Wednesday, March 28, 2007

More Paris after Waterloo

Because I wanted the British Embassy to appear in my novel, I had to do some research. I looked at the website, but also made contact with one of the secretaries there, Diane who was exceedingly helpful and mailed me a beautiful book showing the house.

Ambassadors to France since 1814
The Duke of Wellington 1814-1815
Sir Charles Stuart 1815-1824

The British ambassador's Residence in the rue du Faubourg St Honoré was bought by Duke of Wellington bought the building on behalf of George III in 1814. In 1803 the widow of the 5th Duke of Charost (guillotined) sold it to the beautiful Pauline Leclerc, Napoleon Bonaparte's favourite sister, then aged 22.

This Embassy is bang smack in the middle of Paris and just look at that garden. This is the opposite to those picture from Wednesday. This was French nobility — and of both kinds. The aristocracy and the revolutionary.

What was going on in Paris at the time?

I talked a bit about the army of occupation, but this was also a time of regrouping. I think one of the figures who fascinated me most was Talleyrand

Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord was a unique individual. Possessed of extreme self-confidence that some called arrogance, he became one of the most important diplomats in Europe during the late 18th and early 19th century. He was a Bishop who gave up the Church in favor of the Revolution. Talleyrand, through skill, cunning and plain luck, managed to survive the reign of Louis XVI, the revolution and reign of
terror, the Directory, the rule of Napoleon, and the reigns of both Louis XVIII and Louis Philippe. He was incredibly skilled on France's behalf at the Congress of Vienna.

Even though Napoleon was gone, banished to St Helena, the French people still took opposite political sides calling themselves Bonapartists and Royalists. One example of this was a fight over a play called Germanicus in 1817 written by ex Bonapartist. Half-pay Bonapartist officers, and royalist gardes du corps and officers of the Garde Royale seized the opportunity. They identified each other - royalists wore black waistcoats and white ties, Bonapartists white waistcoats and black ties. Both sides carried long sticks weighted with lead at one end and engage in a battle at the theater. Duc de Berri, the King’s nephew, Richelieu, Decazes and Wellington were present at the melee. Marshal Victor, Duc de Bellune took command his soldiers from his box, and restored order.

The next day gardes du corps and officers of Garde Royale, with large white ribbons in their button holes and half-pay Napoleonic officers wearing bunches of violets and the cross of the Legion d’Honneur in theirs, walked round the Tuileries garden and the Palais Royal exchanging threats and insults in some cases snatching each other’s flowers or issuing challenges to duels. After that, guns and sticks were banned from the theatre.

I looked for some pictures that might be of interest for this last tidbit, to no avail. But I hope you enjoyed the story.

Happy Rambles.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Paris in the Spring after Waterloo

For my novel "No Regrets" I did a considerable amount of research on Paris after 1815---right after the battle of Waterloo.

There was a flood of visitors during the brief peace between England and France after the Treaty of Amiens in 1802. Bonaparte was first consul at the time. It was then that English ladies and gentlemen realized that Paris fashions had left them behind. While their waistlines were natural and the men still wore the frock coats of the previous century, the ladies of Paris were wearing diaphanous high-waisted gowns and the men were in tight fitting pantaloons and high cut coats. The Parisiennes of the time definately looked down on them. The English rushed to catch up.
The English had also flocked to Paris when Napoleon was locked up on Elba. Wellington was appointed as Ambassador and his wife joined him. He did not prove a particularly popular Abassador with the French, his manners apparently were far too informal and brusque. It all came to a crashing halt when Bonaparte escaped for what proved to be one hundred days.

After Waterloo, June 1815, Paris was put under an army of occupation headed by Wellington. The city was as Bonaparte had left it and the Bourbonnes had returned. This is when my characters visit.

The mood is bitter. Everywhere there are soldiers in foreign uniforms, cossaks in brown baggy trousers, Austrians in embroidered white, and the British in red. One book describes the resentment of the populace. French soldiers fighting in the streets with allied troops over women or attempts of French soldiers to tear off allied soldiers victory medals and sprigs of oak leaves. They constantly challenged their occupying officers to duels.
A look of blasted glory, of withered pride and lurking revenge’ could be seen on the faces of French soldiers in Paris -Auguest de Staël.

