Monday, May 8, 2017

The Masquerade in Regency Society News

Kentish Weekly Post or Canterbury Journal - Tuesday 26 August 1800
The 19th Century had just commenced and already its fascination for the masked or masquerade ball had begun. The fashion for masquerades peaked during the Victorian era, but the Regency was also enamoured of the mystique and charm of costumed fun. Even the royals celebrated birthdays with masquerades.
London Courier and Evening Gazette - Friday 02 January 1801
By 1809, masquerades were vastly popular and even held as fund-raising events for charity.
Morning Chronicle - Wednesday 29 November 1809

Pantheon Masquerade - National Portrait Gallery
London Courier and Evening Gazette - Wednesday 28 February 1810
The Pantheon was a frequent site of masquerades but the Christmas of 1812 saw a flurry of private events also.
Hereford Journal - Wednesday 15 January 1812
Morning Chronicle - Friday 03 January 1812
Cheltenham Chronicle - Thursday 16 January 1812
Public masquerades were often descried as scenes of license and vice. Crimes could and did take place. And certainly the anonymity  provided by costumes and masks invited a freedom of manners that could degenerate into debauchery.
Morning Advertiser - Wednesday 28 February 1810
Specialist costumers were quick to see the sales potential of serving the masquerade-going public.

Morning Chronicle - Monday 22 June 1812
Morning Chronicle - Wednesday 19 June 1816
Saunders's News-Letter - Monday 05 February 1810
Morning Post - Saturday 24 February 1810
Newcastle Courant - Saturday 20 March 1819
Morning Chronicle - Friday 25 June 1819
And they all looked wonderful!

'Til next time,

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Getting from Here to There -- Post Houses and Coaching Inns

In my last blog post I talked about post coaches, their routes, their availability and their features. But if we talk about post coaches, we must also talk about post houses, and coaching inns. These were the places that post horses were stabled, customers were refreshed with meals or beverages, and clients were offered accommodations ranging from adequate to expansive.
from The Old Inns of Old England by Charles G. Harper 1906
 The established coaching inns/posting houses made good use of newspaper advertising.
Northampton Mercury - Saturday 20 April 1805
Sussex Advertiser - Monday 24 May 1819
Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser - Thursday 09 September 1819

Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Thursday 19 November 1801
But it seems that the hospitality industry, in the Regency as well as today, was a high-pressure business, prone to frequent turn-overs in ownership and management. The newspapers carried many advertisements for lease opportunities of coaching and post inns.
Bristol Mirror - Saturday 24 February 1816

Chester Courant - Tuesday 03 July 1804
Gloucester Journal - Monday 12 January 1807
Business was not always straightforward. Dirty tricks were as prevalent in the past as they are in the present day.

Leeds Intelligencer - Monday 09 October 1809
Sussex Advertiser - Monday 24 May 1819

The Old Inns of Old England by Charles G. Harper 1906
Despite the charm of the aged buildings, the beauty of the roses round the windows, and our image of the romance of inn-keeping, the business was hard with long hours and heavy work in both inn and stable. It wasn't an easy life, that of 'mine host'.

'Til next time,


Friday, March 10, 2017

Getting from Here to There -- Post Coaches

There were no trains, no cars, no airplanes. There were no inter-city buses, but there were plenty of post coaches in Regency England. For the vast majority of people, private carriages and chaises were out of the question. Public coaches were their only means of traveling around the country.

Mail coaches were the most well-known of passenger carriers. This advertisement (my apologies for the poor scan) shows the desirability of such reliable transport:
Gore's Liverpool General Advertiser - Thursday 09 January 1800

There were books like Cary's New Itinerary or Cary's Traveller's Companion which listed the schedules of mail coaches, stage coaches and post coaches to and from major cities. If you were lucky, the route you wanted to take was listed among Cary's timetables. But if you wanted really up-to-the-minute information on the coaches leaving your town, you could turn to the newspaper. There you would find advertisements from the local coach suppliers with their routes and all the other pertinent information for road travel.

Gore's Liverpool General Advertiser - Thursday 09 January 1800
Exeter Flying Post - Thursday 09 January 1800
The advertisements often listed the number of passengers accepted; some carried only four inside riders. This no doubt was an inducement for riders to enjoy greater comfort.

Cheltenham Chronicle - Thursday 13 August 1818
Hull Advertiser and Exchange Gazette - Saturday 03 January 1807
It is worth noting the illustrations accompanying the coaching advertisements. From 1800-1820 virtually the only illustrations in newspapers were in fire insurance adverts, where they displayed the fire company's badge, and in coach advertisements where the small, hurrying coaches are beautifully illustrated. The illustrations are almost all different.
Chester Courant - Tuesday 02 January 1810
Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser - Thursday 17 March 1814
Most advertisements carried a disclaimer stating that they accepted no responsibility for damage or loss of possessions, luggage or parcels. Later in the decade some illustrations displayed the outdoor passengers, paying less and suffering more for their transport.
Cheltenham Chronicle - Thursday 13 August 1818
Kentish Gazette - Tuesday 01 August 1815
Some advertisements employed a sort of 'hard sell' extolling their virtues with sometimes extravagant claims. But they hardly needed to--post coaches were the only means of convenient, semi-comfortable travel in a pre-railway world.
Leicester Chronicle - Saturday 24 June 1815
There are few things that underline the differences between the modern age and the Regency era as clearly as changes in transportation. It is tempting to assume private carriages were the norm; Regency fiction reinforces this belief. In fact, the post coaches made the world go round, and their confident advertisements indicate they knew the fact very well.

'Til next time,


Credit: all newspapers excerpts from

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Regency Gardening - Bulbous Roots for Sale

At this time of year--with two months of winter left where I live--my thoughts turn to my garden. I pore over seed catalogues looking for new flowers to try, new bulbs to plant.

It seems that during the Regency, garden lovers had exactly the same desire to plan their gardens. In the late fall, the newspapers offered advertisements from seedsmen and nurseries for the latest in Dutch 'bulbous roots'.

Carlisle Patriot - Saturday 10 October 1818
Dublin Evening Post - Tuesday 12 October 1819
Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser - Monday 21 October 1816
The Tyne Mercury; Northumberland and Durham and Cumberland Gazette - Tuesday 29 October 1816
Bristol Mirror - Saturday 23 October 1819
In January, the Hull Packet posted the advertisement below. Several familiar plants are on the list--I have an amarillis [sic] blooming in my dining room right now! And martagon lilies are now enjoying a resurgence in popularity...
Hull Packet - Tuesday 17 January 1815
By March the seedsmen were advertising. If I had a garden in Regency times, I would hope to be able to purchase one or two packets of new, different seeds to supplement those I had collected and that I traded with my neighbours.
The Suffolk Chronicle;  or Weekly
General Advertiser & County Express
Saturday 02 March 1816
 By spring and early summer the flower shows were beginning and competition was keen.
Saunders's News-Letter Dublin - Monday 05 April 1819
The Globe - London - Friday 03 May 1811
Durham County Advertiser - Saturday 07 June 1817
There were many astonishing botanical artists practicing during the Regency era. The illustrations in this post are by Pierre Jean Francois Turpin, one of the greatest. He probably became known and appreciated in England after the end of the Napoleonic Wars.

I must go and make up my order for seeds now from my new catalogues. It is nice to know I am continuing a tradition that dates back well before the Regency era.

'Til next time,



British Newspaper Archive
Wikimedia Commons