Abolitionism in the UK and the Rerelease of “Darcy’s Temptation” + a Giveaway

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, a movement took root to end the practice of slavery in the United Kingdom, as well as the British empire, including putting an end to the Atlantic slave trade. Western Europe and the Americas were already in the middle of their own movements at the time.

Buying and selling slaves was made illegal across the British Empire in 1807, but this law did not address the ownership of slaves, which was a practice not made illegal until 1833. The act was partly enforced by the West Africa Squadron of the Royal Navy. The Act imposed a fine of £100 for every slave found aboard a British ship. Despite the end of slavery in Great Britain did not end the practice of other parts of the British Empire. British banks continued to finance the commodities and shipping industries in the colonies, which they had previously establish, especially in the West Indian colonies.

In 1785, the English poet William Cowper, a reported favorite of Jane Austen, wrote . ..

We have no slaves at home.—Then why abroad?
And they themselves once ferried o’er the wave
That parts us, are emancipate and loos’d.
Slaves cannot breathe in England; if their lungs
Receive our air, that moment they are free,
They touch our country and their shackles fall.
That’s noble, and bespeaks a nation proud
And jealous of the blessing. Spread it then,
And let it circulate through ev’ry vein
Of all your empire. That where Britain’s power
Is felt, mankind may feel her mercy too.

Cowper, William, The task: a poem, in six books. By William Cowper (London: printed for J. Johnson, 1785), p. 47

After the formation of the Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade in 1787, William Wilberforce led the cause of abolition through the parliamentary campaign. After the 1807 Slave Trade Act, Wilberforce continued his campaign to see the practice abolished throughout the British Empire.

If you have never seen the 2007 movie entitled “Amazing Grace,” I highly recommend it. The film opened in the U. S. on 23 February 2007, which coincided with the 200th anniversary of the date the British parliament voted to ban the slave trade. You will find some period drama favorites (as well as Austen ones) in this film, including Ioan Gruffudd as William Wilberforce, Romola Garai as Barbara Spooner (Wilberforce’s eventual wife), Ciarán Hinds as Lord Tarleton, Rufus Sewell as Thomas Clarkson, Youssuu N’ Dour as Olaudah Equiano (one of the most prominent Africans involved in the debate involving slavery), Michael Gambon as Lord Charles Fox, Albert Finney as John Newton (the author of the poem upon which the hymn “Amazing Grace” comes), Benedict Cumberbatch as William Pitt, Sylvestra Le Touzel as Marianne Thornton, and Toby Jones as the Duke of Clarence.

As I mentioned above, the buying and selling of slaves was made illegal across the British Empire in 1807, but owning slaves was permitted until it was outlawed completely in 1833, beginning a process where from 1834 slaves became indentured “apprentices” to their former owners until emancipation was achieved for the majority by 1840 and for remaining exceptions by 1843. Former slave owners received formal compensation for their losses from the British government, known as compensated emancipation.

The 1807 act’s intention was to outlaw the slave trade within the British Empire, but the lucrative trade continued despite the law. Captains knowing they were about to be set upon by the British Royal Navy would throw slaves into the sea to mitigate the fines they would incur. Abolitionist Henry Brougham realized the slave trade would continue, so, in 1811, as a new Member of Parliament, Brougham introduced the Slave Trade Felony Act. This law made slave trading a criminal felony throughout the British empire, meaning British subjects worldwide. The law permitted the Royal Navy to pursue slave traders without hesitation. In 1827, the British defined slave trade as a form of piracy and made the action punishable by death.

Obviously, this subject is much more complex than the overview I have provided, and it is often a sore point for many. The abolitionist movement proves to be a backdrop for the story going on between Miss Georgiana Darcy and Mr. Chadwick Harrison in Darcy’s Temptation. Harrison has inherited an estate not far from Pemberley. He has arrived in England, fresh from the Americas, where he has become a strong supporter of being rid of slavery in the British Empire. Fitzwilliam Darcy does not disagree with the man’s principles, but he also does not approve of Harrison’s possible courtship of his sister Georgiana. Darcy means to keep Georgiana safely tucked away from the violence which sometimes surrounds the issue and the man.

In this excerpt, Darcy has escorted Georgiana to London for her Come Out. He means to introduce her to other possible suitors, but Harrison has followed, and Georgiana responds in a “bold” manner. Please remember this romance began at the end of Darcy’s Passions, meaning it has been nearly a year since the couple has taken each other’s acquaintance and about two-thirds the way through Darcy’s Temptation.

Going down the line on Darcy’s arm, Georgiana’s eyes surveyed the room. Out of the shadows stepped a familiar figure, and she felt her heart skip a beat. He motioned with his eyes to the balcony, and she nodded slightly in agreement. A blush overspread her body, and Georgiana suddenly felt warmth spread through each of her limbs. Darcy, thankfully, dropped into his usual silence and did not take note of the changes in his sister. When the set concluded, Georgiana excused herself, saying she required some fresh air, and headed toward the main entrance. She wanted her brother to think she exited the way they came into the hall, but once out of his sight lines, she circled inconspicuously until she slipped through the barely opened door to the small balcony. 

“Miss Darcy,” she heard his voice before she could make out his features. 

“Mr. Harrison,” she gasped, unable to control her excitement. They made quick bows to each another before she boldly stepped forward to face him. “You were missed, sir,” she whispered. 

“As were you, Miss Darcy.” His voice suddenly became hoarse. 

“I did not expect to see you in London,” she whispered again, thinking her voice betrayed her delight at seeing him. 

“I am being courted by some members of Parliament,” he told her quickly, “to accept a seat recently vacated in the House of Commons.” 

She asked hopefully, “Then you will be in London for some time?” 

Harrison’s countenance fell, and Georgiana saw how her words bothered him. “My time in London is short—only a few days, but I could not permit my time in the City to pass without seeing you, Miss Darcy.” 

“Say my name,” she said suddenly and moved closer still. 

Harrison caressed her jaw line, allowing his thumb to massage her temple. “Georgiana,” he whispered, earnestly filled with desire. 

“Chadwick.” Georgiana snaked her arms around his neck as he pulled her closer to him. 

“You are the most unpredictable woman I have ever seen,” he declared. 

“Do I shock you?” She buried her face into his chest, not believing her boldness. 

Harrison lifted her chin and looked deeply into Georgiana’s eyes. “I am a man who requires your assurances; if I am shocked, it is of the most pleasant kind.” He bent to kiss her lips, willing Georgiana to respond to him. 

The kiss built in intensity. His tongue parted her lips and searched the inside of her mouth. At first, she held back her passion, but then Georgiana followed suit, allowing herself to taste his lips and mouth fully. 

Breathing heavily, they parted reluctantly, and Georgiana stepped away from him to settle her composure. “I must return before my brother misses me,” she said at last. 

Harrison moved up behind her. “Like at Matlock, the set before we go in to supper is mine, Georgiana.” He laced his fingers through hers. 

Georgiana rested her head upon his shoulder to feel his closeness once more. “I will be waiting for you.” Her heart fluttered with excitement as she touched his face briefly and then slipped back through the door to the ballroom. 

Harrison waited ten minutes before he, too, returned to the room, partly because he wanted to make certain no signs of impropriety followed her and partly because it took nearly so long for him to recover from his desire to hold Georgiana Darcy in his arms. 

Returning to the room, Georgiana danced with several other partners and once more with Henry Dorchester, thankful it would be the last time she must tolerate his attentions on this evening. Throughout the set, she searched for Chadwick Harrison’s face, nearly believing she had dreamed him into existence, and he was not really here in this same arena as she. Distractedly, she mumbled her responses to Dorchester’s silly observations. At last, the dance ended, and she found herself by Darcy’s side once again. 

Nervously, she waited Harrison’s approach, finally feeling his presence before he actually stood behind her. “Miss Darcy,” his voice recovered its resonant qualities, “if you are not otherwise engaged, may I request the honor of the next dance?” 

Georgiana shot a quick glance at her brother, who betrayed nothing in his countenance, before answering him. “Mr. Harrison,” she feigned surprise, “I was unaware you were in London, sir.” 

“I only arrived this afternoon,” he bowed to Darcy, and then he extended his hand to Georgiana. 

She smiled brightly at him and accepted his arm as he led her to the dance floor. For thirty minutes he would be able to drink in her beauty and goodness; heaven enveloped him. Georgiana felt very much the same; for the next half hour her life would be perfect. 

Darcy’s Temptation: A Sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

The day Fitzwilliam Darcy marries Elizabeth Bennet, he thinks his life is complete at last. Four months later, even greater joy appears on the horizon when Elizabeth finds out she is pregnant. But it is not long before outside forces intrude on their happiness. When the unthinkable happens, Elizabeth and Darcy must discover their love for each other all over again.

Romantic and insightful, Darcy’s Temptation captures the original style and sardonic wit of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice while weaving its beloved characters into an exciting new tale. In a story set against the backdrop of the British abolitionist movement, family difficulties and social affairs weigh heavily on the newlyweds, and a dramatic turn of events forces Elizabeth to try to recapture Darcy’s love before the manipulative Cecelia McFarland succeeds in luring him away.

GIVEAWAY: I have two eBook copies of Darcy’s Temptation available to those who comment below. Winners will be contacted by email.

