Floors Royal Upstairs Downstairs


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Floors

Rosemary Shrager and Tim Wonnacott visit Floors Castle on the River Tweed in Scotland, where Queen Victoria stayed for three days in 1867.


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'Just what do you have to do when a Queen decides to pop in to see you? Not just any old Queen. Victoria!

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'We're chasing our longest reigning monarch around the country

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'to the magnificent mansions she visited.

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'We'll be delving into her personal diaries to reveal what happened behind closed doors.'

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Today, we've come north of the border

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to the home of the Dukes of Roxburghe at Floors Castle.

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And we're going to be finding out what happened here during three days in 1867.

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'And as someone who has spent a lifetime getting excited by antiques,

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'I'll try a Victorian fishing rod.'

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You wouldn't need to be catching a salmon. You're taking all day to wind that in.

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'I hope Tim gets a bite because as a chef who is passionate about great food,

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'I'll be in the kitchen creating a spectacular Scottish salmon dish, Victorian style.'

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What a treat and how extravagant!

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-'And serving it to my very own catch of the day, Tim.'

-We have to raise a glass to you and your team.

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There's a true sense of sadness about our visit to Floors today

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because out of the many royal trips that we're making,

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this is the first official public visit

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that Victoria made after the death of her beloved husband, Prince Albert.

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And it was a whole six years since the passing of Albert

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and Victoria was still deeply affected by it.

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Albert's death in 1861 came after a long fight against typhoid.

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So after years of self-imposed seclusion and obsessive mourning,

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Victoria's return to official duty north of the border would have been particularly emotional.

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But the show had to go on

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and besides, Victoria had been promising a visit to the Duke and Duchess for some time.

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Well, she may have been without Albert,

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but at least she did have four of her nine children with her

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because travelling with her were Helena and Louise, Beatrice and Leopold.

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And it's wonderful to have a large family to have supported her.

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And also she had ladies-in-waiting and her equerries as well.

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Yeah, they all came up from Windsor on the train

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and they overnighted in Carlisle, just south of the border.

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I'm going downstairs to see how the Duke and Duchess's staff coped with Victoria's visit.

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-Toodle-oo, Rosemary.

-Bye.

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While I head upstairs to investigate how Victoria got on

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on her first visit after the death of her beloved Albert.

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After her overnight stay in Carlisle,

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Victoria arrived by train the next morning in the local town of Kelso

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and for once, the fine Victorian railway system let her down

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as the train rolled in more than an hour and a half late.

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That didn't deter her loyal public.

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After six years out of the spotlight, Victoria was greeted by hordes of loyal subjects,

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as seen in these drawings made for The Illustrated London News, the popular rag of the day.

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For the mournful Victoria, these scenes of loyalty must have been heart-warming.

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But once the Queen finally arrived here at Floors, it would appear that she is really rather impressed.

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She writes, "The park is remarkably fine

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"with the approach under splendid beech, sycamore and oak trees.

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"The house? Very handsome.

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"Built originally by John Vanbrugh in 1718,

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"but much improved by the present Duke."

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He hired Edinburgh architect William Playfair.

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He was determined to create a fairy-tale castle on the banks of the River Tweed.

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He created this grand structure at the front of the house,

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so that carriages could drive up to the front door without getting wet.

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This wonderful porte-cochere or carriage porch was added by Playfair,

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along with all these other, lovely, decorative, little turreted pieces.

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Charming!

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And it was Playfair himself who pronounced that these door handles were worthy of the Vatican.

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Bit over the top!

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Morning.

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Playfair also rebuilt the staff quarters

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which must have gone down pretty well with the royal entourage.

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I'm at the far end of the kitchen wing.

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This is the kitchen courtyard!

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This was the hub of the downstairs domain

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because all the servants, including Victoria's staff,

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would have stayed in many of the rooms dotted around this courtyard.

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Right up to the present day, this still serves as a home for the people who work here

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and the people who still live here - the butler, the chauffeur and the housekeeper. How lucky are they!

