Sunday, January 13, 2013

"The Hermitage"

President Andrew Jackson's Home

I was really sick this past week, so I was unable to start my internships. Boo! And, this took a little longer to post than I had originally intended. They wouldn't allow photo's in the house. That makes me sad too! However I did get pictures of the back of the house and some of the slave log cabins, including the one that used to be the Jackson's home before the mansion was built.


Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Little On Highclere Castle

Downton Abbey:

on tonight

Just like everyone else, I am in love with Downton Abbey! Oh yes I am. Also, just like everyone else, I am infatuated with the main star, Highclere Castle. I have read "Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey" but was somewhat left wanting. I watched the pre-show tonight too "The Secrets of Highclere Castle", also on PBS. This too left me wanting. I am not saying that it was not a good show, but I wished just a little bit more. Maybe I need to just move there! What about you?????

For credits for the first five, please see the Sassy Countess Facebook Page

For the next

The first and these two from

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Made In America 18th Century Textiles

Textiles from Chicago Art Institute

Made in America

18th Century

Here are more pictures from my visit to the Chicago Art Institute.

Bed Curtain and Valance

Rug-like Bedcover
The thickness of the pile

Embroidered quilt


Closeup of Rug

Pieced and Quilted Bedspread

Flower quilt

Friday, January 4, 2013


A not so common word any longer...

"Fortnight" is used commonly in historical novels. I read many books that were written in the periods of  Regency and 18th century. This word is common, and yet I have always found it difficult to remember what the word means! Today, my youngest daughter, Sidney, asked me what it meant because she read it in one of her books. Dang it! I'm supposed to know the meaning, but alas, I could not remember. So, I looked it up.... again... for the umpteenth time. This time, however, I read the origination, and wallah, it finally makes sense.

Before 1,000 Middle English fourtenight. 1.)

 Any easy way to remember what Fortnight means is to say it with an accent on the "t".  Four-teh-night or fourteen nights, which means two weeks.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Housenotes on "Sanditon" by Jane Austen

Austen gives us great detail on houses within her books...

Sanditon is about a town, that sounds like Bath at its beginning. The construction is wild as the Parkers are excited to see it prosper. It is short because Austen was unable to finish the story. This is the story that she had been working on at her death. Still very darling.

Title: Sanditon
Author: Jane Austen
Credits: *1817 in Penguin Classics: Jane Austen: Lady Susan, The Watsons and Sanditon. Notes by Margaret Drabble. London: Penguin Books, 1974.
Media: Book 

House Notes:

‘There, I fancy lies my cure’ – pointing to the neat-looking end of a cottage, which was seen romantically situated among wood on a high eminence at some little distance – “Does not that promise to be the very place?’[1]

“This is my old house – the house of my forefathers – the house where I and all my brothers and sisters were born and bred – and where my own three eldest children were born – where Mrs. Parker and I lived till within the last two years – till our new house was finished. – I am glad you are pleased with it. – It is an honest old place – and Hillier keeps it in very good order. I have given it p you know to the man who occupies the chief of my land. He gets a better house by it – and I, a rather better situation!”[2]


Trafalgar – A naval engagement led by Lord Nelson of the British fleet against the French and Spanish navies on October 21, 1805, during the Napoleonic Wars. This is the battle where Nelson lost his life, yet still willing against many odds. Later to be eclipsed by the battle of Waterloo, yet still lived in the hearts of the British because of Nelson and his legacy.

[1] 155.
[2] 169.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

"Eighteenth Century London" by Nichola Johnson

Title: Eighteenth Century London

Author: Nichola Johnson

Credits: London: Museum of London, 1991

Media: Book

House Notes:

Until the 18th century, streets had no method to naming. This is when the naming of streets and the numbering of houses came into being. Sewage systems in London became what is now the norm because of an Act of Parliament. [1]

The 18th century found people of all incomes purchasing more. [2] The population of London rose to 87,000 in the middle of the century, and then declined as the populace moved to the suburbs. The City of Westminster and the Court of St. James were newly developed areas that became fashionable. Those that remained in London were more than likely from other areas of the country, about two thirds had not been born in the city. [3]

While immigrants, in London, from other countries were considered undesirable, Blacks from Africa were considered less threatening than other peoples. One reason was that the “demand for black servants as accessories to fashionable living” was insurmountable.[4] Less desirables, such as Irish and French Huguenots made their living in the silk industry where they accepted lower pay. In fact, in the 1720’s “this whole kingdom, as well as the people as the land… are employed to furnish something…to support the City of London with provisions.”[5]

18th century London had its own type of fast food vendors. Herrings came from Yarmouth, and the cheapest, fastest food was the oysters that came from Essex. London had cows within the city to supply fresh milk, but it was usually skimmed, watered down, and dirty by the time that it got to the customer. However, in the wealthier part of town, milk venders literally brought the cow down to the house and milked it there to deliver the best milk and cream to the crème-de-la-crème.[6]

Everyone knows that chocolate was incredibly fashionable during the 18th century, but what I didn’t know was that households in the 1730’s could consume more than 1,000 lbs of it per year! [7]

London was in perpetual motion by tearing down and rebuilding. “in the space of seven years, eleven thousand new houses have been built in one quarter of Westminster, exclusive of what is daily added to other parts of this unwieldy metropolis…. If this infatuation continues for half a century, I suppose the whole county of Middlesex will be covered with brick.”[8] “Some squares had a particular social identity. Hanover Square, developed on the accession of the Elector of Hanover as George I in 1714, was occupied by the Whig aristocracy and by military officers. Cavendish Square, developed between 1717 and 1728, was home to Tory politicians, whilst Bedford Square (1775-80) was close to the Inns of Court and provided convenient housing for lawyers.”[9] There were some very fashionable areas that were constructed after current trends, and even shells of houses that were built under speculative ventures to sell to customers that would custom design their inside.[10] Yellow stone became fashionable in London due to the Palladian craze. These were made of London clay mixed with chalk, with other trends of York, Portland and Purbeck stone. Wood would be transported in from the colonies and Scandinavia. Terracotta became fashionable because it could be cast into a “wide range of ornamental and sculptural forms.”[11]

Until the middle part of the century, poor and rich alike lived together within the same areas of town. Segregation of the social classes began to trend as the bourgeois and wealthy moved to the suburbs.[12] In 1761 the Westminster Paving Acts changed the paving and lighting of the street lamps responsibility. Until then, it was the responsibility of the homeowner to pave the street and light the lamps, which is why the streets were uneven and mostly unkempt.[13] Water was brought into London homes by lead pipes into the kitchens or cellars “three times a week for the trifling expense of three shillings per quarter.” So much water was lost during transit, that it was estimated to be about a full third the amount.[14]

Some of England’s greatest country houses were built on speculation and investment.  New professions emerged in banking, insurance and stock dealership. Coffee houses were usually the location of transactions, and many men became very wealthy from these new forms of employment. That was, at least until the bursting of the “South Sea Bubble.” This was very similar to the “Housing Market Bubble” of today.[15]

Manufactures within London’s city limits included clocks and watches, porcelain and silk manufacturers. These were world famous and were shipped to Turkey, China and the colonies.[16]



Coade Stone: A specific type of terracotta created by George and Eleanor Coade who kept their composition a closely guarded secret that became fashionable in the late 1760’s.

Skittles/ Skittle Alley: A lawn game very similar to bowling, can also be a type of pub game. For rules see here

To purchase this book, kindly click here Eighteenth Century London by Nichola Johnson.

[1] 4.
[2] 6.
[3] 8.
[4] 9.
[5] 10.
[6] 11.
[7] 12.
[8] 16.
[9] 17.
[10] Ibid.
[11] 18
[12] 19.
[13] 20.
[14] 20-21.
[15] 34-35.
[16] 36.

Happy New Year!

I wish you Joy and Fortune for 2013!



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