Weddings in Regency England

by Michele Ann Young

Writing romance, as I do, the end goal is of course a wedding. We have all seen that wonderful scene in the Colin Firth Pride and Predjudice of the villagers throwing petals and the groom throwing coins, so I thought I would talk a little bit about weddings during the period.

Weddings did not tend to be the huge affairs that we think of today, or that became more prevalent during the Victorian era. St Georges was the fashionable church for the ton during this time pictured here. What a magnificent venue. St George's celebrated approximately a thousand weddings a year during the regency era. That would have kept the pastor on his toes, I am sure.

Of course the big question is, did they wear white?

In the various groups I belong to we hear over and over again that brides did not wear white. But I think what we really mean is that white was not considered "the right thing" or mandatory. A colored dress did not signify lack of chasteness, it was simply a personal preference. That said, it seems that white tended to be the color of choice for many.

This is a picture of Princess Charlotte returning from her marriage to Prince Leopold in 1816 -- the wedding of the regency era, For her wedding she chose to wear a silver lamé dress over white silk, trimmed with silver lace.

And this is a picture of the wedding dress itself from the London Museum. Rather different from the artists impression. he got the drapery at the front completely wrong. And it is definitely not white.

We know that Jane Austen's niece Anna who married Benjamin Lefroy on November 8, 1814 wore "a dress of fine white muslin, and over it a soft silk shawl, white shot with primrose, with embossed white-satin flowers, and very handsome fringe, and on her head a small cap to match, trimmed with lace.

When Jerome Bonaparte (Napoleon's brother) wed the fashionable American beauty Elizabeth Patterson on Christmas Eve 1803 the bride wore a dress of thin white muslin and lace

The English fashion journals are rather silent on wedding dresses during the Regency era, which likely means you wore a dress you owned or purchased for the occasion and probably wore again. There is a rare print in 'Ackermann's Repository'o for June 1816 of a wedding dress in white satin with an overdress in striped gauze and trimmed with Brussels lace. It was to be worn with pearl jewelry, white satin slippers and white kid gloves but notice, there is not veil. it wasn't until the 1820's that we begin to see all the hoopla about specially designed wedding dresses.

Well that is all I have room for today. Until next time Happy Rambles

Regency Footwear

Continuing down the same path-- pun intended. Here is the last post on shoes, for now.

Still waiting for Cassandra to get in touch, so if I don't hear from her by the end of the weekend I think I will draw again.

These are buckles presented to Nelson in 1803. They have their own domed leather case.

Clearly shoes, of the dress variety, were a highly thought of item.

Since Nelson died in 1805 and had been at sea for much of that time, my guess is these buckles never graced a pair of his shoes.

These are English shoes and gloves from 1840, so still not much in the way of heels Melinda.

Shoe making, or cobbling, was a highly thought of trade in this time period, as can be seen from this mug. I must say I thought putting Victory and shoe-making in the same category a little pretentious, but who knows.

The next picture also shows that shoe-aholocism (umm not sure how to spell that) has been a problem for centuries. lol. These are snuff boxes from the 18th and nineteenth centuries, made in the shape of shoes. Aren't they sweet. If you find one in your travels, let me know. I would love to own one of these.

I was fascinated by this last picture, it is French. It shows a man making shoes and whistling to the little bird above his head. This is a political commentary. Apparently in France shoemakers were renowned for making up political rhymes. And of course some of them would have been part of the French Revolutionary movement and perhaps telling the bird the rhyme was not seditious, as telling the person standing in your shop. Look how ragged he is, despite his good business.

Hmm. I feel a story coming on.

Which makes me think it is a good time to stop. Next week we are back at the first of the month, so it will be time for some September fashions and later in the week, a look at nature and gardens.

In the meantime --Happy Rambles.

Regency Footwear

Thanks to all who guessed in my contest. Well, none of you guessed correctly, but to be honest, I am not the slightest bit surprised. Most of you thought of crampons, for walking in ice and snow, which was also my first thought when I saw them.

The boots are, in fact, French. And they are chestnut crushers! If you did not see the picture in the earlier post, it the one below this.

I am sure you can see it quite easily now. lol

Clogs like these were used in 19th century France to remove the shells from acorns and chestnuts. The meat from the nuts could be ground into flour or used as pig feed. France, 1800's-1900's. The brine created in the process was also used in the leather curing process.

And the winner is: Cassandra. Please email me directly with your address and I will send off your prize.

The Bata Museum is currently featuring dancing shoes. As an ex dancer, and a mum whose girls danced their little tootsies off before they found the opposite sex, I was fascinated.

Before the nineteenth century, dancers dance in whatever shoes were fashionable at the time. This is a pair of mid 18th century shoes. They are quite lovely.

As you can see from this picture above, they did indeed dance in this kind of shoe.

