Wednesday, 11 October 2017

An Evening with Jane Austen at Godmersham

Our Autumn mini-tour of An Evening with Jane Austen is drawing to a close and we have had an absolutely marvellous time. Just one date remains and tickets are selling fast, so be sure not to miss out!

With a cast headed by Adrian Lukis, better known to some as the roguish Mr Wickham, An Evening with Jane Austen cannot wait to call at stunning Godmersham Park. Godmersham was once the home of Jane Austen’s brother, Edward Knight, and is closed to the public, so this event is a unique opportunity to see inside the house.
Our show at Godmersham will mark the launch of the new £10 note featuring Miss Austen, and we are thrilled to return to Godmersham with a brand new production for 2017!
An Evening with Jane Austen, Godmersham Park, 29th October 2017
Historian and author, Catherine Curzon, introduces a magical evening with Austen’s most memorable characters in the evocative surroundings of Godmersham Park. With Caroline Langrishe and Adrian Lukis, alongside period musical entertainment from Rosie Lomas and Camilla Pay. 




Monday, 2 October 2017

Lady Manners and Mr Lawrence

It's a pleasure to welcome LL Diamond, author of Particular Intentions, for a glimpse into the world of Sir Thomas Lawrence, one of my absolute favourites!


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Since publishing Particular Attachments, I’ve received a lot of compliments on the cover, so I thought it would be fun to “expose” my cover so to speak. I only use a part of the painting by Sir Thomas Lawrence, but my Georgiana Darcy in the story has dark brown hair and blue eyes—vastly different than the subject’s. . . well, grey hair. I love the filmy detailing on her white gown and contrasting blue waist, grey gloves, and pink rose. The detailed fleshiness of her hand that is holding the rose is what initially caught my eye in this lovely portrait. If I am careful and very methodical I can draw hands (when I have time to practice), but they are very difficult. You never think of hands as tricking the eye, but the eye doesn’t always interpret the angles correctly when an artist tries to draw them. Checking each and every angle is a necessity if I want it to look as it should, so I find a well-drawn or well-painted hand will draw my attention, as it did on the cover for The Earl’s Conquest as well. I did hope to use more of the background of the painting, but it didn’t look quite right when cropped—particularly with the unusual colouring of the peacock’s tail.

Now that the entire painting is exposed. Who painted it? And who is the lady depicted? Let’s start with the artist.

Sir Thomas Lawrence
(13 April 1769 – 7 January 1830)

Born in Bristol, Thomas Lawrence showed his talent at an early age, drawing pastel likenesses for fashionable people in his father’s tavern for a guinea or a guinea and a half a piece and eventually, supporting his family with his earnings by the age of ten.

At the age of 18, Lawrence travelled to London and became a student of the Royal Academy. He began to exhibit his work soon after and word of his talent spread so rapidly that he was made an associate of the Royal Academy in 1791. Upon the death of Sir Joshua Reynolds, Lawrence became the Painter-in-Ordinary to George III. While the previous generation was more restrained and smooth, Lawrence used thickly applied paint on clothing, boldly contrasted colours, and highlights that almost shimmer from the canvas. These qualities marvelled the fashionable set and earned him the commissions of many of society. He was knighted in 1815 and became president of the Royal Academy in 1820, holding that office until his death in 1830.

Lawrence was never married, though he was linked romantically with the Duchess of Devonshire, Sarah Siddons and both of her daughters, Caroline of Brunswick, and may have kept Isabella Wolff as his mistress.

As an artist, Lawrence was highly successful, however, his spending habits kept him in debt, though no one particularly knew what he spent his money on since it was said he didn’t bet on cards or horses, and never became intoxicated with his friends. He claimed to enjoy reading Jane Austen (I like him all the more for it!). Despite his lack of vices, it was estimated by his bankers that he owed twenty thousand pounds in 1807. He did have an impressive collection of artwork that was sold upon his death.


Now, who is the lady in the painting? Her name is Catharine Grey.

