Archive for August, 2006

Describing the exquisite Regency gowns in its collection, The Museum of Costume & Assembly Rooms, Bath: The Official Guide states on p 32:

“These simple, light gowns were inspired by the neo-classical taste and were intended to imitate the draperies of ancient Greek and Roman statues. Muslin was an ideal dress fabric because it was soft and almost transparent, gently outlining the natural contours of the figure. It could also be washed easily (unlike silk) which made the fashion for white possible.”

View ravishing details of my favorite regency gown, which is for sale (click on dress in link and scroll down): Directoire silk gauze dress, c.1805. Fashioned from gossamer silk gauze woven with the Neoclassical stripes then popular. The draped folds and lace appliqués on the short puffed sleeves show masterful design. A rare fancy period dress with the original trim.

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Art from the Regency and Georgian period in England was lush, luscious, delectable, creamy, and so mouthwatering that you just want to look AND touch. View a cornocupia of visual feasts on the following sites:

Prinny’s Paintings
English School of Painting
English Painting 1800-1900
Neoclassicism:The Classical Ideal
Neoclassicism: A Link of Artists
History of English Watercolour Paintings
J.M.W. Turner
The Neoclassical Temple
Jean Nattes Prints of Bath

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The Mirror of Graces, written by a Lady of Distinction in 1811, is a first-hand source that describes the dress and manners of ladies during the Regency Period. Some speculate that the book was written by a governess or lady’s companion who was a close observer of the upper classes, but not a member of it.

Here is her observation on “the detail of dress.”

The mantle, or cottage-cloak, should never be worn by females exceeding a moderate en bon point; and we should recommend their winter garbs, such as Russian pelisses and Turkish wraps, to be formed of double sarsenet, or fine Merina cloth, rather than velvets, which (except black) give an appearance of increased size to the wearer. In the adoption of furs, flat-ermine or fringe fur is better suited to the full-formed woman than swan’s down, fox, chinchilli, or sable; these are graceful for the more slender. Women of spare habit, and of a tall and elegant height, will derive considerable advantage from the full-flowing robe, mantle, and Roman tunic. The fur trimming, too, gives to them an appearance of roundness, which nature has denied;and to this description of person we can scarcely recommend an evending-dress more chaste, elegant and advantageous, than robes of white satin trimmed with swan’s-down, with draperies of silver or gossamer net.”

Find a listing of fabric and cloth on the Phrontistery site:

This is a rather odd category, listing 269 names of kinds of fabric and cloth. There is an enormous variety in fabrics, with many different national, historical and regional varieties. It is interesting to note, however, that almost all of the types of fabric listed below are variants or blends of just five basic fabric types (silk, cotton, linen, wool and worsted).”

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View the updated version of this post here.

John Nash’s buildings exemplified the neoclassical style of early 19th Century Architecture. His sweeping changes transformed London, from the graceful curve of Regent Street to the majestic terraces and vistas in Regent’s Park.

View some of his edifices below:

1. Regent’s Park
2. Regent Street
3. Buckingham Palace

We will devote an entire section to Brighton Palace later.

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The London Season began with the sitting of Parliament after Christmas and ended in mid-June, when the Ton deserted London in droves for their country estates in order to escape the summer’s stifling heat and the city’s pungent smells.

During the height of the social whirl, attendance at parties, balls, routs, and the theatre shot up as proud Papas and Mamas strutted their white-gowned, virginal daughters in front of a host of eligible men, some longer in the tooth than others.

“We have already seen that as early as the 1730’s and 40’s many of the residents in the principal streets of the Grosvenor estate, and of course many more in other correspondingly fashionable parts of London, only spent part of each year in town, their seasonal movements being prescribed by those of the Court and by the dates of the parliamentary sessions. In the eighteenth century the number of people participating in this fashionable minuet between town and country cannot be even approximately calculated, but in the nineteenth century detailed information about the London Season was published for many years in The Morning Post, and this has been analysed for the year 1841.”

From: ‘The Social Character of the Estate: The London Season in 1841’, Survey of London: volume 39: The Grosvenor Estate in Mayfair, Part 1 (General History) (1977), pp. 89-93. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=41842. Date accessed: 30 August 2006.

Wikipedia adds more insights about The Season.

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Beeton’s Book of Household Management

The full title of this book is: The Book of Household Management: Comprising Information for the Mistress, Housekeeper, Cook, Kitchen-maid, Butler, Footman, Coachman, Valet, Upper and under house-maids, Lady’s-maid, Maid-of-all-work, Laundry-maid, Nurse and nurse-maid, Monthly, wet, and sick nurses, etc. etc. also, sanitary, medical, & legal memoranda;with a history of the origin, properties, and uses of all things connected with home life and comfort.