Paris didn't look the way it does today, although it was the second largest city in the world after London. I'm guessing that it certainly didn't look any better than it does in this 1840 picture of the Notre Dame and the Seine. Unlike London, Paris had no street lights apart from the occasional lantern strung across the road. Off the main streets the alleys were twisty, narrow, dark and dangerous, and ran with ordure. That is waste of all descriptions, night slops horsemanure etc. The Palais Royal, however, standing in the midst of all this, was described as an island of light. It was lit with hundreds of lanterns. I imagine them to be like fairy lights today. There were elegant shops with an amazing array of goods from all over the Continent that the English had not seen for a long time, as well as restaurants for the well-to-do tourist and of course cafe's everywhere. The English at this time sent a great many artifacts home. The French were only too happy to sell them, because they were broke.

Apparently prostitutes lived in the attics of the Palais. It was in fact the center of all things Parisienne. The Englishman’s Mentor a guide book said they would take you to a room in the attics or a cellar or cabinet noir where there were scenes such as no Englishman can conceive of frightful and unimaginable sensuality. Hmm. Sounds like a good spot for a villain. bwahhaaa.
Licenced brothels called were called maisons de tolèrance and unlicenced ones were known as maisons clandestine. Prostitutes were required once a month to the Dispensiare de Salubrité in the Rue Croix des Petit Champs to get checked out for venereal desease. Paris and the French were a lot more liberal and much more organized than the English in that regard.

One of the most fashionable places to visit was Tortoni’s on the Boulevard des Italiens founded by a Neapolitan brought to France by Napoleon to provide Paris with good ices. Needless to say, this is one place my couple just had to visit. I can't help it, I love ice cream. According to a writer of the day Tortoni's were excellent. With his ice cream the patron received iced water in a neat carafe lined with a shell of ice. Sounds like something we could enjoy today.

This next view is of the Tuileries exactly how it looked when the English went to Paris to make their bows to the restored King and Queen. Apparently they really never did get the hang of just how it was done.

Of course I have 16 pages of notes on this stuff, and will provide some more later in the week, you'll get a little bit of politics, some characters of the day and a visit to the British Embassy, always a good location for a hero to visit, especially when you can be sure it was there at the time.
If you are interest in my source, the principle one I used was "Paris Between the Empires" – Phillip Mansell
Until next time, happy rambles in Paris in the Spring, or whereever you happen to be.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Regency Underwear Continued

Okay so perhaps the lady in pink was a bit hot for a Regency Blog, but I thought I would have a bit of fun.

I am going to finish this post about underwear, because while it is not glamorous, it is interesting to me.

Our dolly bird has got as far as her petticoat, but what next.

This is an example of stockings and their garters. Garters tied around the leg, no elastic remember, but some, like these did have metal springs. These could be worn above the knee, but most were worn below. Here is a selection of stockings All the detail and embroidery is close to the foot or at the ankle, because that is all that anyone saw -- apart from one's husband that is.

This would be worn beneath a gown to cover shoulders and neck during the day. I am providing a drawing, and then a picture of one which seems to me must have been designed for evening wear. I just love this red gown. It calls to me every time I flip through my pictures.

Now, I have a choice of what to do next, so I thought I would ask you. Pictures of my short trip to Portugal?
or some stuff on Paris?
or food?
Until next time, Happy Rambles.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Underwear, or just what did they wear under there?

So what did they wear under those gowns. They certainly didn’t wear knickers, as I called them when I was young, or underoos or panties, at least not in the Regency. Nor did they wear bras invented way later, or corsets, picture the young ladies being cinched into their whalebone by a maid a la Scarlett O’Hara. That was definitely Victorian.

Okay, now we now what they didn’t wear. How helpful is that?

Patience child. I am getting there. Oh I do love to blog, one has so much power.

