Greenwich

London: Emma Hamilton @ the National Maritime Museum

dsc09313Since I live in the Borough of Merton, and volunteer on local history projects, I probably hear more than most about Horatio Nelson and Emma Hamilton, because they lived in a house called Merton Place for about four years until Nelson’s death, in what is now South Wimbledon (much to my disappointment, however, the welcome gift you get for attending a citizenship ceremony in Merton is not a Nelson doll or mug, but a crappily made passport case.  I think they need to upgrade, especially because I remember reading that one of the Scottish councils gives out Highland cattle stuffed animals.  I got cheated).  In fact, apart from William Morris and the Wombles (and of course the tennis), it’s kind of our main claim to fame.  So when I heard that the National Maritime Museum  had a new special exhibit devoted to Emma herself, I had to go see it (because I feel kind of bad that Nelson gets all the attention, but especially because Greenwich means Brazilian churros, and I am addicted to those delicious things).

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Emma Hamilton: Seduction and Celebrity, opened on the 3rd of November, and runs until 17 April 2017.  Admission is £12.60, but they do offer half price admission either with a National Rail 2-for-1 or a National Art Pass, though they sneakily don’t advertise that fact (fortunately, I have no shame in asking for a discount).  It’s in the downstairs gallery where the National Maritime Museum seems to host all their temporary exhibitions, which means no photography (why does almost every London museum seem to let you take photographs of the permanent collections, but not allow them in special exhibitions?  Is it because things are on loan from other institutions and they’re worried about copyrights?  It’s annoying for us bloggers, is all. Otherwise I wouldn’t care), but a decently-sized space in which to wander about.  Because I couldn’t take pictures, I’m including some of Romney’s portraits of Emma, and other relevant images, all obtained through Wikimedia Commons.

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Emma as a Bacchante, George Romney

I visited at midday on a Friday, when it was only moderately busy, but I appeared to be the youngest visitor by a good 40 or 50 years, which obviously wouldn’t have been an issue had it not been for the following: I think the dim lighting in the exhibition may have been causing problems for some of my fellow visitors, because despite clutching special large print guides, they were still bending WAY over to read the normal item captions, thereby blocking the cases from everyone else’s view.  I suspect the large print guide might also have been contributing to this problem; many of the artefacts were letters and other hand-written documents, which I’m surmising weren’t transcribed in the guides.  Perhaps the National Maritime Museum could consider doing this in future, to improve everyone’s experience. Still, because it wasn’t super crowded, I managed to persevere with only a medium level of annoyance (I’m always at least a mild degree of annoyed, so it wasn’t bad going, all things considered).  Anyway, as promised this was mostly about Emma (or as much as it could be in a time when a woman’s life choices tended to be dictated by men.  Oh wait, that shit STILL HAPPENS (says the angry feminist in me)), so I’m going to do more of a biographical thing here than I normally would (not that I go to all that many exhibitions focused on one person) because that seems the easiest way to go about it without photos, plus I hope you’re all interested in learning more about Emma.

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Emma as Cassandra, George Romney

Emma was born in Cheshire in 1765 to humble beginnings; her father was a blacksmith who died shortly after she was born, leaving her mother to raise her (her birth name was Amy or Emy Lyon).  Not surprisingly, Emma was forced to work as a maid from an early age, eventually moving to London. Here, things get a bit murky; some historians think she briefly worked as a prostitute, others say that was just people attempting to smear her name after she became famous.  What is certain is that she eventually caught the eye of an aristocrat named Harry Fetherstonhaugh (which is bafflingly pronounced “Fanshaw”), and became his mistress, even though she was only 15 (hmmm, perhaps Fetherstonhaugh should actually be pronounced “sexual predator”).  Naturally, he discarded her as soon as she became pregnant, but Emma managed to find another “protector” in the form of Charles Greville, though she was forced to give her daughter up, and changed her own name to Emma Hart.  Greville was a complete and total ass as well, but this is nonetheless where Emma’s fortunes began to improve, because he sent her to have her portrait painted by George Romney.  Emma was an extremely pretty young woman, and she became Romney’s muse.  He seemingly painted her hundreds of times, judging by all the paintings that were on display in this exhibition, which began to make her known in society circles, her intelligence and personality doing the rest of the work.

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All this was nicely covered in the exhibition, mostly illustrated by the actual portraits of teenaged Emma (there sure were a lot of her as a “Bacchante,” whatever the hell that is.  Something related to Bacchus, perhaps?).  It then went on to talk about what happened when she was abandoned by Greville; he decided he needed to take a rich wife, so in an unbelievably dickish move, he shipped her off to Italy, telling her he was sending her on holiday, but really he had arranged for her to become his uncle’s mistress, his uncle being Sir William Hamilton, British Envoy to Naples.  Fortunately, Hamilton seemed to be slightly less of a jerk than his nephew, because while he clearly fancied Emma, he didn’t seem to have been the rapey sort; instead, he left her alone to grieve for Greville (well grieve, and be angry.  There was one of Emma’s letters to Greville in here from after she realised she’d been discarded, and it was deliciously venomous.  Go Emma!), and recognising Emma’s spark, hired tutors for her so she could have the education she’d been denied as a child.  This led to Emma’s “Attitudes.”

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Rowlandson caricature of Emma’s Attitudes. Quite frankly, this is pretty harsh, because the whole point is that she WASN’T nude, and men and women alike enjoyed them.

No, these were not the natural response to all the shitty circumstances of her life thus far (though I wish they had been); rather, they were an almost unbearably pretentious-sounding entertainment that Emma devised wherein she would wear a loose, flowing white gown, as was the style at the time, and adopt poses of famous women from antiquity with the help of a shawl.  Some of these were demonstrated in a video in the exhibition, and there were illustrations made of these from life, as well as a tea set decorated with Emma in her poses, so I can tell you that they are not at all the sort of thing that would go over well today, but it was a simpler time, and they gained Emma a great deal of fame.  Hamilton was clearly won over too, because after Emma had been his mistress for a while, he consented to marry her, which was a HUGE deal at the time, as she would then become a Lady.  (Also, Hamilton was a keen geologist who collected antiquities, so there’s some of that type of stuff in this exhibition too.)

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Emma Lady Hamilton wearing Maltese Cross, Johann Heinrich Schmidt.

It was the marriage that allowed her to become BFFs with Queen Maria Carolina, who was the Queen of Naples, and also to meet the love of her life, Lord Nelson (she was fond of Hamilton and all, but he was more than twice her age, so not the most thrilling lover, I’m sure). While she was living in Naples, the French Revolution began, and Maria Carolina was extremely concerned about this, especially because Marie Antoinette was her sister.  When an uprising began in Naples some years later, Emma begged Nelson to come help the Neapolitan Royal Family, as she and Nelson had formed an attachment a few years before when he was convalescing in Naples after the Battle of the Nile and Emma nursed him back to health.  Nelson rocked up and did some politically iffy things, like execute one of the leaders of the revolution, despite not having the backing of the British government (the revolutionary pleaded to Emma for mercy, and got cruelly denied), but he did save the Royal Family, and he and Emma officially became an item (surprisingly, Hamilton was basically OK with this, and all three lived together for a time. Nelson’s wife was not cool with it, but she was a woman, so Nelson could easily get rid of her. Grrrr). Also, Emma became the first woman to be awarded the Maltese Cross around this time (for sending food to Malta whilst it was blockaded), which she was extremely proud of, and she had her portrait painted whilst wearing it (both portrait and cross are on display. I’m not saying much about the political situation that led to the blockade, because I’m not entirely clear on it myself.  My knowledge of Continental 18th century history is not great).

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Nelson and Emma in Naples

Unsurprisingly, this was the most interesting part of Emma’s life, which was reflected in the exhibition.  There were lots of neat things from this era, including patriotic nautical-themed scarves and jewellery that she wore to support Nelson (only those in the know would have realised the extent of their relationship, because Nelson-themed jewellery was very popular at the time), and letters written between the two when they were apart.  They also exchanged cool snake rings as a token of their love.  In 1801, they bought Merton Place, and furnished a home together, even though it was mainly Emma doing the work, because Nelson was away at sea much of the time.  I was really excited to see that they had a load of furnishings from Merton Place, because I’m always keen to learn more about it (the house was demolished in 1823, so it’s not like I can go and see it or anything).  Being that they were both self-made individuals, from humble beginnings, their taste tended towards the gaudy, and they had lots of things celebrating Nelson’s victories, as well of portraits of Emma in her prime (Emma supposedly put on a lot of weight in her 30s, and there were some pretty mean-spirited cartoons here mocking her, but she still looked lovely in portraits, so it’s hard to say what she really looked like at this point).  Whilst living at Merton Place, Emma became pregnant with their daughter, Horatia, who was also sent away after she was born to prevent a scandal (Nelson having an affair was one thing, but apparently a child born out of wedlock was a bridge too far).