Catharine Grey, Lady Manners
(1766? – 1852) 

Catharine Rebecca Grey was born and raised in Ireland and later became the wife of Tory politician William Manners, who became a Baronet and later Lord Huntingtower. She wrote and published two books of poetry: Poems by Lady Manners (1793) and Review of Poetry: Ancient and Modern, A Poem by Lady M**** (1799).

In the painting, Lady Manners is depicted as the goddess Juno, which is symbolised by the peacock behind her; however, Lady Manners didn’t actually like the painting at all and it is claimed she “rejected” the work. Lawrence hoped to sell the portrait in 1794 at the Royal Academy, but no one purchased it and it remained in his possession until after his death.


Sources:

Paula R. Backscheider. Eighteenth-Century Women Poets and Their Poetry: Inventing Agency, Inventing Genre. 28 Nov 2005. JHU Press. Pg. 407.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catherine_Grey,_Lady_Manners
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Portrait_of_Catherine_Gray,_Lady_Manners,_by_Thomas_Lawrence.jpg

About the Book
She swore would never marry!

Georgiana Darcy is a lady with a secret! The last thing she wants is to return to London, but what else can she do when her brother and his wife make plans to spend the Christmas season in town. When Lizzy’s youngest sister, Lydia, joins them, Georgiana gains a confidante, but will Lydia’s outgoing nature cause problems when Lord Sele, son of a family friend reappears in Georgiana’s life?

As an insufferable boy, Lord Sele vowed he would marry Georgiana, but was his return from Ireland a coincidence or was his sole purpose to pursue her? He admits to desiring friendship, but Lydia is determined his desire is Georgiana and she will stop at nothing to see her best friend happily settled.


What is Georgiana to do when faced with the society she has managed to avoid for her entire adult life as well as the one man determined to change her mind about marriage? Will she be able to overcome her fears despite the spectre from the past that seems to be haunting her? Will she be forced to tell her secret and choose happiness or will someone from her past ruin everything?

About the Author
L.L. Diamond is more commonly known as Leslie to her friends and Mom to her three kids. A native of Louisiana, she has spent the majority of her life living within an hour of New Orleans until she vowed to follow her husband to the ends of the earth as a military wife. Louisiana, Mississippi, California, Texas, New Mexico, Nebraska, and now England have all been called home along the way. 

After watching Sense and Sensibility with her mother, Leslie became a fan of Jane Austen, reading her collected works over the next few years. Pride and Prejudice stood out as a favorite and has dominated her writing since finding Jane Austen Fan Fiction. 

Aside from mother and writer, Leslie considers herself a perpetual student. She has degrees in biology and studio art, but will devour any subject of interest simply for the knowledge. As an artist, her concentration is in graphic design, but watercolor is her medium of choice with one of her watercolors featured on the cover of her second book, A Matter of Chance. She is a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America. Leslie also plays flute and piano, but much like Elizabeth Bennet, she is always in need of practice! 

Leslie’s books include Rain and Retribution, A Matter of Chance, An Unwavering Trust, The Earl’s ConquestParticular Intentions and Particular Attachments.
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Friday, 29 September 2017

Remembering Benjamin Whitrow


It was with a huge amount of sadness that I learned of the passing of Benjamin Whitrow. I was fortunate enough to work with Ben on An Evening with Jane Austen and to spend time with him away from the stage and dressing room, enjoying the company of a gent who, though growing frail as the years passed, was no less filled with mischief for it.

In many ways Ben reminded me of my grandfather, an irresistible combination of intelligence, wit and sparky silliness. He was passionate about acting and theatre and was filled with stories not only of his own career but his encounters with some very well known names indeed. Not all of those stories are repeatable, but each was golden.

My last memory of Ben comes just a couple of weeks ago when we all went for a celebratory drink after a performance of An Evening with Jane Austen at the Jane Austen Festival in Bath. Ben was on top form, holding court amongst our party with a very generous glass of brandy to chase away the autumn chill. He was, as ever, the life of the gathering. 

