Monday, January 23, 2012

What did Happen During the Regency?

Continuing  snippets of the news two hundred years ago to celebrate and 200th anniversary of the beginning of the Regency era.

1811
  • May 22: - several peoplewere  killed by a house falling at Seven Dials.  
    • This was in one of the poorest and most notorious regions of London in the Parish of St Giles where one also found the worst of the rookeries.  A dangerous place for any Regency buck or miss to wander at any time of the day, but even worse for those that lived there. 
    • Near to Covent Garden, it was called Seven Dials because of the way the streets and alleys come together in one intersection which originally had a sundial in the centre. The first plan in 1690  was for six  streets, but the developer Thomas Neale who planned this to be a smart end of town with large fronted shops, added a seventh in the final plans in order to increase his income from rents.  It never achieved its potential. After his death, the houses were subdivided and quickly became slums, renowned for  gin shops. At times, the area threatened to descend into the undesirable depravity of the St Giles "Rookery" to the north, but it was predominantly a working neighbourhood, with woodcarvers, straw-hat manufacturers, pork butchers, watch repairers, booksellers, pubs and breweries.
    • At one point each of the seven apexes facing the Monument housed a pub, their cellars and vaults connected in the basement providing handy escape routes should the need arise.These days it is very different. It has boutique style shops and a new sense of community. Over 25% of its buildings are "listed" (protected) and many date back to the 1690's. Clearly not the one that fell on these poor people.
  • June14: -The proceedings of the House of Commons state the number of French prisoners in England to be near 50,000.
  • Aug. 21: - A comet made its appearance above the horizon. The Great Comet of 1811.  It is estimated that this comet comes around once every three thousand plus years, so I won't be around to see it the next time. The drawing is by William Henry Smyth in 1811.
  • Sep.11: - Discovery made at the Queen's house that her majesty's court dress had been stolen. Really, how bad is that?
  • November unrest: -- Bands of men appear wearing masks and armed with muskets, pistols and hatchets and break into the small hosiery workshops scattered thoughout country villages. Hammermen carrying hung heavy iron sledgehammers smashed open the doors of the workshops and beat at the wide stocking frames until they are destroyed. E.g. Nov 4 6 frames broken at the village of Bulwell on November 4, a dozen at Kimberley a few nights later. November 13 70 frames smashed in a single attack at Sutton-in-Ashfield. Claimed allegiance to “General Ludd”. Magistrates cannot police the rural jurisdictions. A military force, a squadron of dragoons, the Mansfield Volunteers, two troops of Yeomanry were ineffective.
That is it for now, I hope you enjoyed this peek of life in the first year of the Regency. Until next time Happy Rambles.