Tag Archive | Squidgeworth

Lady P and Susana Visit Vauxhall Gardens (Part I)

Agatha Tate, Lady Pendleton

Agatha Tate, Lady Pendleton

Susana: Readers, I am elated to report to you that Lady Pendleton has finally granted my wish to travel back in time with her. We are going to Vauxhall—a place that no longer exists in this century—and I am going to actually stroll down the Dark Walks and see for myself what is going on behind the bushes.

Lady P: Now Susana, you will promise to behave as a proper lady would or there will be no trip to the past for you. Ever.

Susana [rolling her eyes]: Whatever you say, your ladyship.

Lady P [inspecting Susana’s clothing]: The gown your mother made you is unexceptionable, I suppose. The hair will have to do since there is no time to have Izzie [her abigail] work her magic on it.

Susana [peering into the mirror]: I think it looks fabulous with the ringlets piece added.

gown427-4Lady P: Of course you do. [Shakes her head.] Now, as for the accent… I suppose I can pass you off as American as I did with Helena [from A Home for Helena], but it would be best if you said as little as possible and allowed me to do the talking.

Susana [eyes widening]: Now wait a minute…

Lady P [straightening her posture]: Do you wish to go or not?

Susana: Yes!

Lady P: Then…

Susana: I promise to follow your lead, my lady. [Aside] This is going to be great! I’ll tell you all about it when I get back!

***

I wanted to arrive by boat, but her ladyship clearly did not trust me not to overturn it and cause a scandal, so we went by carriage instead. Although it was shiny and black and carried the Pendleton crest, it was nothing like the Dress Coach owned by the Emperor Franz Josef that I saw a few weeks ago at the Carriage Museum here in Florida. The interior was a lovely purple velvet, and the seats were reasonably comfortable, although the ride was definitely jerkier than riding in an automobile. The springs were fairly good; however, I know I’d get nauseous if I ever tried to read anything in one of these things.

Entering a carriage with a long dress and train is not the easiest thing to do, even with a set of steps and coachman to hold your hand. But I assure you that leaving the carriage is even more hazardous. My foot got caught in my train and I ended up falling into the coachman’s arms. He seemed taken aback for a few seconds, and then set me firmly upon the ground and afterward straightened his fine purple and gold coat. Lady P shook her head, looked around quickly to see if anyone was watching, and then took my arm and dragged me to the entrance.

This a photo taken from a scene you can see at the Museum of London. The costumes are too early, of course, but Lady P would not let me bring a camera along.

This a photo taken from a scene you can see at the Museum of London. The costumes are too early, of course, but Lady P would not let me bring a camera along, so you’ll have to imagine 1817 costumes instead.

My first impression of Vauxhall Gardens was the brilliance of the thousands of lanterns in the trees. I briefly wondered how long it took someone to light all those lanterns and how safe it was to have burning flames in trees, but then someone bumped into me and I became aware that the place was teeming with people. People of all sizes and shapes and social classes. Elegantly-dressed ladies and gentlemen with canes and reticules strolled on the same ground as working-class folk in their Sunday best. Some were dancing in front of the orchestra building while others stood on the outskirts chatting and laughing, some leaning on trees. I stood there, mesmerized by the colors, sounds, and smells until her ladyship informed me that she had bespoken a supper-box.

“Are we going to have shaved ham as thin as paper?” I asked eagerly. Everyone knows that the food at Vauxhall was overpriced. That was how they made a profit. Nothing has changed in that regard. In modern times you still pay unreasonable prices for food at airports and amusement parks like Cedar Point.

A nearby gentleman eyed me suspiciously, and Lady P reminded me that I had promised to keep talking to a minimum.

Squidgeworth and the Handel statue that used to sit in Vauxhall Gardens

Squidgeworth and the Handel statue that used to sit in Vauxhall Gardens

The supper-box was simply a covered nook supplied with a table and benches on three sides. The supper-box paintings were long gone, as I knew from having blogged on Vauxhall for nearly a year. I had seen some of them at the Victoria & Albert Museum, as well as the statue of Handel. I craned my neck to look around for it, but couldn’t remember where it was in 1817, since it had been relocated many times its ±200 years in the gardens. The waiter (nattily dressed in fawn breeches with a turquoise shirt and purple waistcoat) who promptly appeared to take our food order said it was in the eastern alcove on the ground floor of the Orchestra. He seemed surprised to hear that I was interested in seeing it. I guess it was old and boring to people of 1817. I seemed to recall that it was removed from the Gardens soon after. Well, tastes change over time. What attracted people in the 17th century seemed tame by the 19th century. Vauxhall lasted for so much longer than others did primarily because its owners continually sought to re-invest their profits into upgraded facilities and entertainment.

Isaac Cruikshank, A Country Farmer & Waiter at Vauxhall. A farmer in country dress, on his first visit to Vauxhall, has ordered ham in expectation of a plateful of English gammon. When the waiter brings him the notoriously thin slices that were Vauxhall ham, the farmer is furious.

Isaac Cruikshank, A Country Farmer & Waiter at Vauxhall. A farmer in country dress, on his first visit to Vauxhall, has ordered ham in expectation of a plateful of English gammon. When the waiter brings him the notoriously thin slices that were Vauxhall ham, the farmer is furious.

Mr. Jackson (the waiter) was much more eager to tell of us Madame Saqui’s upcoming performance on the tightrope. He told us she had been a personal favorite of the former emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and had even crossed the Seine River on a tightrope. She had been performing at Covent Garden in the past year since the war with France ended, and the proprietors were over the moon to have snagged her for Vauxhall. I wanted to get up and head over to the venue immediately, but her ladyship insisted I remain until the food arrived, since she had been required to pay for it first (Waiters were more like independent contractors. They had to pay for the food themselves when they picked it up from the kitchen.)

We had plates of ham and chicken, cheese, salad, and a plate of cakes and custards, with wine to drink, which I did with good humor, even though I don’t normally drink wine. Any Regency author worth her salt should know that you don’t go around ordering water in that time period, since it wasn’t safe. Since I don’t like the taste of wine, I didn’t mind that it wasn’t of good quality. Lady P winced when she drank it, though. But she said it was definitely better than the cooking wine she had been reduced to drinking in my alcohol-free kitchen in Toledo. [She was quick to learn to pick out the good wines at the nearby liquor store, though.]

orchestra

The music varied from military tunes to softer ballads and classical music, much by Handel, as Lady P informed me (being not terribly knowledgeable about music). “Cherry Ripe” and “Lass of Richmond Hill” were among them. It was simply fascinating to sit there eating and listening to the music and watching all the people enjoy the atmosphere. I had to pinch myself to make sure I was really there. In Vauxhall Gardens. In 1817. With real Regency-era people. Wow. Just wow.

More next week, same bat-time, same bat-channel!

Lady P and Susana Visit Vauxhall Gardens, Part I

An Evening at Vauxhall Gardens, Part II

An Evening at Vauxhall Gardens, Part III

An Evening at Vauxhall Gardens, Part IV

An Evening at Vauxhall Gardens, Part V

Susana’s 2015 English Adventure: Week 1

eastbourne map

For the first three days, Squidgeworth and I were the guests of Jay Dixon, a friend of mine who lives in Eastbourne. She was kind enough to take us around to visit some historical places of interest in the area, including the Redoubt Fortress, a quaint little town called Alfriston, Firle Place, and Chartwell.

Unfortunately, I could not get my laptop to work with her Wifi system, so I had to go cold turkey from the Internet, which was instrumental later on when I arrived in London at my rental flat. It turns out that the previous renters of the flat I was scheduled for had trashed the place, and the company had switched me to another one, but I didn’t get the message because of my Internet blackout. It was a bit harrowing at first, but I was delighted that the flat they switched me to was the one I stayed in last year, near Baker Street, so I already knew the ropes. (I wanted this one, but at the time I was booking, it was already taken. There must have been a cancellation.)

Squidgeworth makes himself at home at our rental flat near Baker Street

Squidgeworth makes himself at home at our rental flat near Baker Street

Eastbourne: The Redoubt

The Redoubt is a circular military fortress that was built in 1804 when it was rumored that Napoleon had plans to invade England.

REDOUBT MODEL VILLAGE

Wikipedia

The Village of Alfriston

On Thursday we visited this quaint little village not far from Eastbourne. In addition to the historic buildings, a highlight was St. Andrew’s Church. The Clergy House was the first property purchased by the National Trust. Unfortunately, it was closed, but I did get photos of the outside.

The Clergy House

The Clergy House

St. Andrew's Church & Cemetery, Alfriston

St. Andrew’s Church & Cemetery, Alfriston

 

GEORGE INN copy

The George Inn, Alfriston

 

The Star Inn, Alfriston

The Star Inn, Alfriston

 

Squidge at a The Apiary Café in Alfriston

Squidge at a The Apiary Café in Alfriston

Wikipedia

Firle Place

Firle Place is the family seat of the Gages, the current owner being Nicholas Gage, the 8th Viscount Gage. The manor house has been in the family for over 500 years, and the estate includes a village among its 6000 acres of land. Sir John Gage was the executor of Henry VIII’s will. General Thomas Gage was at one time commander-in-chief of the British Army during the American Revolution, but was replaced after the disaster of Bunker Hill.

