Monday, March 30, 2009

The Death of a Duchess

Today marks the 203rd anniversary of Georgiana's death. Much of Georgiana's 48 years of life were marked with health issues and in the second week of March 1806 it appeared that she had contracted jaundice. Rather than her health improving over the next few days, Georgiana grew worse and everyone became more and more concerned. The yellow/orange colour of skin was not due to jaundice but another liver ailment. Unbeknownst to the doctors an abscess had formed on her liver and was killing her. Harriet moved into Devonshire House to tend to her sister and "crowds" of people came to inquire daily after the state of Georgiana's health. Doctors felt that the sickness would pass but her friends and family were gravely concerned.

By the 26th, Georgiana was seizing for eight hours. The doctors shaved off all her lovely hair and put blister plasters on her skin which did nothing but cause her more pain. Amanda Foreman writes that,
"By the twenty-seventh everyone in Devonshire House knew that Georgiana was dying. The family, friends, and servants waited for the end to come. The crowd outside the gates grew in size."
Harriet watched as her sister struggled to speak and constantly seized for days, feeling as though she was dying with her. At 3:30 in the morning of 30 March Georgiana died surround by some of the most important people in her life, her husband, mother, sister, Bess, and Little G.

The loss of Georgiana shook everyone. The crowds continued to visit Devonshire House to pay their respects, but those closest to Georgiana were the most effected. Charles Fox sat by himself at his former canvasser's home with big, fat tears rolling down his cheeks. Little G wrote that she wished she could strew violets over her dying bed as Georgiana had strewn sweets over her life. The Prince of Wales was in a state of shock, almost not believing that she was gone. Lady Spencer had to deal with watching her favourite child die. Bess was devastated as well and also concerned that her friends' death meant that she had no valid reason to be living with the Cavendishes. She and Harriet bonded to each other in a means of support for the devastating loss

But perhaps the most affected person may be the most shocking. The Duke of Devonshire was inconsolable. In the final years of Georgiana's life the two had finally become close, and dare I say, even loving. Of course they would have their typical married-people bickering but it was if the calmer, more matronly Georgiana was the wife that Canis had always wanted. Her loss was a blow that the Duke, with his famous countenance, never really recovered from and put him in a sort of numb state until his own death. Guilt as well as the realization that Georgiana would not be holding his hand on his deathbed ate away at him. He locked himself in his room and then one night snapped. Bess stayed up all night with him and described the Duke as "hysterical." He never truly recovered from the blow.
"A woman more exalted in every accomplishment of rapturous beauty, of elevated genius, and of angelic temper, has not adorned the present age..."

The Morning Chronicle, 31 March 1806

Sunday, March 29, 2009


In our continued exploration of hats it would be crazy to exclude the major trend that was the turban. Turbans would appear here or there throughout the 18th century but by the end of the century the vogue simply exploded. Visitors to the mysterious lands of the Orient and Turkey, such as Mary Wortley Montague brought back many of the peoples' mysterious ways (such as the smallpox inoculation) to the curious English. One of the things that made it back to Europe was the curious manner of dress which everyone took a major interest in. Soon Turkish dress was one of the most common costumes seen at the masquerade. Of course this dress was not proper for normal, everyday wear (you couldn't look like a barbarian!) but one aspect did stick and that was the turban. Women found that the rolls of elegant fabric could make for the perfect fashion accessory. One woman particularly loved these headdresses and frequently had herself portrayed wearing them, Marie Antoinette. Even after the queen's fall and subsequent death turbans became increasingly popular, especially in France. They evolved into fabric that would wrap around women's curly, loose hair so that it would show through the fabric. The trend had adapted to the Classical trend to combine the Turkish style with that of the ancient Roman. By the 1790's and into the early 19th century no woman of fashion was complete without a turban, Turk, or chiffonet.
This site has some great fashion plates of Turbans after 1793.

