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Caroline Warfield: The Renegade Wife (Giveaway)

Lieutenant-Colonel John By, Royal Engineers, 1779-1836

John By [Source: By, John, 1832. Unknown Artist, Kingston Picture Collection, Queen’s University Archives, accession number V23 P-58]

John By [Source: By, John, 1832. Unknown Artist, Kingston Picture Collection, Queen’s University Archives, accession number V23 P-58]

After a modestly successful military career, John By was given an assignment the he might well have believed would bring him promotion and renown. He came from modest origins and, while competent, had never achieved the heights of success. He is in some ways a typical professional soldier of the Napoleonic Era. He died in obscurity. So why is he remembered today?

He was assigned to design an entirely navigable waterway to serve as a supply line between Montreal and Kingston using the Rideau and Ottawa rivers. It was to be cut 126 miles through a wilderness of forest, swamps, and rocky terrain far enough removed from the Saint Lawrence River to be easily defended in case of invasion by the Americans to the south. For By, it didn’t work out as he hoped. For Canada, By’s canal is a treasure.

Born at Lambeth in 1779, to a family of watermen, By entered the Royal Military Academy, Woolrich, in 1797 and was commissioned two years later. Initially commissioned to the artillery, he transferred to the Royal Engineers later that year. He served in Plymouth for two years before being sent to Canada in 1802 where he worked on the first small locks on the Saint Lawrence and on the citadel at Quebec. Beginning in late 1810 he served under Wellington in the Peninsula but was recalled in 1812 when the Inspector General of Fortifications, Lt. General Gother Mann, appointed him commanding engineer of the new Royal Gunpowder Mills. After Waterloo, the need for engineers lessened, and By retired.

First Camp at Bytown By John By [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

First Camp at Bytown By John By [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

John By was 47 when he was called out of retirement to build the canal. There’s every reason to believe he jumped at it. The Duke of Wellington is said to have chosen him specifically, but the orders came from General Mann who had also been his commanding officer during his previous stay in Canada. Both men had confidence with him at the beginning.

Never one to take the easy or obvious way, By began making controversial decisions almost immediately upon arrival in 1826. Instead of setting up housekeeping in Kingston, which already boasted not only a fort and navy base, but also a growing town, he moved his family and set up at the mouth of the Ottawa where there were at most a half dozen households. Even as the Royal Engineers began laying out the plans for the waterway, By laid out plans for a town to be called Bytown to house his headquarters, his home, barracks, and housing for workers. His town is now called Ottawa and is the capital of Canada.

There had been earlier surveys of the country, and some recommendations for much more modest plans than those ultimately carried out. By resurveyed and determined to lay out the waterway using the Rideau River and lakes, canalizing the route where needed, building locks and dams along the way. Contract labor began clearing land that winter.

Entrance of the Rideau Canal at Bytown, 1839, By Ainslie, Henry Francis 1803-1879 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Entrance of the Rideau Canal at Bytown, 1839, By Ainslie, Henry Francis 1803-1879 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The single most important decision was to build the locks and canals wide and deep enough to handle the new naval steamships. The original, narrower plans were designed for typical river craft such as Durham boats. In spite of opposition in London, a compromise plan dictated only slightly smaller construction. Building for steam power is typical of By’s far-sighted approach.

In six years By, the engineers, and the contractors had managed the project, with most of the work done by hand by primarily Irish and French workers. They built approximately 50 dams, 47 locks, and blockhouses for defense. The Stone Dam at Jones Falls was the third largest dam in the world when it was built. The eight massive locks at Bytown are still a wonder, and, yes, it accommodated navel steamships. An estimated 1000 men died in the process. By himself contracted malaria, probably as a result of his insistence on inspecting work camps himself. He demanded money for a hospital and housing, and his requests were not always well received.

Lt. Colonel By statue overlooking the locks in Ottawa (my own photo)

Lt. Colonel By statue overlooking the locks in Ottawa (my own photo)

In May 1832 John By was able to sail through the locks by steamship, his work essentially finished. It appears he planned to settle permanently in Bytown, but it was not to be. Precisely at the time of his great triumph, a move was underfoot in London to remove him. He received notice in August:

My Lords further desire that Colonel By may be forthwith ordered to return to this country, that he may be called upon to afford such explanation as My Lords may consider necessary upon this important subject.

The “important subject” was cost overruns and questionable permissions. The committee that examined him grudgingly allowed that the work had been done with care and that most of the cost was unavoidable, but in the end they issued a reprimand for allegedly unauthorized expenditures, which he denied. Instead of the commendations he expected, By was forced out. He struggled to clear his name unsuccessfully. In failing health, he retired to his home in Sussex. Even as he lay ill, his wife continued to write to people begging for help removing the stigma which she believe contributed to his decline. He died, probably of malaria, in 1836.

John By artist unknown (not from life)

John By artist unknown (not from life)

And the canal? It never served the military purpose for which it was intended, but it opened Ontario to settlement and served as a commercial highway throughout the nineteenth century. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, largely used for recreation, and those pesky Americans are welcome to come up and enjoy the still functioning locks and canals.

Want to know more? Try these.

The Virtual Museum of Canada http://bit.ly/2ej9lzX

The Rideau Canal World Heritage Site http://www.rideau-info.com/canal/tales/bye-by.html

The Bytown Museum http://www.bytownmuseum.com/en/engr.html

Robert Passfield, Military Paternalism. https://books.google.com/books?id=CSTSAQAAQBAJ

Giveaway

To celebrate the launch, Caroline will give a copy of one of her Dangerous Series books to one randomly selected person who comments. The winner can choose from the books found here:

http://www.carolinewarfield.com/bookshelf/

About The Renegade Wife

therenegadewifeBetrayed by his cousin and the woman he loved, Rand Wheatly fled England, his dreams of a loving family shattered. He clings to his solitude in an isolated cabin in Upper Canada. Returning from a business trip to find a widow and two children squatting in his house, he flies into a rage. He wants her gone, but her children are sick and injured, and his heart is not as hard as he likes to pretend.

