Friday, 27 March 2015

Jeanne Stourton, the wicked Lady Camoys




Julia Maria Cristina Mildred Camoys Stonor (born 19 April 1939) is the eldest daughter of Sherman Stonor, 6th Baron Camoys by his wife Jeanne Stourton. She is best known for her books about her family, exposing long-suppressed family scandals and her claims to be the rightful heir to the Camoys barony.

Julia Camoys Stonor was born Julia Maria Christina Mildred Stonor, the eldest daughter and first child of Ralph Robert WattsSherman Stonor, 6th Baron Camoys of Stonor Park and Newport, Rhode Island, USA (1913–1976), by his wife (Mary) Jeanne Stourton (1913–1987). Her mother's maternal grandfather was Thomas Southwell, 4th Viscount Southwell. According to Julia Stonor, the Spanish aristocrat Pedro de Zulueta was her mother's father.

Legally, Jeanne Stourton's maternal grandfather, was the paternal grandson of Charles Stourton, 19th Baron Stourton. Jeanne Stourton's great-uncle the 20th Lord Stourton succeeded as 20th Baron Stourton in 1872, and as 23rd Baron Mowbray & 24th Baron Segrave in 1878 when those baronies (last held by Edward Howard, 9th Duke of Norfolk) were called out of abeyance 101 years after his death in 1777.

Stonor is the author of Sherman's Wife: A Wartime Childhood Among the English Aristocracy, a rather scandalous memoir of her controversial mother Jeanne, Lady Camoys. She is currently at work on the second part of her memoirs, Sherman's Daughter. In the first book, she described her half-Spanish half-English mother, who was fathered by a Spanish aristocrat, and whose lover died in the Spanish Civil War on Franco's side. Stonor alleged in the book that her mother was an ardent Nazi sympathizer, and had been the lover of several men including Joachim von Ribbentrop and her own father-in-law. More controversially, she argued that her mother Jeanne had murdered her husband Lord Camoys (who died in 1976) and that Lady Camoys had been murdered by her younger son Honourable Robert Camoys (died 1994).

In later years, Stonor has claimed that she is the only legitimate child of her parents; her mother's other four children, including the present Lord Camoys, being illegitimate and biologically unrelated to Sherman Stonor. Thus, she has argued that she is the rightful heir to the Camoys barony.

She is an active supporter of several charities, including Exiled Writers Ink!, and has worked as a freelance writer, author, human rights activist, volunteer, and charity-supporter.

https://juliastonor.wordpress.com/

Julia Maria Cristina Mildred Camoys Stonor
19 April 1939 (age 75)
Occupation     Writer
Known for      "I Know Myself To Be Without Fred"
Notable work  Sherman's Wife: A Wartime Childhood Among the English Aristocracy
Religion          Catholic
Relatives         Sherman Stonor, 6th Baron Camoys
Thomas Southwell, 4th Viscount Southwell
Charles Stourton, 19th Baron Stourton
Website



Heil Hitler and pants orf! How the bisexual, Nazi-loving aristocrat called up countless lovers into action, reveals her DAUGHTER
By JULIA CAMOYS STONOR
PUBLISHED: 22:00 GMT, 7 December 2012 | UPDATED: 10:05 GMT, 8 December 2012


