Le Fanu – A Connection?

By on 2-05-2017 in Rose Key

Le Fanu – A Connection?

Our research continues into the mystery of the Rose Key. A simple Google search threw up many tattoo designs but also this reference, which is as specific as it is curious.

In 1871, a publication by Charles Dickens “All the Year Round”, serialised a new gothic novel by J. Sheridan Le Fanu (1814 – 1873), called The Rose and the Key. This was also published in that same year by Chapman and Hall, of London. Not only is the title of peculiar interest to our research, but the context in which the “Rose Key” appears in the novel is illuminating:

The Rose and the Key, which, as you know, figure on our shield, were talked of a good deal,and are mentioned very often in the will, as indicating the families which are named particularly. Old Lord Barroden woke up at this part of the conversation, and talked a great deal of heraldry,whether good or bad I can’t say ; and then, as they were still very garrulous upon crests, supporters, shields, chevrons, and all the rest, mamma led the way to the state dining-room. I don’t know why, we never dine there now ; I think it about the prettiest room in the house — I don’t think you saw it, when you were with us. It has great stone shields let into the wall all round, and ours over the mantelpiece. They are all carved in relief, and painted and gilded, according to heraldry ; and you can’t think how stately and brilliant it looks. Old Mr. Puntles, who is our antiquary in this part of the world, says that it was an old English custom, when a house was being built, for the owner to place the arms of the principal families in the county, thus, round the state dining-room, by way of a compliment to them ; and now I saw what I never observed before, that in every second one, or oftener, our device, the Rose and the Key, is quartered in the corner. The rose, red ; and the key, gold ; gules and or, they call them, on a field azure : you see how learned I have grown.

The Rose and the Key, Le Fanu (1871), pp. 189-190.

It is odd that such a device is used to denote the families who are connected to each other in the plot, but there is a further curiosity. A search for “Le Fanu” and “Tarot” together provided us a link to a well-regarded collector and blogger of Tarot, going by that very name, “Le Fanu” … My Curious Cabinet. Is there a connection? They certainly could not be the same person, for sure.




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