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Susana’s Adventures in England: Brockhampton Estate

Much thanks to Heather King for providing transportation and companionship, as well as the infamous super dog Roxy, and not least, to Cora Lee, who formed the fourth part of our party.

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Lower Brockhampton is a timber-framed manor house dating back to the 14th century. The manor house is surrounded by a moat and entered by a newly-restored gatehouse. The estate includes 1000 acres of farmland and 700 acres of woodland. The ruins of a Norman church are also located on the property.

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The manor house was probably built from timber sourced from the estate itself, and the history of the house is intimately connected to the rich wooded landscape that it sits within.

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Making good use of the estate’s productivity was the secret to the continued wealth of the family that lived here. We know from ancient seeds and pollen found during archaeological excavations that in medieval times cereal crops were grown near the manor house, to the north of the moat.

chinacabinet-copyOver the years the house was adapted by each successive generation that lived here, the original medieval great hall had an upper floor inserted into it by the Barneby family, in order to accommodate their many children.

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As society changed it became more important for the owning family to live separately from their servants and estate workers. Eventually in the Georgian period, and under the care of Bartholomew Barneby, the owning family moved out from the ancient timber framed building and into a grander mansion house at the top of the estate.

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From the eighteenth century onwards the timber framed manor house was home to estate workers such as Joseph Cureton and his family. Joseph was the estate wagoner in the nineteenth century. He cared for the horses that carried out much of the heavy work on the farms and woodland that makes up Brockhampton estate.

In 2010, the National Trust undertook a major restoration project to the house using traditional wattle and daub building methods.

example of wattle and daub

example of wattle and daub

The site of the medieval village of Studmarsh is thought to be located in the estate. In 2012, an archaeological dig unearthed the foundations of two buildings that may have been part of the village.

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Rolling green parklands and ancient woods surround the charming Brockhampton Estate. Situated on 687 hectars (1,700 acres), Brockhampton has been a farming estate for nearly 1,000 years. At the heart of the estate lies the romantic timber-framed manor house dating back to the late 14th century, and the ruined Norman chapel. To arrive here one must first cross the picturesque moat and enterer via the gatehouse, built in 1530-40. Today, Brockhampton Estate is not only a time capsule for visitors, but the grounds also provide an idyllic setting for 40 residential houses and cottages.

Gate

Gate

The grounds of Brockhampton Estate feature ancient trees, the picturesque Lawn Pool, and numerous sculptures depicting of the history of Brockhampton and the local area. Native wildlife is bountiful on the Estate, and every effort has been made to preserve and enhance habitats. This is particularly apparent in the ancient woods, where less common species can be found by the patient observer, including the scarce lesser spotted woodpecker and noctule bat.

brockhampton-3The Estate runs traditional livestock breeds, such as Hereford cattle and Ryeland sheep. However the main point of sustainability lies in the conservation and preservation of the traditional orchards. The Estate boasts some magnificent orchards, some of the most extensive in the National Trust’s care. Over 50 hectares (124 acres) is dedicated to trees bearing cherries, apples, pears, damsons and quince. The orchards are rich in bird, mammal and insect life, and provide habitats and forage for many important species. Two rare species have made the orchards their home, the mistletoe weevil and the noble chafer beetle. The orchards are part of an ongoing restoration project, and over the winter of 2011 a further 75 fruit trees were planted.

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Keeping true to the history and spirit of Brockhampton Estate, a monthly farmers’ market is held on the grounds. All produce sold is produced in the local district. The Estate also hosts an annual “pick your own” event in early September where visitors can bring a bag to fill with treats from the orchard.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brockhampton_Estate

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/brockhampton-estate/features/600-years-of-history-revealed-in-brockhampton-moated-manor-house

https://intofarms.org/brockhampton-estate/

Author Cora Lee coming up the stairs of the gatehouse

Author Cora Lee coming up the stairs of the gatehouse

More photos on my Pinterest board.

Susana’s Adventures in England: Lyme Park

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Lyme Park has been in the possession of the Legh family for 550 years. The manor was granted to the first Piers Legh and his wife Margaret in 1398 by Richard II, son of the Black Prince, as a reward for the heroic deeds in battle of her grandfather, Sir Thomas Danyers. The Leghs themselves campaigned in many 15th and 16th century battles.

