Northbridge Rectory (1941)

Dust jacket image of Northbridge Rectory by Angela Thirkell

References for the novel Northbridge Rectory, by Angela Thirkell. Hamish Hamilton edition.

Chapter 1

9 Rotten Borough – eg Old Sarum in Wiltshire which had three houses and 11 inhabitants but could elect two Members of Parliament. Abolished by the Reform Act of 1832.

Town Hall on twelve stone legs – Northbridge is generally thought to be based on Chipping Campden in Gloucestershire, though its Woolstaplers’ Hall is on arches rather than stone legs. Many other English towns have market halls or town halls of this type, so Northbridge could be an amalgam of several places.

11 Wars of the Roses, Crooked Dick – Civil wars fought between the houses of Lancaster and York from 1485 to 1457, ending with the defeat of Richard III by Henry Tudor at the Battle of Bosworth Field. Richard III, more usually Crookbacked Dick, was popularly known as the murderer of the Princes in the Tower though this has been discredited.

Rennie – Nothing to do with Charles Rennie Mackintosh, but an earlier John Rennie, collaborator with James Watt, engineer, drainer of the Fens, canal-builder, who with his son, also John, built the new London Bridge (the one that was sold to Arizona) in 1831 and Waterloo Bridge between 1811 and 1817.

Quite o’ercrowed – “The potent poison quite o’ercrows my spirit”: Shakespeare, Hamlet Act 5 scene 2.

12 Vichy -The Vichy government was established under Marshal Pétain in the southern unoccpied part of France after the fall of France in 1940, and collaborated with Nazi Germany.

12 United States – The USA had not yet entered World WarTwo.

13 Punshions…brewery – more usually “puncheon” – a large cask or barrel.

15 British LegionThe Royal British Legion is a charity providing financial, social and emotional support to current and ex-servicemen. It runs numerous clubs all over the country. Also Before Lunch 35.

18 death with kindly care: ?

18 died of influenza – probably in the epidemic which came immediately after World War One, though if Mrs Turner had been travelling for years the chronology doesn’t seem quite right.

19 Eugene Aram – Subject of a novel and a poem both based on the true story of a schoolmaster of unusual ability and gentle disposition, tried and executed at York in 1759 for murder. But why the nieces looked on Mr Holden as their prey I don’t know. Eugene Aram, 1832, novel by Bulwer Lytton, and The Dream of Eugene Aram, by Thomas Hood. Also Love Among The Ruins 188.

21 22, 23 Provençal poetry – What are Camargou and the examples of Provençal poetry based on? Can any expert tell us? Also The Old Bank House. **

21 Venus and Adonis – In this poem of Shakespeare’s Venus falls in love with Adonis and does everything she can to win his love.

22 Camargou – See above page 21. Also Jutland Cottage 82.

radio – usually called wireless in Britain at that time, because there were no wires connecting it to the transmitter station. Radio was the name given to the device in the USA because the transmitting station radiated electromagnetic waves.

24 25, 71, 100 Egeria – water nymph, wife and adviser of Numa Pompilius, King of Rome Roman mythology. Also County Chronicle 323, What Did It Mean 180, 266, 294, 297.

24 213 Giacopone Giacopini detto[known as] il Giacopinacccio; Strelsa – I think this is all fictional, but if there is a Relusion over the names I’d like to know.

26 Render unto Caesar – “Render unto Caesar those things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.” St Matthew chapter 22 verse 21.

27 Bomb on Buckingham PalaceBuckingham Palace was hit by a bomb on 13 September 1940. This doesn’t seem to worry the Villarses nearly as much as losing one of their hens.

Ancient Mariner – “Instead of the cross, the Albatross /About my neck was hung.” The Ancient Mariner had brought bad luck on his ship by shooting the albatross. ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Also High Rising 80, Jutland Cottage 42, 211, Close Quarters 140.

Chapter 2

28 Scatcherd – no doubt a descendant of the scandalous Roger (later Sir Roger) who murdered a man, died of drink and left a fortune in Anthony Trollope’s Doctor Thorne.

28 29 Shortages and collecting tins – Recycling is not new! But most people only knew olive oil in those days as something supplied by the chemist for treating earwax and earache.

