VISITING LYME PARK

by Victoria Hinshaw

Lyme Park, Cheshire

Just before the 2017 Country House Tour began, Kristine Hughes Patrone, Sandra Mettler, Delle Jacobs and I met up at our hotel and made a visit to Lyme Park, which became an icon for lovers of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice when it was used for the exterior shots of Pemberley in the BBC-Colin Firth-Jennifer Ehle version of Pride and Prejudice produced in 1995.

From the 1995 BBC Pride & Prejudice film

The famous wet shirt scene

Below, the film inspired souvenirs in the gift shop — mugs, tea towels, chocolates, and the DVD among other treasures.

In the Gift Shop
Coffee or Tea?

The view as we entered did not look like the one above which overlooks the lawns and park. Where were the columns, I wondered?

The north facade looks somewhat like the Elizabethan house it once was, with Georgian additions such as sash windows, etc.

This photo, from Wikipedia, gives a better view of the north facade, which is described in the guidebook as “the exuberant Elizabethan frontispiece executed for Sir Piers Legh VII in about 1570…” There have been about thirteen or fourteen Sir Piers or Sir Peter Leghs in the family’s five-century ownership of the property.

The very sober Courtyard Entrance

The Courtyard was completed in the early 17th century by Sir Peter IX to the designs of Giacomo Leoni in the Palladian style. On the courtyard sign, we found our instructions.

So we popped into the ticket office and showed our Royal Oak passes before proceeding into the house. Of course we knew that the Pride and Prejudice 1995 interiors were shot at Sudbury Hall, and thus the Lyme Park rooms were entirely new to us. Only exterior shots of Lyme Park were used in that version.

In the Entrance Hall, Leoni remodeled the original Great Hall but retained evidence of the house’s antiquity.

In addition, Mortlake tapestries from the Hero and Leander series, C. 1625, adorn the walls; the room was used as a ballroom from time to time.

The Library, in the two photos below, is one of those places we want to spend a few days perusing the many shelves of books.

Oh to be let loose on those shelves!

The Dining room was added in 1814 by Thomas Legh in an addition designed by architect Lewis Wyatt on the east front.

The table setting is Edwardian, c. 1908.

The Yellow Bedroom was furnished in the early 18th century, with the elegant bed contrasting with the colorful Flemish tapestries on three walls.

In the adjacent dressing room, we found an exquisite grey silk Regency-era pelisse.

The Saloon sits behind the memorable portico on the South Facade.  As the principal receiving room, it is paneled in oak and boasts a fine walnut harpsichord by John Hitchcock of London, from the mid 1760’s.

The Grand Staircase was designed by Leoni in the early 18th century. At the top is a portrait of Thomas Legh (1792-1857) an avid traveler in his Nubian (Egyptian) dress, painted c. 1820 by William Bradley.

The typically Elizabethan-era Long Gallery, above, on the first floor, was designed for exercise on inclement days and as an all purpose room for family activities, such as amateur theatricals, as well as being a picture gallery.

In the second decade of the 19th century, architect Lewis Wyatt designed the Orangery and its colorful terrace.

The Dutch garden should be viewed from above, for which it is magnificently designed.

And from the Dutch Garden, you can clearly see that famous Pemberley facade from the film.

Lyme Park was full of surprises. We expected it to be a classic Palladian house, precisely the modern structure Jane Austen described as Pemberley. Instead, we found everything from remnants of its origin as a medieval hunting lodge through myriad design styles to the eclectic combination of today. Yet it all seems of a piece, fittingly so.

 

Would you like to visit some of England’s finest stately homes? Number One London has another Country House Tour set for May 2019 – complete details here.

THE BREWER’S HORSE

From The Horse-World of London by William John Gordon (1893)

The brewer’s horse is a splendid animal, the most powerful as a rule of London’s heavy brigade. At the Cart-horse Parade, in which teams of all classes compete, the first, second, and third prizes were taken for the only two years in which they entered by Messrs. Courage, whose cast horses are generally sold for an average of 321. each, one of them having fetched fifty-one guineas, the highest price ever obtained for a horse cleared out of a stud as being past the work of the trade in which he made his first appearance in town. In fact, there is no stud in the kingdom of higher level excellence than that under Mr. Laird’s care at Horselydown, which is saying much, considering that the 3,000 horses owned by the larger London brewers are worth at the very lowest estimate 90L apiece.

A barrel of beer weighs 4 cwt.; a brewer’s van carries 25 barrels, which means 5 tons; the van itself weighs not less than 35 cwt., some of them weigh over 2 tons; the harness weighs three quarters of a hundredweight; the men weigh—what? It is a delicate question. To answer it Mr. Laird weighed a drayman for us, a fine young man in his twenty-ninth year, he weighed 20 st. 10 lbs.! And the horse he drove, a five-year-old gelding standing 17*2 and still growing, was then put on the scale, and dipped the beam at just over the ton.

But this is hardly a fair average. Let us throw the men in with the sundries, and say these tremendous horses have to draw 8 tons; and this is for three horses worked unicorn fashion, two at the pole and one as leader. According to one horse-keeper, who had been twenty-seven years in his position, it now takes three horses to do the work that four did twenty years ago. ‘The vans have improved, the roads have improved, and the horses have improved, especially the horses’; but this is not the usual opinion, for even with the brewer’s horse the laudation of the past is the consolation of the many.

On most of these horses there is not a pound of superfluous flesh. They are working regularly every week-day, doing often their fourteen hours a day, sometimes doing sixteen hours, resting on Sundays, and having a light load on Monday, which is the brewer’s dull day; out at five o’clock in the morning, back into stable at seven at night; averaging six years of work; and then, in many cases, realising over 201. under the hammer when cleared out to make way for the newcomers.

Most of those under notice to quit look little the worse for wear, although perhaps their legs may have come over a little with the draught, which in the suburbs is severe, the load being no light one to drag over a hilly track at the brewer’s walking rate of five miles an hour easy. But it does not do for a team to have a weak horse, unless, maybe, the leader, who can shirk now and then if he chooses, for the rate of the slowest is ever the rate of progress; hence horses are worked together only so long as they work equally, and the weak one is rejected immediately he is found out, lest he should demoralise his companions.

 

There is a prevalent notion that hairy-legged horses stand heavy work better than others, but the value is not in the hair, but in the stout bone it should cover. One of Courage’s best horses is a Clydesdale, with his fore legs so fine, because fleshless and so thinly-haired, that the question has been asked if it was intended ‘to go racing with that animal’; but Clydesdales, though now improving every year, do not run quite heavy enough for brewers’ work, and nearly all the horses are shires. Some brewers—Barclay & Perkins, for instance —have nothing but shires in their stables; and this particular stud, a singularly fine one, averages seven and a half years of brewery life.

Of course all the brewers do not work their horses on the same system. Hoare’s, by way of example, work their 160 horses only five days a week, and no horse is allowed to be out more than ten hours without being examined by the horse-keeper. Their horses are bought at six years old and cleared out on the average at twelve, which is as soon as they show the least sign of decay; and there is not a horse in their stud weighing under 16 cwt. or standing under 17 hands, which compares rather awkwardly for the antiquarians with the 14 ‘handfuls’ which Henry VIII. fixed as the minimum of stallions in 1535. A range of twelve inches, unless the horses were of very different classes, seems too wide to be true. The thoroughbred racehorse increases a hand in height every century; in 1700 ho stood 13-2, he now stands 15-2; and it certainly looks as though the heavy horse had also grown a little.

It is noteworthy that these big horses should so very seldom have bad tempers; they are almost as intelligent as dogs, and quite as amiable. They are in rude health, it is true, and that may account for their being comfortable and pleased with themselves, more especially as they are kept hard at regular work, but it is scarcely enough to answer for their peculiar placidity under all circumstances.

Kristine and Victoria can personally attest to the fact that beer is still being delivered by horses in Windsor – as seen outside the Horse and Groom, opposite St. George’s Chapel.

