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Archive for June, 2018

Now that we’ve arrived wherever we were going, it’s time to put our traveling coaches away for a while and focus on local travel. For that we must have, at the very least, a town coach.

The town coach was a fully enclosed vehicle driven by a pair. It would normally have a box for the coachman, and a platform on the back for footmen. If the owner had a crest, that would be painted on the sides. I was unable to find an image for an interior, but as they were all bespoke, they could be as ornate or plain as the owner wished. Once discarded, many town coaches were used as hackneys (the Regency version of a taxi). These types of coaches were used in the country as well.

A town coach was indispensible. It carried one to balls and other evening entertainments, shopping, and to other visits. Unless she was betrothed, no unmarried young lady was allowed to travel in a town coach with a gentleman who was not a near relation or her guardian. If she was engaged, she could be alone with her betrothed. To do so would court either ruin or a quick trip to the altar.

Towncoach1

Towncoach

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For those who didn’t need the space of a traveling coach, there was the travelling chariot. What was the difference between a chariot and a coach? The size and weight. A chariot was made for one or, at the most two people traveling. For distances, it would be pulled by a team of four horses. Otherwise, it could be pulled by a pair.

An unmarried lady would not be able to ride in a chariot with a gentleman who was not her brother, father, uncle, or guardian.

Travelling chariot 2 - Red House Stables

Inside a travelling chariot 2 - Red House Stables

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Regency Trivia – Coaches
 
Traveling Coaches
 
Of all the privately owned coaches and carriages these were the largest. Bear in mind that every coach was bespoke. There are accounts of traveling coaches having seats that made in to beds, built in shelves and tables, hidden compartments, holders for hot bricks in the floor, and storage under the seats, just to name a few amenities.
 
A traveling coach was driven by a coachman and would have been powered by a team of four or six horses. If the owner made frequent trips to the same places, they’d post horses along the route in order to ensure they wouldn’t be held up waiting for replacements.
 
The body of the coach was large and enclosed. Glass windows were generally set in the doors and sides of the coach and covered with either leather or cloth shades or curtains. Velvet was a common covering for the benches and cushions, although, leather was also used.
 
Ladies or the most ranking person was seated in the forward facing seat. Gentlemen or lesser ranking persons sat in the backward facing seat. An unmarried lady could not ride alone in a coach with a gentleman who wasn’t either her guardian or a close (brother, father, uncle, grandfather) relative without courting ruin. However, a betrothed lady could ride in one alone with her betrothed for very short distances.
 
If the owner was a peer or a widow of a peer, a crest would be drawn out on the side panels, generally in gold.
Some of these photos are from coaches that were slightly later than the Regency, but the’ll give you and idea.
 
Traveling coach Duke of Northumberland
Traveling coach
coach bed
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As you can imagine, county carriages served a different purpose than Town carriages. Serviceability on country roads and lanes was more important than looks. Although, that doesn’t mean one would necessarily give up style completely.

One of the more popular carriages was the gig, a two wheeled vehicle drawn by one horse. The seat rose above the wheels and was wide enough for two people. They were also fitted with a small platform on the back, presumably to carry purchases made in a village or other items. Gigs could also be fitted with thick panes oil lamps known as “gig lamps” for nighttime travel.

Gig

Gig 2

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image

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tillburyThe Tillbury

In 1820 the carriage maker Tillbury developed a sporting vehicle by the same name. The Tillbury had no boot, making it unsuitable for carrying anything. It also had a rib-chair body. It was a popular carriage for rough roads as it was supported on seven springs. Unlike a gig, it could be driven with one horse.

If you’re a Georgette Heyer reader, you might remember that in The Grand Sophy, she take her cousin’s new Tillbury for a joy-ride.

As with the other sporting vehicles, a chaperone was not needed.

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Curricle 2

The Curricle

For those who didn’t feel the need to challenge their driving skills, or wanted a more stable vehicle, there was the curricle. It was light, had only a single axle and two wheels. It was large enough for the driver and one other passenger. Many curricles had cabriolet tops that could be raised in the event of rain. A curricle was typically driven by a matched pair.

Curricle 1

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