Heil Hitler!’ shouted Mummy as she pushed Daddy down the stairs at Stonor Park, our ancestral home in Oxfordshire.
Standing terrified in the hallway below, I watched as my father, the Honourable Sherman Stonor, heir to the 5th Baron Camoys and a descendant of Sir Thomas de Camoys, Henry V’s standard-bearer at the Battle of Agincourt, picked himself up off the floor and dusted down his khaki army uniform.
My mother stared at him, her scarlet finger nails glittering and a lit cigarette clinging perilously to her clenched lips.
 ‘You’re totally useless and the sooner I’m rid of you the better,’ she yelled. ‘Get the hell out of here.’
At that, my father made his way out of the tradesmen’s entrance and back to the dangers of World War II, leaving behind the perpetual battlefield that was life with my mother Jeanne.
Surely one of the most eccentric characters ever to have graced, or rather disgraced, the pages of Debrett’s Peerage, my mother was an ardent Nazi sympathiser who seduced Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton, drove Cecil Beaton’s brother Reggie to suicide, and slept with Hitler’s henchman Joachim von Ribbentrop.
And all that was before she openly cuckolded my father with a string of lovers, insisting throughout my childhood that I should include this ever-growing list of ‘Uncles’ in my nightly prayers.
That drama on the stairs was just one of many colourful episodes during my upbringing at Stonor Park, the stately home near Henley-on-Thames which has been in my family for more than 850 years and where my mother once entertained British and European royalty and leading lights of the day including Benjamin Britten, John Betjeman and Graham Greene.
They accepted her hospitality at a price. She was once described by her friend John Mortimer as ‘a great beauty’ but ‘endlessly quarrelsome and singularly unforgiving’ and this was certainly true when it came to her treatment of my father.
Bit on the side: SS general Joachim von Ribbentrop was the lover of Lady Camoys, with her very obviously having an affair more than likely with her husband knowing
Bit on the side: SS general Joachim von Ribbentrop was the lover of Lady Camoys, with her very obviously having an affair more than likely with her husband knowing
She tolerated his presence only so far as was necessary to satisfy the craving for money and social standing which stemmed from her impoverished childhood.
Her mother Frances Stourton was an army major’s wife, deserted by her callous husband when he discovered that she was sleeping with a dashing Spanish diplomat named Don Pedro de Zulueta — but not before he had embezzled her substantial inheritance. My mother was the result of that liaison. Born in London in 1913, she was brought up by Feckless Fanny, as she called her mother, in a flat above a butcher’s shop.
Although she never forgave my grandmother for the reduced circumstances into which she was born, she was immensely proud of her aristocratic blood, her father coming from a family of Castilian grandees.
She often proclaimed that she was ‘an aristo Spanish bastard’ and soon exploited her exotic beauty, seducing wealthy beaux including department store tycoon Gordon Selfridge, 47 years her senior.
This secured her an entree into fashionable London society where she found what promised to be a lucrative source of income in the form of sexual blackmail.
One of her targets was society photographer Cecil Beaton’s younger brother Reggie, an RAF officer whom she knew to be gay. They were supposedly friends but when they met for dinner one evening in October 1933 she threatened to reveal his homosexuality unless he agreed to meet her for tea the next day and hand over a large sum in cash.
Later that night Reggie jumped to his death in front of a London Underground train. Far from showing remorse, my mother let it be known that she would tell the Beatons’ mother the reason for his suicide unless Cecil let her sit for him.
The result, a beautifully composed portrait by the most celebrated photographer of the day, confirmed her status as ‘one of society’s loveliest girls’ as one newspaper described her, and in 1935 she caught the eye of Barbara Hutton who employed her as her social secretary. Vulnerable and gullible, ‘my own darlin’ Barbara’, as my mother called her, was then on the second of her seven husbands.
Her third would be Cary Grant, one of the biggest heart-throbs of the era, but she is also said to have taken various female lovers, including Greta Garbo. This made her an easy target for my mother, who flirted her way into her bed and remained there as long as it took to secure various magnificent gifts, including a diamond and ruby brooch, and a watch studded with sapphires and emeralds, both from Cartier.

“My grandmother refused to attend my parents' marriage, weeping with what proved justified concern for her son”

