BOOKS, Eighteenth Century, English Houses, library, royal life

A little bit of Althorp


One of The first things I bought this year was a stunning hardback cover of Althorp: The story of an English House by Charles Spencer.

What a great addition to my bookcase and I have actually put it on my desk. This is an absolute treasure for my book collection.

It is just OH SO GORGEOUS 😍😍😍

Charles Spencer 9th Earl inherited the estate as his grandfather’s eightieth birthday was in 1972 and the local paper in Northamptonshire took a photograph of him, Charles and his father.

Charles Spencer was based in Sandringham and Althorp was known as very Edwardian. It was a 2 hour drive from from Park House and Charles articulates that it is the most English of settings.

“His memory of those days included his grandmothers sitting room with beautiful, deep blue, hand painted frescoes and formal furniture that reflected her cool and natural aristocracy; a slice of sophistication in an otherwise stolidly traditional English stately home.”

See above.

His grandfather dominated the rest of Althorp.

And pores over the family records in the Muniment Room. Medieval household accounts, letters from leading Jacobean political figures and reminiscences of Victorian house parties all stored together.

The Muniment room is now gone in which it’s contents with the British Library much of it waiting to be catalogued.

One interesting fact is his father had to sell the great Holbein of Henry VIII to finance his education. He sold it for 10K pounds.

During his childhood his sisters and him rarely stayed the night at Althorp when his grandfather was there. If they did it was in the night nursery.

This is the Wooten Hall, painted by the early eighteenth century artist John Wooten.

Wooton painted all these works in 1733, in his studio in Marylebone, London, before they were transported to their permanent home at Althorp.

He was known as the best painter of horses in England.

This is the picture gallery. Chairs by the fireplace, bookcases against the wall, side tables positioned near the wall to give it a finish.

“In 1508 Althorp was bought by John Spencer for only 800 pounds and the house that you see today had its heart constructed as the family’s Northhamptonshire base.”

It had actually been catalogued in the Doomsday Book as “Olletorpe” which meant Ollas Thorpe. Ola was a Saxon Lord. And interestingly “Thorp” is a Scandinavian name. His grandfather called it “Awl Trupp”.

When Charles inherited the estate in 1992, the BBC Pronunciation Department sent him a letter saying that they would like to see it rever to the correct pronunciation. And gave him strict guidelines on how it should be pronounced.

It was called Antwerp by an American presenter and he believed Diana would have enjoyed that…..

CHARLES II BY MARY BEALE

The portrait of another monarch was also in the Picture Gallery – Lady Jane Grey the nine days queen painted by Lucas de Heere.

It is still at Althorpe.but in a different room. And shows

Lady Jane Grey at the age of 16 a year before she was executed sitting in a room at Broadgate, her family’s home In Leicestershire. Reading a religious text pretty in a red velvet dress. She showed her devotion to Protestantism whilst the Catholics were the ones involved in her execution.

This is a Tudor lady where they would like to “use the length of the gallery for exercise.”

They re call the Picture Gallery as being ‘a fine room for walking about in” – they always had breakfast there.

In 1695 the neighbouring nobility and gentry gathered to dine there in which they had come to pay their respects to William III, as he in turn had come to secure the support of Robert Spencer, Second Earl of Sunderland and master of Althorp.

 

In the History of England they quote:

 

“It seems strange that William should, in the course of what was really a canvassing tour honoured with such a mark of favour a man so generally distrusted and hated as Sunderland. but the people were determined to be pleased All Northamptonshire crowded to kiss that royal hand in that fine taller which had been embellished by the pencil of Vandyck and made classic by the muse f Waller, and the Earl tried to conciliate his neighbours by feasting them at eight tables all blazing with plate.”

299 years later, Charles Spencer give a dinner party in that same room for his 30th birthday.

In the Picture Gallery, between the Windsor Beauties and War and Peace is a tiny door cut neatly into the oak panelling. Harley ever used but leads to a staircase that joined the Pink Suite, a guest bedroom to the rest of the house. His great aunt who was Margaret Douglas-Home was the youngest of six children who lived at Althorn from 1910 onwards.

