Julian Fellowes's Belgravia Episode 2

A Chance Encounter


By Julian Fellowes

Read by Juliet Stevenson

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An invitation to afternoon tea results in some startling revelations.

Julian Fellowes’s Belgravia is a story in 11 episodes published week by week in the tradition of Charles Dickens.

Belgravia is the story of a secret. A secret that unravels behind the porticoed doors of London’s grandest postcode. The story behind the secret will be revealed in weekly bite-sized installments complete with twists and turns and cliff-hanger endings.

Set in the 1840s when the upper echelons of society began to rub shoulders with the emerging industrial nouveau riche, Belgravia is peopled by a rich cast of characters. But the story begins on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. At the Duchess of Richmond’s now legendary ball, one family’s life will change forever . . .


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Previously in Belgravia

At the Duchess of Richmond's ball, on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo, young Sophia Trenchard, daughter of a tradesman, was clearly in love with the handsome Edmund Bellasis, the Duchess's nephew. But the following weeks brought terrible news.

Episode Two

1841. The carriage came to a halt. It hardly seemed a moment since she had climbed into it. But then the journey from Eaton Place to Belgrave Square was not worth taking out a carriage for and, if she'd had her way, she would have walked. Of course, in such matters she did not have her way. Ever. A moment later the postilion was down and the door had been opened. He held out his arm for her to steady herself as she negotiated the carriage steps. Anne took a breath to calm her nerves and stood. The house awaiting her was one of the splendid classical "wedding-cake" variety that had been going up for the previous twenty years in the recently christened Belgravia, but it contained few secrets for Anne Trenchard. Her husband had spent the previous quarter of a century building these private palaces, in squares and avenues and crescents, housing the rich of nineteenth-century England, working with the Cubitt brothers and making his own fortune into the bargain.

Two women were admitted into the house ahead of her, and the footman stood waiting expectantly, holding the door open. There was nothing for it but to walk up the steps and into the cavernous hall where a maid was in attendance to take her shawl, but Anne kept her bonnet firmly in place. She had grown used to being entertained by people she scarcely knew, and today was no exception. Her hostess's father-in-law, the late Duke of Bedford, had been a client of the Cubitts, and her husband, James, had done a lot of work on Russell Square and Tavistock Square for him. Of course, these days, James liked to present himself as a gentleman who just happened to be in the Cubitt offices by chance, and sometimes it worked. He had successfully made friends, or at least friendly acquaintances, of the Duke and his son, Lord Tavistock. As it happened, his wife, Lady Tavistock, had always been a superior figure in the background, leading another life as one of the young Queen's ladies of the bedchamber, and she and Anne had hardly spoken more than a few civil words over the years, but it was enough, in James's mind, to build on. In time the old Duke had died, and when the new Duke wanted James's help to develop the Russells' London holdings still further, James had dropped the hint that Anne would like to experience the Duchess's much talked-about innovation of "afternoon tea," and an invitation had been forthcoming.

It was not exactly that Anne Trenchard disapproved of her husband's social mountaineering. At any rate, she'd grown used to it. She saw the pleasure it brought him—or rather, the pleasure he thought it brought him—and she did not begrudge him his dreams. She simply did not share them, any more now than she had in Brussels almost thirty years before. She knew well enough that the women who welcomed her into their houses did so under orders from their husbands, and that these orders were given in case James could be useful. Having issued the precious cards, to balls and luncheons and dinners and now the new "tea," they would use his gratitude for their own ends until it became clear to Anne, if not to James, that they were governing him by means of his snobbery. Her husband had placed a bit in his own mouth and put the reins into the hands of men who cared nothing for him and only for the profits he could guide them to. In all this, Anne's job was to change her clothes four or five times a day, sit in large drawing rooms with unwelcoming women, and come home again. She had grown used to this way of life. She was no longer unnerved by the footmen or the splendor that seemed to be increasingly lavish with every year that passed, but nor was she impressed by it. She saw this life for what it was: a different way of doing things. With a sigh she climbed the great staircase with its gilded handrail beneath a full-length Thomas Lawrence portrait of her hostess in the fashions of the Regency. Anne wondered if the picture was a copy, made to impress their London callers while the original sat happily ensconced at Woburn.


On Sale
Apr 14, 2016
Hachette Audio

Julian Fellowes

About the Author

Educated at Ampleforth and Magdalene College, Cambridge, Julian Fellowes is a multi-award-winning actor, writer, director and producer. As creator, sole writer, and executive producer of the hit television series DOWNTON ABBEY, Fellowes has won three Emmy awards.Fellowes received the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for GOSFORD PARK (2002). His work was also honored by the Writer’s Guild of America, The New York Film Critics’ Circle and the National Society of Film Critics for Best Screenplay. Other writing credits for film include PICCADILLY JIM (2004), VANITY FAIR (2004), YOUNG VICTORIA (2009), THE TOURIST (2010), ROMEO &amp JULIET (2013), and the upcoming three-part drama DOCTOR THORNE for ITV. Fellowes also directed the award-winning films SEPARATE LIES and FROM TIME TO TIME. Fellowes wrote the books for the Tony-nominated stage production of MARY POPPINS and SCHOOL OF ROCK – THE MUSICAL which opened on Broadway in December 2015, and is written and produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Fellowes has authored two novels: the international bestsellers SNOBS (2005) and PAST IMPERFECT (2008/2009).Julian Fellowes became a life peer in 2010. He lives in Dorset and London with his wife, Emma.

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