Welcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British and Irish — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British and Irish themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!
Last week, I revisited my memories of Queen. Becky reviewed Miss Buncle’s Book by D.E. Stevenson. Tina reviewed We Must Be Brave by Frances Liardet. Sim revealed news about an upcoming film adaptation of Emma. Jean successfully read short stories by W. B. Yeats, but wasn’t able to get through short stories by Lord Dunsany — so, she told us about The Secret of Roan Inish, instead. Gaele reviewed A Country Rivalry by Sasha Morgan.
The third season of Victoria kept touching on themes that fascinate me about British and world culture. I frequently felt well-informed because I already knew a bit about the topics that were explored, usually because of something that I’ve learned while hosting British Isles Friday. Collectively, we’ve amassed a lot of experience.
Parts of the first three episodes took place at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. I explored that a bit after watching the film Victoria and Abdul. Mike of a Bit About Britain graciously shared his photos and reflections of Osborne House for a much deeper experience.
Episode 4 of Season 3 tells the story that I read about in The Ghost Map last fall. Dr John Snow and Rev. Henry Whitehead used maps, logical thinking, and local knowledge to trace the origin of the Broad Street cholera outbreak to one particular water pump. The book was more complete, of course, but I enjoyed seeing the incident dramatized.
In Episode 7, we learn the story about the Crystal Palace. My previous knowledge about the role that a gardener and a water lily, Victoria regia, played in the design didn’t come from British Isles Friday. That came from the Missouri Botanical Garden. The Garden has grown Victoria amazonica, the current nomenclature for Victoria regia, since 1894.
In the episode, the gardener, Joseph Paxton (chief landscaper at Chatsworth), describes a picture of his daughter standing on a leaf of the water lily. Check out this famous photo of a young woman playing the violin while standing on a leaf of Victoria amazonica at the Missouri Botanical Garden. The image was digitized from a glass plate negative. I love exploring the detail on those because you can see so much.
Rick and I have made a bit of study of Victorian green houses, through books and travel. And, especially, through frequent visits to the Linnean House at the Missouri Botanical Garden, the oldest continually operated greenhouse west of the Mississippi River, built in 1882 and modeled after a greenhouse at Kew Gardens.
We’ve known people who work with these water lilies. This page describes how much effort it takes to get them to bloom in Missouri. The employees and volunteers affectionately call these flowers “the Vickies.”
I loved that all of Season 3 of Victoria built up to the Great Exhibition of 1851. The Great Exhibition is considered the first of the world fairs. I live near the site of a later World’s Fair, the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904. My trip to Paris and several trips to Chicago included appreciation for the World Fairs in those locations.
PBS made a great page about the history behind Season 3 of Victoria, episode by episode. I enjoyed learning what was fact and what was fiction and I loved seeing the illustrations of the Crystal Palace, inside and out.
Have you seen Season 3 of Victoria? What did you think?