Buying Bread and Milk in 18th and 19th Century London

"Milk Below Maid" by Francis Wheatley from 1790s

“The cry of ‘Milk’ or the rattle of the milk-pail, will never cease to be heard in our streets. There can be no reservoirs of milk, no pipes through which it flows into the houses. The more extensive the great capital becomes, the more active must be the individual exertion to carry about this article of food. The old cry was ‘Any milk here !’ and it was sometimes mingled with the sound of ‘Fresh cheese and cream;’ and it then passed into ‘Milk, maids below;’ and it was then shortened into ‘Milk below;’ and was finally corrupted into ‘Mio’ which some wag interpreted into mieau—demi-eau—half water. But it must still be cried, whatever be the cry. The supply of milk to the metropolis is perhaps one of the most beautiful combinations of industry we have. The days are long since passed when Finsbury had its pleasant groves, and Clerkenwell was a village, and there were green pastures in Holborn, and St. Pancras boasted only a little church standing in meadows, and St. Martin’s was literally in the fields. Slowly but surely does the baked clay of Mr. Stucco, ‘the speculative builder’ stride over the clover and the buttercup; and yet every family in London may be supplied with milk by eight o’clock every morning at their own doors. Where do the cows abide? They are congregated in wondrous masses in the suburbs; and though in spring-time they go out to pasture in the fields which lie under the Hampstead and Highgate hills, or in the vales of Dulwich and Sydenham, and there crop the tender blade,

‘When proud pied April, dress’d in all his trim,
Has put a spirit of youth in everything.’

yet for the rest of the year the coarse grass is carted to their stalls, or they devour what the breweries and distilleries cannot extract from the grain harvest. Long before ‘the unfolding star wakes up the shepherd’ are the London cows milked; and the great wholesale vendors of the commodity who have it consigned to them daily from more distant parts to the various Metropolitan Railway Stations bear it in carts to every part of the town, and distribute to the hundreds of shopkeepers and itinerants, who are anxiously waiting to receive it for re-distribution amongst their own customers. It is evident that a perishable commodity which every one requires at a given hour must be so distributed. The distribution has lost its romance. Misson, in his ‘Travels’ published at the beginning of the last century, tells of Maygames of ‘the pretty young country girls that serve the town with milk.’ Alas! the May-games and pretty young country girls have both departed, and a milk-woman has become a very unpoetical personage. There are few indeed of milkwomen who remain.”  — from A History of the Cries of London, Ancient and Modern, by Charles Hindley

My blog has been silent for almost a week. I was a single mom while my husband was in Europe for over ten days. He came home last night to find his kids alive and healthy and his wife on the verge of a nervous breakdown. But he brought presents and chocolate, so we are all happy again.

I thought I would make a short excerpt from the sections on bread and milk in John Trusler’s The London Adviser and Guide: Containing every Instruction and Information Useful and Necessary to Persons Living in London and Coming to Reside There. The technicalities of buying bread and milk in London called into my mind The Cries of London, (or London Cries) a book that featured the songs and calls of the urban street vendors. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find an online version of the book, but I found many other resources and got a little carried away, as you can see. So, for this post, I’m excerpting information on bread and milk sellers from sources published in mid 1700s to late 1800s , including many images of milk maids (Surprisingly, there isn’t a great deal of art featuring bakers.)

Let’s dive into The London Adviser and Guide, published in 1786:

Continue reading “Buying Bread and Milk in 18th and 19th Century London”

Getting Taxed to Death in Georgian London, Finding a Good Water Company and Emptying Your Privy

I’m sorry the blog has been silent for the last several days. I’ve been  partying in Phoenix with my writer friend Tina Whittle to celebrate the release of her new book from Poisoned Pen Press titled Darker Than Any Shadow. It’s a fabulous read!

Anyhoo, tonight is another installment in my ongoing project to translate into readable English John Trusler’s masterpiece, The London Adviser and Guide: Containing every Instruction and Information Useful and Necessary to Persons Living in London and  Coming to Reside there.

