A Hot Furniture of the Regency by Susan Karsten

If you’ve read any significant amount in the Regency genre, you’ve come across references to the décor fashion trend involving Egyptian-style furniture. Ever wondered or imagined what it was like?

It’s clear to me why this particular style is not remembered with fondness and it hasn’t swept back around in nostalgic, retro reoccurrences. Regency culture became fascinated with ancient articles upon the publication of Henry Holland’s book “Etchings of Ancient Ornamental Architecture”. This ushered in a period of interest in the producing of copies of ancient objects coming from Greece, Rome, and Egypt.

comfy?

When the book, “Reproductions of Classical Furniture” by designer Thomas Hope came out in 1807, the Egyptian reproductions using mainly mahogany, but also rosewood and zebrawood, became wildly popular in high echelons of society. The pieces had straight lines, and used symbols as decoration.

In my home, we enjoy a pretty heirloom chair that once belonged to my husband’s grandmother, who was born in 1903. The chair is old, but not Egyptian. It’s been featured in many humble portraits taken in the Karsten home.

 

It has a problem, however, in that the green velvet-covered, thick-looking seat’s stuffing is completely shot. It’s:

Lovely to look at,

Delightful to touch,

But if you sit,

You’ll find it’s not much.

I happened upon a recent guest stroking this chair’s highly-polished carved wooden back. The reverent  look on her face (she didn’t know the seat is corrupt) reminded me of a caution in Matthew 6:19, which says “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.” The Egyptian furniture trend which is long gone and my own pretty chair prove the Truth of the verse all too well.

The Hunt

The Lucky Man Fox Hunting by Lionel Edwards
The Kill by Thomas Blinks

Hunting season is just gearing up here in Maine. Already a few families have caught their moose, which will fill their freezers for the winter. During the Regency era in England, hunting had become the sport of gentlemen, although it wasn’t limited to the aristocratic class. But if you didn’t own land where game could thrive, you depended on permission of the landowner. Poaching was illegal and with punishment if caught of transportation to the penal colonies (i.e. Australia) for seven years (according to the Game Laws of 1816) or injury if you were caught in a “man-trap”. Prior to 1816, penalties were doubtless more severe. But we won’t dwell on that unpleasant topic today.

Red Grouse on Alert by Archibald Thorburn

Back to hunting as a sport for the idle rich. Pheasant, partridge, hare and rabbit were all “fair game”—pun intended. The official start of hunting season was August 12th “Glorious Twelfth” for red grouse in the north. It coincided with the recess of Parliament for the year, when the gentry flocked north—another pun—out of hot, dirty London for their country estates or those of their friends. The red grouse is a fowl native to Scotland and northern England so those lucky enough to have estates there could probably expect company during the month of August.

Fox hunting was  probably the most popular hunting sport of the regency buck (young, all around sporting man of the ton participating in all the debaucheries available to him). Fox hunting gained popularity as the Enclosure Laws of the 1700s shut off more and more open land with stone walls and hedgerows, giving the landless class less space to grow food and the propertied class more area to protect the wild life for their own pleasure. What had begun a few centuries earlier as a defense of farmers against fox damaging their crops evolved into a very structured sport centered in the “Shire” of England, Leicestershire, in the heart of England, an area of rich, flat pastureland ideal for “riding to the hounds.” The town of Melton Mowbray became the center of fox hunting. Three major hunts, the Quorn, the Belvoir (pronounced “beaver”), and the Cottesmore were held here.

Fox hunting went from the beginning of November through March, after the fields had been harvested and would not be damaged by the horses and hounds running over them and ended before the first spring plantings.

If the hunting was good, men were reluctant to return to town, so women, arriving in London in March would complain over the dearth of men in the early part of the season.

The Hunting Party Meal by by Nicolas Lancret
Portrait of Favorite Foxhounds by Thomas Woodward

Dog and horse breeds were gradually selected and improved for hunting: the foxhound breed perfected in the 17th and 18th centuries in England for foxhunting, and the Irish hunter becoming the preferred horse for its endurance. Dogs were first used in packs for hunting in the mid-17th century.

Equestrian portrait of the Grand Duchess Yekaterina Alexeyevna

Fox hunting was a man’s sport until the 1830s when the jumping pommel was invented for female side saddles. Before this, if you read about a heroine being just as intrepid a rider alongside the hero in a hunt, she would risk falling off her horse and breaking her neck if she tried such a stunt—unless she rode astride—difficult before the invention of the split skirt in the later Victorian era. A few renown women like Catherine the Great did ride astride but wearing male attire  (she also rode side saddle as you can see in the portrait). But being royalty she could get away with this unladylike behavior.

jumping pommel sidesaddle - wikipedia

The jumping pommel sidesaddle had an extra pommel as can be seen in the photograph for the left leg to secured against, in addition to the original pommel for the right leg. Women’s riding habits had long hems on the left side so their ankles would be well covered when they sat atop their horses. This is why they had to drape these long skirts over their left arm when walking. With this new sidesaddle women could gallop and jump fences for the first time.

So until this invention, women had to be content to ride along the roads in carriages, ride sidesaddle on gentle mounts to the meet and then ride home again, or enjoy the sometimes elaborate picnics planned around a hunt.

 

From:

Wikipedia and blogs: A Web of English History: The Age of George III; Jane Austen’s World; The Jane Austen Centre; Rakehell: Where Regency Lives!; The Word Wenches: Fox Hunting; Shannon Donnelly’s Fresh Ink: The Regency World Horse

 

God in the Regency ~ Part Three ~ Guest Post by Regan Walker

Regency Reflections is excited to welcome Regan Walker. Over the next three days we will be sharing a paper Regan wrote entitled “God in the Regency”. This three part series will give you a terrific overview of the religious environment and shifts in the Regency period. 