What I found out very interesting is this story:

 

The day Charles had guests over he was going through some leather bound volumes that were in relation to the house. One of them were a book of press cuttings from the mid nineteenth century kept by his great great grandfather Frederick, 4th Earl Spencer.

this is what the article said:

“One morning, the Dean came down to breakfast with the family and rather frostily complained to the then earl that in future he would prefer it if he was left undisturbed after retiring for the night. My ancestor asked the dean to expand. It transpired that the Dean had been awoken by a figure dressed as a groom entering his room, holding candles, who had gone round the bed, checking all the candles, who had gone round the bed, checking all the candles were properly snuffed out.”

The exact description of the ‘groom was agreed upon that it was the ghost of the previous earls favourite servant – whose job was to go round all the rooms at night, after everyone had retired, to check that no flame was still burning.

After Charles read it, he didn’t think anything of it, until one Sunday evening, he was helping his guests down with the luggage of the exact same room, The Oak Bedroom, when a lady said to him “I swear that someone came in here last night.” Now Charles didn’t think anything of it because he just thought it was someone going to bed late, or a guest having trouble looking for their room.

The lady continued to say “And the strange thing is he was holding a candelabrum and wearing an old uniform – a cloak.”

He said back to her well I have had a broad range of guests here at Althorn but no one dressing up like that!

So Charles decided to run up to the housekeeper who was cataloguing articles for a new museum she had created showing off some of the more historic items that had been put in storage rooms. He was about to take down a grooms cloak when instead he actually grabbed a footman uniform, and he thought ‘if she is lying, this will catch her out.’ He raced back down stairs and shows the clothing to the guest, Almost…. she said, but it was longer – more like this…. and she described in DETAIL the clothing of ‘an early nineteenth century Spencer groom.’

 

 

With the Oak Bedroom it was where John Spencer the first earl married his sweetheart in secret. This is another story that caught my eye, as

John Spencer’s father was called John, who was the favourite grandson of the Duchess of Marlborough, she had a fortune so large that she actually lent money to the Bank of England.

This financial power, the quick tempered matriarch was determined was not to go to her grandson the third duke of Marlborough but to his younger brother John. who died young through “over-abundance”.

Horace Walpole was slightly more sharp witted in pin pointing the main causes of his early demise, when writing to Sir Horace Mann in 1746; Jack Spencer, old Marlborough’s grandson and heir is dead, at the age of 37 and in possession of 30K pounds a year merely because he would not be abridged of thee invaluable blessings of an English subject.

The 12 year old John was left beneficiary to the GREATEST inheritance in the kingdom, spending it on diamond buckled shoes and building Spencer House.

So the only pressure on a young man with this amount of wealth was to marry, in order to ensure the money stayed in the direct family line.

When it came close to his 21st birthday Georgiana Poyntz was to be the chose one. She wasn’t an heiress. Georgiana was SO in love with him, according to a letter she wrote to her friends, and saying he was ‘handsomer than an angel’. She stayed at Althorp for the summer and they got engaged. They were to be wed, and John and Georgiana had planned to marry at Althorn on Christmas Day with nobody else knowing. Th wedding party convened in the Oak Bedroom which was occupied by Johns mother and step father. Those present were Georgiana’s  mother, brother and a Mr Holloway who conducted the service.

After the service they went back to the party that was going on in ALTHORP as though nothing had happened, in this kept hidden a secret marriage ended a famous happy one!

 

 

In 1688 a lady called Evelyn had this to say about Althorp.

“The house/palace is a noble uniform pile in form of a half H, built f brick and freestone, the hall is well, the staircase is excellent, the rooms of state, galleries, offices, and furniture such as may become a great prince. It is situated in the midst of a garden, exquisitely planted and kept and all this in a park walled in with hewn stone, planted with rows and walks of trees, canals, and fish ponds and stored with game.” Spencer, C, Althorp: The story of an English House, 1998, London, Penguin Group.

This account relate to the time of Second Earl of Sunderland Robert Spencer. This was the period where he was secretary of state to Charles II, James II and William III.

 

 

Charles believes the most magical painting to be in Althorp would have to be in the Picture Gallery which is called “War and Peace” by Gottfried Schalken.

 

 

In 1772 there was an announcement needing laborours to help repair the house. the ceiling in the library collapsed the next year and the floor was unsafe needing to put new ones in. George John got in contact with a Henry Holland who actually assisted with the construction of Battersea Bridge for the First Earl Spencer. He was a well known architect in London.

Holland started in 1785 repairing Spencer House and then was asked to design something to save Althorp/Spencer House. George Johns wife was a Lady Lavinia Bingham as shown above wasn’t exactly happy with Holland and didn’t like how much it was costing.

Althorp was transformed into a Georgian mansion and was classically beautiful.

Holland added a Library, Billiard Room and South Drawing Room. This was the beginning of the century in which the Library would be the dominant room at Althorp.

The library tells the story of the Spencer’s in the eighteenth and nineteenth century more eloquently.

Like me, there was one ancestor that was an avid collector of books.

And collecting early English Literature.

John, First Earl Spencer added to the family collection by buying the whole entire library of Doctor William George who was a headmaster at Eton College. Primarily, English.

George John transformed the Spencer library into the greatest private collection of books in England.

George had an interest in English Literature at a very early age.

As you can see in the picture the library room was filled with books full to the ceiling!

What I am most fascinated about was that in the final decade of his life, George John, ordered a copy of every single book published in England. ASTOUNDING!!!!!

Here we find, Frederick the fourth spencer inheriting Althorp who was a Naval Officer.

The Red Earl – John Fifth Earl Spencer was married to Charlotte Seymour, who was a great beauty and also called Spencers Fairy Queen.

Here we have the great dining room which was added to the side of the house, It is actually a copy of the ballroom in Buckingham Palace. and was created by MacVicar Anderson.

Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough had a family bible, which lists every member of the Spencer family. Naming their date of birth, place of christening, godparents, date and place of marriage, spouse, children and date of death.

but the library was sadly sold.

 

This is the Marlborough Room which was transformed int a dining room.

and this is one of the fireplaces taken from Spencer House to Altho to escape the Blitz.

Religious paintings were sold in large numbers under Raine’s management in the 1980’s.

and they had a painting which included a scene from Exodus – Moses in the bullrushes.

 

Holland’s Long Library, transformed during Raine’s redecorating spree in the 1980’s

and this is the South Drawing Room in the 1980’s, gilded to within an inch of its life.

The chapel, which was transformed in the 80’s into a humble junk room, was restored to its proper function. Full of religious paintings, the french grey of the walls was washed down rather than re painted, and the beautiful stained glass windows were bought from Wormleighton Manor in the nineteenth century.

This is a stained glass window in the Chapel, the armorial glass dates from 1588 and came Wormleighton Manor, the original Spencer family residence.

The Long library became Charles Spencer’s study andante had a busy lozenge carpet rolled back and natural colour restored, with the leather bound volumes showing their richly coloured spines off against a crisp, neutral backdrop, with sweeping views of the Deer Park.

Here is one of the pair of torcheres from Spencer House that now reside either side of the fireplace in the Saloon.

Hollands love of white was the authentic and practical solution. It had a candelabra, the room recaptured its majestic simplicity, the family portraits, an assortment of royal, and here is the Painters Passage. The moving of the china has freed of the area of where the china used to be, showing here that the Painters Passage is now displaying self-portraits. The most fascinating art forms.

There was a Sunderland Room and right next to it was The Marlborough Room, which here (above picture) is the drawing room.

They actually wanted to change it into a dining room.

The most notable collection of portraits was  picture of Georgiana, Countess Spencer with her daughter Lady Georgiana who was the Duchess of Devonshire, was done by Sir Joshua Reynolds, who actually was a close friend of the family.

These portraits of Lady Anne, and Lady Lavinia are the very essence of eighteenth – century portraiture which complements the house in all its majestic glory.

 

 

In modern times, Princess Diana who was born into the Spencer family, was the youngest daughter of Viscount and Viscountess Althorp, but she grew up in Sandringham. After her father inherited the title “Earl Spencer”, she then became “Lady Diana Spencer”. Growing up I didn’t know who she was and honestly didn’t know who she was till the day she died. I will aways remember that she passed away in 1997 the same year as my granny, so thats been etched in my mind for a while.

The last chapter of this book primarily focuses on Princes Diana and the legacy that she left behind. I highly recommend this book for your collection and you can find it on AMAZON for $51.67 or on the World of Books Australia website for $11.49 how cheap!!!!

 

 

I hope you liked reading, as I used some of the words from the book for those that don’t want to buy it, but want to catch a glimpse for free.

It is an absolute stunning picture book, and really dives into the life of the Spencers. I want to buy The Spencer Family: A Personal History of an English Family next time!!! It is $23.86, and It is on my book list!!!!

 

Love

 

Emmalisa

 

xx

Lady, poetry, Thoughts, writing

An Englishman’s Prayer


Today I am sharing with you one of my most favourite poems:

Lord, when I die, please let it be in Spring, 🌷

Let me see the swallows and hear a robin sing; 🐦

Help me to my window to see a butterfly 🦋

And watch the dreamy spiral of a lark up in the sky. 🦅

Let me hear the bleating of a new born baby lamb, 🐑

The gurgling of the water as it overflows the dam; 💦

The busy, busy buzzing of the ever active bees 🐝

And gentle sound of breezes whispering in the trees. 🌲

Let me enjoy the scent of spring when it comes to my last day

For that will give me pleasure as I gently slip away.

And may the last thing that I see be a little baby’s smile: 👶

For all these things have made my stay on this old earth worthwhile.

An Englishman’s Prayer 🙏

CREDIT: – Roy Hobbs –

BOOKS, Lady

Two FREE Regency Period books on Kindle to download by the end of the year


TWO FREE BOOKS on Amazon, Google Books, Apple and Kobo

Continue reading “Two FREE Regency Period books on Kindle to download by the end of the year”

writing

Creating Characters


Hello everyone.

Before we dive into the next topic in the Writing 101 series, there is a housekeeping issues I’d like to address. I have decided that I will publish writing posts not once but twice a week. You heard correct. That is twice not once a week. These days are Monday and Friday. I am going to try my best to get one done and published on Friday which will begin this new routine. Now for this evening’s topic.

Characters

Every book (whether good or bad) has characters. It is not a book or a story with a cast of main characters and secondary characters.

As the title suggests, main characters are the ones that drive the story.

For example, Frodo and Sam in Lord of the Rings drive the story. The same goes for Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice.

What should an author’s characters look like? Most characters are shaped from the author’s experiences. They are a form of who the author knows and of herself.

Developing characters that are based on yourself is totally okay too. Many authors before us have done this. I have two examples of this.

The first comes from one of my favorite childhood authors: Madeleine L’Engle. She wrote the famous Wrinkle in Time series and the Vicky Austen series.

When asked if she was like her heroines, she responded that she was both Meg Murray from A Wrinkle in Time and Vicky Austen.

My second example is J.K. Rowling. Rowling based the character of Hermonine a bookish young red head on herself.

Now, how does one go about forming a character? Well, it is safe to say that it is good to start perhaps with a name. Then from there start describe the person. Does she or he have blue eyes? Brown? Hazel? What hair color do they have? Where do they live?

But characters are more than just how they look. You need to make them three dimensional.

What does that mean? It means you must make your characters as real as possible. Readers must feel as if they characters they are reading about are real. Like someone they have known all their lives. Otherwise they won’t care about the story.

A while back I came across a wonderful worksheet for writing characters. A worksheet that goes beyond just giving your character a name, eye color, and hair color but it goes deeper to help you flesh them out.

Character Chart

I hope you find this chart helpful. Please let me know how forming your characters goes in the comments below. I’d love to hear how it goes! I am also filling out this chart for my characters in my new story.

Comment below and I will share how it is going for me as well. Stay tuned for the next installment which will be coming out on Friday. Until then, happy writing!

This is part of the Writing Series, Writing 101 with Gabrielle Emmons. The first post was “How to start a novel”.

BOOKS, History, writing

“How to start writing your novel” – with writer, Gabrielle Emmons


Recently I have been talking and collaborating with my very good friend, (a novelist and history enthusiast), an intelligent, studious and amicable lady who strives for greatness in her writing, Gabrielle Emmons. We have been talking a lot about writing in general and I came up with the idea of her doing a guest post on how she begins to write a novel. This is fantastic for those who are budding authors, ready for a new breathe of fresh air or something to their writing life.
I am proud to introduce her to my blog and with the upmost sincere thanks and gratefulness to have her feature on here.
You will find the full article here on her blog, Gabrielle M Emmons and you will also find that she works and keeps up with her own numerous blogs showcasing her work and authorship.
My absolute favourite blog of hers is Tea, Books and Britain because well, you know me! I have become the bit of an Anglophile! And the title is just Oh so perfect! And sums up my life basically. A cup of tea while watching “Escape to the country” or “60 Minute Makeover” has truly been the highlight of my afternoons.
Before I post her article I totally recommend for you to check out her excellent Book Review on “The Mark of the King”. This description on the back cover definitely makes me want to delve into it.

After being imprisoned and branded for the death of her client, twenty-five-year-old midwife Julianne Chevalier trades her life sentence for exile to the fledgling 1720s French colony of Louisiana, where she hopes to be reunited with her brother, serving there as a soldier. To make the journey, though, women must be married, and Julianne is forced to wed a fellow convict.

When they arrive in New Orleans, there is no news of Benjamin, Julianne’s brother, and searching for answers proves dangerous. What is behind the mystery, and does military officer Marc-Paul Girard know more than he is letting on?

With her dreams of a new life shattered, Julianne must find her way in this dangerous, rugged land, despite never being able to escape the king’s mark on her shoulder that brands her a criminal beyond redemption.

So, even if you haven’t clicked on that review, bookmark it or save it on your internet and make sure you get that little glimpse of a story of great and hopeful history. It truly has made me want to read it very soon!
In her Writing 101 – a new series blog post she states how we specifically have been discussing the idea on HOW to BEGIN writing a novel. It has truly been amazing talking with her about ideas and brainstorming and starting that novel in particular.
Now, let’s get started with her article which was published on September 12th 2017 on her History with Flair website. Grab yourself a drink (tea or water) and a notebook & pen or laptop. There is an activity at the end!

Many people have asked me how do I start the process for writing a novel. They have also asked me how do I find inspiration/ideas. So I thought I would do a blog series featuring writing. This is the first in the series and you can find more about it here.
So pull up a chair, grab your favorite beverage (mine is tea), and let’s get started. (Just a heads up there will be an assignment at the end of this post. But it shouldn’t be too bad).
First off, there is no one way to start the process of writing a novel. Each author has their own way of how to start that is unique to them. The key is to find one that works for you.
For example, some have a vague idea right away. Others have pictured a character or characters. Again, others have a couple of scenes already figured out.
It is all up to you.
For me, it varies. For my WWII novel set in England (which I have put on hold for now), I already had a vague understanding the plot.
For my Autumn themed story that is currently in the very early stages, I knew I wanted to have setting of the novel be during the Autumn months in MA because I love the Fall. I also knew who my main characters were.
Okay, homework time.
I want you to grab your favorite notebook and writing utensil. You can use your laptop if you prefer to type. I usually for this stage write it in a notebook and then transfer it to the computer later on.
Now, I want you to write down five ideas that could be potential stories. Don’t feel bad if you can only come up with one and two. It is a start.
The most important thing to remember is to have fun. Writing a novel should be fun.

