The fête at Frogmore, 1795.

The fête at Frogmore House, 19 May 1795

On Tuesday 19 May 1795, King George III held a grand fête at Frogmore House in the grounds of Home Park, Windsor (around half a mile from Windsor Castle), celebrating both Queen Charlotte’s 51st birthday and the recent arrival and marriage of his new daughter-in-law, Caroline, Princess of Wales (she’d married the Prince of Wales, later George IV, just weeks earlier, on 8 April).

Oil sketch of the Marriage of George, Prince of Wales, and Princess Caroline of Brunswick c. 1795-7 by William Hamilton
Oil sketch of the Marriage of George, Prince of Wales, and Princess Caroline of Brunswick c. 1795-7 by William Hamilton; Royal Collection Trust

The fête was in the style of a Dutch Fair. This was in honour of some recent guests: William V, the Prince of Orange and Nassau-Dietz and his family had fled their Netherlands home after the French army had invaded, and headed for exile in England. (The Prince of Orange’s wife, Wilhelmina of Prussia, was the aunt of Princess Frederica Charlotte, the wife of George III’s second son, Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany.)

William V, Prince of Orange c.1800, after John Hoppner.
William V, Prince of Orange c.1800, after John Hoppner. Royal Collection Trust

Their Majesties and the Orange Family, &c. &c. dined at half past three in a grand saloon, superbly ornamented, in Fête Champêtre. Four tents were fitted up in front of the saloon for the reception of their noble guests.

Wilhelmina, Princess of Orange, c.1800, after John Hoppner.
Wilhelmina, Princess of Orange, c.1800, after John Hoppner. Royal Collection Trust

The presence of one guest was extremely contentious. Frances Villiers, Countess of Jersey was there, the Prince of Wales’ mistress despite his recent marriage. The prince famously hated Caroline, his wife, disliking her at first sight while Lady Jersey reigned supreme in his affections for some time. It was reported – wrongly, as it turned out – that Lady Jersey was pregnant with the prince’s child, and was ‘particularly distinguished’ at the fête held at Frogmore House. In fact, it was not Lady Jersey who was with child, but Caroline, Princess of Wales.

Frogmore by Samuel Howitt, 1801.
Frogmore by Samuel Howitt, 1801. Royal Collection Trust

Dancers and singers from Windsor and Covent Garden, dressed in rustic character formed part of the day’s entertainment. The pastoral idyll was thrown into chaos and gales of laughter though, when the pretend haymakers were interrupted by ‘a set of ass-racers, whose obstinate steeds, in the confusion, threw some of the blushing maids on the very haycocks they had just been raising’.

George III’s eldest daughter, Princess Elizabeth had been the brains behind the Dutch fair, organising the day with the assistance of the Orange family.

The booths, which were numerous, displayed a collection of articles for sale, from the dairy to a lady’s toilet; the purchase money, which was voluntary, was dropt by the purchase into boxes appropriated for the charity schools of Windsor.

The fête at Frogmore, 1795.
The fête at Frogmore, 1795. Royal Collection Trust.

While the fair continued into the evening, the royal family and their especial guests gracefully retired from the gardens of Frogmore House and made their way to Windsor Castle where a ball and supper was held.

Queen Charlotte in the grounds of Frogmore House by William Beechey, 1796
Queen Charlotte in the grounds of Frogmore House by William Beechey, 1796; The Courtauld Gallery

The Frogmore Estate has been owned by the royal family from the 1500s, although Frogmore House dates from the late seventeenth-century. Various tenants lived there (including one of Charles II’s illegitimate sons) until Queen Charlotte bought the house in 1792, as an idyllic and peaceful country mansion to which she and her unmarried daughters could retreat from court life.

After the 1795 fair, a nine-year programme of alterations was embarked on; the house was enlarged and extended, and pavilions added at the wings.

