Thursday, 3 September 2015

Georgian Outings, Puddings and Freemasons!

I'm off to Godmersham this weekend to enjoy Adrian Lukis and Caroline Langrishe hosting an An Evening with Jane Austen, so the doors of the salon will be closed until 8th September. However, I hope you will enjoy this bounty of Georgian treasures from the week just passed, as well as some 18th century dates for your diary.

An Evening with Jane Austen

Join Adrian Lukis of Pride and Prejudice fame and Sharpe's Caroline Langrishe at Godermersham for an evening of Jane Austen on 6th September... you can say hello to me too if you're so inclined!
Book here

The Georgian Dining Academy
Enjoy an evening like no other with Miss Kitty Pridden and Miss B on 17th September. 18th century dining and entertainment in the heart of 21st century London with the capital's finest Georgian ladies!
Book here

A Fascinating History of Theatre Scandal and Fashion

Adrian Teal and Jillian Drujon are your hosts on 13th September for an afternoon of gin, theatrical scandal and fascinator-making, plus a chance to peep into Dr Johnson's private chambers!
Book here

The Jane Austen Festival
Find out what's happening at the 2015 Festival in Bath...

A Regency Pudding
Sasha Cottman bakes up a tasty Regency treat...

Of Kings, Myths and Masons – European Nobility and Freemasonry

Martin Otto Braun digs into the fascinating relationship between Freemasonry and nobility.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Of Kings, Myths and Masons – European Nobility and Freemasonry

I'm thrilled to welcome Martin Otto Braun to the salon to life the lid on European nobility and freemasonry, a subject that I have always found fascinating!


Of kings, myths and masons – European nobility and its interest in freemasonry
Guestpost by Martin Otto Braun
It is well known that Freemasonry and its lodges played an important role in the convivial gatherings of the 18th century. Not only the bourgeoisie was interested in its secrets and rituals but also European nobility and even kings of the Georgian era. So there is no better place to have a short look at it that in a guest post  for Madame Gilfurt’s Salon which focuses on the history of that time.
As you might know, the early 18th century is a very important period for the development of the so called modern freemasonry. Of course, thousands of books were written that examine the historical origins of this brotherhood, its secrets and rituals going back to the middle ages. As this is not the place to discuss this topic, I’d like to give you a very short introduction to the history of modern freemasonry in England before turning to a short description of why it became so interesting for the European nobility in this special time.

Although reliable documents are missing, the year 1717 is somewhat as the hour of birth of modern freemasonry. In this year four masonic Lodges founded the first Grand Lodge of England in a tavern named Goose and Gridiron in London. A Grand Lodge can be seen as an inner masonic authority which ensures that the masonic rules regarding things like rituals or even the harmonical behavior between the brothers of a lodge are practiced seriously. 
 The first noble Grand Master, John Duke of Montagu, was installed in 1721. Under his protection a very important masonic book was published: the so called Old Charges.
The Old Charges are more than a collection of masonic rules for the lodges regulated by the Grand Lodge of England. What makes them also interesting for the history of 18th century European nobility and its engagement for modern freemasonry is a fact often mistreated by historians: the mythical elements of its history of freemasonry.
Its author, the dissenter-reverend James Anderson, not only tried to examine the history of freemasonry since the creation of the earth with Adam as the first Grand Master of freemasonry. He also described it as a brotherhood which was in all times ruled and protected by wise kings and emperors. Its lodges therefore brought together the best noblemen, clergymen, scientists and craftsmen who worked harmonically and silently on the perfection of mankind through geometry or architecture. This point needs further explanation.
Lodge tableau at the London Grande Lodge in 1735
Lodge tableau at the London Grande Lodge in 1735
As I argued in my doctoral thesis At the roots of virtue. Rhenish nobility and freemasonry 1765-1815 (the book is open access monographie, for English summary see: these myths were not that specifically masonic, as it first may seem. They are based upon relatively common beliefs of the people of the early 18th century about the creation and development of mankind – and – much more important especially for noblemen – are based upon the belief about the heredity of virtue through blood.
In this belief “pictures of life” were imprinted in one's blood which transferred a part of the soul and of its experiences to next generations. For this reason it became very important to live in a virtuous environment, to be impressed by paintings showing virtues sujets and architectuaral buildings which also communicated through their style such virtues. Even the masonic rituals were believed to be somewhat like performances of virtuous behavior. And of course, as the members of a lodge were “handpicked”, those rituals were excuted in an virtuous environment.
For Georgian nobility Freemasonry therefore became interesting as it seemed to be another place to strengthen one's virtue. And – what is much more important – the virtue of the noble race which govern’d over mankind and guided the later one to perfection by its example.
So after showing the reader the history of masonry since the creation of mankind, Anderson spoke about the kings and nobility of England, who promoted the architecture in the virtues Augustan style once again. Of course, the last king he mentioned in this line since Adam was King George. 
John Montague, 2nd Duke of Montagu presenting the Constitutions and the compasses to Philip, Duke of Wharton. Rev. Dr. John Desaguliers at the far right, 1723.
John Montague, 2nd Duke of Montagu presenting the Constitutions and the compasses to Philip, Duke of Wharton. Rev. Dr. John Desaguliers at the far right, 1723.
King George therefore became, in the views of his contemporaries, the heir and guard of this noble art of freemasonry which guided the mankind to perfection. Though he was not a mason, many of his successors were. Freemasonry became more and more “popular”. In the 18th century thousands of lodges were installed all over Europe and overseas. Many Europeans joined them in order to bring themselves and their heirs closer to perfection.
For more information see:
David Stevenson, The Origins of Freemasonry, Cambridge 2011.
Martin Otto Braun, An den Wurzeln der Tugend. Rheinischer Adel und Freimaurerei 1765–1815, Köln 2015, DOI: 
Knoop, Douglas/G.P. Jones, Die Genesis der Freimaurerei. Ein Bericht vom Ursprung und
der Entwicklung der Freimaurerei in ihren operativen, angenommenen und spekulativen
Phasen (Veröffentlichungen der Freimaurerischen Forschungsgesellschaft Quatuor
Coronati e.V., Bayreuth), Bayreuth 1968.
Lennhoff, Eugen/Oskar Posner/Dieter Anton Binder (Hg.), Internationales Freimaurer-