Colonel Thomas Peter Legh

Craik; Colonel Thomas Peter Legh (1753-1797) of Lyme Park; Duke of Lancaster's Own Yeomanry Museum; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/colonel-thomas-peter-legh-17531797-of-lyme-park-150355

Colonel Thomas Peter Legh (1753-1797) of Lyme Park

From Lyme Park House & Garden, a National Trust Publication:

He was best known for having raised six troops of cavalry in fourteen days in 1794—following Pitt’s call to arms in the face of increasing trouble in Europe—and for having sired seven children by seven different women, none of whom was his wife.

He left the estate to his oldest natural son, Thomas.

Thomas Legh

Thomas Legh

Thomas Legh

Thomas Legh, who inherited Lyme in 1797, was one of the most remarkable members of the family. By the time he came of age in 1814 he had already followed the Nile into parts of Nubia previously unexplored by Europeans, and the following year he was present at the Battle of Waterloo. He also became a well-known Egyptologist and collector of antiquities, modernised the estate farms, exploited the industrial potential of his Lancashire lands and had Lyme itself restored and extensively, but sympathetically, altered by Lewis Wyatt.

The House

The Stag Parlour

The Stag Parlour

The Leghs were notoriously fond of hunting the red deer indigenous to Lyme Park, which is no doubt the reason they made it their primary home from the late 16th century on.

The architectural style of the house varies from Elizabethan-Jacobean to Italian Palladian and baroque.

Unusual settee in the Yellow Bedroom

Unusual settee in the Yellow Bedroom

The exterior of the house was used as Pemberley in the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.

The Lyme Caxton Missal

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The Leghs were Roman Catholic supporters of the Stuarts in the 18th century. The missal they owned was an early printed book containing the liturgy of the mass according to the Sarum Rite, published by William Caxton in 1487. It is the only nearly complete surviving copy of its earliest known edition.

Drawing Room

Drawing Room

 

Prince Edward, Prince of Wales, `The Black Prince

Prince Edward, Prince of Wales, ‘The Black Prince’

 

The Dutch Garden in the rain

The Dutch Garden in the rain

 

See more photos on my Lyme Park Pinterest page.

Susana’s Adventures in England: Arundel Castle

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Arundel Castle was established by Roger de Montgomery, a cousin of William the Conqueror, on Christmas Day in 1067 after he was given one-fifth of Sussex and the title of Earl of Arundel in return for his agreement to defend it. The castle was damaged in the English Civil War and restored in the 18th and 19th centuries. It has been the principal seat of the Dukes of Norfolk for almost 400 years.

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Stone apartments constructed for the Empress Matilda’s visit in 1139 still exist today.

The 11th Duke of Norfolk held a large party at Arundel in 1815 to celebrate the 600th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta. Architect Frances Hiorne built a folly on the hill above Swanbourne Lake.

Hiorne's Tower (Folly)

Hiorne’s Tower (Folly)

Queen Victoria, when she and Prince Albert visited on 1 December 1846, did not appreciate the 11th Duke’s attempts at renovations, calling it “bad architecture.” Consequently, the 15th Duke, upon his inheritance of the Castle, carried on a “massive and scholarly renovation” of the entire house between 1875 and 1900, except for the library. This included carefully restoring the remains of the Norman castle.

The Keep

The Keep

During the second world war, the Castle was occupied by British, American, and Commonwealth troops right up to the 1944 D-Day landings.

The present 18th Duke lives in a private wing with his family. He had his wife, along with the Castle Trustees, have restored and redecorated the whole interior to its Victorian magnificence, as well as improved the visitor facilities. The gardens have been upgraded to match the historic authenticity of the Castle.

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On exhibit at the Castle are nearly all of the family’s collection of art and historic archives, including many brought from Worksop and Norfolk House.

For more photos of Arundel Castle, check out my Pinterest Page.

