Monday, December 4, 2017

Merry Christmas - 1806

The Christmas Plum Pudding from an old print-Published in the book
Christmas: Its Origin and Associations, by William Francis Dawson 

          As last year at this time we looked at Christmas in 1805, I thought that this year we might look at 1806.  Christmas Day was a Thursday, and it was an unusually warm December.
 Bury and Norwich Post Wednesday December 24, 1806
 The retailers were prepared for the season, and the advertisements were tempting:
Morning Chronicle - Friday 19 December 1806
Stamford Mercury - Friday 19 December 1806
The festivities of the season were well described by the newspapers:
Oxford Journal - Saturday 18 January 1806
Bury and Norwich Post - Wednesday 31 December 1806
from Christmas: Its Origin and Associations, by William Francis Dawson
There were sad occurrences as well, in the Christmas season. It never seems quite right to me that sadness or evil should occur at that joyous time, but life of course goes on with its good and bad events.

Hereford Journal - Wednesday 31 December 1806
Norfolk Chronicle - Saturday 27 December 1806
After Christmas, New Year's loomed large, and this advertisement below offered a lottery 'share' as gift and, as we are still lottery lovers, the emotions it engenders are ones we understand very well.
Morning Advertiser - Monday 29 December 1806
 But parties, then as now, were the main focus of New Year celebrations, and 1806 was no different:

Evening Mail - Friday 03 January 1806
Finally I leave you with a delightful contemporary imagining of a Regency Christmas.
Mrs. Hurst's Christmas by Pauline Baynes  1996
If you repost this picture, please keep the credits with it--the artist deserves the recognition.

Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to you all!

'Til next time,



Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Who Doesn't Love a Library?

During the Regency era, circulating libraries in England were popular, both for the lending of books, and the safe sociability of their venues.
Lackington's Circulating Library, London
 Construction of a new library was noteworthy as these clips from the book "Local Records; or Historical register of remarkable events....Northumberland and Durham" indicate:

For a subscription fee, the client could borrow books for a designated period. They could also browse the additional items which the shop offered, everything from stationery to perfumes and patent medicines.
Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser - Thursday 09 February 1815

Gloucester Journal - Monday 21 July 1800
Hull Advertiser and Exchange Gazette - Saturday 10 January 1807
Nottingham Review and General Advertiser for the Midland Counties - Friday 17 April 1818
In this last item, it can be seen that return of library books was a concern two hundred years ago, as it is today.

La Belle Assemblee, the popular ladies' journal, carried advertisements for circulating libraries:
The Gentleman's Magazine of 1808 carried criticism of such libraries:
Specialty circulating libraries were likewise popular. This one in Bath must have been of great service to many people:
Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Thursday 11 April 1816
Scotland was not behind in its establishment of lending libraries, in fact that library established by Allan Ramsey in 1725 was one of the earliest of all libraries:
The Scotsman - Saturday 11 November 1820
Circulating libraries have appeared in many Regency novels, including my own. They were an important adjunct to the social life of the Beau Monde and a delightful place for an assignation or a chance meeting.

Having to pay a fee for library services seems odd to many of us, though we do pay for our lending privileges with our taxes. It is interesting to reflect that we share the tradition of borrowing books with our Regency ancestors.

'Til next time,

Monday, October 9, 2017

Magdalen Hospital for the Reception of Penitent Prostitutes

The Magdalen Hospital from The Picture of London for 1829 
I find this a difficult blog to write, as the mere creation and existence of the Magdalene Asylums upsets me. The double standard of the Regency and Victorian eras is illustrated so plainly by the Magdalene hospitals. Women were viewed as weak, aberrant and sinful. They needed warehousing and punishment. Men were just doing what men do, without consequences or reproach; they had no part in the 'downfall' of these women.

Nevertheless the Magdalen asylums were an important aspect of Regency life, and so were the attitudes and hypocrisy that supported them. The 'good people' of the Regency era believed they were doing 'good work'. It is an important thing for those reading and writing about the Regency in England to remember.

Perthshire Courier - Monday 20 November 1809
The first Magdalen institution had been opened in London in 1758.
London Courier and Evening Gazette - Monday 15 September 1817

By the time of the Regency, the Magdalen was well-established in society's charitable planning.
Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser - Thursday 20 July 1809
London Courier and Evening Gazette - Monday 18 April 1814
The one saving grace of the Magdalen hospitals is that they did provide re-training for young women, and a certain amount of protection from the streets for a period of time. This led at least one young woman (under what is surely an assumed name) to publication and sermonising on her fate and future.

Globe - Friday 22 April 1808
From the beginning the Chapel of the Magdalen Hospital provided a platform for preaching and moralizing by notable church figures.
Evening Mail - Wednesday 26 March 1806
Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser - Monday 17 May 1819

Salisbury and Winchester Journal - Monday 01 August 1803
None of the newspaper articles that I have found have mentioned that tours of the facility were given as a means of raising money from the more privileged classes. Apparently this was a popular pastime among the upper classes. But one notable visitor was mentioned in the press.
London Courier and Evening Gazette - Thursday 14 April 1814
Unfortunately for the virtuous and righteous gentlemen of the Magdalen Hospital Committee, human nature kept asserting itself. But of course it was the women who were blamed:
Morning Advertiser - Saturday 06 March 1819
One wonders why there is the discrepancy between the date of the letter and its publication. And I wonder if the problem was ever resolved.

In later Victorian times, the some of the Magdalen hospitals apparently devolved into harsh penitentiary-like establishments. Certainly they did not solve the issue of prostitution. And we have not solved it to this day. Food for thought indeed....

'Til next time,


P. S. I am including the following long newspaper article for those who are interested in pursuing the Magdalen Hospital information further. It is from the Morning Post of Thursday, 16 May 1811.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Four Horse Club~~aka The Four-In-Hand

The Four-in-Hand Club has featured in many Regency novels, including several of Georgette Heyer's books. But I discovered to my surprise that the official name of the group was the "Four Horse Club", and it was also known at the Whip Club or the Barouche Club.

 It was a short-lived group; most sources indicate it existed from 1808 to about 1826. It was started by Charles Buxton and some of his friends in a low-key rivalry with the B.D.C. -- the Bensington Driving Club -- founded in 1807.
A barouche and four, painting by Horace Vernet

The York Herald newspaper on Saturday,  06 May 1809 describes the Four-in-Hand Club in detail. It must have been a quiet news day.
The following had to be pieced from three newspaper columns; please excuse the variable quality of the scans:
Presumably a good time was had by all! As its tour-de-force, the York Herald added a poem. The author wisely retained his anonymity:
On June 24, 1809 the York Herald once again reported on the Club:

The illustration below shows the 'Fashionable Barouche with Ackermann's Patent Moveable Axles'. Those axles wouldn't have been available in the early years of the club.
Ackermann's Repository of Arts January 1820
A lovely report from the London Morning Post in 1810 includes mention of the Four-in-Hand Club:
Morning Post - Monday 30 April 1810
And the club continued to make news, not all of it good:
London Courier and Evening Gazette - Friday 15 June 1810
This barouche is in the collection of the Museum of Applied Arts and Science in Australia.

A newspaper in 1811 indicated that the club was still operating in its accustomed manner, but after that year it appears the club became less newsworthy.
Sussex Advertiser - Monday 29 April 1811
The Four-in-Hand Club embodies the idleness of the rich, the Corinthian values, and the privileged world of Regency gentlemen. We are indebted to the newspapers for recording its activities, its idiosyncrasies, and its style.

'Til next time,