29 Fifth Columnist – An enemy sympathiser working within a country.

30 largo al factotum – Make way for the factotum. The first line of Figaro’s famous aria: the Barber of Seville is in demand and can do anything. Rossini, The Barber of Seville.

Briareus, Proteus – Briareus was a giant with a hundred arms and fifty heads. Proteus, the shepherd of the sea, could change shape at will. Greek mythology. Also Private Enterprise 181, The Old Bank House 26.

35 laughed a merry peal – ? ?

36 Verena, Sintram, Heir of Redclyffe – Lady Verena is the mother of Sintram in Sintram and his Companions (by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué, 1842) and Verena appears in The Heir of Redclyffe (Charlotte M. Yonge, 1853.
There are similarities between the two works, and Miss Yonge’s collaborator, Marianne Dyson, wrote a novel called Ivo and Verena. In Little Women Jo weeps over The Heir of Redclyffe and wants a copy of Undine and Sintram.
Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué wrote several stories, of which Undine (1811) is another. Also Wild Strawberries 82, Growing Up 59, High Rising 221, A Double Affair 210, 256, Love At All Ages 70.

37 The Megatherium club – a megatherium is a dinosaur. The Athenaeum? Dorothy L. Sayers has a Megatherium Trust in her novel Strong Poison (1930).

37 Territorial enthusiast – the Territorial Army (now the Army Reserve) was a volunteer force the members of which had to be called up for active service in wartime provided they fitted the criteria.

37 38 Lager – Not a drink for gentlemen, evidently.

38 Barclays had a jolly good one – Barclays Brewery was in Southwark, near the site of the Globe Theatre.

cruet – Cruet is a dreadfully non-U word (though not quite as bad as ‘condiments’). He should have said ‘salt and pepper’.

39 rara avis – An uncommon or exceptional person or thing. Latin for rare bird.

40 Newgate frill – A beard which frames the face and goes under the chin, taking the position of the rope when a man is to be hanged. Newgate was the most notorious of London prisons. Also Private Enterprise **

41 Morgan ap Kerrig, Crumlinwallinwer, Mewlinwillinwodd – Illustrious hero of a poem (Mewlinwillinwodd) by a Welsh bard (Crumlinwallinwer), from whom Mrs Woodcourt claimed her son Allan was descended. Dickens, Bleak House. Also Private Enterprise **

42 46, 50 obliged to to lie down after lunch – Why? Mr Villars was previously headmaster of Coppin’s School – did he have to retire because of his wife’s health?

43 spacious firmament above – Hymn,’The Spacious Firmament on High’, by Joseph Addison, based on Psalm 19, usually sung to a tune from Haydn’s Creation. Joseph Addison, from an article in The Spectator, August 23 1712.

old man was friendly – “Is the old min friendly?” (Dick Swiveller referring to Little Nell’s grandfather) in Dickens’s The Old Curiosity Shop, Chapter 2. Also Happy Returns 238.

Dick Swiveller and Sally Brass: Also The Brandons 256, Private Enterprise 198, County Chronicle 138.

44 many a mickle made a muckle – “mony a mickle maks a muckle”. Traditional, meaning small things build up to make a lot.

45 In at the door out of the window – “Poverty comes in at the door, love flies out of the window.” Proverb.

Chapter 3

Several on a Tower – The heading for this chapter alludes to the title of a tragic romance Two on a Tower by Thomas Hardy, 1882.

47 ARP – Air Raid Precautions – organisation for protection of civilians during WWII. ARP wardens continued to do their daytime jobs.

Cleopatra’a Needle – An ancient Egyptian obelisk from Heliopolis brought to the Thames Embankment to commemorate Nelson’s victory at the Battle of the Nile and Sir Ralph Abercrombie’s at the Battle of Alexandria in 1801. It has nothing to do with Cleopatra.

48 Siren suit – an all-in-one zip-up garment easy to put on in a hurry when the siren sounded an air raid warning. Made popular by Winston Churchill.

48 full and certain knowledge – An echo of “in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection.” (Book of Common Prayer, Burial of the Dead).

