Search this blog

Tuesday 27 August 2013

A litter of cupolas - Brighton Pavilion in 1823

Today’s post is a first for Regency History. I have just made my very first YouTube video!

I recently gave a speech at my local Toastmasters’ group about one of my favourite Regency buildings – the Brighton Pavilion. I called it: “A litter of cupolas”.

The title comes from a quote by William Wilberforce about the Brighton Pavilion:
“It looks very much as if St Paul’s had come down to the sea and left behind a litter of cupolas!”
St. Paul's from D Hughson's London (1806) and Brighton Pavilion
St. Paul's from D Hughson's London (1806) and Brighton Pavilion
A cupola is a dome. As I am sure you know, a litter refers to the multiple offspring of an animal born at one time e.g. a litter of puppies. So a litter of cupolas is a number of little domes. A very witty description of Brighton Pavilion!

My speech transports the listener back in time to experience the Pavilion in its heyday. I recorded my speech and illustrated it with pictures in PowerPoint and then converted it into a YouTube video.

I hope you enjoy it. Please let me have your feedback. This is my first attempt and I am anxious to improve.

Read more about George IV and Brighton Pavilion.

Sources used include:
Feltham, John, A Guide to all the Watering and Sea-bathing Places (1815)
Hughson, David, London; being an accurate history and description of the British Metropolis and its neighbourhood Volume IV (1806, London)
Moule, Thomas, Great Britain Illustrated, a series of original views (1830)
Nash, John, Views of the Royal Pavilion with commentary by Gervase Jackson-Stops (1991)
Wilberforce, Robert, Isaac and Samuel, The Life of William Wilberforce (John Murray, 1839)

British Museum website
Photographs by Andrew Knowles -

Monday 12 August 2013

A Regency History guide to Cecilia by Fanny Burney

Cecilia  from Cecilia by Fanny Burney (1825)
from Cecilia by Fanny Burney (1825)
I recently read Fanny Burney's  second novel, Cecilia.  It was published on 12 June 1782 and, unlike her first novel, Evelina, it was written as a narrative and not as a series of letters. I have written this blog post to help me remember the characters and storyline.

The character list indicates what different people are like but does not say what happens. But beware: the section beginning ‘The story of an heiress’ is a summary of the story and gives away the entire plot!

The characters

The heroine:
Cecilia Beverley, the heroine, orphaned at a young age and heiress of her uncle’s fortune.

Cecilia’s three guardians:
Mr Harrel, the husband of her childhood friend, Priscilla, with whom she lives in high society in London.
Mr Briggs, a miser who jealously guards Cecilia’s fortune.
Mr Delvile, an extremely proud man who believes his family infinitely superior to everyone else.

Cecilia’s suitors:
Mr Monckton, Cecilia’s childhood friend and advisor, who, though already married to the ill-tempered Lady Margaret, hopes to marry Cecilia when his elderly wife dies.
Mr Arnott, Mrs Harrel’s brother, who is slavishly devoted to Cecilia.
Sir Robert Floyer, an extravagant gentleman who is the boon companion of Mr Harrel.
Mr Marriot, another gentleman suitor.
Lord Derford, son of Lord Ernolf.
Mr Belfield, a tradesman’s son whose mother and sister sacrificed everything so he could be brought up as a gentleman and whose vulgar mother believes him good enough for anybody.
Mortimer Delvile – the son of Cecilia's guardian, proud Mr Delvile.

Cecilia’s friends:
Mrs Charlton, an elderly lady who has been her friend since childhood and lives in Cecilia’s home county of Suffolk.
Mrs Harrel, her childhood friend, who lives in the fashionable world of London.
Henrietta Belfield, Mr Belfield’s sister.
Mrs Delvile, Cecilia's guardian's wife.

Other characters:
Mr Morrice, who ingratiates himself with people by being extremely obliging.
Mr Albany, an eccentric who goes about trying to make the rich and fashionable charitable.

The story of an heiress

Cecilia becomes heiress to her uncle’s fortune which she will inherit when she comes of age. However, the will stipulates that if she marries, her husband must take the Beverley family name or forfeit the fortune.

Her uncle has appointed three guardians: Mr Harrel, the husband of her school friend who lives in fashionable society; Mr Briggs, a miser, who jealously guards her fortune; and Mr Delvile, a very proud man who constantly complains about being lowered to accept the role alongside such inferior persons.

Cecilia and Mr Briggs  from Cecilia by Fanny Burney (1825)
Cecilia and Mr Briggs
from Cecilia by Fanny Burney (1825)
Mr Monkton has been Cecilia’s friend and confidante for many years. He regrets having married a bad-tempered woman for her fortune and wants to marry Cecilia when his elderly wife dies.

The hollowness of fashionable life

Cecilia goes to live with the fashionable Harrels, but finds their way of life very shallow. Mr Harrel is under the influence of the extravagant Sir Robert Floyer whose attentions Cecilia finds objectionable.

The eccentric Mr Albany challenges Cecilia to think of others less fortunate than her. She is disgusted to find that Mr Harrel is refusing to pay his debt to Mrs Harris, whose husband is Mr Harrel’s creditor and whose family is in dire poverty.

Emotional blackmail

It soon becomes apparent that the Harrels are living beyond their means and Mr Harrel emotionally blackmails Cecilia for money. Mr Briggs will not advance her any money from her fortune and so she is forced to borrow from a money-lending Jew in order to give Mr Harrel what he needs.

Meanwhile, Cecilia meets Mr Mortimer Delvile who proves to be vastly different to his proud, obnoxious father. She falls in love with him and as the family stands in need of money, she assumes that her marriage would be welcome. Cecilia is befriended by Mrs Delvile who, though proud, is delighted with her intelligent and virtuous company.

A duel

An unfortunate incident occurs. Mr Belfield offers to escort her out of the theatre and she accepts, but Sir Robert Floyer objects. Cecilia refuses to change her mind and the two men argue. Her impassioned pleas that they might not fight lead people to believe that she has a decided preference for one gentleman or the other. Belfield is injured in the duel and has to hide in a poor part of town before he is fully recovered because he cannot afford to pay the doctor.

Both Cecilia and Mortimer try to help poor Mr Belfield. Cecilia befriends his sister Henrietta, but Mrs Belfield wrongfully assumes her concern is as a result of love, and berates her son for not soliciting Cecilia’s hand.

Cecilia has trouble convincing Mortimer that she is in love with neither Sir Robert nor Mr Belfield. She finally manages to persuade Sir Robert that she does not want to marry him, but then is pursued by Mr Marriot and by Lord Ernolf, who unsuccessfully seeks her hand for his son, Lord Derford.

Cecilia and Mortimer Delvile  from Cecilia by Fanny Burney (1825)
Cecilia and Mortimer Delvile
from Cecilia by Fanny Burney (1825)
It happened one night at Vauxhall…

The Harrels’ affairs come to a head: Mr Harrel commits suicide in Vauxhall Gardens. Cecilia has given large amounts of money to him and they are all gone. Mr Monkton settles her debt with the money-lender which she agrees to repay when she comes of age. Cecilia goes to stay with Mrs Delvile, in London and then at Delvile Castle. Mortimer keeps his distance and Cecilia becomes confused and hurt.

A secret marriage is foiled

Mortimer eventually explains himself: he is in love with her, but his parents will not support the match because they would never countenance him giving up his name. He asks her to marry him immediately and secretly and trust that afterwards they will win his parents over. Cecilia is eventually persuaded, but is so afraid of going against the wishes of her dear friend Mrs Delvile that she immediately regrets agreeing.

She asks her friend Mr Monckton to tell Mortimer that she cannot marry him but he fails to track him down and she goes to London herself. Mortimer once more wins her over but the marriage ceremony is stopped by someone calling out during that fatal clause “Does anyone know of any reason why this couple cannot be joined?” and then running away.

A slave to duty

Mrs Delvile visits Cecilia and secures her promise that she will not marry her son against her wishes, but Mortimer is less willing to give up Cecilia and his mother is so angry that she becomes ill. Mr Delvile is vehemently opposed to the match in every way.

A new proposal

Mortimer then returns to Cecilia with the proposal, supported by his parents, that he should keep his name and she should forfeit her fortune and live off the £10,000 left her by her father. But alas, Cecilia had advanced most of this money to Mr Harrel – a fact that Mortimer did not know.

Mortimer now proposes that they survive on his own income and, having gained his mother’s support, Cecilia agrees reluctantly to a secret marriage, hoping to gain his father’s support afterwards. They marry in London and Mortimer immediately returns to his sick mother and Cecilia returns to Suffolk.

Another duel

But Mortimer finds that Mr Monckton has been maligning Cecilia in order to keep her unmarried until such time as he is free to marry her himself and, in a rage, he challenges him to a duel and shoots him.

The duel between Mr Monckton and Mortimer Delvile  from Cecilia by Fanny Burney (1825)
The duel between Mr Monckton and Mortimer Delvile
from Cecilia by Fanny Burney (1825)
Whilst Mr Monckton lives, Mortimer is safe, but he agrees to take his mother abroad for her health.

Destitution and insanity

In the meantime, Cecilia is accused of changing her name and so is forced to renounce her inheritance. She leaves her house and returns to Mrs Charlton’s, but when that lady dies, she is left homeless.

Cecilia plans to travel to meet Mortimer, but fails to find him. Mr Delvile refuses her shelter. She goes to ask advice of Mr Belfield, but is discovered there by Mortimer, whose father has been maligning her character with Mr Monckton’s tales. Cecilia goes after Mortimer, terrified that he will fight another duel, but she fails to find him and her anxiety is so great that she becomes temporarily insane.

Happy ever after

Eventually Cecilia is rescued and, too proud to let his daughter-in-law stay in poverty, Mr Delvile welcomes her into his home. Cecilia recovers and is reunited with Mortimer. Her friend Henrietta and her disappointed suitor Mr Arnott find solace with each other. Virtue has its reward when Cecilia is made heiress to some Delvile family money.


Headshot of Rachel Knowles author with sea in background(2021)
Rachel Knowles writes faith-based Regency romance and historical non-fiction. She has been sharing her research on this blog since 2011. Rachel lives in the beautiful Georgian seaside town of Weymouth, Dorset, on the south coast of England, with her husband, Andrew.

Find out more about Rachel's books and sign up for her newsletter here.

If you have enjoyed this blog and want to encourage us and help us to keep making our research freely available, please buy us a virtual cup of coffee by clicking the button below.

Burney, Fanny, Cecilia or Memoirs of an Heiress (1825 version)

Friday 9 August 2013

A Georgian brain teaser - the answers

For those of you that have been wracking your brains, here are the answers to the Georgian brain teaser – an enigmatical list of books of the bible.

You can find the questions here.

The solutions were submitted by BH from Salisbury Boarding School and dated Feb 4 1774:


For those of you having trouble reading the excerpt from The Lady's Magazine or desirous of a fuller explanation to the trickier answers, here is my solution:

1. Genesis – 4/7 of general + 1/2 of sister
2. Proverbs – pro + verb + S
3. Job
4. Ruth – 4/5 of truth
5. Amos – A (a vowel and NOT a consonant as in the original question) + 3/4 of moss – what grows in the grass
6. Kings
7. Nahum – 2/3 of nay + ¾ of Hume
8. Joel – Joe + L
9. Hosea – hoe + sea
10. Judges
11. Psalms – P + S + alms
12. Numbers

I hope you enjoyed the puzzle.

The Lady’s Magazine or Entertaining Companion for the Fair Sex, Appropriated Solely to Their Use and Amusement (1774)

Monday 5 August 2013

A Georgian brain teaser

Hidden gems

One of the things I like about reading old books and periodicals is that you never know what gems you are going to find. An advert for stays, a Georgian recipe for a treatment for sunburn or an 18th century fashion print:

A lady in full dress from The Lady's Magazine (Aug 1770)
The enigmatical list

Another treasure that I like to find is the Georgian brain teaser. An enigma or puzzle was a common feature in The Lady’s Magazine – a periodical exclusively for ladies, first published in 1770. I found the following enigmatical list in the January 1774 issue and thought I would give it a go. After all, as all the answers were books of the bible, I only had 66 possible answers to choose from!

In case you are finding this difficult to read, the transcription reads as follows:

List of Books in the Bible

1. Four sevenths of a commander, and half a relation.
2. The precedent of a noun, a part of speech, and a consonant.
3. A piece of work.
4. Four fifths of what liars shun.
5. A consonant, and three fourths of what grows in the grass.
6. Great men.
7. Two thirds of a word used by Quakers, and three fourths of a great writer.
8. The abbreviation of a man’s christian name, and a consonant.
9. Two thirds of a gardener’s tool, and a great water.
10. What criminals dread to see.
11. Two consonants, and a gift.
12. A great many.

Juliet Clarion

Finding the answers

After much effort (and working backwards from a list of bible books!) I managed to work out 11 of the answers, but was totally flummoxed with number 5. Eagerly I scanned through the magazine, looking for the answers.

I soon discovered that The Lady’s Magazine did not print official answers as such – instead, they printed solutions offered by their readers. I managed to track down the “suggested answers” submitted and found to my amusement that several comments had been made about number 5. Mistakes were as common in 1774 as they are today – number 5 should read “A VOWEL and three fourths of what grows in the grass.”

With this vital piece of information, can you solve all twelve?

Happy puzzling!

You can find the answers here.

The Lady’s Magazine or Entertaining Companion for the Fair Sex, Appropriated Solely to Their Use and Amusement (1774)

Saturday 3 August 2013

George III visits Lulworth 3 August 1789

A royal visit

On 3 August 1789, George III and Queen Charlotte visited Lulworth Castle which is situated less than 20 miles from where they were staying in Weymouth, Dorset.

Lulworth Castle - rear view

The Gentleman’s Magazine gave a full report of the visit:

As it is quite difficult to read, I have transcribed it as best I can:
Monday 3

His Majesty having signified his pleasure to make his long-intended visit to Lulworth castle, the antient and hospitable seat of Mr Weld, the Southampton was got in readiness to convey their Majesties and suite to that delightful seat; but both wind and tide proving contrary, they were more than six hours on their passage. At four in the afternoon, the company were safely landed on the beach and conveyed in their own carriages [two miles] to the castle.
As soon as they approached the gate, they were met by the country-people for some miles round, assembled in sporting groups about the castle, with music playing, in the highest extasy of joy; and, on their entrance, were received with the utmost politeness by Mr Weld and family. On ascending the steps, eight of the children, dressed in uniform, and placed one above another, joined in chorus, singing “God save the King” as their Majesties entered the vestibule. Their Majesties, highly gratified, staid and partook of an elegant collation, served in new gilt plate, and displayed in the highest taste. 
They then were conducted to the beautiful chapel, where they heard an anthem performed in so excellent a style, that their Majesties could not help expressing their approbation of the performers, both vocal and instrumental. The guns of the castle fired a royal salute both on their Majesties approach, and at their departure: and though they were six hours in bearing-up, they were not more than two on their return. 
Their Majesties were landed at the pier at Weymouth at a quarter after nine, in high spirits, having ate drunk, and sung, the whole trip. Their Majesties, having commanded a play, very condescendingly dispatched a messenger to order that the farce should be performed before the play, that the company might not languish for want of amusement.
The Chapel of St Mary's, Lulworth
Source used:
Urban, Sylvanus, The Gentleman's Magazine and Historical Chronicle (1789)

Photographs by Andrew Knowles -