The one great secret of keeping them in condition is attention to their feet. There is no animal more carefully shod than a brewer’s horse. Many of them have a different make and shape of shoe on each hoof. At Courage’s, for instance, no such things as standard sizes are known; the shoe is always made specially to fit the foot, and the shoes are never thrown away, but are mended—soled and heeled, in fact—by having pieces of iron welded into them again and again as they are worn. Some of the shoes are steel-faced; some are barred, the shoe going all round the foot; some have heels, some have toes; some have one clip, some have two; in fact, there are almost as many makes of shoe as there are in a Northampton factory.

SCOTLAND – BEYOND THE RETREAT

Auchinleck House

It won’t be long now before the start of Number One London’s Scottish Writer’s Retreat. Our group will be staying at Auchinleck House, family seat of James Boswell’s family, above. A fitting setting, really, as he and Dr. Johnson were known to have stayed in the house together several times.

But “retreat” may be a bit of a misnomer, as our group will be doing much more than staying in to write; we’ll be touring the surrounding area, visiting nearby estates, museums and places of historic interest. Perhaps we should rename it “The Tour to Inspire Writers?” One of the most inspiring items on the Retreat itinerary will be our visit across the water to the wildly romantic Isle of Arran, as seen in the video below.

While our September Retreat has been sold out for quite some time, we’ve added another for 2019 – details can be found here.

 

THE WELLINGTON CONNECTION – DAGUERREOTYPES

by Antoine Claudet, 1844

The year 1839 marked the start of photography as we know it today. Both Louis Daguerre (1787-1851) and William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877) had been experimenting independently for several years on their different photographic processes when Daguerre announced his discovery to the world in Paris on 7 January 1839.

This prompted Talbot to display the results of his negative/positive process to the Royal Institution in London (the same organization as today presents the BBC Christmas Lectures) on 25 January 1839. He then presented a Paper to the Royal Society on 31 January 1839, describing his process as “photogenic drawing.”

Talbot sent examples of his work in early February 1839 to Sir David Brewster, who was later to become the first President of the Photographic Society of Scotland (PSS) and an Honorary Member of Edinburgh Photographic Society (EPS).

Many people did not take to Daguerreotypes, as they thought they were too stark, too unflattering – too real, as there was none of the softening of imperfections previously available in portraiture. In fact, the Illustrated London News reported that when Wellington was shown the finished Daguerreotype of himself, above, “He looked at it for a moment, shook his head, and, with a half smile and half frown of recognition, muttered ‘Very old! Hum!’ and turned away in thought.”

The Daguerreotype of Wellington was taken by Claudet, a Frenchman who had studied under Daguerre and who later set up studios in London. It has been estimated that he made up to 1,800 pictures per year.

Ada Lovelace by Claudet, 1843

The announcements about photographic techniques by Talbot and Daguerre were made about eighteen months into the reign of Queen Victoria, and about eighteen months before she married Prince Albert. Both Queen Victoria and Prince Albert became keen enthusiasts of photography and collectors of photographs. Prince Albert became the first Patron of PSS. He died in the year that EPS was established.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, Buckingham Palace, 1854

The image above of the Queen and Prince Albert was made by John Jabez Edwin Mayall (17 Sept 1813 – 6 March 1901) a British daguerreotypist who began his career in Philadelphia. With his partner, Samuel Van Loan, Mayall operated from 140 Chestnut Street in 1845-6, until his return to London, where he opened, at 433 The Strand, ‘The American Daguerreotype Institution’, styling himself ‘Professor High-School’ (or Highschool). Photographer by appointment to Queen Victoria and creator of iconic images of 19th-century Britain and British notables, Mayall ran numerous studios in London and later Brighton, where he became mayor in 1877. Several of his sons also became photographers, using the business name Mayall.

John Jabez Edwin Mayall, self portrait, 1844

 

Caroline Herschel by Mayall, 1853
Princess Alice by Mayall, 1861
Alfred, Lord Tennyson by Mayall, National Portrait Gallery
Princess Alexandra in her wedding gown, Mayall, 1863

 

You will find The Daguerreian Society website here.

