Lady Melbourne Braves the Opinion of the World…

Think of my situation how extraordinary! – my mother in law actually in the place I held – her ring instead of mine – her letters instead of mine – her heart – but do you believe either she or any others feel for you what I felt…

Lady Caroline to Lord Byron in 1814

Elizabeth, Lady Melbourne was born into this world in 1752, the only daughter of Sir Ralph Milbanke a wealthy and successful Yorkshire baronet of Halnaby Hall.

A Portrait of the Milbanke and Lamb Families by George Stubbs in 1769

Her older brother Ralph who would become Lord Byron’s father-in-law in January 1815 was known disparagingly as ‘old twaddle Ralph’ by the Duchess of Devonshire and as there was certainly no love lost between Lady Melbourne and his opinionated spouse, one suspects that the Hon. Judith Milbanke was spoken of with equal disparagement!

God bless You! my Dear. I shall only add – that from the time we married, the only unhappiness You have occasioned me, has been from seeing the Sway Lady M. has at times had over You – and that before I was able to oppose it, or had the courage to do so. She has pillaged You of tens of thousands – recollect this – and now despise her.

Judith Milbanke to Sir Ralph (February 1816)

‘Famous in Her Time’ A Portrait of Lady Melbourne by Richard Cosway..

 Educated, attractive and with a talent for ambition Lady Melbourne would soon move away from provincial Yorkshire and by 1769 had married Peniston Lamb, a wealthy, foolish and easy going lawyer and as she worked hard to advance the fortune and the prestige of her family, she would become became one of the most celebrated Society Hostesses on behalf of the Whig Party.

Melbourne House with its tasteful and expensive decor became known as London’s most liveliest and exclusive house; a place for the dazzling parties in which only the powerful and the beautiful were admitted and it was in this milieu with charm and a ruthlessness that Lady Melbourne would cultivate the friendship of the fashionable Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, the connections of the powerful Duke of Bedford and the protection of Lord Egremont.

Intrigue at Melbourne House, Now Dover House in Whitehall, London…

By 1784 Lady Melbourne was to make her most distinguished advancement by virtue of her affair with the Prince Regent and although the romance did not last long their friendship would flourish and along with the title of 1st Viscount Melbourne for her naïve spouse, it is also likely that Prinny was the sire of the Melbourne’s third son George Lamb.

Of all of Lady Melbourne’s six children, her first born Peniston Lamb in 1770 was believed to be the only natural son of Lord Melbourne with the rest of his siblings all of dubious and mysterious parentage. A view echoed by her second son William Lamb who was to describe his adored mother as a remarkable woman ‘but not chaste, not chaste.’

Chaste or not, she was undoubtedly a formidable mother to her children whom she nurtured with love while encouraging the Lamb family values of sardonic confidence and the love of a good party and when William Lamb married Lady Caroline Ponsonby who had been born into one of the most powerful Whig families and the niece of Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire in June 1805, the ambitious Lady Melbourne was very happy.

Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know? A Portrait of Lady Caroline Lamb…

In 1812, Lady Melbourne was to begin a friendship with Lord Byron as his affair with her daughter-in-law and his ‘delirium of two months’ was moving toward a volatile and unhappy ending.

For after visiting Lady Caroline in her first floor apartment in Melbourne House, Byron would often visit the ground floor apartment where Lady Melbourne lived and even though she was old enough to be his mother, she became in time his closest confidant and the recipient and literary voyeur of his most witty and outrageous letters.

Despite the antipathy she felt toward her brother’s wife, she actively encouraged Byron’s courtship with her niece Annabella as the means in which to destroy his love affair with Lady Caroline and she would become increasingly critical about his relationship with his half-sister Augusta Leigh; whom she suspected of having encouraging the poet in their incestuous love affair.

Vastly obedient?! You are fair, & do not try to deceive  me & in that you have great merit, I confess, – but on “other points” – XXXI wish I could flatter myself I had the least influence… for I could talk & reason with you for tow Hours, so many objections have I to urge, & after all, for what… is it worth while!

