Friday, April 29, 2016

Subscriptions Raised Money for Charity--and Destitute Friends


© Cheryl Bolen
 
In the days before organized non-profits and charity fetes, the British raised money for the less fortunate through subscriptions advertised in newspapers. Subscribers could donate an amount with which they were comfortable. The higher the person’s rank, the more they were expected to give. It was a coup to use the name of a member of the Royal Family as having donated.

 Here are a few subscription notices that appeared on the front page of The Morning Chronicle in 1817.

Subscription for Poor Irish laborers
Donating £50

HRH the Princess Charlotte Auguste of Saxe Coburg
His Serene H the Prince Leopold of Saxe Coburg

Donating £20

Right Hon. G. Ponsonby
the Right Honorable Viscount Castlereagh

Donating £10

the Hon. Louisa Cavendish

A Case of Real Distress

Rt. Hon. John George—Lord Arden, Registrar of the Admiralty, Ld of the Bedchamber, etc., etc. It appears from the most unexceptional authority this truly unfortunate nobleman is now actually out of pocket by his sinecure. This case is recommended to all charitably disposed persons. . . the smallest sums will be thankfully received—Messrs. Curtis & Co. Downing Street: Rev. Dr. Sidmouth, Spring Gardens. . . the following subscribers have already been received . . .

It is likely that Curtis & Co. on Downing Street would have been solicitors who handled the subscription and its dispensation.

Friends would often come to others’ aids with subscriptions, such as in the case of statesman Charles James Fox. In a 1793 letter to his wife, who was on the Continent, Lord Bessborough wrote, “We have had a subscription for Charles Fox, who was in distress; Dudley North (Whig M.P.) and Charles Pelham (another M.P.) were the chief movers of it, and they have got as much money as will buy him annuity for his life of £2,000 a year. I should have thought it would have better to have done it without a publick meeting, as they had got nearly money enough without it. However they chose to have it. I had not much to give (huge gambling losses had decimated the Bessborough’s fortune) so I only subscribed £200.”

A week later he wrote

I have been this morning to a meeting about Charles fox’s affairs. We had a very handsome letter from him, & his politicks this years have been kept clear of in what was said; I understand they have got £33,000 paid, which is very extraordinary at this time, & £10,000 more promised. they are in hopes of paying his debts & having enough to get him annuity of £2,000 for his life. I understand they have agreed to buy the annuity of the Duke of Bedford & Ld. Spencer at 11 years purchase.

The grandson of a duke, Fox had inherited enormous wealth from his father, Baron Holland, but squandered it away at the gaming tables. Twice. An annuity of £2,000 would have been an extremely comfortable income. In Fox’s case, subscribers generously reached into their pockets  because he was so affable, clever, and well liked.

Still, Fox’s debts, in today’s dollars, would have been roughly $4.5 million. It is doubtful the poor Irish laborers received anything approaching that hefty amount.—Cheryl Bolen, the NY Times and USA bestselling author of two dozen Regency romance novels, has just released Oh What a (Wedding) Night.

Resources

Morning Chronicle, February 6, 1817

Lady Bessborough and Her Family Circle, Earl Bessborough in collaboration with A. Aspinall, John Murray, London, 1940.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Ballroom Regencies

evening gown 1819by Donna Hatch

A little while ago, some authors were basically bashing "ballroom Regencies" where there are so many young, handsome, single dukes, and lords--all of whom fall in love with a captivating heroine--that England could not possibly have contained all of them. 

I don't see the problem. Each author's world is her (or his) own existing in different planes independent from one another. The idea that we should all write about "real" people facing real problems, is just as ridiculous that we should all write mysteries, or contemporary novels, or non-fiction.

I celebrate the diverse genres and I adore "ballroom Regencies" that take place amid the littering lives of English nobility because I like the fantasy element--it's pure escapism from my ordinary life.
However historical accuracy's importance, and something for which I strive while writing every story, one of the main reasons why readers love to read is to relax and escape from the stresses of their lives. Many Regency readers cite wanting to enjoy a glamorous life vicariously through the eyes of the characters of a book. Historical romances are a magical way to wear beautiful gowns, get help with clothes and hair from a maid, attract the notice of a gorgeous gentleman (or even a titled lord), explore the beauties of historical settings, and fall in love--all without leaving the real world. Reading about the result of people's poor bathing habits (something more and more people changed during the Regency, thank goodness) bad teeth, bills piling up, not having enough money, and the drudgery of everyday life too closely mirrors real life to be a complete escape. True, the falling in love aspect is fun and something one can achieve with any romance novel, but "ballroom Regencies" offer a beautiful combination of historical truth, mingled liberally with a fantasy element few other genres offer.

Longleat House
Longleat House
Ordinary people in real life are often unsung heroes who quietly uplift and improve their own corner of the universe, and I don't mean in any way to demean their contribution. But the adventurer and romantic in me seeks something larger than life.

