Last night (8/07/2010) I stayed in a hotel in London called ‘The Grand Royal’, situated at no’s 1-9 Inverness Terrace, London – just to the north side of Hyde Park. To my surprise, after settling in, I noted that the hotel bar was named the ‘Lilly Langtree Bar’ as I waited at the reception to ask why the bar had been named so I also noticed that there was a glass display cabinet in the lobby containing several old frames photographs of Lilly Langtree. When I asked the lady at reception what the link with the hotel and Lilly Langtree had been, she was unsure but duly printed off a history of the hotel for me. According to the brief history which I was given, the hotel had been built/renovated at the turn of the last century, commissioned reputedly by Edward VII as a private residence for his mistress Lilly Langtree. The architect was Charles Mews who had just completed the London Ritz. What was unusual about the renovation was the addition of a private theatre – which is now the ‘Lilly Langtree Bar’ – Lilly Langtree was a famous socialite and actress and the hotel I stayed in last night was created, supposedly, as both a love nest and a career bolster for Lilly.
I took some photos of the pictures of Lilly Langtree displayed in the hotel lobby and some of the theatre bar which you can see below.
The theatre bar originally consisted of two rooms, the front circular and domed (the auditorium), the second (the stage) rectangular with a proscenium arch between them. It is a very intimate space with mirrored walls and Venetians glass chandeliers with soft plush velvet seating. The wonderful, original Edwardian theatre seats are still there and in very good condition.
My interest in this and surprise came from the fact that I had ended up in a place once frequented by my great grannies friend! My great granny was Ada Broom (previously Cruden, nee Hatchman) and when she lived on Russell Street in Cambridge she would let out rooms. Lilly Langtree had stayed at my great grannies house in Cambridge several times when she had been playing at the ‘New Theatre’ in Cambridge, which was just down the end of Russell Street on Hills Road (no longer there). My granny (Ada’s daughter) remembers Lilly Langtree staying at the house well. One of the tales she tells is how Lilly had a little dog she would carry under her arm (not too dissimilar from the Paris Hilton’s of today), granny told me how one day Lilly came rushing into the house calling “Mrs Broom, Mrs Broom!” and how grannies mum had come running to see what was the matter. Lilly had said “Oh Mrs Broom, it’s my poor little dog! He has hurt his foot!” Great granny had said “Alright dear, give him to me; let me have a look…now tell me what happened.” Lilly replied by explaining how she had been in town (Cambridge) and had gone to Boots (still there today!) and at the entrance to Boots there was a revolving door and as she had gone through the door her little dog had got his paw caught. She had rushed straight back to great grannies house on Russell Street. Great granny bandaged the little dogs paw and saw him alright.
Granny told me how Lilly left a box of chocolates on the sideboard for her dog to have as a treat and had told great granny to give them to her dog every now and again when she was out. Granny said how her mum had said “Now dear, you are not to touch those chocolates coz they’re for the dog” and granny had replied “but they’re real chocolates for people” and granny still says today “they were you know!”
So what a nice surprise it was last night to spend a night in a hotel where Lilly had once slept too!
This was found in a note book in the spare room at 146, Campkin Road, Cambridge, after Auntie Marie’s death (George & Marie Cruden were my great aunt and uncle- they lived at various addresses including Oxford Road, Cambridge and finally Campkin Road, Cambridge – George was my grannies brother [Connie Toller nee Broom]
A Garden of Memories by George Cruden
At the bottom of my garden are large trees; in my garden more trees, but these are fruit (the latter belonging to me, but not the former). Along this fringe of trees runs a stream, or ditch, which divided my bungalow from a cornfield at some time. Unfortunately the cornfield has gone, but we now have birds – birds of all kinds – birds which rob me of a good deal of fruit; in fact I never get a cherry from the cherry tree, which has thousands on it by early June. Alas, I have to be content with a pound of imported ones usually from the shop down the road. Realising after many years that it is necessary to compromise on some matters I have given in, but not without a certain amount of frustration, mark you; after all, does a bird really know what grows wild and what I cultivated? Perhaps they think we are robbing them of Nature’s food. Every time I have killed one of these birds in the past I have been filled with remorse. The dawn chorus, which during May and June begins about three-thirty a.m. also needs some re-adjustment of life.
However, I love my garden, and to potter about in the shade of the fruit trees, for instance, one remembers. One remembers, but does not plan; pleasant memories come crowding in of those years that have gone, of those people one knew, the places visited. For most of us, fortunately, we remember the most pleasant things above all, the sunny days especially. Why is it that we seem to have had March all summer years ago? I have to search my depths to remember fog or snow; it was there, certainly.
Being a Londoner, and having been born at the turn of the century I certainly can remember fog – those cobblestone streets, the smell of leather, horses, stables and blacksmith’s shops (I still love the smell of leather, of which we now see little.)
As written by my aunt Val Burroughs ( nee Toller ) March 2005.
During the war we didn't go away for holidays.
We used to walk from Oxford Road [Cambridge] to the 'Backs' - the backs of the collages, sometimes pushing our dolls' prams. We would enjoy the crocuses, daisies, lingcups etc. Occasionally when uncles were home on leave we would go as a family. When Uncle George was home, he and Auntie Marie would take us to the Botanical Gardens in Bateman Street.
My mother and my granny used to take us to the Folk Museum, one of our favorite places. We would admire the wax dolls in their dolls' prams especially. ( Enid Porter, the curator was a friend of my Auntie Marie in later years though, as far as I know ) We used to climb Castle Hill opposite the Folk Museum.
This is the school my granny (Connie Toller nee Broom) - now 95 years old - went to with her older brother Russ. It hs now been converted into flats but the is a small modern school next door.
About Michelle's Archives
This is a blog page for the archives in Michelle's own collection. It includes many of Michelle's personal family archives, tales and scrapbook items to all kinds of general archive items mainly from around Cambridge and East Anglia but some even more further afield. Search for items or subjects of interest under the categories below, by date or keyword, name or place etc. Any problems finding something or if you've any questions or comments please do get in touch by using the 'Contact' page on this website.