Category: History

Prize Fighting in the Regency

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.

Simon Burn photo
Possibly depicting Simon Byrne

“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.

Related post on author Clare Darcy.

 

Originally posted 2013-05-20 03:00:00.

Flirtations, Fitness, and Fun: The Benefits of Walking in Regency England

Kristi here. Have you ever visited a big, historic estate? I love to see the old houses, castles, and palaces and have been privileged enough to visit several in my life. Two things I’ve learned you should always bring with you: a camera and good walking shoes.

Before the age of the car, people walked everywhere. Horses were expensive to maintain and even if you had them, they weren’t always a practical option for exercise or travel.

Stile
Stiles were built into countryside fences to keep walkers from having to stop and open gates. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Walking was essential for the working class. They had no other option unless they were traveling a distance long enough to make buying a ticket on the post or renting a hack worthwhile. This made living near work a requirement and visiting family a luxury.

For the upper class walking was a way to kill time and exercise. Walking was especially encouraged for young ladies in 1811’s The Mirror of Graces a long, vigorous walk every morning was recommended. Elite families ate very rich, fattening foods and often participated in dormant activities such as reading, needlepoint, and drawing room visits.

Blickling Hall Grounds
Blickling Hall in England. Photo by georgaph.org.uk.

This inclination for walking led to the extensive glorious grounds surrounding most grand homes. In the late 1700s and early 1800s the most famous of grounds designers charged exorbitant rates, traveling around England and transforming acres of land to suit their owners.

While there were differing opinions when it came to trees and expanses of lawn, one thing all designers incorporated were gravel pathways. These pathways wound their way through shrubs and trees, around statues and the occasional water feature. Gravel paths were essential as they wouldn’t turn muddy after a rain, thereby ruining the hems of the expensive, fashionable gowns.

Painting of couple walking arm in arm away from church.
“A Wet Sunday Morning” by Edmund Blair Leighton Photo: Wikimedia Commons

England is no stranger to wet, rainy days. Those long galleries that often ran along one side of the large houses served a greater purpose than an open area to display artwork. When outside strolls were out of the question, people – women especially – would make laps in the gallery to stay active.

Another great benefit to walking was the social acceptance of a man and woman walking together. Proper etiquette required the male stay with his female companion for the duration of the walk. It was also expected that he would lend her an arm if she got tired. One can only wonder how many ladies “got tired” when walking with a man they were particularly interested in.

Do you enjoy walking? Where is the prettiest place you’ve ever strolled?

 

Originally posted 2013-05-08 10:00:00.

How Regency Ladies Bought Jane Austen

Kristi here. At Regency Reflections we celebrate books containing inspirational stories set in Regency England and this year we have a lot to celebrate. This month alone, two of our own authors saw their debut novels hit the shelves. (Yea, Sarah and Vanessa!)

BooksTablet
Image courtesy of Maggie Smith, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Today, we have a variety of options when purchasing our reading material. We can get the book electronically, printed and bound with a stunning cover, or even read to us via audiobook in some cases. We can make our purchases online or in a physical bookstore.

Aside from the very obvious lack of internet purchasing and electronic book readers, people wishing to purchase books in Regency England faced other obstacles on the road to filling their personal libraries.

For one thing, books were considerably more expensive in the 19th century. An ordinary servant would have to pay half a month’s salary to purchase even the cheapest of novels. No wonder a full and robust library was such a clear sign of wealth!

Let’s assume that you did have the money to fill your shelves with volumes of written words. How would you purchase them?

Lackington Allen Co Bookstore, 1809 Ackermann print
Lackington Allen Co Bookstore, 1809 Ackermann print

Bookstores were becoming quite prevalent by the time the Regency rolled around. Though considerably smaller than your local Barnes and Noble, the were considered large stores at the time. Many served as printers and circulating libraries as well – more on that in a bit. Books could also be purchased on subscription, if you wished to support a particular author or project.

