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Kensington Palace and The Kensington Magazine co-host an ‘Historic’ Meet your Neighbour event

Within a couple of hours of the October edition of the magazine coming out all fifty places for this special occasion had been allocated.  A chance for local residents to meet each other in the splendid surroundings of Kensington Palace, experience a speedy history lesson on the inhabitants of the Palace over the years, and then take a private tour learning not only historical facts and figures, but equally fascinating historical anecdotes. This exclusive tour comprised The King’s State Apartments.

Residents were spellbound by the historic beauty and fascinating facts of each chamber. Upon entering the lavish room in which Queen Victoria was baptised, we learnt how the Duke of Kent struggled to name her before settling on the anglicised version of her mother’s, Victoire.  We also visited the room in which King George II was found dead by his ‘Gentleman of the Stool’ – an apparently highly regarded position at the time (think Horrible Histories’!)

There was something quite wonderful looking onto Kensington Gardens, past Queen Victoria’s Statue out onto the Round Pond. The night was beautifully clear and Autumnal and the grounds looked suitably regal.  For fifty residents this was a real occasion and a true treat. Credit must go to Gemma and David who between them could certainly apply for Mastermind in their specialist subject. Speed History!

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Jaime Winstone sits for sculpture

Jaime Winstone, the young actress who already has several films to her name (e.g. Kiduldhood, Bullet Boy, Totally Frank and Goldplated),  sat at the Calken Gallery to pose for Royal Academy-trained and Landsdeer Prize-winning sculptor, Michael Talbot.  In addition to Jaime, Sir Malcolm Rifkind has already ‘sat’, and there will be others in the near future, culminating in an exhibition at the Calken Gallery later this year.  Jaime  clearly enjoying the session made a model sitter.

Images and copyright: Lucy Elliott www.lucyelliottphotography.com
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Sir Terence Conran celebrates the ‘Ground Breaking’ at the Former Commonwealth Institute

80 year old Sir Terence Conran made no bones about the fact this was one of the best days of his life. Having started the Design Museum in the ‘boiler room’ at the V&A and then moved to the premises in Shad Thames, the Design Museum (the new Kensington one) is destined for great things once it is esconced at the former site of the Commonwealth Institute. Rather wonderfully for just as the Commonwealth Institute represented cultures from around the world, so too does the inspiration that Sir Terence holds for the future of design – that the Government should do all it can to encourage designers, entrepreuners and engineers and become a world renowned hub for design. He praised many stakeholders, Chelsfield, large and small charitable organisations who had made this possible (since they don’t receive Government funding) and the confidence he had in the team of builders from Mace. He spoke fondly of the parabola roof, the only one of its kind in the world, and hoped that the well known flag poles at the forecourt would remain there.

The occasion was to celebrate the ‘ground breaking’ and to plant a time capsule to be opened in 2112.  Ed Vaizey, the Minister for Architecture spoke, as did Deyan Sudjic (Director of the Design Museum) and Luqman Arnold (Chair of the Trustees) and the Mayor of Kensington & Chelsea, Councillor Christopher Buckmaster. However, on this beautiful sunny morning in Kensington, with the clear blue sky, the red crane, the high viz jackets and white helmets, it was the charming but somewhat frail Sir Terence who quietly stole the morning.

Images and copyright:  Lucy Elliott / www.lucyelliottphotography.com

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Prince Edward pulls a pint at The Churchill Arms

HRH Prince Edward visited The Churchill Arms in Kensington Church St. as part of his tour as Patron of The Garden Society. Accompanied by the Mayor and Mayoress of Kensington & Chelsea, Councillor Christopher Buckmaster and Ann Hobson, the Prince admired the florally decorated pub and congratulated Reyes Diaz of City Plant Displays Ltd on his handiwork. The Landlord, Gerry rightly proud of his business has been asked by The Garden Society not to enter his pub for the annual award in order to let others have a chance to win!
The Prince was then shown inside and gamely pulled a pint, noting that in her time, his Grandmother had also pulled a pint or two. Gerry explained that the back of the pub, when he first took over the pub some 25 years ago was a garage, and is now a very successful and well known Thai Restaurant. The Prince met members of the Thai family who operate the restaurant and received a basket of vegetables from the Mayor on behalf of local schoolchildren. The Prince appeared to be enjoying himself tremendously and certainly for those visiting the pub, residents and locals his visit cheered up a rather wet and soggy afternoon.

Images and copyright: Lucy Elliott – The Kensington Magazine
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The Kensington Readers’ Cup Challenge – held at Thomas’s London Day School, Kensington and sponsored by Waterstones

In my role as a journalist I come across some gems. One such gem was to attend the first ever ‘Kensington Readers’ Cup Challenge’, aka Junior (well very) ‘University Challenge’. With the lighting set to dim in the auditorium, four sets of three children sat at desks, with flourescent red buzzers to frantically press, a screen behind which flashed up with the name of their school every time they answered a question correctly, accompanied by rousing music.

So the scene was set. Bright eyed, excited but composed children from Fox, Colville, St Mary Abbots and St Thomas’ prepared for their first experience of a public competition. Questions were set to Roald Dahl’s The BFG, Frank Cottrell Boyce’s Cosmic and Anne Holm’s I am David. For the General Knowledge section questions were set to books of the Victorian era – quite a challenge when you are only ten or eleven! Audience participation was expected too and correct answers were enthusiastically rewarded with a sweet thrown to the appropriate child (or sometimes an eager adult).

The compere, judge and adjudicator (staff from Thomas’s London Day School, Kensington) were suitably dressed for the occasion in tuxedo and were so professional and at ease in their roles that I assumed an outside company had been bought in for the purpose. Mr Corey (the Latin teacher) with just as serious approach to the task as Jeremy Paxman (albeit with a twinkle in his eye) was barely allowed to draw breath in his question before a child would interrupt with a beam (and usually accompanied by a reflex hand shot in the air) with the correct answer – followed by high 5’s all round from the children.

The prize, a large cup was won by Fox Primary School after a nail biting tie with St Mary Abbots. Michael Korel, Events Manager at Waterstones Kensington, accompanied by Laura Malkin of the Thomas’s Schools Foundation (TSF) presented the prizes which included vouchers to spend at Waterstones for the school library.  It was an hour of pure fun, and credit must go to Lida Cepuch of TSF for masterminding (excuse the pun) the event, the Headmistress for encouraging it, and the staff and children who so gamely took part.

Afterwards, one little girl in the audience, declared to her mother when she was older (in three years time) she wanted to take part in the Kensington Readers’ Cup Challenge. Tremendous!

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Images and copyright:  Lucy Elliott The Kensington Magazine