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Thursday, 23 April 2015

Weather in Austen's time in detail: 1800-1805

I am rather ambitiously trying to compile as detailed a weather report for the 'Long Regency', and perhaps earlier, encompassing at least 1790 - 1820.  I have a lot of data from newspapers, diaries and letters which is currently in long hand in an exercise book, which I am slowly transcribing.  This is the first tranche, which I hope might be of some use. 
Kathryn Kane's excellent article about the eruption of Mount Tambora HERE also mentions an eruption of 1809 which made the mini ice age worse, but as you will see from the data below, even before that the weather was at times pretty extreme at times! 




1800
An overall dry summer from March - September
Jan
Mild at beginning of month, then severe frost and heavy rains with thunder to end of month.
Feb
Mostly dry.
Mar
Dry winds throughout month. W and SW winds prevailing.
Beef up from 6d/lb to 8d; veal from 7d/lb to 8d; Mutton from 5d/lb to 6d
Apr
Mild, some gentle seasonal rain, but heavy rain at end of month.  W and SW winds prevailing
May
Sunday 4th May violent thunder storms at Windsor, Liverpool, Hull, Northampton, Kettering, Warwick, Lincolnshire etc. Floods after the storm as far S. as London. 
May not as warm as sometimes but generally dry after the storm.
W and SW winds prevailing.
Jun
Rain off and on for first ten days of month
Wednesday 4th, rain all morning in London and pouring from 9am -1pm on the Review in Hyde Park; but George III rode throughout it.
Dry and fine after the 10th.
Jul
Dry; hot and windy.  Harvest able to commence by the close of the month.  Drought.
Aug
First half of month hot and sultry
Tuesday 19th, uncommonly hot but with clouds coming in from NW followed by storm of hail, greatest in Norfolk and across to Baldock.  There was a powerful storm in London, and damage to buildings from lightning.  Storms were experienced from Dorset to East Anglia, some flash floods.  4 men died at Lyme.  The harvest in East Anglia was saved, but not all of it further south.
Sept
A dry beginning to the month, then showery.
Oct
Mild
Nov
The first weeks of the month very adverse.
Saturday 8th heavy rains Exeter and Bath; a chaise was washed away near Exeter.
Sunday 9th November dreadful storm of wind in the morning, Stevenage.  The Chartist meeting on Kennington Common was dispersed as much by heavy rain as by the horse volunteers…
Largely temperate for most of rest of month
Frost at the end of November.
Dec
Mild for most of month.
Snow fell Saturday 29th which slowed down the Mails.  6’ deep in some places.

1801
Jan
Mild, very little frost, wet
Feb
Mild but damp, a few frosty nights.
Tuesday 17th inclement weather
Mar
Strong winds, and frequent rain.
Falmouth: Tuesday 17th,  wind S, blowing strongly.
Plymouth:
Wednesday 18th, wind SW moderate
Thursday 19th, wind WSW and blowing hard [Falmouth wind NW]
Friday 20th wind SW hurricane with rain until 2pm, hail in the evening
Saturday 21sr wind SW hurricane
Sunday 22nd wind SW, blowing hard [Falmouth, wind W, squally]
Monday 23rd wind SW, moderate
Tuesday 24th, wind W, moderate
Apr
Prevailing winds W and SW. Dry and cold in North, especially cold on Sunday 12th.
Wet in West of England, with W and SW gales.
May
First week in May, charming weather, but no dust.  Mild, warm rains and sunny weather, excellent for the crops.  Prevailing winds W and SW.
Jun
Largely dry and warm.  Early thunderstorms, at Southwell a woman and child were killed by lightning.
Tuesday 30th, Ball lightning in Hoxton.  Full moon, wind WNW, showers.
Jul
Wednesday 1st, thunderstorm, lightning strikes near Bath, woman killed in her own home by ball lightning down the chimney.
In general there were heavy and frequent showers in the early and mid part of the month.
Wind and weather shipping report:
Wed. 1st Plymouth SW, rain: Falmouth NW, fair
Thur. 2nd Plymouth WSW, rain: Falmouth s, heavy rain
Fri. 3rd Plymouth SW, rain; Falmouth NW showers
Sat. 4th Plymouth SW, rain: Falmouth NW fine, later heavy rain
Sun. 5th  Plymouth SW, fair: Falmouth variable, fresh
Mon. 6th Plymouth SE, rain: Falmouth  S, strong, rain
Tues. 7th Plymouth SW cloudy
Showery rain in this month filled the ears of corn in the south, but  in the north and east there was hail and rain that was less welcome.
Wednesday 22nd thunderstorm Suffolk
Thursday 23rd Various thunderstorm, Portsmouth, Richmond, Berkshire [where 2 are killed]. Heavy storm of hail in Reading, also in Elmsett in Suffolk, corn [wheat] beaten down.
Aug
Early rain, including some heavy showers clearing around Thursday 6th, wind veering to ENE.
Saturday 2nd, near Stratford, violent thunderstorm and rain, killed 2 men and a cow.  The Royal Cornish Gazette ran an article on how to preserve life from lightning strikes.
Fine and warm for rest of month, though cold at night with mists.
Wed. 26th Plymouth variable, sultry: Falmouth, variable, fine
Thur. 27th Plymouth SSE, sultry: Falmouth E
Fri. 28th Plymouth SSW, sultry: Falmouth E
Sat. 29th Plymouth ESE sultry: Falmouth N
Sun. 30th Plymouth SW fair until evening, then storm, rain and lightning and hail until 7am next morning: Falmouth SW fine, then heavy rain.
Mon 31st Plymouth SW showery: Falmouth, N fresh breeze

