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A Most Proper Afternoon Tea | Morning, 31st- Xmas 1677

James Winchester

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Lord and Lady Wentwood

Shall be At Home in Chelsea for Afternoon Tea

At 2pm on Monday the 3rd

And do kindly request

The company of their friends.



Invitations were sent to:

George Hardwick, Earl of Chichester

Louis and Lisa Basildon, Earl and Countess Basildon, and Mistress Nicolette Vauquelin

Lieutenant Ambrose Turnbull

Richard Wellsley, 3rd Viscount Baintree, and Mistress Davina Wellsley

Major Charles Whitehurst, Earl of Langdon


James chewed his moustache. Strictly speaking he didn't know Viscount Baintree, and only knew Davina through the Queen's household. Then again, he didn't know Lord Gowran either, but Diana was there as Noni's friend. He'd dithered over Lord Langdon - he certainly wasn't a particular fan of the man - but included him for the same reason.

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  • 7 months later...

Back at home on the afternoon of the 31st in time to get ready for the ball that evening, James mulled over his meeting with the Real Estate agent, Master Farlow, and the unusual opportunity the man had put before him. A stretch of river frontage, which could potentially be developed as a dock. Except that James didn't know the first thing about shipping. It wasn't that far from the docks of the East India Company, but somehow he didn't think they'd want to talk to potential competition.


But wait; wasn't there a member of the court involved in such things? That Doolittle fellow had a shipping company, and his daughter had married a Lord Melville, if James recalled aright. Well, what was the aristocracy for if not to help one another? And the man was a neighbour after all, part of that little Chelsea community.


Feeling rather daring for inviting a man with whom he had no real connection, but hoped to forge one, James penned an invitation for Duncan Melville.

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A short note written on pure white cotton rag paper, with purple-black oak gall ink, in a masculine script without adornments. It was delivered on the late afternoon of the 31st, sealed with Duncan's signet, to Winchester House in Chelsea by a footman liveried in the scarlet and white of the Melville family.


Lord Wentwood,


I will be honoured to attend. Regretfully, my wife is in Lothian and will not be abe to join me. Please find attached a small token of respect from a neighbour, in the spirit of the season.


Your humble and obedient servant,




The reply was delivered along a copy of William Harvey’s Exercitatio anatomica de motu cordis, published in 1628.


Interesting... here I was trying to find a way to get to meet this particular neighbor, and he writes to me first!

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