In researching what Regency folk did on their trips to vacation towns, I was surprised how well I could relate to what they did. Some of it reminded me of trips to places like Minocqua, Wisconsin.
Because when you’re there, staying in a rustic cabin or resort on a nearby lake, you do a lot of the same things that Regency vacationers did. Bored, or having a cloudy day, we go into town and visit: the library, the coffee shop, perhaps a theater’s open somewhere. One might buy clothes (t-shirts nowadays), or hats (caps, visors), or a newspaper.
Active people took walks, made rendezvous, picnics, tours, visited waterfalls, paid to enter local attractions, went to dances and concerts, and out to breakfast. I’ve done all those activities on vacation.
It would seem our vacations aren’t as completely different as we may have thought.
What’s your favorite vacation activity? Do you go to resort/vacation communities?
In the last few decades of the 18th century, roads improved greatly. Turnpikes were created and the increased speed of the mail coaches gave rise to a new industry: tourism.
As evidenced in multiple Austen novels, people in the Regency era were as enthralled with the grand houses and estates as we are today. The biggest difference is that then the homes were still occupied, with the majority of rooms still being used by the family.
One must wonder who first had the courage to knock on the door and pay a housekeeper to take them on a tour of someone else’s house. There is little doubt that payment of some form was involved. Servants were used to garnering tips from invited house guests. How much more would they expect from an uninvited stranger?
Journals and letters from the time period do bring into question how often people were actually admitted into various houses, but the practice of requesting a tour is brought up enough to assume there was a certain level of success. Some houses were visited so frequently that they actually designated certain days for public tours.
Some of these houses are still open to the public today. Many have maintained their styling and furniture from the 19th century, giving you a fair idea of what they would have looked like during the Regency period.
Once such house is Chatsworth. Immensely popular as a tourist attraction during the Regency, the house is maintained for visitors today. Many think Jane Austen’s Pemberly was modeled after Chatsworth. Indeed it was even used for filming the Pemberly scenes in the 2005 film.
Other popular homes that are still open for visits today include Blenheim Palace, Cliveden (which you can actually spend the night at for a hefty sum), Stowe, and Wilton House. For some houses, guidebooks were printed – often by the owner themselves. These books could be purchases in the village and brought along with you when you toured the house.
Have you toured any of the grand Regency estates in England? Which was your favorite?
Maybe you’ve been reading Regency Reflections for months and maybe this is your first time. Either way, we’re glad you’re here.
Did you know that Regency Reflections does much more than provide interesting tidbits on life in early 19th century England? It’s true! Just look at the features listed below. Some of them have been around since day one and others are brand new.
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When Highlander’s Hope heroine, Yvette Stapleton finds herself married to the hero, Laird Ewan McTavish, without benefit of a marriage ceremony, she’s more than a bit put out. In fact, it nearly destroys her trust in him.
My quandary was how to get Yvette married to Ewan without her knowing it. Was it possible to simply say you were married in 1817 Scotland and, poof, you were indeed legally married? Would the marriage be recognized by the Church of Scotland?
Those are the thoughts that sprang into my mind one day while contemplating the dilemma. I wasn’t considering handfasting either, which by the 18th century, was no longer recognized by the Kirk (Church) of Scotland.
No, I needed something recognized by the Scot’s Church. I starting digging into Scot’s marriage laws of the 1800s and was pleased-as-punch to come across Scot’s Canon Code and irregular marriages. In essence, anyone could perform a marriage ceremony as long as the parties involved expressed consent to the union, either in person or in writing. Most romance readers are familiar with Gretna Green, and the romantic notion of couples trotting off to Scotland to get married—quite literally over a blacksmith’s anvil. Well, that was part of the Canon Code.
Irregular and clandestine marriages—those not performed by a cleric of the church—included simply agreeing to take one another as husband and wife before two witnesses (Gretna Green), cohabitating in Scotland under the ruse of being wed, and finally, by merely declaring you were married—even if no ceremony had taken place. You could also agree to marriage in writing with express consent. There was no particular form, either verbally or written, required for the marriage to be valid and binding.
I arranged for Yvette and Ewan to claim they were married in the midst of a very dangerous situation in order to prevent Yvette from being ravished. I reinforced it by having Ewan declare to several kin and clans members that he and Yvette were married, and then I had them cohabitate at Craiglocky Keep under the guise of marriage. Yvette was unconscious for the first four days she was at Craiglocky, so she wasn’t in a position to protest the implied marriage.
I did take a bit of liberty with the code, but then, isn’t that what we authors do? I’ve got another story fermenting in my mind, and I do believe I’m going to use the written agreement as an segue to an irregular marriage.
Just an aside, Gretna Green is still a wildly popular marriage venue in Scotland. I have an unmarried daughter. She wants to get married in Scotland. . .
Excerpt from the Great Hall scene when Yvette discovers she’s legally married to Ewan.
Yvette stood on unsteady legs, grasping the table’s edge for balance. She strove for poised composure, despite feeling like a powerless pawn in a despicable game of human chess, played for the amusement of those who enjoyed tragic endings at the expense of someone else’s happiness-no-their very existence.
The Great Hall radiated silent tension. All eyes were on her. She looked at the strangers staring at her, their eyes reflecting a myriad of emotions. Embarrassment, horror, dismay, pity, outrage, compassion, and yes—even a few smugly satisfied.
“You knew?” She looked to Hugh and Duncan, before swinging her gaze to Alasdair and Gregor. They bowed their heads in chagrin. Her turbid gaze swept the rest of Ewan’s family.
“You all knew?” Yvette searched Giselle’s sorrowful eyes, then Adaira’s tear-filled ones. “You must think me such a fool.” Her agonized whisper exposed her vulnerability. Her shame. Her absolute humiliation.
Ewan touched her arm. “Evvy—”
She whirled around. “Don’t you touch me,” she hissed between stiff lips.
Yvette knew her gaze was a mirror of desolation when she finally met his eyes. “How could you?” she whispered. “I trusted you.” She’d never make that mistake again.
He reached for her again. “Please . . .”
She slapped away his hand. “Don’t.”
She clenched her teeth to still her quivering mouth and chin. Closing her eyes against the torrent of tears cascading down her face, she drew in a bracing breath.
Lord, give me the strength to walk from this room with my head held high.
On wooden legs, she stepped away from her chair.
Ewan grasped her elbow, restraining her. “Evvy, I don’t know what she told you, but . . .”
Collette Cameron, a Pacific Northwest native, was born and raised in a small town along the northern Oregon coast, which to this day, continues to remain one of her favorite retreats. An enthusiast of times gone by, Collette currently writes Regency historical romance.
You can find out more about Collette by visiting her author page, www.collettecameron.com. If you found this article and excerpt interesting, you might also want to learn more about her most recent book, Highlander’s Hope.
You know, it’s really kind of funny. When reading the Regency-set novels I so love, I often find references to the on-going war with France and the audacity of Napoleon. Only rarely, however, do we see the British perspective of another war going on at the same time, one with the upstart Colonists that had declared their independence a generation before. Even America often forgets their War of 1812, and in Europe…well, it tends to dim in comparison to the Napoleonic Wars. It’s become overlooked by both sides. But oh, how interesting it is!
In 1811, England had been fighting France for long enough that the escalating troubles with America were little more than a nuisance at first. They sent men and ships, but for the first two years of the war, their focus remained set upon France. In North America, they were concerned largely with protecting their Canadian assets, using raids along the Chesapeake to distract American forces from their invasion northward. After Napoleon surrendered, however, everyone–both British and American–new exactly what it meant.
It was time for the fighting to get serious in America.
Not only were those in the Admiralty tired of fooling around with the upstarts, but the citizenry were beginning to fuss about the audacity the Americans demonstrated in this second fight, even sending privateers to harass the British in their own waters! They demanded that the Americans’ cities be burned and her people crushed for their impudence. Ready, I daresay, for a breath of peace, more men and ships were sent from Europe to Bermuda and then, finally, to either the Chesapeake or Canada.
But the men were weary. After months and years of suffering in the war with Napoleon, followed by months idle on the ships across the Atlantic, their hearts weren’t in it. More, the humid mid-Atlantic summer–one of the hottest recorded–caused heat-stroke left and right. More men were felled by vicious storms and intense heat for the first few months than by the sword or shells.
For many, this second war with America was but a P.S. to the first. The Revolution went wrong, they were sure, because of bad leadership decisions. Their men–the fathers of those now in charge– were killed or injured because of this. So it was their duty to put it to rights, especially when America persisted in ignoring the laws of citizenship and rights-upon-the-seas that England had held to for centuries.
It was, for many of those involved, a war no one wanted to fight. It was an afterthought to some and forgotten by many more since. A war based on little more than affronted prides. But like any other, it was also a war with heroes and bravery and determination. And as such, it deserves to be remembered.
Especially now, during its two-hundredth anniversary.
Roseanna M. White pens her novels under the Betsy Ross flag hanging above her desk, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When she isn’t writing fiction, she’s editing it for WhiteFire Publishing or reviewing it for the Christian Review of Books, both of which she co-founded with her husband. The first book in her Culper Ring Series, Ring of Secrets, is set during the American Revolution and available now.
Fairchild’s Lady, a FREE bonus novella starring a secondary character from that first book is available for pre-order and will release June 1. The second book in the series is set during the War of 1812–Whispers from the Shadows releases this August.
Kristi here. The vast lawns of many English country estates lent themselves well to a variety of games. This is a very good thing, as I’m sure many a guest was thankful for the room to move in the outdoors during a crowded country house party.
Battledore and Shuttlecock
One such game that was popular during Regency England was Battledore and Shuttlecock. A combination of modern day badminton and hacky-sack, two or more players would attempt to keep the feathered shuttlecock in the air by hitting it with small rackets, called battledores.
As near as anyone can tell, this game originated in Greece around 1BC. Although it appears to have initially spread east from there so he likely never played it, the fact that people played this game while Jesus walked the earth is a little mind-boggling.
The game remained largely unchanged until the mid-1800s when the English added a net to the game and it became badminton.
It isn’t surprising, really, that such a simple game remained popular for so long, when you consider people’s natural tendency to play “keep it up” with just about anything. The hack-sack craze in the 1990s, a beach ball in a stadium full of people, or a balloon in the midst of more than one toddler. We love to see how long we can defy gravity.
Similar to modern day Bocce, Bowls, or lawn bowling, is not nearly as old at Battledore and Shuttlecock, but it was certainly not new to the Regency game player. Definitively traced back to the 13th century, Bowls was played with a series of balls, specially formed with a bias so they would roll on a curve.
In simple terms, Bowls is played by seeing who can get their ball the closest to the “jack” a smaller white ball thrown out at the beginning of the game as a target. This game could be played alone or in teams, making it ideal for either a leisurely family afternoon or a house party event.
The game became so popular, that Henry VIII feared the practice of archery – then a crucial element of battle – would suffer. He made it illegal for all but the wealthy to partake of the game, leaving those who made bows, arrows, and arrowheads plenty of time to work on their craft. Even the well-to-do were limited, with the rule that they could only play on their own lands and must pay a fee of 100 pounds to maintain their own bowling green.
This ban was lifted shortly after the Regency ended and today it remains one of the main lawn games played in English-cultured nations around the world.
Did you play lawn games growing up? What is your favorite? What
Like the fantasy of playing the harp, being able to set up an easel in the English countryside and dabble away with watercolors seems to most of us an unattainable goal. But during the Regency, proficiency with watercolor painting was promoted and taught to young ladies. I’ve run across many scenes in Regency fiction in which a young miss is prompted to get out her portfolio to impress a potential suitor.
I find art supplies to be full of exciting potential. Just the act of perusing easels, touching papers, and hefting brushes makes me think I “could” paint. Then I crash back to reality, knowing I never will.
The paintbox was an essential accessory for the aspiring female amateur outdoor painter. By the middle of the eighteenth century, British artists regularly sketched outdoors. In watercolor, they found a medium well-suited to their needs, capable of capturing fleeting effects of light and weather, and requiring readily portable materials. Doesn’t this case look wonderfully clever? They certainly helped make outdoor painting possible.
Here’s an example of a portable easel, with built-in paintbox:
Today, the medium is most commonly associated with Britain during the period extending roughly from the mid-eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth century—the so-called Golden Age of watercolor.
The new Romantic watercolor style developed around 1800 employed freer brushwork—often applied to rough-textured papers—and sought to capture fleeting atmospheric effects. Some notable English artists active during the Regency include: John Constable(1776–1837) who used watercolor to record the appearance of cloud-filled skies at specific times of day, and in various weather conditions, and then used these aides mémoires in composing his oil paintings, Richard Parkes Bonington (1802–1828), a British artist active in France, who developed a virtuoso watercolor style marked by its brilliant palette, David Wilkie (1785–1841), and William James Müller (1812–1845.
Here is a well-executed (circa 1st quarter of the19th century) watercolor similar to what would have been painted by a young woman. It came out of her practice scrapbook, with skills probably learned at a girl’s academy. Artistic skills were considered of great importance to young women because it evidenced their schooling. They spent free time practicing their painting.
If you have painted outdoors, please comment and tell about your experiences.
Kristi here. Great Britain, in case you’ve never noticed, is an island. This water-locked state meant that travel beyond the borders was expensive, time-consuming, and potentially dangerous. While some still traveled, choosing to spend months if not years abroad in Europe, the state of the things with Napoleon at the beginning of the Regency era had many taking holiday trips a little closer to home.
Sea-bathing was an extremely popular pursuit, giving rise to many seaside resort towns that rose and fell in the elite’s fickle popularity. The idea was that the mineral-rich waters would heal many of a body’s ailments. More than likely it was the removal from the smog-encrusted air of London and the bit of exercise that proved beneficial.
The process of seabathing was a bit cumbersome. Because of the need for modesty, women and men did not enter the waters together. Large changing houses would be wheeled to the water’s edge. Women would change into their very cumbersome swimming costumes and then exit the back door of the changing house and enter the water.
Many small towns on along England’s southern coast tried to lure the rich to visit. They started large seaside building projects including piers, guest houses, and shops. Where sleepy fishing villages had once lived, tourist draws now reigned. Jane Austen’s unfinished novel, Sanditon, was about one such town. It depicted the exaggerations and tales that those craving progress were prone to tell to lure the elite while those who were more practical and liked their town the way it was bristled at the massive changes. Sadly, we have no idea how Austen would have ended her novel. Would Sanditon have become a successful town? Or would it be stuck with progressive buildings and a disgruntled populace?
Some of those real seaside villages were successful. Towns such as Eastbourne, Blackpool, and Ramsgate achieved a certain level of popularity, but no town could compete with Brighton during the Regency thanks to the Prince Regent’s frequent visits there.
Brighton Pavilion, the royal residence in the area, underwent significant renovations under the Prince Regent. It was turned into a showplace with spires and turrets galore. Nothing was overlooked in creating the splendor of Brighton Pavilion. Even the stables were a work of architectural art.
Because of the Prince’s preference, Brighton won the seaside battle in the early 19th century. It was rivaled only by Bath, which while not actually located on the coast, had the benefit of an abundant natural spring of hot, mineral rich water. Many sickly people moved permanently to Bath.
Are you a beach-goer? What is your favorite seaside town to visit?