How did you go with the activity?
I thought I would share one idea I came up with. Here is what I wrote:
Idea 5. Professor Wickman travels to London to start a new job at the City University of London. Committing his time and energy to his work and study is his priority and is all work, but through a period of time he learns to apply his work to excellence and focus on a project with his enchanting partner Lady Grosvenor from the affluent suburb of Mayfair. They eventually fall in love whilst working together and get married at St George Hanover Square.
It is not a complete idea but that is an example of ideas. First off starting with the main character, then a setting, place or particular location, the body and then the minor character fixed in there somewhere.
I skipped a whole part of what “could be” (a long plot) There could be so much more I could add to it and I am excited at the thought of creating a story again!
but I liked the idea of this so much I am thinking I am giving away a good story already! Well, that can be my next project!
Emmalisa
BOOKS, Lady

The Royal Collection Treasures


Introduction – The Royal Collection

One of the worlds greatest picture collections is found in this book, “The Royal Collection Treasures” involving masterpieces, splendours of the decorative arts, for example, I will touch on different sections such as furniture, or sculptures. It is not just only a collection, but a collection on collections which contain works of art.

I love the categories that I am going to share with you. It involves drawings, paintings, books, gems, tapestries, silver, porcelain, etc.

Surprisingly, the book says it is wholly unlike a museum collection which I thought that I would! But the British National Collections selectively provide a wide-ranging depiction of the arts and sciences with a specific purpose of showing the public what there is in an educating way.
Continue reading “The Royal Collection Treasures”

BOOKS, Celebrities, History, Lady, royal life

Duchess of Cornwall hosts ‘Duchess’s Bookshelves’ Garden Party


 

In tribute to Camilla’s 70th birthday I thought I would do a post on her, regardless of anything, I never thought of doing a post on her, but she is still part of the royal family! Please note that I used words from Royal Central which I absolutely loved because it is to do with reading and writing. It is such a good “read”! I would love to have elaborated  more, but Royal Centrals post was quite concise and succinct, so I hope you love reading this and of course, with both the word “bookshelf” and “garden party”, I’m in!

The Duchess has always been supportive of encouraging reading and writing in young children, and last year hosted a writing competition run by the BBC. This year she was been working with a project run by the National Literacy Trust, and in honour of her seventieth birthday later this month. The project has seen seventy books selected as the most popular books chosen by primary school children across the country. These seventy books complete with the Duchess’s bookshelves will be given to seventy selected primary schools across the country.

This Tuesday, Camilla welcomed a party of schoolchildren to Clarence House. Partly to launch the project, now the seventy books have been selected; and partly as an early birthday party. The children were brought to Clarence House in an iconic red bus driven by the comedian, Britain’s Got Talent judge, and children’s author David Walliams. David was probably quite please his own talent had been recognised – two of his books, Gangsta Granny and The Boy in the Dress were included in the seventy! A set of the books was also presented to the Duchess, who assured those gathered that the bookcase would be placed in a central place so that all five of her grandchildren could borrow them without fighting over them.

There is a wide selection of books on the list, which includes non-fiction books on coding and the solar-system together with fiction books that have been classics for children throughout the generations. These include classics by Road Dahl and Michael Bond who sadly died earlier this month, and more modern books like the first of the Harry Potter novels by JK Rowling, the books by David Walliams and the Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney.

The Duchess loves reading and sharing children’s books, and is the patron of several organisations which promote and support literacy, including the National Literacy Trust, Beanstalk, BookTrust, First Story, Roald Dahl and the Wicked Young Writer Awards.

She is also the Royal Patron of the National Literacy Trust who are behind this project.

Note: This is all copied from Royal Central, it is not my own words, but I loved it so much I had to share and particularly loved the reading/writing/literacy side of things.
 

  ❤️