Social Victorians/1897 Fancy Dress Ball/anthology

Before the BallEdit

The invitations went out a month before the ball, and, according to Russell Harris, more than 700 invitations were sent.[1] According to the story in the Leicester Chronicle, the Duchess summoned the people invited to appear "in an allegorical costume dated earlier than 1820."[2] Other sources say the invitations called the ball "Historical and Allegorical"[3], with the historical costumes to represent queens and their courts from the past. Besides asking her guests to wear dress predating 1820, according to Harris,

The Duchess of Devonshire instructed her guests to dress around the theme of certain courts, both mythical and temporal. They were to form various processions and perform a quadrille - for which many people practised for weeks. While some guests took their instructions literally, others modelled themselves upon paintings, and thus fell into more amorphous costume groupings, such as "17th century" or "Venetians."[1]

According to the Cheltenham Looker-On also about a month before the event, "The ball card has been drafted, and all the dances are to square, chiefly quadrilles, so that old stately measures will be trodden by courtly knights and ladies of the olden time."[3]

According to Russell Harris, <quote>when word got around that she [Louisa, Duchess of Devonshire,] was planning a costume ball to celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee on 2 July 1897, there was no attempt by other London hostesses to hold a competing event. Instead, they invested all their efforts into ensuring that they were on the guest list.</quote>[1]

Two Months Before (May 1897)Edit

People were talking about the ball long before the party itself took place. On 24 May 1897, the Dundee Evening Telegraph, which published a number of articles about or at least mentioning the ball, reports this:

THE BALL OF THE SEASON. The ball of this year will be the Duchess of Devonshire's fancy dress one in Jubilee week. All the crowned heads and minor Royalties will be present, and the dresses promise to surpass in magnificence even those worn at Lady Warwick's wonderful ball. What people will wear on this occasion is a cause of much guessing. But it is said there will be two Cleopatras, both ladies possessed of wonderful pearls and diamonds, and a magnificent Queen of Sheba, the cost of whose gown, they say, will run into four figures.[4]

The Month Before (June 1897)Edit

People were talking about the ball a month before; this is from the Yorkshire Evening Post:

From Vanity Fair: There were several very pretty people at the opera on Saturday night; for instance, Mrs. Rupert Beckett, who wore white with a green sash and something which looked like a bunch of green leaves on the bodice of her dress; her hair was thrown back from her face, and her dress had a big Medici collar, which made me think she if she went to the Duchess of Devonshire's ball she ought to go as "Mary Queen of Scots."[5]

People were talking about the ball, apparently, on 12 June 1897 in Cheltenham, as reported by the Cheltenham Looker-On. Including another mention of the Flower Ball, hosted by Mrs. Oppenheim, this story also describes the state of the invitation cards, which at this point have been sent out, and the "ball card," which lists the dances:

The next great social event, after the Jubilee, will be the Duchess of Devonshire's fancy dress ball early in July, for which cards have been issued. At first the Duchess was disposed to give a ball in Commemoration week, to entertain the strangers from England beyond the sea, but the State arrangements provided for every contingency during that time. Just when Society is feeling re-action after so much excitement, the magnificent gates of Devonshire House will roll back for the ball described on the cards as "Historical and Allegorical." It is difficult to originate a new type of fancy dress party. Mrs. Oppenheim, wife of the well-known financier, gave a flower party, of which great things were expected, and fairly fulfilled. Every lady personated a flower, and got herself up so far as possible to resemble one, or so decked her dress, with [Col. 1C–2A] simulated blossoms as clearly indicate her preference. Society talked flowers for a fall which was a great extension of the proverbial nine days' wonder. When all was said and done the great world discarded flowers, and decided to have no more of them for personal adornment, and as few as possible for tables and reception rooms. So ungrateful can the pampered world become for nature's prodigality.


The Duchess of Devonshire took her cue from the tone of the drawing rooms, and decided that whereas a flower party was pretty, it was, as an idea, feeble, while the great world of history, and the still wider mythical world, could be strong and magnificent. The costumiers of London and Paris are living between joy and despair, for every invited guest feels it incumbent to be original and resplendent. The ball card has been drafted, and all the dances are to square, chiefly quadrilles, so that old stately measures will be trodden by courtly knights and ladies of the olden time.[3]

On 14 June 1897, the Sheffield Independent, pointing up the elitism of the Duke of Devonshire and introducing a topic others will also express — the "extravagance" of the costs — says this:

The Duchess of Devonshire's ball, next week, is the talk of London. When one hears of the dazzling preparations that are being made for it one can understand that the Duke's sympathy with the masses is in a dwindling quantity. It is reported that the Duchess herself has set the undesirable example by ordering a costume that will rival any seen at the Bradley-Martin event. I have no authority for saying that this is true; but neither have I heard that the smallest hint has been given to the guests that the study of modesty or economy would be pleasing. The ball is in honour of the Queen. That should be a reason for avoiding extravagance. No one is more careful to avoid waste than her Majesty, and yet it cannot be denied that her Court is an honour to the country.[6]

The claim that "No one is more careful to avoid waste than her Majesty" reveals that, while critical of the Duke of Devonshire, the politics expressed here are not anti-monarchist.

Saturday, 12 June 1897, people at a house party at Chatsworth House, the country estate of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, were talking about the upcoming party:

The house party at Chatsworth this week included the Earl and Countess of Mar and Kellie, Lord Charles Montagu, Lord and Lady Gosford, Lord Elcho, the Right Hon. Arthur James Balfour, M.P., Count Mensdorf, of the Austrian Embassy; Miss Muriel Wilson (Tranby Croft), and Mrs. Menzies.

The Daily Mail says it is impossible not to talk about the Duchess of Devonshire's grand ball, for people will discuss scarcely anything else, and although each woman can keep the secret of her own intentions fairly well, she invariably betrays the confidences of her dearest friends; while the men, who are less hopeful of making a sensation, frankly discuss the difficulties in their way, and ask for advice or practical assistance from each of their lady friends. Lady de Grey is going as Zenobia, and is getting her dress from Doucet, I hear, while Worth also is making a great many costumes; but the greatest number are being made in England. The Duchess of Portland, the Duchess of Hamilton, Lady Mar and Kellie, and Miss Muriel Wilson are all going to the costumier in Soho-square, and Alias has also been summoned to Marlborough House for a consultation.

As to what the different people will wear people seem to change their minds every day, but according to the present report the Duke of Marlborough will be dressed as Louis Seize, and the Duke of Devonshire will probably represent a portrait of Charles V., while Lady Gosford, who was to have been Minerva, has now half decided to be a lady of his Court. Mr. Caryl Craven, who is so clever in such matters, is helping the Duchess of Leeds with her dress; in fact, everyone seems pressed into the service, and the result will be one of the most brilliant sights that ever was seen.

Father Adderley (the Hon and Rev J Adderley), who always brings his religion up to date, has already denounced the ball from his pulpit, in imitation of an American divine; but he is probably very far wrong in estimating the cost of any one dress at £2,000! It is certain, however, that the ball, what with one thing and another, will run into enormous sums of money, and some ladies are actually having their jewels altered and reset to suit the costume of a single night. There is a Venetian quadrille, a poudré quadrille, two Empire quadrilles, and last, not least, some of the beauties will be dancing an Oriental measure in Eastern dress with floating scarves, and this will be the prettiest and most picturesque feature of the night.[7]

On 12 June 1897, the Reading Mercury mentions talk at a ball hosted by Queen Victoria about what people intend to wear:

The Marchioness of Londonderry and her sister-in-law Lady Aline Beaumont, intend to wear Polish costumes at the Duchess of Devonshire’s fancy ball. The Duke has almost decided to wear a dress copied from a Titian painting of Charles the Fifth. Lady Gosford, his step-daughter, will personate a lady of his court. The Princess of Wales has not yet chosen her dress. This ball is making a great sensation in aristocratic circles.[8]

This story from the Daily Gazette of Middlesbrough reflects some of the talk going on among people interested in the party about the costumes being considered:

THE DUCHESS OF DEVONSHIRE'S FANCY BALL. The orders as to dress for the Duchess of Devonshire's fancy ball have been issued, and are historical or allegorical costumes, and the cards are for July 2. Great artists are giving their counsel as to costume in several instances, and the event will assuredly be one conspicuous in a remarkable season. It was thought that only historical costumes would be mentioned, and the addition has relieved the minds of many women who had ideas of their own, and did not wish to fall back upon history, and hunt up more or less arbitrary plates. One of the set dances will be a Queen's Quadrille, and in it all the ladies will be attired as well-known sovereigns of the softer sex, not necessarily English, since one will be her Majesty of Sheba and another Margaret of Valois. It is also proposed that there shall be a flower dance, in which each lady shall represent a flower, so that many of the dresses worn at the recent Floral Ball can be again utilised. There is to be a superb Queen Elizabeth. The event has already caused historical research, with a result of new knowledge and keen interest, and it has also set nimble brains spinning effective allegorical webs with which to stimulate curiosity and admiration.[9]

Even though this story was published after the ball, it seems clearly to have been written before:

The couturieres are working night and day for the costumes for the Duchess of Devonshire's fancy ball, a great many Parisians being invited. Some of our most eminent painters have been called in to advise on the historical accuracy of the gowns. The Princess of Wales will be robed as as a lady of Queen Elizabeth's Court; the attire will very similar to that of Sarah Bernhardt as the Queen in "Ruy Blas." No one, I am sure, could look more charming than H.R.H. will in this most poetical garb.[10]

Another story published on 14 June 1897, this one in the Glasgow Herald, which reported on the aristocrats and celebrities, including Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, says that 800 people have been invited, but no other story confirms that:

The arrangements for the Duchess of Devonshire's fancy dress ball at Devonshire House, which promises to be the ball of the Diamond Jubilee season, are now nearly complete. Some 800 guests have been invited, and the arrangements for the decoration of the ballroom and the supper will be worthy the traditions of the famous house. Several of the dances will illustrate epochs in history, and besides these there will be a Poudré Quadrille, two Empire Quadrilles, and several national quadrilles, in which beautiful costumes, specially designed, will be worn by some of the loveliest women in London society.[11]

This story from the Edinburgh Evening News on 21 June 1897 says that 500 to 600 people were invited and that Louisa, Duchess of Devonshire "is getting her jewels reset after the antique style". Note also the "real Egyptian negro" attending Lady De Gray and the "hundreds who have not ben invited to the function ... sighing with regret or boiling with rage":

