Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Regency Review, by Lady A~, Authoress of 'The Bath Novels of Lady A~' Collection

As the English Regency is probably the little spot in history where I most oft lodge myself, I thought I would write a series of blog-pieces to take it to review, vignette by vignette, and through the eyes, ears and exploits of its contemporary players.

The English Regency began in 1811 when George III's heir, George, Prince of Wales (aptly nicknamed 'Prinny'), took the presumptive sovereign reigns as Prince Regent. While the 'much-enlightened' Prince let King George sink privately into the perennial 'madness' of porphyria, Prinny as proxy took the helm of a rapidly expanding empire. With England, at its center, the country was still largely an agrarian nation with its social strata clearly defined by hierarchy. Though still at war with Napoleon, England remained yet untouched by 'Boney' and his mighty military machine, while leaving any sense of the outside world, beyond France, in the jurisdiction of the sole 'mass medium', the English Press. Transport was slow and largely dependent on the stage coach and mail coach, and here, Richard Rush, the American Minister to the Court of St. James's accounts for his views of just such a 'picture', on his way from Portsmouth to London:


"At noon, I set out for London. We were soon out of Portsmouth, and went as far as Godalming that day, a distance of 38 miles, over roads like a floor.
     I was surprised at the few houses along or near the road side. I had been full of the idea of the populousness of England ... We rarely met wagons, carriages, or vehicles of any sort, except stage coaches. We did not see a single person on horseback. The stage coaches illustrated what is said of the excellence of that mode of travelling in England. These, as they came swiftly down the hills, or were met in full trot upon the plains, the horses fine, the harness bright, and inside and out filled with passengers, not only men but women, all well dressed, crowding the tops, had a bold and picturesque appearance. The few peasants whom we saw, were fully and warmly clad. They wore breeches and stockings, a heavy shoe, which lacing over the ankle, made the foot look clumsy; a linen frock over the coat, worked with plaits [braids], and stout leather gloves, which they kept on while working."

Rush then details the changing landscape just before reaching London:

"All within our view grew more and more instinct with life; until at length, evening coming on, at first villages, then rows of buildings, and people, and twinkling lights, and all kinds of sound, gave token that the metropolis was close by. We entered it by Hyde Park Corner, passing through Piccadilly and Bond Street, beholding the moving crowds which now the town lights revealed."

Regency London was large and handsome and Charles Lamb best describes it:

"The lighted shops of the Strand and Fleet Street, the innumerable trades, tradesmen and customers, coaches, waggons, playhouses, all the bustle and wickedness about Covent Garden, the very women of the town, the Watchmen, drunken scenes, rattles, -- life awake, if you awake, at all hours of the night, the impossibility of being dull in Fleet Street, the crowds, the very dirt & mud, the Sun shining upon houses and pavements, the print shops, the old book stalls, parsons cheapening books, coffee houses, steams of soups from  kitchens, the pantomime, London itself a pantomime and a masquerade ..."

And if in Regency London, who better to experience its pleasures than with the Regent himself. The Morning Chronicle gives this report of the Regent's entrance at a garden supper for two-hundred guests of the nobility and gentry:

"His Royal Highness the Prince Regent entered the State Apartments about a quarter past nine o' clock, dressed in a scarlet coat, most richly and elegantly ornamented in a very novel style with gold lace, with a brilliant star of the Order of the Garter ... The conservatory presented the fine effect of a loft aisle in an ancient cathedral ... The grand table extended the whole length of the conservatory, and across Carlton House to the length of 200 feet ... Along the centre of the table, about six inches to above the surface, a canal of pure water continued flowing from a silver fountain, beautifully constructed at the head of the table. Its faintly waving artificial banks were covered with green moss and aquatic flowers, gold and silver fish, gudgeons, etc., were seen to swim and sport through the bubbling current, which produced a pleasing murmur when it fell, and formed a cascade at the outlet. At the head of the table, above the fountain, sat His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, on a throne of crimson velvet, trimmed with gold."