Meggy Blair harbors a secret, and she’ll do whatever it takes to keep her children safe. She’d hopes to hide with her Ojibwa grandmother, if she can find the woman and her people. She doesn’t expect to find shelter with a quiet, solitary man, a man who lowers his defensive walls enough to let Meggy and her children in.

Their idyllic interlude is shattered when Meggy’s brutal husband appears to claim his children. She isn’t a widow, but a wife, a woman who betrayed the man she was supposed to love, just as Rand’s sweetheart betrayed him. He soon discovers why Meggy is on the run, but time is running out. To save them all, Rand must return and face his demons.

Amazon

Excerpt

“Let go of her, Blair, or I’ll shoot you like the dog you are. God knows you deserve it.” For untold minutes all Rand heard was the wind in the trees, and Lena’s whimper behind Pratt’s back. Even Meggy seemed to hold her breath.

Blair let go of her arm so suddenly she stumbled before running back to her children. “The slut and her children are mine, Wheatly, and that makes you a thief.”

“Get on your horse, Blair, and get out of here before I change my mind and shoot you anyway. You too, Pratt.”

Rand kept his pistol aimed at Blair while the men mounted and turn their horses to the lane. Pratt and Martin galloped up the hill and into the woods, but Blair turned half way up and pointed back at Meggy hugging the children in Rand’s doorway.

“They’re mine, Wheatly. I have a writ. I’ll be back with the magistrate and the deputy to have you jailed for resisting. Won’t your fancy relatives like that?” He turned and galloped off.

Rand eased back the hammer of his pistol, when the men cleared the trees. He slid it into a holster, jumped down, and ran to Meggy and the children, pulling all of them into an embrace. Meggy began to weep almost as soon as his hand came around her back, pulling her close with Lena between them and Drew in the crook of his arm.

“You might have killed him, and then where would we be?” she sobbed.

“You would be safe from him.”

“And you would be in jail or worse.”

He didn’t deny it. He kissed the top of her head and down her cheek.

About the Author

Carol Roddy - Author

Award winning author Caroline Warfield has been many things: traveler, librarian, poet, raiser of children, bird watcher, Internet and Web services manager, conference speaker, indexer, tech writer, genealogist—even a nun. She reckons she is on at least her third act, happily working in an office surrounded by windows while she lets her characters lead her to adventures in England and the far-flung corners of the British Empire. She nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart.

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Donna Hatch: Courting the Countess

In England, dueling was part of a long-standing code of honor, far beyond mere tradition. Gentlemen took their dueling very seriously; they would rather die than be dishonored. Does your heart go pitter patter just at the sound of that? I admit, at time, mine does. How many men that honorable do you know? Okay, maybe we’d call it misplaced pride, or an overdeveloped sense of vengeance, but hey, that was a different world with a different set of rules. And yeah, I’m glad they don’t do it these days.

pistols

By the Regency era, dueling was outlawed. However, duels still happened more frequently than many people knew. The problem was, because courts were made up of peers, they were reluctant to charge another peer with murder as a result of a duel. There is a case where one nobleman was charged with murder and tried, but used the defense that his behavior was gentlemanly and honorable, meaning that he acted within the proper code of conduct. He was acquitted by his peers.

If they were socially equal, or at least similar, the gentleman who was offended would tell the man who’d wronged him that he should choose his “second,” a close friend or family member who would look out for his best interests. If he was really incensed, he might slap him with his glove, but that was considered extreme and beneath gentlemanly behavior, as it was the ultimate insult and probably resulted in a fight then and there.

The procedure for issuing a challenge was very specific. A gentleman never challenged a social inferior. For instance, a gentleman of significance with ties to the aristocracy or nobility would never challenge a commoner, such as a blacksmith or a farmer. Also, if there was a significant age difference, the duel would not be extended.

shooting

After the verbal challenge–or perhaps warning would be a better word–was issued, depending on the severity of the offense, the other might have a choice; he could either apologize, or he could accept. Sometimes, the apology would not be accepted, often if there were a third person who’d been wronged such as a lady’s honor. (Okay, call me crazy but that almost makes me want to swoon.)

The next day, supposedly after heads had cooled, the wronged man who wished to duel would send his “second” with a written letter challenging the duel. The other may chose to apologize or accept the challenge. If accepted, he would choose swords or pistols and name the time and the place. In my humble opinion, swords was a more more gentlemanly way to duel. If they used pistols, they only used one shot which seems too much like cold-blooded murder. I’m sure they didn’t always shoot to kill, but there was some unwritten rule about the shot purposely going wide and that being bad form. *shrug*

When the allotted day arrived, they met, probably in a remote place where they wouldn’t be caught by the law, and the seconds inspected the weapons to be used. A final opportunity for an apology could be given. If not, the seconds decided if the duel should be fought to (a) first blood, or (b) until one can no longer stand, or (c) to the death. Once that was decided, the opponents dueled and the seconds watched to insure that nothing dishonorable happened.

If during a duel fought by swords, one of the duelers becomes too injured to continue, occasionally the second would step in and duel. Sometimes, the seconds were hot-headed or very angry (loyal?) and ended up dueling each other as well. To my knowledge, this never happened if the duel were fought with pistols.

3

As horrible as it sounds to our modern selves, these gentlemen took their honor very seriously, and considered death preferable to living with the label of a coward, a label that would follow them and their families for years.

And, maybe it’s me, but there a certain romance about a gentleman brave enough and protective enough to be willing to risk death defending my honor from another man who’d besmirched it?

A duel is what leads to all the trouble for my hero in my Regency Romance novel, “Courting the Countess” and causes events he wishes desperately he could change, especially when the duel goes awry and causes pain to an entire family.

I’m sure glad my husband isn’t likely to try dueling…

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Available for pre-order on Amazon

About Courting the Countess

When charming rake Tristan Barrett sweeps Lady Elizabeth off her feet, stealing both her heart and a kiss in a secluded garden, her brother challenges Tristan to a duel. The only way to save her brother and Tristan from harm—not to mention preserve her reputation—is to get married. But her father, the Duke of Pemberton, refuses to allow his daughter to marry anyone but a titled lord. The duke demands that Elizabeth marry Tristan’s older brother, Richard, the Earl of Averston. Now Elizabeth must give up Tristan to marry a man who despises her, a man who loves another, a man she’ll never love.

Richard fears Elizabeth is as untrustworthy as his mother, who ran off with another man. However, to protect his brother from a duel and their family name from further scandal, he agrees to the wedding, certain his new bride will betray him. Yet when Elizabeth turns his house upside down and worms her way into his reluctant heart, Richard suspects he can’t live without his new countess. Will she stay with him or is it too little, too late?

Pre-order now on Amazon for Kindle.

About the Author

donna-2013-copyDonna Hatch, author of the best-selling “Rogue Hearts Series,” is a hopeless romantic and adventurer at heart, the force behind driving her to write and publish seventeen titles, to date. She is a multi-award winner, a sought-after workshop presenter, and juggles multiple volunteer positions as well as her six children. Also music lover, she sings and plays the harp. Though a native of Arizona, she and her family recently transplanted to the Pacific Northwest where she and her husband of over twenty years are living proof that there really is a happily ever after.

Romance of London: The Thames Tunnel

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 Thames Tunnel

The first successful tunnel constructed beneath a navigable river was built between 1825 and 1843 by Thomas Cochrane and Marc Brunel, along with Brunel’s son, Isambard. Although it was meant to facilitate horse-drawn carriages traffic, that never happened. Currently it is part of the London Overground railway network.

From Wikipedia:

Brunel and Cochrane patented the tunnelling shield, a revolutionary advance in tunnelling technology, in January 1818. In 1823 Brunel produced a plan for a tunnel between Rotherhithe and Wapping, which would be dug using his new shield. Financing was soon found from private investors, including the Duke of Wellington, and a Thames Tunnel Company was formed in 1824, the project beginning in February 1825.

Thames_tunnel_shield

The tunnelling shield, built at Henry Maudslay’s Lambeth works and assembled in the Rotherhithe shaft, was the key to Brunel’s construction of the Thames Tunnel. The Illustrated London News described how it worked:

Scale model of the Brunel shield

Scale model of the Brunel shield

The mode in which this great excavation was accomplished was by means of a powerful apparatus termed a shield, consisting of twelve great frames, lying close to each other like as many volumes on the shelf of a book-case, and divided into three stages or stories, thus presenting 36 chambers of cells, each for one workman, and open to the rear, but closed in the front with moveable boards. The front was placed against the earth to be removed, and the workman, having removed one board, excavated the earth behind it to the depth directed, and placed the board against the new surface exposed. The board was then in advance of the cell, and was kept in its place by props; and having thus proceeded with all the boards, each cell was advanced by two screws, one at its head and the other at its foot, which, resting against the finished brickwork and turned, impelled it forward into the vacant space. The other set of divisions then advanced. As the miners worked at one end of the cell, so the bricklayers formed at the other the top, sides and bottom.

Although it was a triumph of civil engineering, the Thames Tunnel was not a financial success. It had cost a fortune to build – £454,000 to dig and another £180,000 to fit out – far exceeding its initial cost estimates. Proposals to extend the entrance to accommodate wheeled vehicles failed owing to cost, and it was used only by pedestrians. It became a major tourist attraction, attracting about two million people a year, each paying a penny to pass through, and became the subject of popular songs. The American traveller William Allen Drew commented that “No one goes to London without visiting the Tunnel” and described it as the “eighth wonder of the world.”

Flooding on the Thames Tunnel

Isambard Brunel

Isambard Brunel

This stupendous work had considerably advanced by May 1827, when the bed of the river being examined by a diving-bell, the soil was found to be extremely loose; and on the 18th of May, as the tide rose, the ground seemed as though it were alive. The water was pressing in at all points, and it was not long in entering. Occasional bursts of diluted silt were followed by an overwhelming flood of slush and water, which drove all before it. The men, forced out of the shield, fled towards the bottom of the shaft. The water came on in a great wav, threatening to sweep them back under the arch by its recoil against the circular wall of the shaft. The lowest flight of steps was reached, and the recoil wave surged under the men’s feet. They hurried up the stairs of the shaft, and it was thought that all of them had come in, when the cry was raised, “A rope! A rope! Save him! Save him!” Some unfortunate workman had been left behind, and was seen struggling in the water. Young Brunel, seizing a rope, slid down one of the iron ties of the shaft, reached the water, passed the rope around the man’s body, and he was immediately drawn up. It proved to be old Tillett, the engine-man. The roll was then called, and every man answered to his name; but the Tunnel works were, for the time, completely drowned.

Thamestunnelcutout1840On examination of the bed of the river from the diving-bell, a large hole was found extending from the centre of the Tunnel excavation to a considerable distance eastwards. Measures were taken to fill up the opening with bags of clay, laid so as to form an arch in the bed of the river immediately over the work. More bags of clay were then sunk; and after about thirty thousand cubic feet of clay had been thrown into the hole, the pumping was resumed, and the state of the work could be examined from the inside in a boat. On the 10th of November following, the Tunnel had again been so far cleared of water that young Brunel determined to give a dinner in one of the arches to about fifty friends of the undertaking; while above a hundred of the leading workmen were similarly regaled in the adjoining arch. The band of the Coldstream Guards enlivened the scene, and the proceedings went off with great éclat. The celebration had, however, been premature; and the young engineer had been ‘hallooing before he was out of the ‘—water; for in two months the Thames again burst in, owing in some measure to the incautiousness of young Brunel himself, and the river held possession of the Tunnel for several years.

Thames_tunnel_construction_1830

Thames Tunnel construction, 1830

The funds of the Tunnel Company were by this time exhausted; and it was determined to make an appeal to the country for the means of finishing it. A subscription-list was opened, and 18,500l promised; but this sum was a mere “flea-bite,” and the works remained suspended. The Government, at length, consented to make a loan of 246,000l for the purpose of enabling the Tunnel to be completed, and the first installment was advanced in December 1834. The water was then pumped out of the Tunnel, and the works were recommenced, after having been at a standstill for a period of seven years. A new shield, of excellent construction, was supplied by the Messrs. Rennie, which was satisfactorily placed in position by the 1st of March 1836. But the difficulties of the undertaking were not yet entirely overcome; the river broke in again and again—three times in twenty weeks, within a distance of only twenty-six feet; but by perseverance and skill the water was ultimately mastered, and the work was at last brought to a completion, and opened to the public on the 25th of March 1843.

Thamestunnel

Thamestunnelshaft

2005 Thames Tunnel from Wapping

2005 Thames Tunnel from Wapping

The Brunel Museum

Nearby in Rotherhithe, the original Brunel Engine House is open to visitors as the Brunel Museum. It was built to house the drainage pumps for the tunnel and has now been restored. Wikipedia says that “[I]t is still possible to take a walking tour through the tunnel to Wapping from Rotherhithe and back, but these are infrequent and on an ad-hoc basis as they can only take place when that section of the line is closed for maintenance.

 

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

Alicia Quigley: Lady, Lover, Smuggler, Spy (Giveaway)

A Tale of Two Soldiers: Class in Wellington’s Army

by Alicia Quigley

Social hierarchy was rigid and strict in Regency England, and there were relatively few paths for ambitious sons of the middle classes to work their way in to the gentry. Only three professions offered a nearly certain entrée: the law, the Church, and the military. In the military an ambitious and brave young man could, if he survived and was clever about his career, make a reasonable income, achieve or purchase promotion, and eventually, perhaps even be knighted, or have a title created for him. Some well-known examples from Wellington’s era include General Sir Harry Smith, and General Colin Campbell who was made the 1st Baron Clyde.

George Scovell in SpainHowever, the military was also viewed as a very good career for the younger sons of aristocrats, and they typically received preferential treatment. The stories of George Scovell, and Lord Fitzroy Somerset, who served on Wellington’s staff at the same time during the Peninsular War are good examples. The Duke of Wellington, who was the younger son of an Irish peer, held strong views about the importance of “family, money and influence” in moving up in the military, and surrounded himself with other scions of the aristocracy as his aides-de-camp whom he referred to as “my boys.” He distrusted the emerging new ‘scientific soldiering’ being introduced, which was particularly important in the case of the artillery, (which was rapidly gaining relevance) but also for all other aspects of soldiering.

In this post, let’s compare the careers of Lord Fitzroy Somerset, a younger son of the Duke of Beaufort, who was born in beautiful Badminton Castle, a privileged younger son of the Duke of Beaufort, and Mr. George Scovell, an ambitious young man with little breeding or money, but great intelligence and ambition.

Scovell GeneralGeorge Scovell attended the recently established Royal Military Academy, learning the methods scientific soldiering and in 1798 purchased a commission as a Cornet in the 4th Queens Own Hussars, a cavalry regiment. A young Winston Churchill started his career as a Cornet in the same regiment 97 years later. The cavalry was the glamour side of the military, and Scovell was tremendously proud of this position. But, as a socially insignificant scientific soldier, promotions were hard to get.

As George also had siblings who needed financial help, he had to sell out of the cavalry and join the infantry, a drop in social status that he felt deeply. He moved to the Quartermaster General’s staff, where he excelled due to his education and diligence, although he had to purchase his promotions to captain and major. His accomplishments included, besides helping improve logistics in the Peninsula, standing up a new unit of Scouts with English, Spanish and Portuguese soldiers, and critically, cracking Napoleon’s Paris Chiffre in his spare time, thus making Napoleon’s plans available to the English.

Scovell was given the opportunity in 1813 to raise and command a new regiment, the Staff Corps of Cavalry, also known as the Staff Dragoons or the Corps of Gendarmerie which was the first recognized unit of military police in the British army. He was knighted and received the Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) and continued his career in the Army, even becoming a colonel in the in the same cavalry regiment he had to sell out of earlier. Later, he was the Lieutenant-Governor and then Governor of the Royal Military College, Sandhurst(1829-1856), where he helped expand scientific soldiering in the British army. He received the Knight Grand Cross in 1860 and retired from the Army as a general. His hard work finally brought him success, but it was a long time in the making.

Fitzroy SomersetLord Fitzroy Somerset also joined the Army in the peninsula as a Cornet, this time in the 4th Light Dragoons, in 1804. He was promoted to Lieutenant in 1805, and captain in 1808, presumably by purchase since he transferred to the 43rd Regiment of Foot. He went to Spain in 1808 as one of Wellingtons’s crew of aristocratic aides-de-camp. Somerset’s bravery and gallantry is not in question; he was involved in leading charges in any number major battles in Spain, and was the first over the wall at the bloody storming of Badajoz. He was only twenty-four when he was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1812.

Somerset fought in numerous other brutal battles, and served at Waterloo, where he lost his right arm. He also received the KCB in 1815. He went into politics, became Military Secretary, and eventually returned to active duty. He was named Baron Raglan, and eventually Field Marshal. He is famous for being the general on whose watch the Charge of the Light Brigade occurred. As a sidebar on the advantages of being a duke’s son in the army, it is worth noting that Lord Fitzroy’s older brother Lord Robert Somerset, also became an army general!

Somerset_Raglan GeneralTwo soldiers of very different backgrounds, with very different paths to military success. What do you think of this?

In my soon-to-be-released Lady, Lover, Smuggler, Spy, we have a similar juxtaposition: our hero, Sir Tarquin Arlingby, is a titled gentleman involved in finding smugglers who are running guinea boats to France, and are getting letters back and forth for French spies.

Our heroine, Valerie Carlton, is a military widow, whose husband was more the George Scovell-type soldier. She followed the drum and learned first-hand the adventures, dangers and sense of commitment to something greater than herself that came from the experience. The two are thrown together through a series of odd events and find themselves in quite an exciting—and potentially deadly—adventure.

Excerpt

Note: This book will be up for pre-order soon! The author will choose a random commenter to receive of the first two books in the series, A Collector’s Item and The Contraband Courtship.

Sir Tarquin handed her to a seat in front of the fire, and then took a chair across from her, settling into it comfortably and crossing his elegantly booted ankles. “So, Mrs. Carlton, I find that I am almost vulgarly curious about your past. It is evident that you are a gentlewoman, yet I found you penniless and unescorted at the Angel this morning. How did that come to pass?”

Valerie gazed down at her hands, before looking at him. “I am the oldest daughter of Lord Upleadon and his first wife,” she answered, “and married Robert Carlton, an officer in the Light Division.”

“Upleadon?” exclaimed Sir Tarquin. “You are an Upleadon, yet I found you alone, penniless, and ready to board a mail coach?”

LadyLoverSmugglerSpy_Final-FJM_Kindle_1800x2700 copy“My father did not approve of Mr. Carlton, I fear,” Valerie answered economically.

“That stiff rumped old tartar–” Sir Tarquin suddenly recalled that his listener was not only a lady, but also the daughter of the gentleman he was about to malign, and fell silent.

“Quite so,” Valerie responded with a definite hint of laughter in her voice. “In any event, when I insisted on marrying Mr. Carlton my father cut me off entirely. Even when my husband was among the dead at Sabugal he refused to see me.”

“While I’m not well acquainted with the baron, as he is a good deal older than I am and moves in very different circles, I’m sorry to say that I can easily imagine him lacking remorse. You must have been a mere child. How have you managed since then?”

“When I returned to England, several of my friends had married, and were happy to help me get on my feet. I was mourning my husband, and had no wish to remarry or to be a burden on them, however, so I quickly found a position as a governess.”

“But the Battle of Sabugal was three years since. Have you been a governess all this time?” Sir Tarquin asked.

She nodded. “I had only been with the Forneys for in a few months. When I first became a governess I was in charge of a young lady who needed some polishing before she came out, as her parents were not people of fashion. I enjoyed it very much; the daughter was charming and her mother and father were kind and grateful. Unfortunately the two positions that followed it have been much less satisfactory.”

Valerie fell silent, looking down at her hands, and Sir Tarquin, finding himself appreciating the sight of her blonde curls, fine figure, and aura of calm, didn’t need to stretch his imagination far to imagine the son of the Forney household had been unable to resist the temptation of the pretty governess.

“It makes me angry to think of you being preyed upon,” he said abruptly, much to his own surprise.

“It is a common enough problem, and far worse has befallen others. He did not force me and, while Mrs. Forney was unkind, I left of my own volition,” said Valerie uncomfortably. “My friends have helped me before and will help me now. I would rather spend my time with children, but perhaps I will have to seek employment as a companion to an older lady instead.”

“You do not deserve a life as a drudge to children or as the companion of elderly harridan, who will doubtless have a horrid grandson who will treat you as Mr. Forney did,” Sir Tarquin exclaimed. “You are young, and have given far too much.”

“Whatever do you mean?” she asked.

“You sacrificed a husband and a family to your country, did you not?”

“I suppose you could say so, although it has been three long years since then.” A wistful look came over her face. “It seems so long ago. Thinking of it now, Robert and I were both practically children; it is almost as though it happened to someone else, or was a story someone told to me.”

“Yet you are still all but penniless and without protection as a result, are you not? That is not much of an ending to the story.”

She gazed at him thoughtfully. “It was my decision, though I was far too young to understand the possible consequences. In some ways it was worth it all the same; I loved Robert as much as an eighteen-year-old can love anyone, and perhaps even more, I loved following the drum.”

Sir Tarquin looked startled. “Did you really? Surely it was a very hard life for a gently bred and sheltered young lady?”

Valerie laughed. “Indeed it was! I had no notion that such hardships were ahead of me. Yet the sense of purpose, of being needed and useful, and of having a meaning to my life was so powerful, that it overcame them all. I was always rather bookish, and never truly enjoyed the rounds of parties and balls, to my stepmother’s despair.”

“Even in the tail of the Army with all the camp followers, and rabble you felt so?” Sir Tarquin asked curiously.

“Oh, I rode with the column, Sir Tarquin,” she exclaimed proudly. “I had no children to care for and I was handy with horses even before I went on campaign, for my father’s stables are renowned and I spent a great deal of time in them as a child. I soon learned to kill and stew a chicken, and make sure that there was always something to eat at our billet, so it was not long before many of the other officers were to be found at our table.”

“You rode with the column?” her companion echoed in surprise.

“Except when an engagement was imminent, yes. In many respects it was as safe as being in the tail of the Army, for Robert’s friends would watch out for me. I moved rearward when there was any real danger.”

“But it must have been difficult to be so far ahead without any servants to help you.”

“Oh, my husband engaged a woman for me, a large, rather foul mouthed Scotswoman, who was a match for most of the men! She did much of the heaviest work, although I helped, of course.” Sir Tarquin watched as Valerie’s eyes filled with memories that were clearly dear to her. “His batman was also there, and it never seemed as though things were unmanageable. Difficult yes, but even the worst days were just another challenge to rise to…” Valerie’s voice trailed off, and she gazed into the fire, seeing another place and time.

