Lady Lewson, “remarkable for her age and peculiarities”

“Lady Lewson”, born Jane Vaughan (1700 – 1816) was one of 18th century London’s more colourful characters, and the probable inspiration for Dickens’ famed eccentric spinster, Miss Havisham from Great Expectations. Jane had the good fortune of marrying a rich, elderly merchant . She herself was just nineteen. She moved to his stately home in […]

England’s “Black” Queens

  When you consider historical Queens of England, you probably picture sumptuous dresses, ropes of jewels, tumbling fair or chestnut curls and peaches-and-cream complexions. Would it surprise you to know that two queens of England are now considered by some historians and genealogists to have had “black” or Moorish ancestry? Interestingly, the two ladies – […]

The Hammersmith Ghost

  As the year 1803 came to a close, a number of people came forward to claim that they had seen – and in some instances, been attacked – by a ghost in the area around Hammersmith churchyard, in West London. Some claimed it was the unhappy spirit of a local man who had committed […]

Hidden historical heroines (#15: Elizabeth Siddal)

  Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal (25 July 1829 – 11 February 1862) was a celebrated artists’ model – as well as being a poet and artist in her own right – who was used extensively by the Pre-Raphaelites.   Named for her mother, “Lizzie” Siddal was born in the summer of 1829, in the family home […]

Hidden historical heroines (#04: Peg Woffington)

  Margaret “Peg” Woffington (18 October 1720 – 28 March 1760) was a celebrated Irish-born actress during Georgian times.   Peg was born in Dublin in 1720. Her father – a bricklayer – died when she was young, leaving her family penniless and destitute . Her mother took in laundry, while little Peg sold watercress […]