History and The Countess Series




On first reading it would seem that the entire world of the Countess Ashby dela Zouche is a fiction, but in fact there are very few incidents, even minor details in the novels which are not based on historical truth.

Alchemy was against the law but widely practiced.  It was a costly business but like today’s lottery if you could only win it your financial problems would be sorted for life.   Famous secret alchemists include Elias Ashmole (of Ashmolean Museum fame), the herbalist Nicholas Culpepper, Robert Boyle and Isaac Newton. (Unnatural Fire)

The Army and ex-soldiers  When peace broke out all over Europe, the British Army was all but laid off.  The Tangerines, 2nd foot, were used to support colonial interests in Africa, and there is a true tale of a diamond taken from an idol. Throughout the history of diamonds there are stories of people having their stomachs cut out to make sure they haven’t swallowed a jewel. (Fortune’s Slave)

All the events concerning the Eris, from the sinking by fire down to the crew members drinking their ship-mates’ blood and finally washing up at Newfoundland courtesy of a French merchantman where they were made by the Puritans to pay their way home working in the cod farms, are from the true account of the wrecked slave galley Luxborough. (Fortune’s Slave)

The Bank of England was founded in 1694 to solve the problem of the National Debt. Over a hundred women were among the primary investors. In 1699 the bank operated from Grocer’s Hall. (Fortune’s Slave)

The Bastille  During the Seventeenth century was not at all the rat-infested place of Les Miserables.  Inmates were generally aristocrats who had upset the king.  He let them bring in their own furniture, carpets and food, even their servants.  Soirees were held. (The Ambitious Stepmother)

Bechamel and Peas at Versailles  the Marquis Bechamel was a financier at Versailles in 1699.  Not much is know about him, except that he is unlikely to have been the person who invented the famous sauce which goes by his name, although it did first appear on menus at Versailles at that time.  Louis XIV had an enormous appetite.  He encouraged the first use of greenhouses to force out of season vegetables like asparagus.  According to records at the Potager du Roi, the official kitchen garden at Versailles, Louis went through a lengthy fad on peas, and these could be grown almost all year round. (The Ambitious Stepmother)

Chapter Headings in all four books are taken verbatim from books and pamphlets of the time.  In Unnatural Fire they are all alchemical terms, in The Rival Queens the are from The Passions by Charles Lebrun, in The Ambitious Stepmother they are recipes from a 1697 translation of François Pierre de la Varenne’s Le Cuisinier Francais and a 1702 translation of François Massialot’s “Le nouveau cuisinier royal et bourgeois, ou cuisinier moderne.”The chapter headings in Fortune’s Slave are ancient glass blowing terms.

Class – the world of Downton Abbey, Upstairs Downstairs and Jane Austen had not yet arrived.  Servants lived in very close proximity to their masters and mistresses.  If the master went to the theatre so did the valet or maid. They sat in cheaper seats, but these were only feet away from their masters.  Families dined at the table with their servants.  When travelling, the servants came in the coaches with them and slept across the bottom of the bed in inns along the way.  Outside palaces, there were no baize doors separating upper and lower.   In contrast to – say – Oscar Wilde or George Bernard Shaw, Restoration plays give many examples of the intimate relationships between servants and masters (See Lady Wishfort and Foible in The Way of the World; Aimwell and Archer in The Beaux Stratagem etcetera).

Colley Cibber appears as a character in The Rival Queens.  An actor manager and writer, Cibber later went on to be Poet Laureate.  He “improved” Shakespeare and added some famous lines to Richard III.  He was famously a penny-pinching social climber and his work was justifiably jeered at by Fielding, Pope and other superior writers.

