Friday, December 24, 2010
It's a bit complicated, but some people used their own horses for the whole journey. In that case they would travel more slowly as the horses would need rest, food, and water.
A few very rich people would either keep their own horses along routes they traveled frequently -- ie Rothgar Abbey to London.
An alternative for the rich planning a journey in advance would be to send out teams of horses to await along the route. But that would be extraordinary.
Mostly those with money would hire both chaise and horses right from the start and travel at speed because the chaise was a light vehicle and they'd change the team every 10 miles or so.
Most people who traveled did so by a public coach or by wagon, as Petra does in A Lady's Secret. Or walked.
BTW, if traveling by chaise, there were connection options.
1. If they were a long way from the post roads someone from home could drive them to the inn, or a plain coach from the posting inn could come to collect them.
2. If they were nearby and the road not too rough, the chaise would come to the door.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
The following is from Thomas Peacock's novel Headlong Hall. Though it's satirical, we can assume that the details of the ball are accurate. I've given the main points below in italics and made bold the text evidence that comes after. I've also cut out chunks that were irrelevant to this. The text is available on line if you want to read it all. Some of the text below is garbled.
A "set" was two dances. So the "first set" is two dances, but a lady would take one partner for the two. Thus, a set. Each set lasts half an hour. That would be a pretty good workout, I think. In this case supper was served after the third set, and included musical performances by the guests. They then returned to the ballroom for more sets.
Balls started late and went on till dawn. Guests didn't sleep at the house. They took breakfast and went home.
After having danced a set with a lady, a gentleman may not dance the next, but he can reclaim her, if she's willing, for the one after.
I have cut this from below this, which was a commonly held position on the benefits of a dance.
"It has the advantage of bringing young persons of both sexes together, in a manner which its publicity renders perfectly unexceptionable, enabling them to see and know each other better than, perhaps, any other mode of general association. Tete-atetes are dangerous things. Small family parties are too much under mutual observation. A ball-room appears to me almost the only scene uniting that degree of rational and innocent liberty of intercourse, which it is desirable to promote as much as possible between young persons, with that scrupulous attention to the delicacy and propriety of female conduct, which I consider the fundamental basis of all our most valuable social relations."
Another passage. "As to the men, the case is very nearly the same with them. To be sure, they have the privilege of making the first advances, and are, therefore, less liable to have an odious partner forced upon them: though this sometimes happens, as I know by woeful experience : but it is seldom they can procure the very partner they prefer, and when they do, the absurd necessity of changing every two dances forces them away, and leaves them only the miserable alternative of taking up with Boiiieiiuiig, uiaagrecabls perhaps in itself, and at all events rendered so by contrast, or of retreating into some solitary corner, to vent their spleen on the first idle coxcomb they can find."
The following is the original text, cut about a bit.
The ball-room was adorned with great taste and elegance, under the direction of Miss Caprioletta and her friend Miss Cephalis, who were themselves its most beautiful ornaments, even though romantic Meirion, the pre-eminent in loveliness, sent many of its loveliest daughters to grace the festive scene.
Numberless were the solicitations of the dazzled swains of Cambria for the honour of the two first dances with the one or the other of these fascinating friends: but little availed, on this occasion, the pedigree lineally traced from Caractacus or King Arthur: their two philosophical lovers, neither of whom could have given the least account of his great-great-grandfather, had engaged them many days before.
Mr. Panoscope chafed and fretted like Conwy in his bed of rocks, when the object of his adoration stood up with his rival: but he consoled himself with a lively damsel from the vale of Llwyd, having first compelled Miss Cephalis to promise him her hand for the fourth set.
The ball was accordingly opened by Miss Caprioletta and Mr. Foster...
When the two first dances wore ended, Mr. Escot, who did not choose to dance with any one but his adorable Cephalis, looking round for a convenient seat, discovered Mr. Jenkison in a corner by the side of the Reverend Doctor, who was keeping excellent time with his nose to the lively melody of the harp and fiddle. Mr. Escot seated himself by the side of Mr. Jenkison, and inquired if he took no part in the amusement of the night ?
No. The universal cheerfulness of the company induces me to rise: the trouble of such violent exercise induces me to sit still. Did I see a young lady in want of a partner, gallantry would incite me to offer myself as her devoted knight for half an hour: hut as I perceive there are enough without me, that motive is null. I have been weighing these points pro and con, and remain in statu quo.
...Then suddenly place before him a chandelier, a fiddler, and a magnificent beau in silk stockings and pumps, bounding, skipping, swinging, capering, and throwing himself into ten thousand attitudes, till his face glows with fever, and distils with perspiration: the first impulse excited in his mind by such an apparition, will be that of violent fear, which, by the reiterated perception of its harmlessness, will subside into simple astonishment. Then let any genius, sufficiently werful to impress on his mind all the terms of the communication, impart to him, that, after a long process of ages, when his race shall have attained what some people think proper to denominate a very advanced stage of perfectibility, the most favoured and distinguished of the community shall meet by hundreds, to grin, and labour, and gesticulate, like the phantasma before him, from sunset to sunrise, while all nature is at rest, and that they shall consider this a happy and pleasurable mode of existence, and furnishing the most delightful of all possible contrasts to what they will call his vegetative state—would he not groan from his inmost soul for the lamentable condition of his posterity ?
The spcond set of dances was now terminated, and Mr. Escot flew off to reclaim the hand of the beautiful Cephalis, with whom he figured away with surprising alacrity, and probably felt at least as happy among the chandeliers and silk stockings, at which he had just been railing, as he would have been in an American forest, making one in an In
Squire Headlong was now beset by his maiden aunt, Miss Brindle-mew Grimalkin Phoebe Tabitha Ap-Headlong, on one side, and Sir Patrick OTrism on the other: the former insisting that he should immediately procure her a partner; the latter earnestly requesting the same interference in behalf of Miss Philomela Poppyseed. The Squire thought to emancipate himself from his two petitioners by making them dance with each other; but Sir Patrick vehemently pleading a prior engagement, the Squire threw his eyes around till they alighted on Mr. Jenkison and the Reverend Doctor Gaster; both of whom, after waking the latter, he pressed into the service. The Doctor, arising with a strange kind of guttural sound, which was half a yawn and half a groan, was handed by the officious Squire to Miss Philomela, who received him with sullen dignity: she had not yet forgotten his falling asleep during the first chapter of her novel, while she was condescending to detail to him the outline of four superlative volumes. The Doctor, on his part, had most completely forgotten it; and though he thought there was something in her physiognomy rather more forbidding than usual, he gave himself no concern about the cause, and had not the least suspicion that it was at all connected with himself. Miss Grimalkin was very well contented with Mr. Jenkison, and gave him two or three ogles, accompanied by a most risible distortion of countenance, which she intended for a captivating smile. As to Mr. Jenkison, it was all one to him with whom he danced, or whether lie danced or not: he was, therefore, just as well pleased as if he had been left alone in his corner : which is probably more than could have been said of any other human being under similar circumstances.
At the end of the third set, supper was announced, and the party, pairing off like turtles, adjourned to the supper-room. The Squire was now the happiest of mortal men, and the little butler the most laborious. The centre of the largest table was decorated with a model of Snowdon, surmounted with an enormous artificial leek, the leaves of angelica, and the bulb of blanc-mange. A little way from the summit was a tarn, or mountain-pool, supplied through concealed tubes with an inexhaustible flow of milkpunch, which, dashing in cascades down the miniature rocks, fell into the more capacious lake below, washing the mimic foundations of Headlong Hall. The Reverend Doctor handed Miss Philomela to the chair most conveniently situated for enjoying this interesting scene, protesting he had never before been sufficiently impressed with the magnificence of that mountain, which he now perceived to be well worthy of all the fame it had obtained.
Squire Headlong returned thanks with an appropriate libation, and the company returned to the ball-room, where they kept it up till sun-rise, when the little butler summoned them to breakfast.
My next book featuring a Regency ball is the reissue of Forbidden Magic. Read an excerpt here.
Friday, November 19, 2010
"My favorites include Neil Gaiman’s The Thing About Cassandra, Jo Beverley’s The Marrying Maid..."
That's from a review here of Songs of Love and Death, an SF anthology edited by Gardner Dozois and George RR Martin.
And then I'm linked with Diana Gabaldon.
"Two of my top picks along with Diana Gabaldon would be Jo Beverley with her inventive tale "The Marrying Maid" inspired by Titania and Oberon's continual toying with humankind..."
Read more here.
The stories range from contemporary to historical, from horror to romance. You can guess where my story fits! It's Georgian and completely a romance, but tangled up with an ancient faery curse that could kill my hero and all his family.
Available now in hardcover, Kindle, and other e-book forms.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Have a bit of spare time? Old Weather is looking for people to transcribe the logs of Royal Navy ships during the First World War. They're primarily gathering weather data to add to what we know about weather trends in the 20th century, but historians and others are also hoping to glean a bit of extra information from the notes added to the logs. Mostly they're boring day-to-day, but every now and then there are names, which could be useful -- for example to people doing genealogy -- and sometimes dramas such as sickness and death.
