terrible engine. It marches sometimes 35 miles in a day. It is in number as the sands of the sea–& with all the modern conveniences. There is a complete divorce between the two sides of German life–the Imperialists & Socialist. Nothing unites them. They are two different nations. With us there are so many shades. Here it is all black & white (the Prussian colours). I think another 50 years will see a wiser & gentler world. But we shall not be spectators of it. Only the P.K. will glitter in a happier scene. How easily men could make things much better than they are–if only all tried together! Much as was attracts me & fascinates my mind with its tremendous situation–I feel more deeply every year–& can measure the feeling here in the midst of arms–what vile & wicked folly & barbarism it all is.

Sweet cat–I kiss your vision as it rises before my mind. Your dear heart throbs often in my own. God bless you darling keep you safe & sound.

Kiss the P.K. for me all over

With fondest love



This is the galloping pug–for European travel.

{P.K. meant “puppy kitten” — their first child}

Your loving Puss Cat.

This is the cat…not so good as your dog, but her eyes are flashing so that she is obliged to turn her back.


Images via Life Archives, Library of Congress.  Letters via Daily Mail, Library of Congress.

More great love stories:

Kate and Spencer
Joanne and Paul
Elizabeth and Richard
Marilyn and Joe
Bacall and Bogart

Coming Attraction: W.E.

05/01/2012 § 1 Comment

Very excited the release of W.E. is fast approaching.  Financed, directed and co-written by Madonna, the film is primarily about the Wallis Simpson, the American divorcee for whom King Edward VIII abdicated the British throne in 1936.  Ardently loved by Edward, yet fiercely hated by many (and a suspected Nazi sympathizer to boot), Wallis has long been an intriguing character to me.  Scandal, indulgence, fashion, luxury and passion.  The makings of a great story.  I’ve also been hearing wonderful things about Andrea Riseborough as Wallis and I look forward to her performance.

  I’ve never known one person so utterly possessed by another, as he was by her.

W.E. opens February 3, 2012.

Image via Life.

An Impossibility

05/01/2012 § Leave a comment

“At long last I am able to say a few words of my own. I have never wanted to withhold anything, but until now it has not been constitutionally possible for me to speak.

A few hours ago I discharged my last duty as King and Emperor, and now that I have been succeeded by my brother, the Duke of York, my first words must be to declare my allegiance to him. This I do with all my heart.

You all know the reasons which have impelled me to renounce the throne. But I want you to understand that in making up my mind I did not forget the country or the empire, which, as Prince of Wales and lately as King, I have for twenty-five years tried to serve.

But you must believe me when I tell you that I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as King as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love.

And I want you to know that the decision I have made has been mine and mine alone. This was a thing I had to judge entirely for myself. The other person most nearly concerned has tried up to the last to persuade me to take a different course.

I have made this, the most serious decision of my life, only upon the single thought of what would, in the end, be best for all.

This decision has been made less difficult to me by the sure knowledge that my brother, with his long training in the public affairs of this country and with his fine qualities, will be able to take my place forthwith without interruption or injury to the life and progress of the empire. And he has one matchless blessing, enjoyed by so many of you, and not bestowed on me — a happy home with his wife and children.

During these hard days I have been comforted by her majesty my mother and by my family. The ministers of the crown, and in particular, Mr. Baldwin, the Prime Minister, have always treated me with full consideration. There has never been any constitutional difference between me and them, and between me and Parliament. Bred in the constitutional tradition by my father, I should never have allowed any such issue to arise.

Ever since I was Prince of Wales, and later on when I occupied the throne, I have been treated with the greatest kindness by all classes of the people wherever I have lived or journeyed throughout the empire. For that I am very grateful.

I now quit altogether public affairs and I lay down my burden. It may be some time before I return to my native land, but I shall always follow the fortunes of the British race and empire with profound interest, and if at any time in the future I can be found of service to his majesty in a private station, I shall not fail.

And now, we all have a new King. I wish him and you, his people, happiness and prosperity with all my heart. God bless you all! God save the King!”

Edward VIII – December 11, 1936

Let Them Eat Cake

05/01/2012 § 2 Comments

Found at Vintage Seekers: a small box containing a piece of cake from the royal wedding of Wallis and Edward Windsor on June 3rd, 1937 at the Chateau de Candé in Touraine, France.  Only £1,500.00.  Available here, if you were so inclined.

