Marjorie’s European Tour, 1903‐1904
Taken from letters to her mother, Bessie
Marjorie arrived in London at the beginning of July, and wrote to her
mother a few days later: “This has been a very happy week in London.” With
her customary enthusiasm, she set out to see all the sights and to savor as many
wonderful experiences as she possibly could. The first day, after collecting their
mail at Cooks, and withdrawing funds from their letters of credit at the bank,
Marjorie and Miss Helen went to buy tickets for the upcoming Gala Performance
of the opera Romeo and Juliet at the Royal Opera House. The tickets were
shockingly expensive, “seventeen‐fifty apiece!!!” (current value $460), but their
seats were perfect – with excellent views of both the stage and the Royal Box.
King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra were in attendance, along with the Prince
of Wales. Marjorie described the experience as “the superbest sight I have ever
seen … diamond tiaras sparkled everywhere, and the house itself was one mass
of roses from top to bottom.” Since the invitation stated “evening dress
required,” Marjorie worried that she would be unsuitably dressed, so she took a
pair of scissors in her glove, quite prepared to cut out the neckline of her dress
“…if worse came to worst – but luckily it wasn’t necessary and we got in all
The next day they went to services at Westminster Abbey, and took a
guided tour. They saw the wax figures that were placed on the top of the hearse
when anyone famous died: “They were rather ghastly, but most interesting, as
the clothes they wore were originals.”

Marjorie then began a round of visits to museums and galleries: the
National Gallery, the Portrait Gallery, The Tate Gallery, and the Wallace Collection
at the British Museum. She was fascinated by the Gainsboroughs, Reynolds, Van
Dycks, Murillos, and Corots.
They took the train to Hampton Court where, “…the gardens were the
really lovely part – such roses and all sorts of dear old fashioned flowers and
nice fountains and terraces. And the delightful Maze where one really gets lost
– it was most exciting.”
Marjorie soon found a perfect place for tea and socializing. A visit to the
Cecil Hotel provided a refreshing, restful interval to their busy schedules.

“We went to the Cecil for tea. It was very amusing and gay.”
They spent a day in Oxford “a quaint city – all spires and domes. We
visited Christ’s College first, and I think I like it best.” At the end of the day,
instead of driving to the station to return to London they went in a “big punt and
were slowly poled down that delightful river, past the colleges and on to the
station. It was perfect!”

tratford was the next stop, “driving over the most beautiful English
country imaginable. We visited Shakespeare’s birthplace and the little museum.
And then found our way through the fields and over a style to Anne Hathaway’s
cottage … one of the dearest places imaginable.” Marjorie was delighted with
Stratford and described it as old‐fashioned and peaceful – “in spite of its
thousands of visitors.”

They took a coach to Warwick — “I feel as if this name ought to be written
in pure gold – it is the loveliest place in all England.” From there they traveled
by train to Chester, where Marjorie walked along the top of the Roman wall and
shopped in the covered “Rows.” Next they traveled to Llandudno in North Wales
where they attended a concert at an open air theatre, and then on to Edinburgh
where they stayed at the Roxburghe Hotel on Charlotte Square where Bessie and
Will McKee had stayed on their honeymoon two years previously. They visited the
Castle, John Knox’s house, and the Royal Scottish Gallery; and shopped for
shortbread and tea at Jenners on Princes Street. “Princes Street is the most
beautiful street I have seen!”

The next part of the Scottish tour was the most magical of all. It was a day
trip to the Lakes and Trossachs “and it was perfect in every way.” Traveling west
via Glasgow, and then north into the highlands, they arrived at the pier in Balloch
where the Sir Walter Scott steam boat was waiting for them. They sailed up Loch
Lomond admiring the hills covered with brown and purple heather. Even more
notable was the boat trip across Loch Katrin, “the loveliest part of all.”
The Sir Walter Scott steamboat on Loch Katrin today
On the way back to Edinburgh, they stopped at Stirling to see the Castle
and “the statue of Robert the Bruce outlined against the sky.”

In the following days they visited Roslyn Chapel, Melrose Abbey,
Abbotsford House, and Dryburgh Abbey. Abbotsford, the home of Sir Walter
Scott, was “…all I had dreamed it would be – only much more. I don’t wonder
Scott loved the Tweed, and that view beyond.”

At the end of July, Marjorie very reluctantly said goodbye to Scotland. She
traveled south to Newcastle where she would take a boat to Bergen on the west
coast of Norway. Next month, follow Marjorie’s travels in August 1903 through
the ice fields of northern Norway and into Sweden, Denmark and Germany.