The Ghost of Piccadilly...

Friday, 23 September 2016

In Search of the Ghost of Piccadilly, Tee Makes a Return to the Year 1815..

Of all romances in miniature... perhaps this is the best shape in which Romance can appear..' so said the fabulous Lord Byron in one of his many journal scribblings and as a passionate devotee of Regency history as well as an artist who designs 'Small Worlds' in 12th scale and who loves to create a scene and not only of the hysterical kind; it is perhaps only to be expected that I would create a Regency inspired miniature!

In 2009, I began the creation of 13 Piccadilly Terrace circa 1815 which is a Regency House complete with a basement kitchen and the attic rooms that will reflect the architecture, interior design, furniture and life-style of the Regency and which has been inspired by the poet Lord Byron and his circle as he lived at 13 Piccadilly Terrace in the year 1815.

Welcome to 13 Piccadilly Terrace in the Year 1815!

One of my many grand plans for this 12th scale abode is the creation of the unique 'Byron Screen' decorated to reflect his love of theatre and pugilism and used in his apartment at the Albany until it was bought at auction in April 1816 by his publisher John Murray.

After extensive restoration work, the present John Murray has kindly loaned the Byron Screen for display in Byron's Library at Newstead Abbey; which I was delighted to see on my visit there last January.

The 'Byron Screen' in the Library of Newstead Abbey...

Although my idea for the design of 13 Piccadilly Terrace began several years ago, I remain busy with the research and the hoarding of materials, fabrics, pictures with the buying of lots of delightful Regency miniatures; which I might add, is always the fun part!

And although I am proud of my painting techniques, woodworking skills and electrifying abilities; I am aware of my limitations which include a horror of dressmaking and sewing.

The Drawing Room at 13 Piccadilly Terrace...

I can handle fabrics that I can glue but alas, the art of the needle is beyond me and it is fortunate that I have made the acquaintance of Louise from Angelique Miniatures who has positively embraced the art of miniature couture on my behalf!

A Portrait of His Lordship and His 'Amiable Mamma' Catherine Gordon Byron in the Hallway of 13 Piccadilly Terrace...

And so as my 'Lord Byron House' continues to develop, I will be sharing with you the unfolding tale, the triumphs and the tears and even though I have been creating 'Small Worlds' for many years now; the passion to design and create a miniature world remains just as intoxicating, rather like my love of cake!

And on that note, I'm off for a wander into the kitchen of 13 Piccadilly Terrace in the hope that a slice or three of this delicious cake remains mine for the taking!

Adieu for now!

Thursday, 4 June 2015

The Price is Right? The Doors to Lord Byron's Abode Open...

As Byron was languishing inside the comfortable environs of 13 Piccadilly Terrace on a warm June over two hundred years ago, he was firing off the above epistle to his literary pal and champion of liberal thought, Leigh Hunt.

We came to town what is called late in the season - & since that time – the death of Lady Byron’s uncle (in the first place) and her own delicate state of health have prevented either of us from going out much…

From Moore I have not heard very lately – I fear he is a little humourous because I am a lazy correspondent – but that shall be mended.

And despite their friendship of many years standing and of Hunt’s loyalty to the poet during the fall-out that would surround the sensational end of his marriage less than a year later, Byron was to write scathingly of Hunt in 1818:

He is a good man, with some poetical elements in his chaos; but spoilt by the Christ-Church Hospital and a Sunday newspaper, - to say nothing of the Surry Jail, which conceited him into a martyr…

However, as the doors to my 13 Piccadilly Terrace have been closed for some time now, I too plead guilty to the charge of being a ‘lazy correspondent’ and although my state of health is far from delicate unlike that of Byron’s pregnant spouse; I have found myself centre stage in a series of unfortunate events since the spring, that have kept me from darkening the doors of my Piccadilly Terrace.

And although a generous helping of ‘chaos’ has certainly abounded as of late, I remain very far from assuming the mantle of martyrdom, unlike the maligned Leigh Hunt!

However, after reading about the proposed development of 139 Piccadilly which stands near Hyde Park Corner, the parts of which were once 13 Piccadilly Terrace; I was intrigued and upon discovering that the plans allow for the creation of a mansion that will include magnificent rooms, a swimming pool and a roof terrace; I was more than a little envious!

It was once the London home of Lord Byron, the grand mansion where the dissolute poet wrote some of his most famous works and where his short-lived marriage came to an end.

The 20th century saw this elegant Georgian building converted into office space, its proud history buried beneath modern fixtures and drab commercial fittings.
But now No. 139 Piccadilly is to be restored to its former glory as a single residence, by two of London’s wealthiest property investors.

David and Simon Reuben have been given planning permission by Westminster Council to convert the building into an eight-bedroom mansion with swimming pool, sauna and staff quarters, worth an estimated £45 million.

The developers say the restored building – which is likely to be snapped up by a wealthy foreign buyer attracted by its prime location close to Green Park and Buckingham Palace – will be almost 20 times bigger than the average British home.

A price tag of £45 million for an abode that Byron once ambled through, albeit not very happily? Priceless!

Adieu for now…
We mean to metropolize to-morrow, and you will address your next to Piccadilly. We have got the Duchess of Devon’s house there, she being in France…
Lord Byron

Last November I too metropolized to London for a few days and on one quiet and chilly afternoon after a quick rendezvous with Lord Byron in Bennet Street, I went for a stroll along Piccadilly to take a lingering look at the abode which was the scene of his short and difficult union with the unfortunate Annabella Milbanke....

Sources Used:
Wedlock’s the Devil Byron’s Letters and Journals Volume 4 Ed: Leslie A. Marchand (London: John Murray 1975)
The Trouble of an Index Byron’s Letters and Journals Volume 12 Ed: Leslie A. Marchand (London: John Murray 1982) 

Thursday, 22 January 2015

A Sylph-Like Tiptoe Around 13 Piccadilly Terrace as Tee Bylo Goes in Search of Lord Byron's Birthday Cake!

Darling Duck - I feel as if B loved himself, which does me more good than anything else, and makes young Pip jump.

You would laugh to see, and still more to hear, the effects of your absence in the house. Tearing up carpets, deluging staircases, knocking, rubbing, brushing! - by all these I was early awakened, for Mrs. Mew seems convinced that my ears and other senses have departed with you.

She no longer flies like a sylph on tiptoe, but like a troop of dragoons at full gallop. 

The old proverb - "When the Cat's away, the Mice will play." They shall have their holiday, but I can't fancy it mine. Indeed, indeed, nau B. is a thousand times better than no B.

I dare not write any more for fear you should be frightened at the length, and not read at all; so I shall give the rest to Goose.

I hope you call out "Pip, pip, pip," now and then - I think I hear you; but I won't grow lemoncholy... A-da.

Anne Isabella, Lady Byron

I'm certainly not 'lemoncholy' today for I have already enjoyed a HUGE slice of this delicious cake that I have bought in honour of Lord Byron's 227th birthday today!

And I have also created a unique tribute in honour of this most momentous day.

For beginning at the dawn of Thursday January 22 2015 and continuing until midnight, I shall be publishing a series of blog posts about my travels as a ‘Regency’ Recondite as I go in search of a dead poet’s society and with extracts from his letters and poetry including some from his admirers and detractors alike, I hope that it will prove to be an enjoyable sojourn for you; albeit from the comfort of your chair!

Simply click on the link and without 'Sparing the Horses', let your travels commence!

The Ramblings of a 'Regency' Recondite...

And before I go in search of a large plate and ONE dessert fork in which to enjoy yet another slice of this cake, I shall bid you a fond 'Adieu' for now...
Tee Bylo

Sources Used:
The Life of Lady Byron The Life and Letters of Anne Isabella, Lady Noel Byron Ethel Colburn Mayne (London: Constable & Co Ltd 1929)

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Merriment and Minced Pye for Christmas Day!

Seven years have elapsed since I saw a minced pie - and time and distance had not diminished my regret for those absent friends to "a merry Christmas and a happy new year" - both of which I augur for you and your family, although the congratulation of the former is somewhat of the latest..

In January 1823 as the poet was living in the 'Arctic region of Genoa and recovering from the torment of 'chilblains'; he was also tucking into a minced pie or two that had been left for him as a gift from Mr Ingram a sometime acquaintance and fellow member of the Ravenna 'dilettanti'.

I have made a sumptuous meal on your minced pies - which are worthy of the donor and of his table. I congratulate you on your Cook...

Now for those of you who know me even moderately well; you will recall that I am rather partial to a mince pie at this time of year and if I were to ever venture into a life-size kitchen and rummage among the pots and pans in order to whittle up my own batch of these delightful pastry treats; I certainly wouldn't be holding my breath in anticipation of any congratulatory message!

It is fortuitous as I reside near a local emporium that makes the most delightful cornucopia of mince pies that my attention has been more appropriately served (no pun intended!) within the dark confines of the basement kitchen of 13 Piccadilly Terrace supervising the creation of a minced pie worthy of his Lordship's table...

And with a well-eared copy of Margaretta Acworth's 'book of receipts' to hand; I will share the 'fruits of my labour' with you and her recipe for 'Mince Pyes' that her 'Dear Mamma Always Made & Was Generally Admired' as adapted by Alice and Frank Prochaska.

8 small eggs, weighing 1 lb 2 oz (500 g) uncooked
5 oz (140 g, 2½ cups) each of fresh breadcrumbs and shredded suet (kidney fat)
1 large cooking apple, weighing 10 oz (280 g) unpeeled
12 oz (340 g, 3 cups) currants
8 oz (225 g, 2 cups) raisins
10 oz (280 g, 1¾ cups) dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon each of ground nutmeg and mace
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 oz (60 g, ½ cup) chop mixed candied peel.

Boil the eggs hard, cool them and shred them using a food processor or cheese grater. Mix them with the breadcrumbs and suet. Peel, quarter and core the apple and shred it too. Mix in the breadcrumbs and suet, then add all the remaining ingredients.

Stir well and put into sterilized jars. Seal well and keep in a cool, dark cupboard...

Puff pastry was what Mrs Acworth normally used for tarts and for those puddings that required pastry. Cheesecakes and mince pies would also have been made with puff pastry...

I shall bid you a fond 'Adieu' as I return to the 'roleing' of this 'Puff Past' and will allow Lord B a final word about the humble mince pie on this most festive of days...
"I wish you much merriment and minced pye - it is Xmas day..."

Now, I don't mind if I do!

Sources Used: 
Byron's Letters and Journals Volume 4 (1814-1815) Ed: Leslie A. Marchand (London: John Murray 1975)
Byron's Letters and Journals Volume 10 (1822-1823) Ed: Leslie A. Marchand (London: John Murray 1980)
Margaretta Acworth's Georgian Cookery Book Ed: Alice and Frank Prochaska (London: Pavilion Books  Limited 1987)