A Hanoverian menage-a-trois

This is the beautiful Sarah Fairbrother, servant’s daughter turned ballet dancer turned prince’s wife. The delicate, talented Sarah was considered one of the beauties of her generation and already had two illegitimate children by two different men by the time she caught the eye of Prince George, the Duke of Cambridge. A grandson of George […]

The bride wore white

It’s often said that Queen Victoria was the first to wear a white wedding dress, and therefore the origin of our modern tradition. Whilst it’s true that brides did wear coloured wedding dresses before 1840, they also continued to wear them long after. Traditionally you just wore your ‘best dress’ – and the colour didn’t […]

The Jersey Lily

Today is the birthday of Lillie Langtry (or to give her her true name, Emilie Charlotte Le Breton), a music hall star who charmed her way into the beds of earls and princes. A Jersey girl, Lillie was introduced to London society by her Irish landowner husband, Edward Langtry. She soon became a star, famed […]

Lanhydrock House

The almost 900 acre Lanhydrock estate originally belonged to an Augustinian priory, but after Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 1530s the estate passed into private hands. In 1620 a wealthy Jacobean merchant – Sir Richard Robartes – purchased the land and began to build what would become his family’s seat, the beautiful […]

The haunting of the Headland Hotel

The Headland Hotel opened its doors in June 1900. It had been envisioned and designed to be the finest hotel in South West England, and as its first patrons swept across the natural headland to the imposing red-brick building, they were certainly in agreement – in fact, King Edward VII and his Queen, Alexandra stayed […]

Hidden historical heroines (#27: Princess Charlotte Augusta)

Princess Charlotte of Wales (7 January 1796 – 6 November 1817) was the only child of George, Prince of Wales (later to become King George IV) and Caroline of Brunswick. Had she outlived her father and her grandfather, King George III, she would have become Queen of the United Kingdom, but she died suddenly following childbirth at the age of 21. […]

Hidden historical heroines (#17: Grace Darling)

  Grace Horsley Darling (24 November 1815 – 20 October 1842) was a lighthouse keeper’s daughter in Victorian England, unremarkable, excepting the fact that in 1838 she and her father took a rowboat out on stormy seas to rescue nine people from the wreck of the SS Forfarshire.   Grace was born in 1815 in […]

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 (#13: “Skittles”)

  Catherine Walters, also known as “Skittles” (13 June 1839 – 4 August 1920) was a renowned trendsetter and media darling; she was the last great Victorian courtesan, famed for her natural beauty, her discretion and for being less flamboyant and much more classy than her numerous contemporaries.   Born just a few years into […]