One very large difference in the book buying experience of today and that of two hundred years ago is the cover. Can you imagine getting to choose what the cover of your book looked like? Do you want the picture of the couple or one of a meadow? Maybe you don’t want a picture at all, just the title and author in large letters. It’s pretty hard to fathom.

Back then you weren’t choosing a picture, but choosing the material. And it was more than just hardback or paperback kind of choices. Books were sold unbound and uncut. People would then take the book to a bookbinder. The wealthy had them bound in leather, which varied considerably in quality and types, while the more frugal had theirs sewn into stiff cardboard with a flexible connecting piece. The outside edges were then cut with a sharp knife and the book was ready to read.

If you couldn’t afford to purchase a book you might could afford a subscription to a circulating library. This was a combination of a current day library and coffee shop. The size of the libraries varied greatly. At the turn of the century (1801) the largest could be found in Liverpool with more than 8000 books available. For the same cost as purchasing 2-3 books a year, a person had access to an entire library.

The sheer expense of being an avid reader made being well read a sign of gentility and wealth. It also explains why so many stories were printed as serials in newspapers and magazines to make them more accessible to more people.

Have you had a unique experience buying a book or going to the library? Share it in the comments!

Like this article? Tweet it! 

How Regency Ladies Bought Jane Austen Books Tweet this!

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Originally posted 2013-04-24 10:00:00.

Purification or Poison?

“Mince-pie..is as essential to Christmas, as..tansy to Easter.”

(Quoted from The Connoisseur’” Magazine in 1767, by http://www.foodsofengland.co.uk/tansy,ortansypudding.htm)*

Besides the deep spiritual significance of Easter lies the cultural traditions that arise from every holiday and holyday possible in every culture. Most of these traditions center around specific foods. Yet why these foods?

HamOne common Easter tradition is to serve ham. Yes, it makes a great deal of sense in that it’s easy to prepare for a large crowd; however, the reason why ham became a traditional Easter meal is that, after a long winter past harvest and slaughter, ham was one of the few meats still edible in the larder.

Likewise we have the lamb. The lamb being slaughtered and consumed holds numerous spiritual aspects with Jesus being the Lamb of God, who was slain for our sins. It is also a Passover food. And spring lambs would have been abundant in a country like England awash in sheep.

I won’t get into the coloring and consuming of eggs at Easter. Eggs do symbolize life, which is the entire meaning of Easter—eternal life through the Resurrection; however, the coloring of eggs in spring holds its roots firmly in pagan culture.

tansiesOne Easter tradition that seems to have died out—and with rather good reason—is the consumption of tansy.

Tansy is an herb with yellow flowers and lobed leaves that closely resemble ferns. Tansy holds some disputed medical benefits. And tansy is also a poison.

At first, tansy was eaten during lent to symbolize the bitter herbs. Later, it was baked into a pudding. I have found numerous recipes for tansy pudding from ancient housekeeping books, and included a couple in Friday’s upcoming post. These look rather like baked omelets.

Why tansy? For one thing, it was usually in leaf by Easter. More importantly, though, tansy is a purgative, a purifying agent. In small doses, it cleanses the system of parasites and other unwanted guests like bacteria. After a winter of eating salt-preserved and smoked meats, dried apples and root vegetables, people probably had collected a worm or two in their systems. (I know—ee-ew.) A slab of tansy pudding, and a body would feel far better. Two slices of tansy pudding, and a body would quite possibly be dead.

Be sure to come back Friday and see what it actually took to make the Tansy puddings.

Photos from Wikimedia Commons

Originally posted 2013-04-03 10:00:00.

The Joke’s on Them ~ Caricatures in Regency England

Cruickshank's View of the Regent's Backside
A view of the Regent’s backside by George Cruikshank.

Kristi here. Today is April Fool’s Day in the US. An annoying day where you can’t trust anything you read, hear, say, see, or smell. Basically, your five normal senses are useless and you have to keep a tight grip on your sense of humor to survive. Particularly if you have a jokester in your house.

