Saturday, February 4, 2017

Regency Gardening - Bulbous Roots for Sale

At this time of year--with two months of winter left where I live--my thoughts turn to my garden. I pore over seed catalogues looking for new flowers to try, new bulbs to plant.

It seems that during the Regency, garden lovers had exactly the same desire to plan their gardens. In the late fall, the newspapers offered advertisements from seedsmen and nurseries for the latest in Dutch 'bulbous roots'.

Carlisle Patriot - Saturday 10 October 1818
Dublin Evening Post - Tuesday 12 October 1819
Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser - Monday 21 October 1816
The Tyne Mercury; Northumberland and Durham and Cumberland Gazette - Tuesday 29 October 1816
Bristol Mirror - Saturday 23 October 1819
In January, the Hull Packet posted the advertisement below. Several familiar plants are on the list--I have an amarillis [sic] blooming in my dining room right now! And martagon lilies are now enjoying a resurgence in popularity...
Hull Packet - Tuesday 17 January 1815
By March the seedsmen were advertising. If I had a garden in Regency times, I would hope to be able to purchase one or two packets of new, different seeds to supplement those I had collected and that I traded with my neighbours.
The Suffolk Chronicle;  or Weekly
General Advertiser & County Express
Saturday 02 March 1816
 By spring and early summer the flower shows were beginning and competition was keen.
Saunders's News-Letter Dublin - Monday 05 April 1819
The Globe - London - Friday 03 May 1811
Durham County Advertiser - Saturday 07 June 1817
There were many astonishing botanical artists practicing during the Regency era. The illustrations in this post are by Pierre Jean Francois Turpin, one of the greatest. He probably became known and appreciated in England after the end of the Napoleonic Wars.

I must go and make up my order for seeds now from my new catalogues. It is nice to know I am continuing a tradition that dates back well before the Regency era.

'Til next time,



British Newspaper Archive
Wikimedia Commons

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Family Tradesmen's Directory 1808

In 1808, Duncan McDonald, the Head Cook of the Bedford Tavern and Hotel, thought he had something new to offer to the world of cookery and cookery books. He may well have been right. Certainly his book was comprehensive, and his 'directions for marketing' and listings of the markets in London were unusual in such books of the day.

 I found his "Family Tradesmen's Directory" quite fascinating. It is a glimpse into a frozen moment in time of the retail world of 1808 London. The listing is long but I am including it all here in the interest of research and curiosity.
From this first page above, I looked in the British Newspaper Archive to see if T. Aveling had advertised his services in the London papers. He had. I was particularly interested because I had discovered that an 'oil and Italian warehouse' was virtually the "deli" of the Regency era.
Morning Chronicle 14 April 1803
The breadth of his stock is impressive, and there are seven other such warehouses listed by Mr. McDonald. Obviously these emporiums were important to the households of London.
 Linen-drapers, mercers, and woollen-drapers are mentioned in McDonald's list although his interest is in household suppliers, not fashion or clothing merchants. Cater, Marshall & Co. (listed above) advertised in the Morning Post.
Morning Post 10 April 1805
Table linens, and sheetings are among the household items offered for sale. On this same page there is a Glass & Staffordshire Warehouse listed. There are many china and glass suppliers on McDonald's list.
Morning Post 29 October 1804
Mr. Goldicutt seems to supply everything a household could require.
 There are several 'oil and colourmen' listed by McDonald. These were the equivalent of our paint stores. Linseed oil, raw pigments and the necessities for mixing and fixing them were sold by these shops. But on the last page below there is a new sort of shop mentioned--Vanherman, Fores & Co., British Paint Manufactory.
Morning Chronicle 16 April 1808
House decoration was changing and moving into the new century.
There are very few luxury shops in Mr. McDonald's list. The requirements of a household were uppermost in his mind. But he did include a perfumer in his list.
 Morning Post 19 May 1807
Presumably Patey, Butts & Co. Wholesale Perfumers sold items necessary to a household, as well as their 'Circassian Water'.

I feel as though I have been shopping in Regency London after perusing this list. And it has led me to reflect on who did go shopping for the wide variety of items required by a household. The mistress of the house would acquire large and/or decorative items I am sure. The size of the household would dictate the shopper for other items. It might be a maid, or it might be a house steward. I can see another interesting line of research opening up!

Happy New Year!

'Til next time,

New London Family Cook -
Advertisements -

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Christmas in 1805

Although I have done other blog posts about Regency Christmases from newspapers of the day, I thought it might be interesting to focus on one particular year. In 1805, the Ordnance Survey had begun publication of its detailed maps of England, Walter Scott had published The Lay of the Last Minstrel, the Eton/Harrow cricket match had taken place for the first time, and the Battle of Trafalgar (with Lord Nelson's tragic death) had taken place in October.