Posted in America, American History, book excerpts, book release, British history, British Navy, eBooks, England, excerpt, film, film adaptations, Georgian England, Georgian Era, giveaway, historical fiction, history, Jane Austen, Living in the UK, Pride and Prejudice, publishing, reading habits, real life tales, Realm series, Regency era, Regency personalities, Regency romance, religion, research, romance, Vagary, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Nature and Music and the Importance of the Two in the Rerelease of “Darcy’s Temptation” + a Giveaway

Most of us would likely agree there is a relationship between music and nature. Listening to a babbling brook, the chirping of birds, and even the silence of snow are all common ingredients to which we can relate.

In writing Darcy’s Temptation, I wished Georgiana Darcy, who most Jane Austen Fan Fiction (JAFF) authors depict as not only a lover of music, but also as a musician with remarkable talent, to discover a mature love thanks to her music. Her romantic interest in this novel is a man who has an inherited a nearby estate, but also a man of principles, many of which do not quite align with those of Fitzwilliam Darcy’s. Darcy is a man who believes much of what Chadwick Harrison says, but he is not one to take an open stance against hypocrisy for fear it would reflect poorly on his family and place them in danger. Such is the reason he does not approve of Harrison’s possible courtship of Georgiana, not that the man’s station or his wealth is in question, but Harrison speaking out against slavery may place Georgiana in danger. Darcy has yet to discover his voice, although privately he has pursued connections to abolitionists leaders such as Hannah Moore, but that is the topic for a different post.

This post deals with the connection between music and nature. In her senior theses, Katricia D. F. Stewart, speaks of Taoist philosophers proposing music to be “a potent cosmic force capable of expanding human intelligence and enhancing communion with the non-human world” [De Woskin] The connection between music and nature is reflected in works the modern day American composers David Dunn and Pauline Oliveros “who propose that (1) listening is one of the best means for understanding our profound physical interconnectedness with the natural world, and (2) the ability to listen is the source of human creativity and intelligence. The idea of nature’s music being connected to, if not a primary source of, the human capacity for wisdom and inspiration has many roots that reach far back into human history have prevailed over time. What these ancient and modern philosophies have in common is their suggestion that attentive listening to nature helps us to perceive the interconnectedness of life – our integration with the natural world – via hearing and internalizing layers of the natural
environment our eyes simply cannot perceive. Although all of these philosophies emphasize the importance of sound and listening for intelligence, creativity, and wisdom, the modern philosopher-composers also argue an unawareness of sound is an indication of being disconnected with one’s environment, which too often occurs in urban areas most of us in Western society live in. Many other
philosophies throughout history have reflected this sentiment, making music an integral and
ubiquitous aspect of everyday life. Science – about two thousand years behind – is only just
beginning to demonstrate the physical, emotional, and mental affects of both nature and music on
human emotion and psyche, shedding light on why these two elements have always been so
critical to human life.”

The KCRW Podcast tells us, “Music has been used to communicate and to coordinate with others for thousands of years, but humans weren’t the first source of song. Birds, whales, and even bats are frequently defined by their use of musical patterns to attract mates, deter rivals, or to define who they are. From lullabies to hip-hop, we all have an affinity for music and benefit from the ways it enriches our lives. Liverpool University Professor of Music Michael Spitzer traces our relationship to music in his latest book “The Musical Human: A History of Life on Earth,” and describes music as our “umbilical cord” to Mother Nature.”  

The blurb for this book says it all:

165 million years ago saw the birth of rhythm

65 million years ago came the first melody.

40 thousand year ago Homo sapiens created the first musical instrument.

Today, music fills our lives. How we have created, performed and listened to music throughout history has defined what our species is and how we understand who we are. Yet it is an overlooked part of our origin story.

The Musical Human takes us on an exhilarating journey across the ages – from Bach to BTS and back – to explore the vibrant relationship between music and the human species. With insights from a wealth of disciplines, world-leading musicologist Michael Spitzer renders a global history of music on the widest possible canvas, from global history to our everyday lives, from insects to apes, humans to artificial intelligence.

*******************************************************

But what of my story? Below is an excerpt from Chapter 15 where Georgiana teaches Mr. Harrison something of music and nature, or is her lesson something of true love?

Chapter 15 

“How wonderful, how very wonderful the operations of time, 

and the changes of the human mind.” 

Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, 1814

From the hill overlooking Pemberley House, Chadwick Harrison espied her walking away from her home and immediately turned his mount from the road leading to the carriageway and instead circled the building to follow Georgiana to her destination. In reality, it was she he had come to see; it was she to whom he must say his goodbyes.

Early afternoon found Georgiana climbing the hill behind the house, taking in the warmth of the spring sun. The stress of finding her brother required a more demanding walk than usual for the delicate-natured Georgiana. She neared the glade separating the lake from the foothills and took a seat on a hollowed-out log. Raising her face to the sun, Georgiana closed her eyes and listened to the world. 

She took her pleasure in the quiet of the glade and the unseasonable warmth of the day. Unaware of Mr. Harrison’s presence, she gathered some wildflowers and sat twirling a long stalk as if conducting an orchestra, eyes closed and engrossed in her own world. 

She had no idea how Harrison, captivated by the image of the sunlight reflecting off her golden locks, watched with longing. He wanted to take her in his embrace and kiss the nape of her neck. His eyes drank in her beauty, and it was with great difficulty he finally spoke her name. “Miss Darcy.” His voice was husky with desire. 

She turned calmly as if expecting him to find her in this special place. “Mr. Harrison, this is a most pleasant surprise.” Her eyes held a new light of recognition especially for him. 

“It seems I lost my way to Pemberley.” He gave her a smile of amusement. “But I managed to find you.” His smile grew by the moment. “Mayhap you might save a wayward soul.” 

“I am afraid, sir, saving souls belongs in the realm of duties of Mr. Ashford. All I might offer you is the music.” Georgiana dropped her eyes as he approached. 

Harrison found her words intriguing. “The music, Miss Darcy?” 

“Come, Mr. Harrison, and sit by me, and permit me to introduce you to the music.” Georgiana looked him directly in the eyes and bid him do as she said. She had never felt so brave—so in control of her world.

Harrison, thankfully, moved to the log and took a seat. “Give me your hand, Mr. Harrison, and close your eyes.” Georgiana touched each of his eyelids with her fingertips. She heard the deep intake of breath he took, giving her the confidence to continue. 

She spoke softly, nearly in his ear, and she knew he could feel the warmth of her breath against his cheek, for he shivered, just as did she. “Keep your eyes closed, Mr. Harrison, and listen to the music—the music is in the wind, in the rush of the reeds by the lake, and in the sun dancing off your face.” She slipped her hand in his, and he tightened the grip. They sat as such for a few moments; then she said, “Do you hear the music, Mr. Harrison?” 

A smile crept into the corners of his mouth. “Who would think it possible? A man can hear something where nothing is there. Do you hear the grasshopper singing, Miss Darcy? How about the wings of the birds beating out a rhythm overhead?” 

Harrison sat still, and she enjoyed the feeling of his hand as it encircled hers and of his closeness—his warmth along her shoulder. His words brought Georgiana’s attention to his face, at first thinking he teased, but realizing Harrison listened with all his being just as she did.  She could not look away, memorizing the lines forming on his forehead and around his eyes. 

“Do you hear the sandy swish of the leaves against each other at the top of the tree? Can you hear the rippling sound of the water as it drips from the hill to the waiting pool?” she whispered in his ear. 

Harrison turned his head slowly, gradually opening his eyes and coming face to face with her at last. Only inches apart, he asked, “Georgiana, can you hear the beating of my heart?” 

His use of her familiar name opened an intimacy denied to them in public. “I hear it, Chadwick.” 

“Georgiana,” he whispered with such passion it should frighten her. Instead, it drew her deeper into the spell surrounding them. Hypnotized by their closeness, he asked, “Might I kiss you, Georgiana? Your beauty and your kindness steals my breath away.” She wondered if he, too, felt his control dissolving into the desire they shared. 

She did not deny him—did not say a word. Just waited. Finally, he lowered his lips to touch hers, and the firmness with which she responded surprised even her. His arms encircled her as he deepened the kiss. When he reluctantly withdrew, his breath came in short bursts. Likewise, did hers. Georgiana instinctively rested her head against his shoulder, breathing in the smell of his desire and mixing it with the essence of hers. “My dearest Georgiana,” he whispered into her ear, “what does a wish sound like?” 

The delight of her giggle started deep within her. She withdrew just far enough to see his eyes. “I do not know the music found in a wish, but I know the feel of it.” She traced his lips with her fingertips. 

Harrison kissed her fingertips lightly and then returned to her mouth for one last time before he would be required to part from her. The memory of those kisses must sustain both him and her for many months. “Georgiana,” his voice played soft against her hair, “I must take my leave of your family today.” 

“I know, Mr. Harrison.” Her voice was muffled by his cravat as she leaned into him. 

“Must it be ‘Mr. Harrison,’ Georgiana?”

“Chadwick.” She smiled at him. 

Harrison’s smile widened. “You never cease to amaze me, Georgiana.” 

“You will be missed, sir.” She sat up and began to straighten her dress, but she looked back to caress Harrison’s jaw line. 

Harrison looked deep into her eyes, and an imprecation escaped his lips. “I wish I never made a promise to your sister.” 

“My birthday is not until late August,” she taunted. 

Harrison gasped, “You know?”

“Of course I know.” 

“Then you will wait for me?” 

They both knew they had overstepped the bounds of propriety, but with the changes in the assemblage at Pemberley, neither expected him to be invited often to the house, if at all. Their chances of encountering each other regularly had decreased with the return of her brother. 

Georgiana looked away. “My brother plans to present me to Society this year.” 

“How? With Mrs. Darcy’s lying in?” 

“I made the same argument.” The tears welled in Georgiana’s eyes. “He says it is our duty—my duty to my family.” 

Distress played across her face for all the world to view.

“Georgiana,” his voice came out huskily, “I will do what you want me to do. You know my desire—my regard lies with you. Send word, and I will come for you at any time. I know I should not say these words to you, but I love you.” 

Georgiana blushed, but she did not look away. “I will not allow my brother to arrange a marriage for me. I will choose to whom I present my regard. I will wait for you, Chadwick.” The resolve in her voice was a surprise to her, for she did not often practice such “stubbornness,” but her actions felt right, nonetheless. “I must return to the house; they will miss me soon.” Looking about anxiously, she stood to take her leave. 

Harrison walked to where his horse grazed nearby. “I will circle around the house and come out on the carriageway. I should be making my farewells by the time you arrive home.” He prepared to mount, but Georgiana stood close, and so they embraced once more. “Miss Darcy, thank you for giving me the gift of music.” He caressed her jaw line, and then he swung himself up into the saddle. 

“I will wait,” she said again with more determination, “for you, Mr. Harrison, I will wait.” 

**************************************************

Did you enjoy that excerpt? Our once foolish Miss Darcy has “screwed her courage to the sticking place.” Darcy’s Temptation is a sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, but it also serves as a sequel to my first novel, Darcy’s Passions. Both books were originally published by Ulysses Press, which presented me my start upon a writing career nearly 15 years ago. This is a rerelease of the original novel with a new cover, but, basically it is the same book – no major changes in the plot.

Darcy’s Temptation: A Sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

The day Fitzwilliam Darcy marries Elizabeth Bennet, he thinks his life is complete at last. Four months later, even greater joy appears on the horizon when Elizabeth finds out she is pregnant. But it is not long before outside forces intrude on their happiness. When the unthinkable happens, Elizabeth and Darcy must discover their love for each other all over again.

Romantic and insightful, Darcy’s Temptation captures the original style and sardonic wit of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice while weaving its beloved characters into an exciting new tale. In a story set against the backdrop of the British abolitionist movement, family difficulties and social affairs weigh heavily on the newlyweds, and a dramatic turn of events forces Elizabeth to try to recapture Darcy’s love before the manipulative Cecelia McFarland succeeds in luring him away.

Sources for the Article on Music and Nature:

[De Woskin, K. (2002). Chinese Philosophy and Aesthetics. In The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music: East Asia, Vol 7 (ed. Robert C. Provine, Yosihiko Tokumaru, and J. Lawrence Witzleben). New York, NY: Routledge.]

Stewart, Katricia D. F., Linfield College, Senior Theses. Digital Commons. “The Essentialism of Music in Human Life and Its Roots in Nature.”

Giveaway: I have two eBook copies of Darcy’s Temptation Available for those who comment below. Winners will be contacted by email.

Posted in book excerpts, book release, books, British history, eBooks, Georgian England, Georgian Era, giveaway, heroines, historical fiction, Jane Austen, Living in the Regency, marriage, Pride and Prejudice, publishing, Regency era, Regency romance, research, Ulysses Press, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Derbyshire and Well Dressings and the ReRelease of “Darcy Temptation” + a Giveaway

The origin of the practice of what is known as “well dressings” is a bit of a mystery. Most believe the celebration dates back to the Celts, but few places, other than Derbyshire and Staffordshire, England, have kept the tradition. It is assumed Derbyshire’s, in particular, remoteness kept the tradition from being usurped by the later Roman, Saxon, Danish and Norman invasions. Early Christians considered the decoration of wells as a pagan ritual, worshipping a water god. However, eventually, the churches relented. Today, most villages hold a church service to bless the well, which is followed by a carnival-like celebration. 

Tissington was the first village to re-introduce the practice, as far back as 1349. The celebration was to mark the fact Tissington had escaped the Black Death. The Black Death was a devastating global epidemic of bubonic plague that struck Europe and Asia in the mid-1300s. The clean water taps were decorated by the villagers.

In a “well dressing” ceremony, wells and springs are decorated with pictures made from flowers and other natural materials. The pictures are constructed on a wooden frame, which has been soaked in a nearby river to make certain it is very wet. The frame has a wet clay backing to hold the flowers, etc. First, the outline of the image is made. Then the designer adds the more durable elements (those that do not dry up quickly). These are likely to be seeds, bark, pine needles, moss, etc. Finally, the flower petals are added. (In the U. S., much the same process is used to create the floats in the annual Rose Parade.) The items chosen for the image depend on whether the celebration is a spring one or occurs in the autumn. 

WellDressing.com (which has a great section on the construction of the dressings) tells us, “In the early days, the dressing of wells would have taken the form of simple arrangements of flowers and other natural materials. In this form it takes place today in many parts of the world. The unique Derbyshire tradition of elaborate pictures made for the most part of individual flower petals pressed onto clay covered boards seems to date from Victorian times, when there were many movements afoot to revive and enhance old folk traditions. The earliest recorded examples are in Tissington, but the tradition quickly spread to other villages. Sometimes, as in Youlgrave, the Dressings appeared at the village taps (pumps or fountains) to celebrate the arrival of piped water; hence the reason why they are sometimes known as Tap Dressings.

“One example of Tap Dressing was in Endon in the mid-19th century, possibly as early as 1845. Endon is in Staffordshire, thus disproving the commonly held belief that Well Dressing beyond the boundaries of Derbyshire is a recent phenomenon. Like Tissington and Youlgrave, Endon continues the Well Dressing tradition to the present day.

“Another commonly held misconception is that Tissington is always the first Well Dressing of the year. This used to be true; Tissington has kept to the tradition of holding its Well Dressing Festival on Ascension Day, while the next group of dressings typically occurred at Whitsun. With the introduction of May holidays on fixed dates, however, a number of venues now hold their events in the early part of May. Because Ascension Day is a moveable feast, these can occur before of after the date of Tissington.

“Quite a number of town and villages have a long standing tradition of Well Dressing going back to the late 19th or early 20th centuries. Others have come and gone over the years, but the last few decades of the 20th century saw a great revival of the craft, with many villages in Derbyshire taking up the tradition. Villages in other counties did so too, often as a result of a former Derbyshire resident moving there. A kind of peak was reached with the Millennium Year when everyone seemed to pull out all the stops to make a great celebration. After that a slight malaise seemed to set in and a number of established venues disappeared from the calendar. Writing nearly a decade later, I am happy to be able to record another revival under way; although we may still be losing a few old established and much loved venues, many more new events are seeing the light of day each year.”

 

buxwinter2008

Winter Well Dressing – Buxton ~ http://welldressing.com/extra.php

JeffersDTAbove is the original cover of Darcy’s Temptation, published by Ulysses Press on September 10, 2009. The book was chosen as a 2009 Booksellers’ Best Award Finalist in the Long Historical Category

About two years ago, I received the rights back to all my books from Ulysses Press as they were going to focus on nonfiction books, rather than fiction. As audiobooks are expensive for the self-published author to absorb, I permitted Ulysses to continue to distribute the audio rights for the all the titles I published with them. Below is the new cover for Darcy’s Temptation. It released today, January 23, 2023. 

Note: In Darcy’s Temptation, Elizabeth and Georgiana purposefully dress in the same colors as the women in the winter well dressing depiction. It becomes a wonderful scene where Mr. Darcy’s learns a proper lesson regarding his new wife.

Resources: 

The Black Death

The Evolving Art of Well Dressing – Atlas Obscura (includes many wonderful images)

Visit Peak District

Well Dressing and Well Flowers – Historic UK

 

Darcy’s Temptation: A Sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

The day Fitzwilliam Darcy marries Elizabeth Bennet, he thinks his life is complete at last. Four months later, even greater joy appears on the horizon when Elizabeth announces she is pregnant. But it is not long before outside forces intrude on their happiness. When the unthinkable happens, Elizabeth and Darcy must discover their love for each other all over again.

Romantic and insightful, Darcy’s Temptation captures the original style and sardonic wit of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice while weaving its beloved characters into an exciting new tale. In a story set against the backdrop of the British abolitionist movement, family difficulties and social affairs weigh heavily on the newlyweds, and a dramatic turn of events forces Elizabeth to recapture Darcy’s love before the manipulative Cecelia McFarland succeeds in luring him away.

GIVEAWAY: I have two eBooks available to those who comment below. Winners will be contacted by email.

Posted in book release, British history, buildings and structures, Church of England, customs and tradiitons, Georgian England, Georgian Era, heroines, historical fiction, Jane Austen, Living in the Regency, marriage, Pride and Prejudice, publishing, reading habits, real life tales, Regency era, Regency romance, research, tradtions, Vagary, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Cost of a Woman’s Clothing in the Regency Era

Recently, I had someone ask me about the cost of such items as court gowns for presentation to the queen and dresses for the London season. Another question came only a week or so later asking about food stuffs, etc. Therefore, in this post, I hope to provide a mixture of tidbits I have accumulated over the last decade or so of writing Regencies. I keep them all in a 600+ page file. LOL! Hopefully, they will assist others in search of details for their own stories.

A court gown could be anything from a hundred pounds or so to several hundred guineas. Keep in mind, this is not just the gown for presentation to the Queen. The price would also include shoes, stocking, jewels, a fan, gloves, headdress, possibly a cloak or outer garment. All this adds up. Court gown could generally only be worn once, but sometimes they might be constructed to be adapted and reused. I used that particular idea in my Realm series for Lady Eleanor Fowler and Miss Velvet Aldridge, the heroines of A Touch of Scandal and A Touch of Velvet, respectively. They were cousins and were presented on the same day. The cost of a court dress could run anywhere from £200 and upward to £500. Sometimes more.

Author Candice Hern on her Regency World website tells us, “The rules of Court directed that ladies should wear skirts with hoops and trains, and that white ostrich feathers be worn in the hair, attached to lappets which hung below the shoulders. These rules had been in place long before George III took the throne. In his predecessor’s day the skirts were enhanced with panniers that stood out very wide on either side, but leaving the front and back flat. The intent of such odd-looking dresses was to display a broad swath of beautifully embroidered fabric, some of which had pictorial or floral scenes that used the entire front of the skirt as a canvas. Side panniers had been replaced by normal round hoops by the time George III came to the throne in 1760. In the last decade of the 18th century, the fashion for wide skirts began to evolve into the slim, vertical line associated with Regency dress. Queen Charlotte, however, held firm on the rules of Court Dress, and ladies were forced to adapt those rules to the current style, which produced a very odd-looking garment with the high-waist under the bosom and a full hoped skirt.

“The presentations took place at St. James’s Palace at events called Drawing Rooms, where the monarch and/or his Queen received those attending Court. Presentation Drawing Rooms were held two or three times a week during the Season. Based on letters and diaries of the time, it was so stressful an experience that it was regarded more as a duty than a pleasure. The young woman to be presented stood sometimes for hours (one never sat in the presence of the Queen) waiting for her name to be announced by the Lord Chamberlain. She then walked to where the Queen sat and made a deep curtsy — which had been practiced and practiced while wearing the hooped skirt. A few pleasantries were exchanged, the young woman answering any question the Queen put to her, but no more. When the Queen indicated she was dismissed, the young woman made one more deep curtsey, and then had to walk backwards out of the royal presence (one never turned one’s back on the Queen) all the while dealing with the obstacle of her train so as not to trip over it.” Again, all these rules can be seen within the stories I mentioned above.

To determine the cost of a London season, one could estimate costs for materials and then add in an extra ten or twenty percent for production. For a full season, a young lady would required walking dresses, morning dresses, evening gowns, riding habits, shoes, boots, half-boots, gloves, stockings, undergarments, bonnets, shawls, muffs (when in fashion), parasols (when in fashion), fans, dominos, spencers, cloaks, pelisses, reticules, more jewelry, and all made to match or create an ensemble. A person could pretty much spend what you could afford. There would also be ribbons, handkerchiefs, perfumes, creams, powders, and all sorts of “extras” the young lady might wish to purchase during her season. These costs, naturally, did not include the entertainments, subscriptions, theater seats, lending libraries, ices at Gunters or the cost of a dancing master or music lessons.

The actual cost of gowns would depend not just on the modiste hired to construct the garment, but also the materials–gold and silver netting and embroidery, expensive laces, spangles, seed pearls, velvets, etc. Then, of course, there was the actual cost of a season: There was the cost of a house rental if one did not actually own a house and the cost of upkeep and staffing a house if one was available to the family. A woman’s bride clothes, obviously, she could not be seen in any of the same dresses she had worn during the Season. The cost could run a couple thousand pounds.

One must remember in the Georgian era, dress shops would be places where one could be fitted and to select fabric, but not buy off the rack, so to speak. Linen drapers were more apt to be patronized than “dress shops” as women of this era were skilled needlewomen.

If you require more information on fashion of the era, I might suggest, Jody Gayle’s Fashion in the Era of Jane Austen: Ackermann’s Repository of Arts. It even includes a listing of actual proprietors, dressmakers, and the like, as well as their addresses.

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You might also choose one of Suzi Love’s series on the Regency Era. For example one might find Fashion Women 1810-1814 : History Notes helpful. [Note: many of the fashion books are specific to years.] I use many of Suzi’s history note books as resources.

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Another excellent reference for cost of fabrics, shoes, hats, gloves and more is this invaluable book is English Women’s Clothing in the Nineteenth Century: A Comprehensive Guide with 1,117 Illustrations by C. Willett Cunningham. It even includes hairstyles.

In this book, the author does comment that the prices listed are those he found in advertisements and therefore were street or average prices. Fine modistes would charge much more.

On a side NOTE, clothes for a young lady’s Come Out would not be considered part of a trousseau. Presentation clothes were made for the lady’s presentation at court or presentation to society, as a whole. These clothes were, generally, not worn after marriage. Think about it: A woman would not know her expected married status until after she was engaged, so her trousseau might include a few things, but would not really be started when she was just being presented to society. She would not know her future status until it was set and then she could proceed as either about to become a duchess or a mere Mrs. So-and-So. Also consider what would happen if a young lady required more than one season to find herself a husband.

In the Regency, if one had a pound, it would be equal to . . .

240 Pence (or) 20 Shillings

There were 12 Pence to a Shilling.

5 Shillings was a Crown (a silver dollar sized coin in Jane Austen’s time).

4 Crowns was a Pound.

Guinea (always gold) was 21 Shillings (a super pound).

Guineas were replace by sovereigns (20 shillings) in 1817, but high end stores continued to price items in guineas.

Jane Austen mentions some prices for inexpensive fabric in her letters, but it could run up to a couple pounds an ell (a former measure of length equivalent to six hand breadths) used mainly for textiles, locally variable but typically about 45 inches and the dresses needed several ells.

The information below comes from 2008, so it is that year’s conversion rates, which was nearly $2/£1.

To convert to the Regency era, with 5 shillings to the crown, such would make a pair of silk stockings a little over two crowns. One can find a complete explanation of Old English Money (post 1066 but pre-1971) at British Life and Culture. There is even a conversion calculator to take pence, crowns, and two bob bits to modern currency (just to give you an idea of how much something comparatively cost).

From The Guardian on old English coins . . .

I found a post a while back that listed prices for various items during Jane Austen’s time. Two sources are cited, so there is a documentation trail, FWIW. (What the Heck is a Pelisse?)

Silk stockings — 12 shillings (£20.38 or $40.24 in today’s currency!)

Woolen stockings — 2 shillings 6 pence (£4.25 or $8.39)

A white silk handkerchief² — 6 shillings (£10.19 or $20.12)

A pair of gloves² — 4 shillings (£6.79 or $13.41)

A simple white dress — 5 shillings (£8.49 or $16.77)

A fan — 5 shillings (£8.49 or $16.77)

Simple shoes 6-11 shillings (£10.19-18.68 or $20.12-36.89)

Walking boots 2 pounds (£67.92 or $134.12)

Cotton fabric — 1 shilling per yard (£1.70 or $3.36)

Enough cotton fabric for a dress — 6 shillings ($20.12)

Velveteen fabric — 2 shillings 10 pence (£4.81 or $9.50)

Enough silk fabric for a dress — 1 pound 6 shillings (£44.15 or $87.18)

**Shawls — if real silk or Kashmir could run £200-300

Shoes  — men’s shoes went from 10 /6 to several pounds for boots so I

think the ladies shoes will  be in the same range.

A silk purse– a coin purse sort of thing–  2 s

some gloves 2/6

Some good references:

From Jane Austen’s World, we find The Economics of Pride and Prejudice or Why a Single Man of with a Fortune of 4000 Per Year Is a Desirable Husband https://janeaustensworld.wordpress.com/2008/02/10/the-economics-of-pride-and-prejudice-or-why-a-single-man-with-a-fortune-of-4000-per-year-is-a-desirable-husband/

Kristen Koster has a Primer on Regency Era Fashion, which may be helpful for some: http://www.kristenkoster.com/a-primer-on-regency-era-womens-fashion/

I also recommend the books Candice Hern references in her article: http://candicehern.com/regencyworld/court-dresses-overview/

Shillings and pence unless specified as guineas. Guineas went out of production  in 1817 but stayed around as prices for luxury goods for a century or two.

    CLOTHES Worked Lace and Muslin Dress Richards & Co 37, Oxford St, 3 doors below Newman St. LBA-1808 June 1808 one – 16 –

    CLOTHES Twill Sarsnet Dress Richards & Co 37, Oxford St, 3 doors below Newman St. worth 1 guinea LBA-1808 June 1808 one-sale – 9 –

    CLOTHES Twill Sarsnet Dress Richards & Co 37, Oxford St, 3 doors below Newman St. worth 1 guinea LBA-1808 June 1808 one-worth – 9 –

    CLOTHES Lustre (dress/cloth) Richards & Co 37, Oxford St, 3 doors below Newman St. LBA-1808June 1808 one – 12 6

    CLOTHES Fancy (Dress/cloth?) Richards & Co 37, Oxford St, 3 doors below Newman St. LBA-180 June 1808 one – 15 –

    CLOTHES Cambric (dress/cloth?) Richards & Co 37, Oxford St, 3 doors below Newman St.; 21shillings LBA-1808 June 1808 one 1 1 –

    CLOTHES Elegant Dresses Forrest & Co: Dresses w/ beautiful border on Leno, Cambric and clear muslin; 16 to 60 shillings LBA-1808 June 1808 one – 16 –

    CLOTHES Elegant Dresses Forrest & Co: Dresses w/ beautiful border on Leno, Cambric and clear muslin; 16 to 60 shillings LBA-1808 June 1808 one 3 – –

    CLOTHES Christmas Ball Dress(preowned) Repositaire a la Mode, 34 Wigmore-St CavendishSq-Mrs. Barrymore TLT-1819-12-25 1808 one – 12 –

    Clothes for the fashionable will be much more. A court gown could cost 300 -1000 guineas.

