Sunday, January 14, 2007

Regency Transportation



Ok, did you guess what the above picture had to do with transportation? When we were in England in the summer we took a drive from Hampshire to the coast. We meandered across country through Dorset and found ourselves in Dorset. Hardy country to be exact, the area around Sturminster also known as the Vale of Blackmoor. It is a beautiful spot and is of course where Thomas Hardy lived and set many of his novels. Interestingly enough, he used different names for all the towns and villages in his novels, but apparently never minded identifying them. Anyway, we found the above building quite by chance and pulled over to take a look.

If you were to look more closely at what the notice board says, it is a list of prices.

Coaches 4 1/2 D

Horse, mule, waggon, wain, frame cart, dray 4D

Droves of oxen, cows, calves per score 10D

Swine per score 5D

Every Ass 1D

It goes on to talk about wheel sizes as "at the soles"

Translation: D refers to pence, 12 in one shilling. Droves would be a herd on the hoof

If you guess that this is a tollgate, you were correct. it is the Horsington Turnpike Gate now on the side of A357. I never imagined them quite like the hexagonal building you see here. And this is how it would look in the Regency. Did you read Georgette Heyer’s novel The Tollgate the hero discovers an unattended gate and stops to man it for a while. He uncovers all kinds of secrets and a future wife. It is a charming book.

As you can see from above a tollgate was a significant structure and everything using the road had to pay a toll according to wheel size for a vehicle or according to the type of animal (if it was on the hoof) in order to pay for the upkeep of the road. It had to be manned day and night, and so the gatekeeper lived in the gate.

Here are some pictures of other tollgates. These are in London. The first is Hyde Park and the Second Tyburn. Look at the Tyburn Tollgate, it is very similar to my picture of the gate from Dorset.

The mail coaches traveled the toll roads free of charge so the post horn call was sounded to alert tollgate keepers to immediately open the gate under the pain of a 40 shilling fine should they fail. Members of the Royal Family, soldiers in uniform, parsons on parish duties, funeral processions and prison carts were also exempt from tolls. Had to be some advantage to being carted off to prison I suppose. I doubt that any prisoner would be willing to pay to open the gate.

Here are some of the vehicles which you will read about in my novels and I have provided some pictures of some of them. As always there is not enough room.

Barouche--a four-wheel fancy carriage with a fold-up hood at the back and with two inside seats facing each other. It was the fancy carriage of the first half of the 19th century.

Berlin--A big four-wheel carriage with a hood.

Curricle--A two-wheel carriage that was fashionable in the early 1800s. It was pulled by two horses and deemed sporty by the younger set.





Gig--A two-wheel vehicle intended for single-horse driving by an owner.

Landau--Open, fancy carriage with four wheels with a hood at each end and two seats opposite each other. It was popular in the first half of the 19th century. Two horses pulled the landau.









Phaeton--A light four-wheel carriage with open sides and drawn by one or two horses.

There was also a high perch phaeton, a very dashing vehicle as shown below. Now that is my kind of carriage!!!
















Post-chaise — A chaise used with rented horses (see "post"). The postchaise was always yellow and was sometimes referred to as "a yellow bounder." It was controlled by a postillion riding one of the horses.













Well, that is all from me tonight. I hope you enjoy this little peek into Regency travel. Of course we did not talk about public transportation. I will save that for Thursday.
We have a little snow at the moment, but even though the weather may not be the best wherever you are, I still wish you, as always, Happy Rambles.