51, 52 So she went into the garden to cut a cabbage leaf to make an apple pie – / A great she-bear coming down the street/ … what no soap… marry the barber. From a piece of nonsense composed by Samuel Foote to test the memory of the actor Charles Macklin who claimed that he could memorise any paragraph from one reading. Samuel Foote, ‘The Great Panjandrum’, 1755.

51 Appealing to Caesar – Under Roman law, all Roman citizens had the right to appeal to Caesar, as did St Paul in his trial before Governor Festus. Actsof the Apostles, chapter 25 verses 1-27.

52 Empire & Fireside -referring to the well-known chain of grocery stores, the Home & Colonial Stores.

54 Matthew Porter Observatory, Solmer-Vollfuss – Is this based on a real observatory and telescope?

55 Menton/Mentone – A border town fought over by the French (without the e) and the Italians.

Pension Ramsden – Is there any connection with Margaret Mackail’s friend Alice Ramsden, with whom she spent a holiday at St Raphael in the early years of the 20th century?

Les Glycines – Glycine is the French word for wisteria.

56 ah-hoory – Miss Crowder does it again: the h is silent in real French. Ahurie= bewildered.

chère amie – literally “dear [female] friend” in French, but usually used of a man’s mistress.

Hovis House – Hovis was a make of brown bread that still exists.

58 St Sycorax – Sycorax was no saint, but Caliban’s mother, a wicked witch. Shakespeare, The Tempest. See also **

59 Scarlet woman -The Whore of Babylon; a false church; hence the Church of Rome. Revelation chapter 17 verse 4.

a picture called “Tomorrow” ? Is this known?

60 dim religious light – ‘[And storied windows richly dight,/Casting a dim religious light.’ Milton poem ‘Il Penseroso’. Also Cheerfulness Breaks In 43, Three Score and Ten 135.

62 St George’s banner – Red cross on a white background, the flag of England, flown on Anglican churches.

Sweet William slid down the cords – Poem (1720) by John Gay, ‘Sweet William’s Farewell to Black-Eyed Susan’ in which Susan goes aboard a ship and asks if William is there. The next verse is: “William who high upon the yard/Rock’d with the billows to and fro,/Soon as her well-known voice he heard/He sigh’d, and cast his eyes below./The cord slides swiftly through his glowing hands,/And (quick as lightning) on the deck he stands.”

63 “Le ciel est padersoo le twah” ie ‘Le ciel est par dessus le toit‘ – As Miss Crowder says the words they literally mean the sky is above (or even below, depending on her pronunciation!) the roof. She has neglected to notice that the original poem is punctuated so that it means “the sky is, above the roof, so still, so blue.’ ‘Le ciel est, par-dessus le toit,/Si bleu, si calme!’ ‘Sagesse’, by Paul Verlaine (1844-1896).

67 common friends – ie friends that people share, not (as is frequently said) ‘mutual’. Thirkell makes frequent allusions to the fact that Dickens got this wrong in Our Mutual Friend. Also Growing Up 44, Miss Bunting 73, Never Too Late 200, Love At All Ages 134.

67 offending St Paul – ‘Is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?’ I Corinthians 11.

frappay – frappé = French for struck.

70 Jack Ketchthe public hangman.

Chapter 4

74 About the late beans – Is this a play? **

86 Bouncing Blowsabel – From a bawdy song ‘Blowzabella my bouncing Doxie’ – Thomas d’Urfey, Pills to Purge Melancholy 1719-20.

87 119 the murder of Becket – Archbishop Thomas à Becket was murdered in 1170 by four knights in Canterbury Cathedral after Henry II demanded ‘Who will rid me of that turbulent priest?’ T S Eliot’s play Murder in the Cathedral was first produced in 1935.

Chapter 5

90 an orange?? – would they still have been available then?

92 ointment pots – When sent to the sick wing at my school in the late 1940s we used to be served portions of marmalade or jam in the headmistress’s old Elizabeth Arden cosmetic jars. And I remember staying with three great-aunts who kept each one’s rations in separate pots.

99 Professor Merriam, Professor Gawky – Do these correspond to real people?

102 Haw-Haw – William Joyce, popularly known as Lord Haw Haw because of his aristocratic nasal drawl, broadcast propaganda throughout WWII from Germany. He was executed as a traitor in January 1946.

