|The Autumn weekend in London and Woodford
Hosted by Joanna Urbanek.
Our autumn gathering during the weekend of 23-24th October was in central and east London and then
in North London on the Essex border on the Sunday - a pretty good tour of our capital city!
Saturday 23rd October: Morning:
Portobello Market, Notting Hill
A group of us met at 10a.m. at Notting Hill Gate Underground
Station and then emerged into the sun on a lovely morning
before making the leisurely stroll (along with thousands of
other bargain hunters) the short distance to the famous Portobello Road antiques market. This London Saturday
morning institution, has become beleaguered over recent years with the appearance of sellers of modern curios,
T-shirts and the like and more importantly by the insidious growth of high-street chain stores. Old "rabbit
warren" buildings have been "modernised" and the small dealers have struggled to pay increased rents. In the
face of all of this, there are still a good number of highly individual and interesting stalls, selling all manner of
real antiques - even some Belleek! It is not always easy to find that elusive item of Belleek but it can be done -
personally, over many years, we have found several gems of Belleek on the small poky stalls in the Portobello
antiques market. The full search of the hundreds of stalls took about three hours - a very satisfying and
interesting morning which also gave us some much-needed physical exercise!
Saturday Afternoon: Connoisseurs’ Tour of the
Wallace Collection’s ceramic collection,
The Wallace Collection is a
national museum which displays
the wonderful works of art
collected in the eighteenth and
nineteenth centuries by the first
four Marquesses of Hertford and Sir
Richard Wallace, the son of the 4th
Marquess. It was bequeathed to the
British nation by Sir Richard's
widow, Lady Wallace, in 1897.
Joanna had organized a private tour
for the UK Belleek Group. We enjoyed our walk through
Wallace Collection which presents its
outstanding exhibits in a
sumptuous but approachable manner which is an essential part of its charm.
It is probably known for its paintings by artists such as Titian, Rembrandt, Hals (The Laughing Cavalier) and Velázquez and for its superb collections of eighteenth-century French paintings,
porcelain, furniture and gold boxes, probably the best to be found anywhere outside France. But there are also
splendid medieval and Renaissance objects, including Limoges enamels, maijolica, glass and bronzes, as well as
the finest array of princely arms and armour in Britain, featuring both European and Oriental objects. Afterwards, many members settled down to an extended and relaxing Cream Tea in the cafe. Hard to believe that outside, London carried on at its' usual frantic pace. Later, we all travelled to Stratford in East London for early dinner and then to the theatre to see a play based on the life of Ian Dury of late 70's 'Blockheads' fame. a great evening of nostalgia for members of a certain age. Below left, a scene from the play which will be on tour across the UK this Spring (2012).
||The Menzies Prince Regent Hotel was our lunch venue on
a beautiful sunny October Sunday. We had just strolled back
from Joanna's house, a short distance away and sat
down to enjoy the dinner - presented in a very smart
room at the hotel.
Left, Jan with Angela Moore at Joanna's.
Above right: the hotel, a Georgian building with many
additions, most interestingly the accommodation block
which has been converted from a chapel that was built
to serve the first St. Barnardos Children's Home.
Joanna had arranged the day very well indeed, we only had to cross the road to the wonderful Saint Paul's
Church, which was opposite the hotel. Unusually and quite specially, Joanna had managed to arrange for us to
use the church itself (her own parish church) as the meeting venue.
|We also had two fascinating talks during the afternoon. Ron James left, brought his collection of Copeland and Neville right, brought many early pieces of Belleek Parian and Earthenware.The basis of his talk was to expand on his recent article entitled 'Regaining Time in Belleek' which was well received.
|Patricia McCauley, Manager of the Belleek Visitors Centre gave us some of the latest news from the Pottery. Ggood news from Fermanagh.Despite the general economic climate, the Visitors’ Centre had increased its footfall and sales. The
Americans were returning, perhaps as the dollar had strengthened. The factory was back on 5 days and they had
just won a large Saint Patrick’s day order from QVC. Also next year(2011) the Pottery was pleased to have been put
on the itinerary of a prestigious tour company. Quite a bit of the new range of Belleek Living was being made
in Belleek and this too was helping to secure full time employment at the Pottery.
Patricia also gave us information about new products.
Angela Moore was, along with Patricia,our guest of honour.
Angela, the President of the Belleek Collectors International Society, then gave us a short presentation. Angela
was very pleased to be with us and could tell us that the new Belleek WEB site was going well. The BCIS was
now fully Internet based and free to join and an additional 1000 new members had joined. Angela was hoping that perhaps
some of these new members might join their local Group/Chapters and would welcome feedback on this.
The next Convention in Chicago(2011) is very much recommended as it is a great city to visit.
Angela has been asked by quite a few collectors recently about donating items to the Belleek Museum. She
wanted to reassure us that donated items would always belong to the Museum (not the Pottery), if they were
given to the Museum by way of a permanent loan agreement they would be protected and could not be
subsequently sold off. The Museum was independent. She also said they (well actually it was Fergus!) were
actively buying pieces selected to enhance the Museum.
Angela is now going on Face Book, her Mum joined recently and she thought it was about time she followed
We took a break for afternoon tea and biscuits and eventually we managed to assemble everyone into the
obligatory group photograph below.