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Thomas_Luny_Blackfriars 1806

Thomas_Luny_Blackfriars 1806

The River Thames has a starring role in my story, The Rake’s Mistake. The heroine, Daphne, Lady Wetherell, lives in a house on the river, and my hero, Lord Ramsdale, is a recreational sailor in an era when that pastime was still developing. Lots of action takes place on the river, from peaceful romantic sailing to a frantic race with much at stake. Researching the river was one of my great pleasures in writing that story, which I will be reissuing one of these days after some revisions I want to make.

The idea for that story was inspired by a single sketch of the Thames that showed a small sailing race on the Thamesflotilla of sailboats, what we’d call “day-sailers” around here, engaged in a recreational race in London. I think it was dated 1795, and my first thought was that it looked just like any recreational sailboat race held today –like this one.  I had one of those moments when it feels as if the divisions between the centuries fall away, leaving a universal moment in time that transcends history.

For centuries the river was the main artery for goods and transport (not to mention jobs), the lifeblood of London. Sailing on the river required a lot of knowledge, not only of the currents and tides, but also of navigating all the various bridges. “shootinbridgeShooting the bridge” –traveling through the bridge openings with their swift current and varying water levels –could be very dangerous, yet was necessary for anyone who needed to get up or downstream for any distance.

As we travel through Regency London in our stories, I think we tend to forget how much construction was going on everywhere. Gas lines were being laid in the streets, and new bridges were being erected over the Thames, adding to those already in place. Unbearable traffic on the existing bridges made the need for new ones pressing.

Watercolour1799 Old London bridge

Old London Bridge 1799

London Bridge, of course, had existed in one form or another since the days of the Romans.  For centuries it was the only bridge across the Thames in London, until Fulham Bridge (first proposed in 1671) was completed in 1729. There’s a lovely story that Sir Robert Walpole pushed for the Fulham Bridge construction after being delayed by the ferryman, who was drinking in the nearest tavern and oblivious to customers waiting to cross the river.

The rights of owners, ferrymen and watermen –not to mention competing bridges, and financing –were all matters of contention each time a new bridge was proposed. A proposal for Westminster Bridge was already being debated in the 1720’s, but the bridge wasn’t completed until 1750.


Battersea Bridge, sketch by Whistler

Blackfriars (1768) and the rough wooden Battersea bridge (1776) followed.

Prince & Duke at Waterloo Bridge 1817

Opening Waterloo Bridge

The Vauxhall Bridge, the first cast iron bridge across the river, opened in 1816.

The opening of the Waterloo Bridge in 1817 was a festive and crowded occasion complete with military displays and bands playing (my characters mentioned above observe this from Archer’s boat on the river).


Southwark Bridge

Parliament authorized the construction of Southwark Bridge in 1811. The work began by 1813, and the cornerstone ceremony was held two years later. The bridge opening took place in March, 1819, at midnight –“the bridge, illuminated with lamps, being declared open as St. Paul’s clock tolled” the hour.

The power of the river is extraordinary, and every one of these bridges has since been replaced.

There’s a nice brief summary of the Thames history at

A description of Old London Bridge by Louis Simond (1815) reads:  “Nothing can well be uglier than London bridge ; every arch is of a size different from its next neighbour; there are more solid than open parts; it is in fact like a thick wall, pierced with small unequal holes here and there, through which the current, dammed up by this clumsy fabric, rushes with great velocity, and in fact takes a leap, the difference between high and low water being upwards of 15 feet.”  Simond, in fact, ventured to stay in his hired boat to experience shooting the bridge, reasoning that boats had to do it every day, and he “being quite sure of reaching the shore by swimming, … remained with the boatman.” London Br 1794c J.M.W. Turner

I know other authors who have featured the river and/or the bridges in their stories –Jo Beverly comes to mind, and Regina Scott. But still it surprises me that something so integral to life in London (at any time period) so often has no place in our fantasized Regency version of Town.

Have you ever traveled on the Thames? Can you recall any Regency romances you’ve read (or written) that use the river as part of the story?









therenegadewife Today at Risky Regencies, we are delighted to have Caroline Warfield as our guest! Caroline has a book giveaway for you and a fascinating glimpse of a Canadian setting used in her new release, The Renegade Wife. Her new post-Regency series follows the children of characters introduced in her first series. To learn more, please read on!

Traveler, would-be adventurer, librarian, technology manager—Caroline Warfield has been many things, but above all a romantic. She is now a writer of historical romance, enamored of owls, books, history, and beautiful gardens, who sits in an office surrounded by windows and lets her characters lead her to adventures in England and the far flung corners of the British Empire. She nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart.

