“Expectations” (Book 2)–Ch. 4: Touring Sussex Hall Castle reveals a secret, December 16, 2018 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1195)
(an original Regency romance copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace, 2018 – 2019; all rights reserved); [(1) story cover art, left]
[As is my custom, from time to time I will illustrate my story with my ideal cast consisting of (in order of appearance/mention in this chapter): Lady Madeline Blount Countess of Sussex portrayed by Kate Winslet, and her husband Lord Christian Blount Earl of Sussex portrayed by Richard Armitage.]
Author’s story content and serializing scheduling notes: For the most part, my ratings for the chapters will be PG-13—for romantic interludes and dramatic moments. If you are unable or unwilling to attend a movie with these ratings, then please do not read that chapter. This is my disclaimer. And I always put the previous chapter’s brief recap at the top of the next chapter. Also, I hope to post weekly on Sundays.
“Expectations” (Book 2)—Ch. 4: Touring Sussex Hall Castle reveals a secret
Lady Madeline and her husband Lord Christian’s late morning lovings without interruption in the country become a daily pleasure.
Because with the teeming city of London, England being beastly hot during the late Spring and Summer months, nobles and wealthy merchants alike flee en masse to their country estates—for the sport as much for the warm weather mitigated by the open expanses of nature wafting cooling breezes more efficiently than in the heart of a bustling and often cramped city like London. And this year of 1816, in the first few months of Lord Christian Blount Earl of Sussex’s marriage to Lady Madeline Blount (nee Sinclair) his young and newlywed Countess of Sussex, Lord Christian had found himself in the midst of moving his whole family into his childhood country home Sussex Hall estates Dower House in mid May 1816.
Lord Christian’s household beyond his wife includes his youngest sibling and sister Lady Elizabeth Blount who had her come out during the Winter to Spring London Season–and occasionally his wastrel in training younger brother Lord Harold Blount—and, of course, their Grandmother Lady Catherine Blount, the Dowager Countess of Sussex.
Their grandmother Lady Catherine assured her grandson Christy that having her grown grandchildren living under her roof at the Dower House will bring welcome companionship for her. She has had them underfoot in London for so many years now that she would keenly feel their loss were they to have stayed up at the much larger Sussex Hall castle. So, though cramped the Sussex Hall Dower House may be, it will still be a loving family home.
Normally, the Blount family would reside in their country estate’s great Sussex Hall proper. However, when Lord Christian was in need of funds—before his late Grandfather Earl’s investments in coal proved lucrative—he had promised the letting of Sussex Hall and its guest suites to his friend Lord Duncan the Viscount Lindsay and heir to the Duke of York this Summer, due to repairs being made on the York’s castle roof and bed chambers below that were ruined during endless rain storms.
So while the Yorks’ invasion–as Grandmother Dowager Countess Lady Catherine refers to it–is still a few days away, Lord Christian takes his new wife and bride of only a few months Lady Madeline for a tour of Sussex Hall [(2) below] this bright and Cheerful mid May day a few days after their arrival in the country. As they wander into the magnificent castle that is Sussex Hall–from an inner courtyard accessed at the back, since the Sussex Hall Dower House is situated to the back of the castle to facilitate easy comings and goings to the main house—Lord Christian enjoys watching his young wife’s observations about her soon to be new home.
Lady Madeline: “Oh my, Christian! Sussex Hall castle is enormous! When our carriages passed the front façade on our way to the also very large Sussex Dower House on the evening of a few days ago, I had no idea that Sussex Halls wings were so large! Will we finish our tour today? Or must we devote several days to the endeavor?” Lady Madeline asks cheekily whilst gazing upon the inner courtyard gardens and such.
Lord Christian: “Our tour may be done at whatever pace that you deem pleasurable.” Lord Christian does not always mean to speak his thoughts with words having double meanings, it seems that he just cannot help it around his lovely bride Lady Madeline. He is a man in love. And so proud is he to share this part of the long and illustrious Blount family history as the Earls of Sussex with her.
Sussex Hall castle was originally an old Norman era fort that has been renovated over the centuries to become the beautiful and luxurious Sussex Hall castle/palace that it is now today. The current Sussex Hall castle is built upon a large rectangle with two inner garden courtyards for leisure and for formal entertaining, as well as an outside of the courtyard carriage receiving areas.
