Laurie Alice here: While working on my next Regency, (Zondervan Books, 2014), I ran into a problem—I needed to entertain a houseguest who is in mourning and who is also. . . We’ll be kind and call her distraught rather than whiny. Since I didn’t want them to play card games commonly associated with gambling, such as silver loo or whist, and this lady is not bright enough to play chess, I went to the well of information that is The Beau Monde ladies, the Regency special interest chapter of Romance Writers of America. As usual, they gave me enough information to keep my guest entertained for weeks; therefore, I thought I would share a few of them with you all.
Let’s start with Spillikins.
This is a game that is still played today. Sticks of varying shapes and sizes are held upright, then allowed to fall into a random pile. The object of the game is to collect as many sticks as you can without disturbing any of the other sticks. I remember playing something similar to this as a child called “Ker plunk”—or something like that.
Another game that reminds me a little of a favorite childhood game was, A Journey Through Europe, or The Play of Geography. The idea was a race through Europe, reaching the goal first. Players moved their game pieces along a map of Europe according to the toss of a dice. Sound a little like The Game of Life?
Other games included first having to put together what we would now call a jigsaw puzzle which resulted in a board game of some kind. These games—and others—were stored in slip cases for easy storage or taking on long road trips.
So now I need to figure out how I can get the heroine and hero playing one of these games. Or maybe that will wait for another book in this series. All I know is that knowing more about the games of the time makes for far more interesting evenings in the country houses in which I like to place my characters, than the standards of playing cards, chess, or music.
For the most part, Great Britain is a soggy place. Surrounded by water, rain is almost a way of life there. But what about snow; now that is an entirely different matter! Snow is much more unlikely even though many of my favorite Regencies are set in a country house at Christmas smothered in snow, giving the hero and heroine plenty of time to flirt, argue, ignore and fall in love with each other.
I am hoping that one of my next stories might be a Christmas Regency, so I decided to research winter apparel. I specifically remember that in these lovely stories, when they ventured out in the snow to get the Yule log, invariably we are told that the ladies rushed to get their pattens. I never really thought much about pattens, assuming it was a sort of a rubber overshoe that would fit over a sturdy walking boot to protect it from ruination, much like our mothers used to wear. Wow, was I wrong!
These my friends are pattens; and they weren’t for snow at all!
This pair is made of flat metal rings which made contact with the ground and the ring was attached to a metal plate nailed into the wooden sole. Can you imagine trying to keep your balance while wearing such things?
And when worn on stone floors they made such loud clatter that churches made ladies remove them when they entered. Many churches banned them altogether!
Jane Austen herself wrote of the “ceaseless clink of pattens” when referring to life in Bath; as we know being a perpetually rainy and damp part of England.
They were clumsy platforms that raised the shoe a few inches from the ground to protect the hem of a gown and they were used by men as well as women, in the country on muddy, rutted lanes and in London when walking on horse infested pavement.
Pattens date back to the 14th century. Only the rich would have been able to afford these porcelain china pattens worn to protect their long and ornate robes.
These are huge pattens worn by Turkish women in 1738.
In the 17th century when ladies shoes were commonly made with an upper of figured silk or brocade that almost any venture out necessitated the use of this patten to protect the shoe as well as the hem of the gown. This is how the shoes fit into them and the metal ring would have been attached to the wooden platform under the shoe.
By the 18th and 19th centuries, men’s shoes had thicker soles, hemlines rose, and as roadways and transportation improved pattens were abandoned by the ladies as well and were worn only by the working class men and women as they went about their duties.
In “A Memoir of Jane Austen,” James Edward Austen Leigh wrote about his aunts Cassandra and Jane:
The other peculiarity was that when the roads were dirty the sisters took long walks in pattens. This defense against wet and dirt is now seldom seen. The few that remain are banished from good society and employed only in menial work…
So, the next time you read about the ladies donning their pattens to venture out of doors, I dare you not to smile as you picture it!
Arrived at the entrance to a long flat lane, which had taken the spirit out of many a pedestrian in times when, with the majority, to travel meant to walk, he saw before him the trim figure of a young woman in pattens, journeying with that steadfast concentration which means purpose and not pleasure. He was soon near enough to see that she was Marty South. Click, click, click went the pattens; and she did not turn her head.