Read Part One here. 

Read Part Two here

Other factors should be considered because of how they influenced people’s view of God during this time. New ideas in politics, philosophy, science and art all vied for people’s attention. Two in particular, the scientific discoveries of the time and the Industrial Revolution, may have had dramatic effect on man’s view of his faith during the Regency.

William Herschel
William Herschel

In 1781, while investigating what he and others believed to be a comet, William Herschel, an astronomer, discovered a new planet he named  “George’s star,” after King George III. (In 1850, after Herschel’s death, the name would be changed to Uranus.) This was the first planet discovered since ancient times. In 1816, Herschel was knighted, and in 1821 he became President of the Astronomical Society for his achievements. Herschel, a devout Christian, strongly believed that God’s universe was characterized by order and planning. His discovery of that order led him to conclude, “[T]he undevout astronomer must be mad.”

Herschel’s discoveries caused his fellow scientists and theologians to reconsider their prior views of God and the possibility there were other creations in the universe. Not all views expressed were those of believers in God; however, one who was is illustrative of the prevailing attitude. Thomas Dick, a Scottish minister and science teacher, in his book The Sidereal Heavens, published in 1840, said of Herschel’s discovery,

To consider creation, therefore, in all its departments, as extending throughout regions of space illimitable to mortal view, and filled with intelligent existence, is nothing more than what comports with the idea of HIM who inhabiteth immensity, and whose perfections are boundless and past finding out.

Rev. Thomas Dick
Rev. Thomas Dick

Though he wrote this after the Regency, Dick’s statement is indicative of the view during the early 19th-century in which science was dominated by clergymen-scientists, men dedicated to their scientific work but still committed to their faith in God. Scientific discoveries were seen as entirely consistent with a belief in a Creator. Geologist William Buckland, mathematician Baden Powell and polymath William Whewell found little conflict in their roles as clergymen and men of science.

The Industrial Revolution transformed English society during the 18th and 19th centuries and would certainly cause people to question the established order of things, including the church. During the 18th century, England’s population nearly doubled. The industry most important in the rise of England as an industrial nation was cotton textiles. A series of inventions in the 18th century led to machines that could and did replace human laborers, and the use of new, mineral based materials that replaced those based on animal and vegetable material. The effect of machines replacing workers, particularly in the textile industry, was keenly felt in some parts of England.

The Luddites smashing the looms
The Luddites smashing the looms

During the period 1811-1816, a group called “the Luddites” reacted by smashing thousands of machines developed for use in the textile industries in Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire; thus the Midlands became the center of much unrest. The poor, crippled by bad harvests and taxes and resentful at having no vote, rose up. At times, the clergy would even become involved. For example Hugh Wolstenholme, curate of Pentrich in Derbyshire, took a stand on the side of his parishioners and was critical of the government in the Rebellion of 1817. For his role, he had to flee to America. Interestingly, he attended Trinity College Cambridge when Charles Simeon was the rector.

Charles Simeon
Charles Simeon

As England changed from an agricultural to an industrial economy during the 19th century, the lives of the working class were disrupted and many people relocated from the countryside to the towns. In 1801, at the time of the first census, only about 20% of the population lived in towns. By 1851, the figure had risen to over 50%. New social relationships emerged with the growing working and middle classes. During this time of upheaval and relocation, which began in the Regency, though some individuals, like Charles Simeon, exercised great spiritual influence, the Church as a whole would fail to grapple with the problems that resulted from the huge surge in population and the growth of industrial towns. Still, perhaps both the problems and the movement of people to the towns, where they might have heard the message of the great preachers of the day, spurred them to examine their faith. One can only hope.

 

 Selected Sources and Books/Articles of Interest:
Several of the resources listed below can be clicked on to take you to them.  

All Things Austen, An Encyclopedia of Austen’s World, Vols. I & II (articles on the Clergy and Religion) by Kirstin Olsen

Selina, Countess of Huntingdon by Faith Cook

The Bachelor Duke, 6th Duke of Devonshire 1790-1858 by James Lees-Milne

An Introduction to the History of the Church in England by Henry Offley Wakeman (3rd edition, 1897 on Google Books)

A Practical View of the Prevailing Religious System of Professed Christians, in the Higher and Middle classes in This Country Contrasted with Real Christianity, by William Wilberforce, 1798

Religious Upheaval During 17th Century England by Katherine Pym

The Clapham Sect by O. Hardman

Life in the 19th Century by Tim Lambert

Taylor University: Charles Simeon

Eras of Elegance: Religion and Spirituality

The Regency World of Author Lesley-Anne McLeod

Jane Austen and the Evangelicals

A Nation Improving in Religion: Jane Austen’s Prayers and Their Place in Her Life and Art by Bruce Stovel

Nancy Mayer, Regency Researcher, The Bishops and Archbishops in England in 1815

The Anglican Library

Oxbridge Writers: George IV: The Prince Regent

Church Furnishing in 19th Century England

The History Guide: The Origins of the Industrial Revolution in England by Steven Kreis, Ph.D.

On Herschel’s Forty-Foot Telescope by Kathleen Lundeen

Amazing Grace: the Story of John Newton by Al Rogers

Jane Austen and Slavery by Ibn Warraq

Austen, Emma and the Prince by Stever King

From The Victorian Web:

 Nineteenth-Century Riots and Civil Disorders

Victorian Science and Religion (referring to early 19th century beliefs)

 

God in the Regency ~ Part Two ~ Guest Post by Regan Walker

Regency Reflections is excited to welcome Regan Walker. Over the next three days we will be sharing a paper Regan wrote entitled “God in the Regency”. This three part series will give you a terrific overview of the religious environment and shifts in the Regency period. 

Part One posted yesterday. Read it here

Regency England (and the 19th Century)

Against this background, we emerge into Regency England (1811-1820, extending to 1837 if we consider the larger “Regency Era,” ending when Queen Victoria succeeded William IV). During this period, the religious landscape consisted of the Anglican Church of England, which occupied the predominant ground (though the Evangelicals continued to dominate the Church in the first half of the 19th century), and those considered “Dissenters,” a general term that included non-conformist Protestants, Presbyterians (identified with the Scots), Baptists, Jews, Roman Catholics and Quakers. The Protestants moved toward the Methodist and Evangelical perspective, and a personal conversion experience. The Roman Catholics, governed by the Pope in Rome, though discriminated against, were too strong to be suppressed and persisted, eventually regaining the ability to become Members of Parliament and hold public office with The Catholic Emancipation Act in 1829. (Ironically, the Prince Regent opposed Catholic Emancipation even though Maria Fitzherbert, a twice-widowed Roman Catholic, was arguably the love of his life.)

There were many incentives to be a part of the Church of England because it was government controlled and sponsored. Only Anglicans could attend Oxford or receive degrees from Cambridge. Except for the Jews and Quakers (the latter which received freedom of worship in 1813), all marriages and baptisms had to take place in an Anglican church. All citizens, no matter their faith, paid taxes to maintain the parish churches, and non-Anglicans were prevented from taking many government and military posts.

According to Henry Wakeman in An Introduction to the History of the Church of England, by the time George III died in 1820, despite all that occurred in the 18th century with the Evangelical and Methodist revivals, with a few exceptions (some discussed in this article), the Church of England was not materially different than it was when George III came to the throne in 1760.

The bishops were still amiable scholars who lived in dignified ease apart from their clergy, attended the king’s levee regularly, voted steadily in Parliament for the party of the minister who had appointed them, entertained the country gentry when Parliament was not sitting, wrote learned books on points of classical scholarship, and occasionally were seen driving in state through the muddy country roads on their way to the chief towns of their dioceses to hold a confirmation. Of spiritual leadership they had but little idea. (Wakeman at 457)

Jane Austen wrote about the world of the Anglican clergy. Her father was the Reverend George Austen, a pastor who encouraged his daughter in her love of reading and writing. (In addition to her novels, Jane Austen composed evening prayers for her father’s services.) She also had other relatives, including two of her brothers, who were among the Anglican clergy. It was a culture in which faith often influenced one’s livelihood. Some of Austen’s characters (i.e., Edward Ferrars and Edmund Bertram) were clergy in need of parsonages. It was an acceptable occupation for a younger son. Large landowners and peers owned many of the church appointments and could appoint the local clergyman.

Of the Anglican clergy, Wakeman said,

The bulk of the English clergy then as ever were educated, refined, generous, God-fearing men, who lived lives of simple piety and plain duty, respected by their people for the friendly help and wise counsel and open purse which were ever at the disposal of the poor.

 

A few of them hunted, shot, fished and drank or gambled during the week like their friends in the army or at the bar, and mumbled through a perfunctory service in church on Sundays unterrified by the thought of archdeacon or bishop. Some of them, where there was no residence in the parish, lived an idle and often vicious life at a neighbouring town, and only visited their parishes when they rode over on Sundays to conduct the necessary services. (Wakeman at 459)

 

[With few exceptions] the clergy held and taught a negative and cold Protestantism deadening to the imagination, studiously repressive to the emotions, and based on principles which found little sanction either in reason or in history. The laity willingly accepted it, as it made so little demand upon their conscience, so little claim upon their life. (Wakeman at 461)

Wakeman recognized the indifference of the Church of England to the “tearing away” of the followers of Whitefield and Wesley:

An earnest revival of personal religion had deeply affected some sections of English society. Yet…the Church of England reared her impassive front…sublime in her apathy, unchanged and apparently unchangeable….

 

Jane Austen
Jane Austen

Unlike some Anglicans, who may have attended church only out of duty or habit, Jane Austen was more than a nominal church member. From the prayers she wrote, she seems to have been a devout believer who accepted the Anglican faith as it was, though she disliked hypocrisy and that may be reflected in some of her clergyman characters. She also had views on the Evangelicals. In a letter to her sister Cassandra, written on January 24, 1809, she admitted, “I do not like the Evangelicals.” Like many Anglicans, she likely felt faith was to be unemotional and demonstrated in observances of certain services, prayers and moral teachings. The demonstrative preaching and strong message of the Evangelicals, particularly their enthusiasm and fervor, might not appeal to a girl raised in an Anglican minister’s home. Then, too, she had experience with certain Evangelicals, notably her cousin Edward Cooper, who she observed in a letter to her sister, wrote “cruel letters of comfort.” (It is very human, is it not, to judge a movement by the few persons we may know within it?) However, as she grew older, there is some indication of a softening in her thinking. On November 18, 1814, Austen wrote a letter to her niece, Fanny Knight, in which she said, “I am by no means convinced that we ought not all to be Evangelicals, & am at least persuaded that they who are so from Reason & Feeling, must be happiest & safest.”

Perhaps as Austen viewed the decadence of the Regency period (particularly the social life in London), the indulgences of her monarch, and the lackluster faith of some who adhered to the Church of England out of habit, she found value in the sincerity of those who espoused a more evangelical message. It was, after all, the Evangelicals led by William Wilberforce, allied with the Quakers that became the champions of the anti-slavery movement, resulting in the Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade in 1807. Among Jane Austen’s favorite writers were those who were passionately anti-slavery, such as William Cowper, Doctor Johnson and Thomas Clarkson. One of her naval brothers, Frank, after a visit to Antigua in 1806, wrote home condemning slavery.

