Sunday, February 28, 2021

An Evening to Remember

 Cupid's Ball

The Ballroom at the Rose & Crown was a sight to behold at the recent Cupid’s Ball. Clusters of hearts of varying sizes, in shades of red, pink and white were used to decorate the Assembly Rooms, transforming it into an enchanted scene with festoons of bay, swathes of white linen and numerous candles to illuminate the scene.

Elizabeth Margarette Treadwell of Rosehill Cottage was our hostess for the evening, happily greeting all who entered and handing out the special keepsake brooches to each lady who attended the ball. Everyone began referring to her as The Rose & Crown’s Queen of Hearts. Her helpers were also hard at work handing out numbers to those ladies and gentlemen who were participating in the dancing, for the first dance was “Cupid’s Choice,” which caused a great deal of interest and anticipation amongst those in attendance.

Our Master of Ceremonies, Mr. Launcelot Penn, called the numbers for the Cupid’s Choice Dance. The lady and gentleman who held each number called, proceeded to the dance floor. Introductions were made if the two were not known to one another, they took their places in the set and the next number was called until all numbers had been read out and the dancers were assembled. A Cotillion was Cupid’s choice for the first dance and there was much merriment around the room, enjoyed by those dancing as well as those who watched. Siblings or parent and siblings were matched to dance as well as friends and neighbours. There was much interest as the partners were matched, some more happy with Cupid’s choice than others. This first dance set the mood for the entire evening which was light and full of gaiety.

The younger ladies seemed to all have a similar idea of dressing in keeping with the theme of the ball, the room a sea of white gowns trimmed in red or pink ribbons. It was a pretty sight, their gowns set off by the dark evening clothes of the gentleman.

Dinner was an elegant affair, the tables all covered with crisp white linens and accented with vases of greens. For starters, each bowl of white soup had a heart shape of herbs on top, the main course and accompaniments also looking delectable. The meal concluded with sugared fruit and almonds as well as a pretty pink flummery shaped in a series of hearts

Mrs. Treadwell’s attention to detail and Leandrea Wallis’ artful ideas created an enchanting evening for all, one that shall live in our memories for a long time.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

A Happy Occasion

Jenny's Wedding Day

Signing the Registry by Edmund Blair Leighton

When Mr. Thomas announced that all should remain after the service this morning as he would be performing a marriage ceremony for Jenny and Major Venning, there was a gasp, all turning to look at the couple. Elizabeth went with Jenny back to Carlyle House so she may dress for her wedding, the two finding it diverting that their places had been switched as Elizabeth helped Jenny to dress and arranged her hair.

Jenny made a beautiful bride in her ivory gown with sheer linen overskirt. Her chestnut coloured hair was arranged prettily under a veil of the finest lace. As her brother, Jonathan, escorted her down the aisle, her beloved, Major Alexander Venning, stood transfixed watching his intended move towards him. Smiling, he took her hand as she reached the altar and together they stood before Mr. Thomas who performed the wedding.

The ceremony progressed much the same as any other wedding, but oh, the preparations were all done in the space of a very short time. Jenny and Major Venning had gotten engaged at the beginning of February and had fully intended to have their wedding in the spring when the weather had warmed and he had resigned his commission from the army, but fate, that fickle interloper, had other ideas. Major Venning was ordered back to his regiment and would thence travel to Corsica where trouble was already brewing. The young lovers decided to wed before he left for duty rather than wait until an undetermined date in the future to marry. A special license was obtained and just a day later the wedding was to take place, the banns having only been read once.

Sir Charles Marlowe, stood as groomsman with Major Venning who looked very dapper in his dress uniform complete with sword. Lady Elizabeth Marlowe stood beside Jenny, her dearest friend. It was a bittersweet day for Elizabeth for although she wished nothing but happiness for Jenny, she also knew Jenny would be leaving her to make her own home soon.

The kindness of her friends made the day especially nice for Jenny, with their gifts she was able to dress herself for her wedding. There was no time sew a gown or to leisurely shop for just the right embellishments and these gifts from her cherished friends were very much appreciated. Elizabeth had gifted a gown she had had made as a surprise for Jenny. The robe was made in a lovely style but devoid of the usual trimmings so that Jenny may embellish it as she wished.

Old Mary having gone through her trunk recently and upon hearing of Jenny’s coming nuptials, gifted her a gorgeous piece of lace for a veil that had belonged to her mother. It was as fine as gossamer with a scalloped edge and little pearls sewn into the embellishments along the edges. This made such a beautiful addition to her attire for the day. With the lace veil and a gift of lace Alice Powell had made for her, Jenny’s gown looked very becoming indeed once she had made the necessary additions.

After the ceremony, when the young couple turned to face their friends and neighbours in the congregation as man and wife, Sir Charles made the announcement that all were welcome at Carlyle House for a luncheon to honour the newlyweds.

