Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Flora and Fauna of Regency Britain - July

by Ann Lethbridge

Busy busy with edits for my third book with Harlequin. I should have a cover for number two any day now for a sneak peek for you. But in the meantime, here is some Flora and Fauna for your collection.

As always, we turn first to our Naturist's Diary which tells us with a mere passing reference that July is the time when lavender is in blossom.

English lavender, Lavandula angustifolia, yields an essential oil with sweet overtones, and can be used in balms, salves, perfumes, cosmetics, and topical applications.

European royal history is also filled with stories of lavender use. Charles VI of France demanded lavender-filled pillows wherever he went. Queen Elizabeth I of England required lavender conserve at the royal table and bunches of lavender in her rooms.

Yardley first started business in the City of London in 1770. At that time, lavender was the herb chosen to perfume an exclusive range of luxury soaps and, as I am sure you are aware, are still in business today.

Lavender had the reputation of being a miracle plant during the 19th century. It was the most important remedy in the first aid kits for anyone in the provence.It was used for everything from dizziness, nerves, stomach problems, poor vision, infections, convulsions, viper's bites, swooning fits, and palsy.

Lavender is also the stuff of songs of course and one we all know. Lavenders Blue Dilly Dilly......

The earliest surviving version of this song is in a broadside printed in England between 1672 and 1685, under the name Diddle Diddle, Or The Kind Country Lovers, with the first of ten verses being:


Lavenders green, Diddle, diddle,

Lavenders blue

You must love me, diddle, diddle,

cause I love you,

I heard one say, diddle, diddle,

since I came hither,

That you and I, diddle, diddle,

must lie together.

It emerged as a children's song in Songs for the Nursery in 1805 in the form:

Lavender blue and Rosemary green,
When I am king you shall be queen;
Call up my maids at four o'clock,
Some to the wheel and some to the rock;
Some to make hay and some to shear corn,
And you and I will keep the bed warm.
Similar versions appeared in collections of rhymes throughout the nineteenth century.


It seems we got far off course, and lavender is to be our only topic for today, but clearly Lavender deserves a page all of its own. Which reminds me that my lavender is blooming and deserves to be picked and brought indoors. If it was good enough for Good Queen Bess, 'tis good enough for me! I just wish I could scent this post so you can enjoy it too.

Until next time, Happy Rambles.