Tag Archive | Prince Regent

Hertford House and the Wallace Collection

One of my favorite activities is to visit beautiful, historic houses with lovely art and furnishings—even better if they are Georgian. In addition to the lovely rooms, there are so many captivating stories to remind me of the bygone era and the colorful personalities who used to live and/or socialize within them.

WallaceHouse

Hertford House is located on Manchester Square only blocks from the flat I’ve leased near Baker Street and quite close to the fabulous shops on Oxford Street as well. Because it’s small compared to other museums in London, it’s much less crowded and suitable for a leisurely visit. It is more of an art gallery than an example of a Georgian home, however, but if you enjoy both, you’re in luck!

Lady Hertford, 1800

Lady Hertford, 1800

The historical gossip that I wanted to know immediately if this home had anything to do with the Marchioness of Hertford who was a longtime mistress of the Prince Regent. Yes, indeed, Lady Hertford was the wife of the 2nd Marquess, but it was the 4th Marquess who left the house and the collection to his illegitimate son, Sir Richard Wallace, whose widow left it to the nation.

Seymour-Conway was the family name of the Hertfords (think Jane Seymour, Henry VIII’s third wife), and they were close connections to the Duke of Somerset.

Marguerite, Countess of Blessington

Marguerite, Countess of Blessington

The house is filled with beautiful rooms and art treasures, as well as an armory. In the very first salon is a lovely painting of the Countess of Blessington by Sir Thomas Lawrence (as beautiful as she appears, it is said that she was even more ravishing in person). The countess’s beauty literally took her from rags to riches, as she rose from a sea captain’s mistress to an earl’s wife, and eventually into a ménage à trois with a young Comte d’Orsay. Besides her beauty, she was quite intelligent and held glittering salons for the crème de la crème of European society, including Lord Byron, of whom she wrote in Conversations with Lord Byron.

George, Prince of Wales (later George IV)

George, Prince of Wales (later George IV)

The painting of the Prince of Wales as he was in 1792) was presented to the 3rd Marquess in 1810 while his mother was the Prince’s mistress. And there’s a lovely Lawrence portrait of Emma Hamilton as well.

Emma Hamilton

Emma Hamilton

In another room is a portrait by Gainsborough of Mary Robinson, the Prince Regent’s first mistress, as Perdita in Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale.

Mary Robinson, as Perdita

Mary Robinson, as Perdita

Franz Halz’s The Laughing Cavalier is here, and much, much more. Admission is free, and being so close, I can see myself returning for at least one more visit.

cavalier

Franz Hals’s The Laughing Cavalier

Be sure to put it on your list for your next trip to London!

For more photos of paintings and furnishings, check out my Pinterest board!

Gentlemen’s Clubs in Regency London

Gentlemen of birth and/or wealth aspired to membership at one of London’s exclusive gentlemen’s clubs, where they could indulge in drink and gambling without the intrusion of lesser men. Potential members could be refused membership by one blackball.

Captain Gronow comments in his “Reminiscences” that

“female society amongst the upper classes was notoriously neglected….How could it be otherwise, when husbands spent their days in the hunting field, or were entirely occupied with politics, and always away from home during the day; whilst the dinner party, commencing at seven or eight, frequently did not break up before one in the morning. There were then, four- and even five-bottle men, and the only thing that saved them was drinking very slowly out of very small glasses.”

White's: note the famous Bow Window

White’s: note the famous Bow Window

White’s

White’s was the unofficial headquarters of the Tory party, while Brooks’s was for the Whigs, although several gentlemen belonged to both. From 1812 to 1816, Beau Brummell reigned supreme at White’s, along with his circle of friends, which included Lord Alvanley, the Duke of Argyll, “Poodle” Byng, “Ball” Hughes, Sir Lumley Skeffington, and Lords Sefton, Worcester, and Foley. Brummell approved who was allowed to sit in the famous Bow window, and decreed that there would be no acknowledgments of passersby. After Brummell’s fall from grace, Lord Alvanley replaced him. This is reportedly where Alvanley wagered 3,000 pounds on which of two raindrops would reach the bottom of the window first. It is not known whether he won or lost.

Gambling and betting were the two main forms of entertainment. The famous White’s Betting Book contains documentation for bets on a wide variety of subjects, including births, deaths, marriages, and battles. In the card rooms, fortunes were won or lost playing card games, the most popular of which was whist.

Gaming room at Brook's

Gaming room at Brooks’s

Brooks’s

The club that became Brooks’s was founded by William Almack, also the founder of Almack’s Assembly Rooms. Brooks’s was the preferred club of many famous Whigs, such as the Prince Regent, William Wilberforce, William Lamb, Charles James Fox, Lord Carlisle, Lord Robert Spencer, and General Fitzpatrick. The preferred card games here were faro, hazzard and macao.

Boodle's

Boodle’s

Boodle’s

Another establishment founded by the industrious William Almack, Boodle’s also had a famous bow window. Boodle’s was mostly patronized by country gentlemen who came to town for the good food and the gambling. Brummell, Wellington, and Wilberforce held memberships here as well.

Watier's: nicknamed the Dandy Club by Lord Byron

Watier’s: nicknamed the Dandy Club by Lord Byron

Watier’s

Considered the greatest gambling club of the Regency before its demise in 1819, Watier’s was founded in 1805 when the Prince Regent and his dinner guests were complaining about the monotonous food at the gentlemen’s clubs. The Prince asked one of his cooks, a Mr. Watier, if he would consider taking a house and starting a club.

Byron called it the Dandy Club. As the acknowledged arbiter of gentlemen’s fashions and behavior, Brummell reigned supreme here as well. The game of macao was the preferred game of chance, and Brummell himself lost a fortune here.

Gaming Hells

There was no lack of gaming establishments for the lesser souls who did not qualify for the exclusive men’s clubs. The play at these gaming “hells” was not always above-board, and many a greenhorn was exploited there, along with many unfortunate highly-ranked players. Many of these were owned by shady characters who operated under the radar of law-enforcement.

brook's chips

Gronow, Rees Howell, Reminiscences of Captain Gronow, Kindle edition free on Amazon

Laudermilk, Sharon H. and Hamlin, Theresa L., The Regency Companion, Garland Publishing, 1989.

The Regency Gentleman series

The Regency Gentleman: His Upbringing

The Fashionable Gentleman

The Rise and Fall of Beau Brummell 

Gentlemen’s Clubs in Regency London

Captain Who?

Gentlemen’s Sports in the Regency

The Gentleman’s Passion for Horses

Riding to the Hounds

The Regency Gentleman’s Passion for the Turf

The Rise and Fall of Beau Brummell

The epitome of a Regency dandy was a young man by the name of George Brummell. George did not grow up in the lap of luxury—his grandfather was rumored to be a personal servant—but his father was secretary to Lord North, and he was sent to Eton at the age of twelve in 1790, where he became very popular. Because of his attention to fashion and grooming, it wasn’t long before he became a great friend of the Prince Regent, who, in 1794, gave him a commission in his own regiment, the 10th Hussars. Brummell, nicknamed “Buck” by his intimates, spent most of his time on military leave, until he inherited 30,000 pounds and resigned, setting up his own household in 1798 at No. 4 Chesterfield Street.

BEAUBRUMMELL copy

Brummell decreed that cut and fit in a gentleman’s clothing were more important than elaborate fabrics. His insistence on cleanliness had the effect of pulling English gentlemen out of the stables and into the baths, and then poured into closely-fitting, well-cut clothing, including snow-white neckcloths tied into elaborate knots, smoothly shaved faces, and hair that required three hairdressers—one for the front, one for the sides and one for the back.

“The Beau” was known for his audacious wit and his condescending comments centering on the bad taste of others, men and women alike. A set-down from him could ruin a young person’s reputation and send them running from London in shame. Brummell and his dandies made it unfashionable to show emotion or any concern for the consequences of their actions. Although he had no social standing of his own, he had even the highest-ranked gentlemen admiring and copying his dress and behavior. Along with Lord Alvanley, Henry Pierpont and Henry Mildmay, he was part of the “Dandy Club” of Watier’s.

Unfortunately, Brummell’s extravagance, gambling and sharp tongue also led to his downfall. In 1813 at a party, the Prince Regent snubbed Brummell and Mildmay, staring them in the face while refusing to speak to them. Brummell quipped to Alvanley, “Who is your fat friend?” and that was the beginning of the end for Brummell.

In 1816 he fled to Calais where he lived in poverty until his death of syphilis in 1840.

londonrem

#4 chesterfield st.

No. 4 Chesterfield Street

Laudermilk, Sharon H. and Hamlin, Theresa L., The Regency Companion, Garland Publishing, 1989.

The Regency Gentleman series

The Regency Gentleman: His Upbringing

The Fashionable Gentleman

The Rise and Fall of Beau Brummell 

Gentlemen’s Clubs in Regency London

Captain Who?

Gentlemen’s Sports in the Regency

The Gentleman’s Passion for Horses

Riding to the Hounds

The Regency Gentleman’s Passion for the Turf

Lady P and Hyde Park

LadyP2Lady P is back! She stayed a bit longer with her grandchildren than expected, but hey, who wouldn’t want to spend Christmas with the little ones? But she became weary of cold English winters and couldn’t resist the temptation of spending the winter with Susana here in central Florida. Mrs. Barlow, who came for an interview in a previous post, had already spoken enthusiastically of the palm trees and alligators and orange trees, so she arrived post-haste this morning—Twelfth Day—following a lovely Twelfth Night celebration with her family in the 19th century.

Over a quick breakfast of coffee from Susana’s new Keurig (which fascinates her), yogurt and boiled eggs, they discussed the new story Susana is working on, which features Lady P herself and her daughter’s family. It’s a bit out of the usual thing for Susana, being a time travel with a heroine who travels back to the 19th century to find her family, and Lady P’s advice has been invaluable. For one thing, the heroine lands in 1817 Hyde Park, and right from the beginning Susana ran into problems trying to find out what Hyde Park looked like in 1817. For example, the Marble Arch wasn’t built until 1827.