Alongside her penchant for money and expensive jewellery, my mother had a life-long obsession with uniforms and medals and she was inevitably drawn to Hitler’s henchman Count Joachim von Ribbentrop when he was appointed the German ambassador to Britain in 1936. They soon embarked on an affair.
Among certain elements of the English Catholic hierarchy there was a growing conviction that Nazism offered a bulwark against the evils of communism. This view was shared by my mother who took to ending her sentences with the words ‘Heil Hitler and olé!’. The blood-lust and violent glamour of a man like von Ribbentrop, cruelly resplendent in his black and silver SS uniform and jackboots, only added to his appeal.
‘Such divine blue eyes and much, much else in the vital parts,’ she would reminisce, but Von Ribbentrop was already married and could never offer her the wealth and place in society to which she aspired.
For that, she turned to my father, a fellow Catholic. Two months younger than her, he was a naive and gentle man, an ardent ecologist who loved to make and fly his own kites. His family was understandably worried when my mother set her cap at him.
That she had little genuine affection for my father was clear when, dining at Stonor for the first time, she appeared transfixed by the Georgian cutlery, turning the silver over and examining the hallmarks as if making an impromptu valuation.
The scarlet lipstick marks she left on the linen napkins were regarded equally unfavourably and when my parents married in the summer of 1938, my grandmother Mildred — or Mildew as my mother called her — refused to attend, remaining at home in bed and weeping with what proved to be justified concern for her son.
The newly-weds spent two nights at Claridge’s, where my father lost his virginity to his highly-experienced new wife before she announced a surprise honeymoon visit to Joachim von Ribbentrop’s castle Schloss Sonnenburg, which was set in a dark and dank forest north-east of Berlin.
While von Ribbentrop was flirting with my mother, presenting her with wedding gifts including jackboots, spurs and the low-cut dirndl dresses more traditionally seen on Bavarian barmaids, my father was bewildered to find himself surrounded by armoured cars, heavily uniformed SS guards, and endless goose-stepping.
Realising the extent of his new wife’s adoration of Hitler and the Nazi cause, he tried to make a run for it but was headed off at the local station by motorcycling storm-troopers led by my mother, and was coerced into returning.
The trauma of this disastrous honeymoon appeared to have rendered him impotent. But, while my mother would forever afterwards make fun of his ‘God-awful lack of performance’, it was apparent on their return to London that she was pregnant with me.
She regarded my arrival in the world in April 1939 with clear disdain, and instead of attending my christening the following month she spent the day at Claridge’s, in bed with a Brazilian diplomat.
Referring to me as ‘Sherman’s brat’, she would often tell me as a young child: ‘Never go out without making your bed, because you might be brought back dead.’ She obliged me to curtsy to her on a daily basis — a habit which remained largely unbroken into my 30s — and bought me only second-hand clothes, including my underwear, even as she luxuriated in her furs, silks, satin and cashmere.
‘Nothing common or ’orf the peg for me,’ she would declare and her favourite colour was black, a hark back to the fascist uniforms of the Thirties which she emulated with military outfits made specially for her — featuring whistles, silver buttons, cockaded hats and rows of medals.
Guests at Stonor were often startled to find her seated at the dining table in full regalia and she was as likely to appear fully uniformed at the crack of dawn — her morning seldom starting later than 6am, such was her eagerness to star in the dramatic spectacle which was her daily life.
Insisting that the local station-master roll out a red carpet on the platform and doff his cap to her whenever she travelled by train, she played the part of lady of the manor to the full, with me in the occasional walk-on role.
With my father away at war, I learnt from an early age to mix her favourite ‘Horse’s Neck’ cocktails — the concoction of brandy and ginger ale which she insisted on having for elevenses. I also accompanied her to mass in Stonor’s private chapel, which adjoined the house.
There she scandalised the congregation of villagers and estate workers by lighting her cigarette from the sanctuary lamp and talking loudly in the gallery above the pews, jangling her bracelets and stomping in and out during the service to take calls on the telephone which shrilled loudly in the adjacent bedroom.
Frequently declaring that she had the ‘divine right of Kings’, she decided that this entitled her to bring her retinue of King Charles spaniels to these services. If they needed a piddle, she simply let them out in to the adjoining library to relieve themselves on the rare silk rugs.
Constantly snarling and barking, these dogs were also honoured guests at every meal — sitting on Chippendale chairs as my mother entertained the ‘Guns’, the men who attended the regular Saturday shooting parties she hosted throughout the war. Many returned for private encounters which were more intimate, if sometimes rather brief.
‘Pants ’orf,’ she would command them upon their arrival. ‘Don’t let’s waste any time. Heil Hitler and olé!’
In her eyes, my father could never match up to a man like von Ribbentrop
Asking too many question about these ‘Uncles’, as I was encouraged to call them, would have earned me a cuff to the ear, with the heavy gold swastika which dangled from her charm bracelet adding to the pain. But my mother made no attempt to keep her liaisons secret and one in particular caused much scandal locally.
While my father’s mother had moved to the safety of America soon after the outbreak of war, his father Ralph had remained behind. He was nearly 30 years older than my mother but soon he was openly sharing her bed.
This relationship did not stop her seeing many other men — including the conductor Sir Malcolm Sargent and the drinks tycoon Enrico Cinzano — and neither did the return of my father from the war.
Evacuated from Dunkirk, he was invalided out of the Army in 1944 with a burst appendix. This ordeal, combined with the shame of discovering that his wife had been sleeping with his own father, gave him a nervous breakdown, but my mother’s coterie of men friends continued their regular visits to Stonor Park.
They accepted my father’s lavish if unwilling hospitality with scarcely a thought for their all but silent host seated at the far end of the vast mahogany dining table. As always he was relentlessly mocked by my mother.
‘For God’s sake, f*** off Sherman,’ she would shout if he dared annoy her. ‘That is, if you can.’
Snatching up the telephone whenever it rang and barking ‘Turville Heath 424 — and who the hell are you?’ into the receiver, she remained firmly in charge at Stonor.
When Joachim von Ribbentrop was executed for war crimes in 1946, she ordered me into the courtyard to ring the Angelus bell, more normally used to summon the faithful to prayer but now tolled in mourning for her dead lover.
In her eyes, my father could never match up to a man like von Ribbentrop, but she could never have divorced him. The ultimate prize came in 1968 when my grandfather Ralph died, making my father the 6th Baron Camoys and my mother Lady Camoys.
She rejoiced in a title which seemed to put her days above that butcher’s shop irrevocably behind her, but the costs of running Stonor had fast diminished my father’s wealth. My mother was eager to sell the valuable mansion, so forced him to move into the four-bedroomed Dower House nearby.
My father, mysteriously in increasingly deteriorating health and confined to a claustrophobic single bedroom, died in March 1976 and, at the age of 63, my mother began fortune-hunting all over again.
It wasn’t long before she had found a target in her neighbour, Agatha Christie’s widower Sir Max Mallowan, an archaeologist who had inherited some of his wife’s estate following her death just two months before that of my father.
Like so many men over the years, Sir Max became mesmerised by my mother and soon proposed, but there was a hitch. Her reputation had gone before her and his friends warned him off.
Terrified by the rumours, Sir Max swiftly withdrew his proposal of marriage, and my mother was forced to spend the years before her death in 1987 living in a rundown workman’s cottage near Stonor Park.
There she maintained the disdain for me which she had made so apparent when I was a little girl — clearly I had always bored her to tears.
‘I’m doing my best Mama,’ I would tell her.
‘Your best is simply not good enough,’ she’d reply. ‘Nor will it ever be.’
Curiously, I had never stopped loving her, and I was ever eager to be at her side. I believed in her absolutely, and, in my eyes, she would always be a towering figure, a beautiful, scent-drenched heroine.

Adapted from Sherman’s Wife by Julia Camoys Stonor, published by Stonor Lodge Press and available as an ebook from www.Amazon.co.uk  at £5.99. © 2012 Julia Camoys Stonor
Julia Maria Cristina Mildred Camoys Stonor (born 19 April 1939) is the eldest daughter of Sherman Stonor, 6th Baron Camoys by his wife Jeanne Stourton. She is best known for her books about her family, exposing long-suppressed family scandals and her claims to be the rightful heir to the Camoys barony.


 Rampant fascism near Henley

Sherman’s Wife: A Wartime Childhood Among the English Aristocracy Julia Camoys Stonor
Desert Hearts, pp.347

There can seldom have been a better first sentence in a book by a daughter about her mother: ‘“Heil Hitler!” shouted Mummy as she pushed Daddy down the stairs at Assendon Lodge.’ Even better, the next few lines reveal that the second world war was in progress at the time, Daddy was in uniform, and the author was watching and listening from her hiding place under the said stairs.

Alas, the rest of the book fails to live up to its brilliant opening. This is a pity, because Julia Camoys Stonor has a bloodcurdling tale to tell and a monstrous parent to describe; and apart from taking the lid off her family, she has a serious purpose — to indicate just how strong, in certain pre-war English upper-class circles, sympathy for Hitler and Franco could be. This fact is not, of course, unknown; but with proper editing her book could have filled in another corner of the tapestry and been useful to historians. Repetitive and at times wildly overwritten, it reads, instead, as if it has not been edited at all.

Nevertheless it is quite a story. Julia Stonor’s mother, Jeanne, née Stourton, was a society beauty from a well-connected tribe of Catholic grandees. Jeanne’s flighty mother had an affair with a Spanish aristocrat, Pedro de Zulueta, who was acknowledged to be Jeanne’s father; one of her great-uncles was the Spanish ambassador in London in the 1930s, and another was a cardinal and adviser to two Popes. By her daughter’s account, the dark-haired, volatile Jeanne, with her rapacious appetite for money and sex, her complete disregard for convention, her alarming mendacity and her streak of cruelty, exhibited all the faults the English like to associate with the Spanish; oddly, even the photographs in this book give her the alarming look of a Goya cartoon. She boasted of being an ‘aristo Spanish bastard’ and was much given to shouts of ‘Olé’.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Tweed Run London 2015 / VÍDEO: Tweed Run London 2014


Hello Old Chap,
Announcing the London Tweed Run 2015, taking place on Saturday 18 April 2015.

Please join us for the seventh annual London Tweed Run, as we take a jaunty bike ride around London in our sartorial best. The event starts at 11:00 am from Trafalgar Square (but plan to be there by 10:00 am, please!). We’ll take in some of London’s finest landmarks, making stops along the way for a spot of tea in a fine London square, a picnic break in the park, and ending up at a beautiful Art Deco ballroom for a drink and a bit of a knees up.

TICKETS
 Tickets to the Tweed Run will be £25, which includes a £5 donation to our designated charity, the London Cycling Campaign (www.lcc.org.uk). Tickets and optional extras go on sale on Friday 30 January at 12:00 noon, via our website. Riders can purchase up to four tickets at a time. We’ve added extra spaces this year, but we expect tickets to sell out very quickly, so we advise being poised at your computer promptly at noon.

This year we are excited to offer a few extra options for riders. Start your morning at the Tweed Run Brunch, hosted by Pol Roger Champagne. You can also reserve a Gourmet Hamper for the Picnic Break.



Monday, 23 March 2015

WOLF HALL BBC TWO / Wolf Hall: Trailer - BBC Two




On 23 August 2012, BBC Two announced several new commissions, one of which was Wolf Hall. According to The Guardian £7 million was to be spent on the adaptation. BBC Two controller Janice Hadlow said it was "very fortunate to have the rights" to the two novels and called Wolf Hall "a great contemporary novel".

Peter Kosminsky, the director of the series, said:
 This is a first for me. But it is an intensely political piece. It is about the politics of despotism, and how you function around an absolute ruler. I have a sense that Hilary Mantel wanted that immediacy. ... When I saw Peter Straughan's script, only a first draft, I couldn't believe what I was reading. It was the best draft I had ever seen. He had managed to distil 1,000 pages of the novels into six hours, using prose so sensitively. He's a theatre writer by trade.

The drama series features 102 characters and Kosminsky began casting the other parts in October 2013. Although originally set to film in Belgium, most of the filming took place on location at some of the finest British medieval and Tudor houses and buildings – Berkeley Castle, Gloucester Cathedral and Horton Court in Gloucestershire, Penshurst Place in Kent, Broughton Castle and Chastleton House in Oxfordshire, Barrington Court, Cothay Manor and Montacute House in Somerset, St Donat's Castle in the Vale of Glamorgan, and Great Chalfield Manor and Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire.The series was filmed in May–July 2014. The series, which was made in association with Masterpiece Entertainment and Playground Entertainment, consists of six episodes and was broadcast on BBC Two in the UK from 21 January 2015.

As Straughan and Kosminsky worked on the same series, it has been suggested that a harder take on British history is what the BBC wants, rather than series such as The Tudors or The White Queen. Mantel called the scripts written by Straughan a "miracle of elegant compression and I believe with such a strong team the original material can only be enhanced."

The decision by Kosminsky to film many of the interior scenes by candlelight, led the actors to bump into things and to fear they might catch fire.

Critics have been "almost unanimous" in their praise of the show. Sam Wollaston in The Guardian called it "sumptuous, intelligent, event television." Will Dean, writing for The Independent, gave it four out of five stars. He did not believe it compared favourably with the stage adaptation of the book, yet predicted it would "secure a devoted following." James Walton in The Daily Telegraph gave the first episode five stars out of five, commenting: "it’s hard to see how this one could have been done much better.". Audience figures did not reflect this, however, with a substantial fall between the first and second episode and complaints about the slow pacing.

Many authors and historians have criticised the historical veracity of the narrative in Wolf Hall and the BBC adaptation, for "perversion" of historical fact, and misrepresenting the key historical figures. The author Hilary Mantel has openly expressed anti-Catholic views and is on record for saying that she has a very negative view of the Catholic Church and that "the Catholic Church is not for respectable people". When the series aired in Britain Catholic Bishops severely criticized the depiction of Saint Thomas More as 'perverse' and 'anti-Catholic'. Bishop Mark O’Toole of Plymouth said there was a "strong anti-Catholic thread" in the series. Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury said:


 Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell

Damian Lewis as Henry VIII of England
 Claire Foy as Anne Boleyn
David Robb as Thomas Boleyn
Bernard Hill as Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk
Anton Lesser as Thomas More
Mark Gatiss as Stephen Gardiner
Mathieu Amalric as Eustace Chapuys
Joanne Whalley as Catherine of Aragon
Jonathan Pryce as Thomas Wolsey
Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Ralph Sadler
Tom Holland as Gregory Cromwell
Harry Lloyd as Harry Percy
Jessica Raine as Jane Boleyn
Saskia Reeves as Johane Williamson
Charity Wakefield as Mary Boleyn
Supporting cast[edit]
Joss Porter as Richard Cromwell
Emma Hiddleston as Meg More
Jonathan Aris as James Bainham
Ed Speleers as Edward Seymour
Kate Phillips as Jane Seymour
Hannah Steele as Mary Shelton
Richard Dillane as Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk
Florence Bell as Helen Barre
Iain Batchelor as Thomas Seymour
Paul Clayton as William Kingston
Jack Lowden as Thomas Wyatt
Felix Scott as Francis Bryan
Luke Roberts as Henry Norris
Alastair Mackenzie as William Brereton
Max Fowler as Mark Smeaton
Robert Wilfort as George Cavendish
Aimee-Ffion Edwards as Elizabeth Barton



 Episodes


1          "Three Card Trick"     Peter Kosminsky        Peter Straughan          21 January 2015        

2          "Entirely Beloved"     Peter Kosminsky        Peter Straughan          28 January 2015        

3          "Anna Regina"           Peter Kosminsky        Peter Straughan          4 February 2015         

4          "The Devil's Spit"       Peter Kosminsky        Peter Straughan          11 February 2015      

5          "Crows"          Peter Kosminsky        Peter Straughan          18 February 2015      

6          "Master of Phantoms"            Peter Kosminsky        Peter Straughan          25 February 2015       





Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel – review
Christopher Tayler

Thomas Cromwell, the chief minister to Henry VIII who oversaw the break with Rome and the dissolution of the monasteries, was widely hated in his lifetime, and he makes a surprising fictional hero now. Geoffrey Elton used to argue that he founded modern government, but later historians have pared back his role, and one recent biographer, Robert Hutchinson, portrayed him as a corrupt proto-Stalinist. He's a sideshow to Wolsey in Shakespeare and Fletcher's Henry VIII, a villain who hounds Thomas More to his death in Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons. Law and financial administration - his main activities - don't always ignite writers' imaginations, and in the pop-Foucauldian worldview of much historical fiction since the 1980s, his bureaucratic innovations would be seen as inherently sinister. Then there's the portrait of him, after Holbein: a dewlapped man in dark robes with a shrewd, unfriendly face, holding a folded paper like an upturned dagger. He looks, as Hilary Mantel has him say in her new novel, "like a murderer".

In Wolf Hall, Mantel persuasively depicts this beefy pen-pusher and backstairs manoeuvrer as one of the most appealing - and, in his own way, enlightened - characters of the period. Taking off from the scant evidence concerning his early life, she imagines a miserable childhood for him as the son of a violent, drunken blacksmith in Putney. Already displaying toughness, intelligence and a gift for languages, he runs away to the continent as a boy of 15 or so (his date of birth isn't known, and in the novel he doesn't know it himself). At this point, only 16 pages in, the action cuts to 1527, with Cromwell back in England, "a little over forty years old" and a trusted agent of Cardinal Wolsey. His life-shaping experiences in France, Italy and the Netherlands are dealt with in flashback here and there: he has been a soldier, a trader and an accountant for a Florentine bank; he has killed a man and learned to appreciate Italian painting.

Mantel's Cromwell is an omnicompetent figure, "at home in courtroom or waterfront, bishop's palace or inn yard. He can draft a contract, train a falcon, draw a map, stop a street fight, furnish a house and fix a jury." Fluent in many languages, learned, witty and thoughtful, he's also an intimidating physical presence; Wolsey fondly compares him to "one of those square-shaped fighting dogs that low men tow about on ropes". This makes him an ideal emissary for Wolsey's project of liquidating some smaller monasteries to fund a school and an Oxford college. But self-advancement isn't Cromwell's only motive. He's disgusted by the waste and superstition he encounters, and takes a materialist view of relics and indulgences. The feudal mindset of Wolsey's rival grandees seems equally outdated to him: jibes at his lowly origins bounce off his certainty that noble blood and feats of arms now count for less than lines of credit and nicely balanced books.

