Faraday House, Hampton Court Green

Jacqueline Banerjee writes at The Victorian Web:

“This Grade II listed building was Michael Faraday’s last home. It dates from the early eighteenth century, but has some late eighteenth-century additions, as well as later alterations. It is now two separate establishments. Distinguishing features are its central projecting bay, and the impressive first-floor bay to the right, supported by four columns. The building faces Hampton Court Green and its garden backs down to the Thames just west of Hampton Court Bridge.

As superintendent of the Royal Institution in Albemarle Street, Faraday had previously lived in a flat there with his wife Sarah, but in 1858 Queen Victoria granted the couple this more spacious accommodation at the request of Prince Albert. Faraday was very grateful for this “thoughtful kindness” on Albert’s part, but worried that he would have to meet the cost of repairing it before moving in. On 20 April that year, he wrote to Prince Albert’s secretary, Dr Becker, explaining his position:

My dear Dr. Becker, — I beheve you know all about the extreme kindness shown to me in respect of one of Her Majesty’s houses at Hampton Court. I am in a little difficulty about either accepting or declining it. The manner in which it is offered to me is such as would make it grievous to me to decline it, and yet, if it is not improper, I should like to have a few words with you before I finally settle….

However, a short while later, Faraday’s mind was set at rest on this score. The repairs were to be paid for, and the house made ready for him, both inside and out, at no cost to himself. He wrote again to Mr Becker in a letter dated 5 May,

I am surprised by the kindness I have received on this occasion, which, in the case of Her Majesty’s unsought condescension, astonishes me. I know that your good wishes are with me in this matter, and they are of the greater value to me, as they are free and unsolicited — the spontaneous result of your own kind thought. Whilst enjoying Hampton for a year or two, as I hope to do, pleasant remembrances will be called up on every side.

In fact, Faraday would live there for nearly ten years. At first, he continued with his professional activities:

Few of those who saw him enjoying the kindness which gave him his house at Hampton Court, or delighting in the beauty of the sunsets from the palace gardens, or rejoicing in the idleness of the summer life in the country, knew that during a great part of this period of his life he was proving by experiment whether his magneto-electric light could be made by Professor Holmes practically useful for lighthouses.

But in the last few years, his mind failed him. He had experienced problems ever since a sudden severe illness in late 1839, and now he wrote on one occasion, “Again and again I tear up my letters, for I write nonsense. I cannot spell or write a line continuously. Whether I shall recover — this confusion — do not know. I will not write any more”. In April 1867 one of his nieces expressed the pleasure that she and her family took in visiting him: “This is the ninth year that we have had the privilege of seeing spring blossoms in this pleasant comfortable house by the kind invitation of my dear uncle and aunt,” she wrote, “they have always said (and I believe it) that their own enjoyment of the house has been heightened by the power it has given them of sharing its benefits with others”; but she was grieved by his “declining, half-paralysed state,” and he died soon afterwards, on 26 August of that year, to be laid to rest in Highgate Cemetery, in a simple plot, just as he had wished.”

From the website of The Twickenham Museum:

“…Faraday was a deeply religious man and, like his parents, a member of a breakaway Presbyterian sect, known as the Sandemanians (an English form of the Scottish sect of Glassites, followers of John Glas (1695-1773). It is chiefly known owing to Faraday having officiated as a Sandemanian elder in London.) However, he kept his science and his religion separate, holding that God was not knowable through science.

In 1841 he suffered a nervous breakdown and did not return to his studies until 1844. Around this time he also suffered a physical disability affecting the use of his legs and Thomas Twining III of Twickenham made an invalid chair for him. In 1895 this chair came into the hands of John Rudd Leeson, Twining’s doctor (and Charter Mayor of Twickenham in 1926). Leeson gave the chair to the Athenaeum in 1908…”

Savoy Place, London WC2

Above: the life-size statue of Michael Faraday was commissioned by the IEE to commemorate the life and work of the man, widely regarded as the father of electrical engineering. The figure is a copy of John Henry Foley’s marble statue of Faraday commissioned by the Royal Institution soon after his death in 1867 and completed in 1876. The statue depicts Faraday holding the induction coil which he used for his most famous experiment in which he discovered electromagnetic induction on 29 August 1831.

