Celebrating a Coronation in the Regency

Or at least, the coronation that ended the Regency.  I found this little gem in Totnes in Devon, England.  If you have never heard of Totnes, it is a town with a long history, more of which we will be hearing about later.  This however was an unexpected glimpse into Regency life.

Bear with me. This is not a great photo but circumstances were difficult.  These are the regulations to celebrate George IV's coronation and to summarize,

The Committee and the local folk were to assemble at 10 am and preceded by a band process to Mayoralty House were they would pick up the Corporation (town corporation or Council)  and from thence attend a religious service.

After which they would process back to the Bowling-green, where the Stewards would take their stations at tables set out where "Oh the Roast Beef of Old England" would be heard and I assume served and be said stewards would "joined by their neighbours in the attack on the solid fair provided for the occasion."

It advises that "Every person must provide himself with a Plate, Knife and Fork and Cup and take his station with his family specified in is ticket".

At five O'clock tables will be cleared and tea provided for females and children under the supervision of LADIES.  So the Ladies are the gentry one assumes are laying this on for the general populace.

After this the Festivities are to conclude with Music and Dancing on the Bowling-green.

So in the Regency, that is how a Coronation was celebrated in a very small town in Devon.

Until next time…..

Guest Author - Kathryn Kane - When Flowers Wore Shirts!

I have long been an admirer of Kathryn Kane as a writer and a meticulous researcher. Her generosity in sharing the fruits of her labour are legendary and can be found at the Regency Redingote. I am so glad Kathryn agreed to share this intriguing research which is reflected in her book Deflowering Daisy. Such a fun title!

For those who comment today, there will be a draw for two copies of The Duke's Daring Debutante, print or e.

When Flowers Wore Shirts by Kathryn Kane

Before I explain the meaning of the title I have given this article, I would like to thank Ann for her invitation to guest here today. I have long been a reader of Regency Ramble and I am honored to be here and have the opportunity to share some of the research which I did for my debut Regency romance novel, Deflowering Daisy.

As a play on the title of my novel, Deflowering Daisy I have scattered a number of snippets of floral history throughout the book. One of those snippets of flower history plays an especially important part in my story. The heroine, Daisy, uses this special technique to create a gift which she believes will raise the spirits of the hero, David, and convince him there is still beauty and joy to be found in life, even if one has to make it for oneself. Later in the story, David, in turn, uses the same technique to provide intense pleasure for Daisy. This particular bit of floral history intersects with the history of dessert.

At the turn of the nineteenth century, some French chefs developed a technique with which to decorate fruit in order to make it more attractive when it was placed on the dessert table. This technique was most often used on small fruits, including dwarf apples, plums, nectarines, cherries, strawberries, currants, raspberries and gooseberries. Fresh, ripe fruit was rinsed and set to dry. While the fruit was drying, lumps of sugar were nipped off a white sugar loaf. The lumps were then pulverized in a mortar and pestle until the sugar was very fine, similar to the granulated sugar we use today. This finely pounded sugar was spread on a plate, platter or other shallow dish, ready for use.

Next, an egg white was separated from the yolk. This had to be done very carefully, for even a small amount of yolk mixed in with the egg white would spoil the final effect. The transparency of the egg white was crucial. At this point, the surviving directions differ. Some call for the egg white to be whipped to a foamy froth, though not so stiff as to create a meringue. But most of the instructions direct that the egg white be used just as it came from the egg, without any whipping at all.

Once the egg white was prepared, each piece of dried fruit would be dipped into the transparent fluid, until it was completely covered. Then it would be rolled in the pulverized sugar until it was fully coated. The pieces of sugar-coated fruit were then placed on a tray, usually lined with a sheet of baking paper and left to dry for three to four hours. The sugar-coated fruit would then be used to make attractive arrangements to adorn the dessert course of an elegant dinner. The pulverized sugar which coated the fruit would catch the flickering light of the candles in the dining room so that it would glitter and glimmer, creating the effect of fruit coated with diamond dust.

This technique was known as fruit en chemise. Translated from the French, it means fruit "in [a] shirt." This technique soon crossed the English Channel to become popular in Britain in the years just before the Regency. But the English did not restrict the use of fruit en chemise to the dessert table. In some of the better homes, fruit en chemise would be found decorating breakfast tables as well.

The English had long loved flowers, and from the end of the eighteenth century, it had become fashionable to decorate the dessert table with arrangements of fresh flowers. Initially, fruit en chemise were incorporated into or around these arrangements, but by the early years of the Regency, English ladies decided to put shirts on their flowers. Though, in most cases, the family chef or cook took the responsibility to dress fruit en chemise, it was the ladies of the house who dressed the flowers. It soon came to be considered another artistic accomplishment for proper young ladies. An accomplishment which a doting mother would have made sure was displayed on the dessert table when potential suitors were invited to dinner.

