Hampton Court Palace offers online love advice from 17th century "pimp master general"

By Ruth Hazard | 27 April 2012
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A woman posing naked for a painter
© Historic Royal Palaces
If you’re currently facing a dilemma of the heart, the team behind Hampton Court’s Royal mistresses exhibition, the Wild, the Beautiful and the Damned, are offering you the chance to take advice from King Charles II’s ‘pimp master general’.

At askchiffinch.com the lovelorn can submit their woes to the man who became infamous for managing the King’s "backstairs intrigues" in the 17th century.

William Chiffinch’s wide ranging knowledge includes how to spot the signs of syphilis, the best methods for avoiding pregnancy and make-up application tips… for men.

As well as taking questions from the general public, Chiffinch gives his thoughts on the problems faced by other famous characters from the Stuart Court.

A photo-style casebook on the site sees Nell Gwyn ponder, “I’m the King’s favourite mistress — but is this as good as it gets?”

Chiffinch responds, "...as royal mistress, it is not the King's mind you are supposed to stimulate.”

The site also acts a base for the historical context surrounding this period of Royal history. Visitors can read up on all the main characters and events that feature in the tie-in exhibition.

“This was a uniquely extravagant period in British history," says Digital Media Manager Tim Powell.

"Making the right decisions could transport you from rags to riches, but a bad decision could ruin you.

“We want modern audiences to experience these moments of dilemma, using the familiar problem page format.

“We hope the public will recognise the universal human stories of love, sex, friendship and ambition - but be shocked at how different the 17th century advice is from that we’d offer today.”

Ask Chiffinch is running for the next eight weeks. Due to the nature of the content, visitors to the site must be 16 or older.

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