United Kingdom

Banyans: Garments that 18th Century Gentlemen Loved

Banyans were garments that became popular with gentlemen in the 18th century. They were oriental in style being influenced by Persian and Asian clothing and called morning gowns, robe de chambres, wrappers, or nightgowns. However, “by the year 1730 certainly, and possibly earlier, these Indian gowns had become known generally by the name banyan, banjan,…

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Princess Charlotte of Wales: A Most Unusual Princess

Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales was the only child of George, Prince of Wales (later George IV) and his wife, Caroline of Brunswick. Charlotte’s parents were cousins and her father married her mother to help resolve his enormous debts, but the marriage was disastrous. They were unsuited, each disliked the other, and George was in…

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Cremorne Gardens: Its History Between 1845 and 1877

Cremorne Gardens were popular pleasure gardens by the side of the River Thames in Chelsea, London, located between Chelsea Harbor and the end of the King’s Road that flourished between 1845 and 1877. The gardens began after the property was sold in 1845 to Thomas Bartlett Simpson. He owned the North & South American Coffee…

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Philadelphia Austen Hancock: Eliza de Feuillide’s Mother

Philadelphia Austen Hancock was born on 15 May 1730 to a not so successful surgeon in Tonbridge named William Austen and his wife Rebecca Walter née Hampson, who had been married before and had a son, William Hampson Walter. In addition, three other children were born to William and Rebecca: Hampson in 1728 (who died…

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Parliament Fire of 1834: The Night it Burned Down

The same year that Madame Tussaud established her Chamber of Horrors, was the same year that the parliament fire of 16 October 1834 began. Apparently, the Exchequer needed to dispose of an obsolete accounting system that had not been used since 1826. The system relied on elongated tally sticks described as follows: “[A tally is…

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Edward Austen Knight and His Fairy Tale Life

Edward Austen Knight’s fairy tale life began after Thomas Knight II* and his wife, Catherine Knatchbull of Chilham in Kent, adopted him. “Neddy,” as Edward was affectionately called, was the son of George and Cassandra Austen and born on 7 October 1768. He was their third son and described as a sweet, lovable, easy-going blond-headed…

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Rotten Row Accidents in Hyde Park in the 1800s

How Rotten Row acquired its name seems to be shrouded in controversy what is not controversial is the fact that it became a popular meeting spot for London’s upper classes, who in the eighteenth century frequented it on weekends on horseback. In addition, the adjacent South Carriage Drive also soon began to be used by…

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John Paul Jones: Pirate, Sailor, and Hero

John Paul Jones was the son of John Paul Sr. and Jean McDuff. He was born on 6 July 1747 at the estate of Arbigland near Kirkbean on the southwest coast of Scotland and was christened John Paul, but later added Jones as his surname. At the age of 13 Jones began his maritime career…

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Celia Holloway: Murdered by Her Husband John Holloway

Celia Holloway met her future husband John William Holloway, as he was christened, at the coastal town of Brighton on England’s southern coast located some 47 miles south of London. Brighton was a hot spot from about the 1730s onward for improving or curing one’s health by drinking or bathing in seawater. Those who patronized…

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Blind Tom Wiggins: The African-American Piano Prodigy

Blind Tom, as he was called, was an African American musical piano prodigy born on 24 May 1849 on a plantation owed by Wiley Edward Jones in Harris County, Georgia, to Charity and Domingo “Mingo” Wiggins. From birth Thomas Wiggins was blind* and in 1850, when he was three, he was sold with his enslaved…

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