Monthly Archives: May 2013

Visit to 2 Willow Road

Twelve of us met up in Hampstead to visit the NT property at 2 Willow Road. It’s one of three residences in a block designed by the Hungarian architect Erno Goldfinger in 1939 for his private home. It’s a building clad in brick, not the usual white rendering we’re used to seeing on Modernist buildings.

Wimbledon WI members visit 2 Willow Road
The building replaced a row of Victorian cottages and there was heated local opposition to their demolition. Among the local residents was Ian Fleming who took such a great dislike to Goldfinger that he named one of his James Bond villains after him.
We watched an introductory film in what used to be the garage before having a very informative tour. The whole house is thoughtfully designed to make the best use of space and light, with movable panels and folding doors to make the maximum space for entertaining, and a lovely ceiling light-well which floods light into an otherwise small quite oppressive landing.

We were all especially interested in the tiny kitchen where Erno’s wife Ursula (née Blackwell from the Cross and Blackwell dynasty) used to make many meals for dinner parties. All the original packets were still in the kitchen cupboards and we tried to imagine just how she managed in such a tiny space. In comparison Erno had a rather grand spacious office to work in.
Also interesting was the bespoke furniture throughout the house, the books and ornaments still in situ and the surrealist display of objects in the glass wall by the front door. One of the compartments holds the letters which come through the letter box so the letters themselves become art.
Among the objects was a hopelessly elaborate candelabra and a Staffordshire pottery ornament left there from the time when Goldfinger’s mother came to stay; a surrealist statement amongst otherwise modern furnishings.
Goldfinger’s collection of modern art is still on display and includes work by Fernand Leger, Henry Moore, Roland Penrose, Max Ernst and Bridget Riley, not forgetting work by Ursula who was herself an artist.
After our visit we walked back into the centre of Hampstead for lunch. The sun came out and it was warm enough for some of us to take off our coats and to enjoy lunch al fresco!

Hot Topics April 2013

joanna-trollope88 members and 10 visitors came to hear a wonderful talk by Joanna Trollope, who talked about her writing, her astonishingly thorough research and even shared some tips on gluten free baking for the Village Fair. She then stayed to sign books for everyone who wanted one.


Fiona spoke for a few minutes on what being on the committee has meant for her. If you are interested to see what goes on we would love to welcome you at one of the meetings. Please email us if you would like to come.

Trip to Blenheim Palace

On Friday 17th May members and guests went by coach to visit Blenheim Palace. There was so much to see and do. The Palace has numerous exhibitions to see. There is the very interesting exhibition about Winston Churchill including the room he was born in. This was followed by a tour of the State Rooms. At the end of the tour we entered the Long Library. At the end of the Long Library is the magnificent organ. We were very lucky as the organist was playing the organ some of the time. There was also the exhibition telling the Untold Story of Blenheim Palace which included the use of holograms . This exhibition explained the 300 hundred year history of the Palace.

Luckily it did not rain although it was a  rather chilly day. However this did not stop many of us exploring the beautiful and very extensive grounds including the monument where Winston Churchill proposed to his wife Clementine. There is a beautiful walk around the lake ending with the the Blenheim Dam and Cascade Pumphouse.

A very enjoyable day was had by all.


48 WI members and guests set off from outside the Ursuline Convent, early doors, ready for the coach drive to Blenheim Palace. Ray, our able driver, took us expertly through rush hour traffic and after a slow start, showed admirable compassion by stopping for a quick comfort break and take-away coffees on the motorway.

Blenheim is a World Heritage Site and was created to celebrate victory over the French during the Wars of the Spanish Succession. It was a gift to the First Duke of Marlborough who was the military commander of the allied forces at the battle of Blindheim (Blenheim) on the 13th August 1704 by Queen Anne – of Kingston Market fame.

There was a lot to see in the house, which has been organised to offer two tours – one round the state rooms and another rather quirky tour, and aimed I felt at the American visitor. The US gentleman who was on my tour, thought it had been an amazing, skilfully thought out experience. I was not so enthusiastic and much preferred the buggy ride, around the grounds, guided by a very aristocratic gentleman, who had a lot of interesting stories and facts to share. The 4th Duke brought in Capability Brown to design the surrounding parkland and the 9th Duke created the formal gardens east and west of the Palace. The most famous member of the family was Sir Winston Churchill who was born at Blenheim and was the grandson of the 7th Duke. The current Duke is the 11th and has been responsible for making the house “pay its way” with restaurants, shopping opportunites, pleasure gardens etc etc.

We sadly left at 4.30pm after a group photograph of the Wimbledon WI and there was still a lot more to do and see. We had ghastly traffic on the way home, but arrived all safe and sound at around 7.00pm. My thanks goes to Gillian, ably aided by Daphne for a well organised day out. They certainly deserved the glass of wine I saw them both have at lunchtime – they probably needed two!