The main floor has the common and public rooms for receiving guests—such as the larger Peach Drawing Room and the Blue Drawing Room, both of which can be opened to one another via large double pocket doors on their adjoining inner wall, creating a splendidly large space that rivals the size of their ballroom; a State Banquet sized Dining Room seating 100 persons; irrespective of that floor also housing a ladies powder room and a men’s necessary room, conservatory filled with plants and seating and tables for lounging to small family meals, a library containing centuries old texts, a music room with a piano forte and cello on a small stage with seating for fifty people, and a ballroom that can hold three hundred people; as well as, assorted closets, butler’s pantry staging areas for catering, etc. The kitchen and staff receiving areas are tucked away in the floor below in what had been an extensive armory that was moved to the basement of the then newly constructed Southern interior wing—changing the Hall’s footprint from a massive C to a massive rectangular layout.
Then, with the second floor of the East Wing of Sussex Hall—over the Ballrooms, and music rooms—there are fifteen family and married persons with family guest suites also containing two bedchambers each with a shared sitting room and bathing room. The middle second floor wing houses the family portrait gallery, as well as, various historical objects collected and curated over the centuries. Finally, the second floor of the South Wing at the back of Sussex Hall facing the large expanse at the back of the estate is where ten bachelor and widowed gentleman bedchambers with a central Sitting Room and one bathing chamber shared by two bed chambers are housed or sequestered—whichever is deemed appropriate per the gentleman in question. The South Wing is especially busy during large house parties for men’s sporting occasions. With the South Wing also facing the large stables that can house over seventy-five horses and twenty guest carriages of varying sizes.
Then the third floors of the East, West, and South Wings of Sussex Hall house the private personal servant bedchambers and bathing chambers for the respective nobles being housed below them on the second floor. The only exception being Butler, Housekeeping, and Cook bedchambers with sitting rooms that are on the basement level off of the kitchens—for convenience and also to spare them too many stairs since the Senior Manor Staff tend to be older.
And finally, the fourth floors of the East, West, and South Wings of Sussex Hall house the attics and seasonal storage areas for clothes and for empty trunks of visiting guests. And at the South end of the first floor—near the carriage and servants’ arrival entrance, there is a rather ingenious rope pulled elevator to convey trunks to the second, third, and fourth floors.
Lady Madeline: “Dearest Christian, are you certain that Sussex Hall is merely a stately manor home, and not a giant of a palace castle fortress?” The very young and newly married Lady Madeline Countess of Sussex looks around the two story foyer entrance and receiving hall of what will be their newly married home after their Summer guests return home—Lord Christian’s, Lord Sussex’s family home, the earldom’s seat.
Lord Christian: “Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!” Lord Christian’s booming laughter fills the two story Great Hall foyer of Sussex Hall. “My Darling, we will take only a brief tour today of the first and second floors of the main and oldest North section of Sussex Hall. Your reviewing our Earl and Countess apartment of rooms for any decorating and other changes you wish to make is essential should you wish redecoration to take place before we inhabit it. I also must move some records from my study on the second floor to the Dower House for easy access to them while we live there. We will forgo viewing the third and fourth floors that are mostly servant and attic storage spaces, respectively.” He smiles broadly.
Lady Madeline: “Well, that is a relief! I believe that I can handle the stairs for two floors of the North main wing, but not the whole of the Sussex Hall Castle!” She widens her eyes with a minxish grin.
Lady Madeline is feeling more tired now that she is in her third month of pregnancy. And her not having broken that lovely news to her husband yet, she does not want to give away her with child condition before she can share her surprise with him.
With Lord Christian obtusely not questioning the lack of his wife’s curiosity—nor the cause of it, her as yet unannounced pregnancy—Lord Christian continues their tour on the second floor.
Lord Christian: “Though, I dare say that you will eventually want to acquaint yourself with all of the nooks and crannies of the upper two floors and some of the other wings, because they also contain wonderful hiding places for mischievous children.”
Lady Madeline: “Oh? And just which mischievous children are you referring to?” She teasingly asks him as they walk up the stairs to the second floor landing. But in truth, she feels a little out of breath, so Lord Christian motions to a cushioned bench for sitting conveniently place upon the hallway’s wall and they both sit down for him to tell her his story.
Lord Christian: “Well, to myself, for one, when I was a child of twelve. I was so well hidden one time—unintentionally, I assure you– that my parents had to enlist all of the servants in an hours long hunt for me upon the extensive grounds and in the house, only to find me fast asleep in the South Attic after I had looked through an old trunk of my baby toys for a stuffed bear gift to give to my new baby sister Lizzie.” He grins at the remembrance. “Mama and Papa were not pleased with the worry and work that I put everyone through in them having to search for me. But since I had not intentionally hidden from them, and my purpose was to find a gift for Lizzie, they did not punish me. I was merely admonished to let my parents or my personal attendant know before I went anywhere not in plain sight again. But you will need to know the house well to find where our future children might hide, so that you can ferret them out.”