Lexikon, München 2006.
Written content of this post copyright © Martin Otto Braun, 2015.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

A Regency Pudding!

I do love a good pudding, so it's a pleasure to welcome Sasha Cottman who brings with her a Regency dessert!


Thank you Madame Gilfurt for inviting me into your Salon and allowing me to share one of my Regency recipes with your readers.

I love to play in the kitchen and try to recreate recipes which were from around the Regency period and earlier. I have been known to take the odd short cut and the resultant disaster is something which the cone of silence in our house keeps from the rest of the world.

Today I would like to share one of my favourite Regency recipes, and one which my husband begs me to cook when the weather turns chilly.

Bread and Butter pudding is a great comfort food on a Sunday night by the fire and surprisingly easy to make.

To see any of my other Regency period recipes please visit my blog 

Bread and Butter Pudding

This recipe dates from John Nott first published in 1723.


20 slices of bread. Stale bread is good.
50g each of currants, raisins and chopped dates. (you could cheat like I did and use fruit loaf)
1 litre of single cream.
130g sugar
Butter (or margarine)
1 tbs Brown sugar
6 egg yolks
Mace & Nutmeg & Salt


In a heavy based saucepan (I used a normal one) simmer the cream for 4 mins. Make sure it does not boil. Whisk in a pinch of salt and 1/4 teaspoon each of mace and nutmeg. After this simmer the mix for another 4 mins, then take it off the heat and allow to cool. Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl whisk the egg yolks and sugar together. When the cream mix is cool slowly add it to the mix. Make sure the cream mix is cool otherwise you will scramble the eggs.

Butter the bread on both sides and using a wooden spoon (or your clean fingers) push 1/3 of the bread down into an oven proof dish. Pour 1/3 of the egg and cream mix over the bread. Repeat until all the mix is in the bowl. Then sprinkle brown sugar over the top and add a nob or two of butter. Pop the baking dish in the oven for an hour.

Technically speaking you should take it out the oven, wait for another 30 minutes and then be able to turn this over and pop it out like a cake. If your family is anything like mine, as soon as it comes out of the oven they will be standing with bowls and spoons at the ready. Be careful as the bread and butter pudding will be hot. 


About the Author
Born in England, but raised in Australia, Sasha has a love for both countries. Having her heart in two places has created a love for travel, which at last count was to over 55 countries. A travel guide is always on her pile of new books to read.

Her first published novel, Letter from a Rake was a finalist for the 2014 Romantic Book of the Year. 

