Archive for November, 2011

Gentle Readers, A few months ago frequent contributor Tony Grant wrote a lovely post about Richmond Park. Recently, a man walking his dog lost control of his animal, who was not on his lead. The result could have been catastrophic. Tony writes that the authorities are taking this incident seriously and may prosecute.

I walk my dog Cody along the river almost daily. We live in the city, and sometimes the paths are crowded with cyclists, joggers, children and babies pushed in carriages, yet it amazes me that so many people choose to walk their dogs without a leash. Many of them, often quite large, run up to Cody, who is restrained. An unequal situation, to say the least.

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I was at the private view of the “Diorama”; it is in part a transparency; the spectator is in a dark chamber, and it is very pleasing, and has great illusion. It is without the pale of art, because its object is deception. The art pleases by reminding, not deceiving. The place was filled with foreigners, and I seemed to be in a cage of magpies. – John Constable.

Ruins of Hollyrood Chapel, one of Daguerre's paintings for an 1824 Paris diorama

Imagine a world without films or television, computers or cell phones. Where transportation was slow and costly, and only the rich could afford to travel out of the country. Then imagine a new cutting edge technology in which lifesized illusions of ancient or distant lands were recreated on large transluscent screens and scenes of beauty or disaster were enhanced with lights that simulated scenes containing fire, the changing seasons, and sunrises and sunsets. Dioramas were a 19th century version of virtual reality – spectacles that both entertained and filled the viewer with wonder. Illusionary, seemingly 3D, and augmented by concealed lights in back of the stage, these entertainments were shown in buildings designed to display them.

Photo shows people watching Daguerre's diorama. Undated illustration. Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

In 1822, a mere 5 years after Jane Austen’s death, Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre, introduced the first Diorama theater in Paris.

Diorama in Paris. Image @Jack and Beverley's Optical Toys

“Daguerre made large paintings of scenes and displayed they in elaborate layered stage settings along with real objects. The theater was equipped with windows and louvers that could be opened and closed to front light and back light the images. This caused transparent areas of the scene to change and new images to appear. Most often these were day to night transformations.” – Jack and Beverley’s Optical Toys

Diorama, Regent's Park

One year after Daguerre’s introduction of this wondrous new entertainment, the first diorama opened up in London in Regent’s Park. (The building still stands, but the interior has been vastly transformed.) The subject matter included landscape scenes of the grand tour, religious stories, recreations of paintings and grand architecture, and historical themes well-known to the public. The images could be made more or less bright according to the mood or atmosphere required by the theme. Props were also added for realism:

Diorama theatre

The visitors, after passing through a gloomy anteroom, were ushered into a circular chamber, apparently quite dark. One or two small shrouded lamps placed on the floor served dimly to light the way to a few descending steps and the voice of an invisible guide gave directions to walk forward. The eye soon became sufficiently accustomed to the darkness to distinguish the objects around and to perceive that there were several persons seated on benches opposite an open space resembling a large window. Through the window was seen the interior of Canterbury Cathedral undergoing partial repair with the figures of two or three workmen resting from their labours. The pillars, the arches, the stone floor and steps, stained with damp, and the planks of wood strewn on the ground, all seemed to stand out in bold relief, so solidly as not to admit a doubt of their substantiality, whilst the floor extended to the distant pillars, temptingly inviting the tread of exploring footsteps. Few could be persuaded that what they saw was a mere painting on a flat surface. The impression was strengthened by perceiving the light and shadows change, as if clouds were passing over the sun, the rays of which occasionally shone through the painted windows, casting coloured shadows on the floor. Then shortly the lightness would disappear and the former gloom again obscure the objects that had been momentarily illumined. The illusion was rendered more perfect by the sensitive condition of the eye in the darkness of the surrounding chamber.” “- The History of the Discovery of Cinematography http://www.precinemahistory.net/1800.htm


Dioramas were created for spectacle and entertainment, and one can readily imagine Georgette Heyer’s characters attending these events during the London Season.

