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Ackermann’s Repository: The Death of Queen Charlotte

Queen Charlotte’s Death Notice

Ackermann’s Repository

December 1818

More about Queen Charlotte on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlotte_of_Mecklenburg-Strelitz

Mourning for Queen Charlotte

The mourning for our late venerated and beloved Queen is equally deep and general: no wonder indeed that the whole English nation should be eager to pay a tribute of respect to the memory made in the robe form, of a three-quarter height, are very general for morning: they are trimmed all round with a broad border of plain muslin or long lawn, with weepers to correspond; and are worn with lawn or muslin handkerchiefs, and large mourning ruffs, which in general are rounded at the ends, and do not quite meet in front of the throat.

Black bombazine is universally worn for dinner dress, and is also adopted for social evening parties. There is a good deal of variety in the form as well as the trimmings of dinner gowns. Frocks are very general; some are cut quite low and square round the bosom, with very short sleeves, which are formed of full puffings of black crape placed between bands of bombazine. The bust is trimmed with black crape, variously disposed; but ruches, though so long worn, appear to us most prevalent. The bottoms of the skirts are always very full trimmed with black crape; some have a broad band of crape formed into bias flutings, which are placed across; others are trimmed with black crape leaves, of which there are two or three rows placed one above another. Corkscrew rolls of crape, which are very narrow, and always four or five in number, are also a favourite trimming; and we have observed several gowns trimmed extremely high with black crape tucks.

The bodies of other dresses are made partially high round the back of the neck; the back is plain, and buttons up behind with small jet buttons; the front has a little fullness at each side of the shoulder-strap; the middle of the bust is plain, and sloped gradually on each side; the waist is very short, and the bust is trimmed round with a single row of crape disposed in wolves’ teeth. Plain long sleeve, ornamented at the hand to correspond with the bust, and finished at the bottom of the skirt with a similar but broader trimming.

We recommend this dress, at least the manner in which the body part is made, to those of our fair subscribers who are of the middle age; it is at once delicate and becoming. We understand that several matronly ladies of distinction have given orders for dresses made in this style, and we shall be glad to see it generally adopted.

Black crape over black sarsnet is universally adopted for full dress. The most elegant style is that given in our print. We have, however, noticed another, which we consider as very tasteful and worthy of attention: it is a frock; the body, formed of a fullness of crape, is made to fit the shape of the bust by jet beads, which form a kind of stomacher; the back is full; the shape is formed on each side by jet beads, and it is fastened behind with small jet buttons. A short full sleeve, the fullness looped in various places by little jet ornaments. The bottom of the skirt was trimmed with a deep flounce of black crape, which was looped in the drapery style with jet ornaments, and headed by a row of small crape roses.

We understand that it is expected; dresses both of bombazine and black crape, trimmed with white crape, will be worn, particularly by young ladies. We consider this very likely, because it is still very deep mourning, though less gloomy than all black: we have not yet, however, seen any of them.

Several trimmings, composed of black crape and intermixed with scarlet, are we understand in preparation for some very dashing élégantes. This mixture of black and scarlet has of late years have been tolerated even in the deepest mourning; in our opinion it is far from appropriate: we remember upon a late ever-to-be-lamented occasion it was seldom seen, and we believe it is now likely to be confined chiefly to those ladies whom the French would style merveilleuses.

Head-dresses, both for full- and half-dress, are mostly made in white crape. Toques and turban-hats are generally adopted in the former, and caps in the latter; they are always of a round shape, and the cauls low: some have narrow borders; others have no border, but have the head-piece formed in the toque style, that is to say, disposed in very full folds: these last are always ornamented with flowers.

Toques are usually made without any other ornament than the crape tastefully disposed in front. Turban-hats are either ornamented with flowers, or if black, with jet beads. Head-dresses are at present either entirely white or entirely black; and the former, as we have just observed, are most prevalent.

Very young ladies wear jet combs, sprigs, and tiaras, in full-dress; but for dishabille, belles of all ages wear simple undress caps, which are in general muslin, long lawn not being much used.

It is almost superfluous to mention, that all ornaments for the hair &c. at present are composed of jet.

Gloves and shoes are always of black chamois leather.

Evening Dress

A black crape dress over a black sarsnet slip: the body is cut very low and square round the bust, and is tight to the shape; it is trimmed round the bosom and the back with a rouleau of crape intermixed with jet beads: this trimming does not go round the shoulders. The bottom of the waist is finished by rounded tabs. Long sleeve, made very loose, and finished at the band by a rouleau to correspond with the bosom; the fullness of the sleeve is disposed on the shoulder in puffs, which are interspersed with jet beads, some of which also confine it across the arm: this forms a new and elegant style of half-sleeve. The bottom of the skirt is cut in broad scallops, the edges of which are ornamented with narrow black fancy trimming, and an embroidery of crape roses, with branches of crape leaves disposed between each; a second row of this trimming is laid on at a little distance from the first. The front hair is much parted on the forehead, and disposed in light loose ringlets, which fall over each ear. The hind hair is braided, and brought round the crown of the head. Head-dress, a long veil placed at the back of the head, and an elegant jet ornament, consisting of a rose and aigrette, which is also placed far back. Chamois leather gloves and shoes. Ear-rings, necklace, and cross, jet. 