Lady Madeline: “Our future children?” I smile and tilt my head to one side. I think that I am giving my husband broad hints about my with child state. Yet, perhaps his excitement to show me his childhood home and seat of his earldom—now our home—is causing him to be distracted. So I will wait until we view our Earl and Countess apartments to finally tell him.
Sussex Hall’s second floor is home to the Earl’s and Countess’ apartments and ten family room suites in the East Wing above the kitchens, Library and family Dining Rooms, and Lord Christian’s Study used by all of the Earl’s of Sussex. There are no second floor rooms on the North grand entrance front façade because the Great Reception Hall is two stories high with additional windows above, along a promenade catwalk overlooking the main Great Reception Hall. It is a dizzying height that only a few stalwart souls brave to take in the view—which consists mainly of the servants periodically cleaning the windows.
Lord Christian opens the hallway door to his and Lady Madeline’s future Earl and Countess apartments in the corner where the North façade and the East Wing meets.
Lord Christian: “Your future domain, My Lady.” He announces with a flourish of his arms spread out wide.
They walk into a large sitting room with a cozy fireplace and seating grouping at one end and a ladies ivory secretary desk in the Country French style in the corner next to the large window over looking the lake beyond the East gardens. The other furnishings are also light and bright with muted pastels of pastel pink, yellow, green, and blue harmoniously blended in patterned flower drapes and upholstery against pale blue silk walls.
Lady Madeline: “Oh!” I exclaim in awe at the grandeur of my surroundings. “This is so beautiful!” My husband beams. And we walk through to the Master bedroom that is much darker in coloring. And I pause before stating my opinion. His eyebrows rise with an unasked question. “Christian Dear, you said that you might not mind if we redecorate to suit our own wishes?” I ask hesitantly. Redecorating any set of rooms is a large undertaking, but that is especially so when these rooms will be so intimately shared by the two of us.
Lord Christian: “Certainly.” I say cautiously. “I rather like it. Do you find our bedchamber wanting?”
Lady Madeline: Rushing to assure him of my satisfaction, I say. “Oh no!” He smiles. Then I continue. “It is just that this room is so dark and the furniture so large and overbearing, compared to the lightness and elegance of the sitting room. Can we not brighten up this space?” I gaze up at my husband with a hopeful young wife’s eyes.
Lord Christian: “Wellll.” I draw that word out, stalling for time to come up with a reason for her not to redecorate. But nothing springs to mind.
Lady Madeline: “Christian, it is just that this bed is so large and dominating to the room–in its current placement.” I add hastily, I will have to work up to replacing the bed completely with another narrower one from one of the other bed chambers—if only not to have huge bed linen costs due to its overly large size. “And with lighter colored pale blue hangings, bedding and drapes, that will make this bed chamber itself feel larger and more spacious.” And less huge other furniture, too, I think privately to myself.
Lord Christian: “But I need the length of this bed because of my height.” I stand up straight.
Lady Madeline: “And accommodating your height will remain uppermost in my consideration, Christian Dear.” I promise.
Then we walk into what is typically the Countess’s bed chamber—again, furnished elegantly with Country French furniture and pastel colors as with the sitting room, but with a pale pink being the dominating theme in the silk covered walls, drapes, and bed hangings.
Lord Christian: “I hope that you like your Countess’ bedchamber, My Love.” I ask hopefully.
Lady Madeline: “I do!” I squeal girlishly. “But apart from being dressed by my ladies maid in here, we will not sleep apart, will we?”
Lord Christian: “Not unless you wish to.” I squirm. I worry at times that my loving tendernesses with her each day as we make love might begin to chafe her with my loving ardor. My not having any notion how the private lives of a loving couple are conducted—with aristocratic society often seeming to favor separate lives, or at least some marriages seem to work that way.
Lady Madeline: “Oh no, Christian! I want to fall asleep in your arms each night and wake up with you each morning.” I lean into my husband on my tippy toes and gently kiss his mouth as he leans down to meet my lips with his own. He is tender at first, then he deepens our kiss as he becomes more passionate. And I respond to his passion.