112 Lorraine Lorree – A somewhat bloodthirsty poem, ‘Lorraine’ by Charles Kingsley. ‘Are you ready for your steeplechase, Lorraine, Lorraine, Lorree?/Barum, Barum, Barum, Barum, Barum, Barum, Baree.’

113 Ker-blinkety-blunk – ker-blam, ker-blinkety-blunk and ker-blunkety-blink are all to be found in Brer Rabbit: Uncle Remus, by Joel Chandler Harris.

114 Wurra-wurra-wurra – ‘WURRA-WURRA-WURRA WURR-AW-AW-AW!!! In about two minutes The Count Hogginarmo was gobbled up by those lions, bones, boots, and all, and There was an End of him.’ In the same chapter is Pang arang pang pangkarangpang, which AT might have used as well. Thackeray, The Rose and the Ring, Chapter 15.

116 Alice’s sheep – ‘an old Sheep, sitting in an armchair, knitting, and every now and then leaving off to look at her through a pair of spectacles.’ But you need to see the picture: Tenniel’s illustration to Chapter 5 of Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll.

117 a jorum – a large drinking-vessel, or in this case, its contents.

Chapter 6

121 obiter dicta – Remarks made by a judge which are not necessary to reaching a decision, but are comments, illustrations or thoughts. Latin: ‘by the way’.

127 Harpics – Harpic is a well-known brand of lavatory cleaner. Mr Scatcherd means harpies, who in Greek mythology were winged monsters with the faces of maidens, who tore people to pieces with their wings and claws, and also defecated upon them from a great height.

137 Dr Gordon Stables – 1840-1910. Prolific writer of adventure stories for boys and historical novels. He toured England in a horse-drawn caravan complete with valet and coachman.

140 Four Just Men – This novel by Edgar Wallace (1905) was made into a film in 1921 and re-made in 1939, so they may be referring to this rather than to the novel.

Cymric dream – Cymric means Welsh (Cymru = Wales in the Welsh language).

Chapter 7

142 adjective unprecedented – F. D. Roosevelt was the only US President ever to stand for a third term of office, and in fact was elected four years later for a fourth term, though he died shortly afterwards. The ignorance of youth is being deplored but perhaps there is also a small joke in the similarity between ‘president’ and ‘precedent.’

143 Nonne – The interrogative Latin participle nonne expects the answer ‘yes’. Num expects the answer ‘no’. (Memorably Dorothy Sayers’s Lord Peter Wimsey proposed to Harriet Vane in a Latin sentence beginning despondently ‘Num…’.) I suppose ‘nonne’ nowadays corresponds to ‘innit.’

144 Pottofur – pot au feu: a boiled meat dish where the broth is used as soup and the meat and vegetables as a main course. French, meaning ‘pot on the fire.’

Potiphar – Pharaoh’s captain of the guard to whom Joseph was sold as a slave: Genesis chapter 39 verses 1-23.

145 Hullo – Mrs Villars may not have felt priggish about Hullo, but others, including some of the nannies, often did. Also Private Enterprise 370.

146 I saw stars – ‘I saw stars/I heard a birdie sing so sweet, so sweet/The moment I fell for you’. I found a recording by Django Reinhardt and the Hot Club of Paris, but it seems to have been originally recorded by Freddy Martin, tenor saxophonist. Written by Maurice Sigler, Al Goodhart and Al Hoffman.

147 “Issy dore, jou de mots” – Miss Crowder’s French is never quite right. Ici dort = here sleeps. Jeu de mots = pun.

Villa ThermogèneThermogene was or is a patent medicated wadding used to treat rheumatism, chest complaints, etc.

148 Si jounesse savvay – ‘Si jeunesse savait, si vieillesse pouvait’ – French proverb: If youth knew, if old age was capable.

vivandière – Woman attached to a regiment as a canteen-keeper: Jo March in Little Women wished she could have been one!

Professor Goblin -Any ideas who this might be? **

150 Princes Street – Main shopping street of Edinburgh – the right place to buy tweed suits.

151 King Leopold – On May 28 1940 King Leopold III of Belgium surrendered to the German forces. There was a National Day of Prayer on Sunday 26 May, and the evacuation from Dunkirk started the following day. Many people regarded it as a miracle directly resulting from the Day of Prayer.

