Saturday, July 7, 2012

Mastery of Design: Queen Victoria's Anniversary Brooch, 1839

Brooch of Gold and Porcelain
Part of the Orange Blossom Parure
Commissioned by Prince Albert, 1845
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

This dear brooch of gold and white porcelain was a gift from Albert, the Prince Consort in 1845 for their wedding anniversary. Albert had appreciated the combination of white porcelain and gold, and had commissioned similar pieces for the Queen in this style.

This brooch takes the form of a sprig of orange blossoms—a flower usually associated with weddings. On the day of their wedding, Queen Victoria wore real sprays of orange blossoms on her bodice as well as in her hair. In commemoration of that, for their anniversaries, the Prince presented the Queen with jewels in the shape of orange blossoms—matching a pin he had made as an engagement gift. Eventually, Her Majesty amassed a beautiful orange blossom parure of which this piece became a part.

Upon the 1861 death of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria made a list of special jewels which were to be placed in “The Albert Room” at Windso Castle. This room was left untouched and none of its contents were allowed to be moved. Among the jewels displayed there were the pieces of the Orange Blossom Parure, including this brooch and its original presentation box.

Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Queen Elizabeth II

Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Gifts of Grandeur: The Jean-Pierre Ador Snuffbox, 1762-66

Enameled Gold Snuffbox
This and all related images from:
The Victoria & Albert Museum

The base of this handsome snuffbox bears the arms of Baron Nicolaus von Korff (1710-66) who was a distinguished soldier in the Russian army. The, made in St. Petersburg between 1762-66, is enameled with the five chivalric orders that the baron received: the Russian Orders of St Andrew (cover) and Alexander Nevsky (right side), Prussian Order of the Black Eagle (front), Polish Order of the White Eagle (back) and Order of St Anne of Holstein (left side).

Made by Jean-Pierre Ador, the box is part of the magnificent Gilbert Collection at the V&A. The original stamped leather box remains—still lined with silk. 

History's Runway: A Boy's Suit, 1825-30

Boy's Suit
This and all related images from:
The Victoria & Albert Museum

The V&A describes this boys’ suit having a jacket made of “bottle green” cloth. I think that’s a lovely color name—“bottle green.” The suit is comprised of a jacket over a white waistcoat and trousers.

The single-breasted jacket is made in the close-fitting style which was fashionable for children in the 1820s. With a shawl collar, the jacket is quite smart, featuring wrist-length sleeves gathered at the shoulder. The cuffs and edges of the garment are trimmed with black silk braid. Gilt metal buttons grace the front.

The ankle-length trousers are made of white cotton and feature a hip pocket on the left. They’re lined in white muslin. Self-covered buttons attach the front to the waistcoat with white metal buttons at the back.

Meanwhile, the single-breasted waistcoat is also made of white cotton and lined with white linen. Like the jacket, the waistcoat also boasts a shawl collar. The set was made in Scotland between 1825 and 1830.

And, with no head.

At the Music Hall: Daisy Bell/A Bicycle Built for Two

There is a flower within my heart,
Daisy, Daisy,
Planted one day by a glancing dart,
Planted by Daisy Bell.
Whether she loves me or loves me not
Sometimes it's hard to tell,
And yet I am longing to share the lot
Of beautiful Daisy Bell.

Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do,
I'm half crazy all for the love of you.
It won't be a stylish marriage -
I can't afford a carriage,
But you'd look sweet on the seat
Of a bicycle built for two.

We will go tandem as man and wife,
Daisy, Daisy,
Ped'ling away down the road of life,
I and my Daisy Bell.
When the road's dark, we can both despise
P'licemen and lamps as well.
There are bright lights in the dazzling eyes
Of beautiful Daisy Bell.


Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do...
I will stand by you in wheel or woe
Daisy, Daisy,
You'll be the bell which I'll ring you know
Sweet little Daisy Bell
You'll take the lead on each trip we take
Then if I don't do well
I will permit you to use the brake
beautiful Daisy Bell


Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do...

Though most people refer to this song as “Bicycle Built for Two,” it’s actual title is "Daisy Bell.” It was composed by Harry Dacre in 1892 and has since been a very popular song, often used in contemporary programming to convey a sense of the past.

Another popular version of the song arose in the style of an answer-song wherein there are two choruses—the original, and, then another in which Daisy refuses her suitor. Usually, the jilted suitor is called Harry in honor of the author of the lyrics.

Here are the lyrics to the “Answer Song” version.

Harry, Harry
Here is my answer true.
I can't cycle, for I get black and blue.
If you can't afford a carriage
There won't be any marriage.
For I'll be switched if I'll be hitched
On a bicycle built for two.