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Codina, a poodle believed to have belonged to Emma Hamilton.

William Hamilton died in 1803, and Nelson was of course killed at Trafalgar in 1805, and this is when Emma’s life all came crashing down.  Because she was “only” a mistress, the English government refused to acknowledge her, despite Nelson’s pleas to do so in his will.  She not only wasn’t granted a pension, she wasn’t even invited to Nelson’s funeral (it’s a bit difficult to know who to feel sorriest for, because I do have sympathy for Nelson’s discarded wife, and I can understand why the government chose to ignore Emma, but considering she was the mother of Nelson’s daughter, they could have given her and Horatia something (or maybe not since Emma and Nelson had to pretend that Horatia didn’t exist), or you know, at least let her come see his body at a time when his wife wouldn’t be there, since he was laid out in the Painted Hall for ages)!  She tried to carry on living the lifestyle she had enjoyed during Nelson’s lifetime, with lavish entertainments, but soon ran out of money (I presume William Hamilton must have left her some, since they were legally married, and he was fine with the whole Nelson thing, but it wasn’t really mentioned.  Maybe she spent it all?) and had to sell Merton Place to pay her debts, as well as most of her possessions, which were listed on auction bills in the exhibition.  She was great friends with many of the Royals, including the Prince Regent (George IV), but of course they all deserted her when she needed money.  She was briefly sent to debtor’s prison, and eventually moved to France to escape her creditors, where she died, aged only 49, from the effects of alcoholism.

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As you can probably tell, I learned a lot from this exhibition, and I think the choice of artefacts to support Emma’s story was generally good.  However, I did think it was a little obnoxious that in an exhibit that was supposed to be all about Emma, they still chose to feature Nelson’s Trafalgar coat as the final display.  I get that people want to see the coat, but it’s normally kept at the National Maritime Museum anyway, in the Nelson gallery on the second floor, so they could have just had a sign directing people up there.  It just seemed a little distasteful that a woman who spent her life being frequently mistreated and overshadowed by men also had Nelson as the last word in her exhibition.  I also would have liked to learn more about Horatia, because she did eventually end up living with Emma briefly in France, but nothing was said about what happened to her after Emma died (I think she led a fairly boring life, and never really admitted she was Nelson’s daughter, but they still could have said something about her in here). Other than that, though, I think it was a solid exhibition, and even though Emma clearly had her faults (like calling for revolutionaries to be executed), she was obviously an intelligent and fascinating woman in her own right, and it’s nice that she’s finally getting some recognition for that.  So 3.5/5 overall, and definitely worth 6 quid, but perhaps a bit expensive at the full price.  Sorry for the Emma-essay!

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London: The Queen’s House

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I was craving a churro the other day (ok, and I wanted to buy some new shoes), so another trip to Greenwich was in order.  I suppose I could have gone to Camden, as they also have churros and the shoe stall I like, but Camden is pretty horrible and crowded, and Greenwich is quite pleasant.  The only trouble is, I’ve already posted about most of the free museums in Greenwich, so I wanted to find something new to see without spending any extra money (which could instead be spent on more churros).  Granted, I could have just gone and ate the damn churro without going to a museum, but then what would I have to blog about?  A quick investigation online led me to the Queen’s House.  I’m not sure how this previously escaped my attention, since it is literally next door to the National Maritime Museum (you can even see the edge of it on the right of the photo above, at the end of the columns), but there’s a lot of attractive buildings in Greenwich, and I’m usually eating an ice cream when I walk down that way, so I’m not at my most observant.