Lady P: No rose garden either. Although that does seem a nice touch. I must mention it when next I encounter His Royal Highness.

Susana [sighing]: No, I’m going to have rewrite the entire first scene! I’m thinking she’ll have to land somewhere near Hyde Park Corner and the Rotten Row.

Lady P: Be sure to keep her well out of the way of the horses and carriages, then. Tattersall’s is there too, you know.

SandHillCrane.180184808_std

Susana: What about Sister Ignatia? Would a religious reformer be hanging about in Hyde Park, do you think?

Lady P: Generally, you don’t see the riffraff there. Hyde Park is primarily for the upper classes. But there are exceptions…servants who accompany their masters and mistresses, and there are Tattersall’s employees, of course. I have seen a few do-gooders handing out tracts from time to time.

Susana: Is it likely an unaccompanied young lady might be attacked by ruffians there?

Lady P [frowning]: An unaccompanied young lady might be attacked by ruffians anywhere, Susana! I regret to say that even gentlemen might try to take advantage. It’s not common, but crime in Hyde Park is not completely unknown.

Susana: Ah, so I won’t have to change the scene completely, then.

Lady P [peering out the window]: Are those ostriches out there? Do let us go for a stroll, Susana. And oh, what are those funny little vehicles with the canvas roofs? Can we ride in one?

Susana: Golf carts. People use them here to get around the park. I don’t have one myself, but I’m sure the neighbors will give you a ride. Oh, and the birds are sand hill cranes. Aren’t they pretty?

Regency Rites: Hyde Park

hyde-park-london-running-route-serpentine-rcOriginally, the Manor of Hyde was part of the Roman estate of Eia, and included what is now Green’s Park and Kensington Park. About 600 acres until the establishment of Kensington Park, it was given to Geoffrey de Mandeville by William the Conqueror. De Mandeville left it to the Holy Fathers of Westminster Abbey, where it remained for five centuries until Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries.

It was a great hunting ground, rich in deer, boar, hare, otter, wildfowl, and game birds.

Under Charles II, the route was called “the Ring” or “the Tour”. A French visitor said:

They take their rides in a coach in an open field where there is a circle, not very large, enclosed by rails. There, the coaches drive slowly round, some in one direction, others the opposite way, which, seen from a distance, produces as rather pretty effect, and proves clearly that they only come there in order to see and be seen.”

Paintings by pissarro3

Painting by Pissarro

Samuel Pepys wrote (of Charles II):

After dinner to Hyde Park. At the Park was the King and in another coach my lady Castlemaine , they greeting one another every turn:”

William II bought the manor at Kensington and Kensington house grew into Kensington Palace, and the western end of Hyde Park was taken for the Palace estate, which would one day become Kensington Gardens.

William III and Queen Mary used to drive along the road, and it became known as La Route du Roi, which became corrupted into Rotten Row.

For showing off coaches and their teams, Hyde Park remained the place to be.”

In 1730, George II laid down a radius of paths and his wife Queen Caroline had the Serpentine constructed by widening the Westbourne brook and draining its pools.

Hyde Park was also a popular location for duels, military floggings, and suicides (drownings). The gallows at nearby Tyburn was used for hangings until 1783, when it was moved to Newgate.

George-Leslie-Hunter-xx-Rotten-Row-Hyde-Park-xx-Private-collection

Painting by George Leslie Hunter

There were soldiers’ camps and military parades, and in 1814, 12,000 men marched past the Prince Regent, the Duke of York, the King of Prussia, the Emperor of Russia, General Blücher, and Lords Beresford and Hill. A reenactment of the Battle of Trafalgar was performed on the Serpentine.

In 1821, Hyde Park was the scene of an elaborate celebration of George IV’s coronation. There were Chinese lanterns, clowns, conjurors, swords swallowers, fire-eaters, acrobats, swings, roundabouts, fireworks, military bands, boat races, elephants, and dancing donkeys and dwarfs.

After John Loudon McAdam improved roads with stone broken small enough to make a hard smooth surface, all sorts of carriages appeared in Hyde Park, and being a good whip became a mark of social distinction. George IV was known to be an excellent whip, as was his daughter, Princess Charlotte of Wales. The Four-in-Hand Club made its appearance, with only the very best whipsters allowed as members.

Horse & Carriage: The Pageant of Hyde Park, J.N.P. Watson, London: The Sportsman’s Press, 1990.

Belles-and-beaus

Painting by William Heath

Episode #14: In Which Leticia, Lady Beauchamp, Pops In For an Interview On Her Personal Acquaintance With Princess Charlotte of Wales

Susana [to the Reader]: I’m afraid Lady P had to return to the 19th century for a christening (no, not Damian and Theresa’s this time, but one of her own daughters’ offspring). She promised to return after she’s had a comfortable coze with her daughters and grandchildren, but in the meantime, she sent someone who she said was a personal friend of Princess Charlotte, the daughter of the Prince Regent.

