How to Hold a Regency Wedding Ceremony

Vanessa here,

My fellow bloggers just finished a great month of marriage posts, so I thought I’d share one more on the actual ceremony.

How to have a Regency Wedding Ceremony

Prelude to a Wedding

Your hero has asked the heroine to marry him. This could be from the love bubbling in his heart or the flintlock pointed at his back for compromising the lady.

Your hero and heroine (who is of age 21 or has parental consent – the flintlock will take care of that one) must wait for their ceremony:

  1. Three Sundays for the Banns to be published typically in the morning service of the parish to where the ceremony is to take place.
  2. If you hero hales from a separate parish, the banns must be read in both places otherwise the hero and heroine must wait for this to occur and be attested to by each Curate.
  3. In a pinch, they can apply for a special license, but a compromised groom is in no hurry.

The day has come. The couple breezes through the ceremony and the Groom plants a kiss upon her lips. Wrong! Wrong!

The ceremony is quite long and more importantly, there is no, “You may now kiss your bride.”

According to the Church of England Common Book of Prayers, which would have been used for all English weddings performed during the Regency, the ceremony is long and there is no exchanging of rings (only a single ring is given) and no kissing. Therefore, if your Groom kisses the Bride, it is bold and should be written like that, but I digress.

The only touching is what I call the dance of hands. At several points during the ceremony the Groom, the Bride, and the Vicar hold and exchange hands.

Back to the Wedding Ceremony

The wedding is taking place between 8 in the morning and noon in a church. The Bride’s mother won’t allow her to escape, and her father still has his flintlock trained on the Groom.  So let’s begin the ceremony.

The Vicar will open his book, The Book of Common Prayers and say:

DEARLY beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this congregation, to join together this Man and this Woman in holy Matrimony; which is an honourable estate, instituted of God in the time of man’s innocency, signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church; which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with his presence, and first miracle that he wrought, in Cana of Galilee; and is commended of Saint Paul to be honourable among all men: and therefore is not by any to be enterprised, nor taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly, to satisfy men’s carnal lusts and appetites, like brute beasts that have no understanding; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God; duly considering the causes for which Matrimony was ordained.

First, it was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy Name.

Secondly, it was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ’s body.

Thirdly, It was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity. Into which holy estate these two persons present come now to be joined.

Therefore, if any man can show any just cause, why they may not lawfully be joined together, let him now speak, or else hereafter for ever hold his peace.

If the bride’s true love wishes to interrupt with proof that the Groom is married in Scotland, now is the time. Or the Bride’s dead husband can now stagger into the church from his return from the Peninsula War. Ok, these don’t hold with our compromised scenario from above but if someone is going to interject and stop this Regency wedding, now is the time.

No one? Well let’s continue.

 The Vicar will now speak to the Groom and the Bride:

 I REQUIRE and charge you both, as ye will answer at the dreadful day of judgment when the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed, that if either of you know any impediment, why ye may not be lawfully joined together in Matrimony, ye do now confess it. For be ye well assured, that so many as are coupled together otherwise than God’s Word doth allow are not joined together by God; neither is their Matrimony lawful.

 At which day of Marriage, if any man do allege and declare any impediment, why they may not be coupled together in Matrimony, by God’s Law, or the Laws of this Realm; and will be bound, and sufficient sureties with him, to the parties; or else put in a Caution (to the full value of such charges as the persons to be married do thereby sustain) to prove his allegation: then the solemnization must be deferred, until such time as the truth be tried.

So the Vicar has now given them one last chance to fess up. No one does, so he continues:

Groom’s full name WILT thou have this Woman to thy wedded Wife, to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony? Wilt thou love her, comfort her, honour, and keep her in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all other, keep thee only unto her, so long as ye both shall live?

The Groom takes a gulp then answers: I will.

Then the vicar will say to the bride:

Bride’s full name WILT thou have this Man to thy wedded Husband, to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony? Wilt thou obey him, and serve him, love, honour, and keep him in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all other, keep thee only unto him, so long as ye both shall live?

The Bride shall answer: I will.  That right ladies, this is the origin of those ‘obey’ words.  So authors don’t modernize and omit those words because you want to show your heroine doesn’t conform.

Then the vicar will ask: Who giveth this Woman to be married to this Man?

