Shugborough Royal Upstairs Downstairs


Shugborough

Rosemary Shrager and Tim Wonnacott visit Shugborough Hall in Staffordshire, following in the footsteps of Queen Victoria and her royal visits.


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Transcript


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'Just what do you have to do when a queen decides she's going to pop in to see you.

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'And not just any old queen. Victoria!'

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'Like a pair of obsessed Victoria groupies,

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'we're pursuing her around the country to the posh pads she visited.'

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'We'll be delving into first-hand accounts to reveal what happened behind closed doors.'

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She was only 13 when she arrived here at Shugborough Hall in Staffordshire.

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'As someone who's spent a lifetime getting excited by antiques,

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'I'll be upstairs finding out how clever tricks might have fooled the future monarch.'

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Not so much smoke and mirrors, more like ceiling and pillars.

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'And, as a chef who loves all sorts of food,

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'I'll be downstairs where I'll be rediscovering a 19th century recipe that was served to Victoria.'

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-Do you use one of these?

-No, I want one. Can I take that home with me?

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No way! It took me two years to find one!

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'And seeing if Tim is game enough to try it.'

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I say, they did live well, you know?

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We're continuing our journey in the footsteps of the young Victoria

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as she, as a slip of a girl,

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had a tour of the nation with her mother, the Duchess of Kent,

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so that the people could see their future monarch.

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'The young Princess Victoria had travelled from the much grander

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'and much larger Chatsworth House further north following a successful visit.

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'Her hosts at Shugborough were Lord and Lady Lichfield,

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'a wealthy and well-connected family.'

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This was a much more modest home than many that Victoria had visited,

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but I'm still keen as mustard to take a bird's-eye upstairs.

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Which is exactly what I'm going to do downstairs.

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MUSIC: "British National Anthem"

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'The local paper records that, on her arrival at the hall,

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'a band played God Save The King and a royal salute of guns was fired.'

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According to her recently-begun diary,

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Victoria and the royal party arrived in the late afternoon

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when she records, "At about half-past five,

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"we arrived at Shugborough, the place of Lord Lichfield."

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'Lord and Lady Lichfield helped the Duchess of Kent and the princess from their carriage,

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'the Derby Mercury describing the 13-year-old Victoria,

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'seen here with her mother, as an interesting and intelligent-looking child.

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'By the time of Victoria's visit, Shugborough had reached its peak as a modern estate

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'and a fashionable country seat.

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'The family had worked hard in the previous 100 years

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'at transforming what was once a plainer, medium-sized house

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'into something that would enhance their name and general standing.

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'And the architectural trickery they used starts at the entrance,

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'which looks very grand, as long as you don't knock up against it.'

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Because there is something sham about this facade.

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If you tap the column, it's not solid stone.

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It's actually made of wood!

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And the walls of the house itself were covered in slate

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to make them look like solid blocks of stone.

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'It was no doubt good enough to fool a 13-year-old.

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'And inside, the clever tricks to impress continued.'

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The first earl's father and his architect

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did their utmost to confuse the eye

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to cover up the fact that this house was once a bog-standard country house

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but it's simply become a bit grander.

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And the way they did that was by installing this oval ceiling

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and all these pillars.

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So, to deceive the eye, then,

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not so much smoke and mirrors,

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more like ceiling and pillars.

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'Today, Shugborough is still run as a working and historic estate,

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'with the staff still doing all the jobs that would've been done when Victoria was here.

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'And at that time, like any respectable country pile, it had an army of servants.

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'In fact, four years before the visit in 1832,

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'it was recorded that 109 full-time salaried staff were working on the estate.'

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This is where the unmarried staff would've slept, in this stable yard.

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The men would go that side and the women would sleep that side.

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So there was no horsing around here, thank you very much!

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'The staff wore different coloured uniforms because it made it easier

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'to spot if they were in their rightful place.

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'Red was worn by the kitchen maids, blue by the laundry maids,

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'green by the still room staff and purple by the housemaids.

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'The housekeeper and the cooks had no official uniform.

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'This itself was a form of status.

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'Men at Shugborough also had colour-coding to their uniforms,

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'but unlike the women, they had expensive specialist uniforms from livery makers in London.

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'And the staff would've dined here.

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'The servants' hall was the hub of downstairs life.'