Lady Beauchamp: I would not characterize our acquaintanceship in quite that manner, Miss Ellis.

Susana: Forgive me, Lady Beauchamp, but I am not finished speaking to the readers.

Lady Beauchamp: Well, do hurry, then. I have an important social engagement this afternoon.

Susana [taking a deep breath]: Yes, well, Lady Beauchamp is the former Leticia Snodgrass, who was presented in London about the same time as Lady P’s niece-by-marriage, Theresa Ashby. You can read more about that in the epilogue to Treasuring Theresa, which is a free read on my web site: http://www.susanaellis.com/pub.html.

gloria_gown_stern

Leticia, Lady Beauchamp, née Snodgrass

Lady Beauchamp: Is it really? I daresay I should like to see how I am characterized in the story.

Susana [hurriedly]: Perhaps we should get back to the subject at hand, you being a marchioness and your time being so valuable and all. Why don’t you begin by telling us about your marriage and your family?

Lady Beauchamp: Of course. I was quite sought-after in my first season—many offers were made for my hand, you know—but there were only a handful of dukes that year and they were all married, so I chose to wed Lord Beauchamp. We had a fabulous wedding at St. George’s, and the Prince kissed my hand and called me the most beautiful bride he’d ever seen.

Susana: And your husband and family? Please tell us about them.

Lady Beauchamp: Fortunately, my youngest, George Augustus, takes after his mother. [Smiling] He has the most adorable cherubic face and blue eyes so like mine. I think it quite likely that his hair will lighten before long as well.

Susana: And your older son?

Lady Beauchamp [grimacing]: It is most unfortunate that Robert William takes after his father. Sturdy, bookish, and quite dull. At least dear Robbie has not lost his hair as his father has. Lord Beauchamp is much older than I, you know. His first wife gave him only daughters, but it was I who gave him his heir and a spare. [Preening]

Susana: I…see. Well, now that my readers are informed as to your…uh…pedigree, let us move on to the topic at hand. How did you become acquainted with the Princess Charlotte, Lady Beauchamp?

Princess Charlotte of Wales, during her pregnancy

Princess Charlotte of Wales, during her pregnancy

Lady Beauchamp [wrinkling her nose]: Of course. Well, we had met in passing at ton events when she was a child, although rarely with her mother, since her father wished to limit her exposure to her mother’s eccentricities. [Coughing delicately]. Blood will tell, however. Lady de Clifford, who had the charge of her at the time—only a baroness, you know—gave her far too much freedom. The girl had no sense of propriety—quite the hoyden as a child, but it was far worse when she reached adolescence.

Susana: Well, adolescence is a difficult time for everyone. I taught thirteen-year-olds for twenty-five years, you know. The best thing about it is that it eventually passes. I suppose the Princess showed the usual interest in the opposite sex?

Lady Beauchamp [shaking her head]: Oh, much worse than that, my dear Miss Ellis! If it wasn’t one of her cousins (illegitimate, you understand), it was William, Duke of Gloucester. They all took her fancy at one time or another. The rumors were rampant all over Town! Upon this proof that she took after her scandalous mother, the Prince Regent made arrangements for a marriage with William of Orange, hoping for an alliance with the Netherlands. It all came to nothing of course. Stubborn, stubborn girl! Not at all the sort of girl who ought to be a princess!

Susana: Do you know why she didn’t like the Prince of Orange?

Lady Beauchamp [curling her lip]: Indeed I do. She confided in me once—quite soon after she and Prince Leopold had settled at Claremont House—which is near Beauchamp’s estate in Surrey, you know—that he refused to promise to allow her mother to visit them after they were married because of her scandalous reputation, and after that, she steadfastly refused to have him. [Leaning closer to Susana] Of course, by then her mother had already fled to the Continent, and she never saw her again anyway.

Susana: How sad!

Lady Beauchamp [shrugging]: Was it? Many would say it was all for the best.

Princess Charlotte's silver lace wedding gown

Princess Charlotte’s silver lace wedding gown

Susana: So you socialized with the royal pair after their marriage. What can you tell us about them?

Lady Beauchamp: Quite a boring pair, really. Prince Leopold—who was quite impoverished, you understand, before he wed the heir to the throne of England—took rather too much of an interest in agriculture for my taste. Of course, he and Beauchamp used to tramp all over looking at crops, of all things. Her Royal Highness thought it was quaint.

Susana: But they got on well together?

Lady Beauchamp [reluctantly]: I suppose they must have. I never heard talk of rows between them, and her manner of dress became more sedate after her marriage. Indeed, Prince Leopold seemed to have a calming influence on her. We shared a box at the races once, and when Her Royal Highness began to show rather more enthusiasm than was proper, her husband caught her attention and said, “Doucement, chérie,” and she immediately smiled and regained her composure.

Susana [eyes filling with tears]: How sweet! What a shame their time together was so short! Were you around her during her pregnancy?

