During the Blitz, Daily Mail photographer Herbert Mason was on fire watch on the roof of his office building when he witnessed the bomb destruction happening around St. Paul’s Cathedral. Not knowing whether the Cathedral would survive, Mason fetched his camera and captured this photograph of St. Paul’s, which ran in the Daily Mail on 31 December, 1940, and quickly became an enduring symbol of hope for the people of Britain.
On the eve of the New Year, we at Number One London wish that each of you will experience health, happiness and the spirit of hope in the coming year.
My Own Heart – The London coach arrived today, bringing with it your gift of a partridge and a pear tree. You are too clever by half! Yours For Eternity
My Love – Two turtle doves! How simply smashing. I cannot wait to see you again that I might thank you personally. You are too droll. For Ever and Ever
Darling – There we were, my footman and I, dispensing bird seed when what should arrive at Blicking Hall but three French hens. You cannot imagine the look they brought to the footman’s face. Truly, you shouldn’t have. Always
Sweetheart – Four calling birds. How quaint. You should know that my lady’s maid is making noises about leaving the Hall. The footman is none too happy, either, although the local carpenter is quite over the moon to have been hired to construct the aviary. Typically, work is scarce for him at this time of year. Love
Dearest – How could you do this to me? I do not mean to be short with you, but none of us here has gotten much sleep of late, what with all the billing, cooing, chirping and calling the birds are wont to do. Yours P.S. Thank you for the five golden rings.
Dear – Now you’ve done it. Cook is quite put out by the six geese laying in her kitchen, and no wonder. You must end this. Accomplished cooks are difficult to come by in the country. As Ever
Dear Sir – I am most heartily sick of the sight of feathers. Your seven swans arrived today and are swimming in the ornamental fountain in the conservatory. Oldham has been snorting at me disdainfully all morning. Have you ever been snorted at by your butler? It’s off putting, to say the least. Happy New Year
Sir – Is there a market for spare goose eggs? The eight maids you sent today are a welcome sight, what with all the seeds and feathers we have to sweep up hourly here. Once they have finished with that, the maids intend to walk to the village, where they are determined to help with the milking. Wherever shall they all sleep? Please Cease and Desist
To Whom It May Concern – This daily gift giving business is no longer amusing. The entire village have followed the nine drummers drumming to our door. The staff are up in arms, save for the footman, who has not been seen since shortly after the eight maids arrived. Stop it!
You black hearted scoundrel – the magistrate appeared at Blicking Hall today. It transpires that the villagers are being driven to distraction by the ten pipers and their constant piping. Perhaps you should have sent mimes.
Could you not have sent the eleven ladies dancing to Almack’s instead of to me? Do these outrageous gifts have anything to do with the betting book at White’s? Is that idiot Brummell somehow involved? Have you a good receipt for fowl fricassee?
My entire staff have deserted me, taking with them the maids, pipers, dancing ladies and, blessedly, the drummers. There is the tiniest bit of good news – I have been given to understand that some of them have made successful matches and are currently bound for Gretna Green. I was headed to my rooms with a bottle of port when who should arrive but twelve lords a leaping. And what lords they are – so handsome, so gallant, so utterly divine! How could I have doubted your intentions? Please give my regards to all in London, as I fear I shall be much too occupied here at Blicking Hall to partake of the Season. Your Most Grateful Friend
At the end of the Napoleonic Wars, Sir Gilbert Blane (1749–1843), Physician of the Fleet, argued that the incidence of insanity in the Royal Navy, which he estimated at one in a thousand, was seven times that of the general population. To explain this striking disparity, he identified head injuries, sometimes the result of black powder intoxication in the close confines of warships, together with the shock and blast experienced by gun crews. It was observed that the majority of inmates of a London asylum were seamen who had been sent there after the Battle of the Glorious First of June in 1794. It was theorized that mental illness amongst sailors exposed to combat was possibly related to the phenomenon of wind contusions or tingling, twitching, and even partial paralysis diagnosed in soldiers who had been close to the passage of a projectile or its explosion but had not actually suffered a physical wound.
