A View of Paris from the Pont Neuf by Nicolas-Jean-Baptiste Raguenet, 1763, Getty Museum (image via Wikimedia Commons)

Marquis de Lafayette and His Affair with Aglaé of Hunolstein

Today we are delighted to welcome back the author, Geri Walton. Geri has long been interested in history and fascinated by the stories of people from the 1700 and 1800s. This led her to get a degree in History and resulted in her website, which offers unique history stories from the eighteenth- and nineteenth-centuries.

Her first book, Marie Antoinette’s Confidante: The Rise and Fall of the Princesse de Lamballe, looks at the relationship between Marie Antoinette and the Princesse de Lamballe and has just been released in the U.S and Canada.

You can find Geri on Facebook , Twitter, Google Plus , Instagram and Pinterest.

Before we hand over to Geri we thought readers might like to know a little about her book:

Marie Antoinette has always fascinated readers worldwide. Yet perhaps no one knew her better than one of her closest confidantes, Marie Thérèse, the Princesse de Lamballe. The Princesse became superintendent of the Queen’s household in 1774, and through her relationship with Marie Antoinette, a unique perspective of the lavishness and daily intrigue at Versailles is exposed.

Born into the famous House of Savoy in Turin, Italy, Marie Thérèse was married at the age of seventeen to the Prince de Lamballe; heir to one of the richest fortunes in France. He transported her to the gold-leafed and glittering chandeliered halls of the Château of Versailles, where she soon found herself immersed in the political and sexual scandals that surrounded the royal court. As the plotters and planners of Versailles sought, at all costs, to gain the favor of Louis XVI and his Queen, the Princesse de Lamballe was there to witness it all.

This book reveals the Princesse de Lamballe’s version of these events and is based on a wide variety of historical sources, helping to capture the waning days and grisly demise of the French monarchy. The story immerses you in a world of titillating sexual rumors, blood-thirsty revolutionaries, and hair-raising escape attempts and is a must read for anyone interested in Marie Antoinette, the origins of the French Revolution, or life in the late 18th Century.

Geri’s book is available from Pen & Sword Books, Amazon and other leading bookshops.

So, on with the story…

Marquis de Lafayette, the same man who played a pivotal role in the French Revolution, had earlier become a hero in the American Revolution. He became a hero after being shot in the calf of his left leg during a battle. Although Lafayette’s wound was not that serious, it kept him out of action for a time. But more importantly, it generated buzz about his heroics back in Paris.

Portrait of Gilbert Motier the Marquis De La Fayette as a Lieutenant General, 1791. Courtesy of Wikipedia
Portrait of Gilbert Motier the Marquis De La Fayette as a Lieutenant General, 1791. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

One person who heard about Lafayette’s wound in battle was the wife of Count Philippe-Antoine of Hunolstein. Her full name was Charlotte-Gabrielle-Elisabeth-Aglaé de Puget of Barbantane. Aglaé, as she was called, was a charmer who possessed the duo attributes of being extraordinarily bright and exquisitely beautiful. In fact, even women who did not like her admitted that she was beautiful, and men were all the more vociferous in their praises of her.

Aglaé was born around 1755 to parents that had good connections with the Orléans family. In fact, Aglaé’s mother was governess to the Duchess of Bourbon, and she was the sister of the Duke of Chartres who was later known as the Duke of Orléans and still later as Philippe Égalité. He was also cousin to King Louis XVI.

Aglaé, Countess of Hunolstein. Public Domain
Aglaé, Countess of Hunolstein. Public Domain

Despite Agalé’s supposed close connection with the Orléans family, it seems the Duchess of Bourbon decided Aglaé possessed such “depraved inclinations” that she became “determined not have her in her retinue.” So, instead, Aglaé found herself serving the Duchess of Chartres, who was wife to the Duke of Chartres and also sister-in-law to the ill-fated Princesse de Lamballe.

This position was convenient as Agalé’s husband was one of the Duke of Chartres’s gentlemen. Thus, the Hunolstein’s life consisted of many similar amusements attended by the Duke and Duchess of Chartres. Moreover, the Hunolstein’s found themselves attending balls, operas, and the theatre with some of the most important members of French society.

