Nevertheless, it is a charming and scenic spot.
The George Inn, located in Norton St. Philip, Somerset, claims to be England's oldest continuously operating inn. On the 2018 JASNA tour of England, we stopped here for a refreshing drink. And because a scene from the 1995 adaptation of Jane Austen's Persuasion was filmed here.
Captain Wentworth and Anne at breakfast in The George Inn. Most of the film was shot in Bath, only a dozen or so miles away.
No, none of the film was shot here, but you could book this room if you visited.
Here is the sign on the outside. And below, one on the inside.
As you can see above, The George Inn claims to be England's oldest pub, but if you google the term, you will find some from before the 12th century. Perhaps it is the "continuously" aspect they rely upon. Whatever, it has a fascinating history, also on an interior sign.
Now, of course, I wish I had purchased that book.
Nevertheless, it is a charming and scenic spot.
I could definitely see myself at this window-side table with a blazing fire across the room, writing up a storm. And locking the manuscript away in this lovely old desk.
And for a little fresh air, I could take a hike among the areas many pathways.
But instead, I boarded our comfy bus with my fellow Janeites to finish our trip from Lyme Regis to Bath. Spoiler alert: I got a lot of writing done in Bath! As you will soon see.
Usually I am quick to jump on the carousel when I hear of a Waterloo-related film or mini-series. But I must have been asleep because I totally missed out on the announcements of the new Amazon Prime series VANITY FAIR, based on the novel by William Makepeace Thackery, originally published as a multi-episode serial in 1847-48.
Olivia Cooke stars as Becky Sharpe, one of English literature's most intriguing characters, the heroine you love to hate or hate to love, either way. The seven-part series began in September 2018 and is available on Amazon Prime. Go directly to your tv and do whatever is necessary to find it. You can always binge watch on a free trial membership, I suppose.
Becky schemes to raise herself in the corrupt, shallow, and hypocritical Society of Regency England, searching for a husband who can afford her ambitions. Above she is greeting her school friend Amelia Sedley, played by Claudia Jessie, and Amelia's sweetheart George Osborne, played by Charlie Rowe.
One of my favorite British actors, Martin Clunes (of Doc Martin), is cast as the obnoxious Sir Pitt Crawley, a baronet who brings Becky to his household as a governess and has designs on her himself.
Becky, however, marries Rawdon Crawley, son of Sir Pitt, which enrages their rich relative, Miss Matilda Crawley, endangering Becky's plans for a rich and comfortable life.
Sir Pitt, Matilda (Frances de la Tour), Becky, Rawdon (Tom Bateman)...this quartet is not even slightly harmonious, as this picture might infer.
Complicating the personal stories of the characters, now in Brussels, the war continues...and concludes with the Battle of Waterloo.
Peace brings only more complications and skulduggery.
Presiding over the vanity fair is the ever-delightful Michael Palin, who provides the context for this tale of unscrupulous ambition, greed, immorality, and--spoiler alert--no happy endings
The costumes, as you have seen above, are outstanding...as are the settings. The Sedley home is located in London and is played by a townhouse in Fitzroy Square, one of the few places in the metropolis where you can absolutely FEEL the Regency still alive.
Marble Hill House, in Richmond, within Greater London, serves as the residence of Miss Matilda Crawley...by the way, the film refers to her as Lady Matilda, but in the novel she is a 'mere' Miss. Marble Hill House has a fascinating history in itself, one I shall explore with you soon. Below, Rawdon tends to his Aunt Matilda in the lavish bedchamber.
The setting for Sir Pitt's house is West Horsley Place in Sussex.
Vanity Fair has been filmed many times. One reason might be that Becky Sharp is such a wonderful, dastardly character that actresses beg to play the role. Until I saw this version, my favorite starred Natasha Little and was produced in six episodes in 1998. I recommend this version too, for once you experience Vanity Fair, you will want to do it again!
With a screenplay by Andrew Davies, you know it is going to be excellent!
Montacute House is a late Elizabethan building now owned by the National Trust. On the second floor, the long gallery is the site of exhibitions of portraits from London's National Portrait Gallery.
Guests wander among the exhibits and admire the 16th century architecture. The house had minimal alterations over the years. The exhibition portrays one branch of today's royal family tree.
Elizabeth [Stuart] of Bohemia (1596-1662), was the oldest daughter of James VI and I, King of Scotland, England, and Ireland. James I succeeded Queen Elizabeth I, after her death in 1603. Elizabeth Stuart's elder brother was Henry Stuart, who died at age 18 in 1612. Thus her younger brother Charles became the heir to the throne(s), eventually Charles I. When Queen Anne, the last Stuart monarch, died in 1714, George I became king. He was Elizabeth of Bohemia's grandson, the first of the House of Hanover.
Elizabeth Stuart (1596-1662), portrayed by an unknown artist in 1613. Elizabeth Stuart's mother was Anne of Denmark, and Elizabeth was the granddaughter of Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-1587). She wears a black armband, signifying her mourning for her brother Henry, Prince of Wales.
Frederick V King of Bohemia and Elector Palatine (1596-1632) painted by Gerrit van Honthorst posthumously (1635) and in Roman Garb, to indicate his status in the Holy Roman Empire. At their marriage in 1613. Elizabeth outranked her husband, who was officially Elector Palatine of the Rhine in the HRE. They resided in the palace at Heidelberg. Amidst serious conflict between Protestants and Catholics, in 1619, he was crowned King of Bohemia in Prague. In less than a year, battles of the Thirty Years War unseated him. Exile in the Hague ended for him at his death in 1632 of a fever, age only 36, leaving Elizabeth a widow with ten children, one less than a year old.