Those gowns were very flimsy, but they do seem to have hidden an extra ordinary amount of “stuff” under there.

First and foremost came the Chemise. I always thought of this as a modern day equivalent of a petticoat or slip. But not quite. The Chemise, a cotton or linen garment worn next to the skin was primarily there to protect the outer clothes from sweat. Remember, no dry cleaning in those days. So whereas the muslins and brocades were hard to wash, the chemise could be bashed around in lye soap by the washerwoman with little ill effect.

As you can see from these examples, they have short sleeves, and those for ballgowns had no sleeves, The chemise in this era did not show. They came mid thigh or just below the knee, and sometimes had a bit of lace trim or embroidered initials. They were loose and boxy with a draw string neck. The second picture is from the 1820's and you can start to see gathering at the neck as we move toward Victoriana.

Stays came next. A vital piece of underpinning, pun intended. And I do mean over the top of the shift for cleanliness. Without stays, a woman would look flat-chested, or worse flop-chested, in those under the bust gowns that had little in the way of tailoring, despite all the frills and lace.
Most stays were laced at the back, by tapes, through holes in the fabric. Get metal eyelets out of your mind. And this was the reason they were not particularly tight. They did have some boning, and there were even the lift and separate kind, with a central busk to emphasize cleavage. But definitely no pulling tight or the fabric would tear. To my Regency writerly delight, there were also stays that fastened in front. We need these, either for our girl to get out of them, or for our handsome rake to get into them. All my heroines have a partiality for front closing stays. Independent creatures that they are. I have a picture of one, just not right now. If you want proof, add a comment and I will post next time. This example has a busk down the centre. Not great for bending I should think. Might account for all the straight-back curtseys think you? Also, they were not always as long as this example. their main function was to keep those creamy globes up as high as possible, not to cinch in.

The next layer was the Petticoat. Yes, they wore petticoats as well as chemise or shifts. Remember in the last century robes, or gowns, did not close all the way down the front. These three are 1805, 1815 and 1820 (ish) and they change with the fashion of the day. But note the decorated hem. Petticoats were meant to be seen, along with a flash of well-turned ankle. Those of the Regency are nothing like the stunning creations of the earlier century or the next era, Victorian, but they went under very slender gowns designed to show more the shape of the figure that those other styles.

and the petticoat was a vital piece of outer clothing. this also happened in the Regency. Sometimes the robe would open at the front, I am pretty sure we have seen some examples here, and somtimes the petticoat formed the lacy trim at the ankle, with the gown shorter.

Well darn it, or dash it. I don’t have room for more. But there is more to come. Catch up on what a Regency Lady wore under there on Thursday.

In the meantime Happy Rambles through Victoria’s Secret for your own hidden treasures.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Almack's Regency Ladies' Club

First some exciting news!
RIO - Reviewers International Organization - or

Nominees for DEBUT BOOKS
Pistols at Dawn - Michele Young
click the link to see all of the other great nominees.

I thought after showing all of those wonderful gowns -- and don't forget to go to my website to see the rest of the gowns for March -- we might talk a little bit about the places ladies would go to wear them.

And first up is the hallowed halls of Almack's.

This is a picture of the building as it was at the time. Alas it has been replaced by an office building. But it has a plaque! Anyway, it was considered to be unpretencious. It was located on King Street and opened in 1765. Almack's wasn't only a ladies club, but during the Regency, its fame was mostly related to its exclusivity and of course it was a major spot for those on the marriage mart to see and be seen.
From the first, Almack's Assembly Rooms were governed by a select committee of the most influential and exclusive ladies of the ton, known as the Lady Patronesses of Almacks.
At different periods in the club's long history, there were six or seven of them. In 1814, they were reputedly:
* Lady Castlereagh
* Lady Jersey
* Lady Cowper (later married Lord Palmerston)
* Lady Sefton
* Mrs. Drummond Burrel (whose husband, a notable dandy, became Baron Gwydyr after 1816)
* Countess de Lieven (wife of the Russian ambassador)
* Princess Esterhazy (wife of the Austrian ambassador)
But there is lots of dispute about exactly who was a patroness and in what year.

