7 Objects of Beauty: A Tribute to Robert Adam

The young man was an upper-middle class Scotsman, a second son, and he had left university prematurely. But he possessed genius and ambition, a convenient wealth of 900 pounds a year, and some hands-on experience gained at his family’s architectural practice. Thus, he was well equipped to embark on a journey to the Continent in the company of an Earl’s brother in 1754. Yet, Robert Adam, aged 26, was not to know that this journey would be the key to making him the most sought-after architect of his time.

The year 2017 marks the 225th anniversary of the death of the famous Scottish architect Robert Adam (3 July 1728 – 3 March 1792). This post is dedicated to the aesthetics of his unique neo-classical style. I have compiled a selection of photos of Adam’s works, from ceilings to chimney-pieces. You are very welcome to enjoy the delicate and the decadent, and the weird and the wonderful. Continue reading

Gossip Guide to the Kingdom of Naples: Inside the Palace of Caserta

PArt 3 casertaFind in this gossip guide for the 18th century:

  • Palace, Pomp and Politics
  • The British Ambassador as Tomb Raider
  • Love & the Palace
    – Shocking: Emma and Nelson!
  • A King from France & the English Princess

Welcome, dear Regency Enthusiast, to a virtual tour of the Palace of Caserta. The palace is a grand building, and the heart of the government of the Kingdom of Naples and Sicily (learn more the kingdom as a travel destination for British travellers in the 18th century here and here). In quick succession, the palace is also the home of 3 royal couples, their British friends and visitors – and their scandals: Continue reading

The World at Home: Furniture Fashion in the Romantic Age

Roman chair

Chair in Grecian Style (Palace of Caserta, Italy)

The Romantic Age saw a quick succession of trends in furniture fashion. These trends had one thing in common: They were inspired by foreign cultures, and often sparked by exploration and discoveries.
Travelling was expensive. Doing the Grand Tour to see the art treasures of France and Italy was only for the rich. Decorating a room with furniture in the style of the ancient Greek and Roman civilisations demonstrated wealth and education. Later in the age, wars and the Continental Blockade put a stop to private travelling. Nevertheless, furniture inspired by distant countries brought an exotic touch to the home.

Which style was fashionable in which decade of the Romantic Age? When would the hero of a Regency novel buy furniture inspired by the Egyptian culture? Would the heroine be likely to sleep in a lit à la polonais in 1812? Here is a small, chronological exhibition to answer these questions. Continue reading

Adventures for Regency Enthusiasts: The Country House After Dark

Have you ever wondered

  • how dark it was in an 18th century country house after sunset?
  • what you can see in a room lit only by candles?
  • how it feels to enter a room illuminated by several crystal chandeliers?

You could arrange an experiment at your home by lighting some candles at night. But this wouldn’t quite reproduce the lighting conditions of a country house, as there are less gildings, reflecting mirrors and chandeliers in the average apartment of our times.

chateauI thus set out to experience a historic house after nightfall. My central question: What are the lighting conditions and how can a Historical Novel Writer depict them properly in a novel?
Let me take you to the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, a grand chateau in France. We will wander its rooms and enjoy its park adorned with thousands of torches.

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Writer’s Travel Guide: Burton Constable Hall

In this post:

  • A gentleman who thought it possible to cross breed rabbits and chickens
  • A cabinet of wonders
  • The trial of a conspirator

Burton Constable Hall is located 3 miles (5 km) south-east of Skirlaugh, Yorkshire.


Burton Constable Hall is famous for the “Cabinet of Curiosities” of one of its most remarkable owners, William Constable.

“Cabinets of Curiosities”, also known as “Cabinets of Wonders”, were collections of objects from natural history, geology, ethnography, archaeology, religion, alchemy and art. They became popular in the late Renaissance era. Originally, only royalties possessed the fortune and the opportunity to collect in grand style, but by the 18th century many gentlemen sought to acquire the latest scientific instruments and unusual objects from around the world. So did William Constable. His collection is today the most important scientific collection by a gentleman from the late 18th century that is on display in a country house. The collection is substantially intact and still has the original labels. (1)

If you visit Burton Constable Hall, the Cabinet of Curiosities is a must-see, but you will also enjoy the 30 rooms filled with fine furniture, paintings and sculptures. The exotic Chinese Room was inspired by the Prince Regent’s Royal Pavillon in Brighton. (1)
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Writer’s Travel Guide: Kingston Lacy

In this post:

  • An English House as an Italian Palace
  • A Gentleman Egyptologist
  • The Dangers of “Not Being in the Petticoat-Line”

Kingston Lacy is located 3.5 miles from Wimborne Minster, Dorset. From the 17th to the late 20th century it was the family seat of the Bankes family. The Bankes were leading gentry. Their wealth was founded in land and in owning a graphite mine (1).

  Kingston Lacy 3  Kingston Lacy 1  Kingston Lacy 2
Kingston Lacy is lavishly decorated and famous for its collection of fine art and antiquities. It owes much of its splendor to William John Bankes (1786 – 1855) and his friend, the architect Charles Barry: They worked hard to make Kingston Lacy resemble an Italian Palace. They imported Carrara marble for the staircase, planned and executed designs for new and lavish interiors, built a loggia on the east side and an elegant terrace on the south side. Poor William John Banks could not enjoy his Italian Palace. Due to a scandal, he had to flee the country to save his life …
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Writer’s Travel Guide: Forde Abbey

Forde Abbey is located 3.6 miles from Chard, Somerset. It was founded as Cistercian monastery in the 12th century. Its interior is mostly covered in oak panelling and plasterwork. Thus, those preferring the more splendid Georgian style may be reluctant to visit Forde Abbey. However, it is well worth having a closer look at it.

From 1814 to 1818, you would have met Jeremy Bentham at Forde Abbey. He was known as one of the most important social reformers of his time. He had rented Forde Abbey from its owner. He wrote several books there, turned to radical politics and entertained some of the greatest thinkers of the early 19th century, among them the economist David Ricardo and legal reformer Sir Samuel Romilly.

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