Jewels, glassware and horses’ harnesses were among the treasured possessions of the real-life neighbours of the families in hit TV show Bridgerton, documents from insurer Aviva’s vaults reveal.
The Netflix drama, now in its second series, follows the life and loves of the fictional Bridgertons and Featheringtons, who lived on London’s exclusive Grosvenor Square in 1813.
By then, Aviva’s oldest ancestor company, the Hand in Hand Fire & Life Insurance Society, had already been in business for over a century, insuring homes and their contents across London as it grew to become the world’s largest city.
Its customers included some of the real-life inhabitants of Grosvenor Square which, more than 200 years later, remains one of London’s most exclusive areas.
The company’s handwritten policy registers, which are being digitised to mark Aviva’s 325th anniversary, give a fascinating insight into the lives of Regency London’s high society.
In 1815, the Rt Hon Lady Headley insured her four-storey house in Lower Brook Street, Grosvenor Square, for £3,000 (more than £3m today*). It included a kitchen, wash-house, laundry, stable and coach-house.
She is one of three ladies in the register, which includes three lords, 10 knights, two earls and the Duke of Norfolk, who insured his home and stables on nearby St James’s Square for £8,000 (£8.1m today*).
Elizabeth Sophia Lawrence insured the contents of her home in Lower Brook Street for £2,000 (more than £2m today*). These included jewels, liquor “for private use”, mathematical and musical instruments, a carriage and fodder and harnesses for horses.
While the only real historical characters in Bridgerton are King George III, and his queen, Charlotte, the registers list many people linked to them, including the king’s official watchmaker, musician, gunmaker and glasscutter.
During the Bridgerton era, Kew Palace and Hayes Palace were insured with Hand in Hand on behalf of the king by Hugh Rowland of Scotland Yard, his Clerk of the Privy Purse and Secretary’s Clerk to the Queen. Queen Charlotte died at Kew Palace in 1818, having been taken ill on a journey between London and Windsor.
Several Bridgerton filming locations were also insured, including Dorney Court, Buckinghamshire, which doubled as the coaching inn where Daphne Bridgerton and the Duke of Hastings stayed on their wedding night. Insured by Sir Charles Palmer for £500 (£1.2m today*) in 1752, it boasted seven rooms with wainscoting, two marble and six Portland stone chimneypieces, a woodhouse, coach-house and stables.
Hatfield House, Hertfordshire, used for some interior scenes, was first insured in 1781 by the Earl of Salisbury, James Cecil, and covered by the company up to 1830.
Wrotham Park, near Barnet, doubled as the Bridgertons’ ancestral home, Aubrey Hall. It was originally insured for £5,000 (£13.3m today*) in June 1755 by its then-owner Admiral John Byng.
Ranger’s House in Blackheath doubled as the Bridgertons’ London base and was insured for £4,000 (£11m today*) in December 1740. It featured a great staircase, kitchen, brewhouse, granary and stables. Its then-owner, the Honourable John Stanhope, also lived in Grosvenor Square.
Although many of its elegant Georgian houses have been converted into apartments, embassies and exclusive hotels and restaurants, the square remains one of London’s most desirable postcodes, with properties selling – and insured – for millions of pounds.
Simon Mobey, Managing Director of Aviva Private Clients, said: “These documents give a fascinating glimpse into the past and highlight Aviva’s 325-year heritage as an insurer. The residents of Grosvenor Square at the time of Bridgerton were among the wealthiest people of the day.
“More than two centuries later, Aviva is still insuring people from all walks of life, including high- and ultra-high-net-worth individuals. Like all of our customers, they trust us to protect their homes and treasured possessions, whatever they may be.”
Figures marked * are provided for comparison purposes and based on relative income calculations provided by measuringworth.com
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