Lady Beauchamp: Her confinement, Miss Ellis. Do try to exercise a bit of restraint in your speech, even though you are American. [Sighing heavily]. Indeed I did see her a few times, although as her condition advanced, she was kept in seclusion. Considering all of the doctors who were consulted, one would have thought at least one would have been able to assist her safely through her trial. But no, she was allowed to eat until she reached elephantine proportions, and then they tried to starve her until she turned despondent. Why, Sir Richard Croft was not even a physician! My own husband would never have allowed a mere accoucheur near me when I was brought to bed. But it’s like my mother says, everything the Prince Regent touches ends in failure. Born under an unlucky star, she believes.

Susana: I understand Prince Leopold never recovered from the death of his wife and son.

Lady Beauchamp: Nor has England either. One would think the world has come to an end. The King has no legitimate grandchildren and his youngest son is over forty. The city closed down for two weeks and within a few days there was no black cloth to be had, as all of England was in mourning. Beauchamp said there wasn’t a dry eye to be seen during the funeral, when she was laid to rest with her son at her feet in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. To be sure, I can’t imagine what will happen to the succession now. I suppose all of the royal princes will run out and marry and try to sire an heir as quickly as possible. [Pursing her lips] Well, all I can say is they’d be well advised to do it soon, because the King’s health deteriorates as we speak, and the Regent isn’t much better. [Sliding her chair closer to Susana] My dear Miss Ellis, it occurs to me that you must be in possession of—shall we say?—interesting information about what happened with the succession. Perhaps you would be kind enough to indulge my curiosity?

Susana [glancing at her watch]: Oh dear, look at the time! If you do not return immediately, Lady Beauchamp, I fear you will be late for Lady Pritchard’s Venetian Breakfast. Do accept my sincere thanks for condescending to speak with me this morning!

Lady Beauchamp [with narrowed eyes]: As it happens, you are correct, Miss Ellis. I really must take my leave of you. However, you can be sure that I shall seek out Lady Pendleton as soon as may be to discover what she knows. [She waves her arms and disappears.]

Susana [gripping the arms of her chair]: I do wonder how this time travel thing is managed. Lady P has mentioned something about an old lady who runs the apothecary shop on Dapple Street, but she has so far declined to go into detail. [Frowning] When she does return, we are going to have a long chat about a few things I discovered after she left. For one thing, my digital camera is missing…after she went on a photography binge taking pictures of everything, even the engine of the car. And then there is a little matter of charges on my credit card for $800 at Toys R Us and more than $300 at the Battery Warehouse. Did she hear nothing I told her about the Prime Directive?

Lady P will be back soon. As always, please do comment if you have any questions you’d like to ask Lady P about the late Georgian/Regency era. She does love to chat!

The Lady P Series

Episode #1: Susana’s Adventures With Lady P: The Introduction

Episode #2: Lady P Talks About… Pride and Prejudice?

Episode #3: Lady P and the Duchess Who Lost a Billion Dollars

Episode #4: Lady P and the Face On the $100 Bill

Episode #5: In Which Lady P Discovers Sparkly Fabrics and Ponders Violating the Prime Directive

Episode #6: Lady P Dishes the Dirt on the Duchess of Devonshire

Episode #7: The Political Exploits of Lady P and the Duchess of Devonshire

Episode #8: Lady P and the Prince Regent’s Illicit Marriage

Episode #9: In Which Lady P Depletes the Cooking Sherry During Her Discussion of Caroline of Brunswick

Episode #10: Lord Byron: Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know

Episode #11: In Which Lady P Talks About Hannah More and the Rights of Women

Episode #12: Lady P’s Revelations Regarding George III and His Peculiar Progeny

Episode #13: Lady P Discusses the Luddite Uprising, the Assassination of Spencer Perceval, and the General Unfairness of Life

Episode #14: In Which Leticia, Lady Beauchamp, Pops In For an Interview On Her Personal Acquaintance With Princess Charlotte of Wales

Episode #15: Lady P On Assignment in 1814 Kent

Lady P Quizzes Jane Livingston, the Hero’s Sister From “A Twelfth Night Tale”

Episode #12: Lady P’s Revelations Regarding George III and His Peculiar Progeny

Lady Pendleton, Damian Ashby’s eccentric aunt (see the epilogue to Treasuring Theresa on Susana’s web site), is visiting Susana from the early 19th century. She’s intrigued by life in 21st century Toledo, Ohio, and, of course, Susana is thrilled to have the opportunity to pick her brain about life in Regency England. It certainly gives her a great deal to write about in Susana’s Parlour!

georgeiiiSusana: [to the Reader]: Lady Pendleton’s opinions on George III tend to be diametrically opposed to mine, which she attributes to my “ignorance due to indoctrination by history books written by misguided wretches attempting to justify the dreadful bloodbath caused by the radical colonists.”

It seems doubtful that we will ever come to agreement on that score—too many years of July 4th picnics and fireworks and, pledging allegiance to the flag, and singing “The Star-Spangled Banner”—but I have begun to see George III in a more sympathetic light. More than 200 years have passed and since my trip to England last year, I have come to realize that the English do not see him as the tyrant “we” do (and I say “we” even though at least some of my ancestors still lived in England during that time), and most never did.

