Above, the North Facade of Sudbury Hall; below, the South or Garden Facade. On July 7, 2018, this blog visited Lyme Park, the setting for exterior scenes of Pemberley in the 1995 BBC miniseries of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice (the version starring Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy). The interior scenes of the series were shot here at Sudbury Hall, though of course there are many other excellent features of the estate we can visit.
George Vernon (1635-1702) designed and oversaw the creation of this house beginning in 1660, after Charles II took the restored throne, and continuing into the 1690's. Vernon, descended from the Vernon family of Haddon Hall, married an heiress and inherited this estate, to which he devoted his life. Below the magnificent plasterwork ceiling of the Long Gallery on the top floor.
The Long Gallery is more than 165 feet long, topped by the work of Robert Bradbury and James Pettifer in the 1670's.
In this scene from Pride & Prejudice, the BBC 1995 version, the housekeeper shows family portraits to the visiting Elizabeth Bennet and the Gardiners.
Obviously the gallery serves as an excellent exhibition space for the family's art collection as well as other treasures.
The ceiling designs are intricate indeed. All sorts of flora and fauna are included, such as the shells above, and even grasshoppers elsewhere.
A brilliant Oriental Laquered Cabinet.
The Red Room is also known as the Queen's Room. After her husband's death, Queen Adelaide lived here for portion of the 1840's.
The alabaster chimneypiece was carved by William Wilson in 1670.
Above and below, scenes from Pride & Prejudice, where Darcy changes his coat.
The elaborately decorated staircase
The elaborate Staircase is a work of art in itself.
The Gardiners and Elizabeth follow the housekeeper upstairs.
Above, part of our tour group admires the staircase and ceiling.
Even in the film, everyone admires the staircase. Below, under the stairs is a painting by Laguerre of Juno and the Peacock, c. 1692. Louis Laguerre (1663-1721). a French artist, painted numerous ceilings in British houses such as Chatsworth, Blenheim and Burghley, as well as here at Sudbury.
A great deal to admire.
As we have seen, the ceilings throughout the house are amazing. The painting above, on the Drawing Room ceiling, is entitled Venus petitioning Jupiter, though the artist's name is unknown.
Among the best known of the many artists whose work is on view in Sudbury Hall, is the sculptor Grinling Gibbons (1678-1721) whose exquisite wood carvings can be found in the Drawing Room. His work was accomplished in 1678 and records book show a payment to him of £40.
In addition to touring the house and gardens, the NT hosts the Museum of Childhood on the premises.
Bath's Royal Crescent, 30 terraced houses, was built 1767-1774 by John Wood the Younger, home of many illustrious personages over the 250 years of its fame. It is fronted by 114 Ionic columns in a harmonious and symmetrical design famed worldwide.
This view of the Royal Crescent from 1794 shows No 1 at the right center. When I visited in July 2018, however, the famous lawn had browned in the unusual English hot weather and lack of rainfall -- and you know what replaced that carriage.
View of the Royal Crescent from the drawing room of Number One.
The restored house at Number One stands at the easternmost end of the Royal Crescent; please ignore the autos...pretend they are barouches.
Here, outside the entrance is a more period-accurate method of transportation, requiring, of course, two strong chairmen.
This model of No. 1 Royal Crescent gives an ideal of what the building would look like without all the cars and the attached houses of the Crescent. The building is leased to the Bath Preservation Trust as a museum of life as it would have been for residents in the years 1776-1796. Many furnishings are on loan from other museums.
The Parlour is described as a sort of 'family room,' where informal meals were served, the newspapers read, household business accomplished, and casual comfort was valued over show.
To view full-size images (above) click on each one.
The Dining Room was designed for elegant meals in which the guests enjoyed the finest in food and display. The table and sideboard are set for a sumptuous dessert.
To view full-size images (above) click on each one.
The Withdrawing Room was the height of fashionable elegance. The portrait over the sofa is of Mary Delaney, on loan from The harpsichord sas made in 1770 by Jacob Kirkman of Alsace (1710-1792).
To view full-size images (above) click on each one.
The Lady's Bedchamber is furnished as a retreat for the female resident, with a dressing table, washstand with a bourdaloue (ladies' chamber pot) and sewing table.
I particularly enjoyed seeing the Cabinet of Curiosities, in which gentlemen of leisure assembled and displayed their items of natural history and artifacts from foreign cultures, all reflecting their interests in scientific study and collection.
In the service courtyard and tradesmen's staircase, the gossiping maids must have bee on a break or with the lounging footmen behind the scenes
Recently, the service wing was restored and fitted out as it would have been on the cusp of the 19th century. Always fascinating is the number of people needed below stairs to maintain the leisurely life of their masters above.
