THOMAS CREEVEY AND LIFE AT THE ROYAL PAVILION – Part One

Originally published April 2011

Thomas Creevey

 

“It was in 1804 when I first began to take a part in the House of Commons, at which time the Prince of Wales was a most warm and active partizan of Mr. Fox and the Opposition. It was then that the Prince began first to notice me, and to stop his horse and talk with me when he met me in the streets; but I recollect only one occasion, in that or the succeeding year, that I dined at Carlton House, and that was with a party of the Opposition, to whom he gave various dinners during that spring. On that occasion Lord Dundas and Calcraft sat at the top and bottom of the table, the Prince in the middle at one side, with the Duke of Clarence next to him; Fox, Sheridan and about 30 opposition members of both Houses making the whole party. We walked about the garden before dinner without our hats.

“The only thing that made an impression upon me in favour of the Prince that day (always excepting his excellent manners and appearance of good humour) was his receiving a note during dinner which he flung across the table to Fox and asked if he must not answer it, which Fox assented to; and then, without the slightest fuss, the Prince left his place, went into another room and wrote an answer, which he brought to Fox for his approval, and when the latter said it was quite right, tne Prince seemed delighted, which I thought very pretty in him, and a striking proof of Fox’s influence over him.

George IV as Prince of Wales by Reynolds

“During dinner he was very gracious, funny and agreeable, but after dinner he took to making speeches, and was very prosy as well as highly injudicious. He made a long harangue in favour of the Catholics and took occasion to tell us that his brother William and himself were the only two of his family who were not Germans—this too in a company which was, most of them, barely known to him. Likewise I remember his halloaing to Sir Charles Bamfyld at the other end of the table, and asking him if he had seen Mother Windsor lately. I brought Lord Howick  and George Walpole home at night in my coach, and so ended that day.

The Royal Pavilion, Brighton
“At the beginning of September,1805, Mrs. Creevey and myself with her daughters went to Brighton to spend the autumn there, the Prince then living at the Pavilion. I think it was the first, or at furthest the second, day after our arrival, when my two eldest daughters and myself were walking on the Steyne, and the Prince, who was sitting talking to old Lady Clermont, having perceived me, left her and came up to speak to me, when I presented my daughters to him. He was very gracious to us all and hoped he should see me shortly at dinner. In two or three days from this time I received an invitation to dine at the Pavilion. . . . Mrs. Fitzherbert, whom I had never been in a room with before, sat on one side of the Prince, and the Duke of Clarence on the other. … In the course of the evening the Prince took me up to the card table where Mrs. Fitzherbert was playing, and said—’ Mrs. Fitzherbert, I wish you would call upon Mrs. Creevey, and say from me I shall be happy to see her here.’ Mrs. Fitzherbert did call accordingly, and altho’ she and Mrs. Creevey had never seen each other before, an acquaintance began that soon grew into a very sincere and agreeable friendship, which lasted the remainder of Mrs. Creevey’s life. . . .
Mrs. Fitzherbert by Cosway

“. . . Immediately after this first visit from Mrs. Fitzherbert, Mrs. Creevey and her daughters became invited with myself to the Prince’s parties at the Pavilion, and till the first week in January—a space of about four months—except a few days when the Prince went to see the King at Weymouth, and a short time that I was in London in November, there was not a day we were not at the Pavilion, I dining there always once or twice a week, Mrs. Creevey frequently dining with me likewise, but in the evening we were always there.

“During these four months the Prince behaved with the greatest good humour as well as kindness to us all. He was always merry and full of his jokes, and any one would have said he was really a very happy man. Indeed I have heard him say repeatedly during that time that he never should be so happy, when King, as he was then.

Part Two Coming Soon!

Number One London’s 2019 Queen Victoria Tour will be visiting the Brighton Pavilion – find details here.

PROJECT REGENCY ROMANCE – CREATING REGENCY ROMANCE JANE AUSTEN WOULD READ

by Louisa Cornell

Anyone who reads our blog knows I write Regency romance. I met Mr. Darcy at the age of nine and I have been writing my own version of him ever since. Because of my love of all things British – especially British history – I strive to make certain my Regency romances are as true to the era as possible. Without reading like a history book on steroids. The romance is always first, but it is possible to write a historical romance with historical accuracy and simmering passion.

I read Regency romance voraciously – good, bad, and unfortunately, some ugly. And I realize my tastes in Regency romance will not be everyone’s tastes. Regency romance can be written without a great deal of historical information included in the story. I’ve seen it done, and some of it is done quite well. Conversely, I’ve seen Regency romance written with heavy historical content that had even me nodding off. Balance is probably the best a writer of Regency romance can strive to achieve. In order to know how much or how little historical background and information to include, a writer must have a great grasp of what they know and an even greater grasp of what they do not.

I will confess I have read some historical romance that made me wonder if the author simply woke up one day and said :

I think I’ll write a Regency romance!

Rather like I would get up one morning and say :

“I think I’ll take up downhill skiing!”

Now before all of those aspiring, new or even established Regency romance authors panic – I do not think every Regency romance author should camp out somewhere like this –

  – never to be seen again.

And Regency romance authors shouldn’t look like this –

And spend all of their time and money on this.

However…

There are certain things I find in the Regency romances I read, some by new authors and some by long-established authors, that make me cringe. And after reading some of these blatant historical errors I am fairly certain I felt a tremor in the earth that was Jane Austen rolling over in her grave. Of course, it was slightly easier for her to write Regency romance. Our Regency romance was her contemporary romance. No problem. Writing her style of Regency romance as our contemporary romance. BIG PROBLEM !!

So…

In the interest of offering some tips to authors who do not want to spend their entire lives reading every book written about every aspect of the Regency era, (No, I haven’t done that, but I’m not dead yet.) I will be posting some brief reviews of books in my considerable Regency Romance Library here at Number One London from time to time. I will try to group these books by topic.

Caution!

I have been told that my book reviews have caused some people to fall into the same horrid addiction from which I suffer. This affliction may necessitate hiding your credit cards, avoiding all bookstores – online and off – especially those that specialize in old books and history books. And should your spouse discover my role in your sudden Regency research book fetish, I will deny everything!

PROJECT REGENCY ROMANCE – REGENCY LONDON

The London Rich : The Creation of a Great City from 1666 to the Present

Peter Thorold

This is an excellent reference should one want to know where to situate a character’s home or where to situate a lunatic asylum or a children’s home or any number of institutions. After the Great Fire in 1666, London rebuilt and expanded. This book follows the migration of London’s wealthiest citizens, the establishment of exclusive neighborhoods around certain squares and the construction of stately homes within the boundaries of what eventually became the entire city of London. And as is the nature of the wealthy, once the city and lesser mortals began to encroach upon a neighborhood the wealthy picked up and moved to establish their elite conclaves somewhere else. This is a study of class differences in 17th through 20th century London, but for the most part in the context of the architecture and city planning aspects of class distinction. The maps and illustrations – color and black and white photographs – are beautiful and very informative. Also of great value is the author’s research into what happened to the beautiful homes – town houses and town mansions – once the wealthiest Londoners moved on. There is also great information on how the iconic Regency neighborhoods – Grosvenor Square, Berkeley Square – and others came to be. Hardbound copies can be had for very little and it is definitely a worthwhile addition to any Regency Research Library. You can buy the book here.

The Years of Grandeur -The Story of Mayfair

Mary Cathcart-Borer

A beautifully written history of that most hallowed of Regency era neighborhoods – Mayfair. The author traces the evolution of the area from a little village within the confines of London to the most prestigious address in England, especially from the late eighteenth through the mid-nineteenth centuries. She divides the book into chapters on the most well-known landmarks and divisions of the area, which makes it a very useful resource for a Regency romance author. There are wonderful illustrations and maps. Making use of diaries, journals, newspaper articles, and documents from city planning the author creates an intimate picture of this elite section of London – how it was created, why, the evolution in prestige of the different addresses even within Mayfair. Most valuable, I believe, is the power of these pages to pull the reader into the atmosphere and character of Mayfair. Writing about it is far easier once you learn the living, breathing air of what Mayfair was during the Georgian era and how it acquired that character. Hardbound copies can be had fairly cheaply here.

Down and Out in Eighteenth-Century London

Tim Hitchcock

Its title denotes its concentration on the 18th century, the century leading into the Regency. However, much of the information in this book applies to the Regency era in that a great deal of what the book covers still existed during the Regency and indeed was cause and catalyst for much of life in Regency era London. At turns heartbreaking, shocking, comical, and horrifying – this book covers the lives of the “other side” of London. The author explores the lives of the match sellers, the sweeps, the tavern maids, and all of those eking out a living in the numerous poverty-stricken neighborhoods of London. It is an intriguing read and replete with ideas for minor characters, period flavor, and most of all – a great understanding of what life was like for the majority of London’s citizens from the eighteenth century going into the Regency era. Used hardbound copies are a bit pricey, but still fairly reasonably priced – click here.

 

 

THE 2017 COUNTRY HOUSE TOUR: ACT THREE

by Victoria Hinshaw

What is more magnificent than Chatsworth House? How about a fashion exhibition of clothing shown in the very rooms in which they were worn?

Great Hall and Coronation Robes

The exhibition House Style: Five Centuries of Fashion at Chatsworth was on show and we felt really fortunate to see all these wonderful garments long stored away, in most cases.

Gentleman’s Court Dress
Note the tiny waist in this 18th century gown worn by Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire
Ballgown by John Galliano for Christian Dior, worn by granddaughter Stella Tennant in 1998
Symphony in White
In the Dining Room

Many other treasures are permanently on display at Chatsworth, not to mention the art, gardens, restaurants and shops which delighted us.

Trial by Jury, or Laying Down the Law, by Sir Edwin Landseer, 1840
A charming miniature
Veiled Vestal Virgin by Raffaelle Monti, 1847

The Cavendish family and Dukes of Devonshire descended from the marvelous Elizabethan lady known as Bess of Hardwick.  At age 70, after surviving four husbands (Cavendish was #2), and assisting her fourth husband, the Earl of Shrewsbery, in holding Mary Queen of Scots under house arrest for many years, Bess built herself one of the finest “prodigy” houses of the age.

Hardwick Hall

Architect Robert Smythson designed Hardwick, one of England’s earliest structures in the Renaissance style.  Bess chose the sight on a high hill next to the Old Hall, which is partially in ruins today.

Hardwick Old Hall

Huge windows bring light into the rooms, astonishing her contemporaries.  Despite  her age of 70 years, Bess lived here for about ten  years, dying in 1608.   The property was left to her son William Cavendish, 2nd Earl of Devonshire. Among the treasures in the house are fine portraits and excellent tapestries, shown under reduced illumination for their protection.

High Great Chamber

Bess of Hardwick. c. 1520-1608 by Rowland Lockey, 1592

We made a quick stop at the ruins of Sutton Scarsdale, a fine Georgian mansion now roofless and in ruins, in order to appreciate the state in which some houses are in when they are handed over to the National Trust, English Heritage or a civic or government body.  Built in 1727, the house contents were auctioned in 1919.

Sutton Scarsdale in ruins

The estate is owned by English Heritage, which is in the process of conserving some of the remaining plasterwork and other features. It is a sad reminder that houses such as these may be lost forever unless they are funded and maintained by governments or heritage organizations.

Sutton Scarsdale

Though the whereabouts of most of the contents are are unknown, at least one room has been recreated and adapted at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, probably a reception room from the ground floor.

photo c. Philadelphia Museum of Art

Our final day with Number One London Tours in 2017 was spent at Tatton Hall, another Georgian house, this time carefully cared for.  I neglected to get around to the front for a photo, but here is an excellent replacement.

photo from VisitManchester
The less imposing Visitors’ (and Tradesmen) entrance
The brightness of Georgian color schemes always amazes me.
A charming child’s sleigh
A vast painting celebrates the Hunt
The Drawing Room
The Library
The Dining Room
The Nursery
Below Stairs

We ended our visit with tea at the Gardener’s Cottage, sad that our visit was almost at an end, but already looking forward to our next Number One London Tour.

