A busy start to the year for the members of the London Ladies Club. In January we were delighted to welcome the Rt Hon Lord Ashdown of Norton- sub-Hamdon GCMG KBE PC who spoke about his latest book “Game of Spies”. The Talk was followed by a buffet dinner at the Rag. In February, we visited the house Benjamin Franklin lived in for nearly sixteen years. We experienced a sense of the complexity of the man and the times in which he lived: food, health, botany, and daily living, social and personal relationships, musical inventions and political tension, scientific work, political triumphs and woes, and a hurried return to America in the face of the looming War of Independence. March, saw the London Ladies visit the British Library, the national library of the United Kingdom and the largest library in the world by number of items catalogued. We also visited the Guildhall Art Gallery, established in 1886 as a Collection of Art Treasures worthy of the Capital City, the Guildhall Art Gallery houses works dating from 1670 to the present, including 17th-century portraits, Pre-Raphaelite masterpieces and a range of paintings documenting London's dramatic history. This visit was followed by lunch in Gresham Street. Our programme of Tuesday Talks at the Army & Navy Club continued throughout the programme and we were pleased to welcome, Dr Simon Anderson from The Lister Hospital Chelsea, who spoke on common gastroenterology problems, The Country Gentlemen's AssociationStanley Martin CVO, spoke about the links between the German and the British Royal families, Dr Ling Zhu, from Lyon & Turnbull came to speak about Classical, modern and Contemporary Chinese painting and finally in April , we welcomed Sir Francis Richards, KCMG who was Britain's first High Commissioner to Namibia 1990-2. Appointed Deputy Under Secretary of State for defence and intelligence in the FCO 1998, and Director of GCHQ later that year. On retirement from GCHQ he was appointed Governor and Commander in Chief of Gibraltar 2003-6. Sir Francis was Chairman of the Bletchley Park Trust from 2007-12, and of the Imperial War Museum 2012-16.
On Friday 9th September, we were delighted to welcome The Rt, Rev & Rt. Hon. Baron Rowan Williams of Oystermouth who had kindly agreed to speak to the London Ladies Club at the Army & Navy Club. His amusing and erudite talk entitled "Tragedy, Comedy and Theology" included many anecdotes about his time as Archbishop. Another event in September was the visit to Draper's Hall, one of the City's most impressive Livery Halls followed by a delicious lunch at nearby Brasserie Blanc.
In October, we had the privilege of an exclusive visit of Crosby Hall. Dr Christopher Moran, owner of Crosby Hall, opened the doors of his Chelsea home to members of The London Ladies Club. The Hall has been described as the most important surviving secular domestic Medieval building in London. The former residence of Sir Thomas More, is now under private ownership and closed to the public. Built in 1466 by Sir John Crosby and located on the banks of the river Thames, Crosby Hall was relocated brick by brick from Bishopsgate to Chelsea in 1910 and has been under renovation and restoration for the last 15 years. A huge thank you to Dr Moran for making us all feel so welcomeOther visits during the Autumn include an exclusive tour of John Bell & Croyden of Wigmore Street, Pharmacist to Her Majesty The Queen,who have been looking after London’s health and well being for over 200 years and have recently undergone a major refit. Steeped in history, this business can be traced back to 1798 when John Bell, then only 23, opened his chemist in 225 Oxford Street. His son Jacob Bell went on to become the founder of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain - now the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain. Our programme of talks at the Army & Navy Club, was as always varied and interesting, Tim Belson spoke about Diamonds, Deborah Levy a Matrimonial and Family Solicitor about Legal issues of a certain age, Angela Lownie, The Lady House Detective about how she researches individual house history for London properties. Mr Adam Searle, Past President of the British Association Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons and Chairman of the Medical Advisory Committee at The Lister Hospital in Chelsea gave us food for though with his talk entitled : Surgery for form. Plastic fantastic or drastic and Nick Ross Director of Art History Abroad gave us a overview of the fantastic exhibition at the National Gallery "Beyond Caravaggio". Our Autumn programme concluded with a very jolly Christmas lunch at the National Liberal Club, kindly hosted by their Chairman Janet Berridge and a visit of this magnificent building conducted by Dr Seth Thevoz.