Prince Regent, later George IV
Prince Regent, later George IV

Austen was critical of the Prince Regent, understandably so. Unlike his parents, George III and Queen Charlotte, the Prince Regent lived a decadent life, indulging in his personal pleasure devoid of any evidence of a strong faith, or indeed any faith at all, though he was nominally the head of the Church of England. As a result of the tax burden from the wars in France and the Prince’s opulent lifestyle that was crushing the poor and working classes, the resentment for the Prince grew more strident as time went on. Jane Austen disliked him intensely, principally because of his treatment of his wife, Princess Caroline of Brunswick (as seen in her letter to Martha Lloyd of February 16, 1813). She was not pleased when it was “suggested” she dedicate her novel Emma to him in 1816, though she did so for marketing reasons.

George Whitefield preaching
George Whitefield preaching

In at least some parts of the Church of England during the Regency, spiritual change was afoot continuing from the movements in the 18th century. In such places, the Church of England looked more like the Protestant Evangelicals. For example, Charles Simeon, rector of Trinity Church, Cambridge for 54 years (1782-1836), and a member of the Clapham group, was a great Bible expositor, who taught a risen Savior and salvation through grace, sounding very much like Wesley and Whitefield decades earlier. That was no mean feat given the opposition he faced in Cambridge. The universities were bastions of the established Church of England and seedbeds of rationalism, neither of which made them sympathetic to a rector of strong religious fervor.

Anglicans distinguished between the “High Church” and the “Low Church.” The High Church or “Orthodox” church, associated with the Tories, was content with the state’s involvement in religious matters and associated itself with the court and courtiers and emphasized the rituals of the church and the Common Book of Prayer. The Low Church, associated with the Whigs and with Cambridge, and before they broke off, with the Methodists, presented a middle ground where faith was tolerant, rational and low-key. To the Low Church, the Bible was all-important and the Book of Common Prayer considered merely a human invention that could be adapted and changed. To those in the Anglican High Church, Low Church members, like Charles Simeon, were merely “Dissenters in disguise.” The Evangelicals were opposed by both the High and Low Church of the Anglicans, particularly because of their enthusiasm (their fervor raised the specter of the troubles in France). Because of their strong stance on moral issues, the Evangelicals of that day were also viewed by some as troublemakers who didn’t want anyone to have any fun. Notwithstanding such views, there were those in the aristocracy, including the William Cavendish, the 6th Duke of Devonshire, who became Evangelicals though they never left the Anglican church.

One effect of the Methodist and Evangelical influences, begun in the 18th century and continued in the Regency, was the growth in foreign missions, as Christians went to other parts of the world to spread the “good news.” There were many English men and women whose newfound faith compelled them to accept the challenge for the cause of the gospel. Missionary societies, initially viewed with disfavor by the established church, gained in prominence in the 19th century.

Charles Simeon
Charles Simeon

Charles Simeon was one of those clergymen in the Church of England who was interested in missions and spreading the Bible’s message around the world. He took a special interest in India and sent his former assistants as chaplains with the British East India Company. Henry Martyn may be the most famous of those assistants. He served in India and Persia from 1806 until his death in 1812, and during those few years, translated the New Testament into Persian, Urdu and Judaeo-Persic. He influenced young people for generations to go to the mission field and is remembered as saying, “The spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions. The nearer we get to Him, the more intensely missionary we become.” Such a faith was not one of ritual or habit but a faith that moved one to action and personal sacrifice.

God in the Regency will continue with part 3 tomorrow.

After years of practicing law in both the private sector and government, and traveling to over 40 countries, Regan has returned to her love of telling stories. She writes mainlineRegency romances, her first is Racing With The Wind, set in London and Paris in1816, and features spies and intrigue as well as a smart, independent heroine and a handsome British lord–lots of adventure as well as love! It’s the first in her Agents of the Crown trilogy. For more, see her website:  http://www.reganwalkerauthor.com.

God in the Regency ~ Part 1 ~ Guest Post by Regan Walker

Regency Reflections is excited to welcome Regan Walker. Over the next three days we will be sharing a paper Regan wrote entitled “God in the Regency”. This three part series will give you a terrific overview of the religious environment and shifts in the Regency period. 

My initial purpose in writing this article was to dive beneath the form and ritual we often read about in the religious activities of Regency England, and get to the hearts of the men and women living at that time to explore their beliefs and the meaning of their faith to their lives. I found it a daunting task in the short time I had and finally decided that the only evidence I could provide of what was in their hearts was to look at the actions that resulted from their faith (or lack of it). I approach this issue as a person of faith myself, hence I am not looking to discredit, but rather to shed light on what was happening to the church that influenced the people of England, both rich and poor, in matters of faith during the Regency. To do so, however, I felt it necessary to review the century before this period and the time following the slim slice of history that was the Regency in order to understand the sweeping changes that occurred in the 18th and 19th centuries that bracket the Regency.

It is not my intention in this effort to duplicate the wonderful contributions of others who have looked into this subject. I merely want to provide interesting background for authors of Regency historical novels who may want to know more. At the end of the article I’ve listed some of my sources and other books, articles and websites that might be of interest to you. My thanks to fellow Beau Monde member Nancy Mayer who gave me helpful suggestions that improved the article.

