Category: A Day in the Life

An Article All About… You!

It’s the first official day of summer! As we all know, summer is a time of freedom and fun, which occasionally leads to forgetting something.

Which we did.

We forgot to schedule a post today.

So we’ve decided to let you write the post! We always want to get more acquainted with our readers so that we can provide the kind of blog you want. Take a few moments and answer the questions below so that we can make Regency Reflections the best blog it can be.

Thanks!

Kristi Ann

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Originally posted 2013-06-21 10:00:00.

And You Think Your Street Needs Repairs

And You Think Your Street Needs Repairs

To go on holiday, or even to market from farm or country house, the Regency traveler needed to make that journey on what were called roads, yet usually resembled nothing more than rutted tracks. In other words, the roads in Regency England barely managed to qualify for that nomenclature.

Roads were made of stones roughly broken into the size of bricks and laid in a bed of earth. They weren’t crowned (higher in the middle). Imagine the disaster that caused in a wet country like England, especially in the winter. Rain fell. Mud oozed between those stones, and the stones shifted, creating ruts and an unstable surfaces over which horses stumbled and coaches bounced. In many counties such as Cornwall, the roads simply did not exist beyond mere tracks. Around Bristol, the roads became impassible in the winter.

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As a result of these bad roads, coaches often turned over, causing injury and even death to the passengers. Bridges collapsed under the weight of coaches, plunging the occupants and their luggage into the rivers below. And no passenger could count on actually riding the entire journey. Often they had to exit the coach and walk so the horses could haul the vehicle up a muddy or rutted incline. In winter, passengers sometimes froze to death in unheated coaches, as the conveyance slogged through frozen ruts of mud or over ice-slick stone.

Dilapidated bridge photo courtesy of Angela Breidenbach
Dilapidated bridge photo courtesy of Angela Breidenbach

Then Thomas Telford came along. From 1815, to 1829, he improved the road between London and Holyhead at the cost of 1,000.00 pounds per mile. His road was grated with a slope from crown to edge to ensure drainage. Stones about ten inches deep were laid upon this surface. He laid stone chippings atop this layer. Finally, a steam or horse-drawn roller compressed the top layer. The chippings compressed thus locked into a smooth mass.

John Macadam improved on this technique even further. Macadam used hand-broken stones around six ounces apiece to form a thin layer. Traffic itself compressed these angular stones into a smooth surface.  Or, if one still did not wish to travel on the uncertainty of the roads, one could take a canal boat to many locations.

My thanks to the wonderful traditional Regency author Emily Hendrickson (www.emilyhendrickson.net) for allowing me to use much of her research on road conditions and improvements in the Regency.

Originally posted 2013-06-17 03:24:25.

Similarities Found Between Modern-day Vacations & Regency Vacations ~ by Susan Karsten

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.

downtown Minocqua, a popular tourist town in WI

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.

Sydney Gardens of Bath held a grotto, a falls, a ruined castle, an echo and a labyrinth.

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?

Originally posted 2013-06-07 10:00:00.

Getting the Most From Regency Reflections

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.

MatchCover~ A Free Fiction Fix ~

Did you read our serial story in February? If not, take some time and read the short story created by our fabulous Reflections authors. The contest is long past, but the story is still fabulous. Read it all from the A Suitable Match page. 

~ Inspirational Regency Book Listings ~

Have you see the book list page? If you are looking for your next inspirational Regency, we have several you can pick from! Look through books from Reflections authors as well as other wonderful writers. There’s even a style description to help you choose.

thimbles~ Inspirational Regency Book Recommendations ~

Maybe you have already read some of the books on our book list. We’d love for you to participate in the Thimble poll to tell others what you thought of the book.

~ Author and Reader Connections ~

We’ve always loved interacting with you in the comments, but there is now a brand new option for contacting us at Regency Reflections. You don’t have to wait for a relevant post – you can Come Calling! We’d love to hear from readers about topics they would like us to cover or books they love that are missing from our list.

You’ll notice our book list has is missing a few titles. If you are an author with a new inspirational Regency coming out, we want to hear from you as well. We’ll add your book to our list and possibly work out a guest post or author interview.

