Monday, August 22, 2011

Regency Fashion 1811

What were they wearing in the summer of the first year of the Regency?


 Here we have three gowns from June and July 1811.  The first two are walking dresses and the last an opera dress.  All show the classic regency lines.

Here are the general observations for July 1811 printed in the June edition of  La Belle Assemblee:

Muslin pelisses, lined with pink, blue, or yellow sarsnet, are still very prevailing, as are spensers of like colours; lace scarfs alone seem to have the preference, either in black or white lace; mantlets are by no means considered as inelegant. Satin tippets, trimmed with lace, are very becoming to a light figure. White satin spensers, mantles, and pelisses are in a high degree of estimation. Small caps formed of brocaded ribband, finished with a long rosette in front, edged with lace pearls; or in the long Mango shape, intersected with white gymp, with a cord and tassels suspended from one side; and caps in every fanciful intermixture of satin or ribband, ornamented with ostrich feathers; they are made flat on the head, raised from the forehead, and in the long Grecian shape.
    Flowers were not at all worn at the Prince’s Fete,  cords and tassels terminated the draperies, and gave an air of graceful negligence to the figure; feathers were universal, much of the Spanish costume prevailed; the sleeves were worn very short, the bosoms very low, the backs rather high, trains of a moderate length. The tunic in crape or lace, embroidered in silver, was displayed upon almost every female of rank and taste; this form of dress will of course descend to the morning habit, and will doubtless relieve the stomacher of much of that formal appearance which at present distinguishes it, and the effect will be extremely graceful. All lace worn on this magnificent occasion was of the manufacture of this country, a noble example, which we hope will be universally followed in all ranks of life. Honiton lace, as most resembling Brussel’s point, held the preference.
    The ornaments in jewellry were either of diamonds, pearls, rubies, sapphires, or emeralds.
    The prevailing colours, pink, blue, yellow, and buff.

Until next time, Happy rambles

Thursday, August 18, 2011


How did they do that? 

You will have seen my earlier post on milling grain at Sturminster Newton, but I thought you might be interested in some views inside the mill itself. 

As I may have mentioned before There has been a mill on this site for centuries.  A predecessor may even have appeared in the doomsday book.  The building is actually two separate mills.  The one on the bank for grain, built in 1650 and the wing jutting into the river originally about 1611 (demolished in the 18th c and rebuilt in brick) was used for fulling.  This is a method of cleaning the cloth from natural oils and dirt from the local cloth known as swanskin.

This is a small video of the mechanism which raised sacks of grain to the bin loft, with water power, and put into, you guessed it, grain bins. The mill now has a 1904 turbine engine but originally the power would have been produced by the water wheel attached to the mill.
The sack of grain passes through the stone floor on its way to the bin loft above. Sacks were much larger than that used for the demonstration. These were west of England sacks weighing  18 stones (252 lbs) if it was wheat, 16 stones for barley and 12 stones for oats.  Not easily carried up the very steep stairs.
You can see the bins in the picture on the right, just and note that some of those roof beams are in the order of 600 or 700 years old, reused time and again. The bins are deliberately low-lipped so it was easier to pour the grain in by hand.

 The grain flowed down from the bins above via a chute, which was opened and closed by pushing wooden bats into a slot in the chute. The grain then passed through a winnower,  a series of sieves to get rid of foreign materials. It went back down to the grainfloor (two stories down) where it was rebagged and hoisted up to the bins again where this time it would be directed to the mill stones.

The stone floor is  between the ground floor or the grain floor and is where the grinding is done. 

The grain falls into a hopper, supported by a horse, or wooden frame that is supported on a tun or vat, the tun being the large circular wooden box covering the stones. Grain from the hopper is fed into a wooden trough called a shoe, which vibrates and sends a steady stream of grain through a hole in the tun's surface into the millstones.  A damsel, so called because of its chattering noise helps maintain the flow of grain.
The grain is ground to flour between two millstones.  The lower stone is static and is known as the bedstone. The moving stone is the runner. The flour finds its way out from under the runner, into the vat and finally down a hole and back to the ground floor to be bagged off.  Bear in mind that all stone ground flour contains a little powdered stone and therefore the millstone must be a hard, fine-textured stone which wears to a smooth powder undetectable in the flour. Derbyshire or Peak stone was a popular choice for millstones.  The French Buhr stone quarried near Paris was the very best of all.

When a stone wore down it would be the millers responsibility to dress the stones. He would remove all the wooden accessories, use a stone crane or winch, levers, wooden blocks etc to lift. to  turn over and place the running stone on the floor. He would then mark the stones for dressing using a swan's feather dipped in raddle - an earth colour obtained from Cornwall or the Forest of Dean - then chip out the grooves and flatten the high spots with a steel pick held in a wooden handle called a bill or a thrift.  Then he had to put it all back together.  This could happen fairly often too. But the stones themselves could last as long as 0 years.

Mill stones vary but can weight up to three quarters of a tone each. They must be artificially roughened with grooves in order to grind rather than slide over the round grains as if they were ball bearings. A miller had to be careful not to let the stones grind against each other (run out of grain) or they might create a spark. Flour catches alight very easily and many mills burned down.
This is the sound of the grain being turned into flour. 

Hope you enjoyed our trip to the Mill at Stourbridge. Until next time, Happy Rambles

Monday, August 15, 2011

More Old Devon

Since blogger seems to have fixed its picture facility I am going to try to post the rest of my Clovelly pictures.
As you saw from the pictures last time, a fisherman's life is dangerous and hard work. But perhaps this view, taken from upstairs would help ease the pain.

Clovelly has always been a tourist spot, and here you can see our Victorian visitors waiting to leave by paddle steamer.  Do you see how much this picture resembles my pictures in the earlier blogs? It gives me the shivers a bit.

A famous inhabitant of Clovelly was Charles Kingsley. A writer who was born in South Devon in 1819.  So not quite a product of the Regency, but born during the period.  He lived at Clovelly with his family (he had five siblings), when his father was the Rector from 1832 to 1836.

Kingsley returned time and time again to Clovelly, as place he called "the dear old Paradise" and his "inspiration" before he met his wife.  The following pictures may account for that letter. I leave it up to you to decide.

Until next time, happy rambles

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

RomCon 2011 and more

If you are wondering what I have been up to. ie why I have been missing from here for a while, these  are my excuses. 

I had two stories to finish in the month of July.  A Christmas Undone. Yep Christmas in July. I had to turn up the air conditioning to get in the mood.

I also had to hand in the follow up story to Captured for the Captain's Pleasure (Harlequin Historical) which came out in the UK in June 2010 and is coming out in North America in December 2011. (Yay) You know I only just found that out when I went on to Amazon. So fun.

Anyway, the follow up book is about Alice's best friend Selena and is set in Scotland.

Last weekend I attended Rom Con 2011 in Denver Colorado.  This is a conference for readers and I was honoured to meet so many readers of romance, to spend time with them, and have fun playing some hilarious games and talking about, you guessed it.  Books!

I really enjoyed the fashion show put on by Deanne Gist with a variety of authors modelling the costumes from the Victorian era. Here you can see me in my outfit a la Scarlett O'Hara. Lots of Fun

And here is myself and Mary Sullivan with reader Marelou, who so kindly sent me these pictures.

And for the final piece de resistance (the words in italics are to be read with a French accent, tho' the spelling might be off they will sound correct).

This is me at the build a hero workshop and contest.  Our group cheated as you can see. Words failed us, so we brought in the real thing!  Now our group/table did win the prize, but that was because everyone was tied so we did a lucky dip. Our luck was in, in more ways than one.

That is all from me this evening.  The pictures seem to be going better so I will get back to posting the last bits about Devon, before we move on to a new locale.

Until next time -- Happy Rambles