The Summer of 2016, saw the London Ladies follow in Churchill’s footsteps. In April, The Hon. Celia Sandys came to speak to us at the Army & Navy Club. The daughter of Sir Winston’s eldest daughter Diana and the Cabinet Minister Duncan Sandys, Celia’s fascinating talk drew on her vast and intimate knowledge of the great man’s personal and political life and prepared us for our visit to Chartwell in June. Sadly, on the day we visited Chartwell, it was pouring with rain but it didn’t dampen our spirits and we were able to enjoy our private tour before the house opened to the public. Other visits, included the magnificent Syon House and Park, a private guided tour of the Supreme Court, atheatrical walk through Whitehall to discover how the Suffragettes campaigned for the rights of women and an elegant, exclusive evening at the new Dior Boutique in Covent Garden. The programme of Tuesdays talks also took on a Churchillian theme when Rodney J. Croft came to speak about Operation Hope Not, the State and Private Funeral of Sir Winston Churchill. We were also delighted to welcome Rathbones who spoke about the Changing face of the City, Hamish Brown MBE, a leading authority on Stalking and other forms of harassment. Leonora Service gave us a brief history of painting on walls and John Donald, one of the most innovative jewellers of the twentieth century came to present hisbook “Precious Statements”.
The summer programme started with a visit to the newly re decorated Apsley House, the first Duke of Wellington' s London home. Famously known as No 1 London, our visit was of particular relevance as we celebrated the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815. The interest in the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo continued with a talk at the Army & Navy Club by Tom Mollo and Mark Evans, both former Coldstream guards who told us about Waterloo Uncovered, a landmark archaeology project to investigate the battlefield of Waterloo. Some of the other talks and speakers on our summer programme included an historical examination of the Art and symbolism of Masonry, Andrea Cecile Cohen who has spent two seasons designing clothes for the hit US TV Show The Good Wife and creator of the Body Forum, a workshop designed to help women understand how to dress for their body shape. Angela Young, came to speak to us about her second novel, The Dance of Love, Ysanne Lewis about Demystifying and understanding Astrology, Catriona Lumiste discussed the main aspects of the Care Act 2014 and the challenges of Long term Care planning and the programme of Tuesday Talks ended in July with Nicki Williams who spoke about healthy ageing from the inside out.
One of the highlights of the 2015 summer programme was our day in Paris. We left London early in the morning by Eurostar where our coach was waiting for us at the Gare du Nord, We were met there by our private coach and after a most interesting drive through Paris to look at the "3 Domes" in the heart of the french Capital, we had lunch at the Boeuf sur le Toit and then walked the short distance to the British Embassy in the Rue du Faubourg St Honore. Built in the 1720's the Hotel de Carost, was bought in 1803 by the wayward Pauline Borghese sister of Napoleon and much of the furniture and silk damasks on the walls were chosen by her. Our private visit of the ground floor was followed by tea in the conservatory and gardens, where we were delighted to be joined by Lady Ricketts, wife of our current Ambassador Sir Peter Ricketts.
Other visits in the Summer 2015 programme included, a visit to the All England Club - Wimbledon, a private visit to Eccleston Square Gardens, the Garden Museum and a fabulous day in Sussex including a visit to Petworth House, lunch at the Spread Eagle Hotel and a tour of Uperton Vineyards who make sparkling English wines.
The Spring 2015 programme started with a visit of Westminster Abbey conducted by one of the Abbey's Vergers. The Ladies also visited The Government Art Collection and the BBC where they were able to try their hand at reading the News and the Weather forecast. We visited the One Show studio (a lot smaller than it appears on television!) saw a few familiar faces lurking around the building and recorded a play for radio, all great fun and over too quickly. We were privileged to hold a dinner in the Lord Mayor of the City of Westminster's Parlour on the 18th floor of Westminster City Hall with sweeping views across London. During dinner we were entertained by Angela and Julian Brun with songs from the Operas featuring arias and duets by Mozart, Handel, Rossini and Puccini as well as songs from the Shows. We were glad to be able to contribute to the Lord Mayor's Charity for this year, the Sir Simon Milton Foundation.
Our first visit of the Autumn programme was to the Poppy Factory in Richmond. We also went to the Opera, with a morning "Introduction to Opera" course conducted by Claudio Tedesco, we then headed to the Royal Opera House in the evening to see the brilliant Barber of Seville. On a cold an grey October morning we visited the Mansion House to see the extraordinary Harold Samuel 17th century collection of 84 Dutch and Flemish paintings from Holland's golden age, this was followed by a very jolly lunch in the City. Svetlana Lloyd gave a wonderful lecture at the Army & Navy Club in Piccadilly on the Painters of Fashion - Ingres, Winterhalter and Tissot before we took a break for the Holidays .
