Wednesday, 26 August 2015

A Social History of Tea by Jane Pettigrew and Bruce Richardson - a review

Front cover of A Social History of Tea by Jane Pettigrew and Bruce Richardson

This is a comprehensive study of the growth of tea drinking in England with added sections in this new edition from Bruce Richardson about the history of tea in America. The book starts with the origins of tea and takes you through the centuries, right up to the present day with the development of specialist tea houses like Comins Tea House in Sturminster Newton, Dorset, where I bought this book.

The book is divided up by century and within these chapters, it looks at different subjects such as the sources of the tea that was drunk, the sales of tea, tea taxes, taking tea out and at home, smuggling, tea wares and how tea went from being an extremely expensive and elitist beverage to the drink of choice of the masses. I found that at times the book repeated itself in different sections and the breakdown of the chapters led to some chronological toing and froing, but overall, I found it very readable.

As you all know, my particular interest is in the Georgian period and I was impressed with the number of quotes from the household records and other contemporary sources which were included in the chapters on the 18th and 19th centuries.

I have now developed an interest in tea caddies and tea cups and look for them in the historic houses I visit. Reading this book also prompted me to visit Twinings historic shop in the Strand and the house of one of the most famous Georgian tea drinkers, Samuel Johnson.

Twinings tea shop, 216 Strand, London
Twinings tea shop, 216 Strand, London
Source used:
Pettigrew, Jane and Richardson, Bruce, A Social History of Tea (my edition 2014)

If you are inspired to get your own copy, you can order it from Amazon:

Sunday, 23 August 2015

A Royal Welcome - 2015 exhibition at Buckingham Palace

A Royal Welcome at Buckingham Palace - the front of Buckingham Palace  and the Ballroom laid out for a state banquet Photos © Andrew Knowles
A Royal Welcome at Buckingham Palace - the front of Buckingham Palace
and the Ballroom laid out for a state banquet Photos © Andrew Knowles
This summer’s exhibition at Buckingham Palace gives visitors a taste of what it is like to be an official guest at the palace. Andrew and I were invited to a bloggers’ breakfast last week to view the exhibition with a guided tour by curator Anna Reynolds. We were extremely privileged to be allowed to take photos in many of the rooms—not something that is normally permitted. Thanks to Andrew, I have lots of pictures to share to help you experience a Royal Welcome. The exhibition runs until 27 September 2015.

From Wednesday 9 September, there will be an additional photographic display – Long To Reign Over Us – celebrating the reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II who becomes the longest reigning British monarch, overtaking Queen Victoria.

The Grand Entrance

The first difference from our previous visits to Buckingham Palace was the way in. This year, visitors to the palace enter the State Rooms through the Grand Entrance that invited guests use. The Australian state coach is on display outside this entrance so that visitors can imagine they have just arrived in it (if only!). 

The Australian state coach outside the Grand Entrance of Buckingham Palace The Australian state coach outside the Grand Entrance of Buckingham Palace Photo © Andrew Knowles
The Australian state coach outside the Grand Entrance
of Buckingham Palace Photo © Andrew Knowles
The Grand Staircase

From the Grand Entrance, you pass through the Grand Hall and up the Grand Staircase. On our tour, we went straight to the top and were able to capture the full length of the magnificent staircase. The balustrade is magnificent, made of gilded bronze, and at the top we looked up to see some very familiar faces – George III and Queen Charlotte.

The Grand Hall, Buckingham Palace Photo © Andrew Knowles
The Grand Hall, Buckingham Palace
Photo © Andrew Knowles
The Grand Staircase, Buckingham Palace Photo © Andrew Knowles
View up the Grand Staircase, Buckingham Palace
Photo © Andrew Knowles
The Grand Staircase, Buckingham Palace Photo © Andrew Knowles
The Grand Staircase, Buckingham Palace
Photo © Andrew Knowles
The Throne Room

In the Throne Room, there were displays on the theme of investitures. There was a video of various people receiving their honours, as well as pictures of some recipients of the Order of Merit including a portrait of Sir Tom Stoppard and a self-portrait by David Hockney. The knighting stool and a sword used for conferring knighthoods were also on display.