However, I must apologize in advance for a little historical whiplash on this post. I found this wonderful book from 1827 titled Metropolitan improvements; or, London in the nineteenth century: displayed in a series of engravings of the new buildings, improvement, etc, by James Elmes and had to use the images.  So, all the graphics on this post were created several decades after the publishing of The London Adviser in 1786  If you are an historian of London, you know that the Prince Regent made many architectural enhancements, as well as built new streets, parks and squares. Trusler’s London was a bit different than the images here.  But the pictures were so cool that I couldn’t help myself. And it’s my blog, so I do what I want.

From The London Adviser and Guide: 

20. The taxes of a house in London are nearly half the rent, and are as follow:

1. Land-tax, a tax on the ground, paid by the tenant, half yearly, but generally allowed by the landlord in the rent, if no agreement to the contrary.

This is generally four shillings in the pound, but in some parishes less than others.

Theatre Royal

2. There is also a small sewer tax, for cleansing the sewers, a few shillings a year, generally paid by the landlord.

3. A house-tax paid to government, by the tenant, of six-pence, nine-pence or one shilling in the pound according to the rent. The rent in this tax is rated to the full.

St. James Street

 

4. The poor’s-rate is another tax, but a parochial one, paid by the tenant to the overseers of the parish, for the maintenance of the poor. This is collected every half year, and the assessment is from one to six shillings in the pound, or more, according to the number of poor in the parish. This assessment is made by the parish-officers, and ratified by a bench of justices. The book, with this ratification, and the sums each house-keeper is to pay, is brought round to every house, when the money is collected, and each inhabitant may see how much others pay, then or at any other time, an paying six-pence or a shilling. The rent of each house is generally estimated in the parish-book at two-thirds of the real rent paid; and if any person finds that he pays more in proportion than the rest of the parish, he may obtain redress, by an application to the quarter-sessions, at a very little expence.

Any person occupying any house, &c. out of which any other person assessed has removed, or which, at the making the rate was empty, every person so removing and the person so coming into and occupying the same, shall pay to such rate in proportion to the time he occupied the same. In case of dispute, the proportion to be ascertained by two justices.

St. Andrew’s Place

5. Another tax is the window-tax, paid by the tenant to Government, and collected half-yearly.

This is assessed in the following manner:

 Windows of out-houses are to be reckoned into the number.

Windows lighting two rooms to be reckoned as two.

Two or more windows, not twelve inches apart from each other, are reckoned but as one.

No window deemed stopped, unless with stones, brick, or plaster.

Opening a window, without notice to the assessor, forfeits twenty shillings.

Glass-doors, and lights over doors, do not pay according to this act.

Bridge Over Serpentine — Hyde Park

6. But, in addition to the above, windows pay a second duty, in lieu of the duty on tea taken off; this is as follows:

Persons are to pay only for two houses, and those containing the greatest number of windows.

Glass doors and lights over doors are here considered as windows, and the assessors have the peculiar privilege of examining them, by looking round the outsides of the house.

Piccadilly

7. The next tax is the church-wardens rate, for repairing the church. The county-rate is generally collected with it. This is only collected occasionally, and may be from three-pence in the pound or two or three shillings, according to the exigencies required.

8. Another rate or assessment is the paving-tax, for repairing, cleaning, and lighting the streets. This is one shilling and six-pence in the pound, of two-thirds of the rent or value.

Park Lane

9. Another is for watching them, but this is a trifle. Private lamps, at private doors, are put up at the expence of those who contract to light them, and painted annually, and if broke are replaced also at their expence. Price for lamp lighting, 7s. per quarter, each.

London Orphan Asylum

10. There is a further call on every householder for Easter offerings, for the rector or vicar of the, parish; this is four-pence a-head for every one in each family capable of receiving the sacrament, paid once a year, at Easter. But this seldom is collected; it is generally left to each family to give what they please; but it is always expected that they give something; perhaps a few shillings.

