a fine sight it was

The noble houses and regal living of eighteenth century England…

…Lord Egremont celebrated special occasions- victories, coronations, royal birthdays, and, of course, his own- with vast public entertainments that amazed even his own time. Here is a description of the feast he gave when he reached his eighty-third year:

On Monday last I went to Petworth, and saw the finest fete that could be given. Lord Egremont has been accustomed some time in the winter to feast the poor of the adjoining parishes (women and children, not men) in the riding—house and tennis court, where they were admitted by relays. His illness prevented the dinner taking place; but when he recovered he was bent upon having it, and, as it was put off till the summer, he had it arranged in the open air, and a fine sight it was; fifty—four tables, each fifty feet long, were placed in a vast semicircle on the lawn before the house. Nothing could be more amusing than to look at the preparations….

—Adlestrop was the home of James Leigh, who married Lady Caroline Brydges in 1753. Widowed Lady Caroline was guardian to Anna Eliza, the first Duchess of Buckingham and Chandos. Anna spent some time at Adlestrop (probably Adlestrop Park) prior to her marriage.
Adlestrop 1825 Neal
Adlestrop in 1825 by JE Neal (supplied by Julie Wakefield)
Jane Austen, a distant relation of Anna Eliza, visited Adlestrop during this period but there is no evidence that the two women met. —Read More:http://www.dukesofbuckingham.org.uk/places/adlestrop/adlestrop.htm

The tables were all spread with cloths, and plates, and dishes; two great tents were erected in the middle to receive the provisions, which were conveyed in carts, like ammunition.Plum puddings and loaves were piled like cannon balls, and innumerable joints of boiled and roast beef were spread out, while hot joints were prepared in the kitchen, and sent forth as soon as the firing of guns announced the hour of the feast. Tickets were given to the inhabitants of a certain district, and the number was about 4,000; but, as many more came, the old Peer could not endure that there should be anybody hungering outside his gates, and he went out himself and ordered the barriers to be taken down and admittance given to all. They think 6,000 were fed.( Charles Greville)

—Britons of all classes and sexes loved gambling, although moralizers on both the left and right decried it, as illustrated by the tone of this 1796 etching, Lady Godina’s Rout, by James Gilray. For aristocratic women, being expected to pay “debts of honor” with sexual favors was a real danger — or a viable option, depending on one’s point of view. Playing at cards and wearing a revealing gown made the same statement in the mid-1790s: the player was willing to take risks. Both were extremely fashionable. Here, at a card-party, a cool-headed young woman seems intent on ignoring the lecher at her shoulder.—Read More:http://exhibitions.nypl.org/biblion/node/2660

Yet, lavish as this life was, it had its curious shortcomings, its little weaknesses, and even its darker side. The plumbing in these great mansions was almost nonexistent. Houses that had a bathroom, like Chatsworth, were famed for them. One lavatory was thought to be sufficient for the huge house at Harewood. And we find the first Duke of Chandos writing urgently to Jamaica for bitterwood in order to line his daughter’s cradle to keep out the bugs.

After Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775‑1851)
Abingdon, from the Thames Navigation, engraved by Byrne
From Byrnes Brittania Depicta 1803-1810 Prints
Date published 1805
MediumEngraving on paper —Read More:http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-abingdon-from-the-thames-navigation-engraved-by-byrne-t05944

The absence of drains and the presence of parasites bred diseases. Chandos himself buried two wives and eight of his children. In all great households death was a constant visitor, and perhaps this gave a keener edge to their appetite for life; and perhaps in their need to build on a scale fit for eternity, we can discern their sense of life’s transience, a hint of tragedy, and a challenge to death. That is as may be. ( to be continued)…

—George Morland – Fruits of Early Industry and Economy 1789 by George Morland—Read More:http://www.encore-editions.com/george-morland-fruits-of-early-industry-and-economy-1789

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