for writers and readers….

Children! Brighton’s Regency Housekeeper says let Princess Victoria be your guide

My little sister and I are between governesses at the moment. The last one left because she was sad and the one before sighed a lot. Mama says we must give the next one a chance. Mama also says we must be more lady-like. Can you help?
Ada and Dorothea

Mrs Finnegan replies

I have not had much to do with CHILDREN, but I was touched by your appeal and I have put together a list. It’s not rules so much as things you and Dorothea should THINK about.

  • Honesty is important, but don’t tell the truth if your Mama, Papa, or Governess ask ‘Do I look like a fool?’
  • Don’t laugh at the footman’s uniform. The footman is OBLIDGED to wear it and your mother chose it.
  • A Governess is a person just like you, only bigger and poorer.
  • Say please EVERY TIME you ask for something no matter who you are asking
  • Say thank you every time you get something NO MATTER who gives it to you
  • You may think you will never NEED French Conversation and you may be right, but you could be walking along the banks of the river Seine one day, picking daises, when you have a sudden impulse to enquire about a relative’s writing equipment. You will be glad of it then.
  • A Governess has feelings just like you. NEVER think making her cry DOES NOT matter.
  • The heir to the throne is young Princess Victoria. She will be QUEEN one day. You are growing up in marvellous times.
  • When IN DOUBT ask yourself what would Princess Victoria do.

And finally, two pieces of advice that have stood me in good stead ever since I was as LITTLE as you.
If you would like a kitten, ask for a pony instead. That way you may get your kitten.
Don’t believe shopkeepers or dressmakers if they say One Size Fits All (especially when it comes to stays)

Yours affectionally and with my sincere esteem

Mrs Finnegan


I have not heard a word more from my “blackmailer”. Is that a good thing? Or is He or She at this very moment watching my every movement.

In my DISTRESS last week I missed out a line from the wretched missive that has darkened my EVERY waking hour and tormented my sleep

A friend in Brunswick Square is blessed with hawk-like vision and an insatiable curiosity. She watches from her bay window that looks across the Square straight at the abode of a housekeeper who does not deserve the title and etc etc…

The house straight across the Square can only be Number 59 or 60 or 61. I have written about all three households. Has a resident resented the comments made (in GOOD faith) or do they BEGRUDGE my success? I am reluctantly INCLINED to think that these are the suspects:

I think we can SAFELY discount the men – the writer quite clearly says SHE watches. So, I am left with two women, both of whom I have had words with (none of them good) during these long days of seclusion. Both would need to have their letters written by someone else which fits with the NARRATIVE.

But wait…am I PERHAPS being too simplistic?

I only know the housekeeper at Number 59. Perhaps the current tenants – her employers – have an axe to grind. I saw the announcement of their arrival in The Brighton Gazette – Lord and Lady Some-body-Or-Other from Smug Lane.

The name means nothing to me, but perhaps there doesn’t have to be a PERSONAL connection. They could be grand-siding mischief makers! Pious Pity-Faces! Devious do-gooders! I’m working myself into a rage just thinking about them.

Then there’s the French household at Number 60. They lost their lodger when Susan came to live here. It is possible that I have failed to notice someone else move in and take her place…

My mind is a whirl. If yours is too you can catch up with all these characters HERE Do try to keep up and DO write if you have your own suspicions. I need all the help I can get….

Of course, I have to contend with what is happening inside my own establishment. More and more, I am coming to rely on Mrs Hankey’s diary.

From an entry last week:

I MUST do something about a cook. I have been too taken up with Martha’s whereabouts to be able to concentrate, but now I will set up some dinner parties to introduce her to the neighbourhood. Mrs Finnegan is simply not good enough, she is a good housekeeper I will say that, but her cooking leaves a lot to be desired! Whilst It is quite apparent that we can not count on the delights of the like that Antonin Carême produced for the Prince Regent some fourteen years past, boiled calf’s head is really too gross to be endured!

Quite apart from being so fatty that it quite made my stomach turn, it tasted disgusting and whilst I certainly enjoy hare, now I have had altogether too much of it.

I need, I desire venison, seafood, pastries, jellies and sweets. My palette wishes to be titillated. This must remain a dream until I can hire a cook and I resolve to put an advertisement in the Brighton Gazette, but also to ask at St Andrew’s next Sunday. This is now a matter of some considerable urgency

I ADMIT the calf’s head was not my finest hour in the kitchen.
A new cook, there’s a thought. I have become so accustomed to my own company that it will be hard to adjust. One thing I do know is that the Mistress won’t find anyone DECENT by asking members of the congregation at St Andrew’s. A good cook is PRIZED. The best way of finding one is to go to dinner at someone’s else’s house and if you have a liking for the food TEMPT the cook away with offers of a better job and higher wages.

In SHORT you do not Hire a cook, you STEAL them from a friend or acquaintance.

The TROUBLE is Mrs Hankey isn’t getting invited to dinner parties. She has the UNFORTUNATE habit of looking like WET washing on Wednesday and has a mackerel’s talent for telling jokes. I do believe if she were at Feast at Canna she would have turned the wine into water…

This is not Mrs Hankey – but the expression captures her HAPPY mood.

Another entry from her diary – written yesterday

I have today begun to enquire about a cook. I am sure the word will spread. I mentioned that if I found the right person they would be well remunerated.

If there’s a new cook in the HOUSE and that malicious letter writer contacts Mrs Hankey perhaps there will be NO NEED for Mrs Finnegan any more.

MRS FINNEGAN is a regular feature created and written by Bridget Whelan with Paul Couchman, The Regency Cook and a host of volunteers at The Regency Town House, readers and subscribers. This week a big thank you to Sarah, Deborah and Jill

Click HERE to check the back stories of all these characters. Plus find out what really happened last summer.

Would you like every episode of Mrs Finnegan’s adventures delivered directly to your mail box? Just click HERE
No cost and we’ll DO our best to keep the horses quiet

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This entry was posted on June 8, 2021 by in Mrs Finnegen ADVICE from the 1830 and tagged , , .


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