  Now starts the dance of the hands:

 The Vicar, receiving the bride at her father’s or friend’s hands, shall cause the groom with his right hand to take the Woman by her right hand, and to say after him as followeth:

I Groom’s full name take thee Bride’s full name to my wedded Wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I plight thee my troth.

Then they loose their hands; and the Woman, with her right hand taking the Man by his right hand, shall likewise say after the Minister,

 I Bride’s full name take thee Groom’s full name to my wedded Husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, cherish, and to obey, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I give thee my troth.

 Then they again loose their hands; and the Groom shall give unto the Bride a Ring, laying the same upon the book with the accustomed duty to the Vicar and Clerk. And the Vicar, taking the Ring, shall deliver it unto the Groom, to put it upon the fourth finger of the Bride’s left hand. And the Groom holding the Ring there, and taught by the Vicar, shall say:

 WITH this Ring I thee wed, with my Body I thee worship, and with all my worldly Goods I thee endow: In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Then the Groom will put the Ring upon the fourth finger of the Bride’s left hand, and they shall both kneel down.

 For all writers going into this much detail, don’t forget the kneeling or the ring. An engagement ring was not common back then, but a gift may have been given to signify the betrothal. Anything given before marriage could potential stay with the bride’s family if for some reason, the bride doesn’t live long enough to have children from this union. I’m just saying, since this is a compromised marriage. However, the bride must have a ring for the ceremony. These rings could be made from any metal, even brass.

  Then the Vicar will lead everyone in prayer. No, they are not married yet.

Let us pray. O ETERNAL God, Creator and Preserver of all mankind, Giver of all spiritual grace, the Author of everlasting life; Send thy blessing upon these thy servants, this Man and this Woman, whom we bless in thy Name; that, as Isaac and Rebecca lived faithfully together, so these persons may surely perform and keep the vow and covenant betwixt them made, (whereof this Ring given and received is a token and pledge,) and may ever remain in perfect love and peace together, and live according to thy laws; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Then the Vicar shall join their right hands together, and say: Those whom God hath joined together let no man put asunder.

Then the vicar shall speak unto the people gathered:

 FORASMUCH as Groom’s full name. and Bride’s full name. have consented together in holy Wedlock, and have witnessed the same before God and this company, and thereto have given and pledged their troth either to other, and have declared the same by giving and receiving of a Ring, and by joining of hands; I pronounce that they be Man and Wife together, In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Alas, the Regency Bride and Regency Groom are married.

Ok, your groom and bride persevered, but the ceremony is not over.

The Vicar shall add this Blessing:

GOD the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost, bless, preserve, and keep you; the Lord mercifully with his favour look upon you; and so fill you with all spiritual benediction and grace, that ye may so live together in this life, that in the world to come ye may have life everlasting. Amen.

 Then the Vicar will move to the Lord’s Table and shall sing this Psalm 128.

BLESSED are all they that fear the Lord: and walk in his ways.

For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: O well is thee, and happy shalt thou be. Thy wife shall be as the fruitful vine: upon the walls of thine house; Thy children like the olive-branches: round about thy table.

Lo, thus shall the man be blessed: that feareth the Lord. The Lord from out of Sion shall so bless thee: that thou shalt see Jerusalem in prosperity all thy life long;

Yea, that thou shalt see thy children’s children: and peace upon Israel.Glory be to the Father, and to the Son: and to the Holy Ghost; As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.

 Your wedding is still not done. The Vicar will now lead everyone through Psalm 67 and additional blessings for procreation. See: http://www.christianregency.com/Research/Regency-Weddings/Marriage.pdf for more.

Amended to add the Register

This is not the couples list of goodies/presents gifted for there new marital status but an important document signed at the end of the ceremony.

My dear friend Nancy has pointed out this important step. (Thank you) The couple, the vicar, and witnesses must  sign the register in the parish after the church wedding. Without this vital step, the long drawn out process is for naught. Without signatory proof (with correct full names), the marriage ceremony may be counted invalid.

Ok, now….

The beleaguered man and wife will leave the church for the wedding breakfast held at a friend’s house. After this long ceremony, they need a good meal.

References

Church of England Common Book of Prayers

http://impulsivehearts.wordpress.com/2011/10/11/a-regency-marriage-primer/

http://www.christianregency.com/Research/Regency-Weddings/Marriage.pdf

May I Have This Dance?

Gentle Readers, I’d like to take a moment to introduce you to the newest member of the Regency Reflections family! You can learn more about Kristy L. Cambron on the Blog Editor bio page. We’re so excited to have her with us. Welcome, Kristy!