Sept
Tuesday 1st, Plymouth, westerly wind, fair weather.
Sunday 6th Wellington/Salop thunderstorm and rain lasting 2 hours; dreadful lighting at Coalbrookdale
14th September Thunderstorm, lightning and rain for 2 hours Gloucester.
Generally a lot of rain in the north, but hard, drying winds
Oct
A month of mainly fine weather.
Tues.6th Falmouth N, fair
Wed, 7th Plymouth SW rain: Falmouth SE
Thur. 8th Plymouth SW, rain: Falmouth SW
Fri. 9th Plymouth SE, hard rain, incessant rain: Falmouth SW, heavy rain
Friday 9th near Salisbury, in a circle about 3 miles across, clear skies darkened, scattered clouds gathered then ‘exploded’ as a whirlwind arose causing damage to property.  Lightning and thunder lasted 20 minutes, then heavy rain with hail, some stones 3” across. 
Sat. 10th Plymouth SE, cloudy, heavy rain.
Saturday 10th London, fine and warm day until evening when a thunderstorm started, lightning for an hour before any rain, very violent, lasted until 3am Sunday 11th.
Sun. 11th Plymouth SE, fair; Falmouth S
Mon. 12th Plymouth variable; Falmouth, variable
Tues. 13th Plymouth, SW, fair, wheat down to 18/6d from 27/6d a fortnight previously.
Tuesday 20th [full moon 21st] Lunar rainbow observed at Edinburgh on the Western horizon; a full bow for half an hour.
Thursday 22nd very inclement weather.
Nov
Tuesday 3rd heavy seas in the channel and storms
Wednesday 25th tempestuous weather, much damage at Margate, destroying Hubbard’s bathing room, Tennant’s shop and Hughes’s hot baths, and broke down portions of the parade in front of Mitchener’s Hotel.
Friday 27th tempestuous weather all around coasts at night, storm NNE to NE, hail and rain.  Ships sunk and driven inshore.
Saturday 28th Shrewsbury, mail delayed by deep snow in parts of Worcestershire and Goucestershire, the coach having often to quit the roads and travel over fields.  Near Marlborough, drifts were several feet deep.
Rain at end of month
Dec
Intense frost throughout month