He was a force of mischievous nature and we will all miss him dreadfully.



Monday, 25 September 2017

An October Evening with Jane Austen

Our Autumn mini-tour of An Evening with Jane Austen has just two dates remaining. Tickets are selling fast, so be sure not to miss out!

An Evening with Jane Austen, Kenwood House, 1st October 2017 
Historian and author, Catherine Curzon, introduces a magical evening with Austen’s most memorable characters in beautiful Kenwood House. With Caroline Langrishe and Adrian Lukis, alongside period musical entertainment from Rosie Lomas and Camilla Pay.
BOOK TICKETS HERE


An Evening with Jane Austen, Godmersham Park, 29th October 2017
Historian and author, Catherine Curzon, introduces a magical evening with Austen’s most memorable characters in the evocative surroundings of Godmersham Park. With Caroline Langrishe and Adrian Lukis, alongside period musical entertainment from Rosie Lomas and Camilla Pay. 









Sunday, 13 August 2017

The Salon's Summer Break

As is tradition here on Gin Lane, the salon is closing its doors for my summer gadding; I shall return in September, never fear!

I shall be attending a whole host of events during September and October, with tales of kings, wild boys and Miss Jane Austen. Do pop along and say hello if you can - it'd be marvellous to meet you!

The Mad King and the Coronation ChairStamford Georgian Festival, 23rd September 2017 
The madness of George III is legendary. Restrained, gagged, blistered and plied with leeches, the king suffered humiliating and brutal treatment at the hands of those who were charged with his care. In a country wracked by upheaval both at home and abroad, the monarch’s madness left Britain in turmoil whilst, imprisoned at Kew, he ranted and foamed at the mouth. Join Catherine Curzon for the story of a very human sovereign.

The Curious Story of Peter the Wild Boy, Stamford Georgian Festival, 24th September 2017
In 1725, hunters led by King George I captured a feral child in the forests of Germany and took him home as a pet. Catherine Curzon untangles the history of ‘Peter the Wild Boy’, who was brought to England to entertain and amuse the court. Living in palaces, adored by princesses and heralded as a celebrity, Peter was a curiosity to thrill seekers and scholars alike. Yet when the glamour faded, what became of Peter the wild boy?

An Evening with Jane AustenStamford Georgian Festival, 24th September 2017 
Historian and author, Catherine Curzon, introduces a magical evening with Austen’s most memorable characters! With Caroline Langrishe and Adrian Lukis, alongside period musical entertainment from Rosie Lomas and Camilla Pay. 
An Evening with Jane Austen, Kenwood House, 1st October 2017 
BOOK TICKETS HERE

An Evening with Jane Austen, Godmersham Park, 29th October 2017 









Friday, 4 August 2017

Playing Cards with Jane Austen

It's my pleasure to let you know of a new Kickstarter project, celebrating Jane Austen!

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Jane Austen Playing Cards
Eric Ligon is a graphic designer/typographer and Associate Dean at the University of North Texas in the College of Visual Arts and Design. By night, he is a lover of classic novels, and novel playing cards.

Eric is behind a Kickstarter campaign that celebrates Jane Austen with a custom designed pack of playing cards. 

Jane Austen Playing CardsThese cards are rich in authentic period detail, designed using fashion images and needlework patterns from the early 1800s Ackermann's Repository of the Arts. 

Jane Austen Playing CardsEach suit represents a different book: Spades–Pride and Prejudice; Hearts–Emma; Clubs–Persuasion; and Diamonds–Sense and Sensibility. The royalty in each suit is represented by that novel's main characters. The images for all of the female characters come directly from Ackermann’s whilst each ace bears its book’s title and first edition typography. The needlework patterns became the basis for the line art on the back of the cards and on the tuck case. 

If you’d like to find out more about the extensive rewards on off for supporters of this Kickstarter campaign, as well as more about the project, please visit http://tinyurl.com/yasbfmtc.




Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Jane Austen and Seduction

It's a pleasure to welcome Meg Kerr for a look at seduction in the works of Jane Austen, and a cheeky quiz all about Austen's seductive scenes!


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Devotion, explores the theme of seduction by picking up on the threads left by Pride and Prejudice Hello readers of Madame Gilflurt! My name is Meg Kerr, and I’m thrilled to be here with you. I’d like to thank Catherine for allowing me to contribute this guest post on seduction in Jane Austen’s writings. My new book, Devotion, explores the theme of seduction by picking up on the threads left by Pride and Prejudice through fan-favourite characters including Georgiana Darcy, Elizabeth Bennet, and others.


How does seduction feature, thematically, in Pride and Prejudice?
When as a reader you’re caught up in the chaste romance between Darcy and Elizabeth, you sometimes lose sight of the fact that two seductions are pivotal in the plot of Pride and Prejudice. 

We know quite a bit about George Wickham’s seduction of Lydia Bennet—or at least all the news that’s fit to print in a Jane Austen novel: she becomes his mistress until the pair are apprehended and forced to marry. 

We only hear about Georgiana Darcy’s brush with Wickham through Darcy’s letter to Elizabeth, so the details are hidden from us. Was more than hand holding involved? We have no reason to think well of Wickham; his relationship with Lydia was certainly a sexual one; and then after news of his flight to London with Lydia becomes public in Meryton, we hear that his “intrigues, all honoured with the title of seduction, had been extended into every tradesman's family.” Wickham is a man on permanent booty call, and Georgiana is a lovely, ingenuous and rich young girl….

What about in Jane Austen’s other novels?
George Wickham is not alone. Jane Austen’s novels are full of charming seducers. Austen’s bad boys—and bad girls! Besides Wickham going after everything that moves in Pride and Prejudice, there’s 
  • John Willoughby in Sense and Sensibility, who ruined Colonel Brandon’s teenaged ward, and who may have had illicit intentions towards Marianne Dashwood—even love-drugged Marianne is not certain of his innocence in that regard
  • Henry Crawford in Mansfield Park, who out of “cold blooded vanity” plans to capture the hearts of the three young ladies at Mansfield, Maria and Julia Bertram and Fanny Price, and is two-thirds successful; and then runs off with Mrs. Rushworth, née Maria Bertram, destroying her life (not his own of course)
  • Lady Susan in Lady Susan (something went on with Mainwaring and we somehow don’t feel positive that Sir James Martin remained untouched before his wedding night)
  • Mrs. Clay/William Elliot in Persuasion (it’s hard to tell who’s taking the lead there!). 

There’s even a parody seducer in Northanger Abbey, John Thorpe, who doesn’t exactly force Catherine Morland into a traveling-chaise and four and drive off with incredible speed, but pretty close. 

Seduction image

How does Devotion explore the theme of seduction?
The charming bad boys and bad girls do their actual seducing off the pages of the novels. I wanted to see what it would be like to catch a bad boy in the act! But not only that—more importantly to me—I wanted to see whether it was possible to redeem a bad boy. Austen tried. 

John Willoughby came close. “That his repentance of misconduct … was sincere, need not be doubted.” And as Austen says that rich old Mrs. Smith would almost certainly have forgiven him for marrying more or less any woman of character, “had he behaved with honour towards Marianne, he might at once have been happy and rich.”  

Henry Crawford came even closer. “Could he have been satisfied with the conquest of one amiable woman's affections, could he have found sufficient exultation in overcoming the reluctance, in working himself into the esteem and tenderness of Fanny Price, there would have been every probability of success and felicity for him.”

But neither reached the goal. Maybe it just is not possible for a bad boy to change?

Devotion is a tale of two seductions—one featuring Georgiana Darcy once more!, and of a charming bad boy, John Amaury, who might be able to change….

Devotion is a tale of two seductions. Who would like to seduce whom in Pride and Prejudice? Test your knowledge with this fun matching quiz and match the “he” to the correct “she”!

