Sunday, November 6, 2016

A little anecdote about house visiting

Hi dear readers, sorry I've been scarce around here lately. I promise I am still hard at work editing and writing!

But I thought I would just drop by and share a little anecdote that I've been meaning to share for some time. This comes from a previous trip to England, when I was able to visit St. Michael's Mount in Cornwall. It's a former monastery perched on the hilltop of an island that is linked to the mainland by a causeway (it's walkable at low tide; boats run when the tide is high). It became a family home and was in the St Aubyn family for many years (it's now in the hands of the National Trust and the family leases it).




 As you can see, much of the interior is quite genteel for such an imposing exterior.

Back to the anecdote. House visiting had already become quite a thing during the Georgian and Victorian eras. You can see this in Pride and Prejudice, of course, when it's not thought to be a big deal to go to Pemberley and have a look around. Some houses even had formally scheduled days for visiting, and had handouts printed for visitors. And housekeepers often made quite a lot of money in tips from the visitors they showed around.

I'd sometimes wondered just who was doing this visiting. How high up the social scale did it go?

The answer is, all the way to the tippity top. Because while the owners of this house were out, Victoria and Albert popped by for a visit! This was not a formally arranged royal visit -- they showed up in much the same way Elizabeth and the Gardiners did at Pemberley. (Although the royal couple had quite a lot more stairs to climb to get to the house.)

This anecdote has always amused me, because I can just imagine how it went when the family finally returned. Can you imagine being the housekeeper and having to tell them that while they were out, the queen stopped by for a visit?

Dear readers, I need your help!

It's here! Pride and Prejudice: A Novel. In Three Volumes. (Annotated and Restored to 1813 Egerton First Edition) is now available at ...