1802
A dry year especially in London and the South
Jan
Intense frost but dry throughout the month, but in the south west of the country cold wet weather at beginning of the month, killing newborn lambs.
Wednesday 20th and Thursday 21st hurricanes across the land.  In Manchester several houses blown down and 4 people crushed to death. Several vessels on the Mersey foundered as well as houses blown down in Liverpool.  Ships sunk at anchor, much loss of life.  A servant girl near Doncaster killed by a falling chimney.
This great gale extended in a lessened form to the 28th of the month off and on, becoming severe again on the 28th.
Feb
 Frost at beginning of month, rain in later part
Mar
Prevailing winds W and SW; on the whole fine weather.
Apr
Prevailing winds W and SW, fine and warm weather, late showers
May
Changeable temperature in the onset of the month with cold and severely frosty nights.  Very little rain throughout, and most of month cold.  Prevailing winds W and SW.
Jun
Light showers at first but general drought.  Cool weather. ? low 50s F
Jul
Drought ends with cold rain throughout the month, cold weather and high winds.  Rain continuous and heavy in later part of month. 
Tuesday 20th Thunderstorms in Scotland, much rain in Aberdeen
Aug
Remarkably fine and dry, bountiful harvest
Wednesday 25th Newcastle, thunderstorm with heavy wind and hail.
Sept
Fine and very dry on the whole.
Wednesday 8th, sudden storm of wind and rain, then thunder and lightning for about an hour, fairly widespread.
Oct
Fine and mild, dry at beginning of month, late mild rain.
Friday 8th Brighton, storm from SW
Wednesday 13th Swansea, a fine day for a balloon ascension
Nov
Mild for time of year, some gentle rain
Dec
Mild temperatures for time of year throughout

1803 On the whole a dry year but seldom 10 days at a stretch without rain.  However it was dry enough for many springs to dry up, to be replenished after October.
Jan
Severe weather following the warmth of the previous month; severe frosts.
Saturday 8th [day after full moon] about midnight a hurricane from ESE, rain and sleet, Newcastle bears the brunt.
Feb
Milder weather, frosts largely dissipate after the early part of the month.
Mar
Early frosts, then finer weather.  In Midlands, the early frosts were severe.  Prevailing winds W and SW.
Apr
Generally dry weather.  In Yorkshire and the north frosty nights between 18th and 20th, then several days stormy and tempestuous.
Sunday 24th wind and light showers on the Sunday promenade in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, with a ‘blush of sunshine’.  Then sudden storms and a torrent of rain scattered the promenaders to Piccadilly to avoid the storm, doubtless with many a blush at suddenly transparent muslin.  Prevailing winds W and SW.
May
Cold northerly winds at the beginning of the month, but warm gentle rains towards the close, by which time prevailing winds W and SW
Jun
Frequent but not torrential rains, but insufficient to relieve drought especially in Scotland [the wrong type of rain, no doubt, as our modern water board would put it.]  Some burning hot days but cold nights.
Monday 6th violent thunderstorm which did damage across the country.
Jul
Fine and warm
[Saturday 9th July fire broke out in tower of Westminster Abbey; roof fell in before fire was under control but no damage to monuments. ]
Aug
Continuous heat and sunshine.  Rain in North, uninterrupted fine weather in Midlands.  Too dry for some crops to survive.
Sept
Unusually fine weather, with late, fine rains
Oct
Largely fine, rain at beginning of month, but still something of a drought
[Friday 2nd Astley’s Amphitheatre burned down as well as some houses behind it; Mrs Wood, mother of Mrs Astley, lost her life.]
Nov
Wet, especially near start of month, but heavy rains throughout month.
Sunday 13th a most beautiful vivid meteor seen in London and other parts of the country about 8pm.  Some reported a noise like thunder accompanying it.
Tuesday 22nd South Coast, rain, hail, thunder and lightning, W and WSW winds; storms across South.  At Bromswell the storm was preceded by an explosion in the air, followed by a ‘heavy noise’ for a few seconds, striking those observing it temporarily blind from the flash, and a strong sulphurous smell, followed by torrents of rain.
Dec
Snow and frost at beginning of month, then thaw and much rain.
Tempestuous weather in the last week of the month especially along the Sussex coast especially Sunday 25th and Monday 26th.  Average temperatures 40.4 ° Fahrenheit in London, and temperature on 24th was 2° higher than on June 24th 1802!

