Auctioning Off Household Goods in the Regency + Wednesday’s Release of “Amending the Shades of Pemberley”

My latest Austen title, Amending the Shades of Pemberley, begins with Elizabeth and Mary overseeing the auction of the household goods of Longbourn to pay an outstanding debt belonging to their father. How feasible was this? How would things proceed?

Actually, it occurred more often than we would like to think.

However, before I discuss this probability, I would like to announce, Amending the Shades of Pemberley releases Wednesday, April 26, 2023. So secure your copy. The print copies are already available. Happy Mother’s Day!!! Purchase it for yourself. Purchase it for someone you love.

Purchase Links:


It Will Also BeAvailable to Read on Kindle Unlimited 



Moreover, I am hosting a variety of giveaways, which began April 19 and runs through April 30, 2023. Join me at Every Woman Dreams . . . for additional chances to win an eBook copy of the book.

To tempt your curiosity and in case you missed it originally, you may read Chapter One HERE.

To tempt your curiosity further, you may read Chapter Two HERE.

As we can all well imagine, the influx of the nouveau riche (people who have recently acquired wealth, typically those perceived as ostentatious or lacking in good taste) changed the dynamics of how the aristocracy and the gentry went about their daily lives. Jane Austen was aware of the possibilities, for Mr. Charles Bingley in Pride and Prejudice is one such character. Mr. Bingley has an income of somewhere around four thousand pounds per year; yet, it is his marriage to Jane Bennet which elevates him in society, despite Mr. Bennet – a “gentleman” in all the ways the term was practiced in the Georgian era – has an income of only around two thousand per year, but he has the all important estate of Longbourn.

Bingley had a larger income than Mr. Collins; yet, Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s clergyman, who depended upon her ladyship for ever morsel of his daily life, outranked the tradesman, Charles Bingley. Following his father’s wish for wanting more for his family, Bingley sought out a country life in the form of letting Netherfield Park. We readers assume Netherfield Park came furnished, for nothing is mentioned of the need for furniture and the like in Austen’s classic, but what if it was an empty house and must be furnished? Where might one acquire such items? (Remember: If one wished not to appear a “newby,” so to speak, all new furniture would be a dead giveaway.) What one required was the “used” furniture from the “rich and famous” to dress one’s home.

Moreover, by the late Georgian era, the availability of goods had greatly increased. The middling sort often purchased used goods through auctions. These public auctions “redistributed” goods, allowing those with new wealth to claim the articles while blurring social distinctions. New money came to rub elbows, so to speak, with the establishment. We know that to be a “possibility” for Austen writes of how Charles Bingley, a man whose money came from trade, is a dear friend of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, whose family includes earls and strong ancestral roots back to the Norman conquest.

As the 1800s passed and led into the early 1900s, the sale of goods from country houses became common. Do you recall in Season 6 of Downton Abbey when in a development that would have been unthinkable back in Season 1, Robert and his wife, Cora, the Countess of Grantham, find themselves attending an auction of a nearby estate (the aristo inhabitants are downsizing to a London-only lifestyle). Of course, this episode were set in 1925, but these necessary needs for economy were just as poignant in the early 1800s. As it was in the Downton episode, many houses held a “walk through” for people to come a few days ahead of the actual auction to view what was available.

Image from “Did I Make the Most of Loving My Stuff” ~ Billfold

I know the contents of Lady Blessington’s house was auctioned in that manner. The auctioneers held an open house before the auction where serious buyers and curious people could tour the house, and the serious could choose what they wanted to buy before the auction started. I imagine that the auction house had people stationed all through the house who listened to comments and upped the reserve on the items that garnered the most interest.

1822 Painting by Thomas Lawrence ~ Marguerite Gardiner, Countess of Blessington ~ Public Domain ~,_Countess_of_Blessington#/media/File:Maguerite,_Countess_of_Blessington.jpg

From “Marguerite, Countess of Blessington (1789 – 1849) Irish author who published a number of popular novels of fashionable life and for many years presided over the most brilliant salon in London. Name variations: Marguerite Gardiner; Marguerite Power; Lady Blessington; Margaret, Sally. Born Marguerite Power on September 1, 1789, at Knockbrit, near Clonmel, County Tipperary, Ireland; died in Paris, France, on June 4, 1849; daughter of Edward (or Edmund) Power (a landowner, magistrate and newspaper editor) and Ellen (Sheehy) Power; educated at home and for a short period at boarding school; married Captain Maurice St. Leger Farmer, in 1804 (died 1817); married Charles John Gardiner, 1st earl of Blessington, in 1817 (died 1829); no children.

“However melodramatic the plots of Lady Blessington’s novels, few could have been more unlikely than the story of her own life. Born in poverty and obscurity in the Irish countryside, she was a plain child who became a dazzling beauty. Married against her will at 14 to a vicious husband, whom she left after just a few months, she went on to marry into the aristocracy and to become London’s most celebrated hostess. Despite her scandalous reputation, her wit, intelligence and generosity made her the confidante of many of the most eminent men of her day, and her close friends included the poet Lord, George Gordon Byron, the novelist Charles Dickens, and the future prime minister, Benjamin Disraeli. Renowned for the extravagance of her lifestyle, she was also an indefatigable worker, who supported herself and her establishment by a constant stream of literary works, which included novels, travel books, and memoirs, as well as journalism. Nevertheless, it is clear that the disruption and unhappiness of her early years left an indelible mark on her, in her unconventional private life, in her improvidence and compulsive generosity, and in her need for admiration and attention. Ultimately, she was to find herself bankrupt and ignored by many of those whom she had regarded as her friends. Even in that final disaster, however, she retained the courage, optimism, and sense of style which had enabled her to make her first, unlikely escape, to reshape her identity, and to shine for so many years as ‘the gorgeous Lady Blessington.’”