The popularity of the dioramas generated a debate over whether their pictures were art. The press discussed them as ‘exhibitions of art.’ But if the dioramas were art, it was a mundane art, and it rarely elevated the viewer’s taste. Indeed, if contemporary reactions are to be believed, the highest artistic achievement the diorama could attain was providing an entertaining substitute for reality. These pleasant but uncomplicated images required little or no preparation for serious thought… – Robert W. Brown.

Diorama diagram. Image @Wikipedia

This first-hand account gives the modern reader a sense of how these 30 – 50 minute light shows seemed to the viewer:

Woodcut of a diorama, day and night scenes.

A bell now rings, we find ourselves in motion; the whole theatre in which we sit, moves round till its wall closes the aperture or stage, and we are in perfect darkness; the bell rings again, a curtain rises, and we are looking on the time-worn towers, transepts, and buttresses of Notre Dame, its rose window on the left, and the water around its base reflecting back the last beams of the setting sun. Gradually these reflections disappear, the warm tints fade from the sky, and arc succeeded by the cool grey hue of twilight, and that again by night—deepening by insensible m degrees till the quay and the surrounding buildings and the water are no longer distinguishable, and Notre Dame itself scarcely reveals to us its outlines against the sky. Before we have long gazed on this scene the moon brgins to emerge slowly—very slowly, from the opposite quarter of the heavens, its first faint rays tempering apparently rather than dispersing the gloom; presently a slight radiance touches the top of one of the pinnacles of the cathedral—and glances as it were athwart the dark breast of the stream; now growing more powerful, the projections of Notre Dame throw their light and fantastic shadows over the left side of the building, until at last, bursting forth in serene unclouded majesty, the whole scene is lit up, except where the vast Cathedral interrupts its beams, on the quay here to the left, and where through the darkness the lamps are now seen, each illumining its allotted space.” – London Volumes 5-6, Edited by Charles Knight, 1843, pp. 284 – 288

Diorama, Edinburgh

By the early half of the 19th century there were five diaromas open in London. They were also popular in other British cities, as well as Breslau, Berlin, Cologne, Stockholm, and the United states. It is interesting to note that the end of the diorama’s popularity coincided with the rise of photography.

The Annual Peeps Diorama competition grows bigger every year: Easter at the National Peeps-thedral

Dioramas have shrunk in size, and today’s viewers know them only as scenes in boxes or bottles, as museum displays, or for competitions, such as the science fair or annual peeps contest.

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Gentle reader, I’ll be away with my family and am on a short hiatus. Here’s wishing my American readers a wonderful holiday!

Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock, 1620


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Gentle Readers, This month I have joined the Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Celebration on Maria Grazia’s My Jane Austen Book Club blog. Click on the banner on the sidebar to read the other articles posted each month in celebration of Jane Austen’s first published book. The first half of my post about Mr. Palmer’s observations of his fellow minor characters in the book sits here. The rest of the article sits on My Jane Austen Book Club.

I, Thomas Palmer, Esq., have been charged to analyze and discuss the traits of my fellow minor characters in Sense and Sensibility, the first of six novels by Jane Austen. I shall endeavor to do JUSTICE to that estimable author’s first published effort, which made its way to the public some 200 years ago and has never failed to be in print since.

I must first cast my thoughts upon Fanny and John Dashwood, whose miserliness oblidged the Dashwood women to leave their comfortable home at Norland to establish themselves in Barton Cottage and live a FRUGAL life in Devonshire amongst strangers. Miss Austen was a mere 20 years of age when she first conceived of this novel in epistolary form, first naming it Elinor and Marianne. That such a young author, whose knowledge of the world was CONFINED largely to books and the experiences of others, could create two such memorable characters as Fanny and John Dashwood portended her genius.

Fanny in particular is a character like no other in literature. Her manipulation of her weak husband in persuading him to abandon his PLEDGE to his father on that man’s deathbed is breathtaking in its audacity and avarice. The sequence of her skewed logic and her husband’s reaction to her CONTRIVANCE to preserve every pence of her darling son’s inheritance is matchless. Even I could not have conceived of a more cynical, darkly humorous dialog than young Miss Austen presented through these two minor characters, thereby setting the novel’s direction and tone. “People always live for ever when there is an annuity to be paid them.” One simply cannot add or take away a word to improve this utterance by Mrs. Dashwood.

