Τρίτη, 24 Μαΐου 2011

Two badges for the Ascot Racecourses

by Dr. Stavros Arvanitopoulos, Curator of Athens City Museum - Vouros-Eutaxias Foundation

There is a festive celebration in Great Britain this year for the 300 year anniversary of the foundation by Queen Anne of the courses in Ascot, an estate which belongs (together with the neighbouring Windsor Castle) to the Crown.

The Museum's Collections comprise two badges for the Royal Enclosure, the most prominent of the three enclosures of the site, surrounding (and, at the same time, protecting from the "mob", according to documents of that era) the Royal Box since its construction in 1845. Until the first decades of the 20th century, access to it was allowed exclusively to guests of the King/Queen, which were obliged to follow a quite restrictive dress code and a series of "unwritten rules", referring particularly to women.



The Museum's badges were kept in an envelope bearing the inscription: "Ascot 1912/ Royal Enclosure/ belonging to Misses/ Aik. Vourou/ and Maria Vourou/ (later Dousmani)". Two of Konstantinos Vouros' daughters, Maria (married to admiral Sophocles Dousmanis in 1915) and Aikaterini, sisters of Zenovia (mother of the Museum's founder, Lambros Eutaxias) managed to acquire in 1912 the –then, as well as now– coveted badges. Since the Vouros family belonged to the upper strata of the Greek society of that time, the two sisters naturally participated in one of the leading social events of belle époque Europe, as guests of the English sovereign. Unfortunately, the cheerful, carefree world that Ascot racecourses represented was brutally destroyed just two years later. Through the outcome of the First World War, Europe in its entirety and eventually the whole world were transformed, being violently introduced to the 20th century.

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