for writers and readers….

Brighton’s Regency Housekeeper has A New Mission for the New Year…

Expect no melodramas in The REGENCY TOWN HOUSE this year.
Warmed by the SUNSHINE of smiles, Mrs Finnegan intends to run it with gentle words and the kind of careful diligence ONLY an EXPERT housekeeper can provide.
She will, however, expect readers to CONSUME dollops of Edifying instruction, a nourishing soup for the intellect made according to her own SPECIAL recipe…BUT FIRST, two troubled women NEED advice

All the residents of Brunswick Square are impressed with my virtuoso harp performances and you may already know me by reputation.
My elegant fingers give accomplished renditions of technically demanding musical pieces and listeners gasp when they hear me play.
But my sister can barely get a single note from a penny whistle and makes no contribution to the musical world apart from blowing her own trumpet and banging her own drum about the PIOUS charity work she does. I am sure the poor must dread seeing her. She will INSIST in praying over them.

What can I do about my tedious and talentless sister?
Yours in desperation,

Mrs Finnegan replies

Dear Desperate,
Do nothing.
Your efforts will be wasted.
Take consolation in the CONTRAST between your endeavours and your sister’s. People will notice.


What can I do about my tone-deaf sister?
She lives a fantasy life where she’s a talented harp player. The truth is all the notes she plays are flat and I have ABSOLUTELY no doubt she’s the talk of Brunswick Square for ALL the wrong reasons.
I try to persuade her to spend her time more wisely, helping me to feed the hungry, care for the sick (at an appropriate distance) and bring solace to the wretched masses who live in the miserable streets behind the Square. You may have already HEARD about my good works.

Instead of joining me, my sister tortures the neighbours with her laboured, off-key string plucking or prances in front of a mirror admiring her own imagined beauty.

Should I tell her she’s delusional? And that she ought to aim for a higher calling in life?
Yours in desperation,

Mrs Finnegan replies

Dear Desperate,
Do nothing.
Your efforts will be wasted.
Take consolation in the CONTRAST between your endeavours and your sister’s. People will notice.

Yours in UTMOST sincerity

I have made enquiries about THE SISTERS. Thankfully they are ONLY visitors and will be GONE from Brunswick Square by the end of the month. When I reflect on readers’ letters I sometimes find myself thinking that it’s a SHAME Noah didn’t miss the boat…

But then I look around me I am persuaded to change my mind. All is well in my little WORLD.

Dried lavender banishes WINTER from the LINEN cupboard while Jack Frost PAINTS patterns on the windows every morning and…and…
I’m sure there was a third POETIC thing I was going put down when I started that sentence but it escapes me.

No matter, I am in a good mood.

Little Sissy has settled in very well and is a GREAT help. A routine has developed where by the mother visits every Tuesday afternoon to darn and mend. Sissy is allowed a half day off to go home and in the meantime there are often little chores that bring mother and daughter together so we have a happy, smiling household.

I’m sorry if you HUNGER for DRAMA and conflict but I think we shall have to PUT UP with a HAPPY year in Brunswick Square.

Master Owen Talbot (or Merry to his friends) called unexpectedly with a NEW Year gift of a dictionary in tooled GREEN calf skin. It looks very fine on my desk and, although I’ve never had need of one before.

He tells me the cook (that cook! You can’t have forgotten) will soom come to trial. (All right, click HERE if her many misdeeds have slipped your mind. My heart beats faster at the very mention of her name.)

He thinks it will be TRANSPORTATION for certain and she ought to COUNT herself lucky as 10 years ago it would have been the gallows. I would wish neither on any creature but I would like to think of her far away from me. And Van Diemen’s Land is a FAIR distance, I’m told.

Merry is talking about finding a more permanent butler position but I TOLD HIM plain that Mrs Hankey was still muttering DARKLY about making economies and I KNEW not what was in her mind. I wish she would start writing her diary again. And not hide it QUITE so well.

He had not gone half an hour when there was a sharp rap on my door and there was Master Peregrine, the riding master (retired) from Number 61.
Out in the OPEN.
Outside MY door
I do not believe he has left his house since the AUTUMN.
We have taken to communicating by little notes and waves from the window as I pass by in the Square. It was hard to know what to do with him. He would NOT sit down or take a CUP of tea but neither would he go.
He was as stuck for conversation as I was.

I had just entered into a THIRD Monologue about the presents Queen Adelaide received this Christmas (a subject about which I know nothing and that I regretted starting) when he SPIED the dictionary.

