Saturday, June 5, 2010


No, no - I haven't thrown over knitting in favor of pounding glittery fake jewels on everything I own. (Remember that? What was it, the '80s? I remember thinking "Oooh, showy!" Now I just shudder.) But that has nothing to do with my bedazzlement.

Last week Wednesday we visited Ten Chimneys (visible to the left, slightly - through the trees of the beautiful approach). Ten Chimneys is the elegant little compound built for - and by - Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, who were THE premier couple of The Theatre in the early 20th century. They are credited with improving the techique of acting, and were close friends with any actor of stage or screen. Ten Chimneys was their retreat from the public life of Broadway, and they were happy there, they entertained with elegance, and really loved the place.

We had WON free tickets via an offer on Facebook..."first 100 people to call". We got wonderful big buttons with "WINNER" ribbons on them to wear. I might add that this was not random; it was "Ten Chimneys Day", as declared a few years ago by our Governor (a nice gesture, but raw milk is still illegal). Oooh, sorry, did I say that out loud? Nevermind!

Photos are not allowed inside; suffice it to say that it's furnished in a comfortable and homey fashion. It was decorated beautifully (many of the walls have classical designs like cherubs on them, and the ceilings are lovely). Alfred Lunt did much of the painted decorations himself, and a lot of it was done by a fellow famed for his wonderful stage sets. But the furniture is comfortable - the sofas look as though someone had been curled up there moments ago, reading.

There is a very nice Visitors' Center where we met the other winners for a little reception at 8:30 AM. There was to be a Champagne and Cake reception, in fact -- darling. (In the old days everyone in theatre said "Darling" or "Dah-ling" all the time; on the gates at Ten Chimneys there are instructions for contacting the house if they're closed when you arrive, and at the bottom it says "Thank you, Darling!" I LOVE IT!)

Some of the Docents dress for the occasion. I was THAT jealous, I can tell you. I almost went to ask her where she found that DAH-LING frock, but didn't. Yes, I regret not having done so. Bitterly. Crap. (Hmmmm....I bet if I write or email I can find out if they outfit their staff or wossname.) Of course, the hat makes the outfit -- I do sometimes think fondly of the old days when ladies wore hats, and usually gloves. Yes, I'm the generation whose mothers told us "NEVER go out in public without a proper hat and clean white gloves." That's a digression, nevermind.

Back to the Champagne and really WAS champagne. Now, I don't usually like champagne, truth to tell. It tastes like bubbly vinegar to me and gives me gas doesn't agree with me. But this - this was actually very light and pleasant. That MAY mean that cheaper stuff is better....or that this was the really good stuff. (This is sort of a museum; I'm voting for the former.) Check out that photo over the table of flutes. THAT, Darlings, is Lunt and Fontanne, and from what I've read of them typifies their character. They were personable, friendly, outgoing (well, they WERE actors) and hospitable. It must have been splendid to be their friends, and to visit them here.

I haven't even GOTTEN to the tour yet. I'm going to synopsize. Besides the wonderful house, there are two other buildings on the property - a "cottage", which was (among other things) where guests often stayed while visiting, and the "studio", which is a tiny little log cabin which mimics a Swedish peasant cottage. The studio is also furnished in comfy sofas and ottomans and so on, and was where they rehearsed, Alfred and Lynn. We're told they would sit knee-to-knee and rehearse for hours. Side note: they performed on stage to wide acclaim in America and London; they made one movie ("The Guardsman", 1931) and hated it. They never made another movie, but they did sign a contract which forever guaranteed: that they would only act on stage, and that they would always act together ! They never appeared separately. They were brilliant actors, devoted spouses, good friends.....

OK, enough digression. Suffice it to say that I not only enjoyed their home, I came home and studied up on them, and find it refreshing to read about the likes of them. Oh - when in London, during the War, they also helped out in soup kitchens and stuff. Sort of a Pitt-Jolie couple, but in simpler times and...with flair.

OK! I did get some nice pictures outside, which I will place, but first -- while in the Visitors' Center, before the tour, I decided to go to the bif visit the Ladies', Darling. And it was photo-worthy, and the photos are blogworthy. So for your delight, I present:

THIS is a proper boudoir!

Very like a dressing room...

Elegant, Darling, perfectly elegant!

And last - we WERE, after all, tourist-types, if the truth be told. So in the Visitors' Center we went to the pretend stage and looked at the costumes and props and so on, and nothing for it, but we asked some other visitor to take the following....admittedly What can I say?

Scene from ancient Greek Drama: Applausius and Dontberidiculous. In Athens.


Jamwes said...

Sounds like a good and fun day.

CTJen said...

That is the best photo of you and Mr Dearling!! EVAR!!!

Anonymous said...

Perfect photo!

Anonymous said...

Now I get it! To make my butt look that good, I just need to hang upside down with clouds! Thanks!