THE TREASURE HOUSES OF ENGLAND – HAREWOOD HOUSE

Harewood House

There are ten stately homes that have been designated as “The Treasure Houses of England,” and three of them are included on our 2021 Country House Tour – Harewood House, Castle Howard and Chatsworth House.

Edwin Lascelles, 1st Baron Harewood, started building Harewood House in 1759, selecting Robert Adam as architect who, in turn, selected Thomas Chippendale as his furniture maker. This illustrious foundation was built upon once the house was completed, with the Baron filling it’s rooms with only the best. In addition to housing the single best collection of Chippendale furnishings in the UK, Harewood House also boasts a stellar porcelain collection, including many Sèvres pieces once belonging to the French royal family.

The State Bedroom

 

The art on display at Harewood House includes works by Turner, Gainesborough, Lawrence, Titian, El Greco and many other masters, but this may be the most famous, and most recognizable, painting in the collection –

Lady Worsley by Sir Joshua Reynolds

Outside, Harewood House is surrounded by 100 acres of gardens set amidst a landscape created by Capability Brown, who may or may not be surprised to learn that Harewood now has a Bird Garden featuring 80 species of exotic and endangered birds.

Click here to watch a video featuring the highlights of Harewood House.

Aristocratic Kennels

John Russel, 4th Duke of Bedford
Sir Joshua Reynolds

Aristocratic gentlemen have always enjoyed a good hunt, one of the finest being the Oakley Hunt, formed by the 4th Duke of Bedford at Woburn Abbey in 1793.

The Field Book (1833)  says: “The Duke of Bedford’s is an immense establishment, upon a scale of too great an extent for particular description; as it includes tennis court, riding house, etc., etc. In one stone-fronted building of two hundred and sixty-six feet in length, there are stalls for thirty-six hunters, and eleven loose boxes for sick or lame horses. The kennel is in length four hundred and five feet; having the boiling house in the centre, with feeding rooms adjoining, and a granary behind. On the right of the centre are apartments for two kennel-keepers, two long lodging-rooms for the hunting hounds; with flues running along the wall, to preserve an equal temperature in the severity of the winter season; spacious courts to each, furnished with a fountain in the middle, for the hounds to drink at; and water cocks fixed at proper distances, to cleanse the pavement when it may be required. Adjoining to these, are seven hospitals for sick and lame hounds, with yards to each. On the left, are divisions for litter, straw, and stores of any kind; with eleven apartments for bitches and puppies, and yards to each. There are, also, eleven of a similar description, for bitches in pup; and a large division for bitches at heat. In the front, is a reservoir of water which supplies the fountains and different cocks in the several yards within. Behind the whole, is a large airing ground, flesh-house, and all requisite conveniences. The huntsman’s dwelling is a handsome building adjoining. The number of hunting hounds kept in the kennel, is usually from sixty to seventy couples.”

The Oakley Hounds

Yet by the end of the eighteenth century, fox-hunting was feeling the pinch of costs. The Napoleonic Wars brought heavy taxes and the Duke of Bedford, with his Oakley hounds, was taxed on an additional twenty-five more servants and twenty-seven more horses on top of an existing twenty-six servants and thirty horses. On March 20th, 1798, the Duke wrote to Samuel Whitbread: ‘I will continue my subscription of 500 [pounds sterling] so long as the hounds are kept at Oakley and Mr Pitt leaves me the money’. Difficulties ensued, and in 1809 the Duke of Bedford’s eldest son rescued the hunt when the expense of the hounds totalled 2,850 [pounds sterling] per year. ‘You will be glad to hear Tavistock has determined to undertake the arduous task,’ the Duke wrote on April 4th, ‘although it is rather hard on him to exact the sacrifice of half his income for the gratification of a few gentlemen who are unwilling to contribute anything towards their own amusement.”


Thomas Goosey and the Belvoir Hounds Leaving the Kennels

Other titled kennel owners were the Duke of Rutland and the Duke of Richmond. From The Sportsman’s Library by John Mills 1845:

“The best constructed kennel, taking it in every point of view, that I have seen, is that belonging to His Grace the Duke of Rutland, at Belvoir Castle; although there are others upon a grander scale.


Belvoir Kennels

The superb edifice of the Duke of Richmond at Goodwood, cost no less a sum than thirteen thousand pounds, in its erection. His Grace was his own architect and builder; and the magnificent design, and the perfection of its arrangements, show how capable he was of accomplishing his task.



The kennels at Goodwood

 “The distribution of the building is in five compartments: two of them thirty-six feet by fifteen; and three more, thirty by fifteen. In each of these are openings at the top, for the admission of external air when necessary; and stoves, to qualify the air when too cold. There are supplies of water, and drains into a tank of great depth below, full of rain water; from the surface of which, to the rise of the earth, is eleven feet: so that no unpleasantness arises from stench; and the whole can be occasionally cleared off by drains to more dependent depths and dung pits, where it becomes contributory to the purposes of agriculture. Round the whole pavement, five feet wide, airing yards, places for breeding, and other conveniences make a part of each wing. To produce a uniformity of elegance, neatness, and perfection, the huntsman and whipper-in have each a parlour, kitchen, and sleeping-room, appropriated to their own particular purposes.”



The Belvoir Hunt 2003

As we have read, owning a working hunt kennel was costly then, and is even costlier now. Edmund Yates, in his book, The Business of Pleasure (1879) put it this way – “In summing-up the question of expense, it will be well to bear in mind the axiom of a well-known sportsman of bygone days, that `a master of hounds will never have his hand out of his pocket, and must always have a guinea in it;’ but it may be laid down as a principle that the expense generally depends upon the prudence, experience, and interest possessed by the owner of the pack and the stud. Two men have worked different counties in a season, one at the fourth of the expense incurred by the other, and the difference in sport has been inappreciable. It may, however, be taken as a fact, that the expenses of a fox-hound pack for hunting twice a week, including cost of hounds, horses, huntsmen, and stable-attendants, will be about fifteen hundred; and for three times a week, two thousand pounds.”

In our present day, the cost of owning and maintaining a pack is one obstacle – the political climate against hunting is another thing entirely. Still, the hunts, and hunters, hang on. The Oakley Hunt is still going and you can visit their website here. The Duke of Rutland’s Belvoir Hunt remains active, as well. Visit their site here. The kennels at Goodwood are now a private members club.

The English Mails Part Two

Fast mail coaches were introduced in 1784, with recognized mail routes springing up across the land soon after. There were two types of fast coach upon the road and with the exception of the wealthy, who travelled in their own carriage or by post-chaise, and of the very poor, who used wagons or slow night coaches, all passenger traffic was done by Mail or Stage coach. Stage and Mail coaches were alike in build, carrying four inside passengers and ten or twelve outsides. Mail bags were piled high on the roof, and luggage was carried in large receptacles called boots at either end of the vehicle. The box seat by the coachman, for which an extra fee was charged, was considered the most desirable and was frequently occupied by someone interested in horse flesh. Mail coaches, which were subsidized or owned by the Post Office, were painted uniformly, the lower part of the body being chocolate or mauve; the upper part as well as the fore and hind boots black; the wheels and under carriage a vivid scarlet. The Royal arms were emblazoned on the doors, the Royal cipher painted in gold upon the fore boot, with the number of the vehicle on the hind boot. The panels at each side of the window were embellished with various devices such as the badge of the Garter, the rose, shamrock or thistle.

The departure of the Mails was one of the most exciting sights in London. On its outward journey each coach collected passengers from whatever inn the vehicle was horsed at, and then dashed round at 8 p.m. to St. Martin’s le Grand to collect the mail. Coaches were called by name to receive their bags and the crash of the lid of the boot locking down on the special mails was the signal for each coach to speed away. Fast Stage and Mail coaches made their journeys in about the same time. It took 5 hours to travel from London to Brighton, 2 more to Southampton, 17 hours to Exeter, 19 to Manchester and 21 to Liverpool. This worked out to an average speed of 10 miles an hour. The coaches, besides galloping against each other, were always running against the clock, for lateness was punished by heavy penalties and loss of credit. The half-thoroughbred horses were kept in peak condition and during their stage of seven or eight miles were worked at fever pitch. The steadier wheelers were meant to act as a check upon their leaders, but more often than not the driver gave the wheelers their heads and the whole team sped along at a gallop.

In truly severe weather, the sufferings of the outside passengers was terrible. Once, when the Bath Mail changed horses at Chippenham one March morning, two of the outside passengers were found frozen to death, a third dying later. Postboys were frequently lifted out of their saddles near the point of death. The winter of 1836 was one of the worst on record, with Christmas storms closing all coach roads for several days. On December 26th, the Manchester, Holyhead, Chester and Halifax Mails were all stuck in snow drifts at Hockley Hill, near Dunstable, within a few yards of one another, and throughout the country stories of overturned coaches and dogged heroism on the part of coachmen and guards were recounted. In one instance a guard, leaving his snow bound coach, carried out instructions by taking the mails forward on horseback. Nine miles farther on he sent the horse back, but pushed on himself. Next morning he was found dead, a mile or two up the road, with the mail bag still tied round his neck.

Change of horses at each fresh stage was made quickly. Hostlers and stable boys were allowed a minute in which take out the old horses and harness up a fresh team, though some could manage the job in 50 seconds. Seats on a coach had to be secured in advance at the inn from which it started or where it stopped on the road. The traveller’s name was entered into a book and half the fare taken as a deposit. The fares by stage coach worked out to 2 1/2 to 3d a mile outside, 4-5d a mile for inside passengers. Mails coaches were dearer, averaging from 4 1/2d to 5d for outsides, 8-10d for insides.