 

LONDON CAB HORSES

From The Horse-World of London by William John Gordon (1893)

. . . . Our cab horses are generally Irish, many of them being shipped from Waterford. They come over unshod, in order that they may do no damage, and to keep them quiet they have their lips tied down; and what with this lip-tying, and the sea passage, and the change of climate, it takes them about eight weeks to get into working order, during which they are gradually drilled into shape, first in double harness and then in single harness, round the squares and quiet thoroughfares.

As a rule, they are four years old when they arrive, they cost 30L, they last only three years, and they are then sold to go into the tradesman’s cart; but horses are rising in value, and cost more to buy and fetch more to sell than they used to do. This, of course, refers to the bulk of the horses, which, as in the omnibus service, are mostly mares. There are some that cost more, some that cost less; some that last longer, some that do not last as long; and on the cab-rank there is a fair sprinkling of British horses and a few foreigners, but the thoroughbreds of whom we have heard are as rare as the doctors, warriors, and members of the Athenaeum Club who are said to drive them.

A cab horse is well fed; hansom horses average a sack of corn each a week; and they want it, for in the six days during the season they are driven over two hundred miles. There is nothing out of the way in a day’s work of forty miles; and this with a weight of half a ton behind, including the cab and driver, but not the passengers. The way in which the horse is worked varies in different yards and with different men. There are over 3,500 cab-owners in London, and as some of them own a hundred and more cabs, there must be a large number who have but one or two cabs, and perhaps two or three horses, when the horses have a hard time of it. Many are worked on the ‘one horse power’ principle, in which the cab, generally a four-wheeler, goes out at eight in the morning and comes back at eight at night. The fourwheelers that frequent the railway stations have two horses, the first going out at seven in the morning and returning about two in the afternoon, the second going out to stay at the station till ten, and then perhaps loitering about the theatres with a view to picking up a last fare.

When a horse is bought by the cab-master it is occasionally numbered, but oftener named from some trivial circumstance connected with its purchase, or from some event chronicled in the morning newspapers. A whole chapter might be written on the names of the London cab horses, which are assuredly more curious than elegant. Three horses we know of bought on a hot day were Scorch, Blaze, and Blister; three others bought on a dirty morning were Mud, Slush, and Puddle; two brought home in a snowstorm were named Sleet and Blizzard; four that came in the rain were Oilskin, Sou’-wester, Gaiters, and Umbrella. Even the time of day has furnished a name, and Ten o’clock, Eight-sharp, and Nine-fifteen have been met with . . . Some horses are named from the peculiarities of the dealer or his man, and in one stable there were at one time Curseman, Sandyman, Collars, Necktie, Checkshirt, and Scarfpin. The political element is, of course, manifest, and in almost every stable there are Roseberies and Randies, Salisburies and Gladstones, Smiths and Dizzies. Some stables are all Derby winners, some all dramas, some all songs, some all towns. It is the exception for a horse to be named after any peculiarity of its own, unless it be an objectionable one; and it would never do to give it a Christian name, with or without a qualifying adjective, which might lead to its being mistaken for one of the men in the yard.

 

The favourite colour for a cab horse is brown; the one least sought after is grey. A grey horse will not do in a hansom, unless for railway work where the cabs are taken in rotation and the quality or colour of the horse is of no consequence. Why clubland should object to grey horses is not known, but the fact remains that a man with a grey horse will get fewer fares with him than with a brown one. One explanation is that the light hairs float off and show on dark clothes, but this is hardly satisfying, and it seems safer to put the matter down to fashion. Anyhow, a hansom cabman will not take out a grey horse if he can help it, unless it be an exceptionally ‘gassy’ one, gassy being ‘cabbish’ for showy. But not so a four-wheeler man; if he can have a grey horse he will, the reason being that if ever a housemaid goes for a cab she will, if she has a choice, pick out the grey horse. At least, so says the trade, which may, of course, be prejudiced or romancing; but the prejudice or the romance is known all over London.