The cost for this frilly fete of finery at Carlton House came to over one-hundred-thousand pounds. In an effort to recoup the expense to the Empire the apartments, housing the party, were opened to the public for the price of a ticket. On the final day of reviewing just how very properly the beau monde could waste money, there was such a rush at it that some "delicate and helpless females who were present ... were thrown down, and ... [were] literally trod upon by those behind, without the possibility of being extricated".

In fact Carlton House was London's party-central. Anybody who was anyone tried to get an invitation to its most memorable events and royal fetes. Here Lady Elizabeth Feilding describes, in hyperbolical terms, one of these glittering occasions to a correspondent:

"I am afraid all my powers of description would fail to give you an idea of the oriental air of everything in that Mahomet's Paradise, Carlton House. I do not know whether we looked like Houris, but I for one was certainly in 77th heaven ...
     Imagine yourself ascending a flight of steps into an immense saloon lighted up to the ceiling with a profusion of candles and a display of gold plate on either hand that dazzled the eye while a sonorous band of turbaned slaves played 'God Save the King'.
     The sight and sound were both animating, the kettle-drums and cymbals, the glitter of spangles and finery, of dress and furniture that burst upon you was quite eblouissant.
     Then you turned to the right through a suite of rooms, some hung with scarlet and gold, others with blue and gold, and some decorated with portraits of all our great commanders. At last you arrived at the ballroom, where sat the Queen at the upper end, with the Princess de Conde on her right hand, and the Russian Ambassadress (Comtess de Lieven) on her left. This last was a most singular figure; she was in black velvet up to her chin, with a huge ruff like Queen Elizabeth, or rather Mary Queen of Scots, for she is very handsome. She had no ornaments whatever but a long chain of very large diamonds, and a picture that hung on her back. Her head was dressed quite flat, and she looked like something walked out of its frame in an old picture gallery ..."

And gastronomy was no less impolitic in the Regency than its stampedes over royal post-party exhibits or Lady Elizabeth Feilding's '77th heaven'. In June 1814 this arrangement of hedonistic delights was laid before the visiting Allied Sovereigns:

"The Dinner was as sumptuous as expense or skill could make it, and was served entirely on plate ... Samuel Turner, Esq., one of the Directors of the Bank of England, very handsomely presented a fine Turtle for the occasion, which was the first imported in the season, and arrived in time to be served ... A large Baron of Beef, with the Royal Standard, was placed upon a stage at the upper end of the Hall, in view of the Royal Table, attended by the Serjeant Carvers and one of the principal Cooks, in proper Costume."

Poor 'Turtle'! After 'fifteen toasts' and a 'flourish of trumpets', it was clear that what life was left in the poor creature on arrival, was vanquished in voracity by noblemen and gentry with dreadfully epicurean tastes. But the Prince wasn't done for the Season and he then proceeded to host a sumptuous ball for the Duke of Wellington, as Lady Harriot Frampton details quite minutely:

"The supper laid out in one room for the Queen was very handsome, as the ornaments were quite beautiful. There were fifty covers, and the plateau down the middle of the table was covered with exquisite groups in silver gilt. The centre group was above three feet high, and each one of the figures was so beautifully executed that they might have been ornaments in a drawing-room, and everything else, even the salt-cellars, was in the most excellent taste. All was in gold or silver gilt, which made the silver plate, set out in the deep-recessed windows, look cold and poor, although in reality it was very massive and handsome.
     The plates only were of china and I recognised them as a set of the finest Sevres porcelain which Lady Auckland had once shown me at Beckenham, as having been a present from Louis XVI to the late Lord Auckland, when he was Ambassador at Paris, and I regretted that they should have been obliged to part with them. Each plate had a large bird painted in the centre of it.
     All the rooms were studded with Ws in honour of the Duke of Wellington, who, however, seemed to do all he could to avoid notice."

 Photo courtesy Siren-Com

One can only think the Duke a very wise man for all of his Ws at such an occasion! And such was the novelty of London, and the extravagant influence of the Prince Regent (whom Shelley appositely describes as the 'overgrown bantling of Regency'), that excess in the metropolis took on the veritable hallmarks of fashion. Though the darker side of a dingier London played nefarious host to the 'Lunar races', as Robert Southey put it, the Prince and his People did true justice to the everything that shone 'Solar'.

