for writers and readers….
This being a summary of my adventures at THE REGENCY TOWN HOUSE, the highs, the lows and the bits in between
I TOOK up THE position of housekeeper and ADVICE GIVER at The Regency Town House and WITHIN TWO WEEKS Mrs Hankey, the Mistress, (scroll to the bottom to find out more about her & others) and the rest of the household absconded to the countryside. They fled in FEAR of the current contagion. I was left to take care of the house ENTIRELY alone.
Even strong-minded women find ISOLATION a trial. However, being entirely in charge of the wine cellar meant it got a thorough dusting at least once a day. The BOTTLES also required a good deal of re-arranging….
The weather was warm and THERE were few pleasures greater than WANDERING AROUND an empty house in my chemise. And there were few GREATER disasters than a knock on the front door.
Mrs Hankey instructed me to take charge of her WAYWARD daughter Miss Martha (see below). She turned out to be a PERFECTLY PLEASING companion and we had various adventures. Sea bathing was one of them. You can read about it HERE
(If the good Lord had wanted us to swim in the Channel he would have made the water warmer and given us FINS.)
We got to know a dear neighbour at Number 61 Master Peregrine (come on, you know the drill by now!) but the relationship with Madam D’Arthur (dreadful woman) and her son Monsieur Étienne D’Arthur (I have my suspicions about him) at No. 60. (Yes, yes, scroll down) was not ENTIRELY problem free
To get a FEEL for the situation and the STRONG EMOTIONS aroused read about our art classes HERE
At the end of the autumn Mrs Hankey – the MISTRESS of the house – returned without warning AND without the usual army of servants. They were on “their way” and continued to be ABOUT to arrive until MRS H. left again, taking Miss Martha with her.
LEFT alone once more I had at least CHRISTMAS to look forward to and that kept my spirits up. Little did I know that DISASTER would strike. Read all about it HERE Warning – Handkerchiefs needed! Only those with a heart of stone will come away with DRY EYES
NEW YEAR took on a bright aspect when Master Peregrine invited ME to dinner (me a housekeeper, him a gentleman!). For long weeks I could THINK of little else. And then the day arrived…Read about it HERE
WARNING! Double the quantity of handkerchiefs required. Only AN UTTER brute would refrain from WEEPING
Mrs Hankey wrote to TELL ME that her son Thompson Junior had returned from the West Indies having abandoned a young woman (who was with child). Mrs H is convinced that the girl will follow him and create a scandal. She ORDERED me to keep a LOOK OUT. The lodger at No 60 – Miss Susan – seemed to FIT THE DESCRIPTION (yes, scroll down. What are you waiting for?) I invited her to take up paid employment in our HOUSE.
Mrs Hankey RETURNED. She seemed to think the danger of SCANDAL AND WILD RUMOUR had passed but keeps Miss Susan on as her lady’s maid.
BUT shock! horror!! Miss Martha is MISSING. Mrs Hankey thought she had returned to The Regency Town House but alas! alas! I have not seen her. Mrs Hankey believes she may be in low spirits and living in TUNBRIDGE WELLS. I am convinced she is hiding from her family in London and may be SECRETLY in love with Monsieur Étienne D’Arthur!
Miss Martha is found and all is well in this small corner of Hove. She was indeed staying in Tunbridge Wells and Mrs Hankey has brought her back.
But ALAS! ALACK! My worst fears are realised. Miss Martha has fallen in love with the DANCING MASTER who has SPURNED her for another. It must have happened last year. In despair she fled to Tunbridge Wells (there had to be a reason to go there)
Miss Martha is in her room.
I have been sent a scurrilous POSION PEN LETTER threatening to expose me! It must have been written by someone from 59 or 60 or 61 Brunswick Square (see below) but which one?
Another poison pen letter has arrived. Just three short words this time. MEND YOUR WAYS.
Everything points to the housekeeper at Number 59 (scroll down to have a look at her) but I’m not so sure…judge for yourself HERE
An interesting entry in Mrs Hankey’s diary reveal her lowly beginnings.
It is my business to marry our children as best I can. If in no other way, I have been clever in this and I WILL NOT ALLOW Martha to pull us backward into the swamp from which I have escaped.
I must admit I would like to know more about that swamp….
MASTER PEREGRINE uncovers the identity of my blackmailer – none other than HIS housekeeper eaten up with jealousy because of our friendship.
The Mistress is determined to FIND a husband for Miss Martha whether she wants one OR NOT. To that end, she has hired a temporary COOK and there is MUCH TALK about dinner parties and dresses (purple ones with big sleeves) but I believe Miss Martha still has FEELINGS for the dancing master.
Did I tell you that Susan is now lady’s maid to BOTH Miss Martha and her mother? I like the girl well enough but I am not sure I entirely TRUST her….a feeling confirmed when I see her coming out of a house in North Laine on her afternoon off. She claims to be lost but I go back to find out what really brings her to that neighbourhood.
It turns out to be…
A SWEET little girl with sticky hands born out of wedlock. I do NOT sit in judgement, that’s not my way but when I talk to Susan I find that Mrs Hankey knows all about the child and more THAN that.
Susan is being paid £10 a year more than me.
Mrs Pole, the new cook, was all smiles and sweet-bakes until little BY little she edged me out of my rightful domain. She introduced a temporary butler to the household who is still a regular visitor.
The Mistress was completely TAKEN in by the COOK until the evening of the grand dinner party when I (with the help of two constables and dear little Sissy – hired help for the day) uncovered her PLOT to purloin every blessed item from the house worth anything.
She was sentenced to transportation but escaped en route and is now believed to be hiding out on the South Downs.
I took a very ladylike form of industrial action for more help on the House and more pay in my pocket and Mrs Hankey graciously conceded the argument in time for Christmas.
Nine year old Sissy is now a general maid and her mother is regularly in the House sewing and mending and generally making herself useful so all was right with MY world until one CHILL January midnight there was a knock on my door.
NEVER MISS an instalment. Mrs Finnegan will make sure you get your own personal copy EVERY Tuesday. ENTIRELY FREE OF CHARGE. All you have to do is click HERE It will be delivered to your doorstep by coach (whatever the weather) or by possibly some other means
Modesty prevents me from suggesting I might VERY WELL be the Outstanding Housekeeper of my generation, but all would agree that I am sage to the serving classes and BROW-MOPPER to the gentry.
You can read about my early life HERE and HERE (don’t miss the flaming red years!)
Miss Martha Hankey
Daughter of Mrs Hankey. Of lively intellect and delightful countenance.
Past the ROUTINE marrying age, despite a GENEROUS dowry, which is no concern to HERSELF but a considerable worry to her mother.
Mistress of the House (often absent) of VERY uncertain disposition. Once confided to her diary that she wished to KICK the beggars outside St Andrew’s Church.
Wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice.
Mother of Étienne. Resident at No. 60 Brunswick Square. Gives art classes and a lot of grief.
Monsieur Étienne D’Arthur
Son of the miserable one. Resident at No. 60 Dancing Master. He is all bonjour and ‘ello belle dame! but I have heard him mouth off like a Cheapside barrow boy when he didn’t know I could hear.
Étienne has been communicating with Miss Martha in secret. (I think.)
Peregrine Hilderbrace Esq
Riding master (retired) resides at No. 61 Brunswick Square. Every inch a gentleman with impeccable taste except for his liking of bad puns and toby jugs.
A most reliable neighbour and – dare I say? – friend. But there was the dinner. Ah me, the dinner …
Mrs Hankey’s lady’s maid AND a woman of mystery…(was she with child AND THEN abandoned by Thompson Hankey Junior – Mrs Hankey’s son?)
She was born and brought up in the West Indies that much we know…
Housekeeper at No.59
Did this sketch at one of Madam D’Arthur art classes. I believe I’ve captured her essential essence.
The Late Mr Finnegan
What he didn’t know about onion soup isn’t worth knowing…
Ours was a perfect partnership, but alas! we were the most unlucky of star-crossed lovers because – after spending a happy evening with friends – he fell into a well on his way home.
This story is responsibly gathered from sustainable sources.