Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Peacock's Polite Repository

While researching other things recently I came across, quite by chance, "Peacock's Polite Repository or Pocket Companion".

I thought it was a charming and very handy book. It was also a very long-lived publication. Appearing yearly, from about 1788 to at least 1830, it was a small book (115 mm x 74 mm), often in a slip-case. It contained diary space and an almanac of all sorts of useful information. It was exactly the sort of thing that anyone new to the country, or desirous of exhaustive information about the country, would have owned. In my new book, the hero buys the heroine a copy; she is definitely in need of the information.

From 1790 to 1811 Humphrey Repton supplied the illustrations for the books, generally a frontispiece and headings for the diary pages. The copy I am using is from 1812, and I have not yet discovered the illustrator but the pictures are charming.

St. Bernad's Well near Edinburgh
The information that filled the pages--about 125 of them--was wide-ranging.

With the number of dukes appearing in Regency fiction these days, it is interesting to have the actual list of those peers. There weren't very many.
 Below is the type of calendar that appears for each month before the diary blanks.
Each month has an illustration in the diary.
The universities figure large in the plethora of information:
Holidays which seem to have been organized by major organizations or business were not neglected. A little more explanation of them would not come amiss. There are more than I would have expected.
It was not a completely insular book. Below is part of the list of foreign rulers:
Even the esoteric was covered by the Repository:
I wonder what were the duties of heralds in 1812? I can feel more research coming on!

'Til next time,


Sources: a Google search on Peacock's Polite Repository will bring myriad results. I used several of them, but cannot list one definitive source.

Monday, August 6, 2018

1865 in the Regency era

The title of this post sounds odd, doesn't it? But I am working on a new book--to be released February 15, 2019--and 1865 plays an important part in my Regency-set romantic tale.

Victorian England in 1865 was very different from Regency England in 1815. Here are a few glimpses of that Victorian world.

Chester Chronicle - Saturday 17 June 1865
Lancaster Gazette - Saturday 30 September 1865
Liverpool Mercury - Saturday 17 June 1865
Wrexham Advertiser - Saturday 22 July 1865
My heroine is very familiar with 1865 and its Victorian sensibilities. She is accustomed to its comforts, and its burgeoning excesses. Without giving too much away, it is her world.

In 1815 there were no railways, no photographs, and there were few town clerks and public works. The parish was the local government and the landowners had the main voice in local improvements. There was little gas lighting, no steam travel, highwaymen were still to be feared and a great war had just ended. But the world was manageable, the pace of life was slower and expectations were more humane.

Human nature did not change as the Petty Sessions from 1815 and 1865 below prove. And human nature is what stories are built upon.

Derby Mercury - Wednesday 17 May 1865

Tyne Mercury; Northumberland and Durham and Cumberland Gazette - Tuesday 04 July 1815

You will be hearing further about my new book in the coming months. Please stay tuned to discover more about the connection of 1865 with 1815.

'Til next time,


Sunday, July 8, 2018

James Bartleman - Regency Celebrity

My first indication of the existence of James Bartleman, "the finest singer that the English school has produced", came from The Picture of London for 1809, and more particularly its column "An Almanac of the Exhibitions and Amusements of London" where he appears in the May entry under
20   Bartleman's Annual Concert, New Rooms, Hanover-square
Morning Post Thursday May 16 1805
 James Bartleman was born in 1769 and by the 1790s after a career in the choir of Westminster Abbey, he was well-known in the musical circles of London. While we still know the names of Signora Catalani and Mrs. Billington, that of Bartleman except in musical history is largely unknown.
by James Thomson (Thompson), after Thomas Hargreaves
stipple engraving, published 1830
Courtesy of National Portrait Gallery
But in The Musical Times of 1853 he was still remembered:
In the 1790s he was a performer at the 'Ancient Concerts' (an abbreviated version of the title for the Concerts of Ancient Music hosted by the Academy of Ancient Music), The Madrigal Society, the Catch Club, and many music festivals and benefit concerts around the country. Eventually he joined the Vocal Concerts, which he later managed and produced.

Morning Post Monday 20 February 1815

London Courier and Evening Gazette Sat  May 6 1815
Such was the popularity of the Vocal Concerts that the songs that were sung there were reproduced as sheet music and were widely sold at the time.
Courtesy of www.sheetmusicwarehouse.co.uk
By 1819 Bartleman was very ill. He had suffered many years in pain (I have not been able to discover what his illness was) and it had at times interrupted his performing career. Note the last sentence of the article below:
Morning Post Monday May 10 1819
He did not however attain a 'perfect recovery'. He died April 15, 1821 and was buried in Westminster Abbey. The tablet there is inscribed:
"To the memory of James Bartleman, formerly a chorister and lay-clerk of Westminster Abbey, and Gentleman of His Majesty's Royal Chapel. Educated by Dr Cooke he caught all the taste and science of that great master, which he augmented and adorned with the peculiar powers of his native genius. He possessed qualities which are seldom united, a lively enthusiasm, with an exact judgment, and exhibited a perfect model of a correct stile, and a commanding voice; simple, and powerful; tender and dignified; solemn, chaste, and purely English, his social and domestick virtues corresponded with these rare endowments: affectionate and liberal; sincere, and open hearted; he was not less beloved by his family and friends, than admired by all for his preeminence in his profession. He was born 19th September 1769, Died 15th April 1821, and was buried in this cloister, near his beloved master".
A fitting monument, surely, for a true celebrity of the Regency era, and a great musician.

