Memoirs of Georgian intrigue

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Who are you calling a glorified flunkey?

“Spite and Smut and Tales and Lies” based on the memoirs of Lord Hervey, Vice-Chamberlain to King George II and Queen Caroline, tells the story of the Queen’s last year, and is both humorous and bittersweet, revealing the personal tensions within, and the political intrigues surrounding, the royal family in 1737.

AP Waxkirsh says: “I first came across Lord Hervey, one of our forgotten men of history, many years ago in John Barton’s The Hollow Crown and was immediately captivated by his mixture of waspish comedy and needle-sharp observation. It was not until many years later, however, that I read his memoirs in full and decided that he, and his experiences living at the heart of the royal family, would make an excellent subject for dramatic treatment.

“Despite enjoying obvious advantages of birth, connections and talent, Lord Hervey failed to make his mark as a statesman – which was his dearest ambition – and succeeded only in turning himself into a sort of glorified flunkey; notwithstanding this, he became extremely attached to the Queen, and his memoirs achieve a quite remarkable poignancy in their account of Her Majesty’s last days.”

AP Waxkirsh graduated in classics from Oxford University and has lived and worked in Switzerland, Spain and France. His Georgian murder mystery The Last of Samuel Shapes is to be published next year, and he is at present revising for publication a larger-scale novel The Poisons set in Louis XIV’s Versailles. He is also working on an adaptation of Spite and Smut and Tales and Lies as a full-length screenplay. He is currently living in Rye. Tickets are £10 and are available from the National Trust, Smallhythe Place. Telephone 01580 762334.

HISTORY NOTE: Earlier the same day Smallhythe Place is having its seasonal “Orchard day” with apples, local crafts, demos and a cake competition as it was a working farm for 250 years until renowned Victorian actress Ellen Terry moved there, and her daughter turned it into a theatrical museum.

Smallhythe was once one of the most significant shipyards in medieval England between the 13th century and the mid-16th century when the sea reached inland nearly to nearby Tenterden. But the Rother then began to silt up after a major storm in the 16th century, and the sea retreated. Henry IV had the 100 ton “Marie” built on the river bank (excavated for the Time Team television programme) and the last great ship built there was Henry VIII’s 300 ton “Great Gallyon” before shipbuilding shifted to Chatham on the Medway and Woolwich on the Thames.