Curiosity – The South London Mausoleum of Richard Burton

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Sir Richard Burtons Wigwam Mausoleum ExteriorNestled away in an unsuspecting sleepy catholic cemetery in Suburban South London lies the opulent tomb of forgotten aristocrat Sir Richard Burton. It is a testament to Victorian spirit of whimsy and grandiosity. We happened upon it in The London Open House guide and couldn’t resist going to have a peek at this oddity of devotion. Created as a memorial to her husband, the tent was designed by Burton’s widow Isabel and it houses both of their tombs.This opulent wigwam mausoleum is just about the most bizarre and exotically grandiose tomb I have ever seen.

Sir Richard Burtons Wigwam Bedouin Mausoleum 6The stone tent itself is an ostentatious parade of exhibitionism, a fanfare of memorial, it has a viewing station at the back through which the tombs of Sir Richard Burton and his wife can be viewed, alongside artifacts from his life and travels, by climbing a metal ladder to the roof of the wigwam!

Sir Richard Burtons Wigwam Mausoleum Interior 1

The story of Richard Burton is almost as intriguing and eccentric as his tomb. Wikipedia’s entry for Burton is peppered with the most salacious aspects of his life. A captain in the army of The East India Company, Burton kept a large menagerie of tame monkeys in the hope of learning their language. He was an intrepid traveller who spent much time in Africa including an infamous trip to Mecca in 1851 where he completed the Hajj, requiring him to assimilate himself with local customs & dress. A rumour which haunted Burton up to his death relayed a tale of murder committed by Burton upon an Arab child who had discovered him urinating in the European style during pilgrimage and thus calling into question his identity.

Sir Richard Burtons Wigwam Bedouin Mausoleum 3

Burton was the first person to bring The Karma Sutra to Britain and translated the first full length copy of The Thousand & One Nights still in print today. A maverick who was expelled from Oxford, he was rumoured to have trampled his colleges flowerbeds with his horse and carriage in an act of defiance upon departure.

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Burton’s fascination with human sexuality, which he documented widely on his travels, led him to establish The Kama Shastra Society which circulated erotic literature not deemed fit for public circulation. The very definition of the British Eccentric, a transgressor of both social and sexual mores of the time, his unconventional life is brilliantly enshrined in splendid oddity by his widow, read her wonderful inscription on his tomb below:

Sir Richard BurtonSir Richard Burton Tomb Inscription

If this memorial intrigues you, it is located between Barnes & Mortlake, here. For detail on visiting this spectacular mausoleum follow the link to the website of St Mary Magdalen’s Roman Catholic Church.

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Things That Made Me Smile This Week

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  1. Design crush of the week –  I love, love, love these homewares illustrated by children’s author Elsa Beskow which are new in at Skandium – a little twee but very covetable, my personal favourite is the Blue Uncle Mug, although I also love the walking fish and Lady Fuschia!                                                         Elsa Beskow Uncle BLue mug  by Design House - Stockholm - Skandium Elsa Beskow mugs       Elsa Beskow mug FuschiaElsa beskow mug fish Elsa Beskow tray square cabbage Elsa Beskow tray radish
  2. Vintage advertising painted on buildings. Like ghosts from a bygone age, these modern ruins always put a smile on my face. This Peterkin Custard one (below) is located in Battersea and the almost vanished Nestle Milk one is found in Wandsworth. Hoping to happen upon some in my own neck of the woods Tooting…        Peterkin Custard Painted Building Vintage advert Nestle Milk Painted Building Vintage advert
  3. Last week was London Design Week and by serendipity we had the week off work, hooray. Alas, it would have been perfect if we hadn’t both been poorly! However, with so many interesting things staying around, past the week, I can’t be too disenchanted. Take this wonderful Endless Stairs installation put up in collaboration with LDF at Tate Modern, definitely worth catching before it disappears. endless_stair_Tate
  4. I absolutely love the sherbert tones of the new colour collection at Farrow and Ball for Autumn. My absolute fave is St Giles Blue, that blue is unreal, am going to have to find a piece of junk furniture to daub it on…

Farrow & Ball - New Colours 2013 Farrow and Ball St Giles Blue

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A Cornucopia of Winter: Blankets

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Downton Abbey returned last night, which I like to see as official unveiling of the Autumn Season! It was also the real official first day of Autumn, so thoughts have inevitably turned to wardrobes, wooly sweaters and cosy nights in. And nothing says Autumn/Winter more to me than blankets, so as the nights start to draw in and morning dew begins to feel chilly I have been airing out blankets that have been unloved all Summer.Cornocopia of Blankets

I think blankets are a brilliant way of adding interest to rooms and I have a blanket or throw in each room accordingly. Textiles are one of the two things that frame a room along with paint colour, all else is layering points of interest atop these two staples. With this in mind, I have been amassing an array of blankets for the last few years. As with tablecloths and shoes, you can never have too many blankets, here are some of mine:

Missoni Blanket - Multicolour Striped Missoni Stripe Blanket   Missoni Stripey Blanket Detail

This blanket is my very favourite, my pride and joy (along with my credit cards shame and woe!) it’s a Missoni one from a few collections ago. I have a major design crush on all things Missoni, their patterns are always so provocative to the eye and I find  their proclamation of bold hues so enticing.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Dinah the Kitten on Hot Pink Honeycomb blanket

Gorgeous Tweedmill Beehive Hot Pink blanket bought from Urban Outfitters for £75, I just love the honeycomb pattern, it is ultra soft as well. Cute kitten accessory, stylists own.

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This was a superbly cheap and chic monochrome one I picked up last winter at IKEA, cost around £15, IKEA does both textiles and stationery so well.

quiltI adore quilts, the homespun bespoke charm of something that takes the time and patience I don’t possess to form. I am an terribly lucky girl with a super talented best friend Tamla who made me this exquisite quilt for my birthday. The fabrics she choose were from a twenties inspired range called Pavilion and they are just perfect for me. I am far too impatient for crafts that take an age to take shape so feel very spoilt to have something I so enjoy looking at that was created just for me (although our new kitten, Dinah, has begun to claim it was made for her). Tamla is an amazingly versatile crafter and as a new mother open to commissions!

Fabrics details from my lovely quilt.

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An old Cath Kidston plaid picnic rug and a rainbow-bright-table-cloth from Habitat, both bought in the sales. It’s surprising how many items that aren’t described as blankets and are much cheaper end up to being so cosy!

My Favourites of the New Season:

If I were allowed to buy any more blankets I would really like something geometric and an heirloom Welsh blanket, perhaps one of these:

Baileys5 Welsh Blanket - Labour and Wait

TWIST-A-TWILL-dark-brown-425x505_376  Habitat Bloomsbury Geometric Rug

From top Left: Welsh Blanket from Baileys store, Welsh Rug from Labour & Wait , Brown Geometric Merino Throw from aptly named Smug Lifestyle Store and The Bloomsbury Rug from Habitat.

Dinah the Kitten on Missoni blanket

Dinah, my adorable saboteur of blanket photo’s!

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Things That Made Me Smile This Week

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  1. I am currently having great fun thinking about influences for our imminent bedroom make-over, from Victoriana to the Grand Tours, to Vintage Circus and my  favourite of preferences Natural History. Here are some of my favourite inspirations (incuding some I have bought) from an online trawl of the vintage bazaar:                                                Vintage The THREE STORKS Safety Match Box Made by Tidaholm Sweden Vintage Hollywood Regency Brass Pineapple Trinket Holders Sternocera Aeguisignata Jewel Beetles Taxidermy                 Vintage brass plate with Bedouin camel and palm tree Millefiori Paperweight Vintage Fly Metalwork Ashtray Circus Sideshow pendant lamp shade $T2eC16VHJH4FHdK)ZCVoBSM5!OyrQQ~~60_57 $(KGrHqNHJB8FIg7ZzDjmBSNHhef2dg~~60_12 Stork Club Match BoxOyster Shell $T2eC16RHJH8FHRMnEglbBR6UoKT)c!~~60_12
  2. Bargain Flowers – I have been letting my window boxes quietly wilt back for the last few weeks with my geraniums now the only stalwarts left. Delightfully without giving too much thought to what I will pot for winter I happened across this bargain at Lidl – purple flowering winter heather 6 for £4.99.IMG_7054
  3. A blog that recently launched called Destination Modernism, it’s a travel design blog on modernist architecture made for the kinds of people who pick holiday destinations according to buildings – namely me. Outside of Le Corbussier and Bauhaus there are so many places I would love to visit to see the architecture of – Trulli’s in Puglia, the Yali’s of Istanbul and my true hearts desire –  The Flat Iron Building, The Chrysler &The Empire State in New York.destination blog
  4. Lazy Sundays and simple accomplishments, this Sunday I finally got around to using a broken drawer from eBay as a photo frame and lined it with a wallpaper sample that’s been hanging around for ages, it will be hung on the wall somewhere in the bedroom, just not sure what I’m going to put inside it yet…IMG_7134
  5. Choosing the colour for our bedroom, this has slightly driven me to distraction because paint lies! It says Celestial Blue but is in fact green etc, this is testing my proclivity to always choose green, however I am always delighted to be looking at new colours, this is my first batch of tester pots:Blue & Green Tester Pots

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Window Licking The New Season

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It’s that time of year again where everything re-launches, there’s a green glint in my eye, and I am looking longingly at everything. Forget the September issue of Vogue, or the edit from London Fashion Week, it’s the new season in home design and I feel like a child in a sweetshop! Although I can’t actually justify buying any of these items I am vicariously browsing the online emporiums, I believe I have mentioned this before, but I am indulging in what the French term window licking – far closer to the truth than the banal English term window shopping I think!

