Archive for June, 2007

As promised …

Colin Firth, the winner of the Mr. Darcy battle will have his photo placed on my sidebar. Now here is a question of a different sort. Which photo of Colin as Mr. Darcy you would like me to place there? Please leave a comment of which you prefer. A, B, C, or D. I will make up my mind in a month using your suggestions. Thank you!

Choice D

As for Matthew MacFadyen fans, fear not. As you go through my blog, you will see plenty of photos of Mr. MacFadyen. I would like to showcase Lady Jane’s favorite photo of Matthew and Keira Knightley. It is stunning.

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The Janeites on the James meet every other month or so. This past time I brought my new stash of four Jane Austen resource books and showed them around. One elicited a laugh the moment the Janeites saw it: Jane Austen for Dummies.

“Let them laugh,” I thought, handing it around and keeping quiet. Sure enough, the first Janeite, the youngest among us, opened the book playfully. As she leafed through the pages, she became thoughtful. “This is good,” she declared, keeping the book a long time.

“Hah,” I thought. “That shows ’em.” At the end of the evening one of the Janeites borrowed the book, and all declared they were going to order it as soon as possible. The majority of us have graduate degrees, and all of us can only be described as discerning females, so this was no mean feat.

The contents in this book alone are worthy of praise. In addition to a clear and concise organization of thoughts and topics, the author, Joahn Klingel Ray, PhD, writes with much authority. The book is an outstanding addition to any Jane lover’s library. Dr. Ray is an English Professor at the University of Colorado and the President of the Jane Austen Society of North America.

Believe me when I say: She knows her stuff. The book is rather large to put in one’s purse, so I would bring The Jane Austen Handbook when traveling. But for reference at home, I would turn to this book as well.

My rating? Three Regency Fans. Run, don’t walk, to your nearest bookstore or google the name to purchase this fabulous find.

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Mansfield Park

So Sorry, As of July 25, These Full Videos Are No Longer Available on YouTube. However, here is a YouTube clip summary of all three ITV Jane Austen specials for Jane Austen season.

Portsmouth Woodcut from Jane Austen Society Australia

ITV videos of Mansfield Park are available on YouTube. Click below for the first video, then look for parts 2-18 in the YouTube side bar.

“If Rushworth didn’t have 12,000 pounds a year, what a stupid fellow he’d be.” Edmund to Fanny in Mansfield Park 2007 ITV movie.

My Critique: This is a very disjointed and dark version of Mansfield Park. Only individuals who have read the novel can follow this plot. Click here to read the review by Gallivant, who sums this screen version up best: It isn’t very flattering but unfortunately I agree.

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In November, I wrote about the scullery maid, a young girl or woman who occupied the lowest rung of the servant class. Her domain, when she was not hauling wood or water up steep stairs, was the scullery, where she labored from dawn until dusk.

The scullery, a room adjacent to the kitchen and with a door that led outside, was typically used for washing laundry, cleaning dishes and utensils, scrubbing pots and pans, preparing vegetables, and performing simple cooking tasks that aided the cook and kitchen maids. Herbs hung from the rafters, and big open sinks made of stone stood against the walls, such as in the photo above of the scullery at Harewood House.

The scullery floor was tiled and had a drain to drain water. Because of the heat and steam of cooking and washing, the room itself was cut off from the larder or pantry, or any other parts of the house that stored food. The scullery also needed to be near the kitchen yard, coal cellar, wood house, and ash bin, as these were the rooms that the scullery maid was most apt to use in performance of her duties.
You can find a description of a scullery and kitchen of Fota House, a Regency Style house in Ireland, here. And see the basement annex to the Regency Townhouse in Hove, East Sussex here. One can view the kitchen in a virtual tour, but not the scullery, which I suspect sits adjacent to the kitchen and coal bin.

A scullery maid held no rank in the servant hierarchy. She was at the absolute bottom. Mrs. Beeton, in her excellent Book of Household Management, writes in 1861:

The cook takes charge of the fish, soups, and poultry; and the kitchen-maid of the vegetables, sauces, and gravies. These she puts into their appropriate dishes, whilst the scullery-maid waits on and assists the cook. Everything must be timed so as to prevent its getting cold, whilst great care should be taken, that, between the first and second courses, no more time is allowed to elapse than is necessary, for fear that the company in the dining-room lose all relish for what has yet to come of the dinner.