Yes, this original source, available for free online, was written during the Victorian era, but the gems of knowledge contained within its pages help to illuminate the daily tasks and duties of the British wife and hostess. Written by Mrs. Isabella Beeton and originally published by her husband, S. O. Beeton (in 24 monthly parts, 1859–1861) this book provides matchless insights, such as those contained in the following excerpt:

“AFTER-DINNER INVITATIONS MAY BE GIVEN; by which we wish to be understood, invitations for the evening. The time of the arrival of these visitors will vary according to their engagements, or sometimes will be varied in obedience to the caprices of fashion. Guests invited for the evening are, however, generally considered at liberty to arrive whenever it will best suit themselves,—usually between nine and twelve, unless earlier hours are specifically named. By this arrangement, many fashionable people and others, who have numerous engagements to fulfil, often contrive to make their appearance at two or three parties in the course of one evening.”

Learn more about this book and Mrs. Beeton, who died at 30 after giving birth to her 4th child, in Wikipedia.

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The Science and Society Picture Library is filled with magnificent illustrations and photographs of interest to historians. This link leads to these images, including carriages, cabriolets, phaotons, landaus, and more. Type the name of the vehicle you are searching for in the search bar, such as landeau or phaeton or barouche. Corresponding images will pop up.

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Janeites have one thing in common: a love for Jane Austen. I found this online definition of a Janeite:
A Jane Austen enthusiast. The word Janean is also used, though primarily as an adjective. Austenian, now much rarer, seems to have been more common in the past. FWIW, in 1927 the TLS recommended a new edition of JEAL’s Memoir (for editor Robert Chapman’s enumeration of JA’s letters and manuscripts) as “mak[ing] it necessary to the complete Austenian….”

Web links to Jane sites:

  1. The Jane Austen Center in Bath, which one of the best sites I have seen thus far.
  2. The Jane Austen Society of North America offers Persuasions, an online journal.
  3. Austen.com provides a good starting point for people interested in Jane Austen
  4. Jane Austen House and Museum
  5. The Jane Austen Society of Australia provides a rich resource of links.
  6. Jane Austen, biography and links on Brandeis University website.

Links to Blogs or discussion groups about Jane:

  1. Jane Austen by Alicia M on Squidoo.
  2. Austensorium created by Justine Renton from Washington (state?).
  3. Jane in Color describes her blog as one black woman’s fascination with all things Austen.
  4. AustenBlog created by a group of Janeites who are influenced by movies and television series of Jane’s work, books about Jane, and books and stories by Jane Writer-Wannabees.
  5. Risky Regencies created by a group of authors who chat about Regency romances, the English Regency period, other Regency-set novels, Jane Austen books and movies, the craft of writing novels, and more.
  6. Here’s a blog post by Maude Newton about Jane.
  7. Cult of the Janeites is a discussion forum.

Jane Austen Merchandise and Other Oddities that Might Have Amused Her (Not!):

As you can observe from the Jane Austen action figure to our right, the world marketplace bristles with enterprising entrepeneurs, none of whom seem to have taken lessons in manners and deportment. Speaking of manners, don’t forget to tell your friends: “I saw them here first!”

1. Jane Austen Action Figure. Oh, my.

2. Jane Austen mugs and t-shirts, and Darcy magnets, and bumper stickers, and, well, go see for yourself.

3. Jane Austen gifts from Shakespeare’s Den are not to be believed. Honest.

4. Austen Attitude and The Pemberley Collection

5. Jane Austen’s Little Advice Book

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Found on the Internet, an abstract of the following article:

The Clubs of St. James’s: places of public patriarchy – exclusivity, domesticity and secrecy, Jane Rendell

The male clubs of St. James’s, specifically the four at the top of St. James’s Street; Boodle’s, Brooks’s, Crockford’s and White’s, were frequented by men of the same class who used their control of space to assert social and political allegiances and rivalries between men. The exclusivity of the first floor gambling room, a place of secrecy and privacy, is contrasted with the ground floor bow window, a site of public display and exclusivity. Male leisure pastimes, such as drinking, sporting, gambling, are explored as social and spatial practices which, by establishing shared codes of consumption, display and exchange, represent public masculinities.”

During the period of his greatest popularity and influence, Beau Brummell (depicted above) held court in the Bow Window at White’s in full view of the public. White’s was founded in 1693 as a Chocolate House. By the end of the 18th Century, the popularity of chocolate houses declined, and many of the exclusive chocolate houses became Gentleman’s Clubs.