Only certain flowers would be dressed en chemise. Roses, tulips and other flowers with tightly furled blossoms were not appropriate. Pansies, violets and daisies were all ideal candidates to be done en chemise due to their relatively flat blossom shape. Each flower would be dipped into egg white, then sprinkled with pulverized white sugar. The sugar-coated flower would be set aside to dry, though it was often necessary to carefully shape the partially dried bloom if it had become misshapen during the en chemise process. Once all the flowers were coated with sugar, shaped and dried, they would be assembled into an arrangement for the dessert table.

During the Regency, dessert was considered a special course which came at the end of the main meal. The table cloth was typically removed, an elaborate centerpiece was placed on the table and the dessert was served, very often on an ornate china dessert service. Since at least the eighteenth century, it was believed that a beautiful setting for dessert was a crucial factor in good digestion, so dessert was an important final course for any dinner. However, it was especially important for one which included guests, for whom a host or hostess was expected to make every effort for their well-being and pleasure.

Flowers in shirts, that is, flowers en chemise, were considered an artistic accomplishment for many young ladies during the Regency. There are no records that this art was taught in ladies' finishing schools. Instead, it appears that ladies learned the technique on their own, perhaps from observing a chef or cook preparing fruit en chemise, or from their mother or other female relative, who might herself have learned from watching a chef or cook. There may have been at least a few governesses who imparted this skill to their charges as the Regency progressed. In many households, a mother and all her daughters might share in the effort of preparing a floral arrangement en chemise for a special dinner.

Arrangements of flowers en chemise appear to have been fashionable for only a relatively short period, from the Regency though about the end of the reign of King George IV. After that time, bouquets of fresh flowers were the standard decoration on most dining tables. At about this same time, the dessert course was no longer considered a separate part of the meal for which a special setting was required. Not to mention that the steady transition to gaslight would have spoiled the effect of flowers en chemise, since the sugar coating did not glitter and glimmer under the steadier gaslight as it had under flickering candle light.

Deflowering Daisy by Kathryn Kane

She cannot remain a virgin!

For so she was, after nearly a decade of marriage. When she was sixteen, Daisy had willingly, happily, married a man more than fifty years her senior, to escape a forced marriage to a man she abhorred. Though Sir Arthur Hammond had been a wild rake in his youth, he was so deeply in love with his late, beloved first wife that he never considered consummating his second marriage, certainly not with a woman he considered a daughter. But now, knowing he was dying and that he would be leaving sweet, innocent Daisy ignorant of the physical intimacies which could be enjoyed between a man and a woman, he felt that it was imperative she be given the knowledge which would prepare her for the life of a wealthy widow. Armed with the knowledge of physical intimacy, she would be much better prepared to deal with any fortune hunter who might try to seduce her into marriage for her money. And who better to initiate Daisy into the pleasures of the bedchamber than his godson. David had become nearly a recluse since a tragedy which occurred while he was serving the Crown against the forces of Napoleon Bonaparte. Prior to that, his skill as a tender and considerate lover had been bruited about in certain circles. Therefore, Sir Arthur believed that David was just the man to introduce Daisy to physical pleasure. And what might spending time with true and gentle Daisy do for David?

Purchase from:

Jupiter Gardens Press Print 
Jupiter Gardens Press eBook
Barnes & NoblePrint:
Nook Book

All about Kathryn

Kathryn Kane is a historian and former museum curator who has enjoyed Regency romances since she first discovered them in her teens. She credits the novels of Georgette Heyer with influencing her choice of college curriculum, and she now takes advantage of her knowledge of history to write her own stories of romance in the Regency. Though she now has a career in the tech industry, she has never lost her love of the period and continues to enjoy reading Regency novels and researching her favorite period of English history.

For more information about Kathryn and her books visit:
https://kathrynkaneromance.wordpress.com/The Regency Redingote: https://regencyredingote.wordpress.com/

Entertainment in the Regency

OOps. Where did Thursday go? Busy day to day. But late is better than never, hopefully.

I did a piece not so long ago about ladies activities, needlework, drawings etc, and we did something on outdoor activities. But with no television, what other sorts of entertainments were available.

Reading, of course. The novel was a fair newcomer at this time, primarily because printing was really in its infancy. But printing did provide greater numbers of copies much more quickly. One thing people loved to read were caricatures. Political cartoons, comments on people and events of the day.

James Gillray (1757-1815) was a popular cartoonist of the era, at the picture above is one of his. In the background is Miss Humphrey's shop in St. James's Street, his publisher. In the shop window a number of Gillray's previously published prints. Seeing the crowd standing around the window kind of reminds you of a sporting event being shown on a tv in a shop window doesn't it.

There were many other print shops on St. James's Street and surrounding streets, next to "fashionable hatters, gilders, vintners.

Although sometimes the higher classes bought prints on impulse and in person, they usually sent servants out to purchase the latest or had standing orders with print shops for regular deliveries. The Duke of Norfolk had the print seller Holland send him political prints 'as they came out''; his portfolios were 'filled with graphic satires and scurrilities, private as well as public, of which the press was then so prolific

As you can see from the above quote, these items were collected avidly and were certainly a form of entertainment, the kind of satire we now enjoy on tv. This one is by Rowlandson.

And here is one of a sports hero. Bill Richmond the famous black boxer, innkeeper and promoter. Born in New York in 1763, he came to England in the service of a British officer, Earl Percy.

Richmond taught himself to fight and rose through the ranks to become one of the most feted boxers of his day. In 1810 he retired from the ring and opened boxing rooms, which attracted the likes of Lord Byron and William Hazlitt, and ran the fashionable Horse and Dolphin public house near Leicester Square.

Of course there were lots more of these, some of them addressing some very serious subjects, and some of them exceedingly risque, but these prints were bought up as avidly as we watch television today.

Until next time, Happy Rambles.

Searching for Regency England

Did you miss me? Or did you take a peak at the other blog? It seems there is a new catch phrase for writers who guest blog and no one turns up, you are No Friends Nigela. I don't know if anyone has seen that cooking show? I like her, but lots of folks don't apparently. Anyway, I wasn't lonely lucy either. So now back to our regular programming.

I got a bit sidetracked over the past few months and there were one or two more places I wanted to bring to you from my last research trip.

Both of them are in Wales. The first one I wanted to chat about is Margam. Margam Park is built on the site of an abbey (closed in 1536).

The house pictured here was designed in 1827 and completed over the next several year. So it is Georgian, but not Regency. It is definitely romantic, with its mock battlements, clusters of tudor twisted chimneys, turrets and pinnacles. A great central pile of the house rises to a majestic octagonal tower. The architect was Thomas Hopper. The view of it here is the back of the house, which overlooks the park. It really is a ruin inside. So sad. But it is also gorgeous and fascinating and could just as easily have been built during the Regency, so I present it here.

These steps, to the west, lead to the orangery, which was finished in 1793, at the same time as the original house was being torn down.

It was built to contain a great collection of orange, lemon and other citrus trees. There were a great many legends about the origin of the trees, which indicate that while they were destined to be delivered to the crown the ship foundered and were claimed by the Mansells. Sounds like there might be a story in there somewhere.

By the mid 18th century there were over one hundred trees in greenhouses all over the park, and while they can stay outside in the summer, they must be taken in for the winter because of low temperatures. This orangery is gorgeous. It is long and narrow with 27 tall south facing windows to admit winter light and the plain black wall has fireplaces from which hot air passes through flues. It is beautifully augmented by fountains along its length, deeply-worked stone, friezes and sculptured urns

We have talked about orangeries before and this one has to be added as one of the most gorgeous ones of our era.

There is lots more to say about Margam, so I will continue next time.

Until next time, Happy Ramble.

Regency Bathrooms

A rather intimate topic, you might say, but it is one of those things we occasionally wonder about as writers, particularly if we want to have our romantic couple bath together.

I can remember homes that had outside facilities while I was growing up, indeed there were special government grants to convert them to indoor facilities. I recall one row house we lived in for a time, where we bathed in a tin tub in front of the fire. And no, dear reader, I was not born in the Regency. lol. It also had its own air raid shelter on the other side of the road. I still have the scar on my forehead from falling into the stairwell of that abandoned shelter.

So what facilities could they possibly have had two hundred years ago.

More than you would expect, but less than you might hope if you were time traveling.

This picture shows the types of luxury bathing one might find in the very best homes in the Regency.

Around this time, the shower-bath was invented, bath-tubs replaced the elegant but much more expensive plunge baths of the eighteenth century. A shower bath would be a cistern which emptied over the bather's head into a tub or a plunge bath. My guess is you had to be quick.

and most important of all, really efficient water-closets, fitted with valves that worked, at last became available (often still supplemented by outside earth-closets for the servants)

As early as 1813 the Earl of Moira's Donington Park in Leicestershire had two bathrooms and at least six water-closets, on two floors."

