Monday, January 26, 2015

Athelhampton Part VI

I am going to leave you with some external views of Athelhampton before we move on in our tour of Britain and some of its great country houses.

 These views show just how worth a visit to this lovely old house is.
And last but not least the River Piddle.

One cannot make this stuff up.

Until next time....

Friday, January 23, 2015

Athelhampton Part V

Athelhampton. I keep thinking how much I love that name. 

Much of the upstairs was changed during renovations in 1863, for example what is now called the library was then three bedrooms in the west wing. I did love these steps which would have brought one into the west wing added in the early 16th century, and would, in our time, have been the entrance to the corridor with the bedrooms leading off.

Here are some other little nooks that caught my fancy as I moved around the house.
 They are presented for atmosphere rather than any particular significance.

The next room we entered is called the King's Room traditionally the place where the manorial court would be held in the name of the king.

It is now a bedroom with lovely linenfold panelling.  The tester bedstead is Charles 1, the oak coffer  from James the first's time and the brass lantern clock  from the late 17th century and made in Dorset.

All of these items could have been found in a Regency dwelling, since they survived until now, but my guess is they would have been thought dreadfully heavy and old fashioned by our fashion-conscious heroes and heroines.

Until Next time.....

Monday, January 19, 2015

Regency Fashion January 1815

Here we see a trend. Another wide trim around the hem for January

Unusually, we have the back view.

Here is the description from Ackermann's Repository for January 1815

Evening Dress

Light pink satin gown, trimmed round the bottom with a lace flounce, laid on richly, worked and headed with tufts of the same; short full sleeve, trimmed with lace. A shell lace tippet. 
White kid gloves, drawn over the elbow. An India fan of carved ivory. Slippers of white kid. Full crop head-dress, ornamented with flowers.
And a further tidbit of interest
The Fashions for this month, and those for the whole of last year, are from the designs of Mrs. Bean, of Albemarle-street. This lady, since her visit to Paris, has incorporated in her dresses, in the style of French costume, all that is to be admired in the exuberant varieties which that country produces; and has moderated the same by a fancy governed by a chaste feeling peculiar to herself. We were much delighted on viewing the splendid dresses in the Magazin des Modes of this lady.
I really like this gown, at least from this view. I think the shell lace tippet, shawl in s nice touch.
Until next time….

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Regency Romance Turns 80

Can it really be 80 years since Georgette Heyer began our beloved and most popular genre? Apparently so.

My father introduced me to her books, the old romantic. He loved them and we used to fight to be the first to read the book brought home from the library.  I have read them all, many many times and along with those lovely stories comes lovely memories of home and family.

Join the Beau Monde Blog as we celebrate this event.  The first blog appears here. After today you will find at least one article a month discussing each of her books.  Mine will show up in June.

Until next time......


Monday, January 12, 2015

Athelhampton Part 4

I cannot believe I have left you hanging around in the King's antechamber since November. Where did those last few weeks go. Thanksgiving and Christmas eating it all up. So let us return to our wanderings around this lovely old house, parts of which I used in Captured Countess.

We have moved on to the Great Chamber or drawing room, used in earlier times as a granery - hard to imagine.  Recall that only things that would have been around in the regency are covered in this blog, so despite the many beautiful artifacts to be found in each house, I focus on only a few.

 Here we have yet another heraldic window commemorating the owners of Athelhampton and their alliances.  If this is your thing, go on line and find out more. For me this would be a way of presenting the backdrop to my characters.


The panelling is seventeenth century and has Elizabethan carved panel over the fireplace in the "Italian" manner.  Something about all the wood makes it quite cosy.

A few pieces of furniture stuck out for me. The George I walnut bureau and desk from around 1720


 and the George II mahogany breakfront bookcase after the style of William Kent. The latter now displaying china. Each side of it leads back to the antechamber


 And this William and Mary japanned cabinet.

Until next time......

My latest novel, Captured Countess is still  in stores and can also be found on line at:

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Amazon US
Amazon Canada
Barnes and Noble
Chapters Indigo Canada

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Regency Fashion January 1815

egency Full Dress January 1815 Ackermann's Repository

Full Dress, Ackermann's January 1815

Such a demure blushing lady.  I like the hem of this gown.

Here is the official description

A Celestial blue crape frock, over a white satin slip, ornamented round the bottom with a deep border of tull or net lace, embroidered with shaded blue silks and chenille; short full sleeve, trimmed with tull or net lace; the dress trimmed entirely round the top, to correspond. 
Hair parted in the centre of the forehead, confined in the Grecian style, and blended with flowers. 
Necklace of pearl; ear-drops and bracelets to correspond. Slippers of blue satin or kid. 
White gloves of French kid.


A pretty start to a new year of Regency Fashion.
Until next time…...


Monday, January 5, 2015

New Year's Resolutions

First let me wish you and yours a Happy and Healthy New Year. I also wish that you prosper in all that you undertake.

And so, here we are, the start of a new year and the opportunity to look back and look forward as if standing at the top of a hill after a long climb.



This year, for me, saw the final book in the Gilvry's of Dunross Series, The Return of the Prodigal Gilvry. I am going to miss my whisky smuggling Highlanders. It was a fun series to write, and I look forward to visiting Scotland again at sometime in the future.



  


In 2014 I returned to Beresford Abbey with a spy story Captured Countess, to be followed in 2015 by the last of the three Beresford Abbey stories, The Duke's Daring Debutante.


 It also marked my first toe in the water of Indie publishing with my short story Remember.


On a more personal note, there have been ups and downs. My little dog is slowing fading, but still game, so we carry him in and out of the house. His appetite is good and he is pleased to see us, so we keep him happy. I lost a dear family member early in the year, and so the year's blessings are mingled with sadness. Once more I joyfully travelled to Europe for research for this blog as well as to catch up with family members. 

As for my resolution: Be More Organized.

I have some ideas about what that entails, more lists, a strategy, and so on. The trouble is that I am a dreamer, and those dreams appear on the pages of my books, and so organizing is not natural for me.

We will see how it goes.  Have you made any new year resolutions? Are they doable or merely a wish list? Do you have a strategy in place to help you accomplish your goals?

I will be interested to hear.

 Until next time.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Holiday Wishes



Good Wishes for the Holiday Season



And a Healthy and Happy New Year


Monday, December 22, 2014

Regency Fashion December 1814

Every now and then Ackermann's Repository gives us a post of fashionable bonnets and lucky for us they have given us one for December 1814 to finish out what has been a fun year of fashion.

I must say none of these hats look particularly Christmassy to me, but I would like to know which one you would be wearing out on Christmas Day?

Here are the descriptions:

A full turban made either in tiffany or silver net; the crown lashed with silk or silver cords.
A melon cap, made of white satin quilted, with narrow bead trimming inlet, ornamented with a full cluster and wreath of flowers, blended with a quilled border of lace.
Persian calash, formed upon a wire fabric, and composed of satin-striped ribband, trimmed with a full border of blond lace, appliqued with a heading of Vandyke: a net handkerchief crosses the crown en suite, with a large cluster of wild flowers in the centre.
A cottage bonnet, made in salmon colour and white velvets, ornamented with a double plume of ostrich feathers.

A Russian a-la-mode, composed of orange and white velvets, trimmed round the edge with a quilling of Vandyke lace: the crown decorated with flowers and wreaths of Vandyke lace.

Untile Next time…….


Friday, December 19, 2014

A Regency Christmas

Here are a few more traditions from the Regency, you might enjoy.

One of the things we have to remember, by the way, is that a Christmas tradition in one region of Britain, might not be traditional in another. It is only recently that we have become so widely connected, likely one way some of the Christmas practices were able to survive in spite of Oliver Cromwell's best efforts.


Information taken from The Sporting Magazine (1820)



For example, in Whitby, North Yorkshire, during the two weeks before Christmas, numbers of poor wretches, mostly female, strolled
from door to door, sometimes singly and sometimes in pairs carrying circular baskets or boxes of ornamented pasteboard (what we today would call cardboard) some in which is place a wax doll as an image of Christ  surrounded by sprigs of box wood, with two or three applies or oranges.  Called vessel cups, the women would stand at a door and sing a hymn. To send them away empty handed, was to court bad luck for the coming year.

The example here is one carried on a pole and the picture is taken from here where you will find lots more information about the Vessel Cup, or Wassail Box.

The Sporting Magazine also reports the following about Christmas traditions in Whitby:


Christmas-Eve is celebrated in almost every family by a supper, the chief dish of which is frumenty, made of steeped wheat, boiled with milk and seasoned with sugar and spice; after which comes apple-pie, and lastly cheese and gingerbread. The gingerbread cake, in each family that can afford it, weighs from four to eight pounds; and it is reckoned very unlucky to cut this or the cheese before the time. At the commencement of the, supper, the yule clog, a short block of wood, is laid on the fire, and the yule candle, a tall mould candle, is lighted and set on the table; the candles are often presented by the chandlers to their customers. It is reckoned unlucky to light these before the time, or to stir from the table during the supper; nor must the candle be snuffed. A game of cards is the usual desert, and it is unlucky to have an odd number at table. Sometimes a piece of the yule log is saved and put beneath the bed, to remain till next Christmas, then to be burnt with the new log. This is supposed, during the interval,to secure the house from fire. A piece of the candle is also kept to ensure good luck.
On Christmas morning before break of day all is in an uproar; numbers of boys sally forth, roaring out before every door "I wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year," vociferated over and over again till the family are awakened, and admit the clamourous visiter, who if he be first, is taken into the house and liberally treated with money, cheese, and gingerbread. No person (boys excepted) are permitted to go out of doors, till the threshold has been consecrated by the entrance of a male. Females have no part in this matter; and should a damsel lovely as an angel enter first, her fair form would be viewed with horror, as the harbinger of death. 

This last actually sounds a lot like the First Footing I sa as a child in the Outer Hebrides, except the first person over the doorstep was supposed to be a dark-haired man carrying a lump of coal, whom you were required to give a drink. More about that another time.

Since my current Christmas story is not set in Whitby, only the Yule log will make its appearance, although….. at least one of my characters could be Yorkshire born and bred. Hmmm.

Until next time….

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Regency Christmas


Some insights into Christmas time during the Regency are needed when writing a Christmas story, which I am. It is especially timely so I thought I would share some of what I have learned and which will in some form or another be incorporated into my story. (More about that another time).

In Victorie Count De Soligny's Letters on England, we learn some interesting tidbits. I should mention that the Count is far from impressed by the serious character of the English nature. We didn't enjoy ourselves enough for him.

He tells us that during the fortnight (two weeks) before Christmas arrives in London, i.e. now, itinerant players,  called Waits, wander the streets of London playing carols. He calls it sweet low music, which by the time you wake up to hear it, the players have moved on, to be heard only in the distance.  These players would go house to house on the day after Christmas Day -- the day we know as Boxing Day -- seeking a small deucement (money).

In a similar vein the Bell-man, or watchman would also stroll the streets ringing his bell and chanting in an ill-sounding voice (according to De Soligny, remember) and also come round on Boxing Day for money. You can tell which one of these our Count preferred.

This tradition was left over from earlier centuries when such carol singing in the streets was encouraged.  Oliver Cromwell sent it underground until the Victorian times were well underway, but it seems as if carol singers might well have been heard in town and country celebrating the arrival of Christmas. I wonder if they will show up in my story?

De Soligny was very pleased by another tradition, that of decorating the interior of houses with evergreens, laurel, bay, ilex and particularly holly with it glittering leaves and bright red berries, which are stuck in windows and over the mantelpieces and wreaths of them hung against the walls.

Oh yes, I feel a scene coming on.

