Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

by Ann Lethbridge and Michele Ann Young


Wishing you all the very best. We are taking our own holiday and will return in the New Year for more walks about Regency Britain.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Regency London

by Michele Ann
It's been a while since we visited London, but I thought we might have a change of scene.

Inns in our period were very important places. The larger ones were not only watering holes, but they were meeting places, transportation terminals and hotels.

The Talbot pictured here in 1810. This inn which was established in 1307 on the east side of Borough High Street in Southwark. A principal route in and out of London.

(Originally called the Tabard after a short coat, either sleeveless, or with short sleeves or shoulder pieces, which was a common item of men's clothing in the middle ages.)

The Tabard appears in Chaucer's Cantebury Tales as the place where the pilgrims gathered prior to setting out on their journey.

It was renamed after a fire destroyed it and it was rebuilt 1669.

It became a posting house, and a place for visitors to London to stay on the other side of the Thames opposite the city.

The gallery which runs around the inside of the courtyard of many these inns always reminds me of a modern motel.

The Cock Inn Leadenhall Street.

This is a lesser known inn according to my source "Inns and Taverns of Old London" and was thought to be originally a boys charity school - the carvings of small boys holding up the over-hanging second story giving it away. You can also make out the cockerel sign below the bay window. It is a beautiful building and still in existence during our period. It is a tavern rather than a coaching inn and would have provided food as well as a favourite libation.

That's all from me. Until next time, happy rambles.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Stourhead - Part of the sixth

by Ann

This must be the longest walk we have ever taken together. I do so enjoy your company.

I promised the Pantheon, but this is not it.

This is just the sweetest little cottage. I honestly do not know the history behind it. If anyone does, there is a prize waiting for you.

I'm guessing it was a sort of half way house where the owners could stop and have a cup of tea and pretend to be rustics, the way Marie Antoinette did, but I'd be more than pleased to have the true story.

So here we have our Temple dedicated to Apollo, the sun god and without whom no garden can flourish.

And the Pantheon

The Pantheon first called the Temple of Hercules, as its interior is dominated by a marble statue of Hercules by Rysbrack whose biceps were apparently modelled on Jack Broughton,'the father of English boxing'.

Other statues lining the curved wall below the dome are St Susanna; Diana, goddess of hunting; Flora, goddess of gardens; Livia Augusta, wife of Emperor Augustus; Meleager, Atalanta’s lover and god of hunting; and Isis an Egyptian goddess. You can see a picture of the inside here at the National Trust Website

And so we continue on our journey.

Until next time, Happy Rambles

Monday, December 7, 2009

Regency Fashion for December

Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat Please put a penny in the old man's hat If you haven't got a penny and ha'penny will do, If you haven't got a ha'penny, God bless you.

An old song, but one we still remember and that reminds us to be charitable in this time of feasting.

A carriage dress from La Belle Assemblee 1813.

It is quite beautiful.

Thanks to Sue, whose comment you will find below, here is the description!

Kutusoff Mantle. Pink or scarlet cloth mantle, trimmed with a broad velvet ribband to correspond, a spenser of the same materials, one sleeve of which is concealed by the folds of the mantle; the collar, which is high and puckered, fastened at the throat with a broach; and a long lappel, which ends in a point, falls considerably over the left shoulder.

A Kutusoff hat of pink or scarlet cloth, turned up in front, with a little corner to the right side, ties under the chin, and is finished with a pink or scarlet feather; a full puffing of lace or net is seen underneath. Plain cambric high dress, and pink or scarlet leather half boots.

Our readers will be able to form a much better idea of this very elegant mantle from our Plate than from description; its effect upon a tall and graceful figure is amazingly striking, and it is, for the carriage costume, decidedly the most elegant cloak that we have seen for some seasons back, and does the greatest credit to the tasteful fancy of its inventress, Miss Powell, successor to Mrs. Franklin, Piccadilly.