  1. 1782
  2. 1783
  3. 1787
  4. 1787
  5. 1787
  6. 1787
  7. 1788
  8. 1789
  9. 1790
  10. 1793
  11. 1794
  12. 1795

Friday, March 27, 2009

Tart of the Week: Elizabeth Linley Sheridan

One of the most beautiful and musically-gifted women of the late 18th century was Elizabeth Linley. Elizabeth, or Betsy (and even Eliza on occasion) as she was commonly known, was born in 1754 to the composer Thomas Linley and his wife Mary. Together, Thomas and Mary raised their twelve children to be just as musically talented as themselves. Think: Von Trapp family of Bath. Adorable little Betsy would stand outside the Pump Room selling tickets to her father's concerts. Betsy grew gracefully into a stunning Soprano and soon drew her own crowds in with her beautiful voice. By the time Betsey was barely fourteen she had all the guys drooling over her. She had a tall, slim figure, dark hair, and gorgeous porcelain skin. Thomas Gainsborough took notice of her right away. The artist had painted more than one portrait of the musical Linleys but he especially took notice of Betsy. His many portraits of her, flaunt her natural beauty.

Among the many admirers and young men begging for Betsey's hand was twenty year-old Richard Brinsley Sheridan. Sheridan was perhaps more interested in the chase, and the prize at the end was something he could rub in everyone's face. However, a certain Walter Long stood in his way. Long was really wealthy and about four times the age of Betsy. Thomas Linley pressured his daughter into the match for both the money and for the assurance than she would retire from the stage. God forbid she become an actress! The two were about to marry when Long randomly cut off the engagement, causing Thomas to fly into a rage. Rumors surfaced that Betsy had begged him to break it off. The whole drama resulted in a comedy to premiere at the Haymarket Theater called The Maid of Bath.

Another drama quickly followed Betsy's broken engagement with Thomas Long. Sheridan saw his chance and swept Betsy off her feet. She agreed to marry him and the two eloped to France in 1772. Since both were underage, the marriage was invalid, and neither father approved. To save his daughter's reputation Thomas gave his blessing a month later and the two were accepted into polite society as a very talented and good-looking young couple.

While absconding away to France Betsy became very sick and almost died. Sheridan began to realize just how much Betsy meant to him and how he truly did love her, she wasn't just a prize anymore. Although Betsy survived, her illness was to be a precursor to the many that would follow throughout her life. Miscarriages soon burdened the new couple and it wasn't long before Sheridan began wandering into other women's beds. Betsy was devastated; the man she had chosen above others and at a huge risk, couldn't even be faithful to her. Still, they attended the political events and masquerades and men still marveled at her.

It was only a matter of time before Betsy finally had the courage to have her own affair. Her choice: the hunky Lord Edward Fitzgerald. Unfortunately the affair resulted in a pregnancy. Not only would her infidelity be discovered, it would put her life at serious risk. When Sheridan found out he had an usual reaction for a Georgian male with a big ego: he blamed himself. Instead of casting her out, he spent more time with her and helped her through the pregnancy which proved to be difficult. In fact after Eliza managed to deliver a baby girl her health depleted further and she succumbed to tuberculosis.

Betsy was dying and both she and Sheridan knew it. They went to Bristol in hopes that the hot wells would improve her health. Sheridan tried to support his wife but seeing her dying in front of him torn him up from the inside. One night he found her playing piano, "with tears dripping on her thin arms," a shadow of her former self. Not long afterward Elizabeth died. Sheridan, in tears, held her hand, while she told him to stop crying or to leave the room, for she could not bear the sight when she needed fortitude. The guilt after her death sent Sheridan into the realms of madness. He wasn't the only one to morn her. The crowds at her funeral were so large that the carriage could barely get through the street to Wells Cathedral. Everyone crowded one last time to pay tribute to the maid of Bath whose voice was now silenced forever.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Preserving Those 'Fine Eyes' in Miniature

Supposedly it is a person's eyes that we first notice when we fall in love. I'm sure that's what the Prince of Wales was looking at when he first became smitten with the busty Mrs. Fitzherbert. Either way, he presented his shy lover a token of his affection in the form of an eye miniature. Eye portraits became a common lovers' token in the late eighteenth century and into the Regency period. After all, eyes are not as conspicuous as a full miniature. This makes them difficult to identify today. If you find one of these rare miniatures in a museum they seldom know whose eye is depicted. Many letters from the time talk of how supposed lovers had "exchanged eyes."

Eye portraits were created the same way miniatures were and usually by miniature artists such a Richard Cosway (who painted the eye for the prince to give to Mrs. Fitzherbert). The eyes would be placed on jewelery such as brooches or rings to display that the wearer's heart belonged to someone. Some settings even have a wife's eye surrounded by her childrens'. Other eyes were not put on constant display and only shown to select parties, but that usually meant that they already had someone else's eye, if you get my drift, wink wink.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mother Knows Best

"I am sure I need not warn you to observe the strictest sobriety and moderation in your dress. Let it be simple and noble, but pray do not let it be singular, and how glad I should be if you could tell me you had quite done with rouge. The credit such a conduct would be to your character would far outweigh the trivial and really false idea of your looking more shewy. There must be some period for taking up a different character of dress, and when can you find a better than now at your return after so considerable an Absence..."

Lady Spencer
19 October 1793

Monday, March 23, 2009

Hunk Alert: Henry Brougham

SWM, Statesmen/Chancellor/Engineer, Clean, neat appearance that every male of the regency should have. Looking for intelligent woman of no ill-repute.

My interests encompass many enterprises. I mostly busy myself in meaningful politics, of which I am very passionate about. I am a firm believer in equality for both sexes and the abolition of the slave trade. You could say the main lady in my life right now is Caroline of Brunswick who I believe has been very illy treated by her husband; and who I have sworn to defend in court against the injuries set before her.

However, I am seeking more romantic intrigues, although not those of a courtesan. A simple woman who is open-minded and enjoys good conversation will do. Must be open to my spending of long hours at the office.

Many thanks to Anna who riskily suggested this gorgeous man despite his being more of a regency hunk than a Georgian. I told her, any pretty man-face from the long 18th century is welcomed on my blog!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Hamiltons Hamiltons and MORE Hamiltons!

Are you getting confused by the many Hamiltons you encounter on this site? There's the infamous Emma; Douglas and Elizabeth from the very beginning; and recently, Elizabeth Gunning. It's almost as if every other Scottish person in the 18th century was a Hamilton, but they scurry around so fast causing scandal here and there that it is difficult to keep track of them! Well for both your and my convenience I've arranged a sort of Dummy's Guide to Aristocratic Hamiltons of the 18th Century. Hold on to your hats folks, this could get complicated.

Let's begin with the lady who is responsible for most of the spawning. Yes, lady. Anne Hamilton, 3rd Duchess of Hamilton (1631-1716). Anne was a Duchess of Hamilton in her own right, that is she was given the title through birth rather than marriage. Her father bequeathed her the title because he knew his time was near and he had no heirs. Normally the Duchy of Hamilton would just go extinct during his death but this happened during a messy time with the uprooting of the crown, etc. etc. so the 1st Duke of Hamilton took advantage and gave his daughter the peerage he worked so hard to earn. That also meant all of his minor peerages followed with the duchy making her also the Marchioness of Clydesdale, Countess of Arran, Lanark and Cambridge, the Lady Aven, Innerdale, Machanshire and Polmont. As you can guess, Anne had no problem finding a husband after that. She married William Douglas (those Douglases get around too!) 1st Earl of Selkirk and they had a litter of children. But for sanity's sake we will only follow two, the eldest surviving and the youngest.

Let's begin with the youngest since that line is slightly less complicated. Anne's youngest son was Lord Archibald Hamilton (1673-1754). He didn't do anything of real notoriety excepting the fact that he married three times, two of his wives having the last name of Hamilton. I told you they breed like rabbits! His third and surviving wife, Jane (oh I hope I don't make this any more confusing!) bore him the heirs he wanted and some daughters too. His youngest daughter, Jane was the mother of the Beautiful Mary Graham.

Archibald's third son was named Sir William Hamilton (1730-1803) who became very successful as an ambassador to Naples and was known for his love of antiques. He married Catherine Barlow who gave him no heirs and left him a lonely widower in 1782. William fell in love and married again nine years later to a woman much younger than him, who was better at giving Horatio Nelson children than she was with her own husband, Lady Emma Hamilton (1761?-1815).

Now back to the eldest of Anne's brood, James 4th Duke of Hamilton (1658-1712) was, ah never mind, not important. But his grandson is of some interest, for it was James the 6th Duke of Hamilton (1724-1758) who fell in love with Elizabeth Chudleigh and then madly in love with Elizabeth Gunning, whom he quickly married. At James' death the title passed to his two year old son, James George who died in his teens leaving the duchy to his younger brother, Douglas 8th Duke of Hamilton (1756-1799). A portrait of the dashing Douglas and his stunning wife, Elizabeth by Joshua Reynolds is one of my personal favourites, unfortunately it was destroyed and we only have (luckily) a black and white image of it. The couple divorced in 1794 and Douglas died five years later without an heir.

The last 18th century Duke of Hamilton I will speak of briefly (goodness there were so many!) was Douglas' cousin who was Alexander 10th Duke of Hamilton (1767-1852) was said to be quite the dandy. He also had a keen interest in ancient Egypt. So interested, in fact, that he willed himself mummified and buried in a sarcophagus.

That about does it for Hamiltons in the 18th Century 101, believe me, there has got to be at least one I'm forgetting. And no, it's not that Hamilton on that we see on US currency!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Tart of the Week: Elizabeth Campbell

Elizabeth Gunning was born in 1734, a year after her sister Maria. Being so close in age, the sisters were best friends and a true duo. This especially rang clear when their mother, unable to afford raising them, moved the girls to Dublin to become actresses.

Elizabeth and her sister may not have necessarily been good actors, but they did become very popular and were soon known as "The Beauties." Even Peg Woffington was seen with the Gunning sisters. As proof of just how popular Elizabeth was, when James Duke of Hamilton (who had just been jilted by Elizabeth Chudleigh) met Elizabeth he wanted to marry her that night, and marry her he did. He called a local parson who refused to marry the couple without a license or even a ring. This didn't deter the lovestruck duke who brought Elizabeth to Mayfair Chapel and with a bed curtain ring, made her his duchess in a clandestine ceremony. Oh the scandal! It all seemed way to easy. A mere actress who couldn't even afford her own trousseau was now one of the grandest Duchesses in Scotland.

Elizabeth promptly retired from the stage, and her wedding ring was likely replaced with many jewels. Elizabeth enjoyed her new position as a Duchess and now used her charisma to be a successful society hostess. She also fulfilled her wifely duty of providing her husband an heir and spare. But sadly, their marriage would end prematurely. While out hunting, the handsome 33 year old Duke caught a bad cold which killed him. The young beautiful was now a widow.

She got over the loss very quickly, for before James' body could even begin to decay she was already another Duke! While so many aristocratic mothers lost sleep over trying to get their daughters married to any sort of peer, Elizabeth made it look all to easy to capture these men of the highest rank's hearts. This duke was Francis, the Duke of Bridgewater who was very young and, of course, wealthy. However the engagement was short-lived when Francis told Elizabeth that in order for them to marry, she would have to give up her acquaintance with her sister, Maria. Elizabeth was all, "screw you Bridgewater!" and he died without a wife or an heir almost fifty years later.

Our gorgeous heroine did not have to wait quite so long to find love (or at least a husband) again. A year later she was married. The lucky guy this time was another Scotsman, John the Marquess of Lorne, a strapping soldier. Since he ranked under her, Elizabeth was still considered the dowager Duchess of Hamilton which she would go by until 1770, when John became the Duke (of course) of Argyll.

The saucy beauty was finally done marrying the richest men in Scotland but she continued to break hearts at court while she served Queen Charlotte as a Lady of the Bedchamber for 23 years. While she went through the heartbreak of loosing her sister to lead poisoning in 1760 she also happily had four of her sons succeed to Dukedoms and became a baroness in her own right (something highly unusual). Not bad at all for a second-rate actress!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Visit to Dr. Johnson's in London

While in London I had the pleasure of dropping in at Dr. Johnson's pad, which I had never been to. I know based on the bloggings of Mrs. Woffitngton, who is based in Litchfield, that the famous author's birthplace is usually bubbling over with activity, especially with this year marking his 300th birthday. I had expected the same of Johnson's London home.

Although the house was impressive enough in being a fairly unchanged Georgian townhouse, it really had nothing more to boast of. As I walked through the creaky house I couldn't help but think about how incredibly empty it was. It was void of any signs of living, only a few chairs here or there. When I walk into historical homes I like to picture how its inhabitants lived there. A couch and tea table over here, a portrait they really liked there; Johnson's house did not have this. Rooms would have historical prints of Johnson's circle with information, or a few of his letters. One room even displayed a pair of glasses that were similar to what Johnson would have worn. Of course there was a campy video of Johnson giving a tour of his house which was on loop, and some Georgian clothes for children (or bored art historians) to try on, but not too much else. Did Johnson get rid of all his worldly possessions when he died? My advice is to walk by it if your on Fleet Street, but don't waste your money going in.

That money can be better speant here: The Olde Cock Pub. This was Sam's local pub, where he spent much of his time. Although we found this out at Johnson's house because they had the chair he always sat in while at the pub, we had an easier time picturing the man himself in this setting than at his own home.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Celebrating Saint Patrick's Day in Good Company

It is near impossible for this girl to give a decent blog update on and around the days surround this most green of holidays. However, I feel it necessary to celebrate on the blog as well. Since this holiday celebrates all things Irish I would like to remind you that we owe the country of Ireland many thanks for supplying us with some of our favourite tarts.

Kiss them, they're Irish!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

If My Facebook Could Only Tell the Greatest Love Story in Literature

But it doesn't. However, the folks at Much-Ado.Net have created the Austenbook which does. The full text of Pride and Prejudice is told in facebook updates with hilariously clever results:

Lydia Bennet and Kitty Bennet have joined the group 1,000,000 Strong Against the Officers Leaving Meryton!
Lydia Bennet is going to Brighton with Colonel & Mrs. Forster!!!!1!

As funny as it is it reminds me of how normal it is to post every intimate detail of your life on facebook in a means of typed moral support. Ah the modern age, no wonder romance is dead!

The Intimate Portrait at The British Museum

Set in the intimate Gallery 90 in the British Museum, The Intimate Portrait takes some of the nicest drawings and miniatures out of the British Museum's collection and puts them on display for the of charge!

After hiking up the many flights of worn marble stairs you enter the dimly lit print gallery. It looks like any other print gallery with the exception of an ingenious little simplicity: rest boards. These banisters follow the glass cases allowing you to rest your arms (and handbag) as you lean down to read the detailed description of the drawings. Lauren and both remarked on what a convenient feature this was. It was needed to because there was a lot of reading in the descriptions and each was was so interesting, you didn't want to skip over any.

I loved this exhibition. Although small in size you could easily spend an hour or more there. There weren't as many miniatures as I was hoping, but the amazing drawings made up for the lack of miniatures. There were many highlights I particularly enjoyed. Two sketches of Angelica Kauffman show the artist in candid moments, sketched when she was sketching or in the company of friends. The drawing of Mary Hamilton by Lawrence is so beautiful it was chosen as the icon for the exhibition itself. A chalk self-portrait of Joshua Reynolds at 27, shows not only how handsome the young artist was but also depicts his young ambition and confident air. There is also a sketch Thomas Lawrence did of Emma when he was visiting the Hamiltons which is interesting in that Emma herself signed it. Her signature is surprisingly neat; I always pictured it in my head as sloppy since her grammar was horrible (although it wasn't her fault she was illiterate for years).

All in all, this is not an exhibition to be missed if you are in London. Give yourself an hour or so to dedicate to it and then leave through the opposite exit so that you come out in the citradel right by the restaurant. Order some afternoon tea for two and you are in heaven. Fabulous exhibitions should always be discussed over tea.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Tart of the Week: Penelope Viscountess Ligonier

Penelope Pitt came from a typical family of good standing. Her father was a politician and future 1st Baron Rivers and her mother was a classy lady from Strasbourg. Penelope was smart, beautiful, and had a natural musical talent. Like many women born into aristocracy, Penelope was still a teenager when she got married. Lord Edward Ligonier was the lucky guy. In celebration of the marriage, Penelope's husband commissioned twin full-length portraits of the new Lord and Lady Ligonier by Gainsborough. Unfortunately, Penelope and her family didn't realize until later that Edward was not too smart and not toofantastic a catch. He also turned out to be more interested in his horses than he was with his cute wife.

Still, the couple put up the charade of the typical married aristocrats. They entertained many of their foreign friends at their home, Cobham Park. One of their visitors was Count Vittorio Alfieri, an Italian who would later become known as the founder of Italian tragedy. Penelope was quite taken with the dramatist, who found the affair with a married woman quite exhilarating. He later would write about it with embellished flair. When the amour came to light, Edward was furious that his sassy wife made a cuckold of him for all to see. Instead of taking the usual route of pressing a crim con suit against Alfieri, Edward, in a show of brute masculinity challenged him to a duel. Edward, who was a soldier, managed to wound Alfieri but not kill him. He then decided to focus his anger on his unfaithful wife and promptly divorced her. Penelope was in a panic over her future. She had hopes that her lover would marry her to save her from ruin but Alfieri would do no such thing. His excuse: she had been sleeping with her servant for quite a while. Yet, this most gallant of gentlemen still did her the honour of accompanying her to France until the scandal died down.

She returned to England and to social ostracism a few months later. With a small annuity she quietly tucked herself away to a more humble living. Every once in a while she would appear on the London scene with other divorcee friends. Perhaps this was to find other lovers who would be willing to care for her. But before you shed a tear for Penelope's plight there is something you should know. She never regretted it for a second. Years later she would go on to say she entered into the affair knowing the full effect it would have, and almost looking forward to the outcome. Penelope saw an illicit relationship as her means to exit out of one that was making her miserable. Whatever the outcome, it had to be better than her marriage.

Her ex would go on to marry again a couple of years later. It was another thirteen before Penelope would find another man she was willing to marry, a Captain Smith. She happily lived out the rest of her days with him and out of public scrutiny.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hats An Anthology at the V&A

When Hats An Anthology first came to my attention I was very excited. The fabulous milliner (and James St James lookalike) Stephen Jones had access to all the hats in Victoria and Albert Museum's endless costumes collection and he must choose a selection to represent all the glorious centuries of hat-making. In my mind I pictured him flitting through the vaults grabbing a Picture Hat here, a massive Victorian Gainsborough hat there, Chanel and Dior galore, and bonnet bonnets bonnets. What a lucky guy. He modeled his exhibition after the museum's 1971 exhibition, Fashion an Anthology by Cecil Beaton which put historical fashion on the map. His hopes are that this exhibition will do the same for headgear.

The overall design of the exhibit was FABULOUS. It was like walking into a gothic picnic. The entrance is framed by classical pillars with drapery hanging off it like Spanish Moss. Even the pamphlet in peaches and creme colours matches the Exhibition book, very graphically thoughtful. The room itself is dark with more gothic tones of black and purple so that the hats in the lit-up display cases are just glowing. In the centre Jones has arranged a millinery workshop complete with scraps on the ground, feathers, and other hats from the collection. When you walk in you are greeted by a selection of hats, dominated by Queen Victoria's bonnet and Prince Albert's top hat, both in pristine condition, how appropriate! The hats are divided in different categories: Inspiration, Creation, The Client, and The Salon. The hats in these sections are further divided into subcategories like straw, plastic, paper, etc. I like how Jones included hats such as the plastic souvenir policemen hats that are available all over London or the $1 rain bonnet. These were interesting to view next to, say a Dior or Darth Vader's helmet.

What bothered me a lot, though, was that about 65-75% of the hats exhibited were Stephen Jones hats. Don't get me wrong, Jones is an excellent milliner and I found his couture hats very exciting, but why couldn't they be displayed in his own show? If a case had ten hats in it, about five would be Jones'. It left me wanting more historical hats, after all, he had access to all of the V&A's collection! Historical hats are just used to pepper the main dish of contemporary ones. Another major faux pas was that in one case the hats were mislabeled; Lauren and I were very surprised to see something like this as such a prestigious museum and such a publicized exhibition. A section I did find interesting displayed various celebrities' hats. Included in the display was Camilla's wedding feathery headband and the fox tail hat from The Duchess, which apparently, Kiera got to keep.

Overall, the exhibition was a feast for the eyes but disappointing in lack of historical hats and in the self-promoting of Jones' work. This caused me to be more impressed with the overall display than the actual content. It is still worth checking out, but not if you are expecting to see a display of hats through the ages.

Back, and with Plenty of Gossip

I just arrived back home last night from a fabulous time in London. As usual, there was too much to do; we did so much but not enough. Now I'm back to the daunting task of catching up in the blogging world. There are so many things I can't wait to tell you about and I wish I could blurt them all out now but that wouldn't make for much of a read so hopefully they will be up soon.

For now I will leave you with this. This building, by my calculations (I was extremely jet-lagged when I took this picture) is what has replaced Devonshire House. Its facade is where the imposing brick wall entrance would have been, with the house sitting further back on the block. If Devonshire House was still here today perhaps the Green Park Tube stop may have been called Devonshire House!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

For Sale: Wedlock

Just a quick reminder, Wedlock is now available to purchase in the US. A scandalous tale of a thoroughly-amusing lady; definitely worth checking out!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Out of the Salon

I have some news that may disappoint. For the next week or so the Gossip Guides will be on a bit of hiatus. Never fear though, it is all in the order of business to supply you with more gossip! Lauren and I will be venturing back to our beloved London. We have a busy schedule of getting measurements at our favourite mantua makers, going to balls, seeing the latest sporting events, and rejoining the old discussion groups. As you can guess, this busy schedule prevents us from updating until next week sometime. But before you begin a Lady Spencer-like chastise, I promise to take a lot of fabulous pictures to share the experience.

Until next week my doves,

Mother Knows Best

"You should especially at such places as Turnbridge keep up a civility and dignity in your behaviour to the men of your own set, and a courteous good humour'd affability to the company in general whom you are little acquainted with, whereas I suspect, if you will examine your own conduct, you put on that killing cold look sometimes have to those you should be prevenante to, and a great deal more familiarity and ease than is either necessary or proper to the men about you..."

Lady Spencer
20 August 1778

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Curious Case of Caroline Ponsonby

Lady Harriet Duncannon had already produced a heir and a spare by the time she found comfort in the rake, Charles Wyndham's arms. Her next child, born in 1785 proved different from the others right away. She was a frail and sickly infant; the complete opposite of her brothers when they were born. She also looked slightly different too...a little impish, in fact. Truth be told, Harriet was sleeping with both her husband and Charles Wyndham around the time of her daughter, Caroline's, conception.

A few years earlier Lady Melbourne was conducting one of her own affairs; one of many. This one was with the Earl of Egremont, George Wyndham. Lord Egremont just happened to be the father of Charles Wyndham-the possible father of Caroline. Lord Egremont was also probably the father of Lady Melbourne's son whom she had at the time of the affair, William Lamb.

How ironic, then, that these two probable results of affairs, Caro and William Lamb, would fall in love and get married. As Harriet's biographer, Janet Gleeson points out, if these two were, in fact, not fathered by their mother's husbands, then Caro was actually marrying her uncle. Oh dear.

While there is no direct proof of the parentage, Caro's difficulty in pregnancies offer strong evidence for inbreeding. Caro suffered many pregnancies before finally delivering a sickly child, who would die prematurely.