Crime – there was no official police organisation in London, although there were constables, night-watchmen and beadles to keep the peace and raise the hue and cry.  In addition to this were trained bands of volunteers who dealt with mass uprisings etc.  Despite the name the trained bands weren’t actually trained to fight.  The prisons were foul and it was expensive to stay in them as daily charges were levied.  Most of the people inside were there for petty crime and debt.  Bribery and corruption abounded.  Only the most dangerous prisoners were kept locked up in cells.  All other prisoners were free to wander about within the prison, to beg for money through the street grille and even sit all day in the prison’s bar.  The legal process was pretty arbitrary and often very quick.
Public hangings took place in Tyburn at the Hyde Park end of Oxford Street (A plaque on a traffic island now marks the spot).  They always roused a carnival type crowd, complete with hawkers and stalls selling food. (Fortune’s Slave)
Forgers were more likely to hang than highway robbers; forgery and coin clipping were considered treason. Isaac Newton was busily regulating the currency at the Royal Mint, but coining cases still popped up. The actress Susannah Percival’s father was taken for a coiner and, after much pleading by famed actors and writers, his death sentence was transmuted to deportation to the American plantations. He died on the way to the ship at Portsmouth. (Fortune’s Slave)

Daniel Defoe was thirty-nine in 1699 and went by the name Daniel Foe. His only literary offerings up to this point were pamphlets, mainly diatribes against stock-broking. He was officially put in the pillory a few years later, but by 1699 had lost the amazing amount of £17,000 and been declared bankrupt. Among his investments were a diving bell which never came back up and civet cats which were seized by creditors before they produced any musk. Around this time he took an advisory job at the Lotteries Office. He had worked in wholesale hosiery and poultry, and lived with his wife at his mother-in-law’s house in Stoke Newington. Jonathan Swift called him ‘an illiterate fellow’. He was also known as ‘the Hackney Turnip’. Defoe’s first novel, Robinson Crusoe, was not published till Defoe was fifty-nine, in 1719, twenty years after this book is set.  (Fortune’s Slave)

The Dusty Boys were a troupe of homeless children many of whom had escaped from the Parish or were runaway apprentices, together with ex-army personnel used the nealing arches under glass-houses for free accommodation. Much of this, along with the ways of the dusty boys, the ‘City Blackguard’ is described by Defoe in his novel Colonel Jack.  (Fortune’s Slave)

The Eclipse –  There was a partial eclipse of the sun seen in London in September 1699 (Unnatural Fire)

Food and Drink   Hot chocolate was something of a craze. In France a duchess was brought to bed of a black baby. This was believed to be the result of imbibing too much chocolate. The infant died when only a few days old.  Tea was enormously expensive, mainly due to rarity value and tax.  All tea came from China.  Coffee was a new fad and very popular.  Coffee houses popped up all over town.
Little water was drunk as it was generally fetid.  Most Londoners washed down their meals with a glass of “small beer”.  Nightcaps included milk possets, a hot milk drink with alcohol, which were served from a communal dish with a number of spouts.
Oysters were cheap peasant food, whereas cod was an expensive rarity, more costly and sought after than prime beef.  Ox cheek was another meal for poorer people.  “Salads” was the term for all vegetables, cooked or otherwise.  Tomatoes were rarely eaten – only used as garnish, as they were considered poisonous.  Sweetmeats and suckets were very popular.  Sugar came in loaves.  Oranges were very popular at this time, and were called China oranges – as they originated in China.

Inheritance and Debt  – Inheritance and marriage laws made widowhood the most highly sought state.  While young, a woman’s wealth generally belonged to her parent; once married, it belonged to her husband; but once he had turned up his shoes … it was all hers.  But sadly so were his debts.
Although on marriage a woman was deemed free of debt, the debts of dead parents and husbands were inherited by their children and wives. (Fortune’s Slave)

Insurance Though ships had been insured by Lloyds for many years, insuring houses against fire was new, and life insurance was an idea being talked about. Ship insurance was based on the principle of unlimited liability – the same rule which bankrupted so many Lloyds underwriters in recent years. (Fortune’s Slave)

ISaac Newton  – homosexual and anti-social was by 1699 a famed mathematician and scientist who had formulated the theory of gravity.  His alchemy was not known about till recently but the frequent use of mercury is blamed for his erratic and cantankerous public behaviour.  He is believed to have preferred the company of males.  In 1699 he lived in Jermyn Street and was Master of the Mint.  He invented the cat flap. (Unnatural Fire)

Literacy – most people could not read and the split was not necessarily down any social or gender line.  The women playwrights Delarivier Manley and Mary Pix, who had both had plays performed in 1696, were not only literate but also familiar with French, Greek and Latin.  They came from poor middle class backgrounds.  At the same time many upper class men and women still signed with an X.  Nell Gwyn had risen from the dregs of society to become a famous actress, with plays written for her by Dryden and others before she caught the eye of King Charles, but she was illiterate.