In my next review of this extraordinary era, we go onwards and upwards to shining hedonistic heights with its celebrity extraordinaire, the Prince Regent, and to his most darling of places, Brighton. There contemporary witnesses will paint a picture of the Prince and his period that waxes nothing shy of uncommon, exotic and, at the very least, everything that was very 'elegant and lively'.

Sources: Richardson J. The Regency (Collins, 1973)
Regency images courtesy Wikimedia

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The History of Bed Bugs

by Maggi Andersen

Cimex lecularius is a blood-sucking insect which plagued the domestic house for centuries. Well established by the 16th Century, they were widespread by 1730 and an obvious hazard for overnight travelers. Quite flat, they were able to live in the tiniest cracks in bedroom furniture or panelling, but when fed with blood they swelled. They loved to lay eggs in wallpaper paste.

Canny creatures, they would allow you time to go to sleep before attacking, but then nothing would distract them, attacking around the head, face and neck. One did not feel their bite but woke to a painful swelling like nettlerash which could develop like boils. 

The experienced traveler of inns refused to sleep on a bed, preferring two tables with a sheet placed over them. 

Bed bugs did not respect persons of class and entered even the most aristocratic household along with second-hand furniture or servants. Many of the houses built in the London squares – Hanover and Grosvenor – were infested with bedbugs even before they were first occupied. They loved carved four-poster bedheads and feather and wool mattresses, which could be crawling with them even when new.

Thomas Carlysle’s wife, Jane Welsh Carlyle wrote in her journal of her encounters with bedbugs … “I flung some twenty pailfuls of water on the kitchen floor … to drown any that might attempt to save themselves, then we killed all that were discoverable, and flung the pieces of the bed  … into a tub full of water, carried them up into the garden, and let them steep there for two days; and then I painted all the joints, had the curtains washed … and hope and trust there is not one escaped alive to tell the tale. Ach Gott, what disgusting work to have to do!

Many remedies were tried: Washing or cooking the contents of mattresses three or four times a year, setting wicker bug traps under the bed, anointing the bed with infusions of various herbs or with mercury mixed with egg white, or fumigation with sulphur or arsenic. 

In 1814, a professional bug catcher, Mr. Tiffin, advertising himself as ‘bug-destroyer to Her Majesty’ and claimed “I have noblemen’s names, the first in England, on my books”.

Manuals for housemaids were to dismantle bedsteads, scrub the frame and pour boiling water into the joints. Many recipes were available: In 1830 The Servant’s Guide recommended brushing the bedstead with petroleum oil the smell of which would drive the bugs away – thankfully, it did warn the servant not to do this by candlelight!

And apparently, they live among us today.

The Reluctant Marquess available from Amazon
Research: The Country House Servant, Pamela A. Sambrook. Sutton Publishing.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


by Wanda Luce

In a strange contrast to my love of Medieval, Georgian, and Regency-era fictional romances, I have a profound love and respect for the true stories of those who have served in the armed forces and fought to defend their countries from those who would destroy their freedoms.  All my life I have had a strong, heartfelt appreciation for those who suffered so much to protect the rights of their fellow man.  The sacrifices and horrors of WWI and WWII have left a particularly keen mark on my soul.   

One of the greatest military maneuvers of all time began on the shores of Britain and extended to the shores of France and beyond, and I’d just like to share a brief description and a few pictures of D-Day, also known as Operation Overlord.   I fell in love with the book Band of Brothers by the acclaimed author, Stephen Ambrose, who told the true story of Easy Company of  the 101st Airborne.  I have supplied a YouTube link so you can watch a little clip. I cannot imagine anyone who would not be touched by it. I hope you will take a minute to watch.