The Summer saw the London Ladies visit beautiful Waddesdon Manor. Built in 1874 by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild in the style of a Loire Chateau, Waddesdon Manor houses some the Rothschild family remarkable collections. In June, we headed to Hampstead to see Kenwood House, recently refurbished to its former glory by English Heritage. This majestic Villa was the home of the great judge Lord Mansfield and his family. It was particularly moving to be at Kenwood House at the time the film "Belle" was released in cinemas. We also spent a fun evening at the Park Tower Casino being introduced to Roulette and Blackjack. We also continued with our programme of talks at Peter Jones and were delighted to welcome Meriel Larken who told us the extraordinary story of the restoration of the Victorian gun boat Yavari on Lake Titicaca, Miss Penny Law, Consultant Gynaecologist at the BUPA Cromwell Hospital, Laurie Wickwire spoke about Diamonds from Rock to Royalty and we were delighted to welcome Lynne Robinson and Carmela Trappa spoke about the benefits of Pilates.
The London Ladies had a great Spring season with visits to Kensington Palace, the Tower of London and the Royal Hospital Chelsea, where Bill our guide for the afternoon, took us on a two hour tour visit around the Hospital grounds, the Wren Chapel and the Great Hall.
Our ongoing programme of Thursday talks at Peter Jones, included presentations by Julia Boyd - A Dance with the Dragon, her fascinating book about Peking's foreign community at the beginning of the 20th century. Gemma Darlington talked about jewellery design from the early 20th century. Patrick Hyatt's presentation was about the Lucky and the Losers, loosely based on Stephen King's paper on ageing populations and the inevitable battle for resources with the younger generation. There were chocolates from Godiva, "Celebrating your life" in film with Jonathan Crane and Bupa Cromwell Hospital sponsored Dr Rajeev Dhar who talked about "Keeping your mind healthy and the early triggers to watch out for".
On 17th February, the London Ladies went to the Museum of London to see the extraordinary Cheapside Hoard. Before visiting the exhibition, the curator Hazel Forsyth, explained how after laying hidden in a cellar for 300 years, the world's largest and most exquisite cache of Elizabethan and early Stuart jewellery came to light. A century after its discovery, the Cheapside Hoard is on display in its entirety. An extraordinary exhibition of exquisite gem stones and craftsmanship.
Our Spring programme ended with a fabulous champagne tea at the Millennium Hotel Mayfair, hosted by Mr Grant Harrold, former butler to HRH The Prince of Wales where we celebrated a very busy and interesting 20 years of the London Ladies Club.
It's been a busy start to the Autumn for the London Ladies, on Tuesday 17th September, our members visited the Museum of the Order of St John's Hospitallers in Clerkenwell. The Museum tells the fascinating story of the Order of St John, from its origins in 11th century Jerusalem, through to it's role today with St John Ambulance and the St John Eye Hospital in Jerusalem. The visit was followed by tea in the Museum.
On Tuesday 1st October, the London Ladies Club members went to Highgrove. We boarded our coach in Sloane Square and stopped on the way for a delicious lunch at the Royal Oak Leighterton before continuing to Highgrove. It is now more than 30 years since the Duchy of Cornwall bought Highgrove in Glouscestershire and the Prince of Wales made the Estate his home. The garden unfolds in a series of highly personal and inspiring tableaux, each one reflecting the Prince's interests and enthusiasms. The garden is in complete harmony with nature, ethically sound management policies are pursued making the Estate a model of organic sustainability. After our walk through the gardens, our members were able to have tea in the Orchard Restaurant and to do some shopping before taking the coach back to Sloane Square.
On Friday 12th July, the members of the London Ladies Club visited beautiful Althorp in Northamptonshire. Althorp has been the home of the Spencer family for nearly 500 years and contains a fascinating variety of pictures, furniture and ceramics. We were fortunate to have a private visit of the House and were able to see all the wonderful paintings, Rubens, Van Dyck, Reynolds, Gainsborough, as well as many paintings by lesser known artists.
After our visit of the House, coffee was served in the Portico in the massive stable block. The stables were probably built around 1732-33 by Roger Morris after the re-modelling of the entrance hall of the main house. Built in warm honey-coloured ironstone as an exercise in Anglo-Palladianism they house the exhibition celebrating the life of Diana, Princess of Wales.