1804
Dry summer continuing well into September with pleasant weather
Jan
Much rain throughout the month, but mild temperatures.  Tempest of wind and rain towards the end of the month.
Thursday 19th tremendous gale and storm from SW  Gloucester and other parts of the county; struck in Plymouth on Friday 20th.  Gales along the coast for several days. Damage done to the shipping at Falmouth on the 25th; reckoned a worse storm than the one the previous month.
Feb
Dry; frosts and thaws
Mar
Largely fine in South with late sharp strong winds and frosty.  Weather in North more severe. Prevailing winds W and SW
Apr
Strong frosty winds to open the month, and cold  rains prevailing to near the end of the month.  Prevailing winds W and SW.
Monday 30th Brighton, 2 hours before daybreak a tremendous thunderstorm with hail and rain, thunder and sheet lightning, so loud that many supposed the French had landed and the noise was artillery flashes and reports.
May
Very fine weather.  Prevailing winds W and SW
Friday 4th Cheshire and Somerset  storm of rain described as tropical in its intensity.  Part of Berchen cliff fell.
Monday 7th Lewes tempest and heavy rains commencing after midnight and finishing between 6am and 7am.
Tuesday 8th foggy at sea; Manchester, violent storm; tornado at Bolton and ball of lightning.
Jun
Dry and warm.
Sunday 24th June, Brighton, it was sultry all day; the Steyne had a military parade, and shortly after it was over, around 8pm, a storm with rain and hail until 11pm.  At 10-30 ball lightning came down a chimney but no-one was harmed. It passed out through the window and exploded in a sulphurous reek.  The houses were shaken by thunder.   In Woolwich, the same storm’s lightning set light to the rigging of a sheer hulk.  It struck again and blinded two sailors.  The storm was experienced as far north as Bucks.  In London a woman was killed by lightning in Grosvenor Square.

Jul
Dry and warm in South, heavy rains in North.
Wednesday 11th thunderstorm about 3pm of great severity in the region of Glasgow; a girl killed by lightning. Ball lightning and rain.
Sunday 15th violent storm in Norfolk, Suffolk and eastern Essex, ricks set on fire, and two men, a dog and a cow struck dead by lightning, others singed or burned by it.
Tuesday 31st storm on coast of France.
Aug
Wednesday 1st heavy gales in the West;  ship driven from mooring
Thursday 2nd thunderstorms in Ireland
 Friday 3rd tempests in East; Thunderstorms Western England and ball lightning at Brailsford.  Vivid lightning Shropshire, and rain heavy enough to damage crops.  2” rain in Hampshire.
Fine dry weather with some rain, but moderate, and mostly in North for rest of month.
Sept
Fine weather, still dry on the whole
Friday 14th, Plymouth SSW, cloudy
Saturday 15th Plymouth, sultry until noon then storm of thunder and lightning, lasting about an hour.
Sunday 16th Plymouth, SW, fair.
Monday 17th Plymouth, SW, fair and sultry.  St Lambert’s day celebrated
Tuesday 18th, Plymouth ESE, cloudy and sultry
Before Tuesday 18th: [reported on that date as ‘lately’] Small tornado out of sultry weather at Whitby. [probably the 15th?]
Oct
Rain, but mild
Friday 26th Plymouth SSE, fair
Saturday 27th Plymouth SSW hurricane force, blowing up overnight and continuing into the day:  Falmouth, wind S.  Bristol also has hurricane.
Sunday 28th Plymouth SW blow hard and rain: Falmouth wind S
Monday 29th Plymouth SW, rain: Falmouth SE
Tuesday 30th Plymouth SW, cloudy: Falmouth S
Wednesday 31st Plymouth, SW: Falmouth SW
Wednesday 31st Cornwall, storm of thunder and lightning and sudden gusts of wind.  Hereford  dreadful storm of thunder and lightning in the evening, and at around 10pm a tornado that levelled 130 apple and pear trees in a swathe 200 yards in length and 40 yards in breadth. Those to either side were uninjured.  Wind SE and NW changing momentarily.  10 or 12 oaks destroyed in wood at end of the orchards. Before and after tornado, night very dark and calm. Heavy rain fell at intervals and frequent flashes of lightning.
Nov
Rain for much of month.
Thursday 1st Falmouth SW
Friday 2nd Falmouth, N
The astronomer La Lande calculated that more rain had fallen in the last 9 months than had fallen in the preceding 27 months.
Sunday 4th, Glasgow heavy wind and swell in harbour such that a ship parted its cables and blew away.
Sunday 18th conjunction of Venus and Saturn.   Gales in the Channel.
Dec
Some rain and mild in first half of month.  Dry frosty weather towards close of month.  Average temperature 37° F in London. Heavy snow in middle of month in Scotland, which delayed the London mails on the 20th.

