Sunday, 21 May 2017

Vauxhall Ramble a dance from 1788

Vauxhall Ramble is a dance from "For the Year 1788 Sixteen Country Dances With their proper Figures, for the Harp, Harpsichord, and Violin; as performed at the Prince of Wales's & other Grand Balls and Assemblies. Humbly dedicated to the Nobility & Gentry Subscribers to Willis's Rooms, Festino By John Fentum, he intends continuing this work in the same manner as the late F Werner. Price 1s 6d."

Vauxhall Gardens one of the leading venues for public entertainment in London, from the mid-17th century to the mid-19th century. Originally known as 'New Spring Gardens', the Gardens consisted of several acres of trees and shrubs with attractive walks. Initially, entrance was free, with food and drink being sold to support the venture. The site became Vauxhall Gardens in 1785 and admission was charged for its many attractions. The Gardens drew all manner of people and supported enormous crowds, with its paths and walks being noted for romantic assignations.

The Prince of Wales was later to become George IV and was known for his extravagant entertainments. In 1788 he was about to face his first great political challenge with his father's first bout of mental instability precipitating what became know as the Regency Crisis.

Willis's Rooms had previously been known as Almack's and continued to be referred to by both names until well into the nineteenth century.Willis's was primarily a gambling club to which women were admitted, as well as men. Male members proposed and elected the female members, and women proposed and elected the male members. It was also famous for its balls which were attended by the cream of Regency society.

Festino is Italian for a feast or party and it is not clear whether Fetum is referring to particular entertainments at Willis's Rooms or the reference is to The Hanover Square Rooms run by Giovanni Andrea Battista Gallini an Italian dancer, choreographer and impresario which was colloquially known as Festino. 

John Fentum was probably the son of Jonathan Fentum who had set up as an instrument maker and seller in premises located at 78 The Strand in 1762. John took over the premises and the business around 1784. In addition to instruments, John sold music, tickets for musical entertainments and was also an accomplished violinist and violist. In the 1787-1788 season, he received £4 4s for playing violin in concerts of the Academy of Ancient Music. It is also probable that he played in the band at Willis's Rooms.

F Werner was Francis Werner formally harpist, dancing master and Master of the Ceremonies at Willis's and the Hanover Rooms who had for some years published collections of fashionable dance music and figures.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Cosmetics in the 1780's

The following advert appeared in the Bath Chronicle in 1783

Isabella Stanhope sat for Gainsborough at Bath early in 1769 shortly after her marriage to Viscount Molyneux. The artist had just been elected to the Royal Academy and this work was exhibited in London shortly after it was painted.

Shortly afterwards her husband was made the 1st Earl of Sefton. So as an advertising image, she had everything you might want beauty, glamour, fame and status.

The advert promotes products essential to creating the then Georgian image of feminine beauty.

Liquid bloom was a type of rouge designed to give the much sort after rosy glow to the cheeks.

This would be much enhanced by the blooms contrast to the whiteness of the face neck and decolletage created by them with products like the Italian Paste. Almost all such preparations were based on white lead and gradually poison their users and damaged their skin such damage, of course, requiring a thicker application to hide the damage.

Lead poisoning can also lead to hair loss hence the preparation for fastening hair.

The depilatory treatments performed much the same role as such creams do today but were particularly important to create the fashionable high forehead.

Eighteenth-century hair dyes contributed to hair damage and hair loss.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Miss Goldsmith's Allemande

Goulding’s Select Collection of Twelve Favorite Country Dances for the year 1808 published by Goulding, Phipps and D’Almaine contains music and instructions for Miss Goldsmith's Allemande.

Goulding & Co. This important firm was started by George Goulding, who was probably in business before 1784. He issued sheet-songs from the pantomime of Don Juan, performed in 1787, and other sheet music of about the same period. His address at this time was at " The Haydn's Head, No. 6, James Street, Covent Garden," and shortly afterwards an additional one at  17, Great Turnstile, Holborn. About 1790 this latter was replaced by one at 113,  Bishopgate Street. From  James Street, he issued annual sets of twenty-four dances in oblong octavo. Early in 1799 he moved to 45, Pall Mall, and took partners into the business.

