Wednesday, November 9, 2011

May The Best Man Lose, Part One

14 October 1910  
Warwickshire, England

The guests began arriving in horseless carriages on Thursday morning with all of their baggage in tow.  By late Friday evening, the footmen had already started complaining of blisters on their feet, and the ladies’ maids had run out of rumors to repeat.  We all knew that this was going to be a long weekend.  Lord Stopford had invited all of his guests for one reason and one reason only; not to announce his son’s marriage to the King’s daughter, but to assert his newly acquired social status.  There would be shooting parties for the gentleman, lavish dinner parties in the evenings, an unprecedented wine tasting of the most desirable Lafite Rothschild vintages, and, as always, gossip, gossip, gossip.  

I’ve heard all of the guests’ stories before.  Lord Curtis and his steel factory meltdown, Lord Hodges and his many mistresses (female AND male), and Lady Coryton, whose maid should be knighted for the magic she performs on her ladyship’s hair and makeup each morning.  One guest, however, I was not familiar with.  He was not a fantastic individual by any means, rather, peculiar.  Perfectly dressed, despite the fact that he traveled alone; not even a boot boy to polish his shoes!  During the wine tasting, he refused the 1818 Lafite, by far the best vintage our Lordship could get his hands on.  Instead, asking for another taste of the 1876, claiming the bottle’s colored glass was “more appealing” than the other.  And when all of the gentlemen retired to the billiard room after dinner, he seemed to pay more attention to the table’s emerald green felt lining rather than sinking the balls into the pockets.  Sir Leonard Charles Clifton.  Even his name is odd, of no noble origin I can recall.

After dinner, the drinks were flowing and the guests were sparkling with conversation.  Lord Stopford asked for his company to be gathered into the drawing room for the big announcement.  Standing near Lady Stopford with a tray of 11 glasses full of champagne I noticed that there were only 10 guests in the room.  Sir Clifton was nowhere to be seen.  His oddities were beginning to wear on my patience.  Instantly a scream from upstairs, with enough intensity to shake the champagne coupes on my tray, silenced the room.  By the time I reached the source of the outburst Lady Coryton’s maid was lying lifeless on the floor.  Down the hall, Clifton's door quietly closes. 
1.  Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire, UK
2.  1910 Mercedes Phaeton
2.  Manor house entrance
3.  Chatsworth House, North Entrance Hall
3.  18th Century Gilt Bronze Center Table Foot Detail
1.  19th Century Black Forest Hunt Trophy
2.  Bookster Tweed Carron with Cap
3.  19th Century American Empire Fire Surround with Over Mantle
2.  "Classic Decorative Details" by Henrietta Spencer Churchill
3.  Pair of Chinese Blue and White Porcelain Vases
1. & 2.  Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, UK
1.  Fox Umbrellas Nickel Walking Sticks
3.  Jacques Garcia
1.  Cariness House, Scotland, UK
2.  Jacques Garcia
3.  Cydwoq's Men's Vintage Classic Shoe

To be continued...

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  1. Those collages are gorgeous and so elegant. This is the first time on your blog and I'm in love!! I so appreciate someone with a fabulous eye and great graphics. Will be following and can't wait to see more!

  2. Oh no, I was just getting into this :-( It was filling the gap nicely for me whilst suffering from withdrawal symptoms after the end of the second Downton Abbey season in the UK! Can't wait for the next episode! Love that Black Forest Hunt Trophy.
    Have a great weekend :-)

  3. This is such a great post - I could totally go now to England! Love the manors, the special atmosphere, all perfectly brought to life with your collages! Well done! Cheers, Igor xoxo

  4. Now that's the perfect way to celabrate! I loved the story and all the beautiful images.