Friday, June 7, 2019

Servants run the house...and fall in love with their employers? GASP!

I’ve often delighted in touring English houses. In every nook and cranny, I’ve found little joys that I’ve tried to add in my novels.
Regency Town House
Brighton, England
In my fictitious Dudley Crescent that I invented for this series, Delightful Doings in Dudley Crescent, I take bits and pieces from a few houses I’ve visited in England. Most often, I reference floor plans for a house in Brighton that I recommend everyone visit. This house, officially dubbed Regency Town House, is currently being restored by volunteers who are specialists in home construction and Regency period lifestyles. They have formed a non-profit organization and promote their work in Brighton, offering tours, dinners and other entertainments to educate everyone. 
When I last visited, this group was involved in discovering the original paint colors on the walls, ceilings and fittings. Here I show you the intricate design on drawing room shutters. Each house in Brunswick Square originally sold in the 1820s for approximately three thousand pounds. This did not include cost of such items as chandeliers, elaborate moldings, draperies or furnishings. A buyer could expect to purchase his or her own embellishments, according to his means, to make the house a home.
Butler's Wine Cellar,
Brighton England
When completed, a townhouse would be home not only to the owners’ family but also a team of servants. In this Brighton home, for example, servants could enter the house from the front street with steps down to the basement. There the housekeeper had her spacious room, the butler his wine cellar, the servants their dining room, an exit to the center kitchen garden and the servants’ privy! From the center hall in the basement, servants waited upon their masters upstairs accessing their own staircase. This rough-hewn wooden set of steps was narrow and lit only by one window. Near this staircase is the kitchen, a wide expanse with cupboards, a glass ceiling and a huge fireplace. Maids slept in an alcove in the kitchen and footman slept on the cold stone floor. From the kitchen, one could exit to the mews.
Shutter decor
Regency Town House,
Brighton, England
While my Dudley Crescent townhouses most nearly resemble the Brunswick Square Brighton townhouses, they haves similarities to the Royal Crescent in Bath and to those in Earl’s Court in London. A few similarities also exist with architect Sir John Soanes’ house in London. Do visit this house when you are there next. Wonders abound, especially his device for hanging and displaying his precious collection of paintings. 
Door Decor
Syon House,
London, England
Townhouses showed the owners’ wealth and status. These homes often rivaled the nobles’ main country homes and their London residences in quality and appointments. Owners brought in sculptures, paintings and furnishings and even built little libraries. Whether in London or in smaller cities and towns, the different layouts and styles offer a treasure trove for a happy tourist!
Noting how Belle, my heroine in HIS TEMPTING GOVERNESS, hid her documents in secret drawers, I will tell you that the cabinetmaker acclaimed for this was George Hepplewhite. An Englishman, he crafted desks and other types of cabinetry with hidden compartments. His work, often imitated by other lesser known craftsmen, was popular. Belle’s family could have owned quite a few pieces that resembled his style.
Kentish Chronicle, August 4, 1820
I will say as an aside that the auction of Belle’s house was a usual phenomenon. Numerous advertisements appeared daily in newspapers, detailing the auction of houses and contents. Some were estates owned by titled men and women, others had been those of tradesmen or those who had gone bankrupt. Contents up to bid could include everything in the house! Auctions were a means for many families to survive financial ruin.
Be sure to pre-order HIS TEMPTING GOVERNESS now for half price! After release, it will be $3.99!  BUY HERE!

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