Knighting stool © Royal Collection Queen Elizabeth II 2015
Knighting stool
© Royal Collection Trust Queen Elizabeth II 2015
Portrait of Sir Tom Stoppard © Royal Collection Trust Queen Elizabeth II 2015
Portrait of Sir Tom Stoppard
© Royal Collection Trust Queen Elizabeth II 2015
Preparing for a state visit

In the main exhibition area, there were several displays set up which showed how the palace staff prepare for a state visit. These included insights into the office, the kitchen, the wine cellar and the dressmaker’s workshop.

Getting ready in the office

Part of the office display in a Royal Welcome 2015 exhibition at Buckingham Palace Photo © Andrew Knowles
Part of the office display in a Royal Welcome
2015 exhibition at Buckingham Palace
Photo © Andrew Knowles
An invitation to a state banquet in the office display in a Royal Welcome 2015 exhibition at Buckingham Palace Photo © Andrew Knowles
An invitation to a state banquet in the office display
in a Royal Welcome 2015 exhibition at Buckingham Palace
Photo © Andrew Knowles
Invitations to a state banquet in the office display in a Royal Welcome 2015 exhibition at Buckingham Palace Photo © Andrew Knowles
Invitations to a state banquet in the office display
in a Royal Welcome 2015 exhibition at Buckingham Palace
Photo © Andrew Knowles
Programme for a state visit in the office display in a Royal Welcome 2015 exhibition at Buckingham Palace Photo © Andrew Knowles
Programme for a state visit in the office display in
a Royal Welcome 2015 exhibition at Buckingham Palace
Photo © Andrew Knowles
I particularly liked the little booklets (shown above) that guests are given so that they know the names of everyone else who is attending the state banquet and where they are sitting, a menu and other useful information. The aim is to make the guests feel relaxed, not to catch them out!

Preparing food for a state banquet

The kitchen display in a Royal Welcome  2015 exhibition at Buckingham Palace  Photo © Andrew Knowles
The kitchen display in a Royal Welcome 2015 exhibition
at Buckingham Palace - Photo © Andrew Knowles
Chocolates in the kitchen display in a Royal Welcome  2015 exhibition at Buckingham Palace  Photo © Andrew Knowles
Chocolates in the kitchen display in a Royal Welcome
2015 exhibition at Buckingham Palace
Photo © Andrew Knowles
Uniform in the kitchen display in a Royal Welcome  2015 exhibition at Buckingham Palace  Photo © Andrew Knowles
Uniform in the kitchen display in a Royal Welcome
2015 exhibition at Buckingham Palace
Photo © Andrew Knowles
Making chocolate buttons in the mould of uniform buttons   in the kitchen display in a Royal Welcome  2015 exhibition at Buckingham Palace  Photo © Andrew Knowles
Making chocolate buttons in the mould of uniform
buttons in the kitchen display in a Royal Welcome
2015 exhibition at Buckingham Palace
Photo © Andrew Knowles
Making chocolate buttons in the mould of uniform buttons   in the kitchen display in a Royal Welcome  2015 exhibition at Buckingham Palace  Photo © Andrew Knowles
Making chocolate buttons in the mould of uniform buttons in the kitchen
 display in a Royal Welcome 2015 exhibition at Buckingham Palace
Photo © Andrew Knowles
Preparing the wine for a state banquet

The wine cellar display in a Royal Welcome  2015 exhibition at Buckingham Palace  Photo © Andrew Knowles
The wine cellar display in a Royal Welcome
2015 exhibition at Buckingham Palace
Photo © Andrew Knowles
The wine cellar display in a Royal Welcome  2015 exhibition at Buckingham Palace  Photo © Andrew Knowles
The wine cellar display in a Royal Welcome
2015 exhibition at Buckingham Palace
Photo © Andrew Knowles
Preparing the tableware for a state banquet

