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An old Rake Wants to Marry a Young Bride…Brighton’s Regency Housekeeper Raises an Eyebrow

Mrs Finnegan, celebrated authority AND housekeeper at THE REGENCY TOWN HOUSE is not AFRAID of giving frank advice when it is needed.

You are a woman of the world, Mrs Finnegan, so I trust my disclosure will not offend. You will see from my portrait that I’m a jovial sort of dandy and confess to having known more light-heeled women than chaste maids since taking up residence in your delightful town.
Recently my heart has been entirely stolen by a young lady, small but perfectly formed, with a charming countenance and delightful demeanour.
I plan to marry her.
Should I make a clean breast of it in the hope that she will forgive me? Or should I conceal my dubious dalliances and pray she will never find out? It goes without saying that I am a reformed character.

 Worried Walter, formerly of Waterloo Street. 

Mrs Finnegan replies

Things that go without saying often should be said out LOUD – otherwise they go without thought.

I will be frank, Sir. There are a number of things that go against this match. Your previous behaviour is only one of them.

  • Your age – which you fail to mention and I suspect you DO NOT see when you glance at a looking glance
  • Your delight in wearing clothes at least 30 years out of style. THAT wig, sir! That HAT!
  • The fact that you consider yourself a DANDY. Once, sir, perhaps. But that ship has sailed, that horse has galloped away, that lamb is now covered in mint sauce.

In short, Sir, the fact that you are too old for a young bride, but have not yet grown up!

As for your reputation as a rake, CONSIDER if she will hear about it from others.
If you were living In London, PERHAPS.
Were you residing in Chichester or Worthing, maybe; in Lewes, probably not; in Eastbourne NO…but this is Brighton.

Sir, in Brighton the dogs in the street will know about it and have told the CATS in the pantry. This is not a town for KEEPING secrets: it is a town for spreading scandal and causing sensations.

Your ONLY hope is to CONFESS ALL.

Repent, reform and visit a decent tailor.



I have come across this recipe to preserve hair and make it THICK which I pass on, knowing it is a PROBLEM confronting many readers. (Mrs L please note. You have been too embarrassed to write for advice, but sometimes it’s not necessary to say anything.)

Take 1/4 of white wine, put in one handful of rosemary flowers,
ADD 1/2 lb of honey,
distill them together,
THEN add 1/4 pint of oil of sweet almonds,
shake it VERY WELL together,
put it into a cup,
RUB on your head
comb it DRY

DO LET ME know the result if you try it.

I suggest if your hair feels STICKY afterwards omit the honey.
If your hair looks too greasy omit the OIL.
Then DRINK the wine and wear a cap in bed and out.

If pulled forward a little more this one could hide a lot (or rather the absence of a lot).

And this one is quite pretty, but perhaps a little young for you, Mrs L?


More from Mrs Hankey’s diary. I cannot resist reading it and my conviction that the Mistress WANTS me to peruse its pages GROWS every day. See what you think, dear reader. Her main preoccupation is locating her daughter and I am glad of it. Indeed, it is about TIME.
While by no means IRRESPONSIBLE, I fear there is something impetuous in Miss Martha’s nature.

The hunt for Martha continues apace. I think she may have returned to Tunbridge Wells where she and I lived for so many years whilst Thomson Senior and Thomson Junior were in the West Indies. I fear that if this is true that she may be out of sorts, for it was hardly a stimulating place and it offers none of the excitement which Brighton most assuredly does.  

While I have no solid information to CONTRADICT this idea, I do not think Miss Martha would reside in such a DISMAL TOWN. And if she was in need of SOLACE and comfort why! She would have returned to Brunswick Square, wouldn’t she?

She called me Fin-ne-gan-nnn with such TENDERNESS when we two were alone in the house last summer. And we enjoyed such japes – art lessons with Madam d’Arthur, tea with Master Peregrine, swimming in the sea. (I draw a VEIL over that episode. If the dear Lord meant us to swim in the English Channel he would have provided warm water and FINS.)

O, dear heavens it could be that Martha is missing me, her mother! I am ashamed to say that I have been ambitious on her behalf but yet not so present n her life. 

O dear me, no. You don’t miss your mother by not telling her where you are.

Once it has been confirmed, I will to TW to bring her back to my bosom and we will find her a husband together. 

That will go down well. My fear is that she has already found herself one that neither I nor her mother will approve of.

Indeed I have quite suddenly seen the way through Martha’s hesitations and shyness. With my help she will overcome all.   

That’s not the Miss Martha I know.

I have already been to St Andrews twice and it was quite delightful. Thomson and I had paid for a pew and thus I was able to re-acquaint myself with my familiar surroundings, and we have the great pleasure of the company of Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge who talks throughout the service in a loud voice.    

I note that the mistress’ attention doesn’t linger long on her missing daughter….

Indeed I persuaded Reverend Everard to introduce me to the Prince on Sunday last, but I admit, he may not have been listening. No matter, since the Royal Family is rumoured to return to Brighton we may soon be honoured with more persons of impeccable quality.     


Very soon now, indeed as soon as I have fetched Martha, my tea parties and soirees will be re-established, and she poor lost lamb will find herself swept up into a very desirable social whirl. She missed her mother, and indeed I have been remiss, but all will be well and she will be launched. I am resolved.

Ah, now we can all REST EASY. The Mistress will look for Miss Martha in a town she is not living in, organise the kind of SOCIAL events she despises and marry her off to someone she does not know…what could go wrong?

My MIND is made up. The time has COME launch the Finnegan investigations! I might start with Number 60 Brunswick Square – the D’Arthur household. Miss Martha shared my opinion of the battle-axe of a mother, but the son was a very different matter. I know for a fact Étienne was corresponding with Miss Martha after she left Brunswick Square.

And it OCCURS to me that there is someone upstairs who might have some insights into the GOING ONS at Number 60. Miss Susan – now Mrs Hankey’s ladies maid – resided there for some weeks. Indeed, she FLED from those very premises TO FIND a refuge here.

Today I will invite Miss Susan to join me in my room for a gentle inquisition. A decent cup of Darjeeling and a scone smothered in strawberry jam will surely encourage confidences.

MRS FINNEGAN is on the case!

Mrs Finnegan is the creation of Bridget Whelan  and Paul Couchman, The Regency Cook 

SOLVE the problem with a SPECIAL MESSENGER SERVICE that will deliver EVERY episode of The Finnegan Chronicles to you EVERY Tuesday.

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Three good things to say about Mrs F’s Chronicles?
It’s free. It’s free. It’s Free.
Lady C, Steyning

Never read it.
Col A.F Cowfold

I’d like to give that woman a piece of my mind
NB Upper Hangleton

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