Feeling Better? Tee Humours His Lordship…

“There is something to me very softening in the presence of a woman – some strange influence, even if one is not in love with them, – which I cannot at all account for, having no very high opinion of the sex.

But yet; I always feel in better humour with myself and every thing else, if there is a woman within ken.”

Lord Byron

Now, I’m CERTAINLY in a better humour with myself NOW that the website for the Ghost of Piccadilly Terrace is FINALLY finished!

Time for tea and cake me thinks!

Sources Used:

The Trouble of an Index Byron’s Letters and Journals Volume 12 Ed: Leslie A. Marchand (London: John Murray 1982)

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The Price is Right? The Doors to Lord Byron’s Abode Open…

As Byron was languishing inside the comfortable environs of 13 Piccadilly Terrace on a warm June over two hundred years ago, he was firing off the above epistle to his literary pal and champion of liberal thought, Leigh Hunt.

We came to town what is called late in the season – & since that time – the death of Lady Byron’s uncle (in the first place) and her own delicate state of health have prevented either of us from going out much…


From Moore I have not heard very lately – I fear he is a little humourous because I am a lazy correspondent – but that shall be mended.

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And despite their friendship of many years standing and of Hunt’s loyalty to the poet during the fall-out that would surround the sensational end of his marriage less than a year later, Byron was to write scathingly of Hunt in 1818:

He is a good man, with some poetical elements in his chaos; but spoilt by the Christ-Church Hospital and a Sunday newspaper, – to say nothing of the Surry Jail, which conceited him into a martyr…

However, as the doors to my 13 Piccadilly Terrace have been closed for some time now, I too plead guilty to the charge of being a ‘lazy correspondent’ and although my state of health is far from delicate unlike that of Byron’s pregnant spouse; I have found myself centre stage in a series of unfortunate events since the spring, that have kept me from darkening the doors of my Piccadilly Terrace.

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And although a generous helping of ‘chaos’ has certainly abounded as of late, I remain very far from assuming the mantle of martyrdom, unlike the maligned Leigh Hunt!

However, after reading about the proposed development of 139 Piccadilly which stands near Hyde Park Corner, the parts of which were once 13 Piccadilly Terrace; I was intrigued and upon discovering that the plans allow for the creation of a mansion that will include magnificent rooms, a swimming pool and a roof terrace; I was more than a little envious!

It was once the London home of Lord Byron, the grand mansion where the dissolute poet wrote some of his most famous works and where his short-lived marriage came to an end.

The 20th century saw this elegant Georgian building converted into office space, its proud history buried beneath modern fixtures and drab commercial fittings.

But now No. 139 Piccadilly is to be restored to its former glory as a single residence, by two of London’s wealthiest property investors.

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David and Simon Reuben have been given planning permission by Westminster Council to convert the building into an eight-bedroom mansion with swimming pool, sauna and staff quarters, worth an estimated £45 million.

The developers say the restored building – which is likely to be snapped up by a wealthy foreign buyer attracted by its prime location close to Green Park and Buckingham Palace – will be almost 20 times bigger than the average British home.

Patrick Sawer The Telegraph

A price tag of £45 million for an abode that Byron once ambled through, albeit not very happily? Priceless!

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Adieu for now…

Tee

We mean to metropolize to-morrow, and you will address your next to Piccadilly. We have got the Duchess of Devon’s house there, she being in France…

Lord Byron

Last November I too metropolized to London for a few days and on one quiet and chilly afternoon after a quick rendezvous with Lord Byron in Bennet Street, I went for a stroll along Piccadilly to take a lingering look at the abode which was the scene of his short and difficult union with the unfortunate Annabella Milbanke….

There’s No Sense of Past Agony as Tee Takes a Stroll Along Piccadilly… 

Sources Used:

Wedlock’s the Devil Byron’s Letters and Journals Volume 4 Ed: Leslie A. Marchand (London: John Murray 1975)

The Trouble of an Index Byron’s Letters and Journals Volume 12 Ed: Leslie A. Marchand (London: John Murray 1982)

A Sumptuous Meal of Minced Pies? I Congratulate You on Your Cook!

Seven years have elapsed since I saw a minced pie – and time and distance had not diminished my regret for those absent friends to “a merry Christmas and a happy new year” – both of which I augur for you and your family, although the congratulation of the former is somewhat of the latest..

In January 1823 as the poet was living in the ‘Arctic region of Genoa and recovering from the torment of ‘chilblains’; he was also tucking into a minced pie or two that had been left for him as a gift from Mr Ingram a sometime acquaintance and fellow member of the Ravenna ‘dilettanti’.

I have made a sumptuous meal on your minced pies – which are worthy of the donor and of his table. I congratulate you on your Cook…

Now for those of you who know me even moderately well; you will recall that I am rather partial to a mince pie at this time of year and if I were to ever venture into a life-size kitchen and rummage among the pots and pans in order to whittle up my own batch of these delightful pastry treats; I certainly wouldn’t be holding my breath in anticipation of any congratulatory message!