Children of Empire

Raised with all the privilege of the English aristocracy, forged on the edges of the British Empire, men and woman of the early Victorian age seek their own destiny and make their mark on history. The heroes and heroines of Caroline’s Dangerous Series overcame challenges even after their happy ending. Their children seek their own happiness in distant lands in Children of Empire.

Caroline will give a Kindle copy of the winner’s choice of Dangerous Works or Dangerous Secrets to one randomly selected person who comments.

Book 1 in the new series is The Renegade Wife, which releases on October 12. Betrayed by his cousin and the woman he loved, Rand Wheatly fled England, his dreams of a loving family shattered. He clings to his solitude in an isolated cabin in Upper Canada. Returning from a business trip, he finds a widow and two children squatting in his house. He wants them gone, but his heart is not as hard as he likes to pretend. Meggy Blair harbors a secret, and she’ll do whatever it takes to keep her children safe. She doesn’t expect to find shelter with a quiet, solitary man, a man who lowers his defensive walls enough to let Meggy and her children in.

Their idyllic interlude is shattered when Meggy’s brutal husband appears to claim his children. She isn’t a widow, but a wife, a woman who betrayed the man she was supposed to love, just as Rand’s sweetheart betrayed him. He soon discovers why Meggy is on the run, but time is running out. To save them all, Rand must return and face his demons.

Caroline says: “When my Dangerous Series came to an end, and I looked around for my next project, I realized that I had populated my earlier books with young people who would grow up and need to search for their own happiness. A quick look at timelines of English history showed me that I would be moving into a really rich period of social upheaval and empire building. With it came exotic locations, something I particularly value. One wearies of the London drawing room after a while. The result was not just one book, but a whole new series. I named it Children of Empire.

The first books take place during the reign of William IV, the time in between the Georgian and Victorian eras. The Reform Crisis, social upheaval, growing interest in the Canadian timber industry, the expansion of the East India company, and the seeds of the First Opium War all lurk in the background of the first three books.

One major treat in researching The Renegade Wife was learning about the building of Rideau Canal. The story takes place months after the completion of the canal, certainly a wonder when it was built, and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. My characters travel the Rideau watershed and visit Bytown, now called Ottawa.


The untamed river and the lock 100 feet away.

I took the opportunity to go take a look, and the locks at Ottawa—still functioning after 180 years—astounded me. So did the whole length of locks, dams, and blockhouses, all built to defend the Canadas (as the provinces were known in 1832) from those pesky Americans down south. ”  bytownlocks(1827 Commissariat Building, shown behind me in the photo, is now the Bytown museum.)

Do you enjoy following characters into the post-Regency era and more exotic locations of the British Empire? Have you ever been to Ottawa, or visited the Rideau Canal or the Bytown museum? Post a comment to be entered into the drawing for Caroline’s giveaway!

A brief excerpt from The Renegade Wife:

She pushed away from the door. “If you’re finished, I’ll clear up your dishes.

“Damn it woman, I fend for myself here.” He looked her up and down. He noticed her deep blue eyes, midnight black hair, and dusky skin. “What are you? Gypsy? Is that where you learned how to diddle a man out of his belongings?”

She drew her back up straight and squared her shoulders. The gesture pulled her dress tight across obviously ample breasts.

There’s a practiced enticement. She’s in for a surprise if she thinks that trick will work on me.

Chin high, she met his eyes without flinching. “My grandmother is Ojibwa, my father was French, and my husband was a Scot. You can despise whichever one of those your English heart chooses, or all of them, but I am not a thief.”

She grabbed her skirt and took a step toward the door. “Do fend for yourself. We’ll leave as soon as we can.”

“I’ll decide when you’re a thief,” he snarled, bringing her to a halt. “It’s my house.”

For (pre-order) purchase on Amazon.

Also check out Caroline online:

Website and Blog


Twitter      @CaroWarfield

There’s also a Pinterest Board for The Renegade Wife!

Please leave a comment, to be entered in the giveaway.

Thanks for visiting with us today, Caroline!





I am in throes of getting bids for repairing bathrooms in my house. This is not my idea of fun! Getting contractors to come, let alone receiving bids from them after they’ve come, is a struggle. Do you think it was this way back in the Regency when people wanted to remodel or refurbish their homes? I wonder, because people did seem to do a lot of “improvements”.

