Monday, December 22, 2008

The London of the Ton - Part I

This is my very first post as Ann Lethbridge on the Regency Ramble Blog, so first let me say good day and I hope you find my rambles as interesting as my bff.

I did promise some posts on the military scene, but I also want to share some interesting parts of London during the Regency. This first picture is of Charing Cross in June 1807 located at the junction of the Stand, Whitehall and Cockspur Street.

The statue is of of King Charles 1, which replaced the original Elleanor cross and was subsequently replaced by the current Elleanor Cross replica built in Victorian times..

To the north of Charing Cross in regency times was the King's Mews, a royal stable.

A famous inn called the "Golden Cross" - first mentioned in 1643 - was situated in the former village of Charing. From here, now called the Golden-cross Coffee House and Hotel in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, coaches departed by various routes to Dover, Brighton, Bath Bristol, Cambridge, Holyhead and York.

To me what is interesting is the amount of detail of daily life to be garnered from this picture.

There are several vehicles, carriages, coaches and carters. As well as a man on horseback and another on a donkey. I expecially like the way the coach is emerging from the hotel courtyard. Look how tight a fit that is.

The foot path with its curb is very clear. And there are ladies and gentlemen walking along.

Here is the same location during the same time period on quite a different sort of a day and from a quite different angle.

Here we have two men being pilloried. Pillories were apparently in use until 1816, the last being put to use in Yarmouth.

It is certainly a spectator sport. People crowd the streets, stand in the windows and upon the roof too.

This angle gives us a lot more information about the buildings in the era. What is interesting is the openness of this area, because of the several roads coming together at one junction.

This next picture caught my eye because of the woman and child coming from the side of the building. Their clothing is clearly regency.

I was also interested in the way the shop juts out from the building and the people peering out of the windows above. In this era shop-keepers tended to live above their establishments.

This last sketch reminds us, in additon to the pillory above, that it was not a golden age for all.

This is a sketch by Cruikshank, which i beleive to be the Fleet and which reminds those who pass by that debtors need help. Since once they were in prison, they were unable to support themselves.

The boy with the hoop reminds us of simpler days and simpler amusements for children, and look at the man with the bird in a cage. And the fruit or vegetables piled up for sale.

That is it for my ramble through the Regency. Looking forward to sharing more sights and sounds of London another time.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Weddings in Regency England

by Michele Ann Young

Writing romance, as I do, the end goal is of course a wedding. We have all seen that wonderful scene in the Colin Firth Pride and Predjudice of the villagers throwing petals and the groom throwing coins, so I thought I would talk a little bit about weddings during the period.

Weddings did not tend to be the huge affairs that we think of today, or that became more prevalent during the Victorian era. St Georges was the fashionable church for the ton during this time pictured here. What a magnificent venue. St George's celebrated approximately a thousand weddings a year during the regency era. That would have kept the pastor on his toes, I am sure.

Of course the big question is, did they wear white?

In the various groups I belong to we hear over and over again that brides did not wear white. But I think what we really mean is that white was not considered "the right thing" or mandatory. A colored dress did not signify lack of chasteness, it was simply a personal preference. That said, it seems that white tended to be the color of choice for many.

This is a picture of Princess Charlotte returning from her marriage to Prince Leopold in 1816 -- the wedding of the regency era, For her wedding she chose to wear a silver lamé dress over white silk, trimmed with silver lace.

And this is a picture of the wedding dress itself from the London Museum. Rather different from the artists impression. he got the drapery at the front completely wrong. And it is definitely not white.

We know that Jane Austen's niece Anna who married Benjamin Lefroy on November 8, 1814 wore "a dress of fine white muslin, and over it a soft silk shawl, white shot with primrose, with embossed white-satin flowers, and very handsome fringe, and on her head a small cap to match, trimmed with lace.

When Jerome Bonaparte (Napoleon's brother) wed the fashionable American beauty Elizabeth Patterson on Christmas Eve 1803 the bride wore a dress of thin white muslin and lace

The English fashion journals are rather silent on wedding dresses during the Regency era, which likely means you wore a dress you owned or purchased for the occasion and probably wore again. There is a rare print in 'Ackermann's Repository'o for June 1816 of a wedding dress in white satin with an overdress in striped gauze and trimmed with Brussels lace. It was to be worn with pearl jewelry, white satin slippers and white kid gloves but notice, there is not veil. it wasn't until the 1820's that we begin to see all the hoopla about specially designed wedding dresses.

Well that is all I have room for today. Until next time Happy Rambles

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ch a a a nges

First, in case you haven't noticed what's happening on the sidebar, I want to introduce a new contributor to Regency Ramble Blog. Ann Lethbridge.

Ann and I have coffee every morning and I have invited her to add her thoughts to the blog. Ann writes regencies for Harlequin Historicals. Pull a bit closer to the screen Ann and let's get started.

Ann: Ta Mich. I calls 'er Mich. And she always bashes me arm. (grin) My first story with Harlequin is out in January. It'll make you a bit 'ot under the collar, but it's a quick read. An e-book and a sneak peak for the book coming out April 2009. Don'cha just looove that cover. 'Course the old gown looks more Vicky than Prinny (in-crowd code for George IV and Queen Victoria in case you was wondering) but the bloke wielding the brush certainly the mood of the story and came pretty close to getting the geyser and his lady--

Michele: Yes, yes, that's all very well and I wish you luck with the book and all, but while you get the chance to toot your horn now and again, this blog is all about research. We talked about that and you agreed.

Ann: I don't see why I shouldn't start off with a bit of horn tooting, mate.

Michele: Consider it tooted. Now what are you going to bring to this blog.

Ann: (grumbling under breath about bossy bff's) Well, you've been doing a top 'ole job with this blog, I was wrackin' me brains to think wot I could put in, mate. So I comes up wi' this. You likes to write about all those nobs and fancy folks up at the big 'ouse, as it were. I thought I might pick up on the common folks and the army. I really like those military gents. It must be the tight pants. And the boots. This is a picture of the Duke of Wellington. Especially I like the swords. (sees a glaze look in bff's eyes and does a quick recovery) And also a word of the month, or something.

Michele: A word of the month. That sounds educational.

Ann: Right. They'll be old words from the Regency. Ones don't see much any more.

Michele: We could start with that today.

Ann: All right. Wot about this one:

BAT. A low whore: so called from moving out like bats in the dusk of the evening.

Some people in England still say "the old bat", but I'm not sure they know what it means any more.

Michele: Sigh. I don't suppose it possible for you to get your mind out of the gutter?

Ann: 'Course it is. (wink) Wait till you see what's lined up on the military stuff.

Michele: Next week. Thursday. (mutter: I hope this is going to work)

Until next week - Happy rambles.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hackney Carriages

We are always reading about people driving around London in a Hackney carriage so I thought it might be interesting to look at them a little more closely.

Of course we are all aware of the licences in taxis or cabs as we call them today. In the Regency they were hackney carriages or coaches. And they were equally rule-bound, believe it or not.

An Ordinance for the Regulation of Hackney-Coachmen in London and the places adjacent" was approved by Parliament in 1654, to remedy what it described as the "many Inconveniences [that] do daily arise by reason of the late increase and great irregularity of Hackney Coaches and Hackney Coachmen in London, Westminster and the places thereabouts". The first hackney-carriage licences date from 1662.

Over the years rules and regulations were added as were the number of licences. By my count there were 1000 licenced Hackney coaches and another 500 chariots supplemented by an unknown number of one-horse chaises. However I'm not known for my math, so if this number is important to you I suggest you go to original sources.

By the way, a London Hackney or Cab licence is a highly sought after item, even today.

Now where was I. Yes rules and Regs. They covered such things as the number of passengers according the the size of the hackney (always with the allowance of one servant riding outside), the size of the horses (not below 14 hands. There were fines for abusive language (I wouldn't mind seeing some of those dished out in shopping malls) and fines for extortion - as in extortionate fares.

I thought this rules rather interesting!

Obligation to go.
And they shall be compellable on every day, and at any hour of the night, although they may have been out twelve hours, to go with any person or persons desirous of hiring them, and no more than the regular fare allowed on such occasions.

It appears that our forefathers were just as careless with their umbrellas and other property as we are on trains today, for this following rule also appears.

How Property Left in Coaches or Chariots is to be disposed of.
The drivers of hackney coaches, wherein any property is left, shalt carry each property, in the state in which it was found, within four days, to the Hackney-coach office, and deposit the same with one of the clerks, under a penalty not exceeding 20l.

I have not included all of the detail but you can find it in New Picture of London, Printed for Samuel Leigh, 18, Strand; by W. Clowes, Northumberland Court. 1819 along with a list of major Hackney Stands throughout London.

Until next time, Happy Rambles

Monday, December 8, 2008

Out and About

I hope you don't mind if share my book-signing experience this past weekend. I signed at Zellers, in Whitby on Saturday. Zellers is chain store here in Canada and this one is particularly nice, because it is brand new and because it has lovely friendly staff. I met lots of charming readers, sold lots of books and found a hero.