Pall Mall

11. Once or twice a year the church-wardens generally bring round a book, to make a collection for the lecturer or afternoon preacher. At this time a housekeeper generally gives a few shillings; but this is optional.

12. In some parishes, twenty or thirty shillings a year, more or less, are paid by house-keepers, in proportion to their rent, in lieu of the tithes.

Charing Cross

13. A further expence to the inhabitants is the river water, with which each house is served, from about twenty-four to thirty shillings a year, according to the time of serving, whether every day or three times a week.

 

London Bridge

Supplying Water

1. The London-bridge water-works supply the city, and the greatest part of its liberties, with Thames water, at the rate of from twenty-four to thirty shillings (paid half-yearly) according to the distance from London. The pipes of this Company spread all over the City to Tower-hill, Snow-hill, Shore-ditch, and St. Dunstan’s-church, Fleet-street. Office at Londonbridge.

2. The York-building water-works, (office in Villiers-street, attendance from three in the afternoon till seven) supplies Westminster, and the west end of the town, as far as Holborn, with Thames-water, and will convey the water, if desired, to the upper stories of a house, the second or third story, according to their situation. The higher the house stands from the water side, the less height can they convey the water. The prices of the water is the same with the London-bridge waterworks; only, if the water is to be conveyed to the second or third story, more money is paid annually, from thirty shillings to five pounds. The Thames-water is reckoned softer than that of the New river. If a fire happens in the night, application for water from this Company, and that of London-bridge, must be made at the respective offices and it will be some time, half an hour or more, before they can get their engines to work.

Military House and Haymarket

3. The New-River Company (office in Dorset-street, Fleet-street) supplies all London on the north side of the Thames, from mile-end turnpike to Hyde-park-corner, with water brought twenty miles from London, to a reservoir at Islington. The terms of this Company are rather higher than those of other water companies, but the water is generally clearer and better. They serve families from twenty-four shillings a year to five pounds, according to the quantity of water they require, which is settled by the collector of the district, whose name may be known, by applying at the office, in Dorset-street. This collector also will furnish families with the names of the turn-cocks in his district, printed on paper, to whom application is to be made in case of fire; and in the collector’s receipts will be found the place to apply to, in want of water and other complaints. This company conveys the water to the upper stories of houses, without any additional expence than the lead pipes, which are the property of, and must be fixed by, the tenant; the nearer a house stands to the Thames side, that is, the lower it is from the reservoirs, the higher in the houses the water can be conveyed. In the New River Water-Works the water runs from an eminence; in the London-bridge and York company, it is forced up by fire; of course, the higher it is conveyed, the more money annually is required.

London House – Gray’s Inn Road

4. There are other water-works, those of Chelsea, Hampstead, Bayswater, Shadwell, Lambeth, &c. that supply other parts of the town, and the borough of Southwark, with soft water, and on nearly the terms. Thrale’s water-works, that supply part of Southwark, serve so low as 20s. a year.

5. The lead pipes from the main, that is, from the middle of the street, are considered as belonging to the house, and must be paid for, and kept in repair by the tenant; other repairs and expences are paid by the several companies.

Covent Garden Market

6. Attendance is always given at the respective offices from morning till night, and complaints immediately redressed. It is proper to send to these office immediately on a fire breaking out, especially those that supply the Thames water.

7. It is advisable for every house-keeper, on first coming to London, to apply to the offices for the names of the turn-cocks, and where they live; and also to fire offices, for the places where the fire engines are; also to the vestry-clerks of the different parishes, for the places where the ladders are kept, and from year to year, who are the constables and parish-officers, and to write these down and stick them up in the kitchen, or other part of the house, that the earliest application, in case of fire, may be made for every necessary assistance.

House of Lords — King’s Entrance

8. In frosty weather, to secure water to the house is the care and business of the tenant. For this purpose, fresh horse-dung should be laid over the pavement under which the lead-pipes pass, and some should be wound round the pipe as it crosses the area. Dung can be had at any of the stables for a trifle, and the expence of fetching it in a wheelbarrow is not much.

