Bognor and other Regises: A potted history of Britain in 100 royal places by Caroline Taggart #bookextract


bognar and other regises

Bognor and other Regises: A potted history of Britain in 100 royal places written by Caroline Taggart, publisher AA Publishing is available NOW in hardcover format.

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Most of us are fascinated by royalty, past and present. Whether glamorous or sordid, merrie or morose, our monarchs and their families have led lives very different from ours – and all too often they’ve held the Fate of the Nation in the palms of their hands. They’ve married for diplomatic reasons and created diplomatic incidents when they divorced. They’ve refused to marry and endangered the succession; they’ve borne a dozen children and still left no one to succeed them. They’ve got themselves excommunicated and created their own religions. They’ve waged war against their neighbours and their cousins; built frivolous summer palaces and formidable fortresses (and imprisoned their cousins in them). In so doing, they’ve left their mark all over Great Britain, in castles and churches, on battle fields and stained- glass windows. Their stories are written all across our landscape, if we know where to look for them. In this amusing and fast-paced tour of Britain, Caroline Taggart is our guide to all the weird and wonderful places connected with royalty over the last 1,500 years.

About the Author

caroline taggartCaroline Taggart worked in publishing for 30 years before writing I Used to Know That, a Sunday Times best-seller. Caroline is also author of the bestselling Her Ladyship’s Guide to the Queen’s English and Around Britain by Cake for AA Publishing. She has appeared frequently on BBC Breakfast and on national and regional radio, talking about language, grammar and Pythagoras’s theorem. Her record is 16 radio interviews in one day on the subject of exclamation marks. She lives in London.




I am so pleased to be able to share with you all an extract from the book:

The House of Hanover 1714 – 1901
George IV – Brighton Pavilion

It’s been described as looking as if the Taj Mahal had produced a litter of puppies, and certainly the Royal Pavilion’s many decorated domes and minarets are a surprising sight in a seaside town. But they have a certain symmetry and elegance, as you’d expect from the work of John Nash. It’s once you get inside the Pavilion that Nash’s royal patron’s taste for ornamentation has been allowed free rein and can leave the visitor gasping.
The royal patron in question was the Prince Regent, later George IV (he came to the throne in 1820, but had been Regent because of the madness of his father, George III, since 1811).
It’s easy to be rude about George IV – very easy – but he was a dedicated patron of the arts and made many important acquisitions for the Royal Collection. We have him to thank for the fact that we (the nation) own works by Rubens, Rembrandt and van Dyck, as well as all the major artists, sculptors, furniture makers and jewellers of his day. But you always get the feeling that George’s generosity was more to do with a desire to impress others than with any real kindliness. He wanted everything to be luxurious, not just for the sake of its beauty but to show that he had exquisite taste and that he could afford it. Except that, as it happens, he couldn’t. It was all paid for by grants from Parliament – which means, in the end, by the likes of you and me.
The Prince’s extravagance – not to mention his scandalous private life – had started long before he became Regent. While he was still in his twenties, Parliament had granted him today’s equivalent of over £18 million to pay his debts. He also went through a ceremony of marriage without asking his father’s consent. This – let’s call it an oversight – automatically invalidated the marriage, although the rigidly respectable George III would never have condoned it if he’d been asked: the bride, Maria Fitzherbert, was not only a commoner six years older than the Prince, she was twice widowed and a Catholic, ticking almost every possible box in terms of unsuitability.
What the Prince actually felt for Mrs Fitzherbert remains unclear – he is alleged to have worn her ‘eye miniature’ (an uncharacteristically discreet love token, depicting only the loved one’s eye) hidden under his lapel; it was buried with him at his request. But he was forced to renounce her publicly in order to make a politically advantageous marriage. He had agreed to marry a cousin, Caroline of Brunswick, because it meant Parliament would increase his allowance, but he found her repugnant and the couple separated as soon as they had produced an heir. Both continued to create scandals wherever they went. Having been very handsome in his youth, the Prince became obese in middle age; this, his extravagance and his unpopular political views were a rich source of inspiration for the satirical cartoonists. To go back to the Pavilion, George had a passion for Oriental art: he made full use of hand-painted Chinese wallpapers, chandeliers in the shape of lotuses and carvings of flying dragons. All of these can be seen in the Music Room, where Rossini once performed. The Long Gallery is intended to resemble a bamboo grove, although the background colour of the walls is a more flamingo-like pink. But the pièce de résistance is the Banqueting Room, where the combined effect of a spectacular chandelier, paintings covering every available wall space, a huge array of silver gilt tableware and a vast table laid for a lavish meal frankly makes you want to burst out laughing.
Although it is less extravagantly decorated, the kitchen is a worthy support to this panoply of excess. Two long tables are covered with the preparations of a meal that includes numerous forms of game bird, including a swan. Chickens roast on spits in the enormous fireplace and shelf upon shelf is laden with shining copper pans and dishes. On display is the menu for a banquet held here under the auspices of George’s French chef, the great Marie-Antoine Carême; it begins with five different sorts of soup, presumably to stop the guests getting peckish waiting for the swan to be brought in.
Shakespeare wrote about gilding refined gold, painting the lily and adding another hue unto the rainbow being ‘wasteful and ridiculous excess’. Brighton Pavilion wasn’t built for 200 years after the Bard’s death, otherwise you’d have thought it was exactly what he had in mind.


The Million Dollar Duchesses by Julie Ferry blogtour book review

the million dollar duchesses

The Million Dollar Duchesses: How America’s Heiresses Seduced the Aristocracy written by Julie Ferry, publisher Aurum Press Ltd is available NOW in paperback format.  The book was previously titled The Transatlantic Marriage Bureau and is available in ebook, hardcover and audiobook with this title.

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Product Details (as per amazon page)

On 6th November 1895, the beautiful and brilliant heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt was wedded to the near-insolvent Charles Spencer-Churchill, 9th Duke of Marlborough in a dazzling yet miserable match – it glittered above all others for high society’s marriage brokers who, in this single year, forged a series of spectacular, and lucrative, transatlantic unions.

The bankrupt and ailing British aristocracy was suddenly injected with all the wealth and glamour of America’s newest dynasties. Millions of dollars changed hands as fame, money, power and privilege were all at play.

Brimful of scandal, illicit affairs, spurned loves and unexpected tragedy, The Million Dollar Duchesses reveals the closed-door bargaining which led to these most influential matches and how America’s heiresses shook-up British high society for ever.

million dollar duchesses blogtour poster

I voluntarily reviewed an arc of this book. All opinions are my own and no content may be copied. However, authors and publishers may use elements of my reviews for quotes.

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting the paperback launch of Julie Ferry’s debut book: The Million Dollar Duchesses.

I don’t tend to read many factual books but I was fascinated by Julie Ferry’s The Million Dollar Duchesses.  In a way the book almost felt like a story from a Hollywood script with its glamour, scandal, tragedy and nouveau riches.  The book highlights a specific year, 1895, that started off the invasion of young American ladies; highly educated ladies with their own dowry seeking the employs of a ‘society matron’ to guide them into English society with the sole interest in wedding a member of the English aristocracy.  These ‘society matrons’ with which one of the major players was Minnie Paget, orchestrated a very strategic game of chess with people as pawns being moved into position to make the best possible first impression.  It was a business of strategic introductions, a secret transaction for an employ that was economically beneficial to all parties.

I loved the phrase “social godmother” that the author Julie Ferry used to describe these conductors of English social etiquette.  The “social godmothers” were quite manipulative and gained much from their machinations including the friendship of the Prince of Wales (Bertie) as he loved the grand gestures from the heiresses and was in attendance at many of their extravagant parties.  It almost sounded like a game of one-upmanship as heiresses tried to out-do each other in their tasks of entertaining the fun loving prince.

