Jane Austen Movie Night

This weekend I hosted the “Dining for Dollars” Jane Austen Movie Night I’ve been talking about. About twenty people attended and I think all had a lovely time. My goal with the menu was to serve foods based on period recipes that would have a reasonable appeal to modern tastes, but also to make sure to honor the guests’ dietary needs and preferences, including some dishes that were vegetarian, some gluten free, and some nut free. Luckily, no one was vegan, because it’s hard to find recipes that don’t include some butter and/or eggs! I used a lot of recipes from The Jane Austen Cookbook by Maggie Black and Deirdre Le Faye, also some I found online.

The dinner menu:
– Salamongondy (pictured: a salad of cold meats, vegetables, and fruit, based on a Hannah Glass recipe)
– White Fricasey (a chicken and mushroom stew, also a Hannah Glasse recipe)
– Roast Potatoes (adapted from Hannah Glasse, using gluten free crumbs)
– Vegetable Pie (adapted from the cookbook of Martha Lloyd)
– Swiss Soup Meagre (also from Martha Lloyd, also adapted to be gluten free)
– Bread, both regular and gluten free (I cheated and bought from a store that has a good bakery)

I served lemonade, burgundy, claret (Bordeaux), and hock (white German wine).

There was a lot to do to prepare, so several friends came early and took the role that would be taken by under-cooks, kitchen maids, and scullery maids, for which I am very grateful!

While the guests were arriving and getting their food, I played Jane’s Hand, a CD of music from Jane Austen’s songbooks. Here is one of my favorites, “I Have a Silent Sorrow Here”, written by none other than Georgiana, the Duchess of Devonshire and performed by Julianne Baird.

I offered guests a choice of films to watch, and they chose Persuasion, starring Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds, because most had not already seen it. They enjoyed the story and the romantic resolution. Here’s the famous “letter scene”.

Some of my guests were surprised that Persuasion is not as popular as Pride & Prejudice and said they were eager to read the book now.

The dessert menu:
– Hedgehogs (adapted from Hannah Glasse–a huge hit but without the calf’s foot jelly!)
– Rout Drop Cakes (little cookies flavored with rose water, sherry, brandy, and orange juice, dotted with currents, a Maria Rundell recipe)
– Chocolate Ice Cream (store bought, gluten free)

It was a lot of work, but so fun I may do it again sometime.

Have you ever done anything like this, or would you like to? Which movies are your favorites? Any foods or drinks you’ve tried to recreate, or want to?

Elena

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Black Tudors?

I saw a new book about black history on Twitter and had to pounce: Black Tudors, The Untold Story by Miranda Kaufmann. While this is earlier than what I write, I grew up as a historical re-enactor and a lot of my time and study has been devoted to fifteenth and sixteenth century history. I’m only halfway done with the book, but it’s proven well worth my time and money.

I don’t want to give a synopsis of the entire book, as that’s unfair to the author, so I’m going to concentrate on the first black Tudor featured in the book, John Blanke, the Trumpeter. John Blanke shown twice in the Westiminster Tournament Roll and is the only idenifiable portrait of an African in Tudor England.

Blanke is a fasinating figure. Musicians were known to move from court to court rather freely, and they were often used as messengers betweeen courts. It is likely that Blanke arrived in England in the retinue of Katherine of Aragon in 1501 (blacks, both free and enslaved, being more common in Spain, Portugal, and the Italian states). By 1507 he is listed as one of Henry VII’s trumpeters and is being paid the same wage as the others. He must have been a favorite, because when a more senior musician died, Blanke petioined the new king, Henry VIII to be raised in position and have his pay increased. Not only wa this request granted, but when Blanke married in 1512 the king bestowed upon him violet cloth for his wedding clothes (as a musician, Blanke was already entitled to ignore the sumptary laws and was known to dress in crimson).

This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author’s life plus 100 years or less.