From Wikipedia:

“Savoy Place is a large red brick building on the north bank of the River Thames in London. It is on a street called Savoy Place and Savoy Street runs along the side of the building up to the Strand. In front is the Victoria Embankment, part of the Thames Embankment. Close by are Savoy Hill House (best known for accommodating the BBC Savoy Hill recording studios), the Savoy Hotel and Waterloo Bridge. There are commanding views over to the South Bank and the London Eye.

Savoy Place is located at a site originally called Savoy Manor, taking its name from Peter II, Count of Savoy. He was given the land by Henry III on 12 February 1246 and built a palace on the site. After his death in 1268, the property was left to a French hospice. The Savoy Palace was extended by successive Earls of Lancaster and John of Gaunt, but was burnt down during the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381. The palace was modified to become a prison in the 15th century.

In 1509, Henry VII left money in his will for a hospital. This was completed on the site in 1517 but it fell into decline and eventually became a military barracks and prison. Various religious institutions were based on the site, including a Jesuit school. The area was also a retreat for Huguenot families. In 1723, a German Lutheran church was built on part of the site, but demolished in 1877 for the construction of the Thames Embankment.

The current building, completed in 1889, was built to serve as an examination hall for the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Surgeons. The foundation stone at the front of the building was laid by Queen Victoria on 24 March 1886.

On 1 June 1909, the Institution of Electrical Engineers bought the lease and various alterations were carried out by H. Percy Adams and Charles Holden. The building is currently the headquarters for the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), formed from the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE) and the Institution of Incorporated Engineers (IIE) in 2006.

Outside the building, there is a statue of the leading Victorian scientist Michael Faraday by the Irish sculptor John Henry Foley (1818–1874).

Behind Savoy Place is a building originally known as Lancaster House and later as Savoy Mansions. It was built in 1880 by the Savoy Building Company. Occupants included beer merchants, architects, solicitors, and even Turkish baths in the basement.”

“A Canterbury Tale”*

*1944 British film by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.

Paul Banks writes, in Deconstructing the Imagined Village: A Canterbury Tale:

“…Pressburger undermines the element of suspense in the detective story early on: the leading characters in the film and the audience have strong circumstantial evidence about the attacker’s identity. Admittedly, this to some extent vitiates the power of the narrative impetus provided by the crime-solving strand, but it allows for a discursive detective narrative that can effortlessly accommodate an exploration of English mores, manners and landscape, and whose quiet progress is visually paralleled by the slender, meandering course of the river Stour seen wending its way through Kent towards Canterbury…

…The main, central portion of the film starts in the dark, at a railway station, as the American soldier, Bob gets off at the wrong stop: Chillingbourne, not Canterbury. There he meets Alison – a member of the land army  – and Peter a soldier just posted.

As the film progresses we find that all three

1. Have suffered loss

a) of a girl friend who not longer replies to his letters (Bob)

b) of a fiancé lost in action (Alison)

c) of artistic ambition (Peter)

2. Have been geographically and culturally displaced

a) from urban to rural life (Alison and Peter)

b) from America to England.

It is perhaps no surprise that the experience of being a stranger, and outsider, is explored in a number of Pressburger scripts, but never more powerfully than in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp and A Canterbury Tale…”

Carl C. Curtis III, of Liberty University, writes, in Powell and Pressburger’s A Canterbury Tale: New Pilgrims, Old Pilgrimage:

“…Meanwhile, Alison works her way through Canterbury toward her stated destination, to inspect the caravan that her fiancé bequeathed her. Many critics have remarked on the inspirational closing scene of the film in Canterbury Cathedral, and their assessment is by no means wrong. But for me the most deeply affecting moment of A Canterbury Tale is Alison’s walk through the wasteland of what was once a building-lined street, with the cathedral the one prominent, whole structure in sight. So transformed is the district that she must ask whether she is in the right place, “It is an awful mess,” a woman tells her. “I don’t blame you for not knowing where you are. But you get a very good view of the cathedral now.” And so do we. Alison moves down the street past one exposed basement after another, a picket fence separating the sidewalk from the drop. The background music is still Bach, but no longer the Toccata and Fugue; rather we hear something reminiscent of the opening chorale of Cantata 47 taken from Luke 14:11. “Wer sich selbst erhöhet, der soll erniedriget wenden” (“For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted”) (Bach)…

