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Brighton’s Regency Housekeeper is Convinced of the Benefits of Smiling and Wants Everyone to Try It

Mrs Finnegan, housekeeper at The Regency Town House, is in an exceedingly GOOD mood, November being now her FAVOURITE month of the year. She would like everyone to SHARE her high spirits and smile until their cheeks ache because that is what she doing right now and can thoroughly recommend it.

Dear Mrs Finnegan

EVEN YOU COULD NOT TOLERATE the plight I am in. The truth is that I despise my niece Mary. 

My brother left her with me while he travels with his wife on business. I could hardly say no. I welcomed Mary into my home but she is the most objectionable child, peppery when she doesn’t get her own way and with the most irritating pale and languid looks.

She asks too many questions and interrupts my carefully considered answers. She will not sit still and jumps up from her chair at the least excuse.

Why is life so very unfair.

Mona Peevish (Miss)

Mrs Finnegan replies

This won’t do. You and your niece have GOT OFF on the wrong foot but it’s not too LATE to start again. Isn’t that marvellous news?

I can picture dear little Mary from your description.

As I poet once said, you can turn her frown upside down. You will try, won’t you?

Smile EVEN if you don’t feel like it.

I find that is the BEST remedy for most and things and SOON you will find yourself smiling WITHOUT effort and sometimes EVEN with pleasure

Please Dear Mrs Finnegan

DO I HAVE TO STAY with my wicked aunt?

She is mean to me and only allows a fire to be lit in the room she is in. She doesn’t like me being with her and sends me to my very cold bedroom.

I did try being good. At dinner I didn’t cough in my drinking glass and kept my voice small and quiet so my aunt’s head wouldn’t ache, but she didn’t like me any better.

There’s no point being good so I’ve made my mind up to be naughty. 

Mary Contrary

Mrs Finnegan replies

This won’t do at all.

If you’re naughty you will make yourself unhappy because you will get into trouble. You will get on far better by being good and smiling. That’s the secret really. Everyone likes someone who smiles.

If you look more closely at your aunt I think you will find she’s not wicked at all. She’s much more like this.

And when you get to know her A LOT better you will find she’s really like this (but has forgotten how to show it):

You can HELP her discover the smile that is TRAPPED INSIDE.

And the very best way of DOING that is by smiling yourself, even if you don’t mean it.

That’s VERY important because we are NOT ALWAYS in a smiling mood but we are ALWAYS in need of a smile.

Yours faithfully, sincerely and with the widest, warmest smile
Mrs Finnegan


I’m feeling RATHER giddy today, does it show? A little light-headed.

The NEWS I have to tell you! But no, it is too soon and not – quite – official. And I did say I wouldn’t. Don’t press me.

Actually there’s two EXTRAORDINARY items of news that I am required to remain SILENT about which is a strain for a woman of my age.

Although I think most of Brunswick Square must ALREADY know about one of them as I had an UNFORTUNATE fainting fit outside Number 59. The housekeeper there is none other than…

Let slip one word to her and the story is DRAGGED from your lips, embroidered in chain stitch, hung out on a flag poll and published in The Brighton Gazette.

So I don’t think it would be altogether wrong for me to tell you about my last meeting with Master Peregrine.

We were sheltering from the RAIN in the middle of Brunswick Square – not very successfully as most of the newly planted trees don’t reach my elbow yet – when Master P made his sudden and DRAMATIC DECLARATION. He has respected me SINCE our very first meeting. It was on the very spot where we were now standing he said, which was a nice touch, although wrong.

His respect had GROWN and solidified until now he wanted me to TAKE UP a new post as his….

A sneezing fit stopped him from speaking for a good minute and a half.

I wondered if I should show interest by GUESSING what the new post could be, but I waited for him to open his eyes again and continue.

I KNEW what he was going to say.

What I didn’t know was my ANSWER.

Did I REALLY want to be housekeeper to a retired bachelor living in four and a half rented rooms….

But that wasn’t the question.

It was a little like this (only Master P was not wearing green)

And perhaps a TINY touch of this (minus the boat)

And perhaps a DOLLOP of this, but there was no kneeling involved.

And my response?

Well, it was a LOT like this. Only there was a pavement instead of a chair and it was outside Number 59 (Master P having gone indoors much in need of a mug of hot chocolate)

And the other EXCITING news?

Now, don’t be greedy that can wait for next week.

The Chronicles of Mrs Finnegan are a regular feature written by Bridget Whelan working with a host of TRULY absolutely OUTSTANDING volunteers at The Regency Town House many of whom have VERY NICE smiles. This week a special thank you to Paul Couchman.

Make sure you don’t MISS the next THRILLING episode!
Click HERE and Mrs Finnegan will send you a note every TUESDAY to let you know when the ink is dry and her chronicle is ready to be read. 
It’s no TROUBLE at all and this service is provided ENTIRELY FREE of charges, taxes and tips.

8 comments on “Brighton’s Regency Housekeeper is Convinced of the Benefits of Smiling and Wants Everyone to Try It

  1. Shan Lancaster
    November 22, 2022

    Dear Mrs Finnegan,
    I can understand why any man would wish you to be his bride but a man living in four and a half rented rooms and who only recently considered hiring you as his servant?

    His motives MAY be entirely pure but please do consider. Dancing attendance on a partner for life. Only only four and a half rooms in which to exercise your genius at running a household on the very grandest scale. And what about Sissy?

    I am sure you have considered all this but an offer can be an alarmingly heady experience. I beg you not to make ANY hasty decisions. And I speak as One Who Knows.

    A devoted follower
    (but I beg you not to publish my name as my dear husband would not approve of my entering any correspondence without his approval.)

    • bridget whelan
      November 23, 2022

      Rest assured that I would NEVER abandon dear little Sissy to the poverty I found her in. Other things are happening which will have a bearing on the decision I make. More next week. (I can tell you dear Madam Lancaster my mind is in a swirling turmoil, and I have not fully decided one way or the other)

      Ah no!

      I seem to have used your name. I cannot see a way of correcting or deleting it. With quill and paper I could simply scratch it out, but this confounded thing is all knobs and moving bits. Why does change always make things more complicated? Mark my words, it will be the same when the railways snake across the land.

      I hope your husband will not be too cross. Perhaps he does not read my column. I believe there are SOME people in Brighton who don’t…

  2. beth
    November 22, 2022

    wow, things are really happening…can’t wait to hear the rest of the news!

  3. Sarah Waldock
    November 22, 2022

    Mary and her aunt have really rubbed each other up the wrong way! the advice to both to keep smiling and pretend they like each other is excellent, because if they can pretend contentment long enough, it will grow naturally. Moreover, it takes fewer muscles to smile than to frown and does not leave such disagreeable lines on the face.
    and even if the other party does not comply, there’s a lot of secret malicious pleasure to be had in being eternally perky and happy at the discontented, it drives them wild.

    As to Master Peregrine! well, I don’t think Mrs. Finnegan should take hasty action. Before she knows where she is, he’ll be proposing marriage to get himself a free housekeeper, and if he buys her a new hat for her wedding, that’ll be her last new hat ever. I suspect Master Peregrine’s motives, I fear.

    • bridget whelan
      November 23, 2022

      Mrs Finnegan is DELIGHTED to have your affirmation on the vexing aunt/niece situation but takes a dim view of aspersions cast on the motives of dear, dear friends.

      Mrs Finnegan is never hasty nor impulsive. She is still capable, however, of practicing a degree of spontaneity, so attractive in mature women, don’t you agree?

      • Sarah Waldock
        November 23, 2022

        I hate to cast aspersions, but I am naturally cautious, perhaps to a fault; and of course Mrs. Finnegan is never hasty nor impulsive. I think so long as her spontaneity is duly practised and well rehearsed, it can be most endearing.

  4. bridget whelan
    November 23, 2022

    Practised spontaneity! It is Mrs Finnegan’s aim in life

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This entry was posted on November 22, 2022 by in Mrs Finnegen ADVICE from the 1830.


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