Preparing the tableware for a state banquet in a Royal Welcome  2015 exhibition at Buckingham Palace  Photo © Andrew Knowles
Preparing the tableware for a state banquet in a Royal Welcome
2015 exhibition at Buckingham Palace
Photo © Andrew Knowles
Preparing the tableware for a state banquet in a Royal Welcome  2015 exhibition at Buckingham Palace  Photo © Andrew Knowles
Preparing the tableware for a state banquet in a Royal Welcome
2015 exhibition at Buckingham Palace
Photo © Andrew Knowles
Getting out the plates for a state banquet in a Royal Welcome  2015 exhibition at Buckingham Palace  Photo © Andrew Knowles
Getting out the plates for a state banquet in a Royal Welcome
2015 exhibition at Buckingham Palace
Photo © Andrew Knowles
Getting out the cutlery for a state banquet in a Royal Welcome  2015 exhibition at Buckingham Palace  Photo © Andrew Knowles
Getting out the cutlery for a state banquet in a Royal Welcome
2015 exhibition at Buckingham Palace
Photo © Andrew Knowles
Preparing clothes fit for the Queen

The dressers' workroom in a Royal Welcome  2015 exhibition at Buckingham Palace  Photo © Andrew Knowles
The dressers' workroom in a Royal Welcome
2015 exhibition at Buckingham Palace
Photo © Andrew Knowles
The dressers' workroom in a Royal Welcome  2015 exhibition at Buckingham Palace  Photo © Rachel Knowles
The dressers' workroom in a Royal Welcome
2015 exhibition at Buckingham Palace
Photo © Rachel Knowles
The dressers' workroom in a Royal Welcome  2015 exhibition at Buckingham Palace  Photo © Andrew Knowles
The dressers' workroom in a Royal Welcome
2015 exhibition at Buckingham Palace
Photo © Andrew Knowles
Dressed for a state occasion

I enjoyed the last display, showcasing three of the Queen’s dresses used for state occasions, together with photos of her wearing them. Some of her jewellery was on display, including the coronation necklace, Queen Mary’s Dorset bow brooch and the Kokoshnik tiara.

One of the Queen's state outfits in a Royal   Welcome 2015 exhibition at Buckingham   Palace - Photo © Rachel Knowles
One of the Queen's state outfits in a Royal
Welcome 2015 exhibition at Buckingham
 Palace - Photo © Rachel Knowles
One of the Queen's state outfits in a Royal   Welcome 2015 exhibition at Buckingham   Palace - Photo © Rachel Knowles
One of the Queen's state outfits in a Royal
Welcome 2015 exhibition at Buckingham
 Palace - Photo © Rachel Knowles
The coronation necklace in a Royal Welcome  2015 exhibition at Buckingham  Palace   Photo © Andrew Knowles
The coronation necklace in a Royal Welcome
2015 exhibition at Buckingham  Palace
Photo © Andrew Knowles
The Kokoshnik tiara in a Royal Welcome  2015 exhibition at Buckingham  Palace   Photo © Andrew Knowles
The Kokoshnik tiara in a Royal Welcome
2015 exhibition at Buckingham  Palace
Photo © Andrew Knowles
Queen Mary's Dorset bow brooch in a Royal Welcome  2015 exhibition at Buckingham  Palace   Photo © Andrew Knowles
Queen Mary's Dorset bow brooch in a Royal Welcome
2015 exhibition at Buckingham  Palace
Photo © Andrew Knowles
The Ballroom

The Ballroom was set up for a state banquet and I thought the glittering array of tableware was quite dazzling.

The ballroom set up for a state banquet in a Royal Welcome  2015 exhibition at Buckingham  Palace   Photo © Andrew Knowles
The ballroom set up for a state banquet in a Royal Welcome
2015 exhibition at Buckingham  Palace
Photo © Andrew Knowles
The ballroom set up for a state banquet in a Royal Welcome  2015 exhibition at Buckingham  Palace   Photo © Andrew Knowles
The ballroom set up for a state banquet in a Royal Welcome
2015 exhibition at Buckingham  Palace
Photo © Andrew Knowles
The ballroom set up for a state banquet in a Royal Welcome  2015 exhibition at Buckingham  Palace   Photo © Andrew Knowles
The ballroom set up for a state banquet in a Royal Welcome
2015 exhibition at Buckingham  Palace
Photo © Andrew Knowles
Menu for a state banquet in a Royal Welcome  2015 exhibition at Buckingham  Palace   Photo © Andrew Knowles
Menu for a state banquet in a Royal Welcome
2015 exhibition at Buckingham  Palace
Photo © Andrew Knowles
Place setting for a state banquet in a Royal Welcome  2015 exhibition at Buckingham  Palace   Photo © Andrew Knowles
Place setting for a state banquet in a Royal Welcome
2015 exhibition at Buckingham  Palace
Photo © Andrew Knowles
There were several videos to watch, my favourite being the one on the middle screen—a speeded up version of them setting up, serving and clearing up after a state banquet. You can watch part of this video here.