In 1805, mention of Christmas does not appear in the newspapers I surveyed until the week before the 25th of December. Perhaps predictably, the first notice is from a retailer.
Morning Post - Wednesday December 18 1805
Advertisements for Christmas gifts are not so numerous as one might expect given today's retail frenzy, but they do exist.
Salisbury and Winchester Journal - Monday 23 December 1805
Evidence of the celebration of Christmas continuing through until Twelfth Night--January 6--is contained in the advertisements for the Season.
The Courier - Tuesday 31 December 1805
But then, as now, there was more to the Season than commercialism. There were songs and poems:
Staffordshire Advertiser - Saturday 05 January 1805

There were some funny, some impenetrable, and some rather rude jokes:

Morning Advertiser - Friday 27 December 1805
Evening Mail - Monday 30 December 1805

The solemnity of the Season and the importance of charity were not overlooked:

The Courier - Tuesday 24 December 1805
And the activities of the royals, and the notables of society, were reported in detail:
Kentish Weekly Post or Canterbury Journal - Tuesday 01 January 1805

London Courier and Evening Gazette - Saturday 21 December 1805
London Courier and Evening Gazette - Tuesday 31 December 1805
 And finally, in a note that seems oddly contemporary, the Lotteries are touted:
Morning Advertiser - Monday 23 December 1805

Morning Advertiser - Thursday 26 December 1805
There you have a picture of a Regency Christmas in the year 1805--a Christmas not so very unlike our own.
 I hope that you enjoy a very Happy Holiday Season, and every joy in the New Year.

'Til next time,


All illustrations in this blog post are from

More Christmas information and illustrations can also be seen at my website:

Monday, October 24, 2016

More than monkeys and bears--traveling menageries in the Regency era

British life has always involved animals. From the hounds used in hunting to the house dogs and the horses that were common in every life, animals abounded. Portraits were painted of prize farm animals and deer roamed parks and estates throughout the island. Nevertheless Britain during the Regency era was very nearly devoid of wild animals. Those that did exist were small and more apt to be deemed nuisances than creatures of worth and benefit.

When the opportunity arose to see a bear (whether dancing or being baited in the village square), or a monkey (begging for money for its organ grinder), the general populace took full advantage. They were excited to see something beyond the everyday. When the traveling menageries took to the roads of Britain in the mid-1700's, people were agog. The wonders that the world held dazzled and astonished.
Morning Post - Friday 13 May 1808
George Wombwell had purchased two boas from the London docks and, discovering an insatiable interest in the public, built his business on those two snakes. A remarkable number of animals from abroad arrived on the ships that docked in London and they were soon traveling the country.
Cheltenham Chronicle - Thursday 06 August 1818

Lancaster Gazette - Saturday 31 January 1818
Wombwell's was not the only menagerie traveling Britain, and the common people were not the only ones fascinated by the wonders the menageries held as this account of Gillman and Atkins' display recounts.
Stamford Mercury - Friday 18 April 1817
There was Ballard's Menagerie:
Windsor and Eton Express - Sunday 19 October 1817

Pidcock's Menagerie housed at the Exeter Exchange in London also traveled the country as well, as early as 1770.
courtesy British Museum - 1799
And there was Polito's! This item is long but the descriptions and the hyperbole in the article/advertisement are wonderful.

Tyne Mercury; Northumberland and Durham and Cumberland Gazette - Tuesday 03 June 1817
There were accidents. Lions escaped, elephants died (Wombwell was particularly adept at marketing even dead animal viewings), and people were bitten. Mr. Soper (below) eventually died. He had put his hand in the cage to regain a dropped tool.
The European Magazine and London Review vol 56 Dec 1809
George Wombwell certainly used the available print media to best advantage among all the menageries. And his family's work at fairs continued through to the 1930s.
Worcester Journal - Thursday 16 August 1821
His tomb in Highgate Cemetary in London is appropriately crowned by a statue of one of his lions.

The conditions in which the animals were kept in traveling menageries were no doubt abysmal by modern standards. The food offered them and the cold climate of their new home took a great toll. But perhaps the pleasure they brought to the lives of people pinched by circumstance and lack of opportunity was partial recompense for the animals' sufferings. And perhaps generations of explorers and travelers were galvanized by the glimpse offered by traveling menageries of the world beyond their experience.

'Til next time,


More can be read about traveling menageries here: