Archive for the 'Historical Research' Category
Solange Luyon, a French Huguenot, arrived in Bath, England in 1680. She gained employment in a bakery and baked her own special recipe – a brioche bun, which was a dough enriched with egg. The buns were sold in the bakery where Solange worked and out in the street. Customers started to call in at the shop to request the buns, and they became fashionable amongst the wealthy Georgians who ate them cut open and spread with butter.
The buns were named Sally Lunn, and it is thought that this was an Anglicization of Solange’s French name.
These days the Sally Lunn is still a very popular treat. The Sally Lunn shop still exists in Bath and operates as a teashop. It’s a busy place and hubby and I were lucky to book a table for an early dinner.
This is the outside frontage of Sally Lunn’s. Diners can sit either downstairs or upstairs.
This is me with part of a Sally Lunn to go with my soup. The bun is very light and tasty.
The Sally Lunn bun was used as a trencher (an old-fashioned plate made of bread) with the main course. Hubby had chicken and vegetables on his trencher.
This is a photo of the shop frontage and shows a basket of Sally Lunn. The tops are rounded and the bottoms flat. Of course, once I tried my first bun, I decided I needed to find a recipe. Mission accomplished. As soon as I get a free weekend, I’m going to attempt to bake my own Sally Lunn buns. Watch this space!
Have you tried a Sally Lunn?
The other day I picked up a copy of IF WALLS COULD TALK, an Intimate History of the Home by Lucy Worsley. It’s a fascinating read, full of all those small social details that we often don’t hear about when we’re reading about history.
Here are a selection of things I’ve learned about beds and bedrooms.
1. Medieval people led more communal lives than us. At night they would sleep in the great hall, glad of the safe place of rest. The hall reeked of smoke and body odor, but it was safer than sleeping outside.
2. Medieval people who held jobs within the manor would sleep in their place of work. e.g. laundry maids would sleep in the laundry and the kitchen lads would sleep next to the fire in the kitchens.
3. A bed during medieval times usually consisted of hay stuffed in a sack, hence the saying hitting the hay.
4. A big bed would be shared, sometimes with strangers. Customs and etiquette developed regarding the communal bed. Families would lie in order of birth. If guests came to visit and stayed overnight, the father and mother would sleep in the middle of the bed between their children and strangers to prevent any naughtiness during the night.
5. The lord and lady of a manor would sleep in an adjoining room called the chamber or solar. It was a multi-function room but it usually contained a wooden bed.
6. During Tudor times the four-poster bed was the most expensive item in the house.
7. Tudor four-posters had bed strings on which the mattress sat. These would sag under the weight of the bed’s occupant and required constant tightening. This is where the expression, “Night, night, sleep tight.” comes from.
8. Housewives would accumulate lots of bed linen, enough to last a month so that laundry only needed to be done once a month. I’m glad I’m not responsible for the laundry!
9. During the 17th century bedrooms were on the upper floor. They led off each other, which meant the owner of the first bedroom had people trooping through all the time to get to the rest of the bedrooms. That would make for a restful night…
10. Corridors appeared toward the end of the 17th century, which meant the Georgians started to treat their bedrooms as more private spaces than those people of earlier ages. Their bedrooms were used as social rooms where they received special friends, conducted business and study.
11. During Victorian times privacy became paramount. Even husbands and wives had separate bedrooms and bedroom activities were confined to sleeping and sex.
12. Bedclothes consisted of many layers of sheets, blankets and eiderdowns until the 1970s and the introduction of the duvet. I, for one, am glad of this invention. Bedmaking takes mere seconds each morning.
I don’t know about you, but I’m glad I get to have a modern bedroom with my own bed. Sharing it with hubby—no problem. That seems minor when I think of those medieval great halls!
What does your dream bed/bedroom look like?
Meet the hero from The Spurned Viscountess, a historical romance set in 1720 England.
Name: Lucien St Clare
Title: Viscount Hastings
Appearance: Tall, over six foot. Long dark black hair. Mahogany brown eyes. Tanned skin since he spends a lot of time outdoors. His face is scarred, the puckered scar running from his left eye to his jaw.
Hangouts: He currently lives at Castle St. Clare in East Sussex, England. Prior to this, he lived in Italy, near Naples on the Bacci estate with his wife, Francesca.
Reason for the move: Fragments of his forgotten memory have started to return to him, memories that place him in England. He can’t remember much about St. Clare at all. Yep, he has nasty amnesia.
Reason for staying: Someone from the area murdered his wife and their unborn child. He’s desperate for revenge.
Big problem: The Earl of St. Clare expects him to go through with an arranged marriage to Rosalind, a small English mouse of a woman.
