The Bankes's of Kingston Lacy (Continued)

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Back to William Bankes 


The Philae obelisk.

Made of pink granite, the obelisk was first seen by William Bankes in 1815. It arrived in England in 1821, after almost sinking to the bottom of a river in Egypt, and was transported overland to Kingston Lacy on a gun carriage offered by the Duke of Wellington. The foundation stone was laid by the Duke in April 1827.

Can you imagine what your family would say if you brought this sort of souvenir home from your holiday?

As mentioned earlier. William Bankes's travels came to an end  in 1820. He did not inherit Kingston Lacy from his brother Henry until December 1834 and spent the next few years embellishing Soughton in Flintshire, instead writing up the details of his travels, sadly for us, I think.

Once he inherited, he began the task of altering Kingston Lady to suit his own tastes. Personally, I wish he might have left it as it was but that is purely selfish. I would not expect anyone to tell me I couldn't update my house.

Unfortunately, William was forced to leave England in 1841 after a second charge of  "indecently exposing himself with a soldier of the Foot Guards in Green Park". The possible punishments were dreadful at the time and his reputation in society would have been ruined. He jumped bail and fled to Italy. The rest of his life he continued to fit out the interiors of Kingston Lacy with the help of his sister Lady Falmouth.  There is some evidence that he did pay secret visits to the house on which he lavished so much care, but as a fugitive from the law, the family could never openly admit it. I certainly hope he did get to see his home from time to time.

There is more to know about the family and the house, and it is well worth a visit, for the grounds are simply spectacular, but for my purposes, all things 'regency', it is done.

Until next time, Happy Rambles.

The Bankes's of Kingston Lacy (Continued)

William Bankes traveled the east en grand seigneur in a noble barge with a cabin, not because he wanted to, but because it was expected. He also visited Lady Hester Stanhope, a fascinating lady who lived on Mount Lebanon.

After his travels he returned to Syria where he carried out clandestine nocturnal excavations with other English gentlemen who were also in the area at the time. He was one of the first Europeans to reach Petra famous for its rock cut architecture  and water conduits system. Imagine being among the first to see a sight like that pictured to the left.

Established sometime around the 6th century BC Petra was the capital city of the Nabataeans and is to be found east of the Dead Sea. I must say I am greatly resisting the temptation to delve deeper, but no. This is about William, not Arabia.  He really did have adventures. William went to Petra dressed as a Bedouin Arab.   He also went because he was so skilled in drawing and was to use his talent to capture the sights on paper, there not being any photographs at the time.  But you knew that didn't you.

Next he went up the Nile, leading Henry Salt's flotilla in his fourteen-oared canja among whom were artists and Belzoni,  a hydraulic engineer who had once been a strong man on the stage of Sadler's Wells. Williams plan of the temple at Luxor corrected that of the French antiquary Vivant Denon. He discovered the table of the kings now in the British Museum at Abydos. Amd at Abu Simbel William discovered a Greek inscription at the great temple of Rameses II which helped date the monument, while inside he and his companions copied all the wall paintings by the light of candles standing on ladders (and without their shirts because it was hot, so scandalous it deserves a mention).
After visiting Byron in Venice and then at Ravena where they "buffooned togther very merrily" he returned home in April 1820.  He collected all kinds of things, but never did anything to organize them or document them, nor did he ever write the promised book about his travels.  Too much like hard work, one wonders? He enjoyed the "doing" part. 

This is such a brief summary, of his adventures, it merely give a flavour of what he was up to while he was gaining his reputation as "the Nubian explorer".  My imagination is certainly taking flight.

Back at home he was lionised by society who gobbled up the  stories of his travels.  So much so that he had to be persuaded not to pursue his affair with Lady Buckinham, who wanted him to take her to Africa disguised as a boy, so they could search for the source of the Nile together.  Instead he devoted himself to his British inheritance.  Shades of a romance novel anyone?

We will finish up his story next time.   In the meantime a reminder about the upcoming contest to win a Kindle or a Kindle Fire along with daily prizes, which will be posted here and on my website, so don't forget to check back for the rules of how to enter the contest.

Until next time, Happy Rambles

The Bankes's of Kingston Lacy

The Bankes family owned Kingston Lacy from around 1636 (at first known as Kingston Hall, the King part relating to its one time ownership by the King and the Lacy part from its medieval ownership by the de Lacys).

The Bankes owned Corfe castle, not far away, which was eventually destroyed by Cromwellian forces and which was returned to the family in the restoration. They of course never lived there again and devoted all their attention to Kingston.

Since the period we are most interested in spans the long regency, I wanted to talk a bit about the two prime figures during that period. Sir Henry Banks, 1757 - 1834 and his son William Banks 1786-1855 who added many interesting artifacts to the house and whose travels and life were exceedingly interesting.

Sir Henry, having undertaken the grand tour, married a wealthy and beautiful woman, undertook major modernization of the house between 1784 and 1791. As mentioned in earlier posts, much of those changes were swept away in the 1830's by his son William, but we have looked at the parts that were in place during the regency.  When the renovations were complete it was celebrated with a ball. Around 140 people danced from nine in the evening, sat down to supper at midnight and danced again until seven in the morning. Entertainment on the grand scale.

William was Sir Henry's second son. From Harrow, he went up to Trinity College, Cambridge in 1804 and became Lord Byron's (yes that Lord Byron) friend for life.

He was one of the leading lights of the 1812 London season, something I must put in a book one of these days. This miniature was completed in that year by George Sandars in this year. During this year, he proposed to Annabella Milbanke, the bluestocking heiress who later married Byron. It was William who gave her his copy of Childe Harold.  She married Byron in 1815.

In the meantime, William followed in Byron and William Beckford's footsteps traveling to Portugal and Spain in 1812 and spending two years there acquiring paintings and living the Bohemian life. He also served as an Aide de Camp to Wellesley (Later the Duke of Wellington) during this time.

He went from there to Egypt and then to Italy in 1814 and back to Egypt in 1815. Kingston Lacy houses one of the sole surviving gentleman's collection from the early days of British Egyptology. More about this to come. Until then Happy Rambles.

Searching for Regency London

by Ann Lethbridge

I just had to share this one, it comes out in January. This is a collection of HH Undones in Paperback including my first one - The Rakes Intimate Encounter. So if you are a person who prefers paper to e-book, here is your chance to try several Undones which to date were only available on line.

You will of course be hearing more about this one, but I just love the cover and had to share it.

I have been sacrificing chocolate bars to the cover god and she seems to appreciate the love, so here is the result. lol

This is the entrance to Russel Square, built by the Duke of Bedford in 1804 and named after his family's surname.

The square has been redesigned to go back to its original early nineteenth century layout. Next time I am in London I will spend a bit more time at the square. I was very taken with the Russell Hotel but it is Victorian and therefore unworthy of a picture on my blog.

The portrait painter Thomas Lawrence had a studio at number 65 (1805–1830) Russell Square. Or was it 67, there are some differences depending on which information you read. I am going with 65 since that is what is recorded in Old and New London 1878.

A note in the Gentleman's Magazine for January, 1818, by the Rev. John Mitford, says:—"We shall never forget the Cossacks, mounted on their small white horses, with their long spears grounded, standing as sentinels at the door of this great painter, whilst he was taking the portrait of their general, Platoff." [Platov]

A wonderful mental image. Somehow I have to find a way to put that in a story. Lawrence's house, (seen left) has since been demolished in favour of the Imperial Hotel.

It was also from Bolton House, on the corner of Guilford Street that, on the 21st of June, 1799, George III., with the Queen and several members of the Royal Family, assembled and after partaking of a cold collation, proceeded to view the nearby Foundling Hospital. I will be posting about the hospital next.

That is all for today, until next time, Happy Rambles.

Searching for Regency London

by Michele Ann Young
I received my copies of the Mammoth Book of Regencies and boy are there some neat writers inside the covers.

Can't wait to read everyone's stories. Short stories are great. I have started reading one every day while I am on my exercise bike. Exercising is now a treat.

This is not a very exciting picture, given the scaffolding, but if you were following the earlier post on adventures in London you will remember we paused in Bedford Square.

Everywhere you go, there are these blue signs, noting who lived at various houses.

This one is for Lord Eldon, Lord Chancellor from1801-1827 with a brief respite for one year early on.

The interesting thing about this man for me, is that as well as being Lord Chancellor, he was the son of a coal fitter, and rose to the peerage.

He was also one of those men who as a youth ran off with an heiress, Besse Surtees in November 1772. Using a ladder to get her out of the house no less, he whisked her off to Scotland to be married. And their love endured until her death in 1831. He followed her in 1838. A true romance.