__________________________________________________

The ball at Netherfield, Pride and Prejudice (2005)

I love the power of dance to drop a layer of enchantment over a room.

I can recall one of the first things I said to my husband on our wedding reception dance floor. The lights had been dimmed and as the notes of our special song played, I whispered: “And my dance card will always be full...”

I meant it. For all the years my husband and I would share after that moment, I knew my future dances would always have a special partner.

Stunning dresses. Dapper gentlemen. Ladies hidden behind their fans. Lively music and sophisticated steps… Today that all-important first dance may be synonymous with the wedding celebration, but the Regency ballroom was just as alive with color and spirit as our reception dance floors are today.

Or dare I say, more so?

Though weddings were primarily private family affairs in the Regency (as opposed to the social events we see today), ballrooms and wedding parties alike were brought to life by vivid dance reels and lively music. After all, the ball was the social event by which all others were judged. Moreover, to grasp a partner’s hand in dance was often the only socially acceptable touch between an unmarried man and woman.

Affection was born and engagements followed, all over the steps of the most popular dances of the day…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

~ The Cotillion

Distinguishing characteristics: Originated in France during the 18th century. Includes four couples dancing in square formations with elaborate steps and changing partners. French for petticoat, the term cotillion was said to have been coined after the flash of petticoats that could be seen as partners swiftly changed on the dance floor.

Interesting Fact: Georgette Heyer’s historical romance, Cotillion (1953), is one of her much loved Regency novels. Though a generally cheery novel, the title is mirrored in a story that centers around the overlapping love lives of four couples (much like the steps of the cotillion dance itself).

 

~ The Quadrille

Distinguishing characteristics: Another dance import from France. Similar to the cotillion, it includes four couples dancing in square sets but omits the repeating “chorus” dance. Was later combined with the popular waltz to form a hybrid of the two dances, the Waltz Cotillion (as seen in this video – click HERE).

Interesting fact: Introduced early in the Regency and immensely popular by 1815, the quadrille was a very lively dance that often adapted music from stage plays and was thought to be quite flirtatious at the time.  A form of the quadrille can still be seen today in modern day square dancing.

~ La Boulanger

Distinguishing characteristics: A simpler dance for three couples. Often used as the last dance of the evening at a ball or party.

Interesting fact: As many dances could include quite intricate steps, dance masters were often hired by wealthier families to educate their children on the art of the popular dances. (A very popular dance master of the day was Thomas Wilson, who published many influential books on the art of dancing and etiquette.) For you Jane Austen fans, la Boulanger was a favorite of the authoress and was a dance declared by name in her novels.

 

~ The Waltz

Distinguishing characteristics: First popular in Vienna (1780s) but introduced to the English ballroom during the Regency. New sensation but slow to catch on because of the “closeness” enjoyed by two dancing partners.

Interesting fact: The waltz caused a bit of a scandal when it first popped onto the English ballroom scene around 1810. Because of the close proximity shared by two dancing partners, the embrace was thought improper and in fact, was often ridiculed by early opponents. In 1825, the Oxford English Dictionary actually defined the waltz as “riotous and indecent”. (Boyd Hilton, A Mad, Bad, and Dangerous People? England 1783–1846 (Oxford U P 2006).

 

Feet tapping for more references? Here are some good ones:

Click [HERE] to see an example of a stunning Regency Era ball gown.

Click [HERE] to hear samples of Regency Era dance music.

Click [HERE] to learn more about Regency dances from the Jane Austen Centre at Bath.

 

Whether it was one of the English country dances with the fun names (such as the “Teasing Made Easy”) or the classic Minuet, our Regency friends certainly knew how to fill up their dance cards.

May we always find ours full as well.

~ Kristy

 

Angst: Confessions of a Regency Writer

Regency writers and readers are some of the most persnickety lovers of any genre. On fan lists, I have seen people complain about a book for everything from the hero wearing trousers in 1800, to a boxing match that took place six months after the book’s setting. It’s enough to give writers in the genre heart palpitations.

I think about this as I await the final page proofs on A Flight of Fancy, my next Regency.

What errors did I make and who will find them and what will they say to me or others? Will it stop them from enjoying the book so much they’ll say bad things about it? Angst. Angst. Angst.