Susana’s Adventures in England: Charlecote Park

In my mind, Charlecote Park will always be associated with buses—and the frustration of trying to find the one you need to take you to your destination. Maybe it’s not fair, since the problem I had was in part due to my own error, and it was certainly not the first time I’ve had issues finding transportation between train stations and stately manors, but it will forever be remembered as the place where I “lost it.” Or, as I put it when relating the story later to my friend Cora Lee, “I totally freaked out.”

rail-station

The rail system in the UK is fabulous, especially if you get a BritRail pass before you leave. The BritRail pass makes reservations unnecessary, so you can get on any train without having to worry about timing. Unfortunately, there is a little matter of the distance between the rail station and your destination.

I’ve found Cheryl Bolen’s England’s Stately Homes By Train very helpful in this regard because she gives specific instructions for buses and taxis. But things don’t always work out the way they’re supposed to. For example, when you leave the train station and are confronted with a listing of buses that shows every number except the one you need, and nobody around you knows anything about that one, what do you do? My solution: find a taxi. The extra money is definitely worth the peace of mind.

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But you still have to find a way back to the train station. If you have a mobile phone, you can call the cab company that brought you there. Or you can make an arrangement with the taxi driver to pick you up at a certain time, but then you might have to cut your visit short, which is a shame, since these stately manors have so many sights to see besides the interior of the house.

So, make sure you have a mobile phone. Because you never know when you are going to find yourself at a station that has no taxi and no pay telephone. Even if the online information says there is a telephone there, it won’t help you if the telephone is inside a building and the building is closed for the weekend—or the bank holiday—or is just always closed and nobody bothered to update the information on the website.

So what happened at Charlecote Park?

At Leamington Spa, I walked outside looking for a bus station adjacent to the train station. (Later, I realized the directions said “bus stop”, but the bus stop in front of the train station did not list Charlecote anywhere, and the one across the road had a sign that said, “Check schedule,” which was not helpful, since I didn’t have one.) I walked around and asked several people if they knew how to get to Charlecote Park. They did not. So I returned to the train station and asked an employee at a window there where the bus station was. He said to take the path to the left, follow it around a bend, and it would be on the next street. Um, no. It was just a street.

I walked one way for a few blocks, then saw a bus going the other way, so I changed direction. On the way, I asked a construction worker, who scratched his head and said first one way, then the other. I kept walking. The road curved around and I asked an older couple who were getting out of a car with tennis racquets.

“The bus station? Oh, it’s right next to the rail station, right around this curve!”

Really? How had I missed it? I must be a real dunce. So I asked them if I should turn and go back the way I came or just keep going around the curve. They discussed it for a few moments, and then shrugged and said it was six of one and half a dozen of the other. So I decided to follow the curve rather than retrace my steps, which was probably a mistake, since I found myself on a busy highway that seemed to go on forever.

By the time I had reached the rail station again, I had already walked four miles and was about to lose my temper. But then I saw a taxi stand, and my problems were over. Or so I thought.

I did finally get to Charlecote Park. My first action was to get a latte and scone at the cafe and rest my aching feet. I did feel better after that, and kept telling myself the same thing I told my ten-year-old nephew when I took him and my sister to Mexico for two weeks: Think of it as an adventure you can brag to your friends about. What are a few hardships to a veteran traveler?

scone

But getting there is only half the problem. You always have to find a way to get back.

This time, I queried the staff in the ticket office, telling them the story of the non-existent bus station. They were sympathetic, but couldn’t tell me anything about a bus station. An elderly volunteer “who knows everything about the buses here” shook his head and said, “There hasn’t been a bus station in Leamington Spa for more than fifteen years.”

Aha! No wonder I couldn’t find it!

But there are buses to Leamington Spa. One employee got out the schedule to prove it to me. The bus stop is just around the corner. Turn right at the entrance and go around the corner and it’s right there. Such nice, reassuring people. This time I would find the bus stop!

But I didn’t. There wasn’t any bus stop. Had I misunderstood the directions? Or was this an unmarked bus stop that only locals knew about? By this time, I was really upset. Hopping mad, in fact.

