When reading through the Mistress of Charlecote this particular story made me chuckle. The story of the forgotten biscuits…
In 1836, our Mistress of Charlecote, Mary Elizabeth gave birth to Reginald Aymer and his christening was celebrated on 5th April 1836. Many members of the wider family came to mark the happy occassion.
Within Mary Elizabeth’s memoirs we discover that there was a very elaborate dinner – and it was the very first meal served in the new dining room! The table was adorned with a fine linen cloth with ‘the royal cypher that had once covered the Prince Regent’s table at Carlton House‘. On it was a silver gilt dinner service, gold coasters by Paul Storr and silver candelabra by de Lamerie. Oh and she wore diamonds that her husband, George, had bought especially for the occassion!
Following the christening, Mary Elizabeth shares with us this gem of a story…
Those who had been staying with us for darling Baby’s christening has only just departed when Lord and Lady Shrewsbury with Prince Doria, on their way to London, drove over to spend the day with us… The Prince was in raptures with old Charlecote, and so admired the large Florentine table in the Great Hall, which had originally stood in the Borghese Villa at Rome, and from whence it had been taken by the French in the time of Napoleon.
Detail of top of Pietra dura table in the Great Hall described in the Fonthill sale catalogue of 1823. A superb 16th-century marble slab, formerly in the Borghese Palace. / NTPL
It was bought by my husband at the sale of Fonthill for one thosand eight hundred guineas. (The Prince Borghese had recently married Lord Shrewsbury’s youngest daughter and Price Doria was engaged to Lady Mary Talbot, the eldest.)
(Here’s the bit I like!)
At luncheon the Prince liked the Charlecote biscuits so much that I said laughing, ‘You must carry some away,’ and so I ordered a packet of them to be put in the carriage. Just after they had started I saw the packed of biscuits left behind, so I took it and ran after the carriage, and I caught them up before they got through the Park gate, and gave it to the Prince. When we went to Rome three years later he said to me he should never forget my running after him with the Charlecote biscuits.
They must have been good biscuits!
©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel
Mistress of Charlecote: The Memoirs of Mary Elizabeth Lucy
(Book available for sale from the Servants’ Hall shop)
I imagine it to have been quite a sight, seeing the Mistress running to the gates with the biscuits… although saying that our shop team have often had to run after people who happen to have left things behind in the shop!
Imagine seeing a Victorian Mistress of Charlecote running to the gate!