And I have to say—in spite of all the patriotism instilled in me over decades—I am intrigued with the idea of growing up speaking with a British accent. (Can I be deported for saying that?)

Lady P: You must admit that the American accent sounds decidedly low class, Susana. Perhaps I could give you lessons in enunciating. Much like that Henry Higgins did to Eliza in that film we saw the other evening. You would never pass for upper class in society, of course, but it would be a definite improvement.

Susana: I thank you for offering, Lady P, but I’ll stick with the lazy American drawl for now. Perhaps some other time.

Lady P: Very well. Shall we discuss His Royal Highness King George III for your readers? Where shall I start?

Susana: At the beginning would be best. Where did you meet him?

Lady P: I was too young to attend his wedding to Queen Charlotte, but I do recall my mother bringing home a flower—was it a camellia or a rose?—but it was pink and she put it in one of the heaviest books in the library for pressing. I remember feeling very sad that she had to destroy such a pretty posy in order to preserve it. I wonder what happened to it? I believe my brother Henry inherited all the books in the library, so perhaps it’s still there. He was never one to read or study overmuch.

Susana: But you did meet him at some point?

Lady P: Goodness, yes. During my come-out—my mother was so vexed that the Royal Pair failed to attend my presentation ball—I was presented to Queen Charlotte, as were all of the young debutantes, you know, and I did meet them once or twice that season. After I was married to Lord Pendleton, we met more often. Lord P was in the House of Lords, you know, and we were obliged to attend certain political events.

Susana: What did you think of him?

Lady P: He was a kindly old man, quite stodgy, you understand. As a young girl, I didn’t appreciate that quality in him. One expected the King to be a cut above the rest of society, and he wasn’t at all. I recall complaining to Pendleton about the plainness of the fare at Windsor Castle and why the King could not have a French chef as skilled as ours, and he said the King didn’t appreciate rich food anymore than he did the French. Good, hearty English fare was good enough, he said.

Susana: I hear his marriage was a love-match.

Lady P [snorting in a very unladylike manner]: Romance again, Susana? Americans seem obsessed with it. The King met his betrothed on the day of the wedding. He wasn’t allowed to marry Lady Sarah Lennox when he wished to because she was only the sister of a duke. Royalty must marry royalty, you know. Or at least they did in my time.

Susana: But they did have fifteen children, so the marriage must have been somewhat of a success.

Lady P: Oh indeed, they got on well after that. Queen Charlotte was not well-favored, but she had a very pleasant disposition. She was a perfect wife for a down-to-earth man like the King.

Susana: So what happened to their children? The sons, at least, did not seem to be able to sustain such happy marriages. Look at the Prince Regent, for example. His life was like the antithesis of his father’s.

Lady P: Indeed. The King disliked his oldest son intensely. Frederick was his favorite. Pendleton told me the King often bemoaned the fact that Frederick was not his oldest son. Brought up to be a military man. He was the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, you know, until the scandal.

Susana: The scandal?

Lady P: Apparently he passed on military secrets to his mistress, a sly little hussy by the name of Mary Anne Clarke. She took bribes in exchange for promotions, and although she was the one to blame, it was his indiscretion in telling her such things that caused him to resign in disgrace. [shaking her head sadly] Should have stuck by his long-suffering wife. Frederica was a most amiable woman.

Susana: So even his favorite had feet of clay. What about the others? Wasn’t one of them accused of murder?

Lady P: Ernest, that was. He was an odd sort. Spread all sorts of cruel rumors about his brothers. His valet turned up with his throat cut, and it was whispered that he’d been seduced by his master, who murdered him when the man attempted to blackmail him.

Susana: Oh my. Homosexuals were hung in those days, were they not?

Lady P: Indeed they were. It would have been a massive scandal had that little fact become known. Which is no doubt why the inquest determined that the man committed suicide.

Susana [shuddering]: Who commits suicide by cutting their throat?

Lady P: Exactly. Not to mention that the man was left-handed, and the deed had to have been done with his right hand. [sighing] But I suppose such things must be done to protect the monarchy and the nation.

Susana: Surely among fifteen children there must have been at least one or two who turned out well. What about the daughters?

Lady P: Poor Amelia died in 1810. She was 27 and unmarried, since she had not been allowed to marry the man of her choice, Charles Fitzroy. She was the youngest and the King’s favorite and he was never the same after that. The other girls—well, the oldest, Princess Charlotte was married to the King of Württemburg—remained unmarried and living at home, and dear me, they never dissembled about expressing how they felt about that. Well, they were all rather plain, like their mother, and ran to fat, but they did adore their father, no matter how unstable he become as the years passed.

Susana: The Prince of Wales was made Regent because of his illness, which has been called dementia. Did you ever see him in that state, or know someone who did?

Lady P: I did not, of course, since he was kept in seclusion as soon as he began to exhibit symptoms. But Pendleton did, on one occasion, when he was attending the King on parliamentary business. [clucking her tongue]. He began speaking in shrill tones, so quickly that he could not be easily understood, calling for “the woman he loved,” a certain Lady Pembroke who served at court. His eyes bulged and he dropped his breeches to reveal his backside. Pendleton was horrified when I nearly fell over laughing when he described it. He said it was a horrifying experience.

Susana: The King of England mooned your husband? Heavens, what a sight that must have been! [grinning broadly]

Lady P: Harrumph! It was, rather. And yet I did feel very sorry for him. He was a fine king and deserved much better than to be afflicted by such an undignified malady. And then to have his sons to be such bounders, and one of his daughters to bear an illegitimate child… It is almost a blessing that such distressing news was kept from him.

Susana [sighing]: My belief in fairytale royal marriages died a tragic death after what happened with Princess Diana. Although I can’t help hoping that Prince William and Kate will end up happily.

Lady P: They do seem a sensible pair, and very well-matched, like my nephew Damian and his wife Theresa. Have I told you Theresa is expecting again?

mi_hacienda_edited-1Susana: You’ve mentioned it a few times. What do you think about Subway for dinner?

Lady P: What was that Spanish place we went to last week? I rather fancy one of those—what do you call them—burros?

Susana: Burritos, Lady P. And it was Mexican, not Spanish. Mi Hacienda, on Glanzman Street. They offer salsa lessons on Wednesday nights. What do you say we paint the town while we’re at it.

Lady P: A burrito will do, Susana. And perhaps some of those savory chips. Never had anything like them before. Do you suppose I can take the recipe back with me for my own cook to prepare?

Susana [shaking her head]: Sorry, Lady P. We’ve had this discussion before. Remember the Prime Directive?

As always, please do comment if you have any questions you’d like to ask Lady P about the late Georgian/Regency era. She does love to chat!

The Lady P Series

Episode #1: Susana’s Adventures With Lady P: The Introduction

Episode #2: Lady P Talks About… Pride and Prejudice?

Episode #3: Lady P and the Duchess Who Lost a Billion Dollars

Episode #4: Lady P and the Face On the $100 Bill

Episode #5: In Which Lady P Discovers Sparkly Fabrics and Ponders Violating the Prime Directive

Episode #6: Lady P Dishes the Dirt on the Duchess of Devonshire

Episode #7: The Political Exploits of Lady P and the Duchess of Devonshire

Episode #8: Lady P and the Prince Regent’s Illicit Marriage

Episode #9: In Which Lady P Depletes the Cooking Sherry During Her Discussion of Caroline of Brunswick

Episode #10: Lord Byron: Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know

Episode #11: In Which Lady P Talks About Hannah More and the Rights of Women

Episode #12: Lady P’s Revelations Regarding George III and His Peculiar Progeny

Episode #13: Lady P Discusses the Luddite Uprising, the Assassination of Spencer Perceval, and the General Unfairness of Life

Episode #14: In Which Leticia, Lady Beauchamp, Pops In For an Interview On Her Personal Acquaintance With Princess Charlotte of Wales

Episode #15: Lady P On Assignment in 1814 Kent

Lady P Quizzes Jane Livingston, the Hero’s Sister From “A Twelfth Night Tale”

Episode #10: Lord Byron: Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know

Lady Pendleton, Damian Ashby’s eccentric aunt (see the epilogue to Treasuring Theresa on Susana’s web site), is visiting Susana from the early 19th century. She’s intrigued by life in 21st century Toledo, Ohio, and, of course, Susana is thrilled to have the opportunity to pick her brain about life in Regency England. It certainly gives her a great deal to write about in Susana’s Parlour!

Susana: [to the Reader]:

Lady P and I just finished watching the 2007 BBC movie about Lord Byron, and I thought you might find some of her reminiscences of the original characters as intriguing as I did. [Turning to Lady P] You knew the real Lord Byron, did you not, Lady P? What was your impression of him?

byronLady P:

Oh yes, I was acquainted with the man, as was anyone who was anyone in the ton during the spring of 1812 when he came onto the scene. I could never understand why women were making cakes of themselves over him. He wasn’t all that well-favored, you know, not nearly as attractive as that actor who played him in the film. Although he did have a certain magnetism, I suppose, when he looked at a woman with “the stare,” that is, with hooded eyes. I’m not at all sure what he was conveying with that most peculiar stare, but whatever it was had the effect of making formerly sensible women abandon all pretense of prudence in order to attract his attention.

Susana:

Undoubtedly Lady Caroline Lamb was one of them.

Lady P:

She was the worst of them, but then, she was always somewhat of a loose screw, Susana. Even when she was small—she was eight years old when her mother, Georgiana’s sister, moved the family into Devonshire House to escape her father’s abuse—Georgiana used to tell me about her flights of fancy and frequent mood swings, and when she married George Lamb and moved into Melbourne House, we all hoped that her husband and Lady Melbourne, his mother, a prominent Whig hostess you know, would prove to be steadying influences on her.