Lord Christian: I break away from kissing my wife. “I am glad, Madeline. I do not want to be separated from you at night either. I just worried that my … loving attentions might become burdensome to you over time.”
Lady Madeline: “Burdensome?” He nods a bid sheepishly, rather like a boy who does not want to give up his favorite treat. “Never!” I smile seductively at him. He looks hopefully at me. “Christian, I might be a very proper and reserved lady in the Drawing and Ball rooms, but I am your loving wife in our bed chambers.” I purposely use the plural. Then with a coquettish smile, I tug upon his cravat, loosening it.
Lord Christian: “Hmmmm.” I growl deeply as I remove my cravat. “And I am your loving husband.” I capture her in my arms again. “We will be late for luncheon.” I suggest half heartedly before we go too far in our lovemaking—though half of our clothes seem to be tossed onto nearby chairs already.
Lady Madeline: I grin mischievously at my loving husband Christian. “They are not expecting us at the Dower House. I told Grandmother Lady Catherine that we would procure a picnic lunch from the Hall kitchens after our tour.”
Lord Christian: “You did?” I praise the skies for possessing such a considerate and resourceful wife.
Lady Madeline: “I did.” I nod. Then we quickly shed the rest of our clothes and tumble into bed in my Countess’ bed chamber. My husband’s bed chamber was too far away—beyond the shared bathing chamber connecting doors.
Lord Christian: Unfortunately, when I lie down on my Madeline’s Countess’ bed, I find that I am made to bend my knees in order to fit. “Blast! I am too tall for this bed. We will have to shift to you lying diagonally, I fear, My Love”
Lady Madeline: “Very practical until we can procure a bed of the proper length in here.” I smile up at him as we awkwardly adjust our position on the bed—with me propping myself on my elbows and moving my fanny, then elbows over, then repeat until I have achieved my aim. “And you will need to be careful not to lay on me too heavily, Christian Dearest.”
Lord Christian: “Oh? Are you saying that I am getting too heavy for you to bear?” I query bemusedly as I kiss her neck and shoulders as I brace myself on my elbows leaning over her.
Lady Madeline: “No, of course not! I am saying that we do not wish to be squished.” I caressingly and appreciatively rub my hands up and down my husband’s bare muscular back and then his muscular shoulders and arms.
Lord Christian: “Ha ha ha ha ha! And who is this we?” I ask jovially as I pepper her faces with my kisses whilst I still hover over her lusciously womanly curved form.
Lady Madeline: “Well …” I smile coquettishly as I am about to reveal my secret—our secret. “With my being with child, I thought that it might be wise for us to be cautious. So as not to squish our baby.”
Lord Christian: “What did you say?” I freeze above her. All the air has left my lungs as I stare down at her in wondering astonishment. “A baby?” I ask incredulously, the corners of my mouth threatening to curl into a broad grin. However Madeline seems not to sense my joy yet, due to my stunned reaction.
Lady Madeline: “Well Christian Dearest, you did mention our future children earlier, so I know that you want them. And the result of our loving couplings is …”
Lord Christian: “A baby!” I shout with joy.
Then I roll off of Madeline, bringing her with me to lie beside me as I enclose my arms around her in a loving embarce—as my feet still hang off the bed in our diagonal position on it. I had not realized that my late Grandfather Earl had been so short. Or perhaps, he and my Grandmama Countess … My thoughts fade away as I resolve not to think of my elders whilst trying to make love with my wife—and my focusing up our happy baby news.
Lady Madeline: “So you are happy with our baby news so soon after we wed, Christian?” I ask hopefully, my biting my lower lip as a tell tale sign of my nervousness. Wed only just past three months, my being with child is a blessing that I could not have hoped for so soon, myself. But I am overjoyed.
Lord Christian: “Most Definitely! Are you happy, My Darling?” I smile while gazing at my wife Madeline’s pleased countenance.
Lady Madeline: “Very much! It is just that the sickness that comes with being with child hits me in waves sometimes.”
Lord Christian: “Do you feel ill now?” I ask considerately. Because our making love is rather … frought with pleasurable movements.
Lady Madeline: “No. I am just worried about the baby and I being squished by your lying on top of me—as I mentioned.”
Lord Christian: “Wellll, there is another way for us to make love, without you getting squished, as you call it.” I trail my finger down the side of her cheek.