London has 600 cabstands, exclusive of those in the City and on private ground, such as the railway stations. A few of these are always full; a few have never had a cab on them even though they may have existed for years. The 600 cabstands on an average afford accommodation for eleven vehicles each. The rest of the cabs are either carrying passengers or else plying empty along such streets as Piccadilly, where they are a nuisance to all but those who want cabs. The same thing may, however, be said of the cabstands, and, considering the convenience that ‘ crawlers’ afford, it is only the very strenuous reformer who would abolish them entirely, if it were possible to do so.

Out of the 15,000 cabmen, about 2,000 are convicted every year for drunkenness, cruelty, wilfull misbehaviour, loitering, plying, obstruction, stopping on the wrong side of the road, delaying, leaving their cabs unattended, etc, etc. The cabman who ‘knows his business best’ is the one who can crawl judiciously without getting into trouble with the police, resulting for a first offence in the famous ‘two-and-six and two,’ which means half-a crown fine and a florin costs.

At many of the stands there is a ‘shelter,’ which is much larger inside than a glance at the exterior would lead one to suppose. The shelters are generally farmed from the Shelter Fund Society by some old cabman. They are the cabman’s restaurants, and the cabman, as a rule, is not so much a large drinker as a large eater. At One shelter lately the great feature was boiled rabbit and pickled pork at two o’clock in the morning, and for weeks a small warren of Ostenders was consumed nightly.

Only a handful of cabmen’s shelters or tea huts remain in London, with several still serving refreshments.

The two-wheeler improves every year. There are many hansoms now in London as good in every way as private carriages, and these will often have a fifty guinea horse in their shafts. The four-wheeler improves but microscopically, and, though it becomes no worse than it used to be, it touches a depth which is by no means desirable. Most cabs are varnished twice a year, some are varnished but once, and that, of course, is just before inspection day, when the new annual licence is applied for. On that morning many a newly varnished mockery will journey gingerly to Clerkenwell, and just satisfy the inspector’s lenient eye, returning triumphantly with the inside and outside plates and the stencilled certificate on its back, which show that the vehicle has passed muster, and that the owner has paid 21. for a licence to work it in the London streets. Besides the 21., the owner has to pay fifteen shillings carriage duty to Somerset House; and, for a licence and the badge to drive, the cabman has to pay to the police five shillings.

The cabman has to pass an examination as well as the vehicle, but the vehicle is examined every year, while the cabman is only examined once, and then not in personal appearance, though there may be a bias that way, but in an elementary knowledge of London topography. The knowledge required is not very great, and 1,500 candidates apply in a year, but it is interesting to note that out of every 100 candidates 34 are ‘ploughed’—a much higher percentage of rejections than exists among the vehicles.

The cabman takes his licence to the owner whom he desires to make his ‘master.’ He takes the cab out on trust, leaving his licence as a deposit so long as he remains in the same employment. The engagement is terminable at any time, and when the man changes masters his old master has to fill in on the back of his licence the length of time he has been in his service. At the end of the year the man takes the endorsed licence accounting for his year’s work to New Scotland Yard, and there gets a clean one covering another twelve months.

The amount paid by the man for the day’s hire varies with the vehicle, the master, and the season. It is much less really than it is nominally, owing to the numerous occasions on which allowances are made for bad luck and bad weather. Continuous wet is not cabmen’s weather; what they like is a showery day, or, what is better, a fine morning and a wet afternoon, or a series of scorching hot days when people find the other means of conveyance too stuffy for comfort. Although the amount is frequently stated to be more, the average for hansoms during the last year over several yards was nine shillings for the first three months in the year, then a rise every week of a shilling a day to the end of May, when it remained at the maximum of eighteen shillings till the second week in June, when it dropped a shilling a week down to the nine shillings at which it will remain for the rest of the year. The height of the London cab season is thus from the Derby week to the Ascot week, the one day being the Thursday after the Derby. If you wish to go to the Derby in a hansom you pay 31., of which 11. is extra profit, it being estimated that the man would have taken 21. if he remained in London. And, curiously enough, the distance to and from Epsom is the average day’s journey of a London cab horse.