Then came the classical era, the Regency, all flowing lines, strait skirts, and empire waists. With them came a soft slipper with low heels. And dancers loved them. By the way, during this period, all shoes were "straights". That is there were no left or rights, the wearer simply wore them in, until they fitted the foot. This is true of dance slippers today, as I am sure you know.

As you can see, this pair of ballet slippers, is is not much different to the shoes our Regency ladies wore in the street, but dancers loved them.

And so when they went out of fashion for everyday where, they remained (with adaptations) on the stage.

Here are some early examples. It is here that I must tell you that dancing "en pointe" did not come into being until 1832. And the first dancer en pointe was a man.

But the ladies did not leave it there for long.

The museum had a wonderful history of ballet shoes, their construction and various improvements over the years, but they are all post Regency, and therefore not really relevant.

I do have one more set of pictures and stories about shoes, so until next time, Happy Rambles (and keep your feet dry).

Regency Bath Part V -

I hope you all had a happy Valentines Day and are not suffering from chocolate withdrawal. Romance writers love chocolate, but I managed to escape eating more than a couple of pieces.

Last day we took a peek at the evirons for February, but now we are back to Bath. Of course, by now you will realize I am cheating. I use the tags on the blog to keep track of my research and my pictures, as well as pass along what I hope is interesting information. I decided to do Bath in depth as I am planning a story set there. So many stories to write, never enough hours in the day.

Assembly Rooms Cont'd
The rest of the Assembly Rooms, the basement, is =devoted to a fashion museum. On the occasion we visited, it was fashion through the ages, rather than a Regency display, but I did manage to take a couple of pictures you might find of interest.

As you can see, this picture was taken through glass. With permission, I might add. But it is an 1815 muslin gown, so typical of our period I just could not resist. While it has long sleeves it is very light and airy and would have been considered a morning gown. The male navy blue wool coat in the back ground is from the 1830's, so a little bit late, but men's fashions did not change much, except for the trousers, which you can see quite clearly. Men were wearing trousers in the Regency era, but by the 1830's they had replaced pantaloons and breeches almost entirely, except for formal wear.

This light green Woven silk pelisse is from 1807. The curator's notes indicates that a pelisse was the first "coat" and that during this period most people mostly still wore shawls. She also noted that cloaks, capes and mantles were also fashionable during this period. I love cloaks. I adore a man in a cloak, in my imagination, the way it swirls around his body, making him look tall and mysterious. Shiver.
What can I say, I am a romance writer!!

Anyway back to Bath!

The last terrible picture I want to show you is of a coin purse from the 18th century, that would also have been common during the Regency.
Now this is clearly a display of handbags down the ages, or purses or pocketbooks as they are called in North America. But the item that I was interested in was the long black thing hanging over the stand at the front with gold tassels. Sorry for the blurriness but conditions were less than ideal. Anyway how this worked was that there was a slit in the middle of the woven black fabric through which one would insert coins. Then, to stop them falling out one pushed the rings at each end together, so it pretty well looked like the coin rolls we use at the bank today.

Personally, it doesn't look terribly convenient, but with the lack of zippers and other fastenings, I am sure it was helpful in keeping one's change together and handy.
This one is 'very fancy', as my oldest daughter would say, and probably used for evening wear. I am sure there were more everyday types, but it is the fancy ones that are more likely to survive. I mean, my beaded evening bags are all wrapped and put away and dragged out for special occasions, my everyday purses are only fit for the dumpster when I am done with them. So you can imagine which ones will end up being around for future generations to look at. And they will think we all walked around clutching little tiny bags covered in glitter and beading with room for a lipstick and a comb.

Except of course we have so many more records of our day to day lives, they won't be fooled at all.

Well, that's it for the assembly rooms. Moving on to the pump room next time, if you can stand it. And I am going to try to scan a map of Georgian Bath for you. Oh, and by the way, my newsletter went out this week, with a story about Prinny. If you haven't signed up and want to do so, then do it in the next day or so and I will send you this last issue as a bonus.

Until next time, happy rambles.

Regency Bath - Part II

Our first stop in Bath was the Jane Austen Center. Be aware, this venue is not wheelchair accessible. Mother womanfully climbed three sets of stairs so we could have afternoon tea. I should mention how lucky we were with the weather. It was sunny and warmish. Just right for walking (and pushing-- remember the wheelchair lol)

This is the outside of the Jane Austen center. The woman is in fact a life size doll, the gentleman however is real. I have a couple of pictures of him, he looked just the part and had a wonderful Somerset accent.

The Center itself is devoted to Jane Austen, and we learned much about her life. I also bought some out of print books, and mother bought me a note book with characters from the novels on the cover. The center is located at number 40 Gay Street, in a Georgian house very similar to number 25 where Jane Austen lived for a few months after her father died.

They displayed games that people played at Christmas time, spillikins or pick up sticks, cup and ball, bullet pudding and snapdragon, this last consisted of putting raisins in a dish, covering them in brandy, set it light to it and then trying to grab a raisin from the flames without getting burnt. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME or anywhere else, for that matter. I suppose they were used to open flame with all those candles hanging about.

Here is my Regency gentleman again, this time inside the gift shop.

I did enjoy the museum, and took a picture inside of the models showing a couple of typical regency outfits, which I thought you might like. The green is obviously a walking dress. I like the little cape, just covering the shoulders. The other is clearly evening wear, a silk gown with a matching spencer. It could also be worn in the afternoon, to an at home.

This last picture looks down Gay Street from the top of the hill, almost at the circus. I will be telling you more about that next time, but as you can see, in Bath there be hills. And I was very glad of the brakes on that wheel chair, I can tell you.

Still, after all the good food in the tea rooms including a very rich hot chocolate, I needed the exercise.

Until next time, Happy Rambles.

Colors in the Regency Part I

More color became available during the period 1704 to 1856, chemical compounds Prussian blue and mauveine were discovered .

Gowns such as those shown here may well have been died with cochineal.

Dyes were extracted from such living organisms =as cochineal and and plants such as madder and brazilwood.

By the late Middle Ages, imported cochineal began to take precedence as the most sought after dye. Combined with a tin salt, cochineal produced a spectacular red on wool and silk, luxury fabrics, by the early fifteen century it was very expensive and thus was reserved for the wealthy it even replaced the clothes of the traditionally blue-clad Virgin in Renaissance paintings.

Until 1704, blue dyes were primarily extracted from woad and indigo plants. Woad grew in Europe and Indigo in the southern part of North America, in Mexico and in Central America.

A Berlin color-maker named Diesbach accidentally stumbled upon Prussian blue while trying to make red for painters.

It became fashionable throughout Europe and was used from at least 1723 as a dye for silk and cotton as well for house paint within the United States.

1805 Walking Dress

Bonnet of Blue Velvet, with White Ostrich Feather. Spencer of Blue Velvet, trimmed with Swansdown. Round Dress of Cambric Muslin, with a Lace Flounce. Boots Blue. Buff Gloves; and Swansdown Muff.

Next time we will take a look at yellow. Until then, Happy Rambles.

Regency Fashion - buttons

Beth asked about buttons down the back of an 1810 gown. Here is the picture I promised. And just to be sure, I found a second one. Neither of these gowns if from 1810, the first is from 1804 and the second from 1807, but as you can imagine, if they were doing it earlier, there is no reason why it could not be so in a later year. I hope that helps, Beth.

This next picture is the back view of a spencer, a little jacket it also buttons down the back which i thought you might also like to take a look at.

While we are on the subject I thought we might take a look at buttons in general. Here are a few different kinds.

The button above is a metal circle covered by cotton threads in a decorative pattern.

This button (above) is a button made of agate.

These buttons (above) are made of bone.

Clearly the above button is metal and probably not worn by a female.
This last picture is of buttons made of wood.
Also, do not forget that many buttons, including the ones in the very first picture above would be covered by the fabric of the gown.

Now to the question of gloves. Beth asked would a woman wear gloves when eating lunch alone at home. I have heard much discussion on this topic and the consensus is that women did not eat in gloves and would not normally wear them around the home. That said, there is still some uncertainty about it. Isn't it amazing what we do not know. I do think you would be safe having her not eat in her gloves when she is alone at home.

I still have some May fashions to post and plan to have the rest of them up for you on Thursday. Until then happy rambles.


Well we all love 'em don't we? At least I do. I can't buy one pair of shoes. I never walk out with less than two pairs. And I have a closet full that I've only worn a couple of times and others that I wear over and over again.
Before we start I will apologize for the formatting. The preview doesn't always provide an exact placement, so I think I have it right and then I look at it the next day and there is too much white space.

Shoes are not something we think much about when talking of Regency fashion, but I am sure our foremothers loved them just as much as we do.

This is a ladies pump from 1785, so just before the Regency. I thought it might be interesting to see how they changed from the end of the 18th century into the 19th century.

With the classic lines of the Regency these yellow slippers seem much more appropriate than the heeled pumps of the earlier century. Note the pointed toes and the lack of a right or left foot. These are from about 1800. And the pink ones are pink kid, and in the same era, 1800-1810

The next pair tie right up around the ankle. They look really sweet to me with the little ruffle across the front.

Something we always read about in Regencies are half boots. I imagined them to be a lot heavier duty than these below, but they certainly would have been better than the slippers shown above, for a march across the field, or at least for a gentle stroll. They are not very elegant compared to the high heeled well fitting boots we wear today. The first pair is leather and the second a cotton jean half boot which was very fashionable in our era. This pair is 1812-20

These flatties, as my mum would have called them, are pair of men's shoes from around the same time-frame. Not so very different from the ladies as you can see and very flat after the previous century's penchant for men to wear high heels similar to the first picture and for the very rich, they would be jeweled. Of course, for novels we mostly have our gentlement in Hessian boots, they sound more heroic somehow than these rather balletic looking shoes or how about the velvet ones. Yep those are guys shoes too.

