In a letter to Catherine Gordon Byron and accompanied by the faithful and ‘learned’ William Fletcher – the recipient of kindness, extensive travel and the frequent butt of jokes – Byron took time to share with his mother the discomforts of his long suffering valet as they continued on their Grand Tour.
“Fletcher, after having been toasted and roasted, and baked and grilled, and eaten by all sorts of creeping things begins to philosophise, is grown a refined as well as a resigned character, and promises at his return to become an ornament to his own parish, and a very prominent person in the future family pedigree of the Fletchers who I take to be Goths by their accomplishments, Greeks by their acuteness, and ancient Saxons by their appetite.”
Fast forward to the creation of my Byron-inspired abode from that balmy July hundreds of years later as I have now completed the rooms that can be found nestled away in the garrets and eminently suitable for any valet.
And if we travel through the Hallway, a bedroom for Fletcher awaits and as Byron was to write of Fletcher’s ‘perpetual lamentations after beef and beer’ – I shall try to oblige him!
We can also peek through the pine door to another bedroom – but for whom?
When Byron married Annabella Milbanke in January 1815, she was accompanied by her maid Ann Rood and as the Byron marriage disintegrated, the romance between the ‘Learned Fletcher’ and ‘Roody’ blossomed.
“The parcel came & contained also a billet from Roody to my Valet – from which I infer that she is better in one sense & worse in another…”
Married on January 12 1816, the newlyweds were sadly not to enjoy marital bliss for very long as three days later Ann accompanied her mistress and the infant Ada from Piccadilly to the home of Lady B’s parents in Leicestershire and some months later, the faithful Fletcher would accompany his master to Europe.
But how very sweet! The makings of a ‘real’ romance!
Byron’s Letters and Journals Vol 2 1810-1812 Ed. Leslie A. Marchand (London: John Murray 1974)
Byron’s Letters and Journals Vol 4 1814-1815 Ed. Leslie A. Marchand (London: John Murray 1975)
Byron’s Letters and Journals Vol 8 1821 Ed. Leslie A. Marchand (London: John Murray 1978)