One of the story threads in The Magnificent Marquess that I enjoyed writing was my hero’s on-going effort to recreate a slice of India through “improvements” to his grand Grosvenor Square residence (which of course fascinates my heroine). Eventually he is persuaded to hold a reception and invite most of London’s elite to come see it. There is no hint that he has any trouble hiring craftsmen and workers to carry out his plans. Nor do any actual accounts I have run across indicate that this was a problem during the Regency. I have the sense that people were more concerned with hiring the “best” builders and craftspeople –the best known, for the purposes of status, as well as the best in quality work.

I am occasionally amazed by the ambitious undertakings they often did…relocating entrances, even stairwells….but it helps to have an understanding of the role not only of changing tastes in home fashion and design, but economics, too.  For instance the tax on windows…or changing attitudes towards bathing & cleanliness (in the late Regency adding a room for bathing was one of the things people did).

(see article about shower baths @ Jane Austen’s World;

Prinny spent huge sums on improvements to the various royal residences and set a trend of course by doing so, since people emulated whatever the royals were doing. Between 1787 and 1815 he hired a series of architects to make improvements of his residence in Brighton, ending with John Nash to remake Henry Holland’s villa into the palatial and exotic Brighton Pavillion (1815-1822).   He also hired Nash to turn Carlton House, which after spending huge sums to have it built in 1786 the Prince Regent now found “antiquated, rundown, and decrepit”, into Carlton House Terrace (1827-1833). He wanted Nash to replace it by remaking Buckingham House into a new palace (begun 1825), although he ultimately did not live to see it finished, and Nash was dismissed from that project.

Other famous properties improved around this time included Syon House, the showpiece of Robert Adam’s designs from the 1760’s. The 3rd Duke of Northumberland had the entire house refaced in Bath stone and added a porte cochere in the 1820’s. Wikipedia notes that “This remodelling is thought to have been done by the architect Thomas Cady, who had worked on previous estates belonging to the Percy family.The website for Syon House also notes “Domestic imperatives were addressed with a new range of kitchens and the construction of the Oak Passage,” but I’m not sure of the date –that may have been post-Regency, as new technologies became available.

The prominent architect Jeffry Wyatt did most of his work remodeling and making additions and improvements to existing properties, including such great houses as Longleat in Wiltshire, Wollaton Hall in Nottinghamshire and Chatsworth in Derbyshire. According to writer Derek Linstrum, (Linstrum, Derek. “Wyatville (formerly Wyatt), Jeffry (1766-1840).” The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online ed.), this was to be expected in an era when such work “had become almost an obsession” because of the desire “to answer new demands for comfort and convenience, or to express an advancement in the aristocratic hierarchy.”  (See more about Wyatt below.)

The “Survey of London” is one of my favorite sources for checking out what people did to their houses, whether they were living in them or simply owned and rented them out.

While this example for No. 4 Grosvenor Square predates the Regency, I love the details, including the builder Henry Flitcroft’s conclusion at the end of his report to the Earl of Malden. We can all only hope our projects will be “pursued with all proper dispatch”!!

‘The Works at your House in Grosvenor Square go on very well, and as fast as the Nature of them will permit, the Steps are made down to the Lower offices by your Lordshipp’s dressing room, and I have had 3 useless Doorways, and 7 blanks or holow places in ye Lower Story walld up Solid, which is a great strengthening to the Lower part of the House, the Bricklayers are Now at Work upon the Blanks and useless doorways which your Lordshipp Ordered to be walled up on the Hall floor, which will add much strength to ye House, the Plaisterers are got to Work on ye Celing, (fn. 2) ye Doorway of the Front is altering, and when that is done I shall order the wall of the Back stair case to be underpinned. When that is done I hope to be able to report the House secure. ‘The fitting up ye Dining Room (which will be a very good one) and the Hall etc. will be pursued with all proper dispatch, and hope to have done the Whole in about two Months time …’. (fn. 74)

The exterior improvements at No. 88 Brook Street (formerly No. 33) are very typical to bring an older house into the current fashion during the Regency, with the longer “French” windows and ironwork: “In 1822–4 C. R. Cockerell made alterations for the lessee Henry Trail costing £3,384. (fn. 99) It must have been at about that period—and therefore just possibly at his hands—that the first-floor windows were lengthened and a continuous iron balcony and projecting Ionic porch added.”  The same treatment can be seen in this photo of No. 36 Brook Street. 

