Dating advice from Charles II’s Pimpmaster General…

30 April 2012

William Chiffinch (c.1602-1691) was Charles II’s Page and Keeper of the Closet, a role in which he became one of the King’s closest and most trusted servants – and yielded great power and influence. He became “the King’s confidential go-between in every kind of back stairs intrigue” (David Allen) who was even nicknamed the “Pimpmaster General” by the satirists for his role in granting access (or not) to the King’s mistresses.

Crikey.

To go with the simply superb The Wild, The Beautiful and The Damned exhibition at Hampton Court Palace, it is now possible to get advice SEVENTEENTH CENTURY STYLE about your love life from Chiffinch himself.

Tips for royal mistresses; SYPHILIS!!! – spot the tell-tale signs; Make-up tips for women AND men; How to avoid seduction by social climbing women; Sleeping with the King: when’s best for an ambitious woman?… and much more.

We are all familiar with agony aunts and problem pages but can you imagine what advice you would get from the 17th century ‘Pimp-master General’ of Charles II? Well, forget Dear Deidre, from 27 April 2012 you can find out at Ask Chiffinch.

Over the next eight weeks William Chiffinch, infamous for managing the King’s ‘backstairs intrigues’ and known as the ‘Pimp-master General’, will be giving his no-nonsense 17th century responses, not only to the period’s most scandalous character’s dilemmas, but to 21st century dilemmas submitted by the public. What would Chiffinch think about someone cheating on their other half, lusting after an older man or having an illegitimate child?

The 17th century problems will be in the style of a photo-casebook using the characters featured in Hampton Court Palace’s new temporary exhibition ‘The Wild, the Beautiful and the Damned’. These include:

Nell Gwyn and Charles II: “I’m the King’s favourite mistress – but is this as good as it gets?” (Chiffinch: “… as royal mistress, it is not the King’s mind you are supposed to stimulate”)

Samuel Pepys: “The Young Bucks at Court get the pick of the girls – does success count for nothing?

Carey Fraser: “HELP! I tried too hard to follow fashion, now my suitor thinks I’m mad.”

This sounds simply too awesome. What are you going to ask Chiffinch? Is ‘What Would Nell Gwynn Do?’ about to overtake ‘What Would Courtney Love Do?’ as the mantra of choice around here? Would it make any difference?

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