Sasha lives with her husband, teenage daughter and a cat who demands a starring role in the next book. She has found new hiding spots for her secret chocolate stash. On the weekends Sasha loves walking on the beach while trying to deal with her bad knee and current Fitbit obsession.

The Duke's Daughter

When handsome army officer Avery Fox unexpectedly inherits a fortune, he instantly becomes one of the season's most eligible bachelors. More accustomed to the battlefield, he has no patience with the naive debutantes who fill the ballrooms of London.

Honest and impetuous Lady Lucy Radley is a breath of fresh air, guiding him through the season and helping him to avoid any traps. So when Avery is left with little option but to marry Lucy, he can't help but feel he's been manipulated. Nor can he shake the feeling that a duke's daughter should be out of his reach.

From the wildly beautiful Scottish Highlands to the elegant soirees of Paris, Avery and Lucy go on a journey that is full of surprises for them both.  But will their feelings for each other be strong enough to overcome the circumstances of their marriage and survive the ghosts of Avery's past?

The Duke’s Daughter is available as an ebook at the following e-retailers.

Letter from a Rake
An Unsuitable Match
The Duke's Daughter

Chapter One

By every measure of her own behaviour, Lady Lucy Radley knew this was the worst.
'You reckless fool,' she muttered under her breath as she headed back inside and into the grand ballroom.
The room was a crush of London's social elite. Every few steps she had to stop and make small talk with friends or acquaintances. A comment here and there about someone's gown or promising a social call made for slow going.
 Finally she spied her cousin, Eve. She fixed a smile to her face as Eve approached.
'Where have you been, Lucy? I've been searching everywhere for you.'
'I was just outside admiring the flowers on the terrace.'
Eve frowned, but the lie held.
Another night, another ball in one of London's high-society homes. In one respect Lucy would be happy when the London social season ended in a few weeks; then she would be free to travel to her family home in Scotland and go tramping across the valleys and mountain paths, the chill wind ruffling her hair.
She puffed out her cheeks. With the impending close of the season came an overwhelming sense of failure. Her two older brothers, David and Alex, had taken wives. Perfect, love-filled unions with delightful girls, each of whom Lucy was happy to now call sister.
Her newest sister-in-law, Earl Langham's daughter Clarice, was already in a delicate condition, and Lucy suspected it was only a matter of time before her brother Alex and his wife Millie shared some good news.
For herself, this season had been an unmitigated disaster on the husband-hunting front. The pickings were slim at best. Having refused both an earl and a viscount the previous season, she suspected other suitable gentlemen now viewed her as too fussy. No gentleman worth his boots wanted a difficult wife. Only the usual group of fortune-hunters, intent on getting their hands on her substantial dowry, were lining up at this stage of the season to ask her to dance. Maintaining her pride as the daughter of a duke, she refused them all.
Somewhere in the collective gentry of England there must be a man worthy of her love. She just had to find him.
What a mess.
'You are keeping something from me,' Eve said, poking a finger gently into Lucy's arm.
Lucy shook her head. 'It's nothing. I suspect I am suffering from a touch of ennui. These balls all begin to look the same after a while. All the same people, sharing the same gossip.'
'Oh dear, and I thought I was having a bad day,' Eve replied.
'Sorry, I was being selfish. You are the one who needs a friend to cheer her up,' Lucy replied. She kissed her cousin gently on the cheek.
Eve's brother William had left London earlier that day to return to his home in Paris, and she knew her cousin was taking his departure hard.
'Yes, well, I knew I could sit at home and cry, or I could put on a happy face and try to find something to smile about,' Eve replied.
Eve's father had tried without success to convince his son to return permanently to England. With the war now over and Napoleon toppled from power, everyone expected William Saunders to come home immediately, but it had taken two years for him to make the journey back to London.
'Perhaps once he gets back to France and starts to miss us all again, he shall have a change of heart,' Lucy said.
'One can only hope. Now, let's go and find a nice quiet spot and you can tell me what you were really doing out in the garden. Charles Ashton came in the door not a minute before you, and he had a face like thunder. As I happened to see the two of you head out into the garden at the same time a little while ago, I doubt Charles' foul temper was because he found the flowers not to his liking,' Eve replied.

