The artist William Luker Jr devoted quite a few pictures to Kensington Gardens as his contribution to W J Loftie’s Kensington: Picturesque and Historical. Miss Charlotte Green, from this post, did not of course exist in the strictest sense of the word, but nevertheless for today’s purposes we know she travelled abroad, never married, but brought a child back to live in Kensington with her in the 1880s. Miss Miranda Green had a darker complexion than her mother but this was never remarked upon in Kensington. Mrs Green, as she was known, was now wealthy enough for people to ignore any questions about Miranda’s father. It must be said however that as Miranda grew up she seemed to prefer her own company and often walked alone through the familiar places her mother had shown her.
She and her mother may have lived in Sheffield Terrace, near to Mr Luker’s house so they may have seen some of his work in progress.
They may have known why the artist included a broken ladder in this pictures of the Round Pond frozen at the height of winter, and why the ladder seems to have offered a way out of, or into, the picture. Miranda and her mother walked by the pond all year round.
Sometimes just strolling by,
Other times looking closer.
As a child she learned all the secret places of the park.
(We’ve seen another artist’s view of this spot. )
As she grew older and walked out on her own she favoured other secluded places.
She liked to stand in the shadows away from view, but when she became a young woman she walked more boldly.
Sometimes she imagined the Gardens as they were in the 18th century.
The past seemed to offer an exotic destination, if a way could be found to reach it.
Perhaps through Mr Luker, Miranda met a sympathetic companion.
He may have been another artist, or an academic, or a writer. The two of them walked through the Gardens often.
Stopping at some of the unusual sights that could be found.
Allowing the Gardens to fill their imaginations.
She imagined that one day she would take her own daughter through a small side entrance.
Out of the Gardens, or out of the picture altogether.
This post is dedicated to my friend Camilla , who liked the last outing of the Green family.
This post should have been published already, but I’ve been busy with the London History Festival which finishes tonight. I thought it would be a good idea to get a post in before December. Pretty soon Christmas will be on us and there will be the usual short posts for the week before Christmas.
The main off-topic item for this post is naturally the death of Stan Lee. For most of my life, he was only really well known in the world of comics, as the man behind Marvel. “Super heroes with super problems” as the slogan went. Stan (we were always on first name terms with him when I was a teenager) brought a new element of realism to the unrealistic notion of super heroes, and his key creations, Spiderman, Thor, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, Dr Strange, Iron Man have now become embedded in popular culture. Marvel overtook DC in the multiverse of comics (and I still look down on DC characters like Superman and the Flash,with a grudging respect for Batman and a few others.) In his later years he worked to bring the Marvel Universe to the movies, and now his name is familiar to a much wider group of people (not least because of his many cameo appearances). But I want to remember him for the exciting new worlds of storytelling he and his team brought into my childhood and adolescence. So, even though it’s already familiar from the many obituaries: “Excelsior!”
Death has taken this opportunity to add another name to his tally. Nicholas Roeg, director of Performance, Don’t look now, the Man who fell to Earth, Bad Timing, Insignificance and many other unconventional films which I have enjoyed over the years. He was one of the UK’s true auteurs and we should be grateful for his life and work. Obituary writers have also mentioned his film Eureka as an unacknowledged classic, but I would also mention one more, Cold heaven (1991) which I have a fondness for (another of one the films which featured his third wife, the iconic Theresa Russell). Roeg, of course lived in Kensington for part of his life so we can count him as a local man.
Isabel and I have been discussing future blog posts, and she has more ideas than I do. But you’ll probably have to wait until next year for those. In the meantime I have no idea what I’m doing next week.