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While the staff were finding their rooms, upstairs, Victoria was being greeted in the entrance hall.

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Having been greeted in the porte-cochere,

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the Queen was very quickly ushered into the library

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before being quickly taken to a private breakfast with her children.

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She records, "It was ten past twelve."

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Very precise. Kind of royal brunch time.

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This room quite obviously now is a billiard room.

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But originally, it was designed by Playfair as one of the state bedrooms.

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But it wasn't occupied by Victoria.

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She was allocated a trio of rooms upstairs.

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It was actually her sickly, haemophiliac son Prince Leopold who got this state bedroom.

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The most appropriate picture in this room, I guess, has to be this one

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of the 6th Duchess.

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You see her here pretty well as she would have looked when Victoria came to visit

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because this picture was only completed a few years afterwards.

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As mistress of the house, she would have been responsible for the allocation of bedrooms.

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And whilst Prince Leopold was down here,

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for Victoria, whose heart, even six years after the loss of Albert,

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was aching uncontrollably,

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had this to say from her diary.

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"The children were close at hand,

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"but the feeling of loneliness when I saw no room for my darling

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"and felt I was indeed alone and a widow overcame me very sadly.

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"It was the first time I had gone in this way on a visit

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"and I thought so much of all dearest Albert would have done and said

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"and how he would have wandered about everywhere, admired everything, looked at everything

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"and now...

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"Oh, must it ever be so?"

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Poor woman.

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'This was Victoria's first official visit in six years, so the pressure would have been ramped up a notch

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'for the servants downstairs, especially in the kitchen.

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'Time to see what Victorian delicacy chef and food historian Ivan Day has got up his sleeve

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'for today's royal dinner.'

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This is the River Tweed,

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so really it has to be salmon.

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This is one of the greatest salmon rivers in Britain.

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And I've chosen a recipe which actually appears in two cookery books written by Victoria's chefs.

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And it's called salmon a la Chambord.

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It's a very aristocratic, incredibly ornate dish and it's going to take some preparation.

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'First, we put roughly chopped onions, shallots and carrots

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'into the special poaching pan known as a fish kettle.'

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Why are you putting in the vegetables now?

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They will keep the strainer from sitting on the bottom,

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so the salmon will be totally surrounded by water. It won't burn on the bottom.

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How clever is that! Now you're going to put the salmon in.

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Let's just gently get him over on to the drainer. Look, he fits perfectly.

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I love the way you put a little string to keep the jaw attached, so it doesn't fall off.

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Yes, this is very much a centrepiece dish and he's got to look really good.

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-Put a bit more wine in there, Rosemary. That's fine.

-That's the bit I like.

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Right, let's get this into the salmon kettle.

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Perfect.

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-Rosemary, could you put some salt in while I get the lid ready?

-OK.

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Right, how long?

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I'm going to get that up to a nice simmer and I'll give it 18 to 20 minutes, I think.

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Gosh! Just look at that!

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What a vista!

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I'm on the South Balcony of the castle and in front of me is the River Tweed.

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This balcony was constructed so that it would get most of the sunshine during the day

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and of course, it makes a great platform to be able to see the outline of the Cheviot Hills

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and England beyond.

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This is rather fun, look,

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an engraving from The Illustrated London News,

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showing the evening celebrations for the Queen's visit.

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We've quite obviously got a corner of the castle here

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and down below, the town of Kelso

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with their firework celebration, look.

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There's quite clearly the spire of the church down there.

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What I like are these bonfires, six of them, lit on top of the Cheviot Hills.

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But actually, do the tops of the Cheviot Hills look like that in reality?

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I'm not entirely sure that they do, actually.

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Perhaps it's just a bit of artistic licence, eh?

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Victoria was already very familiar with Scotland by the time she came to Floors in 1867.

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In fact, the trip was made en route to her Highland property Balmoral

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which she had bought 15 years earlier,

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but she still used her visit to explore the local sights.

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And her highlight was a day trip to the home

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of one of her heroes, Walter Scott, in nearby Abbotsford.

