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I went down a rabbit hole doing some research today and found a site on Georgian and Regency fans. Most authors mention fans in their books, so I thought I’d show you what some of the fans you might read about look like.

The first image is of a brisé fan. It date from 1810-1820. Note how delicately carved the bone sticks are. The main part of the fan is silk and is hand painted.

brise fan

The second fan dates to between 1780 – 1790. The fan is made of carved and pierced ivory sticks and a hand painted vellum (swanskin) leaf. The sticks show flowers, flaming hearts and doves. The front leaf is hand painted with a central scene of a courting couple in a country house garden. Because of the image, it’s called a courting fan. She is “fishing” for a husband and he is trying to lead her astray into the garden! The reserves show a vase and the altar of Hymen including two doves and a dog, surrounded by garlands of flowers. The reverse is hand painted with a small group of fruit.

painted silk fan

 

1815-1830 French Dance Fan. The second fan is also a brisé fan. It is made of bone guardsticks and inner cardboard sticks are connected via a silk ribbon. The inner sticks are covered with a thick plaster like white paint on the front and back and the edges of the front of the fan is hand painted with highly stylized foliage and flowers. The center and back were left undecorated, because the fan would have come with a small bejeweled stylus (encased within the left guardstick) with which the owner was able to write down her dance partners on the inner sticks of the fan.

fan, french dance

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mistress of the manor

How much did the lady of the house have to do with running the household? She was completely in charge of it. If she could afford it she had help in the form of a housekeeper, cook, butler, footmen and maid. The housekeeper would keep her apprised of things that were needed, i.e. linens, or if there was damage to anything in the house. She would also inspect and inventory household items with the housekeeper. The cook would give her menus to approve or to make changes to. The lady of the house would, many times, have her own recipes and remedies that had been handed down in her family.

Although the butler actually worked for the master of the house, he was responsible for serving the lady tea, refusing visitors, inquiring if the lady was receiving, instructing footmen to run errands for her, directing the footmen in the meal service and numerous other things. Therefore, the butler also took orders from her.

Most members of the gentry had at least a cook and one or two maids of all work. Any household who could afford it had a butler and a footman.

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Regency Trivia – Christmas

This will be the last Regency Trivia post of the year.

The sad news is that Christmas as we know it didn’t come around until the Victorian era. In London it was celebrated hardly at all. It was a bigger celebration in the country, but not with all families. Cromwell did a pretty good job of stamping it out for a long time. Still, there had to be some families that resurrected old Christmas traditions and made a hardy time of it.

For those who did celebrate, what did they do? There was decorating with greenery and mistletoe. That was usually done on Christmas Eve day. Some had Yule logs. Hug logs that would burn for months. Presents were exchanged, but not always on Christmas Day. They could be given during the whole twelve days. Carolers were not a thing yet. Although, there is some evidence that there were traveling minstrels who would sing old carols such as I Saw Three Ships. Most English Christmas carols date to the Victorian time. However, some, such as Silent Night that was written in 1818 in Austria near where I ski, were translated into English.

Now, baking was important. Christmas pudding was begun weeks ahead of time and it was considered good luck to stir the pudding. Goose was the traditional Christmas dinner, and there was usually wassail bowl on New Years Eve and Twelfth Night. The word “wassail” comes from Anglo-Saxon meaning to your health. There are many recipes that people claim are the traditional one. The oldest recipe seems to come from Suffolk, and considering the county is on the coast, the ingredients make sense. But you will note that except for the apples and cider that was—unlike American or Canadian cider—alcoholic, the ingredients were not cheap. Oranges and lemons were imported from Spain as was the sherry, and madeira comes from Portugal. Also, sugar was expensive.

6 small apples, cored, 6 teaspoons soft brown sugar, 1 orange, 6 cloves, 200g caster sugar, 2 quarts cider, 300mls port, 1 cup sherry or Madeira, 2 cinnamon sticks, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg. 1 lemon, halved.