Alison finds her caravan in pitiful condition, its tires requisitioned, moths all over the few articles of clothing left inside. While she tearfully inspects what remains, Colpeper arrives. Everybody, he reminds her, has their disappointments in life, leaving us to guess at what his losses might have been. Then with a statement that in more ways than one strikes at the heart of the modern age, he concludes, “There’s something impermanent about a caravan. Everything on wheels must be on the move sooner or later.’ If that knowledge does not give Alison the blessing she needs, the news from the garage owner does. He informs her that her fiancé’s father is in Canterbury and trying to reach her with news. The man she spent thirteen perfect days with on the Pilgrims’ Way three years before is alive in Gibraltar.

I must say that if there is one truly false step in A Canterbury Tale, it is the resurrection of Alison’s fiancé…”

The Rev. George Bramwell Evens (1884–20 November 1943)

From Wikipedia:

“Evens’ mother was Romani, born in a vardo (gypsy wagon). His father was Salvation Army Lieutenant George Evens, a native of Plymouth. He was born at 3 Argyll Street, Anlaby Road, Hull, England and educated at Epworth College, Rhyl, as boarder, then at Queens College, Taunton. He married Eunice, the daughter of The Reverend Owen Thomas on 1 August 1911.

He is most famous for his Out with the Romany radio programmes (later Out with Romany), which commenced in 1933 on the BBC’s Children’s Hour, describing travels in his own vardo (purchased in 1921, at Brough Hill Fair, for £75), with Comma the horse, his English Cocker Spaniel Raq, and his young friends Muriel and Doris. Although the programmes were all pre-scripted and performed entirely in the studio, the impression given was of Romany and his friends going for a walk in the countryside and spontaneously discussing the plants and animals they came across. Raphael Samuel saw the programme as instrumental in making the countryside desirable for a generation of listeners. Simon Barnes has paid tribute to how his father (radio) and himself (books) were drawn to natural history by Romany: “I longed to walk through the country with the all-knowing, all-seeing Romany”.

As a Methodist minister, Evens’ ministries included Goole; the Methodist Central Hall, Carlisle (1914–1926); Huddersfield (1926–1929); and the King Cross Methodist Chapel, Halifax (1929–1939), after which ill health forced him to give up the ministry. He retired to Wilmslow, where he died, leaving his wife, son Glyn and daughter, Romany June.

His ashes were scattered, at his request, at Old Parks Farm, Glassonby, Cumbria, which he had enjoyed visiting over a 22-year period: in 2001, a memorial to him was erected to him there by The Romany Society.

The vardo was donated, unconditionally, by his widow, to the forerunners of Cheshire East Borough Council (CEBC). For many years it was displayed by CEBC, outdoors, in Wilmslow. In late 2012, having deteriorated badly, it was restored and moved to Bradford Industrial Museum, to be displayed indoors.

The Romany Society, originally formed in 1943, disbanded in 1965, and re-founded in 1996, celebrates his life and work, with regular newsletters and an annual magazine. Its patron is Terry Waite.

The BBC radio programmes were all broadcast live, and only one recording survives – dated October 1943, just a month before his death. It was released on CD in 2006.”

How bona to vada your dolly old eek again.

Colin Richardson wrote in The Guardian of 17.01.05:

“Nish the chat and pin back your aunt nells; it’s time to brush up your polari. Unless, that is, you enjoy being terminally naff.

Polari, the gay slang which faded away with the decriminalisation of male homosexuality and the advent of gay liberation, is making a comeback. Madame Jo Jo’s, the Soho cabaret venue which specialises in drag spectaculars, has adopted polari as its lingua franca. A list of words and phrases, chosen by linguistics lecturer and polari expert Dr Paul Baker, has been given to staff for them to use in their conversations with each other and with the punters.

It makes sense. Polari is, or was, a sort of gay Esperanto, a weird amalgam of Yiddish, Italian, Spanish, Occitan (a hybrid of Spanish and French), Cant (the secret language of thieves and outlaws), Romany, Cockney rhyming slang, backslang and, well, lingua franca (the old pidgin language of Mediterranean traders and seafarers).