Old_Blacksmiths_Shop_Gretna_Green~ Guest Posts ~

Did you see the wonderful guest posts last week from Collette Cameron and Roseanna M. White? If you are an author or lover of Regency history, you might can guest post, too! Use the Come Calling form to tell us a little about what you would like to write and we’ll get in touch with you.

~ Contests ~

There’s no contest running right now, but there are more just around the corner! We’ve been known to give away books, gifts cards, and lots of other wonderful goodies! Just a few weeks ago, one lucky reader won a brand new Nook. So when’s our next contest? We can’t say for sure – the fun of surprise and all – but you might want to make sure you’re keeping up with the blog in August. Wink, wink.

~ History, Trivia, and Fun from the Reflections Authors ~

As always we have our fabulous posts from our regular contributing authors. We love discovering little historical facts and passing them along to you. Want to learn more about your favorite bloggers? Visitor our editors page for bios and links. Many of our authors write in eras other than just Regency England, so your favorite blogger might have more books out there than you realize!

 

We hope you love Regency Reflections as much as we do. Remember to let us know in the comments below or on our new contact page what we can do to make it even better for you!

Originally posted 2013-06-03 10:00:00.

Portraits of Our Mothers

mother

The Washington Post headline read: “Survey: Half of women say they don’t have enough free time”. I confess that I laughed when I saw it on my Smartphone screen. No kidding? Half of us have enough hours in the day while the other half of us are just trying to make it through with our sanity intact? Whether it be for maintaining a household, rearing children (aka making sure they don’t destroy the house most days), focusing on a career or investing in the relationships in our lives, do women really have much “time to ourselves” to speak of? I wasn’t sure, especially since I was doing some quick reading during the halftime of my son’s soccer game.

Author Mom
Portrait of Madame Emilie Seriziat and son (Jacques-Louis David, 1795. Oil on canvas) Photo: Wikimedia Commons

When thinking about our topic of alfresco activities in the month of May, I just couldn’t let go of this concept of time. What would we do with scads of it to spend as we choose? Did I really have to sneak in a little research time in-between quarters for the soccer game? As Mother’s Day approaches, I had to wonder if time is an activity in and of itself  – and not just for women in the year 2013. We modern woman have entered the workforce with a vengeance, going from working an average 8 hours per week (at a paying job) in 1965 to working an average 21 hours a week in 2011. A whopping 56% of employed mothers with children under eighteen say it is very or somewhat difficult to maintain a balance between work and their home life (USA Today). And in 2011, women reported spending an average of 13.5 hours per week with their children.

With those stats, why wouldn’t we think that maintaining careers, taxiing kids to soccer fields and dance class, popping dinner in the microwave and rushing through the occasional load of laundry makes us busier than mothers in the Regency Era? After all, Jane quoted that a mother would have always been present. That must mean a mother had little by way of responsibilities in 1812, right? Wrong. She had more to do than choose fabric for her next ball gown, that’s for sure.

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The Good Mother (Jean-Honoré Fragonard, 18th century. Oil on canvas.) Photo: Wikimedia Commons

One of the most interesting books I read in college was A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785 – 1812 (by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich). Martha Ballard was a Regency Era woman, mother, and midwife living in eighteenth-century Maine. (If you want a picture of the hard-working Regency Super-Mom, this lady was it.) She ventured out on ice-covered lakes to deliver babies in the middle of winter. She managed to have nine children of her own while performing duties akin to that of a physician on a somewhat regular basis. She maintained her frontier home in rugged New England and fashioned a domestic economy as an herbalist and healer. (Career. Kids. Balancing work and home. Sound familiar?) I recommend this book for a candid look at the Regency from a fresh angle – maybe to see a connection between those mothers of 200 years ago and the portrait of a special mother in our lives today?

When I think about the portrait that my sons have of me as their mother, I’d hope they could say what Jane Austen did in her quote; I was always present. Maybe I was stretched a little and couldn’t give every moment, but I would hope I was always present in the moments I could give. That I was indeed a constant friend and cheerleader. That the influence I had brought them up to fear the Lord, to grow in righteousness, and to always treat gently the women God has gifted into their lives. I would hope that they remembered the time – the honest-to-goodness quality time – their mother spent with them in their youth… That I put the phone away on the soccer field and stayed present in the moment at my son’s game.

