The Daily Post recently provided us with this prompt: “If one of your late ancestors were to come back from the dead and join you for dinner, what things about your family would this person find the most shocking?”
“Marianne Colston is coming to dinner”
“how’s she getting here?”
“I don’t know; she’ll probably get herself driven over”
Marianne arrived in a chauffeur driven car. The journey hadn’t been too exhausting, she said, unlike many others she’d made in the past.
Over dinner, served in my parents’ living room-kitchen-dining-room-all-rolled –into-one, she regaled us with anecdotes of her travels. She and her husband had set off on a European grand tour the day after their wedding, in November 1819, and her daughter had been born whilst they were travelling in Italy.
She was a keen and curious traveller delighting in meeting new people and visiting all manner of monuments which she described in her journals. She was also an accomplished water colourist, as so many ladies of her generation were and published two volumes of her illustrated travelogues.
Whilst she admired the speed and comfort in which it was now possible to travel, she lamented the fact that so much green space had disappeared and how large cities and towns had become great anonymous sprawls inhabited by too many people less fortunate than herself. She also deplored the fact that nobody today dresses for dinner.
At the end of the evening she said, “I have enjoyed myself enormously and the food was delicious. Please give my compliments to your cook”. “We don’t have a cook” I replied, “my husband cooked the meal”. There was a stunned silence.
Marianne Colston nee Jenkins was born in 1792 and died in 1865. She married into a wealthy family and would have lived a life of comfort and privilege surrounded by a number of servants.
She died a few years before the birth of Emmeline Pankhurst whose campaign for votes for women would change the lives of women forever.
You can read more about her here