The Housekeeper's Room
L-r from top: passageway connecting to service wing; kitchen implements; bottom: ingredients for cooking, with sugar loaf in the center; the scullery.
This aerial photo from Wikipedia shows the perfectly uniform facade and the varied rear arrangements of the individual houses. No regulations for the backs were included with the precise directions for the fronts! Other than the picture above and the two at the beginning of the post, the photos were taken by me in July 2018.
It is often said, the Americans and the British are divided by their common language. How true that is! And a few other quirks on either or both sides! Here are few signs I chuckled over.
At Bramall Hall, restricting dogs from the house.
You never know!! Bzzzzzz....
Above, at Lyme Hall.
Fish n' Chips in Ryde, Isle of Wight
A shop in Chichester
At Montisfont Abbey
Somehow this sign in Salisbury Cathedral rattled me. The juxtaposition, while practical, seemed bizarre.
A house in Bath
This parking sign almost obliterated by the cars in front of it could be anywhere in the world -- this is in Lyme Regis.
To conclude...keep it closed!
This beautiful regency work table stands in Motissfont Abbey, Hampshire. Here is the National Trust's description: Sewing Table 1811-1820 Mahogany, rosewood, silk and brass; has also a backgammon board
The china at Motissfont.
Above, a lovely silk pelisse from Lyme Park.
A traveling medicine chest from Beaulieu Palace
Ticket to the Coronation of George IV in 1821
Ensemble worn by Baron Montagu to the Coronation of George IV in 1821; from Beaulieu Abbey
Sketch of the Baron and friend in costume
This print is Harriet, 4th Duchess of Buccleuch (1773-1814), youngest daughter of the 1st Viscount Sydney; she married Charles, 4th Duke of Buccleuch, in 1795. The eldest male of their nine children was Walter Francis, 5th Duke, great-great grandfather of the present Baron Montagu.
The Dolphin in Southampton was a coaching inn for centuries. Jane Austen celebrated her 18th birthday here in 1793 and was known to dance in its ballroom at assemblies.
One of many regency-era portraits by Sir Thomas Lawrence (1760-1830), this view of the Honourable Emily Mary Lamb was painted in 1803 when she was sixteen years of age. At the National Gallery.
This marble bust of George Granville Leveson-Gower, 1st Duke of Sutherland (1758-1833), was scuplted by Sir Francis Chantry (1781-1841), a leading artist of the era. In the National Portrait Gallery
Dover House, in Whitehall, London, Grade-I listed, once known as Melbourne House (1793-1830), home of Viscount and Viscountess Melbourne and their children, including William Lamb (later Prime Minister Melbourne), his wife Lady Caroline Lamb, Frederick Lamb, and the above pictured Hon. Emily Lamb. In 1792, the Duke of York, then resident in the structure, traded this building for the Melbourne's home, Albany in Piccadilly, now divided into apartments. Dover House is currently the Scotland office, and sits next to Horse Guards.
At the left, above, an 1828 portrait of Jane Whittaker, wife of Sir George Crewe, 8th Baronet, by Ramsay Richard Reinagle; at Calke Abbey; at right, the National Trust image
View of Chiswick Villa, Derby China, 1811-15; displayed at Chatsworth
Above, One of a pair of D-shaped commodes, 1788, by Samuel Cooper and John Savage for Gillows of Lancaster; Inlaid mahogany with tulipwood, from the Courtauld Galleries, London; below, Embroidered kid gloves, from The Vyne, Hampshire
Silk Suit belonging to Edward Austen (1767-1852), brother of Jane Austen; thought to be worn by him about the time, c. 1782, he was adopted by wealthy distant relatives, the Knights, from whom he inherited Chawton Great House and Godmersham Park in Kent; seen behind (reflective) glass in Chawton House Library, Hampshire. At right, his journal from his Grand Tour.
Above, the north front of Kedleston Hall from The National Trust.
I was saving my energy for seeing the house and gardens, so I did not walk far enough way to get the whole edifice, so thanks, NT!
I suppose the sheep follow their own inclinations, but they certainly seemed to be attractively arrayed across the park.
The South Front of the center structure was re-designed after architect Robert Adam replaced the original architect Matthew Brettingham. Adam brought a Neo-Classical approach to alter the former plans, such as the inspiration for this facade being Rome's Arch of Constantine.
Brettingham's plan shows a central pavilion flanked by four wings. But only two were actually built. In the photo below from the website, on the left is the kitchen and the church. The right-hand wing is the family residence.
Eventually only two of the side buildings were constructed, as shown in this aerial photo taken from the south,.
This drawing from the NT Kedleston Guidebook, illustrates how the central pavilion is designed for entertainment: a vast hall for large gatherings ends in a dramatic rotunda for display. The circuit of rooms on the sides include a library, drawing room, dining parlor, music room, and state bedroom.
The Marble Hall, above and below, boasts twenty 25-foot high columns of Derbyshire alabaster, actually not marble at all.
Below, the Rotunda or Saloon, modeled by Adam after Rome's pantheon, with an oculus at the center top.
Artworks are displayed high on the walls., both paintings of Ancient Rome and carved friezes.
The alcoves are decorated with urns on plinths.
The sun shining through the oculus moves across the room throughout the day.
The Drawing Room was designed by James Paine before Adam took control of the house. The Marble Fireplace Surround was designed by Michael Sprang and the four priceless sofas by John Linnell of London in the mid-18th c. The Waterford chandelier was hung in 1770.
The Music Room contains both a harpsichord and an organ.
The Dining Room decor is relatively restrained in comparison with the adjacent magnificence.
In the alcove in the dining room, you see a collection of serving pieces once used on formal occasions.
The Wardrobe, a part of the State Apartment
The State Bed is one of those exuberant creations by Adam that defy one's imagination. Below, one of Adam's other such beds at Osterley Park. Certainly fit for a monarch!
Back at Kedleston, we wandered through the many displays devoted to the family, especially to the 1st Marquess Curzon and his wife, the American-born Mary Leiter of Chicago and Lake Geneva, WI, who served as Viceroy and Vicereine of India in 1899-1905.
Mary, Lady Curzon, died at the early age of 35. She was the mother of three daughters, said to be the models for the character of Cora, Lady Grantham, and her daughters in Downton Abbey. The Curzons are buried and memorialized in All Saints Church at the Hall. Below. the marble effigies are watched over by a pair of angels, as scupted by Australian artist Sir Bertram Mackennal.
The Garden provides many lovely vistas.
A copy of the Medicean Lion by Joseph Wilson, on a plinth designed by Robert Adam,, c. 1765.
Last week I wrote about the back-to-back attached houses that makeup Wentworth Woodhouse. seen above in an aerial shot. Built in the mid-18th century by an immensely wealthy and politically-connected Whig family, by the mid-20th century, it had become a gigantic 'white elephant,' more expensive to staff and maintain than anyone could afford after wartime austerity and taxes.
The story of the great estate is told in Catherine Bailey's excellent 2014 book, Black Diamonds.
Below left, the wedding portrait of the Hon. William "Billy" Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington, heir to the 10th Duke of Devonshire, and Kathleen "Kick" Kennedy, daughter of the former U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James Joseph P. Kennedy and sister of the future U.S. president John F. Kennedy. Cavendish was killed just a few months after their wartime wedding, leaving Kick the widowed Marchioness of Huntington. Note in the picture at the rear behind Kick, is Joe Kennedy, the eldest brother, who also died during the war.
The picture at right is Peter Wentworth-Fitzwilliam. the 8th and last Earl Fitzwilliam, with whom Kick fell in love a few years later. They died together in a 1948 plane crash on their way to a tryst in southern France. Not only was this another tragic Kennedy family loss, it was a disaster for the future of Wentworth Woodhouse. Death duties were astronomical and after many futile attempts to "save" the estate, it was leased to the Lady Mabel School for Female Physical Education Teachers.
Imagine the dancing classes held on this priceless marble floor. And sadly, due to coal mining near the house, parts of the structure have settled, leaving cracks and other damage.
After the college moved out, individuals made valiant attempts to save the house(s), but the millions needed were beyond belief. A number of recent films were partially shot here.
In Mr. Turner (2014), the Marble Hall served as the Royal Academy of Art in the biopic of Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851), renowned British artist.
In Darkest Hour (2017), the Whistlejacket Room appeared as Buckingham Palace when Mr. Churchill, played by Gary Oldman met with the King.
Below, shots from Victoria. The Queen reviews troops with Prince Albert in front of Wentworth Woodhouse.
In 2017, the Preservation Trust was formed to raise funds and protect Wentworth Woodhouse. They have daunting tasks ahead of them, including stabilizing the foundations. Weddings and other group events can be booked and the house and gardens are open for tours. For more information, see
Wentworth Woodhouse is the largest privately owned house in Europe, built in two sections by the Marquess of Rockingham in South Yorkshire. This is the East front.
The West front is a baroque style house which did not meet with its owner's approval after completion, so he built the Palladian style structure, which fit in with the prevailing norms of his aristocratic Whig friends.
On the series Victoria. one of many film projects set here.