This is a morning gown from:
The Ladies Monthly Museum, 1799

Here you see the classic look and the very high waist, but a surprisingly dark bodice.

This is an unusual print because it shows the back and the front of the same gown and is described as follows.

Demi corset of black or coloured velvet, lined and trimmed with blue silk. Bonnet a la Repentir, of black velvet trimmed with blue, and deep lace veil. White muslin or chintz dress. Slate-coloured gloves, bear muff, and purple shoes.

Until next time, Happy Rambles

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bits and Bites

Here is a neat link for history buffs: A Christmas Carol

Nothing quite like seeing the writer at work, in this case Charles Dickens. Dickens was born in 1812, so while his novels were written later, his childhood is squarely in the Regency. And it being the Christmas Season, I thought you would enjoy this particular fascinating bit of information.

Until next time, Happy Rambles

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Flora and Fauna of Regency Britain

by Michele Ann Young

The streams and rivers of Scotland team with Atlantic Salmon. The reason I have chosen to talk about this in November is that it is in late November when the female lays her eggs.

Up until then, salmon fishing is a prevalent in Scotland. As is it is in many countries with coast lines on the Atlantic.

Various forms of salmon preservation was used in the 18th century and salmon was transported to London in boats called smacks. If the weather was cold and the ship fast, then they might even be shipped fresh.

In 1786, and enterprising supplier sent salmon to London packed in ice from the Spey. This proved to be an instant success.

Ice houses were built to store ice all over the place.

Now those of you have followed some of my nonsense know I collect ice houses. So here is another one to add to my collection.

This one is situated at Tentsmuir Point near Tayport.

In the 1800's and before, highlanders in the Glens speared Salmon. At that time it was a legal form of fishing.

Here is a picture of spearing at night. They called it burning. When they speared in the day, they called it sunning.

Commercial fishing took place in the estuaries with various forms of nets and small boats called cobles or stake nets set in the ground.

Fly fishing or angling was a fairly new way of catching fish at the beginning of the 1800's, but soon caught on amongst the gentlemen around our period.

Much of the salmon these days is farmed, but if you are like me and love salmon in its many forms from sushi to smoked, then I think you know why it has always been popular.

That's it from me. Until next time. Happy rambles.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Normans Are Coming

by Ann Lethbridge

Love History? Then this is one is for you. Not Regency, but as I never grow tired of saying, what went before is all part of the tapestry that makes up Britain. You might find yourself watching more than once to pick up new things each time.

Until the current story is finished, my rambles are very much restricted, but by the end of the week, I should be back on the hoof.

Until then enjoy this ramble through a very interesting time in our past.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Fashion For November

by Michele Ann Young

The last of the leaves are sitting in brown bags at the curb and I must say I now really feel as if winter is just around the corner. I can remember Novembers in England as a child, the nights drawing in, the smell of coal fires in the fog. In fact, it was more than a smell, it was a taste on your tongue. And chilblains. And chapped knees that would only get worse as winter went on, since girls never wore pants. We were not allowed to wear trousers, even in the depths of winter, even right through high school. I used to wear pantyhose and socks over the top, and that was a no no, too.

Ah, those were the days.

I think I would have done anything for a nice long frock like the ones pictured here.

Aren't they glam?

These are from the Lady's Monthly Museum for November 1806

The first is a Walking Dress

"Nankeen Pelisse, border of White Lace; Straw Gipsy Hat ornamented with a Wreath of white Flowers, and Bow of Ribbons on one side; Swansdown Tippet."

Interesting the use of Nankeen for a pellisse. We often see it as little boy's trousers, or for working men. It was a durable fabric originally loomed by hand in China from natural cotton having a yellowish color.

The second gown is of course the one we all want to wear, provided we have a sylph-like figure. Sigh - those were the days.

Full Dress

Round dress of pink or brown Silk Gauze, fastened up on one side with white Silk cord; Turban sleeves, lined and trimmed up with white Silk; Head fashionably dressed with a Plume of small Feathers, fastened with a sprig of Pearls; White tied Gloves, and Swansdown Muff.