The event which is arousing keen interest in society, in its most select sense, is not (says a London correspondent) the Jubilee procession but the Duchess of Devonshire's ball. This is to be the crowning event of the Jubilee season, and may, though in a different way, become as famous as the ball given by another Duchess on the eve of Waterloo. The ball is to be a fancy dress one, and between 500 and 600 of the creme de la creme of society have received invitations. The costumes are to be of unusual splendour and richness. One great feature of the ball will be the magnificence and costliness of the jewels. The ball being a fancy dress one, men as well as women will be able in certain characters to wear jewels. The Duchess of Devonshire, who is to appear as Zenobia, is getting her jewels reset after the antique style. The Princess of Wales is to take the character of Margaret of Valois, her daughters acting as ladies-in-waiting. The Prince himself will dress as a Knight of Malta. Lord Rosebery will appear as the Vicar of Wakefield, and in one respect at least will be a fitting representative of Dr Primrose. Mr Asquith will typify the nascent Nonconformist conscience in the character of a Roundhead. There will be two Queens of Sheba at the ball — the Princess of Pless and Lady Cynthia Graham. The Duke of Devonshire will appear as the emperor Charles V., a potentate to whom he has some slight resemblance. Lady De Gray will take the character of Cleopatra, and is to be attended by a real Egyptian negro. Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild is to dress as a Swiss Guard of the 16th century. This ball is to be one of unrivalled magnificence, and it is not suprising that hundreds who have not ben invited to the function are sighing with regret or boiling with rage.[12]

A "Madame Rose" said on 25 June 1897 in the Northampton Mercury she had seen some of the costumes and that Devonshire House in London was decorated in Louis XIX style, reminiscent of the Versailles decorations in the New York Waldorf Hotel for the Bradley Martin ball in 1893. She also says "all the Royalties of note will be present in costume," suggesting the royals present were of note in the social world and the royals absent were not:

London doings are for moment at a standstill, doubtless on account of the Jubilee, which will, however, be over ere these words are in print. Everyone appears to be waiting. Afterwards there will either be a rush for the country, or the season will receive a fresh impetus. The public is a fickle jade, and it is quite impossible to say beforehand which she is likely to do. Writing, as I am, on the eve of the Jublee [sic], I should say that, for the next fortnight at least, there will be more to do in London than out of it. One of the most wondrous entertainments of modern times will be the Duchess of Devonshire's fancy dress ball on July 2nd, for which the most goregous [sic] dresses have been designed and carried out. I have had a "private view" of many of these, and can safely promise that those who will have the privilege of being present are not likely to forget what they will see. The house with its exquisite Louis XIX. decorations lends itself delightfully for such entertaining, and when I add that all the Royalties of note will be present in costume, my readers can imagine that the ball promises to be the success of the season.[13]

The Week BeforeEdit

These very large events could be difficult to manage and embarrassing for the hosts, in this case, Joseph Chamberlain and his wife, American Mary Crowninshield Endicott Chamberlain:

A few days before the Devonshire House Ball, Joseph Chamberlain had given a party at which the crush had been so great that Princess Louise, the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria who was married to the Marquis of Lorne, had been overcome and had nearly fallen underfoot. So dense was the crowd at this party that it had been impossible to clear a path for the Prince and Princess of Wales. The Prince was so angry that he left the party without even being received, much to the shame and embarrassment of his hostess[14]:39

Here is some unusually gossipy reportage about the guests and their costumes for the Duchess of Devonshire's ball from the Portsmouth Evening News:

Here are two three anecdotes of the Duchess of Devonshire’s ball, which, though belated, says the London Figaro, are authentic. ...

A lady well known to her Grace of Devonshire had not received her card for the ball. Feeling sure it would come, she purchased a superb costume, and made every arrangement to be present. The day before the ball the invitation had not arrived. The lady in question thereupon drove to Devonshire House, and, leaving a note which asked point blank for the invitation, said she would wait for an answer. In a few minutes a flunkey informed her there was no answer.

This is the last and most piquant. Some weeks before the ball the Duchess drove to a costumier to consult him about the costume she intended wearing. In one of the show rooms she noticed an original and magnificent gown after the style the costume she intended ordering. Asking what this was made for, she was informed that it was for Lady So-and-so, and for her own ball. When she reached home she found that Lady So-and-So’s name was on her invitation list, though the invitation hail not yet been despatched. Then her Grace of Devonshire promptly put her pencil through the lady’s name.[15]

According to the Portsmouth Evening News, one guest who may have attended the ball as the Queen of Sheba had her title as a result of a royal reward for a brewer. A shorter, very slightly edited version of the second half of the following article, without the reference to the Daily News, was also printed in the Staffordshire Advertiser[16]:

BEERSHEBA.


There was some talk after the Devonshire House Fancy Dress Ball of repeating the pageant in public on behalf of charity. Some of the principal personages present at the Ball were not indisposed to fall in with the suggestion. But on whole, says the Daily News, it was coldly received, and has been finally abandoned. Among the stories current about the Ball, the best relates to the wife of a member of that branch of the aristocracy which Sir Wilfred Lawson calls "the Beerage." Her ladyship resolved to go to the ball as the Queen of Sheba, but was embarassed with the variety of costumes authorities provided. Confiding her difficulty to a friend, her ladyship protested that she really did not know which Sheba she should select. "Of course,” said the kindly counsellor, "You will go as Beersheba."[17]

Speaking, I think, of the opera performance of Die Meistersinger on Wednesday night, the London Correspondent for the Glasgow Herald reported the day before the ball, Alexandra, Princess of Wales apparently tried an experiment to see if she could go to the opera and then the ball:

The experiment was tried of starting at seven o'clock, at the desire of the Princess of Wales, who wanted afterwards to go to the Duchess of Devonshire's ball. The trial, however, was a failure, as far as the dress seats were concerned, for nearly fifty boxes were unoccupied after the first act, and the house did not fill up till about three-quarters of an hour before the representation ended. Even the Princess of Wales lost her dinner, and had a special supper laid for her and her three daughters at the back of the royal box shortly after nine o'clock.[18]

The Day BeforeEdit

The day before the ball, Autolycus, in "The Glass of Fashion" in the Pall Mall Gazette, joined the gossip:

The Duchess of Devonshire's costume ball, which is to take place to-morrow night, is exciting intense interest. For weeks past the invited ones have been racking their brains and those of their pet costumiers as to the choosing of suitable characters. Ancient prints and faded engravings have been most anxiously studied, family portraits have acquired a new interest in the eyes of those damsels who are pining to appear as their own great-grandmothers, and certain fair dames of high degree have been known to order as many as three widely different costumes, and, after trying them all on, still to be quite undecided as to the one in which they will make their appearance in the beautiful rooms at Devonshire House. Modistes and maids have been sworn to secrecy, but certain little rumours have been heard here and there; and the fact that the Princess of Wales will herself be present will add considerable interest to what promises to be a most brilliant function. In this connection it is interesting to recall the costumes which were worn by some of these same guests at the famous fancy-dress ball given in July, 1874, by the Prince and Princess of Wales at Marlborough House, when the picturesque Venetian and Vandyke quadrilles were so carefully thought out and so gracefully performed, and when among the conspicuous figures in the "Card" quadrilles, Princess Christian appeared as Queen of Clubs, the Duke of Athole as King of Spades, Princess Louise as Queen of Hearts, and Lord Claud Hamilton as Knave of Spades. The Princess of Wales led the Venetian quadrille, and had for her partner Lord Hartington, now the Duke of Devonshire, and the host of to-morrow night ....[19]

The night before the ball, on Friday, 1 July 1897, the members of the Queen Elizabeth procession attended a dinner party. As reported by the Devon and Exeter Gazette on the following Monday, possibly providing news of local aristocrats, "Sir F. Jeune was among those who formed the Elizabethan procession at the Duchess of Devonshire's fancy dress ball, and who were previously entertained by Lord and Lady Tweedmouth on Friday evening."[20]

The Day of the BallEdit

Suggesting that the people who attended the Duchess of Devonshire’s ball could be counted on to read the Morning Post, a notice in "Arrangements for This Day" in the Post for 2 July 1897 says the following: "All guests attending the Devonshire House ball to-night are requested to bring cards with their names and the characters they are representing written thereon."[21]

This article in the London Daily News was reprinted elsewhere:

There is intense excitement (says a lady correspondent) about the Duchess of Devonshire's historical and fancy dress ball to take place to-night. One of the prettiest of Princesses, daughter of a lovely Irish mother, goes as Queen of Sheba, her sister representing an Ethiopian attendant. An illustrious personage is to head the list of old-world knights, and a beautiful Marchioness is to represent Guinevere, her fair young daughter going as Elaine. A most lovely lady is to personate Queen Marie Thérèse, surrounded by her Court. There is to be a procession of young girls dressed after Cosway's miniatures, and an Elizabethan quadrille is to be danced, in which the Virgin Queen herself is to appear, as well as Essex, Raleigh, Shakespeare, and other well-known characters. Another quadrille will be made up of ladies and gentlemen costumed after the style of Catherine II.'s Russian Court, but none will be more pictorially effective than that in which Catherine de Medici will appear, some of the gentlemen representing Henri II., Francis II., Charles IX., Henri III., Gaspard de Collini, Comte de la Marck, and the Duc de Guise.[22]

The derby at Epsom Downs was run the same day as the Duchess of Devonshire's ball. Many of those at the ball, then, had begun the day at the race:

A dull morning presented a threatening appearance for rain, but none came to lay the dust on the private road between the toll-gate and the stands, which had been in a choking state each day, and well worthy of the attention of the Jockey Club carts doing double duty on the public road between the town and the Ditch. With nothing very attractive in the programme, there was a considerable falling off in the company behind the Ditch, which was foreshadowed by the morning exodus of so many preparatory to attending the Duchess of Devonshire's Fancy Dress Ball in the evening.[23]

The Event ItselfEdit

People ArrivingEdit

Present at the ball were Algernon Borthwick, Lord Glenesk, proprietor of the Morning Post, and Alice Borthwick, Lady Glenesk, as well as son and editor Oliver Borthwick and possibly daughter Lilias Borthwick Bathurst. Clearly, other Morning Post reporters could be responsible for the coverage, though it seems very unlikely that they would be present, but this newspaper's reporting on the ball is quite detailed and often seems to have a specific perspective or point of view. The extensive and specific coverage provided by the Morning Post would be expected by its readers for this kind of occasion, and it seems that the Borthwicks would likely be the source. This description, however, could have been written by a reporter outside in the street:

Outside Devonshire House, in Piccadilly, a large crowd had assembled, and as early as ten o'clock guests began to arrive. The illuminations put up for Jubilee week had not been taken down, and they were used on this occasion, so that the great courtyard was brilliantly lit up, and the people fortunate enough to have obtained places outside the great iron gates recently erected had a good view. Carriages rolled into the courtyard in quick succession, depositing their freight, and then passing away to wait in adjoining streets. Inside the house the servants themselves were in fancy costume. There were Egyptian trumpeters and Egyptian footmen, negroes in full Oriental dress, and all the others, if not wearing the full liveries of the House of Cavendish, were in black knee-breeches with white wigs.[24]:p. 7, Col. 4B

According to the Western Gazette, begins apparently from outside in the street but then suggests an informant or reporter on the inside:

The guests began to arrive at half-past ten. A surging crowd gathered round the gates, which have been placed in the formerly bare wall of the courtyard, craning their necks to see the distinguished visitors arrive. The guests uncloaked in the corridor, and passed in the full glory of carnival attire to the grand staircase — kings and queens and knights and abbesses, all in one long stream. They spared a glance for the palms and flowers in the hall, the huge alabaster basin filled with ferns and waterlilies, the ancient lamp with a monster's head, and another for the handrail of solid crystal, bound with bands of silver, glittering like a diamond serpent in the light of the incandescent lamps. Strains of music from the White Hungarian Band fell upon their ears.[25]:p. 2, Col. 7A

Not sure who the abbesses were.

Two Versions of the Same Story: Conflict between Police and an OnlookerEdit

A description of a conflict outside the walls of Devonshire House from the Sheffield Daily Telegraph:

Mr. James Beattie, aged 56, gentleman of independent means, living in Duke Street, Piccadilly, was charged at Marlborough Street Police Court on Saturday with wilfully and persistently obstructing Police-Constable Loughlin, 6 CR, while in the execution of his duty, and further with assaulting the officer. It was alleged by Constable Loughlin, whose testimony was supported by Police-Constable 17 CR, that defendant on Friday night refused to move away from the crowd outside the Duke of Devonshire's House. Having been requested several times to go away he struck Constable 6 CR with his elbow in the stomach, and then hit him a blow in the chest with his fist.. [sic] He was taken into custody, and went quietly to the station.

Mr. Arthur Newton, for the defence, elicited that there was considerable pushing about, and urged in defence that it was this that caused the constable to be struck and pushed.

Mrs. Mary Black, of Charges Street, deposed that she went with Mr. Beattie, an old friend of her husband's, to see the historical dresses of the guests at the Duchess of Devonshire's ball. When in the crowd, and being protected from injury by Mr. Beattie, the Constable came with a rush in the crowd, and ordered them move on. She saw no assault whatever committed by Mr. Beattie, and both did their best get away from the crush.

Mr. De Rutzen questioned Mrs. Black, who replied that Mr. Beattie was behind her all the while they were in the crowd.

The learned Magistrate said that Mrs. Black could not have seen what happened from the position in which she stood, and all the constable's evidence might true. He did not, however, think this was a case for punishment, and Mr. Beattie would be discharged.[26]

The same story, almost but not quite identically told, from the London Evening Standard 5 July 1897:

Mr. James Beattie, 56, was charged with willfully and persistently obstructing Police-constable Loughlin, 6 C.R., while in the execution of his duty, and further with assaulting the officer. — It was alleged by Constable Loughlin, 6 C.R., whose testimony was supported by 17 C.R., that the Defendant on Friday night refused to move away from the crowd outside the Duke of Devonshire's house. Having been requested several times to go away, he struck 6 C.R. with his elbow in the stomach and then hit him a blow in the chest with his fist. He was taken into custody and went quietly to the station. — Mr. Arthur Newton, for the defence, elicited that there was considerable pushing about, and urged, in defence, that it was this that caused the Constable to be struck and pushed. — Mrs. Mary Black, of Clarges-street, said that she went with Mr. Beattie, an old friend of her husband's, to see the historical dresses of the guests at the Duchess of Devonshire's ball. When in the crowd, and being protected from injury against a lamppost by Mr. Beattie, the Constable came with a rush in the crowd and ordered them to move on. She saw no assault whatever committed by Mr. Beattie, and both did their best to get away from the crush. — Mr. De Rutzen questioned Mrs. Black, who replied that Mr. Beattie was behind her all the while they were in the crowd. — The learned Magistrate said that Mrs [sic] Black could not have seen what happened from the position in which she stood, and all the Constable's evidence might be true. He did not, however, think this a case for punishment, and Mr. Beattie would be discharged.[27]

Guests Received by the Duke and Duchess of DevonshireEdit

The Western Gazette describes the Duke of Duchess of Devonshire receiving their guests:

The Duchess of Devonshire began to receive her guests soon after 10 o'clock, and looked handsome and stately as Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra, all green and white and gold, with huge diamonds hanging from the horns of a gold helmet, studded with jewels, and with quantities of her beautiful pearls hanging in chains all about her head and shoulders. Beside her stood the Duke of Devonshire, very Titianesque as Charles V. of Germany, in black velvet with furs.[28]

As people entered the house, it is assumed that they would have surrendered the card they had been asked to bring. The day before, in the Morning Post, one of the items in "Arrangements for This Day" said,

All guests attending the Devonshire House ball to-night are requested to bring cards with their names and the characters they are representing written thereon.[21]

Arrival of the Prince and Princess of WalesEdit

From the Morning Post:

at a quarter past eleven the Duke of Devonshire as Charles V., in a black dress, came down to meet the Prince and Princess of Wales. By this time the scene was one of great animation, the variety of costume was dazzling, the richness in many cases was enormous, the colours were kaleidoscopic in their changes; side by side with a knight in full armour would be an officer in buff leather jerkin, then another in scarlet uniform of a later period; Cleopatra rubbed shoulders with Marie Thérèse, the Queen of Sheba with the Queen of Poland. The Princess of Wales looked regal as Marguerite de Valois, her stomacher was ablaze with precious stones, her neck encircled with row upon row of pearls, on her head was a magnificent crown. The dress was of white satin, her train of cloth of gold borne by two pages. In her court were her three daughters, and she was accompanied by the Prince of Wales in the costume of a Knight Hospitaller of Malta, a black velvet dress with a high crowned hat. A procession was immediately formed and proceeded up the grand staircase, at the top of which the Duchess of Devonshire greeted her Royal guests, the Blue Hungarian Band playing the National Anthem as it entered the Ball Room. The Royal party took up their places on the dais at one end of it, and the processions were immediately formed.[29]:p. 7, 4C

The Western Gazette describes the arrival of the Royals

The Royalties were timed to arrive a quarter-past 11, but it must have been past the half-hour when they at last ascended the staircase. They were immediately led by the Duchess to a daïs at the end of the room, where they stood together and formed a magnificent group, all attired in 16th century costumes, and most of them blazing with jewels.[28]:Col. 7B

Processions and Quadrilles before the Prince and Princess of WalesEdit

Speaking of the Procession before the Prince and Princess of Wales, as people organized into Courts and groups were presented to the Prince and Princess of Wales:

One after the other they entered by one door, advanced up the middle of the ball room, made obeisance, and left by another door. Those who did not belong to any particular group lined the room and crowded the doorways. After this the quadrilles took place.[29]:7, 4C

Supper (Twelve Tables, Twelve Guests at Each Table)Edit

According to the big story in the Western Gazette, the first seating at supper began at midnight, led by the Prince of Wales and Louisa, Duchess of Devonshire:

At midnight the first supper was served. The Prince of Wales, with the Duchess of Devonshire, led the procession. Down the staircase they went, into the garden, for it was there that supper was served, in a huge tent of blue and yellow canvas, with tapestry draping the walls. By a pretty conceit each table was around a palm tree, the trunk piercing its centre, the fronds waving above. From the branches hung electric lamps, throwing into brilliant light the rich embroidery of the costumes and the colours of the tapestry.[28]:Col. 7C

The Morning Post's extensive story also described the supper seatings:

It was after midnight when the Royal guests proceeded to the supper-room. Here, as has been already said, there were twelve separate round tables, each seating twelve guests. At the first table sat the Prince of Wales, who escorted the Duchess of Devonshire ....[29]:p. 7, col. 4C

Five seatings would have been required for all 700 or so guests to have been seated at supper, leaving room for about 15 empty seats over the course of the evening (or early morning, since the first seating began at midnight).

The Guernsey Star has a similar report: <quote>There were twelve different tables. Here again the decorations were superb, huge palms with their fronds gracefully hanging over the white cloth, the brilliant glass and plate, bearing small coloured electric lights, making up a charming scene.</quote>[30]

The Morning Post reported on the supper in detail but only on the first seating:

The supper was served at twelve different tables, each of them surrounding a huge palm, the [p. 7, Cols. 4–5] graceful fronds of which bent gracefully over the white cloth and the brilliant glass and plate, bearing small coloured electric lights, which threw a soft radiance over the scene. From the supper-room the guests could pass into the gardens, in which Leader's White Hungarian Band was playing.</quote>[29]:p. 7, Cols. 4–5

Elsewhere in the same edition, the Morning Post says the tables were round[29]:p. 6, Col. 4C.

The rich details provided by the Morning Post about this part of the event suggests that whoever the informant was — or whoever the informants were — for this event, they took notes. For example, the list of who was at each table in the first supper seating, which follows: if it was the Borthwicks who took notes, did they use a pencil and paper tucked into a pocket or some kind of receptacle? Did they divide it up so that no single person had to write down all these details?

The First Supper SeatingEdit

All of this list of who sat at which table is from the coverage in the Morning Post.[29]:p. 7, col. 4C–5A

Table 1

The Prince of Wales escorted Louisa, Duchess of Devonshire into supper.

  1. Prince of Wales
  2. Duchess of Devonshire
  3. Princess Louise Marchioness of Lorne
  4. the Duchess of Portland
  5. the Duchess of Sutherland
  6. the Marchioness of Londonderry
  7. Lady Randolph Churchill
  8. M. de Courcel
  9. the Grand Duke of Hesse
  10. Count Deym
  11. the Duke of Fife
  12. Mr. A. J. Balfour

Table 2

"At the Princess of Wales's table were the Duke of Devonshire, whose arm she took to go to the supper-room ...."

  1. Princess of Wales
  2. Duke of Devonshire
  3. M. de Soveral
  4. Lady de Grey
  5. M. de Staal
  6. the Grand Duchess of Hesse
  7. the Earl of Rosebery
  8. Lady Gosford
  9. the Earl of Durham
  10. Princess Victoria of Wales
  11. the Duke of Marlborough
  12. Countess Deym

Table 3

"At the Duchess of York's table were the Earl of Gosford ...."

  1. the Duchess of York
  2. the Earl of Gosford
  3. Prince Charles of Denmark
  4. the Duchess of Buccleuch
  5. Earl Spencer
  6. the Countess of Pembroke
  7. Hardinge Stanley Gifford, Lord Halsbury, the Lord Chancellor
  8. Countess de Casa Valencia, wife of the Spanish ambassador
  9. Mr. Chamberlain
  10. the Countess of Derby
  11. Prince Adolphus of Teck [? Also Table 10?]
  12. the Duchess of Newcastle

Table 4

"Princess Mary Adelaide had with her the Earl of Lathom ...."

  1. Princess Mary Adelaide
  2. the Earl of Lathom
  3. the Marquis of Zetland
  4. the Duchess of Roxburghe
  5. William Court Gully, the Speaker of the House of Commons
  6. Mrs. J. Hay
  7. Lord James of Hereford
  8. the Duchess of Buckingham
  9. Viscount Peel
  10. Lady Harcourt
  11. the Earl of Sandwich
  12. Princess Edward of Saxe-Weimar

Table 5

"The Duke of York escorted Lady A. Stanley ...."