Longevity in 17th Century – Although I have made one joke in the first chapter of Unnatural Fire pandering to the cliché of people dying young during this era*, the facts are not entirely how we like to think them, in our superior, cholesterol-conscious, exercise-mad age.
Although the statistics show that the average life expectancy during the Restoration period was around 40, it should be noted that the life expectancy in the USA in 1900 was a mere 47 and that average figures tend to spread unevenly.  At this time averages of life expectancy were highly overbalanced by infant and child mortality, which certainly was very high during the seventeenth century.  However, should you have been lucky enough to survive the ravages of disease, war and accident, and make it into adulthood, the chances of your seeing old age were not slight – as you can see from a random selection of people I have looked at when casting about for characters and facts within the Countess series.

Painters, Scientists etc
Mignard 1610-1695  = 85
Le Brun 1619-1690 = 69
Christopher Wren 1632-1723 = 91
Isaac Newton 1642-1727 = 85
Mme de Maintenon 1635-1719 = 84
Lady Castlemaine 1641-1709 = 68
Louise de Kéroualle, Duchess of Portsmouth 1649-1734 = 85
Hortense Mancini 1649-1699= 50 (suicide)
Olympe Mancini 1638-1708=70
Marie Mancini 1639-1715= 76
Corneille 1606 -1684 = 78
William Wycherley 1640-1715 = 75  (Wycherley married in 1680.  His wife died in 1715, and he died 10 days later)
Thomas Hobbes 1588-1679 = 91
John Aubrey 1626-1697 = 71
Samuel Pepys 1633-1703 = 70
John Evelyn 1620-1706 = 86
Catherine Trotter (one of my Female Wits) 1679-1749 = 70
Mary Rowlandson (US settler)  1637-1711= 74
Daniel Defoe 1659-1731 (72)
Thomas Betterton 1635-1710=75
Colley Cibber 1671-1757 = 86
Anne Bracegirdle 1671-1748= 77
There was also an actress called Peg Frier who first appeared in leading roles in 1661, and made her final appearance in 1720 at the age of 85, where she “danced a jigg at the end of the play with the nimbleness and vivacity of  five and twenty, laughing at the surprise of the audience and receiving unbounded applause.”

* “She cut a fine picture for a woman of her age. After all, most women of her age were dead.”  A quote which is already used in Dictionaries of Quotations.

The Lottery The English State Lottery was established in 1694 to help pay for wars and balance the debt.  It was eventually stopped in 1826. (Unnatural Fire & Fortune’s Slave)

The Man in the Iron Mask  Theories still abound.  All that is certainly known is that there was a mysterious prisoner, who had spent some time on an island off Marseille and who in 1699 was in the Bastille.  At that time he is supposed to have had shoulder length white hair. (The Ambitious Stepmother)

The Naked Man – famously walked the streets of London in 1699, whatever the weather.  He had hair to his waist and believed that covering the skin with clothing was dangerous as the cloth held in all the unhealthy impurities. (Unnatural Fire)

News and Printing – The first English daily newspaper, The Daily Courant, appeared in 1702 and was edited by a woman.  By 1709 innumerable daily, twice and thrice weekly, weekly and monthly papers were available.  Many of the printing shops were owned and run by women.  Already in the 1690s there were weekly and twice weekly news-sheets which held a fair amount of scandal and were of a similar make-up to today’s Private Eye.