Lady Melbourne to Lord Byron in April 1814

We Three! The Hon. Augusta Leigh with Lord and Lady Byron…

Believing that a woman’s duty was to provide her husband with his heir and that monogamy within marriage was not the natural state and as such a woman was at liberty to have affairs, only and always with discretion but it was Lady Caroline’s blatant lack of circumspection and not the affair with either Sr. Godfrey Webster or Lord Byron which encouraged Lady Melbourne to become her severest critic.

when any one braves the opinion of the World, sooner or later they will feel the consequences of it and although at first people may have excused your forming friendships with all those who are censured for their conduct, from yr youth and inexperience yet when they see you continue to single them out and to overlook all the decencys imposed by Society – they will look upon you as belonging to the same class…

Lady Melbourne to Lady Caroline Lamb in 1810

By 1816 in the aftermath of Byron’s disastrous marriage to Annabella and subsequent exile to Europe, the Milbanke family had severed contact with the Melbournes’ and a vengeful and isolated Lady Caroline created yet more mischief with the publication of her book Glenarvon.

With the premature death of Peniston Lamb in 1805, William as the 2nd Viscount Melbourne and a political star on the rise who would eventually serve as Prime Minister to the young Queen Victoria; was now under pressure from his family to separate from his volatile spouse or to have her committed to a lunatic asylum.

A Portrait of William Lamb, the Future Lord Melbourne…

In desperation, Lady Caroline was to write to her rattled mother-in-law: ‘I am on the brink of another ruin. Half my friends cut me, all my acquaintances are offended – your protection may save – but I shall never ask for it unless freely offered’ and such support Lady Melbourne would offer until her death on Saturday April 6 1818 at the age of 66.

And as Lord Byron’s ‘Corbeau Blanc’ was laid to rest in the Lamb family vault at St Ethelreda’s Church in Hatfield, the reaction to her passing from Lady Shelley would remain as controversial as the lady herself.

The death of Lady Melbourne offers food for reflection to the most frivolous. This lady, beautiful, clever, and well read, married in the flower of her beauty a man who did not care for her in the least.

As a natural consequence she was surrounded by admirers belonging to the highest walks of life. Unfortunately, she was addicted to opium, which broke down her health and dimmed her mental faculties.

The Parish Church of St Etherelda in Hatfield…

… but it is her loss & not the suddenness of it that all who knew her must regret for I think a kinder heart & a fairer mind were never to be found any where than here…

Lady Caroline Lamb to John Cam Hobhouse in April 1818.

Follow the link to read an entertaining post about Lady Melbourne as the Tart of the Week on the fabulous blog The Duchess of Devonshire’s Gossip Guide to the 18th Century…

Before Georgiana ruled London society as leading hostess and leader of the ton there was Lady Melbourne. Only five years older than Georgiana, she gracefully stepped down from the post and became good friends with the new duchess. Less social obligations meant more time to play!…

Sources Used:

Byron’s ‘Corbeau Blanc’ (The Life and Letters of Lady Melbourne) Jonathan David Gross (Liverpool University Press 1997)

Lady Caroline Lamb This Infernal Woman Susan Normington (House of Stratus 2001)

Melbourne David Cecil (The Reprint Society 1955)

The Uninhibited Byron An Account of His Sexual Confusion Bernard Grebanier (Peter Owen 1970)

The Whole Disgraceful Truth (Selected Letters of Lady Caroline Lamb) Paul Douglass (Palgrave MacMillan 2006)

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A Leap Day Baptism and a Rake’s Progress…

‘My little boy is to be named George don’t show Mr. Byron this…’

 Catherine Gordon Byron

‘I baptise thee George Gordon Byron in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen’ so said the Priest of St Marylebone Parish Church in London on February 29 in 1788 when Byron was still a babe in arms at the age of 5 weeks old.

The infant was baptised with the names duly chosen by his mother for his maternal grandfather George Gordon who had once been the 12th Laird of Gight.