1805
Wet summer in London
Jan
Sharp frosts through most of month and continuous rain in the East
Sunday 6th and Monday 7th heavy rain around Chester.   In the south east there were also severe storms and heavy rain and strong wind, and during the Sunday night rain, snow and frost in turn.
Monday 21st The Serpentine being frozen, hundreds of skaters repaired there, but decided it was unsafe.  About 3 pm some score decided to test it, and they skated for a while without mishap encouraging others.  About 50 were on the ice when it gave way simultaneously in 2 places.  4 men fell through, one in attempting to rescue another, and all but 1 were saved using ladders.
Feb
Mild
Mar
Cold, dry weather  through much of month; winds as much from E and NE as from W and SW
Apr
Fine, some light seasonal rains at start of month, sharp frosty night at end of month, generally dry.
8th Apr fine bright warm day.
May
Sharp cold winds from NE; cold, especially at night, often frost in the mornings, wet weather.  Wind veered W at end of month.  As many winds during month from E and NE as from W and SW.
Jun
Seasonal rains; heavy showers in Home Counties.  North Easterly winds over much of month caused damage to exposed fruit trees.
Friday 14th Plymouth wind NNW, cold rain:
Saturday 15th Plymouth wind NNW, cold. Falmouth, wind  N
Sunday 16th Plymouth wind variable, some light showers, cold evening: Falmouth wind W
.
Monday 17th Plymouth wind W, cloudy and cold in the evening: Falmouth wind W
Monday 17th Whitehaven, a torrent of rain
Tuesday 18th Plymouth wind NW, cloudy and cold. Falmouth, wind NNW. Storm in the Yarmouth Roads [shipping lanes near Isle of Wight].
Wednesday 19th Plymouth wind NNW: Falmouth, wind N
Thursday 20th Falmouth wind N
Friday 21st Falmouth wind variable
Friday 28th London about noon, tremendous storm or rain, hail, lightning and thunder, lasting 20 minutes.  Many windows were broken and the streets deluged rising so high in Clement’s Lane, some 2-3’ deep, that a stall was carried away.  The hailstones were the size of marbles. Kingston-upon-Thames, a dreadful storm with torrents of hail and rain. Rain ran off hills, and lightning caused much damage. Floods in low lying areas.
Jul
Fine weather, after cold winds and dull weather at start of month,  Average temperature 61.5° F
Monday 22nd Manchester, violent thunderstorm.
Tuesday 23rd Leeds thunderstorm, and what appeared to be two sheets of fire descended on the roof of a factory, but no harm was done.  In Craven a small boy was struck dead by lightning, and fires were started by the lightning in various places.  Cheshire in general suffered storms, also Staffordshire.
Monday 22nd to Thursday 25th Carlisle and other parts of Cumbria much rain fell, rendering the streets almost impassable.  Thunder and lightning off and on.
This summer reckoned to have experienced more thunder than in living memory.
Aug
Fine weather on the whole
Rain and thunderstorms in middle of month improved the hops.
Saturday 10th, full moon such as to cause very high spring tides, and for the next three days
Sept
Fine on the whole
Saturday 21st Margate, a torrent of rain about noon, spoiling the public breakfast for the fashionable at Dandelion. It brightened for them however by 3pm.
Oct
Started fine and dry, but wet at end
Friday 25th hurricane followed by gusty weather Devon.
Tuesday 29th,  weather deteriorates generally
Nov
Relatively mild and moist
Dec
Severe weather to open, with snow; generally cold wet weather.  Lowest temperature  Tuesday 17th, 20° F, wind SW [Polar maritime returning if anyone cares].  Average temperature 38.3° F

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Publishing again - it's been a long time.

Well, I've finally submitted the latest Felicia and Robin book for publishing, and also a new Regency, hopefully the first of a series [called the Brandon Scandals series], 'A Hasty Proposal' which had an earlier working title of 'The Unexpected Bride', a name already in use.... There's an extracts from it Here and also see below for the opening. [Keep scrolling down after going to the link, there's an article about the illuminations first and an extract showing how I used them in my book following]

Felicia and Robin have their first 'braided novel' in which short stories follow on one from another.  It's a segue between 'Hatreds Heretics and Histories' and 'The Colour of Murder' which will follow.  Felicia and Robin become involved in the dastardly doings of simple country folk in North Norfolk [finishing with travelling through Ipswich and then Winchester on their way to Henry VIII's court.]