It was late when Lucy and her parents finally returned home to Strathmore House. The Duke and Duchess of Strathmore's family home was one of the largest houses in the elegant West End of London. It was close to the peaceful greenery of Hyde Park, and Lucy couldn't imagine living anywhere else.
As they came through the grand entrance to Strathmore House she was greeted by the sight of her eldest brother David seated on a low couch outside their father's study. He was clad in a heavy black greatcoat and his hat was in his hand.
'Hello, David; bit late for a visit this evening. I hope nothing is wrong,' said Lord Strathmore.
'Clarice?' asked Lady Caroline.
'She's fine, sleeping soundly at home,' he replied.
Lucy sensed the pride and love for his wife in her brother's voice. He had found his true soulmate in Lord Langham's daughter.
David stood and came over. When he reached them, he greeted his mother and sister with a kiss. His dark hair was a stark contrast to both Lady Caroline's and Lucy's fair complexions.
He turned to his father. 'Lord Langham's missing heir has been found, and the news is grave. My father-in-law asked that I come and inform you before it becomes public knowledge. A rather horrid business, by all accounts.'
'I see. Ladies, would you please excuse us? This demands my immediate attention,' Lord Strathmore said.
As Lucy and Lady Caroline headed up the grand staircase, he and David retired to his study. As soon as the door was closed behind them, David shared the news.
'The remains of Thaxter Fox were retrieved from the River Fleet a few hours ago. His brother Avery, whom you met at my wedding ball a few weeks ago, has formally identified the body. Lord Langham is currently making funeral arrangements,' David said.
His father shook his head. It was not an unexpected outcome of the search for the missing Thaxter Fox.
He wandered over to a small table and poured two glasses of whisky. He handed one to David.
'Well, that makes for a new and interesting development. I don't expect Avery Fox had ever entertained the notion before today that he would one day be Earl Langham,' Lord Strathmore replied, before downing his drink.
'Perhaps, but he had to know the likelihood of finding his brother in one piece was slim at best. From our enquiries, it was obvious Thaxter had a great many enemies,' David replied.
'Including you,' said the duke.
David looked down at his gold wedding ring. It still bore the newlywed gleam, which made him smile.
'He and I had come to a certain understanding. If he stayed away from Langham House and Clarice, I would not flay the skin off his back. No, someone else decided to make Thaxter pay for his evil ways.'
The Langham and Radley families held little affection for the recently deceased heir to the Langham title. After Thaxter had made an attempt to seize Clarice's dowry through a forced marriage, both families had severed all ties. Thaxter had disappeared not long after.
David would do everything in his power to protect Clarice. With a baby on the way, he was fully prepared to stare down the rest of the town if it meant keeping his wife safe. As the illegitimate, but acknowledged, son of the duke, David had overcome many of society's prejudices in order to successfully woo and wed Lord Langham's only daughter.
'Unkind as it sounds, I doubt many at Langham House will be mourning the demise of the eldest Mr Fox,' his father replied.

This post copyright © Sasha Cottman, 2015.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

A Bumper Salon Digest

The salon has welcomed so many guests recently that it's been a while since I presented a digest of the latest posts; since I'm gadding about this weekend, enjoy this bumper digest and I shall see you next week!

An Evening with Jane Austen
Join Adrian Lukis of Pride and Prejudice fame and Sharpe's Caroline Langrishe at Godermersham for an evening of Jane Austen... you can say hello to me too if you're so inclined!

A Jewel in Paris
Join Shannon Donnelly for a tour of the Tuileries! 

Princely Debts and a Wealth of Resources
Charlotte Frost takes a trip to the archives with the profligate George IV...

Choose Your Own Adventure... 18th Century Style!
Elyse Huntington chooses her own adventure... 18th century style! 

"You are female; I won't say woman"
Dr Sara Read unveils the remarkable letters between an Irish bishop and his daughter.  

The English Pudding - or Comfort Foods of the British Isles
A tasty dessert course from Becca St John! 

Lead Mining Corruption, Bribery and Murder
A shocking tale of murder from Ayr Bray...

The Regency Sex Trade
Jude Knight looks at the sex industry in the Regency.

The Jane Austen Festival
What's on offer in Bath this year?

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

The Jane Austen Festival

The Jane Austen Festival – 11th to 20th September 2015

With 100+ events over the course of ten days the 15th annual Jane Austen Festival in Bath is the biggest yet. Opening officially on Saturday 12th September with the spectacular Grand Regency Costumed Promenade, central Bath will come to a standstill, whilst over 600 process through the streets. Regency costume is essential to take part in the Promenade and entry is by ticket through the Festival website, however watching the parade is free.

