Monday, October 30, 2006

Regency Fashion Part III

This week I am off to Quebec city with dh.
I did promise some fun stuff today, I thought you might like to see some of the outer wear and some accessories.

This is an 1810-1820's spencer. A short jacket designed to be worn over those high waisted dresses. I must say, it seems to make perfect sense.
The next photo is a bonnet, straw, obviously. This one was used in the BBC version of Pride and Predjudice. I don't think you can beat the BBC for accuracy of costuming, so I don't hesitate to include it, since it is such a nice picture.

This is fun, a gown especially designed for archery, one of the few sports permitted for noble ladies.

A red wool cloak from about 1810

And the famous reticule, sometimes called a ridicule.

Ladies shoes from 1800. Pretty and both feet the same. You had to wear them in to fit each foot.

A man's hat

This is a cartoonists impression of French fashions in the 1800's. They are not much different that today, are they?

And this a cartoon of dressing the dandy. It is very well know, but we Regency afficionados have to remember that even in their day, people did not take this stuff terribly seriously.

While I am happy rambling in Quebec, I am sure you will have your own wanderings. I will not be back on Thursday, but will try to post.
Not sure what will take my fancy. I will be looking at some ordinary folks clothing next week.
Best wishes.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Regency Fashion Part II

This has been a busy week for me. My short story "Christmas Masquerade" in Holiday in the Heart went through a final edit. Only a few changes thank goodness. I have received some nice banners and some covers to post on my website. I am expecting some bookmarks very soon. Write to me if you want one. They are very pretty, thanks to Deborah MacGillivray.
Also, my November booksigning for "Pistols at Dawn" is ready to go. Got the poster today. Exciting stuff.
So given my news, and my business, I am going to cheat. I am going to give you a couple of riding habits, just to feed your habit (for Regency stuff that is) and I will do some extra fun stuff next Monday to make up.

Above is an 1816 Riding Habit. Note the train she has gathered up in her hand. This was designed to hang down over the ladies ankles once aboard. Very sexy were ankles in the Regency. Nowadays, with skirts like pelmets, as my old mum would say, and bellies hanging out in the breeze, there really isn't very much left to the imagination. Sigh. Oh, and the top hat. Riding habits were often very male-looking.

This one is from March 1807. Don't you just love the way I can say it is from March. They had fashion magazines just like we do. And this was in the March issue. Honest.
Anyway, here you see how the train works and of course how the lady looks atop her mount. See this lady is wearing a hat designed like a soldier's shako. The military style was very in. Did I mention that riding outfits are very in right now, today?

This one is from 1811, nice picture of the train at the back. Can you see how you know these are riding habits? It is the whip. When I am searching for pictures, the whip is a dead give away, no matter how small the thumbnail. I need something to help me at this time of night! lol.

This last one is from 1817. I think you can also see that these styles did not change all that much. I was looking for a real military style one, with frogging. If it shows up shortly I will add it. But now my dears it is time to trolly off up the wooden hill to bedfordshire.
Happy rambles.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Regency Fashion Part II

Ok, we are still on the costume front. And speaking of costumes, hallowe’en is just around the corner. Lots of history there, I must say, but not in England. I mean I think we had witches and stuff, but we did not celebrate All Hallows Eve the way the Scots do. BOO HOO. We are no fun.

I promised you some everyday clothing for women and some men’s clothes. Women seemed to wear three or four outfits a day. Morning gowns, walking gowns and afternoon gowns for visiting carriage gowns. The ballgowns we saw last week were definitely for evening.

I am going to continue with a bit of a comparison from the earlier “Regency” to the end of it.

These are morning gowns dated 1797, 1809 (how about that one with the veil. It it absolutely ugly, but I bet she thought she was the bees knees.

The last one to the right is a walking dress dated 1816. I really like this one, and what a pretty umberella. Always needed in England. the difference between morning and walking seems to be that it is more substantial, more like a coat in fact, thought there were coats, which I can do something on another time.

Here are a couple of afternoon walking gowns, but they could just have well have been called morning gowns as far as I can tell, although they seem a bit lighter than those above, so for afternoon visiting too. they are dated 1803. Do not get confused here with mourning — which was with regard to clothes worn after a death in the family.

