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Shame! Humiliation! A Torrent of rage! Brighton’s Regency Housekeeper advises on false teeth and pig iron in the soul…

Yes! Mrs Finnegan is a REKNOWN Authority on the AFFAIRS OF THE HEART in addition to being housekeeper of The Regency Town House, but she can also advise on PRACTICAL concerns.  This week a woman in need of a tooth seeks her advice as does a young woman who casts a bitter eye upon the world…

I want to complain in the bitterest of terms about a man I had the misfortune of meeting only last week. He claimed that he would cure my aching tooth in time for me to attend a private lunch with some very important friends. Instead he pushed and poked and prodded and finally pulled out the finest of my front teeth.

He charged me several shillings and said for a few more he could fit me with a nice new tooth made of wood. I am distraught: I missed my lunch and am now cowering in my bedroom not daring to look in the mirror for fear of seeing my witch’s grin of an assaulted mouth. I fear I will be forced to buy a new tooth but Oh! The shame! Oh! The humiliation!
Tearful and Toothless of Tooting

WHAT A CALAMITY! I hope, at least, that the pain has gone along with your fine front tooth. Anyone with a DECENT SET of pliers can call themselves a dentist and I have seen the trade performed by the ODDEST ASSORTMENT of rogues and ruffians – they start young (see below). I suggest you find a good jeweller for any future work. They are at least have acquired the NECESSARY delicate skills.

Do not accept a nasty, OLD-FASHIONED wooden peg. I imagine they grow black quite quickly and, of course, you have to take them out to eat. Actually, I think that may well be true for any kind of denture so bear that in mind when accepting future lunch invitations. (But a pleasant meal with friends – why on EARTH not? Make a little embroidered pouch for the tooth and you will REMAIN YOUR stylish self.)

Now I think about it, I am not entirely certain that one SOLITARY tooth can be replaced. I have only ever seen full or half sets made from entirely from ivory or for a more natural appearance HUMAN teeth set in ivory. Although I have heard that now, the very latest fad in London is porcelain teeth.

If all this is beyond your means, perhaps the time has come to bite the bullet* and have them all taken out. What do you think? It would mean WAVING FAREWELL to toothache for ever more…and you can always sell the good ones.

Take comfort in the knowledge that gums soon HARDEN (so I am told) and once all your teeth are gone you will be able to eat almost the same food you enjoy now, only a little SOFTER.

My dear, we may all have to grin and bear it if we live LONG ENOUGH.

My temperament is quiet, my work diligent and I never neglect my night time prayers. I have been well brought up, but a raging anger swells inside whenever I see from my window callous young men saunter by, loud in their talk and idle in their habits.

I rage inwardly at those giddy young serving girls who smirk and titter as they stroll along arm in arms on their half day off and, as for the the pampered children who laugh so loudly in the street, I wonder what their mothers and nursemaids can be thinking of

Have sober thoughts and moderate behaviour gone out of fashion? I told my neighbour off about her raucous tea parties with an older woman with a loud voice who turned out to be her mother. She looked at me as if I was mad!
Miss Very Particular of Preston Circus

Hungry lice have the worst bite.

Do not attempt to make a virtue out of your loneliness. Your anger is not righteous – it is a bitter thing that is DEVOURING YOU from within.

It is the job of a child to look at A LEAF FALLING to the ground and the blue sky beyond AND LAUGH at life and all its wonders. It is the job of youth to DELIGHT in being young and it falls to all of us to find comfort in each other.

When you could be SO MANY THINGS, Miss VP why cannot you be KIND?


Faithful readers will recall that last week the Mistress revealed a FAMILY SECRET. Draw closer…let me tell you….but not a word to anyone else.

Mrs Hankey’s son has fathered a child in the WEST INDIES and the poor girl has followed him to England. I DON’T KNOW her name, I don’t know if she has made her way to Brighton or if the child has even been born. There’s a MOUNTAIN OF THINGS I do not know!

But I am charged with taking the girl in if she should coming KNOCKING at this door, but without acknowledging by sign or by look or by word that I know the TRUE REASON why she wishes to draw close to the HONOURABLE Thomson Hankey Junior OR HIS HOUSEHOLD.

And then at the VERY MOMENT I was reading the Mistress’ words there was a knock on the FRONT DOOR…

A young lady presented herself to me. No, I’m telling it FALSE. She was young, but she wasn’t dressed as a lady. The poor chit was shivering, her clothes weren’t made for a SUSSEX WINTER and that thought alone forced me to to bid her enter and STAND BEFORE the fire. I wondered what story she would spin, but it wasn’t much of one. She was in WANT OF WORK that was all she would say. We stood looking at each other in perfect ignorance of each other’s true INTENTIONS.

The Hankey’s are terrified that the forsaken girl will kick up a STORM of scandal. But any woman with sense would be looking for more than BLUSTER, she would be wanting a nest for herself and the child and security for the future. O but supposing she was lovesick…supposing her DREAMS went beyond a little regular money…supposing that promises had been made…marriage MENTIONED.

In all TRUTH I could not tell if the the girl trembling in the parlour was with child or not. Nor could I ascertain if she had lived in TROPICAL CLIMES. She was no darker than many a country girl used to working out of doors, although her voice didn’t speak of the undulating folds of the South Downs or yet of London.

Have you come far? I asked.
Yes, Indeed, she said with a great WEARINESS that perhaps told of a storm-tossed Atlantic voyage. A long way. She said no more, so I pressed for details as I HANDED her a bowl of FRESHLY MADE gizzard soup.

The other side of Worthing, she said. I saw the truth beneath the clothes for there is hunger and wretched hunger and then there is WANT that is hard to satisfy . Or at least that needs more than gizzard soup…

So, I did what I had to do. I offered her the post of general maid of work, no other being available. I wasn’t so much thinking of the Mistress’ last letter as the way she had abandoned the groom’s family when it was inconvenient to take them on the last journey. And how she hates the beggars that gather outside the Church on Sunday mornings and longs to kick them.

For her own SAKE I hope this girl won’t need to come anywhere near Mrs Hankey’s foot…

Mrs Finnegan is the creation of Bridget Whelan  and Paul Couchman, The Regency Cook 
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2 comments on “Shame! Humiliation! A Torrent of rage! Brighton’s Regency Housekeeper advises on false teeth and pig iron in the soul…

  1. Daniel Kemp
    January 26, 2021

    Love it!

    • bridget whelan
      January 26, 2021

      Mrs Finnegan will be gratified. I shall let her know. I was going to add that she aims to please, but I don’t think that’s entirely true….

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This entry was posted on January 26, 2021 by in Mrs Finnegen ADVICE from the 1830 and tagged , , , .


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