A Spencer Love Affair: Eighteen Century Theatricals at Blenheim Palace is the true story of the love affair and marriage between the 4th Duke of Marlborough's favourite daughter Lady Charlotte Spencer and an Oxford Vicar, the Reverend Edward Nares. After their marriage in 1795 Lady Charlotte was banished from Blenheim Palace by her parents, never to return home. The affair stemmed from their acting together in the private theatricals performed at Blenheim's newly-created private theatre during 1785-1789, the year of the French Revolution.
The fashion for creating private theatres originated in France with Voltaire. In England it became fashionable amongst the aristocracy, gentry and clergy in the second half of the eighteen century. This included the Austen family at Steventon Vicarage where Jane Austen's family created their own private theatre, not in a palace but a barn. Later in life, Jane Austen was to include her childhood memories of these theatricals in her novel Mansfield Park. It was as Austen described, that these private theatricals led to dangerous intimacies amongst the actors, and this certainly seems to have been the case in the love affair between Revd. Edward Nares and Lady Charlotte Spencer.
Allan Ledger is a historian with a particular interest in 18th Century society. He lives in Ascott-under-Wychwood in Oxfordshire.
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
Illustrations: 31 colour ills.