James Yorke

Home at last

The Travellers Club was founded in 1819 to provide congenial surroundings for those who had ‘travelled outside the British Islands to a distance of 500 miles from London in a direct line’, and opportunities to meet distinguished foreign visitors. As it nears its bicentenary, John Martin Robinson has produced a thorough, scholarly and highly readable

Splendour and squalor

The château at Versailles remained the grandest palace in the whole of Europe from the moment that Louis XIV established his court there in May 1682 until his great grandson Louis XVI was forced to leave by a mob of 30,000 in October 1789. Such was its reputation that Lord Chesterfield earnestly advised his son

The feast before the famine

If you had the resources, Georgian Ireland must have been a very agreeable place in which to live. It was certainly more prosperous and peaceful than it would be after the 1848 famine. This idyllic world is captured in Patricia McCarthy’s scholarly and highly entertaining work, which stretches from the start of the building of

Anne Seymour Damer: the female Bernini?

Anne Seymour Damer (1748–1828) was virtually the only female sculptor working in Britain during her lifetime. Contemporary artists may have dismissed her as a well-connected dilettante with curiosity value as a woman. But her most important connection was her uncle, Horace Walpole. He warmly praised his niece’s abilities: her terracotta ‘Shock Dog’ of 1780 (see

Exhibition: What really goes on in a royal bedchamber

What exactly are the ‘secrets of the royal bedchamber’? That the actual bed was seldom if ever slept in let alone used for romping sex (the latter took place in private bedchambers, often barred off by an ingenious system of locks). But the royal bedchamber was, as the organisers of this exhibition state, ‘the equivalent

Concealed treasures

The Holburne Museum of Bath is a delight. Its collections were formed by Sir William Holburne (1793–1874), a naval officer who first saw action at the Battle of Trafalgar at the age of 12 and retired to Bath in 1820 to dedicate his celibate life — he shared his house with his three sisters —