  1. The Duke of York
  2. Lady A. Stanley
  3. the Earl of Chesterfield
  4. Princess Charles of Denmark
  5. the Earl of Essex
  6. Lady Mar and Kellie
  7. Lord C. Montagu
  8. Viscountess Chelsea
  9. Prince Francis of Teck
  10. Lady E. Cavendish
  11. Lord Lurgan
  12. Princess Pless

Table 6

"Prince Christian took in the Duchess of Hamilton ...."

  1. Prince Christian
  2. the Duchess of Hamilton
  3. Lord Kenyon
  4. Viscountess Curzon
  5. Lord Crewe
  6. the Countess of Warwick
  7. the Duke of Montrose
  8. Lady Tweedmonth
  9. Viscount Wolseley
  10. the Marchioness of Zetland
  11. Viscount Falmouth
  12. Princess Victor of Hohenlohe

Table 7

"The Grand Duke Michael of Russia and Princess Christian had with them" the following:

  1. The Grand Duke Michael of Russia
  2. Princess Christian
  3. the Duke of Westminster
  4. the Marchioness of Lansdowne
  5. the Hereditary Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
  6. the Duchess of Marlborough
  7. the Duke of Portland
  8. the Duchess of Manchester
  9. Earl Cadogan
  10. the Duchess of Fife
  11. M. de Souza Correa
  12. Madame de Jaucourt

Table 8

"At the adjoining table were Count Mensdorff and the Duchess of Connaught ...."

  1. Count Mensdorff
  2. the Duchess of Connaught
  3. the Earl of Pembroke
  4. Madame de Courcel
  5. the Duke of Roxburghe
  6. Princess Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein
  7. Count Casa de Valencia, the Spanish Ambassador
  8. Countess Torbi
  9. Sir W. Harcourt
  10. Countess Cadogan
  11. Lord Ribblesdale
  12. the Duchess of Montrose

Table 9

"The American Ambassador and the Duchess of Westminster sat at the next table, accompanied by </quote> the following:

  1. John Hay, the American Ambassador
  2. the Duchess of Westminster
  3. Lord Stanley
  4. Lady Wolverton
  5. Lord Rowton
  6. Lady H. Lennox
  7. Mr. V. Cavendish
  8. the Duchess of Leeds
  9. the Earl of Dudley
  10. Countess Clary
  11. Earl Carrington
  12. Countess Spencer

Table 10

"Then came the Marquis of Lansdowne and Lily Duchess of Marlborough ...."

  1. the Marquis of Lansdowne
  2. Lily Duchess of Marlborough
  3. Prince Adolphus of Teck [? Also Table 3?]
  4. the Countess of Essex
  5. the Maharajah of Kapurthala
  6. Viscountess Cranborne
  7. Viscount Curzon
  8. Georgina Lady Dudley
  9. the Earl of Dunraven
  10. Mrs. Grenfell
  11. Lord Elcho
  12. Mrs. A. Sassoon

Table 11

"At the next table were seated the Earl of Suffolk and Lady Rothschild ...." The story in the Morning Post lists only 10 people seated at this table, which might be accurate or the informants might not have been able to make fully complete and accurate records.

  1. the Earl of Suffolk
  2. Lady Rothschild
  3. the Earl of Harewood
  4. Lady Hastings
  5. Count Clary
  6. Lady Ribblesdale
  7. Lord Tweedmouth
  8. the Countess of Dudley
  9. the Duke of Somerset
  10. the Countess of Kilmorey
  11. ?
  12. ?

Table 12

"... at the twelfth were the Earl of Enniskillen and the Duchess of Somerset ...."

  1. Earl of Enniskillen
  2. the Duchess of Somerset
  3. the Earl of Derby
  4. the Countess of Lonsdale
  5. Mr. Goschen
  6. the Countess of Lathom
  7. the Hon. R. Lister
  8. Lady Helen Vincent
  9. Lord Rothschild
  10. Mrs. Asquith
  11. Colonel Oliphant
  12. the Countess of Westmoreland

More about the Party ItselfEdit

Devonshire House: What People Saw as They Arrived and Once They Were in the HouseEdit

Sophia Murphy's 1984 The Duchess of Devonshire's Ball describes the house as it was in 1897:

Devonshire House was ideal for entertaining. It had a large courtyard in front with plenty of room for carriages to enter and turn, thus facilitating the arrival and departure of guests. Many large houses in London had their entrance directly on the street, and therefore when entertainments were taking place traffic jams would build up in the street outside and the guests would have a long wait both when arriving and when waiting for their carriages to be called at the end of the party.Behind Devonshire House there was a big garden, which in the summer could be used by guests to wander in the fresh air away from the crowds inside, or, if the size of the party was such, it could hold a marquee. Gardens were always welcomed by party-goers, since at 'crushes', as big receptions were then known, the combination of large crowds of people, stifling heat, and a long wait in the queue to be received, proved for many quite an ordeal.[14]:38.

Spencer Compton Cavendish was the 8th Duke of Devonshire, and his house, of course, had a history that affected this party:

After the fire [in 1733], the 3rd Duke did not waste any time in planning a new residence, and selected William Kent as a designer. Kent was a Palladian architect who had made his name as the designer of the Treasury in London, as well as country houses such as Stowe and Holkham Hall. For the Duke of Devonshire he planned, as was his style, a house with a severe unadorned façade encasing a rich and luxurious interior. Some critics considered the house too plain, and during the Victorian age, when elaborate and ornate designs were the fashion, it was little admired. James Ralph, an architectural critic and writer of the nineteenth century, said cuttingly of its elevation, 'It is spacious, and so are the East India's warehouses, and both are equally deserving of praise.'[14]:35

The 6th Duke renovated the house, including adding the famous staircase used by people on their way to the reception halls: <quote>A semi-circular apse designed by Sir Matthew Wyatt was built on to the back of the house, containing a circular staircase known as the 'crystal staircase' because of its crystal handrail.</quote>[14]:36


Murphy describes the house as it was in 1897:

A pillared entrance hall led through glass doors to the inner hall with its beautiful marble circular staircase, which wound round and up to the first-floor landing. The impression thus far was of an interior as severe in aspect as the exterior. The floors were of stone, and the only furniture in the entrance hall was a writing-table and two ancient-looking footman's chairs by the fireplace. The inner hall contained, apart from the staircase, only a huge marble basin on a pedestal. The whole aspect changed dramatically once one reached the reception rooms on the first floor. The ballroom, which was the biggest room in the house, faced on to the garden at the back. It was a glorious room, with four long bay windows and a mirror between each one, which gave an illusion of even greater size. According to E. B. Chancellor, in his book Private Palaces of London, its 'elaborate gilding and ceiling decoration, in itself a thing to wonder at, reminded one of those Venetian Palaces in which colour is enriched by gold, and gold takes on a hundred shimmering tints from adjacent colour.' The walls were of yellow and white brocade, with the furniture upholstered in dark blue brocade in a gold framework. Two huge chandeliers of glittering crystal hung from the ceiling, with gold and crystal candelabras lighting up the walls. The floor was of polished parquet, and the heavy mahogany double doors, of which there were four sets, were highly polished and picked out in gold.[14]

While the ballroom faced the garden behind the house, the saloon — the other major reception room on the first floor —faced the front of the house and the courtyard. Murphy says,

The Saloon in particular was lavishly decorated, reminding one visitor of 'one of those gorgeous apartments which the wealth and luxury of Venice at its great period could alone conceive'. The ceiling was painted in 'tromp l'oeil' to give the effect of immense height, and was decorated with the Devonshire ducal coronet and badge of the snake, and, in the centre, the device and motto of the Order of the Garter.[14]:41

Murphy quotes Chancellor, who

described [the saloon] as like 'one of those gorgeous apartments which the wealth and luxury of Venice at its great period could alone conceive, and the pencil of Veronese was alone able to perpetuate'. He went on: [39/42]

... the massive nature of the gilding and carving, the colossal mirrors framed on Brobdingnagian principles, the domed ceiling rich with painted wreaths and festoons of flowers and a thousand arabesques, in the midst of which the ducal coronet and crest is displayed, and the 'Cavendo Tutus'*, the Cavendish family motto, seems to take on itself another significance which has resulted from the systematic following of its advice. [* Safety by caution. In fact the author is wrong: the ceiling carries the Garter motto.]

All the Dukes of Devonshire had been enthusiastic art collectors, and by the time the 8th Duke [Spencer Compton Cavendish] succeeded there was a fine collection at Devonshire House. In the ballroom alone there was a portrait by Tintoretto, a Poussin, a Rubens, a Bassano and a Le Sueur, among many other lesser masters. Covering the walls of the other reception rooms were two Rembrandts, a Reynolds portrait of Lord Richard Cavendish, a Franz Hals, a Peter Lely, a Carracci and a Tintoretto. There were also many other pictures which were then attributed to great masters, which which have now been reassessed as being by the school of, or by someone else altogether.

As well as the paintings, there was a superb collection of Sèvres and Chelsea porcelain, and a large amount of fine French furniture of the Louis XVI and First Empire periods. As was the fashion in 1897, every reception room was crammed with as much furnitures as it would hold, arranged for the most part in little groups of chairs and a sofa, often backed with a screen. Table tops and chimney pieces were covered in signed photographs and knick-knacks, while large ferns and palms were placed wherever there was space.

The walls in the reception rooms were hung with heavy silks or damask, and the curtains were of a similar material, or of velvet, usually with elaborate pelmets. But the plaster work and carvings were so fine, and the pictures and furniture were of such quality, that the rooms of Devonshire House gave the appearance of elegance and beauty, rather than the heavy, ornate impression of so many Victorian interiors.[14]:39, 42

What Occurred at the BallEdit

This description, from the Morning Post, has a narrative voice as if the reporter were there, as indeed they may have been if the Borthwicks were the source; they are mentioned specifically, although their daughter, now Lilias, Countess Bathurst, is not named (although Seymour, Earl Bathurst is mentioned in another report, so we know he was there). The New York ball mentioned is the 10 February 1897 Bradley-Martin ball at the Waldorf Hotel:

Fancy dress balls seemed to have gone somewhat out of vogue but the Duchess of Devonshire has set the example and decided to give one at Devonshire House, and after the brilliant success which attended this great Society function last night it is probable that they will once more become the fashion. A recent ball in New York given by a Society leader there was much talked about at the time, but certainly it cannot have approached in magnificence the scene which was presented by the élite of London Society assembled at the bidding of the Duchess of Devonshire.