So here's the opening of the first story of Midsummer Mysteries:



1 Murder at the Bounds


        It was no very pleasant thing to happen upon a dead body when beating the bounds.
        That the body was that of an old man with his hose about his ankles and a look of pure shock upon his face did not tend to soften the experience in any way.

        My grandfather’s household was beating the bounds under the nominal guidance of his chaplain, Toby Marjoram, whom I could not call Father Toby without wanting to giggle at the absurdity of it.  His quite ridiculously blonde hair with its concomitantly invisible eyebrows and lashes gave him the permanent air of a surprised choirboy.  His habit of blushing whenever he came within six feet of a female over the age of about ten years did not add to his dignity.  I had been forced to forbid Pernel from playing with him, for she developed a most naughty fascination with trying to make him blush, though she was younger than the age generally that females drove him to roseate incoherence.
        All the children had been keen to go along to beat the bounds, largely because Adam had a wager with Pernel and Emma that Bennett the stable boy would end up being beaten over at least one stone as the naughtiest boy on the whole estate.  Bennett was some twelve or thirteen summers with a reputation for madcap scrapes that made our three look calm; and for fighting.  He was not, to his chagrin, old enough to join the rowdy quaffing of the older hands, whose sole interest in beating the bounds  - as soon as the prayers at each stone was done – was to sink a tankard of ale at one draught.
        I broke my Robin of excessive drinking – save when he was low over something – when I was just a little girl, still his apprentice.
        The object of this drinking game was to complete the bounds in a state that might loosely be accorded the description ‘conscious’;  few enough remembered their own names at the end, let alone where they might be or where the boundary was.

        The body, however, did have something of a sobering effect on our tipsy bounds beaters; and Kit Scullion dropped his handbell with a dull clatter.
        “Oh d-dear,” said Master Marjoram.
        He was occasionally given to hopelessly inadequate remarks.
        I think that was his most inadequate to date.
        Grandfather pushed his way forward.
        He did not have to push very hard.  Drunk they might be, ignore the baron they would not.
        “’Tis John Weaver,” he said. “He has the linen loom out at the cottage over the hill.”
        “Ha!  Yew reckon, Sir Godfrey, that him be so tired out from serving his young wife hid keeled over just from gittin’ out hisn pizzle tu ‘grow a rose’?” jested one wag.
        I have no idea why the euphemism ‘grow a rose’ should be so common; but that it is so is shown by the number of towns with a ‘Rose Lane’ that have at least some time been open sewers. 
        There was ribald laughter at the wag’s jesting remark.
        “If he be wed, somebody should tell his wife,” I said repressively.  “Mistress Jermyn, will you go to her?  Take her to the Hall – we shall put his body in the chapel and lay it out decently.  No need for her to see it thus undignified.”
        Grace Jermyn bobbed me a curtsey and set off.
        Grandfather scowled at Toby.
        “Take this rabble around,” he said.  “Rafe, Mark, stay to assist us with the body.”
        It had rained the night before; the ground was soft.
        There were two puzzling depressions before the stone – as though someone had kneeled there.  They did not seem right,
        “Could he have fallen to his knees there and then….no, he is sprawled as though falling from a kneeling position here” I said “And here is the mark where his knees hit, one slightly in front of the other – and here his hands; and they skidded, see the mark in the mud and grass.  I wager he was dead afore he hit the ground.”
        “I concur,” said Robin. “Which is why I am bothered that the top of his hose here have gathered mud and leaf mould and such as though someone had tried to pull up his stocks after he was on the ground.”
        We exchanged looks.
        This was an anomaly.
        In our work outside of our profession as artists, as agents for Tom Wolsey, we had become even more adept at noting anomalies than we already were as trained observers.
        There was a golden thread about three feet up, caught in a thorn bush.  It looked and felt like hair.
        I put it in my belt pouch.
        “What a horrid thing on such a pretty day!”  I said, crossly.
        “Never mind, my dearest dear,” said Robin cheerfully. “We did not know him.”
        The early summer’s sunshine gleamed in his golden hair and his eyes reflected the sky’s blue; and his smile was soft.
        Corpses despite he looked quite contented.  
        He had not long completed successful repairs to the damage effected by a most spiteful girl to the best painting he has ever done.  It shows me as the Queen of Sheba ‘black but comely’ as the Song of Songs says, and more beautiful than I had ever realised I could be, from the love for him that shone in my painted eyes. And he had substantially finished the painting of Pernel and Emma in a bluebell wood that would take a proud place in our own house, wherever we ended up living.
        How I looked forward to becoming his wife!

