Monday, March 16, 2009

The London of the Ton - Part IV

by Ann Lethbridge

Two week until my book, The Rake's Inherited Courtesan is in stores. I must say I am getting quite excited. Expect to see me driving around my neighborhood looking to see if it is on the shelves.

In the meantime, what better way to spend a Spring day than to wander around Regency London.

More specifically St James' Street. We only have a general date - the commencement of the 19th century, but I was delighted to see both a hobby horse and a sedan chair in this picture. I also see a couple of dogs. Does anything in particular strike you about this scene?

There will be on copy of my book sent to whoever makes the most interesting observation(s).

Let us imagine we are members of the Regent's inner circle. This is something we would have seen if invited to Carlton House. It is a corner of the "Golden Drawing Room". It is an example of the Directoire Style which refers to the the post-Revolution French Directory (November 2, 1795 through November 10, 1799). The style is distinct for use of neoclassical architectural forms, minimal carving, planar expanses of highly grained veneers, and applied decorative painting.

This picture was painted in 1817 by C. Wild. I apologize for the tilted effect, but it's the best I could do.
Our last scene reminds us that not all was balls, long gowns and pretty scenes. Men were as much into their sports in those days as they are today. Lots to observe in this scene. It would certainly make an interesting scene in a novel. The Fives Court, pictured here, a centre for prize fighting and boxing in St Martins Street has certainly shown up in several I have read. Boxing gloves were fashionable by 1814, though in use before this time.

Pugilism was a favourite amusement among all classes and few if any magistrates were disposed to take much notice of them.

Other venues for practice were Daffy's Club, held at Tom Belcher's at the Castle Tavern, Holborn, a place recorded in "The London Spy"; and the Pugilistic Society, mentioned by Byron, which held its first meeting at the Thatched House Tavern on May 22nd, 1814, while exponents as Gregson and Gully, Broughton and Slack were wont to foregather at Limmer's Hotel and meet there patrons and pupils there. Gentleman Jackson gave lessons at his rooms at 13 Bond Street.

The fights themselves took place outside of cities and town, but never so far away that spectators could not drive out to them.

Well on that note, we will leave the gentlemen to their pursuits and go for tea. Until next time, happy rambles.