Joanne, is a manager at the store where I signed and what a welcome she gave me.

Here she is at my table. As you can see they decorated with a poinsettia and a cute little Chrismas ornament. I was set right near the front door, and boy did I have lots of people come by and talk to me.

If any of you have dropped in to the blog today, I just want to say how pleasant it was to meet you. And thank you for buying my book!

I think you can see from this picture just how much fun I had, despite the snow whipping past the glass doors and making wonder just how bad driving might turn out to be. As you can tell I made it home safe and sound.

That's all from me today, I will be back on Thursday with more snippets of information. Until then, Happy Rambles.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Flora and Fauna of Regency Britain - December

December already. Christmas just around the corner. I'm hoping to find some interesting Christmassy things to post for you later in the month, but here is our usual article.

Here is what our naturist says about December

And yet Winter has its pleasures;--the frosty morning’s walk, with its invigorating breezes—the long nights, devoted alternately to study and to society, with the enlivening blaze of a sea-coal fire—and the ‘glass that cheers, but not inebriates’—are no small attractions, and peculiarly endear to us this festive season of the year.

Now, too, the fascinating, rosy-cheeked, little son of Venus, not unfrequently seeks the warm shelter of a Christmas parlour; and his wings ‘with napkins dried,’ and ‘from wet and cold at ease,’ he soon tries

If the wet hath not damaged the string of his bow;

And many a swain, and many a fair, will find, to their cost, ‘they have trouble enough with their heart.’ The laughing month of May, and the frigid and cheerless December, are equally favourable to the attacks of the sly, little urchin.

Methinks this gentleman is a bit of a romantic.

Towards the end of the month, woodcocks and snipes become the prey of the fowler.

The jack-snipe (Scolopax galinula) which visits us at this period, is a decided species, with marked and singular habits.

Hunting was of course a major source of food for the table during this period and this is a picture of a Jack Snipe.

And with the leaves off the trees it would be far easier to spot this red fellow slinking around in the hedgerows. No doubt he is on the look out for gentlemen in hunting pink.

That is all for now. Until next time. Happy rambles.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Regency Fashion ~ December

I always love the beginning of the month, when I can indulge myself in Fashion!

First, a couple of bits of information. Starting in January, I will be having a regular new contributor to my Regency Ramble Blog. Her name is Ann Lethbridge and she writes Regencies for Harlequin Historicals and is as mad about the regency as I am. It probably won't take you very long to figure out why.

Secondly, if you are a newsletter subscriber, expect a newsletter to pop into your box during the month of December, where I will be letting you in on the secret.

La Belle Assemblee 1818, Satin evening dress with feathered hat.

Invented by Mrs. Bell: A Ceres frock with a very broad border of wheat ears in straw worked on tulle and worn over a white satis slip. Toque turban of tulle, elegantly worked with straw to correspond with Turkish foldings in front and crape and straw interspersed. Henrietta ruff of fine lace, fixed low and terminating at the shoulders. White stain shoes and white kid gloves.

Isn't it gorgeous. The Henrietta ruff which frames the face is lovely. Not very practical, but to me it seems rather romantic. December would be a time for country house parties, and I think appearing in a gown like this would certainly make the wearer a hit, if rather intimidating.

This plate is from the Ladies Monthly Museum for December 1799.

These are afternoon dresses.
The first one is a Dress of pink silk, the body and sleeves trimmed with black lace; black muslin train; round cap of white crape, with a small wreath of flowers, and ostrich feather. Light blue gloves and yellow shoes.

Now what do you think of blue gloves and yellow shoes with a pink dress. Come on now, be honest. lol I notice in the picture the lace is not looking black at all, though the gloves are definitely blue.

In the description for the second dress, I am assuming the term corset is used rather than bodice because this dress is laced up at the back. And the robe is all about the skirts, which is very plain. This one I like, even with the pink shoes. It is very different from the ornamented 1818 outfit.

Corset of white satin, the body and sleeves trimmed with chenille; lace round the neck and shoulders. Muslin robe, cap of white and yellow muslin intermixed.—Pale yellow gloves, and pink shoes.

As a bonus, our fashionista gives us a hint for the Season:

Note: Black velvet cloaks and scarlet kerseymere handkerchiefs and cloaks, trimmed with fur, begin to be worn much.

Now, you would just have to rush out and buy all of those items or feel thoroughly outmoded, wouldn't you?

That's it for fashions. Until next month, Happy Rambles.