How else, but through literature, can I explore an English manor house or castle? How can I don a tailored riding habit and ride side-saddle over the English countryside in a fox hunt or steeple chase? How can I sail on a schooner or frigate and battle pirates while exchanging smiles with a gorgeous sea captain? How else can I flirt and dance and exchange witty banter with a handsome duke? Historical romance, and in particular,"ballroom Regencies," offer these adventures all set in the backdrop of the elegant, glamorous, fantastic world of the English beau monde.

galleonBy combining these exciting, unique and glamorous settings with the human elements of good people trying to do the right things for the right reasons, I feel that I have found the best of both worlds. I hope you enjoy those journeys with me.

What is your favorite kind of book?

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Actress Who Married a Duke

© Cheryl Bolen

What a strange eventful life has mine been, from a poor little player child, with just food and clothes to cover me, dependent on a very precarious profession, without talent or a friend in the world - first the wife of the best, the most perfect being that ever breathed ...and now the wife of a Duke! You must write my life... my true history written by the author of Waverley" 

The passage above was written in 1827 by the Duchess of St. Albans to Sir Walter Scott shortly after her marriage to the 9th Duke of St. Albans, a man 23 years her junior.  

How did a 50-year-old former actress attract so lofty a peer? It’s a good guess that her enormous fortune dazzled him. 
 
How, then, did an actress at a minor London theatre become one of the wealthiest women in the British Isles? 

Harriet Mellon (1777-1837) was nearing forty when she attracted the attention of the enormously wealthy banker Thomas Coutts (1735-1822) while acting at the Duke Street Theatre. She was noted for her beauty and was painted by George Romney and Sir Thomas Lawrence. 
 
Harriet Mellon, by Sir Thomas Lawrence

Coutts married her soon after his first wife died in 1815. This husband whom she described as “the most perfect being that ever breathed” was eighty.

Coutts had founded Coutts & Co., the royal bank, and he enjoyed close relationships with the highest ranking families and officials in the land. Both his first wife, Elizabeth Starkey, formerly in service at his brother’s house, and Harriet would have been considered beneath him, but such lack of consequence was apparently not of significance.  

His three daughters—with encouragement from their father—were more cognizant of rank when selecting their mates. His eldest daughter, Susan, married the 3rd Earl of Guilford; daughter Frances married the 1st Marquess of Bute; and Sophia married Sir Francis Burdett.

 When Coutts died seven years after marrying Harriet, he left his entire fortune to her. She hosted parties at her townhouse at 78 Piccadilly, her lodge four miles away in Highgate, and her place in Brighton.

Five years after she was widowed, she married the Duke of St. Albans.

When she died ten years later, she left the bulk of her fortune to a granddaughter of her first husband, the youngest daughter of Sir Francis Burdett. Harriet paid homage to her first husband in stipulating that her heiress adopt the name Angela Burdett-Coutts.—Cheryl Bolen, whose Oh What a (Wedding) Night releases in April and can be preordered everywhere now. It’s Book 3 in the Brazen Brides series.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Corinthians, Dandies, Rakes and Young Blades




Almost all Regency gentlemen gambled, drank, played hard, hunted, went shooting and generally indulged in excess, carnal and otherwise, following a tone set very much by the Regent.  The Prince turned 49 in 1811 when he became Regent of England, putting him past the age where either “young” or “blade” could be aptly applied to him, but there were other men gentle by birth—though not necessarily by manner—who looked to belong to certain distinct fashionable sets which excelled in specific areas.
It can be difficult to tell the difference between these different set, and quite often a gentleman had overlapping interests.  There were rakes who were good enough sportsmen to be called “Corinthians,” and Corinthians who also belonged to the dandy set by virtue of the care they took with their dress.
Lord “Beau” Petersham was one such man.  Born in 1780, Charles Stanhope, Viscount Petersham, later became the Earl of Harrington in 1829.  He was said to resemble Henry IV, and he emphasized this by growing a small, pointed beard. He designed his own clothes and made famous the Petersham overcoat and the Harrington hat. He was also noted for his brown coach, clothing, and servant's livery—a color said to have been chosen for his devotion to a widow named Brown.  However, in 1831 he married a Covent Garden actress named Maria Foote who was seventeen-years his junior. His was also noted for his snuff and tea mixes, and Gronow said of his sitting-room that, "...all round the walls were shelves, upon which were placed tea-canisters, containing Congou, Pekoe, Souchong, Bohea, Gunpowder, Russian, and many other teas, all the best o the kind; on the other side of the room were beautiful jars, with names in gilt letters, o finnumerable kinds of snuff...."
Petersham owned a snuff boxes for each day of the year and according to Priestley in The Prince of Pleasure, took care to "...choose one that suited the weather, not risking a cold by using a light snuffbox in an East wind."
Lords Alvanley and Sefton were other examples of dandies who also had sporting interests.
William Arderne, Baron Alvanley, was famous for his wit, his dinner parities, his dress and his eccentricities.  He insisted that an apricot tart be on the sideboard, no matter the time of year, after he was served a cold one that he liked. He also put out his candle by throwing it across the room—with his valet wisely remained alert in case it should start a fire and have to be put out. A hard rider to hounds, Alvanley was one of the best liked men of his set.
Lord Sefton, William Philip Molyneux, was a cousin to Petersham. Society wits dubbed him “Lord Dashalong” for his driving style, and his matched bays were quite famous.  He rode in steeplechases and was so fond of coursing greyhounds against each other as a sport that he devoted part of his estate to raising rabbits for the chase.