The John Dashwoods represent, like so many minor characters, a FOIL – brilliantly conceived foils, to be sure – that are meant to contrast with other characters. Take my rather vulgar brother-in-law, Sir John Middleton, who is renowned for his generous impulses. Whilst the Dashwood ladies were figuratively shoved out of Norland by the John Dashwoods, Sir John, a distant relation, emerges from nowhere to offer them a hearth and home. The CONTRAST twixt the two Johns – one so weak and tight-fisted that he willing to break his vow to his dying father, the other so generous that he is forever inviting the entire neighborhood to sample the contents of his larder – cannot be ignored.

I next turn my gaze upon the Steele sisters, Lucy and Anne. Anne is a flat minor character who is doomed to learn nothing from life’s experiences, but who interjects a running COMIC gag over her obsession with Dr. Davies (he will never offer his hand in marriage). Her main purpose in the novel is to REVEAL the engagement of Lucy to Edward at a most awkward moment.

Her sister Lucy, a smarter, prettier version of Anne, is as mean, cunning and scheming a creature as I have ever come across. I had her measure from the start, I assure you. Lucy’s sole ambition is to ingratiate herself with her betters in order to take her place in SOCIETY. Knowing of Edward Ferrars’ attraction to Miss Dashwood, she makes a preemptive strike by CONFIDING her secrets to Elinor, forcing our hapless heroine to LISTEN to matters that, while they pain her deeply, she must keep to herself. Many minor characters play the role of confidante to a novel’s protagonist, but Lucy Steele turned the table on Elinor, forcing her to listen to matters that were most distasteful and hurtful. Our scheming Lucy more than turned the table on Edward, eloping with his younger brother Robert when it becomes apparent that the latter will INHERIT the Ferrars fortune of £1,000 per year. One can only cheer knowing that this feckless couple will always be dissatisfied with each other, always wanting more possessions.

To read the rest of the article, click here to enter My Jane Austen Book Club

Click here to read the other articles in this year long series:

1. January          Jennifer Becton    

Men, Marriage and Money in Sense and Sensibility

2. February      Alexa Adams         

Sense and Sensibility on Film

3. March            C. Allyn Pierson

Property and Inheritance Law in S &S 

4. April               Beth Pattillo

Lost in Sense and Sensibility

5. May                Jane Odiwe

Willoughby: a rogue on trial

6. June               Deb @JASNA Vermont

Secrets in Sense and Sensibility

7. July                Laurie Viera Rigler

Interview with Lucy Steele

8. August           Regina Jeffers       

Settling for the Compromise Marriage

9. September    Lynn Shepherd

The origins of S&S: Richardson, Jane Austen, Elinore & Marianne                                        

10. October       Meredith @Austenesque Reviews

Sense and Sensibility Fan Fiction

11. November   Vic @Jane Austen’s World  

Mr. Palmer Discusses His Fellow Minor characters in Sense and Sensibility

12. December    Laurel Ann @Austenprose

Marianne Dashwood: A passion for dead Leaves and other Sensibilities                 

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Feather by feather the goose can be plucked.
– French Proverb

My mental image of Jane Austen at her writing desk at Chawton Cottage is of a cozy room, a small octagonal table, and a lady holding a goose quill pen, staring out of a window in rapt concentration or scribbling furiously on sheafs of hot press paper.

Goose feathers were the most popular natural material for making quill pens. Raven or crow feathers were chosen for very fine work that required tiny writing, but the most reliable feathers for quill pens came from geese, turkeys and swans.

The feathers used to make pens are the stiff-spined flight feathers on the leading edge of the bird’s wing. Pens for right-handed writers come from the left wing, and pens for left-handers, from the right! Each bird supplies just 10-12 good quills, and sometimes only 2 or 3 – so small a yield that the geese reared in England could not furnish nearly enough for local demand, and quills were imported from the Continent in large quantities. At one point St Petersburg in Russia was sending 27 million quills a year to the UK. It is said that geese were specially bred by US President Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) to supply his own vast need for quills – in his lifetime he wrote almost 20,000 letters. – The Writing Implement, JASA

Noisy guardian geese. Image @Alpaca Love

These intelligent birds are aggressive and responsive in nature and have served as guards and early warning systems for centuries.

As sentinels and guards, geese have legendary qualities. It is the same territorial behaviour (mostly threat rather than fight), plus a tendency to call and alarm the mate and the rest of the flock of danger, that is invoked. Their eyesight is acute and their awareness of sounds at night has been especially praised. F.O. Morris in 1897 pointed out that ‘you may drive over a cat, dog, hen, pig, or even pigeon, but few, in any, can record an instance of driving over a tame goose.’ “- Man and Wild Fowl, Janet Kear

A gaggle of unsuspecting geese

Geese have also provided mankind with sustenance in the form of eggs and their own meat. While wild geese have little body fat compared to their tame brethren, if the meat is slow-cooked (roasted, grilled, braised, broiled, or rotated on a rotisserie) and served with rich cream sauces and gravies, then such dishes are considered more than fit for the holiday table.

It is in the goose’s nature to flock, making domestication of this intelligent, rather biddable creature easy. Grimm’s fairy tale includes a story of a princess turned into a goose girl, and sentimental 19th century paintings exist of young girls looking over their flock of geese or caring for them.

The Goose Girl, Joseph Seymour, late 19th c.

Soft goose down feather

How would mankind have survived without the versatile goose? Less comfortably, one would suppose, for early on man discovered that down feathers provided excellent thermal insulation. Down feathers lack barbicels, allowing the barbules to float free and trap air. As water birds,  geese required insulation from the cold while swimming and down feathers provided the warmth without bogging the goose down with weight. The goose knows of the down feather’s excellent insulating qualities, for it plucks down from its breast to line the nest and keep the eggs and its young warm.

Swansdown provided soft, insulating trim to women’s clothes and the material for powder puffs. Once made from the skins of wild Trumpeter swans, which were brought to near extinction in the early 20th century due to the popularity of its feathers, ‘swansdown’ is now made in the Poitiers region of France from white goose skins that are cured with the soft down still attached.

Velvet stole edged with swansdown, which today is made from the white goose.

I now turn to the euphemistic phrase: “supplying of feathers”.  (Caution, the rest of the article is not for the faint of heart.) After Elizabethan times, down feathers began to increasingly replace straw and wool as stuffing for mattresses, bolsters, and pillows. Birds were traditionally killed for food at Michaelmas, but even so the number of holiday geese killed were not sufficient to supply enough down feathers for bedding.

Women Plucking Geese, Max Liebermann (Do not assume these geese are dead.)

The cruel practice of plucking live geese occurred as early as Roman times, but the torture of live birds increased as the demand for down comforters, pillows, and bedding escalated. It was discovered that:

Geese could be plucked 3 times per year: The reproductive power of the feather follicle appears to be almost inexhaustible, since it is not diminished appreciably by age, nor restricted to definite moulting periods, as is shown by the cruel and now obsolete custom of plucking geese alive, no less than three times annually, for the sake of their feathers . The growth of the feathers is, however, certainly affected by the generalhealth of the bird, mal-nutrition causing the appearance of peculiar transverse V-shaped grooves, at more or less regular intervals, along the whole length of the feather . These are known as ” hunger-marks,” a name given by falconers, to whom this defect was well known . It would seem that while the feather germ may be artificially stimulated to produce three successive generations of feathers within a year, it may, on the other hand, be induced artificially to maintain a continuous activity extending over long periods. – Read more: Online Information article about Feather, Online Encyclopedia 

The plucking of geese provided a good livelihood before the Enclosure Act was actively enforced:

There were important feather industries in Lincolnshire and Somerset during the 18th Century. Large flocks of up to 900 birds grazed the commons and produced, for every four birds, 1 lb (450 g) of feathers a year; the barbarous business of live-plucking only stopped in England when enclosures limited access to free grazing. Horsehair, much of it imported from South America, thereafter became the usual filling for mattresses, and in 1797 goose-owners on the Somerset levels burnt an effigy of a drainage agent whose activities preceded their loss of commoner’s rights. – Man and Wild Fowl, Janet Kear

