Saturday 27 February 2021

The Restoration of Petit Théâtre de Marie-Antoinette // Video: 1/5



 The queen’s theatre


A great lover of the dramatic arts, Marie-Antoinette eventually grew tired of the temporary stages knocked together for performances in the gallery of the Grand Trianon and the orangery of the Petit Trianon. Once she had decided to commission her personal architect Richard Mique to build her a real theatre, work was completed in spring 1780, and the official inauguration was on 1 June.


Cleverly tucked away amidst the foliage of the gardens, the entrance to the theatre is a discreet portico in the classical style. The theatre itself was large enough to seat two hundred and fifty spectators, in a décor dominated by blue, white and gold. The sculpted decorations were created using the quick (and cheap) technique of papier mâché, in which the craftsmen of the Menus Plaisirs were acknowledged experts. The various shades of gold blend harmoniously with the false marble panelling dominated by violet tones. The ceiling, painted by Lagrenée, was completed just a few days before the inauguration of the theatre and depicted Apollo surrounded by the Graces and Muses. The original was replaced by a copy in the 19th century. The vast stage (eight layers, two floors below stage level and two in the rafters), was expertly fitted out by mechanical specialist Pierre Boullet, successor to Blaise-Henri Arnoult, who designed the machinery of the Royal Opera House. The orchestra pit has room for around twenty musicians.


The queen intended the Trianon theatre to play a double role: it needed to provide a stage for the works commissioned from the artist of the Royal Academy of Music, and thus offer satisfactory technical facilities, but it also needed to allow the queen to indulge her passion for amateur dramatics and to put on comedies with her friends whenever she fancied. Between 1780 and 1785 Marie-Antoinette used her theatre for both purposes. She commissioned new works which reflected her interest in the music of the day. Featured artists included Gluck, Grétry, Sacchini and Paisiello, whose Barber of Seville, first performed in Saint Petersburg for Catherine II, had its French premiere at the Trianon theatre in 1784. Falling out of favour with the queen after 1785, the theatre survived the revolutionary period relatively unscathed. It was used occasionally in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and underwent restoration between 1925 and 1936 and again in 2001.


The original machinery has been restored to working order, making the Trianon theatre the only eighteenth-century theatre in France which is still intact and fully-functioning. Along with an exceptional set dating from 1754 and showing the temple of Minerva from the first act of Quinault and Lully’s Thésée - designed by the Slodtz brothers for the theatre at Fontainebleau - the Queen’s Theatre still has various items of scenery (including two full sets) produced in the nineteenth century by Pierre-Luc-Charles Cicéri and his workshop: a ‘rustic interior’, a forest, and fragments of a public square and ‘rich salon’.


 On account of its small size and distance from the palace, the auditorium is no longer used for performances. This has helped to preserve the theatre in its original condition, without the need to install modern safety features which would inevitably compromise its period authenticity. The theatre is still open to the public as part of the guided tour ‘Special effects at the Queen’s Theatre’, which includes a live demonstration of how the sets were changed.

Marie-Antoinette's personal theatre gets a

 lockdown makeover


Issued on: 22/02/2021 - 13:28

Modified: 22/02/2021 - 13:26


Pandemic or not, it's a theatre space that very rarely sees an audience: Marie-Antoinette's personal playhouse in the grounds of Versailles is a fragile historical gem in need of delicate care.


The late 18th century was a time of "theatre-mania" in which many wealthy princes and financiers built their own stages on their estates, said Raphael Masson, lead conservator at Versailles.


The last queen of France before the revolution was a passionate fan of music and theatre, and had hers built deep in the grounds of the chateau where she could escape with her retinue.


It was here, in 1785, that she gave her own last performance on stage, as Rosine in "The Barber of Seville" in front of its author, Beaumarchais.


Today, it is the only 18th century theatre in France to still have its original working machinery -- "a miracle of conservation", said Masson.


It has three sets -- a rustic interior, a forest and a temple of Minerva -- the latter being the oldest intact decor in the world, dating to 1754: "Our own Mona Lisa," said Masson.


The sets were highly innovative at the time, riding on rails from both sides of the stage to create moving backdrops -- the "special effects of the 18th century," said Masson. "A testimony to the virtuosity of the 18th century decorators."


The theatre was deemed worthless at the time of the revolution, and so never sold off. Yet restoring its former glory has been a job of painstaking conservation.


With visitors kept away by the pandemic, the team has been working on a new curtain, stitching the dazzling cobalt-blue linen together by hand using the original techniques.


They are also using the chateau's original inventory to rebuild other parts that have been lost over the years, including machinery that allows a tree to rise from a trapdoor.


But even when visitors are able to return, the 250-seat theatre will not be giving regular performances.


Despite being brought back to functioning life with a major restoration in 2001, its fragility has meant it only gives concerts once every two years.


That makes those moments particularly special, said Masson: "We are always very moved to hear the notes rise from the pit."


© 2021 AFP


The Secret Versailles Of Marie Antoinette

Wednesday 24 February 2021

Crockett & Jones - In The Making

Mencyclopaedia: Crockett & Jones


The shoemaker reviving our down-at-heel footwear industry.




If shoes maketh the man, then these days most of us are moulded on production lines in China, Vietnam and Bangladesh. Back in 1968, however, the British shoe industry employed 92,000 skilled workers, who between them rustled up more than 200 million pairs of shoes that year alone. Some 185 million of these were bought - and worn - in Britain.


This was the high-watermark of home-grown shoemaking. Already the rubber-soled spectre of foreign-manufactured footwear loomed, poised to give our indigenous cobblers a kicking. The British agitated for protectionist legislation in vain, and department stores gleefully offered up cheaper alternatives from the European Common Market and beyond.


Now, four decades on, the National Union of Boot and Shoe Operatives is but a magnificently named memory. What remains is approximately 4,500 British shoe workers producing five million pairs a year - many of which are partially assembled abroad first, then sneakily stamped "Made in England" on the (English-made) sole.


Yet as the rest of the business has withered (no gold-standard women's shoe factories survive) the market for high-quality, entirely-British made mens' shoes is thriving.


Northampton-made "Goodyear Welteds" are now to masculine footwear what French champagne is to fizzy wine, and the few companies that still provide them face unprecedented demand. Recognising this, Italy's Prada snapped up Church's, while France's Hermès purchased John Lobb. Both foreign proprietors have proved benevolent.


The biggest and best-known British-owned shoemaker is Crockett & Jones, currently run by the great, great grandson of its co-founder, Charles Jones. Begun with a £200 grant in 1879, the firm started as a small-scale producer of men's boots. By the Thirties, it was producing 15,000 pairs of (mostly women's) shoes a week and went on to supply more than a million pairs of officer's boots to the war effort.


Like every other British shoemaker, however, C&J was badly buffeted in the Seventies, and at its lowest ebb made only about 60,000 pairs a year.


Since then, says its managing director Jonathan Jones, production has grown to 130,000. "We're flat out at the moment and our biggest problem is managing that demand and finding the skilled labour we need to do it." There are currently 200 people on the Crockett & Jones factory floor, and it is actively recruiting for more.


Because they really are made here, and because the company must compete with France's booming luxury handbag businesses for the calfskin required for its gleaming, patinated uppers, Crockett & Jones shoes are extremely expensive. "Main collection" styles start at around £300 while "hand grade" and shell Cordovan (horsehide) shoes cost hundreds more. Reportedly, they are worth it; C&J wearers, including one particular enthusiast at The Daily Telegraph, claim a decade or more's use from each pair.


Most of these wearers also develop a tub-thumpingly evangelical mania for the company. Over 20 years of slow-but-steady expansion, their word-of-mouth recommendations have helped C&J grow from a firm known for producing shoes for others - including Ralph Lauren and Brooks Brothers - into a potent brand in its own right.


Now 70 per cent of the Crockett & Jones's shoes are exported, with Japan (where they particularly appreciate a suede chukka) and the US (keen on the traditionally English round toe) both especially strong markets. Less countrified than Tricker's, less rarefied than Edward Green, and better-known internationally than either Cheaney or Alfred Sargent, Crockett & Jones appears perfectly placed to spearhead a small, but heartening revival for Britain's once-mighty shoe industry.

'A Crockett & Jones Repair'

Crockett & Jones is a shoe manufacturing company, established in 1879 by Charles Jones and Sir James Crockett in Northampton, England. They were able to establish the company with a grant from the Thomas White Trust. It specialises in the manufacture of Goodyear-welted footwear. It is currently being run by the great grandson of its co-founder, Charles Jones. Crockett & Jones produces both men's and women's footwear with three collections offered for men (Hand Grade Collection, Main Collection and Shell Cordovan Collection) and a limited range of boots and low heeled shoes produced for women.


Northampton is traditionally known for its shoe-making skills, one reason for setting up the factory there in 1879. At the start of operations they produced men’s boots.[2] In the 1890s the second generation of Harry Crockett and Frank Jones began to modernise with more advanced machinery, particularly equipment produced by Charles Goodyear. It produced shoes at a faster rate with lighter manual work.


In 1897, Crockett and Jones expanded the company into a larger factory and purchased the facility, which is still in use by the company.


In the 1910s the company began exporting a large part of their production to Australia, Argentina, South Africa, USA and the far east though the UK still remained its principal market.


In the 1930s with the third generation of the founders and still a family business, production reached 15,000 pairs of shoes each week. The majority of these were women’s boots and shoes. They also supplied the 1940s war effort producing over a million pairs of officers' boots. The company stopped production of their usual footwear during this time.


The company has continued to evolve and absorb the changes necessary to make it competitive, but still maintaining a high quality product. This is where all operations for the company take place, including production, design and development.


The factory in Perry Street, Northampton, dates back to the 1890s with additions to the main building in 1910 and 1935, giving a large internal working space. It has a large proportion of glass to give good natural lighting throughout the building and a pleasant working environment, but can get rather cold in the winter and extremely warm in the summer.


In 1947, the grandson of Charles Jones, Richard Jones, joined the family company. In 1977 he was appointed Managing Director and is still involved with it today as acting Chairman. Jonathan, Richard's son, also became involved with the family business in 1977.


As at 2014 there were 11 Crockett & Jones retail shops and concessions based in London, Birmingham, Paris, Brussels and New York City. The shops provide a contemporary showcase for ready to wear footwear, including velvet slippers and driving shoes and accessories.

Monday 22 February 2021

Meet the Man who Lives in the 1940s! | BARMY


Modern life is rubbish! The people whose homes are portals to the past

Emma Preston in her 1950s styled home Photograph: Courtesy of Emma Preston

What is it like to live in a time machine? Five people explain why they made their home into the perfect replica of an earlier era


by Sirin Kale

 Tue 12 Jan 2021 06.00 GMTLast modified on Tue 12 Jan 2021 12.28 GMT

Will future generations look at the interior design of the early 21st century in appreciation? Possibly not. We do not appear to have crafted many design classics, unless slab-like corner sofas in mud-grey velvet are Eames chairs in the making. Our feature walls are gaudy; our furniture cheaply made. Scarcely anything seems to be built to last, which is just as well, as the next Instagram-led interior design trend will be along soon enough.


But there are those who retreat from modern trends into the interiors of the past, drawn by the allure of original designs. We speak to five people whose homes are portals into the past.


1930s: Aaron Whiteside, 38, stained glass restorer, Blackpool

Aaron Whiteside

Whiteside has assiduously converted his suburban semi into a prewar home. Photographs: Richard Saker

My mum says that I was always into the 30s, ever since she can remember. I’d go around to my aunt and uncle’s house and play old dance band records. At weekends, I’d rummage in Patrick’s Saleroom, a sort of junk shop that’s still around today. I’d go there every weekend from the age of seven or eight and buy all sorts of weird things: gramophones, gas mantles, electric toasters, Bakelite hairdryers. I have an obsession with 30s vacuums. They’re the best! They really get all the crap out of the carpet.


I shut the door and I'm in 1936


The music, the fashion and the style were magical. Even the food was great – everything was homegrown back then. I would go back in time now if I could, although I’d take my family with me. It probably wouldn’t live up to my expectations unless I was rich and able to do fun things such as go to the Savoy theatre and go out dancing.


Aaron Whiteside’s kitchen in Blackpool

I grew up over the road from the house I live in. It used to belong to an old lady. She was well over 100 when I was a child. She was a real character: a former schoolteacher, very strict. Us kids used to call it the witch’s house, because if a ball hit her window you’d see an eye poke out from behind her venetian blinds. She’d come outside with a carving knife and cut the ball open. But she was a lovely lady, really. It must have been annoying for her, all these kids knocking balls into her windows.


After she died, the house lay unused for nine years, until I bought it. I found her old ration book and letters from her sweetheart, who died in the first world war, under the floorboards. The letters were quite upsetting to read, knowing how he died young.


Most of my furniture comes from Patrick’s Saleroom, unless it’s something rare and hard to find, in which case I use eBay. Everything is vintage, apart from my Alexa – but that’s hidden in an old speaker. I have a laptop for work and watching Netflix. But that’s it. I restored a 1951 Bush television, so I can watch old movies on it. I know it’s not from the 30s, but TVs weren’t popular back then.


There’s a lot I don’t like about modern life. I find society quite greedy. Everyone’s a bit more selfish. If I live by any 30s values in my life, I suppose it’s trying to have good manners: be polite, and nice to folk, and help them as much as you can.


When I come home from work, I like to shut the door and pretend I’m back in 1936. Not to the extent it’s freaky, though. I do go to work and see my friends and have a normal life. But my house is my little time capsule. The 30s stay here; when I leave the house, I’m back in the real world.


I forget I have a 30s house. If I don’t warn people before they come over for the first time, they walk in, stop speaking, then ask me if it’s my grandparents’ house. I had a postman come to the house once and ask me if my mum and dad were in. I get it. It looks like an old lady’s house.

1940s: Julie Kelty, 53, homemaker, South Uist, Outer Hebrides

Julie Kelty in her kitchen in South Uist

Kelty at home in South Uist. Photographs courtesy of Julie Kelty

Everything in my house is 40s-style – or if it isn’t, it’s hidden away. I have three children, so there’s no way in the world I could get away without having modern things such as a TV and a washing machine. But the washing machine is covered with a curtain and the toaster is in a cupboard under the worktop. I have a real 40s toaster on the counter: I daren’t turn it on, even though it does have a plug fitted. My kids are always complaining about the toaster. They go: “Mum, why is the toaster in the cupboard?” I say: “Because that’s the way I like it!” But they don’t mind, really, because they know it makes me happy.


I love the simplicity of the era


I’m most proud of my living room. It’s so relaxing. I love the rocking chair and the old clock on the mantelpiece. If you don’t look at the TV, you can imagine you are in a 40s lounge. I love to sit there and read old magazines from the 40s. Sometimes, they have people’s addresses on the label. I think about them: what were they like? What lives did they lead?


I get all my furniture on the island. There’s a brilliant place called ReStore that restores old furniture that people have donated: almost everything in my house is from there. There are two charity shops on the island that are also really good – I can always pick up beautiful things there and they aren’t expensive. The charity shops on the mainland know about vintage now; they put up the price.


I dress in 40s clothes, too. I love the style – it’s very feminine. The ladies always got dressed up to go out back then. They took care, you know? No leggings and long T-shirts! I always wear a skirt, no matter what I’m doing. You have to wear thick tights in winter, though.


I love the simplicity of the era. It’s not over the top, like it is now. There’s too much stuff now. It’s all about what car you have, or what clothes you wear. Even modern cars are stressful. There’s so much that can go wrong with them. Back then, things were simple and modest. It felt like everyone was in it together. People were different – they did things for each other. I love that sense of neighbourliness and community.


If I had the chance to go back to the 40s, I’d love to go. Not to stay there – I imagine it was pretty terrifying to live through the war. But maybe after the war, when it was all over, to visit a world without cars and people everywhere. That’s one of the reasons my husband and I moved to Uist – to get away from technology and crowds and to live a simpler life. There are plenty of places on the island where you can look around and it’s exactly as it would have been in the 40s. Although, sadly, technology has followed us to the island – we got 4G last year. I’m constantly looking at my phone now. Adverts pop up and I think: “Ooh, I’d love to buy that.” I wish I wasn’t looking at my phone all the time.

1950s: Emma Preston, 51, clothing brand owner, Bolton

Emma Preston at home in Bolton

Preston at home in Bolton. Photographs courtesy of Emma Preston

I’d say my style is mid-century American ranch style, with a tiki influence. I’ve always loved vintage style, ever since I was a teenager. In the 80s, I was into the mod scene. I remember walking into a friend’s house when I was about 19 and everything was styled like the 50s: there was a cocktail bar and 50s magazines. I thought it was so stylish. After that, I never looked back: I’ve decorated all of my houses in a vintage way.


I feel wowed by it – every day


When I started collecting in the 80s, you could pick up stuff in charity shops and flea markets for next to nothing. I still have a 50s pale-green and pink bedroom suite I got at a Manchester flea market in the early 90s. Nowadays, I get most of my things through specialist dealers, although you can also get good pieces from eBay and Etsy if you look hard enough. I’d love some Heywood-Wakefield or Paul Frankl rattan furniture and I’m desperate for an Alfred Meakin cactus teapot – I have almost the full set, but I’m missing the teapot.


I have two cocktail bars. They are pretty special. One is a mid-century bar with a glitter vinyl front. My tiki bamboo bar I got from a friend who was selling it. I’ve owned several bamboo bars over the years. At one point, I had about four bars in my house at the same time. I had to get rid of them, though – you can’t keep them all.


I do have modern bits in the house. My kitchen isn’t original. It’s styled on a Youngstown kitchen from the US; it would be difficult and expensive to ship one over, so I created the look using chevron cupboard pulls and aluminium trim on a modern kitchen. I had really positive comments on my Instagram account from people in the US, which was nice.


The only thing in my house that I really hate is the TV, because it doesn’t fit with the decor. We have a modern TV – my husband, Nigel, insisted. It is nice to watch old movies on a decent screen, though. William Morris said that you should have nothing in your house that you don’t know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. Everything in my house is beautiful to me, apart from my telly – which is useful!


I don’t wish I lived in the 50s. I love vintage style, not vintage values. When I’m reading magazines from that period, some of the adverts are so archaic. It’s all about buying the woman in your life a vacuum cleaner for Christmas. But I couldn’t live in modern surroundings, either. This trend for grey at the moment – I can’t bear it. Everything is grey. People are even painting the exterior of their houses grey! I need colour in my life.


I’ve felt so fortunate to have this beautiful home during Covid. I get so much pleasure from every item in my home. It’s so lovely to sit at my bar and have a mai tai while I put some lounge music on. I feel so grateful to live here, look at everything and feel wowed by it – which I still do, every day.

1960s: Nick Grant, 49, IT consultant, Dunblane

Nick Grant at his bar in Dunblane

Grant at his bar in Dunblane. Photographs: Nick Grant

I didn’t have a fantastic childhood. My mum died when I was six, of a brain tumour. TV was my escape. Every Saturday evening, I lost myself in classic American shows like The Dukes of Hazzard, The A Team, Knight Rider. Those 80s shows often visually referenced the 60s and Americana. There’s definitely a bit of nostalgia there.


I love that culture of hot rodding and classic cars


My interest in the 60s started with cars. I’ve always driven classic cars. I have a ’57 Chevy – it’s black with a red roof. I love that culture of hot rodding and classic cars. It’s linked together, my love of cars and interiors.


Living in Scotland, you need a bit of colour, especially at this time of the year. I looked at Chevrolet paint charts from the 60s. The dining room is painted in a turquoise colour that came from those charts. The dining chairs are Panton and the side tables are Bauhaus.


I wouldn’t want to live in the 60s. I’ve always believed that things tend to get better, although the last few years have stretched that for me. I guess I’m a traditional person in that I like to work hard and live quietly. But, beyond that, I don’t really relate to 60s values. My wife and I, we’re equals.


I like to combine modern conveniences with 60s styling. I’ve incorporated automation into the house, so all our lighting themes come on automatically at different times of the day. We have sound systems in every room. I love gadgets. But I make sure they’re all invisible. I don’t want them to change the look of the house, just make it easier to live in.


I love things with a history. We put in double doors that I got from a salvage yard between the dining room and the kitchen. They were from a cruise liner built in 1959. They add layers of history to the house. When you touch them, it feels like there’s a story behind them. Being able to keep things going and give them a new life, instead of throwing them in landfill, feels right to me.


1970s: Estelle Bilson, 42, stylist, Manchester

Estelle Bilson at home in Manchester

Bilson at home in Manchester. Photographs courtesy of Estelle Bilson

My dad was an antiques dealer and cabinet maker, so I grew up with mahogany furniture – lots of Edwardian pieces and William Morris. I used to go to auctions with my dad from the age of three or four. I’ve always hunted for stuff – when I was a student, I’d go around picking furniture out of skips. I’m such a Womble! Back then, people would toss out G Plan – no one wanted it.


I refuse to pay £300 for something I can find for £20


Everyone says to me: why the 70s? And I say: why not? It’s the colour, the shapes, the style. There’s some nostalgia there, too, because I’m just about old enough to remember the 70s. My grandparents kept all their 70s furniture well into the 80s. Back then, people bought quality and kept it for a long time, whereas now it feels as if everyone decorates their home at lightning speed to keep up with the latest Instagram trend. People treat their houses like fast fashion, whereas, 30 or 40 years ago, people had a style and stuck with it for 50 years.



 I have a Decca TV from the 70s that I found on Facebook Marketplace, three miles down the road. It’s ridiculous. The same model is on display in the Science Museum. It does turn on, but unfortunately the analogue signal was switched off in 2012, so I’m sending it to someone who specialises in making old appliances work on new systems. He’s going to make it compatible with Netflix and digital TV.


I’m really tight. Everything is from Facebook Marketplace, car boot sales or eBay. I could go to specialist dealers, but I refuse to pay £300 for something I can find for £20 if I magpie about and keep looking. Sometimes, I’ll spend years looking for a specific piece. If I told you my search terms, I’d have to kill you. What I will say is that, if you want bargains, search broad. Type “coffee table” or “lamp”. It will take hours, but you’ll find gold for cheap.

We have modern mattresses – I draw the line on that. And we have a modern TV. Oh, and a Dyson. Old vacuum cleaners are awful. My prized possession is a Marcel Breuer long chair. My dad had one when I was a kid, but he had to sell it in the 80s because he was short on money. Mine came up on eBay and the starting bid was £500. I had only £500 in my bank account, so I sat there shaking, waiting for the auction to run down. Then, with three seconds to go, I bid and won it. I felt sick. I cried and then called my dad.


I wear 70s clothes, but not all the time. I’m a mum and I can’t swan around in a Jean Varon maxidress if there’s a four-year-old trying to smear yoghurt on me. Do I have vintage values? Absolutely not. I don’t sit about waiting for my partner to come home. I think a lot of things about the 70s were really bad. Thatcherism was shit, especially if you lived up north. If you watch Love Thy Neighbour, it’s so racist. If I had a time machine, I wouldn’t go back to the 70s. Actually – that’s a lie. I’d go back, stockpile a load of furniture and bring it back. But that’s about it.


What I like the most about the 70s is the mindset. The roots of sustainable living started in the 70s. The quality of build and design is that much better. Nothing looks like it will fall apart in the next 10 minutes. There’s years of use left in this furniture. I’m so glad to be able to save it from landfill.


• This article’s main image was changed on 12 January 2021 for editorial reasons.

Forced to close its doors, the Louvre takes the chance to spruce up

Saturday 20 February 2021

the 1940s House

The 1940s House is a British historical reality television programme made by Wall to Wall/Channel 4 in 2001 about a modern family that tries to the live as a typical middle-class family in London during The Blitz of World War II. It was shown on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom in 2001, and in 2002 on PBS in the United States and ABC Television in Australia. It also aired on TVNZ in New Zealand. The series was narrated in the UK by Geoffrey Palmer.


The success of The 1900 House led Channel 4 to revisit the idea of taking a family back in time again.The 1940s House was originally conceived with only four episodes. The concept of the show was different from that of The 1900 House: instead of focusing on the family's ability to cope without modern conveniences, this one focused on the family's ability to pull together under uncertainty and fear.


Filming and Location

The house is at 17 Braemar Gardens, West Wickham, Kent, in the United Kingdom (now a suburb of Greater London). Series art director Lia Kramer, who had helped create The 1900 House, identified the property and oversaw its restoration. The Tudorbethan house, originally built in 1932 by Bradfield Bros & Murphy, was retrofitted to reflect the technology and fashions of a middle-class English home of the late 1930s. It is a gable-ended, three-bedroom, semi-detached home. A boiler fueled by coke provided hot water, and there was no telephone or refrigerator. Sold for 875 pounds in 1932, the producers purchased the house for £187,000 in 1999. The house was in excellent structural condition, and no major renovations had occurred. Restoration included the removal of central heating and radiators, the custom-fitted kitchen cabinets and appliances, and the carpeting.[10] Removal of the carpeting revealed checkerboard floor tiles. Several fireplaces were restored to working condition, and the original French doors which led outside to the patio were reinstalled.The producers discovered that the house had incurred bomb damage during World War II, and that the owner of the home had suffered a fatal heart attack putting out a fire caused by a bomb in the backyard garden in 1942. The home's original paint was uncovered, and discovered to be bright blues, pinks, and greens. 1940s-era floral wallpaper was purchased and reinstalled in some areas of the home (including the entryway). The house was decorated in a style typical of the 1930s, which included some used Victorian furniture and a small number of Art Deco pieces.The existing beds were replaced by iron bedsteads (including twin beds for Michael and Lyn). When neighbours learned of the project, many donated period home furnishings for free. A 1930s-style gas-fired cooking stove, Belfast sink, draining board, metal-topped table, and fold-down work shelf were installed in the kitchen. The garden was revamped to be typical of a victory garden.


The family had to act like a typical family of the time, which included the sewing of blackout curtains, building an air-raid shelter, and confronting wartime food rationing. Air raids were simulated during the show, forcing the family to take refuge in its air-raid shelter. The near-nightly sound of the air-raid siren (fixed in a hallway in the home) left the family unnerved, even after they returned to their regular lives. The family had to stay in character all the time, including when the boys went to school. Period clothing (including underwear) were worn at all times. At night, Lyn and Kirstie had to set their hair in rollers. Even minor aspects of life (such as the depth of water in the bath tub, which could be no deeper than five inches) were regulated.


A special section was established in the rear of a local delicatessen where the family could shop for 1940s-era food, but which also suffered from "wartime rationing" to mimic real conditions.


Filming began on 15 April 2000, and lasted nine weeks. Unlike other historical reality television shows, the Hymers were not isolated. Their neighbours helped them dig their air-raid shelter, the family visited a retirement home (in costume and in character), and the house was visited by individuals who worked in government or the military during the Blitz. Nonetheless, Lyn Hymers later said in an interview that the family did feel isolated, and never got the sense of community spirit that people living in the 1940s would have felt.


The 1940s House was put on the market for £212,000 and sold to a private owner after production wrapped.


There were five episodes:


Episode 1: The Home Front (2 January 2001) - The series is introduced, the family moves in, war breaks out, and food rationing is confronted for the first time.

Episode 2: Into the Unknown (4 January 2001) - Michael Hymers leaves the house for three weeks for work-related reasons, and the family confronts additional rationing.

Episode 3: Women at War (11 January 2001) - Lyn and Kirstie join the Women's Voluntary Service and work in the war industry.

Episode 4: The Beginning of the End (18 January 2001) - The family suffers from air-raids, sleep deprivation, and bomb damage before learning that the war is over. They also listen to radio stories about the liberation of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

Episode 5: The Homecoming (25 January 2001) - Six months later, the Hymers reflect on their time in 1940s House.

PBS aired the series in the U.S. between 4 November and 2 December 2002,[24] which reviewers and members of the Hymers family felt reduced American viewership.[2] The series also screened in Australia on ABC Television in 2002, actually airing several months before its predecessor, The 1900 House.


The Hymers family

The 1940s House was inhabited by the Hymers family: Father Michael; mother Lyn; daughter Kirstie (age 29 when the series was produced); and Kirstie's sons Ben (age 10) and Thomas (age 7). The family applied to be on the series after reading an ad in Radio Times. More than 300 families auditioned for the show. Michael Hymers is a 1940s enthusiast, which was a factor in getting the family chosen for the show. The producers also felt the Hymers were well-spoken but also argumentative, which would make for good television as well as showcase a 1940s family's need to pull together.


The family and producers were advised by a "war cabinet" of historians and others who helped advise on the home's renovation, educated the Hymers about life in 1940-1941, and evaluated the family's behavior during the show to ensure it conformed to 1940s standards.The show's chief advisor was British historian Juliet Gardiner. The family was advised on cooking and air-raid issues by home economist Marguerite Patten. The "war cabinet" also challenged the family at times: At one point, grandson Ben was named "fuel warden" and was given supervision of the family's fuel consumption. However, the family did admit to some cheating: Michael Hymers used Brylcreem for his hair, Thomas secretly listened to music by S Club 7, and both boys obtained modern snacks such as crisps from schoolmates.[15] Lyn Hymers attempted to trade some of the show's authentic 1940s props to the neighbours for cigarettes. At another point, the family members refused to slaughter rabbits for food, and the producers had to provide them with dressed rabbit carcasses instead.


The family was significantly affected by the experience in the 1940s House.[22] Michael and Lyn Hymers' relationship nearly ruptured, as Michael was away at work much of the time and was not aware of how difficult life was for the rest of the family. Kirstie worried that her children were not getting enough to eat and considered leaving the show. Most family members lost weight and believed their health and physical fitness improved. When the Hymers' other daughter, Jodie, visited the set, the experience proved too traumatic and the Hymers resolved not to see anyone from outside the show thereafter. After the show, however, Lyn Hymers became as much of a 1940s enthusiast as her husband, the family bought a car manufactured in 1949, Michael and Lyn Hymers now shop at neighborhood stores rather than supermarkets, Lyn Hymers does much more home cooking, and Michael Hymers uses a tin bathtub heated by the home fireplace. Although Ben and Thomas have not given up video games completely, their experiences without them in the 1940s House led them to prefer board games or their own made-up games now. The family developed such a taste for Spam that they now serve it as a birthday dish. Lyn Hymers admitted that she suffered from depression after the series ended, overwhelmed by how hard life had been for women in the 1940s. Although the family felt the work was hard, the adults also agreed there was less emotional and intellectual pressure and they became much closer during the show.


The show was well received by critics. The Newcastle upon Tyne Evening Chronicle said "the series gives an extraordinary insight into life as it was lived by the majority of the population during World War Two." The Halifax Daily News called the show "classy stuff" and concluded that the series' locale (a relatively modern home) made it more attractive to viewers than similar shows set in woods or on the plains. Several reviewers pointed out that the fact-based nature of the show was impressive, with The Hartford Courant declaring it "a great way to mix the facts of history with the voyeurism of reality programming". The Seattle Post-Intelligencer felt the show was "supremely instructive" and was "compelling in spite of its obvious disclosures" because of the large amounts of factual information imparted by the narrator and "war cabinet" throughout the series. The newspaper also felt that real star of the show was Lyn Hymers, who had to cope with an absent husband and do most of the work. Reviewers often pointed out the show's subtle indictment of economic materialism. For example, The Guardian noted: "The relationship of The 1940s House with the present-day is much more complicated. Though never overtly editorial, the series inevitably becomes a critique of modern materialism and complacency."


Not all reviews, however, were positive. Writing in The Times, Peter Barnard lauded the show's goal of attempting to educate viewers about the past, but concluded that The 1940s House failed in this respect.


"What I don't get is the point. I don't think Channel 4 gets the point, either. The 1900 House was an interesting piece of work, but the fatal flaw in its successor is that it is materialistic. The point about the Second World War was that it presented the possibility of violent death to every section of the population at any moment, something that is impossible to replicate artificially. Living on Spam or building an Anderson shelter were, surely, the incidental inconveniences of wartime. The real inconvenience was the fear that you could wake up in the middle of the night to find that your bed had been set on fire by a man passing overhead in an aeroplane. It seems to me that The 1940s House replicates wartime living the way a Formula One computer game replicates being Michael Schumacher: you get everything except the downside risk, which is at the very centre of the experience."

The 1940s House was a ratings success, prompting Channel 4 to begin work on The Edwardian Country House, a new reality series with a much-expanded cast and far greater production budget than The 1900 House and The 1940s House.The series' popularity in the U.S. led PBS to commission an American version of the show, Frontier House. The 1940s House was a similar ratings hit in Australia. A very large 53 percent of professional, managerial, and skilled workers (the ABC Television network's key social demographic) watched the series.


The 1940s House was nominated for a Huw Weldon Award for Specialist Factual at the 2002 British Academy Television Awards (BAFTAs).

Friday 19 February 2021

Prince Harry and Meghan not returning to Royal Family - BBC News

The people tirelessly restoring Notre-Dame to its former glory // France on hunt for centuries-old oaks to rebuild spire of Notre Dame

France on hunt for centuries-old oaks to rebuild spire of Notre Dame


Restoring 96-metre spire, destroyed by fire in 2019, will require up to 1,000 trees between 150 and 200 years old


Carpenters put the skills of their Medieval colleagues on show on the plaza in front of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020. Last July, Macron announced the spire would be reconstructed exactly as it was.


Kim Willsher in Paris

Tue 16 Feb 2021 11.20 GMT


French experts are combing the country’s forests for centuries-old oaks to rebuild the Notre Dame spire that was destroyed by fire.


The ferocious blaze in April 2019 brought the cathedral’s 96-metre (315ft) lead and wood spire, a landmark of the Paris skyline, crashing on to the stone roof-vaults.


Immediately afterwards, Emmanuel Macron said the 850-year-old cathedral would be rebuilt by 2024, but there were questions over whether the spire, added in 1859 by the architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, would be reproduced with a “contemporary gesture” as the president had hinted.


Last July, Macron announced the spire would be reconstructed exactly as it was. This is expected to require up to 1,000 oaks aged between 150 and 200 years old. The trees must be straight, 50-90cm (20-36in) in diameter and between 8 and 14 metres tall. They must be chopped down by the end of March before the sap rises, otherwise the wood will be too humid. Before being cut into beams, the trunks will be allowed to dry for up to 18 months.


Dominique de Villebonne, the deputy director of the National Forests Office (ONF) told Le Parisien: “This is about ancient forestry heritage, not 20-year-old trees, but those that are very old, including plantations ordered by former kings to build ships and ensure the grandeur of the French fleet.”


She added: “At the same time as leaving other trees to stand for a long time, we are also planting new ones so future generations can create their own exceptional works.”


A number of private forest owners have offered to donate trees to the reconstruction project. “It will be a matter of pride if some of our trees are used for Notre Dame,” said Jean-Paul Mével, who owns a 250-hectare (620-acre) forest in Brittany. “It also shows how our forests are well maintained and are an asset for the country.”


Philippe Gourmain, of the forestry professionals group France Bois Forêt, who is coordinating the search for suitable oaks, said: “We will be using a little of France’s history to remake this historic wooden structure.”


Work to restore the cathedral is not expected to begin until the beginning of 2022. Carpentry experts say rebuilding Notre Dame as it was will take 2,000 cubic metres of wood, requiring about 1,500 oaks to be cut down. The cathedral’s roof contained so many wooden beams it was called la forêt (the forest). The roof’s support included 25 triangular structures 10 metres high and 14 metres across at the base, placed over the stone vaults of the nave.


Since 2019, work has concentrated on stabilising the structure and removing the scaffolding around the spire – which was undergoing renovation at the time of the fire – that collapsed and fused on to the stone structure below.