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,


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Elopement - The Ultimate Romance?

The Elopement - Thomas Rowlandson
A clandestine marriage, a runaway romance, a bolt to Gretna Green -- these all have formed the plots of many Regency novels. But what did the press of the day report about these secret liaisons in the first twenty years of the nineteenth century? A great deal:

Morning Post - Wednesday 27 February 1805

Evening Mail - Monday 21 October 1805
 The two flights above might be attributed to young love, and impatience, but the event in the article below has a more sinister tone...
The Globe - London Monday 14 October 1805
The following account appears to document a case of true love, but shows that there could be unpleasant consequences, especially for the gentleman involved.
The Globe - Monday 14 October 1805
 And sometimes the courts were involved with dire consequences:
London Courier and Evening Gazette - Friday 19 July 1816

The following story seems to have a rather odd ending:
Morning Post - Saturday 30 September 1809
Elopements were not always successful.
Chester Chronicle - Friday 14 August 1818

Morning Post - Saturday 14 December 1811
Flights of journalistic hyperbole sometimes accompanied accounts of romantic flight:
Lancaster Gazette - Saturday 03 June 1815
It appears that opinion in the Regency era was divided over the propriety, legality, morality and necessity of elopement. Whatever the truth of the events told in the newspapers, elopements have provided the basis for many a good Regency novel in the twenty-first century. It all does seem rather romantic...

'Til next time,



Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Antiquarians and Antiquities of the Regency

As a student of history, I must confess to an overwhelming interest in archaeology. The British TV show 'Time Team' (available on YouTube) is among my favourite viewing, and I follow archeological websites, Twitterfeeds and Tumblr pages with something approaching fascination.

People of the Regency era were no less interested in antiquities. The term 'archaeologist' was not often used. The people interested in relics of the past were called 'antiquarians'. During the Regency era, as now, one could seldom stick a shovel in the ground in the British isles without turning up something interesting.

Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Wednesday 07 January 1807
Chester Courant - Tuesday 06 August 1811
Morning Post - Tuesday 04 January 1814
Sussex Advertiser - Monday 09 March 1812
The Society of Antiquaries, later I believe known as The Antiquarian Society, as conceived as early as 1707. Open to gentlemen with an interest in antiquities, the society was eventually chartered and began to collect objects in its own right.

The Antiquarian Society by George Cruickshank 1812  © The Trustees of the British Museum
 The great interest in antiquities led to the publication of numerous books and periodicals. The work in the advertisement below indicates it will be published monthly, and contain eight etchings in each issue.
Hull Advertiser and Exchange Gazette - Saturday 24 February 1810
The antiquarians were delighted and intrigued by every fresh discovery, and the newspapers covered the finds extensively.
Cumberland Pacquet, and Ware's Whitehaven Advertiser - Tuesday 29 October 1816
Globe - Monday 03 August 1818
Globe - Monday 21 October 1811

Morning Post - Wednesday 27 October 1819
I do wish that all these finds could have benefited from modern recording and scholarship, but the delight the finders experienced was no doubt equal to the thrill experienced by the archaeologists of 'Time Team'. I am excited to read about any discoveries in any era. Though excavation is destructive, artifacts from the past bring ancient peoples to life and enhance our understanding of them.

'Til next time,



Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Crowning Glory - Hair-dressing in the Regency

Despite bonnets, hats and caps, hair-dressing was of vital importance during the Regency era. Styles changed frequently from ringlets to crops and everything in between. Skill in cutting and curling was of paramount importance, and it was a trade of life-long potential for the right young man.
Yorkshire Gazette - Saturday 24 July 1819
York Herald - Saturday 29 May 1813

Morning Advertiser - Thursday 12 November 1807

Gloucester Journal - Monday 21 June 1813
Once the owner of a hair-dressing establishment had the staff he needed, he might need new premises.
Kentish Gazette - Friday 28 August 1812

Morning Advertiser - Thursday 08 September 1808

Hair-dressers often included peruke or wig-making in their trade, and sidelines such as perfumery along with their hair-dressing.
Aris's Birmingham Gazette - Monday 22 February 1808

Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Thursday 25 January 1810

Cambridge Chronicle and Journal - Friday 05 March 1819

Durham County Advertiser - Saturday 09 August 1817

Hull Advertiser and Exchange Gazette - Saturday 18 April 1807
Ornamental hair, and head-dresses involving artificial flowers, lace, ribbon and other trimmings offered another entire line of trade. Hair could be dressed in the shop or, for those of substantial fortune, the hair-dresser would visit the home.
Leeds Intelligencer - Monday 22 November 1802

Leeds Intelligencer - Monday 29 November 1802

As evidenced by the advertisement below, the Peruke-makers and Hair-dressers Society was a long-established association. It provided guidelines and rules for the conducting of hair-dressing business, regulations for the instruction of apprentices, and suggestions for prices and wages.
Morning Advertiser - Tuesday 06 July 1819
In the Regency, as in the present, grooming reinforced one's position in society and the world. Then, as now, there were plenty of practitioners willing to assist people to look their very best.

'Til next time,



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,