If you have read more than two or three Regency romances, you have encountered at least one male character involved in a fancy form of fisticuffs called boxing. No doubt the hero has gone a few rounds with Gentleman Jackson in his “Boxing saloon (salon)” at 13 Bond Street, London, and, for the truly heroic hero, even bested the great man of prize fighting.
Two other names seem to lend their name in prominence to the Regency era, as well—Cribb and Belcher. They were also champion fighters in the sport. Cribb ended up a rather successful businessman. Sadly, Belcher liked to gamble and ended up In prison and dying young in 1811. He, however, stands out in my mind as having lent his casual style of dress in wearing a large kerchief around his neck instead of a cravat—the belcher kerchief. In the second Regency I ever read, Georgina by Clare Darcy, the hero was disdained by many for wearing one of these.
But back to boxing…
The sport has been around since at least ancient Greece. Throughout the medieval period, it seems to have disappeared, but began making a comeback in England in the sixteenth century. By the early 1700s, rules were beginning to form, and popularity of the sport grew amongst all classes of males.
At first, it was a bloody sport with few regulations. The most hand protection a fighter wore were leather strips around their knuckles. Mostly they fought with bare fists and could hit anywhere. By the Regency, no hitting below the belt existed, but pretty much anything else prevailed.
Men from errand boys, to gentlemen in fine rigs drove out to heaths and commons, to observe the fight, cheer on their favorites, and, of course, wager on the outcome of the fight. The sporting magazines of the time reported on these fights. One account seems to have been quite a day of sport.
“By way of ushering in the New Year, the amateurs of the fist had a full day s sport cut out on the 1st inst. No less than three fights having been fixed to take place. These matches were decided on Highgate Common, in the presence of a very numerous field. The first match for forty guineas, was between an Irishman, of the name of Christie, who never fought a pitched battle before, and a second rater of the name of Byrne. This battle afforded but very little diversion. Christie could neither give nor stop, and his adversary, although he possessed some science, had no gift at hitting, and but suspicious bottom. After a hugging battle of forty minutes, Byrne was declared the victor. Richman, the black, and Blake, were the seconds.
“The second battle was between two well-known boxers in miniature, one of whom was Ballard, a Westminster lad, and the pupil of the veteran Caleb Baldwin, and the other Charles Brannam, who has combated with Dixon and others…”
(The Sporting Magazine, January 1812 PP 192-193.)
Also, according to this same publication, English men at the turn of the nineteenth century, were so prize fighting crazed pitch—spontaneous–battles took place. These. “A pitched battle was lately fought at Thorpe, between two champions of the names of Cannell and Fox. The former was victorious, but the fight afforded little satisfaction to the amateurs. At its conclusion, Pegg, a known bruiser, jumped into the ring, and challenged any one present to fight for a guinea, which was accepted by his former antagonist Chapman, who, after a short contest, beat Pegg completely…”
This sport, with its ever-changing rules, could prove deadly. “On Saturday, the 20th instant, a pitched battle was fought at Wanash, near Guildford, between one Mansell, of that place, and a paper-maker, named Wokins; when the latter, having nearly beat his antagonist, received a blow under the ear, which killed him on the spot. A Coroners Jury sat on the body and returned a verdict of manslaughter.”
Thirty seconds was how long an opponent needed to stay down for his adversary to declare victory. Any fighter feeling he needed a break, could drop to one knee for 30 seconds to give himself time to recover; however, this was considered unmanly.
For myself, I’ve never considered having a hero step into the ring (which is really a square now), thinking it a little on the lowbrow side of sports. I am, however, wrong in this thinking. Even Lord Byron learned the art from Gentleman Jackson.
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.
The ingredients of a fine picnic are the weather, the guests, the place, and the food.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
“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
Timothy Morton, Radical Food: The Culture and Politics of Eating and Drinking, 1790–1820, vol. 1 (New York: Routledge, 2000), pp. 3–8.