Sunday, 13 January 2013

Royal Crown Derby

We decided to stay close to home this weekend and visit the Royal Crown Derby.  (wiki link -- some info of which is contained below).  

The Royal Crown Derby Porcelain Company is the oldest (or second oldest) remaining English porcelain manufacturer (there is some dispute with Royal Worcester in Stoke-on-Trent) and is based in Derby. The company, particularly known for its high-quality bone china, has produced tableware and ornamental items since approximately 1750. It was known as "Derby Porcelain" until 1773, when it became Crown Derby, the "Royal" being added in 1890.

It goes without saying that is good for business if the Royals give their seal of approval as that implies quality and has a certain cachet.  This is done, as I found out, by issuing Royal Warrants.  "Derby Porcelian" was given a Royal Warrant by King George III which also gave it permission to incorporate the royal crown.  (Yes, that's the same King George III that the American colonialists had an issue with).  Subsequent warrants have been given out along the way, but the last is from the Queen Mother in 1978.   They are hopeful that another is coming . . . .

In 1877, an impressive new factory (which is the site we visited today) was built on Osmaston Road, Derby, thus beginning the modern period of Derby porcelain. Crown Derby’s patterns became immensely popular during the late Victorian era, as their romantic and lavish designs exactly met the popular taste of the period.

In 1890, Queen Victoria appointed Crown Derby to be “Manufacturers of porcelain to Her Majesty” and by Royal Warrant granted them the title "The Royal Crown Derby Porcelain Company".

They are quite proud of their royal connections.

Since it was a dry day and not too cold (i.e. above freezing), I decided we could actually combine this with a city walk.  RCD is about 2.5 miles from our house with a fairly linear (walking) route.  Why not walk?  Alex wasn't too keen on it (especially coming back), but I'm glad we did it.  It took about 45 minutes to get there.

 All smiles starting off
 Still smiling shortly down the road.  I mainly took this one because I love the old-time mile markers.  Cars driving on the left.  Is that unnerving to the US readers?
The walk took us through the middle of the city centre.  We don't tend to walk around here as much as we could/should.  We tend to drive straight to the mall (Westfield) or occasionally to a restaurant.   We aren't really High (Main) Street shopping types.  At any rate, this building caught my eye.  Too bad I don't know what it is.

After walking by some less than spectacular spots (including an "adult" store, a pawn shop and numerous bookies) we made it.  [Still glad we did it, but also glad we did it during daylight.]  The photo above is the actual factory.  It's a M-F kinda place, so tours aren't available on the weekend -- too bad.  We spent our time in the Visitor's Centre (shown in photo #1 up top).

First in the gift shop, they had a few Queen Elizabeth II collectibles.  Pricey stuff.  The little mug up front is smaller than a shot glass and essentially costs $100.  We didn't buy anything this time, but maybe later.  They did have some seconds that knocked the price in half on some things.

Note, they've had a couple of banner years with the Wedding, Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics.  They've also been planning for a royal baby since William and Kate were married.  With the news of Kate's pregnancy, they've stepped it up a notch.  Maybe we'll stop back by when those are out . . .

On to the small museum:
Playing up the royal ties, they had a couple of sets depicting QEII's coronation in 1953.  (Recall that QEII ascended the throne upon her father's (King George VI -- King's Speech guy) death, but her fancy coronation ceremony was over a year later.)  This was set up as a typical household of the day (of course with a nice RCD tea set though).  I made sure the kids had a look at that TV.  That bad boy even pre-dates me.  I do recall where we used one 9" TV for the picture and another 13" TV for sound.  Both B&W (we were on sabbatical away from home that year).

Random note:  TV sales skyrocketed due to the coronation and this was the first event than many saw on TV.

Random note 2:  in 1953 food was still rationed due to WWII but households were allowed an extra pound of sugar and 4 oz of margarine for the coronation celebrations.  That's even better than getting days off like we did for the wedding and jubilee!
I believe this was a table showing the "Royal Pinxton Roses" which was given to the Queen on her visit to Repton and Derby in 1957.

Here's an old photograph of then Princess Elizabeth visiting Rolls-Royce in 1949 (I think).

 a photo and commemorative plate of Princess Diana's visit in 1987 (also a big deal)

 another commemorative plate for QE II

 screams English/British, does it not? (at least stereotypically)

 Royal Cats and Dogs

a reminder of how young (26) and striking Queen Elizabeth II was when she took the throne --  "she heralded a new era for the British people who were still recovering from WWII.  The new young Queen symbolized a fresh, new start."

 one of the odder pieces -- this is supposed to be Mars.  huh?

 "Sweatmeat Stand in the form of 4 Blackamoors"

Zeus (I'm not getting the Greek/Roman gods angle here) -- this was apparently typical of some of the items at the other (Kings Street) location

Finally, a closed room showing the Ronald Raven collection (opened by Lady Di further up)

It was a nice, small museum and worthy of our time.  I'm glad we combined it with the walk to make a full afternoon out of it.  Of course, walking there meant walking back.  And for that, there was some considerable whinging from SmallFrey.  It doesn't help that it's uphill as well.  We did stop at a few stores on the way back to break it up.

Dusk sets near the Derby Cathedral. I'm guessing it's about 4:30.  A few more minutes of light every day!  St. Mary's to the left in the background.

 and now St. Mary's

One of our stops was to the Waterstone's bookstore.  This little number was on sale, and given that I'm a child of that time, I simply could not resist.  A few samples of the pages below (humor me).

 hopefully at least one of you enjoyed that like I did

Finally, the now regular meal-o-the-week item:  Rosemary Chicken, Grilled Polenta & Porcini Tomato Sauce.  I would never think to put these combinations together, but JO has a real knack for it.  Though I rarely get these done in 30 minutes, much less 15, they are still relatively easy.

I still can't get even the streaky bacon to really crisp up properly here.  More work there.

My confidence and track record are up, so I'll be trying quite a few new dishes this week.

One final item:  here's a shout out to my kids.  They've been harping for a raise in their allowance (pocket money I think it's called here) so we collectively laid out the new requirements (chores).  They've really upped their game and doing it with a great attitude.  Way to go Nicole and Alex!

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