But I had to do something. So I found myself at the Charlecote Pheasant Hotel. At first there didn’t appear to be anyone there. Really? This just wasn’t my day. Finally, I found a workman who directed me to the front desk, where, when I got there, I promptly burst into tears.

Humiliating, you say? I was way beyond that. The kind young woman at the desk offered me water and showed me to a place where I could sit and calm down. She was so helpful! When I was ready, she showed me where the bus stop was (and no, there wasn’t a sign), and I managed to get back to the train station all in one piece, and only slightly the worse for wear.

The moral of the story is—. Well, there really isn’t one. Having a mobile phone wouldn’t have helped in this situation. But when you travel, even if you have a great guidebook, expect to find unexpected difficulties. Do not expect that locals will always be able to help you—especially if you ask them for something that doesn’t exist. But do expect to find kind, compassionate people who will help you when you need it most. In the end, it will turn out to be a grand adventure you can tell all your friends and even laugh about. Maybe.

Charlecote Park

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Charlecote Park was built by Sir Thomas Lucy in 1558. Located in Warwickshire, four miles from Shakespeare’s home, Stratford-upon-Avon, it is famous for having housed Queen Elizabeth I. According to legend, a young William Shakespeare was caught poaching deer here, and he took his revenge on Sir Thomas by portraying him as the fussy Justice Shallow in The Merry Wives of Windsor. The famous Capability Brown worked his magic on the landscaping here, but he had to do it without cutting down a single tree.

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George Hammond Lucy and his wife Mary Elizabeth refitted the house in the mid-nineteenth century in the style of “Good Queen Bess” or Elizabethan Revival. With the help of designer and heraldic expert Thomas Willement, they filled the new rooms with heraldic stained glass, early editions of Shakespeare, and ebony furniture (which they thought to be Tudor). Many tables and cabinets came from the bankruptcy sale of collector William Beckford.

Check out my photos from Charlecote Park here.

Susana’s Adventures in England: Syon House

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If you’re looking for a stately home to visit in or near London, Syon House is a great choice. Located on the Thames across from Kew Gardens, you can get there by Underground (take the District line toward Richmond, get off at Gunnarsbury) and bus, (take the 237 or 267 bus to Brentlea). The pedestrian entrance is on your right when you get off the bus).

Syon House history

Syon began as an abbey, founded in 1415 by Henry V and closed in 1539 by the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Catherine Howard, fifth wife of Henry VIII, was imprisoned here prior to her execution in 1542. The 1st Duke of Somerset acquired it and had it renovated in Italian Renaissance style. In 1594, the 9th Earl of Northumberland acquired it and has owned it ever since.

A Royal Row

Queen Anne (1705)

Queen Anne (1705)

(from Wikipedia)

In the late 17th century, Syon was in the possession of Charles Seymour, 6th Duke of Somerset, through his wife, Elizabeth Seymour (née Percy). After the future Queen Anne had a disagreement with her sister, Mary II (wife of William III, also known as William of Orange), over her friendship with Sarah Churchill, Countess of Marlborough, she was evicted from her court residence at the Palace of Whitehall and stayed at Syon with her close friends, the Somersets, in 1692. Anne gave birth to a stillborn child there. Shortly after the birth, Mary came to visit her, again demanding that Anne dismiss the Countess of Marlborough and stormed out again when Anne flatly refused.

Mary II, 1685

Mary II, 1685

In the 18th century, Hugh Percy, 1st Duke of Northumberland, commissioned architect and interior designer Robert Adam and landscape designer Lancelot “Capability” Brown to redesign the house and estate. Work began on the interior reconstruction project in 1762. Five large rooms on the west, south and east sides of the House, were completed before work ceased in 1769. A central rotunda, which Adams had intended for the interior courtyard space, was not implemented, due to cost.

Robert Adam!