In Lucien’s words.
“Everyone tells me my name is George, that I’m the long lost heir, Viscount Hastings. I could leave and return to the Bacci estates in Italy, but I burn for revenge. Those bastards who murdered my wife and unborn child must pay for their crimes. Someone called Hawk ordered her murder. It seems a coincidence there’s a Hawk operating the smuggling ring—too much of a happenstance in my opinion. I’m investigating, looking for clues, but meantime I have to deal with my new wife. She’s small, blond and reminds me of a mouse. I tried to put her off the idea of marriage to me, but she was set on the marriage.
She’s not very good at following orders and I’m forever running across her in places I told her not to visit. Trouble is her middle name. She’s stubborn, frustrating, irritating and she’s getting under my skin. I find myself thinking about her at the oddest moments…”
The Spurned Viscountess Blurb:
She must marry him.
Cursed with the sight and rumors of witchcraft, Rosalind’s only chance at an ordinary life is marriage to Lucien, Viscount Hastings. She doesn’t expect love, only security and children of her own. Determined to go through with the wedding, she allows nothing she encounters at the gloomy Castle St. Clare to dissuade her.
He wants nothing to do with her.
Recently returned from the Continent, Lucien has no time for the English mouse his family has arranged for him to marry, not when he’s plotting to avenge the murder of his beloved Francesca. He has no intention of bedding Rosalind, not even to sire an heir.
Dark secrets will bind them.
Though spurned by her bridegroom, Rosalind turns to him for protection when she is plagued by a series of mysterious accidents and haunted by terrifying visions. Forced to keep Rosalind close, and tempted into passionate kisses, Lucien soon finds himself in grave danger of falling in love with his own wife…
Currently on sale for 99c at some retailers.
Purchase at: Carina Press| Amazon Kindle| All Romance eBooks| Kobo| iBooks| Nook|
This year marks the hundredth anniversary of World War 1.
Earlier this year, Mr Munro and I visited Flander’s Fields in Belgium. It was a sobering and emotional experience seeing Tyne Cot, the Commonwealth war cemetery, and also the Menin Gate Memorial. There are so many unmarked graves at Tyne Cot—all from Commonwealth countries. The Menin Gate memorial commemorates 55,000 men who died and do not have graves. So many names, many of them very young. Just heart-breaking.
Tyne Cot Cemetery, Belgium
A few of the many headstones. Some have names while others show the country with the name unknown.
The cemetery is beautifully kept.
This is the Menin Gate memorial. The Last Post is played here every night and our guide said the crowds get bigger every year.
Menin Gate again.
This is a shot of the interior of the gate and some of the 55000 names engraved into the walls.
Tonight we watched a new TV series called ANZAC Girls. It’s set during the time of the Gallipoli campaign. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to watch it, because I knew it would pull at the heartstrings. The series focuses on the nurses who traveled from Australia and New Zealand and who worked on hospital ships off Gallipoli or in Cairo. The show is based on fact and is fairly graphic and real when it comes to the medical scenes. I thought the first show was good and time will tell if I can make it through the entire series.
Visitors to London will notice there are lots of green areas in the Westminster and central city areas. Some offer workers a breath of fresh air and a place to while away their time during a lunch break while others are a private oasis available to the surrounding homeowners.
London’s squares date back to the mid 17th century. They were an English concept, copied by other cities and countries.
Golden Square (thought to originate from Gelding Close when the land was used for grazing horses) began life in 1673 when John Emlyn and Isaac Symball initiated development here.
Early residents of the thirty-nine houses that surrounded the square were the Duke of Chandos, the 1st Viscount Bolingbroke and the Duchess of Cleveland. During its early years the square was a political centre and a sought-after address. This changed by the 1750s when newer and more fashionable addresses to the west on the Burlington estates became favored.
Foreign diplomats moved in from 1724 to 1768 and later 18th century residents included dancer Elizabeth Gamberini and singer Caterina Gabrielli.
Charles Dickens used Golden Square as a setting for one of the houses in his novel Nicholas Nickelby in 1839. The woollen and worsted trade moved in toward the end of the 19th century.
During the Second World War an air raid shelter was dug beneath the garden and the iron fence taken for salvage. Restoration work took place after the war and the garden was opened to the public in November 1952.
We visited on a sunny weekday and the square was full of workers eating their lunches. Not a bad place to be during a lunch break.
Informational sign at Golden Square
The London Square: Gardens in the Midst of Town by Todd Longstaffe-Gowan
I’m currently reading Eavesdropping on Jane Austen’s England, How Our Ancestors Lived Two Centuries Ago by Roy & Lesley Adkins. While the title mentions Jane Austen and there are excerpts from her correspondence, this book really deals with birth, life and death during the period of Jane’s life – 1775 to 1817. I find some non-fiction titles a bit dry, but I’m actually reading a lot of this one. A good sign!
Thirteen Interesting Facts Learned from Eavesdropping on Jane Austen’s England
1. Armed with the might of the Bastardy Act (1733) parish overseers would take unmarried mothers to the magistrate where they were forced to reveal the name of their baby’s father. The father was then offered the choice of marrying the woman or paying the parish with the costs of raising the child or a prison sentence
2. Forced marriages were commonplace – either in the case mentioned above or one arranged by parents to ensure their children were secure. Happiness was secondary to wealth.
3. Finding a suitable husband was difficult and stressful since men were in short supply due to war injuries and fatalities. Also those in apprenticeships weren’t allowed to marry.
4. Weddings took place in the church, and they were low key compared to our modern day weddings.
5. Weddings took place in the morning due to a canon law, which endured until 1886
6. Divorce was difficult. There was, however, a poor man’s version of divorce where a man could sell his wife. It was thought if a man tied a rope around his wife’s neck and led her to a public place then sold her this was a binding and legal transaction. Sometimes these sales were pre-arranged. Sometimes the wife was agreeable to the sale.
7. When a woman lost her husband she could be thrust into dire straits because property and wealth was generally passed to a male heir. Therefore many widows remarried fairly quickly.
8. A successful marriage was one that produced children. Women were constantly pregnant and many women died in childbirth.
9. Multiple births were rare and were to the people of the time, remarkable. The news of a multiple birth would make the paper.
10. Living conditions were crowded and privacy scarce since most of those with modest incomes housed their servants. Life was a constant round of banging doors and chatter.
11. Servants could be found at hiring fairs or by recommendations from friends or family members. In 1777 there was a tax on male servants and in 1785 those who employed female servants were also taxed.
12. Coal was the main fuel for households and a fire was the central point of each room, providing heat and light. Smoke could be a problem, filling rooms on windy days or if the chimney became blocked.
13. Unattended candles caused a lot of house fires. In larger towns there were fire brigades who mainly dealt with insured properties (those with a fire mark to prove they’d paid their insurance).
I’ve only read a third of the book so far, and I’m sure there are many interesting facts in store for me. I really need to write a story featuring a wife sale! If you’re interested in checking out this book here is the link to Amazon – Eavesdropping on Jane Austen’s England
During our recent visit to Great Britain, we stayed in Southampton and did a day trip to Winchester. These are both places with Jane Austen connections, and as a writer I was intrigued.
After Jane’s father died, the family had to move to Southampton for financial reasons. Jane, her sister and mother moved in with a married son. We stayed at the Dolphin hotel in Southampton, which is where Jane reportedly went dancing. Jane Austen’s 21st birthday party was held in the ballroom at this hotel. We also wandered along the city wall promenade where Jane Austen walked with her family.
Jane lived in Chawton, Alton from 1809 to 1817 with her mother, her sister Cassandra and a friend Martha Lloyd. Jane became ill with a mystery disease (some sources say it was her kidneys) and Cassandra and Jane traveled to Winchester in order to receive better medical treatment. They stayed in a Castle Street house (currently a private residence) and Jane died at age 41 on 18 July 1817.
Jane was laid to rest at the Winchester cathedral. Her memorial stone doesn’t mention her writing and a brass plaque was added in 1872 to rectify this shortcoming.
Double click for larger version
Brass Plaque commemorating Jane Austen’s writing.
There are lots of Jane Austen landmarks in Winchester and the surrounding Hampshire countryside. I visited only a few, given my limited time, but it was a pleasure and a privilege walking in Jane’s footsteps.
Are you a Jane Austen fan?
This post first appeared on Ally’s Miscellany
According to www.dictionary.reference.com bedlam is a scene or state of wild uproar and confusion. Synonyms for bedlam include disorder, tumult, chaos, clamor, turmoil, commotion, and pandemonium. If someone says, “The place was bedlam!” we know there was trouble and a lot of confusion.
But there’s more to the word.
Bedlam originated as a common name for the Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem in London. The hospital was a lunatic asylum and many families left relatives there in order to hide them from becoming public knowledge. It was also a place where husbands could leave wives who had become inconvenient, since it was widely known that women of the time were mentally unstable. Thank goodness times have changed!
The patients were chained to walls and posts and conditions were terrible. During the 18th century, in an effort to raise funds for the hospital, anyone with the price of admission could enter the hospital and visit the patients. Originally it was expected that the visitors would help the hospital raise money and bring food for the patients. That didn’t happen as the visitors treated the patients like a sideshow. They laughed and jeered, poked and teased the patients and threw things at them, inciting them to acts of madness. Bedlam was part of the tourist trail and these visits continued from 1720 – 1770.
In Mistress of Merrivale, Jocelyn, the heroine resists her sisters’ attempts to place their mother in Bedlam. She hates to think of her mother in a place like this and makes a point of looking after her parent. As one of the conditions of her arranged marriage with Leo Sherbourne, she insists he give her mother a home with them, and Elizabeth Townsend is spared from the horror of Bedlam.
Bedlam was a tourist site during the 18th century. If you were to visit London either during the 18th century or now, which tourist site would be on your to-do list?
I’m busy researching in preparation to write a new historical romance series. My chosen time period is 18th century England, and here is a list of my current reading.
Thirteen Non-Fiction Books on English History
1. Great Houses of London by James Stourton, Publisher Frances Lincoln Limited
A book featuring some of the great houses in London with lots of great photos.
2. Georgian House Style Handbook by Ingrid Cranfield, Publisher David & Charles
Features the different interiors and furnishing of a Georgian building. Also a little about architects and the styles of house.
3. London in the Eighteenth Century by Jerry White, Publisher The Bodley Head.
This book is full of great info on the people, the city, work in the city and culture.
4. The London Square by Todd Longstaffe-Gowan, Publisher Yale University Press
A history of residential squares in London.
5. The Golden Age of Flowers by Celia Fisher, Publisher The British Library
Botanical illustration in the age of discovery 1600 – 1800
6. How to Create the Perfect Wife by Wendy Moore, Publisher Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Georgian Britain’s most ineligible bachelor and his quest to cultivate the ideal woman.
7. Mid-Georgian Britain by Jacqueline Riding, Publisher Shire Living Histories
How we worked, played and lived.
8. Vauxhall Gardens by David Coke & Alan Borg, Publisher Yale University Press
A history of Vauxhall Gardens
9. The Secret History of Georgian London by Dan Cruickshank
How the wages of sin shaped the city.
10. Walking Jane Austen’s London by Louise Allen
A guide to nine walks that Jane Austen enjoyed.
11. Georgian London: Into the Streets by Lucy Inglis
A guide to 18th century London.
12. The Amorous Antics of Old England by Nigel Cawthorne, Publisher Portrait
All sorts of interesting snippets on courting.
13. Daily Life in 18th Century England by Kirstin Olsen, Publisher Greenwood Press
A book full of social history details.
Are you a big non-fiction reader? If so, what is your chosen topic?
This week I’m time traveling back to 18th century England and Georgian life. I’m reading Behind Closed Doors, At Home in Georgian England by Amanda Vickery as research for a historical I’m planning to write.
Thirteen Snippets About 18th Century England Life
1. Locking the house was done with ceremony each night, with boarders, servants etc locked inside. People who loitered out on the streets late at night or early in the morning were looked upon with suspicion.
2. Most people owned a locking box where they kept valuables and other important articles.
3. Poor people tended to carry all their valuable items on their person in pockets and pouches.
4. Keys were the emblems of authority, which is why housekeepers or the women of the house would carry their bunches of keys on their person.
5. A single man in London would eat his meals in taverns, pie shops, coffee houses and chop houses. He’d pay women to do his washing.
6. Young men wanted a housekeeper and, therefore, entered the state of marriage. Young women entered the state of marriage because they wanted to rule their own house.
7. Many families exploited their unmarried womenfolk as unpaid housekeepers, nursery maids, sick-nurses, tutors, chaperons, companions and surrogate mothers.
8. Before 1750 the average age of marriage for a woman was 26. This dropped to 25 in the latter part of the century.
9. A husband’s death restored a woman’s full legal personality under common law. They were more respectable than spinsters and often were welcomed in and enjoyed society.
10. A young widow with children usually remarried quickly while an older widow with many children sometimes inherited large debts and poverty. She fell on the mercies of the parish.
11. In 1675 only 9% of households owned clocks, but by 1725 34% had a clock.
12. Thomas Chippendale was the first to publish a catalogue of furniture designs in 1754. Other London cabinetmakers quickly followed suit.
13. The culture of visiting began in the late 17th century but the introduction of tea took visiting to a new level in the 18th century. Visiting was cheap to stage and became a ritual for women alone or en masse. In May 1767 Lady Mary Coke made eighteen visits a day while in town. (that’s an awful lot of tea and gossip!)
Some interesting things – what do you think of the eighteen visits in a day?