Even with examples of gentlemen who had diverse interests, there are still distinctions that can be made between these various sets.  Byron is quoted as having said, "I like the Dandies, they were always very civil to me."  This shows that while the distinctions between these sets were fine, they existed.
To see this illustrated, one can look at the most famous of dandies, George Bryan “Beau” Brummell who led the dandy set for a number of years.  As Captain Gronow states, “All the world watched Brummell to imitate him, and order their clothes of the tradesman who dressed that sublime dandy.”  He also reports that, “The dandy's dress consisted of a blue coat with brass buttons, leather breeches, and top boots; and it was the fashion to wear a deep, stiff white cravat, which prevented you from seeing your boots while standing.”
In Life in Regency and Early Victorian Times, Chancellor marks the world of the dandies as "...that portion of St. James's, bounded by Piccadilly and Pall Mall, St. James's Street and Waterloo Place, was the ne plus ultra of fashionable life..."  Obviously with a mention of Waterloo Place, this puts this area a touch later than the Regency, but St. James's did mark the center of the fashionable gentleman's world.
Brummell was on terms with the Prince Regent, and his closest friends included the Dukes of Rutland, Dorset, and Argyll, Lords Sefton, Alvanley, and Plymouth.  As Gronow states, “In the zenith of his popularity he might be seen at the bay window of White's Club, surrounded by the lions of the day, laying down the law, and occasionally indulging in those witty remarks for which he was famous.”

Wit was as much a hallmark of the dandy as were his clothes—indeed, everything about the dandy had to bespeak style, including his dress, his manners, and his furniture.  Understated elegance was what Brummell strove for and he is quoted as saying, "If John Bull turns round to look after you, you are not well dressed; but either too stiff, too tight, or too fashionable."
As a gentleman, Brummell rode to hounds, following that sporting fashion.  But it is reported that he never rode past the first field for he did not want to stain his white boot tops with mud, and so retired to the nearest inn.  This is what sets him as a true dandy, caring more for his appearance than anything.  A true Corinthian would have distained such a poor showing, for, in general, Corinthians sought to excel in the sporting world.
Shakespeare has his Prince Hal proclaim in Henry IV, “They take it already upon their salvation, that though I be but prince of Wales, yet I am king of courtesy; and tell me flatly I am no proud Jack, like Falstaff, but a Corinthian, a lad of mettle…”
A lad of mettle was what the Regency Corinthian sought to prove himself.
Bartleby’s defines a Corinthian as “A gentleman sportsman who rides his own horses on the turf, or sails his own yacht. A member of the pugilistic club, Bond Street, London” which references the Pugilistic Club formed in 1814 as the meeting-place of the aristocratic sporting element, often called “The Fancy.”
The Corinthian was, above all, a sporting man.  He drove his own horses, boxed, ride to hounds, shot and strove to be among the elite of this group would undertook these expensive as well as athletic endeavors.