Catherine was also to name the Duke of Gordon and her cousin Colonel Duff of Fetteresso as Godfathers, presumably in absentia.

It is not known if John Byron was present for his son’s baptism. However, has he had spent most of 1788 dodging his creditors until he could extract more cash from his wife and as she was clearly unable to refuse him as this letter to her agent would imply; my feeling is that he was probably another guest in absentia.

I want money to be sent me while in Town and I must have it as if Mr. Byron gets it it will be thrown away in some foolish way or other and I shall be obliged to apply for more… I will live as cheap as I can but it was impossible till now as there was a great many expences that could not be avoided… 

The entry for the Parish Register which I obtained from the London Metropolitan Archives reads as follows:

March 1st, George Gordon, son, of John Byron Esq. & Catherine, b. 22 inst.

The date was entered in error as the clerk had obviously forgotten that 1788 was a Leap Year….“Save February, with twenty-eight days clear, And twenty-nine each leap year.”

This would prove to be the first and one of many errors written about the life of Byron and not only during his lifetime!

Another visitor to St Marylebone Parish Church was the artist William Hogarth who used the interior of the church for inspiration for his 1735 painting The Wedding Scene for the series titled A Rake’s Progress.

The scene painted by Hogarth depicts the ‘rake Tom’ as he marries the wealthy and ugly old maid and presumably NOT for her witty repartee and her equally pleasant youthful looking countenance!

The original pew panel depicted in the picture above can still be found within the church which still stands beside the hectic Marylebone Road in central London and as it is situated a short distance from Holles Street where Byron was born, it explains why Catherine would choose this parish church for the baptism of her only child.

To enjoy a wander through this beautiful church with the Polite Tourist, click on the image below:

Sources Used:

My Amiable Mamma A Biography of Mrs. Catherine Gordon Byron Megan Boyes (Derby: J.M.Tatler & Son Ltd)

 

A Rage Against the Machine…

Today, February 27 was the day that my mother was delivered of me some years ago and a few years before that, Lord Byron delivered his maiden speech in the House of Lords.

“I have traversed the seat of war in the Peninsula; I have been in some of the most oppressed provinces of Turkey; but never, under the most despotic of infidel governments, did I behold such squalid wretchedness as I have seen since my return, in the very heart of a Christian country.

And what are your remedies?

After months of inaction, and months of action worse than inactivity, at length comes forth the grand specific….

Setting aside the palpable injustice and the certain inefficiency of the bill, are there not capital punishments sufficient on your statutes?

A Copy of Lord Byron’s Maiden Speech in the House of Lords on Display at Newstead Abbey…

Yes, indeed on this very day some 206 years ago, our poet spoke out in ‘A Rage Against the Machine’ AND not unlike the US group of the same name who sang Killing in the Name Of which went on to become a most unlikely Christmas hit!

In the infancy of the industrial revolution, manufacturers in the stocking-weaving business had exploited the advances in technology to employ greater uses for new machinery as the looms would deliver goods at a faster and cheaper rate to the detriment of the workers.

As the stocking-weavers found themselves surplus to requirements with wages falling and with 50,000 families reduced to starvation; organised gangs of desperate and hungry men began breaking the manufacturers’ looms led by the mythical ‘King Ludd’.

But while the exalted offender can find means to baffle the law, new capital punishments must be devised, new snares of death must be spread, for the wretched mechanic who is famished into guilt. These men were willing to dig, but the spade was in other hands; they were not ashamed to beg, but there was none to relieve them.

Their own means of subsistence were cut off; all other employments pre-occupied; and their excesses, however to be deplored and condemned, can hardly be the subject of surprise.

‘Hurtful to Commonality’ Click on the Image to Read the Story of the the Luddites…

In an effort to bring an end to the industrial unrest, troops were sent to Nottingham to quash the revolt by the Luddites, and as the uprising spread to Lancashire and across Yorkshire; the Government passed the Frame Breaking Act, which introduced the death penalty for frame breaking.

It was during the Parliamentary debate that Byron made his famous speech:

Is there not blood enough upon your penal code, that more must be poured forth to ascend to heaven and testify against you?

How will you carry this bill into effect?

Can you commit a whole county to their own prisons?

Will you erect a gibbet in every field, and hang up men like scare-crows?

Byron identified with the Luddite cause and claiming to be as penniless as those he supported, he sought the support of Lord Holland as the leader of the Whigs to address the House and to voice his opposition to the introduction of the death penalty.

Or will you proceed (as you must to bring this measure into effect) by decimation; place the county under martial law; depopulate and lay waste all around you, and restore Sherwood Forest as an acceptable gift to the crown in its former condition of a royal chase, and an asylum for outlaws?

Are these the remedies for a starving and desperate populace?”

Following the assassination of Prime Minister Spencer Perceval in May 1812, the government responded to the rebellion with mass arrests and despite the threat of trial and harsh sentencing, the unrest continued and in 1813 on a cold January day in York, fifteen men were hanged in the shadow of what we know as Clifford’s Tower.

The Polite Tourist Stands in the September Shadow of Clifford’s Tower in the Ancient City of York

In the years following, the harsh measures of capital punishment or transportation had little effect as the demonstrations for improved wages, frame breaking and riots continued throughout pockets of Middle England, however, by 1816 the Luddite Rebellion was effectively finished.

Although his speech was well received, Byron was to find that he was not suited to the slow daily business of Parliament, the ‘Parlimentary mummeries’ as he was soon to call them, his temperament too volatile and easily distracted as his letter to his friend Francis Hodgson several days later makes clear:

“….of them I shall mention Sir F. Burdetts. – He says it is the best speech by a Lord since the “Lord knows when” probably from a fellow feeling in ye. sentiments. – ….

 And so much for vanity. – – I spoke very violent sentences with a sort of modest impudence, abused every thing & every body, & put the Ld. Chancellor very much out of humour, & if I may believe what I hear, have not lost any character by the experiment.

As to my delivery, loud and fluent enough, perhaps a little theatrical. – – I could not recognise myself or any one else in the Newspapers….

Hobhouse is here, I shall tell him to write. – My Stone is gone for the present, but I fear is part of my habit. – We all talk of a visit to Cambridge”

However, the tale of a certain Childe Harold was soon to be unleashed upon London society in the days following but that is for another story!

Framed: A Historical Novel about the Revolt of the Luddites by Christy Fearn

As French émigré Roman Catholics, Lizette Molyneux and her brother Robert are used to an existence on the edge of their Regency Nottingham community. But when Robert is arrested for a crime he insists he did not commit, Lizzie must draw on all her strength and courage to help him. Overcoming poverty, prejudice and the unwanted advances of her employer’s son, she unites with the frame-breaking Luddites to free her brother and to rectify social injustice.

In 2013, my friend and fellow Byronian Christy Fearn published Framed her debut novel about Byron and the Luddite rebellion; signed copies of which can now be purchased from the author.

Why not treat yourself to a copy? You’ll learn something of the Luddite Rebellion, Lord B AND you’ll enjoy yourself too!

Sources Used:

Byron’s Letters & Journals Vol 2 1810-1812, Ed: Leslie A. Marchand (London: John Murray 1973)

Byron The Making of a Myth, Stephen Coote (London: The Bodley Head 1988)

Life, Letters and Journals of Lord Byron, Thomas Moore (Elibron Classics 2006

Creating to Empty My Mind!

The poet Lord Byron once said “IF I don’t write to empty my mind, I will go mad” and when I think back to that fateful day many years ago when curiosity got the better of me and I picked up a copy of Dolls’ House Magazine in my local supermarket which then went on to change my life – I understand where the man was coming from!

Hello! My name is Tee Bylo and as well as ‘Blogging about Byron’, I am an artist and storyteller creating life in 12th scale…

Having created an eclectic number of ‘Small Worlds’ over the years with many now in private collections; my most recent 12th scale ventures include the expansion of the Mouse Town (both in real estate AND with more mice!) the ambitious design for another ‘Nicole’s House’ and with my passion for the unique and mystical, I’m also creating more weird and wonderful emporiums and abodes populated by the mythical folk of the All Hallows Hamlet.

Vampyres, Werewolves and Zombies. Oh My! Better Have Some Holy Water at the Ready…

And with a passion for anything Lord Byron, I love to escape to the year 1815 at 13 Piccadilly Terrace as I fluff the pillows, arrange the flowers and stoke the fires in the home inspired by the life of this fabulous poet.

Self-taught and armed with plaster, strip wood, paints, mountboard, papier-mâché, natural foliage, clay, glue and lots of imagination, I design my ‘Small Worlds’ using whatever is around me at the time including scrap MDF, cardboard boxes, model kits, a huge plant pot, a tatty dolls house, some chicken wire, a tree stump and even a grotty, old waste bin.

AND wait until you see the ‘Small Worlds’ I plan to create with an abandoned bicycle wheel, a plastic paint tub and one very large wire mesh basket once used to store a giant firework!

I once jokingly calculated that I would need to live another 250 years to create my dream projects into 12th scale reality.

Remember how I told you about the magazine that changed my life? Well, some years later I was offered a monthly ‘Tee Time’ column and for one glorious year I got to share my 12th scale musings along with the triumphs, tears and the delicious cake that I had enjoyed and I was paid for it too!

But why am I now on Patreon, you ask?

Having done the parenting bit for my two amazing sons, I suddenly found myself as a full-time care giver to my infirm mother and vulnerable brother in 2014 and life became difficult with time and financial independence diminished and a wish that sometimes I could live a million miles away BUT as I have continued to dream, plan and create new ‘Small Worlds’ either at home or in the studio and even in my shed at the bottom of the garden; I have come to understand that a loss of freedom can also be strangely liberating!

A few days ago, I discovered the quote by Lewis Carroll that “Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality” and right now, my imagination is all that I have as it gives me the freedom to create and to write stories as I keep moving forward on this road less travelled and it would be wonderful if you could be by my side too!

Your kind support will enable me to create my ‘Small Worlds’ and keep the shelves of my two Etsy stores fully stocked with my uniquely designed miniatures.

Welcome to the Crooked Hen Gift Shop…

I could finally publish the adventures of a Little Big Cat in a picture book to be cherished and enjoyed by children and adults alike and the anticipated coffee-table book about Nicole’s House due for publication in late 2018 will be a fitting tribute to the lady who inspired the creation of this 12th scale house.

‘Twas the Night before Christmas and I Spy Paw Prints in the Flour at 13 Piccadilly Terrace…

And I could continue to make the world a better place one mouse at a time!

What is this Death? A Candle in Memory of Lord Byron…

With a monthly pledge of $1 and upwards charged to your card on the 1st of the month, there are lots of ‘Tee Time’ rewards for you to enjoy and there’s a 10% Etsy discount too!

You can cancel your pledge at any time and if you are unable to pledge – that’s OK for knowing that you are still reading this means just as much – Thank you!

To Number 13 Piccadilly Terrace…

Imagine if you could step back in time to your favourite world? Where would that be?

Without a doubt mine would be the world synonymous with the romance of Jane Austen, the elegance of Beau Brummell and the fascinating life of the poet Lord Byron!

Byron once said that ‘Of all romances in miniature… perhaps this is the best shape in which Romance can appear’ and as an artist 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 and so without further ado, let’s knock on the door of 13 Piccadilly Terrace and enjoy a house call in the Year 1815…

At Home with the Doyenne of All Things Lord Byron…

Tee Bylo loves Regency history as a well as creating life in 12th scale and has combined the two with her creation of the ‘Ghost of Piccadilly’ inspired by Lord Byron’s address at 13 Piccadilly Terrace in London in the year 1815 and where the Poet lived with his wife the former Annabella Milbanke who he had married only two months previously on a bitterly cold January day and on an equally cold day in December, their only daughter Augusta Ada Lovelace was born.

The house is complete with a basement kitchen and attic rooms reflecting the architecture, interior design, furniture and the lifestyle of Byron and that of his circle and comments made in letters to and from the Poet have given Tee a fabulous understanding into his life at Piccadilly Terrace; an atmosphere she has now sought to recreate in miniature.

As an enthusiastic blogger, Tee has shared her progress of life inside No 13 allowing her passion for Lord Byron to reach other fans of the Poet as well as those who enjoy the miniature art form and here are just some of the many questions that Tee has been asked!

What’s the Story Behind the Creation of 13 Piccadilly Terrace?
The idea for the creation of 13 Piccadilly Terrace began in the summer of 2009 after watching and more than once, the BBC adaptation of Byron featuring the delightful Jonny Lee Miller as His Lordship and the idea for the Ghost of Piccadilly was inspired by Byron’s life at this London address during that eventful year of 1815.

Is 13 Piccadilly Terrace a ‘Real’ Model?
Yes, it is a ‘real’ model’ which has been created in 12th scale primarily with the use of MDF, plaster, strip wood, paints, mountboard and of course with plenty of glue and lots of imagination!

Although No 13 began life as a Sid Cooke kit comprising of simple pieces of MDF and Plywood, the original design has been ‘tweaked’ with false walls and side windows – the creation of which has been entirely my work.

And How Large is 13 Piccadilly Terrace?
The house measures 70cm in width and 132m in height with a depth of 64cm and has 13 rooms – which is rather appropriate for this particular model!

Was the Design Process of 13 Piccadilly Terrace a Dream to Create or a Nightmare?
The journey from bare wood to the creation of an atmospheric grand house was a challenge!

As was choosing the interior design with the appropriate colour scheme, the elaborate woodwork and the plastered ceiling decoration for the dining room, ALL of which resulted in more than a few headaches AND sleepless nights!

However, the basement kitchen WAS a dream to create!
With inspiration drawn from the Georgian kitchen at Fairfax House in York, the effect was realised with the use of a piece of foam board, a pot of plaster filler, a cheap vinyl floor tile and some bought pieces for the fireplace from an independent dolls’ house supplier.

​​And Your Plans for 13 Piccadilly Terrace?
As No 13 remains a work in progress, there’s plenty to keep me occupied as there are still beds to be made, the family portraits to hang, a wedding to arrange AND an elaborate supper for the Twelfth Night to serve up.

I am also hopeful that an exquisite gilt chair in the style of Louis XV and upholstered in the most delightful fabric may FINALLY find its way to the drawing room!

How Can I Follow the Stories About Lord Byron’s House?
As well as sharing the stories from Piccadilly Terrace on the website, you can also follow the news from Number 13 on InstagramFlickrTwitterFacebook and Google+

And you can now also join me as I party like it’s 1815 from Lord B’s Abode on the Piccadilly Terrace blog.

Tell Me the Attraction of Lord Byron?
It was Byron himself who once described himself as ‘Being the fashion; it’s absurd but I can’t help it’ and the attraction of this handsome, unconventional poet who was also a talented and very witty man of letters is just one explanation of his timeless appeal.

He was arguably the first celebrity of our age with a fascinating personality of irreverence, humour, controversy and political idealism and as such he remains just a potent today as he did over 200 years ago as he cut a swathe through London society.

How Can I Learn More About Your Work?
You can discover more about my work on the official website Tee Bylo or on my blog Creating Life in 12th Scale… and you can also support me and my work on the crowdfunding site Patreon.

I can also be found on the usual social media platforms including FacebookInstagramFlickr and Twitter.

Can I Share the Information and the Images from the Ghost of Piccadilly on My Website or Blog?
Of course! However, all I ask is that you will remember to fully and accurately credit me and my work. Thank you!