Although it is the Americans who are portrayed, none of this would have been possible without the British; hence I still consider it a part of British history.  I am a Regency romance author who happens to have a passion for history. The following information is directly from the British National Archives (The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU. Tel: +44 (0) 20 8876 3444. Contact us)

Winston Churchill said that Operation Overlord was 'undoubtedly the most complicated and difficult' ever undertaken. With nearly three million troops involved, it was an incredible feat of organisation - and the first step towards the liberation of Western Europe and the defeat of Nazi Germany.

Planning the invasion

Thorough preparations began during 1943. A new planning staff was assembled, and General Eisenhower was appointed Supreme Commander of the operation.

Normandy was chosen for the landings because it was in range of fighter aircraft based in England and had open beaches that were not as well defended as those of the Pas de Calais. It also had a fairly large port (Cherbourg), and was opposite the main ports of southern England.

In the last few months before D-Day, the Allied air forces wrecked the railways and bridges of northern France and achieved the necessary weakening of German air force strength. Other preparations included the manufacture of equipment including transport ships, landing craft, amphibious tanks and artificial harbours.

Intelligence, deception and German preparations

The Allies enforced tight security to prevent the Germans learning the details of the invasion. The skilful use of intelligence and deception was also a key factor in the operation. An elaborate plan was implemented in order to convince the Germans that the invasion would be in the Pas de Calais. It worked: the Germans, faced with the need to defend coastlines stretching from Norway to south-west France, paid most attention to the Pas de Calais.

Crossing the channel

Overlord under way


Although D-Day was planned for 4/5 June 1944, bad weather caused a final delay of 24 hours. On 5 June, some 7,000 ships and other craft carrying assault troops left the invasion ports to arrive off the Normandy coast early next morning. Their target was the Bay of the Seine, from Cherbourg in the west to Le Havre in the east.

The naval force crossed the Channel largely undetected and relatively unscathed. German radar was put out of action by Allied bombing, jamming and decoys. Allied minesweepers cleared safe channels through the German minefields, and little opposition was met from the German naval forces (which were much weaker than those of the Allies).

In the meantime, Allied airborne troops had taken off from England and were the first to land in France, hours before dawn. The Americans landed inland from Utah beach to help secure the Cotentin Peninsula, while the British arrived east of them, at the mouths of the Caen Canal and the River Orne. Dummy parachutists were also dropped to confuse the Germans.

As the naval force approached the beaches, the coastal defences were bombarded by Allied ships and aircraft. This was important for the success of the landing, although not all the German guns were knocked out. Some landing craft were lost - either swamped by the waves or hit by German fire - and others stuck on beach obstacles (welded girders planted in the sand to impede progress).

I hope you will forgive the shortness of this tribute.  A special thank you to all those who have sacrificed and continue to sacrifice so much to bring freedom and peace to our world.

Wanda Luce, Regency Author

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Little Matter of Scandals and Royal Garters ...

by Anne O'Brien

I decided to write about Edward III and the foundation of the Order of the Garter to mark the upcoming release of The King's Concubine in the USA on 5th June, 2012, apart from it being a fascinating event in its own right and full of potential scandal.  Royal scandals always make good press ...

The years 1348 and 1349 were not good ones for the English royal family or for England.  In 1349 plague raged.  The Black Death ravaged the population, with 200 people being buried in the London plague pits every day.  Nor was the plague a respecter of age or wealth or rank.  King Edward III and Queen Philippa lost a daughter to the terrible disease.  Only 14 years old, she was on her way to wed Pedro of Castile when news reached her distraught parents that she had died in Bordeaux.

And yet on St George's day, 1349, in the midst of this disaster, King Edward completed the foundation of the Order of the Garter.  Twenty six of the greatest knights in the country were invested at a great tournament held at Windsor.  They vowed to joust and pray together once a year and conduct themselves in the chivalrous manner of the knights of King Arthur's Round Table.  One of the first to be admitted was Edward's much-loved first born son and heir, Edward of Woodstock, later called The Black Prince.  This fine illustration shows an intimate scene between father and son.

But why choose a time of such grief to hold an event of this nature?

A new chivalric order had been much in Edward's mind for some years, and it is thought that he chose this exact time to give England and his own family a highly ceremonial and blood-stirring event to over-shadow the sorrows of the plague.  The knights became part of the most prestigious and exclusive order of knighthood in Europe.  The famous motto of the Order - honi soit qui mal y pense - was deliberately in French, not only because it was a language familiar to most educated members of society but also it signalled that knights from Gascony and Hainault would be admitted too.

And now for the scandal ....  Tradition says the Joan, the Fair maid of Kent, Countess of Salisbury and eventual wife of Edward of Woodstock, recognised as the most beautiful woman in England in her day, was there to bestow her favours on the knights.  The story goes that she dropped her garter at a ball.  King Edward promptly rescued it, with the words 'honi soit qui mal y pense' (evil comes to he who thinks evil) as a warning to anyone who suspected that he was holding a lady's undergarment for all the wrong reasons. It was also suggested that Edward was romantically involved with the Countess.  In this splendid artist's impression of the occasion - not contemporary! - we see Edward with the notorious garter, Philippa glowering magnificently at the back, while Joan simpers and looks coy.

This might be a thoroughly scandalous scene - with much to be enjoyed in it - but it is unlikely to be true.  The role of the Countess and the addition of her name did not appear until the 15th Century and is thought to have been a French attempt at  anti-English propaganda.  The motto had nothing to do with Joan, nor were garters a particularly female item of attire.  We know that Edward himself wore garters - he ordered some pearl ones for his own use in the early 1330s.  A garter was the perfect and obvious choice as a symbol for the Order because it could be worn over plate armour and be highly visible.

But that does not mean that there was no scandal attached to this tournament, and it certainly surrounded the Countess of Salisbury.  Young and beautiful, she had two husbands to her name, both of whom were present in the lists.  Sir Thomas Holland and the Earl of Salisbury could both legitimately claim marriage with Joan, and neither had been annulled.  Furthermore Thomas Holland was acting as steward in the Salisbury household - what an astonishing menage a trois that must have been!  So when the knights fought for the honour and recognition of the woman of their choice, at least two of those in the lists would be competing for the wayward attentions of Joan of Kent.

Now, there's a great story worthy of a blog on its own.  Another day ...

Today, the blue cloaks with their white linings and the plumed hats need no description since the Order of the Garter still exists as a great honour and the members can be seen parading through Windsor to St George's Chapel.  Here are Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip looking suitable majestic in their robes.

The King's Concubine, a novel of Alice Perrers, will be released in the USA on 5th June, 2012.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Top Ten tourist attractions in London, 1780

By Mike Rendell

Look at a current list of the most popular tourist attractions in London and you would probably come up with a Top Ten which would include the British Museum, Tate Modern, National Gallery, Natural History Museum, The London Eye, Science Museum, The V&A, Madame Tussaud’s wax works, Maritime Museum and the Tower of London. Throw in St. Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey and you have a dozen of the most popular sites in the capital, visited by millions of people every year. But sight-seeing is not new, and it begs the question: what would that list have looked like if it had been prepared 250 years ago? Which museums had opened their doors? Where were the popular art galleries? Would it have been that different from our modern list?

Of course I do not have admission figures for the Georgian era, but what I do have is my great, great, great, great grandfather’s diaries and can see what he liked to visit – and perhaps the results are not so different to today’s tourist attractions. Sure, we didn’t see the London Eye in the 1780s but we did have something else which gave panoramic views of the city before skyscrapers and tower blocks interrupted the scene. My ancestor Richard Hall may not have had the Tate Modern, but he had other galleries and exhibitions to look at, and there follows my own Top 10 from the 1780s – a personal selection of places to visit if the hero or heroine in your novel is coming to London.

• The Tower

It may no longer have been the home of the Astronomer Royal, but it did have lots of other things - the Royal Regalia, the Royal Menagerie and the Royal Mint.
It may come as a surprise that tourists could call round and watch the coins being minted but that is exactly what my ancestor Richard Hall did in 1771. The Tower was only a few hundred yards from his shop and home at One London Bridge. He and his friends would have seen half guineas being minted (small gold coins worth ten shillings and sixpence – the equivalent of perhaps £45/$70 in terms of current buying-power). They bought three pence worth of macaroons (almond-based sweets) and ate them as they wandered around, and they paid the driver to keep the horse-drawn carriage waiting outside so that they could avoid the rain on the journey home. Richard bought a pamphlet listing the royal regalia. It cost him an entrance fee of one shilling a head to view the coronation jewels etc because he went in a group (the rate went up by half as much again for solo visitors). Further information on The Tower is included here.

• British Museum

The British Museum opened in 1759 and Richard went to see it the following year. Visitor numbers were strictly controlled – you bought a ticket some days in advance and were given a fixed time and date to call. Visitors were accompanied by a guide, taken round in groups of a dozen. More details about the British Museum appears at the link here.

The original museum was housed in Montagu House, pulled down in the 1840’s. Entry was free and given to ‘all studious and curious Persons’ and included the chance to see the vast collection of natural curiosities (shells, fossils, insects, and natural phenomena) built up by Sir Hans Sloane, as well as the magnificent bequest from George II of the old Royal Library.

 • The Monument

202 feet high, the Wren-designed Monument is exactly 202 feet from where the Great Fire of London broke out in Pudding Lane in 1666. The 311 steps up the winding staircase gave an amazing panoramic view of the city. Richard would have been able to look immediately below him and see his shop next to St Magnus the Martyr Church, and at London Bridge crossing the Thames to where he had been brought up as a youngster in Southwark. Turn round and face north and he would have observed how the rapidly expanding city had swallowed up farmland in the aftermath of the Great Fire, as far as the eye could see. The climb to the top was not for the faint-hearted: there was no safety cage at the top until the 1842, and there were several instances of people falling or jumping to their death.

• Royal Academy

Richard bought this engraving showing ‘the back front of the New Royal Academy’ when he visited it in 1780. The building opened twelve years before and by 1781 some 547 paintings were displayed. By 1801 the number had almost doubled, and in accordance with the taste of the day, paintings were displayed closely together, from floor to ceiling. Further information on the Royal Academy appears here.

• Pictures at Spring Gardens (otherwise known as Vauxhall Gardens)

For his one shilling admission in 1780 Richard would have been able to see all London life. The gardens were frequented by anyone who was anyone (the Prince of Wales and his aristocratic buddies were regular visitors) as well as by the lowest of the low. Promenading gave the opportunity to see and be seen, and as darkness fell the place was illuminated with oil lamps, music would be played and guests would take their seats in the fifty or so supper boxes. Each was adorned with a different painting and in the daytime these were available for the general public to view. The link to my post on Vauxhall Gardens appears here.

• Cox’s Museum

James Cox was a jeweller who made fabulous bejewelled automata (i.e. with clock-work moving parts). At one stage he claimed to have a thousand silversmiths and jewellery workers in his employ, turning out objects for places such as the Imperial courts in Russia and China. He opened a museum at Charring Cross to display some of his wares. Entrance was not cheap (Richard would have paid ten shillings and sixpence per head to go in – and then forked out the same again for the official catalogue). But what a spectacle! He would have been greeted by a gold dais, surmounted by giant paintings of King George II and his Queen, painted by the court painter Zoffany. From there he would have been led through to a succession of salons, each exhibiting things such as full sized tigers and elephants made of silver and gold, studded with precious stones. He may have seen the gorgeous life-sized silver swan, with its articulated neck which enabled it to bend forward and appear to pull a silver fish from the water (still in working order today, and nowadays to be seen at the Bowes Museum at Barnard Castle). Time and time again Richard went back to see the display, taking a succession of guests with him throughout the 1770s.

• Don Saltero’s

Don Saltero was in reality John Salter, and he ran a coffee house by the side of the Thames in Chelsea. He thought a Spanish variant of his name gave a little added colour - and his was no ordinary coffee shop. It was a veritable treasure trove of tat - a museum where display cabinets filled every space, and with exhibits hanging down from the ceiling. Natural curiosities, holy relics, fossils, shells, coins and medals – anything and everything was displayed. Entrance was free as long as the visitor bought a cup of coffee – or, as in Richard’s case, you purchased an exhibit. Thirteen shillings appears to have been paid for shells and I still have Richard’s collection today. More information on Don Saltero's Coffee Shop can be found here.

• Mrs Wright’s waxworks

Before Madame Tussaud came to London (and got trapped here because of the war with France!) there had been a succession of wax-works. The one Richard favoured was in Pall Mall and was run by an American woman called Mrs Wright. She created a sensation with her models of the Great and the Good, and reportedly enjoyed playing tricks on people by arranging her models in life-like poses on a settee, and watching as the visitors tried to strike up a conversation! Mrs Wright later sought a pension from the US Government, claiming that she had in fact been acting as a spy while in England, sounding out politicians about their plans during the War of Independence, and smuggling notes back to America, rolled up inside the wax effigies which she had made. More information appears here.

• The Leverian (Holophusicon)

Writing in 1780 Richard Hall mentioned that he went with ‘Wife, Daughter, son Francis and Sophy to see Sir Ashton Lever’s Museum of Natural Curiosities – and curious they indeed are! Dined afterward at a steakhouse.”
The Leverian as it was called (when it wasn’t going by the weird name of the Holophusicion) had opened in 1775 and entertained visitors for over twelve years. Inside were a small sample (well, 25,000!) of Sir Ashton’s vast collection of fossils, shells, and animals (birds, insects, reptiles, fish, monkeys and so on). Richard would have paid over twenty five shillings (equivalent to perhaps a hundred pounds or 150 dollars) for his party to explore the exhibition at Leicester House, and for this they would also have been able to marvel at some of the curiosities brought back by Captain James Cook from his Pacific voyages.

• Visiting Greenwich – Royal Hospital

Richard Hall noted in his diary that he and Martha (his daughter) went by boat to Greenwich and ate whitebait. He would have marvelled at the beautiful buildings making up the Royal Hospital for Seamen at Greenwich, (subsequently the Royal Naval College). Designed by Sir Christopher Wren and constructed in various stages throughout the first half of the century, the buildings were designed to accommodate up to 1500 sick and injured sailors, When the baroque Painted Chapel in the King William Court was finished it was deemed far too grand for the sailors and it became a tourist attraction.

What comes across from my ancestors diaries is how much time (and money!) he was prepared to spend entertaining friends and showing them the sights. Many more details appear in my book The Journal of a Georgian Gentleman and I have expanded many of the thumb-nail sketches listed above into full posts on my blogsite at

Giveaway: Autumn Duchess by Lucinda Brant

This week's giveaway is Autumn Duchess by Lucinda Brant. You can read about the book HERE and then return to enter the drawing by commenting below. Please be sure to leave contact information.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

English / British Historical-Fiction Summer Reads

by Debra Brown

Getting ready for summer reading? Don't forget your sunglasses! Or if you are Down-Under, just grab a blanket, light a fire and read along. I have invited my author friends to send me the titles of their British historical fiction so you can find many here in one place. You can read more about each book at the purchase point. Feel free to join us on Facebook to chat with the authors and talk about the books.

English / British Historical Fiction Books by Subgenre


Her Highness, the Traitor ~ Susan Higginbotham

Montfort The Early Years 1229 to 1243 ~ Katherine Ashe 
Montfort The Founder of Parliament: The Viceroy 1243-1253  
Montfort The Revoutionary 1253 to 1260
Montfort The Angel with the Sword 1260 to 1265
Amazon UK

The King's Concubine, a novel of Alice Perrers ~ Anne O'Brien
Queen Defiant, a novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine 
The Virgin Widow

The Crown ~ Nancy Bilyeau

Fair Weather ~ Barbara Gaskell Denvil
Amazon UK

Limbo Man ~ Blair Bancroft

The Queen's Lady ~ Barbara Kyle
The King's Daughter (Thornleigh)
The Queen's Captive (Thornleigh)
The Queen's Gamble (Thornleigh)
The Rival Queens (coming in early 2013)
Amazon US
Amazon UK