She had, however, become aware before this that the driver of the approaching gig was Giles. She had shrunk from being overtaken by him thus; but as it was inevitable, she had braced herself up for his inspection by closing her lips so as to make her mouth quite unemotional, and by throwing an additional firmness into her tread.
“Why do you wear pattens, Marty? The turnpike is clean enough, although the lanes are muddy.”
“They save my boots.”
“But twelve miles in pattens–’twill twist your feet off. Come, get up and ride with me.”
She hesitated, removed her pattens, knocked the gravel out of them against the wheel, and mounted in front of the nodding specimen apple-tree….
She lost her pattens in the muck
& Roger in his mind
Considered her misfortune luck
To show her he was kind
He over hitops fetched it out
& cleaned it for her foot…
From the Middle Period Poems of John Clare (1820s)
My first Regency was Charity Girl by Georgette Heyer and got me interested in the Regency time period. The book that really hooked me on the Regency romance, however, was Georgina by Clare Darcy.
Georgina has all the wonderful elements of a romance that absolutely delight me—delight me to the point that I think I have followed a little in her footsteps in my own romances—books that is, not life—a heroine being courted by just the right sort of gentleman when her heart demands she go after the exactly wrong gentleman. Ah, be still my beating heart for Shannon, a disreputable landowner with mystery and rumors swirling around him. Though I knew I would regret doing so in the morning, I stayed up late to finish this story and was delighted and saddened at the end—delighted with the outcome and saddened that the book was over.
Over the next several years, I read every Clare Darcy book I could find. These were what we now call traditional Regencies. Traditional Regencies are those in the true spirit of Georgette Heyer—comedies of manners with no sensuality other than a few subtle comments and maybe a kiss or two, no foul language, and generally appropriate for young women all the way up to old ladies.
All of Ms. Darcy’s books were named for the heroine, except for one named for two females, one I just learned of today, as I did some research on this post. They ranged from countryside frolics, to country house romps, to balls and adventures. The heroines usually had minds of their own without being anachronistic or too much alike, as far as I remember, and the heroes varied in temperament and social position, though all were at least gentry class.
When I started looking at writing Regencies myself, I asked a few people about Ms. Darcy. Who, exactly, was she and why didn’t she gain more acclaim in the genre? I discovered that Ms. Darcy was highly respected amongst true Regency devotees, but her person was pretty much unknown. Some even hinted she might be a he.
According to Wikipedia now, ten years later, Ms. Darcy was an author from Ohio named Mary Deasy (1914-1978). Her papers are in the Boston University research library. This is the most information I’ve been able to find out about this author who, like Ms. Heyer, died before ever I read one of her books. Also like Ms. Heyer, Ms. Darcy was a powerful influence on me becoming a Regency writer.
If you haven’t yet picked up Georgina, Eugenia, Lydia, Cressida, Lady Pamela, or any of the other delightful books by Ms. Darcy, you are in for a treat when you do.
Regency Reflection is happy to welcome Louise M. Gouge to the blog today. Be sure to check out Louise’s new book, A Suitable Wife after reading the article below.
Thanks for stopping by, Louise!
Nothing can cheer up a wintery night more than a fire in an old-fashioned fireplace, especially at Christmas time. Although today most of us have other methods of heating our homes, we enjoy the nostalgia generated by a cozy blaze so much that we put up with all the work that goes into maintaining our hearth.
In Regency times, of course, people had no choice but to warm their homes with a wood or coal fire. Wealthy people had the advantage of having servants to keep the home fires burning. But when it came time to clean the chimney, a specialist was called in: the chimney sweep.
Armed with their circular brushes and metal scrapers, these men removed all of the caked on soot and ash that could cause a larger fire and perhaps even burn down the entire house. In order to remove the flammable matter from the smaller upper reaches of the chimney, the master sweeps would buy small boys (from desperately impoverished parents) and force them up inside the cold flue to scrape away the dangerous substances. No child labor laws protected these little “climbing boys,” and countless numbers of them suffered stunted growth, lung disease, sterility as adults, and early death from breathing in the soot.
Today we are shocked and saddened to hear of any form of child abuse, and efforts are made to save children in similar dangers. Even during the Regency era, many godly reformers sought to make changes in social inequities. But it was not until 1864 that Lord Shaftesbury succeeded in eliminating the use of “climbing-boys” through the Act for the Regulation of Chimney Sweepers, which established a penalty of £10.00 for offenders. That was a hefty sum in those days.