The problem is that the Regency is such a specific genre. The time period is brief, even when we stretch it from the true nine-year period, to the thirty year time publishing allows in many cases.

British Union Jack

The Regency is location specific. Having a Regency take place outside of the British Isles isn’t impossible if one has mainly British characters (which can include Scottish, Welsh, and Irish), and those characters must act, speak, and think like a Regency era person. In other words, the priorities in life are: Family, Country, God. Hmm. More problems when adding the inspirational element to the genre.

In short, the Regency novel must sound, smell, taste, look, and, above all, feel like early nineteenth century Britain. If you could change titles to mister and missus, or exchange a location in England for one in America, the novel might not be true Regency novel.

Or is it? Do readers really know that much or care?

Yes, writing a Regency novel does not require a great deal of knowledge of the time and place; it requires the ability to withstand the angst of knowing one made some flaw and whether or not it will it be fatal.

Laurie Alice Eakes

Hear Ye, Hear Ye, Shameless Plugs

Vanessa here,

The ladies of Regency Reflections have a lot to celebrate. Below are Awards, Upcoming Books, Current Releases, Contracted, Contest Wins, and Anything Else.

Awards

At The Romantic Time Conference, Reviewers Choice 2011 we celebrate these Inspirational Regency wins:

Category Series: Love Inspired Historical Reviewers Choice:

THE ARISTOCRAT'S LADY

Genre: Series, Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical, Current Series Imprints

2011 Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical Award Winner

RT Rating

THE ARISTOCRAT’S LADY (4.5) by Mary Moore: Regency England: Nicole Beaumont has a secret she protects with every fiber of her being. She catches the eye of Lord Devlin, who thinks she’s incredible — witty and charming, with a good head on her shoulders. But he also suspects that she’s holding something back. When he discovers Nicole’s secret, he is hurt she did not trust him with it. Can Nicole regain his trust, or did her last chance at love slip through her fingers? This story is so good and the heroine so compelling that even readers who don’t normally like Regency-set stories will find it well worth their time.

Category: Inspirational Romance

THE GIRL IN THE GATEHOUSE

THE GIRL IN THE GATEHOUSE
by Julie Klassen

2011 Inspirational Romance Award Winner

RT Rating

This book has scandal, mystery, secrets and a budding romance. The characters are written in such detail the reader will forget they are fictional! Klassen has outdone herself with this latest novel. Her writing is comparable to Jane Austen’s. She writes with passion and readers will not be able to put this book down.

In 1813, Mariah Aubrey has been banished to a distant relative’s estate after stirring up a scandal her family wanted to quietly bury. She is assigned to live in the gatehouse, which is on the very tip of the grounds, away from everyone and everything. She supports herself and her servant the only way she knows how: she writes novels in secret, under a false name.

Captain Matthew Bryant has leased the estate to show the woman he loves that he is worthy of her, despite the fact that her father believes Matthew is not high society enough for his daughter. When Matthew meets Mariah, he is intrigued by her but at the same time, he realizes he must keep his distance in order for his plans to come to fruition. When a mystery comes to light, Mariah and Matthew work together to discover the truth, and they start to have feelings for each other. Will the mystery be solved before the heir to the estate can put his evil plan into motion?

Reviewed By: Patsy Glans

Cheers Mary & Julie

Upcoming Books

A Flight of Fancy by Laurie Alice Eakes

(October 2012)

Cassandra Bainbridge has twice set aside her scholarly pursuits–once for the London Season and once for her wedding preparations. Love seems a wonderful alternative to study, until disaster strikes. When an accident brings an end to her betrothal, she heads for the country to recover from both her injuries and her broken heart. There she pursues her love for ballooning and envisions a future for herself as a daring aeronaut. But when her former fiancé slips back into her life, what course will she choose?

This book is currently available for pre-order.

Current Releases

Heart’s Safe Passage by Laurie Alice Eakes

(February 2012)

It’s 1813 and all Phoebe Lee wants out of life is to practice midwifery in Loudon County, Virginia. When Belinda, her pregnant sister-in-law, presses Phoebe to accompany her onto a British privateer in order to cross the Atlantic and save her husband from an English prison, Phoebe tries to refuse, then finds herself kidnapped.

Captain Rafe Docherty is a man in search of revenge. His ship is no place for women, but he needs Belinda in order to obtain information about the man who destroyed his family and his life. Between Belinda’s whining and Phoebe’s hostility, Rafe can’t help but wonder if he made the right choice.
When it becomes apparent there is an enemy among them on the ship, the stakes are raised. Will they reach the English shore in time? Can love and forgiveness overcome vengeance?

