THE TRUE STORY BEHIND THE EARL OF SHADOWS: TWO BROTHERS, TWO BOOKS, AND ONE OBSESSION

Guest post by Dr. Jacqueline Reiter

 

 John Pitt, 2nd Earl of Chatham, studio of John Hoppner 1799, courtesy of the Commando Forces Officers’ Mess, Royal Marines Barracks, Plymouth

In the summer of 2003 I was just completing the first year of my PhD. In August I made a visit to Kent Record Office. It was the hottest British summer on record; my train out of London Bridge was delayed by the effect of the heat on the metal tracks, and once I got to my destination I remember trying very hard not to fall asleep or drip sweat all over the 200-year-old manuscripts I was reading.

My focus for the day was the correspondence of the 2nd Earl Camden, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland at the time the rebellion of 1798 broke out. Among his papers was a letter from John Pitt, 2nd Earl of Chatham, dated August 1796. Chatham hadn’t really appeared much on my research radar. His father was Pitt the Elder, and his brother was Pitt the Younger. I knew him mostly as the commander of the disastrous Walcheren Expedition of 1809 (when 40,000 British troops were sent to Holland and then retreated after 10,000 of them contracted malaria), and for being incurably lazy (his nickname, during his lifetime, was ‘the late Lord Chatham’). Like most historians of the period, I suspect, I viewed him as something of an aberration in the brilliant Pitt family, thoroughly overshadowed by his father and brother, both still considered among the greatest political leaders Britain has ever had.

In December 1794, Pitt the Younger sacked his brother from the cabinet post of First Lord of the Admiralty. Chatham’s letter to Camden, written eighteen months after that event, immediately roused me from my heat-exhausted state:

‘I have thought over, again and again, the subject into which you enter so kindly [his 1794 dismissal], and which I assure you I feel very sensibly … I have never had a full and decided conversation, with my Brother on ye subject, because he has very cautiously and constantly avoided it, and I have been unwilling to urge it … [but] at the same time, so many things occur which bear more or less on my situation, that probably some further explanation must take place. I am sorry I cannot agree with you, in looking forward to it, with a prospect of finding in it much relief or satisfaction. It may be a little better or a little worse, but that is all, for the mischief done me, is irreparable, and tho’ my Brother, whenever he gives himself time to reflect, must (if he possesses any of the feelings which I always believed him to have) regret the step into which he was surprised, he can never set it right’ (Chatham to Camden, 7 August 1796, Kent Record Office, Camden MSS, CKS-U840/C254/4).

Chatham’s emotion, pain, and anger grabbed me from across the centuries. Most of Chatham’s correspondence was pretty cagey and matter-of-fact; this was very, very different. What had motivated Chatham to commit a cry of such naked distress to paper? What ‘mischief’ was he talking about, and who had ‘surprised’ Pitt into the ‘step’ of taking Chatham from the Admiralty? Did Pitt ever manage to ‘set it right’?

The more digging I did, the more fascinated I became. Little did I know this was the beginning of an obsession that would span fourteen years, resulting in a historical novel and a nonfiction biography. The biography was published earlier this year (The Late Lord: the life of John Pitt, 2nd Earl of Chatham, Pen & Sword Books). The novel, which in fact was written first, was released by Endeavour Press on 6 October.

Earl of Shadows takes Chatham’s letter of August 1796 as a springboard to ask what it must have been like to be the son and brother of such famous men. The story focuses on John’s relationship with his brother, but the story is very much about John and not William. The publishers described it as ‘a meticulously researched and moving account of sibling rivalry in a world of duty and honour’, and this is (I hope) a very accurate description, but the book also touches on universal themes of identity, forgiveness and loss of trust – and the redemptive power of love.

I like to think I have done my bit to restore Lord Chatham in the eyes of history. I can’t entirely rehabilitate him, of course: there is a very good reason he is not as well-known as the more famous members of his family. But I do hope I have helped counteract automatic dismissals of him as ‘stupid’ and ‘useless’ (both words used to describe him by the Pitt family historian, Sir Tresham Lever). I hope I have drawn attention to the qualities that drew me to him (his principled nature, his loving marriage, his dignity in the face of sustained attacks on his character) while not concealing his faults (his stubbornness, his insecurity, his lack of imagination). I hope I have presented him as a three-dimensional figure, and his centrality in British political and military history makes me wonder why nobody has focused on him before.

I’m more than happy to have been the first, of course.

___________________________________

Earl of Shadows by Jacqueline Reiter

Two brothers are locked in a life-long struggle to fulfill their destinies.

John and William are the elder and younger sons of 18th century political giant William Pitt. The father is a man of great principle and a great orator. Twice Prime Minister, he accepts the title Earl of Chatham in recognition of his services to the British nation. But his death on the floor of the House of Lords deals a devastating blow to the family.

Forced to forego his military career, John inherits the title and a debt-ridden estate. William inherits the gilded tongue that will make him the brilliant rising star. John sees the problem looming, but the little brother cannot succeed without the big brother’s support. At the most critical moment John runs away from his responsibilities and his brother. It proves to be a fatal mistake.

Can John ever make amends and find forgiveness? Or will he continue to hold onto a pain that has almost become part of himself? Can he escape the long shadow of destiny?

Earl of Shadows is a meticulously researched and moving account of sibling rivalry in a world of duty and honour at the heart of one of Britain’s most iconic political families. It brilliantly underlines the notion that history is about more than just the winners – that there is another, more human, story to tell.

‘Absorbing, historically accurate portrayal of family conflict, soaring ambition, and redeeming love. An impressive fiction debut by a highly talented author.’ — Margaret Porter, bestselling author of ‘A Pledge of Better Times

Jacqueline Reiter has a PhD in late 18th century British history from Cambridge University. She has been researching the Pitt family for many years, focusing particularly on the life of the 2nd Earl of Chatham, whose nonfiction biography she has also written. She lives in Cambridge with her husband and their two young children, both of whom probably believe Lord Chatham lives in their house.

DOWNTON ABBEY: THE EXHIBITION

OPENS IN NEW YORK ON NOVEMBER 18TH

The first-ever fully immersive Downton Abbey experience is coming stateside! Downton Abbey: The Exhibition will make its US debut in New York City on Saturday November 18, before traveling throughout the US. Tickets are now available to purchase at www.downtonexhibition.com.

The Exhibition will connect fans with their favorite characters, costumes, locations and historic events of the era, as well as showcase never-before-seen footage.

Visitors will be transported on an incredible journey through the grand home of Downton Abbey as the exhibition peers into the world of the Crawleys and those that served them below stairs. From Mrs. Patmore’s hectic kitchen and the gossip-fuelled servants’ quarters, to the family’s glamorous dining room and Lady Mary’s bedroom, fans will get the chance to walk through some of the series’ most recognizable and beloved sets. Visitors will even come up-close to over 50 of the show’s official costumes worn by their favorite actors including Michelle Dockery, Hugh Bonneville and Dame Maggie Smith.

“This is a unique opportunity to step into Downton Abbey – to wander through the sumptuous rooms the family inhabit, the kitchen and servants quarters below stairs and to get right up close to many of the iconic costumes and props,” said Gareth Neame, Managing Director of Carnival Films and executive producer of Downton Abbey.

Downton Abbey: The Exhibition will also provide a fascinating look at all aspects of the post-Edwardian period in which Carnival Films’ popular TV series is set and offer an in-depth insight into the remarkable historic events which would go on to shape the world. From World War I to the Roaring Twenties, visitors will have the chance to learn about British society, culture and fashion.

What do you think about the idea of a traveling Downton Abbey exhibition? Will you attend if it comes to a city near you? Let us know your thoughts.

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

OH, THE PLACES YOU’LL GO! Yet Another Little Known UK Museum

THE OLD OPERATING THEATRE MUSEUM

AND

HERB GARRET

9A St Thomas Street

London

St. Thomas Church
Home of the Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret

Parts of this museum are not for the squeamish and access at present is limited to those who can climb a rather steep 52 steps up a spiral staircase, but the insight offered into the worlds of medicine and surgery during the Regency and Victorian eras by this unique and little known place is not to be missed. In addition to an extensive collection of medical accoutrements it houses what is considered Europe’s oldest surviving operating theatre.

St. Thomas is one of the oldest hospitals in London. It was established in Southwark, a part of London considered a den of immorality and criminal elements at the time. Thomas Cromwell pronounced it the bawdy hospital of Southwark when he visited it in 1535. It was originally set up as a hospital for unwed mothers and by the time Cromwell visited it was known for its treatment of those who suffered with venereal diseases. The hospital’s manager, Richard Mabbott is said to have kept a concubine and to have sold the church plate. At least they picked a manager who would fit in.

The hospital was moved a number of times over the years, but the clientele changed very little. St. Thomas’s Hospital was dedicated to serving the poor, those with venereal diseases, and a fair share of lunatics. Between 1693 and 1709 the hospital was rebuilt through the efforts of the hospital board president, Robert Clayton, and his friend, Thomas Guy, who founded Guy’s Hospital next door. The medieval church around which the original hospital was built was demolished and replaced with the church which now houses the museum.

The church after it was rebuilt in the early eighteenth century.
St. Thomas Hospital after it was rebuilt by Robert Clayton and Thomas Guy.

In 1751 the male operating theatre was added to the hospital. It was housed in the top floor to give it better access to daylight. The female operating theatre, the one which is the centerpiece of today’s museum, was installed in 1821. Eventually the hospital moved on to better quarters, after a period of time using the buildings of the zoological gardens in Lambeth, but the original operating theatre and the herb garret were rediscovered during renovations of the church building in 1962.

The women’s operating theatre restored to its 1822 state.

The operating theatre is as it would have appeared in the early to mid-nineteenth century, complete with the viewing areas used to teach medical students. The rest of the museum is an amazing exhibit of medical instruments, medical specimens as they would have been housed during this era, and the contents of the herb garret and pharmacy where the medicines of the day were dried and prepared.

The museum features period mock surgeries and surgical lectures on Saturdays at 2:00 PM and weekly lectures on the preparation of medicines and the Regency and Victorian era pharmacy. Their educational programs, lectures, and walks are listed on the website and frankly if I had endless time I would attend each and every one. Check out the list here :

http://oldoperatingtheatre.com/schools-groups

A nineteenth century medical instruments case housed in the museum.
Medicines preparation area in the Herb Garret.

 

The museum has a blog which is a treasure trove of information on the history of medicine as it was practiced at St. Thomas and other hospitals of the Georgian and Victorian eras.

Anyone with an interest in the earliest surgeries of the “modern” era, the creation of medicines from herbs, and some of the odd and frankly frightening ways medicine was practiced prior to the twentieth century should avail themselves of the incredible resource that is The Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret.

Check out their website, but be prepared to spend some time pouring over this brilliant online presence of a real gem of a museum! Definitely adding this one to the UK bucket list!

 http://oldoperatingtheatre.com/

OH, THE PLACES YOU’LL GO! Another Little Known UK Musuem

THE FAN MUSEUM

12 Crooms Hill

Greenwich, London

If one is fortunate enough to take a little jaunt out to Greenwich when visiting London, it is assumed one will visit the National Maritime Museum and, of course, the Royal Observatory. There is, however, another museum located between these two must-see destinations definitely worth a visit.

Located in two grade II listed houses built in 1721, the Fan Museum was the first museum dedicated solely to fans. It opened in 1991 and is now home to over 4000 fans and extended fan leaves. The oldest fan in the permanent collection is from the tenth century and the majority of the fans are from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It does have an extensive nineteenth century collection as well. My Georgian-era-loving heart leaps to hear it!

For reasons of conservation, as is done in many museums, the entire permanent collection is not on display all the time. The permanent display is changed out three times a year. So if one is interested in viewing a specific fan in the permanent collection, it is recommended one phone or e mail first to make certain it will be on display during one’s visit. What could be so specific about a fan? How about a fan with an ear trumpet built into the design? Or another with a repair kit built into the design? I, for one, would not want to miss either of those.

The museum does conservation and restoration work for other museums and for individuals who might want those antique fans they found in the attic restored correctly. The museum houses a reference library and also conducts fan-making classes. What fun!

The Green Room

The Green Room is primarily an educational display with information on the history of the fan, how fans were and are made, materials used in fans, and the various forms a fan might take.

The Reception Room

The Reception Room contains unmounted and extended fan leaves from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Temporary exhibits are usually arranged around a theme or sometimes feature the collections of private citizens on loan to the museum for a period of time. Check the website for a list of future temporary exhibits and there is also a list of past exhibits, but beware. Reading some of the ones on the list made me weep with envy I was not able to see them. Can you imagine any of us here at Number One London missing an exhibit of fans based on the theme of Waterloo? SOB!

Here are just a few of the fans in the museum’s collection!

Bone fan with light blue leaf embroidered with cut steel sequins. European, c. 1800.
Cut steel fan embroidered with cut steel sequins of varied shapes and sizes, with cut out gilt motifs and figures in Classical dress at the temple of the goddess Diana. French, c. 1810

 

 

Horn brisé fan (amber coloured), decorated with an incised design holding silver foil motifs. c. 1800

In addition to the other amenities the museum has a lovely tea shop in the orangery and a delicate Japanese garden with a pond and stream. And for those of us who cannot resist there is a museum shop which promises to be quite injurious to one’s purse!

This lovely museum is going on my list of things to see when I return to my beloved England. Perhaps you will add it to yours. And if all else fails the website is definitely worth a visit!

https://www.thefanmuseum.org.uk

OH, THE PLACES YOU’LL GO ! Little Known UK Museums

THE THAMES RIVER POLICE MUSEUM

I adore a good museum. I can spend hours, even days in them. I spent an entire day (eight hours) in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. I spent two days in the Rijksmuseum, also in Amsterdam, thirty minutes staring at Rembrandt’s The Nightwatch alone. The British Museum is where I saw the Elgin Marbles, the Rosetta Stone, and the mummy and sarcophagus of King Tut when I was only nine years old. Yes, my appreciation of museums has been a lifelong love affair.

As much as I love the big museums, the famous ones, I also have a penchant for sussing out obscure little museums. I have discovered they are often the source of the most interesting and sometimes bizarre bits of history. Makes my writer’s heart go pitter-pat just thinking about it. I keep a running list of the ones I come across in my research, so I can visit them when I get the chance. The Thames River Police Museum is one such museum.

Chalk drawing of the Wapping Police Office in 1798

The Thames River Police or The West India Merchants Company Marine Police Institute, as it was known at its founding, began on July 2, 1798 in Wapping High Street. It grew out of the need to protect the companies whose cargoes were unloaded on the River Thames. It was estimated the importers whose warehouses lined the riverfront were losing up to 500,000 pounds a year to theft and graft. It wasn’t seen as a real problem until the government was presented with estimates of the losses of import dues they were missing and the losses on exports companies were suffering.

John Harriott

The plan for the organization, operation, and function of the force was first devised in 1797 by John Harriott, an Essex Justice of the Peace. He sought the legal advice of Jeremy Bentham and the political acumen of Patrick Colquhoun, the principle magistrate of Queens Square Police Office, to sell the plan to the West India Planters Committee. With the government’s approval and the committee’s financing the first organized police force in the world was born. Thus the Primus Omnium on the force’s badge.

Patrick Colquhoun (1745 – 1820) Superintending magistrate at Thames Police Office and author of two treatises, The Policing of the Metropolis (1795) and The Policing and Commerce of the River Thames (1800).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The working divisions of the world’s first organized police force were :

The Magistrates Office – Patrick Colquhoun serving as Superintending Magistrate

                                                    John Harriott serving as Resident Magistrate

The Lumping Department – In charge of the registration of legitimate lumpers to

                                                           unload West India Company ships.

Police Establishment – Consisted of rowing galleys, each with a Surveyor (an

                                                 Inspector rank today) and three waterman Constables

                                                 under him. The Surveyors were under a Superintending

                                                 Surveyor who had his own supervision galley with a crew

                                                 of four men. Surveyors took an oath to the Crown, by

                                                 whom they were empowered, and they were also sworn

                                                 and issued an excise warrant by Customs and Excise

                                                 Service.