Click here for a link to the firing of a rolling broadside by the HMS Victory, Nelson’s flagship. The video lasts less than a minute. Imagine hours of this from the inside of a ship. Or imagine seeing this coming at you from another ship in the heat of battle.
During the nineteenth century naval doctors acting as advocates for their patients used mental illness as a criminal defense. Captain G. Scott of the Stately wrote to Nelson on the recommendation of Dr John Snipe to request that the application for a court martial for John Burn, a royal marine, who had struck an officer, be withdrawn on the grounds that the offence was occasioned by insanity. Implicit in this defense was the idea that sailors who had experienced the effects of brutal battles could have their reason disturbed and hence not be fully responsible for their actions.
In 1808, the navy’s lack of provision for clothes for sailors confined in places like Bethlem meant some had only a blanket to wear. Monies had to be dedicated specifically to the care of specific sailors. Situations such as this, once reported to the admiralty, were part of the impetus to establish facilities under the control of the navy and dedicated to the care of those sailors suffering from wounds that could not be seen.
The number of sailors suffering from mental illness was sufficient for the Royal Navy to make special provision for their treatment. Between 1794 and 1818, for example, 1083 officers and ratings were admitted to Hoxton House Asylum, which had been founded in 1695 with Chatham Chest funds to treat naval and government cases. Most of these admissions were then transferred to the Bethlem Hospital at Moorfields for further care, though 364 were regarded as cured. As a Crown institution, Bethlem was obliged to admit patients referred by the Sick and Wounded Seamen’s Office and the War Office.
However, from its opening in 1753,the Royal Hospital at Haslar had admitted psychiatric patients and subsequently Rear Admiral Garrett was reported as saying that a seaman who has lost his reason in the service of the Crown should receive the love and attention on a scale not less than a seaman who has lost a limb in the same cause. In August, 1818 the navy opened a Lunatic Asylum at Haslar. In 1819, wards for soldiers were established at the asylum at Chatham. By the 1820s the emphasis was on moral treatments and patients were encouraged to work in the gardens, take exercise, and undertake tasks in the hospital. Case notes showed that most of those admitted were either psychotic or severely depressed, rather than troubled by the acute effects of battle; most were regarded as incurable.
The naval hospital at Great Yarmouth had been constructed between 1809 and 1811 to treat the sick and wounded of the North Sea Fleet. The Royal Naval Hospital in Yarmouth was also a major hospital for naval lunatics. Taken over by the army in 1844, it housed a Military Lunatic Asylum until the outbreak of the Crimean War when the Admiralty re-acquired the building.
The advantage to facilities established and run by the military were:
Patients were afforded the same sort of organized and regimented life they had whilst serving. Consistency was a great help in the treatment of those admitted to these facilities.
Many of the physicians and mad doctors running these facilities were former navy, army, or cavalry surgeons, apothecaries, and physicians. They served on some of the same battlefields as the men they treated and therefore had a better understanding of the trauma these men had suffered.
These facilities were usually under the charge of military officers and as such, these officers were able to cut through the paperwork needed to requisition the necessary supplies to provide the patients with more basic comforts than those afforded in public asylums.
These facilities afforded a place for many displaced soldiers and sailors to recover. Soldiers and sailors without physical wounds were often consigned to wander the countryside in search of employment, housing, and some place to recover from mental disturbances they often did not understand.
Some things to remember:
Warfare is warfare. However, warfare during the Regency Era was quite different from warfare today. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder manifests out of the experiences of the soldier or sailor at war. Equating the trauma of those who fought in the Peninsular Wars or with Nelson at sea with the trauma suffered by military men today does a disservice to both.