Robert Adam's plan for Syon House

Robert Adam’s plan for Syon House

from Wikipedia:

Syon House’s exterior was erected in 1547 while under the ownership of the 1st Duke of Somerset. Syon’s current interior was designed by Robert Adam in 1762 under the commission of the 1st Duke and Duchess of Northumberland.

coloredceilingcornerThe well known “Adam style” is said to have begun with Syon House. It was commissioned to be built in the Neo-classical style, which was fulfilled, but Adam’s eclectic style doesn’t end there. Syon is filled with multiple styles and inspirations including a huge influence of Roman antiquity, highly visible Romantic, Picturesque, Baroque and Mannerist styles and a dash of Gothic. There is also evidence in his decorative motifs of his influence by Pompeii that he received while studying in Italy. Adam’s plan of Syon House included a complete set of rooms on the main floor, a domed rotunda with a circular inner colonnade meant for the main courtyard (‘meant for’ meaning that this rotunda was not built due to a lack of funds), five main rooms on the west, east and south side of the building, a pillared ante-room famous for its colour, a Great Hall, a grand staircase (though not built as grand as originally designed) and a Long Gallery stretching 136 feet long. Adam’s most famous addition is the suite of state rooms and as such they remain exactly as they were built.

geometricceiling2More specific to the interior of Adam’s rooms is where the elaborate detail and colour shines through. Adam added detailed marble chimneypieces, shuttering doors and doorways in the Drawing Room, along with fluted columns with Corinthian capitals. The long gallery, which is about 14 feet high and 14 feet wide, contains many recesses and niches into the thick wall for books along with rich and light decoration and stucco-covered walls and ceiling. At the end of the gallery is a closet with a domed circle supported by eight columns; halfway through the columns is a doorway imitating a niche.

More photos on my Syon Park Pinterest Page: https://www.pinterest.com/susanaauthor/syon-park/

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Romance of London: St. Margaret’s Painted Window at Westminster

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 buy a print version.

YES

The history of the painted glass cinquecento Window, which, in 1758, was placed in the chancel, over the altar of St. Margaret’s Church, is truly romantic.

Elizabeth of York

Elizabeth of York

This beautiful window (said to have been executed at Gouda, in Holland, and to have occupied five years in the making) was originally intended by the magistrates of Dort as a present to Henry VII., by whom it was intended for his Chapel at Westminster; or as some say, it was ordered by Ferdinand and Isabella on the occasion of Prince Arthur being affianced, in 1499, to the Princess Catherine of Arragon, their portraits being procured for the purpose.

The three middle compartments represent the Crucifixion, with the usual accompaniments of angels receiving in a chalice the blood which drops from the wounds of the Saviour. Over the good thief an angel is represented wafting his soul to Paradise; and over the wicked, the devil in the shape of a dragon carrying his soul to a place of punishment. In the six upper compartments are six angels holding the emblems of crucifixion: the cross, the sponge, the crown of thorns, the hammer, the rods and nails. In the right hand lower compartment is Arthur, Prince of Wales (eldest son of Henry VII); and in the companion or left side, Catherine of Arragon, his bride (afterwards married to his brother Henry VIII., and divorced by him). Over the head of Prince Arthur is a full-length figure of St. George, with the red and white roses of England; and over Catherine of Arragon, a full-length figure of St. Catherine, with the bursting pomegranate, the emblem of the kingdom of Granada.

Prince Arthur died before the window was finished; the King himself before it could be erected. Succeeding events—the marriage of Henry VIII. To the bride or widow of his brother, with the subsequent divorce of Catherine—rendered the window wholly unfit for the place for which it was intended.

The window through the ages

  1. Catherine of Aragon

    Catherine of Aragon

    Henry VIII gave it to Waltham Abbey, Essex.

  2. At the Dissolution, Robert Fuller, the last Abbot, sent it to his private chapel at New Hall, also in Essex.
  3. It was later acquired by the father of Anne Boleyn.
  4. Queen Elizabeth I gave it to Thomas Ratcliff, Earl of Sussex, who was living at New Hall.
  5. It was purchased by Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, favorite of James I.
  6. Its next owner was Oliver Cromwell.
  7. At the Restoration, it reverted to the second Duke of Buckingham.
  8. It was purchased, along with New Hall, to General Monk, Duke of Albermarle. The duke buried it underground to keep it from the Puritans. After the Restoration he returned it to his chapel at New Hall.
  9. After he died and his son as well, the hall became the property of the duchess, and fell into ruin and decay.
  10. John Olmius, Esq., purchased the property and demolished the chapel, preserving the window.
  11. Eventually it was purchased by Mr. Conyers, of Copt Hall, Essex, for 50 guineas, for his own chapel.
  12. Conyers’ son, Mr. John Conyers sold the window in 1758 to the churchwardens of St. Margaret’s Westminster for 400 guineas.
St. Margaret's Church (background)

