Top Blog Post: My Carriage Awaits… Maybe

Vanessa here, writing with tongue in cheek about Regency transportation.

News of the heroine’s abduction has made its way to the hero. With a quick prayer for strength, he yanks on his tailcoat and readies to chase after the villain and reclaim the lass. How will the hero get to his sweetheart in time? It all depends upon the hero’s fortune and location.

Read More:

http://christianregency.com/blog/2012/03/12/my-carriage-awaits-maybe/

“A Proper Marriage” A Traditional Regency Reviewed by Vanessa Riley

I was introduced to Modern Regencies, you know the ones written by after Austen, Heyer and Veryan while in college. Nothing I liked more than to unwind with a witty, Regency with everything on the line in the story after calculus.

One novel, A Proper Marriage by Debbie Raleigh is one of my favorites. I reread it each year, at least once.A Proper Marriage

What’s not to love about A Proper Marriage. First, the hero and heroine are married, to each other. Not a marriage of convenience (those are great) or gun-induced wedding from a compromise, but an arranged marriage one year in between noted war scholar, Adam Drake and the formerly free-spirit, Adele Morrow.

Here’s Adam explaining to Vicar Humbly, the man who wed the two, the problem:

Adam winced in spite of himself. “No, I made very certain before we wed that she understood I would not tolerate the scandalous behavior of her parents,” he admitted. “I made a precise list of what I expected in my bride. I even chose her wardrobe to ensure she would not be an embarrassment when we arrived in London.”

“And Addy agreed to this list?” he (Humbly) at last demanded in carefully bland tones.

Adam waved a restless hand. “What choice did she have? Her parents had managed to squander their fortune years ago and only survived in the knowledge they would receive a settlement when Addy and I wed.”

“Ah.” The Vicar nodded in a knowing manner. “Well, you should be pleased. Addy has become a most proper lady.”

“Yes, I should be delighted,” Adam agreed grimly.

“But you are not?”

Adam polished off the brandy in a single gulp. He thought of the months with Addy in his home. No, he was not bloody well delighted.  No man would be delighted to possess a shadow that slipped from his grasp whenever he reached out to take hold.

“It is not pleasant to live with a woman who is clearly miserable,” he conceded with a pained grimace.

Second a smart but bored heroine:

Here’s Addy dealing with a rake.

Addy reached out to reclaim her fan. “I am sensible enough to know you are a reprehensible rake! If you wish to polish your fatal charms you should choose a more gullible victim.”

“You have it wrong,” he (Barclay, the rake) protested. “I have been felled by your beauty.”

She rolled her eyes heavenward, but before she could take him to task for his foolishness, a sudden shadow fell over her.

A familiar tingle of awareness rushed through her and slowly she turned to confront the glittering gaze of her husband.

Third, real arguments about cross-purposed souls with the richness of history, duty, and commitment that you don’t always find with unmarried couples.

He (Adam) had thoroughly ruined her evening and worse, he had wounded her pride with his blunt confession he did not trust her.

Dash it all. It had been uncomfortable enough living with Adam in a state of polite, frozen courtesy. She might have disliked guarding her every word and being abandoned for hours in this great tomb of a house, but at least she did not have to worry over sudden squabbles and sharp words that seemed to cut her very soul.

Through the vicar’s counseling, Addy and Adam manage to reconcile and even find love, with each other.  I adore this book so much, I even cut a trailer for it.

So, if you are looking for a good Regency to curl up with try this old Zebra Regency Romance, A Proper Marriage.

No Regency Baby Showers.

Vanessa here,

I am all a twitter, (not the recently IPO’d kind) but excited about planning a baby shower for a dear friend. As I become steeped in color choices and decorations, the need to play games or not to play games, I begin to think about childbirth or the expectation of childbirth during the Regency.

Bibs and nappy cake for a Girl -Wiki Commons
Bibs and nappy cake for a Girl -Wiki Commons

Sadly, I couldn’t find any corollaries to anything we know today as a baby shower. No cards, or nappy cakes, no diaper genies unless you count the wealthy woman’s servants.

No one seemed to plan any kind of celebration for the expectant mother. What we now call baby showers have their roots in Victorian times.

Why No Regency Celebration?

Let’s face facts. It might be a little hard to plan a tea or invite friends and family over to celebrate an event that had a 20% or greater chance of killing you. Poor hygiene, lack of knowledge of difficult pregnancies, unsanitary practitioners, bloodletting, the discouragement of using midwives (ladies versed in how save women, turn babies coming breach) etc. all played a role in the not so great outcomes for pregnant women during the Regency.

Moreover, the pressure to have a male child could be daunting. Knowing the dire need to produce an heir to protect your husband’s entailed property (and your future comfort upon the death of said husband ) had to decrease the need for pre-birth celebrations.

Boy's diaper cake - Wiki Commons
Boy’s diaper cake – Wiki Commons

 

Though Aristotle (384BC to 322BC) tried to clear things up with his theory of men determining the child’s sex, it was still easier to blame the woman for the child-rearing failings. Good thing science cleared that matter up. Just in case you are new to the world of scientific discovery, the male’s X (female) or Y (male) chromosome determines the sex.

Yet, I did find celebrations or at least acknowledgements of surviving childbirth. People would gather and offer support. They brought food to the mother. During the Renaissance and still practiced during the Regency, visitors (the gossips -Middle Ages term for women and family who gather during the birth) gave painted trays with words of encouragement for the women. Some trays were so pretty, they were hung along the walls to surround the mother during her confinement . With confinement potentially lasting up to 40 days, seeing these kind words and beautiful images had to lift the new mother’s spirits.

Painted for the Birth of Lorenzo De Medici - 1449, Wiki Commons
Painted for the Birth of Lorenzo de Medici – 1449, Wiki Commons

As baby shower details are finalized, I will be looking to add a few Regency touches. I’m sure my friend will enjoy these little sentiments to make her prenatal and postnatal time encouraging.

What are some encouraging words or gifts that you would offer to a first time mother?

 

Once Wicked, Always Wicked

Vanessa here,

“If you get… me out of this … Lord…” No, she was not supposed to bargain with God. “Please God?”

The shrub tore a little further. Only Honore’s arms and hands clung to the earth. Only two thread roots still clung to thin soil. So, apparently God did not please. -A Reluctant Courtship

We have all been there, begging God to get us out of some trouble, something horrid we wrought upon ourselves. Laurie Alice Eakes showcases a fallen woman, Honore Bainbridge, whose past mistakes make her shunned in society and threaten to steal her chance at true love.

This is the gripping tale, the concluding story of the Daughters of Bainbridge House Series, A Reluctant Courtship. The rich message that God’s forgiveness is real, even when we don’t feel it, is meshed with this suspenseful romance.

Hanging from a Cliff
Hanging from a Cliff

When we meet Honore this time, she’s literally hanging on to a cliff, trying to save her life. The memories of her past sins wash before her eyes. A part of her heart tires of the shame, causing her to wonder if it would be easier for everyone if she just let go.

Now, Honore’s crime was heavy for the 1800’s. She’s been caught kissing two bad men, a traitor and a murder. Everyone ostracizes her, yet God still gives her a caring chaperone as a friend. God never leaves or forsakes us, even when we think He has.

No one wanted to marry Honore, any longer. If her escapades with a handsome rake during her first Season hadn’t been bad enough, getting caught kissing another gentleman in her brother-in-law’s organgery—and then that man turning out to be a murder—sent Miss Honore Bainbridge flying beyond the bounds of acceptability. -A Reluctant Courtship

Everyone has those moments of discouragement when we know we aren’t good enough. The taunts are unforgettable.

You’re not good enough.
You are worthless.
No good, just like your father.

Even the hero, who has questions of his own character, judges poor Honore (Pot and kettle syndrome).

“Such beauty and courage shouldn’t be connected with a morally suspect character.” -A Reluctant Courtship

Neighbors and peers judge Honore.

Not a yard away, the Devenish ladies tittered behind fans or gloved fingers.
“Little more than she deserves,” was followed by “Worst misalliance yet.” -A Reluctant Courtship

Fans a Twitter
Fans a Twitter

So, she loved a few bad men. Who hasn’t? But in the 1800’s, connections in the war weary England meant everything. With her earthly protector (her father) gone, Honore has to withstand shunning and evil gossip, even at church. At one point, Honore internalizes the guilt.

