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Architecture Luxury People Restaurants

Le Palais Garnier + CoCo Restaurant Paris

Excuse Our French

Releasing our inner Chanel we’re off to Le Palais Garnier’s opera restaurant CoCo. The in crowd are outside. Paris Society at its best. Literally. The Paris Society Group was founded in 2008 by French entrepreneur Laurent de Gourcuff. CEO Sebastien Pacault is our type of guy, “We are the pioneers of the French lifestyle!” Its restaurants and venues have spread from the French capital to Marseilles and St Tropez. Today, brunch in The Society’s CoCo alfresco setting on Place Jacques Rouche is all about “Incontournables” (must haves on a plate). That translates as tarama truffé (truffled tarama); cabillaud, gnocchis, beurre citronée et cresson (cod, gnocchi, lemon butter and watercress); and cheesecake caramélisé (carmelised raspberry and… you guessed it). And as always Veuve Cliquot Rosé: le goût de l’été. Restaurant souvenirs include Coffret de Cocteau, a box of set knives (€280), and Encens Éclatant, a glass domed candle (€250). More original than a miniature Eiffel Tower any day. We’re going cuckoo for CoCo. Just in time for a rooftop party next door in Galeries Lafayette Haussmann to celebrate The French Touch fashion exhibition. “Let’s go!” as they say in Israel.

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Architects Architecture Art Design Luxury People Restaurants

Jules Aimé Lavirotte + Hôtel Elysées Céramic Paris

Favoured Façadism

The 7th and 8th Arrondisements of Paris are made all the richer thanks to the architecture of Jules Aimé Lavirotte. His decorative Art Nouveau buildings are the perfect antidote to the restraint of Baron Haussmann’s. There’s no doubting who designed Hotel Elysées Céramic on Avenue de Wagram, one of the broad streets radiating out from the Arc de Triomphe. Among the glazed ceramic sculptures and tiles are two nameplates: “J Lavrirotte Architecte 1904” and “Alaphilippe Sculpteur”. Prize winning architect Jules Aimé Lavirotte (1864 to 1929) hailed from Lyon where he studied under Antoine Georges Louvier at the École des Beaux-Arts. He would later study at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris where his tutor was Paul Blondel. Fellow alumnus and prize winner Camille Alaphilippe (1874 to 1934) was the pupil of Jean-Paul Laurens and Louis-Ernest Barrias in the Paris École. The courtyard elevations of the hotel are plain planes in contrast to the frenetic frivolity of the façade. The building is constructed of reinforced concrete. It started life as a maison meublée, an establishment with rented furnished rooms, before becoming a hotel. Jules Aimé Lavirotte, along with Hector Guimard and Henri Sauvage, is now recognised as one of the major figures of Art Nouveau architecture in Paris.

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Art Design Fashion Luxury People

Mary Martin London + Southbank Show + Africa Fashion Week London

Back Stage Front Stage Centre Stage

London’s glossiest posse gathered at Southbank for a Saturday evening fashion show on the Riverside Terrace along the Thames. It was the catwalk of the summer. But first there was a round of turmeric iced lattés, the boisson du jour before the hard work began. Makeup artist Karen Messam explained, “It’s going to be a graphic bold story. We’re highlighting bold, glossy lips.” Karen was assisted by fellow mistress of maquillage Jade Almojera.

Organiser Anna-Maria Benedict summarised the evening, “The main show brought drama, rain, couture and elaborate accessories. Prestigious designers Kalikas Armour, Sista by Eyoro, Elfreda Dali, Adebayo Jones, Mary Martin London and Soboye showcased glamour, command of design and tailoring which all meant Southbank had never been so well dressed!”

“We continued Africa Fashion Week London’s dedication to promoting and uplifting design graduates of colour,” Anna-Maria acknowledged. “We opened the show with three mini collections from the Universities of Northampton and West London. Themes of protest were evident in both universities’ collections. Black Lives Matter and awareness of misogynoir – the unique discrimination faced by black women – featured in powerful graphic prints.”

Sierra Leonean-Lebanese model Yasmin Jamaal commanded the catwalk, rocked the runway, walked the wave of cheers, stormed the storm parading in Mary’s Gold Coast Dress. Multitalented Yasmin has launched an Afro-Middle East plant based food company, Jamaal Cuisine. She recently was invited to cook for a high society private dinner. When Yasmin arrived the hostess confessed, “I didn’t expect the model off the website to turn up!” Yasmin had to explain, “I’m the model and also your chef for the evening!” The admiring crowd included lots of well known faces from the arts world like the principal actor from the 2022 film Django, Vivienne Rochester, and Eric’s mum in the Netflix series Sex Education, Doreen Blackstock.

Star of the fashion show was… Mary Martin London. Earlier in the day she beamed, “John Fairbrother Dolls have just made The Mary Martin London Dress! I’m wearing my epic Union Jack Dress! Or rather the miniature me is wearing it!” Now there’s a tribute. Mary showed dresses from her previous award winning collections as well as new ones such as The Eccentric Peacock Dress and The Grace Jones Dress. “Grace is such an inspiration,” she recorded. Mary is of course famous for designing dresses for singers and musicians like Heather Small. “If there aren’t high vibrations forget it!” she exclaimed. Thanks to DJ Biggy C there were plenty of high vibrations. The tune maker let it be known, “That’s me playing now!”

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Uncategorized

Cumber House + The Fat Fox Café, Claudy, Londonderry

Medium Wave

It’s as if The Argory and Ardress House (County Armagh’s finest) were blended and transplanted in rural County Londonderry. Cumber House has the seven bay with breakfront containing a tripartite window over a fanlighted entrance door of The Argory and the white painted rendered walls of Ardress House. The house is Grade A Listed, the equivalent of Grade I in Great Britain. Alistair Rowan writes in The Buildings of Ireland: North West Ulster (1979), a seminal work sponsored by Lord Dunleath’s Charitable Trust, “A seven bay two storey house with tripartite centre door. It looks about 1820, though the lower floor was built earlier by William Ross, who lost his money in the American War of Independence and sold the house in 1785.”The Listing dates the building a decade earlier, “The Ordnance Survey Memoir for the parish of Cumber, compiled around 1835, states, ‘The present house was built by James Ross Esquire in 1810 and cost about £700, planting included, and other improvements round the house. It is handsome and commodious, and has a western aspect.’” Cumber House remained in private ownership until 1972 when it was purchased by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA).

Cumber House is well looked after by the GAA with a variety of community uses occupying the rooms. Earlier in the 21st century, the GAA spent £1.2 million restoring the house including its fine interior plasterwork. The Fat Fox Café has opened in one of the two main reception rooms flanking the entrance hall. Three high sash windows overlook the river and woodland at the bottom of a grass bank. The café is already a brunch hit with locals and drivers seeking a pitstop on the Cookstown to Derry City road. The single storey stable block on the opposite side of the road has also been restored: the fronting lodges now contain a hair salon and a vets’ practice. Cumber House is rumoured to be the most haunted house in the north of Ireland. The Lawrence Photograph Collection includes an image of Cumber House taken by Robert French (1841 to 1917). The photograph was taken towards the end of his life. Over a century later, nothing has changed except ivy framing the breakfront has gone. Perhaps the original occupants are still in residence too.

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Architects Architecture Country Houses People Town Houses

Pettigo Donegal + Fermanagh

The Boundary Lines Have Fallen in Pleasant Places

It’s the only village in Ireland where the Main Street is in County Donegal (Ireland’s most northwesterly county) and the High Street is in County Fermanagh (the United Kingdom’s most westerly county). The 1925 Boundary Commission carelessly used the three metre wide River Termon as the border, forever splitting the village between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland or at least up until today. The River Termon, all 16 kilometres of it, rises from Scraghy near Omagh and flows into Lough Erne at The Waterfoot, a demesne three kilometres southwest of Pettigo. Its water meadows are home to brown trout, dippers, grey wagtails, heron, mallard, mink, otters and white clawed crayfish. In ancient times the river formed the boundary, or “Terminus”, of the Monastic Lands of Lough Derg.