Posted in British currency, British history, business, customs and tradiitons, fashion, Georgian England, Georgian Era, Jane Austen, Living in the Regency, marriage, marriage customs, Pride and Prejudice, real life tales, Regency era, Regency romance, research | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The “Churching” of Women After Childbirth

61hN29vqkJL._SX341_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg Although it has largely fallen out of favor with Western religion, the concept of “churching” in the Church of England can be traced well into the 20th Century. (Margaret Houlbrooke. Rite out of Time: a Study of the Ancient Rite of Churching and its Survival in the Twentieth Century (viii + 152pp. + 15 plates, Donington: Shaun Tyas, 2011, ISBN 978-1-907730-10-8). Data from the book “is based on new primary research utilizing ecclesiastical archives and personal testimony of both women and clergy. It mainly deals with churching as practised by the Church of England.

“Much of the evidence-base is qualitative, but some quantitative data are also included, albeit they are not always presented and analysed to optimal effect. Particularly interesting is the study of parochial records for three counties between the 1880s and 1940s, which reveals that the number of churchings was equivalent to two-thirds of baptisms (64% in Berkshire, 63% in Staffordshire, 64% in London). The relevant statistics may be found on pp. 27, 33, 35, 47, 49 and 51 and in plates 9 and 10.” [“Churching of Woman] But what exactly is “churching of women”?

The Christian concept of Churching of Women finds it roots in the Jewish practice spoken of in Leviticus 12:2-8. It is a practice in which women were purified after giving birth. It is a blessing of sorts. The practice includes a “thanksgiving” for the woman’s survival of childbirth. It is performed in the case of a live birth, a stillborn, or even for an unbaptized child that has died. The ceremony draws on the symbolism associated with the presentation of Jesus at the Temple, which is found in the New Testament in Luke 2:22-40. Even though many Christians consider Mary to have given birth to Christ without being despoiled, she is said to have gone to the Temple in Jerusalem to fulfill the requirement of the Law of Moses. 

The custom specifies the ceremonial rite is to be used  to restore ritual purity.  The practice lies in the concept that childbirth makes a woman ritually unclean, meaning the presence of blood and body fluids.. This was part of ceremonial, rather than moral law. [Pope, Charles. “Lost Liturgies File: The Churching of Women”, Archdiocese of Washington]

the-churching-of-women-in-a-very-old-version-of-the-book-of-common-E8AH0M.jpg

The women are “reintroduced” to the religion/church/social responsibilities. This practice can be found across a number of cultures. All things having to do with birth and death are understood as somehow sacred. [Knödel, Natalie. “The Thanksgiving of Women after Childbirth, commonly called The Churching of Women”, University of Durham. 1995] In agricultural societies, it is assumed that the practice comes from not permitting a new mother to return to the field too soon. [Marshall, Paul V., Prayer Book Parallels. The public services of the Church arranged for comparative study, New York: The Church Hymnal Corporation, 1989]. In history, we find that women have typically been confined to their beds (or at a minimum, to their homes) for a period following giving birth. Forty days seems to be the customary number of days required for a woman’s “lying in.”Custom differs, but the usual date of churching was the fortieth day after confinement (or giving birth), in accordance with the Biblical date and Jewish practice. The Purification of Mary and the presentation of Jesus at the Temple are commemorated forty days after Christmas. During this time, a female relative took over the responsibilities of running the new mother’s household. If a relative was not available, a “monthly nurse” (a term used in the 18th and 19th centuries) could be hired. The custom of “churching” marked the end of the new mother’s “lying in” and welcomed her back to the community. 

“The rite became the subject of a good deal of misunderstanding as many commentators and preachers, in describing its scriptural antecedents, did not explain the concept clearly, as early as the 6th century protested any notion that defilement was incurred by childbirth and recommended that women should never be separated from the church in case it was seen as such. As a blessing given to mothers after recovery from childbirth, “it is not a precept, but a pious and praiseworthy custom, dating from the early Christian ages”. David Cressy points out that the ceremony acknowledged the woman’s labours and the perils of childbirth. At the conclusion of a month after childbirth, women looked forward to churching as a social occasion, and a time to celebrate with friends. For men it marked the end of a month during which they had to take care of the domestic affairs, commonly referred to as the ‘gander month.'” [“Churching of Women“]

“The service included in the English Book of Common Prayer dates only from the Middle Ages.  While the churching was normally performed by a priest in the parish church there were exceptions of women being churched at home. Prior to the English Reformation, according to the rubric the woman was to occupy the ‘convenient place’ near the parthex. In the first prayer book of Edward VI of England, she was to be ‘nigh unto the quire door.’ In the second of his books, she was to be ‘nigh unto the place where the Table (or altar) standeth.’ Bishop Matthew Wren orders for the diocese of Norwich in 1636 were that women to be churched would come and kneel at a side near the communion table outside the rail, being veiled according to custom, and not covered with a hat. In some parishes there was a special pew known as the ‘churching seat.’

“Churchings were formerly registered in some parishes. In Herefordshire it was not considered proper for the husband to appear in church at the service, or to sit with his wife in the same pew. The words in the rubric requiring the woman to come ‘decently appareled,’ refer to the times when it was thought unbecoming for a woman to come to the service with the elaborate head-dress then the fashion. A veil was usually worn. 

“In pre-Reformation days, it was the custom in English Catholic churches for women to carry lighted tapers when being churched, an allusion to the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin (February 2), celebrated as Candlemas, the day chosen by the Catholic Church for the blessing of the candles for the whole year. At her churching, a woman was expected to make some votive offering to the church, such as the chrisom or alb placed on the child at its christening.” [“Churching of Women”]

800px-Hans_Memling_029

Presentation in the Temple, a representation of the presentation of Jesus at the Temple upon which the churching of women is based. (Hans Memling, c. 1470, Museo del Prado. Madrid). ~ Public Domain ~ via Wikipedia

Other Resources: 

“Churching of Women” 

“Churching of Women” from New Advent

“The Churching of Women” from The Church of England

“The Churching of Women – misogynist or not?” from Churchmouse 

“Why Women Stayed Away from the Church After Birth” from The Compass

Posted in British history, Church of England, customs and tradiitons, England, Great Britain, history, Living in the UK, marriage, marriage customs, medicine, religion, tradtions | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Did a Child of the Aristocracy and Gentry Eat During the Regency Era?

One thing I think ti is important to remember is English children of the aristocracy and gentry classes were traditionally fed their main meal, meaning, usually the meal with meat, in the middle of the day. Such is when most households had dinner, the idea dating back to the time Henry VIII or, perhaps, before. Henry VIII is said to have had his dinner at 11:30 A.M. Children’s meals remained settled at this time of day, even as the adult meal shifted into the afternoon and evening.

During the medieval period dinner was eaten at midday, but this meal was slowly moved up to 3 in the afternoon, then pushed up to five. These meals became elaborate affairs of at least two or three courses, which Louis Simond, a French/American traveler to London, described in wondrous detail in his travel diary. During Jane Austen’s time tea would be served an hour or so after the meal, or from 3-6 o’clock, depending on when dinner was served. Suppers became light snacks, except in the case of a grand ball, where elaborate buffets might be served. From Jane Austen’s World, we learn . . .

“At Chawton, Jane Austen’s own especial duty concerned breakfast. We can imagine her insisting on sharing at least some of the housekeeping duty with Cassandra, and Cassandra’s giving way over breakfast but insisting that Jane had the rest of day free for writing. Breakfast in Austen’s era was very different from the cold meat, coarse bread and ale of earlier ages, or the abundance of eggs, kidneys, bacon and so forth under which Victorian sideboards groaned. Rather it was an an elegant light meal of toast and rolls with tea, coffee or chocolate to drink, all taken off a handsome set of china. Jane’s job would have been to make the toast and boil the kettle at the dining room fire. Like many ladies, not trusting to clumsy servants, she may even have washed and dried the china, and put it away, together with the precious tea and sugar, in a dinning room closet.

In 1798 Jane Austen writes of half past three being the customary dinner hour at Steventon, but by 1808 they are dining at five o’clock in Southampton. There are many mentions of the timing of dinner in the novels, but none is so explicit as in the fragment The Watsons. Tom Musgrave knows perfectly well that the unpretentious Watson family dine at three, and times his visit to embarrass them, arriving just as their servant is bringing in the tray of cutlery. Tom compounds his rudeness by boasting that he dines at eight: the latest dinner hour of any character. At Mansfield Parsonage they dine at half past four and at Northanger Abbey at five. The effect of London fashion can be seen in the difference between the half past four dinner at Longbourn and that at half past six at Netherfield.” – Jane Austen in Context, Janet Todd, p. 264

Children, at least, the ones in one of the typical Regency upper classes, did not typically eat with adults. They were fed by nannies or nursemaids in the nursery. Their meals remained stable, probably because it was just easier that way. A nursery tea, therefore, was the children’s meal just before bath and bed–or just bed in the earlier periods when a daily bath was not considered next to godliness. Whether they called it “tea” or not in Regency times, I do not know—perhaps originally it was “supper.” Although Etymology.com attests to the use of the word earlier, I have never seen any reference to the children’s meal being a “snack” at any time, and, it seems to me, using “snack” might bring out the reviewers who love to ding an author for using a modern word in a historical story. (Just saying . . .) The English use the word ‘”tea” for a meal, as well as a simple noun for a beverage.

Use of “snack” is in period – http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=snack

verb – The meaning “have a mere bite or morsel, eat a light meal” is first attested 1807.

noun – Main modern meaning “a bite or morsel to eat hastily” is attested from 1757.

On the American continent we had what was called “cambric tea.” It is said cambric tea was first noted in the Scottish settlers, but we all know it could have been from any hard-working group settling a new country. According to CulinaryLore, “Cambric tea, sometimes called ‘nursery tea’ was hot water and milk, was an American slang term referring to a drink of hot water, milk, and a dash of tea, sometimes sweetened. It is also described as hot water with a little milk or cream and sugar, without any tea at all. It was given to children, supposedly to give them energy, or to help them feel grown up during tea time. It was also often served to the elderly. Cambric tea got its name from cambric fabric, which was white and thin, just like the tea. Cambric fabric gets its name from the French town of Cambrai, a textile center. Cambric tea was popular during the late 19th to early 20th centuries. It was also known as white tea, or hot water tea.” (Culinary Lore) As a small child, I recall have cambric tea with my great-grandmother, who also swore the tea was a way of fighting off the afternoon hunger every child experiences. She would sit with me, and we would have cambric tea together. Children were given cambric tea, which consisted of a scant spoon of sugar, a teaspoon or so of tea (poured from the pot, just like an adult’s) and then filled to the brim with warm milk. 

For more information on English meals, there is a good overview of the history of “tea” as a social function here – http://www.foodtimeline.org/teatime.html

Tea as a social even (as in tea time) really start off more in the 1830’s and becomes the more formal affair in Victorian and Edwardian times. During that later era “tea” became the working class meal as well.

You can find recipes for “nursery tea” online with lots of milk, sugar, and vanilla–basically a way to add a little more nutrition to a child’s tea. In Regency era, children often took their meals in the nursery and not with the family–so they might have nursery tea with their dinner. However, remember tea in Georgian and Regency time tea was still more of a beverage to be served as a possible refreshment to callers–or a beverage for late in the evening along with possibly some cakes or a light snack type meal before bed, but not so much a social event as in afternoon tea.

Also, if you’re looking for the children in a household to have something, it would not be too out of the ordinary for cook to have a treat for them–hot pastries or biscuits (the English version of cookies) or cakes. A child might well eat in the kitchen in a household that is not too formal.

Generally, in England, according to one of my close British friends, who tells me something of raising her children in England, “Nursery tea was the final meal for children during the day. They had a proper meal, dinner, at what we call lunch time. Nursery tea was half tea/half milk, bread and milk, and usually some cake for afters. I couldn’t restrain comment on my opinion of sending children to bed on nothing but milk and starch, and discovered that when my children were invited for tea at someone else’s house I was always assured that it would be an “egg tea,” meaning the children would have a boiled egg as well.

“This was of course long after the Regency and even the Victorians! But I would expect it was one of the meals that changed little. Probably since tea was so expensive it would be only a taste of tea or perhaps none at all–or some herbal tea. But I would believe that the base would most likely be bread and butter for the comfortable middle class and much the same for the wealthy–except perhaps in the north of England, Ireland, and Scotland, where oats were more commonly available than wheat, and then it would be a dish of porridge.”

Nursery tea” would then, in my opinion, most likely refer to a very simple meal, and it would probably be Victorian or possibly late Regency period, because it was only then that the grownups–the ladies!–started drinking tea in the afternoon. At that period, as I understand it, people routinely went from breakfast to dinner without eating in the meantime, except for “snacks” that eventually became known as elevenses and tea (as a time to eat, not a beverage). It was the advancing hour of dinner, from 5-6, which it was generally in the 18th century, to later in the day that gradually re-established the mid-day meal which had been called dinner before it moved later and later. In the days when dinner as the main meal was mid-day, there was supper in the evening.  Nursery tea, therefore, could be considered an adaptation of supper for children!

https://englishhistoryauthors.blogspot.com/2018/06/life-in-regency-era-nursery.html

Regency Redingote tells us, “Breakfast had been introduced into the beginning of the English day in the first decades of the eighteenth century. It was exactly what its name would suggest, the meal by which the fasting of the nighttime was broken. By the decade of the Regency, breakfast was well-established as a light morning meal. It usually consisted of bread, often toasted, or rolls with jam, preserves or marmalade, eggs and perhaps ham or bacon. Tea, coffee and chocolate were common beverages served with this meal, but ale was also part of many a gentlemen’s breakfast.

“. . . since up to the years of the Regency, lunch, or luncheon, was not a regular meal in England. The words “lunch” and “luncheon” entered the English language at the end of the sixteenth century, but with the meaning of a lump of bread or cheese. The words “nunch” and “nuncheon” are much older words which entered the language in the fourteenth century, when they had the meaning of a light snack between meals, usually accompanied by a drink. But none of these words had yet been chosen as the name for a meal which was taken between breakfast and dinner.

“As you might imagine, many people, particularly ladies, found it difficult to go from breakfast to dinner without sustenance. In the decade prior to the Regency, ladies of the leisure classes began to take a light meal around 1 o’clock, usually alone or with immediate family. Typically, this was a repast of cold dishes, usually bread, meat, cheese and fruit. Wine, tea or coffee were the most common beverages served at the meal, but seldom were beer or ale on the table. By the Regency, many ladies of the beau monde in the cities were sharing this meal as a social occasion, men seldom partook. It was during these years that this midday meal was christened lunch or luncheon, luncheon being the more upper-class and socially-acceptable term. Nuncheon was a term for the mid-day meal of the lower classes.”

Yet, I have again digressed. From The Cook’s Complete Guide on the Principles of Frugality, Comfort, and Elegance (1810), we learn . . .

For more of what was used for some receipts for different infant food, as well as some other interesting pointers for infant and children diets, check this article on Regency Reader.

Posted in America, British history, family, food, Georgian England, Georgian Era, history, Jane Austen, Living in the Regency, Living in the UK, real life tales, Regency era, research | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Using Cradles Through The Ages

oak-cradle-17th-C

https://www.homethingspast.com/rocking-cradles/#pics ~ Oak hooded cradle, English, 1683, carved initials, alongside 16th and 17th century oak furniture. Photo by HomeThingsPast

We all likely know something of Rock-a-bye Baby as a nursery rhyme and lullaby. The melody is a variant of the song comes from an English satirical ballad calledLillibullero,a march that became popular in England at the time of the Glorious Revolution of 1688. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 2768.

“One theory suggests the rhyme narrates a mother gently rocking her baby to sleep, as if the baby were riding the treetops during a breeze; then, when the mother lowers the baby to her crib, the song says ‘down will come baby.’ Another identifies the rhyme as the first English poem written on American soil, suggesting it dates from the 17th century and that it may have been written by an English colonist who observed the way Native American women rocked their babies in birch-bark cradles, which were suspended from the branches of trees, allowing the wind to rock the baby to sleep. The words appeared in print in England c. 1765.

“In Derbyshire, England, local legend has it that the song relates to a local character in the late 18th century, Betty Kenny (Kate Kenyon), who lived with her husband, Luke, and their eight children in a huge yew tree in Shining Cliff Woods in Derwent Valley, where a hollowed-out bough served as a cradle. Yet another theory has it that the lyrics, like the tune “Lilliburlero” it is sung to, refer to events immediately preceding the Glorious Revolution. The baby is supposed to be the son of James VII and II, who was widely believed to be someone else’s child smuggled into the birthing room in order to provide a Roman Catholic heir for James. The “wind” may be that Protestant ‘wind’ or force ‘blowing’ or coming from the Netherlands bringing James’ nephew and son-in-law William of Orange, who would eventually depose King James II in the revolution (the same ‘Protestant Wind’ that had saved England from the Spanish Armada a century earlier). The “cradle” is the royal House of Stuart. The earliest recorded version of the words in print appeared with a footnote, ‘This may serve as a warning to the Proud and Ambitious, who climb so high that they generally fall at last’, which may be read as supporting a satirical meaning. It would help to substantiate the suggestion of a specific political application for the words, however, if they and the ‘Lilliburlero’ tune could be shown to have been always associated.

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Richard Norman Shaw (1831-1912) designed this cradle for the son of the architect Alfred Waterhouse. The cradle is in the Gothic style and decorated with painted panels. The cradle itself is also in the Museum’s collections. Although its structure is close to the design, the painting of the panels is different. The floral patterns in the drawing are replaced by signs of the Zodiac on the finished piece. In 1861 Shaw was designing in the reformed Gothic style, which is associated with William Burges (1827-1881) and William Morris (1834-1896). Painted panels formed the chief decorative element in this style. Very similar painted panels later became popular in works of the Aesthetic and Arts and Crafts movements. But they lacked the Gothic framing seen here. ~ http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O74294/design-for-a-cradle-design-shaw-richard-norman/

“Yet another theory is that the song is based around a 17th-century ritual that took place after a newborn baby had died. The mother would hang the child from a basket on a branch in a tree and waited to see if it would come back to life. The line ‘when the bough breaks the baby will fall’ would suggest that the baby was dead weight, so heavy enough to break the branch. Another possibility is that the words began as a ‘dandling’ rhyme – one used while a baby is being swung about and sometimes tossed and caught. An early dandling rhyme is quoted in The Oxford Nursery Rhyme Book which has some similarity:

Catch him, crow! Carry him, kite!
Take him away till the apples are ripe;
When they are ripe and ready to fall,
Here comes baby, apples and all, woop woop.”

