A debutante’s diary: Alice visits a castle

Ruthin Castle, Saturday night, 8th August, 1868

I sit down to transmit to paper my ideas concerning our present residence, and must begin by owning I am at once delighted and disappointed.

Ruthin itselfand this is what pleases meis a perfect palace and situated in the midst of scenery that would transport a poet or painter; but I being neither the one not the other look prosaically to the amount of golden sovereigns these beauteous acres would produce; and the sum total, according to the lowest calculation, is by no means despicable. Unhappily all this is the property of the invalided elder brother, but Cornwallis is certain to inherit it at his death.

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Now for my disappointment. Instead of the charming party I expected to meet, picked from all that London holds most select, we have fallen, Mother and I, into the midst of the arts, represented by individuals famous for their knowledge of painting, dirty bits of metal, precious stones in the rough, and such other treasures; talented doubtless as is proved by their discrimination in such matters, but otherwise singularly uninteresting.

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The other night we had the harp, organ, piano and concertina all going together, and though those two instruments are charming in moderation it is quite possible to have too much of a good thing as we found to our cost; another great grievance is our not being allowed to speak during the progress of this combination of sweet sounds: and seeing as they commence directly after dinner and continue until one-thirty the next morning, the restriction is severe.

Next week: scandal in Northamptonshire

‘Every Girl’s Duty’, edited by Maggy Parsons, published by Andre Deutsch

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