When I learn such an interesting historical fact, I like to incorporate it into my stories so that my readers can get a realistic picture of the past along with the romance. Although I didn’t plan this particular scenario to link the first two books in my Ladies in Waiting series, it turned out that in the first book, A Proper Companion, my hero’s titled brother had a severe bout of pneumonia and almost died. Then Lord Greystone became the hero of A Suitable Wife, so it was natural for him to have great empathy for anyone with breathing problems. When he encounters two little brothers. . .but that would give away too much of the story. Let’s just say that Lord Greystone’s efforts would have made Lord Shaftsbury proud.
Here’s the story: It’s an impossible attraction. Lady Beatrice Gregory has beauty, brains—and a wastrel brother. With her family fortune squandered, her only chance of a Season is as a lowly companion. London’s glittering balls and parties are bittersweet when Beatrice has no hope of a match. Still, helping Lord Greystone with his charitable work brings her genuine pleasure…perhaps more that she dares to admit. Even when every marriageable miss in London is paraded before him, the only woman to capture Lord Greystone’s attention is the one he shouldn’t pursue. Attaching himself to a ruined family would jeopardize his ambitions. Yet Lady Beatrice may be the only wife to suit his lord’s heart.
Laurie Allice Eakes (LA) invites you into an Interview with Cheryl Bolen (CB), author of Marriage of Inconvenience from Love Inspired Historical.
Cheryl Bolen, author of Marriage of Inconvenience
LA: What drew you to write about the Regency Time Period?
CB: My World War II book—the fourth complete book I’d written but not found a publishing home for—won a lot of contests, but publishers kept saying it didn’t fit into a genre. The final editor judge in one contest told me if I wrote a historical romance that took place before 1900 she would like to look at it. The only period I liked was the Regency England Georgette Heyer had introduced me to. I hadn’t read many of the contemporary writers of Regency because I found some of them not understanding the era as well as I thought I did. That’s when I had a light bulb moment. I can write that! I began A DUKE DECEIVED, and months later that senior editor at Harlequin Historical bought it.
LA: Tell us what year your book is set in and why you chose that particular time.
CB: My newest release is set sometime after Waterloo but before 1820. I actually picked that time because it was a continuation of a series that began earlier and which locked me into a particular time. (The first books in the series, however, were written for a secular publisher, but readers had been clamoring for me to tell this proper miss’s tale.)
LA: What’s your favorite, unique Regency aspect of the novel, something you wouldn’t be able to include in a novel set in another place or time?
CB: Definitely the clothes—both men’s and women’s. Love the elegant, feminine lines of women’s but especially love that the men wore knee breeches, neckcloths—and unlike men later in the century, they were clean shaven!
LA: What are the biggest challenges to writing in the Regency Period?
CB: Some vocabulary is peculiar to the Regency, and you want to use it in a context that won’t confuse readers.
LA: Why did you choose to write Regencies for Love Inspired?
CB: I was honored that the senior editor of Love Inspired Historical came to me and asked me to write for her. I was thrilled because I’d developed a love of inspirational romances. Deeanne Gist is a friend of mine, and I love her award-winning books. LA: What is your favorite Regency Food, aspect of dress, and/or expression?
CB: I don’t get into food a lot in my books because I don’t think modern readers would like to read about the excessive gluttony of the period! I love the wonderful formality and manners of the upper classes in their speech of the period. I really don’t like it when I read a book where an earl says, “Call me John.” This simply wasn’t done. Ladies were always Miss Lastname even to their closest friends. LA: What is your favorite Regency setting; e.g., London, country house, small village?
CB: For my own books, I like a mix of the two. I’ve been to London many times and like to describe it as I believe it looked in the Regency, but there’s nothing like those grand country estates, and I like my readers to get a taste for that, too. LA: What makes your hero and heroine uniquely Regency?
CB: In my newest book, the hero is in Parliament, and it plays a particular role in my book. They both favored reforms to benefit the lower classes.
LA: Tell us about your book.
CB: It’s actually sort of funny that in the same month I’ve got two new releases, and both of them are G-rated. As an ebook only, I’ve got CHRISTMAS BRIDES: 3 REGENCY NOVELLAS.
