Behind the scenes with the Harlots, Housewives and Heroines...
This series for BBC4 was made, once again, by Silver River, and once again I enjoyed a bit of dressing up.
The main director was Nick Gillam-Smith but Eleanor Scoones also made her debut with episode three. Once again Ian and Rhys made it look and sound good.
The things I did included having a seventeenth century makeover from Puritan to Restoration Mistress, tightening my wrinkles with egg-white, learning a dance called 'Cuckolds All In A Row', bowderlising the Earl of Rochester's play 'Sodom', and I advertised myself as a wife for sale (there were no takers). I rode a very safe horse named Jeffrey around Broughton Castle, ancestral estate of the intrepid Celia Fiennes. I tried on the fearsome 'Scold's Bridle', tested out a birthing chair, raided St James's Park at midnight, saw off potential attackers with a pin from my pocket, and distilled Elizabeth Dysart's cure-all elixir. (Basically, it makes you so drunk that you feel no pain.) I even, Nigella-like, made a witch's bottle - 'first take a finger-nail clipping of the person you wish to harm, and place it in the bottle, etc' - but sorry, you can't see that, it didn't make the final cut.
The places we went were Hampton Court Palace, obviously, and Althorp House, Dorney Court (home of Barbara Villiers' husband), The Banqueting House in Whitehall, the National Portrait Gallery, Magdalene College, Cambridge, The Army and Navy Club, Newmarket, The Society of Antiquaries, the church near Sayes Court where John and Mary Evelyn are buried, Covent Garden, Fleet Street, Bolsover Castle (yes! my favourite place), The Weald and Downland Museum, Ham House, Chelsea Physick Garden, Kew Palace, a really weird fake hospital near Hillingdon, Broughton Castle, Greenwich, Burlington Arcade, The Museum of London, the Georgian theatre at Richmond, Yorkshire, the Nell Gwyn pub off the Strand, The Royal Hospital at Chelsea, Westminster Abbey and the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford.
The people I had the pleasure of interviewing included my fellow curators from Historic Royal Palaces, Joanna Marschner, Brett Dolman, Kent Rawlinson and Lee Prosser, as well as Katherine Ibbett, Ronald Hutton, Aileen Ribiero, Dr Luckett of the Pepys Library, Nell Gwyn's descendent and biographer, Charles Beauclerk, Laura Thompson, Justin Champion, Joad Raymond, Rebecca Probert, Hallie Rubenhold, Joanne Bailey, Katie Whittaker, Martin Ingram (my old tutor), Elaine Hobby, Rosemary Baird, Sarah Toulahan, Helen King, Lord Saye and Sele (relative of Celia Fiennes), Laura Gowing, Helen Berry, Hilary Davidson, Robert Shoemaker, Tom Betteridge, Julie Wheelright, Janet Todd and Jim Bennett.
© 2013 Lucy Worsley