“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.”
You must recollect however – that I know nothing of painting – & that I detest it – unless it reminds me of something I have seen or think it possible to see – for which I spit upon & abhor all the saints & subjects of one half the impostures I see in the churches & palaces…
A copy of a portrait of Byron by the fashionable Regency painter Thomas Phillips now hangs in the Hallway on the Piano Nobile of 13 Piccadilly Terrace.
Despite Byron’s opinion of a painting as “the most artificial & unnatural – & that by which the nonsense of mankind is the most imposed upon.” this particular painting entitled ‘Portrait of a Nobleman’ commissioned by Byron in 1813 as a gift for his ‘Dearest Augusta’ remains one of the most iconic images of the poet.
It was in the spirit of family unity that I also created a copy of the portrait of Byron’s ‘Amiable Mamma’ Catherine Gordon Byron that can be seen in Byron’s ancestral home of Newstead Abbey in Nottinghamshire.
In the hagiography that often passes for the writing of Byron’s life, Catherine Gordon Byron is somewhat of a Marmite figure for you either love her or you hate her!
My hatred of Marmite is equal to the fondness that I have for the story of Byron’s most ‘Amiable Mamma’ who was described by her only son as a “tender and peremptory parent who indulged me sometimes with holidays and now and then with a box on the ear.”
I was rather surprised to discover that not all of my fellow Byronians share my pleasure at the reunion of mother and son portraiture upon the walls of 13 Piccadilly Terrace; however, given that they share their final resting place side by side in the Byron ancestral vault in the Parish Church of St Mary Magdalene in Hucknall Nottingham, it made perfect sense to me that their likenesses hang side by side, albeit in a small world!
Adieu for now!
‘The Trouble of an Index’ Byron’s Letters and Journals Volume 12 Ed: Leslie A. Marchand (London: John Murray 1982)
I have just taken the Dss of Devonshire’s House from next Sunday the 12th for one Year at 700£ – as Ld B wants Space I hope it will suit him – but after that, I am in rather a fright at what I have done – but all I can say, is, that I have not done it hastily…
for at first I would not take it – & have this morning been with all ye great House brokers – & on seeing what they ask for very indifferent Houses & how few are to be let furnish’d I went back to this, & concluded the bargain –
The great dispute between the Man who has the letting of it & myself was yt he would only let it till Christmas & I would have the Year –
Now for an Acc of the House first perhaps you are not aware that the entrance is down Some Steps, which makes what is commonly call’d the Ground floor but the rooms are extremely pleasant, the Dss lived entirely on this floor…
… she had a Dining room, Sitting room, & Bedchamber & a fourth room of a good Size but which she made her Maids Room – … these are well furnish’d not Splendidly but comfortably with Good Couches & large Chairs & Drugget over all the rooms in the House..
… Over these rooms there are the same Number but theses are only furnish’d with common furniture, as Mr Foster lived in them, – if you should take these for Yourself you will be obliged to move the Dss’s furniture up Stairs – & I think you must have Some additions – which you may hire at some Upholsterers…
Lady Melbourne (Tuesday March 7 1815)
Byron’s “Corbeau Blanc” The Life and Letters of Lady Melbourne Ed: Jonathan David Gross (Liverpool University Press 1998)
Yes, I am still here and I can guess what thought is uppermost in your mind right now as you read this!
For you’re probably thinking that I have forgotten all about the creation of my ‘Lord Byron House’ and have shaken the dust of the year 1815 from the soles of my feet as Lord B had hoped to when he sailed from our shores in the Spring of 1816 to a life of exile and even greater notoriety.
I am happy to report that you are quite mistaken and although I haven’t quite got around to dressing some of the rooms that will appeal and appease the comfort level of any inhabitant, imaginary or otherwise; the work on my small Regency abode still continues.
Admittedly, my work as of late has been more of the choosing and purchasing variety rather than the creating and painting tasks that still await that includes the putting together of one or two pieces of rather essential furniture.
For over two score years I would like to believe that I have had a more than average understanding of the word essential and what it means; however last month I was forced to concede this point when my pesky teenage son caught me drooling over a silver Georgian Tea Urn that I had bought from the US and having excitedly held it aloft for his opinion, he remarked “It’s very nice, but did they serve tea from a tray on the floor in Byron’s time?”.
Although the merits of essential furniture which along with the virtues of soft furnishings have never been high on the list of my priorities, 12th scale or not, I have also been very busy in my new role as a feature columnist for the Dolls’ House Magazine and the story of my ‘Lord Byron House’ has been making frequent appearances within the news ink that constitutes my monthly musings.
In the October issue, you can see a photograph of a miniature Boatswain warming himself by the cosy fire in the library of 13 Piccadilly Terrace. He wasmade for me by the wonderful Lucy Maloney of Designer Dog Miniatures and inspired by the portrait of Byron’s favourite Newfoundland which you can see on display at Byron’s ancestral home Newstead Abbey in Nottingham.
And I am quite sure that he will remain there at his leisure as any self respecting Poet would take one look at those bookshelves all devoid of books and would promptly make off to the nearest Gentleman’s Club!
With the summer officially over I shall been spending a lot of my time in the year 1815 between now and Christmas as there are some exciting plans being made for 13 Piccadilly Terrace which I will be able to share with you very soon!
Of all romances in miniature… perhaps this is the best shape in which Romance can appear..’ so said the fabulous Lord Byron in one of his many journal scribblings and as a passionate devotee of Regency history as well as an artist who designs ‘Small Worlds’ in 12th scale and who loves to create a scene and not only of the hysterical kind; it is perhaps only to be expected that I would create a Regency inspired miniature!
In 2009, I began the creation of 13 Piccadilly Terrace which is a Regency House complete with a basement kitchen and the attic rooms that will reflect the architecture, interior design, furniture and life-style of the Regency and which has been inspired by the poet Lord Byron and his circle as he lived at 13 Piccadilly Terrace in the year 1815.
Although my idea for the design of 13 Piccadilly Terrace began several years ago, I remain busy with the research and the hoarding of materials, fabrics, pictures with the buying of lots of delightful Regency miniatures; which I might add, is always the fun part!
And although I am proud of my painting techniques, woodworking skills and electrifying abilities; I am aware of my limitations which include a horror of dressmaking and sewing.
However, one of my many grand plans for this 12th scale abode is the creation of the unique ‘Byron Screen’ for the library and which was decorated to reflect his love of theatre and pugilism and used in his apartment at the Albany until it was bought at auction in April 1816 by his publisher John Murray.
After extensive restoration work, the present John Murray has kindly loaned the Byron Screen for display in Byron’s Library at Newstead Abbey; which I was delighted to see on my visit there last January.
And another of my many grand plans for this 12th scale abode is to arrange a wedding in the ‘Family Room’ that is situated on the piano nobile and with inspiration drawn from the Byron betrothal of January 2 1815 at Seaham Hall in County Durham even though I shall have to rely on plenty of artistic license with the decor and furnishing of this room being as I am limited to the use of my imagination as the accounts of this infamous union are sketchy to say the very least!
However, as I have studied and photographed the gown worn by Annabella on that cold January day during a visit to the Fashion Museum in Bath, I can boast of one item of authenticity even if it is 12th scale!
For although I can handle fabrics I can glue, the art of the needle is beyond me and it is fortunate that I have made the acquaintance of Louise from Angelique Miniatures who having positively embraced the art of miniature couture on my behalf has created this wedding gown and the silk pelisse in exquisite form!
And so as my ‘Lord Byron House’ continues to develop, I will be sharing with you the unfolding tale, the triumphs and the tears and even though I have been creating ‘Small Worlds’ for many years now; the passion to design and create a miniature world remains just as intoxicating, rather like my love of cake!
And on that note, I’m off for a wander into the kitchen of 13 Piccadilly Terrace in the hope that a slice or three of this delicious cake remains mine for the taking!