The coachman wore beneath his coat a crimson travelling shawl, topped by a long waistcoat of a striped pattern and over that, a wide skirted green coat, ornamented with large brass buttons. Usually he wore on his head a wide brimmed, low crowned brown hat. He wore knee cord breeches, painted top boots and a copper watch chain. The real responsibility for the coach rested with the guard who, in the case of Mail coaches, had the added care of guarding the letter bags. In their red coats, with the gleaming brass horn at the ready, they collected fares from those who joined the coach on the road, saw that the schedule was kept to and were entrusted with the execution of commissions. In case of accident, the guard looked after the mails and the passengers, carrying the former by horse and arranging for a fresh coach for the latter if necessary. They were accustomed to journeys of up to 120 – 150 miles at a stretch and received about 10s a week in wages. Inside passengers were supposed to tip the guards 2s 6d, the outsides 2s, and the guard collected further tips for handling luggage or running errands.

Travelling post chaise was decidedly the favoured means. The chaise was a light and comfortable vehicle with two, or more commonly four wheels, drawn by two or four horses ridden by postboys. For great haste, four horses with two postilions were used. As with a Mail coach, the horses were changed at stages. There was room for only two passengers in a post-chaise, but most carriages had a dickey, or platform, at back for a groom. Principal turnpike gates out of London were found in Knightsbridge at the corner of Gloucester Road, in Kensington at the corner of Earls Court Road, at Marble Arch, Notting Hill, King’s Cross, City Road near Old Street, Shoreditch, Commercial Road, Kennington Gate and three more in the Old Kent Road.

An important London coaching inn was the Golden Cross in Charing Cross, near Nelson’s Column before 1830, when it was moved to face Craven Street. Coaches left here bound for Gloucester, Cheltenham, South Wales, Chester, Liverpool, Hastings, Dover, Stroud, Brighton, Halifax and other points. The Saracen’s Head stood at the top of Snow Hill, next to St. Sepulchre’s Church, with coaches leaving for many parts of England and Scotland. During the eighty years before its demolition in 1868, the inn had been kept by members of the Mountain family, the most prominent being Sarah Ann Mountain who carried on after her husband’s death in 1816. She despatched thirty coaches from her inn each day and set a record
with her “Tally Ho!” to Birmingham. She also built coaches for sale at 110 – 120 guineas each. The Tally Ho! served Canterbury, Liverpool and Birmingham, and was one of nine coaches on the London to Birmingham route. It’s team of four horses was changed at each of the ten stops made between London and Birmingham. The Tally Ho! normally made the 109 mile trip in eleven and a half hours, travelling at an average speed of 9.5 mph. During the famous London to Birmingham race which took place on May Day, 1830, the Tally Ho! made coaching history, setting a record by covering the route in seven and a half hours, travelling at an average speed of 14.5 mph. It should be noted that the coach carried no passengers during the race.

The Swan With Two Necks was the hub of much activity during the 17th and 18th centuries, serving London as a coaching, parcel and wagon office. The name is derived from Swan with Two Nicks, the nicks being the mark by which the birds of the Vintner’s Company were identified. The Inn was a terminus for northbound coaches and stood at the corner of Aldermanbury, where the Guildhall was and is located, with the Wax Chandler’s Hall being on the south side of the street. The Inn was demolished in 1845 when Lad Lane, St. Anne’s Lane, Maiden Lane and Cateaton Street were all widened during the building of Gresham Street.
William Chaplin, the “Napoleon of coach proprietors,” was born at Rochester, Kent, in 1787, son of a coachman-proprietor, and he himself started off driving the Dover Union. Marriage to the sister-in-law of James Edwards, `one of the largest proprietors on the Kentish routes,’ proved useful. He and Edwards allied in many ventures in Kent. He came to horse more and more coaches, until by 1827 he owned between three to four hundred animals and the Spread Eagle, Gracechurch Street. By 1835, he owned 1,200 horses and the Swan with two Necks. In 1838 he horsed 68 coaches with 1,800 horses, employing 2,000 men. He also acquired the Cross Keys and the White Horse, Fetter Lane, and opened the Spread Eagle coach office in Regent Circus. Chaplin was said to have had “immense energy, an equable temperament and great sagacity,” also, “a very good knowledge of the animals he governed as well as the bipeds with whom he was associated.” Never the less, Chaplin one day had a run in with George Denman, toll collector at Kensington Gate, who issued Chaplin a toll ticket bearing the improper amount. A fight broke out during which Denman took hold of Chaplin’s horses, prompting him to use his whip upon the toll keeper. Chaplin was later fined 12s and court costs. As with most well to do businessmen, Chaplin was known to grumble about the actual profits he made, stating in 1827 that, “I have not a shadow of a doubt that, were the coaching account of the nation kept regularly, the whole is decidedly a loss and the public have the turn.”