Quiz #1 Who does he want to seduce?
Who wants to seduce whom in Pride and Prejudice? Match the eager “He” to “Her”



About Devotion:
In this sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Georgiana Darcy, now twenty years old and completely lovely, is ripe for marriage. Her brother has carefully selected her future husband, but the arrival of a long-delayed letter, and a secret journey, bring Georgiana into the arms of an utterly wicked and charming young man whose attentions promise her ruin. At the same time, events in Meryton are creating much-needed occupation for Mrs. Bennet and a quandary for Lydia Bennet’s girlhood companion Pen Harrington; and the former Caroline Bingley is given — perhaps — an opportunity to re-make some of her disastrous choices. Meg Kerr, writing effortlessly and wittily in the style of Jane Austen, sweeps the reader back to the year 1816 for a reunion with many beloved characters from Pride and Prejudice and an introduction to some intriguing characters.

About Meg Kerr:


What do you do when you live in the twenty-first century but a piece of your heart lies in the nineteenth? If you are author Meg Kerr you let your head and hand follow your heart. With her love of country life—dogs and horses, long walks in the woods and fields, dining with family and neighbours and dancing with friends, reading and writing and the best conversation—and her familiarity with eighteenth and nineteenth century history and literature, Meg has a natural gift to inhabit, explore and reimagine the world that Jane Austen both dwelt in and created, and to draw readers there with her.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink

It's a pleasure to welcome Monica Hall, author of A Visitor's Guide to Georgian England, for a look into the murky matter of Georgian water...

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Water, water, everywhere
Nor any drop to drink
‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Well, hardly any drop fit to drink, at any rate.  The first half of the 18th C was unusually dry, as it happened though, which makes it all the more remarkable how many people managed to drown themselves.  (http://booty.org.uk/booty.weather/climate/1700_1749.htm)
 A Visitor's Guide to Georgian England,
Deep water in wells, ponds, rivers and mill-races was a particular hazard as very few people could swim.  Water was for work, not recreation, so the opportunities for learning to swim were rather limited.  People fell into their own wells, lost their footing when getting in and out of flimsy ferries, got swept away in tidal rivers, or trapped in quicksands and mud when trying to fish or empty eel traps, or simply trying to get clean.  Very often their clothing bogged them down.   Poor women often did the laundry in rivers and if they fell in, due to pregnancy or advancing age, their long and bulky cotton and woollen clothes absorbed huge amounts of water leaving them unable to climb muddy and slippery banks to save themselves.  You could drown in quite shallow waters.  Another hazard among the young particularly was skating on frozen ponds and falling through the ice.
Sailors and fishermen were notorious for being unable to save themselves by swimming to a shore which was sometimes close by.  When Captain Cook was murdered on Hawaiian beach, members of his crew were close by in an open boat, hoping to save him if he ran into the sea.  But he didn’t, because he could not swim, unlike the scantily-clad Hawaiians of course.  But learning to swim in the tropical waters off an island paradise is rather different to the chilly and murky waters of British rivers and seas. 
It is, of course, difficult to compare accidental death statistics from over 300 years ago to ours because of lifestyle changes.  Drowning does not figure so high up in ours partly because children are taught to swim, and partly because we have so many more ways in which to kill ourselves, such as high speed transport and electricity.  But humans can be remarkably stupid when it comes to assessing risk.  If you want to see exactly how stupid we are today, then check out the 2014 Darwin Awards (http://www.darwinawards.com/darwin/darwin2014.html) which are  –
“… named in honour of Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, (they) commemorate those who improve our gene pool by removing themselves from it.”
Nonetheless, some people in the 18thC eventually decided that something should be done, which may be an early example of Health & Safety, or it may have just been due to entrepreneurialism.  The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England (Strutt, 1801) confirms that, by the late 18thC, people were swimming more, and the first recorded swimming pool, open to the public (i.e. males) was the Peerless Pool in Baldwin Street, City Road, which opened in 1743 and was used for over a century.  The annual subscription rate was £1 10s, or 1s a visit.  There was a marble changing pavilion and marble steps down into the waters which ranged from 3 – 5 feet in depth with a gravelly bottom.  So not for the poor, then.  But then, accidental death by any means was expected among the poor, and nobody would want them sullying the Peerless Pool anyway.  It was closed in 1850 and built over, but its memory is preserved by Peerless Street and Bath Street.  But in the 19thC public schools were beginning to teach their pupils to swim for sporting and health reasons.  One can imagine that swimming races in icy waters were considered character-building for the scions of the rich who were being raised to run the Empire.  But at least the waters in India would have been warmer, even if patrolled by rather more dangerous wildlife, as the most that could menace a swimmer in British waters would have been an irate pike or an angry seal.  
Peerless Pool