The famous house in Piccadilly lends itself admirably to such a gathering. The great marble staircase, at the end of a large entrance hall, presented a splendid coup d'oeil as the brilliantly-attired guests passed up it, to be received by the host and hostess before passing into the spacious ball-room. From that room open out the state rooms, nine in number, all decorated in different colours, the mouldings of the panels on the walls heavily gilt, great crystal chandeliers pendant from the roof. The ball-room itself looks over the garden, but most of the state rooms run along the frontage facing Piccadilly, and these windows were a blaze of light. The portico supports a little terrace, which was covered with palms, ferns, and flowers, while in the rooms themselves, denuded for the occasion of most ot their furniture, were masses of growing flowers of all kinds, brought for the most part from the famous gardens at Chatsworth and arranged by the gardeners. These, reflected in the great mirrors, produced a charming effect, and when the rooms were full and the strains of music from the orchestra, placed in close proximity to the ball-room, could be heard, the guests had before them a scene which it would be impossible to surpass in any country, and difficult to equal. From one of the state rooms a temporary staircase had been built leading to the supper-room. This was really a marquee, but so substantially was it erected that few who were not aware of the fact would have imagined that they had left the house. Its floor was thickly carpeted; its walls were draped with valuable tapestry and ornamented by large mirrors, from its roof hung heavy crystal chandeliers. The supper was served at twelve different tables, each of them surrounding a huge palm, the [p. 7, Col. 4A–Col. 5] graceful fronds of which bent gracefully over the white cloth and the brilliant glass and plate, bearing small coloured electric lights, which threw a soft radiance over the scene. From the supper-room the guests could pass into the gardens, in which Leader's White Hungarian Band was playing. Round the house had been built out a temporary verandah, roofed in with crimson and cream striped coverings, under which were arranged, in the midst of banks of flowers and ferns, numerous chairs, making a pleasant open-air lounge. The gardens themselves presented a fairylike appearance. Each bed was picked out with coloured lamps; from every tree hung Venetian lanterns, festoons of fairy lamps marked the gravel paths, and the velvety lawn, a lawn such as England alone can equal, was a favourite promenade.

... One of the earliest arrivals was Mr. C. Wyndham, M.P., as the Emperor John Polaeologus II. on his State visit to Venice in 1438, a richly-embroidered blue dress trimmed with fur. Then came numerous Hanoverian officers; costumes, too, of Cavaliers, their wearers having long flowing locks and swaggering in their gait as if to the period born; several fine costumes of the Valois period, mostly in black satin or velvet, trimmed with jet, the rapier at the side and worn well up on the hip, the breeches puffed and slashed with silver. Some of these gentlemen added as a dash of colour the light blue ribbon of the Order of St. Esprit. Shortly afterwards appeared the stately figure of Viscount Peel as a Venetian Doge, his robes of crimson and the tippet of ermine, the peculiar pointed cap of the period being well adapted to his appearance. Then followed some Cavaliers of the time of Charles II., with cloaks and lace ruffles, stick in hand, a Portia, some fairies, the Earl of Lithom as Giovannino de Medici, a Doge, his robes of cloth of gold partially covered by the ermine cape. Lord R. Cecil followed in black velvet, then several Roundheads in armour, on curiously friendly terms with some of Prince Rupert's Cavalry in their red coats, embroidered with gold, and large jack boots, with broad-brimmed soft felt hats with large feathers. It was noticeable that the alteration of dress very often prevented people recognising one another, and when spoken to they were for a time lost until the voice helped to establish identity. A Court jester in his motley, with his bells and all the necessary adjuncts of his office, was followed by several Valkyrie in glittering mail, with winged helmets, shield, and spear, their wrist and arm bracelets joined together by golden chains. Sir C. Hall, Q.C, M.P., appeared as a rich citizen of London, and was followed by Sir W. Harcourt in wig and Lord Chancellor's gown. Earl Carrington .... Then came a Napoleon, in the traditional uniform of the Petit Caporal, dark green coat and red facings, white waistcoat, and breeches. There followed an Anthony, escorting Cleopatra, a number of yeomen of the time of Queen Elizabeth, with their halberds; a Lohengrin, resplendent in silver chain-mail, a swan on his helmet, a blue cloak over his shoulders, and a shield on his arm; a couple of incroyables or merceilleux of the Directoire period, an English gentleman of the beginning of the century, a Murat in his full Hussar uniform, with grey fur-lined dolman and huge sabretache, the shako being of the traditional enormous height; Lord Beauchamp wore the dress in which the first Lord Beauchamp was painted; Lord James of Hereford, mindful of his office, appeared as Sir Thomas More, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster; the Duchess of Portland wore a magnificent dress as Duchess of Savoy, it was silver brocade resplendent with pearls and diamonds; then came a Dante, his head encircled with a golden wreath of laurel; Lord Burghclere as a Puritan, Lord Glenesk as Lord James Murray, Lady Glenesk as Egeria, the Hon. Oliver Borthwick as Marshal Turenne; an Isaak Walton followed, preceding Lady Wolverton as Britannia; the Princess Pless appeared as Queen of Sheba with her train ....[29]:p. 7, Col. 4–5

[Supper] ... [29]:p. 7, Col. 4–5

[The Processions, which came before Supper] [29]:p. 7, 5B–6B

The following were among the costumes worn by those taking part in the Processions and Quadrilles ....[29]:pp. 7, Col. 6C–8, Col. 2A

This gossipy report of some goings-on of the Royals present was printed in the Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald, a regional newspaper for Derbyshire, which contains Chatsworth House, the manorial estate of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire:

A lady has the following remarks on the Devonshire House Fancy Dress Ball: — It would seem that the great fancy ball lately given in the ducal mansion of the head of the Cavendishes, magnificent as the mise en scene was intended to be, was by no means the social success supposed. In the first place the suite of rooms were not flushed, that is to say, they only communicated by one door, instead of folding or panel doors, so had the cramped effect of solitaires. Then a large space had been roped off for the Royalties, and the number of other guests, being enormous, the crowding was terrible. Numbers of the dresses had cost £300 and more, an expenditure wasted, as they could not be displayed, and many were completely injured by the presence of the crowd. Dancing was an utter failure. It is also whispered that the presence of one lady, no longer received by the Princess of Wales, quite annoyed H.R.H., and that a gloom fell on the immediate group round the dais. The Prince made himself agreeable to all and sundries, and was photographed several times with various persons. But it is well known that Royalty always spoils the spontaneity of a social gathering, although in the entertainments given in their own palaces everything is simply conducted, and the guests are made to feel quite at home.[7]

Perhaps the "large space ... roped off for the Royalties" was a response to the mishap at the extremely crowded party hosted by the Chamberlains, at which Princess Louise was knocked down, and the Prince of Wales left without going in. From the Portsmouth Evening News:

Here are two three anecdotes of the Duchess of Devonshire’s ball, which, though belated, says the London Figaro, are authentic. To begin with, the men in armour at the commencement of the ball did such terrible execution on laces, frills, and complexions, that they were requested to remove themselves to the garden. This they did, forming a disconsolate, aching, and weary coterie all to themselves.[31]

According to Jennie, Lady Randolph Churchill her sons Winston and Jack Churchill attended the ball, and Jack fought a duel with someone very late in the garden.

After the BallEdit

Effects and Afterquakes of the BallEdit

On 3 July 1897, the day after, Joseph Harry Lukach wrote this letter to Jennie (his wife?):

Portland Club, 9, St. James’ Square, S.W. Saturday 3/7/1897 My darling Jennie, I am writing under the impression of the Ball at Devonshire House which was the most overwhelmingly beautiful picture and display I have ever seen – and I am sure this century has never witnessed a display of so much good taste, beauty and wealth. As for jewellery I did not know there was so much in the world. It is described as a historical event of this century but the newspapers will give you a more graphic description than I am capable of. Besides Mr Cassel, Mr Beit and Mr Maguire I was, I think the only purely city man. It was quite a different thing to the reception and I deplore your absence for this I am sure you would have enjoyed and I should have given much to have had you present. While I was in the little tent watching people have their photos taken by Electric light (I could not get a turn) Prince George when photographed, shouted to the Princess of Wales, who was standing at the entrance of the tent “Come along Mother have your photograph taken, it’s done while you wait”. The grounds were laid out most tastefully, and the supper tent draped with beautiful tapestry. ... I left Devonshire House at 4 am .... Thousand loving kisses to you both.Joe[32]

On 6 July 1897, the Pall Mall Gazette printed this letter to the editor:

Devonshire House: A Retrospect

To the Editor of the Pall Mall Gazette.

Dear Sir, — Looking back on the glories of a short, though exceptionally brilliant, season, the one ineffaceable memory where social functions are concerned will be the magnificent fancy dress ball given by the Duchess of Devonshire. Gracious Royalties, lovely women, handsome men were there, and, best of all, an entente cordiale that caused the whole entertainment to be a complete and unparalled success. Devonshire House with its splendid marble staircase, its lovely rooms, and extensive grounds distinctly lends itself to hospitalities, and none of the privileged guests will ever forget the effect of the gay procession passing and repassing, admiring and admired. The fancy quadrilles over, even the seductive strains of the Hungarian band could not move the guests to much dancing. How could they trip a lively measure when every moment there was a friend to greet, a new effect to admire and wonder at, and notes to be compared as to the supremacy of a costume? In these days of haste and hurry, when real hearty enjoyment is too much trouble, and the interest of the present is eclipsed by the possibilities of the future, we are apt to take our pleasures rather differently; but on Friday night animation reigned, and “all went merry as a marriage bell.” And yet as before, on a historic occasion, the mind was suddenly assailed by serious thought. What was to be the fate of the beautiful dresses? Should we never see them again, or would life for the rest of the season be one long fancy dress ball? Would our lovely Princess and her attendant Court relegate those brilliant toilettes to the depths of a dark cupboard, never, never to see the light again, or would they wear them for ever to gladden the eyes of their subjects? Would the Queen of Sheba return to her kingdom with her little pages, nor permit us to see her again in Royal state? Would Charlotte Corday go forth to seek and slay another Marat, and would Hebe grow old, or get tired of her pet bird? Was Antony somewhere in the dim distance awaiting the return of his special Cleopatra; and was France aware of the existence of a very warlike Joan of Arc? Did her Majesty Maria Theresa think the world had improved since her time, or Zenobia still grieve over the destruction of Palmyra? Had “La Lamballe” forgotten the terrible day when her lovely head was cut off, or had Maria Antoinette no fear for the future? Men, we know, keep only a fugitive hold on the properties necessary to an appearance at a ball of this order, but still they have their weaknesses, and Charles V. of German must have heaved a sigh of regret the next morning when donning the frock-coat and continuations of the period. The Indian princes were happy in their lot — no hired possessions theirs, but treasure trove, and they could play at dressing up whenever they pleased. Why did the night ever end? Suddenly, without warning, daybreak appeared, and the White Hungarian band looked like their own ghosts as they silently dispersed through the grounds, whose glowing lamps seemed suddenly to become dull and jaded. But still the guests were not tired, no one seemed to want to go — a Royal Prince was enjoying a morning stroll, courtiers were lounging on the terrace, compliments and congratulations were heard on every side. But as all good things come to an end, the Duchess’s ball could be no exception to the rule; so mimic queens and noble lords slowly and reluctantly left the scene of their triumphs, casting, like the Peri, a longing, lingering look behind. — I am &c.,

July 4, One Who Was There.[33]

On 8 July 1897, the London Daily News reported that <quote>"The Gentlewoman" of this week contains nearly 200 drawings of the historical costumes worn at the Duchess of Devonshire’s Ball, together with letterpress descriptions.</quote>[34]

On 10 July 1897, quoting and then answering the St. James's Gazette with a little humor, the Buckingham Advertiser and Free Press says (square brackets are sic)

["At the Duchess of Devonshire's fancy-dress ball Sir William Harcourt wore a Chancellor's dress handed down from an ancestor." — "St. James's Gazette."]

Sir William hies him to the revelry
Yet once more as a "Chancellor" arrayed,
The gorgeous garment was a legacy —
We pause and murmur: "Was the duty paid?"

Yet the exception we perforce allow
Is quite in order when the point we test,
Because the robes of office on him now
Have merely an historic interest.

[35]

On 17 July 1897, with a byline that says "London, Tuesday," the St. Andrews Citizen summarizes the ball like this, perhaps alluding to the Rev. Adderley's criticisms of the extravagant costs; the rebuttal here is similar to one of the justifications of the extreme costs of the 10 February 1897 Bradley-Martin ball at the Waldorf Hotel in New York.

Now the Duchess of Devonshire's magnificent ball is an event to be numbered among those of the past, signs are not wanting to show that the London season, which has indeed been a brilliant and successful one, is drawing to a close. Society folks are feeling more or less the ill effects of a little too much festivity, and are rushing off in search of the rest and quiet they so sorely need. But to return to the Duchess's ball, to preach against the expenditure to which it led is extremely short-sighted. Such an entertainment gives an impetus to every kind of trade, for not only are many different stuffs brought into requisition, but a great deal of labour is employed in embroideries, while a considerable amount of special work was given to the jewellers, as well as to the costumiers and dressmakers, who might otherwise (what with the number of subscriptions which have been the feature of the season) have fared rather badly.[36]

On 31 July 1897, the Burnley Express published this poem about the ball written by a Willie Bell; I see no evidence that he was a guest at the ball:

Devonshire, the fair imperious beauty, gave command
The portals of her house be opened wide,
And at her charmed word from every land
And every age the great might step inside.
All England’s best nobility obeyed,
Eager to gaze upon the wondrous scene:
To touch, perchance, the pompadour’s brocade,
Or, happier still, before our future queen
To tread some old-world measure to its close.
Ladies and macaronis bend and sway
In diamond buckle and in silken hose,
Brilliant as roses on a summer day.

Few ladies could have given such a dance;
Few palaces might such a gathering hold;
For mark the fair Zenobia’s slow advance,
In flash of diamond and in glare of gold.
She called an old-world fashion to her aid.
One heard the Link boys crying through the Mall,
Whilst Chloe, in her powder and brocade,
Heard faint afar the French horns at Vauxhall.

Here political foes, unconstrained and free,
Beneath the splendour of their gay attire;
Whilst music soft as o’er summer lea
Breathed out the old-world airs we still admire,
And beauty whispered, “’Tis a wondrous ball,”
And eyes were bright as glittering jewels round.
Ah! Honi soit qui mal y pense, didst see
The jeweled garter lying on the ground.

Good Cupid, in and out the winding dance,
Sent many an arrow to sheathe in beauty’s breast,
Whilst eyes met eyes in many an amorous glance,
And jewels heaved where love himself might rest.
See where Elizabeth, with her hair of gold,
In quilted skirt and ruffles, bends her gaze
Upon our modern maidens proud and cold,
But beautiful as those of other days.

It was a great, a grand, a glorious scene;
The lights gleamed like December’s frosty moon,
And flowers flashed from fern fronds cool and green
In all the glory of a tropic June.
We saw the courtly minuet and heard
The slow and witching music of old Spain.
Duchess, this ball the greatest was, I ween,
Within the sixty years of record reign.

Willie Bell.
60, York-road, London.[37]

On 25 November 1897 in the Devon and Exeter Gazette, "Our Ladies’ Column" says that fancy-dress balls are back in fashion because of the success of the Duchess of Devonshire's. The photograph of Alexandra, Princess of Wales, may have been the one taken by Lafayette, or perhaps there was another one?

The Duchess of Devonshire's historic ball is to be repeated on a smaller scale at that given by the Duchess of Buckingham and Chandos and Lord Egerton and Tatton at their country seat very shortly. Indeed, this form of entertainment has obtained such an impetus from the success of the one at Devonshire House, that there will be two or three very important ones given during the coming season. The photographs of the Princess of Wales, in the costume she wore at the Duchess's ball, are now being exhibited, and are charming.[38]

The Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald reported on some ways in which the costumes reflected current fashion, or perhaps influenced it?

The fancy ball at Devonshire House accentuated the present fashions in a remarkable manner, almost every dress having some feature prominent to-day. There were the ruffles, fichu, gold blonde, veiling muslin of Marie Antoinette; Elizabethan collar and jewelled tablier, of 300 years ago; and even an Assyrian costume, copied from a vase in the British Museum, might, with a few modern touches, have been worn at a conventional small-and-early this season. Then the shoulder ruff and frilled short sleeves are the newest things out, although worn by our great grandmothers. The broad difference lies in our avoidance of extravagances and in our power of adaptation. It is an adaptable age. Happily so.[7]

HereEdit

Production of The White Heather at the Drury Lane Theatre in LondonEdit

As early as 12 July, 10 days after the ball, rumors began to appear about people selling their costumes: "According the Westminster Gazette there is a wicked rumour that more than one great lady who shone in splendour at the Duchess Devonshire's fancy ball is selling her finery to the manager of a certain popular theatre where a rather georgeous [sic] production due some little time hence."[39] This same story also appeared on the same day, 12 July 1897, in the Lancashire Daily Post[40] as well as in the Dundee Evening Telegraph[41] on the next day.

The London Daily News[42] reports on Thursday, 26 August 1897, on the bargaining for the costumes for Arthur Collins' Drury Lane production. This article is almost exactly identical to one published the same day by the St. James's Gazette[43]:

Some of the ladies (according to the "Daily News") whose costumes, worn at the Duchess of Devonshire's historic and fancy ball, are to form part of the reproduction of that event in the forthcoming Drury Lane play, are intent on driving such hard bargains for them that there is considerable pause in the proceedings. Those of the gentlemen have been arranged for without difficulty. The ladies are apparently desirous of effecting the oft-quoted feat of eating their cake and yet having it.

The London Daily News appears to have the original article for this news about originals and replicas of costumes worn in the Drury Lane production, although the St. James's Gazette[44] for the same date has the identical story:

The costume worn by the Prince of Wales at the Devonshire House fancy ball has been copied, by his Royal Highness's permission, for the ball scene in "The White Heather," at Drury Lane. Several others are replicas, but the following are among the original costumes: The Elizabethan dresses worn by Prince Christian, the Duke of Fife, the Duke of Roxburghe, Lord Tweedmouth, and by Lady Tweedmouth as Queen Elizabeth; the Catherine of Russia costume in which Lady Raincliffe appeared, and other dresses of the same period worn by Prince Henry of Pless and the Hon. Cecil Lambton; the Venetian robes assumed by Mrs. W. H. Grenfell and Mr. W. G. Peel; Mr. Joseph Chamberlain's Louis XVI. costume, and Sir Horace Farquhar's "Dutch gentleman of the 17th century." Lord Edward Cecil's attire as a courtier of Charles I. is also to be seen on the stage of Old Drury, as well as the Earl of Shrewsbury's "Courtier of Louis XV." and Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice's "Courtier of the Empress Marie Thérèse." Lady Gerard's beautiful attire in the character of "Night," Lady Wilbraham's Peg Woffington, Lady Ribblesdale's Duchess of Parma, Lady Alice Montagu's Juliet, Lady Magheramorne's Louis XV. Court dress, and Lady Cynthia Graham's Queen of Sheba, are all worn in the great ball scene with which the play closes.[45]

The Dundee Evening Telegraph is among the papers reprinting or reporting part of this story.[46]

Thus, some of the costumes copied were the following:

  • The Prince of Wales's, with his permission
  • "Several others"[45]

Some of the costumes were actually the originals, including those worn by the following people:

  • Prince Christian
  • the Duke of Fife
  • the Duke of Roxburghe
  • Lord Tweedmouth
  • Lady Tweedmouth
  • Lady Raincliffe
  • Prince Henry of Pless
  • the Hon. Cecil Lambton
  • Mrs. W. H. Grenfell
  • Mr. W. G. Peel
  • Mr. Joseph Chamberlain
  • Sir Horace Farquhar
  • Lord Edward Cecil
  • Earl of Shrewsbury
  • Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice
  • Lady Gerard
  • Lady Wilbraham
  • Lady Ribblesdale
  • Lady Alice Montagu
  • Lady Magheramorne
  • Lady Cynthia Graham
  • Earl of Leicester
  • (Queen Elizabeth)
  • (Marie Stuart)

According to the Leeds Times on 23 October 1897, Father Adderly preached a sermon "denouncing the extravagance at the Duchess of Devonshire's ball.[47] Possibly Father Adderly was in London, as he held a prayer meeting "in a High Church and fashionable fane [sic] in the heart of Mayfair on behalf of those engaged in the engineers' strike."

One week later the play was produced by Arthur Collins (the theatre producer and director, not the courtier). A story in The Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail about reports that The White Heather, by Cecil Raleigh and Henry Hamilton, performed at the Drury Lane theatre, included a scene that reproduced the Duchess of Devonshire’s Ball:

"The White Heather" is strikingly realistic, the scenes including a reproduction of the recent famous Duchess of Devonshire's ball, a diving expedition, Battersea Bark (that beautiful resort), &c. With respect to the ball scene, the critic quoted above [describing the actress Mrs. John Wood] says: — "The mass of gorgeous colour and dazzling brilliancy in the ball scene was simply overpowering."

The drama is of sufficient importance to warrant a little extra space being devoted to it. The following, taken from a contemporary, will be of interest to my lady readers particularly: — The ball scene offers almost a surfeit of brilliant colour to the spectators. The actual costumes worn by some two hundred of the guests at the Duchess of Devonshire's ball have been secured by the management, and are worn by the actors and actresses. Conspicuous among these is the purple velvet of the Earl of Leicester. An exact reproduction of the costume of Grand Master of the Knights Hospitallers of Malta, as worn by the Prince of Wales, is another striking dress.