Harry, Harry
Here is my answer true.
I'd be crazy if I were to marry you.
If you can't afford a carriage
You can't afford a marriage.
And I'll be damned if I'll be crammed
On a bicycle built for two.

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 81

Chapter 81: 
If Need Be 

Come sit by me,” Ellen scowled.

“I don’t think I’d better,” her visitor smirked. “What with your ‘terrible’ fever. Won’t do for me to catch it.”

“Finlay!” Ellen snapped. “You are like a needle in my eye. Do as I say.”

“That’s no way to speak to your older brother.” Finlay teased.

“Half-brother.” Ellen growled.

“Still.” Finlay continued. “You wouldn’t speak to the Duke that way. He’s your half-brother as well.”

“But, he’s the brother with all the gold.”

“Are you always so mercenary?” Finlay chuckled, sitting down. “You know, I used to think about you—dream of my lost sister. I never imagined that you’d be such a sow, lassie.”

“How could I be anything else?” Ellen spat. “You have no idea what I’ve had to endure. While you were here breathing the crisp air off of the moors, I was in London, fighting for my life.”

“How exactly were you fighting for your life, my dear sister? There was food on your table. You had ‘brothers’ to protect you. You had education and, then, employment.”

“Is that how it was?” Ellen frowned. “I’m impressed with your authority.”

“Am I mistaken, lass?” Finlay smiled.


“Seems to me you had the better life, Ellen. You got away from our pa. You didn’t have to stay here and have your skin bloodied at his hand. It wasn’t until I could fight back that he stopped.”

“You don’t think I was beaten?”

“No.” Finlay smirked. “Aunt Tess was a gentle soul. She was an angel. Not at all like her brother, our da’.”

“What of her husband? What of the man I was forced to call ‘father.’ What of Mr. Barrett?”

“Please, he was a lamb.” Finlay scoffed. “When the Duchess of Fallbridge came to him with her scheme, he dutifully obeyed and stood silently by as he and Auntie Tess adopted her bastard.”

“I don’t like that word.”

“That’s what you were.” Finlay grinned. “That’s what you are. Funny, isn’t it? The fool Duke is a lot like my Uncle Barrett, isn’t he? Adoptin’ his sister’s bastard. Funny that he hired a bastard to be the governess of a bastard.”

“I’d advise you to keep silent.”

“You can advise all you want, then, Ellen. But, I’m in this with you. Equal partners, you said—as long as I helped you. And, help you I have.”

“Yes,” Ellen nodded slowly. “You have. However, I don’t wish to hear your opinions about my life. You weren’t there. You don’t know.”

“I was there.” Finlay laughed. “Or have you forgotten, little sister? I was nigh on ten years old when you were born to the Duchess of Fallbridge after her many, many, many trysts with our da’. I was the one who lied to me ma when pa was out in the cottage wrapped in the duchess’ arms. I was there when my auntie agreed to take the bastard child of her dear brother and the Duchess of Fallbridge. I was there when you were born and I was there when the midwife handed you to Auntie Tess without the duchess even lookin’ at ya. I watched ya. Whenever I went to the village, I kept me eyes open to catch a glimpse of my sister. I saw ya. I saw ya grow up. I saw ya throwin’ stones in the loch. I knew when you stole the button candy from Mr. MacMillan’s place. I knew when you was caught by the loch with young Billy Dooley….showin’ him your…”

“You forget, that I know about you, too, Finlay. Do you remember the time when you and my ‘brother’ were found trading familiarities in the mulberry grove?”

“Ay, I remember it well.” Finlay grinned. “What was to stop me?”

“He may not have really been my brother, but he was my cousin, and, therefore yours. Your dear auntie’s son.”

Finlay shrugged. “You make my point for me, Ellen. You grew up with three male cousins who looked after you like you were their own real sister. Who knows? They were so young when it happened, maybe they really thought you were their sister. Do they? I never spoke to Lonnie ‘bout it.”

“No, you were too busy doing other things.” Ellen snorted. “You know nothing. Everything changed when we saw what Roger was like. And, then we moved. You seem to think you’re quite an expert about my life, but, there’s a good twenty years which we spent in London—without your precious Aunt Tess to protect me.”

“Ach.” Finlay nodded gravely. “Shall we continue this way? Would you like to know how your Auntie Tess—the woman who took you in and mothered you—met her end?”

Ellen frowned.

“No, I don’t think you would.” Finlay glared. “You were too involved in your schoolin’. You complain to me? You got schoolin’! You got to live in London while I was here—alone! Oh, sure you suffered! Livin’ in the homes of the wealthy. Sleepin’ in the bed of the Baron Lensdown! You were blissful, you were! Didn’t even know you was a bastard ‘til you were grown!”