Find more information about Gentlemens Clubs in the following:

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Attire of the Regency Dandy

In The Corinthian, Georgette Heyer describes Sir Richard in her inimitable fashion:

“He was a very notable Corinthian. From his Wind-swept hair (most difficult of all styles to achieve), to the toes of his gleaming Hessians, he might have posed as an advertisement for the Man of Fashion. His fine shoulders set off a coat of superfine cloth to perfection; his cravat, which had excited George’s admiration, had been arranged by the hands of a master; his waistcoat was chosen with a nice eye; his biscuit-coloured pantaloons showed not one crease; and his Hessians with their jaunty gold tassels, had not only been made for him by Hoby, but were polished, George suspected, with a blacking mixed with champagne. A quizzing-glass on a black ribbon hung around his neck; a fob at his waist; and in one hand he carried a Sevres snuff-box. His air proclaimed unutterable boredom, but no tailoring, no amount of studied nonchalance, could conceal the muscle in his thighs, or the strength of his shoulders. Above the starched points of his shirt-collar, a weary, handsome face showed its owner’s disillusionment.”

In High Society: A Social History of the Regency Period, 1788-1830, Venetia Murray writes:

“…admirers of dandyism have taken the view that it is a sociological phenomenon, the result of a society in a state of transition or revolt. Barbey d’Aurevilly, one of the leading French dandies at the end of the nineteenth century, explained: Some have imagined that dandyism is primarily a specialisation in the art of dressing oneself with daring and elegance. It is that, but much else as well. It is a state of mind made up of many shades, a state of mind produced in old and civilised societies where gaiety has become infrequent or where conventions rule at the price of their subject’s boredom…it is the direct result of the endless warfare between respectability and boredom.

In Regency London dandyism was a revolt against a different kind of tradition, an expression of distaste for the extravagance and ostentation of the previous generation, and of sympathy with the new mood of democracy.

Also view:

Gentlemen’s Clothing of the Regency Era

Men’s Fashion from the Jane Austen Centre

Fashionable Gentleman prints

A biography of George Brummel

Menswear from 1790 to 1830

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The Border Collie Museum provides a history of droving better than I can relate.

“As the populations of the cities grew, there became a great demand for wool for clothing, beef as food, and skins and hides for shoes, boots, and many other items. With that demand, the number of sheep and cattle raised in the less populated areas and then driven to market, also inclined. The easiest way to transport meat, skins and hides is on the hoof–driving the animals to markets and abattoirs closer to the populated areas.”

Over the centuries, countless drovers, dogs, and livestock wended their way to London. The sights, smells, and sounds must have been truly unique and at times overpowering.

1. Find a history of Smithfield Market where cattle have been driven for over 800 years.

2. The Droving Tradition in the Upper Eden Valley is described in vivid detail here.

3. Wikepedia offers a detailed explanation of drovers and the important role they played in feeding populations in cities

4. At the site of this Inn, The Royal Standard of England, find a recounting of the highwaymen and rakes that haunted the roads to accost unsuspecting (or suspecting) travellers.

With the Industrial Revolution, came The Passing of the Drovers.

The peace, after the battle of Waterloo in 1815 finished the Napoleonic wars, meant the shrinking navy needed less beef but other changes were even more important. The first half of the nineteenth century saw a revolution in agriculture. Enclosed systems of fields replaced open common grazing and large, fatter cattle were bred and raised ready for market. More importantly, by the 1830s, faster steamships were being built and farmers in the lowlands and elsewhere started to ship cattle directly to the southern markets instead of by the long arduous overland droves. Then, once railways were established by the 1880, this provided an even swifter and more reliable means of transporting cattle and other agricultural products to market. The trade died steadily. “

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Regency Fashions, Manners, and Style

Find the most fabulous links on this Women in World History site: Turbans, portraits, the Marriage of Princess Charlotte, Regency Styles Year by Year, Regency Outerwear, and more. This is a review of the “personal website of Catherine Decker, author of scholarly work in several fields, including 18th-century gender and literature.”

Women in World History is a project of the Center for History and New Media, George Mason University, in our glorious Commonwealth of Virginia!

To use 21st century American parlance, “I am verklempt” by the sheer variety and magnitude of information covered on this site.

Other links of interest and noteworthiness (we seem all to be beating about the same mulberry bush, don’t we?):

  1. The Georgian Index
  2. The Regency Ring
  3. A Regency Repository

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