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The queen in question is Henrietta Maria, wife of the ill-fated Charles I, who only lived here for a few years because of the whole, you know, Civil War and all.  It was designed by Inigo Jones, and initially commissioned for Anne of Denmark, James I’s wife, but she died before construction could be completed.  Catherine Pelham also lived there for a bit, which is of interest only because she was cousin-in-law (once-removed, I think, at least as far as I can work out) to Elizabeth Hay, wife of William, and I think any connection to William Hay is neat, as he seems to be mostly forgotten.  It’s weird, but I often feel like I know the Georgians better than my actual acquaintances; I always get excited when I find a connection to Georgians I “know.”  Anyway, the house later became the Royal Naval Asylum, for orphans of seamen (ha), and then ultimately became part of the Royal Museums of Greenwich group, and currently houses the art collection of the National Maritime Museum.  Whew.  All you probably need to know is that it is free, and is a rather lovely setting for an art museum.

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Architectural highlights include the Tulip Stairs, which are meant to be haunted, though I didn’t sense any strange pockets of cold air when I was walking up them, and the Great Hall, with its collection of four busts, and a splendid black and white marble floor that they are rightly quite keen to preserve (there’s a warning about grit on your shoes posted outside).  I began my visit by climbing up that very staircase to the first floor, which held the Stuart galleries, and a special installation by Alice Kettle: “The Garden of England,” which consisted of three pieces with a flower theme set amongst the 17th century portraits in the North West Parlour.  The Stuart room was fittingly graced with portraits of Henrietta Maria and Charles I to each side of the window, and there was a dollhouse sized version of the Queen’s House itself in the next room.

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Heading up to the second floor, I was very pleasantly surprised to come across a Captain Cook gallery.  I’ve been quite keen on Cook ever since reading Tony Horwitz’s Blue Latitudes, and even keener on the fine-looking Joseph Banks, but alas, this gallery was focused on artwork from Cook’s second and third voyages, and Banks went along on the first one.  Nonetheless, I thought it was incredibly cool to have the opportunity to see William Hodges‘ paintings, as they essentially represent the first time Europeans got a glimpse of Polynesia.  I especially loved his painting of Easter Island, and of course, his portrait of Cook himself, amongst a few others that I’ll also post here.  (Please excuse my shoddy attempts at photography, the lighting was poor, flash wasn’t allowed, and my hands are unsteady).

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I definitely lingered longer there than in any of the other galleries, and even came back for a second look, but there was plenty more to see.  The next room offered an x-ray analysis of some of Hodges’ paintings, to reveal the changes he made, and speculate on the reasons behind them.  There was a substantial amount of Dutch naval art as well, but pictures of boats don’t enormously appeal.  I did however get interested again when I got back into another portrait gallery.

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself, it’s that I like a fine-looking seaman (ha again!). I know Joseph Banks wasn’t technically a seaman, but Cook’s voyage was pretty epic, and he managed to survive that (albeit with the help of a number of manservants).  In addition to Banks, I’ve also developed a fondness for the young Augustus Keppel (though he too, became corpulent in middle age).  I thought at first it was because I like Georgian naval outfits, and whilst I do love a good greatcoat/knee breeches combo, there was an unnamed Stuart naval officer who was looking pretty fine as well, so maybe it’s not all in the uniform.  Still, I do rather fancy Hugh Laurie as the Prince Regent (though obviously not so much as Bertie Wooster, and in spite of the fact that Blackadder drives me mad because he wasn’t yet the Prince Regent during the time period Blackadder III is set in, and in fact wasn’t even born yet when Samuel Johnson was writing his Dictionary), so there’s something to be said for the breeches and stockings after all, certainly when compared to a neck ruff.

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Now, where was I? Oh right, the rest of the Queen’s House. There was art hidden all over the place in here; I had to go down a random back staircase to see Turner’s “Battle of Trafalgar” in a room with some paintings of battles in the American Revolution.  I don’t know why, but somehow I never think of naval battles when I picture the Revolutionary War, even though obviously I knew they went on.  There was also a series of rooms devoted to maritime art by the century; I managed to catch a glimpse of my old “friend” Alfred Wallis in the 20th century section, whilst I was predictably rushing through to get back to the older stuff.

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Back on the ground floor, there was a small gallery on the Royal Hospital School (which was merged in 1821 with the Royal Naval Asylum mentioned at the start of this post), used to train future naval recruits.  This exhibit featured quite prominently on the museum website, so I must confess I was hoping for more than just one room’s worth, but I did learn a few things; one, that there was a “practice” ship in front of the school so they could practice seamanship in an authentic environment, and two, the children used to dare each other to take the Tulip Stairs, because they were also afraid of the ghost.

