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Vicars and Tarts

If William Chiffinch – Keeper of His Majesty’s Backstairs – was alive today, he’d have probably sold his story for a king’s ransom. As Charles II’s spymaster and general goafer, Will was privy to a host of salacious secrets which, if they’d been leaked, could have destroyed the monarchy.

In 1660, Charles returned from European exile. His father Charles I had been executed and replaced with Oliver Cromwell’s Puritanical regime. The people were immensely relieved to find the Merrie Monarch on the throne in place of the dour Lord Protectorate, who hated parties and anything closely resembling fun. Everyone sought access to the ebullient Charles who found it difficult to get a moment’s peace. The royal bedchamber was a crowded venue, forcing Charles to decamp to his private closet, guarded and protected by his faithful factotum Will Chiffinch.

Nobody could gain private access to Charles (or his closet) without Chiffinch’s consent.

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Bundling – Love in a Cold Climate

Modern-day dating is fraught with angst for the average teenager, but none of it compares with the traumas of being a loved-up youngster in seventeenth-century Scotland. You’ve found the guy you want to marry but to prove to your parents he’s the one, you and your mate have to submit to a humiliating ordeal known as ‘bundling’.

This is roughy how it went. You invite your boyfriend home to meet your parents. Next thing you know, your mother’s tying you up from feet to waist (and even to the neck) and placing you in a sack. Just to be on the safe side, she gets you to put your legs inside a large stocking tied securely above the knees. You and your bewildered boyfriend get into your family’s best bed – always in the main reception room – where you spend the night under your parents’ watchful eyes.

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