50373b0e283fe39f82623559e15f1ea8.jpgCradles have been around for centuries.  The ancient Britons wove cradles in the tree-tops for both children and old men.  It was the custom of weaving an infant’s cradle in the branches of a tree, out of harm’s way, to be rocked by wind power, possibly another source of the lullaby.  The traditional wood for a cradle is birch the tree of inception, which the ancients believed drove away evil spirits.

Also, manuscripts of the ninth and tenth centuries show cradles hollowed out from halved tree trunks, with holes along the edges for straps or cords to keep the baby from falling out. Greek peasants were still using these in the late 19th century.

Some medieval cradles were made like miniatures of an adult’s bed, but on two curved rockers. In a wealthy/noble family, the cradle would be costly indeed. Take the instance when the men of Ghent despoiled the house of the Earl of Flanders in the 14th century – they destroyed all his furniture except the cradle.  Not out of consideration for the baby, though – but because the cradle was solid silver.

There was also the cradle that swung from two fixed supports, a different principle from the rocker, the pivot being above the centre of gravity instead of below – and this one dates from the fifteenth century.  It goes on rocking for some time with only an occasional push, and it seem to offer a more gentle ride, with less tendency to eject the child.

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cdfc1edd428e3d9fb6371cca1df18d00Graham Blackburn at FineWoodworking in “A Short History of Cradles” tells us, “The first piece of furniture many people used to encounter in this world was a small swinging or rocking bed known as a cradle. Now largely superseded by cribs or cots (which were both originally also swinging or rocking), the cradle has a long history and was also typically one of the first pieces of furniture to be acquired in new households, preceded only by beds, chests, and tables.

61b188b053da6bd45849c37aeb79754d.jpg “The earliest and most common type of cradle is the rocker, derived undoubtedly from a half log, hollowed out to provide a secure resting place for the infant. From this to a simple box mounted on transverse curved sections was a short step, but a far cry from the miniature ‘great beds of state,’ richly carved and furnished with elaborate and costly hangings that were used to cradle the children of royalty. A particular American favorite is the type common with the early Colonists, characterized by sloping sides and a hooded end, most often made from simple nailed pine boards, although examples exist that represent in miniature all the major period styles, from Gothic to Art Nouveau.

 

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Found on WalMart’s website ~ THE PUZZLE-MAN TOYS W-2510alt. Functional/Play Wooden Furniture – Live Baby Cradle Pennsylvania Dutch Overhead Canopy Style – Red Oak – 13 in. x 30 in.

“Almost as venerable is the type of cradle that consists of an open container suspended by hooks, chains, or rope from a standing frame. The earliest known example of this type is a Gothic cradle made at the end of the 15th century and reputed to have been used by Henry V (who, however, was born a hundred years earlier!). The box is simply pegged together and suspended between two standards or uprights braced on a flat frame. At the other extreme, in terms of construction, is a design illustrated by the famous 18th-century cabinetmaker Sheraton, in his Cabinet Dictionary, which includes a spring mechanism designed to keep the cradle rocking for an hour and a half  — a function now accomplished by electric motors in this age of preoccupied childcare providers.”

The first time the future George IV received company, he was twelve days old and securely ensconced in a gold cradle surmounted with a gold coronet.  He lay under a canopy of state, enveloped in crimson velvet and gold lace, in a nest of white satin.  On either side stood ‘a fair mute, employed as occasion required, to rock the infant to sleep.’  The public were admitted in batches of forty.  The daily bill for cake was GBP40, and for wine, ‘more than could have been conceived’.

louise-cradle

Cradle commissioned by Queen Victoria for Princess Louise

Those who didn’t have money would fashion a cradle out of anything they could find – even an old barrel/key placed between two carefully spaced bricks or lumps of wood would provide a secure, ‘rockable’ cradle for a poor woman.  Or, as people have done over the years, a drawer, her own bed, etc.  I would think after the first year, unless the child was really sickly, but still lucky enough to be alive, the child would be getting a bit big for the standard drawer in furniture available to poorer folk in the Regency period.

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Antique Rare Large Marklin Doll Carriage c1910 ~ found on eBay

Some families converted a doll bed, but a family that had a doll bed for their child was a prosperous family. That goes well beyond subsistence living.

Other Sources: 

Royal Cradles Throughout History 

Traditional Rocking Cradles – Wood and Wicker 

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Church Courts During the Regency Era

The church courts in Britain controlled the behavior of their clergymen. Yet, what all was involved? What were the “powers” of the bishop of each diocese?

The bishop had to ordain all clergymen. His approval was required for anyone who was presented a living. The bishop was the judge dealing with all aspects of marriage. They probated wills. The bishop or his representative were required to visit the churches within his diocese and hear any complaints of defamation, scold, blasphemy, and sacrilege, as well as other offenses for which a legal remedy was not openly apparent. This procedure was referred to as the “bawdy court.” The bishop’s power was limited to a. public scolding in church or excommunication. Most of the bishop’s power was over the church procedures and progress and the clergymen who ran the churches.

Governed by canon law, not the law of the land, the church courts had to right to try clerics for any number of violations. Each diocese had two types of church courts. The first was the “consistory” court which dealt with issues from the whole diocese and was presided over by the bishop.

Ecclesiastical courts not only placed clerics on trial. The courts also took on the duty of handling cases between “injured parties” if they were of a MORAL nature. Ecclesiastical courts addressed situations of accusation of a being a drunkard, swearing, attacking a cleric, gambling, especially during church services/mass, expressed heretical views, slander, leant money at interest, beating one’s wife, perjury, conducting business/trade on a Sunday, eating meat on a fasting day, not paying one’s tithes to the church, dissolution of a marriage based on claims of consanguinity or non-consummation, or a personal case against a cleric.

Ecclesiastical courts heard many cases related to fornication, adultery, homosexuality, prostitution, bigamy, bastardy, and incest. Anything dealing with “sex” were considered canon law.

These courts also oversaw some facets of a person’s will, especially if there were issues affecting the church or bringing it into dispute.

The other was the “archdeaconry court.” Its power covered only the archdeaconry and was presided over by the archdeacon.

If that last sentence went “over your head,” permit me an attempt to clarify. An archdeaconry is a legal division of a diocese for administrative purposes within which the archdeacon exercises an ordinary jurisdiction. The essential nature of the role has been described as ‘being a good steward so that others are freed to be the worshipping, witnessing and ministering. The legal responsibilities of the archdeacon can be found in this short PDF.

An archdeacon is a senior clergy position, below the bishop. Archdeacons serve the church in part of a diocese by taking particular responsibility for all buildings, the welfare of clergy and their families and the implementation of diocesan policy for the sake of the Gospel. An archdeaconry is their territorial division; these vary in number according to the size of the diocese and in a few, mainly English, cases an assistant (Suffragan) Bishop will also stand in as Archdeacon. [“The chapter”. Gloucester cathedral.]

They are usually styled “The Venerable” rather than their usual clerical style of “The Reverend.” In the Church of England the role can only be held by a priest who has been ordained for at least six years. (This rule was introduced in 1840. The rule stating they be in priest’s orders was enacted in 1662.) [Cross, FL, ed. (1957), The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, London: Oxford University Press, p. 79.] In the Church of England, the legal act by which a priest becomes an archdeacon is called a collation. If that archdeaconry is annexed to a canonry of the cathedral, they will also be installed (placed in a stall) at that cathedral, in practice working largely in the chapter offices.

In some other Anglican churches, these men can be deacons instead of priests; such archdeacons often work with the bishop to help with deacons’ assignments to congregations and assist the bishop at ordinations and other diocesan liturgies. The Anglican ordinal presupposes (it is policy by default) that every Archdeacon helps to examine candidates for ordination and presents the most suitable candidate(s) to the ordaining bishop. [Archdeacons]

“For many, being tried in a church court was preferable to being tried in any of the other courts, especially for murder, since the church courts could not order capital punishment. The number of men in the church was vast. As well as monks and parish priests there were also chaplains and chantry priests scattered about the country. It’s been estimated that two percent or more of the male population was a cleric.

“A man could “prove” he was a cleric by reading a text from the Bible, which was not such an easy test as you might think. The literacy rate was low, but it was higher than two percent.

“Whilst the church courts did not have the death penalty, they did have some imaginative punishments. They issued fines or ordered the guilty party to be whipped. Most of the punishments were carried out in public.  Sometimes it was to make an offering in church in front of the whole of the parish, or to stand in a white sheet by the door of the church, being passed by other parishioners as they went in and out of the church to mass. The ultimate punishment, of course, was excommunication.

“The highest church court was the Convocation where the worst crimes committed by clerics were tried. For a cleric, the worst punishment was usually being defrocked.” [A Writer’s Perspective]

Posted in British history, buildings and structures, Church of England, Georgian England, Georgian Era, history, Living in the Regency, real life tales, Regency era, religion, research | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Church Courts During the Regency Era

Courtesy Title or Not, Part 2

I fear last Monday’s post stirred up more confusion than clarity. Such is the problem for many American writers of Regency era stories. Without a peerage system of our own in the U.S., we become easily confused. Most assuredly, I screwed up on more than one occasion. In one of my early books I had a duke addressed as “my lord” instead of “your grace.” Boy, did I hear from that one! I apologize again for all those who I offended. Ignorance is certainly not bliss!

So today, we have part two of some questions on courtesy titles and titles, in general.

Question #1: I believe I read somewhere that Prinny [George, Prince of Wales, (often referred to as Prinny) was the eldest son of George III and was named Prince Regent when his father became too mentally unstable to rule. His “regency,” 1811-1820, gives name to the period. He reigned as George IV from 1820 to 1830] could bestow courtesy titles, is that correct? If so, could a Duke approach Prinny and “purchase” a courtesy title for a man based on his brave deeds?

How would this work? And how long would this process take? And I see the Prince regent held frequent levees during the Regency where he conferred honors on men, welcomed ambassadors, celebrated his birthday, etc. Would these levees be a time for conferring such honors?

Response: The Prince Regent acted in place of the sovereign, and it is true the sovereign could award real titles, but, I fear, not courtesy titles.

Any one could recommend a man to be knighted, made a baronet, made a baron.

As to titles, a man could be made a knight, a baronet, baron, viscount, or earl, depending on the rank he already held and the service he had preformed. It was very rare for anyone to be made a peer of higher rank than earl on the first go around. Even the Duke of Wellington was only conferred as Viscount Wellington in the beginning.

To the best of my knowledge, James I openly sold baronetcies. Most other peerage titles were advancements in the peerage for those already peers or new creations like the one for Wellington. Most new creations in the peerage were made barons. The most issued honor was a common knighthood. Next comes a baronetcy. Both the knighthood and the baronetcy were addressed as “Sir,” but only the baronetcy was hereditary.

Follow-Up Question: So, I could have a Duke approach King George IV (as my story is set in 1820) and request a man be made a baron. What would likely sway the King? Some deed of bravery, such as saving a marquess’s daughter, a duke’s sister-in-law, and rescuing over 100 children? What would prove his loyalty to the king and also show him as worthy?

Also, how long before the title could be bestowed and how would it be announced?

Response: If the Duke could assure the King, the man would be a good Tory, the Prime Minister would not put up a fuss.

In the “olden” days, the king would take a sword and tap the man on the shoulder and then fasten a belt around his waist with which to hold the sword, such is why men had been called “belted earls.” By 1820, the man had to be asked what title he preferred. Wellington’s brother is said to have chosen Wellington for his brother’s peerage when the man was first made a viscount.

Then the College of Arms checks to see if anyone else has that title. Had been attainted? Was it in abeyance?

Then a patent is drawn up bestowing the peerage on the man. If the patent has an error it cannot be corrected.

There is a ceremony at which time the king bestows the title on the man and gives him the patent.

The man must pay the College of arms a fee.

Then he must apply to the House of Lords for admittance as a peer. (A writ of summons). He sends in a statement he has a patent and provides the information about it which has already been published in the London Gazette.

He asks two peers of his own rank– one the most senior he can find and the other the youngest before him (meaning the date their peerages were bestowed, not the person’s actual age) to accompany him. He receives a writ of summons and when the House is in session he dresses in his parliamentary robe with his two sponsors also in their robes (They must be of the same rank as he and cannot be the duke).

He approaches the woolsack and presents his credentials. His patent is read aloud. Then he and the two sponsors step out to remove their robes and return quietly to take seats in ordinary clothes.

See Nancy Mayer’s Introduction of a New Peer for more information on the actual procedure: http://www.regencyresearcher.com/pages/intropeerlords.html

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As an after note, I used the introduction procedure as a plot point in my story “Courting Lord Whitmire.” In a pivotal chapter, Lord Andrew Whitmire is called to House of Lords to claim his title and, afterwards, encounters the Duke of Wellington. Irony, thy name is plot devices!

Courting Lord Whitmire: A May-December Regency Romance 
By Regina Jeffers

(Released March 22, 2020)

At the bend of the path, an unexpected meeting.

She is all May. He is December.

But loves knows not time.

Colonel Lord Andrew Whitmire has returned to England after spending fifteen years in service to his country. In truth, he would prefer to be anywhere but home. Before he departed England, his late wife, from an arranged marriage, had cuckolded him in a scandal that had set Society’s tongues wagging. His daughter, Matilda, who was reared by his father, enjoys calling him “Father” in the most annoying ways. Unfortunately, his future is the viscountcy, and Andrew knows his duty to both the title and his child. He imagines himself the last of his line until he encounters Miss Verity Coopersmith, the niece of his dearest friend, the man who had saved Andrew’s life at Waterloo. Miss Coopersmith sets Whitmire’s world spinning out of control. She is truly everything he did not know he required in his life. However, she is twenty-two years his junior, young enough to be his daughter, but all he can think is she is absolute perfection.

Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/Courting-Lord-Whitmire-Regency-May-December-ebook/dp/B085QNYHRW/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=courting+lord+whitmire&qid=1584536924&sr=8-1

Read for FREE on Kindle Unlimited https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/hz/subscribe/ku?passThroughAsin=B085QNYHRW&ref_=ku_lp_rw_pbdp&_encoding=UTF8&shoppingPortalEnabled=true

Posted in British history, customs and tradiitons, eBooks, Georgian England, Georgian Era, heroines, historical fiction, history, Inheritance, Living in the Regency, peerage, real life tales, Regency era, research, titles of aristocracy, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Courtesy Title or Not, Part 2

The Cotton or Cottonian Library

A bust of Robert Cotton by Louis-François Roubiliac ~ Public Domain ~ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sir_Robert_Cotton,_1st_Baronet,_of_Connington#/media/File:Robert_Bruce_Cotton_bust_BM_1924_0412_1.jpg

Keeping with Wednesday’s post on Circulating Libraries, I thought I might mention a library some, especially in the U.S. have not considered. The Cotton Library was founded by Sir Robert Bruce Cotton, 1st Baronet (1571-1631) of Conington Hall in Huntingdonshire, England. Cotton was an MP (Member of Parliament) but his importance, at least, the the subject of this post, he was an antiquarian who founded the Cotton Library.

Educated at Westminster School, where he was a pupil of Willian Camden, a renown antiquarian of his time, Cotton began collecting rare manuscripts as well as collecting information on the history of Huntingdonshire as early as age 17. Later, he studied first at the The College of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint John the Evangelist and the glorious Virgin Saint Radegund, near Cambridge and later entered the Middle Temple to study law. The library which he began to amass eventually surpassed those in royal manuscript collections.

After the Dissolution of the Monasteries, a set of administrative and legal processes between 1536 and 1541 by which Henry VIII disbanded monasteries, priories, convents, and friaries in England, Wales, and Ireland, many ancient manuscripts which had belonged to the monastic libraries came to be disseminated among a number of owners, many of whom had no idea of their cultural actual value to the nation. Cotton located, purchased, and preserved many of these documents, including items by Francis Bacon, [1st Viscount St Alban, an English philosopher and statesman who served as Attorney General and Lord Chancellor of England, but for today’s topic of libraries, Bacon led the advancement of both natural philosophy and the scientific method], Sir Walter Raleigh [authored The Historie of the World, In Five Books and a type of poetry that resisted the Italian Renaissance influence], and James Ussher [most famous for his identification of the genuine letters of the church father, Ignatius of Antioch, and for his chronology that sought to establish the time and date of the creation as around 6 P.M. on 22 October 4004 BC].

Cotton employed scholar and poet Richard James as his librarian. The library is of special importanace for having preserved the only copy of several works, such as with Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

While doing some research into the history of the great Cotton Library for another project I have taken on, I came across a most excellent book on the topic, Cotton’s Library: The Many Perils of Preserving History, by Matt Kuhns. It is a great read, which I highly recommend to anyone interested in the history of old library collections. Below is the book blurb from Amazon, if anyone is interested.

“Cotton’s Library” reveals what can happen to a museum-quality collection before it reaches the safety of a museum (and sometimes, even after).

Discover the story of an embryonic British national library assembled more than 400 years ago by Sir Robert Cotton. Boasting masterpieces of medieval illumination, the sole manuscript sources of Beowulf and “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” and two of four surviving 1215 copies of Magna Carta as well as many less-famed but still priceless historic records, Cotton’s library was and is an irreplaceable treasure of the English-speaking world. Cotton and his successors nonetheless struggled for centuries to preserve his library for, and sometimes from, formal government custodianship.

Overcoming war, repression, greedy heirs, intriguing rivals and disastrous fires, they ultimately succeeded, to our own great benefit. “Cotton’s Library” tells how they did it.

Cotton House, in which the library was first housed, was located right in the middle of Westminster in the seventeenth century. Thus, it became the first de facto library of Parliament, the free use of which Cotton granted to all MPs. This so annoyed King Charles I he eventually “confiscated” the library, by actually putting guards in Cotton’s house, to prevent anyone from using it. Which is a great part of the library’s story.

Lest you think I digress, in order to show how close Cotton House actually stood to the Houses of Parliament at that time, The author Matt Kuhns includes a plan of the area of Westminster which shows the location of Cotton House. Even better, on the plan he includes the location of the Houses of Lords and Commons, along with Westminster Hall in the seventeenth century, the same locations they had during the Regency era, for those of us who dabble in Regency based tales. He also includes the footprint of the new, current Houses of Parliament. (see the link at the bottom of the page)

Matt Kuhns also has posted high-resolution .PNG files of some of the illustrations he used in his book at his blog. And one of those illustrations is the plan of Cotton House in Westminster, which includes the location of the House of Lords and the House of Commons as they were during the Regency, with the footprint of the new building overlaid.

If you would like to have a look, you can find it here: http://www.mattkuhns.com/2014/11/cottons-library-art-charts-and-maps/

Posted in Age of Chaucer, architecture, books, British history, Chaucer, Church of England, England, Georgian England, Georgian Era, Great Britain, history, literature, medieval, publishing, real life tales, Regency era, religion, research, war | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Cotton or Cottonian Library