Military men, too, might aspire to sporting excellence. Wellington was said to have a “bad seat” on a horse, but he certainly loved to hunt.  His officers could keep packs of hounds, and while foxes might be scarce in Spain and Portugal, there were rabbits enough to hunt. Winter was also the time when the army had to wait out the winter before a spring campaign, and as Harry Smith wrote in his autobiography, “At this period of the year (February, March) the coursing in this part of Spain is capital, and by help of my celebrated dog Moro and two other excellent ones, I supplied the officers' mess of every Company with hares for soup.” Smith kept greyhounds to chase the hares, a sport far older than fox hunting, and his life is superbly fictionalized in Georgette Heyer’s The Spanish Bride.
There were more than a few Corinthians who also excelled at excessive dissipation, and who could be called rake, or “rake-hell,” or “rake shame.” It took more than a little womanizing for a Regency gentleman to earn the status of rake.  Prostitutes were so numerous that guidebooks were put out to describe the women, their specialties, and what they might not do.  Most gentlemen kept a mistress, and even titled married women considered discreet affairs the norm. But a gentleman who went beyond conventions, who preyed upon young women, or even children, or who undertook perversions, was deemed unacceptable. These rakes ignored convention and morality.  Two such examples of this are Lord Barrymore and the Duke of Queensberry.
Born in 1768, Richard Barry became the Earl of Barrymore in 1773.  He took to living to please himself, and earned the nickname “Hellgate.” His brother, Henry Barry, became "Cripplegate" for his crippled foot, and his other brother, the Honorable Reverend Augustus Barry, was called “Newgate” because that was the one gaol he had kept clear of.  His sister, who became Lady Milfort, was called "Billingsgate" for the foul language she used.
Barrymore rode his own horses in races, then went deeply into debt building his racing stables and gambling on his horses. It is said that he was a whip equal in skill to any professional coachman.  He also organized boxing matches, bet on them, and was accounted a good boxer himself.  In 1792 he married Miss Goulding, niece of the notorious Sir John Lady and Letty Lade—a woman who had been the mistress of the highwayman known as "Sixteen String Jack." Sir John was not a respectable person, but he was a noted whip, and had driven a coach and four round the tiny horse sale yard at Tattersalls—a remarkable feat.  Instead of marrying to settle down, Barrymore had to make a scandal of even this.  He received permission from Sir John to marry Lade’s niece, but Barrymore decided to elope with his bride anyway, setting Society to talking about such disgraceful behavior.
While Lord Barrymore lived up to the image of a dissolute and dashing young blade, the Duke of Queensberry, known as "Old Q" for the initial he had painted on his carriage instead of his crest, was more the classic old rake. He also was a noted race-horse owner, gambler and driver, traits of a true Corinthian.
William Douglas had become the Earl of March in 1731, and then inherited the dukedom of Queensberry in 1786 when his cousin died.  Fabulously wealthy, he never married.  He adored young Italian opera singers, and was said to have been a member of the notorious “Hellfire Club.”  Like a true rake, he neglected his estates of Drumlanrig, Dumfries, and Galloway, and lived for his own pleasure.
While Georgian, the Hellfire Club is worth a brief mention in that gossip made it a standard (abet a low one) for scandalous debauchery.  It was not actually called the Hellfire Club by its members.  Started in 1746 by Sir Francis Dashwood, its name, like its members and its activities, were kept secret.  It was called either The Friars of St Francis of Wycombe, The Monks of Medmenham, The Order of Knights of West Wycombe, or The Order of the Knights of St Francis.  Stories held that members included the Earl of Sandwich, the son of the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Hogarth, the Earl of Bute, the Marquis of Granby, and even the Prince of Wales, and that they indulged in everything from orgies to Satan worship.  What they really did is unknown, but it is very likely that they held orgies with prostitutes and probably performed invented Pagan ceremonies that were relatively harmless.
By the Regency, Dashwood and his club had been replaced by other clubs—some every bit as scandalous.
There were numerous gentlemen’s clubs in Regency London, and a gentleman’s clubs also denoted his status within each set.  Some clubs were founded for the purpose of eating, some for drinking, some for wit and society, some for debauchery, some for gambling, some for sports.  Many of them had whimsical rules, such as a club founded by Lord Barrymore which ruled that "if any member has more sense than another he be kicked out of the club."

