If you were a bookish sort of girl during the Regency period, where would you go on an outing with a gentleman? Assuming you found a gentleman who appreciated a lady with a sharp mind, and a chaperone willing to accompany you, you might make a trip to the British Museum.
In 1675 Ralph Montagu (later the 1st Duke of Montagu) bought a piece of property on what was then the northern outskirts of London, and built himself a grand house. When it burned down a few years later he built an even bigger one, more palace than house. Upon the 1st Duke’s death, his son inherited the property, but had no son to follow him. The 2nd Duke’s two daughters inherited the unentailed property when he died, including Montagu House in London. Since both were married with homes of their own neither sister actually lived in the place, and it began to fall into disrepair.
Enter the trustees of the newly-founded British Museum, who were looking for a building suitable for housing antiquities and other collections. They bought Montagu House in 1754 for 10,000 pounds and hired a Mr. Bramley as gardener. Within a year the lawns, gravel walks, and kitchen gardens were restored to their former glory. By 1757, the gardens were open to the public a full two years before the building itself was ready. By 1800, 600 different species of plants had been established on the grounds.
What would you have seen inside? A big attraction was the Parthenon Sculptures brought to England by Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin (popularly known as the Elgin Marbles). On display since 1817, the sculptures were originally part of the Parthenon in Greece, decorating the building as it went from Athenian temple to Catholic church to Muslim mosque. When Lord Elgin took up his post as British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, the Parthenon was a ruin. As a way of preserving what was left, he removed statues and friezes from the Parthenon and sent them home to London. This jump-started a craze in England (and the rest of Europe) for all things Greek.
Have you read a Regency novel where a character dressed as a Greek goddess for a masquerade? Have you heard gowns or hairstyles described as Grecian? The Elgin marbles were a large part of this cultural phenomenon. And they are still on display at the British Museum to this day.
And now for the giveaways!
Leaving a comment on this post will enter you in my individual giveaway: a 6-pack of credits at Discover a New Love. Each e-book is 1 credit, and they often have books available before their public release. This giveaway is open to anyone in any country, but comments must be left by 11:59 pm EST on Friday, July 26, 2013 to be entered.
We’re also having a Hop-wide scavenger hunt! Just visit each of the websites participating in the Grand Tour, and enter your answers to their scavenger hunt questions here. The entrant with the most correct answers will receive a $50 gift certificate to the book retailer of her choice. This contest is also open internationally, and entries must be submitted by July 26, 2013.
Scavenger Hunt question: What year did the Elgin Marbles go on display at the British Museum?
History Lovers Grand Tour Authors:
Rue Allyn / Amylynn Bright / Collette Cameron / Téa Cooper / Beverley Eikli / Susana Ellis / Aileen Fish / Debra Glass / Amy Hearst / Evangeline Holland / Piper Huguley / Eliza Knight / Kristen Koster / Cora Lee / Georgie Lee / Suzi Love / Denise Lynn / Deborah Macgillivray / Barbara Monajem / Shelly Munro / Ella Quinn / Eva Scott / Shereen Vedam / Elaine Violette
Source: The British Museum, Great Russell Street, WC1B 3DG
14 thoughts on “History Lovers Grand Tour & Scavenger Hunt: The Regency Bluestocking’s Date”
Oh the British Museum. During my college year I’ve took classes about Roman art and architecture, and the Parthenon was one I’ve wanted to see. Although it’s sad that friezes and statues were been taken away from their home land many are also glad that they’re being kept safe and preserved for future generations.
I can’t imagine standing by and watching some historical monument crumble, and apparently neither could Lord Elgin 🙂 There’s been so much controversy the past few years about whether or not they should be returned to Greece, but I’m also glad the sculptures are safe and sound.
WOW! I am learning so many new things. I had no idea. I would love to see the British Museum. One day I will make the trip.
bournmelissa at hotmail dot com
That’s one of the things I love about blog hops like this–there are so many new things to learn 🙂 Thanks for stopping by, Mel!
The EM were purchased in 1816 but the display at BM. Was completed in 1832. And the is a great debate to return them to Greece for their new modern museum in Athens. But because they are so engrained in the period of British history an the neo-Greek culture that I flue cued art and architecture.
Yep, purchased by the Museum in 1816, first exhibited in 1817. Did it really take 15 years to complete the collection? You’ve taught me something about my own post, Jody! 🙂
1817; interesting info
bn100candg at hotmail dot com
Thanks for stopping by!
Interesting post about the British Museum, Cora. I’d love to visit there, someday.
The Elgin Marbles were put on display in 1817.
Best of luck on book sales!
Thanks Mairi! It’s definitely on my list of places to visit, too 🙂
I love the British Museum!! Great post, Cora!
Thanks Ella! I haven’t been to the actual building, but the website is fabulous by itself 😀
Oh wow! The Elgin Marbles are beautiful and hopefully one day I’ll get to see them in person.
That’s my hope, too, Jessica–I’d love to be able to see them with my own eyes 🙂