Summer at the Regency Town House

Summer in the Regency Town House is always a very busy and febrile season. There’s so much going on and most of it is the result of months and months of planning and preparation which suddenly erupts all around us.  It is, at the same time, also a period when everyone here takes their holidays.

Now, however it’s time for me to pick up the reins and gallop through some of the highlights which have occurred since the blog last appeared.

Within the House and basements much has been achieved. The Housekeepers room at No.10 is  almost ready to be turned back into a room again – rather than being a work site.  Painting  of the entire area is scheduled to begin, and, in the basement of No. 13 electricity will have been installed by the end of this month. Filing of all our library of documents, plans, publications  is being professionally accomplished, large spaces have been cleared out in both basements and plastering almost completed. It’s a source of much industry and excitement.

This year the Saturday of the Brunswick Festival was a beautiful day and drew a large crowd to Brunswick  Park.  Mrs. Simpson, the Regency Cook, was in attendance and loftily advised all-comers to go to visit her place of work.  Within No.13 the Silhouette and Costume display – which has but a week to run – attracted a record crowd and several people newly introduced to the RTH offered their skills to help as volunteers.

 During the course of our current exhibition we had a rather nice Reception, with a bar set up in the downstairs Dining Room and the Town House preening itself on public display. It was lovely to welcome guests into a Regency town house in its guise as silhouette and costume display venue, and to meet so many people who have had and continue to have, links with the RTH over the years.

There have also been a number of lectures over the last weeks: the two most memorable for me personally included the lecture given by Marion May . Marion brought in a dazzling collection of clothing  from the last two hundred years.  What brought her talk to life was not just the display, but the fascinating details concerning the provenance of the various items: one of which – a beautiful silk 18th Century ball gown – had been part of one family’s  Dress Up box and been worn to go and catch tadpoles or run around the fields  in!

The other lecture that resonated personally with me was given by Jerry Rendell, the Great Nephew of one of the most interesting silhouettists whose works are on display in the Exhibition: Henry Lawrence  Oakley.  Jerry’s insight into this mild, humorous man, whose silhouettes of life in WWI have delighted many, increased my appreciation of Oakley’s work,  as well as, on a very human level, assuaging my curiosity.

Gerry is returning next week to give a further lecture: Trench Life in Silhouette Profiles of the First World War.  The talk will be held on September 13th and will start at 2.00pm.

One result of our having been presented with  the Creative Minds Award  has been that the Regency Town House has found its way into a few newspapers this summer. This,  in turn, has resulted in Curator Nick’s interviews being aired on radio around the country.  His next interview, with the BBC, will be recorded this Friday and we will definitely alert our Friends when a date for its broadcast is received.

Some of our team have now designed some very arresting note-cards featuring a silhouette of the Regency Town House on the front. These,  and some Regency-themed post cards, are now available for purchase along with our publication Profiles of the Past and have been selling well during the current Exhibition.

Another task has been the planning of two more Film nights, scheduled for the 17th and the 24th of September.  We hope that these will be of interest not just to those who have previously attended Film Nights, but will also draw in anyone who is interested in seeing Brighton and Hove used as background and setting for films which have been popular in cinemas. The title of the first film, The Gelignite Gang suggests one of those comedy thrillers which have traditionally amused British audiences.

The scope of the My House My Street (MHMS)  project continues to expand and give rise to more and more areas of research, as well as generating ideas for innovative historical presentation. Now that the Silhouette project has been completed and is in place, MHMS continues to be the single most ambitious and comprehensive project – aside from the actual renovation of the house – in which the Regency Town House is currently engaged.

In between all these highlights have been the usual departures of Interns, the farewell to Volunteers who have gone on to paid work, the welcomes to new members of our team, the smaller incidents of mini triumphs, and disappointments which make up the warp and the woof of the tapestry of our constant work with bringing The Regency alive.

It’s been a busy summer and one with fantastic rewards to all who work at The Regency Town House.


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