Marriage of Inconvenience, Love Inspired Historical: Proposing to the Earl of Aynsley seems a sensible—if unconventional—solution to Miss Rebecca Peabody’s predicament. As a married woman, she will be free to keep writing her essays on civil reform. Meanwhile, the distinguished widower will gain a stepmother for his seven children and a caretaker for his vast estate.
But the earl wants more than a convenient bride. He craves a true partner, a woman he can cherish. To his surprise, the bookish Miss Peabody appears to have every quality he desires…except the willingness to trust her new husband. Yet despite his family’s interference, and her steadfast independence, time and faith could make theirs a true marriage of hearts.
Cheryl Bolen’s Bio: A former journalist who admits to a fascination with dead Englishwomen, Cheryl is a regular contributor to The Regency Plume, The Regency Reader, and The Quizzing Glass. Many of her articles can found on her website, www.CherylBolen.com, and more recent ones on her blog, www.CherylsRegencyRamblings.wordpress.com. Readers are welcomed at both places.
Cheryl holds a dual degree in English and journalism from the University of Texas, and she earned a master’s degree from the University of Houston. She and her professor husband are the parents of two sons, one who is an attorney, and the other a journalist. Her favorite things to do are watching the Longhorns, reading letters and diaries of Georgian Englishmen, and traveling to England.
Entering my ninth month of pregnancy has had me thinking on the Regency pastimes spent largely indoors – especially those that do not require much by way of physical activity on the part of a typically exhausted, soon-to-be mother of three.
My current pastimes don’t venture far beyond the nearest comfortable chair and as such, stay in the realm of reading, writing novels, blogging and time spent on the occasional bout of Facebook posting. This is why a cozy living room or den (aka, a twenty-first century parlor) is such a grand place to kick-back with a cup of hot tea and a delightful Regency Era book. It’s during these relaxing times that a tea-tray and small vase of cheery flowers are particularly welcome companions!
Care for tea and tulips, perhaps?
Though the Regency Era would have seen a servant delivering a tray for tea time, it wouldn’t have been quite as easy as simply warming a mug of water in the microwave and dropping in a tea bag like we do today. For Regency Era tea times, there was much more to consider:
– Cost – The practice of drinking tea had been popular in England for well over a century before the Regency Era, but that did not mean that tea was altogether inexpensive. By the late 1700s, both Thomas and Richard Twining had a great impact on the practice of tea drinking, making it more popular with the opening of a tea shop in 1717 and in the effective lobbying of the government to reduce the high import tax on tea in 1784, which made it somewhat more affordable to the masses (namely, the middle class). The cost remained steady however, due largely to the British East India Trading Company’s monopoly on tea imports up until 1834.
– Time of Day/Menu – The definition of “tea time” varied according to the time of day and type of menu items that accompanied the tea itself. Usually served between the hours of 5 and 7pm, the High Tea (also known as the “meat tea”) was identified with the early evening meal. It would have been accompanied by a more substantial hot dish such as shepherd’s pie, baked fish or fish and chips, or other savory dish with baked or broiled root vegetables. While Afternoon Tea (or, “low tea”) did not become the fashion until the early 1840s, it’s still worth mentioning in comparison as the foundation for this tea time was laid during the preceding years.
As a lighter version of the traditional High Tea, the Afternoon Tea would have been served to carry one through to the High Tea or later (and more formal) dinner. It would have been accompanied by lighter fare – a snack of finger foods such as seasonal fruit, scones, crumpets, tea sandwiches (cucumber or smoked salmon, for example), biscuits and an assortment of honey, butters, jams, and lemon curds or custard spreads.
– Etiquette – Distinctions between High and Low Tea are commonly referenced to the height of the table used for tea service (though this is not the only distinction noted from multiple sources). Light Afternoon Tea would have been served outdoors in hospitable weather, either in a garden or at picnic. Indoor tea times would have been served in a less formal setting such as a parlor, study, or salon, and on the low coffee tables often found in these rooms.
– Tea Tidbits – It’s interesting to note that “taking tea” was actually a rather ill-mannered expression at the time. One would have opted for referring to High Tea time rather than the more uncultured phrase. Here’s another tidbit just to make you smile… Though our post is titled to Tea and Tulips, we’re of course referring to the lovely blooms that appear in our window boxes each spring. But in the Regency Era, the word Tulip actually referred to a “fine fellow who dressed quite well”.
