Saturday, October 28, 2006

Oh No She Didn't

A rather gloomy day weatherwise today, what my Grandma would have called "backendish".

Still, we had a good walk on the land around Temple Newsam House in East Leeds. Tudor in origin, it was the birthplace of Lord Darnley, who married Mary Queen of Scots and met a sticky end: I can't quite remember how, but I remember he was played by a pre-Bond Timothy Dalton in the film.

I have been there many times but, strangely, have never noticed this plaque on the wall before.

It says, "The South Wing Was Intirely Rebuilt by Frances Shepheard Viscountess Irwin, Relict of Charles 9th Viscount Irwin in the Year 1796."

In what way precisely, I wonder, did Frances, widow of Charles, rebuild the entire South Wing?

Did she design the whole thing, draw out the plans to scale on a piece of paper, pop down to B and Q for the bricks and spend the next twenty years cementing them in place and the twenty years after that fitting out the inside?

No, I don't believe she did. She turned to her faithful servant Tom and said "Tom! The South Wing's an absolute disgrace! Get me someone to design a new one and get it rebuilt, pronto."

Here's the finished version:

Very nice South Wing, Frances, well done for all your hard work - that's if you did any, which I very much doubt.

Building that huge house must have taken huge efforts from hundreds of people - but hey, they probably couldn't read, most of them, so I hope they never knew that Frances, having paid them a pittance for years no doubt, claimed all the credit for herself. Bloody aristocrats.


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