Bank of England

9. If your water fails, and you apprehend the defect is in the pipe under the pavement in the street, by applying at the office belonging to the company that serves you, they will send a pavior to open the .pavement.; if the defect is found in the lead-pipes between the main and the house, the expence must be paid by the tenant; if not, it will be repaired at the expence of the water company.

Fleet Street

10. If your drains are stopped, they must be opened and cleaned; it is the part of the tenant to clean the drains into the common sewer; but if the sewer is choked, application must be made to the officers common-sewers in your district. No person can make a new drain from the privy into the common-sewer, without the consent of the commissioners; but if such a drain has been once made, it may be kept up.

11. Emptying of privies is not only expensive, but very disagreeable. It is enacted by law, that none shall be emptied in London before 2 o’clock at night; the price is 5s. a ton for all they carry out, and the carts generally hold 3 tons, but are marked as to what they hold. Night-men, if not watched, will not fill their carts, of course, you are imposed on: a confidential person should attend them in this business, and keep an account of the quantity carted off. The men employed expect, in this business, plenty of bread and cheese, beer and gin.

Belgrave Square

 

18th Century London — Obtaining Fire Insurance for Your Home and Protecting Against Fire.

And now for another installment from John Trusler’s The London Adviser and Guide: Containing every Instruction and Information Useful and Necessary to Persons Living in London and Coming to Reside There, 1786.  

This post could possibly be the most boring post in the history of blogs, as Trusler explores the different insurance plans offered.  I would advise reading a few of the policies and then skip  down to the more interesting sections on preventing fire, as well as the city’s preventive measures and responses to fire.

I’ve tried to break up the tedium of the information with images from London: being an Accurate History and Description of the British metropolis and Its Neighbourhood : to Thirty Miles Extent, from an Actual Perambulation, 1809

Let’s dive in…

_________________________________________________________

Insurance Offices from Fire

19. When your house is furnished, the next precaution to be taken is, to insure it from fire: this may be done at several public insurance-offices, and at a very small annual premium. The landlord generally insures the buildings,

Continue reading “18th Century London — Obtaining Fire Insurance for Your Home and Protecting Against Fire.”

How to Lease a Home in 18th Century London

Today I’m going to begin the first of what will be an ongoing, long and possibly unfinished project– to make an easy-to-read version of the  late 1700s book The London Adviser and Guide by John Trusler.  I think the extended title says it all: 

THE London Adviser and Guide: Containing every Instruction and Information Useful and Necessary to Persons Living in London and coming to reside there; In order to enable them to enjoy Security and Tranquility, and conduct their Domestic Affairs with Prudence and Economy* Together with an Abstract Of all those Laws which regard their protection against the Frauds, Impositions, Insults and Accidents to which they are there liable. Useful also to Foreigners.

* Note, This Work treats fully of every Thing on the above Subjects that can be thought of. 

 

So, let’s get started with the fine print details of leasing a home in London.

Houses and lodgings in London are let either furnished or unfurnished, and their prices are according to their size, their situation, and their manner of sitting up. In the central part of London and Westminster, such as the neighbourhood of St. James’s, Charing-Cross, the squares, -Covent-Garden, the theatres, St. Paul’s Churchyard, Cheapside, the Royal Exchange, &c. they are high rented; in more distant parts they are cheaper, and in by-streets, courts, lanes, alleys, and such obscure places, cheaper still.

Continue reading “How to Lease a Home in 18th Century London”

Bath – Gettin’ all Regency

Minerva

The Baths

N took the children to Stonehenge, leaving Mom and I to wander Bath. Actually “wander” is not an accurate term as it connotes something leisurely. We had exactly six hours to see the city before being carted away to London.