“Keep your voice down!” Ellen snapped. “Do you want the whole house to hear you?”

“I remember when I got the letter from Uncle Birk—tellin’ me he was dyin’, tellin’ me that he finally let you know who you were! And once you did, what happened, Ellen? Did you help the man who raised ya? The man who paid for your schoolin’? Who made sure you had food in your belly and clothes on your back? No. You turned your back on him. Birk Barrett died alone while the girl he adopted was on her back with the Baron Lensdown! You never knew her, girl, but you’re the spit and image of the Duchess of Fallbridge. If we ever needed proof of who you are, you just need to look in your heart, you filthy bitch. How I hate you.”

“If you hate me so much, why are you helping me?”

“Because I hate our pa even more.” Finlay grumbled. “Struttin’ ‘round this estate like it was his own. The great Johnny Donnan. He’s a pig. For every tear I shed at his hand, I’ll see a drop of his blood soak the ground. And, if not blood, then his own tears. When he discovers that his lost daughter is here and that…”

“You delight me, Finlay.” Ellen smiled, interrupting. “You’re thrilling.”

“I been thrilled this week to see our pa. Trudgin’ ‘round readyin’ the place for the master when all the while his bastard daughter is here. He has no idea! You know what he said when he saw ya? He turned to me and said that you were a fine, lookin’ girl and told me what he’d like to do to ya.”

Ellen shivered.

“That’s right.” Finlay nodded. “And, while the household was out lookin’ for ya, our pa joked that he hoped he’d be the one to find ya so he could…” Finlay laughed. “You get my meanin’, lass.”

“I do.”

“I hope you got what you wanted from the cottage. I had a hell of a time stallin’ them boys—Gerard and Charles--on the way there. Almost caught ya.”

“Yes. And, thanks so much for leaving the key for me as you said you would.” Ellen snarled sarcastically. “I had to crawl through a window.”

“Good for ya.” Finlay smirked. “You’re a little round, ain’t ya? The exercise did ya good, I’m sure. So, did ya find it?”

“I couldn’t find the record of my birth.” Ellen shook her head. “I need more time. But, I did find the Duchess’ journals. This one is from the year of my birth and Her Grace was quite graphic.”

“So, what now?”

“We keep to our scheme.”

“You got what you want. Why not just go to the Duke and tell ‘im.”

“Not yet.”

“Why not?” Finlay groaned. “You nigh on killed the man with poison tryin’ to get ‘im here. Just tell him you’re his sister! From all I’m told though he’s potty, he’s a gentleman and as kind a man as you’d ever want to know. I’m sure he’d embrace you and give you your due.”

“I don’t just want a portion. I want it all.”

“You’ll never get it all.” Finlay shook his head.

“Why not?”

“To begin with, you ain’t a Molliner, my dear. You’re a bastard with the Fallbridge bloodline.”

“As you’re so fond of reminding me.”

“Point is, Ellen, you may have Fallbridge blood in ya, but the Duke is still the heir. He’s older. And, he’s legitimate. The real son of the Duchess and Sir Colin Molliner. And, there’re a couple of other things.”

“Such as?”

“The boy.” Finlay smiled. “Young Colin. He’s the rightful heir should anything happen to the Duke.”

“A minor inconvenience.” Ellen smiled.

“You wouldn’t?”

“I’ll do what I need to.”

“What of your sister?” Finlay asked.


“The other legitimate child of the Duchess and Sir Colin. Lady Barbara.” Finlay grinned. “The Duke may claim that she died in America, but we know otherwise. She’s quite alive and livin’ as a whore.”

“She’s changed her name.” Ellen shrugged. “She’s disowned herself. As good as dead.”

“So what do you aim to do?” Finlay asked.

“You already know.”

“Why draw it out, then?” Finlay sputtered. “Do it and be done with it!”

“It’s not time.”

“You want him to suffer—this poor, sweet, lovin’, sick man.”


“Did you ever think that maybe he’s got documents in place naming the doctor as his heir?” Finlay asked. “Sure, not to the title, but to the estate.”

“That won’t be an issue.” Ellen laughed. “Thanks to you.”

“He’ll never go for it.” Finlay shook his head.

“How can you be sure?” Ellen sniffed.

“You’ve seen the two of ‘em together. There’s no wedge big enough.”

“You’re just the right size, brother, dear.” Ellen smiled. “Just the right size…”

“And if it don’t work?” Finlay muttered.

“Have you forgotten William Stover?”

“No.” Finlay smiled. “And, I’ve not forgotten that that little scheme o’ yours didn’t work out so well neither. I don’t see Dr. Halifax rottin’ in jail for murder.”

