Jan 152015
 

Assembly Rooms is a collection of links to blogs and articles of interest to lovers of the Regency Era.

Glorious Gothic: http://www.regencyhistory.net/2015/01/strawberry-hill-horace-walpoles-gothic.html

Strawberry Hill by Paul Sandby, courtesy Wikipedia

Strawberry Hill by Paul Sandby, courtesy Wikipedia

An impressive display of carriages: http://www.regencyhistory.net/2014/10/the-national-trust-carriage-museum-at.html Continue reading »

Oct 032014
 

Caroline, Princess of Wales, was not a highly visible presence during the Regency. She had long since separated from her husband, the Prince of Wales by the time he became Regent. In the late summer of 1814, Caroline left England and did not return until her husband had become king. In today’s article, award-winning Regency author, Cheryl Bolen, reviews Flora Fraser’s biography of the Prince Regent’s estranged wife.

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Sep 142014
 

In today’s article, Angelyn Schmid tells us about Richard Sharp. No, not the fictional Regency soldier, Richard Sharpe. This Richard Sharp, without the "e," was a real man who lived during the Regency. A man who was very popular with many people across all classes. Once you know more about him, despite the fact that he would prefer you did not, you might like him nearly as well as those who knew him in life.

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May 232014
 

In today’s article, Regency author, Angelyn Schmid, provides some details about Sir Henry Halford. A physician to the ton during the Regency, Halford was a real-life historical character who made an appearance in one of Georgette Heyer’s most delightful novels, Cotillion.

As you read Angelyn’s article, consider whether or not you would like to have Sir Henry Halford as your doctor.

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Feb 072014
 

Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, married comparatively late in life, to a woman whom he had loved as a young man. Sadly, his wife was not suited to life as the spouse of a public figure, and the marriage was not a success, for either party. Today, Cheryl Bolen, award-winning Regency romance author, whose most recent book, A Lady By Chance, was released last month as part of the Scandalous Brides boxed set, gives us a picture of the unfortunate marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Wellington.

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Feb 032014
 

Rakes are popular as heros in Regency romance novels. And who doesn’t love a bad boy who is willing to improve himself for the love of a good woman? But not all real-life rakes were as romantic as their fictional counterparts. In today’s article, Regency romance author, Angelyn Schmid, shares her research into the history of rakes, and the life of one in particular. A man who would never qualify as a romantic hero, except perhaps in a tragedy.

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Jan 072014
 

In today’s article, award-winning Regency romance author, Cheryl Bolen, whose newest book, Love in the Library, will be released this month, tells us about a woman nearly forgotten by history, the wife of the great naval hero, Admiral Lord Nelson. Even those who have studied the Regency and its denizens for years may have overlooked this unhappy woman who was Nelson’s legal wife. Though Nelson was killed at the Battle of Trafalgar before the Regency began, Lady Nelson survived not only her husband and his infamous mistress, but the Prince Regent as well.

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Dec 202013
 

The Duke of Kent was one of the gaggle of royal brothers of the Prince Regent. Like most of the royal princes, he did not mary until late in life, under multiple pressures. However, he had set up a mistress of whom he was very fond when he was a young man. Before the publication of the book which Cheryl Bolen, award-winning Regency romance author, reviews for us today, very little was known about that lady, or her relationship with the royal prince. In this review, Cheryl gives us a taste of the more than quarter century shared by The Prince and His Lady.

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Oct 042013
 

"Monk" was not his real name, it was a nickname he acquired in the last years of the eighteenth century, after the success of his one and only book. But it was quite a book. In today’s article, Angelyn Schmid gives us an overview of the author’s life and a taste of the thoroughly terrifying novel which quite literally made this young man’s name.

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Aug 202013
 

Today, Cheryl Bolen reviews the private correspondence of the man who made many Regency women swoon over his remarkable good looks. And he was a man who took advantage of his personal assets, enjoying affairs with a number of women. He also served his country in several embassy postings over the course of his successful diplomatic career. But of more importance to us, he regularly corresponded with one of his lovers, right through the decade of the Regency. Many of his letters survive, and have been published. Cheryl Bolen shares her insights regarding his lengthy and informative correspondence.

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Jul 132013
 

Cheryl Bolen, award-winning Regency romance author, provides us with an overview of the important diarists of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It is in the writings of these interesting people, who had access to the halls of power and the ballrooms of society, that we find many interesting details of the cultural and social history of the Regency. Details which are seldom to be found in the political and military histories and the biographies of the major figures of the era. The kind of details which can be used to enhance the veracity of a Regency novel.

All of the writings of these prolific diarists have been published. Perhaps the only question is, which one to read first?

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Dec 082012
 

Berry Bros. at Christmas

 

Today you can find Berry Bros. & Rudd wine merchants at No. 3 St. James Street in London—just as you could during the Regency period from 1811 to 1820, though the name over the door then was “George Berry.” This historic establishment has been in business since 1698 at the same location. The current owner, Simon Berry tells me the shop has changed little since it opened. Though the fireplace has been abandoned for central heating, and the cellar is now a place for elegant wine dinners, it still has the original oak plank floors, and it still honors its roots as a merchant selling provisions, exotic spices, tea and coffee—as well as wines from around the world.

Berry’s was first established in 1698 by the Widow Bourne as a grocer’s shop, the “Coffee Mill,” and remained in the hands of the good widow until her daughter, Elizabeth, was successfully wooed by William Pickering. In 1731, Sir Thomas Hanmer, Speaker of the House of Commons, leased the shop to Pickering to be rebuilt along with the houses in the court behind, now known as Pickering Place.

In 1734, William Pickering died and his widow Elizabeth took over the running of the business until 1737, when she handed over both the grocery and the “arms painting and heraldic furnishing” side of the business to her sons William and John. John Pickering died in 1754. With no suitable heir, his brother William took as his partner John Clarke who was distantly related.

By 1765, at the sign of the “Coffee Mill,” (which still hangs from the storefront but cannot be clearly seen in the picture as it’s at a right angle), Berry’s not only supplied the fashionable “Coffee Houses” (later to become Clubs such as Boodles and Whites), but also began weighing customers on giant coffee scales. Records of customers’ weights, including those of the Royal Dukes, Lord Byron, former Prime Minister William Pitt and the Aga Khan, span three centuries and are still added to, to this day.

Berry’s first supplied wine to the British Royal Family during King George III’s reign, and today holds two Royal Warrants for H.M. The Queen and H.R.H. The Prince of Wales.

John Clarke died in 1788, and while he had no son, his daughter, Mary had married John Berry, a wine merchant in Exeter. Their son, George, although only one year old, had already been designated by his grandfather as heir to the Coffee Mill. Before he died, John Clarke found as a suitable “caretaker” to manage affairs, the Browne’s of Westerham, a rich and prospering family of lawyers and yeomen into which John Berry’s sister had married, and they agreed to look after the business until George was old enough to take over.

George was only sixteen in 1803 when he made the two-day journey from Exeter. For seven years he must have played the part of apprentice, for it was not until he was 23, in 1810 that his name was stretched across the double-fronted fascia of No. 3 St James’s Street. And this is how it looked in Regency England.

In 1815, St James’s Street was a very masculine domain (Georgette Heyer describes her heroine in The Grand Sophy as risking her reputation just by driving her phaeton down St James’s Street); however, the Dighton etching of the shop front, which dates from that same year, shows women amongst the male passers-by, and they do not seem to be causing too much scandal. They are either walking with a male companion or as a pair, so perhaps some form of protection was still the norm.

The paving of Westminster’s streets began in the mid 18th century, but wasn’t completed until the mid 19th. Still, the main roads, such as St James’s Street, would have been paved by 1815 as suggested in the etching.

In 1838 the Chartist riots raged through provincial England and spread panic in London. Accompanied by his friend Prince Louis Napoleon, George Berry was sworn in as a special constable. Prince Louis Napoleon, who as Napoleon III founded the Deuxième Empire in 1851, had a close association with Berry’s. During his two-year stay in London he used the cellars for sundry secret meetings with Sherer the (reputed) editor of the “Standard.”

My new Regency Christmas story, The Holly & The Thistle, begins in Berry’s wine shop where the heroine, a young English widow (“the holly”) and the hero, a Scot (“the thistle”) meet just before Christmastide, each believing the other is someone else. It will put you in the mood for Christmas, I promise!

Regan Walker

http://www.reganwalkerauthor.com

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Dec 052012
 

Our Regency Personage for December was born in December

Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775. She was the seventh of eight children and only the second daughter. Her father was a clergyman.

Her oldest brother was James who became a clergyman like their father.

The second brother was George about whom not much is known. It is thought that he was deaf because Jane knew how to “speak with her fingers.” Some say he had other problems and might have been a Down’s syndrome child. George lived in a private home with a caretaker all his life.

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Nov 262012
 

During the so-called "Delicate Investigation," Caroline, Princess of Wales, was asked if she had ever committed adultery after she had come to England and married George, Prince of Wales. She replied that indeed she had, but only with the husband of Mrs. Fitzherbert. In today’s article, Cheryl Bolen provides the salient details of the curious relationship between the Prince Regent and his pair of wives.

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Oct 222012
 

A cross-post from The Regency Redingote:

The Hero of Trafalgar also has a relationship of sorts to Jane Eyre, Heathcliffe and Kathy, and Agnes Grey. Yes, those characters inhabit novels which were written by three talented sisters decades after the death of Admiral Nelson in October of 1805. He did not know the sisters, in fact they were all born more than ten years after his death. And yet, thanks to Charlotte, Emily and Anne, the name of Nelson’s favorite title lives on, even if it has lost its association with him.

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Oct 042012
 

Though Elizabeth Billington was thought to have one of the greatest voices of the age,the caricaturists loved to poke fun at her.

Mrs. Billington 1765-1818 was the daughter of Carl Weichsell, a well-known oboist, and a popular singer. In childhood she studied singing and composition with J.C. Bach, and by age 12 she had produced two keyboard concertos. In 1783, she wed James Billington, singing teacher and player of the double bass. For many years she and her brother, a violinist, provided afterpiece concerts at Covent Garden, where she became renowned for her exceptionally high vocal range and accurate intonation.
In 1802 she made her opera debut at the Italian opera house.  “The recitative was raised from its customary level.”

In 1805, according to the Times, “(she) sung with all the taste and delicacy, expression and neatness of execution that have long placed her above the reach of competition.” Her last performance at the King’s was the following year. She returned to the concert stage and to English Opera, performing alternately at Drury Lane and Covent Garden,
till her retirement in 1817.

Regency Promenade is written every month by Nancy Mayer, Regency researcher extraordinaire. http://www.regencyresearcher.com/