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I’m kind of upset with myself for not discovering the Queen’s House sooner, because it is an unexpectedly charming collection. I loved the colourful rooms and intricate wall mouldings, which, when coupled with the 18th century sash windows and the wooden floors, gave the place more of a Georgian feel than a Stuart one, and made it an excellent atmosphere in which to appreciate some of my favourite kind of art (basically, old portraits). The Cook gallery also earns them some bonus points in my book, so 4/5.

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London: National Maritime Museum

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Charmingly (?) wonky photo of the exterior

If the Fan Museum wasn’t enough to quench your thirst for museums, never fear, for Greenwich is full of other options, like the National Maritime Museum, which is free.  I’d personally advise you to detour back to the market in between museuming for ice cream, either in the form of a chocolate chip cookie sandwich, or a lovely creamy gelato from Black Vanilla (though their one flavour per small cone policy irks me, as the standard is two flavours, and I’m still debating whether the pistachio surcharge is worth it.  It was delicious, but so is the pistachio from Scoop and Gelupo, neither of which charge extra.). With a cone in hand, the National Maritime Museum is a short (and tasty) walk away.

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I went here last year for the Royal River exhibit curated by David Starkey, which I quite enjoyed, despite my distaste for Starkey’s position on the Tudors.  (He’s basically a Tudor apologist, and I’m not going to be won over to the idea that Henry VIII was a good person anytime soon.) However, I didn’t get much a chance to look at the rest of the museum at the time, so this last visit was my first opportunity to check everything out.  I started with the section on explorers, which included the grisly ends of some arctic expeditions.  As I’m sure you all know, I have some interest in polar exploration anyway, (I think my first post on here was about poor Lawrence Oates, of the Scott Expedition) and I liked how this section was situated in a dark tunnel, as it was at least an attempt at creating an authentic atmosphere.

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Progressing out onto the main floor, there was a rather good assortment of ship’s figureheads, as well as Prince Frederick’s fabulous gilded barge, a true exercise in royal restraint and taste.  I do love its gaudiness though.  Rooms in the interior section of the ground floor are devoted to maritime London and arctic convoys, the latter of which was basically just a load of pictures of boats, and thus not of great interest to me.  There was a sign outside one of the rooms advertising an exhibit on cartoons within, but alas, it was closed, which was a shame.

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Don’t miss the chance to view Nelson’s Trafalgar uniform, complete with bullet hole, without the terrible glare behind it!

Other objects of note on the ground floor include a nice collection of dishes and other things from cruise ships, including some menus, various mechanical bits and bobs, and a gallery hidden off to one side through a stairwell that smells of new tyres (does anyone else love that smell, or am I the only weirdo?) on Seafaring Britons, complete with charming portraits of Nelson and his mistress, and a genuine ship’s biscuit (sadly missing a photo of Lord Kitchener (or naval counterpart) in the middle, as seen in a biscuit at the Museum of Reading).

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The middle of the first floor is a large open space with a map of the world drawn on the floor, which children can ride around on various boat toys.  Dodging between them, I quickly passed through a rather lame recycling themed gallery that seemed noticeably out of place in a maritime museum, and headed over to the much more appealing section on the East India Company.  I’m well aware of the troubled history of the East India Company, which was covered in detail throughout the gallery, but there were also many wonderful items from various Asian cultures to look at.

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Equally troubling is the history of Atlantic trade, which was covered in the next gallery. The cruelties of slavery were well illustrated with chains and whips, and objects related to the sugar trade, including a collection of abolitionist tea paraphernalia.  There was also a section on other Atlantic industries, such as whaling, and something to appeal to my macabre side – an old guillotine blade that was actually used for executions on Haiti during the French Revolution.  Again, grim, but fascinating.

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Due to construction work on one of the stairwells, the first floor was a bit labyrinthine, and I ended up having to walk all the way around, and back through the East India gallery to access the stairs up to the second floor.  The only things up there at the moment are a bunch of model ships, and a children’s gallery, which I skipped.  The model ships were wonderfully detailed, (or so I’m told) but they mostly all looked the same to me, since I’m not particularly well-versed on ships, or really anything pertaining to naval history. I think if they’d had tiny people on top, I’d have been intrigued.