Apparently it was after 1816 when Lady Jersey came into her own and things got much more strict, but it was interesting exactly what kind of thing could give offense. For example, Lady Caroline Lamb was barred from Almack's. This was not due to her making a spectacle of herself about Byron or even the suspicion of a suicide attempt in public. No, her crime was including the leaders of society in her novel Glenarven in unflattering guise.

Over the years a great many legends about Almack's have become treated as fact, some of them misinterpretations, such as stale bread and cake, because the sandwiches were cut thin day old (not stale bread) was used and dry cake, which simply meant cake without icing (frosting to North Americans).

Men were supposed to have dueled the patronesses husband's when their wives were excluded, though there is no actual record of that having occurred.

A rare picture I obtained is a floor plan of the inside of Almack's

Like many hallowed institutions, they start off as leaders and turn stuffy. Almack's was considered old-fashioned by many. Both the quadrille and the waltz were not danced at Almack's until long after they were accepted dances everwhere else. But woe betide if you didn't get a voucher. A voucher was issued by one of the lady patronesses. This was then taken to the owner of Almack's who would issue tickets to the balls. These tickets had to be bought. Balls were held on Wednesdays. There were also cards available for gentlemen, but no alcohol, very unusual for such a hard drinking era.

This last picture is said to be of the first time the quadrille was danced at Almack's and pictured are The marquis of Worcester, Lady Jersey, Claronald Macdonald and Lady Worcester.

I hope you enjoyed this brief ramble amongst the ton. There is so much more to talk about, and so little time. Spring is just around the corner.
Happy Rambles.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Regency Fashion March

Well I only managed one post last week, blame it on jet lag. Hopefully things are back to normal and I can get back on my normal schedule. There is just so much I want to do. Fashions and houses and update my website. I am working on a newsletter and I also want to add more links to this blog. When I changed to the new format I lost some of my neat links and I really want to put them back. But... I am just finishing up my next novel. I have done a huge edit on the manuscript and am about to enter them in the computer. I tell you, when I get writing, I just cannot drag my self away.

But 'ere we go (as the earwig said as he went over the cliff)~~Fashions

As it turns it turns out I have oodles of fashions for March.
Here we have 1804
March 1804 Fashions reprinted from the 1804 Lady’s Monthly Museum.

1. The dress to the left is described in the Ladies Monthly Museum as "A short round Dress of White Muslin, with a Pelisse of Purple Velvet. A straw hat, ornamented with a Pink Wreath. Feathers to match the Pelisse. Bear Muff. Purple shoes."
As you can see, the hem is much shorter for this walking dress than those called full dress, to the right, which would have been worn at home, rather than dragging around the filthy streets. And look at the size of that Muff. I have a pair of purple shoes.

2. A Cap of French Velvet and lace Ornaments, with Roses in front. A Dress of Plain or sprigged Muslin. Sleeves trimmed with lace. Fashionable shawl. Buff Gloves. Fan.
I always loved it when Georgette Heyer talked about "sprigged muslin". It sounds so romantic.In this picture of course they show the plain muslin.
3. A Mameluke Turban of White Satin; White Ostrich Feather, with Gold Ornaments. A Tunick of Pink crape, trimmed with white Lace, and White Tassels. White Muslin petticoat. Pink shoes.
Don't you wonder who wrote this stuff? Look at the crazy spelling of tunic. Or is it us?

I found this from The Ladies Monthly Museum 1807 quite intriguing. It really is all about the hats!
Fig. 1. Mantle of fawn coloured Kersimere, trimmed with white velvet; Bonnet of Velvet, ornamented with black.
Fig. 2. Pelisse of puce coloured Silk, trimmed round the neck and down the front with white lace; Bonnet same colour as Pelisse.
Fig. 3. Dress of fine Muslin; Sleeves of white Sattin; Sash tied in front; Cap of white Sattin, with small Feathers.
Fig. 4. Train of pink Silk; Lace let in the back; full top Sleeves of white Crape; Turban of pink and white Crape , with Ostrich Feathers.
Fig. 5. Robe of Primrose Crape, trimmed down the front and round the breast with white Lace; Sleeves striped alternately with sarsnet and lace; white sarsnet Petticoat; Kid Gloves.

Moving on to 1809
, this dress is from Ackerman's Repository.
The collar is very high. Here is how they described it in the magazine. ". A Polish cap, and pelisse of silver grey cloth, trimmed with gold or silver, buttoned down the front with small round buttons, a high collar, with a lace ruff; boots of same colour as the pelisse, and both embroidered with gold or silver. York tan gloves.
This dress was transmitted to a lady of high rank from Warsaw, and would alone evince the taste and elegance of the ladies of that country, were they not already sufficiently known." They often used York tan gloves, and they always color them yellow in the pictures.

1815 Elegance Again from Ackerman's
"Pelisse of short walking length, made of evening-primrose coloured velvet, ornamented down the front with satin trimming; round capes, trimmed to correspond; full lace ruff. A French bonnet, composed of white velvet and satin in reverse plaitings, trimmed round the edge with a quilting of lace; full plume of ostrich feathers in the front. Half-boots of tan-coloured kid. Gloves, Limerick or York tan."
When I read evening primrose, I expected yellow. I really must take a look and see just what an evening primrose is!

Our last picture is from 1818
, and if you look across the fourteen years you get a good impression of the evolution of fashion.

Note the bell-like hem and the heavy trim around the skirt of the gown. And what about those stripes. They remind me of the deckchairs we used to rent on Brighton Beach as children. Isn't he a cute little dog?

Well, that is March. I have put up a few more on my website for you to take a peak.
Happy Rambles, see you on Thursday!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Regency Flora and Fauna - March

On a Personal Note:
Well, it was a sad occasion but we visited with family and offered each other comfort. There is certainly a big hole in our hearts for my mother-in-law was a wonderful lady, always smiling, always on top of the world. She didn’t want any miserable sods at her funeral, or anyone in black, so we wore our spring blues and greens and pinks and we sang All Things Bright and Beautiful in a tiny 18th century church in the Welsh hills. The sun shone and I think Kit, aka Grannie, would have approved.

Our trip crossed two months, but given the mild winter experienced in England and given everyone’s comments, “things” were early by perhaps a week or so. We were in Wales and as you might have guessed from the picture above. Yes, it was St. David’s day while we were there. Apparently the costume pictured here came into being in the 18th century with a revival of nationalistic feeling. We passed a schoolyard and all the little girls were dressed in their national dress with a daffodil pinned to their shawls and all the boys had leeks pinned to their sweaters.
Do you like this Welsh dragon? I do. And I love the way the Welsh speak English. It is very musical. Of course the Welsh are a very musical people. If you ever have a chance to listen to a Welsh male choir grab it.

Everywhere we went in England and Wales daffodils bloome, crocus and primroses grew on the banks of the highways, nodding in the breeze like sleepy children. In No Regrets, my heroine picks a primrose bouquet.

The hedgerows and trees were bare of leaves, but the white blooms of the blackthorns were a beautiful contrast and the gorse was covered in yellow flowers.

Spring was truly in the air, especially for the rooks who were clearly visible rebuilding their nests in just about every stand of trees. Do you remember a few blogs ago when I promised you a picture of a rookery? Well I found one. Here is the picture I took just off the M4. This is a small rookery, sometimes there are as many as a dozen or more nests, but I think you can get the idea. Those big black birds are the rooks!!!!

The fields were very green, and of course we had a fair bit of rain, but the weather was decidedly balmy, with patches of blue sky and wind-whipped clouds. I noticed that the bluebells were already sending up shoots. I love bluebells. But more about them later. The next pictures are views of the Vale of Neath from the top of a very high hill. I think it gives a great sense of the countryside, the weather and the green of the fields.

It’s good to be back. I think next we will do March fashions.

Happy Rambles.