Dulwich Picture Gallery at last

Trip Start Oct 02, 2011
Trip End Oct 27, 2011

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Saturday, October 8, 2011

Perhaps as a reward for obtaining the grab bars yesterday, today we were able to go to the Dulwich Picture Gallery.  It was just seven minutes away by train.  As you will note from today's World's superlative, it's clear we were meant to go there to obtain the photo.

Old, verdant and lovely, Dulwich Village is home to Dulwich College, a very selective boy's high school. The buildings look far fancier than most US universities. It will celebrate its 400th birthday in 8 years.  And I thought that my high school was old!

Just nearby is the art gallery, a mere 200 years old this year (see relevant photo).  Turns out it was one of the very first structures designed specifically to display art.  And at least according to the Gallery propaganda, its major design elements have been copied by hundreds of galleries around the world.  As you will also note in today's World's superlative photo, it is quite beautiful.  Though it's fairly small ("only" about 10 rooms) it's packed with a passel of lovely Rembrandts, Rubenses, Gainsboroughs, Van Dycks, and more. 

As we strolled around the galleries a newly minted bride and groom, fresh from their nuptials in the courtyard, pranced in.  Led by a fancy photographer they posed for a set of self-conscious photographs among the paintings.  The one that really got our eyes a-rollin' was when the photographer posed the blushing bride prone on one of the green velvet-covered benches.  She was instructed to archly bend her left knee.  When her foot pointed to the ceiling, her gown spilled down to the green bench, revealing just enough leg to be slightly saucy but still tasteful.  I suppose that was the idea anyway.    

When the gallery closed we had to pass through the wedding party scrum, which had formed in the courtyard.  There were men in morning suits and fancy military uniforms and women in bright dresses wearing those ridiculous confectionery hats like those seen in abundance at the recent Royal wedding.  Champagne was flowing left and right. 

We escaped unscathed back to our more restrained lifestyle at the flat, and after yummy leftovers walked to a nearby church where Annie's former voice teacher was leading the Beckenham Women's Chorus in a benefit for the Bromley Parkinson's Disease Society.  As an added bonus, a very good young bassoonist did the first movement of the Mozart Bassoon Concerto. 

The intermission was quintessentially British, though in stark contrast to the quintessentially
British wedding reception in Dulwich.  We all filed through the big sanctuary to the room behind, where tables had been set up.  They were laden with bickies (British for cookies, glad you asked) of all sizes and shapes, some lovingly made by members of the choir.  Behind the bickie tables were the coffee and tea stations. Tea was brewed in a battered two-gallon aluminum pot that was so heavy it had a front handle above the spout as well as the usual one at the rear.  The tea was poured by a sturdy lady into dainty little pre-milked cups decorated with roses, pansies, and all sorts of winding curlicues.  And of course there were equally dainty saucers on which to rest the cup and park the bickies. 

Oh, I love England.
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Hillary on

I absolutely love your description of the art gallery and of the concert intermission with tea and bickies. It makes me long to visit England. Again, my subscription to your blog is apparently not working but I am diligently checking in each day (or two at the most). Can't wait for Hungary entries!

Andrew Ogus on

If only modern museums were still designed like the one you describe . . .

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