The Regency Redingote writes about Lady Day and the practice of live plucking geese, a torturously painful procedure, which is where I first read about this practice:

Lady Day (March 25) was also a very important day in the life of any goose farmer in England. For it was on that day that the farmer would commence the plucking schedule of his birds. Quills for pens were harvested from geese only once a year, right after Lady Day, since the day itself was still a holiday. Down was plucked four or five times a year, beginning right after Lady Day, as by then it was warm enough the geese would not suffer unduly without their down. The geese would be plucked again periodically through the summer, the last plucking taking place close to Michaelmas. The geese would not be plucked in the winter, as they would need their down during those months as protection against the cold. – Regency Redingote 

Geese carried to market, detail of an illustration by Thomas Bewick

As a side bar, live-plucking induces geese to eat more to maintain body heat. Therefore, they wound up weighing a great deal more before they were killed for slaughter.In Britain today the feathers of slaughtered geese are used, but in many countries down feathers are still imported from Russia, Hungary, Poland,  China and other countries where humane laws are not enforced.

One of the biggest understatements one can use to describe this continuous multi-year torture of a helpless animal is to call it an “unpleasant procedure”. Sadly, live plucking of a particular goose could continue for years. At the end they were not even given the dignity of a contented life in retirement:

According to Francis Grose’s Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue published in 1811, ‘cagg maggs’ were old Lincolnshire geese, which, having been plucked for ten or twelve years, were ‘sent up to London to feast the cockneys’. – Man and Wild Fowl, Janet Gear

Thomas and Sarah Bruff taking geese to market, late 19th/early 20th c., Tennessee

While live plucking is no longer practiced in England,

Beauty Without Cruelty charity reports (summer 1992) that in Hungary, France, Israel and China, live geese have their feathers ripped off, a process that may be repeated every 8 weeks for about 3 sessions until the bird is killed for food or force fed to make pate de foie gras.” – Vegetarian Society 

Let me conclude this heart-wrenching post by saying that while I intend to honor the geese that died to produce the contents of my down comforter, pillows, and jacket by using these products until they are no longer serviceable, I will no longer support the barbarous practice of live plucking by purchasing anything in the future that is stuffed with goose down.

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During the second half of the 18th century and early 19th century Axminster carpets were the favorite carpets of the rich. They are frequently mentioned in descriptions of interiors in Regency novels, especially Georgette Heyer’s. Famous architects/designers like Robert Adam would supply the patterns based on Roman floor mosaics or coffered ceilings. Both George III and George IV patronized the factory, commissioning carpets for various Royal residences.

Reproduction of the Axminster carpet in the music room, Brighton Pavilion. Image @Craigie Stockwell

The history of the Axminster carpet started in 1755, when Thomas Whitty opened a carpet manufacturing company in the town of Axminster, in the county of Devon. The development of carpet manufacture in England during this period was enabled by laws which were designed to promote locally produced textiles, out of concern that foreign textiles were dominating the market, particularly by the French Savonnerie carpets. These early Axminster rugs were hand knotted, and they quickly became the undisputed choice for wealthy aristocracy. Antique Axminster carpets and rugs grace the floors of Chatsworth and Brighton Pavillion to name a few and were bought by George III and Queen Charlotte who visited the factory in the 18th Century. – Doris Lelsie Brau, English Axminster and Wilton

The Brighton Pavilion music room carpet (first image) has quite a remarkable story. The original carpet was made by Thomas Whitty and his daughters circa 1820 for the Prince Regent. Her Majesty, Queen Victoria, apparently disliked the brash blue color of this  ‘decadent’ carpet and had it removed, bleached into a light beige colour,  and cut up to be used in a guest bedroom at Buckingham Palace. The reproduction of this carpet is outlined in  Craigie Stockwell’s Historic Reproduction. (Scroll down the page to find the details of how a copy of the original carpet was made!)

