I love visiting houses and this one, says the website, '...is recognized as one of the best surviving examples of a late Victorian middle-class home in the UK.' This rich and cosy house, absolutely dripping with decoration over almost every square inch looks to be the quintessential Victorian abode of my imagination and so lived in that its owners may have simply stepped out to take the air. Chairs and footstools surround occasional tables, plates line rails near the wallpapered ceiling and one room even had four clocks. Pen and ink drawings, many by Sambourne himself, lined the walls end to end and three rows high - the group laughed when told that the expensive William Morris wallpaper wasn't wasted behind any of the prints. My favourite feature was the gorgeous stained glass windows that adorn the south windows, catching the sun. While Sambourne was busy spending the money he earned as an artist and illustrator for Punch magazine, his wife Marion was busy keeping exact accounts of the household budget and reigning in expenditures. I can only imagine that husband and wife would have been shocked speechless to learn that their £2,000 investment from 1875 is now worth over £6,000,000.
After the tour it was time for refreshments so Mary suggested The Muffin Man. Warm and cosy, Mary and I filled up on teacakes and cake while Rachel sensibly had a hearty bowl of yummy-looking carrot soup. How many cups of tea did we go through, I wonder? This was my second get-together with Mary and Rachel so we talked about everyday things as though we got together all the time. Don't I wish! The lovely and very busy Rachel had a train to catch (only the Eurostar) bound for Paris with her friend, Naomi. So it was up to Mary and me to close out the afternoon. We strolled our way through Kensington Gardens and Portobello Road, stopping to look at any bookshops we passed by, even the famous Notting Hill Bookshop from the movie with Hugh Grant. Chatting as we spied the wares on offer at what must have been a hundred stalls a moment of dread rose within me. All that tea meant a loo break was needed and soon! Mary pointed me in the direction of a nearby cafe and so dire was the need I neither realized, or cared, that I had whipped into the gents by mistake...oh well. So my tiara slips every now and then, whatever.
Thanks so much for a wonderful afternoon, Rachel and Mary...you're lovely!
Mosaic tiling in front of a townhouse on Gower Street, Bloomsbury