The First Week of Term ... how long ago it seems when in 1960 I first came up to this Towery City, and branchy between towers, Cuckoo-echoing, bell-swarmed, lark-charmed, rook-racked, river-rounded .... Middle Grandson, who is just beginning his second year, does not have the gigantic bedroom and even larger sitting room which was my good fortune. For all I know, he may not even have been provided with cuckoos or larks.
Women undergraduates ... my impression is ... may only ever have had bed-sitters. Harriet Vane, returning for a Gaudy in 1935, found that she had been allocated the room of "... a Fresher with an urge for modernity and very little natural taste. The narrow bed ... was covered with drapery of a crude green colour and ill-considered futuristic pattern; a bad picture in the neo-archaic manner hung above it; a chromium-plated lamp of angular and inconvenient design swore acidly at the table and wardrobe provided by the college, which were of a style usually associated with the Tottenham Court Road; while the disharmony was crowned and accentuated by the presence, on the chest of drawers, of curious statuette or three-dimensional diagram carried out in aluminium, which resembled a gigantic and contorted corkscrew, and was labelled upon its base: ASPIRATION."
Well, we can't all appreciate Art Deco. My Father built himself an Art Deco house in the thirties and I remember it from my childhood after the War; but the flat 'International Modern' roof let the water in and the village children found ways of getting into the orchard and scrumping the apples ... we soon moved ...
But how did male undergraduates furnish their sitting rooms during the Interbellum? We shall explore that in a few days' time. Meanwhile, can the docti or doctae provide me with a Scholium on what was meant by "a style usually associated with the Tottenham Court Road"?
Probably a reference to Heal & Son of Tottenham Court Road, designers, manufacturers and retailers of contemporary furniture.
The reference is to Heal's store at 196 Tottenham Court Road.
The reference is to Heal's of Tottenham Court Road. For a brief history of the firm, see https://www.heals.com/blog/heals-200-tottenham-court-road/
Surely the allusion to the Tottenham Court Road is to Messrs. Heals, proprietors of a large furniture emporium.
My uncle was at the House in the 1930s and had large and rather well-furnished rooms. The custom then was to buy the furniture from the previous occupant.
Presumably this refers to Heals furniture shop which was (and still is)in that road.
An allusion to Heal's emporium in Tottenham Court Road? Nowadays it would presumably be IKEA attracting the critical eye.
The reference is to Heal's of Tottenham Court Road. For a brief history of the firm see https://www.heals.com/blog/heals-200-tottenham-court-road/
She means Heal's:
Neither ugly nor flimsy
For the consort of Wimsey.
When I first read Gaudy Night I assumed it was a reference to Heal's, a large somewhat up-market departmental store on the Tottenham Court Road, the implication being that the undergraduate's room was furnished from such a store rather than by buying bespoke furniture . It brings to mind the Prime Minister's replacing the contents of his flat in Downing Street because his predecessor had installed furniture from John Lewis.
Dear Father, I believe that the Tottenham Court Road was known for its cheap furniture stores in the thirties, and of course Heal's was established there in the 19th century. After WWII it was renowned for its Army surplus stores, and later for cheap electronic shops. My sitting room at Jesus in the early fifties was furnished with very low-cost stuff, including an arm chair with tin arms; it was very cosy, but decidedly penny-pinching.
How modern your correspondents are. They have, to a man, forgotten Maples, which had a whole street block on the Tottenham Court Road, near the Euston Road end on the corner of University Street. Still even in my youth half a century ago.
Their furniture was much more conservative, but very bourgeois, compared to Heals' rather arts-and-crafts offerings.
In the light of the antiquarian snobbery evinced by Harriet Vane, one is minded to think she condemned the latter, but it is not clear, perhaps as a progressive thinker she was at home with Heal's oak vernacular, but decried the outmoded vulgarity of post-Victorian middle-classes. I think we may allow ourselves to see a touch of autobiography here, and DLS may be assumed to be comfortable with sensible simple furniture.
Or perhaps, as I, she simply disliked all modern furniture bought new. Hence her rather 18th century taste in husbands.
"a lamp ... swore acidly." How delicious. So, clearly, could Miss Vane! As most certainly could her author!
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