I Serve: A Novel of the Black Prince ~ Rosanne E. Lortz

Sumerford's Autumn ~ Barbara Gaskell Denvil
Amazon UK  
The Lady's Slipper ~ Deborah Swift                
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Peaceweaver ~ Judith Arnopp
The Forest Dwellers
The Song of Heledd
Confessions of the Queens

Twins ~ Katherine Pym

Historical Suspense

The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy ~ Regina Jeffers

Cozy Mystery

The Phantom of Pemberley ~ Regina Jeffers


May 1812 ~ M.M. Bennetts
Of Honest Fame
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Crime or Mystery

Devoured (Available for pre-order in the UK) ~ Denise Meredith

Satin Cinnabar ~ Barbara Gaskell Denvil

Deadly Engagement (Alec Halsey Crimance book 1) ~ Lucinda Brant
Deadly Affair (Alec Halsey Crimance book 2)

Of Carrion Feathers (release date June 1st, 2012) ~ Katherine Pym

Death by Marriage (Released in June 2012) ~ Blair Bancroft


Sweet (Clean) Romance

The Companion of Lady Holmeshire ~ Debra Brown

Love Me Always ~ Marie Higgins
Charmed By Knight
True Love's Deception
Belong To Me
Love Comes Blindly (available in mid-June)
The Sweetest Kiss
The Sweetest Touch
Take My Heart (Colonial America, English characters)
Falling In Love Again (Colonial America, English characters)

The Shattered Mirror ~ David W. Wilkin

Rhianna (to be Released on July 16th) ~ Amanda L. V. Shalaby

The Reckless Barrister ~ April Kihlstrom
The Wily Wastrel
The Sentimental Soldier
The Ambitious Baronet
The Widower's Folly
Soldier's Bride

To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn ~ Sandra Byrd
The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr

Of Moths and Butterflies ~ V.R. Christensen
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Heyerwood: A Novel ~ Lauren Gilbert
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Walk to Paradise Garden ~ John Campbell
Amazon US
Amazon UK 

Darcy's Passions ~ Regina Jeffers
Darcy's Temptation

Romantic Satire

Merits and Mercenaries ~ A Lady a.k.a. Lady A~

Romance (Moderate)

Rules of Conduct ~ Maggi Andersen
Amazon UK 

The Queen's Pawn ~ Christy English
Amazon US

Amazon UK

Gisborne: Book of Pawns ~ Prue Batten

The Highest Stakes ~ Emery Lee 

Noble Satyr (Roxton series book 1) ~ Lucinda Brant
Midnight Marriage (Roxton series book 2)
Autumn Duchess (Roxton series book 3) 
Salt Bride
Amazon UK

Viola, a Woeful Tale of Marriage ~ Katherine Pym 

Captain Wentworth's Persuasion ~ Regina Jeffers

At the Mercy of the Queen ~ Anne Barnhill
Amazon US
Amazon UK

By the Sword ~ Alison Stuart
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Coming Home ~ Vonnie Hughes
Amazon UK 

Lady Silence ~ Blair Bancroft
A Gamble on Love
A Season for Love
The Temporary Earl
The Harem Bride
The Courtesan’s Letters

Mistletoe Moment
The Captive Heiress

World War II English Village Life

Gang Territory ~ Peter St John 
Gang Warfare
Gang Rivalry
Gang Loyalty
Gang Petition
Gang Spies


Undreamed Shores ~ Mark Patton
Amazon UK

Time Travel

Dreamspell ~ Tamara Leigh
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Gothic Romance

The Montmoors 1: The Governess and the Master ~ Lisa Greer
The Montmoors 2: The Bastard Returns (Releasing June 25th)

Amazon US
Amazon UK


Airborne - The Hanover Restoration ~ Blair Bancroft

Inspirational Romance

Christmas at Pemberley ~ Regina Jeffers

Paranormal Romance

Vampire Darcy's Desire ~ Regina Jeffers


At Home in the Land of Oz: Autism, My Sister and Me ~ Anne Barnhill
Amazon US
Amazon UK