I make so many mistakes I think God no longer listens to me. -A Reluctant Courtship

But Laurie Alice doesn’t leave Honore or the reader without hope.

For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God -Romans 3:23

She allows the saving grace of Jesus Christ to touch Honore.

You are not alone. God promised to never forsake us, and His promises are true.
Your willfulness does not stop God from loving you. -A Reluctant Courtship

Finally, Honore allows God’s hope to shine through her.

“I do not deserve Your help, but I am asking for it anyway. This time I am simply going to believe You are here with me.” -A Reluctant Courtship

When Honore surrenders to the fact she is forgiven by the One Person that matters, she is able to focus on doing what she does best, throwing her whole heart into saving the hero. Hopefully, she’ll live long enough to know the love of a good man.

I asked Laurie Alice, what she wants the reader to take away. Her message is clear:

No matter what you have done, no matter how many mistakes you have made, God’s love reigns supreme and He loves you regardless. Nothing is beyond redemption.

May everyone be blessed with this understanding.

For a chance to win a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card today, answer the question below in the comment section. If you answer the question, your name will also be entered into our Regency Grand Prize giveaway in honor of the release of A Reluctant Courtship. The giveaway includes a tea cup, a package of tea, a box of chocolates and a $10 gift card (to either Amazon or Barnes and Noble).

A Reluctant Courtship
A Reluctant Courtship

Today’s question: Have you ever made mistakes you think are beyond God’s redemption? If you can, we would be blessed to learn how the Lord worked in your life.

The First Signs of Autumn

Vanessa here,

I stepped out on my porch to a slight breeze. The air kissing my cheek had abandoned all hints of Atlanta’s signature heat. After a summer of mostly Seattle like-weather full of rain or horrid humidity, I looked up to spy rain clouds. Nothing. Only sunshine beamed overhead. I guess summer has passed. It’s autumn’s turn to color my world.

And what colors! Soon reds, yellows, oranges will surround the deep emerald greens of my evergreens.

Fall Leaves Wiki Commons
Fall Leaves Wiki Commons

In Madeline’s Protector, I used the change to warm-coloured, cozy Autumn to contrast the hero and heroine’s chilly relationship.

     If Madeline’s eyes were daggers, she’d be a widow.

“I suppose you won’t show me your hall of Hampshire sculptures.”

Her lovely jade eyes clouded, and she looked away.

He balled up his leather evening gloves. “Pray let’s start over.”

She gazed at her dainty slippers. “Why? Are you afraid to disappoint my father?”

Now that strike hit close to home. “I like to pass tests. That’s what my father impressed upon me.” Justain swallowed a deep breath. “What will it take to restore your opinion?”

She stuck her chin in the air. “To get this visit over as soon as possible.”

He peered through the window. “The leaves are starting to turn. I hope the good folks of this county take the time to admire the colours. The hillside’s striated in three shades of red. This is stunning country, not the moors of Devon, but beautiful.”

“Why are you tormenting me with a place I’ll never see?” She released a heavy sigh. “The tree roots cling to different sections of the steep ridge adding to the variety. Watch the sunset.” She pointed to the clouds. “Sometimes the sky tries to match the hues of autumn.”

Perhaps as the sun came closer to earth, it’d thaw the frost between them. “Magnificent,” he said. It was simply beautiful. “God’s paintbrush, I think you called it.”

I asked my brethren, my fellow Regency writers, what lets them know Autumn has arrived, and they were kind enough to share:

Naomi Rawlings

Trees - Wiki Commons
Trees – Wiki Commons

The first sign of autumn for me is the leaves changing. We almost always have cool
nights and warm days where we live, but it seems as though the leaves start
changing the beginning of September. Right now, half the leaves across the road
are already yellow. School starting is another good indication. In Michigan,
school doesn’t start until after Labor Day . . . right about the time I notice
the first bit of color on the trees.