The first half of the novel, built around Wolsey's fall from power, details Cromwell's domestic setup at Austin Friars and introduces the major players in Tudor politics. Without clobbering the reader with the weight of her research, Mantel works up a 16th-century world in which only a joker would call for cherries in April or lettuce in December, and where hearing an unlicensed preacher is an illicit thrill on a par with risking syphilis. The civil wars that brought the Tudors to the throne still make older people shudder, bringing Henry's obsession with producing a male heir into focus. And the precarious nature of early modern life is brought home by the abrupt deaths of Cromwell's wife and daughters, carried off by successive epidemics in moving but unsentimentally staged scenes. Cromwell asks if he can bury his elder daughter with a copybook she's written her name in; "the priest says he has never heard of such a thing".

Grieving, he thinks of Tyndale's banned English Bible: "now abideth faith, hope and love, even these three; but the greatest of these is love." More, he knows, thinks "love" is "a wicked mistranslation. He insists on 'charity' . . . He would, for a difference in your Greek, kill you." In the second half of the novel - which charts Cromwell's rise to favour as he clears the way for the king's marriage to Anne Boleyn - More emerges as Cromwell's opposite number, more a spokesman for another worldview than a practical antagonist. Shabbily dressed, genial, yet punctiliously correct on politically controversial points, this More is a far cry from Bolt's gentle humanist martyr. He's made repulsive even more by the self-adoring theatricality behind his modest exterior than by his interest in torturing heretics and contemptuous treatment of his wife. He ends up stage-managing his own destruction out of narcissism and fanaticism, or at best a cold idealism that's contrasted unfavourably with Cromwell's reforming worldliness.

For all its structural and thematic importance, however, Cromwell's conflict with More is only part of a wider battle caused by Henry's desire to have his first marriage annulled. Much space is given over to court politics, which Mantel manages to make comprehensible without downplaying its considerable complexity. Central figures - the Boleyn sisters, Catherine of Aragon, the young Mary Tudor, the king himself - are brought plausibly to life, as are Cromwell's wife, Liz Wykys, and Cardinal Wolsey. Determined, controlled but occasionally impulsive, and a talented hater, Mantel's Anne Boleyn is a more formidable character even than her uncle the Duke of Norfolk, portrayed here as a scheming old warhorse who rattles a bit when he moves on account of all the relics and holy medals concealed about his person.

Making characters of all these people is, of course, a big risk. How do you write about Henry VIII without being camp or breathless or making him do something clunkily non-stereotypical? Mantel attacks the problem from several angles, starting by knowing a lot about the period but not drawing attention to how strenuously she's imagining it. Meaty dialogue takes precedence over description, and the present-tense narration is so closely tied to the main character that Cromwell is usually called plain "he", even when it causes ambiguities. Above all, Mantel avoids ye olde-style diction, preferring more contemporary phrasing. Small rises in the level of language are frequently used for comic effect, as in: "Well, I tell you, Lady Shelton, if she had had an axe to hand, she would have essayed to cut off my head." The effortless-seeming management of contrasting registers plays a big part in the novel's success, as does Mantel's decision to let Cromwell have a sense of humour.

"Love your neighbour. Study the market. Increase the spread of benevolence. Bring in better figures next year." If not a man for all seasons, the book's heroic accountant is surely the man for his season. Mantel keeps too close an eye on facts and emotions to make her story an arch allegory of modern Britain's origins, but her setting of such unglamorous virtues as financial transparency and legal clarity against the forces of reaction and mystification is interesting and mildly provocative. At the same time, sinister grace notes accompany Cromwell's triumph. Wolf Hall, the Seymour family seat, is a site of scandal in the novel, a place where men prey on women and the old on the young. It's also where Jane Seymour first caught Henry's eye - an event that falls just outside the book's time scheme, but which serves as a reminder that, whatever their status in 1535, most of the major characters will end up with their heads on the block.


Mantel is a prolific, protean figure who doesn't fit into many of the established pigeonholes for women writers, and whose output ranges from the French revolution (A Place of Greater Safety) to her own troubled childhood (Giving Up the Ghost). Maybe this book will win one of the prizes that have been withheld so far. A historian might wonder about the extent to which she makes Cromwell a modern rationalist in Renaissance dress; a critic might wonder if the narrator's awe at the central character doesn't sometimes make him seem as self-mythologising as his enemies. But Wolf Hall succeeds on its own terms and then some, both as a non-frothy historical novel and as a display of Mantel's extraordinary talent. Lyrically yet cleanly and tightly written, solidly imagined yet filled with spooky resonances, and very funny at times, it's not like much else in contemporary British fiction. A sequel is apparently in the works, and it's not the least of Mantel's achievements that the reader finishes this 650-page book wanting more.


Wolf Hall finale, review: Simply brilliant TV


‘She kneels’, says the executioner. ‘There is no block.’ The executioner who later would slip off his shoes so that Anne could not hear his footsteps behind her. Subtle, brutal, elegant – Wolf Hall embodied in one moment. Cromwell said nothing, moved not a single muscle in his face, but his eyes spoke of indescribable sorrow. The Queen is dead. Long live the Queen.

After six hours of Rolls Royce television, Wolf Hall has to come to its inevitable, bloody end. The final hour, the show’s and Anne Boleyn’s, saw the Queen unravel entirely as Thomas Cromwell (Mark Rylance) greased the wheels for Henry’s marriage to the pliable Jane Seymour. Among a cast so heavyweight it could sink the Mary Rose itself Claire Foy has been magnificent, showing what a huge fierce heart lay beneath that famously flat chest.

Anne’s demise was hard to watch. From the moment she began publicly goading her lovers – poor lute player Mark Smeaton (Max Fowler) got a particularly rough ride all round – to the final grasping gesture of giving out money to the poor and praising her husband to the highest of heavens, Anne’s fall was as pathetic and unspectacular as could be. In one beautiful moment, just before she was arrested, Anne sat while her maids cleared away the remnants of a meal. Eventually all that was left in front of her was a plain, wooden table. Nothing more.
However, before the royal head could be lopped from its regal shoulders, evidence was needed. Well, ‘evidence’. This is Cromwell after all. The naughty gallants who had lain with Anne (and a few who’d just glanced at her portrait in a corridor) were rounded up, mainly on the say so of sister-in-law Jane Boleyn (Jessica Raine) and via the confession of ‘pretty boy’ Mark Smeaton (and, no, the Duke of Norfolk did not refuse the opportunity to crack a gag about fingering lutes). Jane even incriminated her own husband George, the Queen’s brother. They kiss with tongues, Jane says. ‘Do you want me to record that?’ asked an incredulous Cromwell. ‘If you think you’ll forget it’ sniffed Jane. She was deadly serious.

The trial, which resembled an especially downbeat Mason’s initiation ceremony (all hats and candles and gout), was a sham. Anne got to understand how betrayed she had been by literally everyone, and the bravado of her alleged lovers drained as they too grasped the situation. ‘'I need guilty men’ Cromwell had told Harry Norris. ‘So I’ve found men who are guilty.’ Guilty of? Of adultery with the Queen. Of insulting Cardinal Wolsey. Of looking at Cromwell funny. Of being in the way.

Before Anne’s dramatic haircut, Cromwell walked the gallows himself (historical spoiler alert) and made sure the executioner hadn’t forgotten anything. He seemed haunted. In the final moments, caught in the suddenly single Henry’s triumphant bear hug, he was shattered. This was simply brilliant television.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Alma Tadema / A Victorian, languid, meticulous reconstruction of the “Classical World”



 Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema,  (8 January 1836 – 25 June 1912)
Alma-Tadema was among the most financially successful painters of the Victorian era, though never matching Edwin Henry Landseer. For over sixty years he gave his audience exactly what they wanted: distinctive, elaborate paintings of beautiful people in classical settings. His incredibly detailed reconstructions of ancient Rome, with languid men and women posed against white marble in dazzling sunlight provided his audience with a glimpse of a world of the kind they might one day construct for themselves at least in attitude if not in detail. As with other painters, the reproduction rights for prints were often worth more than the canvas, and a painting with its rights still attached may have been sold to Gambart for £10,000 in 1874; without rights it was sold again in 1903, when Alma-Tadema's prices were actually higher, for £2,625. Typical prices were between £2,000 and £3,000 in the 1880s, but at least three works sold for between £5,250 and £6,060 in the 1900s. Prices held well until the general collapse of Victorian prices in the early 1920s, when they fell to the hundreds, where they remained until the 1960s; by 1969 £4,600 had been reached again (the huge effect of inflation must of course be remembered for all these figures).
His artistic legacy almost vanished. As attitudes of the public in general and the artists in particular became more sceptical of the possibilities of human achievement, his paintings were increasingly denounced. He was declared "the worst painter of the 19th century" by John Ruskin, and one critic even remarked that his paintings were "about worthy enough to adorn bourbon boxes." After this brief period of being actively derided, he was consigned to relative obscurity for many years. Only since the 1960s has Alma-Tadema's work been re-evaluated for its importance within the nineteenth century, and more specifically, within the evolution of English art.
He is now regarded as one of the principal classical-subject painters of the nineteenth century whose works demonstrate the care and exactitude of an era mesmerised by trying to visualise the past, some of which was being recovered through archaeological research.
Alma-Tadema's meticulous archaeological research, including research into Roman architecture (which was so thorough that every building featured in his canvases could have been built using Roman tools and methods) led to his paintings being used as source material by Hollywood directors in their vision of the ancient world for films such as D. W. Griffith's Intolerance (1916), Ben Hur (1926), Cleopatra (1934), and most notably of all, Cecil B. DeMille's epic remake of The Ten Commandments (1956). Indeed, Jesse Lasky Jr., the co-writer on The Ten Commandments, described how the director would customarily spread out prints of Alma-Tadema paintings to indicate to his set designers the look he wanted to achieve. The designers of the Oscar-winning Roman epic Gladiator used the paintings of Alma-Tadema as a central source of inspiration.















