Monday, December 7, 2015

A Regency Christmas -- from the newspapers of the time

Information on the Regency experience of Christmas has always been sketchy. Christmas was certainly not the consumer event that it is today. Scrooge,  in the later Victorian era, was not all that unusual--business often took place on the 25th of December. But families still celebrated and often had the latest fashion in decorations--the Christmas tree.
An American picture circa 1812-19 by John Lewis Krimmel

Most Regency celebrations looked back, as we do, to simpler times, and more whole-hearted enjoyments. But in looking through Regency newspapers, I have come up with some of the events and ideas that formed the Regency Christmas.

Friday January 1, 1819  from Chester Chronicle

Charity was not neglected...
from Bury and Norwich Advertiser January 4, 1809
Tuesday 27 December 1814,  Morning Post,  London
but the parties were numerous...
26 December 1809,  Morning Post, London
Northampton Mercury, 1809, an account of Christmas at Woburn Abbey 

Wednesday 28 December 1814,  Morning Post,  London,
There were puzzles...
Westmorland Gazette, Friday 31 December 1819
And entertainments...
Manchester Mercury, Tuesday December 26, 1809
And gifts...
Repository of Arts advertisement December 1811
But most of all, there was family, and friends, and joy...and I wish all of these for you...
from the book "Popular Pastimes" published in 1816

Merry Christmas!

'Til next time,


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Holding a piece of the past....

I have read a great many books while researching the Regency era, books on social mores, art, architecture, science, politics, etc. But more and more, I am interested in primary sources. I want to read memoirs by people speaking at the time about the times in which they lived. I want to see their clothes and their furniture. I want to read their magazines, their books, and their newspapers.

A few months ago an opportunity presented itself to me to own a newspaper from the Regency era. They last, I am told, longer than present day newspapers because of their high rag content. So I did it--I bought a piece of history.

It is two hundred years old. It has some small tears and a few stains, but it is a remarkable survivor. And the sort of people that I write about held it and read it, made plans from its advertisements, tossed it aside in disgust when they disagreed with an article, and kept it--because something in it was important to them.

I wonder which article it was--perhaps the news of 'Accidents and Offences'?
Or was it the entertainment news? Did they schedule a visit to the theatre after seeing this?
Some items seem exotic to me, from a world I can only imagine:
The "Lloyd's List" is all about maritime affairs; perhaps the newspaper's owner was following a particular ship?
But household matters and retail concerns were important too. Did someone wish to furnish a house?
If so, it only shows that the preoccupations and realities of ordinary life were as notable then as they are today. The person who first bought this newspaper may have been looking for a very personal notification:
I hope they found what they were looking for. I am grateful that they kept the newspaper, so that I could hold a piece of their world in my hands. And so that I could be reminded that I buy newspapers for the same reasons they did. Our worlds are not so different, at all.

'Til next time,


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Looking for a doctor/surgeon/physician or midwife?

In Canada we have an excellent publicly funded health care system. And medical knowledge throughout the world is improving all the time. Both things make it something of a shock then, when you look at the health care of the Regency era.

The first line of defense against illness was home remedies. The second line of defense was the apothecary. The third line perhaps was a doctor, if there was one within reach. The names doctor, physician and surgeon were occasionally confused and the duties could overlap. Often the practitioner had little or no training. But education and standards for medical practitioners were improving, and medical discoveries were happening apace during the Regency.

The practitioners that did exist had no hesitation in advertising their services in the newspapers and distributing trade cards that explained their business.

Kentish Gazette Tuesday 2 February 1808
Inoculation had only recently been discovered to be effective, but there were already practitioners advertising their services for the procedure.  
Any number of apothecary/surgeons also advertised their services as 'man-midwives'. I find the name discomforting, and I wonder about the extent of their knowledge and the quality of their ministrations.
Carlisle Patriot Saturday 20 March 1819
Stamford Mercury Friday 2 September 1808
Among the dozens of advertisements for the man-midwife, I could find only one for a female midwife. Her qualifications sound excellent, but it is interesting that she feels she has to list them and offer testimonials when the men simply 'hang out their shingle', so to speak.
Cambridge Chronicle and Journal 1 July 1814
 And finally, there were the 'new' practitioners, listing their association with a particular medical college and ensuring that potential clients know they have been trained and educated in medicine.
Westmorland Gazette Saturday 27 June 1818
Whenever I think that I would like to live in the Regency era, dance with an earl at Almack's, or eat ices at Gunter's, I remember the health care of the era, and I am thankful I live where I do, and in the year 2015.

'Til next time,


Friday, September 18, 2015

Publication Day - The Possibility of Scandal

It is my great pleasure to announce that my tenth traditional Regency romance - The Possibility of Scandal - has been published today by Uncial Press. It is available from Uncial Press, Amazon Kindle and many other ebook suppliers.

