OPERATION PIED PIPER – Guest Post by Alix Rickloff

OPERATION PIED PIPER                

WWII was declared on September 1st 1939, and by the end of that month over 800,000 London school children had been evacuated to the countryside ahead of the expected German bombardment.

Planning for Operation Pied Piper, as it was known, began years earlier. The bombing casualties sustained during WWI had frightened the British government badly. Taking into account advances in technology, they were certain that should war break out with a remilitarized Germany, any bombing campaign would result in catastrophic loss of civilian life.

As war grew closer, the government divided the country into zones of “evacuation” “neutral” or “reception”, compiled lists of available housing, and began an all-out crusade to convince the public of the necessity of evacuation. Posters and pamphlets were used successfully to persuade parents that their children would be safest far from the inner cities, especially London. Teachers, local authorities, railway staff, and over 17,000 WVS (Womens’ Volunteer Service) volunteers were brought on board to assist with the planning and implementation.

 

To prepare for evacuation, parents were given a list of items each child needed to take with them which included a gas mask, sandwiches for the journey, and a small bag containing such essentials as a change of underclothes, pajamas, slippers, toothbrush, comb, washcloth, and a warm coat. Yardly Jones recalls preparing before his evacuation:

“We went down Wavertree Road and bought an enamel cup, a knife, fork, and spoon from a list we had. I guess we bought clothing as well, I don’t remember, but I do know I was a little upset since I knew we weren’t that well off and I knew my mother couldn’t afford to go out and buy these things.”

The day of departure, children assembled at their local school where labels were attached to their collars with name, home address, school, and destination. After tearful farewells, teachers and volunteers marched the children to the station where trains waited to take them to such far-flung destinations as Devon, Cornwall, and Wales. Teacher L.A.M. Brech recalls:

“All you could hear was the feet of the children and a kind of murmur because the children were too afraid to talk. Mothers weren’t allowed with us but they came along behind. When we got to the station we knew which platform to go to, the train was ready, we hadn’t the slightest idea where we were going and we put the children on the train and the gates closed behind us. The mothers pressed against the iron gates calling, ‘Goodbye darling.’ I never see those gates at Waterloo that I don’t get a lump in my throat.”

 

Upon arrival, billeting officers arranged for housing. In many instances, this meant nothing more than lining the children up against a wall and allowing families to choose as Beryl Hewitson recounts:

“I noticed boys of about 12 went very quickly—perhaps to help on the farm? Eventually only my friend Nancy and myself were left—two plain, straight-haired little girls wearing glasses, now rather tearful.”

And Irene Brownhill remembers her own arrival in the country:

“…next to us a little thin girl sobbing and very upset and wanting her mother. I put her in the middle of my sister and me and she stopped crying. The people coming around to choose kept saying they would take my sister and me but they did not want three girls only two…”

It was common for the young evacuees to have trouble adjusting to country life. Some had never seen a farm animal before or eaten a fresh vegetable. Others were bored by the lack of entertainments outside of the city. Jean Chartrand remembers two boys billeted with her relatives:

“…one boy had put the pail under the cow’s udders and was holding it there whilst the other boy was using the cow’s tail like a pump handle…”

Evacuee John Wills said his biggest shock was the fresh air: “Nearly knocked us off our feet.” Later he and a friend decided to return to London. “We walked home on the thumb with the odd lift. I much preferred to take my chances in the air raids.”

Host families could be equally surprised by the children they were housing. Because the majority of children came from the poorer sections of cities, there was an idea that they would be undisciplined and dirty. And while this was sometimes the case, more often than not their fears were founded on bias and preconceived notions.

“How I wish the prevalent view of evacuees could be changed. We were not all raised on a diet of fish and chips eaten from newspaper and many of us are quite familiar with the origins of milk. It was just as traumatic for a clean and fairly well educated child to find itself in a grubby semi-slum as vice versa,” Jean McCulloch explained.