This was my second visit to Bath. The first time I visited was with my awesome cousin H. I had just gotten out of graduate school after a grueling quarter of non-stop, up-all-night work. For the two miserable years I spent in graduate school, I kept “Pride and Prejudice” in the VHS player, watching it over and over like a balm to my ailing brain. When I hit England all I wanted to see was Jane Austen things. Jane Austen. Jane Austen. Jane Austen. However, H was working on her Masters in history, specializing in Medieval England. So I didn’t get to see much Jane Austen, but a whole hell of a lot of really, really old England. I nearly froze my butt off at Sarem (my butt was significantly smaller then.). Nonetheless, H kept me from totally embarrassing myself in historic places (she can name all the British monarchs…it’s pretty impressive, not like the Danes where you got a 50/50 chance that it’s Frederick or Christian) In Bath, H and I stayed in rooms that required money to keep the radiator running and a coin operated bathtub that we shared with all the other tenants. Also, I don’t really like meatballs. Yet the night H and I arrived in England, blurry–eyed and hazy from the jet lag, I ordered spaghetti with meatballs. The very next day the Mad Cow panic hit.

Ok, I’m totally digressing. But hey, it’s my blog. Like it or leave it.

Bath

Bath was a happening resort town during Georgian Era or the period when the Georges were on the throne of England. For those who remember dates, that’s 1714-1830. The architecture has remained surprisingly unaltered through time and is an excellent example of the period. I’m lousy with architectural history, but from what I understand Georgian design is obsessed with the clean lines and mathematical precision of classicism. The understated style is sandwiched between the more bombastic Baroque and Victorian.

Bath

Aqueas Sulis

There are two stories explaining the origins of Bath. In the first, King Bladud created the springs through divination. He went on to build feathered wings for himself, but sadly died flying into the Temple of Appollo in New Troy. Bummer. In the second story, Bladud became afflicted with leprosy and left the court to become a swineherder. He and his pigs, also stricken with leprosy, found the springs and were cured. Bladud returned to court, became king, and fathered King Lear. Regardless, there was an early Celtic shrine erected at the springs dedicated to the goddess Sulis. Later the Romans would appear on the scene and build “Aqueas Sulis” proper, though they identified Sulis as the goddess Minerva.

Ruins from the Roman Temple

After the Romans, things slide right into the dismal Middle Ages where everyone managed to forget that the earth was round and went around the sun, or how to make flush toilets, or build decent roads.

Nonetheless, rumor had it the springs had curative powers, and ailing people from all over England continued to come and swim or drink the waters. What you see today was built in the eighteenth century.

The museum takes you into the archeological diggings of the Roman Bath temple and chambers including the hot, cold, and warm baths. There a bunch of stone stuff to Minerva, but I’ve never “ohh-ed and ahh-ed” over Roman art. It’s the Roman drain still holding runoff from the springs that fascinates me or the stone piles that held up the floor to allow hot vapor to build up underneath. What happens when geeks travel…

Heated Roman Floor

Here is a virtual tour of the Baths

We actually began the day at the Jane Austen Museum where we listened to a great lecture on Jane’s family, which I can hardly remember as I write. That short term just can’t seem to make the haul to long term anymore. Must be mad cow kicking in.

Tea Service

Here is what I remember from the lecture:
Jane had a love, but mostly hate relationship with Bath. She was a nasty critic of its society. Her family removed to the resort city from the country. Unfortunately, the Austen family overextended themselves and had to give up their first finer home in Bath. Over time, they slipped slowly down through the cracks of society until the final blow of Mr. Austen’s death, leaving the females in the family in financial straits. Jane’s brothers came to their rescue and set up the women on a country home. Unlike the Brontes, the male Austens were generally decent people.

Though several of her novels were set in Bath, Jane did not write much while living in the town. The novels that we read today were either written or rewritten from earlier novels at Jane’s home in the country.

Here is a neat sign explaining how people lived in Jane’s time based on their income level.

From the Jane Austen center, we roamed to the Assembly rooms. As y’all know, I write stories in the Georgian era, so if this isn’t your thing, you might want to skip this section (or entire blog entry.).

The Assembly Rooms

The Assembly rooms were bombed in WWII. What you see today is a careful restoration. Up until the Prince Regent built the Royal Pavilion in Brighton in the early nineteenth Century, Bath was the most popular resort town in England. People came in from nearby Bristol, London, and the countryside to rent a house for the season. All levels of society mingled in Bath, thanks to big-man-about-town Richard Beau Nash. He laid down “rules” of behavior for Bath, which excluded all sorts of lovely pursuits such as dueling with swords, cock-fighting, or bull-baiting.

Nash’s rules are pretty humorous, so I will include them.

I. That a visit of ceremony at coming to Bath, and another at going away, is all that is expected or desired by ladies of quality and fashion – except impertinents.
II. That ladies coming to the ball appoint a time for their footmen’s coming to wait on them home, to prevent disturbances and inconveniences to themselves and others.
III. That gentlemen of fashion never appearing in a morning before the ladies in gowns and caps, shew breeding and respect.
IV. That no person take it ill that any one goes to another’s play or breakfast, and not to theirís – except captious by nature.
V. That no gentleman give his tickets for the balls to any but gentlewomen – N.B. Unless he has none of his acquaintance.
VI. That gentlemen crowding before ladies at the ball, shew ill-manners; and that none do so for the future- except such as respect nobody but themselves.
VII. That no gentlemen of lady take it ill that another dances before them – except such as have no pretence to dance at all.
VIII. That the elder ladies and children be contented with a second bench at the ball, as being past or not come to perfection.
IX. That the younger ladies take notice how many eyes observe them – N.B. This does not extend to the Have-at-Alls.
X. That all whispers of lies and scandal be taken for their authors.
XI. That all repeaters of such lies and scandal be shunned by all company – except such as have been guilty of the same crime.
N.B. Several men of no character, old women and young ones of questioned reputation, are great authors of lies in the place, being of the sect of Levellers.

In the winter months or “season,” people bought subscriptions to attend activities at the Assembly Rooms. On Monday’s there was a Dress Ball which cost a guinea for three tickets. It started at six o’clock. For the first two hours, stately minuets were danced, followed by some get-down country dances lasting until nine. Then everyone went to Tea Room for refreshments of sweet meats, jellies, wine, biscuits, cold ham, turkey, tea with arrack and lemon. Concerts were held on Wednesday. Musical guests included Joseph Haydn and Franz Liszt. Cotillion balls or country dances occurred on Thursdays. Cards could be played every day. Gambling was an addiction in that period and lots of pounds were laid down on Whist, a precursor to Bridge and Spades, and Vingt-et-Une (blackjack).

Sadly, in the early nineteenth century, society followed the Prince to Brighton and the Assembly Rooms fell into decline, becoming a cinema in the 1920s.

I couldn’t get good pictures of the room because there were portable chairs stacked about. So I would suggest the Assemble Room virtual tour.

Housed beside the Assemble Rooms, is the tres cool Bath Costume Museum. However, if you want to see some awesome costumes, you gotta go to the Victoria and Albert museum in London.

This dress is from approximately 1830 because of the slightly lowered waistline.

Victorian Dress

Victorian Dress

Victorian Dress

From the Assemble rooms, we hot-footed it over to No 1. Royal Crescent. Crescents are big thing in Georgian England. There is one across from Regent’s Park in London, as well.

Royal Crescent

No. 1 Royal Crescent is a museum of the typical Bath home in the Georgian era. Unfortunately, the museum wouldn’t indulge my photo obsession, which prompts me to mention my other fixation: guidebooks. I feel like a set designer when I visit these homes. What did it look like, what did it feel like, how would one move in the space? I get nothing from the sterile environment of museums where artifacts are kept under glass. I want contextualization, silence, and time. Once my mother let me in a house that was about to be given to the Georgia Historical Society. The place hadn’t been altered since the turn of the century. It was like a playground to me, wandering through the rooms, like the quiet human observing the ghosts.

The Bath homes were row houses that extended up five or more stories from basement. Under the entrance walkway would be the coal vault, behind it an open area that led to the kitchen. On the iron fences above would be a rigged pulley or winch that allowed supplies to be lowered to the kitchens below. The basement level contained the kitchen rooms with a large fireplace and spit, servant’s table, and an additional vault for storing wine and beer. Some feet behind that vault wall was the cesspit that accepted the drainage from the outdoor privy running above it. Liquid matter in the cesspits was supposed to seep into the ground. Cesspits were emptied by the night soil men who came around early in the morning or by the poor servants who would have to haul the waste, bucket by bucket, through the house. They may have dumped the contents into the sewer opening in the front of the house which was technically illegal. These sewage passages were made of brick and did not have a constant flow of water to push the contents along.

The first floor (Americans add one floor) opened to a central hall flanked by parlors or a dining room. The dining room could be on first or second floor. In this house, the stairway zigzagged up the back wall of the house with another circular servant’s stairway on the side of the house. In other homes, the staircase emptied into the central hall, not a few feet from the front door.

Aside from the parlor downstairs, on the second floor there could be a withdrawing or drawing room, study, male or female parlor. Bedrooms made up the three floor and the children and servants stayed on the attic floor. Every room had a chimney and corresponding chimney pot belching coal smoke and soot into the sky.

Water as supplied to a lead cistern in the kitchen. It came to the house through narrow lead pipes which feed from larger pipes made of hollowed out elm trunks. Bath had a consistent supply of water because it tapped the natural springs in the area. Water companies were private. In London, where the water supply was not always constant, a house could have water supplied by multiple companies. Typically, water was serviced only to the ground floor. Inside the house, people could use a chamber pot or if they were lucky they had a water closet which was created either by a tank or pump forcing water up in a pipe leading from the cistern in the basement.

The entrance way would include a foot scrape, iron lamp bracket for holding the torches that the city required be burned at night during the winter months, a fire insurance plaque so the private firefighters knew to put out a fire at the home, and a snuffer for extinguishing torches.

Afterwards we strolled through the lovely parks and not so lovely parking lots until we reached the unassuming row house once belonging to famed astronomers, William Herschel and his sister Caroline Herschel. William Herschel is credited for using his telescopes to find Uranus, and the moons Titania and Oberon. Caroline is famous for finding several comets, a nebulae, and for putting up with her brother.

Replica of Herschel’s Seven Foot Newtonian ReflectingTelescope. He used the original to find Uranus in 1781.

Model of Herschel’s Forty Foot Telescope

William, born in Hannover, started his professional career as a composer. Unfortunately he wasn’t so well–received. In fact, he had to publish a public apology in Bristol newspaper concerning his horrific performance of “The Messiah.”

Poor pox scarred Caroline was left behind in Hannover to be a housekeeper to her family. She joined William when he came to Bath. He taught her English and gave her music lessons. Often she assumed the role of lead singer in his choral works. (Caroline probably had more promising in a musical career than her brother, but she declined the opportunities presented to her.) William considered astronomy a mere hobby. Unfortunately he couldn’t afford a nice, new shiny, telescope, so he decided to build one. And that’s when all hell broke loose. Building telescopes became his passion. Caroline writes, “It was my sorrow that I saw almost every room in the house turned into a workshop.” Keep in mind, William used horse poo-poo to make molds for his lens.

Herschel’s Kitchen.

Music Room.

Herschel’s Tiny Workroom at the very back of the house.

It was in this garden that in 1781, Hershel discovered Uranus.

William to his sister Caroline

It was getting close to time to meet N and the children. Mom and I swung into the Sally Lunn house, reputedly the oldest house in Bath, circa 1482. It’s a restaurant, but in the basement is a tiny museum to Sally Lunn’s kitchen. Sally Lunn was a French Hugueno who came to Bath in 1680. She became famous for her buns (Bread buns, that is. I don’t want ya’ll to get confused and think I meant a bun as in Bunny rabbit. For sailors in the early nineteenth century would touch a “bun” for luck before getting on a ship.)

Sally Lunn House

Sally Lunn Kitchen Museum

And then ten minutes in the Bath Abbey.

One minute at the chocolatier and onto London. Here is my husband driving through downtown London at night in the rain. (London drivers have nothing on Welsh drivers.)