Penny Post In 1680 William Dockwra set up an efficient penny post, where the recipient paid a penny and letters could be sent all over London.  Collections were made from postal stations within shops and taverns every hour, and there were up to fifteen deliveries a day. Most letters posted before 9 p.m. reached their recipient on the day of posting.
The service was so successful that the government took it over (and slowly but surely ruined it).  By the  nineteenth century public dissatisfaction led to the reforms of Rowland Hill, who made the cost of a letter payable by the sender rather than the recipient, and introduced adhesive penny stamps while the famous red pillar box was brought in by the novelist Anthony Trollope

The Poor Laws  The laws of debt, along with ever-escalating prison charges, meant that a debtor could be arrested and kept in prison for life by his creditors. Dickens centuries later expounded on this problem in Little Dorrit, David Copperfield, etc.  The Poor House was a newish invention in 1699. The first was opened in Bristol in 1696 and was a going concern with profits to be made. Poor Houses had not yet earned the scandalous reputation they had by the time Dickens wrote Oliver Twist.
Pregnant women with no visible husbands were discouraged from settling, because any bastard born within the parish boundaries had the right to support from that parish.  An act of 1576 had made it an offence to beget illegitimate children likely to be chargeable to the parish.  Any suspected father of a bastard was forced to give security to ‘save the Parish harmless’.  A woman’s word was considered proof enough to make a man liable for the child’s Parish expenses.  Any person in receipt of Parish relief was obliged to wear a large red or blue P on their outer garments. (Fortune’s Slave)

Rakewell is a character I have stolen hook, line and sinker from the actual character Charles, Lord Mohun, who twice committed murder and got off, thanks to noble connections.  For Rakewell’s House of Lords trial I have shamelessly stolen the dialogue from the official account Mohun’s trial.  I am not the first author to have used Mohun’s life.   Thackeray based Henry Esmond upon him. (The Rival Queens)

Refugees in France We hear a lot about the noble English taking in Huguenot refugees, forced out by the intolerance of Louis XIV and the French. Little is heard however about the noble French taking in the 40,000+ English Catholics, forced out of Britain by William’s so-called Religious  Toleration.   The Catholic émigrés settled principally in St Germaine En Laye, where the exiled King James II and his wife Mary of Modena held court and plotted his return to power until he died, still in exile.  James’s son became the Old Pretender, James Edward Stuart.  (A plaque in the Vatican, on the left near the entrance, marks his death calling him King James III of England.) (The Ambitious Stepmother)

Royal Mistresses had been financially maintained by Charles II, who famously gave a freehold house (the only freehold to this day in that area of St James’s) to Nell Gwyn.   His last words were ‘Let not poor Nelly starve’, as he knew his successors would not be so generous.  The mistresses who had given him royal bastards got more money and property.  The prim William III didn’t provide hand-outs for ex-mistresses of previous kings, and therefore the ladies who survived into this bleak age were largely by now on their beam ends.  By 1699 two of Charles’s ex mistresses, the Countess of Castlemaine and Duchesse de Mazarin, now decrepit old hags, still lived in their houses in St James’s.  The once famous rivals now regularly played cards together.  Mazarin, a foul-mouthed Italian, was a cross-dressing bisexual eccentric who kept a menagerie in her house, and had affairs with various crowned monarchs, including Louix XIV of France, Charles II of England and Queen Christina of Sweden.  Pigalle is a considerably watered down French variation on the original.

Samuel Pepys – Having secretly completed his diary 30 years earlier, due to poor eyesight, by 1699, 66 year old Pepys was living in the lodgings of his friend Will Hewer, in York Buildings, near the river and directly above the York Stairs Watergate.  No one knew then about the diary, but Pepys was a published writer, having written a very serious detailed book about the Royal Navy. (The Rival Queens)

Science – still at this point called Experimental Philosophy – flourished with formation of the Royal Society, founded by Charles II.  He had famously brought his mistresses in to witness exhibitions and displays of magnets.  But officially this world was forbidden to women.  (Unnatural Fire)

Sex abounded in the Covent Garden area with all tastes catered.  There really was an Elysium House of Flogging and prostitutes hung around the portico of St Paul’s Covent Garden. (Unnatural Fire) There was also a famed Sex Shop nearby where one could buy all varieties of dildoes, godemiches and condoms in different materials (leather, pig gut etc) and various sizes.  They were sold in threes and wrapped in coloured ribbons according to size.  They were not thought of as a contraceptive so much as a prophylactic – as they were supposed to protect a man from venereal disease.  Most condoms were reusable.  (The Rival Queens) Southwark, an area south of the Thames was also famed for its “stews” or lower class brothels.  As it was outside the reach of the London authorities, being technically in Surrey, it was a magnet for the lawless and those looking for a wild night out. (Fortune’s Slave)