Recreating an Icon: Costuming W.E.

05/01/2012 § 2 Comments

“I’m not a beautiful woman. I’m nothing to look at,
so the only thing I can do is dress better than anyone else.”
Wallis Simpson, Duchess of York

James D’Arcy and Andrea Riseborough as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor,
wearing costumes from the film W.E. by Arianne Phillips,
photographed by Tom Munro for Vanity Fair.

[W.E. costume designer Arianne] Phillips’s business was to discover the precise detail of Simpson’s fashion aesthetic. She started at New York’s Metropolitan Museum, Paris’s Musée de la Mode et du Textile and London’s Victora & Albert Museum – the three great repositories of Simpson’s attire. In the film, Riseborough has around 60 costume changes, including three wedding dresses. Most famous was the pale, “Wallis”-blue Mainbocher dress, in which she wed the Duke of Windsor in 1937. The original is in the Met but, said Phillips, has not lasted well: “We were lucky enough to see it, but, unfortunately, the colour has faded into a dingy bluey-green.” So the dress Riseborough wears is a replica hired from Cosprop, a London-based costumery. The other 59 outfits, however, were not so simple: “She was a client of haute couture in Paris in its heyday, the Thirties” said Phillips: “so I had to figure out how I was going to recreate it. The problem was my whole budget could have gone on making one dress.”

So Phillips hustled, using her fashion-world contacts. The Duchess was a client of Madeleine Vionnet – “who has been cited as the mother of couture” – and a rifle through the company’s archives, held in the Louvre, revealed precise details of what Simpson had bought and when. Phillips took her findings to Vionnet’s owners, and – hey presto – they agreed to make four new couture dresses for the film. Perhaps the most beautiful is the sparkly silver dress used in a scene where Edward and Wallace host a benzedrine-enlivened cocktail party. “I wanted something twinkly for that scene, for all the intoxication and jazz. I’d seen the original in the Louvre and fallen in love with it.”

Wallis Simpson was also one of the first clients of Christian Dior, and the house remade three dresses for Andrea Riseborough based on Simpson’s originals. And in the very last scene – set in the Seventies – Riseborough wears Dior from a recent collection designed by John Galliano. Other companies persuaded by Phillips to pitch in include Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Roger Vivier and Dunhill. The hats were by Stephen Jones and recreations of outfits by another designer beloved of the Duchess, Schiaperelli, were made by Phillips and her team. Incorporating so many fashion collaborations into the costumes for a single film is, admits Phillips, unusual. Yet, it was by far the best way to recreate the world of a woman whose appetite for luxury was so very voracious.

From Inside Wallis Simpson’s Wardrobe by Luke Leitch for

“Wallis and the Duke both made a lifestyle out of presentation. . . . It was a beautiful façade,” says Phillips. “He said that because she never got a title he gave her jewelry to make her feel royal.”

From Windsor Dressing by Krista Smith for Vanity Fair.

All images via Vanity Fair.

Real Property Lust: The London Apartment of Broosk Saib

04/01/2012 § 2 Comments

London-based interior designer Broosk Saib may originally hail from Baghdad, but his style is quintessentially British, with a bit of an irreverent twist.  At once masculine and luxurious, Saib’s apartment immediately gives me the impression of a well-travelled and good-humored gentleman who I earnestly hope will allow me to move in…and give me an invite to his next dinner party:

But it’s at night that the rooms truly come to life. Sometimes the entry hall’s hanging light fixture is taken down and the peripatetic table is moved to make way for as many as 70 guests; the walls of the drawing room reflect the warm, clubby glow given off by lamps with red-silk shades. An exotic Vietnamese incense fills the rooms, while the aroma of roast lamb escapes from the kitchen. “I love to entertain at home,” says Saib, “to cook and feed my friends. My doors are always open.” (via Elle Decor)

I especially love the Union Jack upholstered chairs and this gorgeous entry way shown below.  I like how Saib manages to accent what is obviously an amazing collection without turning his apartment into some kind of jumbled antiques roadshow nick-knackery.  The restraint really allows the pieces he has chosen to shine.

All images via Elle Decor and

7 Minutes in Heaven via Holland & Holland

31/12/2011 § 1 Comment

Lust. Want. Faint. WANT.
(Repeat for seven minutes)

Holland & Holland, must you do this to me?

Desired Destination: Gloucestershire {The Badminton Estate, Calcot Manor, Sudeley Castle}

23/12/2011 § 6 Comments

The Great Hall at the Badminton Estate.

After finding photos of the Beaufort Hunt in 1949, I immediately wanted to see the sprawling estate that I noticed was peeking around the edges.  The Duke and Duchess of Beaufort live at the Badminton Estate in Gloucestershire, England, two hours west of London.  One look at the Great Hall (pictured above) and I knew I was in love…and in urgent need of a hop across the pond to visit Gloucestershire.

Thus, Gloucestershire is my first Desired Destination feature.

It turns out the Duke lets some of the Estate’s cottages periodically. 
If I moved, would you come and visit me?

Badminton Church, built by the 5th Duke in 1785.

The east front.

The clock tower.

The stables.

And yes, the Badminton Estate is where the sport takes its name, although it isn’t known why, as the sport actually traces its roots back to mid-18th century India and the bored British officers stationed there.  The present-day Badminton is open for special events, garden tours, and The Badminton Shoot, but is probably best known now for hosting the annual Badminton Horse Trials in May.  I would love to be there for the prestigious three-day event.

The Badminton Estate
South Gloucestershire
Tel:  +44 (0) 1454 218 203

After a long day knocking about Badminton, I would check into Calcot Manor, a 35-room country house hotel set on 220 acres of meadowland that was established in the 1300s.  Thoroughly modernized while remaining true to the storied heritage of the home, Calcot Manor also boasts one of the best spas in the UK, the Calcot Spa.  It is simply gorgeous and would be a perfect home base for my relaxing minibreak in the British countryside.

Calcot Manor
Near Tetbury
Tel: +44 (0) 1666 890 391

I’d also make a point to visit Sudeley Castle, best known as the final resting place of Queen Katherine Parr, Henry VIII’s last and surviving wife.  With a long history that dates back to the tenth century, the Castle fell into disrepair after the Civil War and remained that way until its rescue in 1837 by brothers John and William Dent — of the fine accessories and glovemaking Dents, from Worcester — and its subsequent restoration.  The Castle has remained a Dent family home since that time, and was opened up to the public in 1969.  During this year’s season (1 April through 28 October, 2012) visitors can wander on their own through the gardens and inside the Castle’s original 15th century west wing, as well as take in a number of exhibitions.  Offered on a more limited basis are guided tours through the Castle apartments where the family currently resides.  Also of note this year at the Castle is the Queen Katherine Parr Quincentenary, marking 500 years since her birth.

Sudeley Castle
GL54 5JD
Tel: +44 (0) 1242 602 308

Images via Badminton House and Calcot Manor.

The Duke of Beaufort’s Hunt, 1949

23/12/2011 § 2 Comments

Photos of the Duke of Beaufort’s Hunt, March 1949, at Badminton House in Gloucestershire, England.  The Beaufort is one of the oldest and largest fox hunts in England.  Founded by the 1st Duke of Beaufort in 1682, later heads of the House of Beaufort have all either hunted or occupied The Beaufort’s mastership, and the hounds, kennels and stables are still held by the family.  The 11th and current Duke of Beaufort, David Robert Somerset, currently occupies the mastership of the pack and acts as its patron.

Two unfortunate things about these photos.  First, the pictures are not captioned so I have no idea who is who — but I do know that the 10th Duke of Beaufort isn’t shown.  Second, as the pictures are in black and white, you don’t get to notice the distinctive livery color of the Duke’s Hunt.  Instead of wearing the traditional red, the huntsman and whippers-in wear green, while the subscribers wear blue coats with buff facings (you can notice the buff facings, though).

Aside from that, they’re really great.  I especially love the ladies sitting sidesaddle with their top hats, and the servants navigating their way around the horses with their silver trays.  Lovely.  It’s no accident I’ve been finding myself looking for a beaver fur top hat of my own…

A lovely illustration of the Beaufort Hunt I found over at The Anglophile:

And a few images of the Duke of Beaufort’s Hunt today:

To learn more about the Duke of Beaufort’s Hunt, head over to their website here.

I’m also excited to mention that I’ve started my own club. 

More on that in a bit…

All other images via LIFE and Beaufort Hunt.

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