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19th century miscellany; cakes, cats and rants

Velvet hat lady of certain age and less certain maturity.

Particularly though not exclusively interested in the nineteenth century; also prone to ranting about my job hunt.

Masquerading as Susanna Lunden because someone once said I looked like her, which delighted me and bless her, she isn't around to object. We share a taste for extravagant hats and velvet.

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I decided to take advantage of Open House weekend to visit the delightful Severndroog Castle in Oxleas Wood, SE London.  After running ridiculously late all day and getting lost in the winding woodland trails, I finally puffed up to the castle gate to find all the tours had been allocated and there was no space left.  So here’s my sour grapes flavoured and utterly hypocritical - given less than pristine state of my own abode - memento of the failed expedition :)

On the plus side Severndroog is open several days a week for the rest of the year, which I hadn’t realised, so although I missed the free day I’m really looking forward to exploring it! 

NF Cachemaille Day’s uncompromising church, St Saviour’s in Middle Park Avenue, Eltham.  Built in the 1930s and it doesn’t surprise me at all to read that the design was inspired by Albi Cathedral!


Commission from neighbour for her friend’s baby. Buttons ready to be sewn on. #booties #shoes #wool #yarn #BabyLove



I thought I heard it all, but this is by far, the most bizarre story I’ve heard in a long time.  In the University College London in the main building of the college is a polished wood-paneled cabinet holding the embalmed body of its founder, Jeremy Bentham.  Jeremy was an English jurist, philosopher, and legal and social reformer. Born to a wealthy family in 1748 and educated at Westminster School, and Queens College, and Oxford. Because he was wealthy he had nothing but time to dedicate to study and writing. According to a contemporary, William Hazlitt, Jeremy became a hermit for forty years…”reducing law to a system, and the mind of a man to a machine.” In 1789 he publishes his first book, “Introduction to the Principles of Morals,” and establishes the principles of utilitarianism.

Bentham died on June 6, 1832 and he left his entire estate to the University College London under one condition, that his body be wheeled into the college’s board meetings! Wow, ok…. His body is embalmed and sits in a cabinet at the college, and yes it attends the board meetings.  Bentham is listed on the minutes as “present but not voting.”  So if you ever walk into this college, you will see Bentham’s embalmed body on a chair and dressed in a black jacket, fawn breeches, and straw-colored hat, and holding a stick. His real head was damaged when they tried to embalm it, so they used a wax head instead.  The real head was kept in a case for many years but students kept stealing it for pranks. It is now locked away in a vault; although I’ve read about, and seen pictures of his head in a jar, which is placed at his feet. Ewww!

Why did this man wish to be kept out like this? Board meetings, hmmm, guess he wanted to be sure his money was being used for the right thing.   It’s a sure way to be immortalized.  Well let’s just say the dude was eccentric. The college did what it had to do to get the money, but still I can’t help but think this story to be…. well, gross, macabre,  and bizarre.

We stole his head.

Ah. Wax replacement of real head - I thought he looked strangely well for someone who’s been dead nearly 200 years!


Frontispiece. Fridtiof Nansen, 1861-1893. 1896.

Fridtjof Nansen, 10 October 1861 – 13 May 1930) was a Norwegian explorer, scientist, diplomat, humanitarian and Nobel Peace Prize laureate. In his youth a champion skier and ice skater, he led the team that made the first crossing of the Greenland interior in 1888, and won international fame after reaching a record northern latitude of 86°14′ during his North Pole expedition of 1893–96.” Wikipedia.


Mount St. Michael from

Observations on a Tour through almost the whole of England, and a considerable part of Scotland by Mr. Dibdin


The illustrations of Arthur Rackham, born on this day in 1867.

I wonder at how much I love him given the number of nightmares I had as a child thanks to his illustrations!  One recurring dream in particular of being in total darkness and unable to move while malicious goblin faces surrounded me taunting and grimacing. 


Durian Fruit from a Large TreeSarawak, Borneo, Marianne North, 1876

Marianne North (1830-1890) was an English biologist and botanical painter who traveled for her studies to Jamaica, Brazil, Japan, India, and many more throughout her life. Kew Gardens claims that their North Gallery is “the only permanent solo exhibition by a female artist in Britain.”

Must try!


Gustave Doré and one of his most Gothic illustrations: A Lover being split in two by an avenging husband thus revealing the lover’s earthly and unearthly half.


Agecroft Cemetery Chapel, Salford - a tall Victorian Grade II mortuary chapel with Art Nouveau stained glass windows which was built in 1903 and abandoned in the 1980s, now faces a bleak future with no viable use - Prestwick,England.


New: Loire Granche Mermaid Skirt ロワール グランシェ マーメイドスカート BZ1435


Odilon Redon | Bouquet Of Flowers


Odilon Redon, La Bataille des os (The Battle of the bones), ca. 1881.


Henry Moore, Shelter sketch book drawings (Tube Shelter Perspectives), the London Underground, 1940-1941.