September 13, 2009 Jennie Chancey

At last — a REAL post!

The stage from the topmost level, right under the thatched roof.

I finally have all the photos formatted so I can share our days with you! Here are some shots from Friday’s kick-off to the tour so you can see how we started out. First off, this is Nigel, our wonderful tour guide, who met us at Heathrow and took us on a two-hour narrated coach ride all over London, telling stories around every corner and pointing down practically every alleyway:

Friday-Coach Tour 3 (1)

After 28 years on the London police force, he should know this town like the back of his hand! He’s also a great history buff and thoroughly loves England. It was a fantastic time. We stepped off the bus at several spots for photo ops, including the Albert Memorial in Kensington Park, Buckingham Palace, and St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Gaping at the Albert Memorial from across the street (for a photo of the memorial itself, see my blog posts from March.)

Gaping at the Albert Memorial from across the street (for a photo of the memorial itself, see my blog posts from March.)

Nigel gives us all the details on Buckingham Palace (the queen wasn't home today!).

Nigel gives us all the details on Buckingham Palace (the queen wasn’t home today!).

We had the most fantastic weather for photos....

We had the most fantastic weather for photos….

And here we are at St. Paul's, enjoying its beautiful front ("Feed the Birds," anyone?)

And here we are at St. Paul’s, enjoying its beautiful front (“Feed the Birds,” anyone?)

Our group started out chipper and talkative, but jet lag started to hit hard toward the end, and we were ready to check into our hotel, the Millennium Gloucester in South Kensington. We deliberately left Friday afternoon free so that our ladies could unpack, settle in, or hit some sightseeing spots of their choice. A bunch went to the Tower of London together. My husband and son went to St. Paul’s to hear the boys’ choir while I stayed back to unpack and take care of the rest of our check-in process (including getting Internet hookup–so important!).  We grabbed some yummy Portuguese food for supper from a place around the corner from our hotel, then crashed for the night.

Our group sits enthralled as Kitty gives us the history of the original Globe and this amazing reproduction.

Our group sits enthralled as Kitty gives us the history of the original Globe and this amazing reproduction.

Saturday morning we enjoyed a delicious full English breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant before gathering to head to Shakespeare’s Globe for our group tour. With this many Jane Austen fans in one place, you can imagine the kick we got out of having a guide named “Kitty.” 😉 She was an absolutely lovely lady who obviously has a passion for Shakespeare and for the theater itself. She led us through all the levels of the Globe so we could see the stage from all angles, explaining who would have sat where and why and showing us the incredible artistry that went into recreating the entire theater authentically. Workmen built the timbered structure entirely by hand, using tools from the time period (some of which had to be made especially for the Globe project). All of the beams are fastened together with wooden pegs, and the walls are of lathe and plaster.

A view of the stage from the yard.

A view of the stage from the yard.

The stage from the topmost level, right under the thatched roof.

The stage from the topmost level, right under the thatched roof.

After a 40-minute tour through the theater, we stepped into the Globe Exhibition museum, which includes artifacts from the time period, plus a glorious gallery of costume!

One of several gents' outfits on display...

One of several gents’ outfits on display…

A mannequin in shift, corset, and Spanish farthingale.

A mannequin in shift, corset, and Spanish farthingale.

Here is what’s most amazing about the productions staged at the Globe: For period plays, all of the costumes are made entirely by hand, using only materials that would have been available in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. All of the lace is hand-made, and all trimmings are created from originals in museum collections around Britain. So being able to view these outfits up close with no glass to interfere was nothing short of heavenly! Lindsay took all these gorgeous pictures so you can see the level of detail. It’s astonishing that so much work goes into outfits that will be worn on the stage and seen from a distance. Seeing them up close is a revelation.

Another fabulous gent's costume...

Another fabulous gent’s costume…

The hand-starched lace on the ruff was amazing, and the fabric was reproduced from an orginal garment in a London museum.

The hand-starched lace on the ruff was amazing, and the fabric was reproduced from an orginal garment in a London museum.

Two costumes were behind glass because of the intricacy of their workmanship. This photo shows a gentleman’s costume that was created by a donor for the Globe Exhibition:


This gown defies belief — from the custom-woven fabrics to the hand-made lace ruff, it is just mind-bogglingly intricate:

Notice the size of the wheel farthingale beneath the skirt. It's all about status....

Notice the size of the wheel farthingale beneath the skirt. It’s all about status….