We entered on the ground floor into a forest of pillars
holding up the floor in the marble hall above
A magnificent ballroom or site for banqueting
with a balcony for good viewing.
Adjacent rooms were elegantly appointed,,.
Above left, in the Whitstlejacket Room, they have hung a copy of the famous painting at Wentworth Woodhouse; on the right, the original by George Stubbs at the National Gallery, London. Whistlejacket was a champion racehorse owned by the family.
In the Van Dyke Room, a magnificent fireplace.
These rooms are used for tour groups, lectures, and weddings. The Trust hopes to refurnish them appropriately when suitable pieces are acquired.
For now, the reception rooms are easily set up for meetings, weddings, and banquets.
On the upper floors, considerable repairs are needed, making a gigantic task for the new Preservation Trust.
One of the few bedrooms we saw...of the dozens and dozens in the house.
The Palladian window in the chapel
Here is the point at which the two houses meet, and the remaining bits of an earlier house, which include this Garden Gate, attributed to architect Inigo Jones.
The facade of the baroque house, quite handsome in its way, but apparently smacking of the wrong political and social mores.
Only a few remainders of the once-magnificent gardens are still in evidence, but the view from the South Terrace is lovely.
The 15-foot high "Punch Bowl," a gigantic urn, was illuminated for important functions. The folly below was designed in the style of an ionic temple.
The fascinating book about Wentworth Woodhouse and its families reads like a novel. It tells the whole story, great successes, hard time, dazzling fortunes, famous scandals and tragedies.
The quite familiar (to lovers of Jane Austen films) facade of Lyme Park which was used for the exterior shots of Pemberley in the Colin Firth-Jennifer Ehle version of Pride and Prejudice produced in 1995.
Above, three images from the film version, and below, the Garden in September 2017.
Below, the souvenirs in the gift shop -- mugs, tea towels, chocolates, and the DVD among other treasures.
Just a day in advance of the 2017 Number One London Country House Tour, four of us who had arrived early in Manchester decided to jump the gun and take a taxi to the NT site.
The view as we entered did not look like the one above which overlooks the lawns and park. Where were the columns, I wondered?
The north facade looks somewhat like the Elizabethan house it once was, with Georgian additions such as sash windows, etc.
This photo, from Wikipedia, gives a better view of the north facade, which is described in the guidebook as "the exuberant Elizabethan frontispiece executed for Sir Piers Legh VII in about 1570..." There have been about thirteen or fourteen Sir Piers or Sir Peter Leghs in the family's five century ownership of the property.
The very sober Courtyard entrance
The Courtyard was completed in the early 17th century by Sir Peter IX to the designs of Giacomo Leoni in the Palladian style. In the courtyard , we received our instructions.
So we popped into the ticket office and showed our Royal Oak passes before proceeding into the house. Of course we knew that the Pride and Prejudice 1995 interiors were shot at Sudbury Hall (we'll go there soon), and thus the rooms were entirely new to us. Only exterior shots of Lyme Park were used in that version.
In the Entrance Hall, Leoni remodeled the original Great Hall but retained evidence of the house's antiquity.
In addition Mortlake tapestries from the Hero and Leander series, C. 1625, adorn the walls; the room was used as a ballroom from time to time.
The Library, in the two photos below, is one of those places I want to spend a few days perusing the many shelves of books.
Oh, to be turned loose on these shelves!
The Dining room was added in 1814 by Thomas Legh in an addition designed by architect LewisWyatt on the east front.
The table setting is Edwardian, c. 1908.
The Yellow Bedroom was furnished in the early 18th century, with the elegant bed contrasting with the colorful Flemish tapestries on three walls.
In the adjacent dressing room, regency-era items of feminine apparel are shown. The grey silk pelisse is exquisite.
The Saloon sits behind the memorable portico on the South Facade. As the principal receiving room, it is paneled in oak and boasts a fine walnut harpsichord by John Hitchcock of London, from the mid 1760's.
The Grand Staircase was designed by Leoni in the early 18th century. At the top is a portrait of Thomas Legh (1792-1857) an avid traveler in his Nubian (Egyptian) dress, painted c. 1820 by William Bradley.
The Long Gallery, above, on the first floor, was designed for exercise on inclement days and as an all purpose room for family activities, such as amateur theatricals, as well as being a picture gallery.
In the second decade of the 19th century, architect Lewis Wyatt designed the Orangery and its colorful terrace.
The Dutch garden should be viewed from above, for which it is magnificently designed.
Lyme Park was full of surprises. I had expected it to be a classic Palladian house, precisely the modern structure Jane Austen described as Pemberley. Instead, I found everything from remnants of its origin as medieval hunting lodge through examples of myriad design styles to the eclectic combination of today. Yet it all seems of a piece, fittingly so.
In honor of the recent anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, fought June 18, 1815, here is the second part of Fanny Burney’s (aka Madame d’Arblay ) experiences in Belgium. We take up Burney’s account of Brussels again on the day of the Battle of Quatre Bras.
“I was again awakened at about five o'clock in the morning Friday, 16th June, by the sound of a bugle in the March aux Bois: I started up and opened the window. But I only perceived some straggling soldiers, hurrying in different directions, and saw lights gleaming from some of the chambers in the neighbourhood: all again was soon still, and my own dwelling in profound silence, and therefore I concluded there had been some disturbance in exchanging sentinels at the various posts, which was already appeased: and I retired once more to my pillow, and remained till my usual hour…
(Later) “… my ears were alarmed by the sound of military music, and my eyes equally struck with the sight of a body of troops marching to its measured time. But I soon found that what I had supposed to be an occasionally passing troop, was a complete corps; infantry, cavalry artillery, bag and baggage, with all its officers in full uniform, and that uniform was black.... I learned it was the army of Brunswick. How much deeper yet had been my heartache had I foreknown that nearly all those brave men, thus marching on in gallant though dark array, with their valiant royal chief at their head, the nephew** of my own king, George III., were amongst the first destined victims to this dreadful contest, and that neither the chief, nor the greater part of his warlike associates, would within a few short hours, breathe again the vital air!...
“What a day of confusion and alarm did we all spend on the 17th!...That day, and June 18th, I passed in hearing the cannon! Good heaven! what indescribable horror to be so near the field of slaughter! such I call it, for the preparation to the ear by the tremendous sound was soon followed by its fullest effect, in the view of the wounded, the bleeding martyrs to the formidable contention that was soon to terminate the history of the war. And hardly more afflicting was this disabled return from the battle, than the sight of the continually pouring forth ready-armed and vigorous victims that marched past my windows to meet similar destruction.”
Many offers of escort out of Brussels were discussed and several attempted but none were successful. The military had confiscated all vehicles and barges destined for the roads and canals to Antwerp or Ostend.
Amidst reports on her conversations with those trying to escape, “I found upon again going my rounds for information, that though news was arriving incessantly from the scene of action, and with details always varying, Bonaparte was always advancing…Yet no clamour, no wrangling, nor even debate was intermixed with either question or answer; curiosity, though incessant, was serene; the faces were all monotony, though the tidings were all variety. I could attribute this only to the length of time during which the inhabitants had been habituated to change both of masters and measures, and to their finding that, upon an average, they neither lost nor gained by such successive revolutions…No love of liberty buoyed up resistance; no views of independence brightened their imagination; and they bore even suspense with the calm of apparent philosophy, and an exterior of placid indifference.”
These are just a few of her observations, but I have attempted to choose the most relevant ones. At last, we come to the day of the main battle.
“But what a day was the next — June 18th — the greatest, perhaps, in its result, in the annals of Great Britain!...” Despite the streets full of people, “when every other hour changed the current of expectation, no one could be inquisitive without the risk of passing for a spy, nor communicative without the hazard of being suspected as a traitor…”
Her friend Mr. Boyd “…feared all was lost-that Bonaparte was advancing-that his point was decidedly Brussels-and that the Duke of Wellington had sent orders that all the magazines, the artillery, and the warlike stores of every description, and all the wounded, the maimed, and the sick, should be immediately removed to Antwerp. For this purpose he had issued directions that every barge, every boat should be seized…”
“The dearth of any positive news from the field of battle, even in the heart of Brussels, at this crisis, when everything that was dear and valuable to either party was at stake, was at one instant nearly distracting in its torturing suspense to the wrung nerves, and at another insensibly blunted them into a kind of amalgamation with the Belgic philosophy. At certain houses, as well as at public offices, news, I doubt not, arrived; but no means were taken to -- promulgate it -- no gazettes, as in London, no bulletins, as in Paris, were cried about the streets; we were all left at once to our conjectures and our destinies.”
… “What a dreadful day did I pass! dreadful in the midst of its glory! for it was not during those operations that sent details partially to our ears that we could judge of the positive state of affairs, or build upon any permanency of success. Yet here I soon recovered from all alarm for personal safety, and lost the horrible apprehension of being in the midst of a city that was taken, sword in hand, by an enemy -- an apprehension that, while it lasted, robbed me of breath, chilled my blood, and gave me a shuddering ague that even now in fancy returns as I seek to commit it to paper.”
