On our second day in London Greg and I met one of my distant Champion de Crespigny cousins for morning tea in Oxford Street. We walked there, three miles, through Kensington Gardens, past the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain in Hyde Park, then along Bayswater Road.
Afterwards, we caught a taxi to a small public garden on Marylebone High Street where the names of my 8th great grandparents Claude Champion de Crespigny and his wife Marie are recorded on an inscribed tablet. The graveyard in which it once stood has long been built over, and the stone we saw was a replica erected in the early twentieth century. It gets the date wrong; Claude died in 1695, not 1697. [See ‘M is for Marylebone’].
We walked to Great Portland Street, where we caught the bus to the Tate Britain. I once studied a little Law, and it was fun to discover that we were travelling on the bus to Clapham Common. I did indeed feel a bit like a “reasonably educated, intelligent but nondescript person”. (A little-known fact: there’s an Australian connection to the phrase. It is said to have been coined by a counsel defending the Tichborne Claimant, the supposed son of Lady Tichborne, heir to the baronetcy, turning out to be an enterprising ex-butcher from Wagga Wagga named Tom Castro or sometimes Arthur Orton.)
The Tube gets you there, but for seeing London rattle past nothing beats a double-decker bus.
The Tate was marvellous. I enjoyed the Turners, the portraits, and the Pre-Raphaelites. So many superb paintings! I was particularly interested in William Quiller Orchardson‘s ‘The First Cloud’, one of a series about unhappy marriage. There is another version of the same painting in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria, and earlier in our trip we had seen his ‘Le Mariage de Convenance’ in Glasgow.
I didn’t know at the time, but the Tate Britain occupies the site of the Millbank prison. My first cousin four times removed, Gerald Mainwaring, convicted of murder was incarcerated there from 1879 – 1880.
Peter and Charlotte spent the day at the British Museum. Charlotte was fascinated by some of the coins, one of them 2,400 years old. There was also an ‘eight’ coin, or Spanish Dollar, as in ‘pieces of eight’. Peter liked the Molossian Guard Dog, a huge mastiff.
In the evening Greg and I strolled around Kensington, which has several pretty local gardens. Most are for neighbouring residents only. We peered through the fence of the Edwardes Garden like Pyramus and Thisbe.