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CHATTER AND LAUGHTER

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'With the young princess upstairs, this place would've been a buzz with tension and gossip.

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'With a royal visit to cater for,

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'the household stocked up for lavish dining.

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'And Ivan Day, our food historian, has got his hands on a wonderful document,

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'a list of the food and drink consumed during Victoria's three-day visit.'

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76 pheasants,

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38 partridges, ten hares, 54 fowls.

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In fact, it says at the bottom here, 195 head of game and poultry.

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-So I thought we'd do something with pheasants.

-Fantastic!

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'Today's royal delicacy is a dish invented by

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'a famous French chef called Marie-Antoinin Careme who dominated this period.

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'It's called fillets of pheasant a la chartreuse,

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'and like so much Victorian cooking, it's very complex and time-consuming.'

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Chartreuse was a very elaborate vegetable dish

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where you used little discs or squares of cut-out vegetables, so you've got wonderful colours,

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-and you arrange them like a mosaic.

-It's beautiful! It's so ornate!

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'The mould has been lined with paper that is smeared with butter

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'and stuck to the butter are the vegetables cut into shapes.

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'The next stage is to fill the mould with pureed potato.'

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We've got to put a couple of egg yolks into there.

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-This'll help to stiffen it up, won't it?

-Yeah.

-When it's cooked, it'll set.

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And it's nicely seasoned with pepper and salt

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and it should be quite thick.

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-There we go.

-Right. Now, this is the difficult bit, because you have to get all of that puree in there

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-without disturbing them.

-Slip it down. Slip it down.

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The best way is to slide a little bit in at a time.

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'This dish was a hot entree served after three or four courses

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'of what was frequently a nine-course menu.'

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These were the fanciest savoury dishes that the chef could muster up.

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They'd eaten a lot of food already and these were just to whet your appetite, really.

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-You saw all these beautiful patterns and colours and you felt hungry again.

-Mm-hm.

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-Right, Rosemary, I think that's ready. I'm going to put this on to poach for about 40 minutes.

-OK.

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'Back upstairs, local dignitaries would've gathered here in the most impressive room in the house

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'to meet the 13-year-old princess.

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'It's the red drawing room.'

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And this is whole Victoria was calling upon, Lady Lichfield,

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together with her boy, Thomas, and the most adorable-looking little child there in the foreground,

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who's Harriett, whom Victoria actually played with during her visit here.

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Now, you could say that some artists tend to flatter their subjects,

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but this artist, George Hayter, I don't think did.

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Because Louisa was always thought to be a bit of a cracker and, indeed,

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even Queen Victoria noted that Louisa was alluring

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and invariably incredibly kind.

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'The Earl and Lady Louisa were on friendly terms with Victoria's mother.

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'The Lichfield family had been attached to the royal court since the days of William IV

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'and relished the idea of the duchess and her precious daughter coming to stay.'

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This was a bit of a hastily-arranged visit by the duchess.

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'It started with an exchange of letters two months earlier

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'and brilliantly for us, we have copies of those very letters.'

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And, indeed, the duchess, a couple of months before the visit, was writing,

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"As yet, I have no fixed time for leaving this part of the country,

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"but if it be in our power, and you should be at Shugborough,

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"we shall be happy to visit you."

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The Lichfields were delighted.

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In fact, they pushed their luck a bit and asked the royal party to stay for an additional day,

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to which the duchess agreed.

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Now, that is something of a coup.

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'It was in this very room that Victoria and her mother

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'received the great and the good of the area.

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'Seven carriage-loads turned up to meet them, including the mayor and the clergy,

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'and the whole thing was covered by the local press.'

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The Staffordshire Advertiser proudly reported the scene,

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quoting Victoria's mother's gracious response to the mayor's address.

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It was rather telling.

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"The princess will derive the greatest benefit from these journeys.

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"They bring her in contact with all classes.

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"They are the means of allowing her to know all the varied interests of this great and free country."

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The Advertiser's man on the spot gave his own observations of the princess. He wrote,

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"The princess is a most interesting young person

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"and her simple dress, simple almost to plainness,

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"accords well with the prepossessing features

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"of any amiable, mild and intelligent caste."

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'Given the limited access the public had to their future queen,

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'such titbits about Victoria would've been of huge interest to ordinary folk.'

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'Downstairs, I'm cooking a dish with Ivan

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'that would've very likely graced the table during Victoria's visit - fillets of pheasant a la chartreuse.