One interesting tidbit I learned was the because trumpeters were used as messengers, they were supposed to have dipolmatic immunity, allowing them free passage through foreign and even enemy territory. This, coupled with their frequently moving from service of one king or noble to another, also gave rise to them being thought of as spies. Wouldn’t a Dunnett-like series about a spy/trumpeter moving through the courts of sixteenth century Eurpoe be amazing? Somebody who’s better at mystery plots than I am needs to write this for me!

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That Bewitching Illustrated London News, or, Oooops, I Did It Again

snippet from the main title page of the volume 7 of the Illustrated London News, showing a view of London, with the Tower in the background
Dear Reader,

I did it again. I went on Abebooks and bought another volume of the Illustrated London News I discovered another poor, abandoned volume of a nineteenth-century newspaper, sitting in a corner, crying piteously, so of course, I had to adopt it. I mean, how could I leave it there, out in the cold, with nobody to cherish it?!?! And so I… um… adopted it. 🙂

In truth, it’s a volume I’ve been trying to hunt down for quite some time. The last time it became available at a decent price, I waited too long and somebody snatched it up before me. But this time, I got lucky. And now it’s ALL MINE!!!

As always, it’s an utter delight to leaf through the volume. There are so many things to discover! The ads alone are extremely intriguing. (At this point in time – 1845 – ads were still text based, rather than illustrated, because of the tax on ads. I talked about this in my last post here.)

Advertisement for Dietic Pale AleDietetic pale ale? Who would have thought this was a thing!

And remember when I talked about Victorian street food? Well, it would appear that the West India pineapples that were sold in London’s streets in 1845 weren’t such a big hit…

an illustration showing a street vendor with his cart, surrounded by customers, including a few childrenIn the illustration you can see the kind of handcart from which street vendors would sell their wares. This pineapple seller has a very simple cart; those who sold soup or coffee would have had much more sophisticated carts, with heaters to keep their wares warm.

From time to time, nineteenth-century periodicals would also include sheet music – the kind of song that would have been suitable for a young woman to perform at an evening entertainment in order to show off her singing voice and her skills on the piano. These songs were often quite sentimental like this example from the issue of 25 October 1845. It’s called “My Writing Desk” – which is the place where people would have kept letters they received from family and dear friends. And this is exactly what this song is about.

a few lines of music with an illustration of a man sitting at a desk, his head on his hand, while he contemplates old letters

The first stanza reads:

My writing desk is the home of my treasure,
My desk is the shrine of my care;
Oh! all I have loved beyond measure
Have left me some dear relics there,
Have left me some dear relics there.
The dry leaves of long perish’d flowers,
Whose perfume has lingered behind,
Have made them as sweet as the hours
Those dear relics bring to my mind.

Awwwwwwww!!!!!

This volume is the second bi-annual volume of 1845, meaning it will most likely include a Christmas special. I haven’t yet looked because I’m kind of keeping the December issues as a special pre-holiday treat.

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Papillote Curls

One of the great things about writing historical romance is that I always come across something new in my research. Often such finds are serendipitous and always they give me the chance to add some historical detail that I otherwise would not have included.

This time I discovered a papillote iron.

I knew that ladies in the Regency curled their hair and I knew they used some sort of curling iron, but I supposed that the curling iron was more like our modern ones. it turns out it was a much cooler process.

The papillote iron looks a little like coal tongs or iron scissors with flattened ends.

You’ve read of curling papers in Regency novels? It turns out they were used with a papillote iron. Curling papers were triangular shaped pieces of tissue paper used to shield the hair from the heat of the papillote.

First the papillote was heated with coals from the fireplace. Next a strand of strand of hair was selected and rubbed with pomade. The strand was then curled around a finger and wrapped in a triangle of tissue paper. The curl was heated by pressing it with the flat ends of the papillote iron. This process was repeated until all the strands of hair that need curling had gone through the process.

When the hair was completely cooled, the papers were pulled off and the result was the corkscrew curls so familiar to us who love the Regency era.

I could not find a good history on papillote curls except that the technique was used in the 1700s to curl wigs and help create the towering hairstyles of that era. The curls were brushed out, creating the volume. This portrait of the Duchess of Devonshire by Gainsborough (1785-87) is an example.

The name suggests French origin. This print from 1824 certainly supports that idea.

Here is a very detailed tutorial on a modern way to make papillote curls using tissue paper and a flat iron.

And another using an actual papillote iron from the time period

There are other ways to use paper to make curls. This technique is very similar to rag curls that my aunt taught me when I was a little girl, but these are with paper towels!

I have stick-straight hair and I’m so tempted to try one of these curling techniques. Maybe I’ll find out what it is like to have curls.

One last note. Papillote also refers to a cooking technique, in which the food is put into a folded pouch or parcel, often made of parchment paper, and then baked. But, since I am so-not-a-cook,  I also knew nothing about that papillote.

Have you ever tried to create Regency-style curls? How did you do it?

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Those Holiday Romances

 Do you read holiday romances? I do. I read them, and re-read them when the season comes around, and keep adding them to my collection. Addicted much? I admit it. But I have questions for you.

1) Since these stories often center around Christmas activities, do you read them even if you are not of the Christian faith?

2) Does the historical context of the period make the “religious” parts of these stories, if there is some, acceptable if you don’t like “inspirational” romances?

3) Do you read them at any other time of year??

You may wonder why I am asking all these questions! I have been working on my first “holiday romance” –a Regency set in the countryside over the 12 days of Christmastide, starting on Christmas Eve day and ending on Twelfth Night. But my major medical issues and those of my husband are interfering with my ability to get it done when I had hoped, and I am considering releasing it AFTER Christmas. So here’s my biggest question:

would you buy a holiday romance after the holidays?

Book sales usually decline during December, when folks are too busy, and they tend to pick up afterwards –I guess people have time to read again once they get through the press of getting ready and celebrating!! But I would love to know if you think it would be lame to release a holiday story after Christmas, say for Twelfth Night (January 6) instead?

LOL, that’s if I can even make that deadline. But I’m considering it. My poor characters really want their story to get out there, and not have to wait until next year!! I would love to know what you think.

THE LORD OF MISRULE: On a snowy Christmas Eve day, a vicar’s daughter runs into the Devil himself, or is he just the Lord of Misrule? In a season of miracles and magic, can love bind two unlikely hearts in the days leading to Twelfth Night?

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Dieting in the Georgian Era

“A Voluptuary Under The Horrors of Digestion”: 1792 caricature by James Gillray

Today I’m going to defend a fellow author’s honor. I don’t actually know who the author is, but she could be any one of us because we’ve all been on the receiving end of an incorrect historical “fact check”. A couple days ago there was a tweet going around ripping a historical author a new one for daring to have a heroine who was concerned about being overweight. This character dared to diet. Dieting (and concerns about being fat), per the tweeter, were anachronistic and she simply had to toss the book aside.

*clears throat* HELLO, LET ME INTRODUCE YOU TO MY FRIEND LORD BYRON

Byron, he of the long poems and wild affairs, had a well-documented fear of growing fat. It was so severe that I’ve seen modern biographers refer to it as a neurosis. As far back as his days at Cambridge he was notorious for subsisting on “soda water and biscuits” (sometimes “vinegar and potatoes”). He was known as an adult to live off a slice of toast and tea for breakfast, and nothing but vegetables and seltzer mixed with wine for dinner. He also smoked cigars to stave off hunger pangs. He complained about how much food his wife ate, famously saying that women should never be seen eating anything but lobster salad and champagne.

And Byron wasn’t alone. As far back as 1724 English doctors were recommending meatless diets, exercise, and avoiding luxury foods in order to lose weight and improve health (George Cheyne, An Essay of Health and Long Life). You can find powders recommended to reduce too corpulent bodies (Medicina Britannica, 1747), and frank statements that “Nay sir whatever may be the quantities that a man eats, it is plain that if he is too fat, he has eaten more than he should have done.” (The Life of Samuel Johnson, 1791).
There is even a long and very modern sounding treatise of advice in Sure Methods of Improving Health, and Prolonging Life (1827) which recommends moderation in habits and diet and exercise to lose weight.

Advice and opinions about weight and diet also appeared in Ladies’ Magazines such as Manuel des dames, which has VERY strong condemnations of women who have “excess embonpoint” (see quote below, which is vicious) and says they should “Take long walks, stay up late, eat little, talk, move about, and study a great deal…Abstain from meat, bread, starchy vegetables, broth, and milk.” It also says the most common causes of corpulence are “indolence and luxurious living”, and that “activity of body and mind” are necessary to counter it (as well as the omission of one meal a day).

It an excessively meager figure is hideous, an enormously fat one is disgusting. It is nothing more than a heavy, shapeless mass, whose every movement is awkward, ludicrous, and often painful. Something of the coarse and crude is written all over these massive forms. The soul seems crushed, the eyes are dwarfed, the features are enveloped, and the foetid odour of profuse sweat ends by arousing disgust.”

Not to mention the plethora of period caricatures we have making fun of the Prince Regent’s weight and his penchant for older, fat women. So there you have it: The Georigans stigmatized fat people just like we do today, and no, dieting wasn’t invented in the 1860s. So Regency Author, whoever you are, you have every bit as much right to write about these issues as any contemp author and there’s nothing anachronistic about it.

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Two Regency Recipes

Last time, I blogged about an event I’m organizing for my UU church’s “Dining for Dollars” fundraiser–a Jane Austen movie night with period refreshments.

Since then, I’ve made progress on a menu.  It’s a fair-sized crowd (about 20 people) with a variety of dietary needs and preferences. I’m looking mostly for recipes that can be at least partially prepared ahead of time at home, then reheated or finished as necessary at the church hall; otherwise I’ll need to hire some servants to help me!

The dietary issues are something I doubt a Regency hostess would have had to worry about, but I do want to make sure everyone has at least a few items they can eat. There will be both meat and vegetarian items. I’ve also figured out a few dishes that are gluten free and nut free. No one has asked for vegan. Perusing Georgian and Regency recipes, I’m finding that many include eggs and/or butter. I would have been willing to tinker with them if necessary, although I’m not sure how accurate the results would be (not that I’m being a real purist here).

Here are a few recipes I’ve tried out so far.

The first is a “White Fricasey” of chicken and mushrooms (above). I used a recipe for Uppercross Cottage Chicken Fricassee from the Jane Austen Centre website, adapted from The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy by Hannah Glasse (first published in 1747). With roasted potatoes and glazed carrots, it made a very nice meal. It should be easy to double and reheated well, so this should work as the main meat entree.

The other recipe I just tried out is “Rout Drop Cakes” from The Jane Austen Cookbook by Maggie Black and Deirdre Le Faye. The recipe is adapted from one in A New System of Domestic Cookery, by Maria Rundell, 1806. These cookies are made with currants and flavored with orange juice, rose water, sherry, and brandy. I could see why they might be good for parties as they are small and not too crumbly. Good finger food, and I love the hint of rose-scent!

Some other recipes I may try out soon are a “Vegetable Pie” for the vegetarian entree, a “Swiss Soup Meagre” from the cookbook of Martha LLoyd (with whom Jane Austen lived in the later part of her life), and a hedgehog cake which I hope will turn out as cute as the examples I’ve seen online.

Do you enjoy trying out period recipes? Any notable successes or amusing failures?

Elena

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Advertisements in Newspapers & Magazines

Punch wrapperWhen you look at surviving copies of 19th-century periodicals (typically bound in volumes) today, you will perhaps notice a distinct lack of advertisements. Ads were printed on the wrapper (the cover) of single issues as well as on additional pages, and when periodicals were privately bound into volumes, the wrappers and the pages with ads were typically thrown away. Some magazines, like PUNCH, released annual or bi-annual volumes of their publication as special keepsakes – and these didn’t contain any ads either.

So imagine my delight when earlier today I stumbled across a volume of PUNCH on Google Books that not only consists of individual issues bound together, but has also retained most of the wrappers with ads.

*squee*

The issues are all from 1874, which means that thanks to changes in taxation and technological improvements, the ads all look very different from what you would have found in periodicals in the early decades of the century. By 1874, many ads came with pictures or with interesting typography.

Ads in PUNCH, the Victorian magazineThere wasn’t any particular order to them, so Howard’s Parquet Flooring stood side by side with anchovy preparations, the latest novels (such as TAKEN AT THE FLOOD by Mary Elizabeth Braddon), or Thomson’s Unbreakable Corset Busk.

More ads from PUNCHIn the early decades of the 19th century, by contrasts, ads tended to be text only, and they were very short and to the point. The reason for this was the tax on paper and the tax on ads. The latter was a reaction to social unrest: the government believed that there was a connection between ads and politics. On the other hand, most periodicals couldn’t survive without the income from ads. Indeed, it is thought that the majority of radical publications folded due to a lack of advertisers.

As the political climate changed, the tax on ads was first reduced in 1833 and was finally abolished in 1853. The tax on paper, however, remained in place until 1861, keeping paper expensive and forcing publishers and advertisers to be economical with the space on paper. Hence, illustrated ads as seen in the examples here in this post, only started to appear with regularity after the repeal of the paper tax, and the following decades are often referred to as the Golden Age of advertising.

Ads in Punch

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“Improvements” -Remodeling in the Regency, or, People Playing with Houses

I am in throes of getting bids for repairing bathrooms in my house. This is not my idea of fun! Getting contractors to come, let alone receiving bids from them after they’ve come, is a struggle. Do you think it was this way back in the Regency when people wanted to remodel or refurbish their homes? I wonder, because people did seem to do a lot of “improvements”.

One of the story threads in The Magnificent Marquess that I enjoyed writing was my hero’s on-going effort to recreate a slice of India through “improvements” to his grand Grosvenor Square residence (which of course fascinates my heroine). Eventually he is persuaded to hold a reception and invite most of London’s elite to come see it. There is no hint that he has any trouble hiring craftsmen and workers to carry out his plans. Nor do any actual accounts I have run across indicate that this was a problem during the Regency. I have the sense that people were more concerned with hiring the “best” builders and craftspeople –the best known, for the purposes of status, as well as the best in quality work.

I am occasionally amazed by the ambitious undertakings they often did…relocating entrances, even stairwells….but it helps to have an understanding of the role not only of changing tastes in home fashion and design, but economics, too.  For instance the tax on windows…or changing attitudes towards bathing & cleanliness (in the late Regency adding a room for bathing was one of the things people did).

(see article about shower baths @ Jane Austen’s World;   https://janeaustensworld.wordpress.com/2010/11/11/a-19th-century-regency-era-shower/

Prinny spent huge sums on improvements to the various royal residences and set a trend of course by doing so, since people emulated whatever the royals were doing. Between 1787 and 1815 he hired a series of architects to make improvements of his residence in Brighton, ending with John Nash to remake Henry Holland’s villa into the palatial and exotic Brighton Pavillion (1815-1822).   He also hired Nash to turn Carlton House, which after spending huge sums to have it built in 1786 the Prince Regent now found “antiquated, rundown, and decrepit”, into Carlton House Terrace (1827-1833). He wanted Nash to replace it by remaking Buckingham House into a new palace (begun 1825), although he ultimately did not live to see it finished, and Nash was dismissed from that project.

Other famous properties improved around this time included Syon House, the showpiece of Robert Adam’s designs from the 1760’s. The 3rd Duke of Northumberland had the entire house refaced in Bath stone and added a porte cochere in the 1820’s. Wikipedia notes that “This remodelling is thought to have been done by the architect Thomas Cady, who had worked on previous estates belonging to the Percy family.The website for Syon House also notes “Domestic imperatives were addressed with a new range of kitchens and the construction of the Oak Passage,” but I’m not sure of the date –that may have been post-Regency, as new technologies became available.

The prominent architect Jeffry Wyatt did most of his work remodeling and making additions and improvements to existing properties, including such great houses as Longleat in Wiltshire, Wollaton Hall in Nottinghamshire and Chatsworth in Derbyshire. According to writer Derek Linstrum, (Linstrum, Derek. “Wyatville (formerly Wyatt), Jeffry (1766-1840).” The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online ed.), this was to be expected in an era when such work “had become almost an obsession” because of the desire “to answer new demands for comfort and convenience, or to express an advancement in the aristocratic hierarchy.”  (See more about Wyatt below.)

The “Survey of London” is one of my favorite sources for checking out what people did to their houses, whether they were living in them or simply owned and rented them out.

http://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vol40/pt2/pp117-166

While this example for No. 4 Grosvenor Square predates the Regency, I love the details, including the builder Henry Flitcroft’s conclusion at the end of his report to the Earl of Malden. We can all only hope our projects will be “pursued with all proper dispatch”!!

‘The Works at your House in Grosvenor Square go on very well, and as fast as the Nature of them will permit, the Steps are made down to the Lower offices by your Lordshipp’s dressing room, and I have had 3 useless Doorways, and 7 blanks or holow places in ye Lower Story walld up Solid, which is a great strengthening to the Lower part of the House, the Bricklayers are Now at Work upon the Blanks and useless doorways which your Lordshipp Ordered to be walled up on the Hall floor, which will add much strength to ye House, the Plaisterers are got to Work on ye Celing, (fn. 2) ye Doorway of the Front is altering, and when that is done I shall order the wall of the Back stair case to be underpinned. When that is done I hope to be able to report the House secure. ‘The fitting up ye Dining Room (which will be a very good one) and the Hall etc. will be pursued with all proper dispatch, and hope to have done the Whole in about two Months time …’. (fn. 74)

The exterior improvements at No. 88 Brook Street (formerly No. 33) are very typical to bring an older house into the current fashion during the Regency, with the longer “French” windows and ironwork: “In 1822–4 C. R. Cockerell made alterations for the lessee Henry Trail costing £3,384. (fn. 99) It must have been at about that period—and therefore just possibly at his hands—that the first-floor windows were lengthened and a continuous iron balcony and projecting Ionic porch added.”  The same treatment can be seen in this photo of No. 36 Brook Street. 

The story for No. 39 (formerly No. 50) Brook Street is especially interesting because the home’s resident was Sir Jeffry Wyatville, originally known as Jeffry Wyatt (1766-1840), one of the prominent architects working during the Regency. According to a biography at http://www.victorianweb.org/victorian/art/architecture/wyattville/index.html, Wyatt was a member of a well-known dynasty of successful, prominent architects. At the time he was apprenticed to his uncle James Wyatt, the latter was considered “the most fashionable of London architects” and in 1796 was Surveyor-General and Comptroller of the Office of Works. Jeffry, however, followed his own more modern path to success, forming a partnership with John Armstrong, a prominent carpenter and building contractor, whose workshops and timber yard were located on the triangular site at the corner of Brook’s Mews and Avery Row, behind No. 39 (then 50) Brook Street. According to writer Kenneth Allinson, “This was the kind of move which some architects, like John Soane, looked down on; but it demonstrated that “the age of professionalism had arrived” (Allinson, Kenneth. Architects and Architecture of London: A Celebration of the Significant Architects Who Have Contributed to the Fabric of the Capital. Oxford: Architectural Press, 2008 p.131).

Wyatt went on to serve “an extraordinarily distinguished clientele”, including seventeen Earls and “a grand total of four sovereigns.” Wyatt won the commission to “restore, alter and extend Windsor Castle against stiff competition from Sir John Soane, John Nash and Robert Smirke”, and in 1828 he was knighted for his work.

In 1802 Jeffry Wyatt obtained sole possession of No. 39 Brook Street. He was granted a sixty-three-year lease of the house on payment of a fine of £2,556 and, “after reroofing it and carrying out various repairs costing nearly £1,000, he lived there until his death in 1840.”

However, in 1821 “Wyatt was dismayed to find that ‘owing to the vicinity of the great common sewer [i.e. the Tyburn Brook, flowing beneath Avery Row] the water has evidently found its way to the foundation of my house, and it is now absolutely splitting into two pieces’. He calculated the cost of repairs at £3,000 and asked for a longer leasehold term as compensation.

Wyatt did undertake a thorough repair and reconstruction, for the ratebooks record that the house was empty for three quarters of 1821 and half of 1822 and was being ‘rebuilt’. The work comprised complete refronting as well as alterations to the interior. At the same time a large new wing was built extending back at right angles from the house. This contained a drawing office on the ground floor with a gallery above for the reception of clients (fig. 11). In 1823 he reported that these works had cost more than £5,000 and again asked for some amendment of the lease in his favour. Eventually in 1827 a new lease which included the workshops and timber yard at the corner of Brook’s Mews and Avery Row was granted to 1887 at an increased annual rent.”

The most distinctive feature of the rebuilt front (Plate 22a in vol. XXXIX) is the domed, curved corner bow, which originally contained an ingenious circular entrance hall. (The storefront shown in the photo was added in 1927.)   The shallow lead dome surmounting the bow is a feature which Wyatt had adopted from the repertoire of his uncle, builder/architect Samuel Wyatt, whilst the stuccoed façade, framed with panelled pilasters, is another distinctive feature of Jeffry Wyatt’s classical work, to be seen at Chatsworth, for instance. Though the original early eighteenth-century staircase, with three alternating patterns of twisted balusters per step and carved step-ends, was retained (Plate 4a, fig. 12), the top of the well was remodelled and given a glazed lantern, the Carolean-style frieze here being derived from Windsor Castle, and evidently a conscious attempt to conform to the ‘antique’ appearance of the staircase. The rear rooms on the ground and first floors have ceilings of exceedingly shallow segmental form. The new gallery at the rear (Plate 4c), approached through high double doors, has a less shallow segmental ceiling, originally toplit, and square alcoves half way down each side, one of which contained a patent stove (now replaced by a chimneypiece). (plate references are in the Survey of London)

Given the extensive work needed on this one, all I can think is how fortunate it was that the leaseholder was a great architect!! And it makes me feel a little better about the extensive work one of my bathrooms is going to need, LOL.

How do you feel about renovating? Chore or pleasure? Have you had good experiences or bad? If you lived during the Regency, would you have been one of those who followed the “obsession” to update your home?

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A Peek Below Stairs – Kitchen and Cellars

The last great house we visited on my friend Kristine Hughes Patrone‘s Number One London Tours Lake District tour was Tatton Hall.

Tatton Park is a historic estate in Cheshire, England, that had been in the Egerton family from 1598 to 1958 when the Last Lord Egerton left it to the National Trust. At its largest, the estate covered 251,000 acres. The present Tatton Hall was built in 1716, with improvements made from the 1770s to 1816 resulting in the neoclassical mansion much as it appears now. Other additions were made in the late 1800s.

As a neoclassical historic house, Tatton Hall is a beautiful example with a gorgeous interior, furnishings, and artwork. Its gardens are extensive and indescribably beautiful, but another unique feature of the house is the preservation of its cellars. Even though there are some modern improvements, Tatton Hall’s cellars give us a peek of what life might be like for the regency era servants who kept such great houses operating.

The servant’s stairs

A hallway

Another hallway with fire buckets hanging

Rails on the floor upon which items could be moved quickly

Wine cellar

Beer cellar

Still room

Dairy room (those are cheeses)

Spice room

Salt room (where they salted and stored meat)

Copper kitchen molds and utensils

China closet

Housekeeper’s room

And, to end, an amusing sign that was above stairs

Have you seen other good examples of life below the stairs? Tell us where!

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