Tee Bylo Reunites Lord Byron with His Most ‘Amiable Mamma’ at 13 Piccadilly Terrace…

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…

Lord Byron

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.

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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.

hallway-a-portrait-of-lord-byron-and-catherine-gordon-byron-13-piccadilly-terrace-circa-1815

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!

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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A Romance in Miniature…

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 Miniature 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.

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The Garrets of 13 Piccadilly Terrace…

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 oblige him!

garret-william-fletchers-bedroom-13-piccadilly-terrace-circa-1815

We can also peek through the pine door to another bedroom… but for whom?

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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 early 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!

Sources Used:

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)