Slang I am frequently pulled up by people who suggest that I use too much “modern slang”.  In fact nearly all the slang phrases I use were already recognised as cliche and slang back then.  I get much of the casual language from Jonathan Swift’s curious little book, Polite Conversation, in which he uses all the popular phrases of the day in a variety of dialogues.  He started the book in around 1704, but it wasn’t published till 1738.  It’s very amusing.

Slavery & the American Plantations During the Restoration period, America served as a dumping ground for undesirables, as Australia was later to do. A punishment just lower level than execution transportation was a sentence passed on highly serious crime like coin-clipping and some forms of theft.

At the same time, young men with no prospects at home subscribed for the free passage to America, in exchange for four years’ work on the plantations, and their eventual release. Few lasted the course.

Other Englishmen paid their way out, tried the plantations for a while, and moved on to establish themselves all over the new continent.

Oliver Cromwell had already deported many Irish and English Catholics to a life of slavery on the plantations. Like the criminals and their black African co-workers, the white Catholics were not offered the option of eventual freedom. (Fortune’s Slave)

The African slave trade was in its very early days. Up till this point black servants in Britain lived on similar terms to white servants. In many cases the lot of a black servant was easier, as their beauty was hugely admired, and as a result they were frequently dressed in sumptuous clothes and treated more like a pampered child than a servant. Many ‘Moors’ chose to stay on with their ladies even after the women had lost their money or prestige. There were many black musicians, swordsmen, soldiers, masseurs and entertainers in London from Tudor times through to the start of the eighteenth century. Most of them were descended from black families who had been in England for centuries. These people were nothing to do with the slave trade.  (Unnatural Fire)

St Paul’s Cathedral had burned down in the fire of London 1666, and in 1699 was still a building site.  Londoners eagerly awaited the proposed new spire, but designs were changed and the famous Wren Cathedral complete with Dome, was not completely finished till 1720.  The area around the churchyard was full of book stalls and hawkers.  The fire in the organ room really happened, in early 1699.  (Unnatural Fire)

Stocks and shares were new ways of using money, but there was no building known as the Stock Exchange.  All dealing was done in the coffee houses and on the Royal Exchange. In 1699 the Stocks Market was a square where vegetables were sold. (Fortune’s Slave)

Streets were unlit, and houses unnumbered.  Specific addresses were spelled out – “the house with the green door”, “under the sign of the snail and spigot”, “two doors up from the church”.  The only street with any form of permanent lighting was the King’s Road, but this road was stricly for royal use only, and used by the royal family to get from central town, Whitehall and St James, to Kensington Palace. (Unnatural Fire)

Ordinary people got around the dark street by using a servant who carried a flaming brand, or you could hire small link boys to light you home.  Link boys carried a link – or flaming torch made from a stick dipped in town and pitch or tallow.  These boys were not always to be trusted and could lead you up an alleyway where their friends waited.

The first London taxis – hackney carriages – plied throughout London, and waited at a ranks round the city.  A famous one stood under the maypole in the Strand.

A foresighted property developer build a kind of shopping mall nearby where shoppers could stroll unimpeded by adverse weather.  Wags suggested that, in order to help tired shoppers even more, small groups of street musicians should play at each corner so the ladies could dance rounds the shops as easily as they danced all night at a ball.

Sheep, dogs and chickens strolled wild in the main thoroughfares, people walked, rode or travelled by coach.

There were areas, principally Alsatia, by the Thames past London Bridge, which were totally lawless.  These places had once been sanctuary areas or Liberties, beyond the reach of the law, but, although by 1699 those rights had been repealed, few sane people would brave those streets at night. Southwark was such a place as it was not part of London, it was technically in Surrey, and still passed as a Liberty where the law could be openly flouted. Although the theatres and bear gardens were long gone, there were plenty of brothels and taverns, also the notorious Clink prison. Both the prison and the brothels were founded by Cardinal Blois, a relative of William the Conqueror’s son Stephen Blois. (Unnatural Fire; Fortune’s Slave)

Street cries – all the street cries and hawkers cries in the Countess books are taken from contemporary ditties and from real advertisements found in newspapers and periodicals.

The Theatre – There were 2 in London.  Both small intimate places, slightly smaller that the National’s Cottesloe Theatre in fact.  The stage was thrust out beyond the proscenium, and the stalls was a block of green baize benches.  All around the side of the auditorium were boxes, seating 20 or so.  People in the boxes were near enough to the people in the stalls to touch them.  The whole building of the 1699 Drury Lane theatre – front of house, scene dock, stage, auditorium and dressing rooms included – would fit on the current stage of Drury Lane theatre with a lot of space to spare.  The theatre atmosphere must have been more like the modern fringe than the kind of theatre conjured up today by the names Drury Lane and Covent Garden.

Even the plays which the Countess see or just misses in the books were the exact plays or entertainments which really were on for each particular week in 1699:  Xerxes, The Double Dealer, Signior Fideli, The Strong Man of Kent. (Unnatural Fire; The Rival Queens)

The theatre was not as bawdy as it had been a few years before – just like now really.  The 1660s had seen The Country Wife, probably the bawdiest play of the lot, universally acclaimed, while 1700 saw The Way Of The World, a much more sober affair, criticised for its smut.

The raciness was gone.

1699 saw the first ever mention of a play which had been censored and cleaned up for the public benefit. 1700 was a pivotal year in which England started moving away from joyous freedom and towards the dull, tight-arsed sexless stuff (which by the end of the eighteenth century led the way to the totally twee Sheridan).

At around this time the theatre took another turn towards the “common touch” with a deluge of novelty performers like performing animals, castrated singers and muscle men filling theatres, to the managers’ delight and the actors’ horror.   If you can fill a theatre with amateurs performing in rubbish – why bother with great drama and professional actors?  (Sound familiar?)

The managers also saw other ways of making more money by shortening the forestage and putting in more seating, while shoving the actors further back, eventually right behind the proscenium, an area which had hitherto only been used for optical effect and scenery.

The Tower of London served in 1699 as a garrison, a prison and a menagerie.  It was also a tourist attraction.  Recently traces of the zoo and the lions have been unearthed.   The chapel still stands, though in the 17th century it would have had screens within, as depicted in The Rival Queens.

 Travel – the Countess & Pigalle’s journey out to Acton (Unnatural Fire) is precise.  I followed the roads as printed in Ogilby’s Britannia of 1675, a travellers’ road map, taking the Duchess’s coach out along the Mall past Kensington Palace on the London to Bristol section, and then up onto  the London to Buckingham section.  Every bridge, village and stream described in the book is as indicated on the map.  The same is true of the journey to the Isle of Dogs (The Rival Queens) and all the rushing about in Southwark (Fortune’s Slave) where I used the huge William Morgan 1682 London map.

Transvestism & Eunuchs – male and female dress were not quite as different as they are now.  Men wore long hair, Cuban red-heeled shoes, tied with ribbons, and flounced about wearing suits of lace, satin and velvet.  The main sartorial difference was that women wore long skirts and men breeches and stockings.
However in the French court of Louis XIV there were a number of men who teetered about on high heels, plastered in make-up and diamonds.  The most famous were Monsieur, the King’s brother, and L’Abbe de Choisy.  In England there were no such high powered figures in drag, but it was suggested that Lord Cornbury, the British Governor sent out to New York in 1705, dressed as a woman in his official capacity as representative of Queen Anne.
Despite a missing piece of anatomy, the castrated eunuch singer, Signior Sigismondo Fideli, famously wowed the women of London when he appeared at Drury Lane Theatre in February 1699 and Fideli dolls were all the rage.  (Unnatural Fire)

Turnpikes were introduced in London to solve traffic problems and to generate finance to pay for roadworks.  In the USA today, The New Jersey Turnpike is still going (see Words).  In London we now have Congestion charging, a new electronic twist on the old turnpike method of charging travelers to use roads. (Fortune’s Slave)

Watermen, Sailors and their lingo  The 17th century cliché Waterman, instead of referring to the famous people he’d had in his boat, would have insulted both his passengers and those in other boats.  Watermen provided a kind of taxi service on the Thames, and are not to be confused with sailors, who had another language, full of phrases which have passed into standard English.  (Unnatural Fire; The Rival Queens)

King William III was unpopular with anyone who had been around in the swinging 1660s as he was a) Dutch, b) humourless & c) prim and almost priggish.  He was a dour little man.  5 foot tall with a limp, and asthma, William was constantly ill.  (His late wife Mary Stuart, like her father, James II, and uncle, Charles II, was 6 foot tall!)

William was the hated King Billy of the Scots, the Irish and the Catholics.  They’re still banging drums about him in Derry today.  The Battle of the Boyne and all that.  (My mother always spat when she passed his picture.)   Life under William was a dour business-like affair.
However the truth is that when Mary was alive William had at least one affair, with Elizabeth Villiers.  He kept her in a little cottage out in the country.  After his wife’s death (from smallpox) William kept a string of secret favourites, mainly Dutch boys.  I have simply rolled both types of paramours into one.  (Unnatural Fire)

Under William here was officially NO enjoyment to be had at court.  Moralists and finger-waggers abounded.  It was worthy, interfering and dire.  Not at all like the Swinging Sixties  (1660s or 1960s – take your pick) in ANY way.  Like today, I imagine “You shouldn’t” started many a sentence.  i.e “You shouldn’t eat chocolate”,  “You shouldn’t have sex with more than one person”  “You shouldn’t drink alcohol”,  “You shouldn’t be out all night dancing”,  “You shouldn’t decorate your house in a glorious tumult, it ought to be bleak — er sorry  — neutral, practical and efficient and clean looking with bare floorboards and lots of taupe.”  Extravagance, glamour and high-living was so yesterday.

Words I am always astonished to see how many Restoration words, lost now in England, are still to be found going strong in America. Although I have used the word ‘jacket’ throughout, the correct Restoration usage would be the American ‘vest’.  ‘Pocketbooks’ during the seventeenth century were larger than a wallet and smaller than a suitcase. Yet again the Americans are more correct than we are.   ‘Pud’ is another word I have used which is still current in the States. But over there it is not an abbreviation of pudding.

York Buildings and the Watergate  A grid of roads left in a will by George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, under the condition that they would be named after the donor.  Therefore the streets were called George Street, Villiers Street, Duke Street, Of Alley (now called York Place) and Buckingham Court.

The nearby Watergate, which features in The Rival Queens, can still be seen in the middle of Embankment Gardens.  The riverside was moved out, during Bazalgette’s embankment project of the 19th century.

Some suggestions for further reading:

The Sun King Nancy Mitford;
Transvestite Memoirs of the Abbe de Choisy;
A Biographical Dictionary of Actors, Actresses etc Philip H Highfill;
The London Stage Arthur Scouten etc.
Amusements Serious & Comical Tom Brown
Court Intrigues, The New Atalantis etc  Delarivier Manley
William & Mary John Miller
Britannia Vol I by John Ogilby His Majesty’s cosmographer
Plays by Thomas Otway, Aphra Behn, Susannah Centlivre, George Farquhar, William Wycherley, George Etherege, Sir John Vanbrugh etcetera
Nell Gwynne John Harold Wilson
The Female Wits Fidelis Morgan
Women Playwrights of the Restoration Fidelis Morgan & Paddy Lyons
The Female Tatler  edited by Fidelis Morgan
The Circulation of Newspapers and Literary Periodicals JR Sutherland
History of the Criminal Law of England Sir James Stephen
Restoration London Lisa Picard
1700 Maureen Waller
The London Spy Ned Ward
L’Autre exil Edward T Corp
La cour des Stuarts a Sainte Germain en Laye au temps de Louis XIV – exhibition catalogue
The Grim Bastille Kircheisen
Legends of The Bastille Franz Funcke-Brentano
Wits Wenches & Wantons EJ Burford