Peter’s Pictures

 Magic Carpet Journals takes you  to England to visit  pictures in Buckingham Palace, Chertsey and Lammas Park in Minchinhampton, Gloucester  with Peter Grover


Story by M. Maxine George


Peter Grover in Gloucester, England







As the saying goes, ‘Still waters run deep.’  Tall, slim and bespectacled, with slightly receding grey hair, Peter Grover seemed like a quiet, dignified and somewhat reserved Englishman.  Peter and his wife, Joan lived in a wing of a late Victorian house near Virginia Water in Chertsey, England, when I first visited their home.    This delightful couple were distant relatives on my maternal grandmother’s side of the family.  My aunt and I were invited to visit them while traveling in England, visiting the people and places that were connected with our family there.  Joan Grover, a pretty little lady with curly grey hair and twinkling blue eyes,  was very knowledgeable about that particular branch of our family, so we were able to extend our knowledge of the family tree considerably while there.  Peter worked in London as Deputy Editor of the Daily Mail newspaper.  While he was off to London to work, Joan took us across England to Gloucester, where our family had once lived.  Joan was able to show us the homes and the graves that were significant to our joint ancestors.  Genealogy is a fascinating pass time.


The Grover home, Ruxbury End was beautiful and spacious.  It was built by a Lady Coventry, who was both a devout Roman Catholic and one of the mistresses of King Edward VII.  Her portrait hangs in Kensington Palace and Peter had the portrait copied to hang in his hall.  












We would be staying there, so were shown to our room and told where to find the bathroom and the loo, near the head of the grand staircase.  My first trip to the loo though was one I never forgot.  The ceiling was high; the room was large, with the only fixture situated at the far end of the comparatively long room.  The left wall caught my eye immediately as I walked into the room.  It was completely covered with a signboard size picture poster!  The picture was a scene with a life-sized couple sitting at a table at a sidewalk café.  The man was reading the Daily Mail newspaper.  Across from him sat his companion, a pretty but glum-looking lady.  After studying that picture I turned to note a similar picture across from it on the other side of the room.  The second picture of similar size and background had the same couple sitting at the table; however the lady now was reading the newspaper.  Both of them had smiles on their faces.  Below it the caption said, “Every woman needs her Daily Mail.”  I knew someone in that house had a sense of humour!




Ruxbury End,Chertsey, England, the home of Peter and Joan Grover.  Photo courtesy of Peter Grover





On my next visit to the Grover's, Peter had retired and they lived in a new home in Lammas Park, Minchinhampton, Gloucester.  When I wrote that I would be traveling in the British Isle that summer, I got an immediate response from Joan asking “Can you possibly be here on August 26th as Peter is arranging a group tour to Buckingham Palace?”  You can be sure I responded, “Yes I will be pleased to be there in time for the tour!” I immediately set about to revise my schedule both backwards and forwards to accommodate the date change. On the appointed day I traveled from Minchinhampton to London, with a group of the friends of the Grovers, to visit Buckingham Palace. 



The rarely seen garden front of Buckingham Palace, London, England





It was not Peter’s first visit to Buckingham Palace.  In fact he was quite familiar with the Palace, and gave fascinating commentary on much of what we saw.  His insight into Buckingham Palace had been gleaned from his research on the Royal residences.  This research had been inspired by his interest in both architecture and history and their inter-relationship.   His personal touch added much to the tour.  In the throne room, he told us about the secret door behind the throne, that the Queen could use to inconspicuously enter or leave the room.  When we went into the Queen’s Gallery, Peter was also knowledgeable about the paintings we saw there.  The painting that stands out in my memory though was not one in the Gallery, but a large portrait of a young Queen Mary, the present Queen’s grandmother.  The lovely lady seemed to watch us as we entered the opposite end of the music room.  The young wife of the man who became King George V, was quite beautiful, regal, but not as severe as I recall pictures showing her in her later years. 





                                    The Dining Room in Lamas Park                       

The diningroom at Grover's Lammas Park home.   Photo by M. Maxine George



Back home in Lammas Park, Peter and I were having a quiet breakfast in the dining room the following morning.  The room was really quite striking – Chinese red walls with three 18th or 19th century portraits of some rather sober-looking individuals looking down upon us.  When I asked Peter about the paintings he told me they were his great grandfather, James Grover, an architect and builder, and two other relatives.  He related this story.  His father had inherited the paintings and Peter had always assumed that he would inherit them in due time. However as many people do when they get older,  his parents downsized their accommodation and the paintings were subsequently stored in a garden shed with some other larger objects.  His mother outlived his father and the pictures remained in the garden shed.  Some time after her husband died, Peter, in one of his frequent phone calls to his mother, was amazed to hear her say, "You'll be glad to know I got rid of the portraits!" Hardly believing his ears, he asked “What did you do with them?” “I always hated those paintings so I gave them to the rag and bone man,” she replied.  (People  who go around collecting the junk other people are throwing out are referred to by that slang expression in England.)  Peter wasted no time getting over to his mother’s to look into the matter further.  It seemed that his mother didn’t have any idea who the fellow was.  So Peter contacted the neighbours to see if any of them could enlighten him further.  None of them could give him a clue about the name or whereabouts of the fellow. As a last resort Peter contacted the police who usually kept an eye on people who were doing that sort of thing in the area.  Yes, they knew who he was and gave Peter the information.  By the time Peter arrived, the fellow, who was only interested in the ornate frames, had already cut the paintings out of the frames.  He had just finished the destruction when Peter arrived.  Needless to say, he was cunning enough to realize he would be able to collect a substantial sum for the return of the pictures and frames to the eager son.  Repairing the damage was another challenge for Peter.  He had to turn to professional restorers.   According to Peter, they floated all the paint off the canvas in a tray filled with some type of paint remover, then  replaced the cut canvas with new material that would again fit the frames.  It sounded like a very delicate procedure.  Needless to say the whole process was expensive, but I could tell Peter was pleased to have the company of his ancient forebears who now adorned his walls. 




Altogether my visits to the Grover family were delightful experiences, enhanced by their graciousness, kindness and their wonderful English sense of humour. 





The Garden Gate at Grover's Lammas Park home in Minchinhampton, Gloucester, England.  Photo by M. Maxine George

Peter's Garden, Lammas Park, Minchinhampton, Gloucester, England   



















Peter's pride and joy: The garden at Lammas Park


The home of Joan and Peter Grover, Lammas Park, Minchinhampton, Gloucester, England.  Photo by M. Maxine George



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Last Updated on June 23, 2009 by M. Maxine George editor.

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