This is my personal edit of the best of the new season, no trend alerts, just a long and fabulous list of over 20 covetable things! The  Anthropologie items are sourced them from their American site, but keeping fingers crossed that some make their way across the sea (or not as ones bank manager may dictate).

Top of my Lust List:

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Brocante Cabinet in Turquoise, £650, from Graham & Green.

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Hand carved Contractor Table, an eye watering $798.00 from Anthropologie.

Industrial Chrome Utensil Rack, $298.00, also Anthropologie.

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Fishs Eddy Admit One Tray £9.95 at Liberty.

Glass display globe, £19.95 from Rockett St George.

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These cushions are actually quite old stock, but oh so cute,

£44.50 & £29.50 respectively by Nikki McWilliams.

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Pinta Vase, quite pricey at £50, from the new collection at Habitat.

 ZitaGreys Throw, £60,  again new in at Habitat.

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24682999_007_b J25682014_010_b Abate Slatted Mirror $298, Anthropologie.

Ceramic Pelican Stamp $14.95, again Anthropologie

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Small Square Framed Round Mirror,  £120, Graham & Green.

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2013-08-08 15.18.54 Belgian Industrial Tool Cabinet sourced from Textile factory, POA, from The Old Cinema.

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Mason Jar Cocktail Shaker, £34, Rowen & Wren.

Cartouche White Rimmed Boards, £76, Rowen & Wren.

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These exquisitely expensive, but equally exquisitely beautiful cushions, from American firm Design Legacy $158-185, available from The Designer Pillow Shop.

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Light Industrial 789 Sideboard Cabinet, £250, from Rockett St George.

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baileys2Coca Cola crates £45.00 at Baileys Home.

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ss13chis509000698-nocolour Model of the Hoover building, £135,  available from Liberty.

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Things That Made Me Smile This Week

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  1. The blissful Sunday of sunshine and showers spent with Dan at Crystal Palace last weekend, haven’t been for so long. Although the way it has been left to ruin makes me sad, there is something really beautiful about it at the same time, like sifting for rubies in the rust! And the parade of second hand shops on Church Road are a brilliant value version of shops somewhere way trendier…           IMG_6827 IMG_6815 IMG_6830       IMG_6828 IMG_6832 IMG_6831       IMG_6826 IMG_6823 IMG_6824       IMG_6818 IMG_6816 IMG_6817
  2. Belle & Sebastian have just released an album of rarities and b-sides from the Rough Trade years, perfect autumnal band, have been enjoying it whilst drowning out the din of schoolgirls on the bus.51v5mnQ9+ZL._SY450__PJautoripBadge,BottomRight,4,-40_OU11__
  3. The book published to accompany the curiosity exhibition we visited in Margate,
    Curiosity: Art and the Pleasures of Knowing. Some exquisite illustrations and examples of really early cabinets of curiosity, am looking forward to reading the essays on curiosity cabinets but the photos of popes looking at constellations are worth the cover price alone.                                                                                                                    v0_master Biodiversity                                                   149338895351cac415088d90.03816349.jpeg curiosity-art-and-the-pleasures-of-knowing-2 05.-Laurent-Grasso_Specola-Vaticana-John-G.-Hagen-SJ.-1847-1930-in-front-of-the-telescope-at-the-Vatican-Observatory-c.-1910-2012
  4. We have a week off next week, if the weather isn’t too dreary we may go for a walk somewhere rural, possibly stay over, if so the small overnight suitcase I covered in Liberty Claire Aude print a few months back will come to purpose at last:Liberty suitcase

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What The Mice Saw From The Promenade…Part 4

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Whitby is a beautiful coastal village on Yorkshires East Coast filled with junk shops, gothic splendour and a trade in oddities. From the ruins of Whitby Abbey which inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula to cafes named after Lewis Carroll’s wonderland poem The Walrus & Carpenter to the waterfront bar named after Somerset Maugham’s Moon & Sixpence, Whitby has a decidedly literary & nostalgic feel. It hosts an annual Gothic weekend, boasts a boutique guesthouse with literary themed rooms and contains a plethora of vintage junk shops. This is the town responsible for us arriving in Yorkshire with one overnight bag and going back on a packed Edinburgh festival train with three. Here is my final photo diary, decidedly less pastel-y, of what the mice saw on their field-trip, starting with what we bought:

Vintage Finds from Whitby:

f726408406c311e3962522000ae80eca_7I adore Toy Soldiers, just enchanting, my first junk shop find 
in Whitby for £8.
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Our Favourite Purchase - a device for measuring the speed of flight!
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      Vintage Concertina Travel camera - bought for £12.
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lighterMagnificent Ship Lighter £6 to compliment the Sobranie Cocktail
 Cigarettes my father-in-law bought me on our trip.
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Fantastic Packaging - Bolivar Cigars, I love this so much that upon 
my return home I hunted down an empty box on eBay £2.