I pray the portraits we women paint as mothers in this life (whether in the Regency or in today’s world) showcase an abundance of grace and beauty. I pray that they’re portraits of our mothers, just as they will be of us some day.

Portraits of our mothers on Regency Reflections…

Author Kristi Hunter
Author Kristi Ann Hunter, her mother, and eldest daughter
Author Susan Karsten
Author Susan Karsten (far right), her mother, and youngest daughter
Author Vanessa Riley
Author Vanessa Riley and her mother (left); Author Vanessa Riley and daughter Ellen on Stone Mountain (right)
Author Kristy Cambron
Author Kristy Cambron and her mother

Who is a special mother in your life? How has she invested the gift of time in your life?

 Have a blessed Mother’s Day!

In His Love,

Kristy

 

Originally posted 2013-05-10 10:00:00.

The Clothing I Couldn’t Do Without…

Ah, spring. Even if snow still blankets your sidewalks, it’s hard to deny that spring with it’s brightly colored fabrics and fun bonnets is right around the corner.

We asked our Regency Reflections authors what item in their closet was their absolute favorite go-to item.

Naomi Rawlings

A ridiculously old sweatshirt that I’ve had since high school. Whenever I’m wearing it while my mom visits, she shakes her head at me and tells me I need to get rid of it.

Ruth Axtell

My most comfortable, best-fitting pair of jeans.

laurie and nick and waterLaurie Alice Eakes

My hats. I love hats – straw, organza, felt; pert bows and flirty streamers; swooping feathers of stiff flowers, hats please me to look at or wear.

Kristi Ann Hunter

My first thought was to say my jeans, but while they are a staple for me there isn’t a particular pair that is just my favorite. I have a pair of shoes, though, that I love. They are enormous, chunky platform type shoes. Something about them makes me feel like I can take on the world when I’m wearing them.

Kristy in her wedding dressKristy Cambron

Every girl has favorites in her closet, from her shoe collection to that favorite handbag. Being in a house full of all boys, I need a place to keep my girly fashion goodies stashed away and my own closet is it! But the shoes and bags are not the top items for me. Instead, the one thing that I will never, ever part with, is my wedding dress. It may not be in fashion after twelve years down the road, but it will always be there, hanging proudly in the back of everything else, keeping my closet warm with fine memories of years gone by. It makes me smile just by being there. I will never part with it.

What about you? What is your favorite item in your closet?

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Originally posted 2013-03-06 10:00:00.

How Else to Entertain a Houseguest

Laurie Alice here: While working on my next Regency, (Zondervan Books, 2014), I ran into a problem—I needed to entertain a houseguest who is in mourning and who is also. . . We’ll be kind and call her distraught rather than whiny. Since I didn’t want them to play card games commonly associated with gambling, such as silver loo or whist, and this lady is not bright enough to play chess, I went to the well of information that is The Beau Monde ladies, the Regency special interest chapter of Romance Writers of America. As usual, they gave me enough information to keep my guest entertained for weeks; therefore, I thought I would share a few of them with you all.

Let’s start with Spillikins.

From Wikipedia (Jeu de mikado photo)

This is a game that is still played today. Sticks of varying shapes and sizes are held upright, then allowed to fall into a random pile. The object of the game is to collect as many sticks as you can without disturbing any of the other sticks. I remember playing something similar to this as a child called “Ker plunk”—or something like that.

Another game that reminds me a little of a favorite childhood game was, A Journey Through Europe, or The Play of Geography. The idea was a race through Europe, reaching the goal first. Players moved their game pieces along a map of Europe according to the toss of a dice. Sound a little like The Game of Life?

Other games included first having to put together what we would now call a jigsaw puzzle which resulted in a board game of some kind. These games—and others—were stored in slip cases for easy storage or taking on long road trips.

So now I need to figure out how I can get the heroine and hero playing one of these games. Or maybe that will wait for another book in this series. All I know is that knowing more about the games of the time makes for far more interesting evenings in the country houses in which I like to place my characters, than the standards of playing cards, chess, or music.

Originally posted 2013-01-21 05:00:00.