It is fortuitous as I reside near a local emporium that makes the most delightful cornucopia of mince pies that my attention has been more appropriately served (no pun intended!) within the dark confines of the basement kitchen of 13 Piccadilly Terrace supervising the creation of a minced pie worthy of his Lordship’s table…

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And with a well-eared copy of Margaretta Acworth’s ‘book of receipts’ to hand; I will share the ‘fruits of my labour’ with you and her recipe for ‘Mince Pyes’ that her ‘Dear Mamma Always Made & Was Generally Admired’ as adapted by Alice and Frank Prochaska.

8 small eggs, weighing 1 lb 2 oz (500 g) uncooked

5 oz (140 g, 2½ cups) each of fresh breadcrumbs and shredded suet (kidney fat)

1 large cooking apple, weighing 10 oz (280 g) unpeeled

12 oz (340 g, 3 cups) currants

8 oz (225 g, 2 cups) raisins

10 oz (280 g, 1¾ cups) dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon each of ground nutmeg and mace

1 teaspoon ground cloves

2 oz (60 g, ½ cup) chop mixed candied peel.

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Boil the eggs hard, cool them and shred them using a food processor or cheese grater. Mix them with the breadcrumbs and suet. Peel, quarter and core the apple and shred it too. Mix in the breadcrumbs and suet, then add all the remaining ingredients.

Stir well and put into sterilized jars. Seal well and keep in a cool, dark cupboard…

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Puff pastry was what Mrs Acworth normally used for tarts and for those puddings that required pastry. Cheesecakes and mince pies would also have been made with puff pastry..

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I shall bid you a fond ‘Adieu’ as I return to the ‘roleing’ of this ‘Puff Past’ and will allow Lord B a final word about the humble mince pie for this most festive of days…

“I wish you much merriment and minced pye – it is Xmas day…”

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Now, I don’t mind if I do!

Tee

Sources Used:

Byron’s Letters and Journals Volume 4 (1814-1815) Ed: Leslie A. Marchand (London: John Murray 1975)

Byron’s Letters and Journals Volume 10 (1822-1823) Ed: Leslie A. Marchand (London: John Murray 1980)

Margaretta Acworth’s Georgian Cookery Book Ed: Alice and Frank Prochaska (London: Pavilion Books  Limited 1987)

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and Something WAS Stirring in Lord Byron’s Abode!

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse… Clement Clarke Moore

Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, Christmas Eve has finally arrived at 13 Piccadilly Terrace in the year 1815!

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Although Lord Byron remains a most-beloved ‘Man of Letters’; it is unfortunate that references to this festive time of year are difficult to locate within the volumes of his copious scribblings and I can’t help but wish that if only he had shared his thoughts, salutations or whatever in the same spirit in which he extrapolated his opinion on the virtues of the fairer sex then my creative endeavours within this ‘Small’ abode would have been so much easier.

And although the children may be ‘nestled all snug in their beds’ waiting for the Visit from St Nicholas; there is plenty ‘stirring’ within the basement kitchen of 13 Piccadilly Terrace…

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Beginning with a breakfast of Plover’s Eggs, freshly made bread and red currant jelly to prepare for the Christmas Day Morrow…

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However, I am a little gratified that as Lord B was never known to ‘mince his words’ about anything or anybody that his opinion on the value of the humble ‘Minced Pye’ has at least been left for posterity…

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I have made a sumptuous meal on your minced pies – which are worthy of the donor and of his table… I congratulate you on your Cook…

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Seven years have elapsed since I saw a minced pie – and time and distance had not diminished my regret for those absent friends to “a merry Christmas and a happy new year”…

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However, before I return to the ‘roleing’ of this ‘Puff Past’ to create a minced pie worthy of his Lordship’s table with my copy of Margaretta Acworth’s ‘book of receipts’ to hand; I shall enjoy this sumptuous Christmas Eve dish of Roast Beef and Plum Pudding that has been kindly left for me…

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And if after your Christmas lunch you still have room for a ‘Mince Pye’ just like the indomitable Mrs Acworth used to whittle up over two hundred and fifty years ago and to which her ‘Dear Mamma Always Made & Was Generally Admired’; I shall be sharing her unique recipe as adapted by Alice and Frank Prochaska in another post…

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Until then however, I shall wish you much merriment and delicious minced pie!

Adieu!

Sources Used:

Byron’s Letters and Journals Volume 10 (1822-1823) Ed: Leslie A. Marchand (London: John Murray 1980)

Margaretta Acworth’s Georgian Cookery Book Ed: Alice and Frank Prochaska (London: Pavilion Books  Limited 1987)

Shrink Me! A Miniaturist Visits Fairfax House in York…

Dear Diary…

As my home town was in the throes of enjoying a beautiful Indian summer, I was delighted to meet up with fellow Byronian Dianna Rostrad for an afternoon of sightseeing in York and an enjoyable lunch at the Black Swan; a 15th century hostelry noted for delicious food and the occasional haunting by an assortment of ghosts that have made themselves at home within the cosy confines of this medieval inn over the last five hundred years.