 

Find details regarding Number One London’s 2019 Country House Tour here.

THE 2017 COUNTRY HOUSE TOUR: ACT TWO

Number One London’s 2017 Country House Tour included visits to nine country houses, beginning with Wentworth Woodhouse, followed by Kedleston Hall, one of Britain’s finest houses.

The west Palladian Facade

The estate of the Curzon family since the 12th century, the present hall was built in the mid-18th century. The original architects, James Paine and Matthew Brettingham, laid out a sober Palladian block with four (eventually, just two) side villas all attached by colonnades.  Scottish master designer Robert Adam altered the plan and re-designed the more “rococo” south or garden facade.

The South facade, Robert Adam, architect

The house has a spectacular interior, intended for entertaining on a grand scale.

The Saloon, Kedleston
Marble Hall, Kedleston
Drawing Room

The house, inside and out, is flawless. And, like almost all stately homes, the residents are equally fascinating.

Mary Leiter, Lady Curzon. an American Heiress and Vicereine of India
1st Marquess Curzon, 1859-1925 Viceroy of India
Mrs. Garnett, Housekeeper, painted by Thomas Barber

The gardens are extensive and dotted with statuary and follies, as well as sweeping lawns featuring the requisite sheep.

Baaa-a-aa

Kedleston Hall belongs to the National Trust, given to the NT in lieu of death duties in 1970. Our next stop, Calke Abbey. is a house of a different color.  As is often the case, by the time a family must offer a property to the government or the NT, it is in wretched condition. This time, taking the dilapidated house and its land, the NT decided to keep it as the “unstately home.”

Calke Abbey

In the words of the website, visitors “explore the tales of an eccentric and reclusive family who amassed a huge collection of hidden treasures.”  We wandered the stables, full of dusty reminders of former equine residents.

The house is better dusted but jammed with furniture, knick-knacks, old magazines, long forgotten boots, pictures dimmed by time, and a hideous collection of hunting trophies, particularly stuffed birds.

The extensive gardens, however, were spacious and well-tended.

Kitchen Garden
Walled Garden

The third house we toured was Sudbury Hall, a 17th century Restoration house, but it carries features from the earlier Tudor style, such as the blue patterned design (diapering) on the front, or northeast facade.

Front (northeast) facade

Contrasting with the Tudor features are Jacobean and baroque elements as well.

Garden facade

On the uppermost floor is a Long Gallery, probably the last one built in a British stately home. The brilliant plasterwork and sweeping length, more than 160 feet long, forms a beautiful setting for a collection of portraits and fine furniture.

Sudbury Cabinet by Frans Franken

The Great Staircase is particularly praised, though due to its fragility, it is no longer used except for the occasional appearance in film.

Trying for the perfect shot

The magnificent Red Room was once the home of the Dowager Queen Adelaide — as well as the place where Darcy changed his coat in the 1995 BBC production of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

The Red Room

In the Drawing Room, the chimney piece is adorned with one of Grinling Gibbons’ finest carvings,  dated 1678.

From  the the 17th century, our Number One London Tour of country houses in or near  Derbyshire traveled backward in time to medieval days at Haddon Hall, one of the best preserved houses of its day.

Haddon Hall

Like many of the remaining examples of medieval residences in Britain, Haddon Hall came to the Manners family by marriage to an heiress, Dorothy Vernon, in 1562; the Vernon family had acquired the manor in the 12th century by a similar marriage to an heiress. Being a secondary home of the families, it remained relatively untouched and thus it is a fine example of period architecture.

Entrance to Haddon Hall

Chapel

In our next post, Act Three, Number One London Tours takes on Chatsworth, Hardwick Hall, and Tatton Hall.

Part Three coming soon!

Find details regarding Number One London’s 2019 Country House Tour here.