And here's the back view...

And here’s the back view…

saturday-globe-28After we finished the exhibition tour, Kitty let us know there would be a costume demonstration at 12:30 and 1:30, dressing a volunteer from the crowd in “Ophelia’s” costume from the most recent production of “Hamlet.” Part of us opted to go to lunch and catch the 1:30, but those who had other plans for the afternoon went to the 12:30. Here’s Courtney dressed in Ophelia’s shift, taking her turn as model. We didn’t get any other pictures from the first demonstration, but you’ll get to see Lindsay go through it in my next post!

saturday-imperial-war-museum-11My small group moved on to the Imperial War Museum after the Globe. This wasn’t just a stop for my son (who absolutely loved it!) but for me, as I wanted to see the Children’s War exhibit, which covered the history of London during the bombings in WWII and had heart-breaking stories of evacuee children who did not see their parents for anywhere from two to five years. The photos below show mannequins wearing clothing donated by these (now grown up) children, many of whom saved their identity tags, the toys they took in their pockets when they left home, and letters they wrote home to their parents:

IWM Display

IWM Display 2


The horrors to which these children were exposed were unimaginable.

The horrors to which these children were exposed were unimaginable.

102_1193The most fascinating part of this exhibit is a two-storey “home front” house with fully-furnished and decorated rooms. Here is a series of photos I shot while walking through the house. You can see period furniture and wallpapers. The windows are not mullioned windows but are taped in that pattern — they had to tape the windows for safety during bomb raids. Rather than utilitarian “Xs”, they created the look of leaded glass!



The family room, with a dress in progress on the mannequin.

The tiny kitchen...

The tiny kitchen…


102_1198There were a lot of posters and advertisements encouraging women to recycle and mend clothing, reuse as many items as possible, and use up every scrap of food. There is a similar exhibit in the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC, but I enjoyed this one more, as the rooms are not behind plexiglass, and you can really see things in detail. The gift shop had a wide array of vintage reprints from this time period, as you can see from this shot I took of one shelf — lots of books on fashion, hairstyle, makeup, food, and more.

Halfway through the museum, I took a tea break to put my feet up, enjoying this lovely Victoria Sponge with clotted cream and strawberry preserves, plus a pot of Earl Grey tea. Yum!




saturday-ye-olde-cheshire-cheese-2We decided to hit the famous Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese Shop for supper, but the directions I got from the Internet took us into a quiet residential side street in Chelsea — nowhere close to where we needed to be! We finally broke down and hailed a cab, which took us to the opposite side of town off Fleet Street (closer to the theater district). Lesson learned — don’t trust website directions implicitly; double-check them! But it was well worth the drive, as this is London’s oldest pub, rebuilt in 1667 after the Great Fire. The restaurant upstairs was filled to capacity, so we ducked our heads to get down the narrow staircase and ordered directly from the bar. Let me tell you that this is one of the best-kept secrets in Great Britain. If you want to save 50% off your supper bill, order directly from the bar. You can get take-away food or eat it at a small pub table. The atmosphere was delightful, as you can see in the shot below. We enjoyed cottage pie, steak pie, and fresh salad greens with home-made vinaigrette. Everything was delicious and very inexpensive, especially for London.



We walked ourselves back to the St. Paul’s Underground, where Lindsay snapped these beautiful photos:


Yes, that deep indigo really is the color of the sky we saw last night!

This is Temple Bar, the old western entrance gate to London which was later moved over by St. Paul's. It has a very spooky appearance at night!

This is Temple Bar, the old western entrance gate to London which was later moved over by St. Paul’s. It has a very spooky appearance at night!


After settling back into our room, we had a knock at the door and found several ladies out in the hall ready for a gab fest. With group members going in all different directions yesterday, it was really fun to hear where they’d been and what they’d found. Several ladies hit the Portobello Antiques Market and snagged great bargins. Others brought back gorgeous pashmina shawls at a stunning bargain-basement price. It was delightful to see all the treasures. We were joined by still more ladies over the next couple of hours and sat up until far too late talking, swapping sewing stories, and laughing. This is the most wonderful, congenial group you can imagine — just like a party of sisters. We all wish you were here!

More tomorrow…!

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About the Author

Jennie Chancey I launched Sense & Sensibility Patterns in 1998 with my original Regency Gown pattern. I never dreamed I'd one day have over two dozen patterns on the market and would be leading tours yearly in the UK! Enjoy my blog, and let me know if you'd like to travel with us!