Most gentlemen belonged to several clubs. Waiter’s was considered the domain of the dandy, but closed in 1819 after becoming infamous as a place where too many gentlemen were ruined with deep play (which was also suspected of being rigged play).  White’s was considered the most exclusive, and was where Beau Brummell held court in the famous bow-window with Lord Alvanely, the Duke of Argyle, Lord Worcester, Lord Foley and Lord Sefton. Opposite White’s stood Brooks’s, a club that, through its patronage by Whig families, became known as the place for liberals.  Members included the radical and the artistic, such as Edmund Burke, Sir Joshua Reynolds, David Garrick, Horace Walpole, Edward Gibbon, Richard Sheridan, and the Prince of Wales.  Finally, a sporting minded gentleman might join Boodle’s with its focus on heavy gambling, or The Marylebone Cricket Club which played at Lord’s, or might aspire to the Bensington Driving Club, founded in 1807, or the more elite Four-Horse Club.
The Four-Horse club met in George Street, Hanover Square, and drove to Salt Hill to dine.  Members had be noted whips, drove four horses attached to a barouche carriage and had the right to wear the yellow-striped blue waistcoat and black spotted neckerchief insignia of the club.  Membership was so exclusive that the club counted only around thirty members or so, and included Lords Barrymore, Sefton, Worcester and Fitzhardinge, Sir John Lade, Sir Henry Peyton, Sir Bellingham Graham as well as other noted whips.
M. Simond, writing about his visit to England in 1810, might well have been writing of the Four-Horse club when he said, "I have just seen the originals of which Matthews gave us a faithful copy a few days ago in Hit or Miss—the very barouche club; the gentlemen-coachmen, with half-a-dozen great coats about them—immense capes—a large nosegay at the button-hole—high mounted on an elevated seat with squared elbows—a prodigious whip—beautiful horses, four in hand, drive in a file to Salthill, a place about twenty miles from London, and return, stopping on the way at the several public houses and gin shops where stage-coachmen are in the habit of stopping for a dram, and for parcels and passengers; the whole in strict imitation of their models and making use, as much as they can, of their energetic professional idiom."
For boxing, there was Daffy's Club, which The London Spy reported was held at Tom Belcher's at the Castle Tavern in Holborn.  Boxing matches were also held at Fives Court in St. Martin's Street.
Just as each set had its customary haunts and clubs, slang terms also defined a gentleman’s interests.  Some dandies, such as Sir Lumley “Skiffy” Skeffington spoke with a lisp.  (Many in the liberal Devonshire set also copied the Duchess of Devonshire’s lisp to denote their status as Whigs.)  With his lisp and his appearance as “a thin pallid little man with sharp features and rouged cheeks, and the atmosphere of a perfume shop," Skeffington was almost the archetype of a dandy. He wore colored satin suits, penned plays and was said to spend eight hundred pounds a year on his clothes.  Actually, while Skeffington was a friend of Brummell's and the Regent, he was actually too fashionable to meet Brummell's standards for understated taste.
The Corinthian, in turn, adopted boxing terms or the slang of the coachman on the road.  It should be noted that are differences between London “thieves cant” often used by the young bucks about town, and the language of the Fancy.
As examples, Pierce Egan's Life in London; or, The Day and Night Scenes of Jerry Hawthorn, Esq., and his elegant friend, Corinthian Tom, accompanied by Bob Logic, the Oxonian, in their Rambles and Sprees through the Metropolis shows his heroes—Tom and Jerry—using the slang of the Fancy as Tom shows his country cousin Jerry about town.  Egan calls his hero "one of the fancy, but not a fancy man...”  And said of him that while he was as home waltzing at Almacks, he was not a dandy.
Egan also published Boxiana as a serial put out between 1811 and 1813, and he was a well known figure in the sporting world.  Captain Grose’s Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue provides a reference to the thieves cant used by the London underworld, and which might be employed by a young gentleman going slumming in brothels or gaming hells.
In addition to imitating the lower classes of London, young gentlemen looked to imitate the professional coach driver who handled the mail and stage coaches.  They might done a “Benjamin” (the greatcoat worn by coachmen) while seeking to “handle the ribbons” (hold the reins), and “spring the team” (put a team into a canter); “feather it” (drive very close to obstacles), managing both the “leaders” and the “wheelers” (the front pair and rear pair of a four horse team) over a “stage” (the distance between one change of teams and the next—usually 10 to 20 miles).
For others, it was not the professional coachman but the professional boxer who became the hero to emulate.

Fist fighting begun to replace sword or cudgel sports during George I’s reign.  Though it was illegal, betting made it enough of an attraction to draw nobility as well as common folks.  The first official champion of England was James Figg, who was also an expert swordsman and who later opened a School of Arms.
Later, Jack Broughton, who was champion of England from 1734 to 1750, invented the “mufflers” or boxing gloves that were used for practice only since all prize-fights were fought with bare fists.  Called “the father of British pugilism” Broughton drafted the rules that were used before and during the Regency.  (It was not until 1866 that the Queensberry Rules were developed by the 8th Marquis of Queensberry and John G. Chambers.)
Broughton’s rules outlawed hitting below the belt, striking an opponent who was down (which included being on his knees). Wrestling holds were allowed only above the waist.  Every fighter had a gentleman to act as umpire, with a third to referee disagreements. When a fighter was knocked down, he had 30 seconds to get up—or have help getting up—and then he had to be placed at the corner of a 3-foot square that was drawn in the center of the ring.
As was common for retiring champion boxers, when John Jackson retired after willing the champion title in 1795, he opened the Bond Street School of Arms at Number 13. Jackson won the championship in a hard-fought match with Daniel Mendoza, but it was his school which brought him fame.
Jackson, known as “The Gentleman,” was friends with fencing instructor Henry Angleo, who had a school next door and who urged his students to alternate with lessons from Jackson—which made sense for Jackson advocated footwork and the science of targeting a hit.
Everyone went to Jackson’s, even Lord Byron, the lame poet.  When tasked with keeping such low company Byron insisted that Jackson’s manners were “infinitely superior to those of the fellows of the college whom I meet at the high table.”  That no doubt contributed Jackson’s nickname and his success.

Other boxing champions of the Regency era included: Jack Bartholomew, champion from 1797 to 1800.  Jem Belcher who often wore a blue scarf marked with white spots and blue centers around his neck, which became known as the Belcher neckcloth, and soon sporting mad young bucks were wearing any scarf of garish color with spots.  “Hen” Pearce, “The Game Chicken,” who held the title from 1803 to 1806 when he retired.  John Gully who won the championship in 1807 and retired in 1808 to open a racing stable. And Tom Cribb became the champion in 1808, winning a famous bout against African-American Tom Molineaux on December 18, 1810. Cribb went on to hold the champion title until 1822.
As an interesting footnote, Tom’s less famous brother, George had about five fights, and lost all of them—some men simply were not cut out to be Corinthians, dandies, or rakes.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Mourning Customs in Regency England

by Donna Hatch
www.donnahatch.com

Mourning customs in the Regency Era were less rigid than in Victorian England. The excessively strict mourning rules we often encounter in historical novels came about after Queen Victoria’s husband died -- she wouldn’t give up her black mourning clothes and turned mourning into a firmly followed rule of propriety. Her subjects used her example to springboard their own mourning customs. Keep in mind that these are not LAWS for mourning. Any display of mourning was done at a family's or person’s discretion. However, there were social norms, that, if not followed, might raise some eyebrows.

In the excellent book, The Rise of the Egalitarian Family, Trumbach gives the following data for mourning periods:
12 months for a husband or wife
6 months for parents or parents in-law
3 months for a sister or brother, uncle or aunt
6 weeks for a sister-in-law or uncle or aunt (no explanation for the duplication here so perhaps it had to do with the closeness or lack of same
3 weeks - uncle or aunt, aunt who remarried, first cousin
2 weeks - first cousin (and whether they were close or not?)
1 week - first and second cousin, and husband or stepmother’s sister.

Trumbach says there was usually a designated female who kept up the family tree and ordained the degree of mourning required for the dearly (or not so dearly) departed.


Bombazine and crepe were typical fabrics used for clothing of deep mourning. Crepe was a lightweight black silk, while bombazine was a medium-weight silk and wool blend. Over time, shinier fabrics emerged in the evening. The less wealthy simply took apart their clothes, dyed them black, then re-sewed them.

Mourning--or lack hereof--could also be used as an opportunity to get back at someone you disliked by cutting down on the time or style of one’s mourning.

The widow would be in black for the first six months, and then in half mourning (black and white mixed) for the next six months. After that, the widow would go into half mourning. White, grey, and even lavender were suitable for half mourning. Again these are ideals, and not everyone observed them. Ackermann’s had a half mourning dress in a 1819 issue that was all white. Lavender is not mentioned in this issue, but it was commonly accepted as an appropriate half-mourning costume. On one blog I visited, I saw mention that there were some fashions circa 1811 of someone wearing scarlet for mourning, but "scarlet," often a term used to describe items that are scarlet (red) in color, was also used to describe any brightly-dyed, plain-woven woolen fabric. I find it impossible to determine which meaning is being used when they say it was a scarlet mourning shawl, but I found this: February 1811 For the Promenade, cloaks in Scarlet merino or grey cloth, black velvet pelisses, lined with grey sarsenet, wrapped plain in tippets; Spanish hats in velvet, or cottage bonnets in black, grey, or scarlet cloth.

In March 1811, La Belle Assemblee Ladies Magazine said that scarlet mantels were much worn during mourning, and generally succeeded by short pelisses of purple velvet. Ladies Monthly Museum didn't have any mention of scarlet. I find it hard to believe any bright color, scarlet or otherwise, was an acceptable mourning color but who knows?

A bride would never wear mourning colors to her own wedding. A new bride was not supposed to be in mourning at all; though if her parents had recently died she might wear black or more sober clothes for a period, especially as brides were not supposed to go out socializing for a month after their wedding. Also, keep in mind that communication and travel were both slow, so the family may choose not to tell a bride on her honeymoon out of a desire not to ruin her wedded bliss, and because it was unlikely she could arrive home in a timely manner. Also remember, mourning during the Regency was an individual and family-dictated observance.

Julia Johnstone (before she was ruined and became a courtesan) had her court presentation and her debut in society not long after her father died, so clearly the world didn’t simply stop for people who were in mourning. However, while in full mourning, the family of the deceased typically avoided formal entertainment such as balls, dinner parties and dances. They were expected to limit social obligations to necessities and church. But this seemed to have only lasted 4 to 6 weeks.

Upon his mother’s in 1818, the Prince of Wales announced that he intended “to wear the longest mourning that ever son did for a mother...” and he actually limited the official mourning period for the people of England to six weeks.

Men wore black armbands, black gloves and some wore black cravats. Some wore all black while in mourning. There is no mention of half mourning attire for men, however there was mention of men wearing a white band or ribband (ribbon) on their hats to mourn a young girl.