St. Margaret’s Church (background)

“It is worth the walk”

It is worth a walk to St. Margaret’s to see this window. The late Mr. Winston, the great authority upon glass-painting, says of it: “Though at present much begrimed with London smoke and soot, it may be cited as an example of the pictorial excellence attainable in a glass-painting without any violation of the fundamental rules and conditions of the art. The harmonious arrangement of the coloring is worthy of attention. It is the most beautiful work in this respect that I am acquainted with.”

The church has been in our time, as it was centuries ago in Stow’s time, “in danger of pulling down;” which, if carried into effect, would add another leaf to the history of the St. Margaret’s Painted Window.

Thankfully, this last threat to the location of this window have not come to pass. I’m definitely putting St. Margaret’s on my list for this year’s trip, in August.

St. Margaret's Church from the London Eye

St. Margaret’s Church from the London Eye

 

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: Bartholomew Fair

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 vow of a jester

Rahere_Jester_to_Henry_1st

Rahere, jester to King Henry I

This famous Fair, formerly held every year in Smithfield, at Bartholomewtide [August 24], and within the precinct of the Priory of St. Bartholomew, originated in a grant of land from Henry I., to his jester Rahere, who, disgusted by his manner of living, repented him of his sins, and undertook a pilgrimage to Rome. Here, attacked by sickness, he made a vow, that if he recovered his health, he would found a hospital for poor men. Being reinstated, and on his return to England to fulfill his promise, St. Bartholomew is said to have appeared to him in a vision, and commanded him to found a Church in Smithfield, in his name… The site, which had been previously pointed out in a singular manner to Edward the Confessor, as proper for a house of prayer, was a mere marsh, for the most part covered with water; while on that portion which was not so, stood the common gallows—”the Elms,” in Smithfield, which for centuries after continued to be the place of execution.

The Bartholomew Fair

St. Bartholomew's Church

St. Bartholomew’s Church

The Priory, however, looked to temporal as well as spiritual aid, for his foundation; and therefore, obtained a royal charter to hold a Fair annually at Bartholomewtide, for three days—on the eve, the fête-day of the saint, and the day after; “firm peace,” being granted to all persons frequenting the Fair of St. Bartholomew. This brought traders from all parts, to Smithfield: thither resorted clothiers and drapers, not merely of England, but all countries, who there exposed their goods for sale. The stalls or booths were erected within the walls of the priory churchyard, the gates of which were locked each night, and a watch was set in order to protect the various wares…

murmaid

At the dissolution of religious houses, the privilege of the Fair was in part transferred to the Mayor and Corporation; and in part to Richard Rich, Lord Rich, who died in 1560, and was ancestor of the Earls of Warwick and Holland. It ceased, however to be a cloth fair of any great importance in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. The drapers of London found another and more extensive market for their woolens; and the clothiers, in the increase of communication between distant places, a wider field for the sale of their manufactures. It subsequently became a Fair of a very diversified character. Monsters, motions, rolls, and rarities were the new attractions to be seen; and the Fair was converted into a kind of London carnival for persons of every condition and degree of life. The Fair was proclaimed by the Lord Mayor, beneath the entrance arch of the priory; and its original connexion with the cloth trade was commemorated in a mock proclamation on the evening before, made by a company of drapers and tailors, who met at the Hand and Shears, a house of call for their fraternity in Cloth Fair, whence they marched and announced the Fair opened and concluded with shouting and the “snapping of shears.”

