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I came across this in Stegman’s The Rule Of Taste:

[S]ince, however, Fonthill was not a cathedral but a house it was inevitable that it should be pronounced eccentric and looked on, if not with amazement certainly with suspicion, just as [George] Beckford must have appeared suspicious to his neighbors, a man who, inheriting a fine mansion, should pull down that mansion and build another and a greater, might be thought extravagant, but when he proceeded to pull that down in turn and replace it by yet another, and even larger, and with, moreover, a soaring tower, employing two armies of workmen laboring alternately by day and by night (the tower collapsed immediately it was completed, and was promptly put up again,)  then beyond doubt he must be thought eccentric; finally, for a man so wealthy and so evidently original to live alone in celibate aloofness was in the highest degree suspicious.

So, first, hella long sentence there, buddy!

Apparently, if Mr. Beckford had done all this but slept with the maids and local virgins and held parties, that would not have been suspicious at all.

I have a question for you guys at the end, so check it out.

Ah, to be Stinking Rich

Beckford, in case you don’t know, inherited 100,000 pounds. According to Stegman, he wrote Vathek (That’s a whole ‘nother post) in French in one sitting over the course of three days and two nights. (p84, fn 1) Also according to Stegman, he sold the house in 1822 for 330,000 pounds. The tower collapsed shortly after the sale because it had no foundations. The contractor was a cheat, it seems. The house was torn down shortly after the sale.

More Stuff

Google books is a goldmine, and I highly suggest a search for “Fonthill”, limiting your search to 1800-1825. There’s poetry and list of the books in the library. Here’s a link to the list of the contents being auctioned off in 1801. Ever wonder what kind of rooms these big old houses had? Here’s a few:

  • Dining Parlour
  • Turkish Room
  • Library
  • Grand Entrance Hall
  • Tapestry Room
  • Great Dining Room
  • State Dressing Room
  • State Bed Chamber
  • Great Saloon
  • Cabinet Anti Room
  • Picture Gallery
  • Small Anti Room
  • Right hand Attic
  • Left Hand Attic
  • West Corner Bedroom
  • East Corner Bedroom
  • Bedroom adjoining

Here’s a list of the contents of another of the bedrooms:


  • A blowing stove, shovel, tongs, poker, fender and hearth broom
  • A 5 foot 6 mahogany bedstead, with carved feet posts, double screwed, with quilted chintz furniture, lined with blue silk and fringed
  • A goose featherbed, bolster and 2 ticken pillows
  • A check mattress and 2 white ditto
  • Four white calico window curtains, 3 breadths, 10 feet long, with laths, lines and pins
  • Four white Holland spring blinds, with lines and tassels
  • A 3 feet 2 feet bedstead with white dimity furniture
  • A featherbed, bolster and 1 pillow filled with goose feathers
  • A white mattress, 3 blankets and a counterpane
  • A mahogany GUARDROBE, 8 feet wide and 8 feet 6 high, with sliding shelves and 4 drawers in the middle part, the two wings lined with green baize, 2 rods and 12 brass hooks to hang clothes on
  • A mahogany chamber table, a deal top for ditto and a pembroke table with 4 drawers
  • A mahogany chest night stool with brass corner plates
  • A neat inlaid French bedside table with cupboard, ornamented with ormolu
  • A ditto its companion
  • A mahogany chamber table with a drawer at the end, and a dressing glass with 3 drawers in a swing frame
  • A wainscot two-flap table, with 2 drawers, a dressing stool with cushion and case, a small glass in a mahogany swing frame and a mahogany stool
  • A pair of japanned and gilt fire screen stands, with Barre silk fan screens and 2 small mahogany chairs covered with striped hair cloth
  • Eight chairs neatly japanned with drapery backs and cane seats
  • A Kidderminster carpet to cover the room, 23 feet by 19 feet 6, exclusive of chimney
  • A pier glass in a rich carved and burnished gold frame, in two plates, bottom plate 43 by 37, top plate 37 by 26, and glass borders
  • A chimney glass in a white frame, 2 plates 31 by 16, and a dressing glass in a japanned frame
  • An inlaid pier table ornamented with ormolu
  • A neat inlaid work table en suite