A sense of humor is a beautiful thing. Often we forget that humor isn’t a modern invention. Because of the long time spent posing for portraits, people always look somber and serious in their paintings. But people in the Regency liked to laugh as much as anyone else.

A Kick from Yarmouth to Wales
A cartoon from 1811 telling the tale of the Prince Regent receiving a sound thrashing for insulting Lord Yarmouth’s wife.

Caricatures, the precursor to today’s editorial cartoons, not only provided social commentary and news, but provided humor as well. Many of them featured prominent figures of the day with certain features exaggerated to provide entertainment as well as make a point.

Much like tabloids and entertainment magazines of today, these drawings were popular because they kept people informed of what was happening in the world in a fun way. Regency England had it’s own celebrities and the caricature artists were the era’s paparazzi.

Caricatures were such a key part of England during the era that the Royal Pavilion and Museums Foundation of Brighton spent nearly £60,000 to obtain 235 original prints. Studying caricatures can tell us a lot about the way culture worked, how various people were thought of, and the general feeling of the time.

IndiaCartoon
A Rowlandson cartoon about the control and status of India, a British holding at the time.

Some of the most famous caricature artists, such as Thomas Rowlandson, worked mostly for Robert Ackermann. Known today for his prints of changing fashions and furniture, the Repository actually featured many social caricatures. Ackermann also printed other periodicals that covered travel, literature, and London in general. Rowlandson was not only a caricaturist but a skilled artist as well. Hand colored prints of his etchings could be purchased as well.

If you decide to go looking for more caricatures online, do be careful. Like today, sex, scandal, and politics were popular topics and some of the caricature artists weren’t shy about using nudity or lewdness to make their points. Many caricaturists were quite vulgar.

Originally posted 2013-04-01 10:00:00.

Napoleonic Wars

To celebrate Moonlight Masquerade, we’re running a special week-long contest. Starting today through next Friday, March 22, we’ll feature Regency quiz questions at the end of each post. To enter the contest, you’ll need to correctly answer the questions in the comment section below. For every correct answer, your name will be added into the drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card . There will be five questions in all, which means your name can be entered up to five times (if you get all five questions right). The deadline to answer ALL CONTEST QUESTIONS will be Saturday, March 23 at midnight.

 

What is so fascinating about the Napoleonic Wars?

I think I’ve been fascinated since my junior high school days when I watched the 1972 War MV5BMTI0MzI3NzMyMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzA5OTQ1MQ@@._V1_SY317_CR7,0,214,317_and Peace series on Masterpiece Theatre, with Anthony Hopkins as Pierre Bezukhov. I fell in love with the bumbling, pudgy anti-hero wearing oval shaped glasses. Of course, I also fell in love with the dashing Prince Andrey Bolkonsky in his white uniform (or the actor playing him). I was caught up in the story although it wasn’t until the 10th grade that I tackled Tolstoy’s original work. I was fascinated with that period of history and didn’t realize then that I was getting the Russian perspective of this war that lasted over two decades.

In school, I studied the War of 1812, which was only a brief slice of the Napoleonic Wars. The other day I was talking to a young college student who didn’t realize the War of 1812 and the Napoleonic Wars were connected!

From the perspective of U.S. history, Napoleon wasn’t such a bad guy; he was our ally, for one thing.napoleon

Soon after reading War and Peace, I read The Scarlet Pimpernel, which became a favorite. That and Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities gave me an understanding of the French Revolution, which preceded the Napoleonic Wars and contributed to the rise of Napoleon.

Then I discovered the English regency period and gained more of the British perspective of the war, albeit from the London drawing room or country house. The battle-hardened captains or majors returned from “the Peninsula” recovering from a wound but still splendid attired in their red uniforms. These stories depicted Napoleon as a monster, the enemy, an insult added to the injury of the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror.

220px-Bem_postcard_7
Natasha Rostova

But it wasn’t until writing Moonlight Masquerade that I began reading some in depth works on this period of history. From them I got a deeper understanding of Napoleon, how he rose to power, his genius as a military commander, but his failure as a political leader. I came to the conclusion that he did more harm than good, destroying much of a continent, a generation of young men, and ultimately slowing down France’s development about a hundred years. While Britain forged ahead with the industrial revolution, France went backwards, remaining largely agrarian for much of the rest of the 19th century.

In the end, war is a terribly destructive force.

 Today’s Question: Which allied armies fought the French in the battle of Waterloo?

a) British, German, Russian

b) British, Austrian, Prussian

c) British, Russian, Prussian

d) British, Dutch, Prussian

 

 

 

 

Originally posted 2013-03-18 10:00:00.

Silk in the Regency and Its Connection to Computing

Inspired by Kristi’s post on wool last week, I set out to choose another fabric popular during the Regency—silk. While researching this topic, however, I ended up down several fascinating rabbit holes. For example, did you know that a silk loom influenced computing? Neither did I, but it’s true.  So while I am going to talk about various forms of silk in this article, I will also take you a few yards—or should I say ells?—down this particular rabbit hole—and maybe one or two more.

Silk Cocoons
Empty silk cocoons. (Wikimedia)

I expect entire books have been written about the history of silk. Many legends exist as to how someone in China discovered that unwinding the cocoon of the silk worm created a soft and lustrous cloth. The Chinese held a monopoly on the product for hundreds, perhaps even thousands of years. Then the Japanese, Koreans,  and Indians learned the secret, and caravans carried it west to the Persian empire, the Greeks, the Romans. . .  The Italians were the first Europeans to produce silk in quantity, but Louis XI of France changed that.

By the Regency, France, Lyon in particular, was a leading manufacturer in silk. A couple centuries before this, however, the Huguenots fleeing persecution in France, took their skills to England, and Spitalfield became a center for silk production.

Raw Silk
Strands of raw silk (Wikimedia)

England’s climate is not conducive to silk manufacturing, so it has never become an important center of the fabric manufacture. Likewise, the industry never made inroads in North America either. (One rabbit hole: The wife of a governor of Virginia thought to start a silk industry in the colony, but imported the wrong kind of mulberry tree to support the worms. Now the MidAtlantic region is covered in trees that drop useless and rather nasty-smelling berries every year.)

february 1813 plateMy fashion plates of numerous years during the Regency show that silk was popular for those flowing, filmy gowns so fashionable at the time. This takes us to another rabbit hole—if England and France were at war most of this time, and England didn’t produce much silk, then where did all that fine, Lyon silk come from? I expect many a dressmaker claimed she had stock-piled the stuff before the war, as she would never confess that she had purchased it from the “gentlemen” AKA smugglers.

Now to the different types of silk.

Shot silk suit - 1790 (Wikimedia)
Shot silk suit – 1790 (Wikimedia – click for larger resolution)

Shot silk: This is where the face is one color and the warp is another, so the color shifts with the light.

Chine: This has the pattern printed on the warp before weaving, so the design comes out blurred.

Satin and Taffeta: These are familiar fabrics to us. They were heavier silk weaves, with satin lustrous on one side, so not as popular in most of the Regency.

Lustestring: A ribbed and lightweight silk that would have rustled a lot and been quite lustrous.

Sarsnet: A fine weave silk, light and airy. Sometimes twilled-looking.

Silk gauze: a little heavier than chiffon.

Watered silk dress
Watered silk dress (Wikimedia – click for larger image)

Moiré or watered silk: This is an example of ingenuity of the time. They ran wet silk through rollers with a pattern that impressed that pattern into the fabric.

Brocade and Damask: These are textured silks where the pattern is raised. Sometimes these appeared in linen or wool, but generally brocade and damask meant silk. Brocade only has the pattern on one side; damask is reversible. The patterns are formed using a jacquard loom, which brings us to computing.

Joseph Marie Jacquard
Joseph Marie Jacquard (Wikimedia)

Joseph Marie Jacquard improved on the ideas of Basile Bouchon  and Jean-Baptiste Falcon, who used holes punched in tape and a series of needles to make the pattern. Inn Jacquard’s looms, cards were punched with holes then strung together. Threads were fed through these holes so that hooks on the loom knew ehen to grab a thread to create the pattern. Thousands of threads were often involved, and stringing a loom took days. Creating the punch cards took some serious skill as well.

Charles Babbage used similar punch cards to store information in his mechanical analytical machine in the late 19th century, and Herman Hollerith used punch cards for storing data from the 1890 census. If anyone knows something about computers from before the 1970s, they have seen the old-fashioned punch cards still being used for programming.

This is not the entire list. Each area of the world that produced silk produced its own sorts. These are just some of the ones most common in clothing fabrics of the time.

Originally posted 2013-03-13 10:00:00.

A Dandy in Sheep’s Clothing – Wool in the Regency

Kristi here. Let’s take a moment and play a word association game. I’ll give you a word and you describe the first mental image that word brings forth. Ready?

Wool.

For me, I think of nubby socks and thick sweaters. I think bulky and occasionally itchy. Some of you may be envisioning the white fluffy stuff still clinging to Dolly’s hide. But unless you know a lot more about wool’s potential than I did, you probably didn’t envision anything like this coat from Italy circa 1800.

(All photos in this article are from Wikimedia Commons.)

WoolCoat_1800Italy

Yes. That coat is made of wool!

Wool is an extremely versatile fabric. There are well over two dozen types of wool fabric according to fabric.net. Wool can be turned into anything from felt to tweed to broadcloth to jersey.

The way we usually envision wool: Yarn used for knits and bulky weaves.

While normally wool is associated with thick, warm sweaters and heavy outer coats, lighter weaves of wool are actually great in warmer weather as well. I had the opportunity to handle some woolen fabrics similar to those used in the Regency time period. The fine patterns and delicate weaves astonished me.

Wool is for so much more than knitting an afghan or a pair of boot socks.

So the next time you read that your favorite aristocratic heroine donned a wool dress or the dashing hero shrugged into his wool jacket, don’t think of the rough wool their servants wore. Regency men and women didn’t have to give up any elegance or frippery to enjoy the many benefits of wool.

It isn’t a surprise that they used a lot of wool given the abundance of sheep grazing the English countryside.

What is surprising is that something that starts out like this (Recently Shorn Wool):

Royal_Winter_Fair_Wool2 copy

 

Can turn into all of these different things:

Fine blend wool fabric

Wool YarnWool Embroidery Thread

And then be used to make all of this:

Wool carpet from 1640

Man's_tailcoat_1825-1830 copy Robe_a_la_Française_with_wool_embroidery_LACMA_M.90

Woolen Tailcoat, circa 1825        Linen Dress With Wool Embroidery

Originally posted 2013-03-08 10:00:00.

The Romany (Gypsies) in Regency England

Laurie Alice here: Today, I invited Josie Riviera to present the Monday history post, for gypsies, “travelers” as they are called today, have played rolls in many Regency romances over the decades of the genre.

Josie has also offered to give away a copy of her e-book, Seeking Patience. Leave your comment, and let’s talk about your impression of gypsies.

SeekingPatience_CoverNote: Only comments on this post are eligible to win. I will announce the winner when I next post on Regency Reflections on March 15, 2013.

Gadje Gadjensa, Rom Romensa.” This is a Romany (Gypsy) saying that means Gadje with Gadje, Rom with Rom.”
or
“Mashkar le gajende leski shib si le Romenski zor.”
“Surrounded by the gadje, the Rom’s tongue is his only defense.”

So what is a gadje? A gadje in the Romany language means “not one of us.” Many Rom prefer to not allow outsiders (us) into their lives. It’s no coincidence that in my hours, days, and months of researching the Romany for my novels, little information was available. Odd, because the Rom have lived in many places throughout the world for centuries. They’re a widely-traveled people. Yet there is little written history regarding their origins, although recent evidence points to an emigration from India 1500 years ago.

Some believed that The Rom originated in Romania, but they didn’t. “Rom” means “man” in the Romany language.

I believe the reason there is little information available is because the Rom simply prefer it that way. They are a proud people who keep to themselves. And they are nomads, forever on the move, traveling by horse and wagon in caravans. In one of my novels, a bender is described in detail. It is a tent, easily constructed using bendable twigs and any available materials on the side of the road.

The first recorded mention of a Romany in England was 1514.

In England and Wales in the year 1530, King Henry VIII forbid Gypsies from entering the country, and the death penalty was imposed if they didn’t leave within the month. In 1822, the Turnpike Act was introduced, fining any Gypsies camping along the road.

It is no secret that the Rom have suffered persecution, prejudice, exclusion, and discrimination for centuries. The “Gypsy” stereotype includes a criminal, fortune-teller, blacksmith, thief, and musician, a dark-complexioned, shadowy figure. But why do so many of us harbor this unfair prejudice? Perhaps because of the Rom’s nomadic existence, lack of a solid religious belief, and exotic clothes and lifestyle. Their dialect is distinct and related to Sanskrit. Their tradition is oral, for they didn’t have the luxury of building libraries.

I explore many of their beliefs in my novels. One shared by all Rom is cleanliness. Mahrime means unclean or polluted. To avoid mahrime, clothes covering the top half of their body are washed separately from clothes on the bottom. Certain parts of the female body are considered unclean, and doctors are sometimes avoided because they deal with illness. And, a Rom can become polluted by being too close to a gadje.

Beng is a Rom word meaning devil. This evil force continually seeks to dominate a Rom’s life. The dreaded mulo are spirits, always watching, ready to mete out curses and punishments for wrong-doing.

My latest release on Amazon.com, Seeking Patience, is a Regency inspirational romance featuring a half-Romany, half English hero named Luca.

Do people prove their self-worth by strength, or by character?

Luca’s father is an English nobleman, although Luca was raised as a Gypsy. He struggles with his heritage throughout the novel, seeking hope, seeking forgiveness, and yes, Seeking Patience. He is forced to depend on Lady Patience Blakwell, a woman who represents all he loathes. She struggles with her faith, trying to understand why God is not following the plan she had for her life—to be loved and cherished by her husband. After her husband’s unexpected death, her grown stepson charges her with her late husband’s murder.

And Luca must decide whether he should turn away when she needs him, or risk his most vulnerable, forgiving self to keep her safe. By denying his English heritage, has he denied a part of himself?

Seeking Patience: http://tinyurl.com/a9nnbwy

Originally posted 2013-03-04 10:00:00.

The Regency Red Carpet

Welcome to March – our month dedicated to what else? Spring fashion!

Here in the States, the fashion world is still abuzz over one of the top events of the year – the 85th annual Academy Awards ceremony this past Sunday.  Arguably second only to Paris Fashion Week in its world-wide influence on the art of dressing well, the Oscars red carpet is rolled out each year and the world tunes in to see which star will win the title of… Best Dressed!

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Whether it’s a celebrity rocking a wicked-long train or donning a small fortune in Harry Winston jewels, the world’s fashionistas take to the internet to find the most sought-after trends as showcased by their favorite stars on this one night. What colors are in for the season? What fabric is a must-have for the fashion world’s elite? Is there a new cut making waves in dress design? When you think on our world of social media and instant Twitter feeds from the red carpet, it isn’t a wonder that we all have an opinion on what’s fabulous for the new season. But in the Regency Era – without our social media and the endless stream of celebrities to guide the rest of us down the spring runway – what would have been seen on their “red carpet” of the day?

A commentary on the complete Regency woman’s ensemble would certainly take more than one post (or perhaps a hundred posts), but we’ll give you enough here to get you started on your own Regency fashion journey through the month of March…

A good foray into the art of Regency dress might begin with the always popular element of color. You may be surprised to learn that in the Regency Era, the influence of color was just as fierce as it is today. While soft pastels and bold jewel tones reigned on the Hollywood red carpet this year, the Regency Era had some similar shades (with lesser known names) that ranked quite high on the list of desirables. A Regency lady might wish to be found in varying hues of:

– Canary (a bright sunshine yellow),

– Coquelicot (a brilliant poppy red),

– Jonquil (a rich golden-yellow),

– Pomona (a light gray-green, one of many popular shades new as of 1812),

– Primrose (a sweet butter-yellow), or

– Puce (a deep brownish-purple).

 

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

And alas – there were also the more lackluster colors of straw (an unimpressive corn yellow) and the ever-popular Drab (a dull -) that a Regency lady may find mixed somewhere in her wardrobe. (Color Links: Regency color swatches, The Jane Austen Centre, Bath – 2011) And though not an actual color (but a value), the elegance of white was exceedingly popular if your red carpet rolled out all the way to such a stylish affair as the ball at Netherfield Park.Despite the color choice for your gown, if you’d walked the red carpet during the Regency Era there would have been no doubt about the style of dress. An Empire waist was the preferred silhouette – with a typically square or wide-rounded neckline and bodice that ended just below the bust (giving the illusion of a high waist). The skirts were gathered and tapered (rather than being heavily draped with petticoats and layers of bustled fabric, as was popular until the turn of the 19th century). And though you may have had the proper cut and color selection down, that’s not where the fashion story ends. Depending upon the day and hour of your walk down the red carpet, there was likely a proper dress to accompany the occasion. (Here’s a stunning commentary on half-dress, court dress, and every little thing in-between: Click here.)

Let’s not forget some of our favorite red carpet delicacies – the accessories! Hollywood starlets of today still fancy high heels, though the sky-high styles of today aren’t nearly as towering as the heights that Regency Era women rose to while wearing pattens.  (Click here to read our own Mary Moore’s  January, 2013 post about pattens. It is a must read!) And though a selection of well-placed jewels around the neck and in the earlobes are still in fashion, you likely won’t find a single Hollywood star sporting the ever-popular Regency fan, reticule (small, drawstring handbag),  parasol or feather plumes of ostrich, goose, peacock or emu to complete her ensemble.  (Though artfully placed hair extensions, evening gloves, shawls and capes still make the occasional appearance.)

The one thing that is decidedly missing from our modern-day red carpet is the endless stream of bonnet-clad ladies that we’d have had waltzing past two hundred years ago. These Regency head pieces were must-have items often made of straw or sturdy fabric (such as velvet or muslin) with lace, fabric, and satin ribbon trimmings in popular colors. Bonnets might also sport an artful array of artificial decoration, including: birds, fruit, flowers, feathers, jewelry (such as a brooch or pin) and beads. And despite the fact that our current culture prizes the bronzed look, no Regency Era woman would have fancied venturing out in the sun without her bonnet, lest she tan or freckle unnecessarily! (For a complete tutorial on the art of the Regency head-piece, click here.)

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

If you were playing the part of the Regency Era personal assistant, you’d probably have considered all of these items for the perfect Regency red carpet look. So now that you’ve got it all together, it’s time to take a stroll past the long line of paparazzi (uh, we mean artists with paint and easels ready) and have your fashion plate captured for that next edition of the popular Regency magazines. (For some great fashion plate images, click here to visit Linore Rose Burkard’s post from April, 2012.)

So… With all of this red carpet talk, who was on my best dressed list for this year? My vote for Best Dressed at the Oscars goes to… Click here. Who won your vote?

Welcome fashion, welcome spring, and welcome to all of you readers who have a heart for the same God that reigns today as He did more than two hundred years ago.

In His Love,

~ Kristy

Originally posted 2013-03-01 10:00:11.