With respect to the tolls, Strype tells us that “Each person having a booth, paid so much per foot for the first three days. The Earl of Warwick and Holland is concerned in the toll gathered the first three days in the fair, being a penny for each burthen of good brought in or carried out; and to that end there are persons that stand at all the entrances into the Fair…

bartholomewfairup

The Fair lengthens to fourteen days

“In the reign of Charles II., as might be expected, the Fair was extended from three to fourteen days, when all classes, high and low, visited the carnival.” Pepys mentioned walking up and down the fair grounds on August 30, 1667, and discovering Lady Castlemaine at a puppet-play, “and the street full of people, expecting her coming out.” In 1668, Pepys went to the fair “to see the mare that tells money, and many things to admiration, and then the dancing of the ropes, and also the Irish stage play, which is very ridiculous.”

(c) Dover Collections; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

(c) Dover Collections; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Theatrical booths were very popular. “Ben Jonson, the actor (says Dr. Rimbault), was connected with the booth before 1694, in which year he joined Cibber’s company; he was celebrated as the grave-digger in Hamlet…

Here were motions or puppet-shows of Jerusalem, Nineveh, and Norwich; and the Gunpowder Plot played nine times in an afternoon; wild beasts, dwarfs, and other monstrosities; operas and tight-rope-dancing and sarabands [dances]; dogs dancing the morris; the hare beating the tabor; and rolls of every degree.

Bartholomew Fair 1825

Bartholomew Fair 1825

From a newspaper in 1734:

At Goodwin’s Large Theatrical Booth, opposite the White Hart, in West Smithfield, near Cow Lane, the town will be entertained with a humorous Comedy of three acts, called ‘The Intriguing Footman, or the Spaniard Outwitted;’ with a Pantomime entertainment of Dancing, between a Soldier and a Sailor, and a Tinker and a Tailor, and Buxom Joan of Deptford.

At Hippisley and Chapman’s Great Theatrical Booth, in the George Inn Yard, Smithfield, the town will be humorously diverted with an excellent entertainment; Signor Arthurian, who has a most surprising talent at grimace, and will, on this occasion, introduce upwards of fifty whimsical, sorrowful, comical, and diverting faces.”

The fourteen days were found too long, for the excesses committed were very great; and in the year 1708, the period of the Fair was restricted to its old duration of three days.

Hogarth 1733

Hogarth 1733

Three days of revelry

The influence of the fair in the neighborhood was to make general holiday… We read that in Little Britain, “during the time of the Fair, there was nothing going on but gossiping and gadding about. The still quiet streets of Little Britain were overrun with an irruption of strange figures and faces; every tavern was a scene of rout and revel. The fiddle and the song are heard from the taproom, morning, noon, and night; and at each window might be seen some group of loose companions, with half-shut eyes, hats on one side, pipe in mouth, tankard in hand, fondling, and prosing, and singing maudlin songs over their liquor. Even the sober decorum of private families was no proof against this saturnalia. There was no such thing as keeping maid-servants within doors. Their brains were absolutely set maddening with Punch and the puppet-show; the flying horses; Signior Polito; the Fire-eater, the celebrated Mr. Paap; and the Irish Giant. The children, too, lavished all their holiday-money in toys and gilt gingerbread, and filled the house with the Lilliputian din of drums, trumpets, and penny whistles.”

V0014666 Bartholomew Fair, site of St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Bartholomew Fair, site of St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London, pictured in 1721. Aquatint with etching, c. 1800. Published: - Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Bartholomew Fan

The end of Bartholomew Fair

The Lord Mayor and Aldermen had, for 300 years, tried by orders, proclamations, juries, and presentments to abolish the Fair, but without effect; when the Court of Common Council took the work in hand. Having obtained entire control over the Fair by the purchase of Lord Kensington’s interest, they refused to let standings for shows and booths; they prevailed upon the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs to give up the practice of going to open the Fair in state, with a herald to proclaim it, and officers to marshal the procession; the posting of the proclamation about the streets, interdicting rioting and debauchery during the days of the Fair and within its precincts, were discontinued… In 1852, not a single show was to be seen on the ground; and in 1855 the Fair expired… and Bartholomew Fair was extinct.

Author’s Note: I’m thinking of having my Regency characters attend the fair, even though it was rather scandalous. What do you think?

Bartholomew-Fair

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
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