He is certainly an interesting man, (pictured here in his Chancellor's robes) and while we would not agree with many of his ideals today, he was a rogue as a lad, a romantic as a young man and moved up by his own efforts to be involved in the leadership of his country during very interesting times. He certainly warrants more study.

We are going to move on from this square next time. Until then, Happy Rambles

Regency People

The Prince of Wales, Continued

Last time I talked a little about the up bringing of the Prince. It should be noted that even for this time period, he had a limited education. He spoke French without an accent, and had studied a little latin, but he had no education in mathematical sciences or philosophy. We know that his father thought he should learn gardening and bread making, but it seems he neglected a higher level of education.

A friend of George Washington says in 1789
"nor has the society he has kept been such as to supply the void of education. It has been that of the lowest, the most illiterate and profligate persons of the kingdom, without choice of rank or mind, and with whom the subjects of conversation are only horses, drinking matches, bawdy houses and in terms the most vulgar."

We will meet some of these people later.

A portrait of Maria Anne Fitzherbert

The same friend says:

In the article of women, nevertheless he is become more correct, since his connection with Mrs. Fitzherbert, who is an honest and worthy woman; he is even less crapulous than he was.

You might guess that the whole reason for the quote is the capulous word meaning effects of drunkeness. I learned a new words today. It seems to be been in use for a short period of time, but it certainly seems to fit.

My last quote is as follows:

"He possesses good native common sense; is affable, polite and very good humoured."

He loved fine art, much of the royal collections of art were started by him. And architecture. The Brighton Pavilion might be a bit odd, but is it any odder than Hurst Castle?

Wellington said George was "a magnificent patron of the arts...the most extraordinary compound of talent, wit, buffoonery, obstinacy, and good feeling — in short a medley of the most opposite qualities, with a great preponderence of good — that I ever saw in any character in my life."

Bu our standards today he was highly immoral or amoral. There were certainly better men than he, in his own time, and there were many who were worse. Some of them his friends, but still I feel just a tad sorry for him.

That's it for my walk in the Regency today. Until next time, Happy rambles.

Regency People

First, if you are wondering where to buy The Lady Flees Her Lord, I have to tell you that the book should be in stores any day now. Sometimes it takes a while to get them into the stores, so it will be there by the end of the month. As soon as I get word it is out there, I will send out the newsletter. I have a Prinny story all ready to go, and can't wait to get it to you.

I thought it might be fun to start a new regular feature on some of the wonderful real characters who people the Regency. People my characters might run into during the course of a book.

These will only be little snippets, not detailed research, after all there are hundreds of books in the library which can do a far better job than I. I will not restrict myself to the Regency of 1811 - 1820, because that is an event rather than an era or a sense of life and style.

I wanted to start with George Prince of Wales, because it is he who gives us our Regency era, however.

I think I am a bit of an odd duck, because I have a lot of sympathy for the George, as anyone who has read my newsletters will know. He really was a product of the Georgian era, a lusty, self indulgent time with some of the remnants of the Stuarts well entrenched in society.

This picture of him is by Gainsborough in 1782. He is twenty in this picture. He desperately wanted to join the army as did his favorite brother Frederick, the Duke of York. His father would not let him leave the country, or actually do anything at all in government. He had no responsibilities. Is it any wonder that later on he was indecisive, and self indulgent.

He was not as arrogant as he is painted, he said of his appearance around this time that he is inclined to be fat, although he thought his eyes were fine. One of his gentlemen, Lake, is very aware that because he was so sheltered growing up, he is far too eager to please and to make friends, which means he is easily imposed upon and encouraged to do outrageous things.

He is also constantly criticized by his father, who's favorite son is Frederick. Not an easy thing for a young man to endure. Therefore, he rebels. He becomes friends with a wild bunch, Chesterfield, St. Leger, and Windham ~ the latter are two rakes "whom all good men despise".

Meanwhile, his father refuses him permission to go to balls, and let us face it there is very little else to do at this time, as well as gives him long list of things he is not allowed to do, and to make matters worse gives him nothing worthwhile to do.

Can you imagine us treating our children like that?

In 1782, Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire says he is striking to look at, but not perfect, inclined to be fat, of pleasing height, reasonably intelligent, but because he has been kept in too strict confinement, ogling women have given him the impression his is much sought after by the opposite sex. So this is the teenage young adulthood of this prince. It is completely unlike the experience of anyone else, even his brothers. And I for one feel sorry for him. Although I do not excuse his antics.

Well, that is all for today, and I think we will visit Prinny again before we move on to some of the other characters of his time.