Top 12 Posts of 2012

Here at Regency Reflections, we have a dynamic team that works hard to provide our followers great insight and heart about all things regency.

Below are our top 12 posts for 2012. Take a moment and enjoy. We look forward to bringing you more great content in 2013.

Real Life Romance–And How to Keep it Alive 1
My Carriage Awaits… Maybe 2
A Review of “Jane Austen Knits” 3
A Flight of Fancy: a Regency Novel by Laurie Alice Eakes 4
Mr. Darcy, An Alpha Male in Love 5
Mourning in the Regency Period 6
What Happened to the Traditional Regency? 7
Interview and a Give-A-Way with Author Jamie Carie 8
Get to Know Our Own Laurie Alice Eakes (And win that gift basket!) 9
How to Have an American Duke 10
“Passion for Regency Fashion – The Pelisse” Susan Karsten 11
Wedding Hotspots in Regency England 12

Originally posted 2013-01-07 10:00:00.

Christmas Bells (December Bells) Are Ringing

When I think of Christmas Time, the lilt of bells and the memories I associate with them flood my mind. A warmth grips me, hugging me tighter than my best spencer. To me, bells always sound happy, giving an ethereal lightness and glow to the heart of the hearer. I prefer the sounds of cast bells. Their song is richer and more full-bodied than their thin sheet-metal cousins.

England is steeped in both, and bell-ringing is a part of the culture and history. The tradition of casting English bells predates the Middle Ages. Today, two of her best bellfounders survive, Taylors of Loughborough (1400) and Mears and Stainbank of Croydon (1570).

Moreover, bells and bell-ringing played a role in Regency life.  Bells rang to announce a church service. This service would be on Christmas Day as oppose to the Christmas Eve masses we are accustomed to.

I can imagine hearing the peal (the loud prolonged ringing) of St. George’s eight hemispherical bells tolling on the morn of December 25. Maybe the bell ringers would perform a change ringing where they would display a festive pattern of bell tolls.  It wouldn’t be a familiar holiday tune but an exquisite series of tones set to a rhythm indicative of the ringers’ skills. Change ringing is still popular today, in England and around the world.

Church bells would also ring for weddings. Although, it would probably be unusual (in my opinion), I couldn’t find any prohibitions to having a Christmas Day wedding. If Christmas fell on a Sunday after the banns have been successfully read, what cleric would stop the couple and delay the ringing of another successful match?

Amidst the joy, bells of London could also possess a seamy side. They are said to have been rung at Bethlehem Hospital (Bedlam) announcing to gawkers to come stare at the mentally unstable patients. I would hope that Christmas Day would be spared, but not the whole of December.

Perhaps after leaving St. George’s, if I were walking toward a coffee shop, a Morris dancer (or a troupe of Morris dancers) would perform in front of me. The bells strapped below their knees would tinkle with each of their merry steps. The Morris dancer tradition dates back to 15th Century in England. Its earliest notations suggests it was a dance that both men and women could partake in, but at the time of the Regency, it was mostly a male endeavor.

Walking a little farther, I might hear bells strapped to a horse team or the ringing of bells on residences which have not installed a doorknocker.   Those households wouldn’t have the advance warning of the importance of their visitor, as a footman’s successive knocks would detail, just the egalitarian jingle for all who darken their thresholds. Well, hopefully these homes are prepared for all coming to sup for Christmas dinner.

Trudging a little farther, I hear a dull peal, one laced with sorrow. Bells were also used to announce deaths. Continuing a tradition started in the Middle Ages, church bells were rung to drive away evil spirits from the departed souls. My heart breaks for anyone losing a loved one, particularly during a season meant for love of family and friends. My continued prayer is for the families of Newtown, Connecticut. Here at Regency Reflections/ChristianRegency.com our hearts are broken, too.  The ringing of twenty-six bells are too many.

References:

RWA’s Beau Monde Chapter

Oxford’s City Branch of Church Bell Ringers

Central Council of Church Bell Ringers

Forrest, John. The History of Morris Dancing, 1483–1750. Cambridge: James Clarke & Co Ltd, 1999.

 

Originally posted 2012-12-17 10:00:00.

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

Originally posted 2012-10-17 05:00:00.