The story of how Thomas Whitty (1713-1792), cloth manufacturer of Axminster in Devonshire, came to make his first carpet is well known. As an old man, he wrote an account for his son describing how, in 1755, in an attempt to provide a better income to support his growing family, he spied on the carpet factory of French émigrés in Fulham and returned to Axminster where “I immediately began to prepare a loom and materials for making a Carpet, and on MIDSUMMER’S DAY 1755, a memorable day for my family, I began the first carpet I ever made, taking my children and their Aunt Betty Harvey to overlook and assist them, for my first workers”. – Early Axminster Carpets

George III Axminster Carpet, England, by Thomas Whitty, late 18th century approximately 1323 by 572cm; 43ft. 5in. by 18ft. 9in. Photo: Sotheby's

This enormous late 18th century Axminster carpet was made by Whitty for the Music Room at Powderham Castle, 1798. Image @Eloge de l'Art par Alain Truong

Axminster carpets are distinctive because of their bright colors and intricate designs. They are traditionally made from wool.

Large Axminster carpet, late 18th century. From Cowdray Park and Dunecht House, At Cowdray Park, West Sussex. Image @Christie's.

 Samuel Whitty, in an advertising broadsheet, described the advantages of Axminster carpets thus: “They are made in one piece, to any size or pattern and of any shape however irregular. They are capable of the most beautiful designs in Flowers, Fruit, Armorial Bearings, Grotesques or any other….and their texture is extremely durable”. – – Early Axminster Carpets

Detail of the Axminster carpet in the music room of Harewood House, c. 1791.

At Harewood House, for example, where Thomas Whitty made carpets for rooms remodeled by Robert Adam in the 1790’s, the neoclassical ideal of the whole becomes magnificently apparent. In the Music Room a flat plaster ceiling decorated with low-relief arabesques and geometric motifs incorporates small round classical paintings by Angelica Kauffmann; these medallions are exactly reflected in the Axminster carpet below, and the lines of the carpet mirror the lines of the light, airy plasterwork. – The Most Splendid Carpet, Chapter 3

The early 19th century English Axminster carpet in the video above has a sand field with a golden leaf roundel containing four fish around a naturalistic lion head within a border of finely-drawn mythological animals, palmettes and vinery. It goes for $425,000

Axminster carpet in the Blue Drawing Room, Dumfries House

This carpet [above] is one of the earliest datable examples to have survived from the formative years at Axminster and was commissioned for the Drawing Room at Dumfries House. In a marvellously early example of thrift, it was shipped up separately from another, identical carpet, which the surviving invoice tells us was part of a Buy One – Get One Half Price deal! At £69 for the first one, this represents a saving of a large sum of money for the day. This is, of course, explained by the fact that they were both worked to the same design as a pair, so that the cartoon only need to be paid for once.

The carpet signifies the growing 18th century interest in exotic botany, as it includes a flowering cactus. The carpet dates from before Whitty’s collaboration with Robert Adam on the design of carpets. However, it is a wonderful example of a colourful, animated and sumptuous looking rococo piece of design. – The Story of the Blue Drawing Room: Dumfries House

The colors, designs,  and shapes of Axminster carpets were quite versatile.  Examples included floral carpets of the 1750s and 1760, and architect-designed carpets by Robert Adam for Harewood and Saltram, by Lewis Wyatt for the Library at Tatton Park, and by Robert Jones and Frederick Crace for the Brighton Pavilion. Axminster carpets were shaped and could be circular,  semi-circular, or woven with shaped ends to fit semi-circular and square alcoves and apses.  (Early Axminster carpets)

Detail of an Axminster carpet, c 1791. Image @Metropolitan Museum of Art

Axminster dominated the English carpet market until 1835, when Samuel Rampson Whitty, grandson of the founder, declared bankruptcy following a disastrous fire which destroyed the weaving looms. With competition from Europe and the rise of high-quality but cheaper, machine-made carpets, it was too expensive to try to revive the works.- Risky Regencies

The fire was disastrous on many levels, destroying records and carpet designs:

The fire destroyed not only buildings, looms and stock but also most of the written records, including the working drawings for carpets. Whereas the Woodward Grosvenor Company of Kidderminster still have an extensive archive of early cartoons, such cartoons are virtually non-existent for early Axminster carpets.  – Early Axminster Carpets

The Axminister carpet industry was revived in the 20th century. According to the Axminster website, “a carpet manufacturer called Harry Dutfield was on a train where he met a vicar from the West Country who told him that carpets had not been made in Axminster for a while due to a disastrous fire that had destroyed the factory. The germ of an idea was born and in 1937 the decision was taken to relaunch carpet manufacturing in the town of Axminster. This was the renaissance of ‘Axminsters from Axminster’.” Today the name serves as a generic term for all machine-made carpets with pile similar to velvet or chenille, with almost all pile yarn appearing on the surface of the carpet.

Modern Axminster carpet in the Casino de Deauville, France.

When one sees patterned carpet in a public place [today], such as a casino, hotel or restaurant, it is usually an Axminster.  Axminsters are more economical, for they use less yarn in their construction.  The pile is created by a V-shaped tuft of wool that is trapped in place between the warp and weft. This weaving method also allows for the use of many more colors, as it is not limited like the Wilton/Brussels construction.   For this reason, there were many carpets with huge sprays of flowers and Arabesques that could now be produced cheaply, and were available to the middle class, including outlets such as Sears and Roebuck. – Old House Web

More on the topic:

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Caricature by Robert Seymour, 1830

After the death of Princess Charlotte in childbirth in 1817, the British Royal family was left without a legitimate heir to the throne. Since their marriage, King George IV had felt an overpowering physical and mental aversion to Queen Caroline, his consort, and the possibility of his begetting another child on her was less than zero.

None of the King’s brothers were married. The Dukes of York, Clarence, Kent, Cumberland, Sussex, and Cambridge all began to court potential brides in earnest.

In 1818 William Henry, Duke of Clarence, who would reign as King William IV, abandoned his 20-year relationship with Mrs. Jordan, with whom he had ten children, to marry Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen, a rather plain lady half his age. In short time the strong-willed duchess managed to take her husband’s finances in hand and pay off his debts through economical living. Parliament voted to increase his allowance, which the Duke, who was angling for more, finally accepted.

William was crowned King in 1830. By all accounts he was faithful to his queen. They lived a sober, almost boring life,  but, sadly, their two infant children did not survive. Queen Adelaide’s strong influence throughout her marriage can be seen in this illustration.This cartoon of the Adelaide Mill, drawn by English caricaturist, Robert Seymour, shows Adelaide decreeing that the court domestics must dress more humbly:

From other contemporary pictorial skits by Seymour we learn that various changes were made in the royal establishment, and the new queen seems to have addressed herself specially to a reform in the dresses of the court domestics. On the 1st of October, 1830, Seymour represents her grinding an enormous machine, called the “Adelaide Mill,” into which the women servants, dressed in the outrageous head-gear and leg-of-mutton sleeves of the period, are perforce ascending, and issuing from the other side attired in plain and more suitable apparel. “No silk gowns,” says Her Majesty as she turns the handle. “No French curls; and I’ll have you all wear aprons.” The new queen seems also to have shown a disposition to encourage native manufactures and produce at the expense of French and continental importations. These changes were not particularly pleasing to the Conservative lady patronesses of Almack’s, who were celebrated at this time for their capricious exclusiveness. One of Robert Seymour’s satires, bearing date the 1st of November, 1830, shows us a conference of these haughty dames, who seriously discuss the propriety of admitting some lady (probably the queen) who proposed appearing at one of the balls “in some vulgar stuff made by the canaille at a place called Kittlefields” [Spitalfields].” – English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the Nineteenth Century. How they Illustrated and Interpreted their Times, by Graham Everitt

The death of King William IV in 1837 led to the long and successful reign of Queen Victoria, daughter of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent.

Learn more about Mrs Jordan in this link: The Delectable Dora Jordan

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In his post about Hogarth’s The Rake’s Progress a few weeks ago, Tony Grant mentioned Brunswick House as a possible stand-in for Tom’s inherited home. Brunswick House was built in 1758 on #30 Wandsworth Road and was the former home to the Dukes of Brunswick.

Brunswick House. Image @Tony Grant

It sat on 3 acres of land along the South Bank of the Thames River near what was once Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. This once popular entertainment destination, with its vast gardens, pavilions, and nightly illuminations, looms large in Georgian biographies and novels and modern books set in the Regency era.

Brunswick House. Image @British History Online

The 3-story house, almost square in shape, was once described as a mansion house with offices, coach-house, and a stables. Its surroundings, once filled with vistas of green fields, woods, and river, is now crammed with tall buildings and flats made of concrete, steel and glass.

Brunswick House today. Image @Stephen Richards

This relic of the Georgian era sits in Nine Elms on the South Bank opposite Vauxhall Tube Station and next to the green glass edifice of MI5…

M15 building, also known as Babylon on Thames. Image @Tony Grant

…its centrally placed semi-elliptical porch of painted Coade’ stone facing busy Wandsworth Road, where cars, lorries, and buses rush by at a fast pace.

Close up includes details of Georgian dress in second story windows. Image @Tony Grant

The porch

“has two free-standing and two engaged columns with enriched moulded bases, fluted and cabled shafts, and water-leaf capitals. The entablature has a frieze decoration of rams’ skulls linked by floral festoons, and the cornice bedmouldings are enriched. The surmounting blocking-course continues the lines of the first-floor platband.” – British History Online 

LASSCO launch party, Brunswick House, 2005

While Brunswick house’s exterior remains largely as it once was, the interior has changed so much that the original plans are no longer discernable. Today the structure is the home of LASSCO (The London Architectural Salvage and Supply Company) antique dealers.

“After the squatters were removed, the building was restored and it’s now used by LASSCO as a premises from which to sell architectural salvage. Members of the public are welcome to visit the restored building for a glimpse of Vauxhall’s elegant past.” – Time Out London http://www.timeout.com/london/museums-attractions/event/2156/brunswick-house

Restored interior, Brunswick House, 2005

Images from LASSCO’s launch party in 2005 show glimpses of the restored interior, especially the wood floors.

More about Brunswick House:

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Gentle Readers, this is Christine Stewart’s second post about her trip to England this past summer. The author of Embarking on a Course of Study, you will enjoy her reminiscences.The day after visiting Jane’s writing desk and portrait in London, I went to Paris. Yes, for the day. It was there so I popped over to squeeze in what I could – a long, exquisite day of mostly walking and a trip up the Eiffel Tower (okay, more like hobbling because I walked everywhere in Reykjavik and had two days of London walking behind me as well. My ankles looked like I was 85 years old. But it was worth it for the view).

Paris turned out to be a 20 hour day, so I slept in and caught a later train to Winchester and had just enough time to see the Cathedral and the house on College Street where Jane died before catching my bus to Alton (near Chawton) to reach my hotel.Winchester is delightful. Twisty turny streets, archways, alleys tucked between the backs of houses with gates and wooden doors. It felt like one big secret garden to me. I could have wandered for hours.  The sky was grayish when I arrived at the Cathedral – perfect for photographs. I took many pictures of the outside as there were so many interesting vantage points but here’s the main one (to keep reading:  http://www.embarkingonacourseofstudy.com

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The lush fashion exhibition, Napoleon and the Empire of Fashion, closed in Milan in September. On the website, readers are still allowed to choose where they would like it to travel next!

The beautiful cameo necklace and earrings complete this evening ensemble.

The catalogue, written by Cristina Barreto and Martin Lancaster, is sumptuous and filled with color photographs. The clothes are compared to fashion illustrations of the day. One cannot get a better education of French fashion during this period than this book. This video and the link to the slide show below it show what we have missed by not traveling to Milan last spring and summer.

Napoleon’s desire to protect the garment industry in France after the French Revolution resulted in an explosion of designs that propelled the French fashion industry to the forefront, making it hugely influential. By encouraging women to purchase many gowns (so that they would not be seen in the same dress too often), France became synonymous with fashion. See the slide show of images from the exhibition by clicking on this link.

The many French fashions shown from the 1795-1810 years

Vote where you would like the exhibit to travel next. If the exhibit comes to New York, I hope to see the same mannequins. Aren’t they simply superb?

Napoleon and the Empire of Fashion in Milan

Order the catalog at Amazon: It ships within 1-3 months.

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