We then headed to The Saracen's Head in Little Brington for a delicious buffet lunch before driving on to Great Brington to look at St Mary's Church, Great Brington.
Great Brington is recorded in the Domesday book and it is likely that a wooden church originally stood on this site before it was burned down in the 13th Century. The current church dating from between 1220 and 1280 follows the pattern of the Early English Decorated and Perpendicular styles. The Spencers have ancestry dating back to 1508 and it was John Spencer who recorded almost rebuilding the parish church of Great Brington and the creation of the Spencer Chapel. Nineteen generations of the Spencer family rest here.
The lineage of George Washington can be traced back to Lawrence Washington. Lawrence's grave is below a stone slab in the chancel of the Church.
After our visit of St Mary's, we took the coach back to return to London.
On the 4th July, a group of our members met at Strawberry Hill Golf club, for an introduction to Golf. We were met by the Captain Richard Curtis, Felicity from Fore Women and Peter Buchan, who all gave us a very warm welcome. After Golf we all gathered for tea and cakes and met Mavis the Ladies' Captain. We had a great day thank you to all who made it possible, we hope to play some more gold soon.
On Monday 22nd April, members of the London Ladies Club went to Avista, the elegant italian restaurant adjacent to the Millennium Hotel in Mayfair. We met in the bar for a refreshing glass of Prosecco and canapés before watching a demonstration on how to make pasta . Our two volunteers assisted Chef Arturo Granato in making spaghetti, fettucine and even ravioli, just like Mama ! Then it was time for our delicious lunch and after coffee, we each left feeling pampered and very spoilt with a gift of chocolates and scent samples from Agent Provocateur ! A big thank you to the staff at Avista and to Annie in particular for making us feel so welcome.
Last Monday the London Ladies Club visited the amazing Valentino exhibition at Somerset House. We all met before for a delicious breakfast at Tom's kitchen and listened to a talk by the former fashion editor of both Vogue and Harper's and Queen. Afterwards we went into the exhibition and saw over 160 of Valentino's couture dresses from the 1950's up to 2010.
Breakfast at Tom's kitchen.
A big thank you to everyone who came to our Christmas Party at Peter Jones today, what a great time we all had, a special thank you too our lovely Rachael, Susan and Amaya for making it possible, and of course Father Christmas and his charming helper Elfie. We wish all our members a very happy and peaceful Christmas, and look forward to seeing you in the new year for more fabulous events. Here are a few pictures from today.
To all of you who attended on Monday, a big thank you for making our trip to Spencer house and Lunch at the RAC such a fabulous event. We all had such fun, and here are a few snap shots of the day. We arrived at Spencer House In the morning at 11am and after coffee, we were guided through this amazing house by two wonderful guides. Thank you both for looking after us so beautifully.
Above (left) a picture of Spencer House on the day of our visit, and right a drawing of Spencer House by Thomas Malton Jr published in 1800.
We then walked the short distance onto the Royal Automobile Club, where were greeted by a gorgeous Lotus Elan from 1962.
Lunch was then served in the elegant Segrave room, which houses an amazing collection of racing memorabilia. The room was named after Sir Henry O'Neil de Hane Segrave.
Sir Henry O'Neil de Hane Segrave (22 September 1896 – 13 June 1930) was famous for setting three land speed records and the Water Speed record, he was the first person to hold both record simultaneously.
Thank you to everyone for coming and making this such a special day.
Hello Ladies, as some of you already know, on Monday we were lucky enough to have a fabulous tour and tea at the House of Commons, which was a great success, a big thank you to all of you who came. Unfortunately cameras, weren't allowed throughout the tour, but non the less here is a little taster, for all of you who couldn't make it.
Ladies waiting for the tour to commence, in Westminster Hall.
On our departure, a sunnier Big Ben. Thank you to all those involved in making this such a successful event. This was such a popular event that we are very much hoping to be invited back in January, for those of you who may be interested in joining the Waiting list do email me firstname.lastname@example.org
Hello Ladies! and welcome to our first LLC Blog post where we will be sharing with you news from all our members and events.
The Olympic summer is drawing to a close and we are delighted to present you with some great pictures looking back over the memorable events of the last few weeks with some great photos from our member Sue who has been volunteering as a London Olympic Ambassador.
Tired soldiers going back to base after another long shift doing security at the Olympic park!
Our lovely member Sue at London Heathrow Terminal 5 arrivals. Thank you for all your great photos and congratulations on a Job well done at the London 2012 Olympics.