Elevated and isolated, Pettigo has a long and distinguished history. In Celtic times it was known as the Place of the Blacksmith. By the medieval period, it had emerged to become the gateway to St Patrick’s Purgatory on nearby Lough Derg. “The church at St Patrick’s Purgatory is a wonderful basilica, like something from Ravenna,” observes heritage architect John O’ConnellPettigo prospered as a market place in the 17th and 18th centuries. One of the oldest reminders of this notable heritage is Termon Castle, southwest of the village and close to Lough Erne. Its ruins are located in the Republic, just 256 metres from the border. Built by the Gaelic Clan McGrath in the late 16th century, an indelible mark on the landscape, it bears all the scars of Cromwellian bombardment. Some architectural elements such as gun loops and window mullions are still intact.

The Church of Ireland, Templecarne Parish Church, and the former courthouse cum market house (a common combination in Ireland – see Kinsale), set at perpendicular angles to one another, form the focal point of the village centre along with the group of three storey houses opposite. The church dates from 1836 and is typical William Farrell: austere elegance. John O’Connell says, “Farrell was a very solid architect.” The building has a timeless quality – like Mr F’s Colebrooke Park and Ashbrooke House, both in County Fermanagh – derived from his restrained application of decoration. The tall gothic arched windows contain an unusual detail. Mr O’C explains, “The angled glazed inset is, in fact, a device for ventilation. Thus from the inside the hinged flap could be opened, usually with the assistance of a cord.” Samuel Lewis wrote in his 1837 Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, “The church, situated at Pettigoe, is a small, old, and dilapidated structure, towards the rebuilding of which Mrs Leslie (the proprietor of the estate), the Rector, and the Protestant parishioners have contributed a large subscription.”

The Reverend Charles Eames is the current Rector. “My vision for this church,” he states, “is to make an impact for God, here in Pettigo, by helping people understand the enriching messages of eternal hope given to us by Jesus Christ.” Sadly the grand Templecarne Rectory lies in ruins in fields next to Termon Castle. This long low two storey house is asymmetrically arranged with a single storey porch tucked between blocks set at right angles to one another. The original roughcast rendered finish, where not covered in ivy, has mostly given way to reveal the red brick construction material. Samuel Lewis notes, “The living is a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Clogher, and in the patronage of the Bishop: the tithes amount to £300. The glebe-house was built in 1813, at an expense of £978.9.2¾ of which £623.1.6½ was a loan from the late Board of First Fruits, and the remainder was defrayed by the then incumbent: the glebe comprises 141 acres of good land, valued at £176.16.8 per annum.”

The Barton Family Memorial is located to the west of the church. Their estate is The Waterfoot. Samuel Lewis records, “Waterfoot, the residence of Lieutenant Colonel Barton, is pleasantly situated.” A quirky triple jelly mould headstone has an equally quirky inscription, “The Victory. 1 Corinthians XV, 54 to 57. A White Stone. Amen. Rev I 18. ‘Tell his disciples he is risen from the dead.’ Matt XXVIII 7. Barton Family Vault.” Andrew Barton Patterson (1864 to 1941), Australian poet and journalist grandson of Robert Barton, wrote Waltzing Matilda. In January, snowdrops grow over the vault.

The former courthouse cum market house, restored and converted into a family home in 2006, is more provincial in character. It dates from circa 1850. The terrace of three houses opposite, restored in 2016, is of a surprisingly grand scale for such a remote location. The houses rise a storey higher than most of the village buildings and display distinguishing delineated window surrounds and half columned doorcases. Called The Palisades, their grandeur is less surprising when it transpires they once formed the village home of the landowning Leslie family. Sir Winston Churchill, a relative of the Leslies, was a frequent visitor. The most famous recent scion, Sir Jack Leslie 4th Baronet of Glaslough and Pettigo, died at Castle Leslie in Glaslough, County Monaghan, in 2016.

