Some weeks ago an invitation (nay, a command) arrived to attend the Christmas celebration at Temple Newsam House yesterday afternoon. It was issued by Sir Arthur Ingram to all tenants on the Estate.
“It is Christmas 1640 (three hundred and seventy-seven years ago). Sir Arthur Ingram, master of Temple Newsam, has invited you, his tenant farmers, to join his household for some Christmas entertainment at this, his country house. He and his good Lady have as their main guest Lord Ferdinando Fairfax of Denton Hall. As the main entertainment for the afternoon he has sent for the Leeds Waits, the official town musicians, and their arrival is expected imminently. Lady Ingram has instructed the housekeeper to organise refreshment for you during the course of the afternoon.”
Lady Ingram, Sir Arthur, Lord Fairfax and the Housekeeper
Just look at the varied programme of musical and spoken entertainment and the variety of musical instruments the talented Leeds Waits can turn their hands to!
At one point there was a performance of the brief play within a play – Pyramus and Thisbe – from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The play was performed by puppets but with audience participation.
Pyramus and Thisbe – Audience Participation Required (Thisbe)
The tenants (we) were treated to mince pie and tea refreshments during the interval. Altogether a fine way to spend a dark, wet afternoon just before Christmas.
The week before last, en route to Clare in Suffolk, where I stayed for a few days, I broke my journey at Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire.
Woolsthorpe was the birthplace of polymath and ‘Renaissance man’ Sir Isaac Newton (1643–1727).
On Saturday I spent an extremely interesting afternoon at Sheffield Hallam University at the above event. Reading 1900-1950 is one of the blogs I follow and I was delighted to finally be able to attend one of Professor Chris Hopkins’s events. The Readerships and Literary Cultures 1900-1950 Special Collection of 1000 early editions of popular fiction is housed at The University Library. Read more about it here.
The Obligatory Book that Accompanies the Show
Before visiting Melancolia at Somerset House (see previous post) I popped in the Courtauld Gallery. Again, I had been alerted to this show in a review in the Financial Times (Weekend, 21/22 October 2017): “Uniformed but Different: Soutine: The Russian-French painter’s portraits make an exceptional show”. I’d never heard of Soutine before but it looked and read to be something I would enjoy. I’d recently re-read Arnold Bennett’s “The Grand Babylon Hotel” (first published in 19o2) and the Soutine portraits are from a slightly later era. Although his are French and not characters from The Savoy Hotel in London. Near enough. [Here‘s a review of a 1950 show of Soutine’s work in the US and brief biography of Chaim Soutine (1893-1943)].
On a recent visit to London I had time enough before catching my train home to visit Somerset House. I’d earmarked three exhibitions – none of them big blockbusters – all in the same venue.
The Pride of Hull
Back in August I thought it would be fun to visit my friend Monique in Amsterdam and instead of flying travel the slow way by train and ferry and coach. The P&O Ferries Company sells “Minicruises at mini prices“. Several fellow passengers were just sailing over for the day. But I decided to book the one night version which included two nights on the ferry and a night (you can arrange this yourself, as I did, or P&O will do the honours for you) in Amsterdam.
“Enjoy a mixture of history and horse racing as our walk takes us through the glorious Coverdale countryside to the pretty and interesting Coverham Church. After lunch we will return over the famous High Moor Gallops to Middleham with the opportunity to view the ‘Middleham Jewel’ as we complete our walk.”