Very pretty. A round gown refers to the construction of the dress. It simply means the gown does not open at the front and show the petticoat, as was common earlier in the previous century.

That is is from me, until next time, Happy Rambles

Friday, November 13, 2009

Writer's Corner

Fashion for the month will be here in the next post but here are a couple of fun links for those of you who are writers.

Ever wondered about all the technical terminology a writer needs to know, in addition to needing to write a book. Tom's Glossary explains them all.

A couple of for examples right from the top

ADVANCE: A secret code signalling to the marketing department whether or not to promote a title.

ADVANCE COPY: A bound book that when opened by an editor will instantly expose an embarrassing mistake.

AUTHOR: A large class of individuals (approximately three times as numerous as readers) serving a promotional function in book marketing or providing make-work for editorial interns.

AUTHOR TOUR: A hazing ritual intended to make authors compliant to their publishers.

And just in case you are not having fun yet, I think this link all about copyediting Shakespeare will make you smile. I hasten to add that I have never ever run into anything like this with my editor, so it is easier for me to laugh about this one.

Have a great weekend and until next time, Happy Rambles.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Georgian Theatre Royal ~ Richmond, Yorkshire

by Michele Ann Young

I stumbled across a pdf today on the renovation of the Georgian Theatre Royal, in Richmond, Yorkshire. I was looking for something completely different. Trying to find out if a retracting roof might be a possibility. As it happens, I did find one in Venice for our period. Decided against it in the end.

Anyway I don't have permission to post the pdf here, but this theatre is so typically and beautifully Georgian and was open during the Regency, all I can do is suggest you visit the link and enjoy. If you click the picture it will take you to the theatre's official website.

My other bit of excitement was the unexpected arrival of copies the next Ann Lethbridge book,
Wicked Rake, Defiant Mistress. These are hardback copies primarily for the UK library market, but since it was the first time I got a peek at the cover, it was a thrill. I did manage to scan it in for you to see, but I now see it is up on Amazon too.


I like it. Actually, crazy fool that I am, I got goose bumps. It clearly doesn't take a great deal to make me happy.

Until next time, Happy Rambles.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Stourhead Revisted ~~ Again

by Ann Lethbridge

Continue around to the end of the lake and yet another surprise awaits. A grotto. A sort of above ground man-made cave set close to the edge of the water.

Within a series of arched tunnels and steps you are greeted by a water nymph. A spring, according to the inscription, flows around her and down into the pool in front of her. Very fanciful and it seems to me very Regency.

I took this picture from within the grotto beneath a stone arch overlooking the lake. Can you see the bridge at the far end. Now you have an idea of how far we have walked. We are only half way around.

Last but not least we have the river god, out last inhabitant of the grotto. He directs up and out of this sort of underwater world to the pantheon beyond.

And that is a visit we will make next time.

Until then. Happy Rambles.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Flora and Fauna of Regency England

by Michele Ann Young

I thought we'd do something a little different with this monthly article, spread our wings a bit, so to speak. Most of the Naturist's Diary addresses the smaller animals, insects and garden flowers. I thought I would talk a little more about the wild fauna, animals and birds too.

In case y0u were wondering. There are no wolves in England during this period. The last wolf is thought to have been killed in 1743.

If there had been any left in the Regency, this is what they would have looked like. This is a grey wolf or canis lupus. There is talk of reintroducing them - whether it will occur will be interesting to see.

There are very few dangerous animals at all in Britain, unless they are ones that escaped from a menagerie.

The Sporting Magazine of 1810 has a story about an escaped tiger from a menagerie in Piccadilly. On September 2nd. the Royal Bengal tiger was being carried to a Bartholomew fair , the horse bolted , the den broke open, the tiger escaped , clawed someone and hid. He was recaptured shortly .

