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Change is afoot! along with picnics and eye infections… Advice from the 1830s Agony Aunt

Mrs Finnegan’s Chronicles: the Celebrated Authority in affairs of the HEART and HOUSEHOLD MANAGEMENT At present she is only occasionally stepping out from the elegant confines of  The Regency Town House sited in a most becoming garden square in the prestigious town of Brighton and Hove

The weather being so pleasant FIVE friends and I are planning a picnic. What food should I take?
Miss Healthy Appetite from Hove village

Still Life with a Lobster and Oysters; Roebuck Collection;

A Salamongundy always seems to go down well at such events. Was it named after the children’s rhyme or was the rhyme inspired by the meal?

Solomon Grundy, 
born on a Monday, 
christened on Tuesday, 
married on Wednesday, 
took ill on Thursday, 
worse on Friday, 
died on Saturday, 
buried on Sunday, 
that is the end of Solomon Grundy.

I know that Mister Paul, cook at The Regency Town House, recommends the recipes of Hannah Glasse who was writing when I was a gal. She says to make Salamongundy you need:
two or three Romanor Cabbage Lettice, a Couple of cold roasted Pullets, boned and cut six Anchovies and…
It goes on and on. And her writing is very small and there is so much of it.
From what I can see, take anything fresh enough to eat from the kitchen, add any meat already cooked and sprinkle nasturtium flowers on the top.
Can I ask if any chaperones are attending the picnic to ensure a proper distance?


What’s been happening? I have had letter after letter from all over the country about poor eyesight. Is there a serious infection abroad? Have the proper authorities been alerted? It’s a scandal. This is typical of the missives that have landed on my doormat.

Can you suggest anything to ease my husband’s eyesight? It seems to have deteriorated after a short illness.

The following remedies may offer some comfort:
TAKE two poppy heads, boil them in a quart of MILK, and use this as a fomentation.
TAKE a conserve of red roses and ROTTEN apple in equal quantities, wrap them in a fold of thin cambric, or old linen, and apply to the eye.
REST the eyes by allowing them to see naught but complete BLACKNESS. Achieve this by closing the eye and then COVERING with the palm of your hand.  Do this for as along as anyone will let you sit.

Driving a coach and horses will do no good WHATSOEVER despite the comments from various correspondents. Where do such notions arise!


Your reputation goes before you Madam and I’d like to have your views on a pernicious social evil which is creeping across the land. I speak of Mechanical Institutes. What does a worker need to know of science? Why should crude minds listen to Mozart? It will make people discontent, entice them to think they are as good as their betters. Sedition! I hear in some places that even women attend classes and borrow books. Madam, imagine a future where parlour maids have an opinion!
Outraged of Regency Square

In His Library

You are behind the times, Sir. Such establishments are not creeping: they are MARCHING defeating ignorance where ever they find it. There has been an Institute in the good town of BRIGHTON since 1825.
As for parlour maids, they have always had opinions. As have dressmakers, fishwives, sea dippers and all MANNER of drudges you see on a daily basis. As have your daughters and your lady wife, as have duchesses and princesses of the ROYAL blood, as have housekeepers whose advice you seek.
There is no denying SIR that women are foolish, the good Lord made them to match the men.

Yours with the utmost respect

Mrs Finnegan

PS A letter has arrived from the MISTRESS. I opened it with trembling hand. It is as I feared, my life is about to suffer an abrupt and unwelcome change. The daughter is about!

My dear Mrs Finnegan,
I am immense
ly relieved to be able to say that I have received another letter from Martha, and it is as I hoped. She tells me that she has decided to leave her flighty friend in Bath and go to Brighton as soon as she can make the necessary arrangements. I have instructed her to write to you directly and tell you when she intends to travel
Please prepare her bedroom and see to it that she is made welcome. However, you should remember that Martha is of a curious nature and will endeavour to explore the town by herself. Moreover, she may well take the opportunity of our absence to stretch the boundaries of her freedom. Now Mrs Finnegan, I am depending on you to escort her in as much at is at all possible, or to find her a suitable chaperone. I do not know if any of her little friends are still in Brighton, nor whether they would be willing to accompany her here, there and everywhere, but I am adamant that she must not be allowed out by herself.
I appreciate that this may be difficult, but I am determined that my daughter’s reputation will not be sullied by rumours and tittle tattle.

Please let me know when you have heard from her, what preparations you are making for her, and how she settles. I am most curious to hear how she appears.

Yours sincerely,
Mrs Hankey

I was right to tremble. Would not the words “of a curious nature” strike at the heart of any housekeeper. I would prefer the daughter’s attention to be directed towards the town rather than what is happening within my domain. But woe! I am to accompany her to give a semblance of decency to her outings. There will be tears! There will be doors slamming! And that’s before she arrives.
The mistress has added a footnote.

I appreciate that you are searching high and low for my earring, but I cannot condone pulling up the floor boards by yourself. That is a man’s job since some of those boards are very long and very heavy. If you injure that, you will no longer be of service to our household. You must look after yourself

How kind. When I mentioned floor board lifting it was a metaphor rather than a description. At times I think she must not know me very well. I pray that continues. But I must be off! There are rooms to be aired, beds to be made, bottles to be returned to the cellar.

Follow @_Mrs_Finnegan on twitter. She writes daily and is VERY EAGER to make new friends of good character and amiable disposition. She has now more than 1000 FOLLOWERS and wonders if any other Brighton housekeeper in the 1830s can make the same boast.
This is a regular feature created and written with Paul Couchman, The Regency Cook

3 comments on “Change is afoot! along with picnics and eye infections… Advice from the 1830s Agony Aunt

  1. beth
    June 2, 2020

    I love her summary of what should go into a picnic )

  2. Pingback: Tears and Temper and Dear Old Ladies ADVICE FROM THE 1830s BRIGHTON HOUSEKEEPER AND AGONY AUNT | BRIDGET WHELAN writer

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This entry was posted on June 2, 2020 by in Mrs Finnegen ADVICE from the 1830 and tagged , , , , .


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