So there I was standing in the lavatory.
A posh lavatory, I hasten to add. And not one anyone was using at the time.
Have you noticed that pub toilets often have excellent reading material on the walls? Whilst I was not standing in a pub toilet, this room had been furnished by the daughter of a brewer. And she knew great toilet wall material.
We remain for a second day within the lavish, comfortable walls of Polesden Lacey, a gracious weekend house in Surrey which was owned by great friend of Queen Mary, Margaret Greville. Indeed the Queen Mother may well have used the Portico Toilet at some point during her honeymoon stay.
Once I had walked in I could not leave. I looked around after three minutes or so to find a small queue of polite tourists waiting for me to leave because,when all is said and done, this is still the littlest room in the house, and for them to get in I must step aside.
But I could not leave. I was riveted by a series of small framed pictures on both walls.
They were frocks.
And not frocks contemporary with the heyday of the house, in the early part of the 20th century. Frocks which came from the time of Jane Austen.
They are from the pages of Costumes Parisiens, a French fashion magazine which emerged in 1797 when Napoleon and his consort Josephine came to power and the harsh conditions of the French Revolution – and their influence in what women could wear – were relaxed. It was a brief Summer of fashion publishing – the magazine closed in 1836. The pictures you see today come from an 1809 edition.
The women of Jane Austen’s time would have coveted the Paris fashions. The Misses Bingley and Darcy would have dressed in nothing less, I feel sure.
I could not leave without taking copious pictures, and I leave them here for you to peruse. Even the Mr Darcy ones.