To celebrate the bicentenary of Austen’s novel Emma, readings are taking place in Bath Central Library plus an additional Ball the ‘Highbury’ Country Dance. Being held at Bath Pavilion the ‘Highbury’ Country Dance is a less formal affair, where Regency costume is not obligatory, unlike the celebrated Masked Ball at the Pump Rooms on the second weekend.

Other events include ‘Austen Undone’, theatrical walking adventures presented by the award winning Natural Theatre Company. The Mission Theatre is the main venue for events including talks and discussions from authors and Austen authorities, Prof John Mullan, Maggie Lane and Lauren Nixon, plus actor, Richard Heffer on the film ‘Waterloo’.  With the superb voice of Rosie Lomas and keyboard specialist Katarzyna Kowalik presenting Music and Matchmaking and harpist Sarah Deere-Jones tutoring the instrument and performing a very Regency Soiree these are just a couple of the Festival musical delights.  The darker side of the 18th Century is tackled with presentations on curing illness, crime and punishment as well as the decorative with how to use a fan and dress and behave in Regency style. There are more minibus tours and day trips including the very popular event to Lyme Regis and additional workshops on bonnet making, Regency dancing, and even archery. Food events take place in a Bath Regency townhouse, the Victoria Art Gallery and an exclusive evening at No.1 Royal Crescent. Dr Amy Frost delights again with presentations at two venues, the Museum of Bath Architecture and Beckford’s Tower.

The Festival uses many historic Georgian buildings and whilst Regency costume is always welcome it is not essential to wear at events other than the Promenade and Masked Ball. The exciting Finale is ‘Jane Austen the interview’, a brand new piece commissioned by the Festival and performed by the Natural Theatre Company.

Full details of all events are on

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

The Regency Sex Trade

A little sauce today courtesy of Jude Knight and a look into the Regency era and the sex trade. All comments will be entered into a giveaway for a free copy of A Baron for Becky, with the winner to be announced on 1st September!


In the 18th century, according to Dan Cruickshank’s The Secret History of Georgian London, one in five women in London earned income from the sale of sex. He called London:
'a vast, hostile, soulless, wicked all-devouring but also fatally attractive place that makes and breaks, that tempts, inflames, satisfies, yet corrupts and ultimately kills'.
A ban on keeping a brothel was passed into law as early as 1751, but prostitution was not made an imprisoning offence until the 1820s. (Not that the new law stopped the trade, of course, but it did largely drive it off the streets, at least in the more genteel parts of town.) 
With no regulation, there are no reliable statistics. Estimates made at the time defined unmarried women living with their partners as prostitutes, so 50,000 is probably well over the top. But we have guides to the whores and brothels of London, newssheet accounts and cartoons of the fashionable courtesans at the peak of the trade, their own narratives, and other contemporary records to assure us that the sex trade continued to be a thriving part of the economy in the first decades of the 19th century.
Sex workers—defined as those who made some or part of their living by selling sex—ranged from those offering a quick bang up against a wall in a slum alley to those  accepting gifts from hopeful admirers while mixing on the fringes of Society. And everything in between. 
Most prostitutes seem to have been working class girls who, having surrendered their virtue to a man of their own class, sought some profit from their lapse. One woman said:
‘she had got tired of service, wanted to see life and be independent; & so she had become a prostitute…She…enjoyed it very much, thought it might raise her & perhaps be profitable’
Which it was, giving her enough savings to purchase a coffee house and set up in business. For others, prostitution was seasonal, or a temporary reaction to a financial crisis. Many worked for a year or two, then took their savings home, and married or set up in business. Prostitution might also be a way to supplement income from another job; seamstresses and milliners, in particular, were so poorly paid that many of them sold their bodies as well. 

Those who worked in wealthier areas, such as the West End, were more likely to find wealthy clients, and those with bit parts in the theatre, who then—as now—might be turned off in a moment if the performance did not please the audience, were well positioned to find a wealthy admirer to keep them in the style to which they would like to become accustomed.
A clever, pretty, talented girl could hope to attract a generous protector, perhaps even an admirer so besotted he would marry her. It happened, though rarely. More commonly, a man would set his mistress up in a house or apartment, and visit her when he was at leisure until he tired of her or she of him. 
Many sex workers, if not most, were in less fortunate circumstances. Those running the brothels constantly sought fresh girls to please the appetites of their customers. A girl who accepted a job, or even a bed for the night, might find herself put to work whether she wished or not, her virginity auctioned to the highest bidder, and her share of the income withheld to pay for her food, board, clothing, and whatever else the brothel-keeper could imagine.
(I say ‘her’, but of course the same applies to male sex workers, though—homosexuality being illegal—we have little information about their lives, and that little from court records.)

The risks were great. Contraception was very hit and miss, if used at all. Pregnancy must have been a constant worry. ‘Pulling out’ was the most common method for avoiding unwanted children, and was as effective then as it is now (which is to say, not very). Protective ‘Machines’—condoms made from oiled cloth or the intestines of various animals—were available, though men were more likely to use them to avoid disease than to prevent pregnancy. And they were probably better at the second, since water could go right through them and they tended to tear.
Various methods were used to abort unwanted pregnancies, many of them just as likely to kill the mother. A baby could be born alive but then killed, or put out to a baby farmer so that the mother could return to work. A mistress of a single protector might be in a slightly stronger position if the child’s father was willing to keep the mother on. Some men—and not just royal princes—had quite large families by their mistresses. 
Disease was the other big fear, for both the sex workers and their clients. Gonorrhea and syphilis were treated with ointments containing mercury, the toxic effects of which could be as dangerous as the diseases. Side effects included kidney failure, severe mouth ulcers, nerve damage, and loss of teeth. On the other hand, untreated syphilis ends in abcesses, ulcers, severe debility, and madness or death. And gonorrhea can spread to the blood and eventually kill. So not good choices.

And if a sex worker survived these scourges, age was just around the corner. Cosmetics could be used to keep the appearance of beauty, but they had their own dangers. The white pigment used to colour face foundation was very toxic, being lead-based. Rouge might be made of tin. But slow poisoning being better than fast starvation, women painted anyway.
Even those with wildly successful careers seldom came to good ends. Many—probably most—died young. Some married. Some set up in business for themselves and retired rich. And some, like Harriet Wilson, became penniless as their appeal faded. Harriet famously responded by publishing her memoirs, having first warned all her former lovers, and taken out those who paid for her silence. 
Sadly, the fortune she earned was squandered by the scoundrel she subsequently married, and she died in poverty in France.
  1. Daniel Cruikshank London’s Sinful Secret: The Bawdy History and Very Public Passions of London,+soulless,+wicked+all-devouring&source=bl&ots=Pf9dLo548f&sig=vUbqcGRotcTRv3c4Q4nv0Q07pgg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CBwQ6AEwAGoVChMIn73U7pi8xwIVSKeUCh0sBwV-#v=onepage&q=hostile%2C%20soulless%2C%20wicked%20all-devouring&f=false
  2. Judith Flanders
  3. Vic
  4. Heather Carroll
  5. John Frith
A Baron for Becky
Becky is the envy of the courtesans of the demi-monde - the indulged mistress of the wealthy and charismatic Marquis of Aldridge. But she dreams of a normal life; one in which her daughter can have a future that does not depend on beauty, sex, and the whims of a man.
Finding herself with child, she hesitates to tell Aldridge. Will he cast her off, send her away, or keep her and condemn another child to this uncertain shadow world?
The devil-may-care face Hugh shows to the world hides a desperate sorrow; a sorrow he tries to drown with drink and riotous living. His years at war haunt him, but even more, he doesn't want to think about the illness that robbed him of the ability to father a son. When he dies, his barony will die with him. His title will fall into abeyance, and his estate will be scooped up by the Crown.
When Aldridge surprises them both with a daring proposition, they do not expect love to be part of the bargain.

About the Author
Jude Knight writes strong determined heroines, heroes who can appreciate a clever capable woman, villains you’ll love to loathe, and all with a leavening of humour. 
Jude Knight is the pen name of Judy Knighton. After a career in commercial writing, editing, and publishing, Jude is returning to her first love, fiction. Her novella, Candle’s Christmas Chair, was released in December 2014, and is in the top ten on several Amazon bestseller lists in the US and UK. Her first novel Farewell to Kindness, was released on 1 April, and is first in a series: The Golden Redepennings. 
Buy links
Amazon UK 
Amazon Aus 
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Jude’s social media
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Jude’s Other Books (on Amazon)
Candle’s Christmas Chair (free novella)
Farewell to Kindness (Book One, the Golden Redepennings)