Personal Note: Why does school start so early? Back in my day….
Susan Karsten

For my family, fall arrives on the heels of an interesting weather phenomenon. Almost every year, there’s a day on which we feel fall arriving. The scenario is this: we’ve had week after week of hot (80s or more) weather, then we’ll have an out of the blue cold/cool day. Sometimes the cool day has come while we are at the lake. On those occasions, we somberly ride around on our boat, feeling summer slip away and remarking on it.

Boating in Autumn Wiki Commons
Boating in Autumn Wiki Commons

For me, individually, fall arrives when I notice crunching leaves underfoot. That takes me back to the days when I walked to and from school, crunching through elm leaves. Other signs around here are the apple orchards opening their salesrooms, the Canada geese assembling at the nearby wetlands, and for my husband’s business, there’s often a flurry of activity in the real estate business around this time.

Apple Orchard - Wiki Commons
Apple Orchard – Wiki Commons

Kristy Cambron

The first sign of fall for me is not Regency
related. I admit that I love a good college football game and when my team takes the field for that first game, autumn is officially here! It’s okay to
break out the sweaters, drink apple cider, and write books where heroines walk through a fiery-skied and leaf-blown twilight! : )

 

 

 

Laurie Alice Eakes

Autumn is one of my favorite times of year. Only one of my books is set over the summer, to autumn time, and they, as I do, look for the way the days cool off sooner and get hot later, especially since I moved to Texas. I love the way the breeze goes from hot, to a hint of coolness. Back in Virginia, the humidity dropped and the smell of the air turned crisp. I haven’t yet noticed a difference in the fragrance to the air here (in Texas).

Kristi Ann Hunter

Happy Birthday Wiki Commons
Happy Birthday Wiki Commons

For me, the first sign of fall is a sense of new beginning. I moved around a lot growing up so when the weather turned cold always changed, but the new start was always there.

Even though I’m out of school there is still a sense of the new year actually starting in September. Could possibly maybe have something to do with my birthday…

 

 

 

Do you love Autumn? Share an Autumn memory with us, then get out and enjoy the colors.

Birds of a Feather

Vanessa here,

When I am reading about a heroine lost or frolicking in the woods, I love when an author surrounds me in the sights and the sounds of the wilderness. Yet, nothing can pull me out of this setting quicker than the majestic description of birds or flora… that wasn’t native to Regency England or worse not possible to be in the landscape because of the time of year.

Excuses

But Vanessa, I’m world-building.  Yes, that’s nice and freaks of nature do occur, but careless research or non-research is not world-building.  Alas, it shouldn’t be.

Nonetheless, Vanessa how would anyone know? A bird’s a bird and the 1800’s was a long time ago. Yes, but there are resources that can help.  The best place to start is the Time’s Telescope, a magazine circulated during the Regency.

 

Time's Telescope, 1817
Time’s Telescope, 1817

From the Time’s Telescope a section called the Naturalist’s Diary details the weather, indigenous plantings, and of course fowls in the air.

September Birds

In Regency England, September begins the transition to autumn and with it a change in vegetation and fowl.

“How sweetly nature strikes the ravished eye Through the fine veil, with which she oft conceals her charms in part, as conscious of decay! September is, generally, accounted the finest and most settled month in the year. The mornings and evenings are cool, but possess a delightful freshness, while the middle of, the day is pleasantly warm and open.” – from the Time’s Telescope

What birds are available during the month of September, well in 1817?

“Partridges (tetrao perdix) are in great plenty at this season of the year: they are chiefly found in temperate climates, but nowhere in such abundance as in England. Partridges pair early in the spring: about the month of May, the female lays from fourteen to eighteen or twenty eggs.”

The Crested Partridge
The Crested Partridge From Wiki-Commons

Partridge are a short-tailed game birds, which are part of the pheasant family. Their feathers are primarily brown in colour.

“The sea- stork’s bill (erodium maritimum), on sandy shores.”

Sea storks are long necked birds, which are part of the crane family. They are typically heavy billed, large weighty birds with long necks and legs.

Sea Storks
Sea Storks  From Wiki-Commons

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The thrush, the blackbird, and the woodlark, are now conspicuous.”

Part of the Turdidae family, thrush are plump birds that often feed on the ground.  The blackbird is a black thrush and if you have five and twenty you can make a pie.  The woodlark is a short-tailed bird known for its melodious songs. It frolics in open grounds such as meadows rimmed with trees.