Eventually Burney heard an account from a witness to the battle; (Mr. Saumarez’s) “…narration was all triumphant and his account of the Duke of Wellington might almost have seemed an exaggerated panegyric if it had painted some warrior in a chivalresque romance. . . . I could not but be proud of this account: independent from its glory; my revived imagination hung the blessed laurels of peace. But though Hope was all alive, Ease and Serenity were not her companions: Mr. Saumarez could not disguise that there was still much to do, and consequently to apprehend; and he had never, he said, amongst the many he had viewed, seen a field of battle in such excessive disorder. Military carriages of all sorts, and multitudes of groups unemployed, occupied spaces that ought to have been left for manoeuvring or observation. I attribute this to the various nations who bore arms on that great day in their own manner; though the towering generalissimo of all cleared the ground, and dispersed what was unnecessary at every moment that was not absorbed by the fight.”
As she returned to her lodging, “Three or four shocking sights intervened during my passage, of officers of high rank, either English or Belge, and either dying or dead, extended upon biers, carried by soldiers. The view of their gay and costly attire, with the conviction of their suffering, or fatal state, joined to the profound silence of their bearers and attendants, was truly saddening ; and if my reflections were morally dejecting, what, oh what were my personal feelings and fears, in the utter uncertainty whether this victory were more than a passing triumph!”
Though confident of victory, no one knew at the moment that for all practical purposes, Napoleon’s reign was over and peace would soon be restored to Europe.
“It was not till Tuesday, the 20th, I had certain and satisfactory assurances how complete was the victory. At the house of Madame de Maurville I heard confirmed and detailed the matchless triumph of the matchless Wellington, interspersed with descriptions of scenes of slaughter on the field of battle to freeze the blood, and tales of woe amongst mourning survivors in Brussels to rend the heart. While listening with speechless avidity to these relations, we were joined by M. de la Tour du Pin, who is a cousin of Madame de Maurville, and who said the Duke of Wellington had galloped to Brussels from Wavre to see the Prince of Orange and inquire in person after his wounds. Prince Blucher was in close pursuit of Bonaparte, who was totally defeated, his baggage all taken, even his private equipage and personals, and who was a fugitive himself, and in disguise! The duke considered the battle to be so decisive, that while Prince Blucher was posting after the remnant of the Bonapartian army, he determined to follow himself as convoy to Louis XVIII.”
Even so, the ordeal of Brussels and its inhabitants was not finished. Burney writes, “The duke now ordered that the hospitals, invalids, magazines, etc., should all be stationed at Brussels, which he regarded as saved from invasion and completely secure. It is not near the scene of battle that war, even with victory, wears an aspect of felicity-no, not even in the midst of its highest resplendence of glory…For more than a week from this time I never approached my window but to witness sights of wretchedness. Maimed, wounded, bleeding, mutilated, tortured victims of this exterminating contest passed by every minute: the fainting, the sick, the dying and the dead, on brancards, in carts, in waggons, succeeded one another without intermission. There seemed to be a whole and a large army of disabled or lifeless soldiers! All that was intermingled with them bore an aspect of still more poignant horror ; for the Bonapartian Prisoners who were now poured into the city by hundreds…”
“…Everybody was wandering from home; all Brussels seemed living in the streets. The danger to the city, which had imprisoned all its inhabitants except the rabble or the military, once completely passed, the pride of feeling and showing their freedom seemed to stimulate their curiosity in seeking details on what had passed and was passing. But neither the pride nor the joy of victory was anywhere of an exulting nature.”
She heard stories from participants, but nothing could quell her horror. “I met at the embassy an old English officer who gave me most interesting and curious information, assuring me that in the carriage of Bonaparte, which had been seized, there were proclamations ready printed, and even dated from the palace of Lachen, announcing the downfall of the Allies and the triumph of Bonaparte ! But no satisfaction could make me hear without deadly dismay and shuddering his description of the field of battle. Piles of dead! — Heaps, masses, hills of dead bestrewed the plains!”
In Brussels, “Thousands, I believe I may say without exaggeration, were employed voluntarily at this time in Brussels in dressing wounds and attending the sick beds of the wounded. Humanity could be carried no further; for not alone the Belgians and English were thus nursed and assisted, nor yet the Allies, but the prisoners also; and this, notwithstanding the greatest apprehensions being prevalent that the sufferers, from their multitude, would bring pestilence into the heart of the city.”