  • Two copper kettles with covers and cocks and a still
  • A large pot and cover and a turbot kettle, plate and cover
  • An oval fish kettle, plate and cover, a stewpan and cover, 5 saucepans and 2 covers
  • Two large saucepans and covers and 3 stewpans and odd covers
  • Six French stewpans and covers and 2 cullenders
  • Four French stewpans and 2 covers, a frying pan and cover, 2 cullenders and sundry pieces of copper
  • An oval stewpan, a warming pan, a fish drainer, 2 brass skillets, 2 skimmers, 2 spoons, a bell metal mortar, pestle and a dredger
  • Two preserving pans, a bronze tea urn, a frying pan, 2 gridirons and 5 odd covers
  • Five pewter dishes, a fish drainer, 8 plates, 4 high iron candlesticks, a bronze tea urn, 2 tin stewpans and covers, a candlebox, a trumpet and a double gridiron
  • Eighteen stove trivets, part of the iron work of a copper, a large gridiron, a smaller ditto, 2 footmen, 3 beef forks, a pair of steak tongs, a cleaver and a charring dish
  • Two high charring dishes, 2 hand ditto, a pair of dogs, a round fender, a pigrron; a salamander, 3 jack chains and £ round stoves
  • Three tin fenders, and 3 iron ditto, large spits and sundry tin ware
  • Twenty tin steam kettles, a lark roaster, sundry tin paste and patty moulds and a quantity of tin ware
  • A German stove and pipe, 2 baking tins, 4 mahogany dish stands, a cheese ditto, 58 blanc-manger and pudding moulds
  • Two iron fenders, 2 steel ditto, 4 fire shovels, 3 pokers,2 pair of tongs, 2 high brass candlesticks, 10 pair of bellows and sundry lamp stands


  • The BARRE SATTIN HANGINGS of the ROOM containing about 205 yards, fringed, with a rich silk fringe, with gold and silk Bullions
  • A superbe Ottoman Sofa with the return from the door to the chimney, 2 squabs, 9 back cushions, 3 seat ditto and 2 bolsters, filled with hair, in canvas, covered with Barre sattin, trimmed with silk fringe, a set of cotton and a set of dimity cases, compleat
  • A DITTO, en suite with the preceding, from the glass with the return to the chimney, and 2 sets of cases
  • Six Stools, gilt in burnished gold, covered with Barre sattin, finished with gold welt and silk fringe with white dimity cases
  • A pair of Superlatively Elegant TRIPODS, formed a la Turque, exquisitely carved and gilt in a superior and expensive stile, designed by Boilieu
  • A capital Axminster Carpet, maroon ground, with a coloured border, 20 ft. 3 by 19 ft. 9, exclusive of chimney and windows, and a piece for the door way
  • A brilliant French Plate of Glass between the windows Ninety-eight Inches By Forty-eight, in a blind frame
  • A ditto, facing the door, Eighty-seven Inches By Forty-five, and a carved and gilt frame round the sides and top
  • A ditto over the chimney, Seventy-three Inches By Fifty-nine, in a blind frame
  • Two white Holland spring blinds and a hearth rug
  • Two pair of sashes, glazed, with 16 squares of plate glass, 22 by 19, and 2 pair of window shutters, with the suffcit, richly carved, gilt and painted, by Feuglet
  • Four Paintings on the cielings [sic], (by Boileau) the architrave, mouldings, and all the carved and gilt wood ornaments on ditto


  • Three lilac sattin festoon window curtains, lined, 10 ft. 9 long, with laths, lines and pins, compleat
  • Three pair of door curtains to match the last lot, 7 ft. long with brass rods
  • Four stools, carved and gilt, in burnished gold, the tops, stuffed and covered with sattin, with white dimity cases
  • A Brussels Carpet to cover the room, 22 ft. 6 by 19 ft. 6, exclusive of fire place and windows
  • Two India and 3 china chimney ornaments
  • Two bookcase doors with wire work and mahogany tops in 2 windows
  • Three mahogany doors with wire work west side of the room
  • Three ditto and 2 pair facing windows
  • Six ditto fronting the chimney and 2 ditto on return of side room
  • A neat inlaid sattin wood oval Pembroke Table with a drawer on castors
  • Three white Holland spring blinds and a hearth rug
  • A marble bust of Homer, on an inlaid marble pedestal
  • A ditto of Virgil on ditto
  • A 45 inch Bath stove, shovel, tongs, poker and fender
  • An elegant sattin wood Library Table, inlaid and banded, the top covered with red Morocco leather
  • Two small tables, on rich carved and gilt frames, 20 by 12

Question for You

So, having perused this, tell me in the comments what you thought/imagined/desperately desired as you read the various lists.


I recently purchased two reference books that I adore.

The first is The Great Houses of London by David Pearce (The Vendome Press) in which there is a floor plan for 26 Grosvenor Square (Derby House) c 1773 by Adams.

The floor plan shows two stories on a rectangular lot that was 50 feet wide. The house is shaped a bit like a squared off lower case b with the bottom portion of the B being the street facing side. The gap between the upstroke of the b and the rectangle of the lot appears to be a garden or other outdoor area. There was also a square structure at the back, the width of the lot, also two stories. That housed the kitchen on the ground floor and was connected by a walkway to the main house. The first floor of this structure housed the laundry, the hayloft and the groom’s room.

In the house proper, in the lower (square) of the b, the entry is on the left into the hall. To the right of the hall is an ante-room. “Above” the hall are two staircases, one to the left, the other to the right. To the right of the right-most staircase is a parlor.

In the upstroke of the b, from bottom to top are:

Great Eating Room
Lord Derby’s Dressing Room
Staircase || Cabinet
a staircase || a space into which the kitchen passage would exit.

Following that same pattern for the 1st floor:

Ante Room || First Drawing Room
Stairs || 2nd drawing room

In the upstroke of the b:
Third Drawing room
Lady Derby’s Dressing Room
Bed Chamber
stairs || Closet

Do you notice there is only one bedchamber?

The library is an oval (on its side)

Lady Derby’s Dressing Room is easily 1.5x the size of the bedchamber and, since it is over the library, it is also oval.

Lord Derby’s Dressing Room is really pretty small, and on the ground floor, while Lady Derby’s HUGE dressing room is on the 1st floor.

The 3rd drawing room as built opens into Lady Derby’s Dressing room and the opening is wide wide wide with columns. There would be no privacy between the two spaces.

The other book I bought is The Lost Mansions of Mayfair by Oliver Bradbury (Historical Publications). It is, as you might guess, all about Mayfair mansions that no longer exist. There are a LOT of pictures and illustrations. This book is lovely, but it makes me sad.


So. Why do YOU think Lord Derby’s Dressing Room is so small and where did he sleep?

I’ve been working away on my next Sinclair Sister’s novel. I keep getting interrupted with other work. Hoo boy. However, having realized the other day that I had started the book in the wrong place—

Actually, that gives an incorrect impression that somehow I would have known the REAL chapter 1, if only I were a smarter, better, writer. What I should say is I realized that my current chapter 15 would be an EXCELLENT chapter 1 and that the book will be much much better for moving all the chapters around. It happens that that are currently only two chapters after 15. When I wrote my actual first words, they were a place for me to jump in.

NOW I can get to my post

Anyway, I’ve been working on Lucy and Thrale and thinking about them a lot even though because of all the interruptions I haven’t gotten in as many words as I’d like. And then I realized that I need a place for Thrale to live. I gave him a vague location in Lord Ruin, but now I need to know about the interior and his relationship to it.

This meant I pulled out my reference books to start looking at pictures and diagrams and about five minutes later I started getting annoyed at whoever deiced homes should be build with 8 ft ceilings instead of 10 or 12 feet and THEN I started wondering about the kind of ethos in which a class of persons, who cannot help but see people living in squalid homes, build themselves houses that big and that spacious.

Sometimes, when I’m staring out my window thinking about a plot point, or character issue, I think wouldn’t it be nice to be a bird? Because then I wouldn’t have to go to work. I’d just flit around all day looking for seeds or bugs or what have you. Plus, birds don’t stay up too late and then remember 4.5 hours later why it was a bad idea to keep reading :::damnalarmclock:::

And THEN I remember that birds also do not have grocery stores. They have to get their own food ALL THE TIME and there are predators who think of them as dinner.