The Woodlark
The Woodlark Wiki-Commons
The Thrush
The Thrush Wiki-Commons
The Blackbird
The Blackbird Wiki-Commons

“The chimney or common swallow (hirundo rustica) disappears about the end of September.  The congregating flocks of swallows and martins on house tops, but principally upon the towers of churches on our coast, are very beautiful and amusing in this and the succeeding month.”

Swallows and martins are also part of the passerine family. Swallows have fork-tailed feathers and martins have squarer tails.

Swallow
The Swallow Wiki-Commons
Martins
Martins Wiki-Commons

“Many of the small billed birds that feed on insects disappear when the cold weather commences. The throstle, the red-wing, and the fieldfare, which migrated in March, now return; and the ring-ouzel.”

Throstle are part of the Turdidae family. The males are known for their airy melodic songs. Fieldfares are also Turdidaes. They often nest in colonies to protect themselves from predators. The male and female both feed the babies. The babies nest for a fortnight then are turned out. Can you see an author’s metaphor on this bird?

The Throstle
The Throstle Wiki-Commons
The Fieldfare
The Fieldfare  Wiki-Commons

Red-wing’s are blackbirds. The males are glossy black with bright red and yellow bands on their wings. The females are brown and often mistaken for sparrows. More metaphor ideas.

The Redwing Blackbird
The Red-wing Blackbird Wiki-Commons

Closing Thoughts

This is a little primer on the birds of September.  Nature was a big part of the Regency World, so I know I want to get it right. The Time’s Telescope is a great firsthand account of much more than birds. It’s also a good text on the natural surroundings of England. Many issues of the magazine are available in Google Books. When you read them, just be prepared for its folksy advice.

“All these birds feed upon berries, of which there is a plentiful supply, in our woods, during a great part of their stay. The throstle and the red-wing are delicate eating. ”

Nothing like good eats. I wonder if the author tried them in a pie?

Resources

  • All bird images are from Wiki-Commons.
  • Time’s Telescope

 

Gone Too Soon, Jane Austen

Vanessa here,

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

Jane Austen
Jane Austen

So begins the words to the novel, Pride and Prejudice, and with it the love affair we have for 1800’s England. Now many of us may have been introduced to Jane Austen because of a high school literature assignment or catching a BBC or a Hollywood version of one of her books. I have come to know and appreciate her talents for unlike me, she was a contemporary author writing of her times, of the societal norms and taboos. Austen excelled at capturing the mood of the classes and the roles of women. Her words allow us to visit that time and space we lovingly call the Regency.

So today, I’d like to spend a few moments highlighting the amazing woman, Jane Austen.

Her Birth

Born December 16th, 1775, Jane Austen was the second daughter, the seventh child of eight for Reverend George Austen and Cassandra Austen. They lived in Steventon, Hampshire. They weren’t a rich family at £ 600 per annum. So Jane would find herself very much like her character, Elizabeth Bennett, with nothing more than her charms to recommend her.

Jane's Father's Church, Her Home
Jane’s Father’s Church, Her Home

Her Education

She learned as most girls did at home, to draw, play the piano, and the running of a household. From 1785 to 1786, she and her sister, Cassandra were sent to an aunt in Oxford for more studies. They were later sent to the Abby Boarding School in Reading.

Her Love of a Good Book

By 1801, Jane’s father possessed a large book collection of over 500 books. She is described by family members as a great reader. Her favorites included Fanny Burney’s Cecilia and Camillia and Samuel Richardon’s Sir Charles Grandison, and Maria Edeworth’s Belinda.

In Jane’s Northanger Abby, she puts up a defense of the reading and novels:

“There seems almost a general wish of decrying the capacity and undervaluing the labour of the novelist, and of slighting the performances which have only genius, wit, and taste to recommend them… In short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language.”

Her Love Life

From her letters, one can see a few men came a courtin’ but she found most wanting: Heartley, Powlett, Lefroy.