British sensibilities when it came to the behavior of men were very rigid, very stoic, and very regimented. The idea of the stiff upper lip is not a myth. My father was the son of first-generation Americans. His grandparents were all born in Britain, three in Wales and one in England. My father served in combat in Korea and in Vietnam. He saw horrific things. Yet, his attitude and demeanor about those things was always one of stoic detachment. No matter how horrific the trauma, it was war and one did not complain. One did his duty. This would have been the attitude of military men in the Regency Era. They would have difficulty admitting to trauma and shame at asking for help for it.
Attitudes about those sailors and soldiers who had to be confined in asylums to deal with the trauma of serving in combat would be as varied as those about any other lunatics. Some would be sympathetic. Some would be concerned about lunatics who had grown accustomed to the violence necessary to go to war and survive. Some would ascribe their mental illness to malingering.
Treatment offered at military lunatic asylums would be more likely to help those soldiers and sailors confined therein. Studies of the records of both public facilities and military facilities confirm this.
Sons of the aristocracy who went to war and returned with PTSD in any form would be treated the same way they might be treated if they suffered from a mental illness not associated with their military service. They would be more likely to be taken care of at home than in either a public facility or a military facility. Unfortunately, families of the aristocracy were more mindful of the way things might appear. A son who came home from war traumatized or displaying behavior which might be seen as unstable of as a form of lunacy was a son who might bring shame to the family. Sad and unfair, but as cruel as it might appear, true.
The best way to discover the source of a Regency era military man’s PTSD is to read first-hand accounts of battles, the aftermath of battles, and military life on campaign. Never presume to know the source of someone’s nightmares without doing the best you can to submerse yourself in the same.
For records and more insight into the admission of soldiers and sailors into military lunatic asylums check out the section on naval asylums at the British National Archives.
Tucked away in Hampshire is a stately home I have long wanted to visit for several reasons. The estate encompasses the ruins of an Augustinian priory (the title Abbey was added later — and incorrectly, according to the NT); the gardens are renowned; and Rex Whistler painted some famous trompe d’oeil decorations in the drawing room.
During the course of my research with Kristine at the various Wellington archives, we were able to steal off for the day to meet with fellow authors Alicia Rasley and Nonnie St. George. Of course the best reason for the visit was the opportunity to connect with friends from many a meeting of The Beau Monde…and fellow writers one and all. If we missed any of the relevant treasures of the estate, it was because we were so full of conversation catching up on our latest activities.
First stop was the cellarium, a remnant of the original priory building, dating from the 13th century.
The morning room was the perfect place to enjoy reading and conversing. It was a favorite spot for Maud Russell, the lady responsible for the current appearance of the estate.
In this handsome bedchamber, several remnants of the old priory building have been left uncovered.
The painting over the fireplace is Johanna Warner, Mrs. Robert of Bedhampton and her daughter, Kitty, later Mrs. Jervoise Clarke, 1736; by Joseph Highmore.
To the Right of the fireplace is another of the secret doors which show the old structure behind the walls of the current house.
The charming picture above (and below) is The Challoner Daughters by John Roger Herbert, RA (1810-1890), described as “three little girls in a woodland scene with a pony and dogs.”
The dining room was a popular venue for gatherings of the Russells’ artistic and intellectual friends in the 1930’s.
The piece d’resistance of the Montisont House: The Whistler Room. Maud Russell commissioned artist Rex Whistler to decorate her drawing room in the late 1930’s.
Whistler (1905-1944) painted many murals and trompe d’oeil works in England, including the famous murals in the restaurant of the Tate Britain, ad the fantasy landscape at Plas Newydd, from which the self-portrait below is a detail.
In addition to his renown as an artist, Whistler was a member of the set known as the “bright young things” between the wars, a friend not only of Mrs. Russell, but of Lady Caroline Paget, Cecil Beaton, and many others. Whistler died fighting in Normandy in 1944.
In May, we were a little early for the roses in the NT Rose Collection of pre-20th Century species. But we thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful font (spring) and stream which feeds into the River Test, as well as the many families enjoying picnics and games on the lawns.
Would you like to experience travel in England first-hand?