The 18th Century:

The early 18th century in England was an age of reason, and the churches, such as they were, lacked vitality, in part due to the action of the government. I speak in general terms, of course, as there have always been exceptions. However, from what I’ve read, there was little enthusiasm for spiritual matters, perhaps as a reaction to the excesses of the 17th century. People were content with things as they were and those few who attended church often did so out of habit or social custom. The aristocracy was expected to show a good example by attending church and some did, but perhaps only a few times a year on major church holidays. There were parishes where the poor had no church in which to worship and wanted for spiritual leadership.

John Wesley, 1703 - 1791

In the middle of the century, a change swept England. It began, as such revivals always do, with a few who desired to grow closer to God. In 1729, a small group of men at Oxford began gathering under the direction of John Wesley to observe the fasts and festivals of the church, take Communion, and visit the sick and prisoners. Wesley had made the love of God the central principle in his life. His efforts, and those of others, led to what is called The Great Awakening, a Christian movement that also swept Europe and the American colonies. It was to have great consequence.

The “Awakening” produced powerful preachers who gave listeners a sense of their need for a personal faith in God for salvation from sin. Pulling away from the ritual and ceremony that brought people to church out of habit or social custom, the Great Awakening made Christianity intensely personal to the average person by fostering a deep sense of spiritual conviction and redemption, and by encouraging introspection and a commitment to a new standard of personal morality.

John and his brother, Charles and George Whitefield, all ordained in the Anglican Church of England, had been missionaries in the new colony of Georgia, but returned home in 1738 after an unsuccessful mission, disillusioned and discouraged with their faith. They began attending prayer meetings on Aldersgate Street in London, searching for answers. During that time, all three had conversion experiences. (As John Wesley wrote, “I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins.” –Journal of John Wesley, May 24, 1738.) With this newfound excitement and energy in spiritual matters, the brothers began to develop guidelines, or methods, in seeking spiritual renewal.

John Wesley Preaching
John Wesley Preaching

In 1739, John Wesley and George Whitefield began preaching the gospel outdoors to large gatherings. Wesley took the whole of England as his parish, preaching to as many as 20,000 at one time in London. Thousands, who had previously thought little of religion, were converted. Although not his intention, Wesley’s message led to a new movement that would ultimately separate from the Church of England called the Methodists. From the very start, the Methodists were concerned with personal holiness and emphasized the need for an experience of salvation and forgiveness of sin. Those who criticized the Methodists, such as the Duchess of Buckingham, complained of being held accountable for sin “as the common wretches.” John Wesley’s mission was to England’s poor, unlearned and neglected people. He had little time for the aristocratic rich, finding them idle, trivial, extravagant and lacking in social responsibility.

Selina, Countess of Huntingdon
Selina, Countess of Huntingdon

Despite the focus of the Methodists on the poor and working classes, one of the converts at this time was the Countess of Huntingdon, who for 40 years was deeply involved with the leaders of the Methodist movement. The countess was born into aristocracy as Selina Shirley, both sides of her family being descended from royalty. Selina married Theophilus Hastings, the Earl of Huntingdon, in 1728. Notwithstanding her wealth and position, she found the typical social life of the aristocracy empty. Everything changed in 1739 when she was converted to the Christian faith and determined to use her energies, organizational skills and wealth for the cause of the gospel. Within a short time she was identifying herself with the Wesley brothers and other early Methodist preachers in the Church of England. This reflected great courage on her part, because these itinerant preachers were despised by most of the aristocracy.

To reach the aristocracy, the countess brought the leading preachers of the day into her home and invited her friends and acquaintances to hear them. A number of noble and influential people came to faith in this way. All of them were likely members of the Church of England even before their conversion. In 1746, the countess’s husband died, and at 39, she threw herself into her work with even greater zeal. When she was in London, she held services in her home inviting the evangelical preachers of her day to speak to her friends. She also leased properties in several strategic centres throughout the country and regularly held preaching services there. She built chapels, too, for “her preachers” including one in Bath. By her death in 1791, she had been largely responsible for the construction of 64 chapels all over Britain. In 1778, she once said that she was responsible for 116 “preaching places.”

It is interesting to note that in 1748, John Newton, slave trade ship captain and later the author of the hymn Amazing Grace, was converted during a storm at sea. After he left his career as a ship’s captain, he became an enthusiastic disciple of George Whitefield and then an evangelical lay preacher. In 1757, he applied to be an ordained priest in the Church of England, though it was seven years before that happened, owing to his lack of credentials. Meanwhile, in his frustration, he also applied to the Methodists, Presbyterians and Independents, which suggests he could have found a spiritual home with any of them. Newton’s newfound faith in God made a distinct difference in his life and the hymn for which he is famous testifies to his heart change (“I once was lost but now am found, was blind, but now I see”).

Four years after John Wesley’s death in 1791, the Methodists broke with the Church of England, though it was never Wesley’s desire and he argued vehemently against it. Still, he is credited with the revival of personal religion in England and the Methodist movement.

William Wilberforce
William Wilberforce

At the end of the 18th century, a group of wealthy Anglican Evangelicals came together, most of them living in the village of Clapham southwest of London, to campaign for an end to slavery and cruel sports, prison reform and foreign missions. Dubbed “the saints,” a name which likely amused them (since the Bible calls all believers “saints”), they included: Henry Venn, rector and founder of the group; John Venn, rector and the founder’s son; William Wilberforce, friend of both John Newton and Prime Minister William Pitt, and the statesman who successfully fought against slavery; Henry Thornton, the financier; Charles Simeon, rector at Cambridge; Granville Sharp, a lawyer and founder of the St. George’s Bay Company, a forerunner of the Sierra Leone Company; Zachary Macaulay, estate manager and Governor of Sierra Leone (established as a homeland for emancipated slaves); John Shore, Lord Teignmouth, formerly Governor-General of India; James Stephen, lawyer, Wilberforce’s brother-in-law and author of the Slave Trade Act of 1807; Charles Grant, Chairman of the East India Company; and Hannah More, poet and playwright, who produced tracts for the group.