There WAS such a thing as Bad Taste

And so, as I flip through the pages of my Lost Mansions of Mayfair, glad, after all, that I am not a bird, I see photographic evidence of people with a lot more money than most. Some of them built big houses and then decorated the decorations until you think your eyes might actually bleed. It is in fact, possible to go too far with the bling. Seriously. There must have been some snickering going on with people who thought bling is an additive property. MORE!! MORE!!! Byzantene Good. Rococo Great! Byzantine AND Rococo BETTTER!!!!!

Then again, suppose you hired cheap with the architectural work and when you come see your new home for the first time? GAHHHHH!!! And you blew your wad on someone who thinks there’s no such thing as too busy.

While I’m on the subject, sometimes I see pictures of period gowns and I think the dress is ugly. There. I said it. Some of those dresses had too much frilly crap all over the place.

Thrale’s Fate?

So, what kind of house does Thrale have? I think maybe his father had awful taste…..

ETA: Sorry about the late post! I put the wrong date when I scheduled it. Sheesh.

I’ve been writing historical romance for quite some time. You’d think I’d know EVERYTHING by now. But I don’t. I know that shocks you, but it’s true. Like most authors who set books in the past, I have a good grasp of the basics of my era (The Regency, doh) and a decent big picture of the Regency era. That’s never enough, of course.

With every book, I’ve either run across something I didn’t know or hadn’t seen before, or else needed some specific detail not in my research library or collection-O-Links. In Not Wicked Enough, for example, I ended up with a need to know about doorknobs. Really, really specific information. I found it, too, from a kind gentleman who is a member of a Doorknob collectors group. For Indiscreet, I had to go big and wide — Turkey in the Regency era. One of my first posts (possibly NSFW, as the post has naked women paintings) for the Riskies was the result of some of that research.

Sometimes I come across something while I’m doing something else ::cough::procrastinating::cough:: and I end up with a fact that I just have to use. Chimney ornaments and chimney glass in Not Proper Enough.

My current project is no exception. Yesterday I came across an amazing website. Before I send you off there to have a look, here’s how it came about: I was writing The Next Historical (Sinclair Sisters Book 2!) and I needed my heroine to call on my hero’s fancy Mayfair house which in Lord Ruin, I’d said was on Charles Street. So I went to Google maps and entered Charles Street, London England — not specific enough to be useful. I made up a street number (25) and THEN I had good results. I switched to Street View and uh-oh. Those houses were cute and clearly close to period, but they were small. I needed a mansion. For some reason I then searched for something like “historical regency interiors charles street” clicked on images and voila! 137 Charles Street is Dartmouth House and the street view is awesome. It’s also now a hotel/wedding location so there were lots of pictures of the interior, including some historical pictures.

In the middle of that Googling, I ended up at a site that was NOT on point as it turned out. Including the word “Regency” in a google search even with other words to filter out the not-even-close stuff, typically hits Real Estate sites. What I thought was one of those had a very interesting, atmospheric picture of Montague House, which I decided to look at. I like to pretend I can buy an English mansion. The website name was Ideal Homes, so, hey!

Since the picture is copyrighted, and since you should go look, here’s a link to the page I landed on. But come back! There’s more!

Obviously, 1) totally awesome 2) Not about buying or selling Real Estate. Oh, ho ho no!!

But what is this site?

Using a generous selection of old photos, old maps, and historic documents from the rich and unique archive and local history collections of Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich, Lambeth, Lewisham, and Southwark, Ideal Homes explores the origins and significance of suburbia as revealed through the history of South London. The site is hosted by the University of Greenwich and was funded by the New Opportunities Fund.

I clicked the link A-Z Galleries

Carolyn About Faints: Historic Maps

People, this site is the motherlode for historical researchers. Then I randomly clicked around the South East London boroughs and wow. I am SO grateful to the UK for getting the funding out there to put this kind of resource out there for people. And grateful to the University of Greenwich for doing this. Here’s the about page. While I understand why they’ve called the website Ideal Homes, I’m not sure it was the best choice from a Google-Fu point of view, but I don’t care! I found it! It’s awesome.

Anyway, I wrote my scene, inspired by Dartmouth House (and unable to get Montague House of Blackheath Park out of my head) and when I was all done, I realized my heroine could not go to the hero’s house after all. So yeah. I’ll save most of it for when she DOES have to go.

But it was one of my better writing days.

My hero needs a rather run down estate and I think I’m inspired!

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