for writers and readers….

The Wit and Wisdom of Mrs Finnegan, the 1830s housekeeper extraordinaire

My housekeeper’s room is a fortress fit for an ancillary pope.

Not so long ago in an ORDINARY week you could have found me here in the evening sipping a glass of red wine, dripping tears onto my accounts as the business of a very BUSY house slowly wound down.

But ordinary weeks are NO MORE. They are gone! Fled like a retreating French army! VANISHED like an impudent maid when the chamber pots need scouring.

We are all dealing with a NEW ordinary and in my weekly chronicles, gentle reader, you will discover mine. There will be highs and LOWS.
There will be deceit, INTRIGUE, dark looks and words so hard they could chip a paving stone.
There will be courage and adventure, mystery and romance.
And red wine.
There’s still going to be quiet a lot of red wine.

Did I MENTION recipes? My pickles are famous.
AND I can show YOU how to FIGHT mildew, battle invading cockroaches and beat carpets so they stay BEATEN.

As the SAGE OF the serving classes, I also comfort the care-worn, instruct the ignorant, guide the giddy and BRING solace to the sorrowing.

In short, I mend broken china and BROKEN hearts.
MY letterbox is always OPEN

Below is but a small selection of what will be on offer as we journey together.

My MOST admired friends (especially those who subscribe to my weekly missive HERE) will learn in confidence of the comings and goings of my MISTRESS and the rest of the residents of Brunswick Square, including the peculiar French couple at Number 60. (I draw a veil over the activities of the insufferable housekeeper at Number 59.)


To cement broken china if you have been CARELESS. Beat lime into a powder, sift, put on the edges of the broken China some white of egg then dust some lime quickly on the same, and unite them EXACTLY. I have used this recipe many times & found it to be good.


When you WEARY of mending, darning and making an old summer dress do yet another year, remember that the Good Lord puts little value on fine clothes – we know that by taking a look at the people he gives them to…


The first object that meets the stranger’s eye is the door-plate. If it is highly polished, it is concluded that we are highly polished also. If, however, it be dirty, shall we not be deprived of our fair name? I make sure that my brass is rubbed up regularly every morning.


Are you planning to eat outside this forthcoming weekend?  Tea on the terrace perhaps or lunch on the lawn? Choose nothing fussy, that will grow waxy or dry in the heat & nothing that will SIT HEAVILY on the digestion. Cheese and meat can grow a patina of rancid sweatiness. Do test your food before introducing it into polite society.


I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the HUMAN HEART like that felt by the housekeeper as she sees her maids unfolding to success… such emotions make a woman forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything. Alas THERE HAVE been times, many times, in this strange period we are drifting through when I have been without a maid to command/encourage at all. And a cup of hot chocolate will not make itself.


For a cow that makes black water. One pound of salt in a pint of spring water and when it is dissolved give it to the cow.


For a cow that has caught cold after calving. Aniseed, coriander, sweet fennel seed. Of each an oz pounded together, give a heaped meat spoonful in a pint of warm ale with two spoonful of treacle.
I am full of USEFUL ADVICE, am I not?


Guard against gossiping tongues. They are as black as sin itself. They carry SLANDER & defame the character of others. Always be careful in your conversation not to dwell on what you heard somebody say about somebody else.

And DO NOT RUSH to judgement or be quick to CRITICSE. The butler at Number 50 is a fine example. First at the altar rail on Sunday, he delivers a lecture to his staff every meal time, but by the colour of his nose I would say he has become good friends with French brandy. I heard it first from the under parlour maid.


There are MOMENTS when the afternoon melts into the evening SHADOWS and outside is unnaturally quiet as if the birds have stopped chirping in Brunswick Square and the waves are falling silently on the shingle. It is then that I wonder if I am entirely alone…


Mrs Finnegan is housekeeper at The Regency Town House  in the delightful coastal town of Brighton and Hove and is available for advice on household management and affairs of the heart.

Have you subscribed to her Tuesday Message Service? Every word direct to your door (and delivered by a coach and horses that are so QUIET you will barely hear their hooves on the cobbles). Just click HERE

You can ALSO join her at the TWITTER correspondence circle and she esteems the acquaintance of interested parties.

This is a regular feature created and written with Paul Couchman, The Regency Cook

2 comments on “The Wit and Wisdom of Mrs Finnegan, the 1830s housekeeper extraordinaire

  1. beth
    April 17, 2020

    ooh, busy is as busy does

  2. bridget whelan
    April 17, 2020

    Most certainly Miss Beth. I trust you are keeping well in the Colonies? Pardon! I mean our former colonies…Mrs F.

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This entry was posted on April 17, 2020 by in Mrs Finnegen ADVICE from the 1830 and tagged , , , , , .


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