State gifts

A selection of gifts given to the Queen on state visits was on display in the State Dining Room, on a table beneath life-size portraits of George IV and his parents and other royals.

State gifts on display in the State Dining Room in a Royal Welcome  2015 exhibition at Buckingham  Palace   Photo © Andrew Knowles
State gifts on display in the State Dining Room in a Royal Welcome
2015 exhibition at Buckingham  Palace
Photo © Andrew Knowles
Part of a set of porcelain plates given to the Queen  by the President of Singapore in 2014  © Royal Collection Trust Queen Elizabeth II 2015
Part of a set of porcelain plates given to the Queen
by the President of Singapore in 2014
© Royal Collection Trust Queen Elizabeth II 2015
Clay sculpture of a Tree of Life from the President of   Mexico on display in the State Dining Room in a   Royal Welcome 2015 exhibition at Buckingham  Palace  Photo © Andrew Knowles
Clay sculpture of a Tree of Life from the President of
Mexico on display in the State Dining Room in a
Royal Welcome 2015 exhibition at Buckingham  Palace
Photo © Andrew Knowles
Music Room

More of the Queen's clothes were on display in the Music Room.

Three of the Queen's state outfits in a Royal   Welcome 2015 exhibition at Buckingham  Palace   Photo © Andrew Knowles
Three of the Queen's state outfits in a Royal
Welcome 2015 exhibition at Buckingham  Palace
Photo © Andrew Knowles
It was a great morning, wandering through the State Rooms and reacquainting myself with all the wonderful portraits of the Georgian royal family. I did not count how many pictures there were of George IV, but there were more of him than of any other monarch! The exhibition brought in several new elements which were a nice variation to what we had seen on previous visits.

Remembering Mrs Jordan

Having blogged about Mrs Jordan (William IV's long-standing mistress) recently and how she was ostracised by the royal family during her life, it was reassuring to see her portrait on display alongside the Georgian royals as well as the Chantrey sculpture commissioned by William IV. This was not on display in one of the rooms we visited on our guided tour and so we had no opportunity to photograph it, but Andrew discovered that he had taken a picture of it quite by chance when capturing the view through a doorway from one of the drawing rooms! 

Mrs Jordan statue by Chantrey,  on display in Buckingham Palace  Photo © Andrew Knowles
Mrs Jordan statue by Chantrey,
on display in Buckingham Palace
Photo © Andrew Knowles
Mrs Jordan statue by Chantrey,  on display in Buckingham Palace  Photo © Andrew Knowles
Mrs Jordan statue by Chantrey,
on display in Buckingham Palace
Photo © Andrew Knowles
A royal treat in the café © Andrew Knowles
A royal treat in the café © Andrew Knowles
Book tickets for "A Royal Welcome" here.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Travelling chariots

A collage of travelling chariots by Rachel Knowles
Travelling chariots
One of the subjects I had to research for A Perfect Match was travel. Right at the start of my book, I needed to move Mrs Westlake and her daughter from Oxfordshire to London. Obviously they would travel by horse-drawn vehicle, but what type of carriage would they have used and how would this have been accomplished?

To help me with my research, I visited the National Trust Carriage Museum at Arlington Court in Devon and the Red House Stables in the Peak District in Derbyshire. I soon decided that the wealthy Mrs Westlake would undoubtedly have travelled by private chaise or travelling chariot:
“She [Mrs Westlake] was very proud of her brand new travelling chariot which had been built to the latest design and offered the most comfortable ride that money could buy.” (1)
What was a travelling chariot?

A travelling chariot was a privately owned post-chaise used for long journeys.

Travelling chariot, National Trust Carriage Museum, Arlington Court
Travelling chariot, National Trust Carriage Museum, Arlington Court
Why was it called a chariot rather than a coach?

It was called a chariot because it was designed to transport two people on a single, forward-facing internal seat, set behind the doors. A coach, on the other hand, was designed to transport four people on two internal seats—a forward-facing seat behind the doors like in a chariot, but with a backward-facing seat opposite, set ahead of the doors.

View inside a travelling chariot from the front window, National Trust Carriage Museum, Arlington Court
View inside a travelling chariot from the front window,
National Trust Carriage Museum, Arlington Court
How was it driven?

A travelling chariot was designed to be driven by postilions or post-boys. This meant that the carriage was directed by one or more postilions—men riding the horses pulling the carriage—rather than by a coachman sitting on a coach box which would obscure the travellers’ view. The postilions usually rode the horses on the left or near side. The pair of horses nearest the carriage was called the wheelers and the pair in front was called the leaders.

Step up into a travelling chariot extended at Red House Stables
Step up into a travelling chariot extended
at Red House Stables
How did the post system work?

The post system enabled people to travel more quickly by refreshing their horses at different stages along the way. A traveller could hire horses and post-boys at a posting house to convey their carriage to a posting house further along the post road. This journey was known as a stage and was usually eight to ten miles long. At the end of the stage, the traveller paid off the post-boys who then stayed with the horses until they were hired by someone travelling in the opposite direction, back to the inn where they were hired.

An ostler at the second posting inn would harness a fresh team of horses to the carriage accompanied by a new set of post-boys, which would take the traveller on the second stage of their journey. 

It was possible to hire a carriage as well as horses and these public travelling chariots were called post-chaises and were often painted yellow.

Travelling chariot, Red House Stables
Travelling chariot, Red House Stables
Travelling with your own horses

Travellers frequently covered the first stage of their journey with their own horses and postilions. These postilions would ensure that the owner’s horses were returned to their stables or wait with them for the owner’s return journey.

The very wealthy sometimes travelled with their own horses along the whole length of the journey by having horses stabled at every stage along the route.

Travelling chariot with box seat fitted for town travel, Red House Stables
Travelling chariot with box seat fitted for town travel, Red House Stables
Adapted for travelling

Because a travelling chariot only had one seat and a window in front, it was ideal for sightseeing en route.

It sometimes had a dormouse boot—a system of folding panels inside the coach that allowed the passengers to stretch out their legs fully into the boot of the carriage.

Travellers could stow their belongings in the chariot’s imperials—light wooden cases covered with leather which could be carried on the roof and in the front boot.

In addition, the chariot might have a sword case which could only be accessed from the inside.

Travelling chariot with imperials mounted on the roof,  National Trust Carriage Museum, Arlington Court
Travelling chariot with imperials mounted on the roof,
National Trust Carriage Museum, Arlington Court
A versatile vehicle

A travelling chariot was not just used for travelling long distances. After arriving in town, the chariot could have a box seat added so that it could be driven around town by a coachman.

Behind the main body of the carriage, above the boot, was an outside seat called a rumble seat which could be used for transporting servants. This could be removed so that footmen could stand on the footboard behind the carriage when it was used around town.

Rumble seat on a travelling chariot, Red House Stables
Rumble seat on a travelling chariot, Red House Stables
Windows

The windows could be covered over with screens or shutters in order to shut out the light and allow the passengers to sleep and maintain their privacy. The different screens could be lowered and raised as required.

Inside a travelling chariot, showing the window screens, Red House Stables
Inside a travelling chariot, showing the window screens,
Red House Stables
Note
(1) Excerpt from A Perfect Match by Rachel Knowles.

Sources used include:
Badcock, Marigold, Gibbons, David and Parker-Williams, Demelza, Arlington Court and the National Trust Carriage Museum, National Trust Guide (2009)

National Trust carriage listing

Photos © Andrew Knowles - more photos of Arlington by Andrew on Flickr.