The Low Down on the English Post

Here are a few elusive details regarding the British postal system that may prove helpful –

Before the introduction of the prepaid penny post (Post Office Act of 1765) and adhesive stamps (6 May 1840), postage was usually collected from the recipient. Rather than paying in advance, one paid on delivery. In order to save their correspondents paying postage, some people had their letters “franked.” A frank was the signature of a Member of either House of Parliament, who had to write both the address on the envelope as well as his signature in his own hand. Thus postage was free.

Envelopes had been developed in the 1830’s, but did not catch on until the Great Exhibition of 1851, when Jeremiah Smith displayed his gummed envelopes. Still, the use of envelopes in correspondence was not general until well into the 1860’s, most people preferring the old fashion of folding over the sheet of paper and fastening the flaps with a wafer -a little disc of gum and flour which was moistened and pressed down with a seal. Quill pens were used long after steel nibs had been introduced. Quills soon lost their point and needed cutting with a sharp “pen knife,” so the art of cutting a nib was one of the first things taught at school.

The penny post routes operated six days a week in most cases. Rates of postage at a uniform penny were lower than those charged by most private carriers, some of whom charged fees as high as 4d to take letters from the nearest post town. Many private posts charged for both letters delivered and those collected for onward transmission by the general post. The official penny post charged only for letters delivered, a system which allowed for posting boxes to be provided at certain points. Letters were delivered to any house on the penny post route and in most villages receiving houses were set up where people in outlying areas could collect their mail. In 1830 the letter rates for the penny post were 4d for 15 miles, 5d for 20 miles and thence according to a sliding scale to 1s for a limit of 300 miles. A letter from London to Liverpool cost 11d; to Bristol 10d; to Aberdeen 1s 3d; to Glasgow 1s 2d. Packages weighing an ounce paid four times the ordinary rate, and for every quarter of an ounce in excess an additional sum was charged. Letters sent to addresses within the same post town were delivered free of charge. In the late 1880’s, commercially produced picture post cards became all the rage and the Post Office instituted a half penny fee for the handling of these.

A late posting fee was sometimes charged and was meant to deter letters from being posted at times inconvenient to official duties, this usually being a penny. Private postal boxes were available, but not in widespread use, at the beginning of the 19th century. In 1837, the Bromley postmaster had six subscribers from whom he received a guinea each. The use of such boxes was explained in The Second Report on Postage (1838): Persons having Private Boxes enjoy generally the advantage of receiving their letters as soon as the window is open and the letter-carriers despatched, but which means, those Subscribers who reside at any distance from the post office obtain their letters so much earlier than they would do by the ordinary Delivery; they have also the opportunity of ascertaining at once whether there are any letters for them, and are usually allowed credit by the Postmaster, accounts being kept of their postage.

The Postmaster could also realize extra revenue by the sale of money orders. From 1798 on, the Money Order Office was run by three partners, including Daniel Stow, Superintendent President of the Inland Office. Originally, money orders were offered in order to enable soldiers and sailors to send funds home to their families. In 1861, the Post Office Savings Bank was opened, with millions opening small savings accounts over the next forty years.

The Twopenny Post served London and its suburbs. There were six collections and deliveries daily in London and three in the suburbs, letters being posted at various receiving offices during the daytime while the last collection was made by a postman who went through the streets ringing a bell. There were two kinds of postmen in London, the General who delivered the post from all parts of the country, and the Twopenny Postman, who had only to do with local mail. Both wore much the same style of uniform – a scarlet coat and shining top-hat adorned with a gold band.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, postmasters had also been innkeepers due to the fact that they were responsible for finding post boys and horses, providing stabling etc. Once recognized mails came into being, this was no longer necessary and it was felt that inns provided little security for the mail bags. In October 1792 the Post Office declared itself against the appointment of innkeepers, as separate rooms for postal business were rarely provided and business might be conducted in the bar. By March 1836, only one post town in the entire country had an innkeeper as postmaster. More common were post offices run by druggists, stationers, grocers, news agents and booksellers. Women could be appointed postmistresses or allowed to take over the concern upon the death of their husbands. Of the 29 Kentish post towns in March 1836, four had postmistresses. One of these was the bustling Ramsgate office, the salary of which was roughly 178 pounds per annum. When a postmistress married, it was the ruling of the Post Office that she must give up the appointment, but it could be transferred to her husband. At Faversham, the widow of Mr. Plowman, the late postmaster, took over upon his death, but in 1800 she married Andrew Hill, who became postmaster in her place. After Mr. Hill died in July of the same year, Sara was reappointed.

Part Two: Mail Coaches coming soon.