Wednesday, 18 March 2015

The 'Echte Leidse Zeeduffel'



These two examples of the 'Echte Leidse Zeeduffel' from Biesot, Leiden in Holland are strong reminders of  the Flemish  origin of the original  “Duffel”.
The company is 4 generations old and is still going strong and producing the 'Echte Leidse Zeeduffel' .
You can visit the products of “Proudly Made by Biesot” at :




Patrick Biesot / 4 Generations





Sunday, 15 March 2015

CINDERELLA / 2015 / VÍDEO Disney's Cinderella Official US Trailer 2



Cinderella is a 2015 American romantic fantasy film directed by Kenneth Branagh, from a screenplay written by Chris Weitz. Produced by David Barron, Simon Kinberg and Allison Shearmur for Walt Disney Pictures, the story is inspired by the fairy tale Cinderella by Charles Perrault (with some references from the Brothers Grimm's version of the story). Although not a direct remake, it borrows many elements from Walt Disney's 1950 animated musical film of the same name. The film stars Lily James in the title role as Ella ("Cinderella") with Richard Madden as Prince Charming, Cate Blanchett as Lady Tremaine (the Wicked Stepmother), Sophie McShera as Drizella, Holliday Grainger as Anastasia and Helena Bonham Carter as The Fairy Godmother.



The film was released on March 13, 2015. It had its world premiere on February 13, 2015, in the out of competition section of the 65th Berlin International Film Festival.

Lily James as Ella ("Cinderella")
Eloise Webb as young Ella
Richard Madden as Prince "Kit" Charming
Cate Blanchett as Lady Tremaine
Helena Bonham Carter as The Fairy Godmother
Stellan Skarsgård as The Grand Duke
Derek Jacobi as The King
Hayley Atwell as Cinderella's Mother
Holliday Grainger as Anastasia
Sophie McShera as Drizella
Nonso Anozie as Captain

Ben Chaplin as Cinderella's Father


 Cate Blanchett was the first actor to sign on, when it was announced in November 2012 that she would be playing Lady Tremaine. In March 2013, Emma Watson was in talks to portray Cinderella, but a deal could not be worked out. Gabriella Wilde, Saoirse Ronan, Alicia Vikander, Bella Heathcote and Margot Robbie were also considered for the part, but deals could not be worked out due to scheduling and other conflicts.
 On April 30, 2013, Lily James was added to the cast as the title character. A week later, Richard Madden was cast as the Prince. In June 2013, it was reported that Holliday Grainger and Sophie McShera joined the film as the mean stepsisters, Anastasia and Drizella.Later that month, Helena Bonham Carter was cast as the Fairy Godmother. In July 2013, Stellan Skarsgård began discussions to play the Grand Duke, and his involvement in the film was confirmed soon after.[10] In August 2013, Hayley Atwell joined the cast to play Cinderella's mother. On September 23, 2013, it was announced that Derek Jacobi was cast as the King and Nonso Anozie as the Captain, a loyal friend to the Prince.



In May 2010, following the box office success of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, which was the second-highest grossing film of 2010 and earned over $1 billion at the box office worldwide, Walt Disney Pictures began developing a new film adaptation of Cinderella, making a deal on a live-action reimagining based on a script by Aline Brosh McKenna and produced by Simon Kinberg. In August 2011, Mark Romanek was brought on to direct. On February 29, 2012, it was announced that Chris Weitz would be brought in to revise McKenna's script. In January 2013, Romanek left the project due to creative differences, as he was developing a version that was darker than Disney wanted.Later that month, Disney negotiated with Kenneth Branagh to take over as director.


Three-time Oscar-winning costume designer Sandy Powell was in charge of the costumes for the film. Powell began working on concepts for the characters’ looks almost two years before principal photography began in the summer of 2013. Powell said she was aiming for the look of "a nineteenth-century period film made in the 1940s or '50s."

For the stepmother and stepsisters Powell had a very strong thought about the look "They are meant to be totally ridiculous on the outside—a bit too much and overdone—and ugly on the inside." While for the prince the silhouette was from the original animation, however they created a more fitted look and less masculine colors, some of the prince costumes were dyed to accentuate Madden’s eyes.

The ball gown was inspired by the Disney movie in its color and shape, "The gown had to look lovely when she dances and runs away from the ball. I wanted her to look like she was floating, like a watercolor painting." The dress was made with more than a dozen fine layers of fabric, a corset and a petticoat. Nine versions of the Cinderella gown were made, each with more than 270 yards of fabric and 10.000 crystals. It took 18 tailors and 500 hours to make each dress.

The wedding dress was another difficult project. "Creating the wedding dress was a challenge. Rather than try to make something even better than the ball gown, I had to do something completely different and simple... I wanted the whole effect to be ephemeral and fine, so we went with an extreme-lined shaped bodice with a long train." says Powell. It took 16 people and 550 hours to complete the silk-organza, hand painted dress. While in the production was taking photographs of James in the gown, the actress stood too close to an electric heater and the dress caught on fire, the top layer of the dress had to be redone, because only one wedding dress was created due to time and budget.

For the glass slipper, Powell took inspiration from a '50s shoe she saw in a museum. Since glass does not sparkle, they decided to used crystal instead. Swarovski partnered with Disney to make the famous shoe. Powell went directly to Swarovski headquarters in Austria to meet the product developers. It took 6 digital renderings versions of the shoes until they found the right one for the film. Swarovski made eight pairs of crystal shoes for the film, though none of the actually wearable since it was made of crystal. For that, the visual effects had to digitally alter the leather shoes James wore on set into crystal. Alongside with the slipper, Swarovski provided more than 7 million crystals that were used in costumes and 100 tiaras for the ball scene.