Page 33. " Windsor chairs "
American Windsor chair
Public DomainAmerican Windsor chair (1760-1770) - Credit: Daderot

Windsor chairs are wooden chairs, the backs and sides of which are made of numerous spindles. Typically, the legs are splayed outwards. They often have arms, and backs which are curved and slightly reclining.

One source suggests that they are known as Windsor chairs because they were first made in Windsor in Berkshire in about 1710; another source suggests that High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire was the main location for production of Windsor chairs, and that from 1724 onwards, the town of Windsor became the centre for their transportation to London.  During the 18th century, Windsor chairs also became very popular in North America.

Click here, here and here to read various versions of the chairs' history.

Click here and here to see other images of Windsor chairs.

Page 33. " 'Mainly French work,' Leo said. 'Ormolu. "
Sèvres porcelain vase with ormolu mounts (1782)
Public DomainSèvres porcelain vase with ormolu mounts (1782) - Credit: Walters Art Museum
Ormolu-decorated corner cabinet (c.1785)
Public DomainFrench ormolu-decorated corner cupboard (c.1785) - Credit: Daderot

 Ormolu was originally a technique for applying powdered gold to bronze to produce what was known in French as bronze doré ('gilt bronze'). This was then used to make mountings and decorations for items such as furniture, clocks, porcelain and lighting devices. The use of ormolu was particularly popular amongst 18th and 19th century French furniture and cabinet makers.  However, because the ormolu process involved the use of mercury, it was made illegal in France in about 1830.

Over time the term ormolu came to be used more loosely to describe various types of copper alloys  which were made to look like gold, and used for mounting and decorative purposes.

Page 33. " 'I'm the sort of guy who likes Pope more than Wordsworth,' "
Frontispiece of Pope's 'Miscellany' (5th edition, 1726)
Public DomainFrontispiece of Pope's 'Miscellany' (5th edition, 1726) - Credit: Publisher: Bernard Lintot; photo: Steven J. Plunkett

 Alexander Pope (1688-1744) was a satirical poet and translator. He was particularly fond of using rhyming pairs of lines known as heroic couplets.  The extract below is taken from 'The Rape of the Lock', a burlesque (a humorous imitation of a serious work) written in the mock-heroic style:

In various Talk th' instructive hours they past

Who gave the Ball, or paid the Visit last:  

One speaks the Glory of the British Queen, 

And one describes a charming Indian Screen.


William Wordsworth (after a painting by P. Kämer)
Public DomainWilliam Wordsworth (after a painting by P. Kämer) - Credit: P.Krämer/Friedrich Bruckmann

 William Wordsworth (1770-1850) was a major English Romantic poet who become the British Poet Laureate in 1843. He is particularly remembered for his short lyric poem 'Daffodils'; his sonnet 'The World Is Too Much With Us'; his ode 'Intimations of Immortality'; and his lengthy semi-autobiographical poem 'The Prelude'.     


Page 35. " they'd had sex 'in the street' - even 'on Oxford Street', he'd once heard. In six months' time perhaps he would know, he'd have sorted out the facts from the figures of speech. "

It's not clear whether 'Oxford Street', as used here, is gay slang or Polari. It does not appear in the on-line dictionaries and glossaries to be found on the Internet.

Polari Dictionary

Gay Slang Dictionary

Oxford Street is a major shopping street in London's West End. It extends from Marble Arch in the west to High Holborn in the east and is home to various department stores and retail chains (including Selfridges, Debenhams, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer), as well as numerous smaller shops.


Google Map


Page 36. " Leo's skimpy blue shirt was turned up at the collar and showed the temp's signature of Miss Selfridge. "
Bournemouth branch of Miss Selfridges (2009)
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeBournemouth branch of Miss Selfridges (2009) - Credit: Dorsetdude

 Miss Selfridge was founded in 1966 as the young female fashion brand of Selfridge's department store on Oxford Street. Subsequently, the brand appeared in other department stores such as Lewis's, and in independent retail outlets.

Page 44. " since the race riots of two summers earlier the carnival had been a site of heightened hopes and fears "
Police with riot shields (left) in Brixton (April 1981)
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikePolice with riot shields (left) in Brixton (April 1981) - Credit: Kim Aldis

There were clashes between the police and young black Londoners at the 1975 Notting Hill carnival, rioting at the 1976 carnival, and further disturbances at the end of the 1987 carnival. As may be seen in this account of the carnival's history, some white residents of the Notting Hill area have been opposed to the holding of the carnival. The 1976 riot was the background to the song 'White Riot' by the punk rock group The Clash, and to the reggae song 'Three Babylon' by Aswad.

Listen here to 'White Riot' on Spotify.

Listen here to 'Three Babylon' on Spotify.

In April 1981 (two years before the period in which this part of The Line of Beauty is set), there were serious clashes between police and protestors in Brixton, an area of south London with a large African-Caribbean community. This event was the first of what became known as the Brixton riots.

For further information about the Notting Hill Carnival, see also the bookmark for p.14.


Page 44. " the long-legged beat of reggae "
Peter Tosh and Robbie Shakespeare (1978)
Creative Commons AttributionPeter Tosh and Robbie Shakespeare (1978) - Credit: TimDuncan

 Reggae is a musical genre which originated in Jamaica in the 1960s. It is particularly associated with the Rastafarian community in general, and with Rastafarian musicians such as Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer and Damian Marley.

Click here to find out more about the particular musical characteristics of reggae.

Listen here to Peter Tosh's I Am That I Am on Spotify.

Listen here to Bunny Wailer's Dream Land on Spotify.


Page 47. " Lionel was a little heraldic lion, whereas Leo was a big live beast. "
Heraldic lion
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeHeraldic lion - Credit: Sodacan
Public DomainLion - Credit: Sumit.pamnani

 Heraldry is concerned with the designing, describing and recording of coats of arms and heraldic badges.

Originally, the coat of arms was displayed as a means of identification on the medieval battlefield, but later become a sort of identificatory flag or logo for high status families. Institutions, such as universities, may also have coats of arms.

Coats of arms make use of visual symbols with particular meanings; the heraldic lion symbolises courage and strength.

Page 47. " there's modern art, as well as the Rembrandts "

 Rembrandt (1606-1669) was a Dutch painter and etcher who is considered to be one of the greatest European artists. He is particularly well-known for his portraits, self-portraits, and depictions of biblical scenes.

The Baptism of the Eunuch
Public DomainThe Baptism of the Eunuch (1626) - Credit: Rembrandt
Page 48. " He had read the high-minded but humorous entry in Pevsner "
Plaque commemorating Sir Nikolaus Pevsner's period at the University of Birmingham
Creative Commons AttributionPlaque commemorating Sir Nikolaus Pevsner's period at the University of Birmingham - Credit: Diane Griffiths

The Pevsner Architectural Guides were a series of guide books on British architecture, published between 1951 and 1974. The series includes a book on the architecture of Buckinghamshire, the county in which Lionel Kessler's  country house is set.

Click here to see the guide to Buckinghamshire.

The guides were written mainly by Sir Nikolaus Pevsner (1902-1983), a German-born academic and scholar in the field of art and architectural history who settled in England in 1933.



The Buildings of England South and West Somerset

Page 48. " Gerald pulled up in front of the porte cochère "
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikePorte-cochère - Credit: Adrian Plat

A porte-cochère is an open-air porch built outside a doorway, or a covered entrance to a courtyard. It is sometimes known as a carriage-porch, as its original function was to shelter travellers as they alighted from their carriages.

Click here to see another image of a porte-cochère.

Porte-cochere with a Rolls Royce

Page 48. " made from bits of a baroque tomb "

Baroque is the name given to an artistic and architectural style which originated in Italy at the beginning of the 17th century, and subsequently spread throughout Europe. The style is characterised by elaborate grandeur and a sense of drama.


Baroque tomb in the Church of St. Anne, Kraków, Poland.
Public DomainBaroque tomb in the Church of St. Anne, Kraków, Poland. - Credit: Gryffindon
Page 48. " a room lined with rococo boiseries "

Rococo, also known as Late Baroque, was an artistic and architectural style which developed in early 18th century France, and subsequently spread to other parts of Europe and to Russia. Like the Baroque style, it was highly ornate, but with a more playful, delicate and graceful character. It featured elaborate curves and scrolls, asymmetrical shapes, shell and plant motifs (particularly the acanthus leaf) and light pastel colours.

Boiserie (often used in the plural form boiseries) is the name given to ornate, intricately carved and decorated wooden panelling which was used on walls, doors and items of furniture. It was particularly popular in 17th and 18th century France, and may be seen in the Palace of Versailles.

In the pictures below the panelling (boiseries) and ceiling have rococo elements, and the frieze around the top of the walls has acanthus leaf motifs. The panelling is taken from the music room of Norfolk house, the London home of the Dukes of Norfolk between 1722 and 1938. It is on display at the V&A Museum in London.


Panelling of the Norfolk House music room, preserved at the V&A
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikePanelling of the Norfolk House music room, preserved at the V&A - Credit: VAwebteam at English Wikipedia

V&A Museum - Norfolk House Music Room

Page 48. " the landscape over the fireplace was a Cézanne "
'Bather With Outstretched Arm' (1877-78)
Public Domain'Bather With Outstretched Arm' (1877-78) - Credit: Paul Cézanne
Paul Cézanne (c. 1861)
Public DomainPaul Cézanne (c. 1861) - Credit: unknown

 Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) was a French post-impressionist painter whose work is said to have influenced that of Matisse and Picasso.

His work includes many still lifes; landscapes, with and without  people; portraits; and studies of bathers.

Cézanne landscape (between 1882 and 1885)
Public DomainCézanne landscape (between 1882 and 1885) - Credit: Paul Cézanne