Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Victorian Spring Ball

A few weekends ago (time just disappears, and I can't recall with complete accuracy which day it was!! ), my 19th century dance group had its annual Victorian ball. This year it was held in a new venue. A Victorian theatre in Hampton Wick. 

The theatre was part of a larger building which is the Langdon Down Centre (formerly known as Normansfield) which is owned and managed by the Down's Syndrome Association. The centre was built and started by Dr. John Langdon Down in the late 19th century. The centre's website says "Dr John Langdon Down was a Victorian physician who established Normansfield in 1868 as a family home and a place where people with learning disabilities could be cared for and educated at a time when most of them would have been condemned to life in an asylum." 
Part of the building is also a museum dedicated to Langdon Down, his family and his work. 

Part of the Front of the building. It was so wide that I couldn't fit the entire building in one photo (the only way I could have done it was if I removed the fence surrounding the site and took the photo whilst standing in the middle of the road, which is just opposite the building!) 

Another view
I didn't end up taking that many photos, mainly because a friend took quite a few and also because I only had my mobile and the camera on it is not great.

Anyway, the victorian theatre where the ball was held.

close up of the side of the stage


More dancing

Me standing on the steps up to the stage. I kept taking my gloves off as it was rather hot!!

After a bit of lovely dancing, we stopped for supper, which was held in the basement. And what should we find there... 

two amazing handcrafted models of ships!! They were made by a man called James Henry Pullen (in the mid to late 19th century), who was a patient at the Earlswood asylum where Langdon Down previously worked. Pullen was described as an 'idiot savant', which according to the Langdon Down website was how the Victorians described someone who they believed was " mentally retarded but has special talent in one narrow field ". The website goes onto say  'we now know, in fact, that he was intelligent but suffered from a severe communication disorder and high frequency deafness.'  

From what I could see, Pullen was a genius. The boats are amazing, such minute detail. Just incredible!! The above photo is a model of Isambard Kingdom Brunel's The Great Eastern.

This is a model of The Princess Alexandra 

A side view of the P.A.

After supper we went back up to the theatre for some more dancing and to take a few silly photos. :)

This was taken from the stage.

All the scenery from a past production of 'Ruddygore' was still on the stage. Perfect for posing. :)

Me walking through a lovely wood. :)

Peering through a door into a grand room (if you ignore the gap between the door frame and the green wall/pillar!)

And last but not least, Victorian air conditioning. Apparently the round thing attached to the ceiling used to suck out all the warm air as it rose to the ceiling, and blow in fresh air!!

I will ask my friend for her photos, which are much better, and include a few lovely group photos. So there might be a second post full of just photos. :).