And these are called Garden Promenade dresses from 1809

Gentlemen of the Regency

This of course is a gentleman with his lady in 1809 in the more subdued style of Beau Brummel, but he was still a dandy, he spent hours at his toilet. Men actually used to beg to be allowed to watch him dress.

The next one is a man from 1821 and he is wearing cossack trousers which became very popular in London with the men after the Battle of Waterloo, probably because of all the Royalty visiting from Russia, who brought their cossaks with them. My guess is, if they were popular with the ladies, the men went for it. Men were much more blatent about fashion in those day.

And this is a country gentleman in buskin breeches. Actually men wore these to ride in town also.

Next week, something on riding habits and some information on what you and I would have been wearing. Grin. You know, the maids and the manservants. No, no. I always see myself in the ballgown, don’t you?

Happy rambling.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Regency Fashion

What is the Regency without its fashion, the lure of the long gown and guys in really tight pants. OK so my age is showing – I loved the tight jeans of the last century, (yep that’s right the 20th century). But have you seen the latest magazines. Riding clothes are in. Breeches, and boots and yes. . . yes. . . cravats. All right. I will put my tongue back now. Besides dh and breeches — boggles the imagination.

This is 1806. The Regency is interesting. It is when you think about it far more modern looking than the Victorian Era. Take a look at the first two pictures. Christmas 1806 and the Christmas 1860. I think we see gowns like those of 1806 today or at least one can imagine wearing something like that, igoring the hat or head coverings.
And this is 1860. No one is wearing the other stuff. Not even close. I hope. I don't actually think they ever will again, do you?

I know, I know. The real regency did not start until 1811 when Prinny, the Prince of Wales, became Regent by law, because daddy the king was thought to be mad, but everyone knows that his era started a whole lot earlier than that. We can call it the long Regency if you prefer.

Obviously, I am not going to give you a blow by blow fashion workshop here. But I thought the above comparison quite interesting. So I will do a couple of examples of men and women at the beginning and later in the regency. I am picking my favorites.

However if you have specific questions you can ask me. If I don’t know the answer I can always find out. I have my sources. Bwahahahaa. I just had to do that. I see people doing it all the time. But where else can you put that except on your blog.

Let us start with the Glam. Ball Gowns

The first is from 1810. Talk about nymphs and shephers dahling. I actually love this dress. So pretty. And look at the detail, the hand-made roses and the festoon. That's the pink draping just up from the hem.
I have thrown in a court dress for 1810 just for the hell of it.
This is what you have to wear when you go to the Queen’s drawing room to be introduced, if you are a noblewoman in her comeout season. All those hoops and feathers. The court was so slow to change fashions and of course the ladies were not used to walking in those hoops (at least the younger ladies) after their skimpy little gowns

And the third one is an evening dress from 1818. This is a net overdress over a white silk or satin. Notice how short it is, and how high the waist under the bust, but the hemline has already started to bell out.

and the fourth from 1821. A little different from the one above, the waist not as high, the hem longer and the skirt wider. We are moving towards that 1860 picture at the top.

Nuts. I had picked out like five more pictures, but look how long this post is already. I was having so much fun too.

Next time, I will do some men's outfits and then we will take look at what ladies wore for every day.

Happy rambles until next Monday.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Flying By

OK, today I have written my blog for the AT 2 sisters blog, and today and for the next couple of weeks I am editing my American Title Final Book -----No Regrets for Sourcebooks. My editor is great, her comments were spot on, and my head is aching. Actually, I had the best fun rereadding that book. I really like the story! I had a hard job putting the book down and going to bed last night.

How weird is that? Seriously.

It had been a while since I read it. I was terrified of looking at it again in case I found all kinds of things wrong and wanted to rewrite it. But I didn't. Whew! Just a few things.

Today we will take off our hiking boots and simply catch up on gossip.
Go to the AT 2 Blog Titlewave and catch up on all the news the interviews and my reminiscence about last year's contest.

See you all on Thursday --- I promise to have a new topic for you then.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Gentlemen's Clubs -- Final Post

Well this is the last of the information on Gentlemen’s Clubs. There were lots more of them, all fascinating to me, but it is time for a change. I must say that some of the less well-known ones will make more exotic locations for novels, so don’t be surprised if you see some of them popping up in my books.

