On this day: a Manor House in England

Brooke_RemainsCheylesmore_HAGAM_tifThe manor house of Cheylesmore, England in a watercolour and ink painting by William Henry Brooke. dated the 25th of December, 1820.

The manor house of Cheylesmore, England in a watercolour and ink painting by William Henry Brooke, dated the 25th of December, 1820. Parts of the building date back to the year 1250, and some of its most famous residents were Edward, the Black Prince and Henry VI.

Unfortunately, much of what did survive the Second World War was demolished in a development project in the 1950s.

Cheylesmore now makes up part of the southern half of the city of Coventry in the West Midlands.

The Battle of the Saintes

The caption for this painting reads:
Lord Rodney’s flagship ‘Formidable’ breaking through the French line at the battle of the Saintes, 12th April 1782, painted between 1784 and 1787 by Lieutenant William Elliott of the Royal Navy.
Taking place in the West Indies, the Battle of the Saintes was part of the American Revolutionary War, and took place between the 9th and 12th of April, resulting in a decisive victory for Britain.
Lord Rodney_s flagship ‘Formidable_ breaking through the French line at the battle of the Saintes, 12th April 1782, painted between 1784 and 1787 by Lieutenant William Elliott of t

On this day: the Battle of Corunna

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The death of Sir John Moore X

Part of the Peninsula War (1807-14), the Battle of Corunna took place in Spain on the 16th of January, 1809.

Fought in Galicia, the battle was between the United Kingdom and France, and concluded with a British victory. However, the battle also paved the way for French occupation of other areas.

The British lost 900 men; the French lost between 600 and 700.

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Amongst the British dead was Sir John Moore, who was reassured of his victory before he died.

On this day…

This hand-coloured etching of London’s Theatre Royal, Drury Lane was published on the 25th of November, 1812.

When this etching was published the building had only been opened a few weeks. This is the third theatre to have stood there, and it was opened on the tenth of October that year. It is the same building that now stands on the site.

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On this day: Elizabeth Gaskell was born

1832 portrait of English writer and biographer Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-65)

Elizabeth Gaskell in 1832, the year of her marriage.

English author Elizabeth Gaskell, the Victorian era creator of stories such as Cranford and North and South, was born on the 29th of September, 1810.

Her first novel, Mary Barton, was published in 1848.

Miss Matty and her brother Peter from Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell 1917

A 1917 illustration of Cranford.

Cranford and North and South, both of which have recently been adapted into very popular television series, were published in the 1850s.

A Visitor’s Guide To Jane Austen’s England by Sue Wilkes

A Visitor's Guide To Jane Austen's England by Sue Wilkes

Discover Jane Austen’s England

Immerse yourself in the vanished world inhabited by Austen’s contemporaries. Packed with detail, and anecdotes, this is an intimate exploration of how the middle and upper classes lived from 1775, the year of Austen’s birth, to the coronation of George IV in 1820. Sue Wilkes skilfully conjures up all aspects of daily life within the period, drawing on contemporary diaries, illustrations, letters, novels, travel literature and archives.

•Were all unmarried affluent men really ‘in want of a wife’?
•Where would a young lady seek adventures?
•Would ‘taking the waters’ at Bath and other spas kill or cure you?
•Was Lizzy Bennet bitten by bed-bugs while travelling?
•What would you wear to a country ball, or a dance at Almack’s?
•Would Mr Darcy have worn a corset?
•What hidden horrors lurked in elegant Regency houses?

Put on your dancing gloves and embrace a lost era of corsets and courtship!

A Visitor’s Guide To Jane Austen’s England by Sue Wilkes

There are many books like this one, a “travel guide” of sorts through the day to day events of Georgian, Regency and Victorian England. However, there aren’t many that pack as much information in as this one does, and so I really enjoyed it.

The thing the author of A Visitor’s Guide To Jane Austen’s England does right is that she uses primary sources for her information, and quotes letters and journal entries of the time from all sorts of people. There’s no guessing about things here; everything we’re told comes from something recorded back in the day.

The anecdotes taken from day to day life in the Georgian and Regency days Jane Austen lived are interesting, taught me more than a few things, and painted a stronger picture from the era than pretty much any book I’ve read.

Any historical fiction reader worth their salt is going to know quite a bit of what is in here, especially so for fans of Jane Austen. However, there was so much I learnt that I even found the rehashing of more commonly-known facts interesting all over again.

If more authors consulted primary sources rather than learning the world of the Regency from other Regency romances, there would be far fewer mistakes (with language, for example) turning up in books, and there would be a much more historical “feel” to the stories.

An interesting read for fans of history and historical fiction.

On this day: Sarah Booth’s Covent Garden Debut

English Actress Sarah Booth. Early 19th Century.

Famous English actress Sarah Booth made her debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden on the 23rd of November, 1810. She played Amanthis in the play Child of Nature.

The Theatre Royal, Covent Garden in 1810.

The new Opera House, drawn in 1810.

At the time, the Opera House was brand new, as the previous one had been destroyed by fire.

Portrait_of_Sarah_Booth in 1815

An 1815 portrait.

Booth was born in 1793 in Birmingham, and had a sister who also performed on the stage. Both were dancers at the time they were discovered in Manchester. Small in stature and with hair that was tinged red, Sarah was often cast in roles like Juliet, roles that required her to look younger.