The story for No. 39 (formerly No. 50) Brook Street is especially interesting because the home’s resident was Sir Jeffry Wyatville, originally known as Jeffry Wyatt (1766-1840), one of the prominent architects working during the Regency. According to a biography at, Wyatt was a member of a well-known dynasty of successful, prominent architects. At the time he was apprenticed to his uncle James Wyatt, the latter was considered “the most fashionable of London architects” and in 1796 was Surveyor-General and Comptroller of the Office of Works. Jeffry, however, followed his own more modern path to success, forming a partnership with John Armstrong, a prominent carpenter and building contractor, whose workshops and timber yard were located on the triangular site at the corner of Brook’s Mews and Avery Row, behind No. 39 (then 50) Brook Street. According to writer Kenneth Allinson, “This was the kind of move which some architects, like John Soane, looked down on; but it demonstrated that “the age of professionalism had arrived” (Allinson, Kenneth. Architects and Architecture of London: A Celebration of the Significant Architects Who Have Contributed to the Fabric of the Capital. Oxford: Architectural Press, 2008 p.131).

Wyatt went on to serve “an extraordinarily distinguished clientele”, including seventeen Earls and “a grand total of four sovereigns.” Wyatt won the commission to “restore, alter and extend Windsor Castle against stiff competition from Sir John Soane, John Nash and Robert Smirke”, and in 1828 he was knighted for his work.

In 1802 Jeffry Wyatt obtained sole possession of No. 39 Brook Street. He was granted a sixty-three-year lease of the house on payment of a fine of £2,556 and, “after reroofing it and carrying out various repairs costing nearly £1,000, he lived there until his death in 1840.”

However, in 1821 “Wyatt was dismayed to find that ‘owing to the vicinity of the great common sewer [i.e. the Tyburn Brook, flowing beneath Avery Row] the water has evidently found its way to the foundation of my house, and it is now absolutely splitting into two pieces’. He calculated the cost of repairs at £3,000 and asked for a longer leasehold term as compensation.

Wyatt did undertake a thorough repair and reconstruction, for the ratebooks record that the house was empty for three quarters of 1821 and half of 1822 and was being ‘rebuilt’. The work comprised complete refronting as well as alterations to the interior. At the same time a large new wing was built extending back at right angles from the house. This contained a drawing office on the ground floor with a gallery above for the reception of clients (fig. 11). In 1823 he reported that these works had cost more than £5,000 and again asked for some amendment of the lease in his favour. Eventually in 1827 a new lease which included the workshops and timber yard at the corner of Brook’s Mews and Avery Row was granted to 1887 at an increased annual rent.”

The most distinctive feature of the rebuilt front (Plate 22a in vol. XXXIX) is the domed, curved corner bow, which originally contained an ingenious circular entrance hall. (The storefront shown in the photo was added in 1927.)   The shallow lead dome surmounting the bow is a feature which Wyatt had adopted from the repertoire of his uncle, builder/architect Samuel Wyatt, whilst the stuccoed façade, framed with panelled pilasters, is another distinctive feature of Jeffry Wyatt’s classical work, to be seen at Chatsworth, for instance. Though the original early eighteenth-century staircase, with three alternating patterns of twisted balusters per step and carved step-ends, was retained (Plate 4a, fig. 12), the top of the well was remodelled and given a glazed lantern, the Carolean-style frieze here being derived from Windsor Castle, and evidently a conscious attempt to conform to the ‘antique’ appearance of the staircase. The rear rooms on the ground and first floors have ceilings of exceedingly shallow segmental form. The new gallery at the rear (Plate 4c), approached through high double doors, has a less shallow segmental ceiling, originally toplit, and square alcoves half way down each side, one of which contained a patent stove (now replaced by a chimneypiece). (plate references are in the Survey of London)

Given the extensive work needed on this one, all I can think is how fortunate it was that the leaseholder was a great architect!! And it makes me feel a little better about the extensive work one of my bathrooms is going to need, LOL.

How do you feel about renovating? Chore or pleasure? Have you had good experiences or bad? If you lived during the Regency, would you have been one of those who followed the “obsession” to update your home?



So much of the time, our Regency stories evolve in the settings of the elegant mansions, grand townhouses and large country estates of the rich aristocrats who people the stories. There’s good reason for that, for certainly the elegance helps the romance! But lately I’ve been on a “cottage kick”.

There are two reasons for this (besides just that English cottages can be so adorable) One is that my current WIP has my high-born hero stranded in a very small and lowly village (at Christmas, no less) which is all farms and small village houses except for the local manor and the vicarage, of course. The other is rocks. Yes, I said rocks.

In view of the current fad for painted rock “fairy houses” that people are putting in their gardens, I agreed to paint some for my church’s Holiday Bazaar in December. Do you know how hard it is to find good rocks with a shape that lends itself to becoming a cottage? Even for fairies?

My tendency is to go for thatched roofs and the often-crooked charm that comes from centuries of standing in a lovely English garden. I’d show you some of mine if any were finished yet!! LOL. But I have collected a lot of cottage pictures to inspire my efforts, and I thought I’d share some.

