In 2010 I stayed in a hotel in London called ‘The Grand Royale’, (There for the Nominet Awards 2010 to be held at One Whitehall) 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 ‘Lillie Langtry 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 Lillie Langtry. When I asked the lady at reception what the link with the hotel and Lillie Langtry 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 Lillie Langtry. 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 ‘Lillie Langtry Bar’ – Lillie Langtry was a famous socialite and actress (nicknamed the 'Jersey Lily') the hotel I stayed in last night was created, supposedly, as both a love nest and a career bolster for Lillie.
I took some photos of the pictures of Lillie Langtry 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 Venetian 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. Lillie Langtry 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 Lillie Langtry staying at the house well. One of the tales she tells is how Lillie had a little dog she would carry under her arm, granny told me how one day Lillie came rushing into the house calling “Mrs Broom, Mrs Broom!” and how grannies mum had come running to see what was the matter. Lillie 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.” Lillie 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 Lillie 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 Lillie had once slept too!
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These letters belong to my aunt Joan Punter ( nee Toller ). These contain interesting home front information and political views of the war. They were written by my Great Aunt Marie to her husband George Cruden. ( both now deceased. )
In several of these letter Marie refers to George as Peter Precious- as she was a Catholic from Ireland and didn't want to introduce him to her family as George ( the English kings name ) she called him Peter.
Wednesday Nov 15/1944 [written from Nottingham]
My Dearest x
I forgot to mention yesterday not to worry about a wrist watch strap as I got one on Saturday at Boots for 1/9. Its another like the leather one you got me at Cambridge- so if this wears as well it will be OK- because it’s the cheapest I’ve seen, anyway. I had a letter from mother this morning- & she tells me Con [Connie Toller] is expecting again.. Well I hope the jag in your hand has healed up alright- I always remembered to ask, as soon as I had posted your letter!!! Barbara is not coming to Nottingham after all with Nicolas- so they are a bit disappointed about it. Isn’t the weather awful- nothing but rain- & now its so cold with it. Had a letter from the old boss yesterday- he seems to be Ok in health but seems to have trouble with an ill-fitting artificial limb. The paratroops are all clearing out from W.P. now, so expect theres something due. We hear the Hall is to be an Officers Convalescent place. Well darling, I don’t seem to have much to say- but hope you are OK & things are going will with you. All my love as always your Own loving wiff xxx Marie xxx
These letters belong to my aunt Joan Punter ( nee Toller ). They contain interesting home front information and political views of the war. They were written by my Great Aunt Marie Cruden( deceased ) to her husband George Cruden( also deceased ).
Marie refers to George as Peter Precious in many of these letters, this was because she was a Catholic ( originally from Ireland ) and when they first got together she didn't want to introduce him to her family as George because that was the Kings name! Some of these letters are written from London and from Nottingham where she lived at one point and also from Cambridge where they finally settled.
Friday. the. 16th May
138 Harrow Road.
Nottingham. ( plus Park of course )
My Own Dearest Peter Precious,x.x.x.
Anyway, the first thing to do is to apologise to you Mr Cruden, Dear Sir, for the omission to call you something, however, meagre, when sending an epistle. Its the old story, many around, and I leave the address until the last thing before closing the letter, and then forgot all about it while postbag is being closed up. As regards the X.X.X.X.X.well....... there's not the slightest excuse as you will notice.
Thanks for your long newsy letter, and here this I hope you will have got the one sent you with the little photos in it. If you want the one with the hat on- keep it, but there's not a bit of stipulation about this. Well, I'm sorry that you had all that trapse around to get to G's. Anyway, it was nice to know that they made you so wecome. I say, I really was suprised to know that it had come to Smith going to 134. Old Margy has things all her way nad no doubt- even to mucking things up in her married life. Well, that's that, they cant marry, but have got to go on being pals. I'm sorry really, for the old people's sake, as they are such a dear old pair, that it must worry them actually, when they have such high moral principles. Now dear, as regards the weekend which you say you might possibly be able to get during my holiday. If it would be on the 6th, love, I really don't think it would be worth the rush and expense, because I should have to come back on the Saturday the 7th, in case there are no buses back on the Sunday, but still, if you could get leave so that YOU need not report back untill the Monday midnight, it would be worth it from your point if view. However, dear, I know you will do what you think is worth it. I could help with your fare if necessary, but my point is that unless you can have the benefit of a good few hours stay, it would not be worth risking a longer time of later on. What do you think?
It makes very sad reading indeed to hear of how London is gradually disappearing, and more especially the City as we know it. I take it Gamages are still going strong, in spite of Holborn being a bit knocked about. I somehow felt that the Houses of Parliament would be unlucky. Of course it was a nice building architecturally, but it was under 100 years old, as I see by the encyclopedia, that it was built in 1858.
This Hess business is certainly as bewildering as the events in the war in different parts of its theatre. Anyway, Bevin spoke his mind in no uncertain terms, and also the papers tone generally seems to be for more stronger measures to be taken as regards his person. It is ironic to read of his getting eggs, chicken, and everything else that is good, when the poor people of Plymouth and Liverpool, are probably looking for somewhere to house themselves, never mind, feed. I want to know why he should have wanted the Duke of Hamilton above all other personages, and WHY????? even when Hess was on the way to hospital was the Duke of Hamilton sent for to interview Hess as he had requested?????
Have we some fifth columnists amoung our- or rather the Scottish nobility? It rather looks as though they are after getting seperate Government, if they are adopting these king of tactics. Perhaps there was some arrangement for troops to be landed in Scotland- its a wild and rugged country in many parts, but the fact that Hess machine caught fire, and he himself was injured, rather than mucked the whole thing up. Personally I feel it wants a lot of explaining. Do away with the soppy senimentality which some of the press articles seem to try to indulge in, and use the third degree to the fullest on Hess, and then stick him up against a wall, and put all the bullets that his body will take into him. That would br the fate of any of our blokes who tried the traitors stunt, anyway. And what about the rotten French too. Fuelling the Jerry planes from Syria. Well let 'em, and may the R A F bomb and bomb em to blazes, for their treachery.
Well, darn the war talk.
Had another warning last night, or rather this moring 2 to 5. Jerry passed over, not much noise from him, and we did not have any guns. Our windows in the premises are now in, so thank goodness we are out of the dungeon like place, which until to-day has had thick wooden shutters up. Well, its wind up official in our house now. Mrs Wilde had all her case packed with clothes and valuables. deeds of the house, probate, etc. etc. which action has been caused through the evacuation which has gone on during the past few days of people from their homes on account of D. A's. Anyway, the whole idea is not a bad one ( I mean as regards getting some things packed up ) they might drop a few in Wollaton Park sometime.
I hope by now you have got the little photo back. Yes, I thought Boots were taking a long time over them- but I didn't ask why, because photographers who do the printing and developing seem to be few and far between here. The one nice place where I got the others done is no more, so that is why I took them to Boots.
Well, now, love I must ring off there are three or four certain persons, who suddenly find there are many things which must be answered tonight, and that is why I feel it in my bones that if I dont finish this now, you wont get it.
Cheerio, darling, all my love, and thoughts, and I hope you have a nice weekend. They have got the "son of Monte Cristo" running here and at the moment I am not sure whether to go, or wait a bit and get over my last weekend expenses. Do you want any cash by the way?
All the very best of love, thought hugs kisses, and I am so very sorry that you have such a bad cold. I somehow felt that it was unwise even in the heat of the last weekend, to leave off that pullover, and on one occasion you went without it altogether didn't you?????? I should have hagged if I had started on you, I know, but you will do what you think sometimes, and take a chance. Anyway, love I do hope you are feeling better. Mine is still hanging around, and my poor old lips couldn't be kissed even gently by you now.
Ever and always
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Virtual Museum. The Easilae - 1950s Vintage Bed Rest / Bed Chair.
Museum of Oxford, Rewind Time with History Needs You
Exciting Old Photograph Album
Lillie Langtry, London and Cambridge
Home Front War Letters from Nottingham WWII George & Marie Cruden
Home Front War Letter from Nottingham WWII Marie Cruden
Home Front War Letter from Nottingham WWII
Home Front War Letters from London WWII Cruden Family
Home Front War Letters from Nottingham 1941 WWII
Home Front War Letters from Nottingham WWII
Nottingham Home Front War Letters WWII
Home Front Letters from Nottingham WWII
London WWII Home Front Letter
Nottingham WWII Home Front Letter
The Adventures of a Livery Button
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