Frances Burney, Madame d’Arbly, remained in Brussels for almost a month after the battle. She learned that the wars were over on June 26. “We were all at work more or less in making lint. For me, I was about amongst the wounded half the day, the British, s'entend! The rising in France for the honour of the nation now, and for its safety in independence hereafter, was brilliant and delightful…”
“On the following Sunday I had the gratification of hearing, at the Protestant chapel, the Te Deum for the grand victory, in presence of the King and Queen of the Low Countries — or Holland, and of the Dowager Princess of Orange, and the young warrior her grandson. This prince looked so ill, so meagre, so weak, from his half-cured wounds, that to appear on this occasion seemed another, and perhaps not less dangerous effort of heroism, added to those which had so recently distinguished him in the field…”
These are only a portion of Frances Burney’s memoirs of the period. They were chosen from the on-line version of the Diary and Letters of Madame d’Arblay edited by her Niece Charlotte Barrett, volume IV, available on Google Books. Also used was Fanny Burney: Selected letters and Journals edited by Joyce Hemlow, published in 1986.
A postscript to her time in Belgium was Madame d‘Arblay’s audacious journey to reach her husband in July, 1815. While still in the King’s service, he had been injured by the kick of a horse, a wound to his leg from which he never fully recovered. Alone and without complete papers and passports, she set out from Brussels, determined to get to him. Traveling conditions in the region were disrupted and confusing, but she was intrepid and eventually, she was reunited with “her best friend.” Over the next few weeks, while she nursed him, they assembled their belongings in Paris, secured his release from the King’s service, and returned to England. The d’Arblays took up residence in Bath, there the general died in May, 1818.
*Lady Caroline Lamb (1785-1828) was the daughter of the 3rd Earl of Bessborough and his wife Harriet/Henrietta; niece of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire; wife of Frederick Lamb, future Lord Melbourne and future Prime Minister. Lady Caroline‘s brother Frederick Ponsonby of the 12th Light Dragoons, was severely wounded in the Battle of Waterloo. She published her first novel, a roman a clef about Byron, in 1816.
**Frederick William, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel (1771-16 June 1815), known as The Black Duke, was also the brother of the Prince Regent’s wife Caroline of Brunswick; he died at the Battle of Quatre Bras.
Frances Burney (1752-1840) wrote four novels, many plays, and her renowned Journals, currently being re-issued. For more information on Fanny and her family, visit the website of The Burney Centre at McGill University, Montreal.
In honor of the recent anniversary of the Battle Waterloo, fought June 18, 1815, here are excerpts from an article on Madam D'Arbly in Brussels.
The distinguished British novelist Fanny Burney, also known by her married name Madame D'Arblay wrote of her experiences in Paris just befor the return of Bonaparte with his renewed ambitions to re-conquer Europe after his escape from exile on Elba. Fanny (or Frances, if you prefer) was married to General D'Arblay who was part of the army guards of King Louis XVIII, who fled Paris as Nappleon approached. D'arblay begged his wife to flee s well, and she did, ending up in Brussels, where she experienced the Battle of Waterloo from afar.
The Foresight of Evil: Frances Burney and the Battle of Waterloo, 1815
A version of this post appeared in the Burmey Letter, Vol. 21, No. 1, a publication of The Burney Society, Spring 2015
Burney wrote: “…upon reflection, I will write no account of these great events, which have been detailed so many hundred times, and so many hundred ways, as I have nothing new to offer upon them; I will simply write the narrative of my own history at that awful period.”
With this modest declaration, Frances Burney, Madame D’Arblay, describes her famous account of Brussels during time leading up to, during, and after the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. In vivid terms, she chronicles the tension and anxiety felt by the helpless people waiting for their fate to be decided.
General Alexandre d’Arblay (1748-1818), Burney’s beloved husband, even at the age of 66, served King Louis XVIII in his personal Guard. The d’Arblays occupied a residence in Paris, and had an active life there. But when Napoleon escaped from Elba in March 1815 and headed for Paris, assembling a powerful army as he came, Louis fled. He had been restored to the throne for just over a year and now abandoned Paris and crossed Belgian border to the relative safety of the United Netherlands. d’Arblay had to accompany the King, but he insisted his wife should accompany their friend the Princess d’Heinin into Belgium as well, not a simple task it turned out
Many British families lived in Brussels at the time, having taken advantage of the Peace of 1814 to enjoy a stay on the continent, which they had been unable to visit during the Napoleonic Wars. Like most of the world, they were shocked when Napoleon Bonaparte suddenly returned to France; Paris was about 160 miles from Brussels.