Indeed, not all was hopeless for the scullery maid, as depicted above by Giuseppe Crespi in 1710. Mrs. Beeton continues:

The position of scullery-maid is not, of course, one of high rank, nor is the payment for her services large. But if she be fortunate enough to have over her a good kitchen-maid and clever cook, she may very soon learn to perform various little duties connected with cooking operations, which may be of considerable service in fitting her for a more responsible place. Now, it will be doubtless thought by the majority of our readers, that the fascinations connected with the position of the scullery-maid, are not so great as to induce many people to leave a comfortable home in order to work in a scullery. But we are acquainted with one instance in which the desire, on the part of a young girl, was so strong to become connected with the kitchen and cookery, that she absolutely left her parents, and engaged herself as a scullery-maid in a gentleman’s house. Here she showed herself so active and intelligent, that she very quickly rose to the rank of kitchen-maid; and from this, so great was her gastronomical genius, she became, in a short space of time, one of the best women-cooks in England.

Sculleries and the duties of the scullery maid remained essentially unchanged for centuries, as these 1910 images of the scullery at the White Lion Inn attest.

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My dear Lizzie,

The battle has ended. It was touch and go for a time, but then my most ardent admirers voted en masse and I pulled ahead once and for all. However, lest you think I am gloating, I believe my opponent is a worthy young man. MacFadyen has not enjoyed my years of fame and fandom, and yet he gave me a good run. I salute him. As for Ms. Place, she has learned this lesson: Do not mess with a Firth or MacFadyen fan.

Ever yours, Darcy

P.S. For your amusement, I enclose this word search puzzle. Click on the words to print out a larger version. Oh, and my dear, please be aware the words can go forwards, backwards, and diagonally both ways.

Lizzie, my love,
I concede only because I must. My time will come. Wait for me.

The other Darcy

The ending vote was: Colin Firth – 64%, Matthew MacFadyen, 36%. However, the total vote was 1,218 votes. This is an enormous number of votes for a casual blog. Thank you for participating.

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A gentle reminder …

… that voting ends at midnight EST U.S. The Battle of the Mr. Darcys has been raging for almost one week and it has been a fierce one. However, I believe that during this process many die hard fans have come to admire both actors and their portrayal of our dashing hero.

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Antonin Careme: Chef Extraordinaire During the Regency Era

Antonin Careme, 1784 – 1833, was regarded the world’s first celebrity chef, and was credited for creating haute cuisine for the kings and queens of Europe. He made Napoleon’s wedding cake, souffles flecked with gold for the Rothschilds in Paris, and meals for the Romanovs in Russia using such esoteric ingredients as rooster testicles. On January 15, 1817, Antonin supervised the meal served at Brighton Pavilion for the Prince Regent, which included over 100 dishes.

In High Society, Venetia Murray writes:

At the Pavilion, and in other grand households, dinner was still served a la fracaise, which meant that the majority of the dishes were arranged in the middle of the table: the people were supposed to help themselves from the nearest dish and then offer it to their neighbours. If, however, someone fancied one of the other dishes, which might well have been placed at the opposite end of the table, he had to ask a fellow guest within range, or one of the servants, to pass it. It was therefore impossible to sustain a conversation because someone was always interrupting and the servants were always on the move. (p. 182-83)

The chances of the Prince Regent’s guests getting the exact dishes they wanted on the menu would not have been great. At best they would have received a random sampling of such dishes as:

Les poulardes a la Perigueux, La timbale de macaroni a la Napolitaine, La fricassee de poulets a l’Italienne, Les galantines de perdreaux a la gelee, Le petits poulets a l’Indienne, La cote de boeuf auz oignons glaces, Les escalopes de volaille aux truffes, Le vol-au-vent de quenelles a l’Allemande, La brioche au fromage, Les canards sauvages, Les genoises glacess au cafe, Les sckals au beurre, Le fromage bavarois aux avelines, and de petites souffles au chocolat.

Here is one of the recipes Antonin used for the extravagant banquet at Brighton Pavilion. (Illustration above: Banquet Hall at Brighton Pavilion)

Les Petits Vol-Au-Vents a la Nesle

Brighton Pavilion and Chateau Rothschild

20 vol-au-vent cases, the diameter of a glass
20 cocks-combs
20 cocks-stones (testes)
10 lambs sweetbreads (thymus and pancreatic glands, washed in water for five hours, until the liquid runs clear)
10 small truffles, pared, chopped, boiled in consomme
20 tiny mushrooms
20 lobster tails
4 fine whole lambs’ brains, boiled and chopped
1 French loaf
2 spoonfuls chicken jelly
2 spoonfuls veloute sauce
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped mushrooms
4 egg yolks
2 chickens, boned
2 calves’ udders
2 pints cream
sauce Allemande
salt, nutmeg


Crumb a whole French loaf. Add two spoonfuls of poultry jelly, one of veloute, one tablespoon of chopped parsley, two of mushrooms, chopped. Boil and stir as it thickens to a ball. Add two egg yolks. Pound the flesh of two boned chickens through a sieve. Boil two calves’ udders — once cold, pound and pass through a sieve.

Then, mix six ounces of the breadcrumbs panada to ten ounces of the chicken meat, and ten of the calves’ udders and combine and pound for 15 minutes. Add five drams of salt, some nutmeg and the yolks of two more eggs and a spoonful of cold veloute or bechamel. Pound for a further ten minutes. Test by poaching a ball in boiling water — it should form soft, smooth balls.

Make some balls of poultry forcemeat in small coffee spoons, dip them in jelly broth and after draining on a napkin, place them regularly in the vol-au-vent, already half filled with:

a good ragout of cocks-combs and stones (testicles)
lambs’ sweetbreads (thymus and pancreatic glands, washed in water for five hours, until the liquid runs clear)
lobster tails
four fine whole brains

Cover all with an extra thick sauce Allemande.

Learn more about Antonin Careme

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Janeites on the James

Our group of five Austen admirers met tonight in Richmond amongst much merriment and drinking of wine as we discussed the mature ladies in Jane’s novels – Lady Russell, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Mrs. Jennings, and Mrs. Norris. Mrs. Croft never quite entered the discussion because she was deemed too young. (Sorry, Eric). We ended the evening with a reading from the recent Newsweek article about Jane, which one of the Janeites read.

I won’t duplicate the excellent post on Austen.blog, where you can find a link to the article. But I will quote one passage we all responded to with deep feeling:

But it’s time to rescue Austen from her fans, lest the most adventurous and discerning readers pass her by. If you look at her books closely, you find them more bleak than charming: her characters are isolated within their own minds, trapped in tight spaces, forced to socialize daily with a small group of people they can never fully trust, including their own families. Not a one of her heroines ever shares everything with a true confidant—that is, up until the marriage we never see—and everybody has secrets and conflicting agendas.

This passage resulted in a prolonged and lively discussion. We do see the weddings in a few novels, but author David Gates is right, we do not see the marriages of our heroes and heroines. But “rescue Jane from her fans and save her for a more discerning reader?” What on earth is the man talking about?

To form your own opinion, go to Austen.blog and click on the link to read the rest of the article.

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During Jane Austen’s time, Brighton, a town along the south Sussex Coast and seen above in a John Constable painting, was the popular resort destination. Bath’s desirability had plummeted among the Ton, as it had gained the reputation of being a stodgy tourist attraction for the elderly and infirm. By the time the Prince Regent’s fashionable set frequented Brighton, it had grown from a sleepy seaside village of 3,000 in 1769 to a booming tourist town of 18,000 by 1817-1818.