As Dianna and I have traded lively messages back and forth through the discussion board of my ‘Lord Byron Appreciation Group’ on Facebook for some time now; we had plenty to chat about as we shared thoughts about his Lordship’s various romantic paramours, proven or otherwise!

Dianna had very kindly bought me a signed copy of The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton and our chatter naturally ran to my creation of Lord B’s abode and as Fairfax House in York has long been my inspirational ‘mood board’ for the design of 13 Piccadilly Terrace in the year 1815; my suggestion to pay a visit to this fabulous Georgian residence was met with enthusiasm by my companion despite the fact that we had been pounding the cobbled streets of York on foot for some hours now.

On our approach to the graceful entrance to Fairfax House perched in the shadow of Clifford’s Tower since 1760, purchased by the Viscount Fairfax of Gilling Castle as a dowry for Anne his only surviving child; I remarked to Dianna that this was one wedding gift I would have been more than happy to receive!

Guide book in hand, my fourth copy but who’s counting; we strolled through the exquisitely appointed rooms, stroking the occasional piece of chinoiserie furniture in admiration, listening to the ticking of the wonderful longcase clocks and musing over the identity of the wife of the Earl of Carlisle whose portrait on loan from Castle Howard now dominates an entire wall of the dining room.

With the stern lady adorned in forest green silk gazing down upon us; Byron soon returned as the topic of conversation as we discussed his relationship with his much lampooned guardian, the unfortunate Fredrick Howard, 5th Earl of Carlisle, much to the surprise of the friendly tour guide who was following our observations with surprised interest!

As we made our way to the kitchen, I did enjoy a final wistful glance of the dining room with its elaborate stucco ceiling for the recreation of one for Lord B’s abode had resulted in much heartbreak and insomnia during one painful month from inception to completion…

However, as we entered the kitchen, I had the strangest sense of déjà vu and as I looked around at the familiar sight of the huge fire with spit roast and bread oven, I felt as if I had shrunk and had wandered into the basement kitchen of Lord B’s abode, albeit in 12th scale!

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The Kitchen in Fairfax House in York

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It was only as I looked at the elaborate dishes of sumptuous and mouth-watering cuisine on the kitchen table that reality finally intruded with the realisation that the former inhabitants of this abode were arguably more fortunate than the imaginary inhabitants of my abode who unfortunately still remain on the brink of starvation apart from a bunch of carrots and some cake!

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And the Kitchen in 13 Piccadilly Terrace…

Hopefully, the plans that I am making for the celebration of a Regency Christmas at 13 Piccadilly Terrace will offer a soothing balm to any past grievances.

Bye for now!

Follow the link to enjoy a ‘virtual’ tour of Fairfax House in York and which inspired the creation of the kitchen here at Lord B’s abode.

There’s No Sense of Past Agony as Tee Takes a Stroll Along Piccadilly.

We mean to metropolize to-morrow, and you will address your next to Piccadilly. We have got the Duchess of Devon’s house there, she being in France…

Lord Byron

Last November I too metropolized to London for a few days and on one quiet and chilly afternoon after a quick rendezvous with Lord Byron in Bennet Street, I went for a stroll along Piccadilly to take a lingering look at the abode which was the scene of his short and difficult union with the unfortunate Annabella Milbanke and the inspiration for the creation of Byron’s abode, albeit in 12th scale!

The fact that Byron apparently descended into a brandy induced breakdown after the arrival of the two unwanted house guests for an extended visit probably did little to help restore the stormy waters of marital harmony.

The first house guest was Byron’s ‘Dearest Guss’, the Hon. Augusta Leigh and the other who arrived a little later was a Bailiff who presumably received a far less affectionate term of endearment!

Although the idea of 13 Piccadilly Terrace has long since captured my imagination; it is believed that the house has been rebuilt over the intervening years and is now a part of 139 Piccadilly which can easily be spotted after crossing over Old Park Lane and before you arrive at Hyde Park Corner.

Walked early to look at my old house in Piccadilly – saw into the room where I have sat with him, and felt as I had lived there with a friend who was long since dead to me…

No sense of past agony – all mournfully soft. My thoughts floated peacefully into other channels as soon as I had left the spot…

Lady Byron (Sunday September 17 1820)

‘Mournfully soft’, I love the juxtaposition of these words used by Annabella as she too had stood outside this building and mused about her relationship with her impossibly enigmatic and brilliant spouse…

No sense of past agony? Oh, how I wish these walls could talk!

Bye for now…

Tee