Sir Tarquin watched her in pensive silence, for a moment and then stood, shaking his head to dispel the thoughts that filled it. “My glass is empty. May I pour you some more punch as well, Mrs. Carlton?”

Valerie shook off her memories, and handed him her empty glass. “Thank you, Sir Tarquin. You have a way with a punchbowl, it seems.” She watched as he walked away, enjoying the wide set of his shoulders, and athleticism of his gait. After some moments he returned and offered her the cup, now full of warm, spicy liquid. Her fingers brushed his slightly as she took it. She looked away, taking a sip.

“I so miss feeling part of something bigger than me,” she murmured. “A governess makes herself useful, I suppose, but it is not the same. Being a paid companion would be even duller, I fear.”

Sir Tarquin, who still stood beside her chair, reached out with one long finger and tipped her chin up, gazing into her face intently.

“You most assuredly must not be a companion to a querulous dowager,” he murmured. “It would be an utter waste.”

Valerie stared back at him, at a loss to answer. In the quiet and warmth of the private parlor they seemed removed from the world, and she simply waited for him to act. He gave a tiny sigh, and then lowered his mouth to hers, pressing her lips firmly yet gently as he sought the right pressure. Her mouth trembled a little, and he lifted his, only to press it against hers at a slightly different angle before drawing back, to kiss her cheek, and then one of her eyelids, which had fluttered closed, before releasing her chin and stepping away.

About the Author

AQ Twitter AviAlicia Quigley is a lifelong lover of romance novels, who fell in love with Jane Austen in grade school, and Georgette Heyer in junior high. She made up games with playing cards using the face cards for Heyer characters, and sewed regency gowns (walking dresses, riding habits and bonnets that even Lydia Bennett wouldn’t have touched) for her Barbie. In spite of her terrible science and engineering addiction, she remains a devotee of the romance, and enjoys turning her hand to their production as well as their consumption.

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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…

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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.

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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.”

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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

Vauxhall Gardens: The Final Decades, Part II

vauxhallbook

Vauxhall Gardens: A History

David Coke & Alan Borg

The Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens is one of the places I’d love to slip back in time to visit, just to catch a glimpse of what it was like. After recently splurging to buy this lovely coffee-table book, I thought it might make a wonderful subject for a new blog series. But do buy the book too, if you can! The photos are fabulous!

C.H. Simpson: Master of Ceremonies

C.H. Simpson had held this office since 1797, but it wasn’t until 1826 that the decision was made to promote him as a “character” in the Gardens. “Thackeray described him as ‘the gentle Simpson, that kind smiling idiot.'”

He was renowned for his excessive politeness, servile manner and elaborate bows. With his top hat and silver-mounted cane, trademarks from the beginning his time at Vauxhall, he could easily be seen as a figure of fun. In his later years he came to be regarded as one of the great attractions of the place, greeting all visitors with his special brand obsequious courtesy.

George Cruikshank, with C.H. Simpson in the center raising his hat

George Cruikshank, with C.H. Simpson in the center raising his hat

Simpson’s exaggerated and hyperbolic style is amply demonstrated in the flowery language of his autobiography, The Life and Adventures of C.H. Simpson, Master of Ceremonies at the Royal Gardens, Vauxhall, from his Earliest Youth to the Sixty-fifth Year of his Age (Written by Myself, London, 1835)… He stated that…he was saved from drowning in a bathtub, aged three, by the family’s Newfoundland dog (called William Tell). In 1781 he joined the Royal Navy and took part in a major naval engagement in the Caribbean, the Battles of Saintes. He then enlisted as a second mate on a merchantman and sailed to New Zealand. Another voyage took him to China, but a terrible storm on the return passage determined him not to go to sea again. When he was twenty-one, already working at Vauxhall, he was set to marry a girl called Julia…; on discovering her with another, he broke off the engagement and remained a bachelor all his life.

Since almost every visitor to Vauxhall was met by Simpson there are many descriptions of him.

The appearance of this gentleman was in keeping with the oddity of his character. He was a short man, with a large head, a plain face, pitted with the small-pox, a thin thatch of hair plastered with pomatum and powder. His body and limbs were encased in black cloth of antique cut, and occasionally his head was covered with a hat as heavy as a coal-scuttle, or a life-guardsman’s helmet. This awkwardly constructed piece of felt was more often in his hand than on his head. He was continually bowing to everybody he met […] he was the very climax of obsolete politeness; the most obsequious and painstaking man to oblige everybody and express his gratitude for their condescension in giving trouble, that I ever remember to have met with.

According to another writer: ‘the moment he hears the faintest hum of an uproar, he glides away to the locus in quo, and it is miraculous to see how soon he gets to the core of the commotion. He pierces through the mob like an eel in mud.’

Robert Cruikshank, C.H. Simpson Esq.' M.C.R.G.V., engraving, 1833 (Lambeth Landmark 1301). The Master of Ceremonies is shown welcoming the Duke of Wellington, 19 August 1833, on the occasion of his benefit night. Cruikshank drew this scene in the gardens on the spot; the huge illuminated figure of Simpson was one of the special effects created for the event.

Robert Cruikshank, C.H. Simpson Esq.’ M.C.R.G.V., engraving, 1833 (Lambeth Landmark 1301). The Master of Ceremonies is shown welcoming the Duke of Wellington, 19 August 1833, on the occasion of his benefit night. Cruikshank drew this scene in the gardens on the spot; the huge illuminated figure of Simpson was one of the special effects created for the event.

Simpson’s obsequious manner was also put to use in diffusing difficult situations that arose in the gardens. If he was jostled by drunken diners, or had port splashed over his white gloves and waistcoat, he would ‘bow himself dry again’ and smile upon ‘the boorish Bacchanalian’ as though conferring the highest honour upon him.

The Battle of Waterloo

Although Vauxhall had frequently held military-themed galas and fetes, these were nothing like the stunning re-enactments performed at Astley’s Amphitheatre. Based on a play by Henry Amherst, the battle re-creation had three acts and up to the 90 riders, in addition to a huge cast of soldiers and impressive special effects.

Unsurprisingly, the Vauxhall proprietors figured they could do the same at Vauxhall, with more space and a more realistic setting.

In preparation for the show an area was cleared on either side of the firework tower, with shrubs and ornamental trees removed. The firework gallery itself was enlarged for viewers, and several supper-boxes were removed to give a clearer view from the walks in 1827. The Battle of Waterloo was to be performed by Mr Cooke’s stable of horses and his own troupe of equestrians; Cooke, a rival and imitator of Durrow based at the Royal Amphitheater in Liverpool, claimed that his Vauxhall show would involve more than a thousand performers. Every detail of the action was acted out and the performance concluded with a huge firework display, int he course of which Cooke promised to mount

His celebrated Charger, Bucephalus, and, at full speed, ride up a nearly perpendicular Rock, to the Temple of Fame, at the summit of the Fire-Work Tower, and there deposit the British and French Colours as an Emblem of Amity, in the Temple of Concord, a Feat unequalled in the Annals of Horsemanship.

This indeed took place and all were impressed by the fact that after the fiery ascent Cooke’s mount remained perfectly docile, despite the huge explosions of fireworks all around.

A review from The Times of 19 July 1827:

These Gardens presented the fullest attendance of visitors on Monday evening which we ever remember to have witnessed in that favorite scene of amusement. The leading attraction on this occasion consisted of a grand spectacle representing the Battle of Waterloo. […] We were by no means prepared to anticipate so high a degree of illusion as the exhibition of last Monday occasionally produced in the mind. […] As near a resemblance of the field of action as possible, with the various buildings of the farm-houses of La Belle Alliance, Hogomont &c was effected, aided by the trees, which, without much effort of imagination, where converted into the original wood that covered the rear of the British line. Here several hundred soldiers, horse and foot, personated the French and British troops; and after going through numerous evolutions, which were somewhat tedious, commenced the engagement, by the former attacking the wood and chateau of Hugomont, the walls of which were loopholed by British soldiers. The various features of the great battle of Waterloo were then successively presented, some of which were managed in a way that excited feelings of considerable interest. Others were, as might be expected, rather feeble, but the general effect was certainly striking; particularly when the chateau was in flames and the hostile armies furiously engaged in front of it; while here and there detached objects, such as an ammunition wagon blowing up, various single combats on horseback and on foot, Buonaparte flying from the field in his chariot, together with the roaring of the artillery, the continued discharge of musketry, and the dense clouds of smoke in which the whole scene was occasionally enveloped, imparted to it an appearance of reality, that almost rendered it independent of any effort of fancy for the moment to produce a strong illusion. The spectators seemed very much delighted with the spectacle, and from time to time loudly applauded the performance.

Of course, not everyone was so complimentary. Older folk lamented the days when one could go to Vauxhall for a pleasant evening of music and social discourse. The younger generation tended to think it was fabulous. Twelve-year-old Albert Smith:

The Battle of Waterloo was being represented on the firework ground, and I could not divest myself of the idea that it was a real engagement I was witnessing, as the sharpshooters fired from behind the trees, the artillery wagon blew up, and the struggle and conflagration took place at Hougomont. When I stood years afterwards at the real battle-field, I was disappointed in its effect, I thought it ought to have been a great deal more like Vauxhall.

Susana’s Vauxhall Blog Post Series

  1. Vauxhall Gardens: A History
  2. Vauxhall Gardens: Jonathan Tyers—“The Master Builder of Delight” 
  3. Vauxhall Gardens: A New Direction
  4. Vauxhall Gardens: The Orchestra and the Supper-Boxes 
  5. Vauxhall Gardens: The Organ, the Turkish Tent, and the Rotunda
  6. Vauxhall Gardens: Three Piazzas of Supper-Boxes
  7. Vauxhall Gardens: “whither every body must go or appear a sort of Monster in polite Company”
  8. Vauxhall Gardens: The Competition
  9. Vauxhall Gardens: The Artwork, Part I
  10. Vauxhall Gardens: The Artwork, Part II
  11. Vauxhall Gardens: The Music, 1732-1859
  12. Vauxhall Gardens: The Business Side
  13. Vauxhall Gardens: Developments from 1751-1786
  14. Vauxhall Gardens: Thomas Rowlandson’s Painting (1785)
  15. ‎Vauxhall Gardens: The Third Generation of the Tyers Family and the Jubilee of 1786
  16. Vauxhall Gardens: An Era of Change (1786-1822), Part I
  17. Vauxhall Gardens: An Era of Change (1786-1822), Part II
  18. Vauxhall Gardens: An Era of Change (1786-1822), Part III
  19. Vauxhall Gardens: The Final Years, Part I
  20. Vauxhall Gardens: The Final Years, Part II
  21. Vauxhall Gardens: The Final Years, Part III
  22. Vauxhall Gardens: The Final Years, Part IV
  23. Vauxhall Gardens: Farewell, for ever

Vauxhall Gardens: An Era of Change (1786-1822), Part II

vauxhallbook

Vauxhall Gardens: A History

David Coke & Alan Borg

The Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens is one of the places I’d love to slip back in time to visit, just to catch a glimpse of what it was like. After recently splurging to buy this lovely coffee-table book, I thought it might make a wonderful subject for a new blog series. But do buy the book too, if you can!

Grand Military Fetes and Displays

The first record of a military fete was on 30 May 1786, the day after the Jubilee, when transparencies of British men-of-war by the marine painter John Thomas Serres (1759-1825) were presented with other decorations, including a representation of the British lion trampling the Spanish flag. The newly formed Duke of York’s Band played military airs and was to perform regularly in the gardens until 1816. This period saw an increasing presence of soldiers and military bands, theoretically in response to the threat of invasion from France, but more directly in an attempt to rival the jingoistic displays to be seen at Astley’s. In 1787 the Cascade, the most famous of Vauxhall attractions in the eighteenth century, included marching soldiers. These military displays gradually expanded and needed more space, so from 1816 the Cascade site was used by Madame Saqui’s rope-dancing troupe.

Eventually, grand military fetes to celebrate actual events involved firework displays.

On 11 June 1810, Mizra Abul Hassan Khan wrote about his visit to the Gardens for the Grand Oriental Fete in honour of the Persian Ambassador:

The avenues were lighted by rows of tall candelabra and by lanterns hung from trees. In one place there were fireworks: when they did not rise high enough, everyone laughed and said ‘Shocking!’ The fireworks ended with the name of the Qibleh of the Universe written in Persian letters! Everyone appreciated this display and clapped their hands together. From there we went to a large covered place, beautifully lighted and decorated, like a theatre in the city. It was built to accommodate 5000 people in case of rain. After the fireworks, some people sat down to eat; later they danced.

American Samuel Morse, inventor of the Morse code, visiting on 17 September 1811:

A few evenings since I visited the celebrated Vauxhall Gardens, of which you have doubtless often heard. I must say they far exceeded my expectations; I never before had an idea of such splendor. The moment I went in I was almost struck blind with the blaze of light proceeding from thousands of lamps and those of every color. […] All is gayety throughout the gardens; every one is in motion, and care, that bane of human happiness, for a time seems to have lost her dominion over the human heart. Had the Eastern sage, who was in search of the land of happiness, at this moment been introduced into Vauxhall, I think his ost exalted conceptions of happiness would have been surpassed, and he would rest contented in having at last found the object of his wishes. […] The music and this course of dancing continue till about four o’clock in the morning, when the lights are extinguished and the company disperses. On this evening, which was by now means considered as a full night, the company consisted of perhaps three thousand persons.

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George Cruikshank, Vauxhall Fete, engraving, 1813 (British Museum, London., 1862.1217.309). This satirical print shows many of the leading figures who attended the Grand Festival in honor of the Battle of Vittoria. On the left the Duke of York vomits against a tree; other notables include the Duke of Sussex in Highland uniform, the Duke of Clarence dressed as an Admiral, the Lord Mayor of London and Lord Castlereigh. On the far right a fat lady exclaims ‘They’re all drunk, the Brutes.’

Grand Festival of the Battle of Vittoria

On 20 July 1813, a Grand Festival of the Battle of Vittoria was held in honor of the then Marquess Wellesley, who attended. “The festival was ‘perhaps the most superb and costly entertainment ever given in England’ and such was its popularity that ‘the limited number’ of tickets ‘was exceeded and, in consequence, from ten to fifteen pounds was offered for a ticket’”. Byron noted:

There is to be a thing on Tuesday ycleped a national fete. The Regent and *** are to be there, and everybody else, who has shillings enough for what was once a guinea. Vauxhall is the scene—there are six tickets issued for the modest women, and it is supposed that there will be three to spare. The passports for the lax are beyond my arithmetic.

At a dinner for twelve hundred people in the Rotunda, the VIPs sat at a crescent-shaped, raised table. There was also

a row of crimson steps covered with massive pieces of ornamental gold and silver plate, with the bust of the Lord Wellington on the summit. At the foot, and leaning against a silver vase of exquisite workmanship, was the Marshal’s staff taken in the battle. Two trumpeters in their state liveries and with silver trumpets, stood forward from the pile, and between them a grenadier of the Guards held the standard of the 100th French regiment of the line.

Neither George III nor the Prince of Wales attended (in spite of Byron’s expectation), but otherwise, the list of attendees was quite impressive. Wellesley arrived late for the dinner and found his seat of honor occupied, but presumably that was quickly dealt with. The ladies joined the party at 9 p.m., and at 11 p.m., the Princess of Wales arrived. She

was conducted around the chief promenade several times by his Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester and Col St Leger. The Princess was hailed repeatedly with loud greeting, and repaid the attentions of the company in the most courteous manner. She was dressed ina white satin train with a dark vet and ornaments, richly embroidered. On her head-dress she wore a green wreath, with diamonds.

Even later, “many of the nobility came from the Opera House after the conclusion of the ballet.”

In the course of the evening a new air called The plains of Vitoria was performed by the orchestra, while military bands, including those of the Foot and Life Guards, the Duke of Kent’s Regiment, and the 7th Hussars, played and marched up and down the Walks. ‘The appearance of some of these bands in the forest part of the garden was extremely picturesque, and presented some idea, at times, of soldiers in a campaign regaling and reposing themselves under the shade. The fireworks were set off in three sessions, at 11 p.m. and at 1 and 2 a.m. These were devised and directed by ‘Colonel Congreve’, the inventor of the Congreve Rocket, which was much used in the Napoleonic wars.

Other Military Fetes at Vauxhall

More fabulous military fetes were held in the following year, one of 13 June 1814 to celebrate the Treaty of Paris, and in August, a mock sea battle (Grand Mechanical Naumachia). Although there were fireworks on 15 August 1815 following Napoleon’s surrender at Waterloo, there were no specific events to mark the occasion until 18 June 1817. This became an annual celebration, eventually involving a reconstruction of the battle on the southeast side of the old Grand Walk, which became known as the Waterloo Ground.

View of Vauxhall, Lady's magazine

Anon., View of Vauxhall Gardens, engraving (Lambeth Landmark 1260) from the Lady’s Magazine, XXX (1799), supplement. The walks were covered to counter the rains which proverbially started when the Vauxhall season opened; they were extended all round the Grove in 1810.

 

Susana’s Vauxhall Blog Post Series