Saturday, August 28, 2010

Searching for Regency London

Fenton House, Hampstead, Continued
by Michele Ann Young

How about that for a garden and a view from a window. So green and well organized. The weeds in my garden won the battle this year.

This is just a small sample of the lovely views. I took more but thought this was probably enough to "get the idea". I might add another one at the end.

So leaving the ground (first) floor we go up stairs. Here you can see down from the top and get a better sense of the twisted balusters and the large window.

On this floor there are four rooms set around a square landing. The servant's stairs also emerge on this landing, making the two north facing rooms quite small.

This bedroom is the largest. It once had a closet, now an alcove beside the fireplace for powdering ones wig (rather than one's nose).

The columns were thought to be added in 1810 replacing a wall which created the narrow access passage to the clock in the centre east front wall. Where the plates are was originally another concealed or jib door to the adjacent bedroom. The instrument shown in the alcove is a spinet.

This next room is a drawing room, and apparently was always a drawing room. So this house only had three bedrooms on this second floor. The decoration of this room, the dentil frieze and the arched alcoves are likely early nineteenth century.

We still have two more rooms on this floor, but the photos take forever to load and the sunny day is calling me outside. So until next time, Happy Rambles.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Searching for Regency London

By Michele Ann Young

Fenton House continued

We saw the narrow servants' stairs in the previous set of pictures. Here are the stairs the family would have used.  Not the impressive staircase of some of the houses we have seen, but clearly wide, with lighting from a large window on the first landing, which itself is wide enough for a chair. The window looks out over the walled garden.

This is the original seventeenth century staircase with twisted balusters. Now we go upstairs

This next room on the ground floor has been described as a small sitting room, or study and displays some of the finest figurines from England and the continent in the eighteenth century. Some of the English makers are Bristol, Bow, Chelsea and Derby.

The mirror between the windows is fine gilt gessor, or sconce, once equipped with branches for candles from 1715. The instrument is a 1612 harpsicord.

This is the last room on the ground floor, and its use in our time is not described. The alcove off to the right would have been a closet, not open as it is now.

It now displays early Chinese ceramics some of which were imported into England in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.

Next time we will climb the staircase and look around upstairs. Until then Happy Rambles.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Searching for Regency London

by Ann Lethbridge

One of my most interesting visits this summer was to Fenton House in Hampstead.

Pictured first is the South Front, which faces down Holly Hill (a particularly steep hill I might add)

In the regency period, Hampstead was a small city separate from London and a place where the middle class professionals lived, rather than the fashionable, though the Heath itself drew many visitors. The village and the heath sits high on a hill overlooking London and at one time could be seen as wooded hills behind the city from the other side of the river.

Fenton House has remained remarkably untouched since it was built in 1756, being a substantial brick house with extensive gardens of fruit trees and kitchen gardens enclosed in a brick wall.

Today much of the house is given over to collections of pictures and musical instruments which are interesting. My main interest however was with the house itself. The way it would have been lived in.

Various parts of the house has been altered over the years, but still it retains much of its original structure.

The entrance hall shown here, with the service stairs behind which can be shut off by a door is a far more modest area that we see in the grand houses we have visited. The frieze around the ceiling dates from about 1810.

The long case clock you can see dates from 1700.

Here is a closer look at the frieze:

Moving into the dining room we can see that it was once divided into two rooms, a dining room and a drawing room.

The chairs at the table are 18th century mahogany. The harpsicord off in what was a drawing room is a Shudi and Broadwood from 1770. One of the earliest with the Broadwood name.

These lyre back chair are Regency and there is also a winecooler in the shape of a classical sarcophagus tucked under the sideboard which is also Regency.

The alcove, part of what was the drawing room which clearly goes into one of the protrusions you can see on the outside of the house contains one of the very popular Broadwood Square pianos, this one from 1774

Sadly this is all we have time for today. But lots more next time. Until then, happy rambles.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

by Michele Ann Young

I'm late. I'm late.......

Glow Worms

There was a bit of a discussion about the presence of glow worms in Britain on one of my lists, and when browsing the Naturist for 1815 this is what he had to say for August:

... compensated by the presence of the lady-bird and the glow-worm; the first for its utility and the second for the beautiful effect it produces.

A bit of research on glow worms in the uk reveals that British glow worms are different from North American fire flies. They are females trying to attract a male, they do not fly during this lighting up phase and always have been rather rare, and only live about two weeks.

However one can imagine a romantic evening in August and the sight of some glow worms adding to the charm of the scene. As an aside, during a walk last July in Washington DC at dusk I was enchanted by the hundreds of fireflies hovering just above the grass, it was like being in fairyland.


Ladybird ladybird fly away home,
Your house is on fire and your children are gone
All except one and that's little Ann
And she crept under the frying pan

I can remember singing this to ladybirds, and blowing on them to make them fly away. There are several ideas about the origins. One is: In Medieval England farmers would set torches to the old hop (used in flavoring beer) vines after the harvest in order to clear the fields for the next planting. This poem was sung as a warning to the ladybugs that were still crawling on the vines in search of aphids.

The reason our naturist thinks they are useful is that they feed on aphids, scale insects, mealybugs, and mites throughout the winter .

Until next time, Happy Rambles

What I am reading:
Dangerous Desires by Dee Davis

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Regency Fashion for August

by Ann Lethbridge
A fun reminder that the Anthology New Voices
is out this month. You won't see this kind of cover on my blog very often, so I hope you enjoy. My story is called The Governess and the Earl. I do hope you will check it out.

While this book is out in print in the UK you can find it in all the usual on line places in North America too. Here is the link for the UK
New Voices

Now to the important stuff.

From the Ladies Magazine for August 1810

A morning dress of white Indian muslin with high front and collar, edged with lace, and confined with silk buttons from the throat to the feet. A yellow silk pelisse trimmed with broad white lace, and lined with pink sarscenet. Woodland straw bonnet, with yellow and pink feather. A cottage cap of lace, ornamented with an artificial white rose. Pink sandal shoes; with yellow kid gloves.

The Evening Dress is described as a white frock of French cambric, with short plain sleeves. A long scarf of light blue silk; a turban composed of the same, and white satin. Jewels, sapphire, and gold. Gloves and shoes of white kid.

The scarf is indeed long.

This one is from the Ladies Magazine for 1800.

While we do not have a description of this plate as we do of some others here are some of the remarks relevant to this costume.

Nothing is now so elegant as a straw hat of open work, thick- set with points of plaited straw

The medallions, called breviaries, and the chains from their crossing called saltiers, are much worn:

In plain silks, jonquil is the prevailing colour.

And that is all we have for now. Until next time, Happy Rambles.