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Can £200 Per Year Bring Happiness? Brighton’s Regency Housekeeper has STRONG views on the subject

Mrs Finnegan, housekeeper at The Regency Town House, is able to offer advice in her ownFREE TIME when darning, sweeping, stewing, boiling, polishing and ALL her other DUTIES are completed.

I AM A PLAIN WOMAN, educated for no useful work, all alone in the world.
What am I to do?
I am not looking for false compliments or pity. I will not starve. I have £200 a year so I will have a roof over my head, food on the table and enough to dress respectably. I can afford a maid.
But the future looks so terribly, terribly grey.
Ada Ambitious of Arundel

Mrs Finnegan replies

You wrote in a despondent mood, and I am determined to SHAKE you out of it.

You are not an ugly woman, nor do you bear vicious scars. I would say that you are perhaps a little above the ordinary which is to say much like the rest of us.

What you have is TROUBLESOME hair. I know the type, I have it myself. You have worked hard to tame it. If it were left to its own devices it would be a ball of tight curls that tighten when there is rain in the air. So, well done. (Perhaps a little more goose fat applied at night and washed out in the morning.)

And YOU have £200 per year!

Your education may have focussed on neat embroidery rather than the CLASSICS but even so you have emerged into womanhood as a person of intellect and reason.

And you have £200 per year!

You may lack the guidance of parents or a husband, but you have independence. You can turn the future into any colour you please.

Because you have £200 per year.

You may educate yourself with travel or books or study, involve yourself in good causes, start painting, writing or singing. You can MAKE yourself useful and you have NO ONE to answer to except yourself.

And marriage is not altogether out of the question.

While a suitor may THINK of your £200 a year before he thinks of your BLUE eyes, you can still make a strong union, especially if he has £200 a year himself.

Yours faithfully
Mrs Finnegan


For my ESTEEMED readers including, of course, my Mistress – Mrs Hankey – who takes SUCH an interest in everything I do, welcome to another chronicle devoted to household drudgery.

But first I want to address regular readers concerned that I am more circumspect than usual. Worry not, I am under no restraint, or fear of censor AND have no need of codes or SECRET signals…

On an entirely unconnected matter, I am complimented on my STYLISH use of words in CAPITAL letters and thought today I would experiment with a casual and in no-way planned sprinkling of individual capital LETTERS. See what YOU make of it.

How to LikE PickLe Onions

Make your own.
Buy half a Peck of the smallest onions you can find. Shop around! MISerable servanTs and housekeepeRs buy at the first markEt Stall they come acroSs thinking It will Save time and trouble. It won’t.
Any senioR sErvant worthy of the nAme should pinch, proD and snIff her way through a market or greeNGrocers in sEarch of the VERY freshest produce at the best price. The loWly Onion, white or ReD, is no expection.

(I’m giving up with the capital letter business. It’s given me a headache and is playing havoc with the nib of my quill)

Back to onions. AVOID costermongers unless there is no alternative. They will give short measure if they can get away with it.
In other words, ALWAYS count your onions
Once home peel them and put them into fair water.
Add salt and let then stand all night. Pickling CANNOT be rushed.
Boil them the next day in fresh water. Skim well.
Make the pickle as for cucumbers. You can’t have forgotten already! Well, you can remind yourself HERE. There, you have it – perfect pickles.  

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

Would you like every episode of Mrs Finnegan’s adventures delivered to your mail box?
There’s no fees, taxes or tips involved Just click HERE

If you can visit Brunswick Square on Saturday August 20th we may ALSO meet and take the air together. I shall be enjoying The Brunswick Festival so do come along and introduce yourself.*

You can also visit the housekeeper’s room which is a VERY special treat and view the rest of The Regency Town House as well. Book a free mini tour HERE

*If you can recognise me from this drawing I shall be VERY surprised (and a little disappointed)

12 comments on “Can £200 Per Year Bring Happiness? Brighton’s Regency Housekeeper has STRONG views on the subject

  1. beth
    August 16, 2022

    as always, she has a brilliant answer and I love her hair comment )

    • bridget whelan
      August 16, 2022

      Mrs Finnegan is gratified….and wonders if you use gooose fat too.

      • beth
        August 16, 2022

        not i, but it’s clear i have much to learn….)

  2. Cathy Cade
    August 16, 2022

    Good decision on the capitals!

  3. Deborah shedden
    August 16, 2022

    Dear Mrs Finnegan,

    The parts of your newS letter that I like most are yoUr advice to readers (of course) and the recipes. I also enjoyed your thouGhts on the use of capital letters and found your application in fact assisted my understandinG. You might havE STarted a fashion for their use. As YOU can See, I am trying tHem Out myself Where possible.

    I Might suggest that, as matteRS stand, you sHould concentrate ON simpLY ADVICE AND RECIPES. Your weekly SuggEstioNs might even at some point be collected into a tasteful compenDiuM fOr REpublication in quarto. It would contain most INTERESTING ITEMS – and IN Fact comes at no extra effort to yourSElf, as you will have already PrEpaRed All ThE entries in your weekLY newsletter.

    I feel Mrs Hankey Would feEl hoNourED That her hOusekeeper sHould bE gAining such an excellent Reputation In culinary skills and I am sure That many, many readers would hate to see ALL your talents hidden under a bushel.

    Yours respectfully, your former pupil,

    Deborah Shedden

    • bridget whelan
      August 22, 2022

      Mrs Finnegan is ALWAYS delighted to hear from those who have risen to the heights of parlour maid under her guidance. She tells me she will CAREFULLY consider your suggestions as she feels there is Some Merit in it.

  4. ruth tansey
    August 16, 2022

    Dear Mrs. Finnegan,
    I am in constant constination. I am so dreadfully torn between making your delicious onion receipt or refraining. I am a lady of a cetain age who lives alone, on very limited means and I so adore onions, BUt I am being WooDed by a gentle man and I feel I cAN hold out nO longer in either way as both these forceful desires are Long term. Please reply and give me you knowlegeable advice.
    Rueful Ruth ,

    • bridget whelan
      August 22, 2022

      I feel sure Mrs Finnegan wants to reply and that you will hear from her in the by and by but because she is terribly busy with housekeeping duties at present it May tAke a little time.

  5. TM Upchurch
    August 17, 2022

    Most EXCELLENT use of capitals, and a wonderful post!

    • bridget whelan
      August 18, 2022

      Please don’t encourage Mrs Finnegan – she may write like that all the time. It’s very expensive in quills

  6. Helen Potts
    May 28, 2023

    I am most obliged to Mrs Finnegan that she left off the sprinkling of CAPITALS mid word. My eyes are on the weak side and the contortion they went through as I read, I was starting to believe my optician needed talking to about the quality of his lenses. The effect was most decidedly not CAPITAL. Still if one does not try out new things, how is one to know what may be left well alone in future?

    I remain you most avid reader,

    DELIGHTED of Droitwich Spa

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This entry was posted on August 16, 2022 by in Mrs Finnegen ADVICE from the 1830 and tagged .


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