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)

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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

Leaving Lady B to Dine in Peace!

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 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

And there is certainly a ‘woman within ken’ in the Dining Room of 13 Piccadilly Terrace for the walls that I have painted in a distemper inspired by the colour of ‘Wedgewood Blue’ are now adorned with several female likenesses that feature the like of Lady Melbourne and Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire.

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For with this feminine presence dominating the Dining Room of 13 Piccadilly Terrace and with Byron’s ambivalent attitude towards food well documented in that he would frequently go for days without eating a substantial meal preferring a diet of “hard biscuits and Soda water”; I have created this particular room to be as ‘unByronic’ as is possible and which may offer some explanation for the portrait of B’s ‘infernal fiend’ that now hangs there.

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‘A Portrait of Annabella Milbanke by Hoppner in 1802’

For it was during the course of his brief residence within the martial home of 13 Piccadilly Terrace, he would on more than one occasion refuse to share the dining table with his bride.

… once when his dinner was accidentally served at the same table with mine, he desired his dish to be taken into another room (in my presence, & the servants attending) with an expression of rage…

Lady Byron

As the dietary strictures employed by Lord B were not shared by his wife for having made no secret of her enjoyment of food, my hope is that this wonderfully poignant image of this solemn yet graceful little girl can continue to adorn the walls of this dining room in peace!

Bye for now!

Sources Used:

‘The Trouble of an Index’ Byron’s Letters and Journals Volume 13 Ed: Leslie A. Marchand (London: John Murray 1982)

Lord Byron’s Wife Malcolm Elwin (London: John Murray 1962)

Lady M Sketches the Character of Lord Byron’s House…

I enclose you a very rough Sketch of the rooms on ye ground floor in yr House merely to shew you how ye rooms are disposed, as you may then consider in what way it will be most convenient for you to live in them – I have mark’d them as they are at present…

The Duchess’s Sitting room is furnish’d with low Bookcases Tables Couches & Great Chairs – in profusion…

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The Drawing Room of 13 Piccadilly Terrace…

… but certainly the Rooms up stairs, have only common useful furniture in them – The offices excepting the Kitchen are small – but will do very well & are very comfortable – for all ye Servants belonging to Dev House, are <used> to take care of themselves – 

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I suppose you or Ld B employ some Upholsterer & in that case – he had better look over the things left in ye House & see they are all there according to ye Inventory which the Auctioneer will give him…

– If you know of no particular person I will employ ours so let me know…

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The Portrait of Lady Melbourne in the Dining Room of 13 Piccadilly Terrace…

I forgot to mention yt all ye rooms are very light & pleasant excepting No 4 which being <cornered> so far back is darken’d by some buildings –

Lady Melbourne (Sunday March 12 1815)

Sources Used:

Byron’s “Corbeau Blanc” The Life and Letters of Lady Melbourne Ed: Jonathan David Gross (Liverpool University Press 1998)

It’s 1815 and Lady M ‘Takes Charge’ at 13 Piccadilly Terrace…

I have just been at the House, to tell ye Servants that your Housemaid was on her way – & to prevent her being refused admission.

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I have also been at the House Brokers, & as Ld B will be in Town so Soon he thinks some sort of Agreement may then be drawn up, for ye time he has taken in/so there is no necessity for your sending such a direction to any Upholsterer, as the maid you send will probably be competent to look over ye Inventory & take charge of ye things…

… there is no Linnen to go with the House, nor Glasses nor Knives & forks, Spoons &c

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The only things left, are the Kitchen Utensils of all Sorts – Pewter for ye Servants – & some White Wedgwood plates & Dishes & crockery ware for all ye rooms…

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You will therefore most probably give yr Servt directions about any things you may want and if I can be of any use, employ me sans ceremonie…

Lady Melbourne (Saturday March 11 1815)

Sources Used:

Byron’s “Corbeau Blanc” The Life and Letters of Lady Melbourne Ed: Jonathan David Gross (Liverpool University Press 1998)

A Delightful Situation! Lady Byron’s Determined Confidante…

I determined to run ye risk of taking ye Dss’s where ye furniture is all clean & ye Beds quite good & the Situation delightfull – she pays 800 pr Anm & the Taxes but she wishes to have a House to go into if she should return to England next Yr & therefore decided to let it for less & be at some loss – rather than have to look for a House…

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A Candle Sconce in the Hallway of 13 Piccadilly Terrace…

You may come to this next Week if You please – There is a Housemaid there who has a room where all the Dss’s things which she left are put up – Of course whether you keep her on or not she may I have no doubt keep the Key of this room – as there are plenty &, it will be no inconvenience to you to have it lock’d up…

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The Hallway on the Piano Nobile at 13 Piccadilly Terrace…

The Offices are very good – & all sorts of useful things will be found in the House in plenty -the Bell is going – & I am in ye greatest hurry…

Lady Melbourne (Tuesday March 7 1815)

Sources Used:

Byron’s “Corbeau Blanc” The Life and Letters of Lady Melbourne Ed: Jonathan David Gross (Liverpool University Press 1998)

Making the Bed! The Letters of Byron’s ‘Ma Tante’…

The Atticks & Garrets are perfectly well furnish’d – in all there are Sixteen Beds in the house extremely good & Clean but no one very large…

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I think You might continue for 3 or 4 days to live in the Dss’s rooms as she inhabited them, as the rooms have all Separate communications – & as there are two bedchambers close together You could do very well for that time & then Settle how the rooms Upstairs Should be arranged…

Lady Melbourne (Tuesday March 7 1815)

Sources Used:

Byron’s “Corbeau Blanc” The Life and Letters of Lady Melbourne Ed: Jonathan David Gross (Liverpool University Press 1998)