Once she reached Brussels, Madame d’Arblay found many friends among the French evacuees and the ex-pat English as well. When her husband was able to join her for several weeks, she was blissful. They even got to travel a bit and sightsee at the Palace of Lachen:
“…my dearest friend (the General, her husband) indulged in one morning's recreation, which proved as agreeable as anything at such a period could be to a mind oppressed like mine. He determined that we should visit the Palais de Lachen, which had been the dwelling assigned as the palace for the Empress Josephine by Bonaparte at the time of his divorce. My dearest husband drove me in his cabriolet, and the three gentlemen whom he invited to be of the party accompanied us on horseback. The drive, the day, the road, the views, our new horses-all were delightful, and procured me a short relaxation from the foresight of evil.
“The Palace of Lachen was at this moment wholly uninhabited, and shown to us by some common servant. It is situated in a delicious park d'Anglaise, and with a taste, a polish, and an elegance that clears it from the charge of frippery or gaudiness, though its ornaments and embellishments are all of the liveliest gaiety. There is in some of the apartments some Gobelin tapestry, of which there are here and there parts and details so exquisitely worked that I could have ‘hung over them enamoured.’"
While together, the couple also had the opportunity of attending a concert at which they observed the Duke of Wellington, Commander of the Allied Armies.
“Our last entertainment here was a concert in the public and fine room appropriated for music or dancing. The celebrated Madame Catalani had a benefit, at which the Queen of the Netherlands was present, not, however, in state, though not incognita; and the king of warriors, Marshal Lord Wellington, surrounded by his staff and all the officers and first persons here, whether Belgians, Prussians, Hanoverians, or English. I looked at Lord Wellington watchfully, and was charmed with every turn of his countenance, with his noble and singular physiognomy and his eagle eye. He was gay even to sportiveness all the evening, conversing with the officers around him. He never was seated, not even a moment, though I saw seats vacated to offer to him frequently. He seemed enthusiastically charmed with Catalani, ardently applauding whatsoever she sung, except the "Rule Britannia”; and there, with sagacious reserve, he listened in utter Silence. Who ordered it I know not, but he felt it was injudicious in every country but our own to give out a chorus of ‘Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves!’
“And when an encore began to be vociferated from his officers, he instantly crushed it by a commanding air of disapprobation, and thus offered me an opportunity of seeing how magnificently he could quit his convivial familiarity for imperious dominion when occasion might call for the transformation.”
The d’Arblay’s idyll ended when the General was sent off to Luxembourg to recruit soldiers for the royal cause. Frances was left alone to worry and share the concerns of her friends, some bordering on hysteria, as tension steadily increased in the next few weeks. Everyone knew the battle was approaching.
“May 13, 1815. My best friend left me to begin his campaign; left me, by melancholy chance, upon his birthday (67th). I could not that day see a human being -- I could but consecrate it to thoughts of him who had just quitted me yet who from me never was, never can be, mentally absent , and to our poor Alexander (their son), thus inevitably, yet severely cast upon himself.”
For the month following his departure, she visited with friends, strolled in the park, attended church, and observed everything with her keen eye for detail. She also spent many hours alone, writing and worrying about her son, not doing as well at Cambridge as his parents expected, and particularly about her husband.
One of Burney’s most fascinating observations was her view of the Belgian people, for the most part stoic and phlegmatic. As she observed, they had been traded back and forth between warring factions for centuries, spending most of the last decade as part of Napoleon’s Empire. How indeed could they get excited about another change in status? They seemed placidly to accept their fate, to Frances’s incredulity and sometimes consternation. But even in the midst of the unconcerned populace, tensions rose as the streets were crowded with military vehicles horses and soldiers everywhere.
She had a near-encounter with the notorious Lady Caroline Lamb*, whose affair with Byron had shocked London. Burney writes, “…I just missed meeting the famous Lady Caroline Lamb … whom I saw crossing the Place Royale,… dressed, Or rather not dressed, so as to excite universal attention, and authorise every boldness of staring, from the general to the lowest soldier, among the military groups then constantly parading the Place, -- for she had one shoulder, half her back, and all her throat and neck, displayed as if at the call of some statuary for modelling a heathen goddess. A slight scarf hung over the other shoulder, and the rest of the attire was of accordant lightness. As her ladyship had not then written, and was not, therefore, considered as one apart, from being known as an eccentric authoress, this conduct and demeanour excited something beyond surprise, and in an English lady provoked censure, if not derision, upon the whole English nation.”
Aside from amusement at Burney’s disapproval of the attire, it is interesting to speculate about whether she thought of herself as an “eccentric author” and thus “beyond surprise.”
This was a time of considerable unease for her. “During this melancholy period when leisure, till now a delight, became a burthen to me, I could not call my faculties into any species of intellectual service; all was sunk, was annihilated in the overpowering predominance of anxiety for the coming event…”
TO BE CONTINUED...
Victoria Hinshaw, Author