In 1816 a lioness escaped from a traveling menagerie and attacked the Exeter mail coach near Salisbury.

Either one of those incidents would make a great scene in a novel, don't you think?

There are bats, however. Only look how tiny this pipistrelle is. That is a wedding ring on a finger right next to this one. These are the smallest and most common of bats. they hang head down when roosting and can squeeze into the smallest of spaces.

So cute. I know, you are shuddering. Now what an interesting heroine she would be if she liked bats.

One of the larger animals in Britain is of course the deer. this is a fawn.

Interestingly enough by the 1800's the roe deer had been pretty well hunted out of existence in England and could only be found in wooded parts of Scotland. So for the Regency period we must remember, no deer south of the border.

There are lots more animals to talk about, but this is all for today. Until next time, Happy Rambles.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Regency Fashion for October

by Ann Lethbridge
Here we are heading into the winter again. October is a month of frosts and falling leaves.

So what is our Fashionista wearing this month?

These are Paris fashions from The Ladies Magazine for October 1801. Much earlier than the Regency.

The accompanying text is general rather than descriptive of the place, but a couple of paragraphs are of interest.

"Veils constitute the principal part of most head-dresses. For full dress they are left entirely to the taste of the coiffeur, who, with the assistance of chefs, or silver ribbons, forms them into oblong turbans. A great many élégantes use ribons of unpolished silver, in the place of chefs. In half dress the veils are worn down, ô la religieuse. Upon many of the most elegant headdresses we observe an aigrette of hair, fastened with a pin."

"In general, rose is the prevailing colour. The robes of the newest taste are cut ô la Psyche. The ribbons are very narrow striped, and of very lively colours. The cambric bonnets are all the fashion for the morning; they are trimmed with gold, like the Spencers."

Our next picture is from the Ladys Magazine for October 1810

Full Dress: Gown of white sarcenet, enriched round the bottom with a Grecian border in gold; the body and sleeves are of pink satin: the latter are made open in the front, and confined at top and bottom by gold clasps; the stomacher of white satin, hussared across with blue silk cord. The head ornaments are of pearl, with a Chinese rose in front; the hair in full curls round the face, and hanging in ringlets from behind; neck chain and bracelets composed of double rows of pearl; ridicule of pink satin, netted over with blue silk. Shoes and gloves the color of the body.

Walking Dress: A pelisse of white and yellow shot silk, gathered together in the front, and fastened together by a large sapphire broach, buttoned up the front, and trimmed round the bottom with broad white lace. The gown of white India muslin, made high in the neck, with an erect lace collar; ermine for tippet. Head-dress, French lace cap, and white chip hat, with a sprig of myrtle; plain gold ear-rings. Shoes and gloves to correspond with the pelisse. Parasol of blue silk.

I love the term "Hussared" I assume it means it has the look of a hussars lace across the front of a uniform. For the walking dress, it is interesting that the collar is actually part of the gown beneath, rather than the coat. I can imagine the cost of the sapphire broach.

Well that's it for me for fashion for this month. Until next time, Happy Rambles.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


by Michele Ann Young

If you wondered where we were for the past few days, there were a couple of things going on. This past week end was also the Canadian Thanksgiving. Mmmm Turkey.

We also attended the Emerald City Writers Conference in Seattle. The first picture is of me and Robin Wood. We sat side by side at this Conference in 2007. This time I made sure we had a picture. I signed both The Lady Flees Her Lord and The Rake's Inherited Courtesan.

The conference was also yummy. I got to catch up with some old friends and meet a couple of new ones and I attended some great workshops which I will talk about next.

I also gave a workshop with my American Title Sisters, Gerri Russell, the winner of the contest and Theresa Meyers. Our talk was on making a splash before you sell. How to have a presence when you don't have a book to sell and how that will help you once you are published. We had a great attendance and since several of the attendees came up to thank us at the end, I believe we provided some interesting information. Here I am with Gerri and another writer friend Judith Laik.