The Count notes that in the kitchen or the servants' hall, a large bunch of mistletoe is suspended from the ceiling, underneath which the maidens are liable to be kissed, if they are caught by the male part of the household.

And that is just perfect for my story.

More Christmas in the Regency to come next time.








Thursday, December 11, 2014

Regency Fashion December 1814

Snow here today.  Others in the house were up and shovelling at 5am. It is a very pretty day and worth a fashion picture.


From the Lady's Magazine for December 1814

Morning Walking Dress.

A round dress of grey or stone colored French silk figured with small flowers or springs of the same, made high on the neck with a frill plating of ribbon of the same colour; the bosom open, the sleeves long, divided at several distances, with tufts of floss silk, the skirt rather short with a trimming of ribbon to correspond with the neck.

Mantle the color of the dress, or scarlet made square, with lapel collar trimmed with a broad border or ribbon, of the same colour.

Bonnet of black silk velvet, made high in the crown with full poke front, figured with tufts of let-in ribbon, of scarlet, or yellow, or variegated; a cluster of coloured flowers on one side with trimming of variegated ribbon.—The hair in full curls, in front and sides, with cap of thread lace,--an occasional handkerchief of variegated French silk.—Gloves of York tan—Half boots of coloured jean.

Personally I am not having a good time matching the description to the picture, nor am I rushing out to buy this one, but there we have it. Until next time.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Regency Fashion December 1814

Here we have a dress in the much despised puce of Georgette Heyer, a sort of brownish, reddish, purplish colour.  I can't say I am that keen on the style either, but here is the original descriptions

Walking Dress from Ackermann's Repository



A pelisse of short walking length, made either in erminette or silk velvet of puce colour, open down the front, and bound entirely round with celestial blue satin, terminating at the feet with a broad border of white lace.

 A high plain collar and treble copes [capes] bound to correspond; full lace ruff.

The Spanish hat composed of erminette or velvet and blue satin, corresponding to the pelisse, trimmed round the edge with quilling lace and ornamented in the front with a plume of ostrich feathers.

Half boots, blue kid or erminette. Gloves, Limerick or York tan.

Until next time....

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American Friends

Wishing you all the best for a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Regency Fashion - November 1814

This is a half dress, something to wear around the house when not expecting company?  It is the apron that makes me think this, though the whole thing is pretty glam.

And more stripes, as we saw in the last gown for this month in this year.

From Ackermann's Repository the description is as follows:

Green satin striped sarsnet frock, ornamented round the bottom with a rich border, embroidered with shaded chenille; long full sleeve, confined at the wrist, and trimmed with Vandyke lace. 

A bodice and apron made of clear muslin, trimmed entirely round with Vandyke lace, and headed with a double row of white satin ribband; falling collar, trimmed to correspond. 

Cap composed of blond lace and satin tied under the chin with a silk cord and tassel.

 Neck-chain and heart of Oriental gold. 

Gloves, Limerick or French kid. Sandals of striped kid.

I love the way this model looks in this cap, but I have the feeling it would not suit everyone, ie me. A bit too floppy.

Until next time.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Athlelhampton Part 3

No doubt you noticed the door to the right inside that lovely oriel window we looked the last time we visited Athlehampton.  If not you can go back and take a peak here.   That stone arched door led into what is called the King's Ante Room.






It is a small room and far more cozy than that of the Great Hall. But it had several doors leading off from it, clearly a transitional space, but with a peculiar charm.









 Needless to say, finding a neat little passage into a room like this is what makes the adventuring into Regency England so worthwhile.

  There are a couple of items of note in this ante room other than its delightful quaintness, perfect for a scene in a novel,on  is the item on the table on the right. It is a Coade-stone torchere by Coade and Sealy, Lambeth, 1810, part of a set of ten that once belonged to the Prince of Wales.
The second is the large portrait.  This is Princess Sophia, daughter of George III believed to have been the mother of an illegitimate son who lived not far away at Islington House in Puddletown.