In one of her correspondences, she writes:

“Tell Mary that I make over Mr. Heartley and all his estate to her for her sole use and benefit in future, and not only him, but all my other admirers into the bargain wherever she can find them, even the kiss which C. Powlett wanted to give me, as I mean to confine myself in future to Mr. Tom Lefroy, for whom I do not care sixpence. Assure her also, as a last and indisputable proof of Warren’s indifference to me, that he actually drew that gentleman’s picture for me, and delivered it to me without a sigh.”

Then later we find this:
“At length the day is come on which I am to flirt my last with Tom Lefroy, and when you receive this it will be over. My tears flow at the melancholy idea.”

And with the end of things with Mr. Lefroy, Jane’s friend (Mrs. Anne Lefroy, cousin to Tom Lefroy) even tried to play match maker. Mrs. Lefroy tried to fix Jane Austen up with the Rev. Samuel Blackall, a Fellow of Emmanuel College. It didn’t work out (See our take on Blackall). Perhaps her joy of writing claimed all her love. Or was she too poor to make a man fall violently in love with her.

Her Writing

Jane started her writing “career” with short stories. These pieces varied from witty to satirical. Many of these short stories were collected together and called the Juvenilia. Over 20 different shorts fill this collection with the most famous being: The Beautiful Cassandra, Love and Friendship, and The History of England.

Her published works (the ones published during her lifetime or posthumously by family members are included below: (S=Synopsis, W=Link to the Whole Work. Go ahead and download a copy provided for free.)

  • Sense and Sensibility  (1811) S W
  • Pride and Prejudice  (1813) S W
  • Mansfield Park  (1814) S W
  • Emma (1815) S W
  • Northanger Abbey (1817) S W
  • Persuasion by Jane Austen (1817) S W
Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice

Her Death

Jane Austen died in 1817 at the age of 41. She began to get ill in 1816 and the yearlong decline, tapped her energy and made her in the end bed-ridden. The cause of her death is disputed. Some venture it was lymphoma. Others Addison’s disease. Another view is she died from bovine tuberculosis contracted by drinking unpasteurized milk. As I check the label, on the milk cartoon for my coffee, I’ll add a final potential cause, typhus, a recurrent form of the disease developed from a childhood illness. Her death left two more manuscripts unfinished, Sanditon (1817) and The Watsons (1804). She is buried at Winchester Cathedral in Winchester, Hampshire.

 

Winchster Cathedral
Winchester Cathedral

Well, I think we should all agree, her life was too short. Nonetheless, judging by the longevity of her work, she may just have accomplished what she was born to do. Share with us a favorite Jane Austen line or scene and why it sticks with you.

References:

  • Images are from Wikipedia/Wiki commons.
  • Wikipedia
  • Project Gutenberg
  • Pemberly.com

This week we’re giving away a lovely set of Jane Austen note cards.

notecards
Win This Prize.

For a chance to win, please leave a comment on any of the posts this week. winner will be drawn Monday, August 12. Winner must have a mailing address within the United States.

I went to the Regency Ball and all I got…

Vanessa here,

I’m still in high cotton (Southern Phrase for High Ropes) and very tired after last week’s conference bonanza. I was privileged to attend the national conference for Romance Writers of America (RWA) and the conference of one its specialty chapters, the Beau Monde.

Beau Monde Pin
Beau Monde Pin

The Beau Monde chapter focuses on all things Regency.  It was started in 1993 and attracts members worldwide. This year in lovely sweltering Atlanta the conference kicked off on Tuesday, July 16  (bag stuffing with tons of swag goodies) and then held a series of workshops on Wednesday, July 17.

I am always impressed by the caliber of the knowledge of the classes and these were no exception. From the Grand Tour with Regina Scott, Military History with Susanna Fraser, The Underworld with Erica Monroe, Playing Whist, and Regency Dancing, and so much more, I well pleased.

 

Amy Pfaff, Candace Hern, Vanessa Riley enjoying a session.
Amy Pfaff, Candace Hern, Vanessa Riley enjoying a session.

I bought the conference recordings. This much knowledge has to be replayed over and over again.

Now, I made a promise and a competition with my readers to choose the pattern and style of the Regency ball gown I would make for this conference. Begrudgingly, I stuck with it. I was able to finish it with a few hours to spare.  Thank you for not choosing the harder pattern.

Before you ask: I used a sewing machine, I’m a Regency Chick not a masochist. While I did not use a zipper, a twentieth century tool may have been involved in closing the gown (Velcro – think lots of tiny hooks).

Vanessa's Finished Ball Gown of Grey Silk Taffeta
Vanessa’s Finished Ball Gown of Grey Silk Taffeta

I have a lot of images and video of Regency dancing at the Soiree that I’m still sorting through but I thought I’d leave you with some images of the conference:

Laurie Alice Eakes in a burgundy and floral ball gown. We went to our book signings in these dresses.
Laurie Alice Eakes in a burgundy and floral ball gown. We went to our book signings in these dresses.
Kristi Hunter and I enjoying the music.
Kristi Hunter and I enjoying the music. Thanks for making me dance.
The professional Regency Dancers getting ready to teach the steps to the dances.
The professional Regency Dancers getting ready to teach the steps to the dances. Do they know what they are in for?
More Beau Monde Beauties
More Beau Monde Beauties

photo3

Ella Quin, one of the fabulous conference organizers.
Ella Quin, one of the fabulous conference organizers.
Erica Monroe and I took a turn about the hotel. Onlookers called us princesses.
Erica Monroe and I took a turn about the hotel. Onlookers called us princesses. Didn’t have the heart to correct the titles. 🙂
The dancing was quite strenuous and moved quickly. How did they have time to talk? How were they not winded?
The dancing was quite strenuous and moved quickly. How did they have time to talk? How were they not winded?

I went to the Beau Monde and left with sore limbs and a bunch of new friends. Oh, and my dignity. The dress looked perfect and held together.

Be blessed.

Vanessa Riley is the author of Madeline’s Protector.

If all young men leapt off a cliff, Madeline St. James wouldn’t care. Yet a chance meeting and a bullet wound change everything. She must trust that the Good Shepherd has led her to marry a dashing stranger, Lord Devonshire. Can they forge a true bond before the next disaster strikes?
See the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2OnXfFNwps – See more at: http://www.christianregency.com

 

Ironbridge

Vanessa here,

While I love the ballrooms of London or the estates found in the countryside, I also have a fondness for unusual architecture. I started my debut novel, Madeline’s Protector near one of the greatest engineering feats for England, Shropshire’s Ironbridge. The bridge was built in 1779 and was one of the first bridges made of cast iron.

Source: Wiki Commons
Source: Wiki Commons

Ironbridge has come to symbolize the start of the Industrial Revolution in England. It is over 100 feet wide and spans the River Severn. During the Regency, the area was heavily mined and filled with iron working operations such as foundries.

The Design

Abraham Darby I mastered the use of sand moulds to pour and set cast iron into strong shapes, which could be used for buildings. His great grandson, Abraham Darby, III continued working with iron and perfected this technique.

Source: Wiki Commons
Source: Wiki Commons

At twenty-nine years of age, Darby III took the design of the bridge from architect Thomas Farnolls Pritchard and started construction. It took three months to build the bridge. Constructed from over 1736 casting made in a foundry 500 yards away, the bridge weighs over 378 tons.

The Mystery of the Build

No firsthand accounts existed such as diaries or work notes, so it was a mystery, how the bridge was actually constructed.  Most assumed the bridge was started on one side, and then built piece by piece to the other side.  In 1997, a sketch was discovered showing the bridge under construction, the only drawing of its kind.  The sketch showed the bridge being raised from a barge floating in the river and the casts being winched into place.

Source: Wiki Commons
Source: Wiki Commons

Also, by examining the bridge in detail, they discovered each part was cast to order. They put pieces in place. Measured the gap to the next piece and then adjusted the moulds / casts to fit the sections.

While it was being built, the Ironbridge area was filled with foundries. The smoke of the smelting of the iron made the area dark, like a smoke-spewing setting. Today it’s one of the prettiest and is heavily toured with lots of greenery surrounding the bridge.

One Final Tidbit.

No pictures of the Darbys exist like the other iron-masters of the day because they were Quakers and thought, that such renderings would be vane.