I thought you might be interested in what the everyday folk might have worn. This pair of boots would probably served either gender for working in.

That's it for now. Hope you enjoyed a visit to the shoes of the Regency. If you are ever in Toronto the Bata shoe museum, from which some of these examples were taken, is just down the road from the Royal Ontario Museum.

Until next week Happy Rambles.

Regency Underwear Continued

Okay so perhaps the lady in pink was a bit hot for a Regency Blog, but I thought I would have a bit of fun.

I am going to finish this post about underwear, because while it is not glamorous, it is interesting to me.

Our dolly bird has got as far as her petticoat, but what next.

This is an example of stockings and their garters. Garters tied around the leg, no elastic remember, but some, like these did have metal springs. These could be worn above the knee, but most were worn below. Here is a selection of stockings All the detail and embroidery is close to the foot or at the ankle, because that is all that anyone saw -- apart from one's husband that is.

This would be worn beneath a gown to cover shoulders and neck during the day. I am providing a drawing, and then a picture of one which seems to me must have been designed for evening wear. I just love this red gown. It calls to me every time I flip through my pictures.

Now, I have a choice of what to do next, so I thought I would ask you. Pictures of my short trip to Portugal?
or some stuff on Paris?
or food?
Until next time, Happy Rambles.

Underwear, or just what did they wear under there?

So what did they wear under those gowns. They certainly didn’t wear knickers, as I called them when I was young, or underoos or panties, at least not in the Regency. Nor did they wear bras invented way later, or corsets, picture the young ladies being cinched into their whalebone by a maid a la Scarlett O’Hara. That was definitely Victorian.

Okay, now we now what they didn’t wear. How helpful is that?

Patience child. I am getting there. Oh I do love to blog, one has so much power.

Those gowns were very flimsy, but they do seem to have hidden an extra ordinary amount of “stuff” under there.

First and foremost came the Chemise. I always thought of this as a modern day equivalent of a petticoat or slip. But not quite. The Chemise, a cotton or linen garment worn next to the skin was primarily there to protect the outer clothes from sweat. Remember, no dry cleaning in those days. So whereas the muslins and brocades were hard to wash, the chemise could be bashed around in lye soap by the washerwoman with little ill effect.

As you can see from these examples, they have short sleeves, and those for ballgowns had no sleeves, The chemise in this era did not show. They came mid thigh or just below the knee, and sometimes had a bit of lace trim or embroidered initials. They were loose and boxy with a draw string neck. The second picture is from the 1820's and you can start to see gathering at the neck as we move toward Victoriana.

Stays came next. A vital piece of underpinning, pun intended. And I do mean over the top of the shift for cleanliness. Without stays, a woman would look flat-chested, or worse flop-chested, in those under the bust gowns that had little in the way of tailoring, despite all the frills and lace.
Most stays were laced at the back, by tapes, through holes in the fabric. Get metal eyelets out of your mind. And this was the reason they were not particularly tight. They did have some boning, and there were even the lift and separate kind, with a central busk to emphasize cleavage. But definitely no pulling tight or the fabric would tear. To my Regency writerly delight, there were also stays that fastened in front. We need these, either for our girl to get out of them, or for our handsome rake to get into them. All my heroines have a partiality for front closing stays. Independent creatures that they are. I have a picture of one, just not right now. If you want proof, add a comment and I will post next time. This example has a busk down the centre. Not great for bending I should think. Might account for all the straight-back curtseys think you? Also, they were not always as long as this example. their main function was to keep those creamy globes up as high as possible, not to cinch in.

The next layer was the Petticoat. Yes, they wore petticoats as well as chemise or shifts. Remember in the last century robes, or gowns, did not close all the way down the front. These three are 1805, 1815 and 1820 (ish) and they change with the fashion of the day. But note the decorated hem. Petticoats were meant to be seen, along with a flash of well-turned ankle. Those of the Regency are nothing like the stunning creations of the earlier century or the next era, Victorian, but they went under very slender gowns designed to show more the shape of the figure that those other styles.

and the petticoat was a vital piece of outer clothing. this also happened in the Regency. Sometimes the robe would open at the front, I am pretty sure we have seen some examples here, and somtimes the petticoat formed the lacy trim at the ankle, with the gown shorter.

Well darn it, or dash it. I don’t have room for more. But there is more to come. Catch up on what a Regency Lady wore under there on Thursday.

In the meantime Happy Rambles through Victoria’s Secret for your own hidden treasures.