Category Archives: History

Tea With Queen Victoria

Tea With Queen Victoria At Osborne HouseJust imagine if you could be transported back in time and have Afternoon Tea with Queen Victoria.

This is what it felt like for us a few weeks ago when our best friends won a competition in the local paper to visit Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, which was the country home of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, a lovely place that was designed by Prince Albert and where the couple could get away from the affairs of state in London and escape to have a family life.

The day started with a short drive to the Red Funnel ferry terminal in Southampton to catch the 9am ferry for the hour long crossing to Cowes on the Isle of Wight.

It was a lovely day with clear blue skies, but oh boy was it a cold day, frosty and cold and the winter sun did little to warm you up.

Osborne House is only a couple of miles from Cowes, and so we arrived shortly after 10am, to be greeted by lots of people in Victorian costume as there was a special Victorian Christmas festival taking place all weekend.

We enjoyed listening to a military band, the “girls” went on a carousel, and then we looked around the house itself, which has a lot of artifacts and memorabilia of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

Then early afternoon came the time for our Afternoon Tea with Her Majesty, but to be truthful we didn’t realise until the staff at the restaurant said “ah you are the people” that it was indeed a private reception with Queen Victoria, and we were led upstairs to an apartment which the public don’t generally get to see, and where the mother of the “real” Queen Victoria used to stay when she visited the Royal Family at Osborne House.

The room had a lot of memorabilia, and was very interesting in itself. In the centre was a large table, with a wonderful selection of cakes and scones.

We didn’t have long before the Queen arrived, and were briefed by her servant as to how to act and respond in front of her, which was all very important, because although this was only someone playing the role of Queen Victoria, the location and experience gave the feel of being in another time and it all seemed very real.

The Queen arrived, walking slowly, accompanied by a finely dressed lady who was introduced as Lady Ponsonby, one of her closest friends. Lady Ponsonby had been a “lady in waiting” for the Queen, but had married a wealthy man and as such had left the Queen’s employment, but they had remained good friends.

Queen Victoria herself poured the tea for us all, she said that the liked to play “ma’am”, and we helped ourselves to cake and scones which were delicious. It just seemed impolite though to be eating while the Queen was talking, a little bizarre.

Her Majesty gave us many insights into Osborne House and her life with Prince Albert, which really did make history come alive.

After almost an hour, it was time for photographs, and then to bid farewell to the Queen, and off to spend time looking around the rest of the house and grounds and then back home.

Even though they were only actors playing roles, with this being in a genuine setting and also a private party rather than us just being part of a larger audience, it did feel very special and very much like we were living in a time warp.

I understand that this was only the second time that this had been offered at Osborne House, so I feel very privileged to have been part of it.

More Photographs Of Us With The Queen


Photographs Of Osborne House And The Victorian Christmas Festivities


Pictures Of England Needs A Helping Hand

Pictures Of England is a unique web site that has thousands of images from the British Isles that have been sent in by members, and also hundreds of articles about people and places in England that have been written by members.  Pictures of England provides a wonderful insight into the places and events that throughout the ages have made Britain great.

Unfortunately, the cost of running the web site, the servers and hosting costs, have been increasing dramatically as membership and traffic has soared, and the owners, Chris and Sarah Plows are faced with having to close the site down in the next couple of months unless additional funding can be found.

They have implemented a Premium Membership option, as well as donations via Paypal, and hopefully this will help to bring in enough money to enable them to save the site.

This is a copy of the message that they sent out to members of Pictures Of England this week:

Dear Member,

This is an important message to all members.

Unfortunately Sarah and I are no longer in a position where we can continue the funding of the website ourselves, and without the urgent help of our members will soon be forced to close the site down during the coming weeks (as soon as July 2011). This is due to the large server costs which runs into thousands of pounds and are set to increase further as the site attracts more members and visitors, and the cost of running the site continues to rise.

We are therefore, in a bid to try and turn things around as quickly as possible, introducing a paid ‘Premier Membership‘ option which we hope as many of you as possible will join in a concerted effort to help us survive the short term and hopefully secure the long term future of the site as well. Other big image sites do a two-tier membership to great success, and although they may have been built on the back of large corporations and we are just a husband and wife team, we see no reason we can’t do it too, if enough members truly value the site.

Therefore please consider making a donation in order to keep the Pictures of England website online and help secure its future. Thank you in advance for your much needed support.

Thumbs UpI know that not everyone who reads this message will be able to make a donation to Pictures Of England, but if you like this site and see what a valuable resource it is, please can you help by sharing this message and/or a link to the site with your friends and to give it a  Thumbs Up on the social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, Stumbleupon, Digg etc).

Thanks in advance for helping to keep a valuable resource alive.

I have no connection with Pictures Of England other than as someone who sees the value that the site provides, and wishes to see it kept alive.


H Is For History

This is the 8th article in the A-Z Blogging Challenge for April, where each day a post is written that is inspired by a successive letter.

Today it’s the turn of the Letter H, and this stands for one of my favorite subjects, History.

Even now I remember what interested me in history, in particular Ancient History, and it was going with my parents to see an Italian made Epic called The Wooden Horse Of Troy, which I found out was released in 1961.

The story fascinated me, and I also had a Readers Digest book for children which had an article on Heinrich Schliemann who spent years searching for the location of Troy, before finally discovering the site in 1868.

At that time in primary school I was learning about Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, and soon afterwards about the great explorers (Christopher Colombus, Vasco De Gama, Ferdinand Magellan) and the discovery of the New World, and I was hooked.

These were also the years of other great epic movies about King Arthur, with movies like Excalibur, and also the amazing Jason And The Argonauts featuring the animation talents of Ray Harryhausen.   Watching movies like these as a young boy in the 1960’s just took you straight into another world.

While I do enjoy other periods in history, it is Ancient History that still has a hold over me, in particular since reading Chariots Of The Gods which was published when I was at university.  That got me hooked on exploring other works about unsolved mysteries, including the Mayan Civilization and the lost city of Atlantis amongst other things.

Transitions in my life caused me to lose track of this topic for a few years, but then in the 1990’s I had cause to go to the new Barnes And Noble bookstore that opened in town, and on a whim I went off and browsed the New Age shelves in search of something about Atlantis or other unsolved mysteries.

What I did find was a book called The Twelfth Planet by Zecharia Sitchin, and this together with other books that he has written just made everything that I had learned fall into place, and started me off on an even deeper search for knowledge of mankind’s most distant past.

But enough for now of Zecharia Sitchin, since unless I suddenly find a fascination for Zebras in the next few weeks, you could be reading more about him at the end of April when it becomes the turn of the Letter Z for me to find something to write about, so stay tuned.

More recently, research into my family history has let me to research my Grandfather’s voyages in the early 1900’s.  He was an apprentice on sailing ships and one of the last Cape Horner’s, sailing around Cape Horn in the last days of sail.

I have only got as far as writing the Preface to this book, which I published HERE to get an idea as to whether anyone would be interested in reading it or not.

During my research to find information on the actual events that the book is to be based on, I discovered a treasure trove of digitized newspaper articles, and being also interested in how our lives have changed in just the last 100 years, I have written a number of articles that were based on news stories that I found from 100 years ago, and which I also published on Squidoo as One Hundred Years Ago.

Well before I lose your attention completely, however I would like to think that if I had written this as the introduction to a book, in far more detail and allowing my boyish fascination with adventures from beyond my wildest dreams to shine through, that I might have you hooked from beginning to end.

One Hundred Years Ago Today – 11 February 1911 – Britain and Germany

The Sydney Morning Herald 11 February 1911 - Britain And GermanyIn February 1911 few people could have foreseen the events that lay just three short years away, and much of the political focus of the time was on the rights of women and the impact of the automobile on society.

The Sydney Morning Herald from Australia on the 11th February 1911 included an article covering discussions in the House Of Commons the previous day, relating to interchanges between Britain and Germany, and political attempts to improve friendly relations between the two nations.

Read The Full Story Here:
One Hundred Years Ago Today – 11 February 1911 – Britain and Germany

One Hundred Years Ago

One Hundred Years Ago was inspired by a series of articles that I am writing on Associated Content thaqt analyzes articles from the newspapers of 100 years ago.

Back then, which isn’t really that long ago for many of us, life was very different.

Most transport, if not by steam train, was still done using horses.

Most houses did not have electricity. Radio was in it’s infancy. Television had been invented, but it would be another 20 years before commercial broadcasting began. The Wright Brothers had made their first powered flight less than 10 years before, and yet within 10 years so much would change.

These are the years that led up to the First World War, an event of such magnitude that nobody could have predicted the cost.

So please, if you enjoy History and looking back at the past, come with me on a trip into yesteryear, and see what life was like One Hundred Years Ago.