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Ep 147: Who would live in a house like this?

Alethea Howard, that's who.

Following on from last week's blog, on the 1631 map of the Grosvenor Estate, Tart Hall caught my eye.

I wondered who lived there?

The more I read about the owner, the more familiar names popped up. So I kept reading, and gradually fleshing out the owner Alethea Howard. Or as she could be called - Alethea Howard, 14th Baroness Talbot, 17th Baroness Strange of Blackmere, 13th Baroness Furnivall, Countess of Arundel. née Lady Alethea Talbot.


The best image of Tart Hall itself is in the background of a print called Spring.

Spring by Hollar, showing Tart Hall in the background - Rijksmuseum
Bess of Hardwick - Alethea's Grandmother

Spring by Wenceslaus Hollar

And here's the full version (left).


It's thought that the lady

in the foreground is

Aletha's granddaughter.


Going in the other direction, (right) her grandmother was

Bess of Hardwick.

Would you like to know more about her? We could do a series of pods following on from each other, following connections across the centuries...... let us know!



Bess was fantastically wealthy. And Alethea's inheritance from her allowed Alethea and her husband - The Earl of Arundel to become huge patrons of the arts.

While in Antwerp Alethea commissioned Peter Paul Rubens to paint her household. Look closely at it, do you notice anything odd about the Duke? does he look perhaps a little, different, less substantial than the rest? It appears he was added later, by a quite different hand! We're talking early 1600s here. Any lady who can have her husband popped into a painting later (or maybe he insisted on being added, who knows?) Is ok by us.

Ruben's picture of Aletha and her household in Antwerp

Wenceslaus Hollar - best known for his maps (including one of London in 1666, just before the fire) worked for the Howards. He lived at Arundel House, their main London residence just off the Strand, and for a while at Tart Hall. In his print of Summer the background could be a version of the view from Tart Hall. With Rosamund's Pond in the foreground - part of St James's park, and two recognisable buildings beyond, the old St Paul's - minus it's steeple as it had been struck by lightening, and the new Banqueting House.


Summer by Hollar

Alethea performed in masques in the old Banqueting House. Alongside her sister and cousins. Again, her cousin, Arbella Stuart, is a lady Alex and I know about. We talk a little about her in the pod and we might return to her story sometime in the future. Should we? Let us know!


Alethea travelled around Europe, sometimes with her husband on diplomatic missions, sometimes on her own. Throughout her life she collected recipes for medicines. And after she died a whopping 1720 of them were published in one volume. Making her one of the earliest women to publish a scientific book in Britain.


It was published under the name Philiatros. But it had a portrait of Alethea on the page opposite this one. Leaving very little doubt about who was the author. Or perhaps curator. She didn't write the cures herself, rather gathering them together from other sources. Maybe the ones I've found quoted in research papers and other blogs are the outlandish ones. The ones using Unicorn horn, horse dung and snails. But I'm not going to rush to try these out. Not until we've tried all of Eliza Acton and Mrs Beeton's.


Listen wherever you get your podcasts.


And say hello, we're gradually catching up with correspondence!

We are:

Instagram; @ladieswholondonpodcast

Email; ladieswholondon@gmail.com

Alex’s guiding website - www.alexlacey.com

Fiona’s guiding profile -Fiona Lukas - Guide London



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