Louis Philippe d'Orléans, as Duke of Chartres, by Sir Joshua Reynolds, ca. 1779. Courtesy of Wikipedia
Louis Philippe d’Orléans, as Duke of Chartres, by Sir Joshua Reynolds, ca. 1779. Courtesy of Wikipedia

The Duke of Chartres also provided frequent gaieties at his palatial Palais Royal, of which the Hunolstein’s regularly attended. The Duke of Chartres liked to live life with gusto. He was well-known for his womanizing and orgiastic festivals of lovemaking. Furthermore, he was known for his outlandish pranks:

[Once] after dinner the duke harnessed eight horses to his coach, seated himself astride … put the Princesse de Lamballe in the coach-box, his wife in the carriage and Aglaé behind her in the lackey’s place, and then rode lickety-split through the fashionable Faubourg St.-Honoré and Chaillot back to Mousseaux.

Passers-by could only imagine what the Duke of Chartres had in store as he flew past in a carriage full of women. The fact that Agalé participated in the prank shows a high degree of intimacy with the Duke. Moreover, indications are that she may have preceded the Duke’s next lover, Stéphanie Félicité du Crest de Saint-Aubin, better known as Madame de Genlis, who made no secret that she disliked Aglaé immensely.

Princesse de Lamballe by Antoine-François Callet, ca. 1776. Courtesy of Wikipedia
Princesse de Lamballe by Antoine-François Callet, ca. 1776. Courtesy of Wikipedia

Despite Aglaé’s intimate relationship with the Duke, Lafayette practically came to blows with someone else over her. Louis-Philippe, Count of Ségur, who descended from a noble and ancient military family, was friends with Lafayette. According to Ségur, after Lafayette became secretly attached to Aglaé, he somehow erroneously conceived the idea that Ségur was his rival.

Ségur reported that the red-headed Lafayette was mad with jealousy over Aglaé and could think of no one else. Once, under this spell of passion, Lafayette spent an entire night trying to induce Ségur to fight a duel for her. Agalé apparently knew nothing at the time of Lafayette’s attempt to fight a duel or of his jealous passion for her.

Madame de La Fayette. Courtesy of Wikipedia
Madame de La Fayette. Courtesy of Wikipedia

While Lafayette was fighting in America and continuing to make a name for himself, he was frequently sidetracked thinking about Aglaé. He even went so far as to write her a letter that was bundled with other letters, including some to Lafayette’s wife, Adrienne. Then in April, Lafayette received a packet of letters back.

Among the letters was one that did not make Lafayette happy. There was “a disturbing report about malicious gossip in Paris coupling his name with that of Aglaé.” Apparently, according to Lafayette, a mean trick had been played that consisted of a song about his relationship with Aglaé. Lafayette further clarified the incident in a letter to his brother-in-law:

The outcome of that pleasantry will probably be to make her forever unhappy and to make me come to swords’ points with a man against whom I can in all conscience defend myself only halfway. But the society of Paris will console itself with a song … It hurts to have them come two thousand leagues looking for me to be the hero of the current scandal and for a woman who is two thousand leagues from the flirtations and intrigues of Paris to make her the victim of some wicked fiction. Let me know, my dear brother, whether they speak to you about it as a joke or if they really make a serious bit of malice out of it.

Of all the glories heaped upon Lafayette, perhaps the most thrilling was the attention that Aglaé paid to him when he returned from America as a hero. Juicy rumours sprang up immediately accusing Lafayette and Aglaé of being more than mere friends. Before long, their relationship proved too conspicuous, too passionate, and too scandalous.

Their relationship also drew criticism from Algaé’s family, particularly her mother, the Marquise de Barbanily. Despite Aglaé’s husband being seemingly fine with Algaé’s relationship with Lafayette, the Marquise was livid about it. The Marquise thought Lafayette was too well-known and her daughter too obvious. Moreover, the Marquise hated the gossip and begged Aglaé to return to her husband. Lafayette made a half-hearted attempt to meet and smooth things over with Aglaé’s mother, but the meeting never came to fruition.

From the start, Lafayette and Aglaé’s love affair proved unhappy. Although Lafayette’s wife remained faithful and loyal behind the scenes, Adrienne’s family was extremely unhappy with the situation. Their unhappiness, in turn, made Lafayette unpopular at Louis XVI’s court, and Aglaé was shunned. Moreover, Algaé’s old lover, the Duke of Chartres, annoyed Lafayette and Aglaé at every turn.

Lafayette and Aglaé’s relationship was supposedly full of passion. Yet, with passion also came many brutal lover quarrels. Allegedly, during nearly every fight, she told Lafayette she wanted to end their relationship. Lafayette always refused to accept it.

Lafayette reputedly begged Aglaé to give him an explanation as to why their relationship should end, and then whatever she said, he refused to accept. He moped about and then became angry or persistent until he somehow convinced her to continue their relationship. Eventually, however, Aglaé begged him to leave Paris and to think about the painfulness of her situation as the constant gossip proved distressing to her.

Lafayette’s birthplace, Château de Chavaniac. Courtesy of Wikipedia

Lafayette finally relented. In March of 1783, he travelled the dusty roads to his birthplace in Chavaniac. Lafayette had not been back there for ten years. The time and distance allowed him to think clearly, and he came to a momentous decision. His letter began, “You are too cruel, my dear Aglaé. You realize my heart’s torments,” and it ended with him reluctantly releasing her for good.

You put in my hands your peace of mind, your safety, and much more … You understand the extent of my sacrifice. … I will silence my heart. [However,] all that you are, all that I owe to you, justifies my love, and nothing, not even you would keep me from adoring you.

Although Aglaé may have thought all the gossip would stop when her relationship with Lafayette ended, it did not. In fact, one critic penned that Aglaé was “a woman who was outwardly a prude though inwardly corrupt.” There were also new claims that she was leading a dissolute life, had delivered Chartres’s child, and was currently pregnant by a lackey. Her own family became resentful towards her, perhaps even disowned her, and, thus, she gave up public life and entered a convent.

References:

Louis Gottschalk, Lady-in-Waiting: The Romance of Lafayette and Aglaé de Hunolstein, Baltimore: The John Hopkins Press, 1939.

Gottschalk, Louis. Lafayette in America. Arveyres, France: L’Esprit de Lafayette Society, 1975.

Ségur, Louis P. d. Memoirs and recollections of Count Segur … Written by himself … Translated from the French. Boston: E. Bliss and E. White, 1825.

Featured Image

A View of Paris from the Pont Neuf by Nicolas-Jean-Baptiste Raguenet, 1763, Getty Museum (image via Wikimedia Commons)

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Prince of Wales, the Duke of Orleans, and Friendship

We are delighted to once again welcome to our blog the lovely Geri Walton, blogger and now author. Geri, like us, has long been interested in history and fascinated by the stories of people from the 1700 and 1800s. This led her to achieve a degree in History and resulted in her website which offers unique history stories from the 18th- and 19th-centuries.

Her first book, Marie Antoinette’s Confidante: The Rise and Fall of the Princesse de Lamballe, has just been released. It looks at the relationship between Marie Antoinette and the Princess de Lamballe, and among the people mentioned in the book are the Duke of Orleans, the Prince of Wales, and Grace Dalrymple Elliott, of which more later.

Marie Antoinette has always fascinated readers worldwide. Yet perhaps no one knew her better than one of her closest confidantes, Marie Thérèse, the Princess de Lamballe. The Princess became superintendent of the Queen’s household in 1774, and through her relationship with Marie Antoinette, a unique perspective of the lavishness and daily intrigue at Versailles is exposed.

Princesse de Lamballe by Antoine-François Callet, ca. 1776. Courtesy of Wikipedia

Born into the famous House of Savoy in Turin, Italy, Marie Thérèse was married at the age of seventeen to the Prince de Lamballe; heir to one of the richest fortunes in France. He transported her to the gold-leafed and glittering chandeliered halls of the Château de Versailles, where she soon found herself immersed in the political and sexual scandals that surrounded the royal court. As the plotters and planners of Versailles sought, at all costs, to gain the favour of Louis XVI and his Queen, the Princess de Lamballe was there to witness it all.

This book reveals the Princess de Lamballe’s version of these events and is based on a wide variety of historical sources, helping to capture the waning days and grisly demise of the French monarchy. The story immerses you in a world of titillating sexual rumours, blood-thirsty revolutionaries, and hair-raising escape attempts and is a must read for anyone interested in Marie Antoinette, the origins of the French Revolution, or life in the late 18th Century.

The Prince of Wales and the Duke of Orleans first met when the Duke visited England in 1783. The two men hit off because both men were wealthy and enjoyed idling away time. They were known to regularly “drink, bet at races, and gamble with dice and cards.” A second visit by the Duke made in the spring of 1784 had them visiting a variety of race tracks where they bet on the horses, and a third visit by the Duke, in the autumn, cemented the men’s relationship further when they went to Brighton, which was little more than a fishing village at the time.

Louis Philippe d’Orléans, as Duke of Chartres, by Sir Joshua Reynolds, ca.1779, Courtesy of the Château de Chantilly

Despite the Duke (b. 1747) being 15 years older than the Prince (b. 1762), the two men had other commonalities that encouraged their friendship. Both men enjoyed all sorts of vices, such as wasting time and constantly spending money. This caused the Prince’s father, George III, to view the Duke as a bad example for his son. In addition, reports about the Duke’s orgies did not help his standing with the King nor did the fact that George III had already issued a “royal proclamation against vice and immorality, and all kinds of swearing, drunkenness, and licentiousness.”

Despite the King’s proclamation, the Prince continued to live a wanton lifestyle. Similar to the Duke, the Prince also had a number of mistresses. In fact, one mistress the Prince and the Duke had in common was the divorcee Grace Dalrymple Elliott. The Prince first met Elliott when he was eighteen. They eventually had an affair, which resulted in Elliott giving birth to his daughter on 30 March 1782 and caused the Prince to supposedly remark, “To convince me that this is my girl they must first prove that black is white.”

George IV when Prince of Wales, miniature by Richard Cosway, 1792.
George IV when Prince of Wales, miniature by Richard Cosway, 1792. National Portrait Gallery

The Prince did eventually admit the girl was his although even before her birth, the Prince and Elliott’s relationship had fizzled. With the Prince tired of Elliott, he introduced her to his friend the Duke of Orleans. Despite being married, the Duke was interested in Elliott. (He had married on 6 June 1796 Louise Marie Adélaïde de Bourbon, who was sister-in-law to the ill-fated Princesse de Lamballe.) The Duke pursued Elliott, made her his mistress, and, by 1786, she moved to Paris to be closer to him.

As time passed, the Duke and Prince’s relationship continued to strengthen. At one point the Prince commissioned a portrait of the Duke, and the Duke ending up buying a house in Brighton because of his frequent visits to England. Moreover, during one of the Duke’s stays in Brighton, the Duke “had 28 fallow deer brought from France as a present to the Prince, who had recently formed a kennel of staghounds in Brighton.” Unfortunately, on the way to deliver them to the Prince’s kennels, a revenue officer seized the deer, and it was only after much wrangling that the deer were released and sent on their way to the Prince.

The two men also forged closeness in other ways. First, the Duke of Orleans invested large sums of money in England, and, second, he embraced everything “English” to the point the Duke made anglomania fashionable in France. Another reason for the men’s closeness was their common dislike for Louis XVI and the French monarchy. The English were “bitterly exasperated against the court of Louis XVI for aiding in the emancipation of America,” and, so, the Prince saw little wrong with the Duke supporting French revolutionaries, who were pitted against Louis XVI and the monarchy.

Despite the Duke and Prince’s similarities and common dislike for the French monarchy and Louis XVI, their friendship eventually began to wane. It completely ruptured after the Duke voted for the death of his own cousin, Louis XVI. Before the infamous vote, Elliott asked the Duke of Orleans, how, in good conscience could he allow his King and his cousin to be condemned by “blackguards.” He reassured her nothing would ever induce him to vote for the King’s death. However, he also noted “he thought the King had been guilty by forfeiting his word to the nation.”

Grace Dalrymple Elliott. Portrait by Thomas Gainsborough, 1778. Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

When the vote was taken, the Duke did not keep his word to Elliott. Later, after the vote, Elliott would say there was no one she detested more than the Duke. The Duke’s vote also caused many people to believe the Duke was attempting to undermine the monarchy and seize power for himself. This belief resulted in him becoming “a hated figure among the exiled aristocrats. He was [also] soon a figure of contempt for fellow republicans, who whatever their political principles, retained a belief that blood was thicker than water.”

Although the Prince of Wales disliked the French monarchy and Louis XVI, he also believed blood was thicker than water. After he heard the news that the Duke had voted for the death of his cousin, Louis XVI, the Prince of Wales became livid. “He leapt up from his chair, dragged down from the wall the portrait of Philippe that he had commissioned from Joshua Reynolds decades earlier and smashed it to pieces in the fireplace.” Thus, the friendship of the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Orleans ended forever.

References:

Ambrose, Tom, Godfather of the Revolution, 2014

Bishop, John George, The Brighton Pavilion and Its Royal and Municipal Associations, 1900

Craik, George Lillie and Charles MacFarlane, The Pictorial History of England During the Reign of George the Third, 1849

“London, (Thursday) March 24,” in Derby Mercury, 24 March 1785

Major, Joanne, and Sarah Murden, An Infamous Mistress, 2016

The Living Age, Vol. 74, 1862

 

 

You can find Geri on Facebook, Twitter (@18thCand19thC), Google PlusInstagram and Pinterest and her book is available from:

Pen and Sword Books

Amazon.co.uk

and to pre-order on Amazon.com and other good bookshops

 

The destruction of Speldhurst Church in Kent on the 20th October 1791

On Wednesday the 19th October 1791, the sea off the Kentish coast ‘ran mountains high, without any apparent cause’. Ships hastily made for harbour and lucky that they did for, on the following morning, a tremendous storm hit the south-east of England, with Kent particularly suffering.

On Thursday 20th October, at half past eleven o’clock and amidst high winds, thunder, lightning, hail and rain, a bolt of lightning struck the wooden steeple of Speldhurst Church near Tunbridge Wells in Kent. Some sources say that a ‘ball’ entered the shingled roof, others that lightning struck the weather vane atop the steeple. However it started, almost instantly flames and smoke could be seen.

speldhurst-church-near-tunbridge-wells
Speldhurst Church set on fire by lightning – 20th Oct 1791
Source: © British Library

As the fire was, so far, confined to the steeple, some people who were nearby rushed into the chancel to save the pulpit cushions, the plate and the parish chest. They did not have time to save anything else for the rain and hail stopped and the wind drove the flames onto the church which was soon engulfed in the inferno. Four hours after the lightning had struck, all that remained of the ancient and beautiful church was ruins, with the tombs and headstones which were closest to the doomed building also suffering damage. Bizarrely the font, which was still whole, had been turned upside down.

Amongst the items lost to the fire were the four bells housed in the steeple (they were melted) and the church monuments.

The monuments (one of which was very ancient, belonging to the Waller family, on a large scale, and a most curious piece of workmanship in marble) crumbled to dust.

For Speldhurst villagers William Card and Elizabeth Cole the tragedy was on a very personal level; they were due to marry in the church on the following day. Determined that the wedding should go ahead, a small space was cleared in the rubble by the chancel door and the couple were married there but, it was reported, ‘the bride’s new shoes were completely spoiled’.

Mulready, William; The Wedding Morning; Lady Lever Art Gallery; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/the-wedding-morning-102616
The Wedding Morning by William Mulready; Lady Lever Art Gallery

It was not just Speldhurst which had suffered, although the village saw the most devastation. In Tunbridge Wells itself the hail broke windows and caused other damage, and a man shooting a mile away from Speldhurst had ‘his gun twisted out of his hand by the lightning’. The church at Rainham near Canterbury was also struck and damage was noted at Newport on the Isle of Wight due to lightning strikes as the storm spread through the south-east of the country. It desisted during Thursday afternoon (although the wind continued to blow), but overnight and into the Friday morning there were further storms.

The Waller family lived at Groombridge manor house in Speldhurst; Sir Richard Waller (who died in 1431) had custody of a French royal hostage for many years. Charles, Duke of Orléans (1394-1465) had been taken prisoner by Waller after the battle of Agincourt in 1415, and both the duke and Waller were benefactors to the church which was destroyed in 1791. The dukes arms, which had been granted to Waller to quarter with his own, were displayed in stone above the porch of the church.

A new church was built (it opened in 1805), but that was demolished in 1870 and a further church now stands on the site. The website of the current church says that ‘remarkably, a few relics of the old church survive, including the coat of arms of the Duke of Orléans over the South door, a sundial and the very weather vane which was [reputedly] struck in 1791’.

 

Header image:

Speldhurst Church, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, Struck by Lightning; British (English Naive) School; Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery

 

Sources:

Hereford Journal, 2nd November 1791

Derby Mercury, 3rd November 1791

St Mary’s, Speldhurst.

The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 3 (1797) via British History Online.

Doddington Hall in Lincolnshire

Doddington Hall, just a few miles outside Lincoln, is a wonderful Elizabethan manor house, notable for never having been sold in its entire history. Built in 1595 by the architect Robert Smythson for Thomas Tailor who was registrar to the Bishop of Lincoln the house underwent a transformation in the Georgian period when it was inherited by Sir John Hussey Delaval (1728-1808) and the interior remodelled.

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The house is replete with many wonderful portraits, from Mary Queen of Scots to portraits of the family including one of the Earl and Countess of Mexborough (the Countess was sister to John Hussey Delaval) pictured dressed in the robes they wore for the coronation of George III in 1761.

The Earl and Countess of Mexborough, in their coronation robes, with Their Son, Lord Pollington by Joshua Reynolds; Doddington Hall
The Earl and Countess of Mexborough, in their coronation robes, with Their Son, Lord Pollington by Joshua Reynolds; Doddington Hall

John Hussey Delaval was the second son and Doddington had come into his family as the inheritance of his mother, Rhoda Apreece. Francis Blake Delaval, the eldest of the Delaval brothers and the black sheep of the family, inherited the family’s principal estate of Seaton Delaval in Northumberland, Rhoda stipulating that Doddington Hall could not be owned by the same person who owned the Northumberland estate.

A full-length portrait of Francis Blake Delaval by Sir Joshua Reynolds can be viewed at Doddington Hall. A true rake, he married Isabella, widow of Lord Nassau Powlett for her money (she was much older than him) but Isabella ended up taking legal action against her husband due to his affair with an actress, Miss La Roche or Elizabeth Roach. Delaval himself took to the stage, acting with Samuel Foote.

Sir Francis Blake Delaval (1727-1771), KB by Joshua Reynolds
Sir Francis Blake Delaval (1727-1771), KB by Joshua Reynolds; National Trust, Seaton Delaval

Rhoda’s decision to split the estate in this way between the two eldest sons paid dividends for the future of Doddington Hall; whilst Francis was a spendthrift and a gambler John was the opposite, prudent and conscientious. His redecoration of the Hall, even installing double glazing to the windows, is still extant to this day making it a real treat to visit for anyone who, like us, is fascinated by the Georgian era.

When Francis, having run through his fortune and destroyed his health, died of a stroke at the young age of 44 years in 1771 Sir John Delaval launched a lengthy legal process to gain control of the Seaton Delaval estate too, eventually succeeding by an agreement to pay £400 a year to his younger brother Edward, but whilst John gained Seaton Delaval he lived out his days at his beloved Doddington Hall.

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Of all the Delaval brothers, only Sir John Hussey Delaval of Doddington had a son and this son, also named John, died of consumption in Bath before he attained his majority. Doddington, therefore, passed to Edward, the third brother, and then to Edwards daughter Sarah, the wife of Admiral James Gunman.

The Gunmans lived in Dover and there Sarah, who was twenty-five years younger than her husband, fell in love with a dashing soldier, a hero of the Napoleonic Wars and a widower, Colonel George Ralph Payne Jarvis. Visitors to Doddington today can see his military uniform. Admiral Gunman died in 1824 and Sarah, still young, was free to marry the man she loved. However, what looked to become a Regency love story quickly became a tragedy instead. Sarah, suffering from consumption, followed her husband to the grave just six months later, still a widow. As a testament to the love she bore for the dashing Colonel she left everything she owned, including the estate of Doddington Hall, to the man she had wanted to marry. Colonel Jarvis moved into the house, married and sired a family and it is his descendants who live at the Hall today.