By the end of 1939 when the expected bombing didn’t materialize, parents were quick to bring their children back home. And by January of 1940, nearly half of those children sent away in the first weeks had returned to their families. But these were to be short-term homecomings. When France fell in June 1940 and again in the fall of 1940 at the start of the London Blitz, additional evacuations were set in motion. And this time, children would not see their families again until the end of the war almost five years later.

The lasting effects of the evacuation ran the gamut. Some had idyllic experiences with caring families who maintained close ties long after the war ended like Michael Clark:

“We could not understand these strange people who for some reason we were sent to live with, but as the years have gone by I realize just what diamonds they were”

Others, like Gloria McNeill, homesick and unhappy, recall the forced separation and sometimes squalid and violent conditions these children found themselves in.

“Every time I hear Vera Lynn sing “Goodnight children everywhere’ I see a forlorn 11-year old curled up in a corner of a strange bedroom, hiding tears behind the pages of The Blue Fairy Book.”

Operation Pied Piper officially ended in 1946 bringing to a close one of the largest organized movements of civilian population during wartime and one of the most heartbreaking and inspiring chapters of British history.

Sources:

Dwight Jon Zimmerman. “Operation Pied Piper: The Evacuation of English Children During World War II.” www.DefenseMediaNetwork.com

Laura Clouting. “The Evacuated Children of the Second World War.” www.iwm.org.uk

“Primary History World War 2: Evacuation” www.bbc.uk

Ben Wicks. No Time to Wave Goodbye (Stoddart Publishing, 1988)

 

From the author of Secrets of Nanreath Hall comes this gripping, beautifully written historical fiction novel set during World War II—the unforgettable story of a young woman who must leave Singapore and forge a new life in England.

On the eve of Pearl Harbor, impetuous and overindulged, Lucy Stanhope, the granddaughter of an earl, is living a life of pampered luxury in Singapore until one reckless act will change her life forever. 

Exiled to England to stay with an aunt she barely remembers, Lucy never dreamed that she would be one of the last people to escape Singapore before war engulfs the entire island, and that her parents would disappear in the devastating aftermath. Now grief stricken and all alone, she must cope with the realities of a grim, battle-weary England.

Then she meets Bill, a young evacuee sent to the country to escape the Blitz, and in a moment of weakness, Lucy agrees to help him find his mother in London. The unlikely runaways take off on a seemingly simple journey across the country, but her world becomes even more complicated when she is reunited with an invalided soldier she knew in Singapore.

Now Lucy will be forced to finally confront the choices she has made if she ever hopes to have the future she yearns for.

 

Author Bio:

Critically acclaimed author of historical and paranormal romance, Alix Rickloff’s family tree includes a knight who fought during the Wars of the Roses (his brass rubbing hangs in her dining room) and a soldier who sided with Charles I during the English Civil War (hence the family’s hasty emigration to America). With inspiration like that, what else could she do but start writing her own stories? She lives in Maryland in a house that’s seen its own share of history so when she’s not writing, she can usually be found trying to keep it from falling down.

 

Websitewww.AlixRickloff.com

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Buy This Book: http://bit.ly/2oM4Gy4

 

 

 

 

 

IS IT HAUNTED? WELL OF COURSE IT IS! IT’S ENGLAND!

Generally, in England Halloween is not the celebrated holiday it is here in the United States. Of course, as happens all too frequently, it has crept Across the Pond and become more Americanized, but until recently there was simply no need to celebrate things that go bump in the night on one night of the year. Why? Because frankly when it comes to things that go bump in the night, Halloween is rather redundant in the UK. The entire island is a celebration of all things ghostly, ghoulish, and people who simply refuse to go into the light. One can hardly throw a rock without passing through the ghost of a Grey Lady, a White Lady, a Howling Banshee, or a Spectral Monk. However, even with all of this paranormal mayhem, there are certain rules which pertain to whom or what is more likely to be creeping about Mother England long after they might have gone on to the great tea room or pub in the sky.

Thus, we give you…

TEN RULES FOR HAUNTING IN THE UNITED KINGDOM

1. If one is any of Henry VIII’s six wives and one has been born in, died in, grew up in, lived in, slept in, visited, been executed in or near, or even driven or ridden by a building one must haunt said building. Choice of dress color is optional—grey or white is preferred.

Haunted Gallery – Hampton Court Palace. Katherine Howard is said to have escaped her guards and run down this gallery to catch Henry VIII in the chapel and beg for his mercy. Her ghost is said to repeat this last path over and over again.

 

 

Amberley Castle. A servant girl named Emily was supposedly impregnated by a bishop and tossed aside. She, therefore, tossed herself off one of the towers to her death. She is sometimes seen roaming the halls. More often seen repeating her leap from the tower.

2. If one is a servant in a particular house and one dies of either lingering disease or preferably some sort of gruesome death over unrequited love, being unjustly accused of theft, or the master (or his son) has got you in a delicate condition one must haunt said house—hanging oneself over and over again is good. Throwing oneself off a tower only to disappear is better. If it is accompanied by a great deal of weeping and moaning it is better still.

 

 

3. If one is a highwayman or other notorious outlaw and one has died at the hands of either the hangman or the militia in a desperate chase and shootout one is condemned to haunt either the place of execution or, even better, one is condemned to ride up and down the stretch of road one frequented or upon which one finally met one’s end. One’s horse is apparently condemned as well. Shouting “Stand and Deliver!” is optional.

Dartford Heath – Said to be haunted by Dick Turpin and other highwaymen who can be heard riding through the mist of an evening.

 

4. If one met one’s end in a pub or tavern, especially in some sort of tavern brawl or affair of honor, one must stop by said pub periodically. Not for a pint, but to scare the bejeesus out of the current patrons. If one is a tavern maid who was murdered in said establishment, committed suicide in said establishment, got lost on the way home from said establishment, or went walking out with the wrong patron from said establishment then one is condemned to hang around and give the place character as well. One is not allowed to drink whilst haunting, which seems a bit unfair, but those are the rules.

The Ostrich in Colnbrook Photograph taken 1905 © Crown Copyright.EH ref: OP14241
Over 900 years as a coaching inn and pub. Some 60 or more murders are attributed to a 17th century innkeeper and his wife. Is there any way The Ostrich isn’t haunted?

 

5. If one fought (and died, of course) on any of the numerous battlefields in the UK there is always the chance one might be condemned to haunt said battlefield. Loss of limb, or especially loss of one’s head is a certain bet one will be required to hang around said battlefield for eternity looking for one’s missing parts. Sending one’s horse to gallop about unseen in the mist is a possible out. Rattling one’s saber, firing cannons, and shouting “Charge!” are a safe bet.

 

The Battlefield at Culloden is said to be haunted by soldiers who died in battle there in 1746. It is said one can hear the sounds of pipes and drums and shouted battle cries at sunset.

 

 

6. If one was a monk or nun and died in the area of a monastery or abbey, the more gruesome one’s death the more likely one must haunt said monastery or abbey. Murdered by a king or at a king’s behest is guaranteed employment as a ghost for eternity. Especially if one’s death was particularly bloody and took place in said monastery or abbey. However, it is possible, if one was a monk or nun one is simply choosing to haunt said monastery or abbey. Apparently, monks and nuns have a great deal of trouble moving on.

Whitby Abbey – site of a spectral monk and inspiration for one of the locations in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

 

7. If one is the lady of the house, especially a castle or a stately home—the older the better, and one meets an unfortunate end, one might be required to haunt said castle or house. Murdered by a wicked husband, becoming ill after suffering a jilting or loss in love, being stood up at the altar and falling into a fatal decline, committing suicide by leaping from the tower, parapet or a particularly high window—any and all of these will do. Grey or white are the dress colors preferred, although red will do in a pinch. Oh, and if one had a dog of which one was particularly fond, said dog might be condemned to walk the parapets with one. On rare occasion said ghost dog might be heard howling in despair on the anniversary of his mistress’s death.