Sadly tragedy, scandal and gossip followed some of the young proteges.  Their new married lives started off with such great promise but life was to throw many hardships their way.

An interesting, quite fascinating read into a year that the business of people became a highly effective profession for many and has left a defined mark on the English aristocratic history we know of today.

About the Author

Julie Ferry is a freelance journalist who has written for the Guardian, Sunday Times, Sunday Telegraph and the Independent, among others. She writes on subjects ranging from protecting women’s rights to discovering Paris alone.

She graduated from Cardiff University with a degree in English Literature and then upped sticks and moved to a tiny island between Japan and South Korea to teach English, where she quickly got used to being followed around the supermarket by her students. It was in Japan that she got her first byline and was quickly hooked. Since then, she’s been fortunate to write for most of her favourite publications, but always harboured dreams of seeing her name on the front of a book.

Now, she’s managing to combine her love of writing and an obsession with interesting and largely unknown women from history, with the school run in Bristol, where she lives with her husband and two children.





Wellington’s Dearest Georgy: The Life and Loves of Lady Georgiana Lennox by Alice Marie Crossland


Wellington’s Dearest Georgy: The Life and Loves of Lady Georgiana Lennox written by Alice Marie Crossland, publisher Uniform Press is available NOW in paperback format.

Product Details (as per amazon page)

Using largely unpublished sources, this book tells the story of Lady Georgiana Lennox and the unique friendship she cherished with the Duke of Wellington. She first met the Duke on his return from India when he was serving under Georgy’s father as Chief Secretary. The Lennox family moved to Brussels in 1813 and Georgy’s mother the Duchess of Richmond threw the now legendary ball the night before the Battle of Waterloo. Georgy was a young, beautiful and immensely popular young lady at the time with many suitors. She and the Duke enjoyed a flirtatious early friendship, which blossomed into a true bond between families as the years went by. Georgy had a front row seat to the Battle of Waterloo, and remained in Brussels after the battle to help tend to the wounded. At 29 she married the future 23rd Baron de Ros who became a diplomatic spy, and later Governor of the Tower of London. Georgy had three children, and died at the impressive age of 96.


Now and again I like to read a book that takes me out of my comfort zone. I do love historical fiction but have not read a historical biography before. As soon as I read the synopsis of Dearest Georgy summarising Georgy’s friendship with the Duke of Wellington and that she had witnessed such a pivotal moment in history I knew there was much to learn about this lady that lived to such a grand age.

The author, Alice Marie Crossland, has done extensive research with reference to numerous footnotes to support her words. The book is also filled with wonderful illustrations which brings the story and its real life characters to life.

Georgiana Lennox was born into aristocracy, one of 14 children to the Duke and Duchess of Richmond. It was the early 18 hundreds, a time when young ladies were introduced to society and families searched for a good, wealthy pedigree for their daughter’s to marry.

Georgy, as she was fondly known by the Duke of Wellington, had an almost precious relationship with the Duke. The dramatic scenes unfolding at the ball before the Battle of Waterloo were quite poignant. Scenes of joviality were dramatically left with ladies feeling quite bereft from the sudden absence of men.

Georgy’s life experienced many tragedies from this date on. Tragedy and uncertainty of war, separation from loved ones, terrible illnesses, death. She had moved from London, Ireland, Brussels and back. Visits to Paris also. The travelling must have been horrific, I can’t imagine moving a family of fourteen children to another country by ship then by cart. Long, very cold journeys that must have felt never ending.

When Georgy did find a husband it was so humbling to read of this side of her. Moving from lavish surroundings to a more meagre accommodation. Georgy took it in her stride and embraced this new chapter of her life.

A very informative and interesting read about a remarkable young woman growing up experiencing and living through many pivotal historical times. A story of long lasting friendship and of a love that was so strong facing many turbulent times but equally many enjoyable memorable scenes. Evoking and dramatic and deeply moving. I would love to see Georgy’s story on the big screen.

To find out more about Alice Marie Crossland and her work please visit the following pages: