Harpenden Evening Web Page

Special Interest and Study Day Report

Riviera Paradise - A gift to us from Mary Alexander
Wednesday 26 Oct 2022
Cultural and Social Life on the Riviera in the 1920's

Riviera Poster

Once again, Mary Alexander charmed us with her Study Day on the Riviera in the 19th and early 20th centuries, plus a range of postcards and photographs from the time, which she brought with her and laid out for us to look at. I was particularly taken by the sheet music of "My Riviera Rose" by a music hall artist whose output included "My Romany Rose" and no doubt a lot more! As usual her talk has a reading list and tips for places to visit, which we can send you on request. Mary's "New York, New York!" special interest day is the regional choice for Friday 24th February 2023, highly recommended if you missed it when she presented it for us in 2014. During her talk, Mary showed us an Edwardian postcard, the closest destination to Harpenden from her collection, addressed to someone at The Golden Parsonage, Hemel Hempstead, actually in Great Gaddesden and attached to Gaddesden Place. As I live in the town, I looked up the reference, and found an interesting story attached to this historic building, still owned by the Halsey family who once owned the land my house is built on. 

The Golden Parsonage

Here is an extract from the Halsey family blog:
Being founder’s kin of William of Wykeham, John Halsey, went to Winchester school and New College Oxford. Going into the law, he became a member of Lincoln’s Inn. During the Civil War (1642-1651), when King Charles I was based at Oxford, the university colleges were encouraged to donate their silver to the royalist cause, to be minted into shillings and half-crowns to pay the cavalier forces. Though New College largely escaped this, Parliament imposed a new Warden in 1649, the year of the King’s execution. To save it from being sequestered the College Fellows entrusted their silver to John Halsey. It was probably hidden at the Golden Parsonage, and was returned in a ‘truncke’ in 1657 when a ‘true and legall’ warden was appointed. To this day New College retains uniquely a good collection of pre-Civil War plate.