        Rafe and Mark were shifting the body to move it when Robin bent over and peered.
        “Hello,” he said in a strange voice.
        I looked where he pointed.
        There appeared to be a trickle still red and sticky blood from the man’s rear.
        “Emerods?” I suggested.
        It is a painful condition, I am told, and they can bleed. If one burst suddenly, painfully, it might, I suppose, lead to death from pain and shock in so old a man.
“Maybe,” said Robin.  “I think we should examine him in the chapel.  When you have him there, one of you men ride to inform Prioress Elizabeth at St Mary’s.
Grandfather raised an eyebrow.
“Should not it be the priest of Holy Trinity that be informed?”  he asked.
He was a great stickler for form.
“Lady Elizabeth has worked with us before,” I said.  “And she has more balls than most priests I know, save Tom Wolsey.  And mayhap Father Eusebius,” I added, having reluctantly rather liked the acid representative of the Bishop of Norwich.
Robin chuckled.
“I’m not sure, dear shrewling, if the Lady Elizabeth would appreciate that as a compliment.”
“Knowing Lady Elizabeth, she’d take it in the spirit in which it was meant,” I said. “She was very calm when we examined the deceased Dean, and very sensible.  Pity those drunken oafs have walked all across here to have a good peer.  We might have got more idea of what happened here by the marks on the ground.”

We returned to the chapel to do a thorough examination of the body.



Meanwhile meet Edward Brandon, who would be most put out to be called scandalous: 

Chapter 1

Edward Brandon shut the door with unnecessary vigour, stopping short of actually slamming it. 
“She need not think that she can trifle with my affections like that!” he snarled.  “I – by Jove, I’ll marry the first woman who shows me a kindness without expectation of a reward!”
His groom wisely said nothing as Edward swung himself up into his phaeton and drove away, his bad mood strictly controlled so as not to upset the horses, but his face like thunder.
Miss Amelia Hazelgrove had just made it clear to her erstwhile suitor that she had no interest in a mere ‘Mr’ who no longer might be considered to have the expectation of inheriting a tidy little barony.  He was probably no longer his uncle’s heir, since his new aunt-by-marriage was rumoured to be in an interesting condition, his uncle having remarried relatively recently.
Edward, interrupted in the middle of a proposal to Miss Hazelgrove by her refusal, had stared, and upon being informed as to that damsel’s reasons had demanded to know whether he meant anything to her but a means of social elevation.  The Beauty had tossed her charmingly arranged head of black curls, pouted her exquisite and sultry lips, and informed him that the whole point of marriage was for the participants to be of use to each other.  Heartbreak and anger warred in Edward’s breast; anger won.

Edward found himself driving out towards Hampstead, and realised that he was going to visit his aunt, the Honourable Letitia Grey.  Aunt Letty was always soothing. Edward laughed cynically.  He was about to renege on the vow he had made, as he could scarcely marry his aunt.  However, the vow had been made, and relatives did not, of course count.  He adjusted his muffler against the chill of the March winds, now he had cooled down sufficiently from his anger to notice the surroundings.  Edward gave the horses their head as he came out of London and into the country, after passing the toll-house at The Spaniard Inn.  It was not far to his aunt’s house from here, but he wanted the speed to wash through him, wash away some of the numb anger and agony.  He was aware of his groom hanging on grimly and lifted a hand half in apology to him.  Spencer was a good man and loyal, and was doubtless already working out that his master had been turned down, as Edward was not generally given to black moods or excessive speed, unless engaged in a race.  And Edward preferred those races organised somewhere like a park, with circuits, rather than upon the public highway where one might discommode ordinary travellers or working carters.
He started to slow, preparing to turn off the highway onto the road to his aunt’s house, just before Finchley. He slowed his team further with consummate skill just before he turned, as the herd of pigs swept round the bend. The youth in charge of them touched his forelock and as Edward indicated with his whip that he wished to turn off, skilfully shooed his herd to the other side of the road to accommodate Edward’s passage. The forelock was fully pulled and a grin adorned the bucolic youth’s face as Edward tossed a coin to him, from a selection he kept on the dash.  Edward liked to be able to be ready to throw the correct change to tollgate keepers, and to have vails ready in case of need, without fumbling in his pocket, and had had a small box attached to the dash, to stop loose coins being readily thrown off by the motion of the carriage.  He drove at a relatively sedate pace up to his aunt’s pleasant Queen Anne house, larger than a cottage, but more modest than might be suggested by his aunt’s comfortable income from her late husband’s skilful investments.


