Originally published in 2010
There were two Lady Jerseys during the Regency, Frances, Lady Jersey and her daughter-in-law, Sarah, Lady Jersey, who became one of the Lady Patronesses at Almack’s Assembly Rooms. The elder, and more infamous, Lady Jersey was Frances Twysden, the posthumously born daughter of Rev.Philip Twysden, Bishop of Raphoe (1746–1752) who was allegedly shot while attempting to rob a stagecoach in London(!), and his second wife Frances Carter, daughter of Thomas Carter of Robertstown, Master of the Rolls. Her disreputable father was the third son of Sir William Twysden, 5th Bart of Roydon Hall, by his wife and distant cousin Jane Twisden.
When Frances was seventeen, she married George Villiers, 4th Earl of Jersey, son and heir of William Villiers, 3rd Earl of Jersey and his wife, Lady Anne Egerton. Frances’s husband was nearly twenty years older than she and was Master of Horse to the Prince of Wales and a Lord of the Bedchamber. The reason for the marriage of Lord Jersey to the daughter of a disreputable Irish bishop has not been explained in contemporary accounts. However, her husband’s position within the Royal household soon placed Lady Jersey in close proximity to the Prince of Wales and led to Lady Jersey being well placed for undertaking future mischief.
George IV began his affair with Frances, Lady Jersey, in 1782, although she would also become romantically involved with various members of the English aristocracy. It was not until 1794 that Lady Jersey managed to lure the Prince of Wales away from his illegal wife, Maria Fitzherbert, although he would continue to be romantically involved with Maria until 1811. Having helped to encourage the Prince of Wales to marry his first cousin, Caroline of Brunswick, Lady Jersey nevertheless set out to make Caroline’s life difficult, perpetrating what vies to be the greatest piece of cheek in Regency history, Lady Jersey had herself appointed as Lady-in-Waiting to Princess Caroline. Losing no time in stirring the pot, Lady Jersey met Princess Caroline when she landed at Greenwich on April 5th, 1795 – arrivng late. She then proceeded to usurp the Princess’s rightful place in the Royal carriage by plead motion sickness whenever she rode backwards, thus forcing the Princess to give up her seat in the place of honour.
However Caroline, the potential Queen Consort, saw through the intrigues of her husband’s mistress and, there being no love lost between Caroline and the Prince of Wales, soon cared very little about the matter. In fact, after the birth of their child together, Caroline lived abroad for most of her 25 year marriage to him, taking other lovers, and therefore leaving a void Frances could fill. Because Lady Jersey enjoyed the favour of Queen Charlotte, even the displeasure of George III was not enough to threaten Lady Jersey’s position, and she continued to run the prince’s life and household for some time.
It might be said that Lady Jersey’s reputation for intrigue and malice led to her downfall. The following contemporary letters offer further insight into her personality.
On July 6, 1803, diarist Joseph Farrington wrote: “Lady Jersey is now quite out of favour with the Prince of Wales. She told Hoppner that she met the Prince upon the stairs at the Opera House, & in such a situation as to render it necessary to make room for him to pass which not instantly noticing him she did not do as she wished, which caused Her after He had passed to say a few words of apology. He went forward, and the next day Col. McMahon called upon her to signify to Her `that it was the desire of the Prince that she would not speak to him.’ She spoke bitterly of McMahon for having submitted to carry such a message. She says there is a popish combination against her. (McMahon was Private Secretary and Keeper of the Privy Purse to the Prince of Wales, as well as being a Privy Councilor. He was created a Baronet on August 7, 1817).
Frances, Lady Jersey, died on July 23, 1821, in Cheltenham. Her daughter-in-law, Sarah, Lady Jersey, was much more beloved by society. Sarah, Lady Jersey, the Lady Patroness who introduced the Quadrille to Almack’s Assembly Rooms and who is Zenobia in Disraeli’s Endymion, was the daughter of John Fane, the 10th Earl of Westmorland, who had scandalously eloped with her mother, the heiress Sarah Ann Child, a member of the Child’s banking family. Born Lady Sarah Sophia Fane, the younger Lady Jersey married George Villiers, the 5th Earl of Jersey, then Viscount Villiers, on 23 May 1804. He succeeded to the title in 1805 and until her death in 1867, Lady Jersey, who lived in Berkeley Square, was the undisputed Queen of London Society, being called, in fact, “Queen Sarah,” although she styled herself as Sally.