The Sights of  Whitby – both picturesque & macabre:

IMG_5701Waterfront Houses
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IMG_5703The dead sloping towards the sea.
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Bram Stokers Muse - The Abbey - a brooding gothic paradise.
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The Abbey Emerging from behind the graves at Whitby Church.
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Port & Lighthouses.
.  whitby1Whitby looking out to sea.

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Things That Made Me Smile This week…

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  1. I have recently developed a mini obsession with perpetual calendars after seeing a rather expensive one in Whitby. Have wanted one forever but never knew the search term before, am now the proud owner of two lovely ones picked up pretty cheap on Etsy, eh voila:                                                         photopc pc
  2. Ever since I came across this wonderful picture of Francoise Hardy I have had her collaboration with Blur in ‘To The End’ going round my head like a carousel, have just re-watched the video and suddenly noticed the massive referencing to Alain Resnais’ film Last Year At Marienbad (1961) lost on my 13 year old self. Je t’aime Francoise:f0955a64058c0eca4224c82c6ff11674
  3. As the weather begins to mellow we are about to start stripping our bedroom prior to the great plastering and painting. I have finally turned my attention to a new light pendant (we’ve had our current one since we first moved in together 6 years ago). Joy of joys B&Q have made a fabulous concrete light pendant that knocks off its expensive rivals for under £50. Hurrah!623ad49fde3796003586a08e1aa97a1a
  4. Have just begun to embark on Thomas Mann’s 800-page- epic The Magic Mountain set in a sanatorium in the Alps, I may not finish it for a very long time but it is exceptionally good so far. It brings back memories of a wonderful history professor who was saving one final Mann novel for retirement because he wanted something beautiful to look forward to!9781857152890-196x300

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What The Mice Saw from The Promenade…Part 3

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In my penultimate instalment of seaside visits I give you Margate, a town which up until a few years ago may have been best summed up by the Morrissey lyric ‘The coastal town that they forgot to close down’. It has been in decline for decades, overlooked next to its experienced swisher sisters in Whitstable & Broadstairs, it has arcades, a dilapidated pleasure beach and not much else to recommend it to the passing train passenger. But with the opening of the Turner gallery in 2010 and a trickling influx of ex-Hackney-hipsters the town is beginning to show signs of a renaissance. There are shoots of gentrification in the form of retro tea rooms, boutiques and over-priced jumble sales. However there is still something very wistful and maudlin about Margate.

I went with my two bestest friends Kathryn & Lizzie, partly to see the Curiosity exhibition at the Turner gallery, and partly as a final hurrah before one of my dearests goes travelling, here’s my photo diary of a gloriously fun and incessantly rain soaked day:

IMG_6109Two solitary beach huts on the sea front.
IMG_6129Remnants of the Pleasure beach, set to return in 2015 complete with
 Ferris Wheel attraction!
IMG_6107Ice-Cream Cone Railing.
IMG_6124Lady of Mar - Shell lady looking out to sea.
IMG_6125Margate Dreamlands - closed down but recently awarded heritage status.
IMG_6111The Mad Hatters Tearoom - closed every day except Saturday!
IMG_6135Shaving Brush Badger taxidermy in one of Margate's new trendy
 junk shops Hunky Dory.
IMG_6122Post-halcyon W.Shaw.
IMG_6115Sea Mizzle.
IMG_6127One of my favourite curiosities at the traveling Hayward exhibition.
IMG_6136Optimistically placed deck chair in the drizzle.
IMG_6105The view from a dilapidated hotel.
IMG_6131Martgate's magnificent shell grotto bequeathed anonymously in 1835.
IMG_6132 IMG_6134Tudor House restoration challenge.
IMG_6137Catch of the day - river boat and pastel Georgian Houses.
IMG_6106Desolate coastline reminiscent of Dungeness.
IMG_6147Souvenirs of a day-trip.

Final mention to the work of artist Ann Carrington whose resplendently surreal work I came across when trying to find out the name of the shell lady looking out to see:shell-ladies-9

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