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A new addition to Doddington Hall this year is the pyramid folly set in the grounds which is reminiscent of the Egyptian Pyramid built in 1778 as one of the follies in the pleasure gardens of Grace Dalrymple Elliott’s lover the Duke of Orléans’ house at Monceau, Paris.

Pyramid at Doddington with the Pyramid at Monceau, Paris below.

Parc Monceau Pyramid

More information on Doddington Hall can be found on their website and also in their guidebook which gives full details of the estate and the people who have inhabited it.

UPDATE
The Doddington Hall guide book says that Sir John’s son, John Delaval, died of consumption at Bath, but one of our followers Kathleen Jones (@KAF1athome), a volunteer at Seaton Deleval Hall, has been in touch with a different version which we simply had to share.
Young John was sickly and was sent to Bristol to recuperate but he had an eye for the ladies and tried his luck with a serving girl named Annie at the Hotwells.  He picked on the wrong girl though, Annie kicked him in the crotch and, because she was wearing clogs at the time, caused him to haemorrhage, and it was this which led to his death.
A mausoleum was built for him at Seaton Delaval but, as it was going to cost too much money to consecrate it, he was buried at Doddington instead.

Grace Dalrymple Elliott: Inventor of the Bellona Cap or Helmet, 1786

As many of you will be aware we are busily writing the biography of the noted 18th-century courtesan Grace Dalrymple Elliott, for a few months mistress of ‘Prinny,’ who was later to become King George IV.  Her daughter Georgiana was said to be the Prince’s progeny.

Grace's daughter Georgiana as an infant. The portrait is now held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Grace’s daughter Georgiana as an infant. The portrait is now held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

So far much of our work has been researching her life, leaving little time to write any blogs about her.  We’re really excited by this research which will shed new light on Grace but in the meantime, we felt that it really was about time we began to share something about her with our readers.  Whilst we can’t give away too much yet, there are one or two things we can release and so we give you the Bellona Cap or Helmet, as invented by Grace herself which was the height of fashion and taste during the spring of 1786 in Paris.

Firstly a description of the cap from The General Evening Post of the 30th March 1786, and it’s attribution to Grace’s invention:

Bellona’s helmet is the fashionable ornament at present in Paris for the mode comme il faut. The vizor is of tiger spotted sattin, bordered with a narrow black ribbon, the cawl, very high and puffed, of blue sattin, tied round with a broad nakara-coloured ribbon, edged with black. This ribbon forms a large bow before, and another behind, and joins two wide lappets of Italian gauze, descending below the waist. Five feathers, two of which are green, two nakara, and one black, form the crest of this beautiful helmet: The hair flowing behind, and two large buckles falling on the bosom, complete the tout ensemble. The honour of this invention is intirely due to our handsome countrywoman Mrs. E____, still the favourite of the D. of O.

The Whitehall Evening Post, reporting a couple of days later also made mention of Grace.

Mademoiselle E. the Duke of O.’s mistress, is at present the Perdita of Paris. Her new invented Bellona Cap is the reigning ton there . . .

And now, the cap itself, from Cabinet des Modes, 15th March 1786. As you can see it completely matches the description above, right down to the black edged nakara (bright poppy red) ribbons.

Bellona cap, as worn by Grace Dalrymple Elliott.
Rijksmuseum

In case you wondered, this is not an image of Grace sporting the hat, sadly!  We do know from archive records that not only was Grace an innovator of fashion but that she was also the Imelda Marcos of hats, having purchased in the region of 100 hats and bonnets  in a wide variety of colours, styles and fabrics, but predominantly made from silk and taffeta, over a two year period whilst in France, costing in total around 2,000 Francs!

Bellona was a Roman goddess of war, always depicted wearing the military helmet which inspired this cap. In ancient Rome senate meetings were held in the Temple of Bellona (Templum Bellonæ) where the fetiales (priestly advisers) held ceremonies regarding war, peace and foreign treaties which raises the very interesting possibility that Grace was presenting herself as such an adviser to her lover, the Duke of Orléans, in pre-revolutionary Paris?

Courtesy of British Museum -  Image AN00058095
Courtesy of British Museum –  Image AN00058095

For more information about hats from the era, you might enjoy our blog ‘Hideous Hats’.