There are numerous resources you can turn to for a complete history of tea, though here are a couple of fun links to get you started:
With all the tea talk we’ve had, I’m feeling more relaxed than ever. Between the writing and blogging, tea time that is High or Low, and the service in our parlors or salons, I’m ready for a honey-sweetened cup of Twinings best on my own tea-tray. So what’s my Tea and Tulips moment? It’s in the smiles of my children and the care bestowed by my husband that has this soon-to-be mom of three rejoicing. After all, no matter what flavor of tea or time of day, God’s blessings are always on the menu.
What tea flavors your day?
Share your favorite Tea and Tulips moment with us below…
Ah, titles. They are one of the most fascinating things about the Regency period, I think. It’s no secret that people are enamored with the idea of royalty. (Have you seen the one year anniversary dolls of William and Kate?) The fascination with titles and everything that comes with them is part of the draw of the Regency time period. Right before the industrial revolution and the rise of the middle class, the power and prestige that came from sheer luck of birth was still riding high at the beginning of the 19th century.
Kristi here, with a look at how all that power and prestige makes its way down the family tree. On the surface, inheritance is simple. But the intricacies can get very complex.
But, just for kicks, I’m going to make up another one to use in this example. Introducing the Duke of Handsomeshire (because, really, what good is a fictional duke if he doesn’t look good?)
The Creation of the Duke of Handsomeshire
Sometime back in history, the king thought someone deserved great honor and bestowed upon him the title of Duke of Handsomeshire. He was given some land and possibly some money and a whole bunch of other favors because the king liked him.
Now the First Duke of Handsomeshire feels very responsible for this new title. He gets himself a wife and sets about having an heir and a spare or two. Or five or six because children died way too often back then. We’ll call his sons Adam, Benjamin, Charles, and Edward. (D was Deborah and she’s a girl, so sadly means nothing in this article.)
The Progression of the Dukedom
The title, property, money, and all of that other fun stuff pass down to son number one, Adam. He becomes the second Duke of Handsomeshire. All the other kids? Well, good luck to them. If Adam is feeling generous he might help the others, but really he doesn’t have to. All Adam has to do is manage the estate, find him a wife, and make lots of little heirs of his own.
This continues down the line for several generations. As long as the Duke of Handsomeshire has sons, there’s little question of who inherits. However, years go by and the sixth Duke of Handsomeshire is blessed with lovely, talented, beautiful daughters. Who can’t inherit squat as far as the title is concerned.
By now the family tree of the original duke looks like this:
The Rerouting of the Direct Line
Once the sixth Duke of Handsomeshire dies, the powers that be start tracing the tree backward. Since women can’t inherit, they can immediately be ignored.
Hopefully the sixth duke had a younger brother. If that younger brother is dead, then hopefully the younger brother had little boys of his own. But, alas, it’s a generation of skirts, so up the tree we go.
If, as I have made the case here, there aren’t a whole lot of male progeny, they have to trace quite a good distance back to keep it in the direct male line of the original title holder. In this case we have to go all the way back to the 1st duke’s fourth son, Edward. Benjamin had lots of daughters and Charles sadly died without any offspring. You can make his death as tragic as you like. It really has no bearing on the inheritancy.
What you end up with is this:
The 8th duke isn’t going to inherit until his father dies, of course. He’s just labeled to show the continuation of the line.
The Ramifications of the New Line
Now over six generations, the family is going to spread out. With no tie to the title or the family money, descendents of younger sons have had to make their own way in life. It’s feasible that somewhere along the line these men moved. Possibly even out of the country. Not expecting to inherit, and indeed possibly not even knowing there was a duke back in branches of the family tree, they’ve gone about their lives.
Suddenly a guy shows up with a complicated diagram and a whole lot of legal papers stating you’ve inherited something from your sixth cousin. And this is how you could end up with an American (or French or German) Duke of Handsomeshire that actually knows how to farm or run a business or some other such un-aristocratic skill.