Royal Thames Yacht
, known first as the Cumberland Fleet after the Duke of Cumberland began in 1775 by 'a group of very respectable gentlemen'. It had no club house but met at tea gardens across from Vauxhall.

Their first recorded race was held in July of that year, for a trophy – the first Cumberland Cup – put up by the Duke of Cumberland, younger brother of George III. Seven more annual races were held by the Cumberland Fleet for its members. In those days, these trophies were won outright and became the property of their winners. The original 1775 Cup was destroyed in a fire, but the Cups of 1776, 1777, 1780, 1781 and 1782 have over the years all been traced, recovered and now are displayed in the entrance hall of the present clubhouse of the Cumberland Fleet, the Royal Thames Yacht Club at 60 Knightsbridge, London.
The Yacht Union belonging to Mr. Babtist May, sailing opposite to his house at Hammersmith, 1751.
In 1786 a new trophy – the Vauxhall Cup – was put up for a race 'for any previous winner of a Cumberland Cup, for any yacht owned by a member of the Cumberland Fleet, or for any yacht owned by a gentleman'. This must surely be the world's first Open Meeting. The Cup was presented by one Jonathan Tyers, who had just bought and taken over the Vauxhall Gardens.

The Cumberland Fleet continued to race regularly both above and below London Bridge, continuing to use that name despite the death of its eponymous patron in 1790. Cumberland's nephew, Prince William Duke of Clarence, took over as Patron. With the hiatus in activities in Cork, the Cumberland Fleet was the only yacht racing body in the country – and thus probably the world – active in 1805 when Nelson won his great victory at Trafalgar.

In 1811 Arthur's was formed from Arthur's chocolate house 69 St James Street in this impressive building. It was primarily used by country gentlemen.

One rather odd club I thought was The Beefsteak Club Aristocracy and the arts. It was a dining club.There were 24 members and not even the Prince of Wales (Prinny) could get in until a member died or resigned. They dined at 2:00 every Saturday between November and June. Blue coats and bluff waistcoats. Met at Covent Garden theatre among other places. In 1808 dinner was moved to 4. It did not move to 6 until 1833.

And then there were the hells. Boozing kens (that is Regency speak or cant) that attracted the lowest and the highest. Usually young gentlemen with too much time and too much money. In one description I read many of these were located in Covent Garden and young inexperienced young men would be found naked and all their money gone by farmers and their wives coming to market early in the morning.

Now who still longs for the “good old days”?

I think I’m going to do some fashion for a couple of weeks, just for fun.
Happy rambling.

Monday, October 9, 2006

Thanksgiving - Regency England Style

For all of you enjoying Turkey Day this is the closest British form of Thanksgiving

I found the most fascinating site at a junior school in Kent, my home county and I am happy to share some of their information.
Occurring one quarter of the year after Midsummer, Harvest Festival represents midautumn, autumn’s height. It is also the autumnal equinox, one of the quarter days of the year.

Harvest Festival used to be celebrated at the beginning of the Harvest season on August first and was called Lammas, meaning 'loaf Mass'. Farmers made loaves of bread from the new wheat crop and gave them to their local church. They were then used as the Communion bread during a special mass thanking God for the harvest. The custom ended when Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic Church, and nowadays we have harvest festivals at the end of the season.
Farmers celebrated the end of the harvest with a big meal called a harvest supper, eaten on Michaelmas Day. This was rather like a Christmas dinner, but as turkeys were unknown at that time, a goose stuffed with apples was eaten. Goose Fairs are still held in some English towns, but geese are no longer sold.

Michaelmas used to be the commonest day for the winter night curfew to begin - the first hint that winter was on the way.

The Michaelmas Daisies, among dede weeds,
Bloom for St Michael's valorous deeds.
And seems the last of flowers that stood,
Till the feast of St. Simon and

Curfew took the form of a tolling of the church bell, usually one strike for each of the days of the month that had passed in the current year and generally rung at 9pm.
The word curfew may derive from the French word couvre feu, meaning 'cover fire'. Curfew was the time when household fires were supposed to be doused. The bell was tolled every night, apart from Sunday, until Shrove Tuesday.
Chertsey is one of the last places to still ring a Curfew bell at 8pm from Michaelmas Day to Lady Day (29th September to 25th March). Their oldest Curfew bell dates from 1380!

The tradition of celebrating Harvest Festival in churches as we know it today began in 1843, when the Reverend Robert Hawker invited parishioners to a special thanksgiving service for the harvest at his church at Morwenstow in Cornwall*. Victorian hymns such as "We plough the fields and scatter", "Come ye thankful people, come" and "All things bright and beautiful" helped popularise his idea of harvest festival and spread the annual custom of decorating churches with home-grown produce for the Harvest Festival service.

Corn Dollies

The making of corn dollies goes back many thousands of years. It was a Pagan custom and evolved from the beliefs of the corn growing people who believed in the Corn Spirit.

Corn dollies were made at Harvest time from the last sheaf of corn cut. The Corn Spirit was supposed to live or be reborn in the plaited straw ornament or corn doll and was kept until the following spring to ensure a good harvest. .The corn dolly often had a place of honor at the harvest banquet table.
The craft was brought to a halt by the advent of mechanization in the 1800s, but is now being revived as a fascinating hobby.

Other rituals and ceremonies
· Church bells could be heard on each day of the harvest.
· The horse, bringing the last cart load, was decorated with garlands of flowers and colourful ribbons.
· A magnificent Harvest feast was held at the farmer's house and games played to celebrate the end of the harvest.

In the rhythm of the year, Harvest Festival marks the beginning of a time of rest after hard work. The crops are gathered in, and winter is still a month and a half away! Although the nights are getting cooler, the days are still warm, and there is something magical in the sunlight, for it seems silvery and indirect. As we pursue our gentle hobbies of making corn dollies our attention is suddenly arrested by the sound of baying from the skies (the “Hounds of Annwn” passing?), as lines of geese cut silhouettes across a harvest moon. And we move closer to the hearth, the longer evening hours giving us time to catch up on our reading while sipping home-brewed mead or ale. What a wonderful time Harvest Festival is!

Thursday, October 5, 2006

October in England in 1826

As promised, here is my monthly post about the nature of things in England.

Before we get to that, I did want to remind you to check the titlewave blog. Over the next few weeks, the AT 2 sisters will be interviewing the new group of American Title Finalists. I hope you will enjoy meeting them as much as we have.

Now Back to our Nature Ramble.

The Naturalists Diary written in 1826 contains extraordinary detail about the plants, animals, birds and insects of 200 years ago.

As I read, I see that the cycle of migration goes on now much as it did then, although I have heard many Brits bemoan the decline in the bird population. Practically every house has a bird feeder and I have often sat in my mother’s living room watching the small English robin, the blackbirds and the tiny blue tits visit the garden. And if you are very sharp eyed and extremely lucky you might even spot little jenny wren. Here is her picture. Isn't she sweet, and so very shy.

Because the British Isles have such a mild climate, while some birds are leaving for the winter, others that live in harsher climates in the summer are arriving to winter in England. So there is never a shortage of birds.

The 1826 Naturalist tells us that in October martins, stone-curlews and swallows depart for warmer climates, but also notes that some hardier swallows stay all winter in a state of torpidity, only waking with warmer temperatures in April.

Arrivals include the throstle, (now don't you just love that name, and look at the picture, what an interesting looking bird it is too) the red-wing, and the field-fare who stay until March. Some birds, like the ring-ouzel, arrive from the Welsh and Scottish Alps to winter in more sheltered situations along with the Royston or hooded crow (Corvus cornix) from Scotland and the northern parts of England.The woodcock returnsand is found on the eastern coasts.
Various kinds of waterfowl make their appearance; and, about the middle of the month, wild geese quit the fens, and go to the rye and wheat lands to devour the young corn; frequently leaving a field as if it had been fed off by a flock of sheep. Rooks sport and dive, in a playful manner, before they go to roost, congregating in large numbers. (A rookery is quite an amazing sight, how those nests made of twigs stay in the trees was always a wonder to me as a child). The starling sings. The awk or puffin visits some of the rocky isles of Britain in amazing numbers for the purpose of incubation.

With regard to plants, amid the floral gaieties of autumn, may be reckoned the Guernsey lily, which is so conspicuous an object in October, in the windows and green-houses of florists in London and its vicinity.
Hips and haws now ornament the hedges, these are red hard seedpods. The berries of bryony and the privet; the barberry, the holly and the elder,
from which an excellent winter wine may be made—with sloes, bullaces, and damsons, are now in great plenty. The elder is a very versatils and ancient shrub. Not only is wine made from its fruit but elderflower wine is very sweet and was very popular at one time.

Blackberries also are ripe in this month, and the collecting of them affords an agreeable pastime to the younger branches of the peasant’s family, as well as some small profit to the parents.

These are the fruits of the poor;--they who are more highly favoured with the gifts of fortune revel on thepatrician peach and nectarine, the pine and the grape, whose purple clusters contrast so beautifully with the dazzling white of the silver epergne. But these transient pleasures, --the rose-crowned bowl,--the smiles of beauty, the music’s enchanting voice,--soon, too soon, flit away from our grasp and leave us nothing but the memory of a former day, those ‘blossoms of the past.’

Of course what this really means is --- Good bye to summer.
Best wishes and Happy Rambles

Sunday, October 1, 2006

Gentlemen's Clubs Part III

There were many more clubs in London During the Regency.

I am going to touch on a couple of other famous ones, and on Thursday a list of some others that you might be interested in and provide a list of Hotels each catering to a different clientele.


During the twelve years of its life, from 1807 to 1819, no club was more notorious than Watier’s, It was located at 81 Piccadilly. While there are at least two different accounts of the origin of this club, the one I like the best is that after members of White’s and Brooks’s complained of the food to Prinny— the Prince Regent, the Prince helped his French chef set up a club where excellent food was paramount.
Watier’s was also known as The Dandy Club. Lord Byron wrote that although he was not a dandy, they were kind to him. He put it down to the fact that he had once been a dandy himself, although during this period he was considered part of the literary set.
Some of the famous dandies were of course Brummell, Mildmay, Alvanley and Pierrepoint.

Above is a picture of Lord Alvanley. He was not a handsome man, but he was extraordinarily good natured.
Byron speaks quite wistfully of the Dandy Balls that Watier’s got up and the famous masquerade at Burlington House and Garden for Wellington in a letter to Lady Blessington in 1823.

The play, mostly Macao, a version of vingt-et-un. was disastrously deep. Thousands passed from one to another with as much facility as marbles.

Four-Horse Club
Originally one of the clubs frequented by the notorious Earl of Barrymore, the Four-Horse club had been a wild group of young men who enjoyed bribing coachmen to give them the reins to the vehicles and then driving them at break-neck speeds along the very poor British Roads.
By the early nineteenth century it was a respectable club for superb drivers. At its peak it only had some 30-40 members.
It was often also called the Four-in-Hand Club, the Whip Club or the Barouche Club - the last from a description in "The Sporting Magazine" of Feburary 1809.
Club rules stated the barouches should be yellow bodied with 'dickies', the horses should be Bays, with rosettes at their heads and the harnesses should be silver-mounted. However Mr Annesley - a club member, drove roans, Sir Henry Peyton drove Greys so the color of the horses wasn't as strictly enforced as the color of the carriage.

The uniform of the club was strictly enforced. A drab coat that reached to the ankles with three tiers of pockets and mother of pearl buttons as large as five shilling pieces. The waistcoat was blue with yellow stripes an inch wide, the breeches of plush with strings and rosettes to each knee. It was fashionable that the hat should be 3 1/2 inches deep in the crown.
The first meeting of the Four-Horse club was held in April 1808 and subsequent days of meeting were the first and third Thursdays in May and June. The members assemble at Mr. Buxton's house in Cavendish Square and drove to Salt Hill to dinner at the Windmill first and then the next time at The Castle alternating between the two.
The procession was always the same. Club rules stated that each member in single file, no overtaking was allowed, and no one to exceed a trot. The procession set out from London to Salt Hill at noon, following along the Bath Road. It was 24 miles to Salt Hill so the club lunched at the Packhorse on Turnham Green and then took further refreshment at the Magpies on Hounslow Heath. They ran to Salt Hill where they remained overnight.
There popularity of the Four-Horse club began to wane around 1815 and it was disbanded in 1820. It was revived briefly in 1822 and finally died out in 1824.
The last post on this subject on Thursday, and then we take a look at the Flora and Fauna of October.
Happy Rambles.