Hometown Cinderella  by Ruth Axtell

(February 2012)

It’s not Regency but it’s by Ruth Axtell so it’s got to be good.

After years traveling in Europe with her musician husband, all that widow Mara Keller wants is security for her son. A half-share in her father’s Maine farmhouse is the only refuge she has left, even if her resentful stepmother treats Mara as little more than a servant. But there is one bright spot: the unexpected kindness of neighbor Gideon Jakeman.

A widowed farmer with a teenage daughter, Gideon hardly pictures himself as anyone’s Prince Charming. Especially a woman of Mara’s refinement. Yet his quiet, rugged strength makes her feel as though she’s found her rightful place by his side, if they can find faith enough to forge their own happy ending.

Sanctuary for a Lady – by Naomi Rawlings

(April 2012)

It’s almost Regency, and it’s a great Debut Novel. Buy It. 🙂

Running to freedom, she found love . . .

The injured young woman that Michel Belanger finds in the woods is certainly an aristocrat, and in the midst of France’s bloody revolution, sheltering nobility merits a trip to the guillotine. Yet despite the risk, Michel knows he must bring the wounded girl to his cottage to heal.

Attacked by soldiers and left for dead, Isabelle de La Rouchecauld has lost everything. A duke’s daughter cannot hope for mercy in France, so escaping to England is her best chance of survival. The only thing more dangerous than staying would be falling in love with this gruff yet tender man of the land. Even if she sees, for the first time, how truly noble a heart can be . . .

Don’t forget to enter the contest to win Naomi’s book! Name will be drawn on Friday!

Contracted

Sarah Ladd signed a 3 book deal with Thomas Nelson for her debut series, Whispers on the Moors.  The first book, Heiress of Winterwood, will release next spring.  You go girl!!!!!!!!!

Vanessa Riley (moi) contracted Madeline’s Protector with White Rose Publishing/ Pelican Books. It will release this next spring. Here’s the blurb:

If all the young men of the world leapt off a cliff, Madeline St. James wouldn’t care because the nightmares would end, and she’d cozy up to a Psalm in her aunt’s sculpture garden. Yet, a chance meeting and a bullet wound changes everything, and Madeline must trust that the Good Shepherd has led her to the altar to marry a dashing stranger, Lord Devonshire. Can she forge a bond with the stubborn earl before the next disaster strikes?

Justain Delveaux, Lord Devonshire, vows to keep Madeline safe and in her place as a dutiful silent wife, but with her lips parted in prayer, his wife in-name-only and her faith are alluring. Maybe when he thwarts the danger, Justain can tempt the unpredictable miss with the comfort of his arms.

Contest Wins

Nothing to update here, but the year is still young.

Anything Else

Well, we really want to thank the readers of Regency Reflections. Thank you for your comments and suggestions, for sharing part of your day with us. We love it. Please keep coming back and help spread the Inspirational-Regency-Love.

Be Blessed.

 

Sources: Amazon.com, Romantic Times

 

A Dream Is Born

Once upon a time, I was about fourteen and had decided that I liked reading romances, historical ones in particular. Looking back, I can see the school librarian going back to her office and tearing out her hair trying to figure out what to give me to read next since I read about two books a week. The library was a nice one, but not overflowing with novels appropriate for an innocent early teen.

But one day inspiration must have struck her and she handed me a copy of Charity Girl by Georgette Heyer. Glory, glory halleluiah! I had found my niche.


Lords and ladies, a breakneck mission through the English countryside, a maiden in distress, and, best of all, romance between the dashing hero and what was
previously his best female friend whom he suddenly decided he loved. Nothing better.Except I did find better. Georgina by Clare Darcy, then Frederica by Heyer, more Darcys, more Heyers, more authors writing in this fascinating time period until I was dreaming of writing my own beleaguered lady in need of a hero.I started reading nonfiction books about the Regency era. I even plowed my way through the Jane Austen library. I absorbed language and costume and the politics of the day like a velvet pelisse soaking up water from the rain while the wearer walks in Hyde Park.

What draws me to this time? I was asked in a recent radio interview. All of the above. The Regency was a time of amazing transition in the world from the excesses of the Georgian era aristocracy, to the rise of the middle class due to industrialization. The lines between classes, though still sharply defined, are beginning to blur around the edges. Social reforms are being at least talked about and steps taken to implement them. And the war with France and then a second war with America are always fodder for a fun read. Never a dull moment in the Regency.

After college, grad school, and a couple of jobs, I started to write my own Regency romance. Those first novels I completed are from my BC days, and I’m mortified that copies of them may be floating around the Internet. 

What is more important to me is the birth of my first two published Regencies and others coming out in the future. My first published novel Family Guardian is a Regency and won the National Readers Choice Award for Best Regency. A Necessary Deception is my first Regency for the Christian market out October of 2011. These books symbolize dreams born in the heart of a fourteen-year-old girl coming true.

 

 

 

Happy Leap Year Day!

 

Leap Year A La Regency

Thirty days hath September, 
April, June and November; 
All the rest have thirty-one, 
Excepting February alone 
Which hath but twenty-eight, in fine, 
Till leap year gives it twenty-nine. 

Just as young people desiring to bypass all the rigmarole to get married in Regency England could hightail it to Scotland, women could also thank the Scots for making it a law allowing women to propose to men one day a year, every four years on Feb. 29.

Tradition has it that this law came on the books back in 1288—and that if a man turned a woman down, he must pay a fine, anything from a kiss to a pair of gloves or even a silk dress. Another tradition has it that the spurned woman must be wearing a visible red petticoat if she wanted the fine paid. Tradition aside, there is no written evidence on the books of Scottish Parliament’s having passed such a law.

Another legend has it that it was over in fifth century Ireland that St. Brigit asked St. Patrick to allow women to propose to men, since, supposedly, men were laggards in this area. After a bit of negotiating, St. Paddy allowed it every four years on Leap Year Day.

The American Farmer, published in 1827, quotes this passage from a 1606 volume entitled Courtship, Love and Matrimonie:

Albeit, it is nowe become a parte of the Common Lawe, in regard to the social relations of life, that as often as every bissectile year doth return, the Ladyes have the sole privilege, during the time it continueth, of making love unto the men, which they may doe either by wordes or lookes, as unto them it seemeth proper; and moreover, no man will be entitled to the benefit of Clergy who dothe refuse to accept the offers of a ladye, or who dothe in any wise treate her proposal withe slight or contumely.

So, wherever or however the tradition developed, by the time of the regency, Leap Year as a year or a day of female initiative in the romantic sphere was well-known. 1812, 1816 and 1820 were all leap years. Even though the Gregorian calendar had made the bissextile year (having an extra day) official back in 1582, Britain ignored the date of Feb. 29, so legally it didn’t exist. British law conveniently “leaped over” the date, probably because of so many negative superstitions associated with it, especially concerning livestock and crops. Ignoring this day resulted in a tradition of “anything goes”—hence women proposing to men. According to the Encyclopedia Americana 2004 Edition (Volume 17), King Henry VIII’s reign had an English law passed making February 28 the official birthday of “leaplings” or “leapers,” those born on Leap Year Day .

LEAP YEAR, OR JOHN BULL’S PEACE ESTABLISHMENT

[Published March, 1816, by S. W. Fores, 50, Piccadilly]

This British political cartoon satirizes the royal marriage of Princess Charlotte of Wales (the Prince Regent’s daughter) to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg on May 2, 1816.

The British Parliament settled £60,000 on the newlyweds, with £50,000 more for the prince should his bride pass away. The cartoon depicts the English nation on its hands and knees, a bit in his mouth, driven by Her Royal Highness with a horsewhip.

John Bull is the national personification of England, the way “Uncle Sam” is to the United States. He is loaded down with packages labeled with all the heavy tax burdens imposed on the populace at the time. After more than a quarter century of war with France, Britain’s people were financially exhausted. The Prince Regent’s extravagant lifestyle and building projects only filled them with disgust and caused a growing number of riots (one reason the Prince Regent preferred spending time at his seaside retreat, the Royal Pavilion at Brighton).

In the cartoon, Prince Regent George supports himself on crutches formed of dragons from his Brighton money pit. “Push on!” he shouts, “Preach economy! And when you have got your money, follow my example.” “Oh! my back,” groans John, crawling under the weight of his heavy burdens. “I never can bear it! This will finish me.”


