All info and quotations are from Katie Hickman's Courtesans
In the Georgian, Regency and Victorian eras, there was a brothel that catered specifically to the aristocracy. It was in a convenient high-society area on Marlborough Street in London, and was decorated like one of the finest Parisian bordellos that English aristocrats would have undoubtedly frequented during their time on the Continent. The madame, Jane Goadby, only selected the prettiest and most fashionable girls and trained them in seduction and etiquette. Many of these girls found favorite patrons and eventually made the leap from prostitute to courtesan.
Mrs. Goadby's establishment became known as "The Nunnery": "Mrs. Goadby, that celebrated Lady Abbess, having fitted up an elegant nunnery in Marlborough Street, is now laying in a choice stock of Virgins for the ensuing season. She has disposed her Nunnery in such an uncommon taste, and prepared such an extraordinary accommodation for gentlemen of all ages, sizes, tastes and caprices, as it is judged will far surpass every seminary of the kind yet known in Europe" (85-6).
What, did you expect a brothel not to be sacrilegious? Anyway, that's not the bizarre part.
One major type of publication in the Victorian underworld was a gentleman's guide to the current brothels and prostitutes working in London. There were dozens of them, and they were all being constantly updated with locations, specialties and ratings of the establishment or individual girl. The biggest was known as "The Harris List". These publications were a combination of Zagat's guide and those flyers for call-girls that you see in telephone booths.
When a guide was published about The Nunnery, there were some hilarious extracts about the girls. They also attempted anonymity of the girls by leaving out letters of their names. Why? Who the hell knows. It's hilariously funny to see how those in the 19th century attempted to describe sexual positions/kinks. I will add some clarity where I can.
Miss B-nf-ld was "frequently mounted a la militaire, and as frequently performed the rites of the love-inspiring queen according to the equestrian order, in which style she is said to afford uncommon delight' (86). ["a la militaire" was French for the missionary position; I think "equestrian order" means "cowgirl"].
Miss B-lm-t "on the other hand, while not at all pretty, compensated for her lack of looks by her mouth, which seemed 'by its largeness, prepared to swallow up whoever may have courage to approach her'" (86) [No explanation necessary on that one].
Mrs. L-v-b-nm was "left a pretty good fortune by an old flagellant, whom she literally flogged out of the world" (86) [Dominatrix; sex was not necessarily included because it wasn't the point].
Mrs. M- "enacted scenes with herself as a schoolmistress with her 'two young beautiful tits [meaning young women, rather than breasts], one about fifteen and the other sixteen, who are always dressed in frocks like school girls'" (86). [Omg, the naughty schoolgirl fetish is AGELESS].
Miss S- "specialized in a game called 'milk the cow'" (86). [I actually have no idea what this means. I'd prefer not to know].
The aristocracy were total freaks. And people wonder why I'm doing a PhD on them. Because of THIS. When you hear of a sex game called "milk the cow" directed primarily at members of the nobility, you know you'll never be bored at work again. I spend about 45% of my time in the office just laughing.
- Specialties of the Victorian Brothel