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Romance of London: The Mermaid Hoax

Romance of London: Strange Stories, Scenes And Remarkable Person of the Great Town in 3 Volumes

John Timbs

John Timbs (1801-1875), who also wrote as Horace Welby, was an English author and aficionado of antiquities. Born in Clerkenwell, London, he was apprenticed at 16 to a druggist and printer, where he soon showed great literary promise. At 19, he began to write for Monthly Magazine, and a year later he was made secretary to the magazine’s proprietor and there began his career as a writer, editor, and antiquarian.

This particular book is available at googlebooks for free in ebook form. Or you can pay for a print version.

The Mermaid Hoax

The absurd notion, that there are “Mermen and Mermaids, half man or woman and the remainder fish,” has long been exploded; but, little more than 40 years ago since (in 1822) thousands of dupes were attracted to the Egyptian Hall, in Piccadilly, to see a pretended Mermaid, when 300 or 400 persons paid daily one shilling each for the indulgence of their credulity! The imposture was, however, too gross to last long; and it was ascertained to be the dried skin of the head and shoulders of a monkey, attached very neatly to the dried skin of a fish of the salmon kind, with the head cut off; the compounds figure being stuffed and highly varnished, the better to deceive the eye. This grotesque object was taken by a Dutch vessel from on board a native Malacca boat; and from the reverence shown to it by the sailors, it is supposed to have represented the incarnation of one of the idol-gods of the Molucca Islands.

The mermaid

This impudent hoax upon the good people of London was the work of a Japanese fisherman, who seems to have displayed ingenuity for the mere purpose of making money by his countrymen’s passion for everything odd and strange. He contrived to unite the upper half of the monkey to the lower half of the fish so successfully as to defy ordinary inspection. He then gave out that he had caught the creature alive in his net, but that it had died shortly after being taken out of the water; and he derived considerably pecuniary profit from his cunning in more ways than one. The exhibition of the sea-monster to Japanese curiosity paid well; but yet more productive was the assertion that the half-human fish, having spoken during the few minutes it existed out of its native element, had predicted a certain number of years of wonderful fertility, and a fatal epidemic, the only remedy for which would be the possession of the marine prophet’s likeness. The sale of these pictured mermaids was immense. Either the composite animal, or another, the offspring of the success of the first, was sold to the Dutch factory, and transmitted to Batavia, where it fell into the hands of speculation American, who brought it to Europe, and here, in the years 1822-23, exhibited his purchase as a real mermaid in every capital, to the admiration of the ignorant, the perplexity of some affectedly learned, and the filling of his own purse.

…Still, the creature must have been so unsightly as to reduce Dryden’s definition of a mermaid—a fine woman ending in a fish’s tail—to a witty fancy.

The Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly

The Egyptian Hall was commissioned by William Bullock to house his collection of curiosities and completed in 1812—the first building in England to be influenced by the Egyptian style. Before opening the hall (also called the London Museum or Bullock’s Museum), Bullock displayed his collection in Sheffield and Liverpool. He made money from selling tickets for various spectaculars. Bullock made £35,000 from exhibiting Napoleonic era artifacts, including Napoleon’s carriage from Waterloo. In 1819, the Hall became a major venue for exhibiting art, particularly very large pieces. Admission was usually one shilling.

Egyptian_Hall,_Piccadilly_1815_edited

478px-Egyptian_Hall_redesigned_by_JB_Papworth

Romance of London Series

  1. Romance of London: The Lord Mayor’s Fool… and a Dessert
  2. Romance of London: Carlton House and the Regency
  3. Romance of London: The Championship at George IV’s Coronation
  4. Romance of London: Mrs. Cornelys at Carlisle House
  5. Romance of London: The Bottle Conjuror
  6. Romance of London: Bartholomew Fair
  7. Romance of London: The May Fair and the Strong Woman
  8. Romance of London: Nancy Dawson, the Hornpipe Dancer
  9. Romance of London: Milkmaids on May-Day
  10. Romance of London: Lord Stowell’s Love of Sight-seeing
  11. Romance of London: The Mermaid Hoax
  12. Romance of London: The Bluestocking and the Sweeps’ Holiday
  13. Romance of London: Comments on Hogarth’s “Industries and Idle Apprentices”
  14. Romance of London: The Lansdowne Family
  15. Romance of London: St. Margaret’s Painted Window at Westminster
  16. Romance of London: Montague House and the British Museum
  17. Romance of London: The Bursting of the South Sea Bubble
  18. Romance of London: The Thames Tunnel
  19. Romance of London: Sir William Petty and the Lansdowne Family
  20. Romance of London: Marlborough House and Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough
  21. Romance of London: The Duke of Newcastle’s Eccentricities
  22. Romance of London: Voltaire in London
  23. Romance of London: The Crossing Sweeper
  24. Romance of London: Nathan Mayer Rothschild’s Fear of Assassination
  25. Romance of London: Samuel Rogers, the Banker Poet
  26. Romance of London: The Eccentricities of Lord Byron
  27. Romance of London: A London Recluse

Romance of London: Lord Stowell’s Love of Sight-seeing

Romance of London: Strange Stories, Scenes And Remarkable Person of the Great Town in 3 Volumes

John Timbs

John Timbs (1801-1875), who also wrote as Horace Welby, was an English author and aficionado of antiquities. Born in Clerkenwell, London, he was apprenticed at 16 to a druggist and printer, where he soon showed great literary promise. At 19, he began to write for Monthly Magazine, and a year later he was made secretary to the magazine’s proprietor and there began his career as a writer, editor, and antiquarian.

This particular book is available at googlebooks for free in ebook form. Or you can pay for a print version.

William Scott, First (and only) Lord Stowell

William Scott (1745-1836) was born in Northumberland to a father who was in the business of transporting coal. Both William and his brother John became successful jurists, William becoming a judge of the high court of admiralty and elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, and John eventually becoming Earl of Eldon and Lord Chancellor of England. William was raised to the peerage as a baron following the coronation of George IV in 1821. William was twice married, but as the only one of his four children was a female, the title became extinct after his death at age 90.

More information at Wikipedia.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AWilliam_Scott%2C_1st_Baron_Stowell_(1745-1836)%2C_by_William_Owen_(1769-1825).jpg

William Scott, 1st Baron Stowell (1745-1836, Wikimedia Commons

Lord Stowell’s Love of Sightseeing

Punch & Judy by Cruikshank, 1828

Punch & Judy by Cruikshank, 1828

Lord Stowell loved manly sports, and was not above being pleased with the most rude and simple diversions. He gloried in Punch and Judy—their fun stirred his mirth without, as in Goldsmith’s case, provoking spleen. He made a boast on one occasion that there was not a puppet-show in London he had not visited, and when turned fourscore, was caught watching one at a distance with children of less growth in high glee.  He has been known to make a party with Wyndham to visit Cribb’s, and to have attended the “fives court” as a favourite resort. “There were curious characters,” he observed, “to be seen at these places.” He was the most indefatigable sight-seer in London. Whatever show could be visited for a shilling, or less, was visited by Lord Stowell. In the western end of London there was a room generally let for exhibitions. At the entrance, as it is said, Lord Stowell presented himself, eager to see “the green monster serpent,” which had lately issued cards of invitation to the public. As he was pulling out his purse to pay for his admission, a sharp but honest north-country lad, whose business it was to take the money, recognized him as an old customer, and knowing his name, thus addressed him: “We can’t take your shilling, my lord; ’tis the old serpent which you have seen twice before in other colors; but ye shall go in and see her.” He entered, saved his money, and enjoyed his third visit to the painted beauty. This love of “seeing sights” was, on another occasion, productive of a whimsical incident. Some forty years ago, an animal, called a “Bonassus,” was exhibited in the Strand. On Lord Stowell’s paying it a second visit, the keeper very courteously told his lordship that he was welcome to come, gratuitously, as often as he pleased. Within a day or two after this, however, there appeared, under the bills of the exhibition, in conspicuous characters, “Under the patronage of the Right Hon. Lord Stowell;” an announcement of which the noble and learned lord’s friends availed themselves, by passing many a joke upon him; all which he took with the greatest good humor.

bonassus

The Bonassus…proved to be a troublesome neighbour—a constant annoyance. The following letter was intended to have been sent to the “Annoyance Jury,” by the occupier of the house in the Strand (nearly opposite Norfolk-street) adjoining that in which the “Bonassus” was exhibited:—

March 28, 1822

“Gentlemen,—I Am sorry to trouble you but I Am so Anoyd By next Door Neighbour the Bonassus and with Beasts, that I cannot live in my House—for the stench of the Beast is So Great And their is only A Slight petition Betwixt the houses and the Beast are continually Breaking through in to my Different Rooms And I am always loosing my lodgers in Consequence of the Beast first A Monkey made Its way in My Bedroom next the Jackall came in to the Yard and this last week the people in My Second floor have been Alarmed in the Dead of the Night By Monkey Breaking through into the Closet and are Going to leave in Consequence this being the third lodgers I have lost on account of the Beast And I have been letting my Second Floor at Half the Rent—And those men of Mr. James are Bawling the whole Day Against My Window—and continually taking peoples attention from My Window—And I am quite pestered with Rats and I Am Confident they came from the Exhebition—And in Short the Injury and Nuisance is So Great as almost Impossible to Describe But to be so Anoyd By such an Imposter I think is Very Hard—Gentlemen your Early inquiry will oblige your Servant—T.W.—.

N.B. And if I mention anything to Mr. James He only Abuses me with the Most Uncouth Language.”

Susana’s note: Apologies to English teachers everywhere, who have no doubt suffered through many such essays in their noble careers.

Lord Stowell enjoyed attending boxing matches at Cribb's, especially in his later years

Lord Stowell enjoyed attending boxing matches at Cribb’s, especially in his later years

 

Romance of London Series

  1. Romance of London: The Lord Mayor’s Fool… and a Dessert
  2. Romance of London: Carlton House and the Regency
  3. Romance of London: The Championship at George IV’s Coronation
  4. Romance of London: Mrs. Cornelys at Carlisle House
  5. Romance of London: The Bottle Conjuror
  6. Romance of London: Bartholomew Fair
  7. Romance of London: The May Fair and the Strong Woman
  8. Romance of London: Nancy Dawson, the Hornpipe Dancer
  9. Romance of London: Milkmaids on May-Day
  10. Romance of London: Lord Stowell’s Love of Sight-seeing
  11. Romance of London: The Mermaid Hoax
  12. Romance of London: The Bluestocking and the Sweeps’ Holiday
  13. Romance of London: Comments on Hogarth’s “Industries and Idle Apprentices”
  14. Romance of London: The Lansdowne Family
  15. Romance of London: St. Margaret’s Painted Window at Westminster
  16. Romance of London: Montague House and the British Museum
  17. Romance of London: The Bursting of the South Sea Bubble
  18. Romance of London: The Thames Tunnel
  19. Romance of London: Sir William Petty and the Lansdowne Family
  20. Romance of London: Marlborough House and Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough
  21. Romance of London: The Duke of Newcastle’s Eccentricities
  22. Romance of London: Voltaire in London
  23. Romance of London: The Crossing Sweeper
  24. Romance of London: Nathan Mayer Rothschild’s Fear of Assassination
  25. Romance of London: Samuel Rogers, the Banker Poet
  26. Romance of London: The Eccentricities of Lord Byron
  27. Romance of London: A London Recluse

Romance of London: Milkmaids on May-Day

Romance of London: Strange Stories, Scenes And Remarkable Person of the Great Town in 3 Volumes

John Timbs

John Timbs (1801-1875), who also wrote as Horace Welby, was an English author and aficionado of antiquities. Born in Clerkenwell, London, he was apprenticed at 16 to a druggist and printer, where he soon showed great literary promise. At 19, he began to write for Monthly Magazine, and a year later he was made secretary to the magazine’s proprietor and there began his career as a writer, editor, and antiquarian.

This particular book is available at googlebooks for free in ebook form. Or you can pay for a print version.

Milkmaids on May-Day

On this gay festival, the Londoners of the present century have seen little. J.T. Smith, in his amusing Book for a Rainy Day, describes the carnival of nearly a century since, May 1771: “The gaiety during the merry month of May (says Smith) was to me most delightful; my feet, though I know nothing of the positions, kept pace with those of the blooming milkmaids, who danced round their garlands of massive plate, hired from the silversmiths, to the amount of several hundreds of pounds, for the purpose of placing round an obelisk, covered with silk, fixed upon a chairman’s horse. The most showy flowers of the season were arranged so as to fill up the openings between the dishes, plates, butter-boats, cream-jugs, and tankards. The obelisk was carried by two chairmen, in gold-laced hats, six or more handsome milkmaids in pink and blue gowns, drawn through the pocket-holes, for they had one on either side; yellow or scarlet petticoats, neatly quilted; high-heeled shoes; mob-caps, with lappets of lace resting on their shoulders; nosegays in their bosoms; and flat Woffington hats, covered with ribbons of every color. A magnificent silver tea-urn surmounted the obelisk, the stand of which was profusely decorated with scarlet tulips. A smart, slender fellow of a fiddler, in a sky-blue coat, wit his hat covered with ribbons, attended; and the master of the group was accompanied by a constable, to protect the plate from too close a pressure of the crowd, when the maids were dancing.”

One of Hayman’s paintings in Vauxhall Gardens, was the Milkmaids on May-day: here the garland of plate was carried by a man on his head; the milkmaids, who danced to the music of a wooden-legged fiddler, were very elegant. They had ruffled cuffs; their hats were flat, but not Woffingtons, but more resembled those of the Billingsgate fish-women. In Larcom’s Cries of London, published by Tempest, there is “a Merry Milkmaid;” she is dancing with a small garland of plate upon her head; and her dress is of the latter part of King William the Third’s reign, or the commencement of the reign of Queen Anne.

Francis Hayman’s May Day (Supper-box) Painting

From the V & A:

One of the ancient customs observed on May Day that persisted until the early 19th century was the ‘Milkmaid’s Garland.’ The milkmaids would dress in their best clothes and dance in the streets for their customers. A donation from the customers and from passers-by was expected. A ‘garland’ – a pyramid of borrowed silver tankards, plates and flagons decorated with flowers – was paraded by the milkmaids or carried, as in this painting, by a porter. Francis Hayman also included another May Day custom in his picture: that of the young chimney-sweeps noisily beating their brushes and shovels.

©Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Francis Hayman, Vauxhall Gardens, supper-box painting, ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London

See more about May-Day here. 

So… what’s a Woffington hat?

Here’s a portrait of famous courtesan Nelly O’Brien wearing what is described as a “Woffington hat” in Great Portraits Seen and Described by Great Writers. 

Actress and courtesan Nelly O'Brien in a Woffington hat

Actress and courtesan Nelly O’Brien in a Woffington hat

Apparently, this flat style of hat was named after Peg Woffington, Irish actress and lover of David Garrick in Georgian England.

Irish actress Peg Woffington

Irish actress Peg Woffington

Oh, and about Billingsgate fish-women…

In the 18th century, fishwives frequently appeared in satires as fearsome scourges of fops and foreigners. Their vigorous and decisive mien was contrasted with that of politicians who were, by contrast, portrayed as vacillating and weak. For example, in Isaac Cruikshank’s A New Catamaran Expedition!!!, a fleet of Billingsgate fishwives sails across the English Channel to terrorise the French and shame the British Prime Minister Pitt for his inaction.

By Isaac Cruikshank (publisher- Willm. Holland, London) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Isaac Cruikshank (publisher- Willm. Holland, London) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Romance of London Series

  1. Romance of London: The Lord Mayor’s Fool… and a Dessert
  2. Romance of London: Carlton House and the Regency
  3. Romance of London: The Championship at George IV’s Coronation
  4. Romance of London: Mrs. Cornelys at Carlisle House
  5. Romance of London: The Bottle Conjuror
  6. Romance of London: Bartholomew Fair
  7. Romance of London: The May Fair and the Strong Woman
  8. Romance of London: Nancy Dawson, the Hornpipe Dancer
  9. Romance of London: Milkmaids on May-Day
  10. Romance of London: Lord Stowell’s Love of Sight-seeing
  11. Romance of London: The Mermaid Hoax
  12. Romance of London: The Bluestocking and the Sweeps’ Holiday
  13. Romance of London: Comments on Hogarth’s “Industries and Idle Apprentices”
  14. Romance of London: The Lansdowne Family
  15. Romance of London: St. Margaret’s Painted Window at Westminster
  16. Romance of London: Montague House and the British Museum
  17. Romance of London: The Bursting of the South Sea Bubble
  18. Romance of London: The Thames Tunnel
  19. Romance of London: Sir William Petty and the Lansdowne Family
  20. Romance of London: Marlborough House and Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough
  21. Romance of London: The Duke of Newcastle’s Eccentricities
  22. Romance of London: Voltaire in London
  23. Romance of London: The Crossing Sweeper
  24. Romance of London: Nathan Mayer Rothschild’s Fear of Assassination
  25. Romance of London: Samuel Rogers, the Banker Poet
  26. Romance of London: The Eccentricities of Lord Byron
  27. Romance of London: A London Recluse

A Home for Helena: Release Day is Here!

Home for Helena Cover 5-inches-2-20-16 copy

The Story Behind the Story

I wrote A Home for Helena and sent it out to my critique partners and beta readers around two years ago, but as with other projects, I put it aside in favor of working on new projects. Frankly, the initial first draft writing is much more exciting for me than making revisions. If I don’t have a deadline looming, I tend to leave past projects in limbo indefinitely. Fortunately, last year I got involved in three group projects with deadlines which forced me to actually finish things. Those were Lost and Found Lady (from Beaux, Ballrooms, and Battles), The Third MacPherson Sister (Sweet Summer Kisses), and  The Ultimate Escape (Mistletoe, Marriage, and Mayhem).

The Ultimate Escape, the story of Lady Pendleton’s eldest daughter escaping to the future, revived my determination to get A Home for Helena out to readers. Because The Ultimate Escape takes place five years before A Home for Helena—even though the latter was written first—it became Book 1 in The Lady P Chronicles, with Helena becoming Book 2. As for Book 3, I’ve got a few ideas mulling about, but I’d like to get some of my other unfinished projects out there too.

Want to know how Lady Pendleton evolved? Check out my post on Caroline Warfield’s blog:  http://ow.ly/ZTiNP

I really, really hate deadlines

I know I have to get started right away, but I don’t feel like it. I’ll just have another cup of coffee first. Let me finish this one episode of Dateline first, and then I’ll work on my project. OMG, I forgot to get my blog post up today! I really should take care of the credit card bill first,  then I’ll get started on the project. Is it time for lunch already? I’ll just take a little break for Facebook games and then I know for sure I’ll be ready to write. The phone rings and I realize I haven’t talked to this friend for several weeks. People are more important than things, right? Suze Orman always says so. OMG, is it 5:00 already? I’m too tired to write. I’ll just get up early tomorrow and write twice as much…

But I can’t get things finished without them!

As you can see, deadlines are a necessary evil. Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em. Well, I probably could live without ’em, but I’d be a certified couch potato and a has-been writer. And no, that’s not the way I want to live.

So I am learning to set deadlines for myself. And even though I don’t always meet them exactly on the nose, I do get things done, which wouldn’t be the case otherwise. I’ve also learned that having the cover done is a great motivator. Mari Christie, who created the cover for Helena has also done several others for me, including my two stories with Ellora’s Cave that revert back to me in a couple of weeks. Treasuring Theresa will be Book 1 of the  Hertfordshire Hoydens series and Book 2 will be Cherishing Charlotte, which is another unfinished project I hope to have completed by the end of the summer. And I still have several others after that, which will keep both Mari and me busy for the foreseeable future.

About A Home for Helena

After a wise woman suggests that she has been misplaced in time, Helena Lloyd travels back two hundred years in an attempt to find out where she belongs.

Widowed father James Walker has no intention of remarrying until he makes the acquaintance of his daughter’s lovely new governess.

Lady Pendleton, a time-traveling Regency lady herself, suspects that these two belong together. First, however, she must help Helena discover her true origins—and hopefully, a home where she belongs.

A Home for Helena is Book 2 of The Lady P Chronicles.

Book 1, The Ultimate Escape, originally published in the Bluestocking Belles’ anthology, Mistletoe, Marriage, and Mayhem, will soon be available individually.

Amazon

$0.99 until April 5, then $2.99

Free on Kindle Unlimited

Excerpt

Newsome Grange

Kingswood, Kent

Later that morning

“Miss Dray is dead?”

James stared incredulously at Sir Henry, who, for once, was not wearing his normal easy-going expression. Instead, he leaned against the mantel of the fireplace of his study, studying the grate as though there were a fire blazing in it.

“Good God, what happened? Is Annabelle all right?”

“She’s fine, James.

Lady Sarah strolled through the doorway and into her husband’s arms. In spite of her words, she looked worn out. Strands of her blonde hair were falling out of her chignon, and he thought he saw the remains of tears on her cheeks.

“The girls are quite distressed, of course. They were fond of Miss Dray. As were we all,” she said with a glance at her husband, whose arm remained tightly clasped around her shoulders. “She was a dear thing, but very strict. The perfect governess. I don’t know how we shall go on without her.” Her voice broke and she buried her face on her husband’s chest.

“They found her in Abbey Wood,” Sir Henry explained. “Wednesday was her half-day, and when she didn’t return, we sent out a search party. No signs of foul play. The doctor says it was natural causes—her heart just gave out.”

His wife erupted in sobs again, and James decided he should find his daughter and leave the Newsomes to their grief, giving voice to that decision.

Lady Sarah turned to face him, accepting her husband’s handkerchief to dab her eyes with.

“Oh no, James, you needn’t do that. The nanny will manage until Mother can send us a replacement. Emily and Theodosia simply love having Annabelle around, and it will only distress them further if she leaves as well. And as for Colin, I’ve no doubt he thinks Annabelle’s his mother by now. She has a way with babies, it seems.”

James was not convinced. “Still, it takes time to find a governess.” He should know—the agency he’d consulted in London had yet to send him information on any potential candidates.

Sir Henry chuckled. “Have you met my mother-in-law?”

Lady Sarah smiled in spite of herself. “We sent an express requesting her aid. If I know her, she’ll come herself if she can’t find someone suitable to fill in until we find a permanent replacement.”

Sir Henry winked at him. “Perhaps she’ll bring along that pretty Miss Lloyd she has residing with her. I think she liked you well enough.” He chuckled. “Not looking for a husband, though. Or so she says.”

James frowned. He’d nearly succeeded in forcing the image of the forthright Miss Lloyd out of his mind, and now she had installed herself right back in again. If he were truthful with himself, he’d admit he wouldn’t be sorry to see her again. She was quite an eyeful.

It was really too bad he hadn’t been able to visit Violet while in London. It seemed her new protector demanded exclusivity, and he’d not been able to get past her burly butler. He hadn’t been near an attractive woman in ages, and this Miss Lloyd was proving strangely difficult to dismiss from his thoughts.

Lady Sarah looked thoughtful. “What do you know about this Miss Lloyd, Henry? Where did she come from? I don’t believe Mother has ever mentioned her before.”

Sir Henry grinned as he looked down at her. “She’s your mother, my dear. Surely you know by now how unpredictable she can be.”

Lady Sarah drew a deep breath. “I do know that. That’s precisely why I’m—concerned.”

James cleared his throat. “I appreciate your kindness in offering to keep my daughter, but you obviously have more than enough to deal with at present. If you would be so kind as to call her down… I can send for her things later.”

But the Newsomes wouldn’t hear of it. Lady Sarah was so vehement that he could see she was almost ready to burst into tears again, and after Sir Henry shook his head in warning, James visited his daughter briefly and left without her.

As he rode home, no matter how he fought it, his mind’s eye kept reverting to a pair of bright green eyes and the lovely face that went with them. Would he be seeing them again?

Susana’s March Events & Giveaways

A Home for Helena Rafflecopter: through March 31st

 http://www.susanaellis.com

Susana’s March Quiz: through March 31st

http://susanaellis.com/Susana_s_Quiz.html

Susana’s Newsletter Subscriber Drive: through March 31st

http://www.susanaellis.com

A Home for Helena Release Party: March 29, 2016, 4:00-11:00 p.m. EDT

Guest authors • Prizes • Fabulous gowns • Swoonworthy heroes • Fun for everyone

https://www.facebook.com/events/534215620086552/

About Lady Pendleton

REAL LADY PLady Pendleton is a frequent guest of Susana’s in the 21st century, both in Toledo and Florida, where Susana splits her time. She began appearing in Susana’s blog, Susana’s Parlour, in 2013.

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Romance of London: The May Fair and the Strong Woman

Romance of London: Strange Stories, Scenes And Remarkable Person of the Great Town in 3 Volumes

John Timbs

John Timbs (1801-1875), who also wrote as Horace Welby, was an English author and aficionado of antiquities. Born in Clerkenwell, London, he was apprenticed at 16 to a druggist and printer, where he soon showed great literary promise. At 19, he began to write for Monthly Magazine, and a year later he was made secretary to the magazine’s proprietor and there began his career as a writer, editor, and antiquarian.

This particular book is available at googlebooks for free in ebook form. Or you can pay for a print version.

Mayfair

From Wikipedia:

Mayfair was mainly open fields until development started in the Shepherd Market area around 1686 to accommodate the May Fair that had moved from Haymarket in St. James’s.

Mayfair was part of the parish of St Martin in the Fields. It is named after the annual fortnight-long May Fair that, from 1686 to 1764, took place on the site that is Shepherd Market. The fair was previously held in Haymarket; it moved in 1764 to Fair Field in Bow in the East End of London, after complaints from the residents.

Sir Thomas Grosvenor, 3rd Baronet married Mary Davis, heiress to part of the Manor of Ebury, in 1677; the Grosvenor family gained 40 hectares (100 acres) of Mayfair. Most of the Mayfair area was built during the mid 17th century to mid 18th century as a fashionable residential district, by a number of landlords, the most important of them being the Grosvenor family, which in 1874 became the Dukes of Westminster. In 1724 Mayfair became part of the new parish of St George Hanover Square, which stretched to Bond Street in the south part of Mayfair and almost to Regent Street north of Conduit Street. The northern boundary was Oxford Street and the southern boundary fell short of Piccadilly. The parish continued west of Mayfair into Hyde Park and then south to include Belgravia and other areas.

Mayfair Neighborhoods

Present-day Mayfair Neighborhoods

May Fair a Century Ago

We find a curious picture of this west-end carnival by that painstaking antiquary, John Carter, who, writing in 1816, says: “Fifty years have passed away since this place of amusement was at its height of attraction: the spot where the Fair was held still retains the name of May Fair… The market-house consisted of two stories: first story, a long and cross aisle for butchers’ shops, and, externally, other shops connected with culinary purposes; second story, used as a theatre at Fair-time for dramatic performances… Below, the butchers gave place to toy men and gingerbread-bakers. At present, the upper story is unfolded, the lower nearly deserted by the butchers, and their shops occupied by needy peddling dealers in small wares; in truth, a most deplorable contrast to what once was such a point of allurement. In the area encompassing the market building were booths for jugglers, prize-fighters both at cudgels and back-swords, boxing-matches, and wild-beasts. The sports not under cover were mountebanks, fire-eaters, ass-racing, sausage-tables, dice-ditto, up-and-downs, merry-go-rounds, bull-baiting, grinning for a hat, running for a shift, hasty-pudding-eaters, eel-divers, and an infinite variety of other similar pastimes.”

Tiddy Doll, Gingerbread Baker (NYPL Digital Library) Tiddy Doll was a famed 18th century gingerbread vendor, a well-known sight amongst the butchers and toy-men, jugglers and fire-eaters at London’s Bartholomew Fair and Shepherd’s Market in Mayfair. He was even known to ply his wares at public executions, and can be seen in the lower right-hand corner of Hogarth’s Idle Prentice Executed at Tyburn, waving a spicy cake to the boisterous mob. His real name was apparently Ford, acquiring his nickname from a habit of ending his addresses to the crowd with the last lines of a popular ballad, “tid-dy did-dy dol-lol, ti-tid-dy ti-ti, tid-dy tid-dy, dol.” Wearing a white apron over his customary white gold laced suit, ruffled shirt, laced hat and feather and silk stockings, “like a person of rank,” his name was associated for many years with a person dressed out of character, as “you are as tawdry as Tiddy-doll; you are quite Tiddy-doll,” etc.

Tiddy Doll, Gingerbread Baker (NYPL Digital Library)
Tiddy Doll was a famed 18th century gingerbread vendor, a well-known sight amongst the butchers and toy-men, jugglers and fire-eaters at London’s Bartholomew Fair and Shepherd’s Market in Mayfair. He was even known to ply his wares at public executions, and can be seen in the lower right-hand corner of Hogarth’s Idle Prentice Executed at Tyburn, waving a spicy cake to the boisterous mob. His real name was apparently Ford, acquiring his nickname from a habit of ending his addresses to the crowd with the last lines of a popular ballad, “tid-dy did-dy dol-lol, ti-tid-dy ti-ti, tid-dy tid-dy, dol.” Wearing a white apron over his customary white gold laced suit, ruffled shirt, laced hat and feather and silk stockings, “like a person of rank,” his name was associated for many years with a person dressed out of character, as “you are as tawdry as Tiddy-doll; you are quite Tiddy-doll,” etc.

The Woman and the Anvil

anvil

18th century anvil

One of the marvels of May Fair, in its latest revival, was the performance of a strong woman, the wife of a Frenchman, exhibited in a house in Sun Court, Shepherd’s Market. The following account is given by John Carter, and may be relied on, as Carter was born and passed his youthful days in Piccadilly [Carter’s Statuary]. He tells us that a blacksmith’s anvil being procured from White Horse Street, with three of the men, they brought it up, and placed it on the floor of the exhibition-room. The woman was short, but most beautifully and delicately formed, and of a most lovely countenance. She first let down her hair (a light auburn), of a length descending to her knees, which she twisted round the projecting part of the anvil, and then, with seeming ease, lifted the ponderous mass some inches from the floor. After this, a bed was placed in the middle of the room; when, reclining on her back, and uncovering her bosom, the husband ordered the smiths to place thereon the anvil, and forge upon it a horse-shoe! This they obeyed: by taking from the fire a red-hot piece of iron, and with their forging hammers completing the shoe with the same might and indifference as when in the shop at their constant labour. The prostrate fair one seemed to endure this with greatest composure, talking and singing during the whole process: then, with an effort, which to the bystanders appeared supernatural, she cast the anvil from off her body, jumping up at the same moment with extreme gaiety, and without the least discomposure of her dress or person. That there was no trick or collusion was obvious from the evidence: the spectators stood about the room with Carter’s family and friends; the smiths were strangers to the Frenchman, but known to Carter, the narrator. She next placed her naked feet on a red-hot salamander, without injury, the wonder of which was, however, understood even at that time.*

Blacksmith's shop

Blacksmith’s shop

*Mr. Daniel, of Canonbury, thought the Strong Woman to have been Mrs. Allchorne, who died in Drury Lane in 1817, at a very advanced age. Madame performed at Bartholomew Fair in 1752.

 

Romance of London Series

  1. Romance of London: The Lord Mayor’s Fool… and a Dessert
  2. Romance of London: Carlton House and the Regency
  3. Romance of London: The Championship at George IV’s Coronation
  4. Romance of London: Mrs. Cornelys at Carlisle House
  5. Romance of London: The Bottle Conjuror
  6. Romance of London: Bartholomew Fair
  7. Romance of London: The May Fair and the Strong Woman
  8. Romance of London: Nancy Dawson, the Hornpipe Dancer
  9. Romance of London: Milkmaids on May-Day
  10. Romance of London: Lord Stowell’s Love of Sight-seeing
  11. Romance of London: The Mermaid Hoax
  12. Romance of London: The Bluestocking and the Sweeps’ Holiday
  13. Romance of London: Comments on Hogarth’s “Industries and Idle Apprentices”
  14. Romance of London: The Lansdowne Family
  15. Romance of London: St. Margaret’s Painted Window at Westminster
  16. Romance of London: Montague House and the British Museum
  17. Romance of London: The Bursting of the South Sea Bubble
  18. Romance of London: The Thames Tunnel
  19. Romance of London: Sir William Petty and the Lansdowne Family
  20. Romance of London: Marlborough House and Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough
  21. Romance of London: The Duke of Newcastle’s Eccentricities
  22. Romance of London: Voltaire in London
  23. Romance of London: The Crossing Sweeper
  24. Romance of London: Nathan Mayer Rothschild’s Fear of Assassination
  25. Romance of London: Samuel Rogers, the Banker Poet
  26. Romance of London: The Eccentricities of Lord Byron
  27. Romance of London: A London Recluse

Romance of London: The Bottle Conjuror

Romance of London: Strange Stories, Scenes And Remarkable Person of the Great Town in 3 Volumes

John Timbs

John Timbs (1801-1875), who also wrote as Horace Welby, was an English author and aficionado of antiquities. Born in Clerkenwell, London, he was apprenticed at 16 to a druggist and printer, where he soon showed great literary promise. At 19, he began to write for Monthly Magazine, and a year later he was made secretary to the magazine’s proprietor and there began his career as a writer, editor, and antiquarian.

This particular book is available at googlebooks for free in ebook form. Or you can pay for a print version.

A “foolish experiment on the credulity of the public”

2nd Duke of Montagu

2nd Duke of Montagu

The Duke of Montague being in company with some other noblemen, proposed a wager, that let a man advertise to do the most impossible thing in the world, he would find fools enough in London to fill a playhouse, who would think him in earnest. “Surely,” said Lord Chesterfield, “if a man should say that he would jump into a quart bottle, nobody would believe that!” The Duke was somewhat staggered; but for the sake of the jest, determined to make experiment. Accordingly it was advertised that the next day, (Jan. 10, 1749,) a person would, at the Haymarket Theatre, “play on a common walking-cane the music of every instrument then used, to surprising perfection; that he would, on the stage, get into a tavern quart bottle, without equivocation, and while there, sing several songs, and suffer any spectator to handle the bottle; that if any spectator should come masked, he would, if requested, declare who he was; and that, in a private room, he would produce the representation of any person, dead, with which the person requesting it should converse some minutes, as if alive.” The prices of admission were—gallery, 2s; pit, 3s; boxes, 5s; stage, 7s. 6d.

Haymarket Theater

Haymarket Theater

4th Earl of Chesterfield

4th Earl of Chesterfield

At night the house was crowded with curious people, many of them of the highest rank, including no less eminent a person than the Culloden Duke of Cumberland. They sat for a little while with tolerable patience, though uncheered with music; but by-and-by, the performer not appearing, signs of irritation were evinced. In answer to the continued noise of sticks and catcalls, a person belonging to the theatre came forward and explained that, in the event of a failure of performance, the money should be returned. A wag then cried out, that, if the ladies and gentlemen would give double prices, the conjuror would go into a pint bottle, which proved too much for the philosophy of the audience. A young gentleman threw a lighted candle upon the stage, and a general charge upon that part of the house followed. According to a private letter—it was written by a Scotch Jacobite lady—”Cumberland was the first that flew in a rage, and called to pull down the house… He drew his sword and was in such a rage, that somebody slipped in behind him and pulled the sword out of his hand, which was as much as to say, ‘Fools should not have chopping sticks.’ This sword of his has never been heard of, nor the person who took it. Thirty guineas of reward are offered for it. Monster of Nature, I am sure I wish he may never get it.

Haymarket Theater

Haymarket Theater

At that point, most of the audience charged out of the theater, losing items of clothing in the process, but a few stayed long enough to demolish the inside and take away much of the furnishings for a bonfire on the street.

Cumberland-Reynolds

Duke of Cumberland, younger son of George II (and of Culloden fame)

 

The proprietor of the theatre afterwards stated that, in apprehension of failure, he had reserved all the money taken, in order to give it back; and he would have returned it to the audience if they would have refrained from destroying his house.

The Bottle-hoax proved an excellent subject for the wits, particularly those of the Jacobite party. In Old England appeared this advertisement: “Found entangled in a slit of a lady’s demolished smock petticoat, a gilt-handled sward of martial temper and length, not much the worse of wearing, with the Spey curiously engraven on one side, and the Scheldt on the other; supposed to be taken from the fat sides of a certain great general in his hasty retreat from the Battle of Bottle Noddles, in the Haymarket. Whoever has lost it may inquire for it at the sign of the Bird and Singing Land, in Rotten Row.”

Romance of London Series

  1. Romance of London: The Lord Mayor’s Fool… and a Dessert
  2. Romance of London: Carlton House and the Regency
  3. Romance of London: The Championship at George IV’s Coronation
  4. Romance of London: Mrs. Cornelys at Carlisle House
  5. Romance of London: The Bottle Conjuror
  6. Romance of London: Bartholomew Fair
  7. Romance of London: The May Fair and the Strong Woman
  8. Romance of London: Nancy Dawson, the Hornpipe Dancer
  9. Romance of London: Milkmaids on May-Day
  10. Romance of London: Lord Stowell’s Love of Sight-seeing
  11. Romance of London: The Mermaid Hoax
  12. Romance of London: The Bluestocking and the Sweeps’ Holiday
  13. Romance of London: Comments on Hogarth’s “Industries and Idle Apprentices”
  14. Romance of London: The Lansdowne Family
  15. Romance of London: St. Margaret’s Painted Window at Westminster
  16. Romance of London: Montague House and the British Museum
  17. Romance of London: The Bursting of the South Sea Bubble
  18. Romance of London: The Thames Tunnel
  19. Romance of London: Sir William Petty and the Lansdowne Family
  20. Romance of London: Marlborough House and Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough
  21. Romance of London: The Duke of Newcastle’s Eccentricities
  22. Romance of London: Voltaire in London
  23. Romance of London: The Crossing Sweeper
  24. Romance of London: Nathan Mayer Rothschild’s Fear of Assassination
  25. Romance of London: Samuel Rogers, the Banker Poet
  26. Romance of London: The Eccentricities of Lord Byron
  27. Romance of London: A London Recluse

Romance of London: Mrs. Cornelys at Carlisle House

Romance of London: Strange Stories, Scenes And Remarkable Person of the Great Town in 3 Volumes

John Timbs

John Timbs (1801-1875), who also wrote as Horace Welby, was an English author and aficionado of antiquities. Born in Clerkenwell, London, he was apprenticed at 16 to a druggist and printer, where he soon showed great literary promise. At 19, he began to write for Monthly Magazine, and a year later he was made secretary to the magazine’s proprietor and there began his career as a writer, editor, and antiquarian.

This particular book is available at googlebooks for free in ebook form. Or you can pay for a print version.

Mrs. Cornelys at Carlisle House

Teresa Cornelys - Carlisle House Soho

Teresa Cornelys at Carlisle House, Soho

Teresa, by birth a German, and during man-years a public singer in Italy and Germany, settled in London about the year 1756, and for twenty years entertained “the votaries of fashion of both sexes” with great success. For this purpose Mrs. Cornelys obtained possession of Carlisle House, in Soho Square, formerly the mansion of the Earl of Carlisle.

Carlisle House

View of Soho Square and Carlisle House

View of Soho Square and Carlisle House

Carlisle House was of considerable extent: the Catholic chapel in Sutton Street was the banqueting-room, and the connecting passage between it and the house in Soho Square was called “the Chinese Bridge.” The arched entrance below the chapel was exclusively for chairs or sedans.

Mrs. Cornelys's assembly room at Carlisle House

Mrs. Cornelys’s assembly room at Carlisle House

The Antecedent of Almack’s?

TICKET

The nobility and gentry had the entrée of Carlisle House by payment of an annual subscription, for which they received a ticket of admission to all entertainments given there. They had the privilege of lending their tickets to friends, provided they wrote “the name of the person upon the back of the said ticket to whom they have lent it, to prevent any mistake.” Mrs. Cornelys had great success; but she had her troubles in powerful competitors; for we find her issuing this advertisement: “Whereas, it is been industriously reported, to the disadvantage of Mrs. Cornelys, that she has expressed herself dissatisfied with a subscription now on foot to build a large room in opposition to her; she esteems it her duty, in this public manner, to declare that she never once entertained a thought so unjust and unreasonable…” The “large room” here referred to in opposition is thus referred to by Horace Walpole, in a letter dated Dec. 16, 1764: “Mrs. Cornelys, apprehending the future assembly at Almack’s, has enlarged her vast room, and hung it with blue satin, and other with yellow satin; but Almack’s room, which is to be 90 feet long, proposes to swallow up both hers, as easily as Moses’s rod gobbled down those of the magician’s.” However, Mrs. Cornelys made additions to Carlisle House, with new embellishments, furniture, and decorations, which in the year 1765 cost some 2,000l… in consequence of which she was compelled to charge subscribers an additional guinea.

A musical evening at Carlisle House

A musical evening at Carlisle House

The ball on Feb. 26, 1770

…Mrs. Cornelys gave a magnificent fête to some 800 maskers. Walpole devotes great part of a long letter to a description of this masquerade, at which he was present.

Our civil war has been lulled asleep by a Subscription Masquerade, for which the House of Commons literally adjourned yesterday. Instead of Fairfax’s and Cromwells, we have had a crowd of Henry the Eighths, Wolseys, Vandykes, and Harlequins; and because Wilkes was not mask enough, we had a man dressed like him, with a visor in imitation of his squint, and a Cap of Liberty on a pole… The ball was last night at Soho; and, if possible, was more magnificent than the King of Denmark’s…

…The mob was beyond all belief: they held flambeaux to the windows of every coach and demanded to have the masks pulled off and put on at their pleasure, but with extreme good humor and civility. I was with my Lady Hertford and two of her daughters in her coach: the mob took me for Lord Hertford, and huzzaed and blessed me! One fellow cried out, “Are you for Wilkes?” Another said, “D—n you, you fool, what has Wilkes to do with a masquerade?”

Among the company were Lady Waldegrave, Lady Pembroke, the Duchess of Hamilton, Mrs. Crewe, Mrs. Hodges, Lady Algeria Carpenter, &c. The characters assumed were very eccentric. Sir R. Phillips appeared as “a double man,” half-miller, half chimney-sweeper. The Earl of Carlisle figured as a running footman; Mr. James, the painter, as Midas. The Duke of Devonshire was “very fine, but in no particular character.” And “Lord Edg—b, in the character of an old woman, was full as lovely as his lady.” The ladies were superbly dressed. “The Countess Dowager of Waldegrave wore a dress richly trimmed with beads and pearls, in the character of Jane Shore.” “The Duchess of Bolton, in the character of Diana, was captivating.” “Lady Stanhope, as Melpomene, was a striking fine figure.” “Lady August Stuart, as a Vestal, and Lady Caroline as a Fille de Patmos, showed that true elegance may be expressed without gold and diamonds.” “The Countess of Pomfret, in the character of a Greek Sultana, and the two Miss Fredericks, who accompanied her, as Greek slaves, made a complete group;” and to eclipse all, “Miss Moncton, daughter to Lord Galway, appeared in the character of an Indian Sultana, in a robe of cloth of gold and a rich veil. The seams of her habit were embroidered with precious stones, and she had a magnificent cluster of diamonds on her head: the jewels she wore were valued at 30,000l.”

BIGAMOUS DUCHESS OF CHUDLEIGH

The Bigamous Duchess of Kingston

An “opera strife” leads to bankruptcy

In the following year, 1771, Mrs. Cornelys got embroiled in an opera strife. Walpole writes, Feb. 22, 1771: “Our most serious war is between two Operas. Mr. Hobart, Lord Buckingham’s brother, is manager of the Haymarket. Last year he affronted Guadagni, by preferring the Zamperina, his own mistress, to the singing hero’s sister. The Duchess of Northumberland, Lady Harrington, and some of the great ladies, took up the brother, and without a license erected an opera for him at Madame Cornelys’s… Mr. Hobart began to starve, and the managers of the theatre were alarmed. To avoid the Act, she pretended to take no money, and had the assurance to advertise that the subscription was to provide coals for the poor, for she has vehemently courted the mob, and succeed in gaining their princely favour. She then declared her masquerades were for the benefit of commerce.… At last, Mr. Hobart informed against her, and the Bench of Justices, have pronounced against her. Her opera is quashed, and Guadagni… is not only fined, but was threatened to be sent to Bridewell.

Mrs. Cornelys’s masquerades were characterized not only by indecency, but also by mockery of solemn feelings and principles… The lessees of the theatre, injured by her popularity, opposed her; and she was convicted before Sir John Fielding for performing dramatic entertainments without a license.… Next, bills of indictment were preferred to the grand jury, insinuating of Mrs. Cornelys “that she does keep and maintain a common disorderly house, and did permit and suffer diverse loose, idle, and disorderly persons, as well men as women, to be and remain the whole night, rioting and otherwise misbehaving themselves.” In November following, appeared in the bankrupt list of the London Gazette, “Teresa Cornelys, Carlisle House, St. Anne, Soho, dealer.”

Pantheon_from_Papworth's_Select_Views_1816

The Pantheon, one of the competitors of Mrs. Cornelys’s that eventually caused her downfall

Mrs. Cornelys’s last stand

Nevertheless, Mrs. Cornelys resumed her revels here with great spirit in 1776. Two years later, Carlisle House was again advertised to be sold by private contract…

…Mrs. Cornelys attempted to retrieve her fortunes in various places; one being in a large detached mansion, known as Knightsbridge Grove, in Porter’s Lane, approached through a fine avenue of trees from the highway. At length, in 1785, Mrs. Cornelys gave up her precarious trade. “Ten years after,” says Davis’s Memorials of Knightsbridge, “to the great surprise of the public, she reappeared at Knightsbridge as Mrs. Smith, a retailer of asses’ milk. A suite of breakfast-rooms was opened; but her former influence could not be recovered.” The speculation failed; and at length she was confined in the Fleet Prison, where she died August 19, 1797.

In the literature of the day

Murphy, in his Epilogue to Zobeide, 1771, refers to her popularity:

Oh farewell!

For her each haunt that charms a modern belle!

Adieu, Almack’s! Cornelys! Masquerade!

Sweet Ranelagh! Vauxhall’s enchanting shade!

Combe, in his satire, The Diobalady, 1777, thus severely castigates the licentiousness of the amusements:

The ready ministers of hell’s commands, Obedient, fly and take their several stands

At Court,  Cornelys’, and the Coterie;

Where vice, more vicious by effrontery,

Fearless, unblushing, braves the eternal laws

Of God and man, to aid the devil’s cause.

Note: Teresa Cornelys was one of the mistresses of the famous lover, Casanova, to whom she bore a child.

casanova-tour

Giacomo Girolamo Casanova

 

Romance of London Series

  1. Romance of London: The Lord Mayor’s Fool… and a Dessert
  2. Romance of London: Carlton House and the Regency
  3. Romance of London: The Championship at George IV’s Coronation
  4. Romance of London: Mrs. Cornelys at Carlisle House
  5. Romance of London: The Bottle Conjuror
  6. Romance of London: Bartholomew Fair
  7. Romance of London: The May Fair and the Strong Woman
  8. Romance of London: Nancy Dawson, the Hornpipe Dancer
  9. Romance of London: Milkmaids on May-Day
  10. Romance of London: Lord Stowell’s Love of Sight-seeing
  11. Romance of London: The Mermaid Hoax
  12. Romance of London: The Bluestocking and the Sweeps’ Holiday
  13. Romance of London: Comments on Hogarth’s “Industries and Idle Apprentices”
  14. Romance of London: The Lansdowne Family
  15. Romance of London: St. Margaret’s Painted Window at Westminster
  16. Romance of London: Montague House and the British Museum
  17. Romance of London: The Bursting of the South Sea Bubble
  18. Romance of London: The Thames Tunnel
  19. Romance of London: Sir William Petty and the Lansdowne Family
  20. Romance of London: Marlborough House and Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough
  21. Romance of London: The Duke of Newcastle’s Eccentricities
  22. Romance of London: Voltaire in London
  23. Romance of London: The Crossing Sweeper
  24. Romance of London: Nathan Mayer Rothschild’s Fear of Assassination
  25. Romance of London: Samuel Rogers, the Banker Poet
  26. Romance of London: The Eccentricities of Lord Byron
  27. Romance of London: A London Recluse

Romance of London: The Championship at George IV’s Coronation

Romance of London: Strange Stories, Scenes And Remarkable Person of the Great Town in 3 Volumes

John Timbs

John Timbs (1801-1875), who also wrote as Horace Welby, was an English author and aficionado of antiquities. Born in Clerkenwell, London, he was apprenticed at 16 to a druggist and printer, where he soon showed great literary promise. At 19, he began to write for Monthly Magazine, and a year later he was made secretary to the magazine’s proprietor and there began his career as a writer, editor, and antiquarian.

This particular book is available at googlebooks for free in ebook form. Or you can pay for a print version.

The Championship of England*

ScrivelsbyCourt

The chivalrous and dignified office of Champion of England at our coronations is conferred by the feudal manor of Scrivelsby, about two miles south of Horncastle, on the road towards Boston in Lincolnshire. By the holding of this manor, the ancient family of the Dymokes have derived the office of champion to the sovereigns of England…

edwardvi

The manor of Scrivesby, which was granted by the Conqueror to Robert de Marmion (Lord of Fontenoy, in Normandy), to be held by grand sergeantry, “to perform the office of champion at the King’s coronation.” The Marmians, it is said, where hereditary champions to the Dukes of Normandy prior to the conquest of England.

Dymock Champion

The Kings Champion in full armor in the banqueting hall at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth I

Sir John Dymoke served as Champion of England at the coronation of Richard II. Sir Robert Dymoke did so for Richard II, Henry VII, and Henry VIII. Sir Edward Dymoke was champion for Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I. John Dymoke was champion for George III, and when the time came for George IV’s coronation, the honor went to his grandson, Sir Henry Dymoke, due to the fact that his son, Rev. John Dymoke, was a cleric.

0020 16.tif

George IV’s coronation banquet was held in Westminster Hall in 1821; it was the last such banquet held.

The entry of the champion at the close of the Banquet in Westminster Hall, at the coronation of George IV., was a splendid spectacle. Haydon, the historical painter, thus describes this ancient feudal ceremony which he witnessed: “The hall-doors were opened, and the flower-girls entered, strewing flowers. The distant trumpets and shouts of the people, the slow march, and at last the appearance of the King, crowned and under a golden canopy, and the universal burst of the assembly at seeing him, affected everybody… After the banquet was over, came the most imposing scene of all, the championship. Wellington, in his coronet, walked down the hall, cheered by the officers of the Guards. He shortly returned, mounted, with Lords Anglesey [formerly the Earl of Uxbridge] and Howard. They rode gracefully to the foot of the throne, and then backed out. The hall doors opened again; and outside, in twilight, a man in dark-shadowed armor appeared against the shining sky. He then moved and passed into darkness under the arch, and suddenly Wellington, Howard, and the champion stood in full view, with doors closed behind them. This was certainly the finest sight of the day. The herald then read the challenge; the glove was thrown down. They all then proceeded to the throne.”

championship

Coronation of George IV, Westminster Hall: the Champion’s Challenge

Sir Walter Scott, in his letter describing the coronation, says, “The Duke of Wellington, with all his laurels, moved and looked deserving the baton, which was never grasped by so worthy a hand. The marquess of Anglesey showed the most exquisite grace in managing his horse, notwithstanding the want of his limb, which he left at Waterloo. I never saw so fine a bridle-hand in my life, and I am rather a judge of horsemanship. Lord Howard’s horse was worse bitted than those of the two former noblemen, but not so much as to derange the ceremony of returning back-out of the hall. The champion was performed (as of right) by young Dymoke, a fine-looking youth, but bearing, perhaps a little too much the appearance of a maiden knight to be the challenger of the world in a King’s behalf. He threw down his gauntlet, however, with becoming manhood, and showed as much horsemanship as the crowds of knights and squires around him would permit to be exhibited. On the whole, this striking part of the exhibition somewhat disappointed me, for I would have had the champion less embarrassed by his assistants, and at liberty to put his horse on the grand pas; and yet, the young Lord of Scrivelsby looked and behaved extremely well.”

Supertunica-stole-and-spurs

The Imperial Mantle was made for the coronation of George IV in 1821 and is designed in the style of earlier ones worn by the Tudor and Stuart monarchs, it is worn over the Supertunica and the Stole. The Imperial Mantle is made of gold cloth, lined with red silk and woven with colored threads designed with a pattern of crowns, eagles, fleur-de-lis, roses, thistles and shamrock held together at the chest with a gold clasp in the form of an eagle.

*George IV’s was the last coronation to include a championship.

 

Romance of London Series

  1. Romance of London: The Lord Mayor’s Fool… and a Dessert
  2. Romance of London: Carlton House and the Regency
  3. Romance of London: The Championship at George IV’s Coronation
  4. Romance of London: Mrs. Cornelys at Carlisle House
  5. Romance of London: The Bottle Conjuror
  6. Romance of London: Bartholomew Fair
  7. Romance of London: The May Fair and the Strong Woman
  8. Romance of London: Nancy Dawson, the Hornpipe Dancer
  9. Romance of London: Milkmaids on May-Day
  10. Romance of London: Lord Stowell’s Love of Sight-seeing
  11. Romance of London: The Mermaid Hoax
  12. Romance of London: The Bluestocking and the Sweeps’ Holiday
  13. Romance of London: Comments on Hogarth’s “Industries and Idle Apprentices”
  14. Romance of London: The Lansdowne Family
  15. Romance of London: St. Margaret’s Painted Window at Westminster
  16. Romance of London: Montague House and the British Museum
  17. Romance of London: The Bursting of the South Sea Bubble
  18. Romance of London: The Thames Tunnel
  19. Romance of London: Sir William Petty and the Lansdowne Family
  20. Romance of London: Marlborough House and Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough
  21. Romance of London: The Duke of Newcastle’s Eccentricities
  22. Romance of London: Voltaire in London
  23. Romance of London: The Crossing Sweeper
  24. Romance of London: Nathan Mayer Rothschild’s Fear of Assassination
  25. Romance of London: Samuel Rogers, the Banker Poet
  26. Romance of London: The Eccentricities of Lord Byron
  27. Romance of London: A London Recluse

Romance of London: Carlton House and the Regency

Romance of London: Strange Stories, Scenes And Remarkable Person of the Great Town in 3 Volumes

John Timbs

John Timbs (1801-1875), who also wrote as Horace Welby, was an English author and aficionado of antiquities. Born in Clerkenwell, London, he was apprenticed at 16 to a druggist and printer, where he soon showed great literary promise. At 19, he began to write for Monthly Magazine, and a year later he was made secretary to the magazine’s proprietor and there began his career as a writer, editor, and antiquarian.

This particular book is available at googlebooks for free in ebook form. Or you can pay for a print version.

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The frontage of Carlton House

Carlton House and the Regency

The Prince Regent’s residence at Carlton House is another place frequently mentioned in historical fiction that is no longer in existence. I had heard that it burned down, but Timbs reports the following:

Carlton House having grown dingy in its fittings, and its history prompting many disagreeable associations, the King projected the enlargement and eventually the rebuilding of Buckingham House; Carlton House was taken down in 1826; the columns of the portico have been transferred to the National Gallery. The exact site of this palace of a century is now the opening between the York Column and the foot of Regent Street.

Plan_of_Carlton_Palace_in_1821

Plan showing the main floor and the suite of reception rooms on the lower ground floor

 Origins

Carlton House, as a royal palace, existed for nearly a century, and was the scene of many important state events, as well as of much prodigality and bad taste. The house, which fronted St. Alban’s Street and St. James’s Park, was originally built by Henry Boyles, Baron Carlton, on a piece of ground leased to him by Queen Anne, in 1709, at 35l. a year; it is described as “parcel of the Royal Garden, near St. James’s Palace,” and “the wood-work and wilderness adjoining.” From Lord Carlton the house and grounds descended to his nephew, Lord Burlington, the architect: he bested it, in 1732, upon his mother, the Countess Dowager of Burlington, who, in the same year, transferred it to Frederick, Prince of Wales, father of George III. The House was a building of red brick, with wings, and was afterwards cased with stone by Sir Robert Taylor. In Lord Burlington’s time, the grounds, which ran westward as far as Marlborough House, were laid out by Kent, in imitation of Pope’s garden at Twickenham. There is a large and fine engraving of the grounds by Woollett; bowers, grottoes, and terminal busts abounding.

Under the Prince Regent (George IV)

When, in 1783, the Prince of Wales, afterwards George IV, was allowed a separate establishment, Carlton House was assigned for his residence, and Holland, the architect, was called in, and added the chief features,—the Ionic screen and the Corinthian portico, fronting Pall Mall. [Horace] Walpole writes to the Countess of Ossor, in the autumn of 1785:

We went to see the Prince’s new palace in Pall Mall; and were charmed. It will be the most perfect in Europe. There is an august simplicity that astonished me. You cannot call it magnificent: it is the taste and propriety that strike. Every ornament is at a proper distance and not one too large, but all delicate and now, with more freedom and variety than Greek ornaments… As Gobert [French architect]… designed the decorations, I expected a more tawdry assemblage of fantastic vagaries than in Mrs. Cornelys’s masquerade-rooms. [Teresa Cornelys, operatic soprano, held many fashionable gatherings at Carlisle House, had many lovers, and bore a child of Casanova.]… There are three most spacious apartments, all looking on the lovely garden, a terrace, the state apartment, and an attic. The portico, vestibule, hall, and staircase will be superb, and, to my taste, full of perspectives; the jewel of all is a small music-room, that opens into a green recess and winding walk of the garden… I forgot to tell you how admirably all the carving, stucco, and ornaments are executed; but whence the money is to come I conceive not—all the tin mines of Cornwall would not pay a quarter. How sick one shall be after this chaste palace, of Mr. Adam’s [Robert Adam, popular 18th century architect] gingerbread and sippets of embroidery!

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The main staircase, from Pyne’s Royal Residences (1819)

Timbs’s later assessment was not so kind. He says that the conservatory, “imitated from Henry VII’s Chapel, was a failure,” the blue velvet draperies “heavy and dark”; and the “Gothic dining-room was poor.” He found the armory to be “the most curious collection of arms in the world, [filling] four rooms.”

Here was John Hamden’s sword, said to be the work of Cellini; and a golden throne of the King of Candy was backed with a sun of diamonds and precious stones. Here, too, were arms from all nations—caps, boots, spurs, turbans, shields, bows, dresses, models of horses, helmets, sabres, swords, daggers, canopies, palanquins, guns, coats of mail, and other costly presents from all parts of the world.