Many polari words are recognisable: aqua, manjaree, vada, bona, omi, even polari itself. You can probably guess at their meanings: water, food or to eat, look or see, good, man, and talk. Anyone who speaks Portuguese, Spanish, French or Italian will be similarly well-placed. And have you ever met a waiter, bartender or, indeed, drag queen, who hails from Rio or Madrid, Paris or Rome? Exactly.

As Paris Tkaczyk, owner of Madame Jo Jo’s, puts it: “By offering staff the option of learning and using Polari to refer to familiar aspects and objects of their work, we are offering a fun, yet practical, way of bridging any language gaps, as well as celebrating the cultural history and diversity of Soho.”

But there’s more to this than good employment practice. It also represents yet another instance of the mainstreaming of gay culture, another poke in the ogle for those who deny that there is or ever was such a thing as gay culture, and a further rehabilitation of camp.

Polari flourished in the difficult years between the trial of Oscar Wilde and the 1967 Sexual Offences Act. It was a kind of code, which enabled one gay man to identify another, allowed them to express themselves publicly without fear of arrest or reprisal and provided a vocabulary for talking about gay sex and sexuality.

In the latter half of the 1960s, polari burst out of the closet. The radio comedy sketch show, Round the Horne, introduced two regular characters, Julian and Sandy, who spoke a version of polari. Millions tuned in each week to hear the show’s avuncular host, Kenneth Horne (whose very name was a gift to the double of entendre), visit some new enterprise, which was invariably called Bona something or another: Bona Guest House, Bona Caterers, Bona Ballet, you get the picture.

The Bona traders were two out-of-work actors, played by Hugh Paddick and Kenneth Williams, themselves gay and so able to squeeze the most out of every line:

“Oh hello, I’m Julian and this is my friend, Sandy.”

“Why, it’s Mr Horne. How bona to vada your dolly old eek again.”

To most listeners, this must have been gibberish, albeit saucy, funny gibberish. But if you listen carefully to recordings of the show, you can tell that a small proportion of the studio audience understood exactly what was going on.

Round the Horne was both polari’s apotheosis and its last hurrah. As the 1970s ground on, gay men became increasingly embarrassed by any association with limp-wristed camp. While Marc Bolan and David Bowie were applying manly mascara, gay men were growing moustaches and dressing like cowboys. The gay clone look sought to banish visions of Julian and Sandy, Mr Humphries and Larry Grayson. Poor Kenneth Williams became an outcast among his own kind, as his diaries bitterly relate.

The Madame Jo Jo’s story shows how far we have come since then. In recent years, polari has slowly been building up a new head of steam. Academic studies have flourished. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have even published a polari translation of the Bible on the internet (www.thesisters.demon.).

A stage version of Round the Horne became a big hit last year; and this time round, everyone’s in on the joke. Many polari words – cod, naff, zhoosh, drag, dish and trade, for instance – are already in common usage. Even chav, the current word of the moment, has a connection to polari. The Romany word chavvie, or child, is also part of the polari lexicon.

So now you know. You’ve been talking a little queer all along. Isn’t that fantabulosa?

Glossary: troll back, to return; nish, no more; aunt nells, ears; naff, straight, tasteless; ogle, eye; dolly, nice, pleasant; eek , face – a contraction of the backslang ecaf; cod , bad, fake; zhoosh, to titivate; drag, clothing, a special outfit; dish, attractive, to gossip or bum; trade, sexual partner; colin, horn, erection; fantabulosa, fantabulosa.

· Colin Richardson is a former editor of Gay Times.

Wiktionary: “From vurdon m (plural vurdona) (cart) from Ossetian wœrdon”

From Wikipedia:

“A vardo (also wag(g)on, living wagon, van, and caravan) is a traditional horse-drawn wagon used by British Romanichal Travellers as their home. Possessing a chimney, it is commonly thought of as being highly decorated, intricately carved, brightly painted, and even gilded. The Romanichal Traveller tradition of the vardo is seen as a high cultural point of both artistic design and a masterpiece of woodcrafters art. The heyday of the living wagon lasted for roughly 70 years, from the mid-1800s through the first two decades of the twentieth century. Not used for year-round living today, they are shown at the Romanichal (British Romani) horse fairs held throughout the year, the best known of which is Appleby Horse Fair.

