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Monday, 20 October 2014

The National Trust Carriage Museum at Arlington Court – a Regency History guide

The National Trust Carriage Museum, Arlington Court
The National Trust Carriage Museum, Arlington Court
Where is it?

The National Trust Carriage Museum is housed in the stables of Arlington Court near Barnstaple in North Devon.

History

In 1966, the National Trust decided to start a collection of British carriages and display them in the stables of Arlington Court – one of the few stables of a National Trust property that had not already been converted into a restaurant or other building.

The stables, Arlington Court
The stables, Arlington Court
Some of the carriages were gifted to the Trust, such as eight carriages from the 7th Marquess of Bute, whereas others are on loan, mostly from other National Trust properties and museums.

The collection

The National Trust Carriage Collection includes a wide variety of carriages, mostly dating from the 1800s. I have highlighted a few of the earliest vehicles but if you want to discover more about the collection, you can look at the National Trust Carriage Museum collection on the Arlington Court website here.

The Speaker’s State Coach

This recently restored golden coach dates from the late 17th century and was used by the Speaker of the House of Commons. It is on loan from the Houses of Parliament.

Here is a link to a picture – no photography of this coach was allowed.

State coach and state chariots

State coach, Arlington Court
State coach
These carriages date from the mid-1800s and because they were only used for state occasions, they are in very good condition.

The main difference between a state coach and a state chariot is the shape of the body. A coach can seat four people inside on two seats, one ahead of the doors and one behind the doors. A chariot, on the other hand, is only designed to seat two people and they both sit on the single seat behind the doors.

State chariot, Arlington Court
State chariot
Both state coaches and chariots would have been driven by a coachman in full livery with a decorative seat cloth covering the coachman’s seat known as a hammer cloth (shown under a protective covering in both photographs above).

Behind the carriage body is the footmen’s cushion – a padded perch on which two liveried footmen would stand.

Travelling chariots

Travelling chariot
Travelling chariot
A travelling chariot accommodated two people on a single seat behind the doors. It was used for long journeys, including making the Grand Tour.

It was postilion-driven which meant that the carriage was driven by one or more post-boys riding the horses instead of by a coachman on a box. However, a coachman’s seat could be added to adapt it for driving about town.

A selection of other carriages on display

Barouche

Barouche
Barouche
Brougham – double and single

Double Brougham
Double Brougham
Single Brougham
Single Brougham
Britzschka

Britzschka
Britzschka
Landau

Postilion Landau
Postilion Landau
Gig

Hooded Gig
Hooded Gig
 Cabriolet

Cabriolet
Cabriolet
Victoria

A carriage called a Victoria
Victoria
Last visited: June 2014.

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

All photographs © Andrew Knowles - www.flickr.com/photos/dragontomato

Monday, 13 October 2014

My Regency History blog is 3 years old!

Regency History blog header and picture of Rachel Knowles, author
Rachel Knowles, author
of the Regency History blog
My Regency History blog is three years old this month. Since writing my first post What is the Regency? in October 2011, I have shared 188 posts, which have been read by an increasing number of people. According to Google analytics, my blog was visited 12,102 times during September 2014!

Statue of George IV, Brighton
Statue of George IV, Brighton
from What is the Regency?
Thank you to everyone who has read and commented on my blog, either here or on Twitter, Facebook or Google+. Your words of encouragement are really appreciated. Don't forget to sign up to my newsletter for a monthly round up of my posts and a specially written article about my news or research.

To celebrate, I thought that I would share with you my top ten blog posts. But how do you decide what your most popular blogs are? What do you think is the best way to measure your top ten blog posts?

All-time top ten posts according to Blogger

According to Blogger’s own statistics, my all-time top ten blog posts are as follows:

1. Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire
2. Mrs Fitzherbert
3. When is the Regency era?
4. Lady Elizabeth Foster, later Duchess of Devonshire
5. The rise and fall of Beau Brummell
6. 30 Beau Brummell quotes
7. Prince Edward, Duke of Kent
8. Headdresses and hairstyles for Regency evenings
9. Almack’s Assembly Rooms
10. Did Regency ladies ever get sunburnt?

Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire,   from The Two Duchesses,  Family Correspondence (1898)
Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire,
  from The Two Duchesses,
 Family Correspondence (1898)
All-time top ten posts according to Google analytics

The list on Google analytics is not quite the same. This may be because I did not activate Google analytics until March 2012 and so the figures do not include my first six months of blogging. However, I have noticed before that the statistics on Blogger and Google analytics are not the same, so clearly they derive their figures in slightly different ways.

1. Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire
2. When is the Regency era?
3. Lady Elizabeth Foster, later Duchess of Devonshire
4. The rise and fall of Beau Brummell
5. Prince Edward, Duke of Kent
6. Headdresses and hairstyles for Regency evenings
7. 30 Beau Brummell quotes
8. George IV and Queen Caroline: a disastrous royal marriage
9. When was the London season?
10. Princess Caroline of Brunswick

Mrs Fitzherbert does not even make the top ten, coming in at number 11. This post was written back in October 2011 and must have been visited a lot in the first six months!

Headdresses and hairstyles for Regency evenings
Headdresses and hairstyles for Regency evenings
This year’s top posts

The trouble with all-time statistics is that earlier posts have a much better chance of ranking well as they have been around longer. But interestingly, looking at Google analytics just for the past year, the top ten is virtually identical, but with Mrs Fitzherbert taking over from Princess Caroline!

Mrs Fitzherbert from Memoirs of George IV by Robert Huish (1830)
Mrs Fitzherbert
from Memoirs of George IV by Robert Huish (1830)
This month’s top posts

Narrowing the statistics down to just the past month, there are a few newcomers to the top ten, pushing out Beau Brummell quotes, Princess Caroline and her marriage:

Jane Austen Festival 2014 Regency Promenade
Queen Charlotte
Regency History’s guide to the Mysteries of Udolpho

Natalie Garbett and Rachel Knowles  at the Jane Austen Grand  Regency Promenade in Bath
Natalie Garbett and Rachel Knowles
at the Jane Austen Grand
Regency Promenade in Bath
Top ten according to Google+

Another way of determining my top 10 is to look at the number of +1s my posts have received on Google+:

1. Lord Byron
2. George III
3. The First Georgians Exhibition (sadly now finished)
4. Queen Victoria’s christening
5. Elizabeth Lamb, Viscountess Melbourne
6. What can "The Sylph" tell us about its author, Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire?
7. George IV
8. 30 Beau Brummell quotes and anecdotes
9. Two Little Princes: Prince Alfred
10. = Mary Anning and Princess Mary

However, I am not sure whether this is a good measure of success as it does not necessarily reflect the number of people who have actually visited the posts on my blog.

Lord Byron from A Journal of the Conversations of  Lord Byron with the Countess of Blessington (1893)
Lord Byron
from A Journal of the Conversations of 
Lord Byron with the Countess of Blessington (1893)
Most comments

But perhaps visitor numbers is not an accurate gauge of a post’s success. Maybe the interactions that a post generates is more significant. On that basis, my most successful posts based on the number of comments left on my blog to date are:

1. Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire
2. The Six Princesses: Princess Amelia
3. When is the Regency era?
4. A ball at Almack’s in 1815
5. Did Regency ladies ever get sunburnt?
6. When was the London season?
7. Jane Austen Festival 2014 Regency Promenade
8. How much did a ticket to a Regency ball really cost?
9. Princess Charlotte
10. George IV

A ball at Almack's in 1815 (annotated)
from Celebrities of London and Paris by Captain Gronow (1865)
All photographs © Andrew Knowles - www.flickr.com/photos/dragontomato

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Cotehele - a Regency History guide

Cotehele
Cotehele
Where is it?