My newest novel, Captured Countess will be in stores on tomorrow, you can purchase print copies on line at:

Amazon UK
Amazon US
Amazon Canada
Barnes and Noble
Chapters Indigo Canada

Or your favourite bookstore

The e-book will be out on December 1, so I will post links for your convenience on that day too.


Until next time

Monday, November 10, 2014

Athelhampton - Part II

Athelhampton Great Hall is a masterpiece of fifteenth century domestic architecture.  


How exciting to discover that the timbered roof is more or less the way it was built before 1500. 










 You will recall the outside of the house and that oriel window in the corner. Here it is from the inside.  It would not have been in the corner originally, since the wing was added later.

This window contains fine tracery and sixteenth century heraldic glass depicting marriage alliances of the family.

It is this great hall I am using in the novel I have just completed, the Duke's Daring Debutante, though it is set much closer to London.  It has a lovely Gothic feel, and it is the site of one of Thomas Hardy's short stories The Waiting Supper.

This view of the fireplace gives such a wonderful perspective of the grandeur of this hall.  A truly magnificent and impressive space for its time. 

One can only imagine our Regency folks complaining of the drafts and the cost to heat it.

The linenfold panelling is particularly lovely in its delicacy.  


The tapestry above the fireplace is Flemish, "Sampson slaying the Philistines with the jaw bone of an ass." and is dated as late sixteenth/early seventeenth century.


An the piece de resistence as we artistic types like to say, the Screen.

This is set in the original position, though a later version and separates the Hall from what were the service areas, and of course the front door. 

It boasts a very fine George III mahogany and gilt organ on the minstrels' gallery above.

More to come, until next time

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Regency Fashion November 1814


From Ackermann's Repository

Now I am not sure about your idea, but this looks far from warm. Nor do I much like the Vandyke French ruff. What do you think?

Walking Dress

An Italian striped sarsnet lilac-coloured dress, ornamented round the bottom with a double quilling of satin ribband; short full sleeve, trimmed to correspond; the fronts of the dress cross the bosom and form an open stomacher; a Vandyke French ruff, and full bordered cap to correspond.

The satin straw hat, tied under the chin with a check or striped Barcelona handkerchief, crossing the crown with a small plume of ostrich feathers in the front. 

French shawl, a white twill, embroidered with shaded scarlet and green silks, and fancifully disposed on the figure.

 Gloves, Limerick of York tan, drawn over the elbow. Half-boots of York tan or pale buff kid.

Until next time

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Captured Countess December 2014


Bragging just a little

Four Star Review for Captured Countess


Adventure, sensuality and Romance are beautifully blended as Lethbridge's captive/captor spy vs. spy tale unfolds.  REaders will be easily drawn in by intrigue as the author carefully builds her plot, wrapping the reader in a web of deceit, mystery and passion.  This is a quick exiting tale that Lethbridge's fans will devour  -  Romantic Times
Never trust a spy! 
Nicoletta, the Countess Vilandry, is on a dangerous mission—to lure fellow spy Gabriel D'Arcy into bed and into revealing his true loyalties. With such sensual games at play and such strong sensations awakened, suddenly Nicky's dangerously close to exposing her real identity. 
Gabe knows that the countess has been sent to seduce him. The only question is to what end? He's never met such a captivating woman—and he's determined to enjoy every seductive second she spends as his very willing captive! 

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Regency Fashion October 1814

October is clearly the month for walking at Ackermann's

An evening primrose-coloured French sarsnet petticoat, trimmed round the bottom with a double border of clear muslin, drawn full with a narrow ribband of corresponding colour to the petticoat; high body of jaconot muslin, with reversed drawings; long sleeve, drawn to correspond. A silk ruff.

 A silk net handkerchief-sash, tied in streamers and small bows behind.

A Shipton straw bonnet, tied under the chin with a net handkerchief crossing the crown, and trimmed with a band of the same silk net.

Sandals of evening primrose-coloured kid. Gloves to correspond.

Very smart. And more sandals.


Until next time