Quick Index Board Index Home FAQ Site Map
|Weymouth-a shocking place
Written by Julie W
(Sunday, 11 January 2009, at 12:48 p.m.)
Your account of Weymouth contains nothing which strikes me so forcibly as there being no Ice in the Town; for every other vexation I was in some measure prepared; & particularly for your disappointment in not seeing the Royal Family go on board on tuesday, having already heard from Mr Crawford that he had seen you in the very act of being too late. But for there being no Ice, what could prepare me!-Weymouth is altogether a shocking place I perceive, without recommendation of any kind, & worthy only of being frequented by the inhabitants of Gloucester.- I am really very glad that we did not go there, & that Henry & Eliza saw nothing in it to make them feel differently. Letter 39
JA did not seem to think much of Weymouth....interestingly , the place she decided to use as the location for the fateful meeting between Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill in Emma.
Though she is obviously writing tongue in cheek to Cassandra I feel there is more than a grain of truth to her words. She clearly did not think much of very fashionable places( or the people who inhabited them). Her attitude to Brighton in P+P is very similar. Both places were patronised by the Royal Family and were crowded with fashionable followers-on. I think she much preferred smelly old Lyme despite being accosted by odd men at the Assembly;-)
Here is a link to the Emma Gazetteer page on that town.
Weymouth was partronised by Geroge III, his family and his younger brother The Duke of Glucester,who had originally favoured the town and built Gloucester house( hence JAs joke about the inhabitants of Gloucester!).
George III first visited Weymouth in 1789 recuperating from the first attack of his illness now thought to be porphria but then thought to be some manifestation of madness. A creature of habit and reguarlity, he visited Weymouth 14 times from 1798 till 1805.
He enjoyed using the Royal yacht when at Weymouth as the following extracts from local newspapers of the time indicate:
Western Flying Post
I thought you might like to see what the Royal Yacht was like.
Here is a plan of the yacht, the Royal Sovereign:
And here is a model ( without the rigging):
This was quite a substantial vessel . It was built 1804 at Deptford and therefore was very new when JA was writing about it and Cassandra was missing viewing the Royal Family on it ;-)
Here are its vital statistics:
Length on gundeck: 96 feet Beam :25 feet 8 inches Tons burden: 278 Guns 8 three-pounders Launched 12 May 1804. Designed by Sir John Henslow. Length by the keel: 80 feet 5 inches Depth in hold :10 feet 6 inches Crew 67
it was the height of luxury inside below decks: not very comparable to poor old Captains Wentworth's experiences in the Asp ;-)
The Naval Chronicle in 1804( a publication co-owned by our friend James Stainer Clarke) had this to say about the yacht:
At a quarter before three o'clock on Saturday, May 12th, 1804, the new yacht built on purpose for His Majesty was launched from the King's Dock Yard at Deptford. She is a very neat but small ship. In her present trim she draws about 9 feet forward and 10 feet abast. She is completely copper bottomed, as above that a streak of yellow and then another of blue, ornamented with medallions representing the four cardinal virtues, as female figures, in gilt frames. Over them is a rich ornament of leaves entwined together, highly gilt. The figurehead is a representation of Her Majesty with the Imperial Crown over her head. This is encompassed by an iron railing to prevent any injury. The stern is decorated with the figure of Neptune in his Car, with his Trident in his hand, and the Sea underneath and Dolphins playing around. Over the cabin windows and under the taffrail are placed the figures of the Four Quarters of the world all over. The accommodation ladder and the differing gratings are painted yellow, with very rich mouldings of carved work highly gilt. Upon the whole, as the sailors term it, there is an abundance of gingerbread work. The apartments laid out for the Royal Family, as might be expected, are most sumptuous. The woodwork is chiefly mahogany or cedar, with satin curtains, velvet seats etc. The whole reflects the highest credit on the taste of Sir J. Henslow, the designer, and Mr Tippet, the Master-shipwright.
The Times was equally effusive:
The after cabin is elegantly inlaid with damask panels ornamented with gold borders on mahogany; at the head of which is a grand looking-glass having above it the King's coat of arms in gold, and beneath a rich dressing-table designed for Her Majesty. The other royal apartments are embellished in like manner. The two staircases are rich beyond conception, the balustrades are of mahogany, richly carved and ornamented with gold. The apartments below are suited to those above.'In 1832 it became a depot ship at Pembroke and in 1850 it was broken up.
Here are further details of the yacht and its predecessor:
By 1800 the ROYAL CHARLOTTE was over fifty years old, and it was decided to replace her with a larger vessel. Plans for the ROYAL SOVEREIGN were drawn at Deptford in November 1801, but she was not launched until 12 May 1804. She was to be the largest and grandest yacht to date, six feet longer and 46 tons larger than her predecessor.
In 1832 it became a depot ship at Pembroke. In 1850 it was broken up.
Groupread is maintained by Myretta with WebBBS 3.21.