Sources: BBC.co.uk, Ironbridge Gorge Museum, and VisitIronBridge.co.uk

 

Outdoor Sports for Lovers, The Picnic

Vanessa here,

As we focus on outdoor activities here at Regency Reflections, I would like to spend sometime highlighting one meant for lovers, lovers of scenic views and food, the picnic (picnick).  By the time of the Regency, communing with nature and enjoying natural activities became the rage. What better way to indulge both passions, outdoors and food, than by dining al fresco.

Photo from http://myaustendreamworld.com
Photo from http://myaustendreamworld.com

The ingredients of a fine picnic are the weather, the guests, the place, and the food.

The Weather

The weather should be warm and sunny. Most picnics provide a linen cover on the ground for the participants to sit and eat their meals. Thus, if it has rained for several days, the saturated ground will wet the coverings and bring mud and damp clothes to the event. We wouldn’t want to spread consumption.  Moreover, if one tried to have a picnic in 1816, the year without a summer, the temperature would be too cold or worse too snowy to have had an enjoyable picnic.

The Guests

Selection of the guest needed to be done with the same care as choosing ones for an indoor dinner party. Participants will be sitting very close together, even leaning near the next person. Thus, social people with excellent conversation would be preferred. Unmarried people still required chaperones, so the hero won’t be sneaking away with his single heroine… unless he’s sure not to be caught.

The Place

The place to hold the picnic must be selected wisely. Because of the need for the eyes to experience nature, the environment for the picnic should be as inviting as the food. Yet, choosing a picturesque place might mean settling on an out of the way flat plain on the moors, or a hill like Box Hill, the famed picnic spot in Emma. Box Hill, the summit of the North Downs in Surrey, is set up high and framed in boxwood trees, oaks, tall grasses, and wild flowers. Perfect for a picnic.

Source: Wikicommons. Panoramic View of Box Hill
Source: Wikicommons. Panoramic View of Box Hill
Photo from the Movie Emma (1996 British TV)
Photo from the Movie Emma (1996 British TV)

The provisions for the picnic can consists of tables to hold the food, the food, plates, cloths, servants to dish the food, servants to do the setup and the clean up, the linens, etc. These goods and servers can require wagons or carriages for transportation to and from the location. If the scenic spot was too out of the way, servants had to walk and carry picnic fare from the closets point of access (the road, etc.) to the picnic spot.

The Food

Food for the picnic can be arranged one of two ways. (1.) The picnic organizers can assign foods for each of the participants to bring. This ensures that no foods are duplicated. Each participant must bring enough food for all of the picnickers. (2.) The other way is for the organizer to supply it. This option was mainly chosen by the wealthy as an extension of showing off their good fair just as if the picnic were an indoor dinner at a ball.

The common foods supplied were pre-sliced cold roast and cow tongue (also sliced). Deviled eggs were popular. Once the egg is boiled, it’s sliced in half and the yolk is removed. The yolks are mixed with pepper, Worcester sauce, salt, and mustard and then returned to the inside of the boiled egg half. No addition of mayonnaise (1756 Charles de Lorraine, duke of Mayenne) to worry about spoilage.

I found a reference to walnut sandwiches and fruit sandwiches.  Walnut sandwiches were made from chopped walnuts mixed with cheese and spices and served on thinly sliced bread. Fruit sandwiches were made with stiff stale bread topped with thin slices of bananas and pineapples sprinkled with sugar. After it sets up with the fruit juices penetrating the bread, it is cut into little cakes and served with whipped cream (or clotted cream).

The drink offered would be a popular beverage that can be served at ambient temperatures (not too cold and not hot): lemonade, white wine claret, or a sweet madeira wine.

All foods should be easy to port and serve the picnic-goers to show the host as a considerate and generous person as well as match the beauty and ease of the natural surroundings.

So, if your weekend permits, have your servant or dear hubby fetch a sandwich and blanket and dine al fresco Regency-style.

References:

“Cookery”, by Amy Richards, published in 1895

Andrew Hubbell, How Wordsworth Invented Picnicking and Saved British Culture. Romanticism, Volume 12, Number 1, 2006, pp. 44-51

MyAustenDreamworld.com

Janeaustensworld.wordpress.com

Timothy Morton, Radical Food: The Culture and Politics of Eating and Drinking, 1790–1820, vol. 1 (New York: Routledge, 2000), pp. 3–8.