Her Majesty's Lodge at Frogmore, near Windsor, 1793, after Richard Cooper the younger.
Her Majesty’s Lodge at Frogmore, near Windsor, 1793, after Richard Cooper the younger. Royal Collection Trust

Of course, the Frogmore Estate is back in the news right now as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (and their new baby, Archie), have made Frogmore Cottage their new home.

Sources:

Norfolk Chronicle, 23 May 1795

The Times, 25 May 1795

La promenade en famille: a sketch from life. The Duke of Clarence (later William IV), Dorothea Jordan and some of their brood of children.

The Duke of Clarence’s Views on Marriage

For those familiar with this period of history, you will no doubt be well aware of the relationship the Duke of Clarence had with the actress Dorothea Jordan and that she had 10 illegitimate children with him.

Romney, George; Dorothea Bland (1762-1816), 'Mrs Jordan', as 'Peggy' in 'The Country Girl'; National Trust, Waddesdon Manor
Romney, George; Dorothea Bland (1762-1816), ‘Mrs Jordan’, as ‘Peggy’ in ‘The Country Girl’; National Trust, Waddesdon Manor

To ensure the continuity of the family line though, William, Duke of Clarence was persuaded/coerced/cajoled/bullied into marrying, take it as you will.

Johann Georg Paul Fischer (1786-1875)William IV (1765-1837) when Duke of Clarence  Engraved 1818. Watercolour on ivory laid on card | RCIN 420217
Johann Georg Paul Fischer (1786-1875)William IV (1765-1837) when Duke of Clarence  Engraved 1818. Watercolour on ivory laid on card | RCIN 420217

We came across this extract from a letter in The Georgian Papers written by his mother Queen Charlotte to Prinny (George, Prince Regent) in 1817 which we thought would be of interest and quite clearly shows Queen Charlotte’s view of the Duke of Clarence’s illegitimate offspring.

I doubt he will think it advisable to marry by that I mean his pecuniary affairs which lay heavy at his heart as to what relates to his children I should think that is a point which if he marries must be settled amongst themselves, for as they are not to live under the same roof I cannot see why if the princess is reasonable she should object to see those children. I enclose the copy and make no further comments upon it as it will explain the whole.

Next, we have Williams extremely heartfelt view about any possible marriage. The underlined words are of his doing, not ours.

Bath December 18th, 1817

Dear Madam

Your Majesty having requested me to put my thoughts in writing on the subject of the letter from the Prince Regent I take up my pen to state as clearly as I can my sentiments and real situation.

I acknowledge a private and public duty and only wish to reconcile the two together: if the cabinet consider the measure of my marrying one of consequence they ought to state to me what they can and will propose for my establishment for without previously being acquainted with their intentions as to money matters I cannot and will not make any positive offer to any Princess: I have ten children totally and entirely dependent on myself. I owe forty thousand pounds of funded debt for which of course I pay interest, and I have a floating debt of sixteen thousand pounds: in addition to all which if I marry I must have a town house and my house at Bushy completely repaired and entirely new furnished: thus situated and turned fifty it would be madness in me to marry without previously knowing what my income would be: If that settlement is made which I can consider adequate I shall only have to explain my real situation as the fond and attached father of ten children to the Princess whom I am to marry: for without a complete understanding of my full determination to see when and where I please my daughters I cannot and will not marry. As for the Princess, I think under all consideration the Princess of Dannemark (sic) is probably the most proper provided her character is that which I should trust will bear investigation.

I hope I have expressed myself to your Majesty’s satisfaction: one comfort at least I have that I have opened my heart most fully and entirely and shall therefore leave in your Majesty’s hands these lines as the complete sentiment that must ever dictate my line of conduct on a measure in which both my public and private duty is concerned.

I remain

Dearest Madam

Your Majesty’s most affectionate and dutiful son

William

Clearly, the suggestion of him marrying the Princess of Dannemark fell on deaf ears, but marry he did, for in July 1818 a suitable match was found for him – Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen who was half his age.

Queen Adelaide (1792-1849) C. 1833. Watercolour on ivory laid on card | RCIN 420661.Courtesy of the Royal Collection
Queen Adelaide (1792-1849) C. 1833. Watercolour on ivory laid on card | RCIN 420661.Courtesy of the Royal Collection

Hereford Journal July 8th, 1818 announcing the arrival of Princess Adelaide
Hereford Journal July 8th, 1818 announcing the arrival of Princess Adelaide

The couple married only a week or so after having met. Was it a happy marriage? Well, apparently so as it lasted until his death in 1837.

Featured Image

La promenade en famille: a sketch from life by James Gillray. The Duke of Clarence, Mrs Jordan and some of their children.

 

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

Grace Dalrymple Elliott’s aunt and uncle at the coronation of George III in 1761

Grace Dalrymple Elliott, the subject of our book An Infamous Mistress, was only around seven years of age at the time of the coronation of King George III on the 22nd September 1761 at Westminster Abbey.

George III in his coronation robes, by Allan Ramsay.
George III in his coronation robes, by Allan Ramsay.

Grace, living in Scotland with her maternal relatives after her father had abandoned his young family, might just have had a first-hand account of the ceremony from her aunt, Robinaiana, Countess of Peterborough, who attended the coronation.

Ramsay, Allan; Queen Charlotte (1744-1818), Princess Sophia Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Queen of George III; National Galleries of Scotland; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/queen-charlotte-17441818-princess-sophia-charlotte-of-mecklenburg-strelitz-queen-of-george-iii-213105
Ramsay, Allan; Queen Charlotte in her coronation robes (1744-1818), Princess Sophia Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Queen of George III; National Galleries of Scotland

As Peers of the Realm, the Earl and Countess of Peterborough would have been expected to wear their robes of state and coronets. An Earl’s coronet was a:

 . . . circle [of gold], richly chased, having eight pearls raised upon high points of gold, which spring out of the upper rim, with an equal number of strawberry leaves, formed of the same metal, standing upon lower points between them. It has also a doubling of Ermine, cap and tassel . . .

The Earl of Peterborough’s robes would have been of crimson velvet, lined with white sarcenet and with three guards of Ermine. Robinaiana’s state robe too would have consisted of crimson velvet and ermine, with her coronet having a cap also of crimson velvet turned up with Ermine and a button and tassel of gold on the top. The length of the train of the robe was regulated by the rank of the wearer; a Countess was allowed a train of up to a yard and a half in length.

Form of the Procession to the Coronation of the Sovereigns of England, 1760. (University of Virginia)
Form of the Procession to the Coronation of the Sovereigns of England.
(University of Virginia)

Whilst we know of no picture representing the Earl and Countess of Peterborough dressed for the coronation, there is one hanging at Doddington Hall in Lincolnshire which shows the Earl and Countess of Mexborough dressed for the occasion.

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

Horace Walpole mentioned Robinaiana, Countess of Peterborough’s appearance at the coronation, and you can read more about that in our book An Infamous Mistress: The Life, Loves and Family of the Celebrated Grace Dalrymple Elliott, available now from Pen and Sword Books and all good bookshops.

 

Sources:

A Faithful Account of the Processions and Ceremonies observed in the Coronation of the Kings and Queen of England: exemplified in that of their late most sacred Majesties King George the Third and Queen Charlotte with all the other interesting proceedings connected with that magnificent festival. Edited by Richard Thomson, 1820.

The Royal Babies of King George III & Queen Charlotte

George III (1738-1820), Queen Charlotte (1744-1818) and their Six Eldest Children. Zoffany
George III (1738-1820), Queen Charlotte (1744-1818) and their Six Eldest Children. Zoffany Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

The arrival of a baby at any time is a joyous event and with the arrival of the latest royal babies, we thought we would take a look back at the children of King George III and his consort Queen Charlotte. They produced a staggering 15 children. So here’s a brief look at them all through their portraits.

1. Their eldest child and first in line to the throne was George, later to become the notorious King George IV (1762 – 1830). As you may know, George, Prince of Wales, was named as the father of our favourite Georgian courtesan Grace Dalrymple Elliott’s daughter, but that’s another story, with Prince George featuring in our book An Infamous Mistress.

2. Frederick, Duke of York, now gave the couple the requisite ‘heir and a spare’. (1763 – 1827).

Royal baby - Buckingham Palace
Queen Charlotte with her Two Eldest Sons (Artist, Johann Zoffany)

At number 3  we have William, who would eventually become William IV (1765-1837). So the monarchy was safe, ‘an heir and now 2 spares’.

Prince William (1765-1837), later Duke of Clarence
Prince William (1765-1837), later Duke of Clarence, King William IV. Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015

As if three children weren’t enough the couple produced their first daughter, Charlotte, The Princess Royal  (1766 – 1828).

Princess Royal
Queen Charlotte with Charlotte, Princess Royal (Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014)

The couples fifth child was to be yet another son, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn (1767 – 1820). In due time, Edward’s daughter Victoria, born 24th May 1819, would ascend to the throne, and you can discover more about Queen Victoria and her descendants here.

Portrait of a Baby, possibly Prince Edward (1767-1820), later Duke of Kent
Portrait of a Baby, possibly Prince Edward (1767-1820), later Duke of Kent. Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

At number six and almost a year to the day, Augusta Sophia was to make her appearance into the royal family, followed by their seventh child, another daughter,  Princess Elizabeth  (1770 – 1840), who was reputed to have had some sort of marriage to a George Ramus, but you can find out more here about that.

Princess Augusta, Princess Elizabeth, Prince Ernest, Prince Augustus, Prince Adolphus and Princess Mary
Princess Augusta, Princess Elizabeth, Prince Ernest, Prince Augustus, Prince Adolphus and Princess Mary, Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

Numbers eight & nine were  Prince Ernest (1771 – 1851) and  Prince Augustus Frederick (1773-1843), who was to become the 1st Duke of  Sussex, the title being conferred upon him on 24th November 1801. This was the last time this title was used, but it is now the title that has been bestowed upon Prince Harry when he married Meghan Markle (19th May 2018) at Windsor Castle. If you’d like to find out more about the unconventional marriage of Prince Harry’s great, great, great grandfather to a Romany girl, you can discover all in our book, A Right Royal Scandal.

Prince Augustus, Duke of Sussex (1773-1843). Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017
Prince Augustus, Duke of Sussex (1773-1843). Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

These two were followed a year later by their tenth child Prince Adolphus (1774 – 1850). At number eleven there was Princess Mary, Duchess of Gloucester (1776 – 1857) and at twelve,  Princess Sophia (1777 – 1848).

The Three Youngest Daughters of George III
The Three Youngest Daughters of George III, John Singleton Copley, Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

At thirteen we have the young  Prince Octavius  (1779 – 1783) whose life was tragically cut short only six months after the death of his younger brother Prince Alfred. To find out more about the tragically short lives of Octavius and Alfred and the Queen’s mysterious pregnancies click on this link.

Prince Octavius (1779-1783)
Prince Octavius (1779-1783), by Benjamin West. Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015

14. Prince Alfred (1780 – 1782)

Prince Alfred (1780-1782). Miniature painted c.1782, British School. Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017
Prince Alfred (1780-1782). Miniature painted c.1782, British School. Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

Finally, at number fifteen there was  Princess Amelia (1783 – 1810).

Princess Amelia by Hoppner, 1785.
Princess Amelia by Hoppner, 1785. Wikimedia

Our final offering, King George III, Queen Charlotte, the group portrait, accompanied by their surviving 13 children.

Murphy_-_George_III_and_Queen_Charlotte_with_their_thirteen_children
George III and Queen Charlotte with their thirteen children by John Murphy

We have written extensively about the British royal family, revealing new – and surprising – information, and you can discover all here.