Lady Madeline: “There is?” I stare at my husband Christian in confusion—wondering why he hasn’t mentioned that sooner. But, perhaps, he himself was not aware of more than one way to make love—until now. And I wonder who could have informed him of this new way. Then I think, of course, his brother Lord Harold probably told him. Though Harold is younger than my husband Christian, Harold is quite a rake—or so I am told. But I resolve to keep an open mind, in case what my Christian is about to propose is … pleasing.
My Darling Madeline looks at me with growing curiosity, her irises expand and her lips part slightly, indicating her welcoming our new romantic seduction. Oh the manifest joys of an innocent wife! Her love and trust in me makes me feel like I am only just beginning to understand and appreciate our loving romance—and our romantic trysts–beyond anything romantic that I have ever known. I do not take our loving bond for granted and I cherish my Darling wife.
Lord Christian: “Indeed!” I raise a very wicked eyebrow. “I have just been waiting to introduce you to them.”
Lady Madeline: “Them?” I open my eyes in astonishment as I pull my face back to look into his eyes.
Lord Christian: “I will guide you, My Darling.” I roll us to have me lying on my back and My Love Madeline lying flush on top of me.
Lady Madeline: Feeling exposed with my nakedness, I burrow myself into my husband’s chest for warmth and modesty. “This feels chilly.” And I am still slightly shy about my nakedness in the daytime light. “Are you certain, Christian Dearest?” I cannot help but be uncertain, when our lovemaking up to now has been so pleasant and will bring about the birth of our first child. And I wonder what need there is for different ways of lovemaking?
Lord Christian: Lifting the bed sheet to cover my darling Madeline’s shoulders to warm her, I ask. “Better?” She nods. Yet, she still seems to need convincing as I guide her.
Lady Madeline: “This coupling formation seems unusual. I fear that I will fall off. And I do not see how we ….” My words are stilled by my loving husband showing me how we love each other in this manner. I find that I am curious and willing to be … persuaded to consider this alternative. I feel such lovely tingles all over. Oh yes, this might be quite pleasurable.
Then with my Christian’s encouraging words and him holding and caressing me so that I do not lose my balance and fall off of him–though his caresses are more tender than merely practical—my husband surprises me all over again, in a very very good way. How thoughtful he is, I think sighingly as I lie down to cuddle with him side by side after, to kiss each other [(3) below], and then to truly nap.
Madeline and I spend a loving late morning abed as we share our love together again. My wife is so charming and alluring in her innocence—that is equaled by her curiosity. A winning combination.
Then much later just after at midday, we do procure a picnic lunch from the Sussex Hall Castle kitchens and enjoy eating it in the gardens before returning home to the Dower House via an open gig. I was wary about letting Madeline walk the half mile due to her delicate condition. She dismissed my concerns, but then I pointed out that she was wearing slippers and not walking boots. So in the interest of slipper preservation, we rode in the gig.
And I have a spring in my step as we walk into the Sussex Hall Dower House. For Madeline and I are to tell my grandmother and brother & sister that we are soon to welcome a child together, a baby—perhaps even a son to secure my legacy. My heart is full with my love for this women, My Lady Madeline, who has pledged her life to mine. I am truly a blessed man. And I will see to her every comfort as we momentously await our first child’s birth in late Autumn.
To be continued with Chapter 5
“Expectations” (Book 2, sequel to “Encouragement): Chapter 4 images for December 16, 2018 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1195)
- “Expectations” (Book 2, sequel to “Encouragement”) story cover art is an image representing Lady Elizabeth Blount, sister to the Earl of Sussex in black evening gown–is that of actress Jessica Brown Findlay as Lady Sybil in Downton Abby found at http://www.internet-d.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/38/2012/02/JESSICA-BROWN-FINDLAY-as-Lady-Sybil-Crawley.jpg ; the text font is Vivaldi.
- An aerial view of the Blount’s country seat of Sussex Hall Castle is represented by Arundel Castle; for more information, visit https://arundelcastle.org/ ; the image was found at https://arundelcastle.org/assets/components/phpthumbof/cache/22-01-2018-151665729215-12-2017-6363-2.arundel-castle.150e66919f25ed0392bb7d2375959d0d.jpg
- Lord Christian kissing Lady Madeline is Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe in North & South- Epi4 _17h54m34s7_Nov1013 Gratiana Lovelace Cap -hi-res-brt-crop; edited again for clr2 and brt
“Expectations” (Book 2) Ch. 4 URL for Gratiana Lovelace Wattpad story Post for December 16, 2018:
Previous “Expectations” (Book 2) Chapter 3 story URL of my SAL blog post (#1194), on December 09, 2018: