Category: A Day in the Life

Mourning in the Regency Period

Earlier this month, Susan shared with us some sobering statistics about death during England’s Regency period. According to her May 4th post, the average life expectancy in England in the early 1800s was about 40 years, and the infant mortality rate was around 15%.

The people of the Regency had very specific “rules” on how to deal with and display grief over losing a loved one. Though not as strict as the mourning customs that would later develop in the Victorian period, Regency mourning conventions were complex. Let’s take a look at  some of the key characteristics of mourning during the Regency.

Length of the Mourning Period
During the Regency, a person would “go into mourning” when they lost a loved one. The length of time they would mourn was determined by their relationship to the deceased. Typically, the more distant the relative, the shorter the mourning period, and eventually socially acceptable guidelines emerged. When you consider the number of relatives a person could have, it was not uncommon to be in mourning for years!

Below are some general guidelines for mourning durations in the Regency.
(NOTE: Mourning period lengths could vary slightly by social class or region. The lengths indicated below were guidelines, but ultimately, the length of time a person chose to mourn was a personal decision.)

Husband or wife:  1 year
Son or daughter:  6 months – 1 year  (the older the child, the longer the mourning period)
Parent or Parent-In-Law:  6 months–1 year
Grandparent:  6 months
Brother or Sister:  3-6 months
Aunt or Uncle:  3 months
First Cousin:  2 -6 weeks
Second Cousin:  1 week


Mourning Dresses

Individuals in mourning were expected to set themselves apart from society. In the “see-and-be-seen” society of the Regency, the most visible way to accomplish this was through one’s clothing. With the rise of popularity of fashion journals/magazines, mourning dresses became more elaborate and specific. These gowns could be very expensive, so it was not uncommon for women of modest means to dye or alter older dresses to use for mourning. Over time, the mass production of dark fabric made it more readily available and more affordable, and the rising middle class had the means to purchase it. As a result, mourning gowns became a “must” in a woman’s wardrobe.

During the Regency, there were two general stages of mourning:  full mourning and half mourning.

A Woman’s Full Mourning Attire:
Full mourning (or deep mourning) was the first stage.  During this stage, a woman would dress in all black – typically bombazine (heavier silk), crepe (lightweight silk treated to have no sheen), sarsnet, gossamer, and velvet – and she would accessorize with a mourning bonnet, black shawl, black gloves, widow’s cap, and/or a crepe veil. The only acceptable jewelry for full mourning was that of jet, black enamel, black glass, or amber. Embellishments, such as buckles or buttons, needed to be modest. While in full mourning, a woman was expected to abstain from social activities.

A Woman’s Half Mourning Attire:
About half-way through the mourning process, a mourner would shift to the next stage: half mourning. The mourner could now wear select somber hues, including violet, mauve, brown, gray, or lavender. Jewelry made of pearls, coral, and amethysts could also be worn. Wearing rings, brooches, or pendants made from the deceased hair was common during this stage.  While in half mourning, a woman could gradually resume her social activities.

 

A Man’s Mourning Attire
The expectations regarding a man’s mourning attire were much simpler. Since men wore black as part of their regular wardrobe, mourning clothes were not a dramatic transformation. While mourning, men would usually wear a black jacket.  Additionally, some men would wear a black crepe armband, black cravat and/or shirt, black gloves, or a black ornament or band on their hat.

Mourning a Spouse
The mourning period for a widow or widower was traditionally one year plus one day.

Rules for the Mourning Widow:
The strictest, most intense form of mourning during the Regency was that of a widow mourning her husband. Social custom forbade a widow to marry within the year following her husband’s death. The main reason for this was to ensure the woman was not with child, which would put the identity of the child’s father in question. During full mourning, it was unacceptable for a widow to attend social functions, and her social interactions were limited to receiving calls.

Rules for the Mourning Widower:
The expectations on a mourning widower were much different than those for a widow. While a widow was expected to go into seclusion for an extended period of time, widowers were not expected to go into seclusion for more than a couple of weeks because of his business responsibilities. Additionally, a widower was permitted to remarry right away, especially if he had young children to care for.

In parting, I leave you with a few more mourning facts:

If a young woman was in mourning and was about to get married, she would not wear black to her wedding. It was considered poor taste for a new bride to be in mourning, although it would be acceptable for her to wear darker, more somber colors.

It would not be uncommon for a wealthy family to insist that their servants wear mourning clothes to show respect for a departed member of the family.

This post merely scratches the surface of mourning during the Regency. The process was complex, but it was one that helped define the era and lay the groundwork for future customs.

Until next time,
Sarah

Originally posted 2012-05-16 10:00:00.

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.

Poor vicar standing in his country parish.

More than likely, he’s going to walk. To keep a carriage for his personal use and maintain his household (a cook and a valet/groom) he’d have to have a living of at least 700 pounds per year above his keep. (Modest household annual expenses cost about 350 pounds.) If the tithe from his parish weren’t enough, maybe his noble patroness would lend him the use of one of her carriages.

Man of good income standing in the drawing room of his country manor.

He’d rush to his steward to send word to his grooms to ready his vehicle in the coach house.  The coach house was an independent building kept on the hero’s lands that housed his carriage(s), similar to what a garage does today. There the vehicles could be kept clean and safe from the weather or critters. The hero couldn’t keep the carriage in a stable. Being so near the feed would invite mice. Varmints do bad things to the fabrics of the interiors. It simply wouldn’t do for the hero to arrive in a shabby condition.

American Heritage Dictionary: Carriage in a Coach House.

Man of moderate income living in London.

He’d rush to his groom or valet, whoever was in closer proximity within the few feet of his leased rooms. The hero would instruct his servant to hire a gig (a generic term for any two-wheeled vehicle with seating for two) or a hackney (the “cab” system of Regency London) if the villain kept the heroine within the city. If the villain had fled London, the groom would be sent to the nearest stable or coach house to rent transport. This is not instant and could take hours to arrange.

Man of good income living in London.

He’d rush to his groom or steward, whoever was in the closest proximity within the first level of the hero’s leased town home and follow his man out to the mews in the alley behind the house. The hero’s horse(s) and carriage would be kept there. Mews are similar to the coach houses, just smaller.

So the hero has “called” for his mode of transportation, but what are his options?

Horse: If the hero has a long way to travel and time is of the essence, nothing beats horse back. If the weather is bad with snow on the ground, road travel by carriage would be nearly impossible. The road conditions were poor enough in good weather.

The hero would have no choice but to travel by horse. At a gallop, a horse could average 30 miles per hour, which is faster than the 5 to 7 miles per hour in a carriage. Thoroughbred, Percheron, Belgian, Clydesdale, and Shire breeds were available during the Regency. Hopefully, the heroine wouldn’t mind him on horseback. Maybe she fancies being saved by a knight in Damask waistcoat armor.

Know your Horseflesh

Barouche: This is a large vehicle typically drawn by two horses. The seated occupants face each other. A large hood could fold over the passengers but could be driven open, for every one to see the occupants. Closed, this vehicle was good option for medium distances, 25-50 miles.

The Barouche Carriage

Landau:  This is a four-wheeled carriage known for being driven open to show off the occupants. It’s typically drawn by a pair, four-in-hand. The top is soft and folds into two sections exposing the interior. Our hero’s rescue plans may be thwarted in an open carriage, not to mention the dangers of the heroine’s reputation being sullied to the world.

1819 Ackermann’s Repository Landaulet Landau Carriage

Georgiantimes.homestead.net – Know your Landau Parts

Chaise: This is an open carriage with seating for one, two, or even three (if the driver rides one of the horses, postilion style.) Our hero would have to be creative with his rescue plans to use the smaller versions of the chaise. Hopefully, the heroine is alone, no little sister in tow. Thus unusual riding arrangements won’t be needed.

Chaise Illustration by Pearson Scott Foresman

The Post Chaise: This is a four-wheeled closed carriage driven by a team of four. The driver had to ride one of the horses. The post chaise could have windows, even in the front, perfect for searching the landscape. It also had a luggage platform, which could carry supplies or a portmanteau for a change of clothes. If the hero has to travel a far distance, this is the vehicle of choice, and it’s perfect for ferrying a group of servants or secondary characters.

Courtesy of the Suffolk Museum – The Post Chaise

The Rear of the Post Chaise

Coach and Four: This is a four-wheeled closed vehicle drawn by four horses. There is a luggage box in the front. The driver would sit or straddle this depending on the coach design. The back also had a luggage box or basket. The interior hosts hidden compartments for bags of ransom money or a flintlock.

If this is our hero’s lot, he will languish with worry with his head nestled on the Padua silk lining the walls as he drives his fist into the upholstered brocade fabric of the seat backs. Carriage interiors could be contrived with anything the hero or his patroness could afford: silk, tapestries, glass windows, lanterns for lighting, etc. Leather was typically used for open carriages because of the smell arising from the chemicals used in tanning and treating the hides.

Wealthy members of the Ton used the Coach and Four for daily transport. The less wealthy would use these for long distances. If money is of no concern for the hero with his 30,000 pounds per year, this would be in his coach house or mews.

Even if the hero is tight with his coins, for a long journey this would be the hero’s best option.

The Coach and Four with Servants on the Roof

Cocking Cart: This is a two-wheeled open carriage led by one horse. The hero would have to drive this. There is only room for him and the heroine. This is a less expensive option, so a hero of modest means could lease this.

GeorgianTimes.Homestead.net – Cocking Cart

Curricle: This is a two-wheeled open carriage pulled by two horses (preferably well matched so that the carriage doesn’t jerk.) This vehicle is typically controlled by our hero, not a groom, though the hero could have a groom drive. These vehicles are built for speed, but these speeds were no more than 5-10 miles per hour.

The Curricle

Dogcart: This is a two-wheeled or four-wheeled vehicle with back-to-back seating for four. The dogcart is another less expensive option but not very speedy. If the heroine has a best friend or little sister in tow, he may not have the option of enjoying the heroine’s fine eyes if the hero and heroine cannot share the same seat.

The Dogcart

Phaeton: This is an open carriage with four-wheels with one or two seats. A high phaeton as shown below would be so tall, the villain would see our hero coming. Also, some were prone to tipping. Tipping would probably doom the rescue.

The High Phaeton

The hero’s dilemma is great as is his choices for transport. With the exception of the Victoria and the Corbillard, the illustration shows an abundance of carriage choices known to the Regency World.

Illustration from The Dictionary of P. Larousse

Closing Thoughts

Transportation options varied in the Regency from walking to horseback to carriages. As income dictates whether the average Joe can afford a Chevette or Cadillac, it also weighed heavily on all members of Regency society. Plausible cases can be made for any of the hero’s options, but it should be consistent with his status, time frame, geography, and even the weather.

Hopefully, the hero has chosen wisely and is now on his way to save the heroine. Let’s pray he gets there in time.

References:

http://www.pemberley.com/janeinfo/pptopics.html

http://www.rubylane.com/

http://www.susannaives.com/nancyregencyresearcher/

http://main.thebeaumonde.com/

http://www.britannica.com/

http://janeaustensworld.wordpress.com

http://historicalhussies.blogspot.com

http://janeausteninvermont.wordpress.com

Driving horse-drawn carriages for pleasure: the classic illustrated guide to coaching, harnessing, stabling, etc. by Francis T. Underhill

An Economic History of London, 1800-1924 by Michael Ball, David Sunderland.

 

Originally posted 2012-03-12 10:00:00.

Finishing the Book

Writing Weather

An author’s greatest joy (besides coming up with a strong idea for a story) is finishing the book. It may take only weeks or it may take months (or years!) but there is nothing so satisfying as coming to the conclusion of that first draft of a manuscript.

I have just finished a manuscript for a regency novel which will be published sometime in 2014. It’s a sequel to the first regency I’ve written in a while, Moonlight Masquerade, which will be published by Revell Books in March.

My Baby
My Baby with all its rough edges


This story, tentatively titled Duke by Default, took me to late spring and early summer 1815, right before the final battle of the Napoleonic Wars—Waterloo. The battle looms at the edges of my story. But mainly my story concerns the season in London, a bit of botanical gardens, and lost love and new found love.

Every writing journey begins with Chapter One…

After the initial euphoria of THE STORY IDEA the hard work of getting it written begins. Then comes the next phase, which I will shortly be undertaking: reading through that rough, ill-shapen, wordy thing called a first draft and making it into a diamond of the first water, to borrow some Regency parlance. This stage involves rewriting and reworking, checking up on all kinds of facts that I just skipped over in the first draft, deciding on names for a lot of the secondary characters which I left as blanks in the first stage.

IMG_5221
And ends with The End.

In a month’s time, hopefully this first draft will have transformed into a wonderful love story which will keep my reader on the edge of her seat, emotionally connected to my hero and heroine, and giving a deep sigh of satisfaction when reaching The End at the last page.

 

Catching Up with Reflections Bloggers

Inspirational Regencies Represent!

The Romance Writers of America had their annual awards ceremony this past weekend. Inspirational Regencies were well-represented when our very own Kristi Ann Hunter won the Golden Heart award for unpublished Inspirational manuscripts. You can check out the other winners, including the Rita for best published Inspirational romance at the RWA website.

Here a Book, There a Book, Everywhere a new Book!

In addition to her anticipated Regency (coming out in August!), Camy Tang just released a contemporary romantic suspense in an anthology titled Sealed With a KissShe’s also busy working on two series for next year: a romantic suspense and a regency set.

Speaking of August releases, keep an eye out for Vanessa Riley’s new Regency tale: Swept Away.

Ruth Axtell has stepped a few years past our beloved Regency to delve into the equally stunning Victorian world. Her novelette, Victorian Spring, is available now and the start to a fabulous new series.

Friend of the blog, Kristy Cambron released the first book in her WWII series. The second one comes out in April.

And a Crazy, Wonderful Life It Is

In addition to sending books out through her agent the hopefully-soon-to-be-published Susan Karsten is super busy. A son getting married, two girls headed off to college, and a 25th anniversary to celebrate make for a full and wonderful life!

Laurie Alice Eakes recently returned from the RWA conference.

 

What about you? We’d love to know what’s going on in your life!

The Parasol, a Necessary Regency Accessory, by Susan Karsten

Parasols were introduced to England from China. The earliest ones were silk and often shaped like a pagoda.

pagoda parasol

This elegant accessory was mainly to shade a lady’s delicate, fair complexion.  Jaunts through warehouses for accessories would have included buying parasols to match particular outfits.

matchy matchy

The frames were bamboo, cane, or steel. Funny for us 20th-21st century ladies to realize that suntans were extremely unfashionable until the 1920s, when Coco Chanel helped to popularize the suntan. Prior to that, only women who had to labor outdoors were tan. After the 20s, chic, wealthy women were outdoors because they alone had the leisure time for outdoor games like tennis and golf.

Bam!

Wear your sunscreen, ladies!

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.

A New Regency

What does it feel like to be on the brink of having a new regency published?

For a writer, it’s a mix of emotions when she gets back the galleys from an editor. Likely the author hasn’t looked at this manuscript in at least six months if not longer, and by this time, she is deep into another story. Chances are she’s written or edited more than one story since writing that manuscript.

So, the emotional link to that story is gone. It will hopefully be revived as she puts aside whatever other works in progress she has, and dives back into the story that is on a publisher’s schedule.

At this stage, the author must be able to accept an editor’s changes or suggestions–not always easy, since she has turned in a polished work. Now, the author reads an outsider’s opinion of her work. Didn’t they get it? Why don’t they like my hero/heroine/plot device/fill in the blank?

One must realize one’s editor is not one’s enemy, but a friend who wants to see the best possible story before it goes public.

So, bite the bullet and analyze one’s characters as dispassionately as one is able to at this point, and then try to make any changes necessary.

I’m down to the final twenty pages of this process before the manuscript gets emailed back to the editor. The next time I see my story, it will be only for a final proofreading. Then a few months later, it will be the real thing, available to readers.

It’s a long process from initial idea to final product, whether one self-publishes a book or has it published through a publisher. Lots of birth pains in the process. But what a relief to read a story that flows, where the characters are believable and the plot escalates, keeping the reader reading.

I hope my next regency, A Heart’s Rebellion, will prove such a story.Axtell_final

The Steward ~Guardian of the Noble Estate (farm), by Susan Karsten

Do we. as regency readers, fully understand how, and from where, the wealth of the average wealthy nobleman arose? Mostly, from farming. Yes, there were those who had ships, investments, mines, you name it, but farming the family land was the most common way to wealth that I am aware of. Some lords were good managers of their estates, but even the good managers needed stewards, especially when they owned multiple agricultural estates and spent much time in London.

Picture an estate of as large as 11,000 acres. For the owners to have any leisure-time, they needed to employ a ‘right-hand man’ to look after the management of the estate. The man in question was the agent or land steward.

 Duties: The estate had a number of heads of departments, such as the head gardener, head gamekeeper, etc. The agent was responsible for all of these departments, paying the wages of the workmen and keeping regular logs and accounts of work done. He kept a detailed set of books recording repairs to buildings, fences or roads, as well as information regarding game, livestock and crops. He was also in charge of collecting the rent from the estate’s tenants, and for this reason he could be an unpopular figure.

The agent  spent a lot of his time touring the estate on horseback, dealing with tenants and estate workers face to face. He was required to keep a terrier, a book recording the boundaries and tenancies of the land, which included the rent roll. A good agent needed a head for figures, meticulous record-keeping skills, an all-round knowledge of farm work and land maintenance, and an aptitude for dealing with people. That the job could be dangerous is clear from records of assaults on agents by tenants, and at least one steward murdered on an estate.

A steward’s house near the main gate of an estate.

The most important position on an estate was the steward, who was the chief administrator and, in earlier times, the lord of the manor’s deputy. The steward wielded considerable executive authority.  He transacted all the legal and other business of the manor estate, kept the court rolls, etc.

The steward was usually resident on the Estate.  The steward was responsible for finding tenants for farms, negotiating leases, recommending and supervising improvements, and collecting and disbursing estate revenues His influence certainly also extended into the domestic realm of the estate.

Those of us who write, or read regencies, can easily see how the dishonest steward often crops up as a plot element in our fiction.  They can be made into a convenient villain.

For the most part, however, they were honest men, working for a living, surely taking pride in the nurturing of the property.

Have you ever read a regency with a lordly hero disguised as a steward? Any regencies with wicked stewards? Please respond in the comments. Thanks, Susan

Market Towns: The Mall of the Regency

Kristi here. Imagine for a moment that you are a resident in a small town in Regency England. You have a small garden, perhaps a farm. Maybe you are in trade and live in town. No matter where you live, one thing is sure: At some point you are going to want or need something and you’ll have to buy it from someone else.

Where would you go if you needed a few more chickens or a bushel of apples? The market, of course.

If you lived in a large town, such as London, there were several markets to choose from, open all week long. But, if you lived farther out, you had to travel to a market town.

New charter (1553) replacing the original charter (1196) and allowing the town of Stratford on Avon to hold weekly markets.  Click picture for more details.
New charter (1553) replacing the original charter (1196) and allowing the town of Stratford on Avon to hold weekly markets. Click picture for more details.

Market towns had existed in England for centuries. There were, in fact, strict rules as to which towns could hold a market and which couldn’t. Towns had to apply for a royal charter if they wanted to hold a weekly market. If a market town already existed within a day’s walk (there and back) the town could not hold a market.

Chichester Market Cross
The Market Cross in Chichester (Wikimedia Commons)

Many towns had a market cross in the middle of the designated area. The actual meaning of the crosses is unknown and theories are as varied as the cross designs. Possibly the religious landmark was to curry God’s favor on the proceedings. It could also have stood as a reminder to the vendor and the buyer to deal fairly with one another. Still another option is that it hearkened back to the original, informal markets that grew up on the grounds around the churches.

Whatever the reason, some of these market crosses became very elaborate, more along the lines of pavilions or buildings than mere religious icons on a tall pillar. Some towns even constructed their roads with the markets in mind. One example is Stow on the Wold in Gloucester whose narrow side streets were designed to make managing herds of sheep easier.

Since many people lived spread out across rural England, market days (typically Saturdays) were their only opportunity to acquire what they needed, unless they could go directly to someone local to barter or buy. Farmers and craftsman would bring their wares to town and set up stalls along the extra wide main streets.

Norwich market
Norwich Market, 1799 (Wikimedia Commons)

As leisure travel increased in the Georgian era, some market towns, such as Norwich, became fashionable shopping destinations. Permanent stores grew up around the market places, but transitional and temporary stalls were still used for the weekly market.

Today, many of these towns still hold a weekly market, though you’ll more likely find purses and technology accessories than a chicken and a sheaf of wheat.

 

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