Aldridge never did find out how he came to be naked, alone, and sleeping in the small summerhouse in the garden of a country cottage. His last memory of the night before, had him twenty miles away, and—although not dressed—in a comfortable bed, and in company.
The first time he woke, he had no idea how far he’d come, but the moonlight was bright enough to show him half-trellised window openings, and an archway leading down a short flight of steps into a garden. A house loomed a few hundred feet distant, a dark shape against the star-bright sky. But getting up was too much trouble, particularly with a headache that hung inches above him, threatening to split his head if he moved. The cushioned bench on which he lay invited him to shut his eyes and go back to sleep. Time enough to find out where he was in the morning.
When he woke again, he was facing away from the archway entrance, and there was someone behind him. Silence now, but in his memory, the sound of light footsteps shifting the stones on the path outside, followed by twin intakes of breath as the walkers saw him.
One of them spoke; a woman’s voice, but low—almost husky. “Sarah, go back to the first rosebush and watch the house.”
“Yes, Mama.” A child’s voice. 
Aldridge waited until he heard the child dance lightly down the steps and away along the path, then shifted his weight slightly letting his body roll over till he was lying on his back.
He waited for the exclamation of shock, but none came. Carefully—he wanted to observe her before he let her know he was awake, and anyway, any sudden movement might start up the hammers above his eye sockets—he cracked open his lids, masking his eyes with his lashes.
He could see more than he expected. The woman was using a shuttered lantern to examine him, starting at his feet. She paused for a long time when she reached his morning salute and it grew even prouder. Then she swept her light up his torso so quickly, he barely had time to slam his lids shut before the light reached and lingered over his face.
She was just a vague shadow behind the light. He held himself still while she completed her examination, which she did with a snort of disgust. Not the reaction to which he was accustomed.
This post copyright © Jude Knight, 2015.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Lead Mining Corruption, Bribery, and Murder

Today I am pleased to welcome Ayr Bray, for an eye-opening tale of lead mining corruption, bribery, and murder.


In the 1700’s Britain was Europe’s largest lead producer with Derbyshire dominating the landscape. Lead was the second most important export, after wool. The great thing about lead was that it had an international market and an international price tag.
By the 1780’s England reached its watershed and foreign competition was growing rapidly. At the time parliament entertained discussion surrounding ‘Trade Liberalization’. By definition, Trade Liberalization is the removal or reduction of restrictions or barriers on the free exchange of goods between nations. This includes the removal or reduction of both tariff (duties and surcharges) and non-tariff obstacles (like licensing rules, quotas and other requirements). The easing or eradication of these restrictions is often referred to as promoting "free trade."
The problem in the early nineteenth century was that there are those who were against trade liberalization. Those against it claim that it can cost jobs and even lives, as cheaper goods flood the market (which at times may not undergo the same quality and safety checks required domestically). Proponents, however, say that trade liberalization ultimately lower consumer costs, increases efficiency and fosters economic growth.
The reduction of the Lead Mining Tariffs in the nineteenth century is the basis for the first book of the Pemberley collection; Cowardly Witness. When the lead mining tariff reduction was first presented to parliament, there were those who vehemently opposed it. With its proposition corruption, bribery, and even murder began to occur in England’s innermost elite society. There were many who were bent on stifling open trade with other countries, primarily Spain and Germany. The tariff reduction eventually passed.
The most hilarious aspect is that now, two hundred years later; the Lead Mining Tariff of Britain has been labeled as a selfish act since it forced France, Germany, and Italy into lowering tariffs directly through bilateral agreements.
I wonder though, was it an entirely selfish act or did it have an element of the provision for public good?
The following image is a lead mine in Brassington, Derbyshire, England.
Brassington Lead Mine

Interesting fact: The Village of Brassington plays a large part in Blinded Recluse; Book 3 of the Pemberley collection releasing soon.
About the Author
"From an early age I have always been fascinated by the written word and the mood and atmosphere it creates for a reader; especially those books that affect me and transport me to some far-off place. These are the elements I strive to create in my books. My books in many ways record what most affects me: my feelings and experiences with family, friends, and those I have run into on my life's journey. My hope is that in my books you will find something that touches you, something which will resonate in your soul and remind you that you are strong and can overcome anything, especially if you have the support of loving friends and family." - Ayr Bray

Ayr Bray is from the Pacific Northwest, but travels as much as possible so she doesn't have to deal with the cold.