But people didn’t just work around water, or drown in it, or gradually discover its value as a health and leisure facility.  They had to contend with the problems of drinking it and washing in it, which were very considerable.  The Georgians, of course, had little idea about water-borne diseases, and the proof of that had to wait until Dr. John Snow tracked the source of a cholera outbreak to one water pump in Soho in 1854.  Whilst all the while being obstructed by authorities and his colleagues, of course.  But they did have a vague idea that disease was communicated by odiferous air, or miasma, and in this they were on the right track, albeit for the wrong reasons.  Poor water hygiene certainly smells.  No efficient sewage disposal systems, no understanding of the water table, and a tendency to regard all rivers and streams as convenient conduits for waste disposal meant that water was not safe to drink.  So they drank alcohol.  I am always pleased to contemplate this when being urged by our Government not to exceed 14 units a week.   
In the early 18thC the Fleet River in London was still open, flowing from its sources in Hampstead to the Thames.  It was notorious for being an open sewer in which a tide of excrement, dead dogs and the waste from tanneries, and more besides, rolled down to the Thames in an overwhelming stench (miasma).  Oddly, they built rather attractive Venetian-style bridges over it.  
Thames

By 1737, however, they’d had enough and slowly began enclosing stretches of it.  It was finally fully enclosed into the Victorian sewage system, although you can still hear it running below a grating in Clerkenwell, and it disgorges into the Thames just below Blackfriars Bridge as a storm drain.  
One might think one would be safer with water in the countryside rather than the cities.  But probably only if you lived on a hill and drew your water from a well up high as livestock and industrial activity waste ran off fields and into rivers, thus polluting the waters downstream.   Water chlorination was not widely introduced into the UK until 1905, although sand filtering was known and spasmodically used in Georgian times.  In fact, the quest for clean water has continued since 2000 BCE, according to Sanskrit writings, so they certainly knew it was both essential and dangerous.
But today, the bottled water industry is worth billions, even though western countries have safe potable water from the tap.  One American has done his sums.
“That’s right – 4,787 bottled waters could be filled with tap water for $2.10! So every time you buy a bottle of water for $1, you are paying 2,279 times what you would if you filled that same bottle with tap water.”
Oh dear.

About the Author
Monica Hall has spent her working life in marketing and advertising, both in industry and academia. When not making ends meet and raising two sons, however, she has devoted years to delighting in the social history of her favourite era, the Georgians. She has written articles for several online historical resources, including the renowned Madame Gilflurt and Encyclopedia Titanica, as well as reviewing historical books and TV programmes. Monica lives in Hampshire with a cat who seems to have discovered the secret of eternal youth.





Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Detective Bent and the Murder of PC Cock

It's a pleasure to welcome Angela Buckley, author of Who Killed Constable Cock?, to delve into the world of Detective Bent and a mysterious crime.


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Who Killed Constable CockIn the early hours of 2 August 1876, 21-year-old PC Nicholas Cock was walking his beat in the quiet suburb of Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester. He stopped briefly at a junction for a chat with a passing law student and a colleague, after which all three men went their separate ways. A few minutes later, two shots rang out in the dark. PC Cock’s companions ran back to the junction to find the young police officer lying in a pool of blood. He had received a bullet to the chest and later died of his injuries. 


When the tragic news reached the police station, Superintendent Bent knew instantly who had killed his officer. Within half an hour of PC Cock’s death, he had arrested the three Habron brothers and charged them with murder. With his prime suspects firmly in his sights, and without considering any other leads, he set out to prove their guilt.

James Bent was born in Eccles, Salford in 1828. His father was a night watchman. At just seven years old, James began working in a silk mill, where he was constantly beaten by the supervisors. On 7 November 1848, Bent joined the Lancashire Constabulary. He was 5 feet 8 inches tall, with a fair complexion, grey eyes and sandy hair. A married man with four children, he was transferred several times and promoted through the ranks, reaching superintendent in 1868, by which time he was stationed at Old Trafford police station, from where he commanded the Manchester division. 

PC Cock
PC Nicholas Cock was tragically murdered in 1876.
Armed with his favourite adage, ‘Always believe everybody guilty until you prove them innocent’, Superintendent Bent investigated many different types of crime, including theft, burglary, illegal gaming and assault. He once tackled an intriguing case of attempted murder by a hawker of blacking who tried to poison his wife, an inmate of Prestwich Lunatic Asylum. During a visit, the itinerant salesman took her some Eccles cakes and, when she tried to eat them, she discovered that inside each cake was a dozen pins twisted into the shape of fish hooks. Superintendent Bent had the cakes analysed and found that they also contained antimony, a lead-based poison. He kept the pins as souvenirs, handing them out to crime enthusiasts. 

Shortly after, Superintendent Bent investigated another complex murder, for which he employed a very controversial method identify the killer. Nineteen-year old maid Sarah Roberts was murdered in her employer’s house by an unknown assailant. When the police failed to find the culprit, Superintendent Bent resorted to having the victim’s eyes photographed, to see if the attacker’s face was imprinted on them. The day before Sarah Jane’s funeral the police lifted the coffin lid and took images of the corpse, in the hope that the figure of the murderer would appear under the examination of a powerful microscope. Despite the image being magnified to the size of half a sheet of ordinary notepaper: ‘there was nothing visible which would furnish the slightest evidence as to the features of the murderer’ (Manchester Courier, 16 January 1880). Sarah Jane’s killer was never caught.
Superintendent James Bent
Superintendent James Bent set out to find PC Cock’s killer.
In 1891, Superintendent Bent published his memoirs, in which he described the murder of PC Cock, and the investigation he had led to catch the perpetrator. The wily detective built his case against the Habron brothers mainly on the discovery of footprints at the crime scene, which matched the suspects’ boots. He also found percussion caps in the youngest brother William’s waistcoat, although the murder weapon was never recovered. In November 1876, William Habron, aged 18, was convicted of Nicholas Cock’s murder. Once again Superintendent Bent had caught his man. Or so he thought. As young William languished behind bars, three years later an astonishing confession by a notorious Victorian cat burglar completely overturned the case and Constable Cock’s real killer was finally revealed.


Who Killed Constable Cock? by Angela Buckley is out now in ebook and paperback. You can find out more about Angela’s work on her website, www.angelabuckleywriter.com and on her Facebook page Victorian Supersleuth.


Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Ludwigslust Palace – Mecklenburg-Vorpommern’s very own Versailles

I'm delighted to welcome Julia Meister, who is your guide to Ludwigslust Palace – Mecklenburg-Vorpommern’s very own Versailles


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Ludwigslust Palace – Mecklenburg-Vorpommern’s very own Versailles
Ludwigslust Palace
Entering the gardens of Ludwigslust Palace is quite a magical experience: Lush green trees everywhere you look (if you are lucky enough to visit the palace in the spring or summer!), with a vast alley leading the way to one of the most beautiful palaces of North Germany. Add to that the clear air and the feeling of being quite alone in this lush landscape – Ludwigslust Palace is hardly ever overrun by tourists, and all the more worth visiting because of that! - , and you have more than enough reasons to visit this joyous (The –lust in Ludwigslust meaning as much as ‘joy’) place. Built originally as a hunting lodge for Prince Christian Ludwig of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, who was to become duke in 1747, it was eventually turned into a proper palace in the 1770s, once Ludwingslust had been named the capital of the German duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. The palace features Baroque as well as Neoclassicist elements, and is unique due to the fact that it’s the only ensemble of a Baroque garden and palace in the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern area: Hence it being referred to as its very own Versailles!
Ludwigslust Palace

Ludwigslust Palace
We may thank Christian Ludwig II, Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, for being able to enjoy the grandeur of this ensemble today, since he was the one who had seen Versailles with his own eyes during his Grand Tour of Europe, and desired nothing more than having his own version of Louis XIV’s lavish palace in Ludwigslust. Jean Laurent Legeay, architect to the Imperial Court, who drafted the architectural plans for the project. With the help of Johann Joachim Busch, they began to build an entire Baroque city to surround the castle, as well as a glorious chapel royal. Of course, this was no cheap endeavour, which is where the use of  papier-mâché comes into play: The so-called called Ludwigsluster Carton was used in various parts of the castle instead of expensive materials.  It seems to have worked for Ludwigslust Palace – just goes to show how easily people can be fooled and that clever businessmen existed back in the 18th Century as well! In the 19th Century, the park was remodeled by the famous Prussian gardener and landscape architect Peter Joseph Lenné.
Ludwigslust Palace

Ludwigslust PalaceThe palace is further embellished by the very romantic palace pond and various other artificial ponds, as well as a gorgeous water cascade that also provides the visitor with great photo opportunities and angles!  If one visits Ludwigslust, one really needs to schedule in a few hours dedicated to just exploring the park - there’s just so much to see! A Swiss cottage, two mausoleums (one was built for  Princess Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, the other for Grand Duchess Elena of Russia, Hereditary Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg), an artificial ruin, and even a Gothic chapel! 
Ludwigslust Palace

Ludwigslust Palace
The inside of the palace is no less visually stunning: With the Eastern wing having recently been restored to its former glory, the Golden Hall, now and then used for classical concerts, can now finally be visited again (it is quite a sight, with its big chandeliers, the entire room being all golden and sparkly!). Obviously, the many portraits of Baroque ladies and gentlemen displayed throughout the castle are a feast for the eyes, too! The palace also contains a vast royal collection of clocks, as well as musical instruments, Baroque pieces of furniture and various busts of the royals that used to live here (and of their relatives, too!). An interesting figure to watch out for is Frederick Francis I, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, who inhabited Ludwigslust Palace with his family from 1785 until his death in 1837. His statue looms large in front of the palace. Two of his children converted to the Catholic faith (how scandalous!), and Frederick Francis himself founded the first German coastal resort in Heiligendamm (a place located at the coast of the Baltic Sea) in 1793. It was modeled on the then already very famous seaside resorts in the South of England.
Ludwigslust Palace


If you enjoyed this blog post, you might also be interested in my musings about Mirow Castle. If you ever take a trip to Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, I’d strongly suggest not to miss either Mirow Castle or Ludwigslust Palace – the pleasure will be all yours (see what I did there?)!


About the Author

Julia Meister is an 18th/19th Century enthusiast, and is especially interested in the social history of women. She has a vast knowledge of royal mistresses and is fascinated by their political power. Whilst she loves British and French history, her main passion is the Habsburg Empire: When on holiday, she can most likely be found visiting a castle in within the former Austro-Hungarian region that has once been inhabited by Empress Elisabeth of Austria (Buda Castle, Gödöllő Palace and Vienna’s Hofburg are among her favourites). In 2016, Julia wrote and recorded the texts for Marienfließ Convent’s audioguide – the first female Cistercian convent in the Brandenburg area of Germany, founded in 1231. She is currently seeking new ways of indulging her passion for history and writing.


All content of this post copyright © Julia Meister, 2017.