In THE WORKWOMAN’S GUIDE by A Lady (pub. 1840, long before Q. Victoria went into mourning) it says military men wore black armbands below the elbow, not above, and that affluent families put their servants in mourning etc.

When notifying relatives of death, the announcement often came trimmed in black. I have also heard of the family mailing black gloves along with the announcement of death.


Only the length of public and court mourning was set out in a fixed manner. The Lord Chamberlain notified the Gazette as to what it would be. If anyone were invited to court during this time, they were also sent instructions as to what to wear.
 

 A hatchment or a mourning wreath would be suspended over the front door of a deceased person's house for 6 to 12 months, after which it was moved to inside the parish church. The last recorded use of a hatchment I found was hung in a London street in 1928.

Widows were not supposed to dance or to go to the more frivolous and silly plays while wearing mourning. Widows were not supposed to marry until a year had passed (to see if she were expecting the child of her former husband) to end any doubt about the identity of child’s father if she were found to be increasing, but many did remarry. This could cause a scandal but it was usually forgotten in a year or so.

Widowers did not have the same reason for waiting a year to remarry, and if they had small children, widowers were forgiven and even expected to remarry soon.

There were no hard and fast rules about these things. It all depended on how the movers of society reacted. Men were criticized much less for such breach of propriety than women. What a surprise!

I couldn’t find the official mourning proclamation for Princess Charlotte, but I did find this for the father of Queen Victoria, the Duke of Kent, who died in 1820:

Lord Chamberlain's Office, Jan. 25.
Orders for the Court's going into mourning, on Sunday next, the 30th instant, for his late royal highness the duke of Kent and Strathern, fourth son of his majesty, viz. The ladies to wear black azins, plain muslin or long lawn, crape hoods, chamois shoes and gloves, and crape fans. Undress.—Dark Norwich crape. The gentlemen to wear black cloth, without buttons on the sleeves or pockets, plain muslin or long lawn cravats and weepers, chamois shoes and gloves, crape hatbands, and black swords and buckles. Undress.—Dark gray frocks.

Herald's College, Jan. 25.
The deputy earl Marshal's order for a general mourning for his late royal highness the duke of Kent. In pursuance of the commands of his royal highness the Prince Regent, acting in the name and on the behalf of his majesty.These are to give public notice, that it is expected that upon the present melancholy occasion of the of his late royal highness Edward Duke of Kent and Strathern, fourth son of his majesty, all persons do put themselves into decent mourning, the said mourning to begin on Sunday next, the 30th instant. HENRY HOWARD - MOLYNEUX-HOWARD, Deputy Earl-Marshal.

Horse-Guards, Jan, 25. It is not required that the officers of the army should wear any other mourning on the present melancholy occasion than a black crape round their left arms with their uniforms. By command of his royal highness the commander-in-chief.
HARRY CALVERT, Adjutant-General.

Admiralty-Office, Jan. 25. His royal highness the Prince Regent does not require that the officers of his majesty's fleet or marines should wear any other mourning on the present melancholy occasion of the of his late royal highness the duke of Kent and Strathern, than a black crape round their arms with their uniforms. J. W. CHOKER

For more information on mourning clothing, I highly recommend The Jane AustinCentre.




Friday, February 26, 2016

London's Historic Pubs, Part II


©Cheryl Bolen

The five London pubs described in this blog have all been sampled by my family, and all can be found within a two-mile radius.

Ye Olde Mitre Tavern

 
The bottom photo shows the entrance to the pedestrian alley that leads to Ye Olde Mitre Tavern. We took that photo at night. The next photo, Google, is how the pub entrance looks in daylight.
 
The Bolen boys at Ye Olde Mitre
 
Ye Olde Mitre Tavern is said to be the most difficult pub to find in London. According to legend, one man worked around the corner for six years without finding it. Nowadays, it's easy to find with the GPS on your smart phone. It's located close to the Holburn Circus, not far from the Chancery Lane tube stop on High Holburn. Still, the guys in my family walked right by its entrance, but I was looking for a little alleyway. And do I mean little!

My husband and I near the fire at Christmas time at Ye Olde Mitre Tavern. (Sons opted to drink outside.)
We're so glad we found it! It's one of the most memorable of all the London pubs we've patronized. You enter through a narrow pedestrian way that has likely been unchanged in centuries. The pub's interior is comprised of tiny, low-ceilinged rooms. It's very popular with the locals who can drink a pint near the fire on a winter's night. Those desiring to imbibe outdoors gather around tall upside-down barrels that serve as bar tables.

Ye Olde Mitre Tavern has been on this site since 1546, but the current building was constructed in 1772. It's said Queen Elizabeth I visited here and danced around a cherry tree that is still there. Ye Olde Mitre was originally a tavern for the servants of the Palace of the Bishops of Ely, which was once based here.