Walking Dress

A round dress of black bombazine; the body is made tight to the shape and up to the throat, but without a collar; long sleeves, with white crape weepers: the skirt is finished at the bottom with a broad black crape flounce, disposed in large plaits; over this is a very narrow flounce, which is also plaited to correspond; a little above this is a third flounce, which is quilled in the middle to correspond, and the whole is surmounted by a broad band of bias crape. The spencer worn with this dress is composed of black clothing; it is cut without a seam, and ornamented with a fullness of black crape, disposed in large plaits at the bottom of the waist: a high standing collar rounded in front, made to stand out from the neck, and edged with a light trimming of black crape: long loose sleeves, finished at the hands with black crape trimming, and surmounted by epaulettes draperied with black cord and ornamented with small tassels. Head-dress, a bonnet of black crape of a moderate size; the edge of the brim is finished with a row of large hollow plaits; the crown is trimmed to correspond. A white crape frill stands up round the throat. Gloves and shoes black chamois leather.

 

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

Regency Rites: Presentation at Court

A young girl’s come-out in Polite Society started with her presentation at Court. During Regency times, she would “make her curtsy to the Queen”, be honored with a large ball given by her family at their London residence, and if she were very fortunate, receive a voucher for Almack’s, the exclusive “marriage mart” to which all marriage-minded misses and their mothers yearned to be invited. (See previous post)

Wide hoops popular in the previous century were obligatory, even during the Regency when waistlines moved higher, and the result was considered ridiculous even then. But Queen Charlotte insisted, and…well…who was going to argue with the Queen?

courtdressgeorgian
An example of Georgian dress featuring hoops so wide the lady was obliged to walk sideways through doorways. But imagine these same hoops on high-waisted gowns such as those of the Regency period!

The elaborate gown consisted of a bodice, followed by a narrow hoop covered by layers of skirts. In her Memoirs, the Comtesse de Boigne describes “a satin skirt lavishly decorated with silver embroidery topped by a tulle skirt featuring a silver lace furbelow. The shortest and top skirt was made of silver-spangled tulle decorated with a garland of flowers. This last skirt was turned up and tucked so that the garland draped crosswise all around the skirt. To complete the proper style, the bottom of the white satin dress was turned up in loops and did not reach the base of the hoop skirt. Only the queen wore a train.” (see footnote)

In addition to the gown, an elaborate headdress with at least seven ostrich feathers was required. “The Comtesse’s head-gear beneath her plumes consisted of a garland of white roses upon a ringlet of pearls, a diamond comb, diamond buckles, and white silk tassels.” (see footnote)

It was also obligatory to display as much jewelry as possible, no matter how ridiculous it might appear. It is not surprising that these outfits cost an enormous amount of money in themselves, even though they might never be worn again.

courtdress2In fact, considering the cost of the court dress, an extensive wardrobe, the come-out ball, a suitable residence in the most exclusive part of town, and enough servants to staff it, only the very wealthy could afford such lavish expenditures. These things were necessary, however, if one wished one’s daughters to marry well—title, family connections, and wealth—and it’s not difficult to visualize a father with several daughters or one who didn’t “take” the first season agonizing over the huge amounts of money flowing out of the family coffers. Undoubtedly, the young ladies were well aware of their parents’ expectations; after all the money spent, they’d better not do something stupid like allow themselves to be ruined or fall in love with a penniless man.

On the day of the presentation, the young ladies would arrive in a long procession of carriages.down Piccadilly Street to St. James’s Palace. Amidst trumpets and gunfire, they would proceed into the palace and join the crush of richly-dressed ladies in ostrich plumes, hoop skirts, and diamonds. It was an exciting, but terrifying, initiation into the top echelons of London society. Each girl would be led to the Queen, make her curtsy, exchange greetings and perhaps pleasantries with Her Majesty, and then walk backwards out of the room (one should never turn one’s back on royalty), hoping against hope that she didn’t trip or cough or do something to earn the Queen’s disapproval.

Afterwards, during the remainder of the Season, there were balls and routs, trips to the opera, the theater, Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens and Hyde Park, Venetian breakfasts and ridottos (although not masquerades, since they were considered only for the fast set), and all manner of exciting social events where a young lady could establish herself in London Society…and make the acquaintance of many suitable gentlemen themselves seeking eligible matches.

courtdressmale
The gentlemen’s court dress didn’t change as dramatically as the ladies’ did. (The wig is from an earlier period.)

This all sounds thrilling, but for some reason, I seem to prefer writing romances with more down-to-earth characters in less grand settings. Perhaps because I’m a farmer’s daughter at heart? But as much as I enjoy reading and imagining such things, I still prefer characters who can be blissfully happy without all the glitter and the falderal.

What do you think? Can you visualize yourself “making your curtsy to the Queen”?

The Regency Companion, Sharon Laudermilk and Theresa L. Hamlin, Garland Publishing, Inc., 1989, p. 24.

The Regency Rites series

Regency Rites: The Well-Dressed Regency Lady 

Regency Rites: Presentation at Court

Regency Rites: Almack’s Assembly Rooms 

Regency Rites: The London Season