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One of his relatives, a Mr Hope Scott, gave her a personal tour

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which she describes in her journal.

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"They showed us his library where we saw his manuscript

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"of Ivanhoe and several others of his novels and poems,

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"then his study in which is a bust in bronze, done from a cast taken after his death.

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"We saw his journal in which Mr Hope Scott asked them to write my name."

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This must have been a great thrill for Victoria because she was a huge fan of Walter Scott.

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Not surprising, given that they both did so much to popularise the Scottish landscape.

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'While the Queen was indulging in a bit of sightseeing,

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'at the castle, the kitchen staff would have been preparing for dinner.

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'Our salmon has been simmered in the kettle for 18 minutes and is now ready to decorate.'

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-I've removed the skin.

-Right.

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What I'm doing now is I'm spreading a mixture of breadcrumbs

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that have been cooked in fish stock.

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-Yes.

-Mixed in with a little bit of pulverised whiting.

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It acts as an adhesive to stick on little strips of sole

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which have little slits cut in them with a sharp knife

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and then these little tiny slithers of truffle are inserted

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and it flavours the sole and makes almost like a zebra pattern all over the salmon.

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It's a technique that had a name called "contised".

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-Rosemary, would you like to have a go at "contising" a sole fillet?

-You know me, don't you? I would.

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Let's turn it round. I have to work from this end.

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The technique is to just cut a very thin slither like that and curl it up.

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-Right, OK.

-Then you can pop in a little bit of truffle and push it down.

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'The lengths Victorian cooks went to are amazing. It's far more intricate than anything you'd see today.'

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Pop one in.

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There.

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-While you're doing that, I'm going to start to put some more forcemeat at this end.

-Yes.

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And we'll get the whole thing finished.

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Now, once we've got it adorned with the fillets of sole,

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we're going to put it very briefly into a hot oven.

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You only need minutes to cook the sole. It's as thin as anything.

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It's very intricate work, isn't it? Can I put it on?

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That's it. Make it touch the bottom of the... I've got it at that side. That's great.

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Just tap it down, so it sticks down perfectly.

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Let's get it on the right way round.

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We've lost a bit, but I can easily pop that in.

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Now, Rosemary, could you open the door for me, please?

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There we go.

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'The dish goes into the oven for precisely seven minutes on a moderate heat,

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'just enough time to cook the thin strips of sole.'

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The kitchen would never have had a short supply of salmon.

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During Victoria's visit, the River Tweed would be brimming with them.

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And one chap would certainly have been swimming in this river when Victoria was here.

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How about this for a bit of local produce?

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The Tweed's record-breaking salmon.

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Caught in 1886

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when it weighed in at 56 and a half pounds.

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I don't know about you, but I prefer mine with chips.

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'We know Victoria loved to soak up the views across the River Tweed, but it was tinged with sadness.

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'For she would also know that as a keen fisherman,

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'her dear departed Albert would have been in his element here.' There's my man!

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'I meet fishing expert Ian Gordon.'

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They used to say that in Victoria's time, the salmon was so plentiful

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that the locals would feed off it several times a week. They were fed up eating salmon!

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-Is that true?

-It's strange. It's like a farm servant at that time.

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It's like a contract of work. They were told they weren't to be fed salmon more than two times a week.

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Can you imagine that? Imagine!

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-"I'm not eating salmon. Enough!"

-"I want beef!"

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"Give me a bit of pig!"

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Is it just the aristocrats oinking out these fish with flies and rods and stuff?

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That really is the common perception.

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In Victoria's time, all the fishing that was done on this river

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was done by invitation of people like the Sixth Duke of Roxburghe, as Queen Victoria did.

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We're going to ignore that modern rod. I want to see you have a go with this greenheart fellow.

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-With this I can out-fish you, yeah?

-Tim, there's no chance of that.

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-I'll take that one.

-No, you've got the greenheart.

-Stop it! Stop it! Get off!

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'Prince Albert isn't the only Royal who had a passion for fly fishing.

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'Apparently, Prince Charles also likes a cast or two.

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'If it's good enough for them, it's good enough for me. Bring it on!'

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Wow! Yes!

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Look at the whip on that!

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I'll leave you to wind that in. Think you'll manage that?

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My God! Honestly, you're taking all day to wind that in.

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I'm being very, very gentle with this antique piece of equipment.

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-There's no need to be TOO gentle with it.

-Well...

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'This rod might have been all the fashion in Victoria's time, but it's brought me no luck today.

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'Just as well Rosemary didn't rely on me catching a salmon for tea.'

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After lunch on her first day at Floors, Victoria took a stroll

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and admired the beautiful walled kitchen garden.

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The walls create a micro-climate a good deal warmer than outside.

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The estate gardeners grew everything from cut flowers to Brussels sprouts.

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They not only looked great, but more importantly fed the staff and guests, including Victoria.

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'The man who looks after these gardens today is Andrew Simmons.'

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-What was the brief of a walled garden?

-To get as much as you could for the table.

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And once the table was supplied, it was the staff.

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In Victorian times, there would have been such an entourage of staff following on.

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You could possibly have up to 100 staff to feed as well, living in.

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This is why there was such great produce being grown.

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'The Victorians took gardening to a whole new level with the introduction of greenhouses

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'to grow more exotic fruits.

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'Some of these standing here today date from Victoria's visit. They even had central heating.

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'To make sure the Queen's greens were up to scratch, they had to fight off numerous pests

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'with some quite shocking methods.'

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What pesticides did they use? They used all sorts of things.

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They used pesticides, but the head gardener was under pressure

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to produce this perfect fruit and vegetables.

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And if he didn't, his job could be on the line,

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so he did use an awful lot of chemicals. Lead, arsenic,

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I think there is still a recipe for making your own liquid nicotine.

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That would have been a favourite. Certainly smoking with nicotine.

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They'd make the concoction with liquid nicotine and soak rags and then light it

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and smoke the greenhouses.

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'The Victorian kitchen garden made an impact on the Queen.

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'She had one built at Balmoral and her children had their own vegetable patches at Osborne House,

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'the family's home on the Isle of Wight.'

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There's an immense sadness that hangs over this visit.

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Despite Victoria's obvious love of Scotland, she cannot escape the constant feeling of loneliness.

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But luckily she had the perfect hosts.

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She wrote, "Nobody could be kinder or more discreet or anxious that I should be undisturbed

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"when at home than the Duke or Duchess."

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In years to come, Victoria enjoyed a close friendship with the Duchess.

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They often wrote to each other and some of these letters are still on show at the castle today,

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but their relationship was cemented 14 years after this visit, in 1881,

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when she, the Duchess, was awarded the Order of Victoria and Albert.

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And two years later she received the ultimate honour

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when appointed Mistress of the Robes to Queen Victoria, senior lady in the Royal household.

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-'Talking of senior ladies...

-Careful, Tim!

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'Downstairs, our salmon a la Chambord is nearing completion.

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'The strips of sole have cooked perfectly and our dressed salmon is ready for the final assembly job.'

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I've constructed a little cushion of cold rice

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and covered it with a thin film of a herb butter.

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'To make this, we've taken soft butter and added green herbs -

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'parsley, chervil, tarragon and burnet, a lovely old-fashioned herb.

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'Then we've added chopped gherkins, capers and garlic. Once it's spread over the rice, it forms a bed

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'for the salmon to sit on.'

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The most difficult thing is to get the fish off here and on to there.

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We have to do this together. If you get that in front of you.

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This is a little bit shorter than the salmon,

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so before you start taking it off, I have to get it in the right place.

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Gently start to move it across. Is it coming? That's it. Perfect.

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-So what's next?

-We need to embellish it with the garnish.

-Right.

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-It's very complicated.

-OK.

-We start off with some quenelles.

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'Quenelles are small, fried patties made from forcemeat - ground meat or fish. We're using whiting.'

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-Amazing!

-When you get a Victorian dish like this...

-Yes.

-..you get the main dish

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-and always you get a garnish.

-Right.

-This usually is in two forms.

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-One surrounds the dish.

-Mm-hm.

-The other is stuck in the top.

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-In order to get this started, we need those truffles. These are whole truffles.

-Oooh.

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What a treat! How extravagant!

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If you could just push them in so they actually stand there.

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-Like that.

-How many do you want?

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I think five. If you put a third one there...

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-Now push it so it is actually sticking into it.

-Into the butter, into the rice.

-And one more.

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-So there's our fifth one.

-Push it in hard.

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-The next thing is crayfish.

-Oh, wow.

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-We put one between...

-I'll bring them here.

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You can sit them like that with their claws. Put another one there.

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You're lining the crayfish up with our contised fillets.

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These are also quenelles, with a little strip of contised sole fillet down the middle.

0:22:410:22:48

And these have been cooked.

0:22:480:22:50

We put them in between the crayfish.

0:22:500:22:53

Oh, amazing. 'Any one of these garnishes could be the centre of a dish on their own.

0:22:530:22:59

-'And there's more!'

-We're going to decorate it with these beautiful silver hatelet skewers.

0:22:590:23:06

We've got a crayfish, a mushroom and this quenelle, which is our whiting forcemeat again,

0:23:060:23:12

this time decorated with this little pattern made in truffles.

0:23:120:23:16

And what we do with those is we put them right in the middle of the salmon

0:23:160:23:21

and then it should sit beautifully like that.

0:23:210:23:26

So if you could do one at the other end.

0:23:260:23:30

-It's the bone.

-I've got it.

0:23:340:23:37

I'll put another one in there.

0:23:370:23:40

-You'll feel the bone, but...

-You can work around the outside.

0:23:400:23:45

Come in like that.

0:23:450:23:47

-And we'll do another one here.

-Get your guy in there.

0:23:470:23:51

-That's perfect.

-It's so ornate!

0:23:510:23:55

This would be one dish of many.

0:23:550:23:57

Unbelievable.

0:23:570:23:59

It's almost immoral.

0:23:590:24:02

-Do you know what I mean?

-Well, it's a dish fit for Queen Victoria, I hope.

0:24:020:24:08

I hope it'll be fit enough for Tim!

0:24:080:24:10

'There's one key part of floors we haven't visited yet - a small corner of the gardens

0:24:100:24:16

'where the Roxburghes created something special just for the Queen to enjoy during her stay.

0:24:160:24:22

'A summer house.'

0:24:220:24:25

Victoria mentions that she walked onto the flower garden

0:24:250:24:29

"and took tea in a pretty little room adjoining them, which is entirely tiled."

0:24:290:24:35

This is it. Her pretty little room which Floors Castle still refer to as the Queen's House.

0:24:350:24:43

'How great to be able to show off Rosemary's culinary skills in a place we know Victoria loved.'

0:24:430:24:50

-Ah, Rosemary!

-What a feast for your eyes!

0:24:510:24:55

-Magnificent.

-What have you been up to, girl?

0:24:550:25:00

Well, it's actually some salmon which was put in a fish kettle,

0:25:000:25:04

then we baked it in the oven and we've put this wonderful fish decoration.

0:25:040:25:09

-This is a dish that Queen Victoria would have eaten.

-I'm blown away.

0:25:090:25:13

-So you should be.

-These little crayfish fellows look colourful.

-They are.

0:25:130:25:18

This is a little quenelle. It has mushroom, quenelle, and they're shaped, steamed,

0:25:180:25:24

-and then crayfish.

-This is the moment for a drop of plonk.

0:25:240:25:29

-Special white.

-I'm going to cut up a fillet and just prise it off for you,

0:25:290:25:35

-like that.

-Yes. Now, whoopsie.

0:25:350:25:37

-That's always the dodgy bit.

-Yes.

0:25:370:25:40

-It's falling off the bone.

-It's absolutely sensational.

0:25:400:25:45

Mmm.

0:25:450:25:46

-That's superb, isn't it?

-It just oozes with bouillon.

0:25:470:25:52

-We have to raise a glass to you and your team.

-Absolutely.

0:25:530:25:57

Now this is all very special. I'll do a little show and tell.

0:25:590:26:04

I'd like to present you

0:26:040:26:06

with the basket award.

0:26:060:26:08

This is a little special something.

0:26:090:26:12

It looks like something that came with Little Bo Peep.

0:26:120:26:16

Actually, if I take the cover off,

0:26:160:26:19

I'll show you a little piece of paper inside and it says,

0:26:190:26:24

"Basket given by the Queen to the Duchess of Roxburghe.

0:26:240:26:28

"Straw plaid by Her Majesty."

0:26:280:26:32

So...

0:26:320:26:33

Queen Victoria actually wove this exquisite straw exterior,

0:26:330:26:39

-the construction of the basket.

-She did it herself?

0:26:390:26:43

Yeah. You'd think she'd go out and buy one and maybe make up the silk to go in it,

0:26:430:26:50

but she actually wove the basket herself for her mate, the Duchess of Roxburghe.

0:26:500:26:56

-Inside, we've got a little bracelet.

-Oh, it's adorable.

0:26:560:27:00

It contains a portrait of the Queen.

0:27:000:27:03

And it was again presented to the Duchess of Roxburghe.

0:27:030:27:08

And if I'm very careful and press in these little lugs,

0:27:080:27:11

we can take the actual portrait of Her Majesty out

0:27:110:27:17

and on the back of it, on the gold, it is inscribed,

0:27:170:27:21

"To the Duchess of Roxburghe, from her affectionate and unhappy friend,

0:27:210:27:28

"Victoria".

0:27:280:27:30

Even in a gorgeous gift like this, she has to make reference to her unhappiness

0:27:300:27:37

-at the fact that she's a widow.

-She was still in love with Albert.

0:27:370:27:42

I think that's a lovely gift, but they gave her a lovely time.

0:27:420:27:47

I think we have had a wonderful time here. It has been a brilliant day.

0:27:470:27:52

-What a joy to come here.

-A joy to behold.

-It is.

-Like you.

0:27:520:27:57

'Our next stop on Victoria's tour of Britain takes us to Hughenden Manor in Buckinghamshire,

0:27:590:28:05

'home to the Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli.

0:28:050:28:09

'This was not a social call. Britain was on the verge of war.

0:28:110:28:15

'We'll be looking at some fascinating documents that reveal

0:28:150:28:20

'how Victoria was right in the thick of it.'

0:28:200:28:23

Subtitles by Subtext for Red Bee Media Ltd - 2011

0:28:340:28:38

Email [email protected]

0:28:390:28:41

Antiques expert Tim Wonnacott and chef Rosemary Shrager travel in the footsteps of Queen Victoria, Britain's longest reigning monarch, looking at the houses, castles and stately homes she visited throughout her life. Using her own diaries and other first-hand accounts, they discover the extraordinary preparations that were undertaken, and find out exactly what happened.

Queen Victoria visited Floors Castle on the River Tweed, Scotland, for three days in 1867.

It was the first official visit that Victoria made after the death of her beloved husband Prince Albert, and Tim discovers in her diary that, despite the passage of six years, she still felt Albert's loss keenly. She wrote in her account that the 'feeling of loneliness when I saw no room for my darling, and felt I was indeed alone and a widow, overcame me very sadly! I thought so much of all dearest Albert would have done and said, and how he would have wandered about everywhere, admired everything, looked at everything - and now! Oh! Must it ever, ever be so?'

Appropriately for a castle resting on the river Tweed, Rosemary and food historian and chef Ivan Day prepare a special royal dish, salmon à la chambord. Created by chef Antonin Carême, often considered to be the first celebrity chef, it is an elaborate dish of poached salmon garnished with sole, truffles and crayfish.