“An unfortunate turn of events.” Ellen sighed. “I’d thought it would be so convenient. That fool man was already being used by his own people. I was just fortunate enough to stumble into it. But, as easily as I disposed of that Stover fellow, I can dispose of the doctor if need be.”

“You would. Wouldn’t you?”

“If need be.” Ellen repeated. “I don’t want it to come to murder again. But, I’ll do it if I must.”

“So the man’s life depends on what I do next?” Finlay took a deep breath.

“Precisely.” Ellen smiled. “So, you’d better hope that he takes the bait.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-80 of
Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square? If so, you can read them here. Come back on Monday for Chapter 82.

Print of the Day: The Ghost of Benjamin Binns, Twentieth C.

The Ghost of Benjamin Binns
Twentieth Century
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Keep your seat if you please, and don't be afraid, 
I am only a ghost, a poor harmless shade;
I would not hurt any one here if I could, 
And you couldn't do me much harm if you would.

“The Ghost of Benjamin Binns” was written and composed by Harry Dacre. This sheet music cover from the early Twentieth Century depicts music hall star Harry Randall in character as he sang the song. The music was published by Francis Bros & Day and printed by H.G. Banks. 

Object of the Day: A Trade Card for Men's and Boys' Clothes

Click Image to Enlarge

With nothing printed on the reverse, this American trade card was certainly selected from a stock catalog. Here, we have another case of the art existing for the sake of being fashionable and attractive and having nothing to do with the product or business.

A winter scene in the style of a postcard (complete with “stamp” and “postmark”) forms the centerpiece of the image, framed in beige and blue and surmounted by a pink blossom.

Rather crudely printed atop this scene are the words:
Visit the 
Boston One Price Clothing House, 
32 Mercantile Square, 
Men’s and Boys’ Fine Clothing. 

I had scanned the back of the card, too. But, frankly, it just shows glue marks from having been adhered to a scrapbook at some point, and, that’s not very interesting nor is it attractive. So, I won’t post that, too.  

Friday, July 6, 2012

Mastery of Design: The Rose of York Brooch, 1893

The Rose of York Brooch
Collingswood, 1893
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Made by Collingwood & Co in 1893, this brooch was once the centerpiece of a bracelet. Created in the form of the Rose of York, this was the central portion of one several bracelets which Princess Mary of Teck (later Queen Mary) had made to give as gifts to the bridesmaids at her wedding to the Duke of York (later King George V). Each bridesmaid received one of these magnificent pieces of gold, enamel and diamonds. This particular one was given to Princess Victoria, the Duke’s sister and the second daughter of the Prince and Princess of Wales (George’s parents—later King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra).

While the Rose of York was meant to honor George’s then-recent creation as Duke of York (it’s tradition to create a Royal groom as a Duke, and therefore, the bride as a Duchess, just before their wedding—ex. the recent creation of Prince William of Wales and his bride, Katherine, as Duke and Duchess of Cambridge), there’s a further tribute to groom in the design. The diamond anchor signifies Prince George’s naval career.

Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Friday Fun: A Tribute to King George V and Queen Mary

King George V (seated) with Queen Mary (right)
The Duchess of York (later Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother) is at the left, standing.
To the right is Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) and to the left is Princess Margaret Rose.

You’ll recognize Dame Eileen Atkins of Upstairs, Downstairs fame playing Queen Mary at the start of this fan-made tribute video about the lives of King George V and Queen Mary. Enjoy this short montage of images and information.

Mr. Punch's Puzzles: The Riddle of the Week

Once, again, Mr. Punch, with my help, is offering up a true Victorian riddle.  The first person to answer correctly--by posting in the comments--will receive public congratulations.  

So, here's this week's riddle.  We ask that you don't Google the answer.  Mr. Punch would not find that sporting at all.  Give it a shot and see what you can come up with.  For Angelo, this one is just one line.  Here we go... No cheating...

How can you ask a Doctor of Divinity, in one phrase, to play the violin?

And, the answer is...


Miss O'Hara would be proud.  We had a lot of great responses today!  Many thanks for making this a fun feature.  Come back next Friday for another of Mr. Punch's Puzzles.

Mr. Punch wants you to always know “the way to do it,” so why not check out our “That’s the way to do it!” products which are available only at our online store?

Unusual Artifacts: Mary of Teck’s Handkerchief from Her 1893 Wedding

Honiton Lace Handkerchief
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Even Royal eyes need daubing from time to time and even Royal noses need the occasional wipe. This is especially true at weddings. Of course the bride would carry a pretty, little handkerchief--just like this one. Princess Victoria Mary of Teck (known upon her husband’s (George V) ascension to the throne as “Queen Mary”) was never one to be without the appropriate accessories.

This crisp handkerchief of fine Honiton lace (matching her veil) is embroidered with her initials, “V.M.” A label sewn into the handkerchief, written in her own hand, states that she, “Victoria Mary, Duchess of York” used the handkerchief on her wedding day, July 6, 1893.

At the time of their marriage, the Royal couple had not yet been styled as The Prince and Princess of Wales (George was created Prince of Wales in 1901) and were called, The Duke and Duchess of York. They were married at the Chapel Royal at St. James Palace. Much as it is this week, all of London rejoiced.

The Times wrote of Mary’s dress:

Of silver and white brocade with its ingeniously clustered shamrocks, roses and thistles [the national official flowers of the empire] hampers the bride’s graceful movements . . . The bridal veil of fine old Honiton point is caught back of the face, and trails and clusters of orange-blossoms, together with the inevitable bouquet of white flowers carried in her hand . . .

Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, Chapter 80

Chapter 80: 

Ellen furrowed her brow as she read from the Duchess of Fallbridge’s journal:

28 October 1820 

Freezing. Johnny Donnan came to tend the grate. At first he would not speak to me. I imagine that Colin has warned him against it. Still, he could not resist me after a few moments. He turned and our eyes met. Had it not been for the intrusion of his son, Finlay, we would have, surely, been able to converse. I watched through the cottage window later as Johnny beat Finlay with a branch he had cut from a nearby pine. The thrill it gave me almost made me forget for a moment the terrible discomfort of all of this. I wished that I could have been nearby or, perhaps, close enough to smell the boy’s tears. There is a certain strength in the boy which I find appealing. Even at just ten years he shows some of his father’s strength. Would that he could spend some time with Julian, I think my son would be improved by Finlay’s masculine presence. Nevertheless, Colin would never approve of his son consorting with the children of the staff. I suppose that I should cast an eye of contempt of such a friendship, but history shows us that we Fallbridges have always had a weakness for the lower classes. 

Ellen closed the book angrily, wishing she could throw it across the room. She didn’t dare. To begin with, the sound might wake the others, and now that the castle had finally fallen silent, she was loathe to think of suffering the cheerful sounds of the others again. Similarly, she couldn’t risk any damage to that precious tome. She hugged the book to herself and grinned just as the door to her chamber scratched open.

“Miss?” Gamilla whispered, poking her head in the door.

“Gamilla…” Ellen rasped, trying to make her voice sound as if it was coated with disease.

“I done saw the light under the door. Are you still feelin’ poorly?” Gamilla asked, cautiously entering.

“Yes, terribly.” Ellen nodded.

“I could get ya some tea, Miss.” Gamilla smiled.

“Oh, no…that wouldn’t help.” Ellen replied softly. “But, thank you. Gamilla, I don’t know what I’d do…I’d just be lost without you. Sometimes I believe you’re my only friend.”

“That ain’t true, Miss,” Gamilla shook her head. “We all care ‘bout you.”

Ellen sighed.

“Are you readin’?” Gamilla nodded—pointing to the book. “Looks terrible old. What is it?”

“This?” Ellen coughed. “Oh, it’s nothing. I was just reading…my journal.”

“Your very own journal?”

“Yes.” Ellen lied. “This one is…it’s one I’ve used. Sometimes I like to read my thoughts—what I was thinking or feeling at any given point.”

“Oh.” Gamilla smiled. “I always wanted to keep a diary.”

“You should. Oh, yes, you should.” Ellen replied. “In fact, look in my wardrobe.”


“In the writing slope at the bottom of my wardrobe is a blank journal which I purchased before we left for Scotland. I want you to have it.”

“Oh, I couldn’t, Miss.”

“Yes, yes you could. It’s a very fine one, too. Leather-bound with gold on the edges.”

“All the more reason, Miss Barrett.” Gamilla said humbly.

“I insist. Your first journal should be special. And, Gamilla, you’ve been so kind to me.”

“I ain’t done nothin’ special.”

“Oh, you certainly have. I wish to thank you.”

“But, you brought me them flowers that time and…”

“Gamilla, I insist.”

“Yes, Miss.” Gamilla answered sheepishly. She went to the wardrobe and found the writing slope of papier mache inlaid with mother-of-pearl and hand-painted with roses and forget-me-nots.

“What a fine lap desk.” Gamilla grinned.

“It was a gift from my eldest brother when I first became a governess.” Ellen answered, faking a cough. “There—right under…yes…you’ve found it.”

Gamilla retrieved the journal.

“Miss, it’s too pretty.”

“You must have it.” Ellen insisted. “Take a pen, too. You’ll find three in there. Take the blue one. I’ve just changed the nib.”

“Yes, Miss.” Gamilla responded emotionally. “I just…I don’t know how to thank you.”

“You can thank me by using it.”

“I…” Gamilla said shyly. “I’m not so very good at writin’.”

“But, you read quite well. Gamilla, I’ve heard you reading to Colin.”

“You have?” Gamilla replied with palpable embarrassment.

“You forget my room is right off of the night nursery.”

“Of course.” Gamilla nodded. “Still, I ain’t so very practiced with writin’. Anyway, I wouldn’t know what to write.”

“Just write your thoughts. Write what you’re thinking and feeling. I often write about what I’ve seen and heard during the day and then let my thoughts develop from the events of the day.”

“I could do that.”

“For instance, what happened today?”

“We came here to this castle—like a storybook. And, the masters was so happy. I saw them together…they were talkin’ all close and smilin’. And, then they went for a walk. When I saw ‘em through the window comin’ back, they was holdin’ hands and lookin’ so sweet and glad.”

Ellen grinned. “That’s exactly the sort of thing you should write.”

“And, then, I could say how we all thought you was lost and how we all worried and how sad I was to know you was sick.”

“You’re too kind.” Ellen coughed again.

“No…” Ellen shrugged.

“You’re very dear, Gamilla. Too dear, in fact, to be up this late. Why aren’t you in bed?”

“Well, Miss.” Gamilla sighed. “Since the masters done went to sleep, I didn’t want to stay in the nursery—what with it bein’ right next to His Grace’s chamber.”

“Are they in the same room?” Ellen asked.

“Well…” Gamilla looked at the floor. “The doctor’s room is so far away and I think he likes to be close to His Grace and Colin.”

“I see.”

“I hated to leave Colin, but I didn’t wish to intrude on the masters. But, what if Colin should wake and need me?”

“The Duke will hear him.”

“True.” Gamilla nodded.

“So, you can go to your room and rest.”

“I done.” Gamilla sighed again.

“Do you not like your room?”

“It’s a fine room.” Gamilla smiled. “Biggest room I ever had to myself. But, that’s just it, Miss. I never slept alone before. See, I always had another girl with me. Either my own sister when she was alive or, then, at Mr. Fontanals place, there was six of us in our cabin. When I worked for Mr. and Mrs. Halifax, I shared a room with Lena and, then, in New Orleans I was either with Meridian or Marjani. At home, I share with Vi. See, I’m used to havin’ someone next to me. So, I can’t sleep by myself.”

“Oh. I hadn’t thought of that.”

“I thought maybe I could borrow Dog Toby for some company. But, you know how His Grace likes to have Toby in his bed. I didn’t dare ask.”

“I understand.”

“So, I thought I’d go to the larder for a snack. Mrs. Pepper said she done left me some biscuits in there case I got hungry, and, then, I saw your candle and thought I’d see if you was feelin’ any better.”

Ellen nodded. “You know, I can think of one person who would like to keep you warm tonight.”

“Miss?” Gamilla’s eyes widened.

“Gerard.” Ellen winked.

“Oh…” Gamilla looked awkwardly at the floor.

“I’m sorry, Gamilla.” Ellen laughed. “I don’t mean to tease you.”

“That’s all right, Miss.” Gamilla smiled naively.

“If I wasn’t so very ill, I’d invite you to stay with me.”

“Oh, it ain’t nothin’, Miss. I’m ain’t a baby. I’ll fall asleep some time soon—if I get tired ‘nough.”

“You certainly will.” Ellen smiled. “You know, you might take your journal to your room and try writing in it. Maybe it will relax you. You can write about all you saw and heard today.”

“And, it’ll be good practice. My handwritin’ ain’t good. Looks like a child. I reckon Colin could write better.” She chuckled. “Have you see Dr. Halifax’s hand? It’s so beautiful. The Duke, too. But, I reckon that’s because he can draw so beautiful. I wish I could do that…”

“Yes.” Ellen nodded, slight impatience evident in her voice.

“Oh, poor Miss Barrett. Here you are, sick in bed, and I’m goin’ on.”

“It’s fine, Gamilla.”

“I’ll take to my room, then.” Gamilla nodded. “Thank you so much for this.” She held up the journal.

“And, thank you for being such a good friend to me.”

“Good night, Miss.” Gamilla smiled.

“Good night.”

Gamilla left, clasping the lovely journal to her breast.

After the maid had gone, Ellen scowled. “Little idiot.”

Again, she opened the Duchess’ journal and began reading. Without warning, her door scraped open again. She looked up in surprise, but the expression quickly faded to one of relief and, then, finally settled into a glare of irritation.

“I wondered how long you’d be!” Ellen snapped at the person who’d entered. “For once your tardiness served you well. That little African came in here without knocking. If she’d found you in here there’d have been Hell to pay. Lock the door.” She pointed. “And, you’d best have what I asked you for.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-79? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 81 of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square. 

Object of the Day: A Postcard of King George V and Queen Mary

Click on image to enlarge.

In honor of the 119th anniversary of the marriage of King George V and Queen Mary, let’s take a look at another postcard from my growing collection of Royalty-related ephemera. This card by Davidson Brothers Correspondence of London and New York features photographic portraits of King George V and Queen Mary in commemoration of their 1911 Coronation. 

Sent from a Mrs. Maskill in Doncaster to her mother in 1911, the posted card bears a stamp—brand new at the time—with an image of George V.

A Royal Anniversary: King George V and Mary of Teck

Today, we're going to pause from our usual Friday "Punch and Judy" theme to remember the anniversary of a very special day...

The Wedding of the Duke and Duchess of York, 1893
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Images Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
On July 6, 1893, Princess Victoria Mary of Teck married George, the Duke of York (later King George V) at the Chapel Royal at St. James Palace. The morning of the wedding, the Duke of York spied Princess May, as she was called by her family, across a long corridor in Buckingham Palace as she was preparing for the wedding. In what could have been an awkward moment—a heralding of bad luck—the Prince smiled, and offered, “a low and courtly bow,” to his future wife. The future Queen Mary never forgot this gesture, noting later that it was at this moment that she knew that she had made the right decision in accepting is proposal of marriage. She would don her elaborate wedding gown of silver brocade, trimmed in white, and jewels and, offering her famous side-ways smile to the gathered crowds of well-wishers, joined her groom as the consort of the new heir presumptive to the throne.

Princes Albert Victor and George of Wales
Carl Rudolph Sohn
The Royal Collection
This, however, was not the wedding that was originally meant to be. Princess May was previously engaged to George’s elder brother, Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale. The Prince, known as “Eddy” to his family, was quite the opposite to his more staid brother. Eddy was listless and not terribly ambitious, but possessed of a remarkably winning charm. Queen Victoria, fearful that the apathetic heir presumptive would make a mess of his life, was adamant that he should make a smart marriage (and not a morganatic one to a woman beneath his position) and studied the possible candidates for his bride. Of the Prince’s cousins, the only clear choice was Princess Victoria Mary, the daughter of Princess Mary Adelaide (on the Cambridge side of the Royal Family) and the slightly off-kilter Duke of Teck.

Prince Albert Victor of Wales
Duke of Clarence and Avondale
Known as "Eddy"
The Royal Collection
 Victoria worried that her grandson—who was given to enormous waves of passion for a variety of London ladies—would not be keen on marrying his reserved and dignified cousin May, and was happily surprised when, upon the suggestion, he immediately fell in love with May. May accepted his proposal, and joined the Cambridge clan in London (accompanied by her stout mother and muttering father), enjoying the many celebrations in honor of the couple. Though it was not a love-match on Mary’s side, she had a fondness for her cousin and thought him very “dear.” May was no fool and realized that the marriage put her in the position of being the future Queen Consort, and rather liked the idea—devoted as she was to her country and people.

During the nationwide celebration, the Duke of Clarence and Avondale and May made many journeys in inclement weather. They didn’t worry much about the widespread outbreak of influenza that had gripped England. After all, it was Prince George who was the sickly one. Albert Victor was hale and hearty. Still, “Eddy” contracted a slight head cold that quickly became a massive infection. Over a period of six days, he declined rapidly as fever and illness possessed his body.

Alexandra, Princess of Wales
with her Children
(Later Queen Alexandra)
The Royal Collection
The Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII), the Princess of Wales (later Queen Alexandra, the much-beloved and beautiful woman who captivated the hearts of the nation) gathered with Princess May (and her parents) at the bedside of the ailing heir presumptive. Young Prince George knelt at the side of his brothers bed and wept. Princess Alexandra, ever brave, turned to the attending doctor and asked in a clear voice (here, I should note that Alexandra was stone deaf and her lovely voice was a testament to her strength), “Can nothing be done for him?” The physician sadly shook his head.

With a few rattling breaths, Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale—dear “Eddy”—rattled out his last few breaths and died.

All of England was distraught at this tragedy, and turned their sympathies to his intended as Princess May—in a daze—mourned not only the passing of her future husband, but, seemingly, her chances of becoming Queen.

An informal song was soon on the lips of people throughout London.

Alas his soul, it has departed
How solemn came the news,
His parents broken-hearted,
Their darling son to lose.
With sympathy and feeling,
We one and all should say,
God rest his soul in silence,
And bless the Princess May.

With love and true devotion,
They watched by his bed side,
But all was gloom and sadness,
The moment that he died,
He closed his eyes forever,
They kissed his pallid cheek,
In breathless tones his mother said,
“O speak, my darling speak.”

A nation wrapped in mourning,
Shed bitter tears today,
For the noble Duke of Clarence
And fair young Princess May.

Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale
with the Family of the Duke and Duchess of Teck
upon the engagement of their daughter.
Standing, left to right: Prince Adolfus of Teck;
the Duchess of Teck (Princess Mary Adelaide);
Prince Francis of Teck.
Seated, left to right: Albert Victor Duke of Clarence and Avondale;
Princess Victoria Mary of Teck; the Duke of Teck.
December, 1891
The Royal Collection
Immediately upon the death of Prince “Eddy,” Mary’s father, the Duke of Teck—who following his stroke several years earlier was often given over to fits of madness—began pacing the halls of the palace saying one single sentence over and over. “It must be a Tsarevitch. It must be a Tsarevitch. It must be a Tsarevitch.” Now, what could the Duke of Teck have meant by that odd phrase? Above all else, His Grace was concerned with one thing—status. Even before his stroke, the Duke of Teck was always preoccupied with his position and the rank of his family. His wife, Princess Mary Adelaide—a granddaughter of King George III (and though never in line for the throne since she was the daughter of one of George III’s daughters and cousin to the Queen, was not only a Princess, but also the Duchess of Cambridge. When they married, he was always reminded that their marriage was morganatic (meaning that a woman of higher birth had married beneath her). Because of what he perceived as a massive slight, the Duke always wished that his children would make suitable marriages that would elevate them to the status he felt they deserved. And, so, upon Eddy’s death, the Duke of Teck was more concerned that “May” was missing her chance to become the future Queen. 

Tsar Alexander
The Royal Collection
The Duke of Teck’s mad rambling following the Prince’s death referred to his in-law’s the Cambridges. The Princess of Wales (previously a Princess of Denmark) had a sister, Princess Dagmar of Denmark, who, like May, had been engaged to the heir presumptive who, also, had died before their marriage, preventing her from becoming the Empress of Russia. However, the Russian Royal Family had quickly engaged the grieving Dagmar to the deceased Tsarevitch’s brother, Alexander—the new heir presumptive, and they joined in what would be a very successful union as Emperor and Empress of Russia.

In his own weird way, the Duke was suggesting such an arrangement for Mary. With the passing of Prince Albert Victor, Prince George was the new heir presumptive to the British throne. He was unmarried and needed a strong woman to guide him. Why not engage Mary to George?

Mary would not hear of it.

At the funeral for Prince Albert Victor, many noted that the most touching moment was when Princess May handed her marriage wreath of orange blossoms to her father who in turn presented it to the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) who, with Princess Alexandra, placed it upon the casket.

Mary of Teck's Mother
Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge,
Duchess of Teck
The Royal Collection
Mary’s long and painful period of mourning began. To distract the girl, her parents--especially her mother, Princess Mary Adelaide--forced her to travel and regain her strength. Meanwhile, Queen Victoria had had the same thought as the Duke of Teck—though in a much less embarrassing and public way. Victoria orchestrated a journey for Prince George which would casually force him to be in the same places at the same times as Princess May.

The Princess was still bereft. On what was to have been her wedding day, despite the attempts of her family to distract her, she wrote in her diary:

27 February

Chilly, damp day. This day is a very sad one for me for it was to have been our wedding day. ‘Es wär zu schön gewesen, es hat nicht sollen sein…'

Fifty-five years later, under this entry, Queen Mary wrote again in the same journal:

I read this diary again in 1947, when I was 80, and felt compelled to add that the kind ‘Uncle Wales’ [The Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII] & ‘Motherdear’ [her affectionate nickname for the Princess of Wales, alter Queen Alexandra] gave me a beautiful rivière of diamonds which they had destined for me as a wedding present, as well as a lovely dressing bag, which darling Eddy had ordered for me as a wedding gift. I remember I felt overcome by this kind thought.

The future Queen Mary in her Wedding Gown

Still, George was ever-present. The two—who had known one another all of their lives as cousins—developed a close friendship, bonding over their shared grief. George mourned the loss of his beloved elder brother deeply—calling him, “my dear, lovely boy.” Soon, Mary began to develop feelings for George that she had not felt for Albert Victor. While she was fond of “Eddy” and enjoyed his company, she admitted that she didn’t feel romantic love for him. This, she felt for George. And, though she resisted at first, she did accept his proposal of marriage in 1892—much to the relief of the Queen and much to the joy of the British people.

Their marriage was a success and the two remained devoted to one another—enduring much hardship, war and chaos as King and Queen of England. 

So, here’s wishing King George V and Queen Mary a belated and posthumous happy 119th anniversary.