Since I only had one day in Seattle (it being Thanksgiving back at home and all) and since I met my agent in the morning, I attended only a few of the other workshops. Those I did attend were excellent.

The Writer Warrior, with Bob Mayer, sent me away feeling energized and armed to take charge of my writing career. The second on editing with Robert Dugoni was packed full of information. I talked to Robert at the booksigning and he is fun and serious. My last session was with Megan Chance. A great workshop full of concrete examples

All of the speakers had lots of information and spoke very fast. They had great hand outs.

Deborah Cooke a member of my home chapter gave very wise and insightful comments on the definitions of success for a writer. Here she is at the signing.

I also managed a couple of brief hellos with Mary Buckham, who was kind enough to give me and a friend a tour of San Diego a couple of years ago. It was so great to see her again, no matter how briefly. Mary will be coming to Toronto in the spring so I hope we have more time to talk then.

There you have it. What I have been up to.

Until next time, Happy Rambles

Monday, September 28, 2009

Stourhead Continued

by Ann Lethbridge

Summer is over. And today is a typical wet and windy fall day. My word it is a long time since I posted on this topic. We still have lots to see.

This part of our walk is all about the garden, so I will be tagging this one Flora and Fauna as well. And just to remind me, This walk was around June 1.

Stourhead Gardens are a mix of natural areas and plantings as you will see.

Here are some lovely foxgloves. We found them growing apparently wild beneath the trees. Not that this might not be a deliberate planting.

In the background of the first picture you can also see one of the rhododendrons, a pretty orange colour.

The gardens are quiet. It is like going back in time. There are no engine noises or other mechanical sounds. Just the wind in the trees and this next creature is very happy about that too.

I don't know about you, but this to me looked like Peter Rabbit of Beatrix Potter fame. Look how close he let me get before he hopped off.

I don't suppose he is the gardener's friend as rabbits tend to do quite a bit of damage. It is odd to see so many bunnies around England. When I was young they had just finished the myxomatosis program which did away with most of the rabbits (very cruelly as it turned out) and they were rarely seen, now they can be found nibbling along the verges of roads, and in meadows and fields every where you look.

Apparently, rabbits are not native to England, which may account for why they seem to over-run the countryside. They were brought in by the Romans and we then exported them to Australia.

What did history teach us?

The next sight to grace our vision on our walk was this wonderful tree. Clearly old. Clearly huge.

Now I am guessing a little here. I believe this is a Cedar of Lebanon. I am quite happy to be corrected.

What ever it is, the dark green needles stood out amongst the paler leaf greens of the other trees.

Our last tree is always a pleasure to see, because of its colouring. Red leaves among all the green.

There are lots of different red trees around the world but there is something quite stunning about the copper beech. And this one is set out in the middle of the lawn and shown off quite beautifully.

Well that is it for me for today. Lots of Stourhead to come.

Until next time, Happy Rambles.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Flora and Fauna in Regency England - September

by Michele Ann Young

Holy smoke. I have been trying to get to this post for nearly a week. Deadlines are looming, which I love, but they tend to take all my focus. The other thing I did was to sign up for some classes. Well, you know I was worried I might become one dimensional and have nothing to talk about except the Regency and really become "Lost in Austen".

I signed up for some sewing classes and for a web design class. I am going to see if I can use dreamweaver. Who knows, but I have met some very nice people, so that is good.

Tis is a saffron milk-cap. It is an edible mushroom and while not terribly well-known, it is a great delicacy, I'm told.

It grows under pines, and is picked in early autumn. I am taking that to include September.

One would expect to find it in the north of the British Isles, most common in Scotland, though it is found in England.

The wild cherry shown here is native to England and has been identified in Bronze-age diggings. In September, the fruits begin to turn yellow, if the birds have left any on the trees, that is.

Our final September offering relates to an insect and the carnivore who eats them.