During the 18th and 19th centuries, one must recall the sale of the actual land/estates was greatly restricted by entails, etc., but, for those in dire straits financially, a person could generally sell the contents of a house. Valuable paintings. Furnishings. Silver. Imported wine collections. Etc. The only restriction would be particular items listed in a will, meant for a loved one or designed to settle debts.

Any number of reasons could cause need for such an auction: family neglect, the need to what we now call “downsize” to a different property, failure to produce an heir, etc. In fact, the new heir may not have liked his predecessor’s “taste” in furnishings and decided to earn some money to furnish the estate as he wished by holding an auction to be rid of the items.

Most assuredly, those in London had their up-scale auction houses, but those in the country increasingly depended upon those not part of the fashionable sect. These “would be” country gentlemen and ladies were much more accustomed to bargaining at a variety of venues from artisan shops to market stalls. (In chapter one of my tale, Elizabeth is appalled by how her parents’ friends and neighbors attempt to bargain down the price of some of the items. She is injured by their lack of compassion.)

Newspapers of the day, especially those in the countryside, carried advertisements for auctions of household goods. Now, this is not to say all such sales were restricted to the homes of the aristocracy. It would be equally possible to find one being conducted in the home of a wealthy tradesman. One thing we discover is more money could be raised by selling the items directly from the house itself, rather than moving them into a large auction house in London or one of the larger municipalities for the sell.

Those of you who have ever purchased a new house totally understand the concept. You look at a home you think to purchase, and it has been staged by the realtor. However, when you move your own things in, it does not look so well organized.

The items in a country house would be likewise. The grandeur. The elegance. The ambiance. All would be part of the sale.

One thing we rarely mention in such scenarios is what these sales did for the house’s future, as well as its history. A once-in-a-lifetime type sale might not decrease the value of the home, but what if there were repeated sales over a matter of years. Such happened more often than we would like to think.

Take, for example, the three sales of goods from Kirby Hall in Northamptonshire. These sales took place in 1772, 1824, and then again 1831. After that, Kirby Hall died a slow death, left to rot.

From Wikipedia, we have a quick overview of the house. “Kirby Hall is an Elizabethan country house, located near Gretton, Northamptonshire, England. The nearest main town is Corby. One of the great Elizabethan houses of England, Kirby Hall was built for Sir Humphrey Stafford of Blatherwick, beginning in 1570. In 1575 the property was purchased by Sir Christopher Hatton of Holdenby, Lord Chancellor to Queen Elizabeth I. It is a leading and early example of the Elizabethan prodigy house. Construction on the building began in 1570, based on the designs in French architectural pattern books and expanded in the Classical style over the course of the following decades. The house is now in a semi-ruined state with many parts roof-less although the Great Hall and state rooms remain intact.”

If you have an interest in such auctions, you may find these posts on my personal blog of interest:

Auctioning Off Household Goods in the Regency Era, Part 2

Auctioning Off Household Goods in the Regency Era, Part 3

12 responses to “Auctioning Off Household Goods in the Regency + Wednesday’s Release of “Amending the Shades of Pemberley””

  1. Glynis Avatar

    So they were the original recyclers! I know when I was a child we used to buy furniture from a second hand shop (so probably from a house clearance) as it was usually better quality than anything we could afford new!
    I’m looking forward to your new book so I must make sure I finish my current read by midnight tomorrow!

  2. Regina Jeffers Avatar

    I know what you mean, Glynis. We, too, purchased from second-hand shops.

  3. jeannette Avatar

    Wow! What a shame about Kirby Hall–to see such a magnificent home go to ruin. Another example of what we build here on earth does not last. I will be “downsizing” in the very near future and finding it very difficult to let go of some of my things accumulated over the past 50 years. You have described Elizabeth’s feelings so well in chapter 1 of your new book. Looking forward to delving into this story.

    1. Regina Jeffers Avatar

      I downsized last calendar year, Jeannette. It was difficult to be rid on many memories.

  4. Amanda Kai Avatar
    Amanda Kai

    Congratulations on the new release, Regina!

    1. Regina Jeffers Avatar

      Thank you, Amanda.

  5. cindie snyder Avatar
    cindie snyder

    Congrats on the new release! Interesting post!

    1. Regina Jeffers Avatar

      Thank you, Cindie.

  6. Linny B Avatar
    Linny B

    Congratulations on your new story, Regina! Looking forward to reading! Very interesting post.

    1. Regina Jeffers Avatar

      I appreciate your kind words. Linny.

  7. Laura Avatar

    So excited that you wrote a new book! I just bought it as I know every single one I have of yours is just wonderful and I have read and read them all over and over. I cannot wait to start this book tonight. Thank you for writing another!

    1. Regina Jeffers Avatar

      It is always uplifting when an author receives kind words from a reader. You made my day, Laura.

Leave a Reply

Create a website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: