“Felicia Dorothea Browne was born in Duke Street, Liverpool, on the 25th of September, 1793. She was the second daughter and the fourth child of a family of three sons and three daughters.
“Her father, who was a native of Ireland, was a merchant of good position. Her mother, whose maiden name was Wagner, was the daughter of the Venetian consul in Liverpool.
“The original name was Veniero, but as the result of German alliances it
had assumed this German form. Three members of the family had risen to the dignity of Doge. The first six years of Felicia’s life were spent in
Liverpool. Then commercial losses compelled her father to break up his
establishment in that city and remove to Wales. The next nine years of
her life were spent at Gwyrch, near Abergele, in North Wales.
“The house was a spacious old mansion, close to the seashore, and shut in on the land side by lofty hills. Surely a fit place for the early residence of a poetess of Nature.
“Besides this advantage of situation, she had the privilege of access to the treasures of a large library. The records of her early days show her to have been a child of extreme beauty, with a brilliant complexion and long, curling, golden hair.
“But her personal beauty was not the only thing that arrested attention. Her talents and sweetness of disposition retained the notice which her attractiveness had obtained. The old gardener used to say that “Miss Felicia could ‘tice him to do whatever she pleased.” And he was not the only one who fell under her gentle constraint. She was a general favourite.”
– from an old book called Excellent Women, author: Various
“Pleasure grounds in front” – I wonder what they were? Here’s 1860s ad for the Bee Hotel, Abergele, from Bradshaw’s Tourist Handbook:
I came across it when trying to find a copy of the book Michael Portillo referred to in his Great Railway Journeys programme on TV. The actual book used is scarce but this is the blog post that helped me find a downloadable online version of the full book. Thanks to University of Michigan, I’ve been able to print a copy of the book for my father who enjoys travelling this island’s railways.
“Near Abergele, known for its sea baths, is the ogof (or cave), traditionally the refuge of Richard II. and the scene of his capture by Bolingbroke in 1399.”
– Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 8, Slice 2 “Demijohn” to “Destructor”
“I was born at Shrewsbury on February 12th, 1809, and my earliest recollection goes back only to when I was a few months over four years old, when we went to near Abergele for sea-bathing, and I recollect some events and places there with some little distinctness.”
– Charles Darwin.