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Excerpt from Chapter 2 of Cowardly Witness, Pemberley Book #1 by Ayr Bray

Darcy took his leave of his wife and went to his study with long, purposeful strides. Upon entering, he found Mr. Hammond and another man. The second man was a little dirty and unkempt and had an arm cradled in a sling tied around his neck. His gaze remained on the floor; he never looked up even to acknowledge Darcy’s entrance.
“Mr. Hammond, it is good to see you, sir. To what do I owe the honour of this visit?” Darcy shook Mr. Hammond’s hand and then took a seat in the high-backed leather chair behind his partners desk.
“Thank you for seeing me with no notice, Mr. Darcy. I apologise for the hour, but it could not be avoided. I need your help.”
“You need only ask. The entirety of my support and Pemberley’s resources are at your disposal.”
“I hoped you would say as much.” Pointing to the other man, he continued, “This is Mr. Matthew Poe.”
Mr. Poe kept his gaze trained at the ground, but he gave a small bob of his head in acknowledgement.
“Mr. Poe is the primary witness in our case against the Derby Mill Lead Mine masters. I need your help to keep him safe. An attempt was made on Mr. Poe’s life. He was set upon a few nights ago by an unknown number of men who chased him through Masson Wood and fired upon him. As you can see, they came close to succeeding.”
“And you have not caught those responsible?” Darcy asked solemnly.
“Not as such, no. Do you know Lord Sharpson?”
Darcy blinked. “Yes, Sharpson Manor is but twenty miles from here. You don’t mean—”
“I do. He may not have fired the gun himself, but he certainly ordered it done.”
“Why?” Darcy asked.
“Lord Sharpson owns Derby Mill. He holds the largest share in the mine.”
“I know,” Darcy said, “though I do not know the particulars of the case against him and the other masters.”
“Parliament has been discussing the reduction of tariffs on foreign lead. If the tariff decreases, imports will increase and the local lead mining industry could suffer. I cannot divulge all of the particulars, though I can tell you all six masters are accused of threatening, bribing, even murdering men who support the reduction of the tariff. Among their victims are Lord Henry Grange and his steward, Mr. Ball. Lord Grange, you see, enjoyed an influential position in Parliament and supported reduced tariffs. He refused to accept their bribes or be cowed by their threats, and Mr. Ball had the great misfortune to be standing too near his lordship when the assassins struck.”
“What does this have to do with Mr. Poe?” Darcy questioned.
“Mr. Poe has worked at Derby Mill for a number of years. He is in a minor clerical position, easily overlooked yet ideally placed for information gathering. He has agreed to testify against Lord Sharpson and the other five masters. His testimony and the evidence he has will ensure a guilty verdict. Without him we have nothing but hearsay.”
“Who else knows he is here?”
“No one. We used his being shot to stage his death and to hold a mock funeral which took place yesterday. Not even his wife knows he yet lives. So long as he stays out of sight, there should be no risk to yourself or your people.”
“Risk or not, we will do our duty to the law and our country. Pemberley has plenty of room for Mr. Poe and I will see he is well cared for until you return for him. You have my word.”
“Thank you, Mr. Darcy. I knew I could count on you.”
Mr. Poe spoke in a timid voice as Mr. Hammond turned to go. “Mr. Hammond, sir, with all due respect, I must write to my wife.”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Poe, but I cannot allow it. It is far too dangerous.”
“Sir, I cannot have her thinking I am dead and all is lost. It is too cruel. My Martha did nothing wrong and does not deserve to suffer. You said she couldn’t know before the funeral and I agreed to that, but it cannot matter now.”
“All right, I will allow you to write her a short letter, but you must let me read it before it is sent. If she is being watched, she must still appear to grieve you, and you mustn’t tell her where to find you. I will not have you jeopardising the Darcys. Mr. Darcy, may we beg the use of your writing desk?”
“That is Mrs. Darcy’s writing desk, though I am certain she would not object,” Darcy said. He pointed to the small writing desk in the corner near the window, placed there under Elizabeth’s direction so she might be near her husband when she wrote her letters.
It did not take long for Mr. Poe to complete his letter. He handed it to Mr. Hammond to read. The inquisitor declared the letter acceptable, sealed it, addressed it, and then handed it to Darcy, who rang the bell for Mr. Reynolds.

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This post copyright © Ayr Bray, 2015.