Red Lion in Westminster

Because of its prime location between Number 10 Downing Street and Parliament, The Red Lion is your best chance of seeing a real M.P. (Member of Parliament). Until Edward Heath (British Prime Minister from 1970-1974) every prime minister had visited the Red Lion.

A tavern has been at this location since 1434. A young Charles Dickens visited the Red Lion regularly. The current structure was built in 1890.

The inside is more upscale traditional with dark woods and higher ceilings. Its corner location has become popular for those who take their pints outside. You'll see lots of people in suits grabbing an after-work pint.

The Cross Keys

Those with OCD may go a little crazy in the interior of The Cross Keys, opened in 1848. Its small interior is crammed with all manner of memorabilia—and clutter. Among the bric-a-brac there's said to be a napkin signed by Elvis.

One of my sons in front of The Cross Keys.
 
This Covent Garden pub's claim to fame is attributed to the aforementioned plethora of memorabilia and to its unique facade which is a jumble of lovely greenery and flowers. It's probably Coven Garden's most distinctive building.

The Lamb and Flag

The Bolen guys in front of The Lamb and Flag
Also in Covent Garden, The Lamb and Flag claims to be Covent Garden's most historic watering hole. It's located on an L-shaped alleyway (not nearly as narrow as the alleyway to Ye Olde Mitre Tavern) that used to be famous for its bare-knuckled fighting.

Charles Dickens (That guy really liked his beer!) was a regular here, and a couple of centuries earlier the poet John Dryden hung out here. Up a very narrow, steep stairway is another room—this one named for Dryden, who was almost murdered nearby.

The Old Bell Tavern
The bar at The Old Bell Tavern (You'll never see the place this empty!)

Just down Fleet Street from St. Paul's in The City, The Old Bell Tavern was built by St. Paul's architect, Sir Christopher Wren, for his stonemason's who were building St. Bride's church after the Great Fire.

 

Inside, it's cozy with a small fireplace, an attractive curved-wood bar, and great pub grub.—Cheryl Bolen, whose third Brazen Brides book, Oh What a Wedding Night, releases in April.

Friday, February 19, 2016

London Bridge, Then and Now

Old London Bridge [Credit: Reproduced by permission of the British Library; photograph, J.R. Freeman & Co. Ltd.]
circa 1500
by Donna Hatch

London Bridge has been an icon of England for centuries. But did you know that the London Bridge of today is not the same bridge of ancient construction? The Roman Empire built the original London Bridge which spanned the Thames River, constructed of wood and built on piers. The timber construction had to be repaired and replaced periodically.

Between 1176 and 1209, Peter of Colechurch replaced the timber bridge with a stone arched bridge. It stood for over 600 years. It provided a major thoroughfare, a business center, and even a source of amusement for thrill-seekers.

According to Encyclopedia Brittanica:  As a result of obstructions encountered during pile driving, the span of the constructed arches actually varied from 15 to 34 feet (5 to 10 metres). In addition, the width of the protective starlings was so great that the total waterway was reduced to a quarter of its original width, and the tide roared through the narrow archways like a millrace. “Shooting the bridge” in a small boat became one of the thrills of Londoners.


circa 1860
It was also on this bridge that a gruesome display of severed heads of traitors served as warning of punishment for treason. One of these included the famous rebel, William Wallace. Thankfully, this ghastly practice of heads on spikes along London Bridge ended in 1660 during the reign of King Charles II.

Since the bridge, the only one spanning the river at that time, was a bustling roadway, the new stone bridge soon became a coveted site of businesses and homes. Shops lined both sides of the street, and a number of passageways leading from one building to the next created a tunnel-like shopping and residential district.

However, this heyday would not last. In fact, it almost seems as though the bridge was cursed, suffering a massive fire, a collapse, the removal of the homes and business, erosion, and sinking. (No wonder children sing a song about "London Bridge is falling down.") Each time, the intrepid British rebuilt the bridge.

In 1971 the new, box girder bridge of concrete and steel took its place. Oddly enough, rather than simply destroying the bridge, the Common Council of the City of London found a buyer. American entrepreneur Robert P. McCulloch purchased the stone arch bridge in 1968 for a staggering $2,460,000!

Each block was numbered before dismantling and then shipped to Lake Havasu City, Arizona in the U.S., over 5400 miles from London. There it was painstakingly reassembled. Lake Havasu City rededicated London Bridge in a ceremony on October 10, 1971. The New London Bridge spans Lake Havasu behind Parker Dam on the Colorado River.

Next to the Grand Canyon, London Bridge is Arizona's largest tourist attraction, and a charming tourist community sprang up around the historic structure. As a history geek, I, for one, am happy the 600 year-old bridge has a new home where it is preserved and appreciated.