Susana:

It didn’t work out that way, though, did it?

Lady P [shaking her head]:

Not at all. You know, Susana, it is never a good idea for a newlywed to move in with her husband’s family. Or the other way round, I’m sure. In this case, Caroline clashed constantly with Lady Melbourne, and it only got worse when Caroline and Byron were so foolish as to allow their affair to become public. Harriet—Lady Bessborough, Caroline’s mother, you know—tried to rein her in, especially after Lord Byron tried to break things off with her, but Caroline was so far gone from reality that she listened to no one. She foisted herself on his friends and begged them to help her win him back. She threatened to harm herself. She neither ate nor slept and was quite wraith-like when her mother and husband finally persuaded her to go to Ireland with them. But even that wasn’t the end of it. Poor Caroline raved over him until the day she died, alternately loving and hating him.

carolinelamb

Susana:

I suppose today she’d be diagnosed bipolar and given medication to help her cope with her illness.

Lady P [frowning]:

Bipolar?

Susana:

Mood swings. You know, when someone is rapturously happy and believes everything is right with the world and doesn’t care if everyone knows it, and then later falls into a serious depression. I’m no psychiatrist, of course, but it does sound to me like she suffered from such an affliction.

Lady P:

Well, she did suffer from some sort of affliction, that much is obvious. And I shouldn’t wonder if Lord Byron didn’t suffer from something similar. He too, was something of a loose screw. Although I can’t really say what he was like as a child. I did hear that his father was something of a tyrant, like Caroline’s.

Susana:

What an interesting thought! But did he exhibit an equal passion for her, at least while their affair was still going full-swing?

Lady P [with a decidedly unladylike snort]:

Oh yes, indeed. Of course, when he first came onto the social scene, he was a Nobody and she the reigning Beauty. No doubt he was flattered when she took an interest in him. They were both poets, you know, possessed of mercurial artistic temperaments. At first, her mad, childlike bravado attracted him, but when Lady Melbourne got her clutches into him and convinced him that Caroline’s antics could make him persona non grata in society, he began to cool toward her.

Susana:

Lady Melbourne? Caroline’s mother-in-law? Why would Lord Byron pay attention to anything she said about Caroline?

Lady P:

My dear Susana, Lady Melbourne was one of the premier Whig hostesses, exceedingly attractive for her age, and it was whispered about that Lord Byron was infatuated with her. Yes, even though she was more than thirty years his senior. It does happen, you know. She had many affairs with prominent men, including the Prince Regent, and her son George bears an uncanny resemblance to him too.

Susana:

So why was she so critical of Caroline, then, if she indulged in adulterous affairs herself?

Lady P [somewhat impatiently]:

The difference between them, my dear Susana, is that Lady Melbourne’s lovers were carefully chosen to increase her influence in political circles. She was also careful to manage them with the utmost discretion. Caroline, well, she had no such scruples. She was the victim of her impulses. And to a lesser extent, Lord Byron was to his as well.

Susana:

I feel so sorry for her. But Lord Byron did not pine away for her, did he?

Lady P:

Not at all. He cut a wide swathe among the ladies of London. [Lowering her voice] It is said that he had an incestuous relationship with his half-sister Augusta, and that her daughter Elizabeth is his.

Susana:

Goodness! For a society so bent on propriety, there was certainly a great deal of scandalous goings-on!

Lady P [sighing]:

Oh yes indeed! It was keeping up appearances that was the important thing. So hypocritical. Why, I always thought it was beyond outrageous when Lady Swindon cast her maid into the streets for being with child when she herself was having an affair with the Duke of Kent. I do hope I was able to instill better principles into my own daughters while they were growing up.

Susana:

Lord Byron eventually married, did he not? I heard that his daughter Ada was the world’s first computer programmer.

Lady P:

Computer programmer? Well, I can’t speak to that, since I have no notion of what that is, except for that machine you use for your writing. But yes, he did marry Annabella Milbank, who was Lady Melbourne’s favorite niece and an heiress besides. And now that I think on it, I do recall that she was thought to be something of a bluestocking, so it is likely that she would have an intelligent daughter. Why, Annabella was better educated than most of the men of the ton; you’d have thought she’d have better sense than to marry a sad rattle like George Byron.

Susana:

Those mesmerizing, hooded stares of his, no doubt.

Lady P:

She probably thought she could reform him. She was quite a devout young lady, I believe. [Shaking her head] Such a shame. Why, I made sure my girls knew better than to attempt such a thing with their husbands. There are ways a woman can influence her husband’s opinions—I can certainly attest to that—but it is far better to choose a mate who doesn’t require a great deal of changing. Do remember that, Susana.

Susana [rolling her eyes]:

Of course, Lady P. [To the reader] That’s all for today. I hope you enjoyed Lady P’s reminiscences about the celebrated poet that Lady Caroline called “mad, bad, and dangerous to know.”

As always, please do comment if you have any questions you’d like to ask Lady P about the late Georgian/Regency era. She does love to chat!