Wagons were first used as a form of living accommodation (as opposed to carrying people or goods) in France in 1810 by non-Romani circus troupes. Large transport wagons combined storage space and living space into one vehicle, and were pulled by teams of horses. By the 19th century wagons became smaller, reducing the number of horses required, and around the mid-to-late-19th century (1840–1870), Romanichals in Britain started using wagons that incorporated living spaces on the inside, and added their own characteristic style of decoration. In The Old Curiosity Shop (ch. xxvii), Charles Dickens described Mrs. Jarley’s well-appointed van:

One half of it…was carpeted, and so partitioned off at the further end as to accommodate a sleeping-place, constructed after the fashion of a berth on board ship, which was shaded, like the windows, with fair white curtains… The other half served for a kitchen, and was fitted up with a stove whose small chimney passed through the roof. It also held a closet or larder, several chests, a great pitcher of water, and a few cooking-utensils and articles of crockery. These latter necessaries hung upon the walls, which in that portion of the establishment devoted to the lady of the caravan, were ornamented with such gayer and lighter decorations as a triangle and a couple of well-thumbed tambourines.’

These smaller wagons were called “vardo” in the Romani language (originating from the Ossetic word vurdon) for cart.”

“Every body take a stand/Join the caravan of love”*

*from 1985 R&B hit originally recorded by Isley-Jasper-Isley, the second half of The Isley Brothers’ 3 + 3 lineup of the 1970s.

From: Online Etymology Dictionary:

“caravan (n.)

1590s, in reference to in North Africa or western Asia, “company of travelers, pilgrims, merchants, etc., going together for security,” from Middle French caravane, from Old French carvane, carevane “caravan” (13c.), or Medieval Latin caravana, words picked up during the Crusades, via Arabic qairawan from Persian karwan “group of desert travelers” (which Klein connects to Sanskrit karabhah “camel”).

Used in English for “any large number of persons traveling together with much baggage” (1660s), hence “a large covered carriage for conveying passengers” (1670s)  or later for traveling shows or used as a house by Gypsies. In modern British use (from 1930s), often a rough equivalent of the U.S. camper or recreational vehicle.

From Wiktionary:

“caravanserai (plural caravanserais)

1 A roadside inn having a central courtyard where caravans can rest.

2 (humorous) An upscale hotel.

3 A home or shelter for caravans.

Borrowed from Persian کاروانسرای‎ (kârvânserây), from کاروان‎ (kârvân, “caravan”) + سرای‎ (sarây, “courtyard; dwelling; palace”).”

“Dreams … are often most profound when they seem most crazy …

those who have had something to say but could not say it without peril have … assumed a fool’s cap.” Sigmund Freud, in The Interpretation of Dreams (1900).

On 29.3.08, Nicholas Lezard reviewed Desiderius Erasmus’s Praise of Folly (1511) (Oneworld, 2008) for The Guardian:

“I must confess that when this dropped on the doormat, I actually did a little dance. I love Erasmus, and am delighted at any chance I get to introduce more people to him.

The modern world begins, in a sense, with this book. Or at least the modern sense of humorous, sceptical inquiry, a world in which the claims of dogma are countered by those of wit and good sense. You could say that we have regressed somewhat, at least in religious terms…

Praise of Folly should be on every civilised bookshelf. There was a time when it was: it was the must-read of its day, and reverberations from its impact are still being felt. Erasmus’s style, for one thing, is recognisable even through translation (from the original Latin) and the long passage of time. That style is perhaps best summed up as one of “immense cheek”. Here he is, digressing during the explanation of an adage: “A few years ago we ourselves composed The Praise of Folly for fun . . . Whatever the work amounts to, I know for sure that it is highly commended by open-minded people and those with an appreciation for good literature.”

It is hard not to be disarmed by such nerve, and Praise of Folly was itself a brave book: inspired by the satires of Lucian and the momentum of the Renaissance, it dared to tell the truth to power – and the truth to ourselves. I may be giving away one of the book’s great lines, but you would have come across it soon enough: “The chief element of happiness is this: to want to be what you are.” How many tiresome self-help books need not have been printed, not to mention acres of agonised philosophy, when their essence is contained in 14 words – and 14 words so rich in irony?

To praise folly over wisdom is still a subversive act, and Erasmus’s work is so subversive that it often subverts itself. Its irony is serpentine, uncatchable, always at play, mocking not only our aspirations and our better selves, but lampooning the elite with immaculately directed barbs. Sometimes you wonder how on earth he managed to evade execution. (A fate that caught up with the book’s dedicatee, Thomas More.) I suppose his trick was a continual play of charm. The character of Folly herself, as imagined by Erasmus, has an answer for everything. When it’s pointed out that no one has ever built a temple to Folly, she first says “I’m rather surprised at the ingratitude”, and then points out that “this entire world is my temple . . . for me alone does the whole world unite to offer unceasing sacrifices”.

One doesn’t want to make claims that are too extravagant, but, considering that he flourished 500 years ago, Erasmus is a wonderfully congenial companion for modern times – humorous, anti-partisan (there are Lutherans but not, alas, Erasmians), gently progressive and tolerant down to his toenails. He’s a believer in higher education for women, in having a good time whether in play or feasting, in the humanising power of learning, politeness, irony, pan-European peace, cultural harmony and enlightenment – in short, everything that the fascists, demagogues, bigots, tyrants, lickspittles and wowsers who have plagued humanity since, presumably, its inception are not. And rarely has Christian piety been presented in such an attractive – and indeed persuasive – fashion…”

*Kazuo Ishiguro (b.8.11.1954)

*winner of the 2017 Nobel prize for literature.

From: Penelope Fitzgerald – a Life (2013) by Hermione Lee:

“In 1995 she gave the Cheltenham Prize, which is awarded by a single judge at the Literature Festival, to Kazuo Ishiguro. Ishiguro was signing copies of The Unconsoled in the Muswell Hill Bookshop, and a woman in the line said something nice to him about the book, asked him just to write ‘To Penelope’, and quietly went away. After she had gone, someone else said to him, “You just signed a book for Penelope Fitzgerald.” A few weeks later, he heard she was going to give him the Cheltenham Prize. Because he couldn’t go to the Festival, they recorded an interview at Bishops Road. She seemed to him gentle, modest, open and interested in the world, supportive to young writers, looking outward, with a kind of freshness. “She was lovely.” And she found his work intensely appealing. She liked the dream-like strangeness of The Unconsoled, but her favourite was A Pale View of Hills: “You couldn’t get a better example of saying things by leaving them unsaid.” “.

Sam Jordison looks after the Guardian‘s Reading group. Their text in January 2015 was The Unconsoled:

Jordison quotes “something Ishiguro himself said in a Paris Review interview:

“I started to ask myself, What is the grammar of dreams? Just now, the two of us are having this conversation in this room with nobody else in the house. A third person is introduced into this scene. In a conventional work, there would be a knock on the door and somebody would come in, and we would say hello. The dreaming mind is very impatient with this kind of thing. Typically what happens is we’ll be sitting here alone in this room, and suddenly we’ll become aware that a third person has been here all the time at my elbow. There might be a sense of mild surprise that we hadn’t been aware of this person up until this point, but we would just go straight into whatever point the person is raising. I thought this was quite interesting. And I started to see parallels between memory and dream, the way you manipulate both according to your emotional needs at the time. The language of dreams would also allow me to write a story that people would read as a metaphorical tale as opposed to a comment on a particular society.” “.

“Where My Caravan Has Rested”*


From arabkitsch.com:

Composer: Hermann Lohr

Lyricist: Edward Teschemacher

Copyright: 1909

Publisher: Chappell & Co., Ltd., New York

Notes: This is NOT a Middle Eastern song, but a gypsy ballad, part of a larger collection of “Romany Songs.” A footnote explains “The Gipsies [sic] leave some grass or a few flowers at the Cross Roads to show other gipsies following behind them the road they have taken. This is known as  the “Patterain.”


 Where my caravan has rested,

Flowers I leave you on the grass,

All the flowers of love and memory,

You will find them when you pass.


You will understand their message,

Stoop to kiss them where they lie;

But if other lips have loved you,

Shed no tear-and pass them by.