Searching for Regency England II

And the winner is, Wendy Davis. Wendy, you take home a copy of Brides of the West. I will be in by email touch real soon!

Back to Knole Park. One thing I should mention. Quite often the family lived in simpler apartments just as they do today in fact. This door looks like a secluded entrance. I wonder where it goes.

I often wonder what it must be like to live in one of these great houses.

The rooms we see as visitors are usually State rooms or show rooms, kept specially for important guests. Something like our parlors or best rooms, only used for special guests and containing all the best furniture. That is not to say they did not use them at all. The second floor galleries were great for ladies to walk in in inclement weather, and I shouldn't wonder if they weren't great for children to roller skate in, or for bike riding in more recent times. In fact, I do recall the current Prince of Wales mentioning roller skating in Windsor Castle.

On the topic of furniture and fittings, Knole is a treasure trove. Knole was mostly unoccupied since the end of the seventeenth century and the furniture remained as was, under dust covers. Unfortunately one cannot take pictures.

Most of the rooms have dark wood paneling. The great hall's floor is black and white tile laid in a diamond pattern, pretty much as you will find in Hugo's great hall, in my new book, The Lady Flees Her Lord, out in October 2008. It still has its screen, the wooden wall which blocked the view to the kitchens, and a dais, where the lord and lady would eat in early times. It would only have been used for parties in the Regency era, and if you have read No Regrets, you will know that Lucas rode his horse through the great hall.

This bedroom dates back to the 1620's and gives you a sense of the quality of what you can see at Knole House. One fascinating piece of equipment is the hundred-eye-lantern. They are cylinders pierced with holes in which candles were stood to prevent accidents, throwing a patten on the walls and ceilings which give rise to their name. The tapestries are mid 17th century Flemish verdure and the capet is English turkey-work, so now you know what is referred to in a book that cites a Turkey carpet. The chairs look quite uncomfortable with those heavily carved strings, but I expect they used cushions, don't you. I also really like that little table with the washing bowl. Reminds one of the lack of running water. Although that was becoming more prevalent in our era.

There were also examples of x-frame chairs, and early couches or setees, both terms are ancient. Stools were also much in evidence in the bedrooms. Beechwood was commonly used for furniture

One also finds early nineteenth century Worcester china in the house, though much of the porcelain is French, Sevres and Vincennes acquired in the late eighteenth century.

Another room of interest was the billiard room on the second floor off one of the long galleries. The ivory tipped cues are a curved stick, called maces, something like a hockey stick, and the balls were pushed through a hoop rather than struck.

Straight cues came into being in 1800. So it might be not be rare to find this old game at a country house, as well as the newer version.

The table has an oak base, making it not exactly flat! The next picture is of the nineteenth centurey version. Just look at that huge table!

A sad story -- the balls were made of wood or of ivory. Only female elephant tusks could be used because of their smooth grain, and it took one elephant to make six balls. I must say I did not feel too happy about that one. I'm pet crazy. Right now we can't use our front door, because a robin has built a nest in the flower planter on the wall right next to the door.

I hope some of these artifacts give you an idea of Knole and if you ever have a chance to visit, please do. You will not be disappointed.

Well, Thursday is May 1, and we will start the month with our usual articles on fashion and flora and fauna. Then we will return to our search for Regency England.

I will be putting out my newsletter in a few days. If you are not subscribed and would like to be so, now might be a good time. this link is on the side bar.

Until next time. Happy rambles.

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.