Cotehele is a Tudor manor in Cornwall.

History

In 1353, Hilaria de Cotehele married William Edgcumbe and the medieval house at Cotehele passed into the Edgcumbe family. Between 1485 and about 1560, the house was rebuilt by successive generations of Edgcumbes, resulting in the substantially Tudor house that exists today. But by 1553, before the building works were even finished, Cotehele had been abandoned for Mount Edgcumbe, the Edgcumbes’ newly completed Tudor mansion in south Cornwall which became their primary seat.

Cotehele from the garden
Cotehele from the garden
During the 1660s, Colonel Piers Edgcumbe lived at Cotehele and remodelled the interiors, but his son chose to return to Mount Edgcumbe. During the Second World War, Mount Edgcumbe was largely destroyed by bombing and Cotehele became the family home of the Edgcumbes once more.

In 1947, Cotehele was given into the care of the National Trust in lieu of death duties, and its contents followed in 1974.

Courtyard - Cotehele
Courtyard - Cotehele
A Georgian tourist attraction

Cotehele remained a secondary home of the Edgcumbe family throughout the Georgian period. During the 1750s, Richard Edgcumbe, 1st Baron Edgcumbe (1680-1758), modernised the interiors of Mount Edgcumbe and sent its out-of-date furnishings to Cotehele. This created a house that seemed to belong to the past and Cotehele became a tourist attraction, drawing a visit from George III.

The King’s visit

On 25 August 1789 (1), George Edgcumbe, 1st Earl of Mount Edgcumbe (1721-95), hosted a visit from George III and Queen Charlotte during their stay at Saltram in Plymouth.

The royal party took barges from the Saltash ferry up the River Tamar to Cotehele.

View down the River Tamar from Cotehele
View down the River Tamar from Cotehele
“The Noble Owner of this venerable mansion received his Royal Visitants, on their landing, with becoming dignity. The ramparts of his castle were occupied by his vassals, and he himself was attended by a chosen hand of faithful adherents, who shouted, ‘God Save the King!’ Triumphal cars, with four wheels each, and two ponies, were provided to convey their Majesties and the Princesses to the castle, which stands on a proud eminence, about a quarter of a mile from the banks of the river.” (2)

The Old Drawing Room, Cotehele
The Old Drawing Room, Cotehele
The royal party was given a tour of the house and served breakfast, traditionally in the Old Drawing Room. The meal was served on the old family pewter which was engraved with the Edgcumbe coat of arms. Eating off pewter rather than anything grander added to the historical experience of Cotehele because of the pewter’s long association with Cotehele and the Edgcumbe family.
 
The old family pewter engraved with the Edgcumbe coat of arms
The old family pewter engraved with the Edgcumbe coat of arms
The visit to Cotehele was very brief; according to Queen Charlotte’s journal, the party landed at 10.30am and re-embarked at 12.10pm. (3) The reason for the haste is explained by the report that appeared in The Gentleman’s Magazine:

“Being shewn the antique curiosities of the castle, among which were many singular pieces of ancient armour, and partaking of some refreshment, which was highly relished by keen appetites, the whole party re-embarked, with a full intent to reach the salmon-weir, which, for bold and picturesque scenery, far exceeds all the other magnificent views which the Tamar presents; but it was found that the tide would not serve to reach it, and they returned to Saltram about two in the afternoon, much gratified by the novelty of the fresh-water navigation.” (2)

The first guidebook to Cotehele, Cotehele on the Banks of the Tamar, was published around 1840 with coloured prints by local artist Nicholas Condy. Queen Victoria visited in 1846 and again in 1856.

What can you see today?

• The Tudor Hall

The Hall, Cotehele
The Hall, Cotehele
• The Punch Room

The Punch Room, Cotehele
The Punch Room, Cotehele
• The Old Drawing Room

The Old Drawing Room, Cotehele
The Old Drawing Room, Cotehele
• The old family pewter in the Kitchen

The old family pewter in the Kitchen, Cotehele
The old family pewter in the Kitchen, Cotehele
• King Charles’ Room

King Charles' Room, Cotehele
King Charles' Room, Cotehele
• Reproductions of Nicholas Condy’s prints in many of the room

King Charles' Room - after print by Nicholas Condy (c1840)
King Charles' Room - after print by Nicholas Condy (c1840)
• Tudor courtyard

Tudor courtyard, Cotehele
Tudor courtyard, Cotehele
Last visited: July 2014.

Read more about the Mount Edgcumbe family.

Notes
(1) This is the date quoted in the National Trust Guide. The Gentleman’s Magazine stated that the visit took place on 26 August, but also got the name of the Edgcumbes’ house wrong, referring to it as Kitley – a house connected with the Bastard family, situated near Plympton and not up the Tamar.
(2) From The Gentleman’s Magazine (1789).
(3) From Queen Charlotte’s journal, quoted in the National Trust Guide.

Sources used include:
Hunt, Rachel, ed by Anna Groves, Cotehele, National Trust Guide (2013)
The Gentleman’s Magazine (1789)

All photographs © RegencyHistory.net - more photos on Regency History's Flickr 

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Regency History's guide to Polesden Lacey

Polesden Lacey
Polesden Lacey (2014)
Where is it?

Polesden Lacey is a stately home in Great Bookham in Surrey owned by the National Trust.

History

There has been a house at Polesden Lacey since the 14th century. Anthony Rous, a Parliamentarian officer in the Civil War, bought the property in 1630 and constructed a new building on the site. It was sold to the politician Arthur Moore in 1723 and remained in the Moore family until 1746 when the estate was sold to Admiral Sir Francis Geary.

Geary’s son leased Polesden Lacey to the playwright and MP Richard Brinsley Sheridan in 1797 and after Sheridan’s death it was bought by Joseph Bonsor, a successful tradesman, who rebuilt the house in the Neo-classical style.

Polesden  from Select Illustrations of the County of Surrey by GF Prosser (1828)
Polesden
from Select Illustrations of the County of Surrey by GF Prosser (1828)
The estate was sold to Sir Walter Farquhar, Baronet, grandson of the Prince of Wales’s physician, in 1853, and then to Sir Clinton Dawkins, banker and Egyptologist, in 1902. Dawkins commissioned Ambrose Poynter to extend the house.

The Edwardian era

Polesden Lacey was bought by Mr and Mrs Ronald Greville in 1906 and transformed into a glittering Edwardian showpiece. Mrs Greville was the natural daughter of William McEwan, an extremely wealthy brewer, and became a successful society hostess. She was famous for entertaining the rich and the royal including Edward VII, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother who spent part of her honeymoon at Polesden Lacey in 1923.

Mrs Greville's Saloon was the dazzling centrepiece of her home. It was a room designed to entertain royalty and the lavish interior decorations came from an early 18th century Italian palazzo.

The Saloon, Polesden Lacey
The Saloon, Polesden Lacey (2014)
Mrs Greville bequeathed the estate to the National Trust in 1942 in memory of her father.

Georgian connections

Admiral Sir Francis Geary, 1st Baronet (1709-1796) 

Sir Francis Geary  Print by HR Cook (1807) © British Museum
Sir Francis Geary
Print by HR Cook (1807) © British Museum
Sir Francis was a naval officer who rose to the rank of Admiral in 1775 and was made 1st Baronet in 1782. He was friends with Sir Edward Hawke and Admiral Boscawen of nearby Hatchlands Park. In 1780 he retired to Polesden Lacey due to ill health.

The creation of the Long Walk, an outstanding terrace with views over the valley, is generally credited to Sir Francis, but possibly he repaired and extended what was already there.

The Long Walk, Polesden Lacey (2017)
The Long Walk, Polesden Lacey (2017)
The house was inherited by his son, Sir William Geary, who leased the property to Richard Brinsley Sheridan.

Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1797-1816)

Richard Brinsley Sheridan
Richard Brinsley Sheridan
from The Historical and Posthumous Memoirs
of Sir Nathaniel Wraxall (1884)
Richard Brinsley Sheridan was a successful playwright, Whig MP and owner of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Sheridan’s trustees, Lord Grey and Mr Whitbread, bought the lease for Polesden Lacey for £12,3841 in 17972 using his second wife’s dowry of £8,000 and money raised from the sale of shares in the Drury Lane Theatre.

Sheridan loved Polesden Lacey and described it as “the nicest place, within a prudent distance of town, in England”.3 He relished his role of country landlord and entertained lavishly, often to the detriment of his creditors and the management of the theatre.

During their period of ownership, the Sheridans extended the Long Walk from 900 feet to 1,300 feet and started to landscape the gardens.

Around 1814, Sheridan began to demolish the house with a view to rebuilding, but ill health and strained finances forced him to abandon his plans.

The Long Walk, Polesden Lacey (2017)
The Long Walk, Polesden Lacey (2017)
Joseph Bonsor (1768-1835)

As The Gentleman’s Magazine stated in his obituary: “This gentleman was the founder of his own fortune.”4 Joseph Bonsor was a bookseller and stationer who won the contract to supply the paper on which The Times was printed on for a number of years. He began trading as a wholesale stationer in 1796 and rose to the top of his trade. His prosperity enabled him to buy Polesden Lacey from Sheridan’s son in 1818.

He commissioned Thomas Cubitt to rebuild the house in the Neo-classical style. On the south front of the house, part of Cubitt’s villa is still visible: six bay windows with an Ionic portico.

The south front of Poledsen Lacey (2017)
The south front of Poledsen Lacey (2017)
What can you see today?

• Sadly, the house that Sheridan lived in was demolished, but the Long Walk that he extended still exists, with its beautiful views over the countryside.

• A small part of Cubitt’s Neo-classical villa on the south side.

The south front of Polesden Lacey
The south front of Polesden Lacey (2014)
• Mrs Greville’s Edwardian home where she entertained royalty. Her collections include paintings by Sir Henry Raeburn and Sir Thomas Lawrence.

Red carpet on the stairs  at Polesden Lacey (2017)
Red carpet on the stairs
at Polesden Lacey (2017)
The Picture Corridor, Polesden Lacey
The Picture Corridor, Polesden Lacey (2014)
The Dining Room, Polesden Lacey
The Dining Room, Polesden Lacey (2014)
The Dining Room, Polesden Lacey (2017)
The Dining Room, Polesden Lacey (2017)
The Library, Polesden Lacey (2017)
The Library, Polesden Lacey (2017)
The Saloon, Polesden Lacey
The Saloon, Polesden Lacey (2014)
The Saloon, Polesden Lacey (2017)
The Saloon, Polesden Lacey (2017)
Mrs Greville's Tea Room, Polesden Lacey (2017)
Mrs Greville's Tea Room, Polesden Lacey (2017)
Post updated September 2017.

Notes
(1) Rowell stated the purchase price was £12,384. Thomas Moore suggested a higher price of £20,000 and that the difference was raised by selling shares in the Drury Lane Theatre.
(2) Rowell says that the transaction was not completed until 1804.
(3) Quoted in Rowell’s guidebook (p5).
(4) From The Gentleman’s Magazine (1835), the obituary of Joseph Bonsor, Esq, of Polseden, Surrey, on Nov 13.

Sources used include:
Moore, Thomas, Memoirs of the Life of the Right Honourable Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1825)
Prosser, George Frederick, Select Illustrations of the County of Surrey (1828)
Rowell, Christopher, Polesden Lacey, National Trust Guide (1999)
Sichel, Walter, Sheridan (1909)

All photographs © Regencyhistory.net