Mrs.  Grey’s butler admitted him, taking his coat and murmuring that Mrs.  Grey was abroad presently, but that there was a fire in the parlour.  Edward was about to go through when he heard an exclamation, and noticed that his aunt’s quiet young companion had come into the panelled hall, having been arranging flowers in the scullery.  She put down the vase filled with ivy and a few windblown narcissi, height given by the white flowers of dogwood, and a few sprays of the yellow dogwood too.
“Why, Mr. Brandon, you look most unwell!” she said.  “I will fetch you a nice posset right away; do please go and get warm by the fire, Aunt Letty is out presently, but will return soon.”
Edward opened his mouth to say that he would prefer a whisky, but found himself bundled into a chair, and presently provided with a beverage which appeared to be generously endowed with alcohol.  He sipped the sweet mixture appreciatively.
“Thank you, Miss, er, Renfield, I am not ill,” he said.  “Though by Jove!  It would be worth being ill for your posset.”
“Gentlemen need building up,” said Miss Renfield, demurely.  “Excuse me, but you are, or were, quite white, and looked most unlike yourself.”
“I had a shock,” said Edward; and found himself telling her all about it.  Elizabeth Renfield was a good listener; no wonder Aunt Letty found her soothing to have around, thought Edward.  As he recalled she was a relative in some degree – which meant she was a distant relative of his too, he supposed – to his mother’s family. Miss Renfield was looking most concerned, which was very flattering.
“Dear me!” she said.  “How very cold blooded Miss Hazelgrove sounds!  Of course, I am fortunate to have a good position with Aunt Letty, and she has told me I need not worry about the future, which is generous of her, so I am in a position to look scornfully on mercenary motives, and to marry purely for social advance seems quite as mercenary as marrying for money. And to be honest, if one is content, one is rich indeed, don’t you think?”
“Miss Renfield, I confess I’ve never met anyone content before, so I have no idea,” said Edward, “but it’s a refreshing way to consider relative wealth. I suspect that in some ways you may be better off than many a duke with a fortune.”
“I probably am,” said Beth Renfield.  “Are you feeling better for having talked about it?”
“Much,” said Edward, “and thank you.  “Though I am still resolved to marry… Miss Renfield!” he said, suddenly struck by a thought, “It occurs to me that you are the first lady I have spoken to who has done me a kindness without considering any reward!”
Beth blushed.
“I suppose I am,” she said, “but then, of course, I didn’t think of it like that, because you needed someone to take care of you.”
“Then, by Jove, you shall take care of me!” said Edward.  “Miss Renfield, will you do me the honour of being my wife?”
Beth blushed even darker red.
“Are you sure you mean that?” she said.
“I do mean it,” said Edward.  “Unless your heart is already engaged by another?”
She shook her head, looking down at her hands. She wished in passing that her hands were not so short and inelegant.
“My heart belongs to nobody else,” she said.
Beth, in fact, had been in love with Edward for as long as she could remember after entering Mrs.  Grey’s household, straight out of school.  This should have been a fairytale ending, and yet, he was only marrying her because that wretched Hazelgrove girl had turned him down, and she was available, and kind to him.  Beth wished fervently that she could be unkind to Miss Hazelgrove.
“Then say you will?” said Edward.
“I should refuse such a precipitate offer and beg you to sleep on it,” said Beth, who would not tie him to her on such terms.
“I will not change my mind,” said Edward. 
“Then providing you are still of the same mind in the morning, and delay any notice of engagement until you are quite certain, I agree,” said Beth, recklessly.  She might regret a marriage to someone she loved to distraction, and who had been no more than ordinarily polite to her up until now, and scarcely knew she existed, but she was going to have him!