Terence Dooley writes in The Decline of the Big House in Ireland (2001), “The Leslies of Glaslough were amongst the largest landowners living in south Ulster during the 19th century. By the 1870s, they owned almost 50,000 acres located in the seven counties of Monaghan, Cavan, Donegal, Down, Fermanagh, Meath and Tyrone. Their largest estate was in County Donegal (28,827 acres) and included St Patrick’s Purgatory, Lough Derg, from which the Leslies ironically derived significant income from Catholic pilgrims during the Penal Era.”

He continues, “From the 1840s, the Leslies had become related through marriage to some of the most influential landed families in Ireland and Britain. Sir John II (1857 to 1914) married Leonie Jerome, the daughter of a wealthy American newspaper tycoon, in 1884. This marriage meant that the Leslies became related through marriage to the Dukes of Marlborough as Leonie’s sister was Lady Jennie Churchill, wife of Sir Randolph and mother of Sir Winston. Both marriages were frowned upon in landed circles.”

High Street is named not after its retail offer but rather its steep gradient. Pettigo may be the sort of place which novelist Edna O’Brien would describe as, “You have to get a bus to get a bus”, but it has community spirit(s). Ever since Brennan’s Lounge overlooking the River Termon on the Northern Irish closed last century, both sets of Pettigonian nationalities frequent the pubs on the southern side.

John Elliott has lived all his life in Pettigo: “In my young days I remember 20,000 to 30,000 people coming to Lough Derg each summer. It was a lovely sight to see the smoke of the trains from each side of the platform which was roofed for the pilgrims. In the 1960s there were a lot more shops on the High Street in Pettigo like George McCreagh’s grocery and hardware shop. In my young days it was a good business centre. Fair Day was the 20th of every month, and cattle and sheep would be sold then. The old market yard is beside the former railway station. Magee Donegal Tweed would buy woven tweed for their big pullovers. The Burtons who own The Waterfoot had a forge in front of the Methodist Church.”

Across from the Methodist church at the top of High Street stands a significant looking tree. A sign on the railings surrounding it reads, “The Crimean War Tree was planted by W F Barton Esq and J P Clonelly, Pettigo, in commemoration of the taking of Sebastopol in 1856. Edward Barton and many others from the Pettigo area served in the Crimean War. After the capture of Sebastopol the Crimean War was virtually at an end. On 21 September the little town of Pettigo presented a sense of unusual animation and excitement, that evening having been set apart for rejoicing in honour of the capture of Sebastopol. The preparations were on an extensive scale, as F W Barton Esq of Clonelly had procured a large supply of fireworks from Dublin.”

John Elliott continues, “I remember going on a Sunday School trip on the train to Bundoran. The railway station in Pettigo was closed in the 1950s. Pettigo used to be packed on Sunday nights. People drove from Omagh and as long as you could hold onto the steering wheel you got here and home again. This applied all round the border – lots of music and great craic like that. The empty three storey house backing onto the river was Brennan’s Guesthouse. I remember Sir Jack Leslie – he wore a hat and a white coat. The Leslies lived in The Palisades, the white house opposite the Church of Ireland.”

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Architects Architecture

St Patrick’s Purgatory + Lough Derg Donegal

Station of the Cross

Inch. St Ernan’s. Station. Ah. The eternal magic of County Donegal islands. Legend has it that if the priest rowing across Lough Derg to Station Island has red hair, the boat will sink. The island has long been a place of pilgrimage dedicated to the Patron Saint of Ireland. In 1837, Samuel Lewis recorded a calamitous case of titian haired sailing in his Topographical Dictionary of Ireland: “About 10 years since a boat having 80 pilgrims on board swamped and went to the bottom, and only three of the number were saved; the bodies of the rest were afterwards found and interred on Saints’ Island.”