In the plate-room were some fine specimens of King Charles’s plate; other plate was disposed in the centre of the room, in columns of gold and silver plates, and dishes, and drawers filled with gold and silver knives, forks, spoons, &c.…

The palace was superbly fitted for the Prince’s marriage: 26,000l. Was voted for furnishing, 28,000l. For jewels and plate, and 27,000l for the expense of the marriage. Here was born the Princess Charlotte, January 16, 1796, and the baptism took place on February 11; here, also, the Princess was married, May 2, 1816.

The Fête of June 19, 1811

The most magnificent State event of the Regency was the event given at Carlton House on June 19, 1811, being then the only experiment ever made to give a supper to 2,000 of the nobility and gentry. Covers were laid for 400 in the palace, and for 1,600 in the pavilions and gardens. The fête was attended by Louis XVIII, and the French princes then in exile; and a vast assemblage of beauty, rank, and fashion. The saloon at the foot of the staircase represented a bower with a grotto, lined with a profusion of shrubs and flowers. The grand table extended the whole length of the conservatory, and across Carlton House to the length of 200 feet. Along the centre of the table, about six inches above the surface, a canal of pure water continued flowing from a silver fountain, beautifully constructed at the head of the table. Its banks were covered with green moss and aquatic flowers; gold and silver fish swam and sported through the bubbling current, which produced a pleasing murmur where it fell, and formed a cascade at the outlet. At the head of the table, above the fountain, sat His Royal Highness the Prince Regent on a plain mahogany chair with a feather back. The most particular friends of the Prince were arranged on each side. They were attended by sixty servitors; seven waited on the Prince, besides six of the King’s, and six of the Queen’s footmen, in their state liveries, with one man in a complete suit of ancient armour.

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Fencing Match between Chevalier de Saint-Georges and ‘La chevalière D’Eon’ on April 9, 1787 in Carlton House, painting by Charles Jean Robineau

Historical tidbit

Timbs mentions that the portico of Carlton House was the site of the “first public application of the newly-invented lighting by gas.”

Author’s Reflections

I’m thinking the fête might come in hand for a scene in my next story—as an example of the decadence and excess of the Prince Regent. What do you think?

 

Romance of London Series

  1. Romance of London: The Lord Mayor’s Fool… and a Dessert
  2. Romance of London: Carlton House and the Regency
  3. Romance of London: The Championship at George IV’s Coronation
  4. Romance of London: Mrs. Cornelys at Carlisle House
  5. Romance of London: The Bottle Conjuror
  6. Romance of London: Bartholomew Fair
  7. Romance of London: The May Fair and the Strong Woman
  8. Romance of London: Nancy Dawson, the Hornpipe Dancer
  9. Romance of London: Milkmaids on May-Day
  10. Romance of London: Lord Stowell’s Love of Sight-seeing
  11. Romance of London: The Mermaid Hoax
  12. Romance of London: The Bluestocking and the Sweeps’ Holiday
  13. Romance of London: Comments on Hogarth’s “Industries and Idle Apprentices”
  14. Romance of London: The Lansdowne Family
  15. Romance of London: St. Margaret’s Painted Window at Westminster
  16. Romance of London: Montague House and the British Museum
  17. Romance of London: The Bursting of the South Sea Bubble
  18. Romance of London: The Thames Tunnel
  19. Romance of London: Sir William Petty and the Lansdowne Family
  20. Romance of London: Marlborough House and Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough
  21. Romance of London: The Duke of Newcastle’s Eccentricities
  22. Romance of London: Voltaire in London
  23. Romance of London: The Crossing Sweeper
  24. Romance of London: Nathan Mayer Rothschild’s Fear of Assassination
  25. Romance of London: Samuel Rogers, the Banker Poet
  26. Romance of London: The Eccentricities of Lord Byron
  27. Romance of London: A London Recluse

Romance of London: The Lord Mayor’s Fool… and a Dessert?

romanceoflondonbook

Romance of London: Strange Stories, Scenes (not Scones) And Remarkable Person(s) of the Great Town in 3 Volumes

by John Timbs

John Timbs (1801-1875), who also wrote as Horace Welby, was an English author and aficionado of antiquities. Born in Clerkenwell, London, he was apprenticed at 16 to a druggist and printer, where he soon showed great literary promise. At 19, he began to write for Monthly Magazine, and a year later he was made secretary to the magazine’s proprietor and there began his career as a writer, editor, and antiquarian.

800px-John_Timbs

This particular book is available at googlebooks for free in ebook form. Or you can pay for a print version.

I don’t remember where I heard about John Timbs, but somehow I heard that he wrote some quite intriguing stories about historical London, and purchased this book a year or so ago. After finishing my previous series on Vauxhall, I rummaged among my collection of research books and this one caught my attention. Be aware if you buy it that, like many such books, it was hastily scanned and some of the words didn’t scan correct. For instance, the title “Strange Stories, Scones And Remarkable Person of the Great Town” doesn’t make a lot of sense. Thus far, however, I have found the interior pages quite easy to read.

Among the first stories is one about a jester… and perhaps a dessert?

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The Lord Mayor’s Fool

The Lord Mayor’s Fool was a distinguished character of his class; and there was a curious feat which he was bound by his office to perform, in the celebration of Lord Mayor’s Day. He was to leap, clothes and all, into a large bowl of custard, at the Inauguration dinner; and this was a jest so exactly suited to the taste of the lower class of spectators, that it was not easily made stale by repetition. It is alluded to by Shakespeare and Ben Johnson, as follows:—

You have made shift to run into ‘t, boots and spurs, and all, like him that leapt into the custard.” (All’s Well that Ends Well.)

He may, perchance, in tail of a Sheriff’s dinner,

Skip with a rime o’ the table, from new nothing,

And take his Almain leap into a custard,

Shall make my Lady Mayoress and her sisters

Laugh all their hoods over their shoulders—Devil’s an Ass.

Custard was “a food much used in City feasts.” (Johnson’s Dict.)

Now mayors and shrieves all hush’d and satiate lay;

Yet eat, in dreams, the custard of the day.—Pope

Perhaps it is this custard which, in the Staple of News, is called “the custard politick, the Mayor’s.” We have all heard the vulgar comparison—”You are like my Lord Mayor’s Fool, who knows what is good.”

A Fruit Fool?

Somehow, a fool jumping into a vat of custard clicked in my mind. Isn’t fool an English dessert? So I looked it up on Wikipedia, and there staring at me was this lovely creamy, custard-like raspberry fool. Yummy. Where can I find one?

1024px-Raspberry_fool

According to Wikipedia, though, nobody really knows where the term came from. Hmm. Maybe Mr. John Timbs knows more than the all of the wise scholars at Wikipedia? Or am I making an incorrect assumption?

First mentioned in 1598 along with the term trifle, its ingredients are fruit, whipped cream, and sugar. According to Wikipedia, gooseberries are the fruit of choice for a fool, but apples, rhubarb, raspberries, and strawberries are also used.

If you’d like to make one, here are some recipes:

BBC Food

The Kitchn

Serious Eats

JoyofBaking.com

Jamie Oliver

Have you ever had a gooseberry fool? Or any type of (dessert) fool? What in the heck is a gooseberry anyway?

Romance of London Series

  1. Romance of London: The Lord Mayor’s Fool… and a Dessert
  2. Romance of London: Carlton House and the Regency
  3. Romance of London: The Championship at George IV’s Coronation
  4. Romance of London: Mrs. Cornelys at Carlisle House
  5. Romance of London: The Bottle Conjuror
  6. Romance of London: Bartholomew Fair
  7. Romance of London: The May Fair and the Strong Woman
  8. Romance of London: Nancy Dawson, the Hornpipe Dancer
  9. Romance of London: Milkmaids on May-Day
  10. Romance of London: Lord Stowell’s Love of Sight-seeing
  11. Romance of London: The Mermaid Hoax
  12. Romance of London: The Bluestocking and the Sweeps’ Holiday
  13. Romance of London: Comments on Hogarth’s “Industries and Idle Apprentices”
  14. Romance of London: The Lansdowne Family
  15. Romance of London: St. Margaret’s Painted Window at Westminster
  16. Romance of London: Montague House and the British Museum
  17. Romance of London: The Bursting of the South Sea Bubble
  18. Romance of London: The Thames Tunnel
  19. Romance of London: Sir William Petty and the Lansdowne Family
  20. Romance of London: Marlborough House and Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough
  21. Romance of London: The Duke of Newcastle’s Eccentricities
  22. Romance of London: Voltaire in London
  23. Romance of London: The Crossing Sweeper
  24. Romance of London: Nathan Mayer Rothschild’s Fear of Assassination
  25. Romance of London: Samuel Rogers, the Banker Poet
  26. Romance of London: The Eccentricities of Lord Byron
  27. Romance of London: A London Recluse