The London of the Ton - Part VI

Counting down to the UK release of UK edition of The Rake's Inherited Courtesan. Due out June 6 over there. I might just see it in stores while I am over there. which would be very exciting. Isn't the cover pretty? A little different from the North American version, which I also liked very much.

I digress.

On to London. The Great Wen. Which means The Great Tumour or Wart. Who knew? Oh, you did? One can understand why it became called that as it grew and grew during this period.

London of the ton was of course the London of entertainment for the rich. This is the Pantheon on Oxford Street in 1809 (The current site of Marks and Spencers). Designed by James Wyatt and opened in 1772, alas none of the old building remains, though the frontage as shown here did survive at least until around 1834 when additional columns were added.

This view not only gives us a view of the building, but once more gives us an idea of the street itself and those shopping.

The picture shows a masquerade ball no less. Of course this is a tad earlier than the Regency, but not by much. It also shows that the original domed interior had been replaced by a flat ceiling.

The popularity of masquerades was declining by this time, and therefore so was the popularity of the Pantheon. Looking at this picture, cartoon though it is, I'm not exactly surprised.

As usual I find the issue of lighting interesting. All those candles. No wonder things burned down so often. It must have been terribly hot and smokey. I wonder if that is why the gentleman in the forefront appears to be just about naked.

There are lots more sights to see in London, and lots more to do. But our time has run out, so until next time, Happy Rambles.

The London of the Ton - Part II

Continuing on with my topic from last time, here are a few more images you might enjoy.

This is a shop on Old Bond Street in 1817. It is the Western Exchange. It reminds me of the departments stores in London when I was a child, with the ladies waiting to serve behind large polished wood counters and the high ceilings and columns. There doesn't appear to be much in the way of goods on display, does there? No glass cases.

There is a great deal of information in this picture, so I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Sticking with the theme of shopping here is a view of Bond Street in 1823. A tad outside the Regency, but still close enough.

The name over the shop is Royal Sams Library as best as I can make out, but I haven't seen anything to say it is a real name. On the other hand, I do think that the image of the street, the books in the window, the shop owner at the door, is very typical of the time.

The dog interested me. It has that lion cut that is favored for poodles.

The last picture brings us back to the plight of the common man in the street, and the common boy. This is the infamous chimney sweep and his boys. I am sure they were a common and unremarked sight on the streets of London.

If you look closely in the right hand corner you will see the tools of the trade of the street sweeper sitting on the cobbles, - a brush, shovel and hemp bag. In London during this period there were more young people trying to earn a living than there were any other age group.

On that happy note, I will wish you happy rambles until next time.

Regency London - Shopping

I watched Jayne Ayre on PBS tonight, after I watched Rome. I feel like a glutton, but I deserved it. I worked hard on revisions for my editor for the last two days, and I needed to be drawn into another world. Both of these programs certainly did that for me, but of course Rome is a series so I will be watching it for weeks. Polo (not sure how you spell it) but Verinas’s friend, talks just like our friend Derek the winemaker, looks a bit like him too. I really like his character. At the moment, I am not too drawn to any of the women, though they are fascinating, they are not very likeable. Interesting thought that.

Anyway, I was trying to think where to go next with the blog. We will have our regular features at the beginning of the month. But since London and its ton are the center of most Regencies. I thought we might focus the great Wen for a while although next novel features London very little. However, the great metropolis is and was the center of commerce and politics in Britain, to be ignored at your peril.

But where to start?

Gentlemen’s club’s we did. So what do you want? Where would any good English lady of the aristocracy start. I know!!! Shopping.

The streets of London offered everything you can think of , but a list would be dull and dry so I will try to provide some pictures of a selection of them. There were also street vendors, so you will get to see some of them, and then of course the great markets, Billingsgate, Covent Garden, Smithfield. Lots to see. Put on your walking shoes.

This is what the insider of a drapers shop might look like. At Harding and Howell in Pall Mall pictured here they stocked furs, fans, silks, muslins, lace, gloves etc, jewelry, ormolu, perfumery and millinery and dresses, the latter would most likely have been made to order from those fashion plates that we look at each month.

Rundell and Bridge on Ludgate Hill were silversmiths, by order of his Majesty the King and also to the Prince Regent. Here you would stock up with candelabra and trays and teaservices and of course those beautiful snuff boxes we always here about. It sounds so elegant in novels, but in real life I think snuff is kind of nasty. I can remember the odd old gentleman taking snuff in my youth, but I haven’t see it for years. Below is a very elegant silver snuff box.

And what could be better than a visit to a tea shop after hours of choosing your latest outfits or setting your table in style.

And the place to go was Gunter’s Teashop in Berkely Square. Gunter's was a confectioners, centered on the East side of Berkeley Square. It became one of the most fashionable Mayfair rendezvous because it so well catered to the custom of a gentleman taking a lady for a drive in his open carriage.

The ton flocked to Gunter's to enjoy his ices and sorbets. Yes, that is right ice cream. I even learned of a famous icecream maker in Paris, a Neapolitan whom Napoleon brought to France.

The practice of eating the confections outside in the Square developed and waiters were obliged to dodge across the road taking and carrying their orders. Gunter's Tea Shop was the only establishment where a lady could be seen eating alone with a gentleman who was not a relative without harming her reputation. The ladies would remain seated in the carriages in the shade of the Maples. Their gentlemen escorts would step down from their equipages and come round to the passenger side of the curricle or barouche and lean against the Square's railings sharing the lady's company and the treat.

A medley of superb Georgian ices on an eighteenth century English glass salver. Front - from left to right - bergamot water ice and punch water ice. Back - left to right - royal cream ice, chocolate cream ice, burnt filbert cream ice and parmesan cream ice. It all sounds delicious and I even have detailed instructions on how to make them.

Well, we have only just started on our tour of London shops, but that is quite enough for one trip. More later in the week.

Happy rambles.