Tag Archives: royalty

In June, somebody celebrated their second birthday of the year…

Maida Vale Library pulled out all the stops for its week of free celebrations to commemorate The Queen’s Official 90th birthday on 11 June 2016. Like The Mall itself, the library was be-decked in patriotic red, white and blue Union Flag bunting.

Crown making craft activity for the Queen's 90th birthday, Maida Vale Library, June 2016 Crown making craft activity for the Queen's 90th birthday, Maida Vale Library, June 2016
The 'Crown Jewels' on display for the Queen's 90th birthday, Maida Vale Library, June 2016

The celebrations kicked off on the Monday with the first of four craft drop-in sessions. The families who came along made some wonderfully designed crowns which sparkled in the sunlight as they left the building. One little boy was particularly pleased to be able to make another crown, having already made one recently at school for The Queen.

“It’s great that the library does theses craft and art events as they don’t do much art stuff at school nowadays.”

Making Buckingham Palace for the Queen's 90th birthday, Maida Vale Library, June 2016

On the Tuesday, families made 3D models of Buckingham Palace out of recycled junk and on the Wednesday a wonderful collage of the 2012 Diamond Jubilee’s Thames Flotilla of boats was recreated and is now proudly on display in the children’s library.

“My kid really loved this event as he’s mad on boats.”

Remembering the Jubilee Flotilla for the Queen's 90th birthday, Maida Vale Library, June 2016

The first big event of the week took place on the Wednesday with our under 5s’ Royal Teddy Bear’s Picnic. Blankets were laid out on the floor and the toddlers and their teddies were treated to music, songs and rhymes along with healthy food and drink. Staff took the opportunity to talk to carers about library partners such as MEND who will be working with us over the summer providing free weekly sessions. They also promoted upcoming library health events specifically aimed at young children, such as Dinosaur Douglas who made an appearance the following week as part of National Smile Week.

“Fabulous event for kids and nannies! I’ve enjoyed it as much as the kids.”

Teddy Bears' Picnic for the Queen's 90th birthday, Maida Vale Library, June 2016 Teddy Bears' Picnic for the Queen's 90th birthday, Maida Vale Library, June 2016Teddy Bears' Picnic for the Queen's 90th birthday, Maida Vale Library, June 2016

The Thursday saw a multitude of different designs created for cards and badges fit for The Queen. We also had two more major events for the over 5s: a red, white and blue themed Indoor Street Party with children’s entertainment which took place on the Friday, followed by a visit from Zoo Lab on Saturday who brought along some of The Queen’s smaller beasts to the library.

Our partner Imagethirst was on hand to offer a free photo to children (or adults for that matter!) at the party with our special guest of honour…

Portrait with 'The Queen' at Maida Vale Library, June 2016

All in all nearly 300 people turned up at the various events and activities which took place over the week. We were particularly pleased that we were able to showcase the best of British to some new arrivals who have settled in Westminster and made it their home.

None of these events could have been possible without the ward funding provided by Little Venice, Maida Vale and Westbourne wards. Staff and volunteers worked as a team to make so many events happen in such a short period of time and I must thank each and every one of them for all their hard work.

“The staff here are brilliant and so helpful, they always have so many interesting ideas.”

[Ben]

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The Queen’s 90th birthday at Maida Vale Library

Maida Vale Library is currently be-decked in patriotic red, white and blue for its week of FREE celebrations to commemorate The Queen’s 90th birthday.

The celebrations kicked off on Monday with the first of 4 craft drop-in sessions. The families who came along made some wonderfully designed crowns which sparkled in the sunlight as they left the building. One little boy was particularly pleased to be able to make another crown, having already made one recently at school for The Queen. The other craft sessions this week include making a 3D model of Buckingham Palace out of recycled junk, recreating the 2012 Diamond Jubilee’s Thames Flotilla of boats and designing a card or badge fit for The Queen.

The library is also hosting a Royal Teddy Bear’s Picnic for Under 5s and an Indoor Street Party with children’s entertainment and a visit from Zoo Lab with some of The Queen’s smaller beasts for the Over 5s – these events need to be booked though.

We still have spaces at some of the events, so why don’t you pop along and help us celebrate?

For more information, please visit our webpage.

[Ben]

Portrait of an archivist

Alison Kenney, Archivist at the City of Westminster Archives CentreProfile of Alison Kenney, Archivist

How long have you been an archivist?
I’ve worked for Westminster City Archives for 31 years – after doing a history degree, a year’s work experience and an archive diploma/MA.
You may think 31 years is a long time, but I’ll never beat my father’s record of 51 years in the same office!

What do you like best about it?
The variety – there’s never a dull moment! We acquire, sort, list and conserve archives so that we can use them for enquiries, exhibitions, talks and tours. I really enjoy using my knowledge of the collections to find information for local residents with problems. I remember once helping a very nice old gent with a flooded basement  in Pimlico, who was then able to prove to Thames Water that the River Tyburn did indeed flow under his house, using the Geological Survey maps I found for him.

Liberty ‘Dress and Decoration’ catalogue, 1905, page 27. Image property of Westminster City Archives

Liberty ‘Dress and Decoration’ catalogue, 1905. Image property of Westminster City Archives

What are your favourite items in the collection?
I really love the catalogues of Arts and Crafts costume, furniture and metalwork from Liberty’s, the famous West End store – they are so beautiful!
I also like the lovely 19th century watercolours of Westminster scenes by Thomas Hosmer Shepherd – he always includes a little family group and dog in the foreground for interest.
And as a life-long architecture fanatic, I love the late Victorian photographs by Bedford Lemere of the grand mansions in Mayfair, many of which are long since gone.

What interesting stories have you unearthed in the archives?
There are plenty of fascinating stories about people’s lives in the 18th century settlement examination books of St Martin-in-the-Fields Parish.  They contain interviews with poor people applying for financial help. Some of them even include heart-rending notes pinned to the clothing of babies abandoned by their mothers before the Foundling Hospital was established. One of our volunteers discovered the amazing story of a soldier’s wife who brought back six orphaned children from the Seven Years’ War in Europe to be looked after in London in 1760.

What’s the most curious item you’ve ever found?
It has to be the bizarre print of the Java sparrows who performed in a show in New Bond Street in the 1820s. Their owners claimed they were proficient in seven languages and could do card tricks!

Advert for Java sparrows on New Bond Street, 1820s. Image property of Westminster City Archives

Advert for Java sparrows on New Bond Street, 1820s. Image property of Westminster City Archives

What’s been your most surprising discovery?
Seeing the great seal of Elizabeth I on a deed in the Grosvenor Estate archives. It shows the queen in a spectacular dress with a lace ruff at the neck just like the ones in the famous portraits.

What’s the oldest document in the archives?
It’s a grant from Henry III to Westminster Abbey of rights to hold a market in Tothill Fields, Westminster, in 1256. It’s written in ink on parchment (sheepskin) and has most of its original green wax seal showing the king on the throne holding a sword.

Exterior view of the Archives Centre

Westminster Archives Centre

What are your concerns for the future of archives?
The fact that the 1256 document survives in the correct environment in the Archives Centre makes me wonder if any of the records we are producing now will last as long, especially as so many have been created on computers. I think the 19th century will be the best recorded century in London’s history because minutes of meetings were carefully written in bound volumes, not like the files of loose papers we get today.

What qualities do you think the archivist can bring to society?
Perspective! – we view everything that happens now against a backdrop of centuries of history. But we’re also always thinking of the future and the legacy we’re leaving to future generations. I think archivists can bring a fair degree of impartiality to the decisions about which records to keep and which to destroy. Basically, good record keeping is essential for a democratic society. You’ve only to think of the despotic regimes throughout the world, which destroy government records to deny citizens their rights, or else invade their privacy by recording every minute detail of their lives, to see just how important an issue this is.Explore Your Archive 2013


Letter from the Queen

You may remember that Maida Vale Library sent a letter to The Queen recently, enclosing all of the pictures drawn by children for a half-term competition.

Winning picture by Halah, aged 9What with all the excitement with the birth of the new Prince George of Cambridge, we were somewhat surprised to receive a reply from Her Majesty so quickly. The letter just appeared on the library desk and we wondered if The Queen had dropped it in person on her way to Scotland! With no sign of a sparkling tiara bobbing above the shelves and no yapping of Corgis being heard, we guessed it must have been another Royal that had delivered it: Royal Mail! Take a look at the reply we received, below…

Don’t forget that Maida Vale Library will be closed from this Saturday, 3 August to Saturday 10 August 2013 inclusive to allow us to move back to the ground floor. We re-open on Monday 12 August and very much look forward to seeing you then – royal, commoner or anything in between!

Letter from the Queen to Maida Vale Library,  23 July 2013

[Ben]

Maida Vale Library blog

As well as seeing the Windmill Montessori nursery move back to their usual home in the other half of the Maida Vale Library basement, we’ve had a few ‘crowning’ achievements recently, most notably during the May half term.

To mark the Diamond Jubilee of The Queen’s Coronation, Maida Vale ran an array of events and activities for children of all ages:

  • Corgi winner - May 2013 at Maida Vale LibraryJust for the under 5s we devised a ‘Crown Hunt’ where the little ones had to find cardboard crowns hidden around the library.
    When completed they received a free children’s DVD loan, plus entry into a prize draw to win a fluffy Corgi dog toy. Here is the lucky winner cradling her new toy!
  • Royal mug winner - May 2013 at Maida Vale LibraryFor the over 5s we made a quiz all about The Queen. There were some tough questions but luckily all the answers could be found in a special temporary wall display of pictures and facts.
    Everyone who took part received a free children’s DVD loan, plus entry into a prize draw to win a royal souvenir.
  • Crown craft activity at Maida Vale Library, May 2013We also ran an ongoing art and story competition for ages 3 – 11. Children were given the opportunity to draw a picture of the Queen, or write a short story or poem about her. Prizes are going to be given for the best entries in three age categories and all entrants will be awarded a certificate for taking part. And copies of all the entries are going to be displayed in the library as well as being sent to Her Majesty!
  • On Tuesday 28 May the Westminster Adult Education Service ran ‘Naughty Peter Rabbit’, a free Family Learning Workshop where parent and child got to take home their own FREE copy of the classic tale with ideas on how to use it and other books at home.
  • And on Thursday 30 May we ran two craft sessions where lots of children got to make and decorate their own royal crown to take home and wear, with excellent results as you can see!

Crown craft activity at Maida Vale Library, May 2013  Crown craft activity at Maida Vale Library, May 2013  Crown craft activity at Maida Vale Library, May 2013

Another busy month in our temporary home in the basement. Keep an eye on our events page for both regular and special events coming up.

Ben, Manager of Maida Vale LibraryNext at Maida Vale Library: On Saturday 22 June 2013: ‘Puppets Tell Summer Stories’, another FREE workshop (for over 5s) being provided by WAES. Families will get to make puppets from recycled materials and use them to tell a story. Contact the library to book your place.

Hope to see you soon!

[Maida Vale Library]

“A veritable museum of the history of the United Kingdom”

The 60th anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II is to be celebrated by a service at Westminster Abbey tomorrow, 4 June 2013. The Abbey has been the place of coronation of the monarchs of England and the United Kingdom since 1066, when the Norman conqueror William was anointed king.

View of the Palace of Westminster, Westminster Hall and Westminster Abbey from the River Thames, 1647. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

View of the Palace of Westminster, Westminster Hall and Westminster Abbey from the River Thames, 1647. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

The Abbey and its precincts, together with the Palace of Westminster and the church of St Margaret, forms the Westminster World Heritage Site – so designated by UNESCO in 1987. Explaining its importance to world cultural heritage UNESCO noted that the site:

“illustrates in a concrete way the specificities of parliamentary monarchy over as long a period of time as nine centuries. Whether one looks at the royal tombs of the chapter house, the remarkable vastness of Westminster Hall, of the House of Lords or of the House of Commons, art is everywhere present and harmonious, making a veritable museum of the history of the United Kingdom”.

UNESCO’S own guide The World’s Heritage includes information on each of the 962 cultural and natural sites currently considered to have “outstanding universal value”.  The UNESCO website also provides photos, maps and information on all the listed sites.  Twenty-eight of the sites are found in the UK; four are in London: Westminster, the Tower of London, Maritime Greenwich, and the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.

Admission to the Word Heritage list is keenly sought and governments may submit proposed sites to UNESCO for scrutiny and assessment. If elevated to the list, management plans and policies which secure the site’s protection, conservation, and transmission to future generations are required of the national and local bodies who are custodians of the site.

A Cosmoramic View of London [section], 1843. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

Section of A Cosmoramic View of London, 1843; the dwellings to the south-west of the Victoria Tower were demolished in the 1870s when the Thames was embanked and Victoria Tower Gardens created. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

Preservation was not always the great imperative: over the centuries Westminster’s monumental historic core has been much re-shaped.  The Abbey and Palace of Westminster have been subject to frequent episodes of rebuilding, remodelling and restoration – sometimes producing startling new architectural forms. For example, Barry and Pugin’s soaring neo-Gothic Palace of Westminster, built following the great fire of 1834, boldly brought in the new whilst complementing the old. The changing character and topography of the Westminster World Heritage can be found portrayed in detail in the comprehensive collection of prints, drawings and photographs of historic Westminster held at the City of Westminster Archives Centre.

[Rory]

Victoria Library blog

Victoria LibraryWe have been busy little bees at Victoria Library recently – there’s been so much happening we haven’t had time to post about each event, so we thought it was about time we did a big summary of what we’ve been up to!

Over the past few months, the library has been humming with activity. In addition to numerous health activities organised by Kate the health information worker, we have had a fair few authors visiting to tell us all about their work.

We kicked off the autumn library season with a writing session led by Sharon Kendrick, a Mills and Boon author keen to share her experiences of writing.

Immediately after, we had a talk on the little-known Victorian gentleman archaeologist Alexander Hardcastle by Alexandra Richardson.  The talk was extremely informative and gave a hint of the amount of work an author has to put in to gain such a thorough understanding of a little known subject.

Bringing them up Royal, by David CohenThen we had David Cohen (a writer, psychologist and journalist) come in and talk about the childhoods of the royals since 1066, including the erratic, negligent or even cruel parenting that was sometimes involved.
As you might imagine, this hidden aspect of the life of royalty drew quite a crowd of interested participants. I imagine it might be an even more popular talk if we hosted it again, given its relevance to this week’s news…

We next had the Roehampton University Writing Society giving readings from their latest anthology. Consisting of a mixture of poetry and prose, the crowd was mostly keen students but included some intrigued members of the public.

Chocolate cakes at Victoria Library

Subsequently, we had two authors come in to talk about their upcoming works and about how to get published: Sunita Pattani and Sweta Srivastava Vikram (authors of My Secret Affair with Chocolate Cake and Mouth Full respectively). One of them was so happy with the library that she decided she’d like to hold her book launch here too. Without so much as a break for fresh air, we then had Sunita come in to deliver her talk to a full house (so full in fact that we had to close off the study room just for the event). Given the nature of the talk – how you can eat chocolate and still be healthy – we managed to persuade Starbucks to supply us with a chocolate cake. Needless to say the launch was a massive success with over 40 attendees (and just enough chocolate left over to keep the staff happy).

Open University Open Day at Victoria LibraryIn between all of these events, we also had the Open University come in to deliver information sessions, weekly Healthy Westminster sessions, ESOL classes, our regular book groups, employment workshops and of course, keeping the library running smoothly!

We also held quite a few events for children:

Our Halloween Party was a great success, with more than 20 children attending in fancy dress. We played themed games, awarded prizes for the best costumes, and received many compliments from parents and carers  – plus the children all took home a skeleton and some sweets!

This Christmas sees us joining forces with Westminster Music Library for a children’s Christmas Extravaganza on 13 December. We will be singing carols, giving out mince pies, have a lucky ticket draw for the parents and carers and a special visit from Santa Claus.

Author Sunita Pattani and Victoria Library Manager Ann FarrellThank you to all our customers for your continued support – we look forward to seeing you in the coming weeks, borrowing books to read and music to play or listen to at Christmas.

[Nick and Georgina]