You may recognize this insect. I always called it a daddy long legs as a child, but I think that was a misnomer. It is a crane fly. These creatures hatch out in August and September and lay their eggs beneath lawns. The eggs quickly turn into larvae.

The lavae look like fat, short brown worms. Not worth a picture, but you can look them up if you feel so inclined.

And guess who likes the larvae. Well if you have ever had crane fly eggs in your lawn, you probably had a visit from the gentleman below. He loves cranefly lavae. And his rooting around looking for them will mean the end of your beautifully green lawns.

Sad to say, during the Regency, badger baiting and badger drawing were considered sports.

Dogs were pitted against badgers as can be seen in this picture from 1824. The sport had been going on since the middle ages and was another form of gambling, like dog fights and cockfights.

I'm glad it was outlawed in 1835.

Until next time, Happy Rambles

Monday, September 14, 2009


by Ann Lethbridge

Once in a while we hijack the blog to bring you news. Today is one of those days.

Imagine my surprise when I went onto the eharlequin website and discovered that tadaaa
The Rake's Inherited Courtesan is listed as sold out. This is pretty exciting since not every book sells out on that website and I had to share the news with you.

Fear not though, dear readers, you can still buy it on all the other sites, if you haven't done so already.

The actual date of issue of my next books is still a bit of a mystery to me, but there will be two in 2010 and as soon as I have information I will post it here. The titles I do know:

Wicked Rake, Defiant Mistress

Captured for the Captain's Pleasure

Watch this space for more news.

Next time we will have our regular feature -- Flora and Fauna after which we will return to our feature on Stourhead.

Until then, Happy Rambles.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Regency Fashion for September

by Ann Lethbridge

This is an Evening Gown for September 1818.

Alas I do not have a description from the time, though in an article in the 1818 Belle Assemblee they say:

"Pearls are universally adopted in full dress jewelry."

Around this time waists were dropping, although there is no evidence of that in this particular gown and indeed the Belle Assemblee says:

"Waists continue short as usual" Just shows how wrong the fashionistas could be, then as now.

The new bell to the skirt and the heavy decoration around the hem can clearly be seen.

I thought it interesting that she is wearing a crown.

This next picture is presented because it shows mother and child.

This morning gown is from the 1808 La Belle Assemblee.

And as usual we see the york tan gloves in evidence I beleive. Such an odd mix of colours, pink and blue and yellow. I really like the soft bonnet.

Now here is my question, is it a boy or is it a girl. If you have an opinion, how can you tell?

I love the bench the lady is sitting on, so light and airy. One imagines this as being set in a conservatory.

The dress to me is of a very light muslin and in the classic lines of the early Regency. The lacy edging around the bodice and the wide set sleeves, which unfortunately disappear beneath the shawl are quite lovely.

Well that is all for this September. Until next time, Happy Rambles.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Unleash Your Story

Today, I am handing over my spot to this very worthy cause and hope you will drop by to make your contribution to Cystic Fibrosis. My connection? Well if you look at the comments on today's blog on the Unleash site, (actually you will see Ann Lethbridge commented but I think we all know who she really is) then you will discover why I am interested in this particular effort.

Later in the week we will have September Fashion and then back to Stourhead. Until then Happy Rambles.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Stourhead continued

by Ann Lethbridge

Just popping down to the garden to mow the bridge, dear.

I've no idea if this bridge was always grassed like this but I found it fascinating.

There are all kinds of interesting surprises and views at Stourhead. It really is a feast for the eyes, and if you've a mind to satisfy your appetite then join me on my walk.

It is a long one, with all kinds of winding trails.

Now what is this I wonder? It is the next surprise as we meander around the lake. More about the what it is later, but you must admit it is an intriguing tumble of ruin set amid the trees on the edge of the far side of the lake.

Once more, and completely by happenstance, my framing of the picture is quite elegant. Now I do wish I could paint a picture like that. Look at all those different shades of green. It would make a wonderful jigsaw puzzle too. Let us stroll on a littler further

And what is this we see on the hill yonder, a mausoleum? A temple?

Difficult to tell from here. But cast your eye over the array of colours below. The rhododendrons in full bloom.

Imagine having a view like that in your back yard and wandering around it in your sprigged muslin on the arm of a gentleman dressed in skin-tight pantaloons and a snowy white cravat.

Goodness I think I need to sit down and take a breather. I feel quite warm and my stays are suddenly tighter than they were when I left home.

Let us just sit and admire the view together. I have given you some mysteries to observe, which I promise to unravel later in our walk. But there is much more to see before then.

We will continue our walk next time, Happy Rambles.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

More Stourhead

by Michele Ann Young

This was my first view of the gardens at Stourhead.

The reflection of the bridge in the water, the distant folly and the tree branches framing the picture all made the perfect portrait of another time.

I didn't quite believe what I was seeing.

I took several shots of this view, but this is my favorite, even if it does have a bit of fence in the foreground. Although this next one, from a slightly different angle comes pretty close.

Do you think the designer of the garden intended for the bridge to make such a perfect ellipse? My guess is yes.

I will be using this on my website in the header, as soon as I can remember how.

The gardens were designed by Henry Hoare II (remember Hoare's bank) and laid out between 1741 and 1780 in a classical 18th-century design set around a large lake achieved by damming a small stream. The inspiration behind their creation were the painters Claude Lorrain, Poussin and in particular, Gaspar Dughet who painted Utopian-type views of Italian landscapes.

You certainly can't get more Utopian that the views above, which is why I am going to to post all of my Stourhead pictures over the next few blogs, and I hope you will not be bored, but for me this estate epitomised my internal image of the perfect English country estate in the late 18th and early 19th century and I want to capture it where I can visit it again and again.

At the time of year we visited, early June, one of the draws for the gardens was the display of "azaleas". It was only as we walked around that I realized that azaleas and rhododendrons are of the same family.

The Rhododendron ponticum, called Common Rhododendron were introduced around the lake by Sir Richard Colt Hoare in 1791. Unfortunately these bushes while beautiful, are not native to Britain and have been encroaching on our natural plants at an alarming rate. But since this is not a blog about saving natural plantlife, I will say no more on that topic. Later he added two Rhododendron arboreum.

In this last picture you will see flashes of colour which are some of the rhododendrons in bloom, for we were lucky enough to be there right when most of them were flowering and the colours, everything from white which you see at the edge of this shot to deep red, which you see just beyond the bridge, were ours to enjoy.

This is a very long ramble, and so here we will take a rest and begin our journey around the lake next time. Until then, drink a nice cup of tea and keep cool beneath the trees.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Stourhead ~ Wiltshire

by Ann Lethbridge

The house and park at Stourhead were a wonderful surprise.

Here is the house as seen in 1817. Did you fall in love yet? Could the house be any grander?

Note the blocked windows at the end of the wing. I don't have an explanation for it, or at least not as yet, except that it may have been another of those window tax cost savings.

And there are our Regency folk, walking on the drive with sheep on the lawn. One way to keep the grass under control.

But let us start at the beginning.

Stourhead was originally owed by the ancient Barons Stourton, who had lived there since Saxon times and the property then was called Stourton House. That house was demolished in 1717 after it was purchased by Henry Hoare I. The Hoares were and are bankers. They still own the last of the privately owned banks in England. And our Regency characters, those of the nobility, might well have banked with Hoare's Bank.

Not all of the the Stourtons was wiped off the map, because part of the Stourhead estate contains the village of Stourton.

One walks through the village to get to the house and grounds.

While the village has a love parish church, St Peter's, pictured here, there are only about five or so actual dwellings in the village proper.

It really is enchanting. It feels like a trip back in time.

We were there in the very last days of May and I think you can see how lush and green everything was from this picture and the spray of roses up the side of the house was so typical of so many cottages and houses that we saw on our travels.

Next time we are going to take a ramble in the park itself.