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I think the National Maritime Museum is a solid diversion if you’re already in the Greenwich area, and even if you’re not that interested in maritime history (I’m not), many of the galleries still manage to be engaging by discussing the larger consequences of sea-travel.  I think they make an effort to cater to children as well, which might be a concern for some of you.  I’ll award it 3/5.  I should mention, whilst we’re on the subject of Greenwich, that the famous Painted Hall where Nelson lay in state is right across the street from the Maritime Museum (albeit somewhat buried in the maze that is the Old Royal Naval College), and is worth poking your head in on your way back to the station, to complete your tour of things related to Nelson’s death, if nothing else.

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Painted Hall

London: The Fan Museum

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Puzzle fan

With its fan-tastic (literally) and ever-changing displays, the Fan Museum is one of the many attractions of Greenwich. Although Greenwich is kind of a pain to get to from Southwest London, there’s enough to see (and eat) there to make it worth my while, so I’ve headed out there a few times since it’s (sort of) warmed up.  I can’t lie; one of the main draws is the Brazilian churro stand in Greenwich Market.  Brazilian churros have far more in common with Mexican churros than with their inferior Old World cousins, and these ones are fried to order, rolled in cinnamon sugar and filled with your choice of dulce de leche or thick chocolate sauce (go for the dulce de leche, or at least the half and half, you won’t regret it).  Glutton though I am, once I consumed a churro, I was ready to head off in search of other amusements, and the nearby Fan Museum fit the bill.

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The Fan Museum is on Crooms Hill, a short walk away from both the market and Cutty Sark station.  It’s not terribly large, but the £4 admission charge seemed reasonable.  Apparently, they’re famed for the cream teas served in the Orangery, but as I’d just wolfed down a churro, I decided to stick with the museum only on this visit, which is split between four rooms on two floors of a Georgian house.  There’s already a decent amount of accompanying text for the permanent displays, but I found the free guidebook I was offered was even more informative, so do take advantage.

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The permanent collection offers a good introduction to the history and making of fans, with examples of all the different types, as well as fans in various stages of production.  I know a bit about the old language of fans, but I’d never really given that much thought to them otherwise, save for purposes of cooling (like those ineffective paper fans we used to make at the end of the school year when it got really hot, and we couldn’t wait to leave our sweltering classroom for the summer), so it was nice to have some background on them.

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Progressing upstairs (past the portrait of the rather formidable lady on the right), we entered the temporary exhibit, which was what I was most keen on seeing, as “curiosities” and “quirky” are obviously two words that draw my attention.  I wasn’t disappointed – many of these fans were truly bizarre.  For once I’ll shut up and let the pictures do (most of) the talking.

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Cigar fans and revolver fan.  Also note the twig fan next to the cigar fan, which was a particular favourite, because it looked like a crappy stick, but surprise, a fan!

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Advertisement for the cigar fan, and dagger fan, which I want for myself.  My boyfriend suggested it would be even better if the dagger fan was actually made up of small blades, and I’m inclined to agree.

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Devil fan.  Excellent.

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This was a surprise pervy fan.  The front looks totally innocent, but the back gets a bit Kama Sutra, if you get my drift…

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Velvet mask fan. I suppose that makes it multi-purpose, like many of the other fans we saw, though most of those were slightly more functional, incorporating things like combs and makeup containers.

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Instructions on how to use the ear trumpet fan.  Finally, a stylish Victorian hearing aid!

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And lastly, these fans, which converted into small parasols.  I think I’ll stick to the SPF 50+, thanks, as I doubt these provide enough coverage for the current state of the ozone layer.

The temporary exhibit took up two small rooms, and included a video of someone demonstrating all the functions of the fans, so you could see their novelty uses.  There was also a violin fan, which I didn’t get a picture of, and quite a few others.  Heading back downstairs, there’s a gift shop that sells (you guessed it) fans and other miscellany, including a scroll on the language of fans so you can try it out for yourself.  The guidebook made several cheeky references to the excellence of the shop, which amused me.

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The Fan Museum was very quaint, but stopped just this side of twee (I think all the weapon-themed fans helped with that).  I found the special exhibit enjoyable, and the permanent collection, though small, was interesting.  I’ll give it 3.5/5, though I would imagine the experience varies depending on what the temporary exhibit is.  It’s a nice, quiet place, so would be perfect if you’re looking to avoid the crowds of the Cutty Sark or National Maritime Museum, and take in some fine examples of an historic art in a lovely setting.