'Til next time,


Tuesday, June 5, 2018

June in Regency England

Of all the months of the year, June is my favourite. May runs a very close second, but for me the crowning glory of the year is June. So I thought it would be interesting to explore June in the Regency era in England from a number of aspects.

The gardens and fields and all the natural world are glorious in June and The Shepherd's Calendar by John Clare, though written a little after the true Regency period (1827), is wonderfully descriptive.


NOW Summer is in flower, and Nature’s hum
Is never silent round her bounteous bloom;

Fine cabbage-roses, painted like her face;                
The shining pansy, trimm’d with golden lace;
The tall topp’d larkheels, feather’d thick with flowers;
The woodbine, climbing o’er the door in bowers;                                 
The London tufts, of many a mottled hue;
The pale pink pea, and monkshood darkly blue:
The white and purple gilliflowers, that stay
Ling’ring, in blossom, summer half away;
The single blood-walls, of a luscious smell,
Old-fashion’d flowers which housewives love so well;
The columbines, stone-blue, or deep night-brown,
Their honeycomb-like blossoms hanging down,
Each cottage-garden’s fond adopted child,
Though heaths still claim them, where they yet grow wild;
With marjoram knots, sweet-brier, and ribbon-grass,                                          
And lavender, the choice of ev’ry lass,
And sprigs of lad’s-love—all familiar names,
Which every garden through the village claims.
 The ladies' fashions echo the colours of the garden and the airy delights of June.
Evening Dress Ackermann's Repository of Arts June 1820
The Lady's Magazine Paris Dress June 1802
Cobourg Walking Dress La Belle Assemblee June 1816
The cookery books of the period were assiduous in listing seasonal foods of all kinds. Modern Domestic Cookery, published in 1819, covered every month thoroughly.

Home furnishings reflected, and framed, the joys of early summer:
Three designs for window draperies from Ackermann's Repository of Arts June 1820
Books like The Gardener's Pocket Journal of 1808 listed in great detail the tasks that June gardens required done, following these introductory paragraphs.

Likewise The Farmer's Calendar of 1804 has lists of tasks, but it has no time for niceties such as introductions; it plunges directly into work:
 But always I return to gardens in June. Whether cottage or castle, June is made for gardens.

And I offer you this bouquet, from June.

'Til next time,

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Princess Charlotte of Wales in the news 1796-1809

I have recently renewed an interest in Princess Charlotte of Wales, daughter of the Prince and Princess of Wales, the infamous Prinny and his unloved wife Caroline.

This daughter of the egregious couple showed enormous promise. Despite a neglected upbringing, she was bright, personable and intelligent. The newspapers of the day have fewer notices of her presence in her early years than I would have expected. Even her birth was less acclaimed than I thought it might be.
Hampshire Chronicle - Saturday 09 January 1796
The heir to the throne was named Charlotte Augusta. Her parents were already estranged, and her difficult father did his best to keep mother and daughter apart. She lived alone with nurses and governesses almost from the beginning. And yet she carried out royal duties; the earliest reported in the newspapers was in 1799.
Chester Courant Tues 25 June 1799
Her grandfather and grandmother, King George III and Queen Charlotte, and her maiden aunts, were the best constants in her young life.
Morning Post - Monday 02 February 1801
Morning Post - Friday 30 October 1801
She was not completely without contact with her mother even when Charlotte was away from London at the seaside.
Kentish Weekly Post or Canterbury Journal - Friday 18 September 1801
And  when the Prince of Wales was ill, someone was looking out for Charlotte's  interests as he never did.
Bury and Norwich Post - Wednesday 28 January 1801
What must have been the highlight of her earliest years took place in the Christmas season of 1802 and was reported on January 5, 1803.
Bury and Norwich Post - Wednesday 05 January 1803
I find two things notable about this article's comments. One is that the Princess of Wales was not invited to the party. And the other is that the 'young ladies' wore pantaloons with their frocks!

In 1805, just after Charlotte's ninth birthday, her household changed. It was only one of many changes that occurred over her lifetime as the fickle Prince, her father, tried to tighten his control and his mastery of his wife and his heir.
Kentish Weekly Post or Canterbury Journal - Friday 25 January 1805
In the following years, Princess Charlotte was a footnote in the news at family birthdays, and frequently socialized with her grandparents.
Chester Courant - Tuesday 11 June 1805
Morning Chronicle - Wednesday 21 January 1807

Kentish Weekly Post or Canterbury Journal - Friday 05 June 1807
I can imagine eleven year old Charlotte's delight about the pretty dress noted above. (The newspapers printed copious notes about the gowns of the royals at the birthday parties of the sovereigns.) Even La Belle Assemblee celebrated the Princess in 1807.
La Belle Assemblee  February 1807 HRH Princess Charlotte

Finally, in 1809, Charlotte's own birthday was celebrated in something approaching the style to which an heir to the throne of England was surely entitled.
Morning Chronicle - Friday 13 January 1809

It must be noted however that the party was not held in a palace nor was it hosted by the child's parents. It was not even held in London. The occasion stands as a monument to Charlotte's strange and difficult upbringing.

She was not without supporters though--she was highly regarded as the great hope of the nation by the people of England. And she had family who truly loved her, among them her favourite uncle, her mother's brother, the Duke of Brunswick.

Morning Chronicle - Saturday 02 September 1809
Next month, I'll consider what the newspapers print about the last eight years of the short, difficult life of Princess Charlotte.

'Til then, all the best,