Our series on the lives of King William IV and Queen Adelaide continues with excerpts from a book entitled, Letters the Late Miss Clitherow of Boston House, Middlesex, With A Brief Account of Boston House and the Clitherow Family, edited by Rev. G. Cecil White. As the Reverend himself states in his preface: “The following pages are mainly compiled from certain letters by Miss Mary Clitherow, which have come into the editor’s possession. They afford glimpses of the Court at that time, with reference not so much to public functions as to their Majesties’ more private relations with persons honoured with their friendship.”
Within a week or two after their last royal summons, Colonel and Mrs. Clitherow again
visited Windsor by the Royal commands, and Miss Clitherow, in her minute chronicle, shows that, while they cherished no pride of pomp or station, they fully appreciated the honour of the King's friendship:
BOSTON HOUSE, May 13, 1832.
'. . . . . . I will tell you of our Courtly doings, and how thankful we are that we just take the cream, free and independent, without rank or place--no troubles, turmoils, or jealousies. We receive the most flattering notice--and it can be from no other motive than liking us--a rare
occurrence at Court, and of which we have a right to be proud.
'Lately a command came to my brother and Mrs. Clitherow to come to Windsor Castle on the Monday and stay till the Wednesday. There were no other visitors. Nobody breakfasts with the Queen or takes luncheon unless sent for. You have your breakfast in your own sitting-room, or at the general breakfast, as you prefer. We always take the latter, but
this visit Jane was with her at every meal, the King the only gentleman admitted at breakfast, and only his sons, or very few, at luncheon. Each evening the Queen called Jane to her sofa and work-table, where, also, no one approaches but by her invitation, and on the Tuesday morning the King took my brother all round the Castle with Wyattville, giving orders and directions. I fear greatly the improving mania is coming upon His Majesty, which, in these times, will be very unfortunate.
'The Queen took my brother and Jane a long drive in her barouche. . . . . . After the drive she took them into her room, and clasped a bracelet round Jane's arm, begging her to wear it for her sake, and, as the stone was an amethyst, the A would remind her of Adelaide, and then she kissed her cheek. To my brother she presented a silver medallion of the King, telling him her name was on the back, and he must keep it for her sake. She always has something obliging and kind to say. She sent a ticket for her box at Drury Lane. It was "Admit Colonel and Mrs. Clitherow." Jane asked her if that meant two places. "No, no; the whole box, to be sure. It holds eight. But, when I name one of you, I cannot help naming both."
|Sir Jeffry Wyatville
'King William IV. forgot little me when he sent his commands. On their going in he said: "Where is Miss Clitherow? I hope illness has not prevented her.' On an explanation, "Then next Monday meet us at dinner at Bushey, and bring your sister with you.' And we did meet them. The King came over with Wyattville to inspect Hampton Court Palace. The Queen followed, to dine with him at their dear Bushey. They returned to Windsor at ten, the Princess Augusta to town. Only Lady Falkland and Miss Wilson attended the Queen. The company were the inmates of Hampton Court, where we have never visited, and therefore to me the dinner was dull.'
'. . . . . .The Thursday after we went to see Lady Falkland, who is on a visit to papa King. We found her, her widowed sister Lady Augusta Kennedy, and Miss Wilson very comfortably at work. They were the two Fitz-Clarences; we saw a good deal of them when they lived at Bushey.
|King William IV
'A page soon came to conduct my brother to the King, another to desire we would take luncheon in the Queen's room. On entering the King called Jane by him, the Queen me; she rose up and shook hands with both. My brother went down to the general luncheon. Nothing could be more good-humoured and pleasant than they were. The King was cheerful but
silent; 'twas the day after Lord Grey's resignation. The Queen certainly in particular good spirits; the King's firmness respecting the making no peers had delighted her. They went to his apartments, and we to Lady Falkland's, and were preparing to depart, when a message
came. The Queen had not taken leave of us, and hoped we were in no hurry, but would stay and Walk with her. Of course we did. The party consisted of the Queen, Miss Eden (Maid of Honour), Miss Wilson, Lord Howe, Mr. Ashley, Mr. Hudson, Sir Andrew Barnard, and our three selves. She took us through the slopes to her Adelaide Cottage and her flower-garden to see Prince George of Cambridge at gymnastics, with half a dozen young nobility from Eton, who came once a week to play with him. We were walking nearly two hours. The Queen is very animated, and Mr. Ashley and Mr. Hudson full of fun and tricks, and amused us all much. In short, I ha
ve but one fear when with her--forgetting in Whose presence I am; her manner is so very kind, but there is dignity with it that keeps us in order.'
|The Fishing Temple, Virginia Water
'WINDSOR CASTLE, 'September 3, 1832.
'Here I am writing with Royal pens, ink, and paper, which last I dislike of all things, it being glazed. . . . The visitors here besides ourselves are the Duke and Duchess of
Gloucester[*]--she is too unwell to appear--Prince George of Cambridge; the Duke of Dorset; Mademoiselle d'Este; Sir Henry and Lady Wheatley, with two daughters; Lady Isabella Wemyss (Lady of the Bed-chamber), a most pleasing, lovely woman, sister to Lord Errol; Miss Johnson (Maid of Honour); Miss Wilson (Bed-chamber-woman); Mademoiselle Marienne, Lord and Lady Falkland, Sir Herbert and Lady Taylor, Sir Andrew Barnard, Sir Frederick Watson, Colonel Bowater, Mr. Hudson, Mr. Shifner, and Mr. Wood.[**] Princess Augusta and Lady Mary Taylour came every day from Frogmore, which, with the household medical man, Mr. Davis, makes a party of thirty, reckoned here a small party.
'The dinners are always princely, gold plate, quantities of wax-lights, and servants innumerable, yet very agreeable and with less of form than you could suppose possible.
'Yesterday threatened much rain, but after luncheon it cleared, and we started, four carriages, four in each and a number on horseback, and went to the Fishing Temple by the Virginia Water to see a model of a vessel to be moved by clockwork. After seeing it exhibited we all took boat, and in parties rowed about that beautiful lake. We had the
six-oared boat and various little boats. Prince George and Mr. Hudson rowed Her Majesty about, and the whole had so much ease and good-humour it was very delightful.
'Our evenings are always the same, the band playing most beautifully, work-tables and cards for those who chuse.
'The first evening the Queen called us both to her table; the second she sat with the Duchess of Gloucester till her bedtime, so that we had not much of her company. She is always about some elegant work, which she does remarkably well, and has a great deal of cheerful conversation.
'This is our third day, and we leave on Monday. Our invitations say when we are to come and when to go, which is very agreeable. We have our time to ourselves in our own sitting-room from breakfast till luncheon at two.
'So I have scribbled to you, though no post goes till to-morrow. A trio of kind regards.
'Yours truly, 'M. CLITHEROW.'
[*] H.R.H. was the King's cousin, and the Duchess was the King's fourth
sister, Princess Mary.
[**] Many of these are obviously members of the household rather than
The following letter offers a splendid description of the festivities at Windsor for the Queen's birthday and was written from Rise Park, the seat of their cousin, Mr. Bethell,
M.P., on October 1, 1833:
'. . . . . . .Now, from the Fens I will take you to the Forest. The cottage where George IV. lived so much has been pulled down, except a banquetting room, the conservatory, and a few small rooms for the gardener. Here the preparations were made for a morning fete on the Queen's birthday [August 13], and, as a surprise to her, the magnificent Burmese tents,
which she had never seen, were put up. I never saw anything prettier than the whole scene, and the day was lovely. The tents the most brilliant scarlet, ornamented with gold and silver, silver poles, and a silvered velvet carpet, embroidered with gold and silver. The hangings,
sofas, and seats were all of Eastern splendour, and at the end was a large glass. The company was very select, and the morning dresses becoming and elegant. Two bands of music (Guards) played alternately. A guard of honour and numbers of officers were present. Everybody seemed gay and in their best fashion. The King and Queen, with about forty
guests, dined in the room, about as many more in a long, canvas room. The tables had fruit, flowers, ornaments, confectionery, a few pyramids of cold tongue, ham, chicken, and raised pies. Then you had handed to you soups, fish, turtle, venison, and every sort of meat. Toasts were given, cannon fired, and both bands united in the appropriate national airs. Altogether it was a sort of enchantment. At seven fifteen of the King's carriages and many private carriages took the party to the Castle to dress for an evening assembly, where about two hundred were asked. We were the envy of many in being allowed to go home, having had the cream of the day. Nothing could be a greater compliment than our being asked in the morning. We were the only untitled people. The King had filled the Castle, Round Tower, and Cumberland Lodge, and had not a bed to offer. So he invited us, saying: "Come at three. We dine at four. And then go away at seven, and be home by daylight, for we cannot
give you beds."
'To his own birthday [August 21] we had the general invitation for the evening, and the old trio went from Boston House at seven, and got back by two. The noble Castle, so lit up, was a magnificent sight. The Queen was quite the Queen, for it was very mixed society--too much so for Royal presence. The good-humoured King asks everybody, and it was a
crowd! But she sat with the Royal Duchesses only, attended by her ladies, and she was dressed much finer than her usual style. She twice conversed with us, and when she left the room came up to us, shook each by the hand, and
was so sorry we had to go home so far.
'My brother and Mrs. Clitherow called at Windsor to take leave before we left home for so many weeks, and after luncheon with her and the King, she took them into her own room to see a bust of the little niece that she nursed with such motherly affection, Princess Louise, and then gave them two prints of herself and two of Prince George of Cambridge, the best likeness I have seen of her. She said, "One for Miss Clitherow, the other for you two, because you are as one." All she does in such a gracious, pretty manner.'
PART THREE COMING SOON!