~When the Haythe twins undertake a mad adventure, there is always the likelihood of disaster.~
The first review came out a few weeks ago, and was most gratifying:

"Ms. McLeod has made the Regency era her specialty, and her research shows. She also imbues her work with originality and creativity. Her plotting and characterization make THE POSSIBILITY OF SCANDAL a riveting read that will draw readers not only into the colorful theatrical world of the times, but into the lives of a varied group of personalities. And if you are interested in the Regency era, make a visit to"

Jane Bowers
Romance Reviews Today

When I began to write 'The Possibility of Scandal' I immersed myself in Regency theatre, although the theatre that the Haythe twins encounter is not at all typical.

This engraving of a theatre from the book Old and New London influenced the appearance of the Haythes' Fortune Theatre in Rotherham, although I added a portico.
I collected pictures of theatre auditoriums in order to make the Haythes' theatre very different from the usual.
Opera House Haymarket 1809

Royal Coburg Theatre 1818

Sadlers Wells Theatre 1810

It has been an interesting adventure researching and writing The Possibility of Scandal. 
Don't forget to visit my Facebook page to enter to win a copy of the ebook--or simply email me at

'Til next time,


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

All the News from Brighton

I thought you might be interested in the latest news from Brighton, according to the Sussex Advertiser of December 27, 1819:

Clicking on the items will enlarge them, for easier reading, in a new window.

It is this kind of research that brings the Regency period to life for me; I hope you find it interesting.

'Til next time,


Thursday, August 13, 2015

J. C. Loudon and his Gardening Vision

J. C. Loudon 1783-1843
John Claudius Loudon was a Scot, educated in horticulture (biology, botany, etc.) at the University of Edinburgh and a prolific garden and landscape designer and writer, despite significant physical frailty.

His most notable publications appeared in the 1820's after the Prince Regent had become King George IV. But Loudon published pamphlets and articles almost from moment he began designing gardens, landscapes and the layout of farms.

One of his most interesting pamphlets was published in 1807. Titled
Engravings, with Descriptions, illustrative of the difference between The Modern Style of Rural Architecture
and the Improvement of Scenery, and that displayed in A Treatise on Country Residences,
and practised by Mr. Loudon
the pamphlet contained 'before' and 'after' engravings of some of Loudon's work. He aimed to improve the 'picturesque' work of Capability Brown with his own 'gardenesque' style.

Mr. Loudon describes the intent of his pamphlet in the introduction:
His engravings of Barnbarroch (Barnbarrow) House, in Scotland, show clearly the significant extent of the changes he proposed.
Barnbarrow House in 1805
Barnbarrow as it would look three years after renovations commenced
In his pamplet, Loudon also used illustrations of some grounds at Harewood House (where he undertook a substantial renovation). In this area he proposed to join three sections of water into one.

Harewood House grounds 1805

Same Harewood location with proposed changes
In a telling series of illustrations of a 400-500 acre portion of an imaginary estate, Loudon shows the progression of design through one hundred years.
Figure 1 shows the formal early 18th century plan:
Figure 2 shows the layout as it would have been conceived by Brown, Repton and their contemporaries:
And Figure 3 shows his own concept for such a property. In all three cases the house is difficult to locate, clearly secondary to the overall landscape design.
A study of Loudon's work shows the development of landscape architecture into the early years of Queen Victoria's reign. In his later years, he undertook city and cemetery planning. But he began his work, in gardens, in the early 1800s, challenging the ideas of the great Repton who died in 1818.

Many of Loudon's works including his "Gardener's Magazine" are available free from Google Books. Those of his wife, Jane (nee Webb), an established author who undertook to write also on botany and flower gardening, are likewise available.

'Til next time,


Saturday, July 4, 2015

The English Social Scene ~ January, 1809

It seems odd to think of January in the middle of the heat and drought that we are enduring where I live. I don't like January, but cold air and precipitation don't seem totally repulsive at the moment!

Adverse weather aside, the January of 1809 was one full of assemblies, balls, concerts and parties. At least it was according to the newspapers I have been reading.

The Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle of Monday, January 2, 1809 was particularly full of notices:

The Salisbury and Winchester Journal of the same day, advertises the Southampton Winter ball at the Dolphins Inn as did the Hampshire Telegraph, but adds other events as well.

The Bath Chronicle of the same week has, not unexpectedly, a large advertisment for its Assembly Rooms:
The Derby Assembly Rooms meanwhile were looking for sponsors to help with renovation:
It is not clear if winter balls were taking place while this process was going on.
In The Northampton Mercury there were notices of two upcoming entertainments:
And The Bury and Norwich Post was also advertising balls:
On considering the matter, I would have thought that the prospect of driving in an unheated carriage, to an ill-heated ballroom, in inadequate clothing (particularly in the case of women) would dull many people's interest in the parties and balls advertised. But perhaps Regency folk, like us, sought diversion from the dreary winter weather. There was certainly a social whirl underway in January of 1809 all across England!

'Til next time,


N.B. Newspapers from the British Newspaper Archive