Thursday 24 September 2015

Gladys Spencer-Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough / the aristocrat with attitude. / VÍDEO: Duke Of Marlborough / Gladys (1921)

Born in Paris, Gladys Marie Deacon was the daughter of American citizens Edward Deacon and his wife Florence, daughter of Admiral Charles H. Baldwin. She had three sisters and a brother who died in infancy. Her father was imprisoned after shooting her mother's lover to death in 1892 and the girl was sent to school at the Convent de l’Assomption at Auteuil.

After Edward's release from prison, Florence abducted Gladys from the convent. The couple was divorced in 1893 and the custody of the three older children, including Gladys, was given to Edward. He took them to the United States, where Deacon remained for the next three years. Edward Deacon soon became mentally unstable and was hospitalised at McLean Hospital, dying there in 1901. Deacon and her sisters returned to France to live with their mother. Marcel Proust wrote of her: "I never saw a girl with such beauty, such magnificent intelligence, such goodness and charm."

In the late 1890s, the Duke of Marlborough invited Deacon to Blenheim Palace and she became friends with his wife Consuelo. In 1901, the Crown Prince of Prussia visited the palace and took a strong liking to her, giving her a ring that the Kaiser demanded to be returned. At the age of 22, Deacon underwent a plastic surgery attempt in which she had her nose injected with paraffin wax; it slipped, destroying her famous good looks. Deacon became the Duke's mistress soon after moving into the palace. However, Marlborough and Consuelo did not divorce until 1921. Deacon and Marlborough were married in Paris later that year.

Artistic and a keen gardener, the new Duchess of Marlborough had enlarged images of her startling blue-green eyes painted on the ceiling of the main portico of Blenheim Palace, where they remain today. Later in their unhappy, childless marriage, she kept a revolver in her bedroom to prevent her husband's entry. As her behaviour became increasingly erratic, most noticeably following the Duke's conversion to Roman Catholicism, the couple began drifting apart. The Duchess pursued her hobby of breeding Blenheim Spaniels, much to her husband's displeasure. Finally, the duke moved out of the palace, and two years later evicted her. He died in 1934.

Widowhood and death
The Dowager Duchess of Marlborough moved with her dogs first to north Oxfordshire and later to the Grange Farm at Chacombe. She started retreating from the world and eventually became a complete recluse. By 1962, she had become mentally ill, much like her father and paternal grandmother, and was forcibly moved to St Andrew's Hospital, where she died, aged 96.

Gladys, Duchess of Marlborough: the aristocrat with attitude
Her beauty and fierce intelligence left Proust and Rodin obsessed, and the upper-classes besotted. Then why did the vivacious Gladys Deacon die a recluse?

Murder, abduction from a convent, the destruction of her own legendary beauty, the Aesop’s Fable of wishing to marry a Duke, years of reclusive seclusion… All were combined in the long and turbulent life of Gladys Deacon.
The story of the first marriage of Charles, 9th Duke of Marlborough, and Consuelo Vanderbilt in 1895 is well known. Deals were struck on both sides. Both were in love with others, but he needed the Vanderbilt millions to restore Blenheim Palace and her mother wanted a daughter as a Duchess.
As a consequence the marriage was unhappy and ended in separation and, later, in divorce. It is generally recorded that both remarried – though the second marriages are less well known. Consuelo married Jacques Balsan, an aviator and balloonist who profited from “rejuvenating” monkey gland injections to an alarming degree. While in 1921, Charles married Gladys Deacon.
Gladys’s dramatic story might have been lost forever had I not stumbled on an intriguing reference to her when I was 16 and thumbing through the diaries of the Conservative MP Henry “Chips” Channon. Chips encountered her in a jeweller’s shop in Bond Street in 1943: “I saw an extraordinary marionette of a woman – or was it a man? It wore grey flannel trousers, a wide leather belt, masculine overcoat and a man’s brown felt hat, and had a really frightening appearance, but the hair was golden-dyed and long.”
Chips continued to examine this “terrifying apparition” and then suddenly he recognised her – “Gladys Marlborough, once the world’s most beautiful woman, the toast of Paris, the love of Proust, the belle amie of Anatole France”.
He attempted to introduce himself: “She looked at me, stared vacantly with those famous eyes that once drove men insane with desire and muttered: ‘Je n’ai jamais entendu ce nom-la’. She flung down a ruby clip she was examining and bolted from the shop.”
This description instilled in me a fascination that never waned. I wanted to know what happened to her – particularly as there was no indication that she had died. But she seemed to have disappeared from the face of the earth.
A visit to Blenheim in 1968, endless questions asked to anyone who might know, and finally a visit to her last address in Chacombe in 1975 provided little to go on. The publican in the village horrified me by saying: “She’s been gone a long time.” He did not think she was dead, however, but in a hospital “up Northampton way”.
This was at least a clue and St Andrew’s Hospital, a well-known psychiatric hospital, seemed the most likely place. I telephoned them, was asked to put my request in writing and soon found myself bombarded with letters from lawyers and a nephew in Lausanne.
By this time I had made the extremely arrogant decision to write her biography. The nephew warned me to do my homework before visiting her. “She’s as cute as a cat,” he said. “She’ll look right through you.”
So I read about Proust, Rodin, Monet and Anatole France, and the many others on whom she had had an effect. Proust wrote of her: “I never saw a girl with such beauty, such magnificent intelligence, such goodness and charm.”
I discovered she had been evicted from Blenheim by the 9th Duke, that on a visit to the palace in 1901 the Crown Prince of Prussia had fallen madly in love with her and given her a ring that the Kaiser had forced her to return. I heard rumours of a bizarre operation in which she had injected paraffin wax into her nose to create the perfect Grecian profile, and how the wax had slipped, destroying her legendary beauty.
Then there was the dramatic incident in which her father had shot her mother’s lover dead in a hotel room in Cannes in 1892. And as for the later life, the life after her encounter with Chips Channon, she had become a most eccentric recluse, disappearing into a house at Chacombe, near Banbury, and eventually locking the doors against the world.
Her nephew told me how he managed to visit her and, as the evening came and darkness descended, she turned on no lights. She watched him getting increasingly terrified.
In 1975, the Duchess was 94. There was no time to lose. I was given a letter of authority to visit her by a lawyer, who looked at me in astonishment, wondering why I would want to go near her. I was only 23 and had never been near a psycho-geriatric ward. I confess I was deeply scared, my nerves made no calmer by a vivid nightmare in which the old and the young Gladys Deacon curiously merged into one – as, in a way, they did.
Arriving at the hospital, Mrs Newton, the chief nursing officer, conducted me down a seemingly endless succession of corridors, past the doors of the unseen members of well-known families. Doors were unlocked, relocked until we eventually arrived at O’Connell Ward.
The Duchess was in the green room, with sweeping views over the beautiful park. The room was deserted but for a figure asleep in a chair with her feet up and a white linen cloth over her head. “Duchess, you’ve got a visitor,”Mrs Newton said.
She stirred. I knelt down beside her and gradually she lifted the cloth. First I saw a distorted jaw due partly to the wax injections of the early 1900s and not helped by old age. Then the cloth came higher and finally I found myself looking straight into those famous blue eyes. They were just as strong and beautiful as had been described by the great writers of the age.
She looked at me. “Later, later, later,” she said, dropping the cloth. She returned to sleep.
That first encounter was not encouraging, but things got better – gradually. On a subsequent visit, I found her surrounded by nursing staff. Gladys looked at pictures and joked about them. At the end of that key meeting, she said to me: “Thank you very much. You’ve given me a better laugh than I’ve had since I came here.”
She invited me to have a cup of tea and we began the slow process of making friends. She was all but stone deaf, but with good eyesight. Every question I asked her was written on a piece of paper in large black capital letters. These she read and when it suited her, she answered.
I visited her 65 times over a period of more than two years. I loved going to talk to Gladys; she changed the course of my life.
Her extraordinary story unfolded, glimpses revealed in conversation but mostly found in archives across the world. She gave me clues. She told me that Rodin was “of a very lascivious nature – you know, hands all over you”, adding “of course I never knew him”.
So off I would go to the Rodin Museum in Paris, where I would find her letters to him. The contrast was stark.
Her family urged me to try to find out where she was educated. She would not be pressed on this until one day she announced: “I was a miracle. Differential Calculus was too low for me!” The door opened and a nurse brought some tea in. “Getting any sense out of her, are you?” she asked. I was merely trying to keep up.
She had been born in Paris in 1881, to the kind of family that Henry James wrote about; indeed, James knew her father. Edward Parker Deacon came from Boston, where to this day stands Deacon House. The Deacons had married well. Gladys’s grandmother, Sarah Ann Parker, was well connected, but sadly went mad. It was from her that an unstable streak entered the family.
Gladys’s mother, Florence, was the daughter of Rear-Admiral Charles H Baldwin. He was a somewhat peppery figure who, when sent to represent the United States at the Coronation of Tsar Alexander III in 1883, refused to attend because he was not given a good enough seat.
The Deacons had four beautiful daughters and a son who died as a little boy. They lived in Paris and travelled about Europe. Florence moved in an interesting set, with friends such as Bernard Berenson, Rodin and Count Robert de Montesquiou. But the marriage was not happy and she took a lover called Emile Abeille.
Deacon pursued the couple through Europe and tracked them down to the Hotel Splendide at Cannes in February 1892. Discovering Abeille’s presence, Deacon took a loaded gun, insisted on entering his wife’s room and fired three shots at Abeille as he cowered behind the sofa.
Deacon gave himself up and was jailed. Abeille lingered on through the night and died in the morning.
Gladys was sent back to school at the Convent de l’Assomption at Auteuil. After her father’s release from prison, he made his way there to take custody of her, only to find she had been abducted by her mother. A court case followed. But after the divorce in 1893, Deacon was given custody of his three older children and he promptly took them to the US, where Gladys remained for the next three years.
During this time, William James saw Deacon and reported to his brother, Henry, how vain Deacon was, how he clearly considered his “conjugal exploit” gave him “a distinction for him in the eyes of fashionable New Yorkers” and how shocked he was “by the way he talked about it before his little daughter”. Deacon eventually lost his reason and was put away in the McLean Hospital in Belmont, near Boston, where he died in 1901.
In 1896 Gladys and her sisters returned to France to live with their mother. Her education over, she began to blaze through Europe like a brilliant meteor of beauty, intelligence and wit, taking princely and ducal scalps along the way.
Legion were those who fell in love with Gladys: Prince Roffredo Caetani; Bernard Berenson and his wife; the Duke of Marlborough and possibly Consuelo, too, the Dukes of Camastra, Norfolk, Newcastle and Connaught; RC Trevelyan; Gabriele d’Annunzio; Anatole France; and Lord Brooke (later Warwick). But she was set on a marriage to the Duke of Marlborough and eventually, in 1921, having known him for more than 20 years, she followed Consuelo to Blenheim Palace.
Now Blenheim is mounting an exhibition paying tribute to Gladys’s life there: the creation of the lower terraces on the west side, leading down to the lake, with the two sphinxes that bear her features, and the curious eyes painted in the portico. To the palace she lured figures like Jacob Epstein and Lytton Strachey. But she found herself a lone intellectual caught among county figures. Rodin had given her a little statue. It stood in one of the state rooms but nobody ever asked her about it.
Then the Duke became a Roman Catholic and soon afterwards the marriage descended into a state of internecine warfare. One evening Gladys placed a revolver on the dining room table. “What’s that for?” asked one of the dinner guests.
“Oh I don’t know,” Gladys replied. “I might just shoot Marlborough!”
Not surprisingly he took fright, left her alone at the palace for nearly two years and then evicted her – first from Blenheim and then from the London house in Carlton House Terrace. Courageous to the last, Gladys stood on the steps at Blenheim and photographed the vans taking her possessions away.
The Duke died in 1934, before they were divorced, and Gladys settled with her dogs in north Oxfordshire, eventually at the Grange Farm at Chacombe. She began by filling it with her treasures: the Rodin statue, her portrait by Boldini, her fabulous collection of books.
But as time wore on, she retreated from the world, becoming a total recluse. Her only link to the outside world was her kind Polish helper, Andrei Kwiatkowsky, to whom she would lower the key to her door from an upper window. In 1962, she was forcibly removed to St Andrew’s; she died in 1977.
My conversations with Gladys over the two years I saw her were never less than stimulating. She opened avenues of possibility that had previously been closed to me. When my book came out in 1979, Cecil Beaton read it and invited me to be his biographer – in a sense a gift from Gladys. It was the first time it occurred to me that I might not be a failure in life.
She often told me that young people needed someone to breathe life into them and make them think in a different way. That is certainly what Gladys did for me.

‘Gladys Deacon – An Eccentric Duchess’ is at Blenheim Palace from February 12 until March 25;

one of the sphinx at Blenheim- the likeness of Gladys

The eyes on the portico at Blenheim Palace

Tuesday 22 September 2015

Remembering Avenue House in Ampthill and the sale of the collection assembled by Sir Albert Richardson.

Sir Albert Richardson at home

Sir Albert Edward Richardson K.C.V.O., F.R.I.B.A, F.S.A., (London, 19 May 1880 – 3 February 1964) was a leading English architect, teacher and writer about architecture during the first half of the 20th century. He was Professor of Architecture at University College London, a President of the Royal Academy, editor of Architects’ Journal and founder of the Georgian Group.

Richardson was born in London. He trained in the offices of Leonard Stokes and Frank T. Verity, practitioners of the Beaux-Arts style, and in 1906 he established his first architectural practice, in partnership with Charles Lovett Gill (the Richardson & Gill partnership was eventually dissolved in 1939).

He wrote several articles for Architectural Review and the survey of London Houses from 1660 to 1820: a Consideration of their Architecture and Detail (1911). In the following year he was appointed architect to the Prince of Wales's Duchy of Cornwall Estate. His massive work, Monumental Classic Architecture in Great Britain and Ireland (1914) established him as a scholar; in it he reappraised the Greek Revival architects C.R. Cockerell and Henri Labrouste.

In his own work he was strongly influenced by nostalgia for the craftsmanship of the late Georgian era and the pared-down Neoclassicism of Sir John Soane in particular, but he recognised that his classical ideals needed to be developed to meet the challenges of Modernism. The result was a synthesis of traditional and modern approaches which was adapted and applied to industrial and commercial buildings, churches and houses. His deep knowledge of and sympathy towards Georgian design also helped him in numerous post-war commissions to restore bomb-damaged Georgian buildings. Ironically, several of his designs – most notably, Bracken House in the City of London, the first post-war London building to be listed and protected from redevelopment – are now regarded as classic milestones of 20th century design.

He was awarded the Royal Gold Medal for Architecture in 1947 and was elected President of the Royal Academy in 1954; he was knighted in 1956.

From 1919 until his death in 1964, Richardson lived at Avenue House, 20 Church Street, Ampthill, Bedfordshire, an 18th-century townhouse in which he initially refused to install electricity, believing that his home needed to reflect Georgian standards of living if he was truly to understand their way of life, though he was later persuaded to change his mind by his wife, Elizabeth Byers (March 1882 – 1958), whom he had married in 1904. They had one daughter.

Rejected Riches: Avenue House

The contents of Avenue House in Ampthill – the collection assembled by Sir Albert Richardson (1880–1964), architect, historian, writer, artist, teacher and sometime President of the Royal Academy – is now being sold by Christie’s in London. Richardson moved into the Georgian brick town house in the Bedfordshire town in 1919 and over the next 40 years filled it with products of the Georgian age he loved and understood so well. The result was not a museum, however; Richardson once described it as ‘a home, an office, and a university’ – a similar role to that intended by Sir John Soane for his creation in Lincoln’s Inn Fields.
This sale is a sad and wretched business. Many of Richardson’s things do not look particularly impressive now wrenched from their context. The furniture and decorative objects will undoubtedly appeal to collectors but the paintings are not of the the highest quality. But that is not the point. What is now being sold and dispersed constituted a very special and personal tribute to Georgian England within an appropriate architectural setting. There was nothing else quite like it. And what is particularly sad is to see the architectural drawings that are for sale – not just drawings by architects like Soane but many made for Richardson’s own buildings, as well as some intriguing architectural fantasies. These are things that belong in the RIBA drawings collection.
Richardson may have adopted a pose in Ampthill – refusing to install electric light, dressing up in Georgian clothes and being carried through the streets in a sedan chair – but he was a seriously good modern architect. He began by promoting the Edwardian rediscovery of Neoclassicism and the works of people like Soane and Cockerell. After the First World War he intelligently adapted the abstracted classical language of Schinkel and other Neoclassicists to modern conditions and reinforced concrete construction in a series of impressive commercial buildings, as well as designing an extraordinary streamlined gothic church at Greenford.
Even after the Second World War, when he was perceived by the new modernist establishment as a traditional and reactionary figure, he showed great resourcefulness in his design for Bracken House in the City of London. Barracked by the Anti-Uglies when new, it later became the first post-war building in England to be listed.
But what is most depressing is that this sale need not be happening. Avenue House was lovingly maintained for half a century after Richardson’s death by his grandson, Simon Houfe, who was anxious to secure its future in the public realm. He offered both house and collection to the National Trust on advantageous terms. Negotiations dragged on for seven years, only to end with his offer being rejected.
This seems incomprehensible; especially when this decision is compared – as many have done – with the National Trust’s recently announced intention to open, in a nauseatingly populist gesture, the ‘house’ created for the Big Brother reality television show. Of course there would have been problems in opening Avenue House to the public – as there were with, say, the small houses in Liverpool bought by the Trust because they were the childhood homes of two of the Beatles.
Albert Richardson was an intriguing and important figure in the architectural culture of Britain in the 20th century. He may be forgotten now – just as Soane’s achievement was despised during the half century after his death – but the National Trust should have known better.

Albert Richardson

The other day I finished reading The Professor (White Crescent Press, 1980), Simon Houfe’s affectionate biography of his grandfather, the architect Sir Albert Edward Richardson. I’ve been intrigued by Richardson for a while: he often has a passing mention in memoirs and letters produced between the wars although, in spite of an architectural career which lasted from the late 1890s to the early 1960s, his country house output was small. He enlarged or remodelled one or two minor houses – The Hale, near Wendor (1918) and Chevithorne Barton in Devon (1930) are good examples – but the practice he carried on, with C. Lovett Gill until 1939 and from 1945 with his son-in-law, E. A. S. Houfe, focused mainly on commercial premises, usually designed in a light, elegant neo-Georgian style.

Richardson’s real contribution to the period was as a polemicist for the buildings of the past, and in particular for the long eighteenth century – which in his case was even longer than usual, beginning with the Restoration and ending with the death of George IV 170 years later. He travelled the length and breadth of the country in his enormous Rolls Royce, haranguing philistine local authorities to save an England that was in danger of demolition, berating negligent owners of dilapidated mansions. He recorded historic architecture in hundreds, perhaps thousands, of fluid, fluent sketches and in a flood of published work: Georgian England, The Old Inns of England, The Smaller English House of the Later Renaissance. John Betjeman once told him that ‘You have written the two bibles of my life – Monumental Classic Architecture of the 18th and 19th Centuries, and Regional Architecture in the West of England. If I were king, I would give you a peerage.’

And not content with promoting the past, Richardson lived in it. In 1919 he bought Avenue House in Ampthill, built for a Bedfordshire brewer in 1780 and extended by Henry Holland in 1792-5. Over the next four decades or so the architect filled Avenue House with art and oddities: oils by Philip Mercier and Angelica Kauffmann, exquisite George III furniture in tulipwood and satinwood; a lamp said to belong to the Lady of the Lamp herself, Florence Nightingale; Clive of India’s door knob and a battered baluster from Doctor Johnson’s house. He refused to have electricity installed, and was fond of dressing up in full Georgian costume around the house.

In many ways Richardson was a difficult character – bombastic, self-centred, a reactionary conservative who hated Modernism as much as he loathed modern society. Imagine an architectural G. K. Chesterton, and you have him. But his contribution to the evolving preservationist movement of the 1920s and 1930s was profound.

By a strange coincidence, just as I reached the last page of The Professor, an email came through from Christie’s announcing the sale of the contents of Avenue House. The place had remained more or less intact since Richardson’s death in 1964, and after years of searching for a way of preserving it for posterity, the family has given up the struggle.

The Avenue House sale took place this week. It isn’t a disastrous Mentmore-type dispersal to be remembered and mourned for decades. It is more of a small sadness. But it is a sadness, none the less. Something has been lost, and we’re all a little poorer for it.

The Saloon at Avenue House in 1934
photo courtesy of Country Life

The Saloon at Avenue House in 1922
photo courtesy of Country Life
Reggie's Rooms II: The Saloon at Avenue House

I first came across images of Sir Albert Richardson's enchanting drawing room at Avenue House in Ampthill, Bedfordshire, in John Cornforth's absorbing book The Inspiration of the Past: Country House Taste in the Twentieth Century published in 1985 by Viking Penguin in association with Country Life magazine.  According to Mr. Cornforth's deliciously informative and lavishly illustrated book, Professor Richardson (as he was also known) was considered to be "one of the first admirers" in England in the early part of the twentieth century "...of the style of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, as well as one of the principal promoters of the continuity of the classical tradition."  This view is amply borne out by the beauty of his decoration of the Saloon (as it was called) at Avenue House.

While many of the rooms shown in Mr. Cornforth's book are beautiful, the image of the Saloon took my breath away when I first saw it and still gives me a frisson of excitement whenever I come across it to this day.  Sir Albert was a true connoisseur and collected many of the furnishings for the Saloon specifically for the room, as opposed to bringing them from other houses that he already owned.  So there is a uniformity of taste and style, rigor perhaps, to the Saloon that is not seen in rooms where the assembled furnishings are more diverse or "eclectic", a word much overused in decorating circles in our day.

According to Mr. Cornforth's book, Sir Albert acquired Avenue House in 1919 and spent the better part of twenty years furnishing it.  And furnishing it he did, exquisitely, with supreme taste and restraint--the true hallmarks of elegance.  While the photographed interior is lovely to look at (the quality of Country Life's mid-twentieth-century photography is mesmerizing), the black-and-white image does not convey the room's color scheme, which, according to Country Life, was as follows: "A greenish grey carpet covers the floor, and grey, too is the colour of the walls, in contrast to which is the purple taffeta, with old-gold filigree used for the window hangings, and the yellow chenille of old French pattern used for some of the chair coverings..."  How I would love to see color images of this room.

So what is it about the Saloon at Avenue House that so vividly speaks to me?
It is finely proportioned, with high ceilings, handsome plasterwork, and large windows;
In it hangs a lovely, appropriately scaled chandelier;
The furnishings are from a narrow band of time, drawn from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, so they are not slavishly in only one style or period; they include a mix of Regency and earlier furnishings;
There is plenty of airspace and breathing room.  Sir Albert had the luxury of space to furnish the Saloon sparely and appropriately for a drawing room devoted to entertaining and congenial pursuits;
The furnishings and architecture are arranged symmetrically and with balance;
The furniture is attennuated and leggy, which gives the room a light appearance--all "en pointe;"
The seating is easily movable, to provide for intimate groupings and diverse purposes, the signature of a successful drawing room.  There are no stationary to-the-floor upholstered club chairs or Lawson sofas to lower the room's sight lines or confine the occupants to one place.  This is appealling to me because we have also furnished our (much smaller and far less grand) drawing room at Darlington House in a similar manner, with no fully upholstered seating.  While I don't object to entirely upholstered chairs and sofas, I prefer them in more intimate rooms devoted to cozier pursuits;
Most of the furniture is painted, rather than stained and varnished.  Painted furniture is most pleasing in drawing rooms, I believe, as it is pretty and less serious-looking than brown wood furniture, which is more appropriate in dining rooms and libraries.  Much of the seating in our drawing room at Darlington is also painted, but--unlike the Saloon at Avenue House--ours is mostly Louis XVI, with only a smattering of Sir Albert's English Regency;
There are large, plate-glass mirrors over the fireplace and between the windows.  I have a weakness for mirrors in rooms, and large ones in particular when the room's proportions allow for them.  Mirrors, when used such as Sir Albert does, lend a light and fresh appearance to the rooms in which they hang;
The floor is covered with a large, single-color, velvet carpet, providing a unifying and visually serene base for the furniture.  I think that there is a tendency today to believe carpets should have some pattern in them, to create "visual interest" (another much over-used expression) in rooms and to avoid the dreaded broadloom "wall-to-wall" carpet look of the 1960s and 70s.  It is noteworthy that our forebears had other views, as pieced carpets such as Sir Albert's were quite expensive and luxurious in their day, bearing little resemblance, when examined closely, to the more modern and degraded versions for sale in today's big-box retailers;
The curtains are plain and unfussified, with neither swags nor jabots.  My only complaint with them is that I wish the valances had been placed a foot higher on the wall, above the windows, rather than hanging down over them.  As in Canon Valpy's drawing room, my first and previous "Reggie's Rooms" subject, Sir Albert's curtains lack any extraneous upholsterer's tricks, relying on the beauty of their materials rather than bows or gimgracks.

But it was nearly 10 years later when I first came across this earlier photograph of the same room that I truly came to appreciate what Sir Albert had wrought at Avenue House.  And how fortunate we are that Country Life chronicled the Saloon's transformation from an under-furnished, almost raw, and obviously only-recently-moved-into space into the beautiful swan that it became over the twelve years of Sir Albert's careful attention.  It is in examining, comparing, and studying these two photographs that we come to fully appreciate Sir Albert's academically grounded genius.  (It also appears that the curtains faded considerably in the period between when these photographs were taken.)

Almost all of the rooms we see today in books and magazines (and now on the blogs) are presented as fully realized and "done," giving no indication of the thought, effort, and consideration that went into creating them.  Seeing a room's transformation over time, as we do here with the Saloon,  is a rarity and a treat, and something of great interest to those of us who enjoy the pleasures (and dare I say "process") of interior decoration.  What else would explain the enduring popularity of the "Before and After"--or, as Boy and I call them, the "During and Done"--issues of the often odious Architectural Digest magazine?

I believe that the Saloon at Avenue House is a room that merits careful study and has much to teach us today regarding placement, proportion, symmetry, and purpose.  It is one of my most-admired interiors and has been one of the inspirations for the furnishing of our more modest drawing room at Darlington House.

Sunday 20 September 2015

The Wolseley affair with the British Police . Just a question of Love.

The Wolseley 4/50 and similar 6/80 were Wolseley Motors' first post-war automobiles. They were rushed into production in 1948 and were based on the Morris Oxford MO and the Morris Six MS respectively. The 4-cylinder 4/50 used a 1476 cc 50 hp (37 kW; 51 PS) version of the 6/80 engine, while the 6/80 used a 2215 cc 72 hp (54 kW; 73 PS) straight-6 single overhead cam.

The cars were well equipped and looked impressive, with a round Morris rear end and upright Wolseley grille and were used extensively by the Police at the time - the 6/80 particularly.

The Wolseley 6/99 was the final large Wolseley car. Styled by Pininfarina with additions by BMC staff sylists, the basic vehicle was also sold under two of BMC's other marques as the Austin A99 Westminster and Vanden Plas Princess 3-Litre. Production began in 1959 and the cars were updated and renamed for 1961. The Wolseley remained in production as the Wolseley 6/110 through to 1968. Many police officers consider the "6/110" as the finest "area car" ever employed by the London Metropolitan Police Force.

Wolseley 6/90 Revival #5 - Wiring, Instruments & Dashboard Fitted, start...

Wolseley 6/90 Revival #10 - Driving on the Open Road

Classic police Wolseley 6/110

Wednesday 16 September 2015

All Change at Longleat reviews /All Change At Longleat Trailer - BBC One

All Change at Longleat review – there’s nothing like watching poshos feuding in their natural habitat
This documentary about the Marquess of Bath’s handover of his £190m estate to his son Ceawlin had a family on a ‘British ranch’ pumping privilege instead of oil
All Change at Longleat
Lucy Mangan

You can read about mad poshos all you want, and I do – Nancy Mitford novels, Evelyn Waugh, anything with Harold Nicolson – but there’s nothing like seeing them in their natural habitat. And so to All Change at Longleat, BBC1’s new documentary about the gradual handover of the £190m estate by Alexander Thynn, aka Marquess of Bath, aka the one with the wifelets, coloured waistcoats and worse murals, and long one of England’s most irritating eccentrics – to his son Ceawlin.

The pair are on no-speaks, because Ceawlin – pronounced, pleasingly in this tale of a feuding family on what is basically a British ranch pumping privilege instead of oil, “Sue Ellen” – has removed as much of his father’s grotesque artwork as possible from the apartments he has taken over. Lord Bath now lives in the top flat, visited by various wifelets, while Lady Bath spends much of her time in France. I wouldn’t consider that nearly far enough away myself, but the rich are indeed different.

Though this is not mentioned in the programme, according to the papers, Sue Ellen is also on no-speaks with his mother because – he claims, she denies it – she objected to him marrying Emma, the daughter of a Nigerian oil tycoon, and adulterating “the bloodline”. As Sue Ellen has no discernible chin or forehead, I say they should all be grateful for any new DNA they can get. Otherwise, by 2050, Longleat is going to be full of giant noses being wheeled round by staff until they realise they can just tip the family into the lion enclosure and take over the place themselves. Emma herself has the gimlet eye, composure and self-confidence that bodes well for her and Longleat’s survival

There are moments when you almost warm to Sue Ellen. He grew up with his awful father, the wifelets – his mother was already mostly abroad – and, of course, those murals. Was it a happy childhood, he is asked. “Y …aaaah,” he says uncomfortably. “Happy bits … not such happy bits. It was what it was.” When he was very young, he says, he envied his friends, who lived in the village. “Two-up, two-down, ordinary parents?” his questioner suggests. “Yah,” he says, visibly torn between truth and family loyalty. “It would have been a very different life.”

A shame, then, that he has chosen to hike village rents, formerly subsidised by the estate, to commercial levels, forcing many long-time residents and farmers out. This has clearly caused more anguish and hostility than the programme wants, or has been permitted by the family, to acknowledge. The new liaison officer from the Longleat management team, Michael, is sent to a village meeting, after relations with the previous lot broke down. One resident explains that there was a great lack of communication between the two sides. “Mmm,” says Michael, uncommunicatively. “Communication.” Another mentions the need for affordable housing. “Yup,” says Michael, making a note of – you suspect – precisely nothing on his pad. Because the rents have gone up so much that the people working on the estate cannot afford to live there, someone else explains. “Mmm,” says Michael.

Mmm. What is the point of having one’s own village on one’s own essentially self-sufficient estate, if one cannot use it to avoid having to do shitty things to one’s fellow human beings? Is that not the minimum price to be paid for privilege? If we’re still going to have lords with tenants-for-life on their land, if we’re still going to have 70% of the country owned by the 160,000 families who found themselves on the right side of history in 1067 (as we do), then can’t we – at the very least – keep the noblesse oblige element too? Or must the Thynn family and their ilk wax ever fatter?

Next week’s episode contains a Hitler watercolour. Stay, by all means, tuned.

Sex, feuds, a barmy aristo... how did the Beeb make this so boring? : CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night's TV

This ought to be a godsend for any documentary maker. England’s most flamboyant and eccentric aristocrat invites you into his stately home, the backdrop for gargantuan feuds and sexual extravaganzas.
He offers access to the mansion’s most secret corners. His heir co-operates with enthusiasm, even though father and son are not actually talking.
And if this extraordinary upper-class soap opera isn’t enthralling enough, there are lions and hippos outside the window. And Neko, a 53-year-old gorilla, so magnificently disdainful that he deserves a seat in the Lords himself.
We were hauled into a Horningsham parish meeting, where villagers were sounding off and the estates manager was dutifully writing things down in a notebook.
The last ten minutes were spent dragging round Horningsham fete. Even Lord Bath, slumped in a deckchair, looked bored out of his skull.
This was dire stuff. And yet the good material was there, just waiting to be plucked. The documentary started with a look inside Lord Bath’s ‘penthouse’, an annexe at the top of Longleat House where the 83-year-old peer retreats and refuses to emerge when his wife is at home.
He showed off his office, an antique desk onto which several binbags of paper had apparently been emptied. ‘This is the urgent section,’ he explained, indicating a heap of documents under a fruit bowl.
Lord Bath has been on the frostiest of terms with his son ever since the boy and his new bride moved back into Longleat and dismantled one of his famous murals.
It’s hard to blame Ceawlin: the wall paintings are done in oils, an inch thick, and they stink — literally and artistically. Many of them are obscene beyond description, too.
But it’s also hard to blame the Marquess for feeling so outraged. Ceawlin and Emma have replaced the murals with shiny gold wallpaper. If once the rooms looked like a Moroccan drugs den, now they seem to be modelled on an Indian restaurant in Bromley.
With his taste for the psychedelic and surreal, Lord Bath would have enjoyed Britain As Seen On ITV (ITV) which felt like nostalgia on LSD.
Of all the weird snippets discovered in the telly archives, nothing was stranger than the sight of a very young Richard Madeley in bow tie and tuxedo, sashaying down a staircase at a nightclub in Leeds to interview Marc Almond of Soft Cell about the New Romantic fad for lace and mascara on boys.
Compilations like these are dependent on their researchers. An obsession with the bizarre and a twisted sense of humour are essential, and someone here has those qualities in sackfuls.
We saw a Sixties news report about a school for trainee rock ’n’ rollers, run by a trouper from the music halls, and Swedish guitar teacher Ulf, who had his own morning show in the Seventies.
There were singing milkmen, a Wurlitzer organ in a car showroom, and a disco dancing contest with lotharios in gold lamé.
Mostly culled from local news, TV reports like these always did feature eccentrics and oddities. A few decades on, just like Lord Bath, they look even nuttier.

Saville Row / The Past. The Present . The Future / VÍDEO:Saville Row (1946)

1952: Douglas Fairbanks Jr declares, ‘Savile Row has recaptured the tailoring supremacy of the world.’ Fairbanks Jr is one of the 20th century heroes of Savile Row. It is recorded in Anderson & Sheppard’s ledgers that he recommended Marlene Dietrich to the firm when she was in England making the Russian revolution epic Knight Without Armour.

1953: Queen Elizabeth II is crowned with the tailoring firms Wilkinson & Son (owned by J. Dege & Sons) and Ede & Ravenscroft in attendance at Westminster Abbey to dress the monarch, visiting royals and peers of the realm for what is the most elaborate ceremonial occasion in the nation’s calendar. The military uniforms, the ambassadors’ court dress and national and colonial liveries on display show off the mastery of the grand old Savile Row houses of Henry Poole, Davies & Son and Welsh & Jeffries.

1955: Hardy Amies is granted The Queen’s Royal Warrant and remains court dressmaker until his retirement in 2002. Stanley Lock takes over C E Phipps, which was founded in 1898 to produce embroideries for the burgeoning fashion industry.

1958: G.J. Cleverley & Co, Savile Row’s preferred bespoke shoemaker, opens at 27 Cork Street in Mayfair. The firm goes on to make shoes for Sir Winston Churchill, Laurence Olivier, Fred Astaire, Clark Gable and Sir John Gielgud.

1959: Kilgour, French & Stanbury create Cary Grant’s iconic suits for Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest. Savile Row is recognised as the pinnacle of masculine elegance by cinema goers worldwide and North by North West and Grant achieve for bespoke Savile Row tailoring what Audrey Hepburn and Breakfast at Tiffany’s did for haute couture and ‘the little black dress’ two years later in 1961.

1961: Tragedy strikes Henry Poole & Co. The lease expires on Poole’s Savile Row palace and the company is forced to relocate to Cork Street. Despite protests in The Daily Telegraph, Poole’s inexplicably unlisted building is raised to the ground. Lost during this period are the patterns cut for iconic Poole customers Napoleon III, Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens and Edward VII. Mercifully, the firm’s ledgers survive. Hawes & Curtis predict a glowing future as a ‘first class tailor’ for apprentice John Pearse. Instead, Pearse drops out, tours Europe, then opens the infamous boutique ‘Granny Takes A Trip’ in the Kings Road in 1965, where he dresses Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles.

1963: Maurice Sedwell opens his shop on Savile Row.

1966: H. Huntsman & Sons is invited to make bespoke suits for the England football team which wins the World Cup.

1967: Tommy Nutter and Edward Sexton meet as salesboy and cutter respectively at Donaldson, Williams & Ward in Burlington Arcade. They will go on to form the most creative partnership in Savile Row’s history.

1969: Nutters of Savile Row opens on Valentine’s Day and unleashes the Tommy Nutter/Edward Sexton style on swinging London. Backed by Cilla Black and The Beatles’ record company Apple’s executive Peter Brown, Nutters of Savile Row dresses the entire social spectrum from the Duke of Bedford and Lord Montagu to Mick and Bianca Jagger and The Beatles. Nutters is the first shop on Savile Row to pioneer ‘open windows’ and exhibits some wild displays by Simon Doonan. Mount Street bespoke tailor to the stars Douglas Hayward dresses Michael Caine in the famous bullion robbery caper The Italian Job. Caine’s skinny suits and tone-on-tone white shirt and tie combinations set a cocky, sharp tailored style that resonates today.

1971: Maverick screen actress Katherine Hepburn, whose long-term lover Spencer Tracey was a customer of Huntsman, takes the extraordinary step of ordering bespoke denim jeans from her late lover’s Savile Row tailor. Hepburn’s commission foreshadows bespoke denim collections launched in 2006 by Timothy Everest and Evisu. Huntsman’s very stylish Head Cutter Colin Hammick tops Savile Row devotees Rex Harrison, Lord Snowdon and the Duke of Windsor in Tailor & Cutter magazine’s prestigious best dressed list.

1973: Robert Redford stars in the definitive film of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald was a dedicated customer of Jermyn Street bespoke shirt maker Turnbull & Asser. The shirts that reduce The Great Gatsby’s socialite heroine Daisy (Mia Farrow) to tears with their beauty in the film all bear the Turnbull & Asser bespoke label.

1974: Gieves Ltd acquires Hawkes (and the precious freehold of No 1 Savile Row) and becomes Gieves & Hawkes.Tommy Nutter seeks sanctuary at Kilgour, French & Stanbury after his acrimonious exit from Nutters of Savile Row. Kilgour also incorporates the famed hunt tailoring specialist Bernard Weatherill. Nutters of Savile Row continues with Sexton, Roy Chittleborough and Joseph Morgan. Maurice Sedwell hires Trinidad-born Andrew Ramroop who will go on to become Managing Director and a Professor of tailoring at the London College of Fashion.

1976: Gieves & Hawkes and Anderson & Sheppard alumnus Anthony Hewitt opens his own bespoke tailoring shop on Savile Row, A.J.Hewitt. The company prospers thanks to the Middle Eastern oil boom and the advent of young cutters Ravi Tailor and James Levett in 1979.

1978: 007 actor Roger Moore becomes a tax exile and invites his friend and tailor Douglas Hayward to his Cote d’Azur villa to dress him for the next James Bond film For Your Eyes Only. It is acknowledged that Hayward’s back-to-classic navy pinstripe three-piece suit is Bond at his sartorial best.

1979: Davies & Son is forced to leave its handsome Hanover Street townhouse where a private room had been set aside for King George V that was fitted with a tube not dissimilar to a hose pipe to communicate with the tailors upstairs. While clearing out the attic sets, which were reserved as places of assignation for titled customers to meet their mistresses, the firm discovers a bill for Sir Robert Peel (founder of London’s first police force) from 1829.

1980: A year into Margaret Thatcher’s reign as British Prime Minister, Andrew Ramroop becomes unofficial tailor to half the Tory Cabinet, which restores a pride in Savile Row bespoke tailoring to the corridors of power in the Palace of Westminster.

1981: H.M.Sultan Qaboos of Oman confers his exotic Royal Warrant on J.Dege & Sons. In arguably the most exotic commission conferred on a Savile Row tailor, Sultan Qaboos commanded Dege & Skinner to create uniforms for his Royal Oman Police Camel Pipe Band.

1981: H.R.H. The Prince of Wales marries Lady Diana Spencer at St Paul’s Cathedral. Gieves & Hawkes make the uniform for Prince Charles while the pageboys – including Lord Frederick Windsor and Edward van Cutsem – are dressed in Naval Cadet uniforms that were originally made by the firm for Prince Charles’s Grandfather King George VI and his Great Uncle The Duke of Windsor when they served as Royal Navy Cadets aboard H.M.S. Britannia. Roy Chittleborough & Joseph Morgan part company with Edward Sexton and continue trading under their own names. Edward Sexton opens his shop at 37 Savile Row and cements his reputation as Savile Row’s jet setting export, establishing a formidable business in the United States.

1982: Henry Poole MD Angus Cundey brings the firm back to Savile Row after twenty-years in exile on Cork Street.

1984: 24 year old East Ender Mark Powell opens Powell & Co on Soho’s Archer Street. His look – a re-mix of sartorial influences such as Neo-Edwardian, 30s Mobster and 60s Kray twin chic – pays homage to the creativity of Tommy Nutter and paves the way for the new generation of Savile Row tailors of the 1990s.

1985: After an encounter with Federico Fellini in Rome and a subsequent career as a maverick filmmaker, John Pearse returns to tailoring and opens a shop on Soho’s Meard Street.

1990: H.R.H. The Prince of Wales appoints Welsh & Jeffries his military tailor.

1991: Former Tommy Nutter apprentice Timothy Everest – who answered Nutter’s newspaper advertisement for a ‘Boy Wanted’ – opens his first bespoke tailoring shop in an East End Georgian townhouse declaring, ‘Opening a shop on Savile Row would be like moving in with my parents.’

1992: Richard James, the first of the ‘New Generation’ tailors, opens a shop on Savile Row. James introduces Saturday opening (a revolution on Savile Row) and a fashionable edge not seen since the house of Nutter’s glory days. Tommy Nutter dies. As a fitting epitaph, the outlandish purple suit Jack Nicholson wears playing The Joker, which was one of Nutter’s final commissions, appears on screen in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns.

1996: Ozwald Boateng unleashes his exotic, electric concept of Bespoke Couture on Savile Row from his new shop at No 9 Vigo Street.

1997: Ozwald Boateng, Richard James and Timothy Everest are christened ‘The New Generation’ on Savile Row and photographed by Michael Roberts for the London Swings Again issue of Vanity Fair. Alan Bennett buys Davies & Son, and incorporates Johns & Pegg, James & James, and Wells of Mayfair. Gianni Versace is shot dead outside his Miami palazzo. It emerges that in his later years the designer had become a bespoke customer at J. Dege & Sons (now Dege & Skinner), in addition to buying made-to-measure from Richard James. Diana, Princess of Wales is tragically killed in a car accident with Dodi Al Fayed in Paris on August 30th. Orders under construction for the Princess that were never collected are still held by Maurice Sedwell on Savile Row, John Lobb on St James’s Street and Turnbull & Asser on Jermyn Street.

1998: A.J. Hewitt acquires the colonial bespoke tailoring specialist Airey & Wheeler.

2000: Richard James acquires the biggest shop space on Savile Row at No 29. The ‘goldfish bowl’ glass windows slice Savile Row and Clifford Street at right angles like a breathtaking infinity pool of bespoke, made-to-measure and ready-to-wear Richard James.

2001: Former Huntsman head cutter Richard Anderson opens his bespoke tailoring house at No 13 Savile Row. His partner and co-founder is Brian Lishak, a Huntsman man with half a century of experience on the Row. Having apprenticed while still at St Martin’s fashion college with Edward Sexton, Stella McCartney invites Sexton to develop the tailoring for her debut as creative director of Chloe. On the embroidery front, S. Lock and M. Hand come together to form Hand & Lock.

2002: In an intriguing collaboration, former Anderson & Sheppard apprentice and enfant terrible of British fashion Alexander McQueen unveils a bespoke collection made by H. Huntsman & Sons. The exquisite but prohibitively costly enterprise is quietly terminated. Nick Hart opens Spencer Hart at 36 Savile Row, combining a bespoke sensibility with the severe chic of old school Prada, Jil Sander and Helmut Lang. He goes on to dress David Bowie, Jay-Z, Jamie Foxx and Kanye West.

2003: After a management buyout, Kilgour drops the French & Stanbury and appoints Carlo Brandelli as creative director. The house sets about ‘sexing-up’ Savile Row in a strategy not dissimilar to Tom Ford’s at Gucci in 1995. Sir Hardy Amies, a Savile Row legend and one of its greatest patrons, dies. He is succeeded by his protégée Ian Garlant, who remains creative director of the house.

2004: The Savile Row Bespoke Association, the organisation designed to represent bespoke tailors’ interests on the Row, is formed. Founder members include the Royal Family of bespoke tailoring: Anderson & Sheppard, Dege & Skinner, Gieves & Hawkes and Henry Poole. Having flirted with liquidation, H. Huntsman & Sons is saved by four sympathetic investors including present MD David Coleridge. The Savile Row Bespoke Association acts to protect the craft and good name of Savile Row and ward off interlopers by registering the Savile Row Bespoke Association label. The label is to appear in each of the Savile Row Bespoke Association members’ bespoke garments and serves as a guarantee to the customer that he or she is in receipt of a genuine, bespoke, made on Savile Row piece of clothing.

2005: Anderson & Sheppard is forced to vacate No 30 Savile Row and relocate to 32 Old Burlington Street. Gieves & Hawkes make morning coats for The Princes William and Harry to wear at the wedding of their father Prince Charles to Camilla Parker-Bowles (now Duchess of Cornwall). Timothy Everest edges closer to Savile Row with a bespoke and made-to-measure studio on Bruton Place in Mayfair. Young entrepreneur Patrick Grant and his investors acquire Norton & Sons from the Granger family. Tom Ford exits Gucci Group as creative director and commissions Anderson & Sheppard to make white tie and tails for a defiant photo shoot in W magazine to publicise the launch of his own bespoke tailoring house. Embroiderers Hand & Lock move to Margaret Street.

2006: Gieves, the fashion-led boutique brand within Gieves & Hawkes designed by Joe Casely-Hayford, is shown on the catwalk during Paris Fashion Week for the first time. Henry Poole’s Savile Row lease is signed for a further 15 years and both shop and workshops are gutted and refurbished to bring Poole’s into the 21st Century. Ozwald Boateng’s US reality TV show The House of Boateng is aired on Robert Redford’s Sundance Channel and brings his vision of New Generation Savile Row dandyism to the cable generation. Chittleborough & Morgan open a new space in the basement of No 12 Savile Row. Richard Anderson rocks the Row with a black sequin dinner jacket that is ordered by Bryan Ferry and photographed worldwide. Douglas Hayward’s daughter Polly succeeds her father as MD of the company.

2007: Florentine fashion foundation Pitti Immagine Uomo commission the first major exhibition dedicated to Savile Row bespoke tailoring. Titled The London Cut, The exhibition runs for a month at Palazzo Pitti and is accompanied by a book written by the curator James Sherwood. The Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture invites Savile Row to bring The London Cut to the British Ambassador’s residence in Paris during July Couture Week. Richard James opens a new shop on Clifford Street dedicated entirely to his bespoke service while Ozwald Boateng takes Anderson & Sheppard’s old site at No 30 Savile Row for his first flagship store and cutting room. After a brief, unhappy marriage between Japanese jeans brand Evisu and Anthony J Hewitt, Hewitt MD Ravi Tailor leaves the Row to work from L.G. Wilkinson on St George’s Street. Robert Gieve, the fifth and last generation of the family to serve Gieves & Hawkes, dies.

2008: The legendary celebrity tailor Douglas (The Italian Job) Hayward dies. A new Archive Room at Gieves & Hawkes at No 1 Savile Row is curated by James Sherwood and inaugurated in honour of the late Robert Gieve. In March 2008 The London Cut exhibition is invited to show at the British Ambassador’s Residence in Tokyo. A satellite exhibition then travels to Isetan in Tokyo where Savile Row dominates the prestigious store’s windows and exhibition space. A three one-hour episide documentary mapping a year in the life of Savile Row is aired on BBC4 while BBC2 follows The London Cut to Tokyo for a further British fashion series to be aired in the autumn. One of the Row’s best dressed men, former Huntsman Head Cutter Brian Hammick, sadly dies.

2009: Queues form when Savile Row puts on its revealing ‘Below the Row’ show for one of the Victoria & Albert museum’s Friday Late exhibitions. Curated in conjunction with the V&A by students Chris Pollard and Susan Paisley, the exhibition shines light on the ‘dark art’ of bespoke tailoring by creating a working tailor’s shop and rarely seen subterranean workshop. The public’s increasing interest in the inner goings on of the Row is served with the publication of Richard Anderson’s fascinating book Bespoke: Savile Row Ripped & Smooth.

2010: Savile Row gathers en masse at the vibrantly refurbished Savoy hotel in London to celebrate the publication of James Sherwood’s definitive study of the Row’s inhabitants and their craft, Savile Row: The Master Tailors of British Bespoke. To help the occasion along, the Savoy invents the Savile Row Collins, a fine, stealthy gin based cocktail. Onlookers are agog as sheep appear on a grassed over Row for the hugely successful Savile Row Field Day, which is held in support of the Campaign for Wool, whose aim it is to increase demand and awareness of the wool industry.

2011: Another insider’s account of life on the Row as Michael Skinner’s (he of Dege & Skinner) enthralling book The Savile Row Cutter is published. The 150th anniversary of the tuxedo is celebrated by its inventor Henry Poole & Co and students of the London College of Fashion, who, in conjunction with fabric supplier Dormeuil, set about re-inventing the iconic jacket. The 21st century tuxedos go on display in Harrods and Burlington Arcade in London before appearing at the tuxedo historical society in New York. Does any other jacket have its own historical society?

2012: Emma Martin of Dege & Skinner wins BBC3’s jazz themed Young Tailor of the Year award, with her Oxford Bags wowing the judges. Savile Row is the scene of a very well dressed protest as scores of readers of The Chap magazine assemble outside No. 3 to protest against Abercrombie & Fitch’s plans to take over the building. June, and the tailors of the Row play their part in the British Fashion Council’s inaugural London Collections: Men by hosting Savile Row Open Day (see the News section) and a stunning cocktail party in Burlington Arcade.

2013: Savile Row’s stunning contribution to the second London Collections: Men is The English Gentleman at Spencer House. Sixty models are dressed by the Row’s tailors and effortlessly demonstrate that Savile Row remains the centre of classic men’s style. March, and the Savile Row Room opens at The Campaign For Wool’s Wool House exhibition at Somerset House with queues quickly forming for the cutting and tailoring masterclass demonstrations. An exciting new chapter begins for Huntsman as internationally acclaimed couturier Roubi L’Roubi takes the reins of this most venerable of Savile Row houses as owner and Creative Director.

2014: The Row makes its own inimitable contribution to London Collections: Men men’s fashion week with its brilliantly original The English Gentleman presentation at The Cabinet War Rooms in January and the fascinating Meet Me in Rio film in July. May sees Open Row, as our members work together with our partners Chivas to open their doors and give 300 style-conscious individuals a never before behind-the-scenes look at the workings of our famous street.

2015: The year gets off to a flying start with Savile Row’s The English Gentleman taking up the prestigious closing spot of January’s London Collections: Men with another eye-catching presentation of the art of bespoke tailoring and contemporary men’s style, this time at Apsley House, the palatial London home of the Duke of Wellington. To coincide with LC:M, the revered Huntsman opens an in-house pop-up store at 11 Savile Row to showcase the collection of clothing inspired by the role of a fictional spy HQ that it plays in the major new feature film Kingsman: The Secret Service.