I’m not going to turn this into a research post or talk about how very different in style and materials the cottages can be in every different area of Great Britain. There is no such thing as a “definitive” English cottage style unless you consider the “picturesque” revival movement that began towards the end of the Regency period. At that point, architects including Nash pondered what elements made up “cottage style” and purposely designed new homes to capture that charm. I just thought it would be fun to share a little overview!

This is a short post (having some health issues, sorry!!) YOUR turn! How romanticized is my view? Which cottages do you like best?  One of these is NOT in the U.K. –I wonder if you can spot the “fake”? Are you into any of the current painted rocks trends? (Fairy houses being only one of many going around.) Finally, a lovely rock house (painted by someone else).

If/after someone guesses the “fake”, I’ll post in the comments where some of these are to be found! Or perhaps you’ll recognize some of them!







My friend Kristine Hughes and I spent three days at Chatsworth on our May England trip and it was not enough time!

Chatsworth is the Derbyshire country house of the Duke of Devonshire, one of the first of the great country houses to be open to the public in order to raise enough money to save the place. The rescue of Chatsworth was the work of the late Duke and Duchess and what they achieved was a remarkable gift to their countrymen and the world.

Much of the success of Chatsworth must be given to the late Duchess of Devonshire, the former Deborah Mitford, youngest of the Mitford sisters, so captivating and/or scandalous that we are still talking of them today. Debo, as her sisters called her, had the imagination and drive to make Chatsworth the successful enterprise it is today, employing some 600 workers. In doing so she preserved a place of great beauty, both inside and out.

Here’s what we came upon that first day, after closing time, so there were no cars and very few people. It must have been close to what our Regency characters would have seen had they visited the house.

The beauty of the landscape was the work of Capability Brown, the famous landscape architect who popularized the naturalistic style in the mid-1700s. To enhance the beauty of the views from the front of Chatsworth House, Capability Brown required the 4th Duke of Devonshire to have the village of Edensor moved to a more picturesque location.

The next day we took the house tour and walked into the Painted Hall. The 4th Earl and 1st Duke of Devonshire was responsible for the Painted Hall. The artist was Louis Laguerre and the mural depicts the allegorical ascension of Julius Caesar. The upper walls show scenes from Caesar’s life. IMG_0457
The 1st Duke had been one of the Immortal Seven who signed the invitation for William III of Orange to take the English throne, receiving the titles of Duke of Devonshire and Marquess of Hartington for his service. He rebuilt Chatsworth House and decorated it with symbolism celebrating King William’s monarchy. In the murals Julius Caesar sympbolizes William. Unfortunately William never saw the beautiful murals painted in his honor. He never visited Chatsworth.

In every hall and room there is something of interest to see. I took dozens of photos but didn’t cover a fraction of the beautiful art and furnishings of the house. In the music room there is a door ajar, revealing another door–and a violin.
Look closely at the violin. Bet you can’t tell that it isn’t real. It is the painting of a violin, so realistic-looking that one must take it on faith because they don’t allow you to walk up to it and touch it.

Of course, there is homage to perhaps the most famous Duchess of Devonshire, Georgiana Cavendish. Georgiana, a celebrated beauty, married the Duke when she was a mere seventeen years old. She went on to be a successful political hostess, friend of the then Prince of Wales, campaigned for Charles James Fox. She was also a fashion icon. She was banished to the Continent for a while when she became pregnant by Charles Grey, but she filled her time there collecting minerals and gems. Her collection is on display in Chatsworth House.


Not much was said on the tour of Georgiana’s friendship with Lady Elizabeth Foster, who became the Duke’s mistress and bore him two children raised a Chatsworth with Georgiana’s children and another of the Duke’s out-of-wedlock children. After Georgiana’s death in 1806, Lady Elizabeth Foster became the next Duchess of Devonshire.

The house tour ends at the sculpture gallery. Most of the works exhibited there were commissioned by Georgiana’s son, “Hart,” who became the 6th Duke of Devonshire and who was responsible for much of the art and improvements to the house and grounds.IMG_0637

After our tour of the house, we visited the farm, which was more like a petting zoo for children, but Chatsworth is a working farm with its very successful farm shop, a place we, unfortunately, did not see.

The next day we took the garden tour and returned to the house again to walk through at our own speed. Here’s a snippet of what we saw on the garden tour.

There was so much more to see and more to see again. I would go back in a minute and do this all over again!

If you have a chance to visit Chatsworth, give yourself more than one day. You’ll be happy you did!

(My thanks to Denise Costello who helped me figure out how to appropriately size the videos to fit the blog!)

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