The new firm was styled Goulding & Co., or Goulding, Phipps, & D'Almaine, and they became music sellers to the Prince and Princess of Wales. In 1803 they took additional premises at
76, St. James Street, and in 1804-5 had given both these addresses up and removed to 117, New Bond Street, with an agency at 7, Westmoreland Street, Dublin. In 1808-9 the number in' New Bond Street was changed to 124. About this time Phipps retired from the concern and probably commenced a business oil his own account. The firm was now Goulding, D'Almaine, & Potter.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Hairstyles of the 1780s

Unknown Lady, John Smibert, 1781

Augustus Keppel: 1781-83
This advert appeared in the Bath Chronicle in 1781.

A bag wig gathered the back hair in a black silk bag,

There are no unambiguously labelled eighteenth-century illustrations of a bob wig but it is understood to have been a wig with short tight curls at the bottom.

Of course, all wigs would be worn powered even if they were already grizzled.

Cushions were used to pad out ladies hair to help build the higher and fuller styles which were fashionable throughout the eighteenth century.

Number 3 today

Monday, 13 February 2017

Button & Whitaker

Button & Whitaker were an important firm of music publishers, musical instrument makers, and retailers at the beginning of the nineteenth-century.  They had taken over the famous Thompson family premises at 75, St. Paul's Church Yard, and they carried on their business at the same address. The Thompsons had been Handel's principal publishers and St. Paul's Churchyard was throughout the Georgian era a centre of musical publishing and retailing, alongside bookshops and book publishing.

A violin made and sold by Button and Whitaker in 1822

After the Thompson's had ceased, Messrs Purday & Button took possession of the premises, and sometime about 1805 commenced publishing sheet music. In 1807, the name of the company changed to Button & Purday, and in 1808, the firm became Button & Whitaker. The latter member was the musician, John Whitaker, an organist, and a composer of many popular songs.Whitaker was born in 1776 and died in 1847. Before 1816 other people joined and it became "Button, Whitaker, & Beadnell," or "Button & Company," and in 1820 the business is carried on as Whitaker & Co.

Button & Whitaker had acquired all the Thompson plates and stock-in-trade, and they re-printed a good many of the old books, besides issuing new publications. They continued Thompson's practice of publishing yearly sets of twenty-four country dances.

Thomas Wilson in his 1816 Companion to the Ball Room, is very critical of this type of book,

"The only reason to be assigned why Collections of Country Dances, particularly annual ones, have been so deficient both in Merit and Originality, is, that good Composers have considered that it would not pay them for composing Dances... Although most of the Music Publishers are Composers; yet few of them compose their own Dances. They are generally, either procured from persons writing them for a mere Trifle, or from young Amateurs, who are fond of obtruding their Productions on the Public".

This did not prevent Wilson from producing collections of dance or contributing dance figures to the publications of others including Button and Whitaker from 1812.

The premises in St. Paul's Church Yard ceased to be a music warehouse sometime after 1830.

Their dance collections include:

Button, Whitaker and Beadnell’s twenty-four country dances with figures by Mr Wilson for the year 1815 etc

Button and Whitaker’s Selection of Dances, Reels and Waltzes for the Piano Forte, Harp, Violin or German Flute with figures ( N.9 )

Button and Whitaker’s Twelve Elegant New Dances for the year 1811 Button and Whitaker’s twenty-four Country Dances, with figures by Mr Wilson. For the year 1814, adapted for the violin, German flute or oboe.

Button, Whitaker and Compy’s Twenty Four Country Dances, with figures by Mr. Wilson, for the year 1818. Adapted for the Violin,

Button, Whitaker and Compy’s twenty-four Country Dances, with figures by Mr Wilson. For the year 1819. Adapted for the violin,

Button, Whitaker, and Beadnell’s Twenty Four Country Dances, with figures by Mr. Wilson, for the year 1815. Adapted for the Violin, German Flute or Oboe.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

A private Bath ball in the 1790s

In 1793 the young Elizabeth Canning wrote to her mother.

"Friday [11th January 1793], was a day of days; in the evening Letitia & I, accompanied by Mrs Leigh, went to a Ball at M Moland’s, where we were amazingly happy & danced away from eight, till Eleven with wonderful activity, there were about fourteen, or fifteen couples all young people, and a few standers-by. I got two Young Beaux & one old one for my Partners so I think I did very well. We had a very smart supper, & did not come home till near two o’clock."

Letitia (Tish) Percival was the ward of Elizabeth's Uncle Rev. William Leigh and her Aunt Harriet Canning Leigh with whom Elizabeth was staying while she visited Bath. They had taken a house for the season in Marlborough Buildings.

The Moland's were regular visitors to Bath, probably from Birmingham

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

The Giroux sisters dance academy on George Street or The long view of Moles

Through most of the nineteenth century, the White family ran a business selling musical instruments and sheet music in their shops at 1 Milsom Street and 3 George Street. They were also composers of music and publishers of music; especially dance music.

John Charles White, in particular, produced a lot of music for quadrilles between 1816 and 1820. The quadrille is a square dance for four couples and usually involved a set of five dances. Normally these dances consisted of a standard set of steps and the only variation was the music. At the peak of the popularity of the quadrille, John White attempted an innovation by inviting a local dance teacher, who operated an academy close to his George Street shop, to create new steps. The lady concerned was a Miss Giroux.

White's Music Warehouse in Milsom Street

This was probably Miss Louisa Giroux but may have been her sister, Cecilia, in 1820 Louisa was about 17 years old but had been dancing professionally for 9 years.

The 5 Giroux sisters, there may also have been a brother, were the children of Gabriel Giroux a dancer, choreographer, composer and dancing masters who claimed to have been a dancing master at the Paris opera but first appears on the record as a ballet-master at the King's Theatre London in 1786. He next appears in 1802 at the Haymarket dancing with his "pupils" the Misses Giroux and a Master Giroux. For the next 16 years or so the Giroux family performed as dancers, instrumentalists and singers in leading London and provincial theatres.

We have a description of one of these performances from 1809, a benefit night for Gabriel and Cecilia Giroux at the Royal Circus in London. At this show, which starred Jane Austen’s favourite actor Robert Elliston, Gabriel and his three daughters performed a strathspey and reel as part of a play. This was followed by a ballet composed by Gabriel then a piano duet performed by him and his daughter Cecilia, after which she danced a Pas Seul. In between these, the six-year-old Louisa made her first stage appearance dancing a hornpipe. The show ended with a harlequinade featuring a song by Miss Caroline and "the much-admired Skipping Garland Pas de Trois" performed by three Miss Giroux.

The Royal Circus at about the time of the Giroux's 

In 1811 Gabriel and his daughters were dancing on the Bristol stage and by 1818 four of the Giroux sisters had moved to Bristol and were performing without their father who seems to have stayed in London. It was in this year that we learn that Cecilia and Louse had set up a dance academy in Bath at 14 George Street and thrown the first of their annual balls designed to show off the skills of their pupils at the Upper Rooms. They particularly advertise their services for “Ladies who wish to perfect themselves in the QUADRILLES”.

Early Illustration of Quadrille Dancing

Around 1820 the sisters seem to have closed their academy while they planned an expansion so in 1821 Cecilia Giroux who is now residing at 52 Queen Square Bristol announces the reopening of their dance academy in Bristol, Clifton and Bath. While both sisters were teaching across the three locations it looks as though Cecilia focussed on Bristol and managing the overall business while Louisa managed the Bath academy in George street. We have a description from the Bath Chronicle of the Giroux pupil ball that year which “afforded the highest gratification to a numerous and fashionable company, assembled to witness the proficiency of the pupils of these accomplished females in the delightful art of dancing Waltzes, quadrilles and cotillions, with every other species of graceful movement, were executed by the useful and interesting groups, in a style of elegance which at once gained honour for themselves, and same for their instructresses.”

In addition to organising balls at the Upper Rooms Louisa was also performing there and local composers were creating music for and dedicating compositions to her. She was apparently particularly well known for dancing the hornpipes that had started her professional career. Throughout this period the sisters continued to perform in ballets and other entertainment at the Theatre Royal which put on an annual benefit performance for them.

When she was 25 in 1828 Louisa married a local drawing master and became Mrs Edwin Evans.

In 1829 Louisa seems to have broken her business relationship with her sister and set up on her own account at no 5 Union Street.

In 1830 Louisa held her pupil ball at the Sydney hotel which was very well supported.

In 1831 Edwin was declared bankrupt and it is probably at this time that Cecilia took her sister back into partnership.

By 1835 the sisters had added the fashionable exercises of callisthenics to their curriculum.

In 1844 a Music Warehouse selling instruments and sheet music was opened under the Girouxs’ dancing academy in George Street.

Sometime after 1845, the sisters seem to have drifted apart and by 1849 Cecilia was still active in Bristol but seems to have abandoned Bath for Weston super Mare.

In 1848 Louisa’s cousin’s husband the dancing and fencing master Thomas Moutre was using 14 as a base for the academy he ran with his wife Georgina. This arrangement does not seem to have worked well and 2 years later Thomas had moved to 31 Milsom street and Georgina and Louisa had formed a formal partnership.

Louisa while retaining her interests in Bath was by 1851 also teaching dance and callisthenics in Brighton.

The Giroux - Moutre partnership continued the tradition of annual pupil balls in the Bath assembly rooms and in addition held end-of-term displays at their George Street premises. The success of the partnership can be judged from the fact that in 1856 they announced that they would be holding their end of term festivities at the Upper Rooms rather than Miss Giroux's house in George Street as up to 500 people were expected to attend.

Cecilia’s Giroux died in 1856.

A Description of 14 George Street from 1859

Louisa’s died in 1860 but was teaching until within months of her death she announced her retirement in June. The premises in George Street continued as a dance academy under the proprietorship of Mrs Moutre and her husband who ran it until her death in 1887 when it passed to the dancing mistress Mrs Rolf.

Number 14 continued as a base for dance teachers right to the end of the 1960s when Miss Laura Starks A.I.S.T.D., G.T.B., cert B.B.O gave up her tenancy.

Miss Starks is on the left

After Miss Starks departure the building became a home to various businesses including a couple of short-lived nightclubs until in 1978 Phil Andrews created Moles which has occupied the building ever since.

Today Phil is still involved with Moles in partnership with the DJ Tom Maddicott and has become nationally famous for promoting live bands. Moles also continues the connection with dance and dance music started by the Girouxs hosting dance acts and DJ’s such as Annie Mac, Simian Mobile Disco and Groove Armada.

So in 98 years we have moved from dancing at number 14 to White’s Nightingale quadrille to dancing to Groove Armada’s I See You Baby "shakin' that ass".


The Standard figures of Pantelon:

La chaine Anglais [rights and lefts]
Balancez a vos Dames [Balancez & turn partners]
Un tour de mains [Ladies Chain]
La chaine des Dames entiere [Half promenade]
Demie queue du chat [Half right and left]
Demie chaine Anglais
Contre partie pour les 4 autre [The same for the 4 others]

or to give a modern interpretation:

Head couples Chaine Anglaise
Head couples Balancez to partners, then right hand turn
Head couples Chaine des Dames

Head couples Promenade to change places, then half Chaine Anglaise back home
Repeat for the other couples in the set

The Giroux figures of Pantelon given in the Nightingale Quadrilles:

Les Dames en moulinet de la main droite, un demie tour, tour de main gauche avec les Caveliers de vis-a-vis, continuez la moulinet et tour le main avec leurs Cavaliers a leurs places [The Ladies half hands across with their right hand, turn the opposite gentleman with their left, continue the hands across and turn partners to place] 
La chaine des Dames entiere [Half promenade]
Figurez a droite [The opposite couples figure to the right]
Chassez ouvert formant deux lignes [Chassez ouvert forming the line top and bottom]
En avent, en arriere, reprenez vos Dames et a vos places [Advance and retire, turn Partners in places]
Contre partie pour les 4 autre [The same for the 4 others]