Lough Derg is a large piece of water in a declivity among shallow hills some 240 metres above sea level in south Donegal. It has several small islands, two of which – Saint’s Island and Station Island – have long been associated with the penitential exercises for which the place is famous,” notes Alistair Rowan notes in The Buildings of Ireland: North West Ulster, 1979. He continues,

Station Island is now almost completely covered with buildings of which the large centrally planned Church of St Patrick by William Scott is the most recent. Designed in 1921 and built in phases by T J Cullen after Scott’s death, it is a massive neo Romanesque pilgrimage church, octagonal, with short cruciform arms, flanking circular towers to the entrance portal, and primitive Norman arcades outside. In 1912 Scott had also designed the grim New Hostel block, a three storey concrete frame, with modern battlements, providing space for 220 cubicles. The Old Pilgrims’ Hospice, a three storey stone built block erected by Father James McKenna in 1880 to 1882, has been spoilt by the removal of its gables and the addition of a clumsy mansard roof. Beside it are four substantial two storey Georgian houses in an irregular curve in front of St Mary’s Church, a modest four bay lancet hall with a gabled porch, statue niche, and short chancel…” Bringing the architectural history up tp date, Editor and Publisher of Ulster Architect Anne Davey Orr confirms, “In the 1980s the architects McCormack Tracey Mullarkey designed the additional dormitory blocks built by McAleer and Teague. Joe Tracey was the principal architect.”

Today there are two sailors operating St Columba and St Davog’s boats on Lough Derg. Both are brunettes.

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Architecture Design People Restaurants Town Houses

Sandwich Bay + Sandwich Town Kent

Hot Property

We’ve never made a sandwich but we’ve made it to Sandwich. It’s American tastemaker Charles Plante’s favourite English town. Sandwich is filled with a relishable collection of chocolate box cottages and delicious candy coloured shops. All in very good taste of course. We’ll toast to that! Sandwich is sandwiched between Deal and Ramsgate – give or take the odd golf course (Royal St George’s) and even a country park (Pegwell Bay). But first the bay.

The Rockefeller scaled mansions of Sandwich Bay make regular appearances in Country Life, Tatler and The New York Times. They’re more East Hampton than East Kent. Great Gatsby over Great Britain. When one comes up for sale it’s like selling sunrise. Take Rest Harrow. We would. And its 14 bedrooms. It was built in 1910 for Viscount William Waldorf Astor and his wife, a certain Nancy. The Viscount’s father opened the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. Nancy had form too: she was the first lady elected to the British Parliament to take her seat. Her Ladyship was a big believer in seawater: she had it piped straight into her two en suite bathrooms in the madame bedroom. Rest Harrow was recently sold for the first time in its history. Despite being surrounded by a 1.2 hectare garden, the house is gloriously exposed to the prevailing winds and onlooking flâneurs.

Strolling along the coast from Deal, Royal Cinque Ports Golf Clubhouse is the first gargantuan landmark on the landscape. Dating from 1892, an early photograph shows it as a heavily verandah’d Wild West chalet capped by a Tudor style giant gable. Architect unknown. Over the years it has been rendered almost unrecognisable – save for the gable shape – by rendering on a lavish scale and a series of elongating extensions.

Next on our jaunt Sandilands comes into sight, a vision in red brick under a hipped roof. This was bread and butter stuff for the tasteful architect Sir Reginald Blomfield, grandson of the Bishop of London (Right Reverend Charles Blomfield). His turn of last century practice had a specialism in country houses, new and revamped. Among the latter was Chequers in Buckinghamshire. Built in 1930, Sandilands’ spreadeagled plan embraces sea views from an array of angles. No doubt his client Samuel, Lord Vestey, sat on the first floor with binoculars looking at the birds going past. Sandilands is but a taste of things to come.

Rest Harrow is next and then The Dunes. This early 20th century brick house takes the plan of Sandilands and gives it wings. A butterfly blueprint. More obscure than his contemporary Sir Reginald, the well bred architect Charles Biddulph-Pinchard was still versed in country house design. His client was John Lonsdale, 1st Baron Armaghdale. Some of the original multi paned fenestration has been replaced with picture windows and with such views that’s not surprising.