The apples were cored and baked before being added to the rest of the mixture.

Another recipe, hailing from Yorkshire, replaced the sherry and madeira with ale. It was called Lamb’s Wool in honor of the wool industry in the area.

Christmas trees originated in Germany and eastern France. Although, the royal family had one, they did not become popular until later in the century.

Boxing Day, a staple of Christmas in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland began around 1830.

Whether you celebrate Christmas or another holiday, I wish you a Happy Holiday Season and a Happy New Year.

Christmas party

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There is a little known fact about Scottish marriages during the Regency. If a couple had a child(ren) before they married, marriage in Scotland would make the previously illegitimate children legitimate.

 

BabiesGretna Green 3

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Here are the words used for underwear during the Regency: Underclothing, under, underdress, and linen were all general terms used for what one wore close to one’s body.
 
Until the 1830s when waistlines began to drop to approximate the natural waist, petticoats were long and as depicted in the third picture. A chemise (also called a shift) could be either long or short. It was worn next to the body under the stays.
 
Unmentionables were actually breeches or trousers. interestingly, a man’s shirt was also considered underwear. It was considered scandalous for a man to not wear something over his shirt. Shirts did not open to the waist, but had either buttons or laces that went part way down. Men could opt to wear drawers (shown below) or merely tuck their shirts under crotch.
 
shiftchemise and stayspetticoat
men's drawersshirt
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This post is by Lynne Connolly.

Marriage settlements were not part of Parliamentary law. They were decided by private contract, drawn up by a solicitor (lawyer). Usually they aimed to use the money the woman brought into the marriage to pay for her jointure on widowhood and for the dowries of her daughters in the marriage. The idea was not to cause any encroachments on the main estate, which it was important to keep intact. Her jointure was usually invested in safe things, so that it would have grown to the required amount before the marriage. This would be laid down in the settlement, which was signed shortly before the marriage, by the couple concerned, and if they were underage, by their parents or trustees. There were no legal guardians in this period, but trustees would be appointed to the estate in the event of early death, and a person, usually a lawyer or professional, appointed to administer the legacy. No interested party, i.e. nobody who could benefit from the death of the minor, could be an administrator or a sole trustee, so that means wicked uncles were excluded!

The main estate, which included lands, houses, investments, things like mineral mines, shipping lines and insurance, was sacrosanct. Spending or mortgaging would inevitably diminish the power of the title holder, and the rest of his family. Much of the estate was not owned, it was in an entail – it belonged to the title, and could not be separated from it except under specific circumstances drawn up with the Letters Patent or Letters Writ when the title was created. Many aristocrats built personal fortunes, and they could dispose of them as they wished, but the strong imperative was to build on it and keep it intact. The estate was the power base.

An heiress could bring property and money that would enhance the estate, and that was the central idea behind marriage in this period.

marriage

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Marriage was a truly life changing event for a lady during the Regency. Here are at least some of the ways life changed.

When you went for a walk you could go with just a friend, or even a gentleman who was not your husband without benefit of a maid or footman. Although, going alone in London, even Mayfair, was not well advised.

You were allowed in a closed coach alone, with a coachman with a gentleman who was not your husband or close relative.

You could wear any color you wanted.

You did not have to dance with a man just because he asked you to dance.

You could have a gentleman escort you to a ball or other event, and he didn’t have to be your husband or a close relative.

You were privy to scandalous conversations the other matrons and widows were having.

You could take a lover (although, most husbands like discretion).

You could spend time in the card room.

You could speak with a gentleman without a “proper” introduction.

You were no longer asked to show your proficiency on a musical instrument.

Unless your husband was really unreasonable, no one read your correspondence.

You were in charge of your own household and household staff (except for the butler who always worked for the master if there was one)

You could hire your own lady’s maid if you didn’t like the one your mother selected for you.

Matrons 1matrons 2matrons 4

 

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