Last revised 24th Jan 2015 to add the Dec 2013 mtg report and photos.
August Monthly Meeting 2013.
The Chairman, Malcolm Case greeted all Members and new Members and invited the Group Representitives to tell the meeting the latest information on outings etc.
After a 15 minute break Garry Wykes was introduced - he was for some 12 years a London Tower Jewel House Warden.
He was assisted by his technical expert, Geoff Kaye on the digital projector.
The presentation - Treasures and The Tower.
Garry said his presentation would be a brief history of The Tower, The Jewels and a few stories about what the public have asked.
He started by saying that about 2 million people visit The Tower each year, 90% visitors from overseas so he would have talked to many millions in his time as a Warden. During this time he unfortunately rarely had a weekend off - this was the most popular visitors time so the 19 Wardens were mainly on duty.
Although The Tower is referred to as a single Tower - infact there are 19 Towers. In these Towers some dreadful events had taken place throughout history involving the Kings and Queens of England and those associated with them.
Garry showed a sequence of photographs (the public are not allowed to take photographs though) of some of the many items on display starting with The Sword of State - so called because it was first used at the Coronation of King James II in 1685 and has been used at every Coronation since and is also used each year on the Opening of Parliament.
The World's largest Diamond was found in South Africa and named the Cullinan Diamond - it weighed 3,106 Carats. It was presented to King Edward VII by the South Africa Transval Government on his 66th birthday in 1907 when it was cut up into nine major and 96 smaller Diamonds. The largest of which is called The First Star of Africa and is fitted in the Sceptre with the Cross and is used at Coronations. The next largest Diamond, The Second Star of Africa at 317 Carats is mounted in the Imperial State Crown.
The St Edward's Crown - 1661.
King Charles II commisioned the St Edwards Crown in 1660 at the restoration of the Monarchy after eleven years of Oliver Cromwell's republic. The Crown is named after King Edward The Confessor, later Canonised as a Saint who died in 1066 and was responsible for building Westminster Abbey where his body still rests.
It is used at each Coronation but as it is so heavy it is only worn for about 10 minutes as it weighs about 5 pounds of solid Gold and is set with 444 semi-precious stones.
The Queen Victoria's Crown and Diamond Crown.
Queen Victoria (do not forget she was only 4ft 10inches high) found the Imperial State Crown much too heavy so she had a smaller version made in 1870 which she could keep with her - it was used for State occassions but never for a Coronation. It weighs only 6 ounces as compared to 32 for the real thing but is still made up from 1,300 Diamonds.
The Grand Punch Bowl - 1829.
The Grand Punch Bowl is made of silver gilt (ie sterling silver coated with 22 carat gold) and weighs in at a 1/4 of a Ton and takes 6 strong men to move it! It takes some 144 bottles of claret to fill but has only been used rarely before 1900. It is beautifully made with many scenes all fitted with 115 silver nuts and bolts.
Garry then told a few of the gory stories of what happened if you were of the wrong religion at the wrong time and it involved your head! It made the record of the existing Royal Family seem very tame!
The presentation ended with a number of amusing questions posed by the public over the years.
Thank you Garry for an interesting history lesson put over in a nice and interesting way.
Report from John Bowen aided by a booklet given by Garry with his kind permission to take details from it and reproduce his photographs.
October Monthly Meeting - "Shackleton and Endurance"
For the October Meeting we were fortunate to have Roger Slade present for only the second time his lecture “Shackleton and the Endurance” which started in 1914.
Ernest Shackleton while at Dulwich College.
Roger said he was a committee member of the James Caird Society which is dedicated to promoting the memory of Sir Ernest Shackleton. He had also visited the Antarctic some 20 times and even thought that South Georgia was the most beautiful land in the World – like Switzerland rising out of the South Atlantic.
Shackleton was born in 1874 in Kildare, Ireland and moved to London when he was 10. Educated in Dulwich College he was not that interested in schooling and soon went to sea.
He first went to the Antarctic with Captain Robert Scott in 1901 – this may have given him the interest in that large Continent – it is bigger than North America. He next went back in 1907 as the leader of an expedition to try and get to the South Pole – this failed but he did get within 80 mile of it and unlike Scott – came back alive. For this he was knighted by King George. Amundsen did get to the Pole in 1911 so Shackleton thought that to cross the continent would be a great event so arranged the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition and sought sponsors.
Poster advertising his Lecture Tour to raise money.
He chose 28 men to accompany him in a wooden ship made in Noway and called the Endurance – set sail just as World War I broke out, August 1914. He arrived in the Weddell Sea, Antarctic in December (high summer there) but encountered early ice and soon became stuck. By October the ship was being crushed and in November sunk but was stripped of most of its provisions and 3 lifeboats. Although Antarctic is on rock, the ice where the Endurance was, is floating and moving quite fast and constantly breaking up so their camps were always in danger. By next March they were near an island but could not reach it due to moving ice so Shackleton used the three lifeboats and rowed to Elephant Island – the first land they had stood on in nearly 500 days.
Shackleton realised that the only hope of rescue was to organise himself so chose on of the lifeboats called the James Caird as this was the sponsor’s name and with 5 men set sail for South Georgia some 800 miles away.
Launching the James Caird - photo taken with a Roll Camera by the official photographer, Frank Hurley.
They had to contend with dreadful conditions on 60 foot high waves and high winds but got to the windy side of South Georgia in 19 days where they rested. After a couple of days Shackleton and 2 men climbed the high mountains and eventually arrived at a Whaling Station to the amazement of those there. A rescue ship was organised to pick up the rest of the men in the James Caird who were still stranded on the rough side of South Georgia.
The Chilean Navy rescued the remaining 22 men from Elephant Island in August 1916 – all alive. However there were still the men from the advance Ross Sea Party who had gone to the other side of Antarctica to provide supplies for Shackleton (who of course never got there) - these were eventually rescued but 3 had died.
Map of the route Shackleton took to rescue the Expedition.
Shackleton got back to England in May 1917 a hero but this was dulled by WWI.
He died on South Georgia in 1922 when on another expedition. He is buried there and Roger showed a photo of himself by the grave.
See the TV feature film on Shackleton made for The Discovery Channel on four Thursdays starting on 24th October 2013 at 9pm.
Click here to listen to Shackleton in 1907
Photographs and Report of the 2013 December Meeting
Musical Event with Drinks and Light Refreshments.
Chairman, Malcolm welcomed Members and New Members with the usual "ealth and Safety" announcements.
Alfred Couldrey introduced his lovely associates who were to sing a series of songs from shows often involving Ivor Novello.
Alf Couldrey introducing his Entertainment Team, Patsy Page and Veronica Smith.
Photos by Dave Bolwell
The large audience seated at their tables with refreshements and drinks.
Photos by John Bowen
A Duet - "We'll Gather Lilacs In the Spring" with Jean Crook on the piano.
A Duet by Patsy and Alfred from "The Desert Song" - Alfred being "The Red Shadow".
Another Duet - "Driving In The Park" from "The Merry Widow".
The Trio lead the singing of festive Christmas Carols - Veronica reciting her Christmas Poem.
Thank you Alfred and party for a very good afternoon in the true English Christmas Spirit.
Thanks to the Committee and Members of the U3A for providing the food and drinks.
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