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The shocking SHAME of Tuesday afternoons – Brighton’s Regency Housekeeper offers Advice FROM her Vast Experience

Mrs Finnegan, well known as the sage of the working class and guide to the GENTRY, regrets that she is ONLY able to sharpen her Quill and write these CHRONICLES when not OCCUPIED with her duties as Housekeeper of The Regency Town House.

Mrs Finnegan, I admit it. I am ADDICTED. It shames me to say that I am a devotee of the ‘floating bowl’.

There seems to be an air divine that wafts from the surface of that circle of china. It awakens in my soul all the finer emotions of sensibility and friendship.

In short, I am addicted to Punch. And I am not alone.

It started innocently with my fellow female literary friends in my chambers. Who knew that we would soon succumb to the horrors of the bowl?

We meet every Tuesday. Last week some differences arose which caused us to engage in bloodshed and battery, until we were exhausted and our clothes and coiffures in tatters. At this point we rearranged our hair and called for another bowl.

Can you save me and my otherwise entirely respectable friends from ourselves and our dirty punch drinking habits before our servants find out and tell the world?
Ada Risk-Taker and Friends

Mrs Finnegan replies

I had palpitations until I reached the THIRD paragraph of YOUR letter.
I thought at first you and your friends were engaged in a vice of which I was ENTIRELY ignorant. My mind boggled at the strange substance the floating bowl contained until you revealed it was PUNCH.
Put enough fruit in it and you COULD call it pudding!
MADAM, you and your friends think YOURSELVES wild and dangerous on Tuesday afternoons and speak of battery and bloodshed when I VERY MUCH doubt there was not so much as a nose bleed. You feel you are Byron in skirts and lady corsairs. You tell yourselves that the hearts of GALLANT girls beat behind the exterior of refined ladies of substance…and it does no harm to think in such terms as long as:
It is confined to once a week
Only ladies gather around the punch bowl
And you can afford to sleep it off.
NOW, to answer your question directly.

Your servants ALREADY know all about your drinking HABITS.
Have they told the world?
Probably, but it is THEIR world and not the one you and your friends inhabit.
And I’m sure they like punch JUST as much as you do.

MY BEST FRIEND Clover Caprice flaunts delicious caps and bonnets and I am always the first to commend her good taste because she needs the encouragement. (And her hair is very flyaway and is best covered.)
At her wrist dangles reasonably pleasant reticules which I say nice things about. My own collection outshines most of London (and certainly the undistinguisged bags she carries).
But alas! Mrs Finnegan I have a reticule emergency.
The wretched puppies somehow got into my wardrobe and EVERY single one has been ruined. Utterly.
We are going to a ball very soon and Clover has offered to lend me her second-best reticule.
I cannot bear it! There must be an answer, Mrs Finnegan.
Wilma Whimsy

Mrs Finnegan replies

There is, Miss Whimsy.
Make your own.

Make it to MATCH your dress or YOUR eyes. Decorate it with SILK thread and glittering baubles. Embellish with braid. BEAUTIFY with beads. Garnish with garnets.
And I know of a class that will let you do all that and MORE (although I’m not ENTIRELY sure about the garnets).
Click HERE to find all the details.
(Perhaps you could purchase a ticket for Clover as well…just a thought.)

Yours sincerely
Mrs Finnegan


Some have COMPLAINED that I left last week’s Chronicle dangling.

“My own sweet darling girl,’ Mr Hankey Senior said in wonder. “Is it you?”
“No,” said Miss Susan, as she calmly struck him across the face.

The housekeeper at Number 59 said I was being ARTFUL and playing with the FEELINGS of innocent readers.

“What are we supposed to do all week? ” she DEMANDED. “A decent woman would have ended that episode neatly, explaining what happened. And why. And who was to blame. And if there were tears to be shed who we should be crying for…!”
And that from a woman who INSISTS she never reads a word I write.

Pardon me, dear reader, if you too have been anxious to find out more, but SOME TIMES it is unavoidable that pressure of work FORCES me to lay down my quill at inopportune moments. Thus it was last week when the master of the house and the lady’s maid met for the first time.
What happened next?
Miss Susan turned on her heel and Mr Hankey held his face, not in pain, although from WHERE I was standing I could see a redness SPREADING across his cheek, but in wonder. I wouldn’t SAY he looked YOUNGER at that moment, but the CREASES in his skin were ironed out and his mouth seemed capable of a smile.
He called after her again and he DIDN’T care who heard, not me, or Mrs Hankey who stood behind him, opening and closing HER mouth like a startled goldfish. Finally she found her voice.
“Thompson be quiet, you’re making a scene!”
I won’t tell you what he replied except to say the Almighty was mentioned several TIMES and it wasn’t in prayer.
He wiped his forehead with a handkerchief and looked up. “It’s Sonia!” He said as if that was an explanation. “My girl Sonia. All these years I’ve been looking for her and here she is, safe and well and as beautiful as when…”
He stopped, a serious amount of thinking was going on. “But how can that be? Sonia would be…” He turned to his wife. “She would be as old as you.”
LITTLE by little it trickled out in half broken sentences. I had a front row seat (although I was standing) at the drama unfolding BEFORE me.
Sonia was the Master’s one true love.
He didn’t LOOK at his wife when he said that and she didn’t look at him, but was staring at something FAR away in the distance that only she could see. I was amazed at her calmness. Then I noticed that her knuckles were white and that her nails were DIGGING into the soft flesh of her palms.
I HEARD steps on the back stairs. Miss Susan HAD gone down to the kitchen and now she was coming back.

It occurred to me that there were a lot of knives in the kitchen.
And it was only yesterday that the knife grinder had been to sharpen them.


I wish I could write more, but that’s all I have time for this week. That wainscoting won’t dust itself.

MRS FINNEGAN is a regular feature created and written by Bridget Whelan and a host of volunteers at The Regency Town House, readers and subscribers. This week a big thank you to PAUL COUCHMAN and CATHERINE PAGE

Would you like every episode of Mrs Finnegan’s adventures delivered to your mail box?
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5 comments on “The shocking SHAME of Tuesday afternoons – Brighton’s Regency Housekeeper offers Advice FROM her Vast Experience

  1. Sarah Waldock
    May 17, 2022

    Drama! my goodness! I hope poor Susan will not stab him, it would be most unfortunate for her, however justified.

  2. beth
    May 17, 2022

    the bowl of fun!

    • bridget whelan
      May 17, 2022

      A Tuesday afternoon punch bowl sounds rather tempting…I can see how it could become a habit

      • beth
        May 17, 2022

        oh, yes!

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This entry was posted on May 17, 2022 by in Mrs Finnegen ADVICE from the 1830 and tagged , .


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