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)

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The Dominating Presence of the Indomitable Lady Melbourne!

Despite the headaches I endured during the creation of the Dining Room at 13 Piccadilly Terrace, this room remains one my favourites which was inspired by in part by the beautifully intricate ceiling that dominates the Drawing Room at Fairfax House in York in addition to the letters of Lady Melbourne who was lauded for the exquisite interior design that she employed during the renovation of the Albany in Piccadilly that was completed in the autumn of 1774.

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As the formidable Lady Melbourne was to prove a commanding presence within the graceful salons of Georgian society with her intimate friends Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire and the fashionable sculptor Anne Seymour Damer; she also has the privilege of dominating the walls of this room in several of the portraits that I have placed there.

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Has Lady Greenwich told you of the Duchess of Devonshire, Lady Melburn, and Mrs. Damer all being drawn in one picture in the Characters of the three Witches in Macbeth?

They have chosen that Scene where they compose their Cauldron, but instead of “finger of Birth-strangled babe, etc.” their Cauldron is composed of roses and carnations and I daresay they think their Charmes more irresistible than all the magick of the Witches.

Lady Mary Coke

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‘The Three Witches from Macbeth by Daniel Gardner in 1775’

However, you may yet wonder why I have placed the childhood portrait of Annabella Milbanke as she was painted by Hoppner at ten years old for as ‘Lady Melburn’s’ niece and the future Lady Byron, she would in later years come to realise the truth of Lady M’s ‘Hubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble’.

That however, is for another story!

Bye for now!

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)

‘Dearest Annabella I Have Just Taken the Duchess of Devonshire’s House’… The Letters of Lady Melbourne

Dst Annabella 

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…

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The Entrance Hallway of 13 Piccadilly Terrace…

… 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..

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The Dining Room of 13 Piccadilly Terrace…

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)

Sources Used:

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