Kensington Gardens, London


Yellow flag iris (I. pseudacorus) in the basins of the Italian Gardens of Kensington Gardens, London, June 1924, by Roger Dumas, via Archives of the Planet Collection – Albert Kahn Museum /Département des Hauts-de-Seine.

These water gardens are over 150 years old and may have been a gift from Prince Albert to Queen Victoria.

This autochrome is one of about seventy-two thousand that were commissioned and then archived by Albert Kahn, a wealthy French banker and pacifist, between 1909 and 1931. Kahn sent thirteen photographers and filmmakers to fifty countries “to fix, once and for all, aspects, practices, and modes of human activity whose fatal disappearance is no longer ‘a matter of time.'”* The resulting collection is called Archives de la Planète and now resides in its own museum at Kahn’s old suburban estate at Boulogne-Billancourt, just west of Paris. Since June 2016, the archive has also been available for viewing online here.


*words of Albert Kahn, 1912. Also, the above photo (A 43 199) is © Collection Archives de la Planète – Musée Albert-Kahn and used under its terms, here.

Redistribution of produce

Cabbage distribution, Library of Congress
Lady Henry Somerset and T.P. O’Connor in a garden distributing cabbages to children, between ca. 1910 and ca. 1915, Bain News Service, via Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Lady Henry  (born Lady Isabel Cocks) was an heiress who married the second son of the Duke of Beaufort.  After the couple separated, she turned to charity work on her various properties. She later became president of the British Women’s Temperance Association and a campaigner for birth control and women’s suffrage. In 1913, the readers of the London Evening News voted her their choice for first female prime minister of the United Kingdom.

Thomas Power O’Connor was an Irish journalist who founded and edited several newspapers in London. He was also a member of Parliament for the Irish Nationalist Party and later as an independent (representing Galway and then Liverpool).

I cannot tell what plants are growing in the flower (?) beds, but they are sectioned off — perhaps by bloom color?

St. James’s Palace

Another garden scene from my day of walking around London last week. . .

This meadow-style planting is outside the walls of St. James’s Palace, along The Mall. The strip of ground outside the walls around Buckingham Palace (at least on the north side) is planted in the same way.

In addition to Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota), there were some very dark red-purple tulips and pale blue Camassia.

Looking back toward Buckingham Palace.

“Lighting the Square”

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I had the opportunity to make a quick trip to London (and Cambridge) last week. Walking through Belgravia, I passed under this installation of 70 pendant lights hung in the trees around Orange Square for London Craft Week.

The lights were made in the Cornish workshop of Tom Raffield. The craftsmen used “sustainably sourced, British hardwood species similar to the trees found in this square,” according to a nearby sign.

Clement’s Inn, London

pankhursts-on-roof-garden1908-lse-libraryChristabel and Emmeline Pankhurst on the roof at Clement’s Inn, London, October 1908, via LSE (London School of Economics) Library Commons on flickr. A note on the back of the photo says that they were hiding* from the police.

At the time of the photo, numbers 3 and 4 Clement’s Inn† housed the offices of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), which Emmeline had founded in 1903. The organization was an all-female group campaigning for women’s suffrage and was known for its physical confrontations with police, hunger strikes, and arson. Christabel was Emmeline’s oldest daughter and eventually took over leadership of the group.  At the outbreak of WWI, both women called for a halt to WSPU militant activities in support of the war effort and became involved in the “white feather” movement, handing out the traditional symbol of cowardice to men in civilian clothes.

There’s an interesting history of the Pankhurst women (there were two more daughters, Sylvia and Adela) here.


* A warrant had been issued for their arrest.  After the photo was taken, they went down to the street and were arrested.

†Located about here. The Clement’s Inn buildings, built in the 1880s, were five to seven stories high and housed both offices and apartments.  They were all demolished by 1977. The photo above was taken from the roof garden of the apartment of another WSPU member.