Monday, July 16, 2018

Madame Brussels and the mace

BAD is still in Italy, Messina to see Mount Etna.

No, I am not talking about Gattina in the subject line. She is more Madame Waterloo, a kind of satellite city of Brussels, where once a great history changing battle was fought.

In our lift are notice frames where notices are placed about what is happening in the building, a reminding of rules and what is on in Melbourne that might entertain or amuse.

I read on a notice  that on Friday nights we have a European winter night market in a street called Madame Brussels Lane. I'd no idea where that is until I checked. It seems to be more a place or a bar or maybe a lane too. I will investigate this week. I had heard the name Madame Brussels and I vaguely knew of her infamy. Over to Wikipedia.

Caroline Hodgson was born in Potsdam in the then Prussia to John and Frederica Lohman. In 1871 she married Studholme Hodgson and they immediately emigrated to Australia. In 1872 Studholme joined the Victorian police and was posted to Mansfield in country Victoria. For some reason, Caroline did not go with him and remained in Melbourne.

By 1874 she was known as Madame Brussels and was running a number of brothels in the Little Lonsdale Street area in the north eastern area of the city and becoming quite rich. She bought a property on Beaconsfield Parade (beach front, St Kilda) and owned city properties. Her husband died from tuberculosis in 1893. She married again, to a German engineer fifteen years her junior in 1895, but when they were visiting family in Germany, he ran away to South Africa. Two years later they were temporarily reconciled, but finally divorced in 1907, the same year as the authorities finally shut down her brothels. The divorce was granted on the grounds of desertion and in court, to quote from Wikipedia, she appeared as a most benevolent looking old lady, and quite secured the sympathy of the court by her demeanor. She died the following year of diabetes related diseases. She had one adopted daughter and was buried next to her first husband in St Kilda Cemetery. Here is the only photo I can find of Madame Brussels. She looks a bit glam.


Now we switch to something very different yet there is a connection to Madame Brussels.

The State of Victoria's parliamentary mace is a ceremonial weapon, carried in to parliament by the Sergeant of Arms as the Speaker of the House enters parliament. All members of the parliament stand while the Sergeant of Arms shoulders the mace. The reverse happens when parliament ends at whatever time.

The Parliament of Victoria's first mace was a humble affair of paper mache gilded wood and quickly replaced with something grander. Here is our third mace, still in use, about 1.5 metres long and weighing about 8 kilograms.


The second mace I hear you ask? Oh, you didn't. It was stolen by persons unknown and it was alleged it ended up in one of Madame Brussels brothels. This tale may or may not be true, but it is viewed by many now as fact. Here is another snip from Wikipedia.

Thirteen months later, the Bulletin and Table Talk published stories suggesting that members of parliament had taken the mace as a joke and left it in a bordello in Little Lon. The uproar was immense, the satire hilarious. 

So, there you go. The mind boggles at what role the mace may have played in brothel.  Sorry,  once again I am talking about sex. Perhaps I should do it instead of writing about it, but I can't really remember how.

13 comments:

  1. My wimpy self shudders to think of the uses a mace could be put to in a brothel. S & M takes on a whole new context.

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    1. EC, I confess that my mind did not really boggle about the uses of the mace in a brothel.

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  2. Madame Brussels seems to be a very larger than life character. Good for her. Vive La Différence!

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  3. Goodness Andrew, I just read up on Caroline Hodgson! Her maiden name was Lohman! And she is from a part of Germany where my Grandfather's Mother was from. Her name was Elissa Lohman! Oh gracious, could she be a long lost relative of mine? LOL Now that would be fun!

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    1. Yes Maribeth, as I said. Isn't that possible connection just amazing.

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  4. If you don't learn something interesting every day; you've wasted a day!

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    1. Cro, I am always learning and never wasting a day. What use it all goes to is a moot point.

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  5. Loved the story about Madame Brussels Andrew :)

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    1. Sami, a pretty interesting character. I plan to find out more about her properties.

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  6. I had no idea there was a Parliamentary Mace. Does it require the capital letters? What is its purpose. Decorative only. You mentioned it is a weapon and I suppose it could be swung at someone's troublesome head. (knock 'is block orf!)

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    1. River, I struggle at times with capital letters and when to use them and when to not, but in this case I would say no. I like the way you are thinking. Apparently a mace could dent a suit of armour. Probably hurt a bit if it hit your noggin.

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  7. Sex is like riding a bicycle Andrew, you never forget. Perhaps that wasn't the most flattering analogy 😀😀 I can just imagine the theories on how the Parliamentary mace found its way to a brothel 😋

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