He wanted to know WHAT it was, WHEN I got it and WHY I needed one, but the fact he did not ask WHO gave it makes me THINK he already knew. A good proportion of Master Peregrine’s day is spent LOOKING out of his drawing room window.

He left then but an hour later a lad arrived at my DOOR with a parcel of books. Inside was a short note from Master P saying that THESE might be more to MY taste.

Handsome books they are too – I remember seeing them on his bookshelf last year – but now I have hardly any room on my desk for pen or paper. And in truth I didn’t really need another dictionary (missing the letters M and T), a volume of poetry in Italian or marine charts for the Baltic Sea.*

Still, as Master P has often called THESE chronicles an Educational tool for the LOWERS order (and their employers) I thought I might use the TWO dictionaries I have suddenly acquired for our mutual benefit, dear reader.
THEREFORE Each week I shall pick out a word and EXPLAIN, Explicate and Elucidate upon it. You shall benefit from the knowledge and I SHALL look as though I am putting my gifts to GOOD use.

Here is the word of the week – use it at every possible opportunity.


From the Latin for Not Leaving

Used for activities you would rather wish would stop, but somehow still go on as in the following sentence.

Mrs Hankey foregoes cake when out visiting as she is reuctant to have the SEAMS let out in her dresses AGAIN, but she makes up for this LOSS by her indesinent application to the TEA trolly when she returns HOME.

Those words were still wet on the page when Mrs H rang the bell and demanded the REMAINS of last night Pond Pudding (alas all gone as Sissy and I Rather enjoyed it). She had to suffice with three SLICES of pound cake, ONE of honey cake and several Ratafia BISCUITS.

As I was leaving she informed me that her son might be arriving soon.
This is the son for WHOM hopes are high and also the SON who fathered a child in the West Indies the year before last and whose reputation might ONE DAY lie in tatters.

Mrs H turned away as if there was no more to discuss and then looked up with a contrived smile as if she had SUDDENLY thought of another entirely UNRELATED subject.

‘Tell me Finnegan, I saw a little tot playing here on Boxing day. Whose child was that?’
A relative of Miss Susan’s I said, although I knew she ALREADY knew the answer. And knew that I knew.

‘A curly haired dumpling,’ she murmured, talking to herself. ‘It reminds me of…’ but I never got to hear what memory stirred as a crash came from downstairs which TOLD me that Sissy must have found the dolly tub. She’s a very willing girl, but is apt to forget she is only nine…


*The only book I’m reading at the moment is this one. It’s scarily Good. And you can read it too if you click HERE and every farthing goes to support The Regency Town House…

MRS FINNEGAN is a regular feature created and written by Bridget Whelan working with a host of volunteers at The Regency Town House, readers and subscribers. This week a big thank you to PAUL COUCHMAN.
Have you GOT a problem Mrs Finnegan could answer?

5 comments on “Brighton’s Regency Housekeeper has A New Mission for the New Year…

  1. Sarah Waldock
    January 11, 2022

    Oh, Mrs Finnegan, you have to tell us if the fair harpist is as good as she thinks, or as bad as her sister believes, or merely mediocre; and if the soul-searchingly sanctimonious sister is as much a whited sepulchre as the harpist believes or if she is soul-searchingly sincere.

  2. bridget whelan
    January 11, 2022

    You do not think their OWN words reveal enough?

    Your charitable forbearance does you credit. All I can ADD is that despite EXTENSIVE enquiries I have not found anyone who voluntarily heard the HARPIST play. There have, however, been a few instances of windows being left OPEN. Phrases not dissimilar to cats fighting and nails scratching glass were uttered.

    And as for the other sister….the parlour maid at Number 26 has it on good authorthy from the GROOM at Number 57 that the VICAR at St Andrew’s goes in the OPPOSITE direction when he sees her. SCUTTLE was the word used…

    I know no more…

    • Sarah Waldock
      January 11, 2022

      I feared that each was as bad in her own way as the other. It would be fitting if the harpist married a prideful teacher of music to teach her some harmony and him some humility, and if the whited sepulchre should marry a base sinner, a rake so he can teach her to have fun while she tried to reform him.
      there’s almost a novel in that.

      • bridget whelan
        January 11, 2022

        Perhaps you are the LADY to write it…(I have often though myself capable of being a muse.)

      • Sarah Waldock
        January 11, 2022

        I am sniggering in a most unladylike way and considering the thought.

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This entry was posted on January 11, 2022 by in Mrs Finnegen ADVICE from the 1830 and tagged , , .


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