The Historical Birthday-Tea Party 20th January


late again! In my defense, an over-long dress rehearsal for Orpheus followed by a rehearsal for Vocal Chords put a bit of a dent in the day.

So the 20th of January: not exactly a vintage day for lesbians, at least that I have found dates for – so lets meet Cicely Cornwallis, 1656 – 1723, who according to Sarah Churchill was the ‘first favourite’ of Queen Anne, whilst still a young thing. Cicely was a distant Catholic kinswoman of Anne’s. Sarah described the relationship in her autobiography:

The fondness of the young lady to her was very great and passionate but – the Duchess of York accidentally finding upon her daughter’s table a letter to her favourite, unsealed up, read it and was much displeased at the passionate expressions with which it was filled.

The result of this discovery was that Cicely was sent away from court (theoretically for her ‘papism’) and all Anne’s letters were carefully censored from then on.

 Thus ended a great friendship of 3 or 4 years standing, in which time lady Anne had written it was believed, above a thousand letters full of the most violent professions of everlasting kindness.

Sarah claims that Anne forgot her favourite within a fortnight. One possible reason for this lack of grief may have been that she now had Sarah’s company to divert her. At any rate, for all Anne forgot her, Sarah did not. Years later when Anne came to the throne she persuaded Anne to write to Cicely to let her know when she would be passing her lodgings so that she could look out and see her; and to grant her a pension, both of which Anne was reluctant to do.

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Author: Cherry Potts

Cherry Potts is a published fiction writer, publisher, event organiser, photographer, cardmaker, NLP master practitioner, life coach and trainer. She is an enthusiastic singer. Through Arachne Press she publishes fiction and non fiction and runs spoken word events and cross-arts workshops for writers at interesting venues. Always interested in new opportunites to perform, write or explore writing.

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