Squidgeworth at Firle Place

Squidgeworth at Firle Place

 

Firle Place

Firle Place

Wikipedia

Chartwell

Chartwell, in Kent, was the principal residence of Winston Churchill, in his adult life. Henry VIII is believed to have stayed here during his courtship of Anne Boleyn, who lived at nearby Hever Castle.

The Churchills extensively renovated the house and gardens. Winston actually became a licensed brick layer and was noted for his wall building.

Chartwell

Chartwell

 

Squidgeworth at Chartwell

Squidgeworth at Chartwell

Wikipedia

The Victoria & Albert Museum

A visit to the V & A is a must for every trip to London. On this trip, my focus was Vauxhall, as the Handel statue is here, as well as three of the supper-box paintings. Unfortunately, it was difficult to get good photos of the paintings and other pictures due to the darkness of the room (which is true of many other things I tried to photograph). No doubt the low light is an attempt to preserve the aged items as long as possible. But I did get a good photo of the Handel statue, with Squidgeworth getting in on the action, as usual.

Squidgeworth and the Handel statue that used to sit in Vauxhall Gardens

Squidgeworth and the Handel statue that used to sit in Vauxhall Gardens

My Vauxhall Gardens board on Pinterest is a work in progress, but you can see there two videos about Vauxhall Gardens, one of which I photographed at the V & A and another I found on YouTube. I’ll be adding more photos as I find the time.

Susana’s Vauxhall Gardens Pinterest Board

Coach at the V

Coach at the V & A Museum

 

Painted silk gown

Painted silk gown at the V & A Museum

Susana’s 2015 English Adventure: Introducing Squidgeworth

DSCN0006

Squidgeworth

Tomorrow afternoon, Susana will be on her way across the pond to London for her 2015 English adventure. This time, however, she won’t be traveling alone. Her dear friend Squidgeworth, who turned chartreuse with envy when his cousin Squidge got to travel there with Ki Pha earlier this year, will be accompanying her on the trip and posing for photos along the way. Squidgeworth and his cousin appear identical—as indeed does every member of the Squidge family—but the Squidgeworths are the aristocratic blue-bloods of the family. He was quite indignant that his commoner cousin got to visit the land of their ancestors before he did. He got over his fit of pique when Susana explained that she was going later this year because she wanted to visit when Buckingham Palace was open to the public. Squidge, after all, didn’t get to go there.

So… where else are Squidgeworth and Susana going this year?

Sussex

A dear friend invited them to stay a few days in Eastbourne, where they will be visiting Firle Place and/or the Glynde Estate, Chartwell, visiting the quaint village of Alfriston, and Quebec House. They will also be taking in a play called Flare Path.

London

From there, they will travel to London, where they will be residing in a rented flat near London Bridge. There are always plenty of things to see in or near London, and some of the places on this year’s list include:

  • Buckingham Palace (of course)
  • Osterley Park
  • Kenwood
  • Ham House
  • The White Hart, St. Albans
  • Marble Hill
  • The Foundling Museum
  • The Victoria & Albert Museum: specifically, the Vauxhall exhibit, with the Handel statue and supper-box paintings.

cung-dien-buckingham-542a55cd9cd54

Day Trips from London

  • Petworth, West Sussex
  • Waddesdon Manor
  • Hatfield House, Hertfordshire
  • Burghley House, Lincolnshire
  • Bateman’s House, East Sussex
  • The Bell Inn, Stilton
  • Lyme Park, Cheshire
  • Greenway, Devon
  • Charlecote, Warwickshire
  • Arundel Castle, West Sussex

Overnight Stays

Bath and Devizes

The Bear Hotel

The Bear Hotel

In Devizes, Susana and Squidgeworth will be staying at the historic Bear Inn, which featured in Susana’s Coaching Days & Coaching Ways blog series. Then they will spend two days in Bath, visiting some of the sights that figure in Susana’s story, The Third MacPherson Sister, from the Sweet Summer Kisses box set.

York

Following that, S & S will be heading north for two nights in York, where they will be paying visits to Harewood, Castle Howard, and Haworth, as well as enjoying the lovely city itself.

bolen

England’s Stately Homes By Train

Neither Susana nor Squidgeworth is interested in driving in England, so Cheryl Bolen’s book, English Stately Homes By Train, has been very helpful in planning the trip. Susana used the print version for planning and will take the digital version on her iPad for the trip.

Follow S & S on their wanderings

Squidgeworth will be appearing regularly on Susana’s Facebook Page, and photos will be downloaded to Pinterest as well. Highlights of the week will appear on Mondays on this blog. Please keep in touch so they don’t get too homesick!

À bientôt

Susana & Squidgeworth