What motivated them? William Wilberforce’s views here are helpful. In his book, “A Practical View of the Prevailing Religious System of Professed Christians, in the Higher and Middle Classes in This Country Contrasted with Real Christianity,” which was published in 1798, and by 1826 had gone through 15 editions in England alone, he speaks of a “true Christian” as one discharging a debt of gratitude to God for the grace he has received. Likely his views mirrored those of his fellow Clapham group members when he said,

They are not their own: their bodily and mental faculties, their natural and acquired endowments, their substance, their authority, their time, their influence, all these they consider. . .to be consecrated to the honor of God and employed in His service.

The Clapham group certainly put their faith into action. One of their primary concerns was foreign missions, taking seriously Christ’s command to “go and make disciples of all nations.” Among their achievements, were the Religious Tract Society in 1799, the Society for Missions to Africa and the East (now the Church Missionary Society) in 1799, and the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1804. The latter circulated the Bible in England and abroad. With funding from the Clapham group, Hannah More established twelve schools by 1800 where reading, the Bible and the catechism were taught to local children. She also wrote ethical books, some of them during the Regency.

The influence of the Clapham group continued during the Regency period. By the mid 19th century they were known as the Clapham Sect.

Sunday schools arose in the 1780s teaching Bible stories to children. It was the idea of Robert Raikes, the curate of Mary le Crypt Church in Gloucester. His purpose was to teach local children to read and write. The idea spread rapidly; by 1797, there were 1,086 schools in England teaching 69,000 children.

God in the Regency will continue with part 2 tomorrow.

After years of practicing law in both the private sector and government, and traveling to over 40 countries, Regan has returned to her love of telling stories. She writes mainlineRegency romances, her first is Racing With The Wind, set in London and Paris in1816, and features spies and intrigue as well as a smart, independent heroine and a handsome British lord–lots of adventure as well as love! It’s the first in her Agents of the Crown trilogy. For more, see her website:  http://www.reganwalkerauthor.com.

Tea and Tulips

Photo: Glam Lamb

Entering my ninth month of pregnancy has had me thinking on the Regency pastimes spent largely indoors – especially those that do not require much by way of physical activity on the part of a typically exhausted, soon-to-be mother of three.

My current pastimes don’t venture far beyond the nearest comfortable chair and as such, stay in the realm of reading, writing novels, blogging and time spent on the occasional bout of Facebook posting. This is why a cozy living room or den (aka, a twenty-first century parlor) is such a grand place to kick-back with a cup of hot tea and a delightful Regency Era book. It’s during these relaxing times that a tea-tray and small vase of cheery flowers are particularly welcome companions!

Care for tea and tulips, perhaps?

Though the Regency Era would have seen a servant delivering a tray for tea time, it wouldn’t have been quite as easy as simply warming a mug of water in the microwave and dropping in a tea bag like we do today. For Regency Era tea times, there was much more to consider:

–   Cost – The practice of drinking tea had been popular in England for well over a century before the Regency Era, but that did not mean that tea was altogether inexpensive.   By the late 1700s, both Thomas and Richard Twining had a great impact on the practice of tea drinking, making it more popular with the opening of a tea shop in 1717 and in the effective lobbying of the government to reduce the high import tax on tea in 1784, which made it somewhat more affordable to the masses (namely, the middle class).  The cost remained steady however, due largely to the British East India Trading Company’s monopoly on tea imports up until 1834.

Photo: Kristy, smiling (and happy!) at Great Britain's Twinings Tea Shop at the Epcot World Showcase (Walt Disney World, Orlando)

–  Time of Day/Menu – The definition of “tea time” varied according to the time of day and type of menu items that accompanied the tea itself.  Usually served between the hours of 5 and 7pm, the High Tea (also known as the “meat tea”) was identified with the early evening meal. It would have been accompanied by a more substantial hot dish such as shepherd’s pie, baked fish or fish and chips, or other savory dish with baked or broiled root vegetables. While Afternoon Tea (or, “low tea”) did not become the fashion until the early 1840s, it’s still worth mentioning in comparison as the foundation for this tea time was laid during the preceding years.

As a lighter version of the traditional High Tea, the Afternoon Tea would have been served to carry one through to the High Tea or later (and more formal) dinner. It would have been accompanied by lighter fare – a snack of finger foods such as seasonal fruit, scones, crumpets, tea sandwiches (cucumber or smoked salmon, for example), biscuits and an assortment of honey, butters, jams, and lemon curds or custard spreads.

Photo: The Foodie Gift Hunter, UK

–  Etiquette – Distinctions between High and Low Tea are commonly referenced to the height of the table used for tea service (though this is not the only distinction noted from multiple sources).  Light Afternoon Tea would have been served outdoors in hospitable weather, either in a garden or at picnic. Indoor tea times would have been served in a less formal setting such as a parlor, study, or salon, and on the low coffee tables often found in these rooms.

– Tea Tidbits – It’s interesting to note that “taking tea” was actually a rather ill-mannered expression at the time. One would have opted for referring to High Tea time rather than the more uncultured phrase. Here’s another tidbit just to make you smile… Though our post is titled to Tea and Tulips, we’re of course referring to the lovely blooms that appear in our window boxes each spring. But in the Regency Era, the word Tulip actually referred to a “fine fellow who dressed quite well”.