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'And the next stage is to puree some cooked chestnuts in a very Victorian fashion.'

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The first thing we use is something called a potato beetle.

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-Right. I've never seen one of those.

-Which we just pound the chestnuts with.

-Yes.

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-Have a go at it.

-Yes.

-You're going to turn those into a pulp.

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And while you're doing that, I've already got some here

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and I rub it through the sieve with this gizmo here.

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-What a wonderful thing!

-So it pushes it right through the mesh.

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I have to tell you, I put my potato through one of these drum sieves.

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-Absolutely.

-It's beautiful.

-Do you use one of these?

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-No, I want one. Can I take that home with me?

-No way!

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It took me two years to find one!

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Right, that's great. Would you like to pour some of that into there?

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-Yes.

-That's great. And I'll start pushing that through.

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-I tell you what, let's change over. You have a go at this.

-I'd love to!

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And I will try and get this into shape.

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And these jobs really were great for two kitchen maids.

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-Oh, yes!

-They could have a natter while they did it,

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discuss the local gossip.

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'But no gossiping during the next stage of our fashionable 1830s dish.

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'My reputation for wielding a filleting knife has earned me the task of dealing with the pheasant.'

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Yes, you are good with a knife.

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-That's right. So take off the legs.

-I'm just going to remove the wishbone,

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because that'll allow me to get the whole breast off.

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I'm just very interested to see how the modern technique

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-is actually identical to the way in which a Victorian...

-Really?

-Absolutely.

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'This is very specialised.

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'We even have to trim them in a particular way.'

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That's great. At an angle. Towards the meat, that's it. That's perfect.

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These little bits that are left over, I'll probably use them for something else later. They won't get wasted.

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'So, while the chartreuse poaches away,

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'the pheasant is fried off, ready for the next stage of our dish.'

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'Since becoming heir to the throne at the tender age of 11,

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'the princess was kept under 24-hour surveillance by her mother, the Duchess of Kent,

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'such was her paranoia that something untoward might happen to her.

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'The sleeping arrangements while at Shugborough backed this up. Victoria slept in this bedroom

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'with her mother, most likely in the same bed,

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'just like she did back at Kensington Palace.

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'On the second day of Victoria's visit to Shugborough,

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'the party went from Lichfield the home to Lichfield the place,

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'where more of the people could see their future queen.

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'Victoria records in her diary, "At ten, we set out for Lichfield, the whole party going, children and all.

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"Lord and Lady Lichfield went in our open carriage.

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"We proceeded to the cathedral, which is quite beautiful.

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"The figures worked in stone on the outside

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"and the three beautiful spires are worthy of great admiration.

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"We went into the interior of the cathedral into a pew.

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"And the choristers sung an anthem."

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'Back at the house, the poor maids had no time for sightseeing.

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'With the royal party in residence, there would've been even more work to do than usual.

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'At the laundry, the work was back-breaking.

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'The maids would fill a laundry copper, which heated the water.

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'This meant carrying hundreds of back-breaking buckets in from the yard.

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'Shugborough House still boasts a 19th century laundry

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'and it's now used to demonstrate how the work was done back then.'

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So, how much extra work would there have been because of the royal visit?

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It would've been double or treble. We'd have needed extra help

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from the village because of all the bed linen, extra table cloths, napkins.

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-An awful lot of washing.

-What sort of hours did they work?

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They worked 12-hour days, starting at 5am in the morning, working six and a half days a week.

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-Only a half a day off?

-On Sunday, to go to church. And one day off a month.

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-That is not much, is it?

-It's not a lot.

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Was there a weekly routine here for the maids?

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The main washing would be from Monday till Tuesday

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and then from Wednesday till Friday, it would be the ironing, the folding and the airing.

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Then Saturday and Sunday was sorting all the dirty washing then start all over again.

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'The 12-hour day was pretty demanding for servants

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'and the work would've been more daunting had Shugborough not invested in

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'some of the latest gizmos and gadgets to help ease the laundry maid's pain.'

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When Victoria was here, this was the latest piece of equipment.

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It's called a dolly peg and it's just twist and turn, like this. Backwards and forwards.

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We say 100 turns for each load of washing.

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-100 turns.

-100 turns.

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'But the dolly peg was luxury on legs compared to the old washboard, as I'm about to find out.'

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-You need to rub the cloth up and down on the wooden slats using your knuckles.

-Knuckles?

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-Imagine doing this all day long!

-SHE LAUGHS

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-I think you'll make an excellent maid.

-Oh, it's coming off, too! It's working!

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'Just as I'd mastered Victorian washing,

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'there's still the ironing to do.

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'And, believe it or not, this is what they would've used for all the extra laundry.'

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What is this contraption? It looks like something out of a torture chamber!

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I know it does. It's called a box mangle and it's an ironing machine.

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We use it to iron all the large, flat items, like sheets and tablecloths,

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that would take a very long time with a hot iron.

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'The many tablecloths required for Victoria's visit

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'would've been wound around these two rollers, which were placed under the weighted box.'

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The other way. So, how many people would've manned this?

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Ideally, you need three people. The handyman to operate the machine

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and two maids putting the cloth on and off the rollers.

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-I think you can stop now, Rosemary.

-Ohh!

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Thank goodness for modern irons!

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'When Victoria visited, Shugborough was practically a self-sufficient estate.

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'It had a farm and a flour mill. And it had something else,

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'something appreciated by the toffs and the servants alike, its very own brew house,

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'built in 1780 and restored to full working glory in the 1990s.'

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What a great space this is! The original brew house!

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'Nick Burton and Keith Bott are in charge today.

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'At the time of Victoria's visit, the brewers produced up to 40,000 gallons of beer a year.'

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320,000 pints a year.

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-Who was drinking all this beer?

-The servants, at the time of Victoria's visit, had eight pints a day.

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-Some would have one over the eight.

-Is that where the expression comes from?

-Yes.

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-This isn't strong stuff, is it?

-No. It's called small beer. One or two percent proof.

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It's a combination of an alcopop and an energy drink of the day.

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'There was another good reason to drink beer during the time of Victoria's visit.

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'Cholera was spreading across Britain, killing thousands,

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'and thus the fermented and purified bevvy was a safer option than water.

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'So, did his Lordship also go for the safer option

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'and down a pint with his supper?'

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Was it normal for aristocratic families to consume beer like this or was it peculiar to Shugborough?

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Oh, absolutely. In a lot of the houses. But, yes, the water wasn't good for them necessarily,

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so, yes, people did have beer. His Lordship can, of course, afford wine and has wine with the meals,

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but he also, as a general drink, and for his hunting parties, yes, he has beer.

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Yeah. What do we know about beer consumption during Victoria's visit?

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We know from the records that around 450 gallons of beer was consumed over her three-day visit,

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but if you remember that there was 109 members of staff at Shugborough at that time

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who were all having a gallon a day,

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then the actual amount consumed by the visitors was somewhat less.

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But still around 150 gallons of beer.

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150 gallons? I mean, they were only here for a few days. That's 1,200 pints!

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'They certainly enjoyed their beer, then. Funny to picture the Duchess of Kent downing a pint,

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'but if she did, it would've been a lighter ladies' beer, because it was brewed in different strengths,

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'the strongest for the Lords, less strong for the Ladies.'

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-Cheers!

-BOTH: Cheers.

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'And they still brew it today.'

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-Oh, it's a fair drop, that, isn't it?

-Beautiful.

-Not bad at all.

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'Back in the kitchen, our pheasant has been fried

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'and it's time to see if our chartreuse, which has been poaching for 40 minutes, has worked.'

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The big moment has arrived, because we've actually got to de-mould this monster here.

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Now, the way we're going to do that is with a great deal of care.

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Then I do a Tommy Cooper job.

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-And then we pray.

-OK.

-Cos this is very, very difficult.

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Easy does it.

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Just look at that.

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And it's the butter in the mould

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that enables us to get that off.

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That is beautiful!

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-Steam coming off it.

-It's named after the Carthusian monks

0:20:560:21:02

whose monasteries are known as charterhouses in France at Chartreuse

0:21:020:21:06

and they were meant to be vegetarians but they often weren't.

0:21:060:21:10

And usually, a chartreuse is a shell, a beautiful mosaic of vegetables on the outside,

0:21:100:21:16

but often hidden inside are pigeons and sausages and things

0:21:160:21:19

and it's a satire, really, on the fact that these monks broke their vegetarian vows,

0:21:190:21:24

because the meat's all hidden inside.

0:21:240:21:26

I never knew that. Fascinating!

0:21:260:21:30

'Time to delve into our chestnut puree.'

0:21:300:21:33

Taste that now. It should be delicious.

0:21:330:21:35

-It's nicely seasoned. It's been cooked in the pheasant stock.

-Absolutely delicious.

0:21:370:21:41

-Yeah. I'm now going to fill the centre.

-Yes.

0:21:410:21:44

And I'm going to very carefully build it up

0:21:440:21:48

-into the shape of a turban.

-Oh!

0:21:480:21:52

It was a very, very common and popular form of presenting an entree.

0:21:520:21:56

'Lovely though this recipe is, to our modern eyes,

0:22:000:22:03

'I think it looks rather peculiar. But much like today, the food reflects society.

0:22:030:22:09

'The Victorians were, after all, engineers and builders and their food was heavily engineered, too.

0:22:090:22:16

'There's just one more thing left to do before we serve it to Lord Wonnacott upstairs.

0:22:160:22:21

'Thanks. Victoria's host, Lord Lichfield, was a very jolly fellow by all accounts,

0:22:230:22:29

'but he was also described by contemporaries as an extravagant and imprudent man.

0:22:290:22:34

'A bit of a waster, then.

0:22:340:22:37

'Hosting the princess and her mother cost a fair bit,

0:22:370:22:40

'but a gambling habit cost him far more.

0:22:400:22:43

'In fact, ten years after Victoria's visit,

0:22:430:22:46

'it cost him almost the entire estate.

0:22:460:22:49

'And he created his very own gaming room for his addiction.'

0:22:490:22:54

Ooh, hello. I bet the very young Victoria saw this building,

0:22:550:23:00

but I bet nobody told her what went on in here!

0:23:000:23:04

This is Shugborough's Tower Of The Winds.

0:23:040:23:08

This pretty little tower was the earl's personal gambling den

0:23:080:23:13

and he lost a large proportion of his fortune upstairs.

0:23:130:23:17

Most of the gambling that went on here was cards.

0:23:200:23:25

But it would've been the gee-gees that did the earl in.

0:23:250:23:29

That and general over-expenditure and speculation.

0:23:290:23:33

CHATTER

0:23:330:23:36

But in 1841, the earl's lawyer, who was a bit of a bookie on the quiet,

0:23:360:23:41

brought an action against him for £20,000, a stupendous amount of money,

0:23:410:23:49

for the recovery of racing and gambling debts.

0:23:490:23:53

'To pay off his debts, Lichfield had to sell the contents of Shugborough.

0:23:580:24:03

'He hung onto the family silver and some portraits,

0:24:030:24:06

'but everything else had to go.

0:24:060:24:08

'He made almost a million pounds in today's money,

0:24:080:24:11

'but the shame of it all sent him abroad.'

0:24:110:24:15

So, just ten years after Victoria's visit,

0:24:150:24:19

the place was mothballed and became silent.

0:24:190:24:23

A small part of it was occupied by a gardener and his family

0:24:240:24:29

and the earl headed off in his coach

0:24:290:24:33

for a quieter and more economical life in France.

0:24:330:24:38

'On the last night of her visit, the princess and the duchess enjoyed a dinner

0:24:430:24:47

'and then a ball, where the young Victoria, dressed in pink satin,

0:24:470:24:50

'danced under the watchful gaze of her mother.

0:24:500:24:53

'She wrote in her diary, "At seven, we dined, and after dinner, we danced.

0:24:530:24:58

"I danced three quadrille, first with Lord Anson,

0:24:580:25:02

"then with Lord Paget and then with Lord Russell."

0:25:020:25:06

'And we are to be served our fabulous pheasant dish

0:25:060:25:09

'as she would've been in the very same dining room.'

0:25:090:25:12

-Served?

-We're going to be served. Gentlemen.

-That's a turn up.

0:25:120:25:16

-I fancy we've got the butler and the under-butler.

-We certainly have.

-Lovely!

0:25:160:25:21

And what are they bringing us, Rosemary?

0:25:210:25:23

This is fillets of pheasant a la chartreuse.

0:25:230:25:26

-I'll tell you what really grabs me first off.

-What?

-The way these little baby vegetables

0:25:260:25:31

have been so artistically arranged. Marvellous, isn't it?

0:25:310:25:34

You have to have the patience of a saint.

0:25:340:25:38

-You need the patience of a saint and the income of a lord.

-You certainly do.

0:25:380:25:42

An awful lot of chat about this, Rosemary. I'd like to try a bit if I could.

0:25:420:25:47

-This is going to be interesting, because there's definitely a process here.

-Mm.

0:25:480:25:53

The butler gives it to the under-butler. I'm learning something here.

0:25:530:25:58

Then the butler does the actual portion control.

0:25:580:26:02

And His Lordship gets his two slabs.

0:26:030:26:06

It does look jolly good, I have to say.

0:26:080:26:11

-Everything's in season. Ooh, that... That...

-Ohh!

0:26:130:26:17

The chestnut in the juices!

0:26:180:26:21

I say, they did live well, you know?

0:26:210:26:23

As it's so incredibly romantic in this dining room, with the candle lit and everything,

0:26:250:26:31

-I've got a little treasure for you to have a look at.

-What is this?

-Ah!

0:26:310:26:35

It's a little brooch for the youngest of the Lichfield children,

0:26:350:26:40

that we've seen earlier in a portrait, so she'd have been about four,

0:26:400:26:44

and Victoria was 13, and they played together.

0:26:440:26:48

And when she left, Victoria presented Harriett with the emerald and diamond brooch.

0:26:480:26:53

How lovely is that?

0:26:530:26:57

-I've had quite a beery day. I've been off to the brew house.

-How lovely!

0:26:570:27:00

That's why we've got this. This is His Lordship's own, which is the strong ale

0:27:000:27:06

-produced out of the Shugborough brewery.

-Right.

0:27:060:27:09

-And you've got a bit of m'lady's fancy there, which is not quite so strong.

-Let's swap!

0:27:090:27:14

-What?

-Let's do a swap! I'll have the strong one!

0:27:140:27:17

-To m'lords.

-To m'lords and m'ladies.

0:27:170:27:20

And just see how this goes down the hatch.

0:27:200:27:23

-It's quite floral, isn't it?

-It's very strong!

-That's the strong one.

0:27:230:27:28

Now, there's another beer connection in this room, because if you look up at that stucco on the ceiling,

0:27:280:27:33

that 3-D effect in the 18th century was supposed to have come about

0:27:330:27:37

partly because they used beer in the plaster mix so that it stuck better.

0:27:370:27:43

-Really?

-Not necessarily Shugborough beer.

0:27:430:27:45

Is that where they got the saying, "You're plastered"?

0:27:450:27:49

-THEY LAUGH

-It could be!

0:27:490:27:51

HORSE SNORTS AND HOOVES CLATTER

0:27:520:27:56

'Victoria and her mother left early the next morning

0:27:560:27:59

'as her progress around the country continued.

0:27:590:28:02

'This punishing schedule took its toll on the young princess,

0:28:020:28:06

'but her mother was determined to keep her profile as high as possible.

0:28:060:28:11

'Join us next time on Royal Upstairs Downstairs at Harewood House,

0:28:130:28:18

'where three years later, she was still on the road,

0:28:180:28:21

'being paraded around the country to meet the great and the good.'

0:28:210:28:25

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:28:270:28:31

E-mail [email protected]

0:28:310:28:35

.

0:28:350:28:35

Rosemary Shrager and Tim Wonnacott visit Shugborough Hall in Staffordshire, following in the footsteps of Queen Victoria and her royal visits.

They discover what life was like for the 13-year-old Victoria when she visited the Earl of Lichfield with her mother in 1832.

Tim reveals how Victoria was kept under 24-hour surveillance by her mother the Duchess of Kent - such was her paranoia that something untoward would happen to her. The sleeping arrangements while at Shugborough back this up. Victoria slept in the same bedroom as her mother, most likely in the same bed. Tim also tastes the beer still brewed in the estate as it would have been during Victoria's visit and disovers its role in warding off cholera. Plus, Tim tells the story of the host's dramatic crash into bankruptcy after Victoria's visit.

Rosemary cooks an elegant dish that would have been served to impress the heir to the throne, fillets of pheasant a la chartreuse - a complex and time-consuming dish. And she discovers how the different coloured uniforms for the servants were a visual indication of their role in the household, as well as having a go at washing and ironing clothes Victorian style.


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