Samlesbury Hall – Haunted by the White Lady, Dorothy Southworth, whose Catholic family killed her Protestant lover the night they were to meet and elope. She is said to haunt the hall in search of her lover.

 

8. Moors in England are required, I do believe it is by law, to have at least one creature (known origins optional) to haunt said moor and frighten anyone unfortunate enough to venture out onto said moor, especially in the evening or at night. A moor might be haunted by a hound of unusual size and ferocity, a pack of hunting dogs lost by a careless master, a fiery horse (rider optional) lost in the bogs of the moor, Celtish or Roman warriors trapped in the bogs over the centuries, a howling creature of unknown origins or anyone ever lost or body-dumped on the moors by a savvy, but cold-hearted killer.

Dartmoor – The Moor – Home to Baskerville Hounds, witches burned or hanged or drowned and even a few Roman soldiers who never made it home.

 

Tower of London – White Chapel – The bodies of the Two Princes murdered by their Uncle Richard to obtain the crown were reportedly found here. The Princes are said to haunt the Tower, especially the chapel.

9. Should one be a member of the royal family on one’s death, one is very nearly required to haunt various royal residences. This is especially true if one has suffered a horrible death or one has suffered the loss by terrible or premature death of one’s child or spouse. Should one be a royal murdered by yet another royal for reasons of royal coup or simply a family feud got out of hand, one is far more likely to be compelled to haunt. Crowns, and sometimes even heads, are optional. Oh, and if one is numbered amongst those bad kings or queens, one is simply doomed to haunt, just saying. Apparently dead royals are nearly as bad as monks and nuns about moving on.

 

 

10. Dying at Number 50 Berkeley Square apparently guarantees one a spot on the haunting roster. Whether one’s death was horrible, frightening, or merely sad one has no choice but to linger around for eternity and wait one’s turn to disturb the peace of the house. There are so many spirits at this address there must be a ghostly social secretary to keep everyone in order. However, one is guaranteed a deal of privacy as hauntings are only allowed on the fourth floor and, apparently, the police, in typical British fashion have posted a sign in the house forbidding anyone to climb to the fourth floor.

“You say the rooms are haunted? Well, don’t go into those rooms!”

Number 50 is considered the most haunted house in London, but according to those who work at antiquarian booksellers Maggs Bros. Ltd., housed at this address for many years, nothing untoward has ever happened. Then again, they never venture onto the fourth floor. Ever. Would you?

Check out theparanormalguide.com for more information and great research on No. 50 Berkeley Square and other haunted places in Britain.

There you have it, a few rules for haunting in the UK. Even with the rules, those of us who love England might not find it too terrible a task to spend eternity there. Some of us would spend our years left with the living haunting England, if funds and time would allow! Stay tuned for a few in depth looks at some haunted spots in our favorite place on earth!

THE NAME OF THE ROOM – WHEN IS A KITCHEN A VILLAGE?

WHEN IT IS THE KITCHEN IN A REGENCY ERA HOME

When we think of a kitchen today, we think of a single room.

  No this is not my kitchen. Too few books on the counters and not enough dirty dishes. And there’s no dog trying to get into the fridge.

Historically, the words kitchen and kitchens were used interchangeably. The reason? In stately homes and even in townhouses in the wealthier areas of London, the space where food was prepared and where servants did a great deal of their work was divided into a number of rooms, a veritable village, and whilst each room had a work specific name, together they were all called the kitchens.

The kitchens in a stately home were generally located on the ground floor. However, in some homes they were actually located in a separate building with walkways or tunnels to the dining room in the main house. In town houses the kitchens consisted of fewer rooms and were located on the ground floor. A very few were actually located on a basement level and the food would be carried to the dining room and a few other public rooms on the ground floor.

The ideal kitchens were located far enough away from the family quarters to avoid the smells of cooking to offend, but close enough to allow the delivery of food whilst still hot. They were located off an entrance in order to facilitate the delivery of supplies and if possible close to the kitchen garden for easy access.

Charles Street Berkley Square Townhouse Kitchens
Servant Hall Georgian Townhouse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some things were the same whether the kitchens were in a London townhouse or a country stately home. The room actually called the kitchen was basically the same no matter the location. It was the central food preparation area. From here the Cook (Yes, Cook was the title and a proper noun. You prepare an eight course dinner for a party of 100 guests at the drop of a hat and you deserve a little capitalization!) or, in some houses, the Chef ruled her or his domain. The housekeeper and the butler ruled the house. The Cook or Chef ruled the kitchen and had charge of the kitchen maids, the scullery maids, and the pot boys.

Kitchens tended to be oblong. The window would be positioned to the left side of the range, and the kitchen dresser, where essential equipment was held, would stand close to the work table.

The main components of this area were the large kitchen work table, where most of the food preparation was done, and the ovens.

Georgian Kitchen Table
Georgian Kitchen
Kitchen at Inveraray Castle
Kitchen at Penrhyn Castle

 

The New Kitchen built in the early 1770s at Erddig, Wrexham, Wales, looking towards the large Venetian window and the preparation table.
The Great Kitchen at Saltram, Devon. The kitchen was built in the late 1770s and has an open range with roasting spits, and a cast-iron closed range in the middle of the room.
The Kitchen at Cragside

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another vital room in the kitchen village was the scullery. The proximity of the scullery to the kitchen was important. The two were located close together, in an area where both had ample natural light (to prevent mold,) but where one did not need to cross the kitchen to get to the scullery. Often the only entrance to the scullery was outside with a pass through to the kitchen. Keeping the two areas separate was vital so as not to contaminate prepared food with the soiled water. The scullery was usually located along an outside wall of the house to aid in the hauling of water and the flushing out of the drains.

Soiled water, you say? Yes! Because the scullery was primarily a wash area. Pots and pans and kitchen utensils were washed here. As was the family china, but not in the same sinks. Double stone sinks were used for most of the dishes. A copper sink was used for the china to prevent chipping. In some larger homes, with larger sculleries, there were boilers for the laundry to be boiled.

Some food preparation was done in this area, such as chopping vegetables, as they needed to be washed first. Hygiene was essential in order not to contaminate existing food. This meant constant hauling of fresh water, scrubbing, washing, and cleaning. The scullery floor, made of stone, was lower than the kitchen’s, which prevented water from flowing into the cooking areas. Dry goods were stashed well away from the scullery, which also had to be kept dry in order to prevent mold. To prevent standing in water all day long, raised latticed wood mats were placed by the sink for the scullery maid to stand upon.

Scullery maid at work.
The Scullery at Tredegar House
The Scullery at Chawton House

 

 

 

 

 

Scullery Harewood House

The next stop on our tour of the kitchen village is the still room. The still room started out as a combination pharmacy and distillery. Prior to the nineteenth century most medicines were herbal and every woman in the house from the mistress to the lowliest maid might have the knowledge and the talent to create them. And many homes brewed their own beers and ales. When they did, it was done in the still room. By the mid-nineteenth century some of these activities continued, but the room was used primarily to preserve and juice all of the fruit harvested on the estate. This was the room where tea trays were prepared. There was also a hearth where a kettle was always on the boil for that emergency pot of tea.

Still Room at Petworth
Still room Cragside House

 

 

 

 

 

An annex to the kitchens, but still considered part of the “village,” was the butler’s pantry. The butler’s pantry was traditionally used to store silver, serving pieces, and other kitchen related items. Because the silver was kept under lock and key in the butler’s pantry the butler would sometimes actually sleep in the pantry to guard against thievery. It was also an area where meals were staged as the different removes were delivered to be taken to the dining room. The butler sometimes had a pantry-maid whose job it was to dust and keep everything in order. Sometimes a butler’s pantry might have a sink in it for quick clean ups. Polishing the silver, however, was usually a task reserved for the butler.

Butler’s pantry at McKim-Mead-White-Staatsburg House
Butler’s pantry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Butler’s Pantry Berrington Hall

A few other rooms one might find in the “kitchen village” were :

A pastry room which is exactly what it sounds like. Some wealthier families might keep a pastry chef, as well as a chef. More likely this room was used by Cook and perhaps a kitchen maid she trained to create desserts for large events or even to create pastry dishes to be stored and used later. Cakes might be stored in this room.

The pastry room at Tredegar House, Newport, South Wales. The shelves and work surfaces made of slate and the stone-flagged floor helped to keep the room cool.

A curing room used a fired clay sink lifted up on pavers and a slate tub to brine meat. The windows were kept needed to keep out flies. Yes, you really needed to know that little fact.

Curing room at Petworth

A dairy scullery was used to keep all of the utensils, molds, and cookware associated with the making of cheese, butter and other dairy products clean. The remains of these processes were tough to clean and a separate scullery was used to make certain flavors of other foods were not cooked into those used for dairy products, thus effecting the flavor of those products. It was also where dairy products might be cooked down and prepared.

The Dairy Scullery at Lanhydrock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some kitchens might be adjacent to a cool room. It would contain a wood cupboard, an early refrigerator, which afforded food storage on one side with hatch doors for blocks of ice from the underground ice house on the other. This room was also used for preparing and hanging the hams and slabs of bacon that hung behind the ventilation slats above the door, while rails were used for hanging other salted meats. Other cabinets might have a pattern of holes in them to promote air circulation around certain food items in storage.

Cool room at Petworth House

As you can see, a kitchen is not always a kitchen. And sometimes it takes a village to prepare His Grace’s dinner and see it served properly!

 

THE NAME OF THE ROOM – WHEN IS A SALOON NOT A SALOON ?

When it is in an English stately home, of course!

English stately homes were designed to include a great many rooms. Each room in these homes had a purpose. Some served useful purposes, some were strictly for show, some have modern day equivalents, and others have no equal at all. When visiting a stately home or even viewing photos of the rooms in these homes it is easy to wonder…

Why is this room a drawing room, but this room is a saloon?

If this is a sitting room then what is a parlor?

It can be quite confusing and many people think there isn’t a ha’pence worth of difference between them. Of course, there is! At least to a Regency England fanatic there is. Let me explain. (And, yes, this is just an excuse to look at photos of beautiful rooms in English stately homes. So shoot me! But not in the best parlor.)

In the United States, when one thinks of a saloon these are the sort of images that come to mind.

TOMBSTONE, Joanna Pacula, Val Kilmer, Kurt Russell, 1993, (c) Buena Vista

 

 

 

 

 

The second photo is simply a gratuitous image of Val Kilmer playing Doc Holliday. But you get the point. The American version is quite different from the English one.

That’s not a saloon. THIS is a saloon!

The saloon at Longleat House.

In considering the names for rooms in stately homes it is always helpful to discover the year(s) the house was built and the name of the designer or architect. The rooms of the first floor (not to be confused with the ground floor) of a stately home are often the most indicative of the era in which the home was built. In large 18th century stately homes the first floor consisted of a series or rooms opening into each other in an ongoing circular procession. There were no outside entrances to each room One had to enter the first room and cross it to get to the second room and so on.

The layouts of homes–particularly older houses for ancestral family seats would have been built along floor plans more common in the centuries before–would not necessarily have all rooms accessible from a common hallway or passage. Some rooms could be entered only from other rooms, connected by doorways throughout. (This is often notable in grand houses or even palaces such as Versailles.) Consider the time period of when a house was likely to have been constructed or added on to (newer wings on an older central structure could make for interesting quirks of differing architecture,) and the fashionable layouts popular at the times.

Alnwick Castle Saloon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The saloon, an older version of the French word salon was usually the largest and grandest room in the house. It might also be called the state room or great chamber. It was capable of hosting a large gathering, an exhibition, or even a ball. This was a remnant of the days when large homes such as these were in the hands of royalty or their relations. People would enter the home by way of the saloon or great chamber. One moved through the series of rooms after that based on one’s position in the homeowner’s retinue.

Blenheim Palace Saloon
Octogonal Saloon in Houghton Hall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Saloon in Uppark

The Drawing Room Has Nothing to Do with Art

The term drawing room is derived from the 16th century terms withdrawing room or withdrawing chamber. In large 18th century English stately homes a withdrawing room was a room to which the owner of the house, his wife, or his distinguished guest who occupied a main suite of rooms in the house could withdraw for more privacy. It was usually off the saloon or great chamber and sometimes even led to a formal or state bedchamber. It was still considered a formal room in which to greet and spend time with visitors. It was also the reception room for evening entertainments. A house might have more than one drawing room as in larger homes there might be several suites of rooms to which a drawing room was attached.

Hinton Ampner Drawing Room
The Argory Drawing Room

 

 

 

 

 

 

Attingham Drawing Room

Drawing rooms came in three basic sizes and their uses were more often than not dictated by these sizes.

Small Size : 16 feet wide by 18 to 20 feet long

Good Size : 18 feet wide by 24 feet long

Superior Size : 20 feet wide by 30 feet long to 26 feet wide by 40 feet long

Home House in London
Drawing room by Robert Adam
Brodsworth Hall Drawing Room

 

 

 

 

 

Essentially the drawing room was the grand standard for everything–sit in there when one was At Home to receive callers in the morning (“morning” being anytime from breakfast [9-10am usually] to dinner time [3-6pm, depending on how fashionable one was – the later one was the more fashionable one was considered] and not necessarily literally 12am-11.59am,) and then to gather prior to dinner, then for the ladies to withdraw to after dinner, later to be joined by the gentlemen, where coffee and tea would also be served late in the evening. There might have been a musical instrument or card tables for entertainment, or one might simply have relied on conversation or reading.

Here is where it became a bit complicated. How many drawing rooms might a house have? It depended on the size of the house and how much the family might entertain. If one was rich and received many callers, one might have a morning room as well as one or two drawing rooms. In order to designate these rooms or to give servants direction the rooms might be called The Blue Drawing-Room or The West Drawing-Room or The Egyptian Drawing-Room, identified by the color of the decor, the location in the house, or the style of the decor.

A lady might have had a more intimate and personal sitting room, sometimes attached to her bedchamber suite, but she only received especially close friends there. A morning room could have been used for these calls, or the standard drawing-room. If a morning room was used, the drawing-room was then used in the evening for pre-dinner and after-dinner socializing and entertainment. For this the largest/fanciest drawing-room was used to make the best impression.

Apsley House Striped Drawing Room
APSLEY HOUSE View of the Piccadilly Drawing Room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Come into my Sitting room… Morning room… Parlor,  said the Duchess to the Duke

Spencer House Morning Room

The last rooms in this particular category were for the private use of family members. As I noted earlier, a lady might have a sitting room attached to her bedchamber suite or in a large country house she might have a sitting room or parlor for her own particular use. A sitting room, parlor, or morning room was more often than not used for the family to spend time together. The ladies of the house might gather to sew, embroider, read, and chat. The family might gather to discuss the day’s events or a family issue or simply to enjoy each others company. Whilst townhouses had most of the same rooms as one’s country house they were usually smaller in number and size. And whilst you would find these last three rooms in a country house they were more commonly found in townhouses. In the mid to late nineteenth century, with the rise of the moneyed middle class, these were the rooms more commonly used to entertain visitors and for intimate family gatherings in the smaller houses associated with merchants and their families.

Parlor in London townhouse
Oak Parlor at Owlpen House

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stapleford Park Sitting Room
Alnwick Castle Sitting Room

 

 

 

 

 

 

And there you have it! A little tour and brief primer on one specific set of rooms one might find in a Regency and/or Victorian era home. Was it an excuse to also look at photos of some lovely rooms whilst our friends Victoria Hinshaw and Kristine Hughes Patrone are touring the UK? Absolutely! Stay tuned for a look at another set of rooms soon!

WHAT DOES ONE CALL A GATHERING OF REGENCY ROMANCE AUTHORS?

 

For those of you who do not know, Romance Writers of America has an annual conference, usually in July, which welcomes two thousand to twenty-five hundred romance writers from all over the world. The location varies as it is held on the West Coast of the United States, the East Coast of the United States, in the Midwest, and in the South on a four year rotating schedule. This year’s conference was held in Orlando, Florida at the Swan and Dolphin Hotel in Disney World.

Every year at this conference the Beau Monde Chapter of RWA, the chapter dedicated to writers of Regency Historical Romance, has an all day mini conference the day before the RWA Conference gets into full swing. I am not exactly certain, but…

What might one call a gathering of forty or so authors who write romance set in the Regency Era?

A Promenade ?

An Austenium ?

A Waterloo ?

A Dukedom ?

The possibilities are endless! Whatever one calls it, this day long event is one of the highlights of my year. We writers tend to be an odd lot and gathering with people just as odd is always a source of inspiration. Add to that the inherent uniqueness of those who choose to study (obsess over) the Regency era in order to write better novels and you have a meeting of the minds rare in our everyday lives. This year’s conference was no exception.

What does one do at a Beau Monde Mini Conference?

7:30 – 9:00 a.m. Registration and Continental Breakfast
8:00 – 8:45 a.m. Annual General Meeting/Volunteer Recognition Ceremony (all members encouraged to attend)
9:00 – 10:00 a.m. Georgian Dublin: From The Castle to HellCora Lee
10:00 – 10:15 a.m. Break
10:15 – 11:15 a.m. Women of the Regency: How they loved; what they thought; and how they were viewedCallie Hutton
11:15 – 11:30 a.m. Break
11:30 – 12:45 p.m. Lunch and Keynote with Kate Pearce
1:00 – 2:00 p.m. Creating the Regency FeelGrace Kone
2:00 – 2:15 p.m. Break
2:15 – 4:00 p.m. If You Knew Regency London…Louisa Cornell and Kristine Hughes
(Mid Workshop Break 3:00-3:10 p.m.)
Break
7:00 – 8:00 p.m. Libations of the Regency Workshop – sponsored and presented by Ella Quinn
8:30 – 11:00 p.m.
The Beau Monde Soirée
Regency Dance Mistress Catie Condran Geist
Royal Ascot & Reader’s Choice Awards
Silent Auction

Each year members of the Beau Monde present workshops on an area of research in which they have done intensive research. Some of this research is done for specific books, but much of it is done because research is what we love and we do tend to get carried away when investigating a topic.

We call it Falling Down a Rabbit Hole.

Our own Kristine Hughes Patrone and I conducted a two-hour workshop on Regency London and we had enough material to do two more hours if we had been given free rein. I will be posting out workshop here at Number One London soon, so stay tuned!

Did you know storage areas under the streets and sidewalks of Regency London were a perk of Regency townhouses?

As you can see it is a full day of Regency research, adoration, and a great deal of discussion. As much as we Regency romance authors spend a great deal of our time chained to a desk with a stack of research books on one side and a pot of never ending tea on the other, we also enjoy each others company. And, of course, the soiree which ends our day long conference is always a great excuse to dress up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

And as this conference took place in one of Disney World’s lovely hotels we honored a request by the management to promenade in the lobby in our Regency finery. Nothing like becoming a tourist attraction, but we Regency authors will do anything to promote our books!