There were also part-time ship and quay guards, employed only when the West India ships were in the river to be unloaded. These part-time constables were supervised by the boat patrols and in the beginning were only hired when necessary to oversee the unloading of ships. However, eventually they became full-time employees, the first River Police Special Constables.

The entire force at any given time consisted of only 50 officers to control the estimated 33,000 people who worked all of the various river trades. Colquhoun, in his treatise, suggested nearly 11,00o of those workers were actually criminals. Members of every river trade were thought to be on the game, in other words, employed in stealing cargo as it was unloaded or at some other point in the arrival process.

Note : If you have not read Colquhoun’s treatise  The Policing and Commerce of the River Thames (1800) I invite you to do so as it is a fascinating work and very much an extant resource of great insight and vision.

As one can imagine, the criminal element did not take well to the work of the River Police. The efforts of these brave men caused these thieves to lose their livelihood. After about six months, a mob of 2000 men marched on the Office in Wapping to burn it to the ground, with the magistrates and any officers inside. John Harriott and his men managed to put down the riot, but Master Lumper, Gabriel Franks, was shot and died as a result of his wounds. This is the first recorded police death in history.

The cost of forming and establishing this police force in the first year was an estimated 4,200 pounds. During that same year, John Harriott reported to the Home Office that instead of an entire fleet of watermans’ boats clogging up the River Thames anytime ships were there to be unloaded, the scene was quiet and business-like. More important, he estimated the work of the Thames River Police had saved more than 122,000 pounds worth of cargo, not to mention rescuing several lives as well.

Wapping Police Office Today – Home of the Thames River Police Museum

Because the museum is housed in a working police station, the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police’s Marine Police Unit, arrangements must be made ahead of time by appointment. Visits are normally conducted by the Honourary Curator, a retired serving officer with many years experience of policing the river. But look at all of the amazing things on exhibit !

                                        

 

Superintendent’s tipstaff from Thames Museum

 

For some great research on the Thames River Police and more information about the museum I strongly suggest you visit the website.

http://www.thamespolicemuseum.org.uk/index.html

There you will find numerous articles written about the history of the River Police by current and retired members of the force. And you can even e mail them with questions. I actually discovered this gem of a museum via an online workshop offered by the Beau Monde Chapter of RWA a few years ago. One of the participants in the workshop was PC Bob Jeffries of, you guessed it, the Metropolitan Police’s Marine Police Unit. He has made a great study of the history of the Thames River Police and is always happy to answer inquiries. Visit the website and read his wonderful articles on The Wapping Coal Riot of October 1798 and The Ratcliffe Highway Murders of December 1811.

And should you get the chance, don’t miss this jewel of a little museum. Tell PC Jeffries I said “Hello!”

THE TOP 75 LONDON BLOGS AND WEBSITES

Guess Who Made The List ?!?

Yes, dear readers, we are pleased and proud to announce our home away from our London home – NUMBER ONE LONDON – has made the list of the top London blogs and websites.

Anyone who has not availed themselves of this list are missing a real treat! These blogs and websites cover a fair buffet of information about London. From the Londonist with its mix of current events, unique festivals, places to visit, and incredibly detailed posts about London past, present, and future to several blogs about living in London posted by young Londoners, ex-pat Americans living in London, women living in London, and every sort of Londoner in between – this list is a must have for anyone who loves our very favorite city in the world!

There are blogs about food and where to find the best of everything. There are blogs about fashion – the latest trends and the best places to find that one piece you simply must have this season. There is a blog on the life and work of a nurse in London. Blogs about SECRET London, with all of the best places you’ve never heard of, but must see!

Of course for those of us who study London of the past in order to convey its character to our readers, this list is a goldmine of blogs and websites on historical London. Spitalfields Life is a wonderful resource about a specific area of London and its history. London Past offers a palette of wonderful images of London from its beginnings through both World Wars. And the London Historians blog is a dangerous rabbit hole down which anyone interested in the history of the great city might fall and never return.

We at NumberOneLondon want to thank both the conveyors of this award and our loyal readers and followers for all of your support. NumberOneLondon is a labor of love for Kristine, Vicky, and I and we are so very pleased you all love London as much as we do!

Top 75 London Blogs and Websites by London Bloggers