The Case of No Male Descendants
There are, of course, exceptions to every rule. When a peerage was made, there could be provisions set that allowed certain titles to descend through the female line. Probably the most famous exception was the Duke of Marlborough. His family looked like this:
But neither of the lads in the picture survived, leaving him with only daughters. This meant that the brand new title had nowhere to go. So provision was made for the title to pass through the female line down to the next male heir.
Knowing this, it now makes a lot more sense why so many second and third cousins could be found hanging around and reminding everyone of their connection to the peerage. One never knew when one might inherit.
If you’re looking for more information about the details of exceptions to this male-inheritance rule as well as pesky things such as entails and what happened to a title if there were no male sixth cousins hanging around, you can read this article from ChristianRegency.com.
Now just for fun, go trace your family tree and see how far you are away from a title. Unless you’re female. Then you can see how many people would have to die for your brother or husband to inherit. Should only take you a couple dozen years or so.
Susan Karsten here. I love historic costumes, but am by no means an expert, even though I took the subject in college. If you are at all like me (Regency fiction reader/fanatic), you’ve come across the archaic and forgotten term “round gown”. Again, if you are like me, you will take a mental guess what that might be, and move on, flipping pages as fast as you can read them.
To the best of my research, the round gown appears to be a pre-Regency style that hung on, or was used for day-wear even as fashion moved to a different silhouette. Marie Antoinette is said to have inspired the round gown, then a dress and robe joined together and tied in the front Later came Josephine Bonaparte who ushered in the slim, high-waisted, gossamer thin chemise dress of the early 19th Century, that we think of first when we think of Regency dresses.
Back to the round gown, the Empire gown’s precursor. The round gown had a soft, round skirt silhouette, with full gatherings at a slightly raised waist, a train, and straight, elbow-length sleeves. The round gown’s train, which was common for a short time for day wear and lasted until 1805-06 for the evening, would be pinned up for the dance, as mentioned in Austen’s Northanger Abbey. One shudders at the impracticality of these long white muslin dresses in England, a country renowned for wet weather and muddy roads.
So, when you encounter the term “round gown” in your favorite Regency fiction, think of probably a day dress, kept for wearing at home, and more modest than their evening counterparts. An earlier silhouette, and not in the first stare of fashion.
I so hope some of you will add to this description with more yummy details about the mysterious round gown.
An exclusive venue, in the true meaning of the word “exclusive” (as in exclude!), Almack’s required membership fees (called subscriptions) and had a powerful doorkeeper.
A committee of high-born ladies, known as patronesses, further added to the exclusivity factor. They controlled access to tickets and, therefore, who could enter the prized environs.
Though it cost money to get in, money alone didn’t guarantee entry, nor did birth status. Other factors considered were: wit, beauty, careful dressing, being a good dancer, or simply having good taste might tip the scales in your favor.
The despotic patronesses held weekly meetings to select attendees. Once “in”, there were still strict rules which had to be followed, or you risked being turned away. You must arrive on time, properly dressed.
Six or seven patronesses ran Almack’s. Lady Jersey, daughter and wife of earls, was a chatterbox heiress, strictly maintained the cachet of the club. Lady Sefton, married to an earl, considered more amiable, was a renowned society hostess in her own right. Lady Cowper, know for her with, tact and affability, was known to smooth over quarrels. Formidable Lady Castlereagh, Icy Mrs. Drummond-Burrell, ruthless Countess Lieven, and spiteful Princess Esterhazy round out the committee.
It almost makes one not want to even try to gain entrance. Do you think you’d have made the cut? (fantasy here!)
How do you picture your Regency characters flitting about London by night? Until 1807, London went about by the feeble flicker of oil lamps.
Special interest groups fought against gaslight, fearing the loss of the whale-oil trade. The inflammatory Bill of 1816 (supportive of gas lighting) would also ruin the navy, the ropemakers, sailmakers, etc. etc. according to its opponents.
Yet gaslight did more for prevention of crime “than the days of Alfred the Great”. Lighting at night brought safety, but also enhanced the reputation of London as the City of Sin. “London Lights” was a slang term referring to the regency age’s gilded immorality.
Nightlife entertainments in London were hideously vulgar, and respectable citizens did not take their families out after dark to public venues. My source says the “flaring gaslight” was appropriate to the rough and tumble array of available diversions.
Information is from: Life in Regency England, by R. J. White, publ. 1963
What do you picture for lighting when you are reading or writing regency fiction? Please leave a comment.