There are numerous resources you can turn to for a complete history of tea, though here are a couple of fun links to get you started:

Photo: 18th Century teacup, Wiki Commons

Tea in the Regency

Tea at the Regency Tea Room, The Jane Austen Centre at Bath

Tea with Bea, Bea’s of Bloomsbury (Tea Room and Treats)

The Foodie Gift Hunter, UK (Making Time for Tea)

Twinings Tea, a Twinings History

Association of Tea Bloggers

DIY Tea Wreath (Kojo Designs Craft Project)

With all the tea talk we’ve had, I’m feeling more relaxed than ever. Between the writing and blogging, tea time that is High or Low, and the service in our parlors or salons, I’m ready for a honey-sweetened cup of Twinings best on my own tea-tray. So what’s my Tea and Tulips moment? It’s in the smiles of my children and the care bestowed by my husband that has this soon-to-be mom of three rejoicing. After all, no matter what flavor of tea or time of day, God’s blessings are always on the menu.

What tea flavors your day?

Share your favorite Tea and Tulips moment with us below…

 

In His Love ~

Kristy

 

Poets of the Regency: George Gordon, Lord Byron

We return to the library of our typical Regency gentleman in order to take one of the most scandalous volumes off of its shelf: the poetry of Lord Byron.

Byron is the archetype of an eponymous sort of Regency hero – the sort that is, in the words of his contemporary and sometimes-lover Lady Caroline Lamb: “Mad – bad – and dangerous to know”.  You want brooding? You want scandalous? You want the dark and handsome hero who just might be too depraved to be redeemed? Meet George Gordon, Lord Byron.

 

 

 

As a  boy, Byron suffered what would now be called child abuse and grew up, sadly, to repeat the pattern. He’s such a legendary figure that it’s hard, even now, to be sure exactly which stories about him are true and which aren’t, but he treated his wife badly, conducted numerous affairs – possibly with both men and women – and fathered several illegitimate children, including (persistent rumor had it) one by his own half-sister.

Yet for all this, he wrote exquisite poetry, treasured both in his own time and still treasured today.

Byron’s poetry took Regency society by storm in 1812, when he published the beginning of “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage”, a poem inspired by his own recent European travels. He went on to write “Don Juan”, and many other verses, though the most famous today is the song that begins:

“She walks in beauty, like the night

Of cloudless climes and starry skies;

And all that’s best of dark and bright

Meet in her aspect and her eyes” .

Byron died young, at age 36, one of the most celebrated and controversial artists of the Regency – or any – period.

-Jessica Snell 

 

Previous Poets of the Regency posts:

William Wordsworth

Samuel Taylor Coleridge 

The Art of the Silhouette

This silhouette of Jane Austen is attributed to a silhouette-maker, Mrs. Collins, who worked in Bath around 1800.

It’s hard to imagine not having photography to capture the moments of our everyday lives. Weddings, important events, vacations – these are all moments that we capture digitally or on film to enjoy for years to come.

Even though photography had not yet been invented, it was common practice during the Regency to have a likeness or portrait made of a loved one.  But oil paintings were expensive and took many sittings to complete.  Even watercolor paintings and high quality sketches took skill, time, and money.  For those who did not have the extra funds to spend on such luxuries, a silhouette was a viable alternative to capture a person’s likeness.

 

In simplest terms, a silhouette is the art of casting a shadow of one’s profile onto a sheet of paper and either cutting out or blackening the image.  Originally, this art form was known as creating a profile miniature or shade. The term “silhouette” is credited to the Frenchman Eteinne de Silhouette (1709-1797).   Silhouette, a finance minister to Louis XV, did not invent the art form, but his skill for cutting profiles earned him notoriety.  Additionally, his frugal tendencies made the term “silhouette” synonymous with this inexpensive hobby.

Many people are most familiar with silhouettes that have been cut from black paper, but there were actually several different techniques one could use to create a silhouette.  The most popular technique was to place a candle near a person’s profile and cast a shadow on paper. Then the shadow was traced and then either cut out with sharp, tiny scissors or and darkened with charcoal or lampblack.  Yet another technique was the “hollow cut silhouette”, in which the profiled image was cut from the paper and black material (silk, paper, etc.) was placed behind the empty space to reveal the image. Another more detailed technique was the painted silhouette, in which the artist would either trace or create the profile with oil paint or watercolours.

This silhouette of Robert Burns was created by John Wiers in 1787.

Because it was an inexpensive, easy, and relatively quick process, creating silhouettes became a popular party activity.   In fact, George III was fond of making silhouettes and threw elaborate “shade” parties.  Most cities – especially larger resort towns – had silhouette artists for hire.  One of the most-well known silhouette artists during the Regency was John Miers (1756-1821).  The majority of his career took place in London where, in his early years, he charged a guinea per silhouette. He was noted for his incredible speed and his infamous “three-minute sittings.” He, along with other professional silhouette artists, expanded the art form and created silhouettes on plaster, ivory, wax and glass. The most desirable silhouettes were drawn by hand (not traced) and often found their way onto jewelry and other valuable items.

If you would like to read more on this topic, be sure to check out this article by Linore Burkhard, a Regency Reflections blog contributor:  Rise of the Silhouette

A Flight of Fancy Quiz and Contest Results

We enjoyed hosting our Regency quiz last week to celebrate the release of A Flight of Fancy by Laurie Alice Eakes. I’ve got a gift basket winner picked and ready to announce, but first, lets review the answers to those five pesky quiz questions!

1. A Flight of Fancy is set in 1812. During what years did the Regency take place?

A: 1790-1820

B: 1800-1830

C: 1811-1830

D: 1811-1820

D is the correct answer. Parliament approved the Regency that year and it lasted until the Prince of Wales, the Regent, became king in 1820. Briefly, in 1811, the king rallied, but not for long enough to revoke the Regency.

Often books are labeled as Regencies any time from the French Revolution until the end of George IV’s reign in 1830. This is partly because of Napoleon’s influence over much of this time period, and partly because no one knows what else to call it. It is Georgian. The Regency is a subcategory of Georgian England, which began in 1714 with George I becoming the first Hanover on the throne.

(The Hanovers are still on the throne, but they changed their name from the German to the English Windsor during World War I.)

2. How did aeronauts steer a balloon?

A: They used sails.

B: They used paddles.

C: They used wind currents.

D: They used the balloon itself.

I was please to see how many got this right, which means you all are knowledgeable about nineteenth century ballooning. C is, of course, the answer to both. Balloonists’ only way to steer a balloon is through wind currents, raising and lowering the elevation of the balloon through more or less hot air, until the wind is going the right way. This is inefficient and not always successful.

3. Which of the following was not used to make hydrogen for the balloon.

A: Fire

B: Acid

C: Wax

D: Iron

Wax was used to coat the canvas tubing from the beaker of acid to the balloon to keep the hydrogen from leaking out.

4. In A Flight of Fancy, Cassandra Bainbridge is the oldest unmarried daughter of a baron. How should she be addressed?

A: Lady Cassandra

B: Lady Bainbridge

C: Miss Cassandra

D: Miss Bainbridge

Forms of address in England were and are some of the most complex details in writing an English-set historical. The answer is D—Miss Bainbridge.

As the daughter of a baron, she is not entitled to the “Lady” form of address. She is a lady because of her birth, but not a Lady, as her birth is not quite high enough. She would have to be the daughter of an earl, marquess, or duke to be addressed as Lady Cassandra. No single lady was addressed Lady Surname unless she held a title in her own right, which was extremely rare.

As the eldest unmarried daughter, she is Miss Bainbridge. Kudos to the reference from Jane Austen. In the third book, Miss Honore will become Miss Bainbridge.

5. Geoffrey Giles, Earl of Whittaker, is the hero in A Flight of Fancy. How should he be addressed?

A: Lord Geoffrey

B: Lord Giles

C: Lord Earl

D: Lord Whittaker

This one was easy. Yes, Lord Whittaker. Men of the peerage were addressed by their title. Believe me, though, I have read these other choices in books, along with calling an earl Sir Title or Sir firstname, as though titles were interchangeable. They were not.

And the gift basket winner is . . .

Jan Bolton!

Congratulations to Jan, who answered correctly on last Wednesday’s post about how Cassandra would have been addressed as the eldest unmarried daughter of a baron.

From the bloggers here at Regency Reflections, we want to offer everyone who participated in our A Flight of Fancy week and Regency quiz a heartfelt thank you. We hope you enjoyed the things we featured during our A Flight of Fancy week as much as we enjoyed interacting with every one of you.

Spiritual Themes from A Flight of Fancy

Hi Everyone!

Naomi here, and it’s our last day talking about A Flight of Fancy, by Regency Reflections blog contributor, Laurie Alice Eakes. If you’re stopping by the blog for the first time this week, you’ll want to check out our previous three posts. We’ve had an Introduction to A Flight of Fancy, then Taking to the Sky (a post on Ballooning during the Regency Era), and an Interview with Laurie Alice Eakes. At the end of each post, there’s a Regency quiz question. For every question you answer correctly in the comment section, your name will be entered in a chance to win a Regency gift basket, complete with tea, biscuits, a mug, and an Amazon gift card. The contest ends this Saturday, October 13, at midnight.

Over the past week, we’ve introduced several different aspects about A Flight of Fancy and Laurie Alice Eakes. Today, as we conclude our discussion, I’m going to touch on the spiritual themes in the novel.

Both Cassandra and Whittaker have a rather physical past relationship. As two Christians accountable to God, and as two individuals living in the Regency Era, any physical relations before marriage are clearly wrong. However, Cassandra and Whittaker push limits in this area time and time again.

In the first chapter of the story, Cassandra and Whittaker test their physical relationship yet again (this aspect of the story is presented in a tactful manner). As a result, Cassandra ends up severely injured, so much so that she nearly dies. Once she recovers physically, she’s still left with permanent, visible scars, and she doesn’t feel fit to ever marry.

Cassandra thus calls off their engagement. Though she and Whittaker still have deep feelings for one another, they both suffer a terrible amount of guilt throughout the course of the novel. The guilt haunts them and clings to them, almost like a sticky tar neither can wash from their skin.

Both Cassandra and Whittaker need to turn to God, confess their sin, and accept His forgiveness. But they struggle. After all, it’s very hard to accept forgiveness from God (or even another person) when one refuses to forgive himself or herself.

I personally found this story a refreshing reminder of how strong God’s forgiveness is. Psalm 103:11-12 says, “For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”

Sometimes in our desire to serve and please God, it’s easy to become stuck on our past mistakes and sins rather than to leave them at the feet of Christ. As we dwell on those sins, we become discouraged and even distracted from serving God.

The solution? Don’t wallow in past sin. Accept God’s forgiveness and focus on making future choices that honor God.

How are you coping with past sin in your personal life? Are you confessing it to God and leaving it with Him, or are you carrying it around like an unseen burden on your back?

Today’s Question (remember one correct answer will enter your name into the gift basket drawing):

Geoffrey Giles, Earl of Whittaker, is the hero in A Flight of Fancy. How should he be addressed?

A: Lord Geoffrey

B: Lord Giles

C: Lord Earl

D: Lord Whittaker

Thank you to everyone who participated in our Regency Quiz over the past week. We’ll be announcing the winner, as well as discussing the answers to the question, on Monday, October 15th.

This contest is now closed. Please see the final post for answers to the trivia questions.