Comments (17)

  1. Jennie! The trip looks absolutely DIVINE! I so with I could be there! (Alas, the school year starts too soon… or maybe it’s too late, since I couldn’t justify taking days off on the second day!) In any case, I am positively GREEN with envy at the Shakespeare paraphernalia. I love Shakespeare (more so than Austen, I must admit, though she is a close second!) and seeing all of the costumes and the theater was amazing!

    Thank you so much for sharing the journey – I do so love living vicariously through the adventures of the ladies!

  2. Oh!!! Thank you so much for sharing these…can’t wait to experience it myself one day but, until then I can live through your posts. =D
    So glad you’re having a safe and happy trip!
    God bless,

  3. Tonya Clevenger

    How wonderful of you to share this with all of us! thank you. I totally enjoyed reading of your trip and the pictures are wonderful. Looking forward to the next entry!

  4. Dear Jennie,
    Thank you for taking the time to share about your adventures despite the busy schedule. It is so fun to hear about all the special things you are enjoying and see the photos! I hope to visit Europe someday, especially since I was born in West Germany and hope to get to see the area where I spent the first two years of my life. What a wonderful experience for your son, also. I think I would’ve enjoyed the Children’s War museum very much. The boys and I just finished listening to an excellent audio book that talked about some of what the children experienced. Keep us posted when you can!


  5. AnnaMae Ouimet

    I’m so pleased you are updating for us while on your trip! though I’m sure it’s a bit of extra work it’s fun to hear what you’re doing each day. 🙂 I was so hoping to go on this trip but my husband is deployed so it didn’t work out, perhaps someday…Anyway, loved reading about it all can’t wait to see what else is coming! 😀

  6. Oh Jennie, it looks like you ladies (and gents!) are having a wonderful time already! I am missing England hearing about this trip, even though I have only been there once as I teenager. I loved the sense of history that is present everywhere you look. I look forward to reading more posts! 🙂

  7. Eliza

    HI Mrs. Chancey! All the pictures look amazing and I wish that I could have gone with you all to see the beautiful sites! Maybe there will be other trips! If not then I will have to see if I can’t go on my own. LOL Can’t wait to see more. A Member of the S&S Forum ~|Eliza

  8. So fun to read about your trip- and Jennie, you are expecting another blessing!!! Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!!! So excited for your sweet family!!!
    Love in Christ, Sarah E.

    • admin

      Hi, Sarah! Yes, surprise! Chancey girl #3 is on the way. We didn’t make a general public announcement, though all the tour members have known since April. 😉 I seem to have a great affinity for traveling in England with new babies or while expecting. Love it!

  9. Sarah

    Hello Mrs. Chancey!

    I am a fan of your ministry and your wonderful sensibility patterns! I also have a dear friend who is on tour with you, Miss Cassandra.

    Thank you for sharing with us! Tell Cassie Hello for me!

    God bless,
    Miss Sarah Beth

  10. Victoria

    Dear Jennie,

    I receive your newsletters and follow you on facebook but this is absolutely fabulous! What a wonderful treat. I can almost feel as if I’m there. Thank you so much for sharing this and hope you continue to have a great trip!

  11. Genevieve

    Ooh, I wish I could be there! Lovely pictures too. I hope you enjoy the remainder of your trip!

  12. Great site…keep up the good work. I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks,

    A definite great read…


  13. Lisateresa

    Oh, how I envy you being at the Globe!! And congratulations to you and your husband, Jennie, on your new little one coming!


  14. What fun, what fun, what fun! And again I say “What fun!” 🙂 I can almost feel what it is like to be there and savor every post. 🙂

    Thank you for posting the pictures of the Children’s Wat Exhibit. I would love to see that. My dear Welsh grandmother (whose name is KITTY 😉 and for whom our eldest daughter is named, was a little girl in London during the war and has many tales to tell of air raid sirens, spending the night in Underground stations and being sent to family in the country.

    Thank you for sharing the trip with us!


  15. Yes, it’s always worth seeing if a pub has a “bar menu” – the more foodie “gastro” pubs often have 2 menus – the posher, priceier restaurant menu, and the bar menu, which sells cheaper more standard food. Some pubs, who don’t specialise in food, will just have one menu, but it’s always worth seeing if you can order food from the bar.

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