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Monthly Archives: October 2023

English garden styles – Kent, Brown, and Repton

In the 18th Century, the formal style of garden for stately homes (described here) began to give way to a more natural style of gardening. Three men stand out in the transformation of the parks and gardens of the wealthy: William Kent, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, and Humphrey Repton.

Stoke Park, in Buckinghamshire, with the Repton Bridge. The landscape was designed by Capability Brown, and modified later by Repton. Although it has been altered further since then, not least by the addition of golf course, the water feature is obviously very different to the rectangular canals featured in earlier, formal designs.

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Prize money in the Army

The painting in the background depicts the seige of San Sebastian, Spain, in 1813


A version of this article was originally posted on  The Coffee Pot Book Club website.

In Regency times, prize money was paid to both army and navy personnel. The money came from goods captured in action, and was shared out between the men (it was only men!) according to their rank. The blog post here explains how prize money was calculated and allocated in the Royal Navy. This article looks at the Army in the Peninsular War.

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Sailing ships and sayings

We use many phrases in everyday speech that originated in the past and have often changed their meaning. For example, did ‘second rate’ always mean ‘second best’?

First rate or second rate?

Today, ‘first rate’ refers to something top quality, ‘second rate’ or even ‘third rate’ to items of lesser quality. Originally these terms referred to the number of guns on a warship, meaning that a first rate ship was only better than a second rate ship in terms of fire power. It said nothing about the quality of the ship in other respects.

A large ship of the line heading into Plymouth, by Thomas Buttersworth. You can see three rows of gun ports, showing that it is a first or second rate ship.

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