Sir William Fraser described her thusly in later life, “Lady Jersey was never a beauty. She had a grand figure to the last; never became the least corpulent, and, to use a common term, there was obviously no “make up” about her. A considerable mass of grey hair; dressed, not as a young woman, but as a middle-aged one. Entirely in this, as in other things, without affectation, her appearance was always pleasant. No trace of rouge nor dye could ever be seen about her. She seemed to take her sovereignty as a matter of course; to be neither vain of it, nor, indeed, to think much about it. Very quick and intelligent, with the strongest sense of humour that I have ever seen in a woman; taking the keenest delight in a good joke, and having, I should say, great physical enjoyment of life.”
After her parents had eloped, Lady Sarah’s grandfather, Robert Child, sought to confound the newlyweds by preventing any of his fortune from going directly to his daughter or the Westmorland family, which he disliked intensely. He made a will leaving the whole of it to any daughter that might be born to the couple. Sarah became an heiress upon his death, inheriting not only his banking fortune, but Osterley Park as well.
On July 6th, 1825, Mrs. Arbuthnot wrote the following complaint about Lady Jersey: “I was very cross at the King’s ball, I was so provoked with Lady Jersey. In the first place, she was chaperone to Miss Ponsonby, who is just come out & very shy & who she left entirely to herself & took no notice of, while she went about flirting with every man she could get hold of. Miss Ponsonby came & staid with me & protested she would never go to a ball again with Lady Jersey.
In 2010, there was an exhibit at Temple Newsam in Leeds entitled ‘A House of Birds: American Birds in a Chinese Garden,’ which told the amazing story of what happened when the former owner of Temple Newsam House, Isabella Ingram (known as Lady Hertford), decided to get creative with the décor in her sitting room in 1827. Once upon a time, Prinny (the future King George IV) was courting Isabella, and after a visit to the house in 1806, he gifted her mother, Frances, Lady Irwin, with several rolls of blue, handpainted Chinese wallpaper.
This wallpaper was hand-painted in China for the export market. It dates from c.1800 and was intended to form a panoramic view of an Oriental garden. The garden is planted with flowering trees and shrubs in vases, and the viewer looks out over an alabaster balustrade.
These wallpapers were made in panels about four feet square and were shipped in this form to Europe. However, Lady Irwin apparently had no liking, or use, for the paper, which mouldered away in a closet for the next twenty-one years.
Finally, Lady Hertford dug out the rolls of wallpaper in 1827 when she was redecorating the house and used them as the basis for the Blue Drawing Room (also known as the Chinese Drawing Room), creating the space in what had been the best dining room. By this time, however, the wallpaper had become a tad dated and its design was much more subdued than current fashion dictated. What’s a Lady to do? Lady Herford eventually hit upon a unique decor scheme and used a bit of decoupage to add some zip to Prinny’s wallpaper, embellishing the design with prints of exotic birds cut from John James Audubon’s famous publication The Birds of America. Audubon had visited England in order to get financial backing for the series and Lady Hertford had subscribed to the first issue. In a letter to his wife, Audubon tells her that Lady Hertford had cut out and used his prints to jazz up the wallpaper so that we know he was aware of the fact. Unfortunately, Audubon did not expand upon the mention, so we will never his views on the matter.
It should be noted that in 2000 an original copy of Audubon’s The Birds of America sold for $8.8 million dollars, which is still a world record price for a book.
Temple Newsam house itself has a long history and was first mentioned in the Domesday Book. In 1155 it was given to the Knights Templar and Thomas, Lord Darcy built a four-sided courtyard house on the site in the early sixteenth century. In 1537 the property was seized by the Crown following his execution for treason (he was involved in the Pilgrimage of Grace rising). Henry VIII gave the house to Margaret, Countess of Lennox in 1544, and her son, Henry Lord Darnley, was born in the house the following year. In 1565 the estate was again seized by the Crown, this time by Elizabeth I, after Lord Darnley made the mistake of marrying Mary Queen of Scots.
The house fell into disrepair, and upon his accession in 1603, James I of England gave the estate to his cousin Ludovic, Duke of Lennox, and it languished tenantless until Sir Arthur Ingram bought the estate in 1622 for £12,000; he rebuilt the house as the three-sided building which exists today, one wing of the old house being kept as the central wing of the new house. There was a financial crisis when the family lost a fortune in the South Sea Bubble, but that was sorted out by a son marrying an heiress; so more work could be done on the house, and Capability Brown landscaped the park.
Through the nineteenth century there were major works done on the interiors and the grounds, and in 1904 the estate was inherited by a nephew, Edward Wood, first Earl of Halifax; in 1922 he sold some of the parkland to Leeds Corporation for £35,000 and they eventually acquired the house for free.
One of the most iconic buildings in England, Brighton’s Royal Pavilion has come to symbolize the decadence of the Regency Period. Built as George IV’s pleasure palace by the sea, the Pavilion continues to astonish visitors, just as it did in the 19th century. Even the typically unflappable Duke of Wellington was taken aback by the Pavilion’s excesses and the Prince’s flamboyant style of interior decor.
Princess Lieven recorded the Duke’s reaction upon first seeing the Pavilion in a letter to her husband written from Brighton on January 26, 1822:
“I wish you were here to laugh. You cannot imagine how astonished the Duke of Wellington is. He had not been here before, and I thoroughly enjoy noting the kind of remark and the kind of surprise that the whole household evokes in a new-comer. I do not believe that, since the days of Heliogabalus, there have been such magnificence and such luxury. There is something effeminate in it which is disgusting. One spends the evening half-lying on cushions; the lights are dazzling; there are perfumes, music, liquers – “Devil take me, I think I must have got into bad company.” You can guess who said that, and the tone in which it was said. . . . ”
After the death of the Prince Regent, his brother, King William IV, and later Queen Victoria, both visited the Pavilion. However, by Queen Victoria’s time, the town of Brighton had become much more developed and the population increased accordingly. Queen Victoria felt that the property could no longer afford herself and her family the seclusion they required and she sold the building to the Corporation of Brighton in 1850.
Today, the Royal Pavilion has been restored to it’s former Regency glory and is still astonishing the many visitors who arrive daily to experience the grandeur first-hand. Number One London Tours invites you to join us for a tour of the Royal Pavilion as part of the itinerary for our 2019 Queen Victoria Tour or our 2020 Regency Tour.
The video below offers the most comprehensive tour of the Pavilion’s interiors I’ve seen and it also includes a good overview of it’s history, so I’ve chosen to include it despite the interpreter’s very animated delivery. Final bit of trivia – Ironically, all of the kitchen copper-ware you’ll see in the video was once the property of the first Duke of Wellington and bears his ducal crest. It was transferred to the Pavilion in the 1950s, when Apsley House was placed under the control of English Heritage.
Perhaps the most famous set of false teeth are the ivory set once worn by George Washington, pictured at left. Ivory dentures were popular into the 18th century, and were made from natural materials including walrus, elephant or hippopotamus ivory. These ill fitting and uncomfortable ivory dentures were replaced by porcelain dentures, introduced in the 1790’s, which weren’t much more successful due to their brightness and tendency to crack. In fact, the most favored material for false teeth was . . . . real teeth.
Presiding at the annual meeting of the British Dental Association held in Dublin in 1888, Mr. Daniel Corbett, Dental Surgeon, stated : “Six weeks was the usual time spent in the manufacture of a complete denture when working bone and natural teeth. When human teeth were in fashion, our supply was usually had from the graveyard, and I recollect what attention was paid to the gravedigger at his periodical visits to my father’s residence with his gleanings from the coffins he chanced to expose in the discharge of his avocation. His visits were generally at night, and no hospitable duty in which my father might chance to be engaged was permitted to interfere with the reception of this ever welcome visitor into the sanctum sanctorum of the house.The gravediggers every Monday morning made their way to the dental depots, each with his sack on his back containing the ghastly burdens collected during the previous week . . . we can scarcely realize the horror of the scene of these men bringing the jaws which they had turned up in “God’s acre” in their daily avocation; but mankind required teeth, and to meet the need most of those put in the mouth came from the jaws of the dead.”
While graveyards were a profitable source for cadever teeth, the quantity of teeth typically on hand was limited. Enter the Peninsular Wars and the Battle of Waterloo. Of the 50,000 men who fell at the Battle of Waterloo, most were young and healthy and their teeth were of a generally good standard, much better than the teeth employed in the majority of dentures. Having been plundered from the battlefield, most of these teeth made their way back to Britain, the country best placed to afford the new top-quality dentures which would incorporate them. These then became known as ‘Waterloo Teeth,’ a set of which are pictured at right. The name quickly established itself as applying to any set of dentures made from young and healthy teeth taken from a Napoleonic battlefield and continued as a term on into the 19th Century.
The Quarterly Review 1842 refers to a portion of Bransby Cooper’s biography of his uncle, surgeon Sir Astley Cooper, and runs – “Tooth hunters followed the armies, moving in as soon as the living had left the field. `Only let there be a battle and there will be no want of teeth; I’ll draw them as fast as the men are knocked down,’ says one such hunter in The Life of Astley Cooper. There were so many spare teeth that they were shipped abroad by the barrel. In 1819, American dentist Levi Spear Parmly, the inventor of floss, wrote that he had `in his possession thousands of teeth extracted from bodies of all ages that have fallen in battle.’
“This seems always to have been a regular though subordinate pursuit with them even at home. One of our author’s acquaintances, Mr. Murphy, robbed the vault under a London meeting-house, in one night, of teeth which he sold for 60 pounds. No wonder, then, if We find in a subsequent page that one of these fellows returned from Waterloo with a box of teeth and jaw-bones valued at 100 pounds. Did the autumnal beauties of 1816 suspect this? But the most precious harvest of all was, we are told, that of 1813. ‘ The German universities,’ says a French dentist, ‘turned out many youths in their very bloom; and our conscripts were so young that few of their teeth had been injured by the stain of tobacco.’ The Polish Jews were very active at this work during Napoleon’s later campaigns; and we remember a British dentist who was nicknamed Dr. Pulltuski from the notoriety of his dealings with them.”
On a more humorous note, it’s interesting that at least two books, Modern England 1820-1885 By Oscar Browning and Sir Spencer Walpole’s History of England both refer to George IV’s false teeth. It seems that the King was set to deliver a speech to Parliament in February of 1825, but had lost his false teeth and so it was delivered, instead, by Lord Eldon.
Separate mineral teeth, designed to be mounted on gold or other plates, which finally gave the death blow to the use of the gleanings of the graveyard, were the invention of a M. Audibran, of Paris, and were introduced into England by Mr. Corbett and their manufacture was taken up by Mr. Claudius Ash, of London, in 1837, who rapidly wrought a marvellous improvement in their strength and beauty, and severed once and for all the gravediggers’ connection with the dental surgery. In America, the Civil War continued to provide a source for human teeth.
The following ad appeared in The Solicitor’s Journal and Reporter of June 4 1859
MOSELY, SURGEON-DENTIST, Sole Inventor And Patentee.
A new, original, and invaluable invention, consisting in the adaptation, with the most absolute perfection and success, of CHEMICALLY-PREPARED WHITE and GUM-COLOURED INDIA-RUBBER, as a lining to the gold or bone frame. The extraordinary results of this application may be briefly noted in a few of their most prominent features:—All sharp edges are avoided; no spring wires or fastenings are required; a greatly increased freedom ot snction is supplied ; a natural elasticity, hitherto wholly unattainable, and a fit,perfected with the must unerring accuracy, arc secured; while from the softness and flexibility of the agent employed, the greatest support is given to the adjoining teeth when loose or rendered tender by the absorption of the gums. The acids of the mouth exert no agency on the chemically-prepared India-rubber, and, as it is a non-conductor, fluids of any temperature may be retained in the mouth, all unpleasantness of smell and taste being it the same time wholly provided against by the peculiar nature of its preparation.
The introduction of anaesthesia had a dramatic effect on dentistry. Along with ether and chloroform, nitrous oxide became the most preferred option and most surgeries were equipped with general anaesthetic equipment by the end of the 19th century. Many people were now prepared to have their rotting teeth extracted, which led to an enormous demand for cheap and efficient dentures. The introduction of vulcanite in the mid 19th century meant that dentures could be mass-produced and became affordable, replacing the expensive ivory versions. However, old false teeth apparently still had some value as we read in Methods and Machinery of Practical Banking by Claudius Buchanan Patten (1908) – It is asserted that in these days of poor teeth the average adult has at least a dollar’s worth of gold in his mouth, and that, consequently, every generation buries in the cemeteries of the United States 950,000,000 in gold. It may be that in England more economy is shown than here in the disposition of dental deposits, for I have seen in London stores any quantity of old false teeth on sale for the gold that was fixed in them. In the London `Times’ it is very common to see a long list of advertisements of second-hand clothing and secondhand false teeth for sale.
The 20th century saw an explosion of new materials, techniques and technology in dentistry. Novocaine was introduced early in the 1900’s as a local anaesthetic by a German chemist, Alfred Einhorn. The use of local anaesthetics during dental procedures did much to change the public’s attitude towards dentistry. By 1907 the British School Dental Service opened the first UK children’s clinic. Toothbrush clubs operated in London schools, and toothbrushes were issued to all serving men during World War I, which extended their use into working class families for the first time.
Originally published June 2010