We are going back almost two hundred years for this post on one of the attractions of Teignmouth …. to certain people at least.
I’m not sure when it started but certainly through the 19th century it was quite common to hold private theatricals in private large houses. George Templer routinely did this at Stover House and it is likely, if the accompanying poem is anything to go by, that similar events may have been held at Bitton House.
Teignmouth also boasted the Royal Clarence Theatre in Coombe Vale Road which was demolished in 1840.
So it is not surprising to learn that Winthrop Mackworth Praed, who also lived at Bitton House, wrote a poem on the subject of theatricals. It forms one of his ‘Letters from Teignmouth’.
LETTERS FROM TEIGNMOUTH II.
(Lady Arabella Fustian to Lord Clarence Fustian)
(Winthrop Mackworth Praed, 1831)
‘‘Sweet, when actors first appear,
The Ioud collision of applauding gloves.‘‘ – Moultrie
YOUR labours, my talented brother,
Are happily over at last
They tell me -that, somehow or other,
The Bill is rejected,—or past;
And now you’ll be coming, I’m certain,
As fast as your posters can crawl,
To help us to draw up our curtain,
As usual, at Fustian Hall.
Arrangements are nearly completed;
But still we’ve a Lover or two,
Whom Lady Albina entreated
We’d keep, at all hazards, for you:
Sir Arthur makes horrible faces
Lord John is a trifle too tall;
And yours are the safest embraces
To faint in, at Fustian Hall.
Come, Clarence; – it’s really enchanting
To listen and look at the rout:
We’re all of us puffing and panting,
And raving, and running about;
Here Kitty and Adelaide bustle;
There Andrew and Anthony bawl;
Flutes murmur – chains rattle – robes rustle
In chorus, at Fustian Hall.
By the bye, there are two or three matters
We want you to bring us from Town:
The Inca’s white plumes from the hatter’s,
A nose and a hump for the Clown;
We want a few harps for our banquet;
We want a few masks for our ball;
And steal from your wise friend Bosanquet
His white wig, for Fustian Hall!
Hunca Munca must have a huge sabre;
Friar Tuck has forgotten his cowl;
And we’re quite at a stand still with Weber
For want of a lizard and owl:
And then, for our funeral procession,
Pray get us a love of a pall
Or how shall we make an impression
On feelings, at Fustian Hall?
And, Clarence, you’ll really delight us,
If you’ll do your endeavour to bring,
From the Club, a young person to write us
Our prologue, and that sort of thing;
Poor Crotchet, who did them supremely,
Is gone for a Judge to Bengal;
I fear we shall miss him extremely
This season, at Fustian HaIl.
Come, Clarence! your idol Albina
Will make a sensation, I feel;
We all think there never was seen a
Performer so like the O’Neill:
At rehearsals, her exquisite fancy
Has deeply affected us all;
For one tear that trickles at Drury,
There’ll be twenty at Fustian Hall!
Dread objects are scattered before her
On purpose to harrow her soul;
She stares, till a deep spell comes o’er her,
At a knife, or a cross, or a bowl.
The sword never seems to alarm her
That hangs on a peg to the wall;
And she doats on thy rusty old armour,
Lord Fustian, of Fustian Hall.
She stabbed a bright mirror this morning,
(Poor Kitty was quite out of breath!)
And trampled, in anger and scorning,
A bonnet and feathers to death.
But hark !- I’ve a part in “The Stranger,’
There’s the Prompter’s detestable call!
Come, Clarence –our Romeo and Ranger
We want you at Fustian Hall!
For more information about the poem check out: