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Archie Revisited

July 22, 2013 | by

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“If it could only be like this always—always summer, always alone, the fruit always ripe and Aloysius in a good temper …” So says Sebastian Flyte of his teddy bear, one of the most memorable minor characters in Brideshead Revisited. Both affectation and security totem, Aloysius (played in the iconic ITV miniseries by one Delicatessen) was modeled on a real toy: Archibald Ormsby-Gore, who belonged to Evelyn Waugh’s Oxford friend John Betjeman.

And while Aloysius may be Archibald’s most famous literary representation, it’s not the only one: in the 1940s, Betjeman wrote a book for his children, titled Archie and the Strict Baptists. (The main character, a practicing Baptist, is a keen amateur archeologist.) An illustrated version appeared in 1977. The bear, which Betjeman was holding when he died, now resides in St. Pancras, with his elephant companion, Jumbo.

 

7 COMMENTS

7 Comments

  1. Carol Mawn | August 22, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    Hello. I am in London for a month and fell into a John Betjeman quest of a sort. I read Sadie Stein’s post on Archie Revisited and set out to find John Betjeman’s teddy bear Archibald Ormsby-Gore (aka Aloysius) described in the post as now residing at St. Pancras Station. Well, I searched St. Pancras high and low and did not find Archibald or Jumbo. I also checked the Betjeman Pub and the St. Pancras Hotel. I was directed to information at the station where I was next directed to the British bobby who has patrolled the station for years. Everyone very kindly downloaded the post, looked at the accompanying photo and agreed it certainly looked like the Archibald/Jumbo photo was taken in the station, but no one had any idea where to find Archibald. The British bobby suggested I write to the author of the post to request more specific directions. I have a few more weeks here in London and would love to see Archibald if possible. So, if more specific directions could be given, it would be much appreciated. Thank you.

  2. Sadie Stein | August 22, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    I will do my best to track it down!

  3. Carol Mawn | August 31, 2013 at 8:41 am

    Thank you!

  4. Stewart Leech | August 31, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    Might it not be in the British Library, now next to St Pancras station?

  5. Carol Mawn | September 27, 2013 at 4:52 am

    Thank you Stewart. I called the British Library. Archie and Jumbo are not to be found in their Treasures Collection, nor have they been on display elsewhere in the library. Alas…… .

  6. Stewart Leech | September 30, 2013 at 4:22 am

    Careful sleuthing online reveals that Archie and Jumbo reside with Betjeman’s daughter, Candida Lycett Green. The photograph of them in a glass case was indeed taken at St Pancras but I think they must have had only a short sojourn there when Ms Lycett Green presented the awards in the 2009 John Betjeman Poetry Competition for Young People.

  7. Carol Mawn | October 1, 2013 at 5:16 am

    Thank you Stewart. Thanks to your careful research, I was able to contact Mrs. Lycett Green. Mrs. Lycett Green very kindly informed me that Archie and Jumbo will be on display at the Tom Brown’s School Museum in Uffington from 19th October to the 27th as part of the Wantage Betjeman Literary Festival. Mrs. Lycett Green said that Archie and Jumbo have only occasional outings in public. They remain in private family hands for the rest of the time.

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