Mrs John Wood, as Queen Elizabeth, wears a costume consisting of a dress with long pointed bodice and farthingale in rich cream broché, the entire petticoat and sleeves in cream duchesse satin, handsomely embroidered in gold and jewels, stomacher and sides of overdress elaborately trimmed with the same ornaments, and the double wing collar and large cuffs in fine lace, thickly studded with jewels. Her mantle is of Venetian red and gold brocade, lined throughout with red and gold-shot gauze, while the headdress and crown are in fine paste emeralds set in gold.

Miss Kate Rorke has a Marie Stuart costume in black silk velvet and duchesse satin, handsomely trimmed with gold passementerie and jewels, with large pearl girdle. Her large headdress and collar, combined with long mantle, are in fine white silk gauze-trimmed lace. The principal costumiers in the Metropolis, it should be added, have been employed in making gowns for the play.[48]

Writing for The Graphic, Lady Violet Greville addresses the idea of women selling or allowing someone to copy their dresses in her column "Place Aux Dames":

The idea of using some of the real dresses, or at any rate, the exact counterparts of those worn at the Duchess of Devonshire's ball, in the new autumn drama at Drury Lane, seems a curiously democratic idea. It shows the love of publicity that prevails now, for a former beauty would as soon have allowed an actress to copy or wear her own gown as have offered her comb and brush for public use. One of the principal conditions made by a lady of position to her dressmaker used to be that she was never to make a replica of her gowns, and I have known ladies leave a milliner because she disobeyed these stringent orders. Originality is one of the elements of beauty, and her clothes are as much a part of the well-dressed woman herself as her hair or her complexion. Therefore, each one thought out her own style, colour, and cut, and generally adhered to it. A few still affect some speciality about their toilette, such as a peculiar scent, or a favourite flower, just as the Duchess of Portland is never to be seen without her Malmaison carnations (even men sometimes wear only one sort of buttonhole,), but by degrees a terrible tameness is creeping over all things, and the most beautiful and exclusive of her sex rarely cares to distinguish herself from her commoner sisters. It is a pity, for one of the chief adjuncts to a pretty woman is her individuality, and where that special note is lost the sense of monotony is rapidly produced.[49]

The White Heather closed, apparently, and the Dundee Courier reported on 30 August 1897 that it would reopen on 17 September:

The date of the reopening of Drury Lane Theatre with "White Heather" has been altered to 16th September. There is a widespread rumour to the effect that in the Stock Exchange scene which forms part of the play several well-known members of that eminent body will be personated. This, and the fact that one scene will be a replica, so far as the costumes are concerned, of the Duchess of Devonshire's famous ball ought to make the play a popular one.[50]

Princess Victoria's DressEdit

On 2 August 1897, the Dundee Evening Telegraph reported that the Princess of Wales gave permission for her dress to be copied for the production:

It is said that the Princess of Wales has given Mr Collins written permission to reproduce in the forthcoming Drury Lane drama the fancy costume which Her Royal Highness wore at the Duchess of Devonshire’s Jubilee ball. Hitherto Mr Collins has in some quarters found some hesitation on the part of noble ladies to land their dresses to be copied. There will now, of course, be no difficulty at all, and, indeed, in several instances Mr Collins will secure the actual costumes.[51]

I see no evidence that Alexandra did in fact sell her dress and it seems as of 30 October 1897 in the Cheltenham Looker-On that he could not "obtain a dress from Marlborough House."[52]

On 12 October 1897, the Dundee Evening Telegraph reported that Princess Victoria of Wales (the 2nd daughter and 4th child of the Prince and Princess of Wales) would not sell hers:

There is a good story about the Princess Victoria of Wales and the Duchess of Devonshire's fancy dress ball about which the smart world raved in the summer. The Princess was, like many other distinguished ladies, approached with respectful inducements to sell the dress she wore at the ball to the manager of a theatre. The reply was lovely. The Princess did not, she explained, feel inclined to sell the dress for two reasons. First of all, it would make a beautiful tea-gown, and then if she did sell the gown she would not herself get the money.[53]

On 30 October 1897, the Cheltenham Looker-On also reported that Princess Victoria would not sell her costume:

Enormous sums of money are lavished upon stage dresses in hopes of attracting ladies to the stall and boxes, but in vain. To such patronesses fine clothes are not novelty, as they have had all their wishes gratified to the fullest extent since their first appearance at Court, and good taste would forbid them copying stage toilettes. The enterprising stage manager who bought up so many of the dresses worn at the Duchess of Devonshire's Ball had one crumpled roseleaf to bear. It he could but obtain a dress from Marlborough House then would all be well. Interest was made with a lady of the Court to sound Princess Victoria on the subject. She was amused, not displeased, but refused, saying that if she sold it the money would not come to her, and as the dress was it made a lovely tea gown. For even a Princess has a fixed sum allowed her for wardrobe expenses, and a certain illustrious person in authority forbids settle- [12, Col. 2C/ 13, Col. 1A] ments of accounts to be deferred beyond one calendar month.[52]

More and Later Aftereffects of the BallEdit

The "Special London Correspondent" for the Western Daily Press had advice for people attending fancy-dress parties at Christmas:

Fancy costume is always pretty at Christmas time, and this winter it will be even more popular than usual, owing to the success of the Duchess of Devonshire's grand fancy dress ball. The period of the French Revolution, when the merveilleuses excited such attention, is always a becoming and popular one for fancy dress costumes, and there are few women who cannot succeed in finding a pretty costume about this period. It is wiser to select a character not too hackneyed, and when once the costume has been chosen use all your best energies to get it absolutely correct in all the details. Many women are apt to fancy these small details do not tell, but, believe me these are the points which are of the most vital importance, and either make or mar the success of the costume. Powdered hair always enhances the charm of fancy dress, and, if carefully done, is not nearly the trouble which so many imagine to be the case.[54]

The Prince of Wales had a miniature of himself in the costume he wore to the ball painted by the miniaturist Miss Amelie Küssner: according to the Dundee Evening Telegraph, in December of the same year as the ball, "Miss Amelie Küssner, the fashionable miniaturist, used to charge £100 per commission but since she painted the Prince of Wales in the dress he wore at the Devonshire fancy ball she has had to raise her terms to £200."[55]

A color portrait of the Princess of Wales in the costume she wore at the fancy-dress ball appeared in the December 1898 Ladies' Pictorial. The fact that it was in color suggests that possibly this is not the portrait taken by Lafayette for the album:

With the Christmas number of the "Ladies' Pictorial" has been given a very beautiful portrait of the Princess of Wales in the fancy dress that her Royal Highness wore at the Duchess of Devonshire's great fancy ball last year. It is a splendid example of colour-printing, the tints being subdued and yet pure and glowing.[56]

A gallery showing of west-of-England painters included the work of the "widely admired" "H. A. Stock, who has represented one or two of the personages taking part in the Devonshire House fancy dress ball."[57] At the 32nd Exhibition of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water-Colours that opened 12 March 1898, a Mr. Stocks exhibited a "portrait of a well-known society lady in the costume she wore at the Devonshire House fancy dress ball."[58] (This same report of the exhibition was printed in the Diss Express, in Norfolk.[59])

A party at Blenheim Palace, home of the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough, in January 1898 used some of the costumes worn at the ball for a tableau:

Dramatic entertainments in aid of the restoration fund of Woodstock Parish church were given on Thursday afternoon and evening in the long library at Blenheim palace. The first portion of the entertainment consisted of a series of tableaux, in which whose who took part included the Duchess of Marlborough, Lady Sarah Wilson, Lord Chesterfield, Lord Churchill, Lord and Lady Curzon, Lady Blandford, Ladies Lilian and Norah Spencer Churchill, the Hon. Mrs. A. Bourke, Mr. and Mrs. Henry White, and Mr. H. Milner. Except in two cases the tableaux were of historical character, and they were picturesquely portrayed. Many of the costumes were those worn at the Devonshire house fancy ball last June.[60]

A shorter version of this article was published by Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper.[61]

By the end of May 1901, Lady Granby is reported to be sitting for a bust in her costume:

Those who admired Mr. George Frampton’s beautiful “Lamia” when it was shown at the Royal Academy last year will be interested to learn that he is engaged on another bust which he intends to treat in a somewhat similar way. It is a portrait of the Marchioness of Granby, who is represented with the quaint and attractive costume and head-dress of the Eighteenth Century which she wore at the Devonshire House fancy dress ball of 1897. In the “Lamia” the face and neck were executed in ivory, but ivory has its limitations, and Mr. Frampton is not sure yet if he will be able to use it in Lady Granby’s bust. Should ivory be impossible he will use marble instead, but in any case the head-dress and draperies will be of silver and gold, and the result in the hands of an artist of such exceptional accomplishment promises to be of unusual interest. Mr. Frampton is the only sculptor to whom Lady Granby has given sittings, but painters have been more fortunate, as the canvases of Mr. Watts and Mr. J. J. Shannon, among others, testify.[62]

Two Years LaterEdit

Two years later, the ball was still a successful joke in a music hall in Sydney, Australia, as an advertisement in London’s The Era reports: Peggy Pryde was on the program at the Grand Charity Matinée at Her Majesty's Theatre in Sydney:

when she reached the line — "Talk about the Duchess of Devonshire’s fancy-dress ball; no class, my dear, no class," she winked her merry eyes towards the vice-regal box, where Lady Hampden and her distinguished party were beaming on her fun.[63]

Also, the Diamond Jubilee Fancy Dress Ball album of portraits given by some of the people who attended as a hostess gift to the Duchess of Devonshire is dated 1899.[64]

Scissors-and-Paste JournalismEdit

We can see some of the ways newspapers were connected to each other by the ways in which the stories were repeated. Usually the reports in larger papers associated with metropolitan areas, typically but not always London, were repeated and edited slightly in smaller newspapers published for a small city, county or region outside of London. Often, the editing would have the effect of emphasizing a local aristocrat, picking them out of the stream of generally prominent peers.

This list is not complete but the beginnings of a collection of data about the scissors-and-paste journalism on the Duchess of Devonshire's ball, as a case study.

Separate from the ur-articles that were reprinted in shorter, edited form here and there, there must have been an extensive but not complete list of all the costumes, as those descriptions are repeated again and again. Some of that repetition must certainly be scissors-and-paste editing, but it also seems likely there was a list from someone that somehow got sent to more than one newspaper at the same time. For example, perhaps the descriptions of the costumes printed in the Times and the Pall Mall Gazette were versions of each other, or perhaps editors of both papers got the same list, and their stories either were reprinted in scissors-and-paste journalism or based on the same list, either some or all of them. Without a copy of that list, it is impossible to know.

London Daily NewsEdit

The 3 July 1897 story in the London Daily News looks to be one of the ur-articles that many papers reprinted in a more-or-less-edited form, depending on the paper. The papers that seem to have published versions very close to what was published in the London Daily News, included the Carlisle Patriot, the St. James's Gazette, the Western Gazette, the Belfast News-letter, the Dundee Evening Telegraph, the Lincolnshire Echo, and the Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald.

  • The story in the Belfast News-letter, one of the major, lengthy stories,[65] appears to be identical to, except longer than?, the story in the Sheffield Daily Telegraph.[66] Also, this article and the one in the London Daily News[67] have chunks that are identically worded. The description of the family of the Duchess of Roxburghe in the Belfast News-Letter, for example, appears to be identical to, except longer than?, the story in the Sheffield Daily Telegraph. Also, this article and the one in the London Daily News have chunks that are identically worded. The Belfast News-Letter is the only paper to say the Duchess of Roxburghe was dressed as Queen Elizabeth, which is not correct, so they are not identical.
  • “A Magnificent Spectacle.” Lincolnshire Echo 3 July 1897, Saturday: 2 [of 4], Col. 5A–B.[1] Actual word count: 680.
  • "The Duchess of Devonshire's Fancy Dress Ball. Splendid Scene.” Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald 10 July 1897, Saturday: 2 [of 8], Col. 7B–8A.[2] Actual word count: 2089.
  • The London Daily News[42] reports on Thursday, 26 August 1897, on the bargaining for the costumes for Arthur Collins' Drury Lane production. This article is almost exactly identical to one published the same day by the St. James's Gazette[43]:

    Some of the ladies (according to the "Daily News") whose costumes, worn at the Duchess of Devonshire's historic and fancy ball, are to form part of the reproduction of that event in the forthcoming Drury Lane play, are intent on driving such hard bargains for them that there is considerable pause in the proceedings. Those of the gentlemen have been arranged for without difficulty. The ladies are apparently desirous of effecting the oft-quoted feat of eating their cake and yet having it.

    The Daily News article says "often-quoted," but the differences in the articles are negligible and likely just a matter of editing. The Dundee Evening Telegraph is among the papers reprinting or reporting part of this story.[46]
  • The description of Rachel, Countess of Dudley as Queen Esther in the Belfast News-Letter appears to be identical to, except longer than?, the story in the Sheffield Daily Telegraph. Also, this article and the one in the London Daily Newshave chunks that are identically worded.
  • The story in the Western Gazette[25] (2, Col. 7B) is almost identical to the description in the Carlisle Patriot[68], including the very distinct first sentence, though the Western Gazette story is longer.
  • The description of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales: <quote>The Prince of Wales, as Grand Master of the Knights Hospitallers of Malta, wore a doublet of black brocaded velvet, with the white cross of the Order on the breast, and trunks of black satin slashed with grey. The sword handle, in the form of a cross, was jewelled, and the Order of St. John of Jerusalem was worn.</quote>[69]:p. 2, Col. 7B This description from the Western Gazette is almost identical to that of the first sentence in the Carlisle Patriot.[68]
  • The first sentence of this Belfast News-Letter article is identical to the story in the Carlisle Patriot[68]: "Anne of Austria, in a superb cream satin gown, brocaded in raised velvet leaves in delicate hues of fawn and green. This was turned back with rich gold embroidery to show a petticoat of white satin, worked over in gold fleur-de-lys. The stomacher was encrusted with jewels, and there was a high lace collar and a low crown in the hair."[65]:5, Col. 9B
  • The description of Daisy, Princess Henry of Pless's costume in the Belfast News-Letter[65] (5, Col. 9c) is almost identical to the one in the Carlisle Patriot[68] through the description of the robe but not the headdress.
  • A 2 July 1897 story in the London Daily News was also reprinted elsewhere.[22]
  • The article in the London Daily News[70] about the Marchioness of Londonderry's use of local artisans to make all the materials for the costumes in the Marie Thérèse quadrille is repeated exactly a week later by the Peterhead Sentinel[71].

Other NewspapersEdit

  • The Times and the Leicester Chronicle and Leicestershire Mercury have one distinctive phrase in common in their description of the Duke of Devonshire's costume. The Times article says it like this: Duke of Devonshire was dressed "in the dress of Charles V — the Hapsburgs and the Cavendishes are curiously alike in feature — and wearing a genuine collar and badge of the Golden Fleece, lent him by the Prince of Wales."[72] The Leicester Chronicle and Leicestershire Mercury have it like this: "At the head of the staircase stood the Duke of Devonshire, in the dress of Charles V. — the Hapsburgs and the Cavendishes are curiously alike in feature — and wearing a genuine collar and badge of the Golden Fleece, lent him by the Prince of Wales."[73](11, 4A)
  • The Times description of the costume of Rachel, Countess of Dudley as Queen Esther is almost identical through the hem of the skirt to the story in the Carlisle Patriot.[72][68] The description of Arthur Balfour is almost identical in the Times and the Carlisle Patriot as well.
  • Sometimes the Carlisle Patriot reprints stories that might have originated in the London Daily News.
  • A story about the wife of a brewer who was advised to go to the ball as Beersheba was repeated. The longer version was in the Portsmouth Evening News on 28 July 1897[17] and the shorter in the Staffordshire Advertiser on 30 October 1897[16].
  • These two stories, from the Sheffield Daily Telegraph[26] and London Evening Standard[27] about an altercation between two people and two constables are very similar.
  • Rumors about people selling their costumes appeared in very similar form in 3 newspapers: "According the Westminster Gazette there is a wicked rumour that more than one great lady who shone in splendour at the Duchess Devonshire's fancy ball is selling her finery to the manager of a certain popular theatre where a rather georgeous [sic] production due some little time hence."[39] This same story also appeared on the same day, 12 July 1897, in the Lancashire Daily Post[40] as well as in the Dundee Evening Telegraph[41] on the next day. (The Lancashire Daily Post is called the Lancashire Evening Post now by the British Newspaper Archive.)
  • A party at Blenheim Palace, home of the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough, in January 1898 used some of the costumes worn at the ball for a tableau:

    Dramatic entertainments in aid of the restoration fund of Woodstock Parish church were given on Thursday afternoon and evening in the long library at Blenheim palace. The first portion of the entertainment consisted of a series of tableaux, in which whose who took part included the Duchess of Marlborough, Lady Sarah Wilson, Lord Chesterfield, Lord Churchill, Lord and Lady Curzon, Lady Blandford, Ladies Lilian and Norah Spencer Churchill, the Hon. Mrs. A. Bourke, Mr. and Mrs. Henry White, and Mr. H. Milner. Except in two cases the tableaux were of historical character, and they were picturesquely portrayed. Many of the costumes were those worn at the Devonshire house fancy ball last June.[60]

    A shorter version of this St. James's Gazette article (minus the part beginning with "Ladies Lilian" and ending with "picturesquely portrayed") was published by Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper.[61]
  • At the 32nd Exhibition of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water-Colours that opened 12 March 1898, a Mr. Stocks exhibited a "portrait of a well-known society lady in the costume she wore at the Devonshire House fancy dress ball."[58] (This same report of the exhibition was printed in Dundee Advertiser (quoted here) and the Diss Express, in Norfolk.[59])

Major Standalone Accounts of the BallEdit

Questions and NotesEdit

  1. Follow up Western in the 3rd bullet in "Scissors-and-Paste Journalism." The citation that needs to be fixed is in the description of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales's costume.
  2. Who was "Madame Rose" in the 25 June 1897 Northampton Mercury story on the ball?
  3. The report from the Western Gazette says some women were dresses as abbesses[25]; who were they?

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Harris, Russell. "The Ball." Narrated in Calm Prose: Photographs from the V&A's Lafayette Archive of Guests in Costume at the Duchess of Devonshire's Diamond Jubilee Ball, July 1897. 2011. http://www.rvondeh.dircon.co.uk/incalmprose/
  2. "The Duchess of Devonshire’s Historic Ball. Some of the Fancy Costumes." Leister Chronicle 10 July 1897: 11 [of 12], Col. 4A).
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "The Social Rush." Cheltenham Looker-On Saturday 12 June 1897: 12 [of 24], Col. 1C–2A. British Newspaper Archive http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000226/18970612/006/0012.
  4. "Ladies Column: The Ball of the Season." Dundee Evening Telegraph Monday 24 May 1897: 4 [of 4], Col. 3B. British Newspaper Archive http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000453/18970524/094/0004.
  5. “Gossip of the Day: ‘Mary Queen of Scots.’” Yorkshire Evening Post 3 June 1897, Thursday: 2 [of 4], Col. 8B. British Newspaper Archive http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000273/18970603/002/0002.
  6. “Our London Letter (From Our Own Correspondent.)” Sheffield Independent 14 June 1897, Monday: 4 [of 12], Col. 6A. http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000181/18970614/066/0004.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 "Gleanings in the Peak." Derbyshire Times & Chesterfield Herald 1897-07-24 July 1897, Saturday: 6 [of 8], Col. 2B. British Newspaper Archive http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000228/18970724/026/0006.
  8. “Our London Letter. Up and Down.” Reading Mercury 12 June 1897, Saturday: 8 [of 12], Col. 7C. British Newspaper Archive http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000369/18970612/100/0008.
  9. "Lines for the Ladies." Daily Gazette for Middlesbrough Monday 14 June 1897: 4 [of 4]. British Newspaper Archive http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000159/18970614/056/0004.
  10. "The Ladies Column: The Coming Fancy Ball." Shields Daily Gazette 5 July 1897, Monday: 3 [of 4], Col. 7A. British Newspaper Archive http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000287/18970705/041/0003.
  11. "Social and Personal." Glasgow Herald 14 June 1897, Monday: 7 [of 14]. British Newspaper Archive http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000060/18970614/013/0007.
  12. "The Duchess of Devonshire's Ball." Edinburgh Evening News 21 June 1897, Monday: 4 [of 6], Col. 5C. British Newspaper Archive http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000452/18970621/079/0004.
  13. "For Wives and Daughters." Northampton Mercury Friday 25 June 1897: 8 [of 10], Col. 3B. British Newspaper Archive http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000317/18970625/078/0008.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 14.6 Murphy, Sophia. The Duchess of Devonshire's Ball. Sidgwick & Jackson, 1984.
  15. "No Answer." Portsmouth Evening News 17 July 1897, Saturday: 2 [of 4], Col. 5C. British Newspaper Archive http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000290/18970717/049/0002.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Staffordshire Advertiser 30 October 1897, Saturday: 3 [of 8], Col. 1B. British Newspaper Archive http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000252/18971030/035/0003.
  17. 17.0 17.1 "Beersheba." Portsmouth Evening News 28 July 1897, Wednesday: 2 [of 4]. British Newspaper Archive http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000290/18970728/047/0002.
  18. "Our London Correspondence: Dramatic and Musical." Glasgow Herald 1 July 1897, Thursday: 7 [of 12], Col. 2B. British Newspaper Archive http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000060/18970701/022/0007.
  19. "The Wares of Autolycus. The Glass of Fashion." Pall Mall Gazette 1 July 1897, Thursday: 4 [of 10], Col. 2B. British Newspaper Archive http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000098/18970701/011/0004.
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