Thursday, April 24, 2008

Searching for Regency England

Well RT was fun. I had a sign up for a draw for a free book and I will be posting the winner's name on Monday. In the meantime, I want to start sharing all the sights I collected on my last research trip to England, Wales and Jersey.

Before we start, one piece of big news. I have seen my cover for my next book! And it's gorgeous. The moment I am allowed to give you a sneak peek, I will.


Let's get ready to ramble!! (couldn't resist): The first place we visited, after the snow, was Knoll House. This house is in Seven Oaks, in Kent, not very far from where I grew up. This was not my first visit, I went there with my now husband when we were courting. I think this time it made a much greater impression.

This first picture is from 1880, but as I compare it to my picture from a similar angle, the only thing missing is the cars! The house belongs to the Sackville family, who still live there, with the National Trust owning the house itself, and the family still owning the estate and gardens. The estate is a 1000 acre deer park. And although many trees were lost in 1987 in a great storm, it is still beautiful. Here is a picture of some of the deer.


Knole house is pretty well as it was in the seventeenth century. Yes, I do mean the 1600's. This means it is very rare and very beautiful. It also means that it looks the way it did during the Regency.

Reading the history of the house and it's inhabitants, one comes to realize that the Regency era was the least auspicious for the family and the house. The 3rd Duke of Dorset, a true Georgian era rake, and well worth a story one of these days, married and had a son only nine years before his death. His son, the 4th Duke and our Regency Duke, died months after he came of age in a hunting accident in Ireland. Accounts of his youth, make it sound very lonely and unhappy.

This is him, George, his father died when he was eight in 1799 and he had only just come of age when he died in 1815. So much for the glamorous life. Still, I bet he had fun as a teenager.



This sketch gives a good idea of the layout of the house itself, which is magnificent, and the following picture of a section of the Green Court, which is surrounded by low buildings on two sides and entered through the magnificent archway. It is just so seventeenth century, one can almost imagine Elizabeth the first arriving here -- or Prinny for that matter. The house is a series of courtyards, all leading towards the great hall.




One of the things I noticed on the inside of the house, was the thickness of the internal walls. When you move from one room to the next, that wall thickness creates a short passageway, only a step or two, but way grander than our doorways which are only a few inches thick. They are usually lined with ornate oak paneling and of course there are doors at both ends. Quite often they are very low and one has to duck.

Much of the furniture dates back to the seventeenth century and I will try to describe some of it in my next blog.


One of the custodians pointed out a building outside of the house, and said it was a gaol where workers who misbehaved - stealing, drunkenness - were kept until the next assizes. Only trouble was, the owner of the house was the judge.

The other thing that is beautiful about this house are the galleries. Most houses dating back to this period have them. They were used as connecting corridors from one major part of the house to the other, usually a side wing of the courtyard. They were also great inclement weather and exhibiting family portraits. This particular gallery is known as the Brown gallery, is Jacobean and is in one of the earliest parts of the house.


There you have it. A glimpse, a very small glimpse of a very grand house. Until next time, happy rambles.