The lengthening of the formal season helped in establishing Brighton as a holiday destination. By 1804 the season started late July and lasted until after Christmas, and by 1818 it had been extended until March. Visitors of note were always mentioned in Brighton’s newspaper, and there were a host of them. (Illustration below is of Fashionables in Brighton, 1826)

The first notables were both members of the Royal Family, the Duke of Gloucester in 1765, and then the Duke of York in 1766. From 1771 the Duke and Duchess of Cumberland were regular visitors and the town’s popularity with his uncles might have been one reason why the Prince of Wales came in 1783 and why he stayed for eleven days.

The Prince of Wales, after he became Prince Regent, began to spend enormous sums of money refurbishing Brighton Pavillion to his own fanciful specifications, using John Nash’s designs. Click here for my post on this beautiful palace.

In the early 18th century visitors were left to their own devices to find entertainments, but by 1810 guide books pointed out sites of interests in surrounding villages, amusements to be had, and picturesque walks. The sea was also used for entertainments such as yacht races and water parties which were watched from the shelter of the Steine. Military manoevres on the Steine and the Downs were popular.

Read more about Brighton here:

Quotes: Georgian Brighton, 1740-1820, Sue Farrant, University of Sussex Occasional Paper No. 13

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During Jane Austen’s day it was as popular to visit the Great Houses that dot the English country side as it is today. In fact, Jane describes one such visit in Pride and Prejudice, when Elizabeth Bennett visits Pemberley with her aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner.

The housekeeper proudly escorts the trio, showing off the fine furniture and art work and allowing them free reign of the grounds. Jane describes Elizabeth’s first introduction to Pemberley House:

On applying to the place they were admitted into the hall; and Elizabeth, as they waited for the housekeeper, had leisure to wonder at her being where she was.

The housekeeper came; a respectable-looking elderly woman, much less fine, and more civil, than she had any notion of finding her.

Later on, Elizabeth moves through the rooms:

And of this place, thought she, I might have been mistress! With these rooms I might now have been familiarly acquainted! Instead of viewing them as a stranger, I might have rejoiced in them as my own, and welcomed to them as visitors my uncle and aunt…

Jane might well have patterned the housekeeper in her novel after Mrs. Garnett, the housekeeper who showed visitors around Kedleston Hall, the Palladium Mansion in Kent built by the Curzon Family during the 18th century.

Samuel Johnson visited the house in 1777 with James Boswell, who described meeting the housekeeper: Our names were sent up, and a well-drest elderly Housekeeper, a most distinct Articulator, showed us the House…

A portrait of Mrs. Garnett painted by Thomas Barber and clutching a guide book hangs towards the front of the house. Dr. Johnson’s description of Kedleston Hall might just as well have been a description of Pemberley as well:

The day was fine and we resolved to go by Kedleston, the seat of Lord Scarsdale, that I might see his Lordship’s fine house. I was struck with the magnificence of the building, and the extensive park, covered with deer, cattle and sheep delighted me. The number of oaks filled me with respect and admiration. The excellent smooth gravel roads, the large piece of water formed by his Lordship with a handsome barge upon it, the venerable church, now the chapel, just by the house, in short the grand group of objects agitated and distended my mind in a most agreeable manner.

Walking the grounds became part of the experience of visiting a country estate. Gardens had become less formal and had moved toward a more natural style, striking a balance between naturalism and formality. Many of these new gardens were designed to show visitors around the grounds, showing off vistas from several garden points and from small buildings, or follies.

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Deadline for the Mr. Darcy Battle

Voting ends at midnight EST USA on Wednedsay, June 27th. This one’s a nail biter! May the best man win. (Ahem, I vote for … read my comments in the comment sections.)

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…for your delectation, the BBC Drama Pride and Prejudice site provides fans of the 1995 P&P version with a complete and comprehensive site of the series. Indeed, Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle fans would be proud. Click here to enter the site. Here is the Internet Movie Database Site with more of Colin and Jennifer.

For the fans of the 2005 version, here is your site: Every Girl is Looking for Her Mr. Darcy. And if you think you have seen everything about Matthew, here is a flipbook about Matthew as Mr. Darcy created on June 17, 2007.

At this moment we are at 50-50%. So VOTE! (Frankly, I like them both, but I’ll keep that secret to myself.) Want to vote? Click here and scroll down to the poll.

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