It was a memorable day for Jenny and Major Venning, who left their family and friends to spend a short honeymoon of three days in Cheltenham before Major Venning must report for duty.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

The Almshouses


Amberleigh's Almshouses

Almshouses have been and continue to be an important part of any town or village. They are places of refuge for those who are no longer able to work, of an advanced age or perhaps the widow of a tradesman who has not the funds to support herself. These houses were usually provided by religious groups such as the Hospitlers, the Quakers and so on whose charity gave aid and support to people in need. There are also trusts or benefactors whose generosity take care of these vulnerable people. Amberleigh has such a trust to look after its most vulnerable and whose kindness built the eight houses in the village.

Two decades ago, when Claremont, home of Thomas Pritchard, burnt down, he decided to move back to his London residence, not inclined to rebuild. The Amberleigh Trust saw an opportunity to build almshouses for the worthy poor villagers on this land approached Mr. Pritchard who, upon being asked to sell the property, graciously donated it to the trust. Building works then commenced which resulted in eight brick terraced houses, of one room downstairs and one room upstairs each. Each house had a small patch of garden and shared a “necessary” or outhouse on the property. A house for the warden was also erected, bearing the name “Pritchard House” as a tribute to Mr. Thomas Pritchard’s kindness.

In Amberleigh, the almshouses are situated behind the bakery and near to the Candle Factory. Mr. Parkes, a retired clergy, has been warden of the houses for six years now. His kind demeanour and compassionate overseeing of the tenants and their houses, is a testament to his devotion to Christian brotherhood. Those who benefit from the kind attention of the almoner live contentedly at his capable hands.

Lady Caroline Farnsworth and Lady Elizabeth Marlowe are generous in their donations to the residents of the almshouse, adding to the provisions of the Amberliegh trust. This may come in the form of wood for the fireplaces, food and medical attention as well as planned events such as the Christmas luncheon.

The Almshouses of Amberleigh are a testament to the kindness and generosity of the village to its less fortunate.

Friday, February 5, 2021

The Bexford Lending Library


The Huntsman Newspaper

Friday, February 5, 1794

Grand Opening of The Bexford Lending Library

By Mr. Edward Turner

Last summer, on a picnic while the men fished and the ladies enjoyed the sunshine, an idea was born. Miss Jane Meryvale had a thought which she shared with Lady Caroline Farnsworth and Lady Elizabeth Marlowe who were both immediately taken with the idea, and that sunny day, the three became the patronesses for a lending library to be opened in the new year in Bexford.

Planning commenced that very afternoon deciding who would source the books and who would find the venue for this very auspicious project. Miss Meryvale, who would be travelling to Bath later that same week took on the behemoth task of sourcing books which number in the hundreds; while Lady Marlowe and Lady Farnsworth visited shop front after shop front until just the right place was decided upon after much consideration.

Autumn and Winter months have been filled with a flurry of activity in a little shoppe in Bexford on the High Street, as well as behind the scenes. Workmen fitted shelves around the shop, an ornate counter placed at the front by the window, a reading room was organized to the rear of the building and once construction was complete, the arduous task of filling those shelves commenced. The patronesses convened and met with the applicants who answered their ad with hopes of being taken on as manager of the establishment.

The Lending Library saw a crowd of people outside awaiting the grand opening whom Miss Meryvale addressed in a welcoming speech. Once the ribbon had been cut, the three patronesses opened the shop and purchased the first three subscriptions to a rousing applause. Once the public was admitted to the shoppe, a constant stream of patrons spoke excitedly as they waited in line to purchase their subscriptions.

Mr. Reynolds and his assistant, Mr. Felton, were busy for most of the day making subscriptions, answering questions and showing patrons where this book or that may be located. With so many people eager to purchase their subscriptions and begin browsing the book-lined shelves one would think it was a tedious endeavour, but the buoyant mood of all made it an exciting venture to be part of.

We take our hats off to the three patronesses, Miss Meryvale, Lady Marlowe and Lady Farnsworth who have given of their time and efforts in providing such a worthy service for our town. On later discussions they informed me they intended to make gift subscriptions to some of the less fortunate in our midst. A grand gesture from such magnanimous ladies.

The Lending Library shall be open during the week from 8:00 am in the morning until 3:00 pm in the afternoons excepting Sundays. Do stop in if only to admire the thoughtful endeavours of those involved in this undertaking.

Bexford Lending Library, No 25 High Street, Bexford.

Rules for Subscribers to the Lending Library are as follows:

To pay Five Shillings each, which entitles them to the use of Books, and Newspapers, for any length of time, not exceeding two months, betwixt the first day of January and the last day of November, Sundays excepted.

Each Subscriber may have two Books at a time.

The Books to be returned to the Shoppe, or paid for before the Subscriber leaves the place.

No Subscriber to lend the Books belonging to this Library to any other person.

Newspapers are not on any account to be taken out of the Reading Room.

Notable titles at the Lending Library include:


Solyman & Almena

Gulliver’s Travels


Moral Tales


Tom Jones

Arabian Nights



Death of Abel

Addition on Christian Religion

Pilgrim’s Progress

Rowe’s Letters

Economy of Human Life









Foraging with Old Mary

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