People were more likely to install these new fangled items at their country estates than in London homes where space was at a premium.

There was no such thing as municipal water during the Regency. In London water was delivered by wagon and deposited in a cistern located across the area, under the street, next to the coal cellar. Access to both was via hatches in the street. Water was not delivered every day. Anyone with a flushing toilet required servants to hand-fill a smaller cistern located in the attics.

The first flushing toilet was actually invented back in the 1500s. One was installed at Hampton Court for Elizabeth. However, these were very smelly affairs since the U-trap had not yet been invented.

Not until 1780 did advances make flushing toilets practical. By the Regency, new houses built for the middle or higher classes included water closets that emptied into the waste cistern under the servants' privy, but as you can see from the diagram they were not what we think of as a toilet today.

Until next time, Happy Rambles.

Sherbourne Castle, Dorset

Robin update.
It looks as if we will only have one baby. The rest of the eggs are still sitting in the nest while our Mothers Day baby grows apace. He has a few straggly feathers and
we can still see right through his skin, but he is getting big. I have a feeling we only have a mommy bird, and not a pair. But we will see. I am going to try to sneak a picture next time she leaves the nest.

I apologize for being late today, but my internet was down first thing this morning and thus I got engrossed in my next project--yes the book after The Lady Flees Her Lord is already going full steam ahead, and by the time I looked up, here we were, nearly midnight and I had wanted to tell you all about our next stop after Kent.

We went to Dorset, Thomas Hardy country, and also once the home of Sir Walter Raleigh.

This house deserved more time than the afternoon we spent there, first because it has been in the Digby family since poor old Raleigh lost his head and secondly it has furniture from all down the ages.
So I am going to talk about some of it now, and again after my next visit, next year.The town of Sherborne itself is another place on my list
I know, already planning to go again, but there is just so much to see.

While it is called a castle, it is a manor house, originally a hunting lodge. In this second picture, you can see the face of the original lodge across the courtyard and one of the wings which was added later. but added in keeping with the original building, so it is hard to tell it is an addition.

Because we are focussing on the Regency, I am not going to get into much detail about poor old Sir Walter, who was beloved of Elizabeth the first - she gave him this lodge -- and charged with treason by King James I. He was int the Tower from 1603 to 1618 when he was beheaded and he forfeited his house to the crown, who then sold it to the family who owns it now.

Breathtaking history.

This house was a deer park, and still has deer in the park.

This is a view of the park, taken by me. As you can see, the weather while cool has improved dramatically from our snowy Easter weekend. Imagine having a view like that from your bedroom window.

I am going to stop here, because we will get to the Regency part of the house next day.

Until then, Happy Rambles.

Regency Life and Living

I thought we might have a bit of fun today, as I used to say to my girls before they got too growed up to have fun. I thought you might be interested in what we regency authors worry about when we are writing our books.

I know that readers also think about this things because I had a wonderful e-mail from a reader in Australia and I know I won’t be in her bad books if I quote just a little bit of her note:

I find many of the stories marred by poor research. Such things such as referring to foil wrapped confection. I must say I have to agree.

My Regency chapter, The Beaumonde, recently had a long discussion about the wearing of gloves at dinner. It was hard to find evidence, and sometimes you try to find portraits from the day as a clue, but generally agreed that ladies would remove their gloves while eating and while playing the piano and doing needlework, etc, but for everything else, including dancing, they would wear their gloves.

My intro picture shows two ladies shopping in Ackerman's Art Gallery in 1812, in their gloves. How hampering that would have been. This next one shows them dancing. One way of avoiding those male sweaty palms, I should think. But then when you finally did get to touch a male hand, skin on skin, it must have been quite an erotic experience. Remember that touch in the most recent version of Pride and Predjudice? Shivers down the spine, ladies.

The next pictures are of things where a lady would need some finger dexterity and therefore, as you can see gloves were not worn. I do wonder what they did with the darn things. They must have been forever getting lost, particularly those that were white or York tan, because they must all have looked the same.

Another interesting question arose about whether a man would wear his Hessian boots to a ball. We thought not, and indeed it was certainly expressly forbidden by Nash at the pump rooms in Bath, which probably meant that they would have if it had been allowed. Although a soldier in full dress uniform might, as seen here at the Duchess of Richmond’s Ball before Waterloo. Note however, that some of the soldiers in uniform are wearing dress shoes.

Well, I hope you enjoyed seeing into a writer's exciting life, lol.

Until next time, Happy rambles.