 Sources: English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the Nineteenth Century/Chapter 3, Wikisource.org; Smithsonian Magazine.com; http://www.altiusdirectory.com/Society/leap-year.html; http://www.historic-uk.com/CultureUK/Leap-Year-Superstitions/; http://urbanlegends.about.com/od/historical/a/leap_year_2.htm; http://voices.yahoo.com/leap-year-2008-history-facts-798349.html?cat=37

 

 

Reflections on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day in Regency England

Cards were already a popular custom for all classes by regency times. Most were home-and-handmade from plain to fancy, depending on what the sender could afford. Fancier ones might include gilt-edged paper and real lace (paper lace didn’t come into production until later in the century). Woodcuts or copperplate engraved cards existed but this process was still hand-done and thus time-consuming, so mass-produced cards didn’t come on the market until the 1820s. This coincided with the standardization of the postal system, making sending cards cheaper.

For those who had trouble with a rhyme, there were publications called “Valentine writers,” chock full of ready-made verses for gentlemen to use. Some even contained poetical replies for ladies to use.

Everybody’s Valentine Writer; or True Lover’s Notebook; and Kemmish’s Annual and Universal Valentine Writer, or the Lover’s Instructor were a couple published in England in the late 18th century.

A sample of a lady’s reply to a gentleman’s verse, from Everybody’s Valentine Writer:

To a Gentleman

With proverbs, sir, I see you play;

With proverbs, too, I answer nay—

 

The Language of Flowers

Although special significance of flowers became most popular in Victorian times, lovers’ messages through flowers was already seen in regency times. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, wife of the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire , described a “secret language of flowers,” when her letters home were published posthumously in 1763. This language was a form of Turkish and Persian poetry called selam, which used words that rhymed with flower names. In 18th century Europe this developed into giving flowers sentimental significance (ie. a rose symbolizing love).

 

Various and changing meanings were ascribed to different flowers, but you wouldn’t want to receive a striped carnation in 1819, which according to Madame Charlotte de la Tour, who published a dictionary on flower language entitled [sic] Le Language des Fleur, meant “I’m sorry, I must say no.”

Yellow carnation, you disappoint me...

 

 

Nor would you want to receive a yellow carnation, which meant “You disappoint me.”

 


 

Better would be a red rose from your true love; or a pansy (“you occupy my thoughts”); or perhaps an arum, which meant ardor.

The Art of the Valentine Card

The reputedly oldest valentine card in existence is owned by the British Royal Mail. It dates from 1790. Its four points open up to reveal a love poem, but the outside words are already quite enchanting:

Valentine card circa 1790

“My dear the Heart which you behold,
Will break when you the same unfold,
Even so my heart with lovesick pain,
Sure wounded is and breaks in twain.”

 

Sources:

The Evening Independent, Feb. 14, 1977

The Year’s Festivals, Helen Philbrook Patten, 1903

The Quest of the Quaint, Virginia Robie, 1916

http://www.newyorker.com/archive/1947/02/15/1947_02_15_021_TNY_CARDS_000207379

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/11feb2011-aac.pdf

Providence, Let Me Love You

Vanessa here with a devotion from my heart:

Providence, let me love You like my chosen betrothed. Flood my arms with anticipation, so the pimples tickle the lace of my best ball gloves. I sweep my fan and search for You above the crowds.

With a quickened pulse, I slip away to greet You in the privacy of my hostess’s garden. Let me come to You uncaring of my appearance, unworried about my reputation. Let no concern shadow my heart about my unworthiness of this match. Pray let me not fall victim to my doubts or be persecuted by my memories, the false promises of my past.

I run to You now in the midst of the spring shower with muslin and sarcenet gathered in my palms. My lifted skirts expose my ankles to the soft kisses of raindrops. I twirl in circles trampling my foolish pride with the tender soles of my slippers.  Joy fills my lungs for at last I know it is You who loves me, just as I am.

Let me embrace You like my true betrothed and seek You in the hidden places. The labors of my hands, the burdens upon my shoulders disappear in Your presence. The lightness of Your yoke frees me to sing as Your fragrance, the myrrh and frankincense, anoints the cuff of my sleeve. I smell safety and sense whispers of encouragement. My heart pounds at the softness of Your touch, the shield of protection You gird about me. Though it is I who strayed, I weep at the openness of Your arms, Your forgiveness.

Let me love You in fearless reverence. When the Ton scoff at Your humble beginnings and call You a tradesman’s son, make me not shun You or deny my feelings. I should know now that Your riches provide honor and inheritance for all my generations. Grow my heart to be as generous and as loving. Aid me to be light in this world and a proper helpmate for your ministry.

A wave of shyness grips me. I want to turn, but Your patience draws me. I lower my fan once more and glance at your beauty. There can be no falling away or breaking with You. I shall cling to your promises, your comfort. My lamp is trimmed and full of oil, and I await You, no longer a foolish virgin, but a hopeful bride seeking her Prince of Peace.

As you have your time of devotion this week, study these verses. Your true betrothed has sent an invitation.
Mathew 11:28-29
Mathew 25:1-13
Psalm 68:19
Song of Solomon 2:6
1 Corinthians 15:9

Wedding Hotspots in Regency England

Naomi here, and we’re talking about weddings today. More particularly, wedding hotspots. In today’s society, destination weddings seem to be growing in popularity. A person can’t just get married in a church anymore. Oh no. We have to fly to Hawaii, trade vows on a Jamaican beach at sunset, or visit the Florida keys in order to have the perfect wedding. Does anyone get married in a plain old church anymore?

In Regency England, church weddings were all the rage. They had to be. It was illegal to get married anywhere else (unless you were super rich and bought your way out of the church deal, but we’ll get to that in a moment).

According to the Hardwicke’s Marriage Act of 1753, if a couple wanted to marry, they needed:

  • a license
  • banns read in church services for three consecutive weeks
  • parental consent if under the age of 21

Then the marriage itself had to:

  • be performed in the morning hours between 8:00 and 12:00
  • be held in a public chapel or church (Church of England church, Jewish synagogue or Quaker meeting)
  • be conducted by authorized clergy
  • be recorded in the marriage register with the signatures of both parties, the witnesses, and the minister.

As you can well see, the British Government was gracious to all those poor people wanting to get married two hundred years ago. And the sad thing is, England has so much lovely scenery. You know those beautiful White Cliffs of Dover? Do you want to get married there at sunset? Regular folk likely couldn’t have, though there were two ways around the tedious list of marriage regulations.

  • For a modest sum, you could purchase a license from the local clergy, which enabled the marrying couple to skip the banns.
  • For an exorbitant sum, you could purchase a special license from no less than the Archbishop of Canterbury, which enabled the marrying couple to skip the banns, get married outside a church, and marry after noon.

However, there was a more dramatic way to circumvent the Marriage Act of 1753: Elope. The Hardwicke Marriage Act was only law in England. Scotland didn’t adhere to such strict marriage regulations, and towns along the Scottish/English border became a popular place to elope, (especially if the bride or groom was under 21 and didn’t have parental consent). Today people fly to Vegas; in Regency England they rode four days (or more) from London to Gretna Green, Scotland. Or Coldstream Bridge, Lamberton, Mordington, or Paxton Toll.

Blacksmith's shop in Gretna Green

For those wealthy, law abiding citizens not wishing to circumvent the Marriage Act or do something so extreme as to marry out of doors, the place to get married was St. George’s, Hanover Square. Interestingly enough, St. George’s is not located on Hanover Square itself, but a block or two away. It was located in the fashionable place for the ton to live when in London: Mayfair.

The church held about 1,000 weddings per year in Regency times, which comes out to three weddings per day. And remember the majority of these weddings had to take place between 8:00 am and noon. Can you imagine getting married there? Maybe, if you were lucky, you would have had the church for a whole hour before getting get kicked out so the next bride in line could have her turn. Which makes me equate St. George’s to a modern day Las Vegas wedding chapel.  The record for marriages at St. George’s was set in 1816, with 1,063 weddings, including nine on Christmas Day.

The Most Fashionable Regency Wedding Church
Where everyone wanted to get married

So there you have it, Wedding Hotspots in Regency England, and the reason why those places were so hot: The Hardwicke Marriage Act.

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A mother of two young boys, Naomi Rawlings spends her days picking up, cleaning, playing and, of course, writing. Her husband pastors a small church in Michigan’s rugged Upper Peninsula, where her family shares its ten wooded acres with black bears, wolves, coyotes, deer and bald eagles. Naomi and her family live only three miles from Lake Superior, where the scenery is beautiful and they average 200 inches of snow per winter. Naomi writes bold, dramatic stories containing passionate words and powerful journeys. Her debut novel, Sanctuary for a Lady releases in April of 2012.