Fletcher, after having been toasted and roasted, and baked and grilled, and eaten by all sorts of creeping things begins to philosophise, is grown a refined as well as a resigned character, and promises at his return to become an ornament to his own parish, and a very prominent person in the future family pedigree of the Fletchers who I take to be Goths by their accomplishments, Greeks by their acuteness, and ancient Saxons by their appetite…
These are the words of Byron written in a letter to his mother Catherine in the summer of 1810 as he continued to enjoy his Grand Tour accompanied by the faithful and ‘learned’ William Fletcher, his valet and the recipient of kindness, extensive travel and the frequent butt of jokes.
Fast forward from that balmy July over two hundred years later to our present day and to the creation of my Byron-inspired Regency House.
I have now completed the rooms that can be found nestled away in the garrets that are suitable for a miniature William Fletcher.
And if we travel through the Hallway, a bedroom for Fletcher awaits and as Byron was to write of Fletcher’s ‘perpetual lamentations after beef and beer’ – I shall try to oblige him!
We can also peek through the pine door to another bedroom – but for whom?
When Byron married Annabella Milbanke in January 1815, she was accompanied by her maid Ann Rood and as the Byron marriage disintegrated, the romance between the ‘Learned Fletcher’ and ‘Roody’ blossomed.
The parcel came & contained also a billet from Roody to my Valet – from which I infer that she is better in one sense & worse in another…
They were married in January 1816 and sadly were not to enjoy marital bliss for long as Fletcher was to accompany his master to Europe in April and Ann was to continue in the service of her mistress.
How very sweet! A real romance in miniature!
Byron was certainly enthusiastic about this concept as he was to note in his Ravenna Journal in 1821: Of all romances in miniature (and perhaps this is the best shape in which Romance can appear)
Adieu for now!
Byron’s Letters and Journals Vol 2 1810-1812 Ed. Leslie A. Marchand (London: John Murray 1974)
Byron’s Letters and Journals Vol 4 1814-1815 Ed. Leslie A. Marchand (London: John Murray 1975)
Byron’s Letters and Journals Vol 8 1821 Ed. Leslie A. Marchand (London: John Murray 1978)