157 Popping in to the Thursday afternoon Intercession – The link to Romeo and Juliet is not very obvious but must be real. There is quite a lot of popping in and out to see Friar Laurence throughout the play, but I think this must be Act 2 where Juliet says she has got leave to ‘go to shrift’ (ie confession) but in reality she is going to be married to Romeo. Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Act 2 scene 5.

Chapter 8

165 Dog watch – The first dog watch is 4pm – 6 pm, the second 6pm – 8pm. Other watches are for four hours, but the dog watch is designed so that the same sailors aren’t always on duty in the middle of the night. May have been derived from German or Dutch expression meaning a watch when only dogs were awake. Or that it witnessed the Dog Star Sirius which is the first to come out at night. A popular notion was that the ‘half watch’ was dodging the watch. It would be interesting to know why Tubby Fewling thought it was bad.

165 Pallas Pendrax -There are some interesting place names in Cornwall – where can she be thinking of?

168 Ferrovia Australis – Latin for Southern Railway!

Pelléas and Mélisande – The opera follows the play very closely so Mrs Villars could be thinking of either of these. However, Professor Mackail (Angela Thirkell’s father) translated the play for its first performance in London in 1898, with incidental music by Fauré. Opera by Debussy adapted from the play by Maurice Maeterlinck.

171 Persiflage – frivolous or bantering talk.

174 Snobisme pur sang – thoroughbred snobbery.

180 Amitié par Amour … Félibriste – The félibriste movement supported the revival of the Provençal language. Amitié par Amour and Amour par Amitié were conventions of courtly love expressed in the songs of the troubadours. French: for ‘friendship through love; love through friendship’.

181 ‘Heaven pity all poor wanderers lone!‘ – From a sentimental song sung by Becky Sharp when she is trying to get Joseph Sedley to propose to her. Thackeray, Vanity Fair, Chapter 4.

Chapter 9

182 ultramontane – Roman Catholic doctrine that favours the absolute supremacy of papal doctrine over national or diocescan authority. A mediaeval term which labelled a non-Italian pope as ‘beyond the mountains’ – ie the Alps.

184 the letter S painted in black upon it/Siege of Lucknow/?Kipling – ‘And ever upon the topmost roof our banner of England blew!’ Lucknow was besieged during the Indian Mutiny from 30 May – 24 November 1857. The British residents took refuge at the Residency, where the Union Jack was never taken down at night from the roof. Shortly after its relief by Sir Henry Havelock and Sir James Outram Sir Henry died and was buried under a mango tree with the letter H carved in the bark. Tennyson (not Kipling!) poem ‘The Defence of Lucknow’.

186 Elizabeth Rivers – One Elizabeth Rivers was an artist whose wood engravings were used as book illustrations in the 1930s: so, very unlike a king’s mistress, the link being ‘rivers’ and ‘shore’.”

187 Jane Shore – One of the many mistresses of Edward IV.

187 grapple each other to their souls with hoops of steel – ‘Grapple them [friends] to thy soul with hoops of steel.’ Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 1 scene 3.

197 Argyrokastro – An ancient city, now in Southern Albania, capital of the autonomus state of Northern Epirus in 1914, captured by the Greeks, forced to yield to the Albanians, occupied by the Italians in 1939, liberated by the Greeks in December 1940 (which is presumably why they are talking about it here).

spectre brides – Ghost story (very Gothic, author was 16 when he wrote it!) where the heroine pines for a mysterious stranger who turns out to be an evil spirit, and both are cast into the fiery pit. ‘The Spectre Bride’, W H Ainsworth (1821). Also page 319.

204 If hate could kill – “If hate killed men, Brother Lawrence,/God’s blood, would not mine kill you”. Robert Browning poem, ‘The Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister’. Miss Pemberton has combined the quotation with a saying ‘If looks could kill.’ Also The Brandons page 296

205 Plornish-like phrasing – Plornish is a plasterer who lives in Bleeding Heart Yard and who is given to inverting his phrases. Dickens’s novel Little Dorrit. Also High Rising 311.

206 Sharper than a serpent’s tooth – [completed lower down the page] “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child” Shakespeare, King Lear, Act I scene 1. Other King Lear Relusions High Rising 179-183, Miss Bunting 44, 126, Peace Breaks Out 33, The Old Bank House 65, 345, Close Quarters 194, 201, 250, 257.

Potman – probably Waterman (water pot, inkpot…)

207 virelais – One of three forms of verse in mediaeval French poetry (the others were the ballade and the rondeau).

212 Gaiters, P B Baker – Gaiters is obviously Boots (the Chemist), Baker could be Smith [both trades] and PB for Percy Bysshe Shelley could be in lieu of Shakespeare’s (Mr) W H.

Chapter 10

213 Hay-box – A device used in wartime to save fuel – the hot casserole was plunged into a box stuffed with hay as insulating material, the same principle as a slow cooker nowadays.

215 Play about a troubadour in FrenchLa Princesse Lointaine, by Edmond Rostand (1895).

226 Evan Glendower – Possibly Dylan Thomas. He would have been considered a minor poet at that date.

226-7 Propylaeum – Which student society is this? I’ve tried both Oxford and Cambridge, but can’t find a connection. Propylaeum means gateway or entrance to a temple.

Chapter 11

231 Quinquagesima – The Sunday before Ash Wednesday: 50 days before Easter, counting both Sundays.

234 One who has fed on honeydew – “For he on honeydew hath fed,/And drunk the milk of Paradise” Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem ‘Kubla Khan’ Also Miss Bunting 33, Love Among The Ruins 230.

234 circling charm – “Weave a circle round him thrice” Earlier in same poem.

236 brave new world – “O brave new world,That has such people in’t!” Miranda’s speech from The Tempest, but also used as the title of Aldous Huxley’s novel (1932). Shakespeare, The Tempest, Act 5 scene I. Also Marling Hall 37, Private Enterprise 19, Love Among The Ruins 195, The Old Bank House 120, 182, Happy Returns 68, Enter Sir Robert 40, Love At All Ages 15, 54, Three Score and Ten 137.

238 Cuens di moult… sangz – Can any French scholar help here? Thirkell could have devised this after reading some Old French.

239 Vine Street – police station near Regent Street and Piccadilly that would have borne the brunt of any drunken revelries.

251 Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert – The Knight Templar who lusts after the heroine, Rebecca, and is defeated in a tournament by Ivanhoe, who does not kill him. But he dies ‘a victim to the violence of his own contending passions’. Sir Walter Scott novel Ivanhoe.

hold a Soviet in their hearts – A soviet was originally a workers’ local council in late Imperial Russia.

252 Ghismond Beauxcilsz, the Dame d’Aiguesdouces, Madon lou Cabrou, Puy des Stryges – These sound all too likely as mythical French creatures. Ghismond of the Beautiful Eyelashes, The Lady of The Sweet Waters and Madon The Bastard, plus a death on the Hill of Demons, are possible translations.

Chapter 12

253 Pin-oakPinocchio – the Walt Disney film came out in 1940.

254 Board of Tape & Sealing Wax – The Tape and Sealing Wax Board is used in several of Thackeray’s novels: Vanity Fair, The Newcomes, The Bedford Row Conspiracy. Also **

259 A stoup of right good malvoisie – another term for Malmsey wine, made from the malvasia grape. A stoup is a medieval word for jug or container. It is a white wine, so not much of an equivalent to mulled claret: Mr Greaves is perhaps just showing off.

Gwyn o eur … Peacock – “GWIN O EUR: Wine from gold. That is my taste. Ale is well; mead is better; wine is best. Horn is well; silver is better; gold is best.” Thomas Love Peacock, The Misfortunes of Elphin, a novel set in 6th century Wales. Also A Double Affair 280, Three Score and Ten 101.

264-5 enveloped him from mortal sight – frequently occurs in both the Bible and Greek myth – any in particular?

St Oregon – There are several thousand saints, but I think this one is an invention. However, how about oregano = Basil? St Basil would imply Eastern Orthodox practices, which would put particular emphasis on Easter.

worship Odin – Odin is Wotan, the warrior-king. It was thought that if the Nazis gained power over the whole of Europe they would introduce a form of religion assimilating Norse mythology.” see

267 the word “jumbled” had evoked a new line of thought – “Their heads were green and their hands were blue and they went to sea in a sieve.” Edward Lear poem ‘The Jumblies’. Other Edward Lear references Marling Hall 45, The Old Bank House 16.

269 the honeysuckle and the bee – “You are my honey, honeysuckle,/I am the bee./I’d like to sup the honey sweet/from those red lips you see”. Song ‘The Honeysuckle and the Bee’, from a play, Bluebell in Fairyland, 1901. Also What Did It Mean 316-7.

Alexander – “She’s gone like Alexander; to spread her conquests further” ‘Bonnie Leslie of Dundee’, traditional folk song.

270 buss me, my lass” – “Buss (kiss) me, wife” and “Buss me, Kate, my poor lass” both appear in The Cloister and the Hearth, novel by Charles Reade, 1861, chapters 7 and 46.

Chapter 13

273 argle-bargle – same as argy-bargy = a violent argument.

274 the late Mr Turner – could Angela Thirkell be thinking of her own first unfortunate marriage to James Campbell McInnes?

277 La Faute de l’Abby MouryLa Faute de l’Abbé Mauret, by Emile Zola: Viciously anti-clerical novel, part of his Rougon-Macquart series, heavily bowdlerised when first translated into English:

278 rue vingt-neuf février – French streets are often named for historic dates, but Leap Year Day is purely AT’s idea!

gaufrette Huntley et Palmer – A famous make of English biscuit.

279 Cornice – Miss Crowder means the corniche, a road on the side of the cliff, as on the French Riviera.

Auprès de ma blawnd – “Auprès de ma blonde, qu’il fait bon dormir = next to my girlfriend, how pleasant it is to sleep. In D.L. Sayers’ Busman’s Honeymoon (1937) a character says that this song is unsuitable for schoolchildren: Angela Thirkell would certainly have read the novel. French 17th century drinking song, popular with British troops in WWI.

plain not very hearty – sounds like Dickens, and variation on ‘plain but hearty’? Also Three Score and Ten 74.

280 331 Armida’s garden – Armida was an enchantress in Tasso’s Jerusalem Delivered, also a painting by Marie Spartali Stillman. Here I think the reference is to a poem ‘Armida’s Garden’ by Mary Coleridge, set to music by Sir Hubert Parry (was it something that J C McInnes used to sing?).

281 Macheath – Highwayman hero of John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera: Also Summer Half 165, The Old Bank House 280.

Turk with his doxies – “Thus I stand like a Turk with his Doxies around/From all sides their Glances his Passion confound.” Also Private Enterprise 204, Never Too Late 187, Love At All Ages 34, 173.

that depressing German Knight – ? **

Miradéiou for miradéiéou – ?**

282 I love little Pussy – “I love little Pussy, her coat is so warm,/And if I don’t hurt her she’ll do me no harm” Nursery rhyme first appearing around 1830.

283 Morland – George Morland, 1763-1804, painter of English rustic scenes. A favourite source of reference by Angela Thirkell, including her adjective ‘Morlandesque.’

284 The silence grew … its bosom did so heave – “But at afternoon or almost eve/’Tis better, to that degree, you half believe/It must get rid of what it knows,/Its bosom does so heave.” ‘By the Fire-side’, poem by Robert Browning. Also Happy Returns 267, What Did It Mean 194, A Double Affair 239, Love At All Ages 133.

286 frog footman – in Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland. Alice references also page 347, Growing Up 36, Miss Bunting 137.

290 leaving the world to darkness – “The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,/And leaves the world to darkness and to me”. Thomas Gray poem ‘Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard.’ Also Happy Returns 164, What Did It Mean 181.

Chapter 14

291 Watteau and French Revolution – Indeed very unhistorical! The French court painter Antoine Watteau lived from 1684-1721. . It would have been difficult for him to paint any portraits during the French Revolution which started in 1789.

292 Oddfellows – Social and charitable society.

293 Mimosa – as the word is the same in both languages Miss Crowder is as usual biased in favour of French.

Nweedermoor – Nuits d’Amour, ie nights of love. Why does Miss Crowder think ‘eau de Cologne’ is English?!

la malade, la matrone – the patient, the matron (but ‘matrone’ means midwife in French, not as Miss Crowder thinks, a hospital matron!)

Mon Oncle et mon Curay – There was a 1938 film based on a novel, Mon Oncle et Mon Curé 1889, by Jean de la Bräte, pseudonym for Alice Cherbonnel,who wrote several novels for young girls. I assume that “My Uncle and My Parish Priest” is not as risqué as Miss Crowder thinks.

trespass – No – the French is ‘trépasser’, as in our expression ‘to pass away.’

294 VAD – Voluntary Aid Detachments were formed in 1909 to provide nursing assistance in times of war.

301 joy was unconfined – “On with the dance! let joy be unconfined;” Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage canto 3.

301 Ol’ Man Influenza – For ‘Ol’ Man River, the Oscar Hammerstein song in Showboat (1927)

301 Roll out the barrel – Popular song that seems very English but originated as a piece of music ‘The beer barrel polka’ by Czech Jaromir Vejvoda (1927). Words were added around 1938 by Lew Brown and Wladimir Timm.

302 All his teeth outside like a hyena – ? Just So Stories? Dickens? Thackeray? **

303 a state of syncope – fainting.

304 Che gelida manina – Rodolfo’s aria, ‘Your tiny hand is frozen’ in Puccini’s opera La Bohème, Act I.

305 Ptarn, Paythan – Pathan (pronounced something like Ptarn). A warrior race in India, descended from ethnic Afghan Pashtuns, viewed in romantic fiction either as courageous warriors (Kipling; also M M Kaye’s The Far Pavilions) or sinister and cruel ( Paul Scott’s The Raj Quartet).

306 clever novels by women writers about everyday life – Which ones in particular, I wonder? Virginia Woolf or Ivy Compton-Burnett, perhaps?

308 Sparrowhill – Larkhill is the headquarters of the Royal School of Artillery on Salisbury Plain.

Chapter 15

310 Mr Holden /Captain – Officers of a rank below Captain (Lieutenant and 2nd Lieutenant) are addressed as Mr in speech.

314 Living and partly living – “Yet we have gone on living/Living and partly living” T S Eliot Murder in the Cathedral, 1935. Other refs **

318 Sassenach – Word used by the Scots to denote an Englishman, originally meaning Saxon.

319 Spectre Bride – See above page 197: W H Ainsworth, The Spectre Bride, 1822.

326 Chewing the cud of sweet and bitter fancy – “chewing the food of sweet and bitter fancy” according to the ODQ, but some sources do give “cud”, especially when quoted by, for example, Sir Walter Scott. Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act 4 scene 3. Also Never Too Late 283.

328 when fate cut thread and thrum – Has to be a quotation, but from where? Thrum is the unwoven end of thread on a loom when the fabric is cut off. **

329 Lisbon en route for the United States – Flights to the USA during World War Two went via Lisbon, Portugal being a neutral country.

331 Armida – enchantress who bewitched the crusader Rinaldo Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered.

Lorelei – A beautiful maiden who sits and sings on a rock in the Rhine and lures sailors to their death.

Mélusine – Fairy-Queen of the forest whose husband, Raymond, was never allowed to see her on a Saturday. When he did, he saw that she was half serpent.

little bark – “Say, shall my little bark attendant sail/Pursue the triumph, and partake the gale?” Pope, ‘An Essay on Man’. Also County Chronicle 37.

Chapter 16

336 Livy – Titus Livius, known as Livy, Roman historian, 59 BC – AD 17.

342 neats’cheeses – neat is an obsolete name for cattle.

343 Astraea – “star-maiden”, daughter of Zeus, personification of justice.

344 Mrs Gamp/ Jonadge’s belly – ‘”I wish it was in Jonadge’s belly, I do”, cried Mrs Gamp; appearing to confound the prophet with the whale in this miraculous aspiration.’ Dickens, Martin Chuzzlewit, Chapter 40. Also Private Enterprise 374, The Old Bank House 110, Happy Returns 45, Jutland Cottage 21, What Did It Mean 8, Enter Sir Robert 58, 62, 81, 221, Never Too Late 202, 236.

347 White Knight – “The White Knight had pieces of equipment hung all over himself and his horse, including a beehive, a bunch of carrots, and some fire-irons.” Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass. see 286 above.






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