Prince Rupert (1619-1682) was their third son, a fighter for Protestant causes and eventually a Royalist commander in the English Civil War. In later years, he encouraged his mother to return to England where she died in 1662. This painting is also by van Honthorst, who resided in The Hague with Elizabeth's court in exile. His paintings were commissioned to advance the interests of her family and especially to promote their advantageous marriages. Prince Rupert, however, never married, though he had two long-term mistresses and a child with each of them, both of whom he acknowledged. He had a long career, after the Restoration, as an Admiral in the navy.
Elizabeth, Princess Palatine (1618-80), by van Honthorst, was the Winter Queen's eldest daughter. She had an intellectual bent, and corresponded for many years with French Philosopher Rene Descartes, who dedicated his Principia to her in 1644. She also resisted her mother's matchmaking and many eager suitors. She became the Abbess of a Protestant Abbey in Westphalia. The youngest daughter, Sophia, married Ernest Augustus of Brunswick-Luneburg in 1658, and became an Electress of Hanover. Her son became George I of Great Britain after the death of Queen Anne in 1714.
Elizabeth, Queen of Bohemia and Electress Palatine (1596-1662) From the studio of van Honthorst, c. 1642. Portrayed in mourning for her husband who died in 1632, she wore black all her life. Over the years, as her cause of reclaiming the Palatinate failed, her income declined. Married at age 16 and widowed at 36, she was the goddaughter of Elizabeth I, daughter of James I, sister of Charles I, and grandmother of George I.
Also on display at Montacute House are works from the National Portrait Gallery Collection of Elizabeth I and her circle and the court of James I. Above, Elizabeth I by an unknown artist, c. 1585-90, probably a copy provided to satisfy the widespread demand for images of the Great Queen. As she is often portrayed, she wears elegant and elaborate clothing and jewels.
Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester (1532-1588), was close to the Queen and held several important crown posts. Again, this a period copy by an unknown artist, one of several.
James I of England and VI of Scotland (1566-1625) was the father of The Winter Queen and followed Elizabeth I, who had no husband or children, on the throne. This painting, by John de Critz the Elder, is dated 1605. According to the text panel, King James "...reportedly presented this portrait to Sir Edward Phelips, the builder of Montacute." He was the son of Mary, Queen of Scots.
George Villiers (1592-1638) and his wife Katherine Manners (1603-1649) were 1st Duke and Duchess of Buckingham, with their children Mary and George, painted by an unknown artist after van Honthorst, 1628. Villiers was close to James I and became powerful and rich through his connections, founding a family that continues to the present.
This portrait of Princess Elizabeth, Queen of Bohemia and Electress Palatine (1596-1662), comes from the studio of Michiel Jansz. van Miereveldt, c. 1623. The text panel states, "A symbol of militant Protestantism in Europe, Elizabeth played on her association with her godmother and namesake; her supporters modelled themselves on chivalric knights and proclaimed allegiance to her as 'Queen of Hearts'."
Montacute House is an Elizabethan-era house in Somerset which I visited in July 2018 while on my way from Lyme Regis to Bath with the JASNA tour.
The West Front, above, was added to the house in 1787. The East Front, below, opens into the courtyard, now a garden and lawn. The house was built in the late Elizabethan period, about 1598, a typical Prodigy House of the era. The owner was Sir Edward Phelips (c.1555-1614), a wealthy lawyer and politician, Speaker of the House of Commons, one of the prosecutors of the 1605 Gunpowder Plotters, and later named Master of the Rolls.
The East Front exhibits an English Renaissance style, in the words of the website, the house "...must have seemed beyond the dreams of most of those who lived nearby, a work of astonishing splendour and pride...The architecture is a mix of two styles, the traditional Gothic and the new fashionable Renaissance...built on a grand scale with turrets, obelisks, shell niches, pavilions and walls of glass. On the east front stand the Nine Worthies, statues of biblical, classical and medieval figures, including Julius Caesar and King Arthur."
The Phelips family descendants lived at Montacute for more than 300 years before leasing it out in the early 20th century. Among the residents was Lord Curzon after his term as Viceroy of India. Once his wife died, he came to live at Montecute around 1915, sometimes with his mistress, the novelist Elinor Glyn. Lord Curzon installed modern plumbing, but only in his own bedroom.
The original plan of the house followed the medieval pattern of a Great Hall connected to subsequent more private chambers, without corridors. The remodeling of the house in the 18th century added a central corridor and the arrangement of rooms was altered.
Above, entrance into the Great Hall.
Above and below, views of the Great Hall.
Below, the Drawing Room. The portrait of three men hunting over the fireplace is by Daniel Gardner (1750-18050.
This drawing room was once a bedchamber; it is now furnished in the 18th century style. The red upholstered mahogany chairs are by William Linnell (1703-1763) of London, and were commissioned by Sir Richard Hoare for the drawing room at Barn Elms in 1753.
Above, the cabinet on a stand, left, is English, in the Japanese style, in lacquer and gilt, dating from the mid-18th century. The console table, at right, with the gilded eagle and marble top, dates from the mid-19th century.
The Library at Montacute House, Somerset ©National Trust Images/James Dobson. Most of the pictures were taken by me, but I failed to get a good overall shot of the former Great Chamber, now the library. Below, a corner detail, and the great fireplace.
Below, the Great Chamber/Library window with the arms of the family.
Montacute played the role of Cleveland House, the country home of Mr. and Mrs. Palmer in the 1995 film of Sense & Sensibility.
Garden views. The gardens with their quaint corner pavilions are lovely. Once probably used as small banqueting halls, the pavilions are empty now.
The Montacute Phelips Lions. Next week, the Long Gallery and an exhibition of portraits related to Queen Elizabeth II's ancestors, focusing on Elizabeth of Bohemia, 'The Winter Queen.'
Victoria Hinshaw, Author