This can't be computerized as computers are bad at reading handwriting.
You don't have to commit to any amount of time and could just do a little now and then, but it could be both useful and interesting. I did a bit, and I'll go back now and then, and it's easy once you've done a couple.
Click here to see more.
Let me know if you try it, and how it goes!
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Friday, May 28, 2010
It and the Battle of Britain are iconic events of WWII for Britain, but especially Dunkirk, because of the participation of ordinary people. It forms the background for an episode in the excellent Foyle's War, and also Paul Gallico's novel, The Snow Goose.
BBC recently did a play of this book. You can hear it here.
Friday, May 21, 2010
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Monday, May 17, 2010
Saturday, May 08, 2010
There's a great collection of old postcards and photos of the Darlington area on this website.
There are pictures here of Thirsk, which features in Secrets of the Night. At left is a photo of mine of The Three Tuns, in which some scenes are set.
There are some more in the middle of this page, though I note that the picture of The Three Tuns isn't working. Have to fix that.
This page is particularly interesting. It compares modern pictures with old photographs.
Darlington isn't that far from here, and my husband's family lived in Middlesbrough, not far away, after moving from rural Yorkshire in the Beverley area to get jobs in industry. Part of my MIP, An Unlikely Countess, is set in Darlington, which is how I found this site in the first place.
Sunday, May 02, 2010
As a reminder, I have a page on my web site giving a simple overview of peerage titles for the romance writer.
There are a number of other articles. Click here for the menu.
The picture is of a backboard, if you've ever wondered what they were. It has a heart-shaped flat piece at the back, and by holding it on this way, the posture was perfected, in theory at least.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Ships accounts/stores from the 18th century.
Some of it might take some interpretation, though. The transcript of one sheet is:
Account of Stores for the Brigg Saley
logg Real & lines Doppy lad & line
long & short mesures Lantorns & funels
3 hand pumps Hamer & Nales & lether
granes & Harpons fishing hooks & lines pames
Nedles & twine glases minuet and 1/2 Dozen Half
our glases Spike Nales of Defront Sises
gimblets lades & tormanters one or too hatchets
a Sarwing malet woding Boles Knifes
forkes & Spunes a Cabine table Candles
& oyl Pots for the Long Bots Padlocks
Scales & wates a pare of Small Stilards
Corking iorns and Serapors hand Spikes
Seedor Pales Lime for the Cumboos
Minuet I assume is minute, and the glasses for measuring time. Tormanters? Serapors?
Cumboos? We could people a fantasy novel with them. "Tho Tormanters are coming! Invoke the serapors. Arm the cumboos!"
Another document is the articles, ie the agreement before sailing, which lists the men and the money they're paid before sailing, and the pay per month. It seems pretty good for the time. The carpenter, for example, Abraham Hawkins, is paid 148 pounds advance, then 50 pounds a month if I read it right. Or perhaps it was an either or.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
(Also came across this interesting chronology of events, which mostly seem to be industrial.
This is an article on the book, and I wish the book itself were available on line as it would be a wonderful resource for daily cost of living. I'm currently gathering data on cost of living for the poorer folk in the mid 18th century for my MIP, An Unlikely Countess.The article is from the '50s. Where is the book now?
(The cover is of the UK edition of Tempting Fortune, out on March 22nd, and shows Portia about to be auctioned off in a brothel for a great deal of money. It's unavailable in the US at the moment, but if you want a copy you can get it from The Book Depository in the UK, which ships free around the world. Great deal!)
Items of interest.
"In the same year Morgan rents a tenement called Gwaintre beddau [Laugharne ?] for £9 from Anne Parry whose receipt is a very shaky 'A'. " Was this an annual rent? It seems low for that, but without more detail it's hard to tell.
There's more clarity on the cost of a maidservant. "In 1761 he paid his servant maid Susan Hanmer £1.15s.0d per annum, had her shoes mended for a shilling and bought a silk hat for 4s.4d. Other purchases included a cotton gown, handkerchiefs, whale bone and even a pair of garters." So the wage was truly on top of all expenses.
Unless there's something else going on here. That silk hat is suspect. But we'll probably never know.
There are some clear lists, such as this.
- Seven cane chairs £0.17s.6d
- One Brass Pan £1.6s.7d
- Five Pewter Dishes £0.8s.4d
- Twelve Pewter Plates £0.11s.0d
- Two brass candlesticks £0.3s.9d
- Two Iron Pots £0.6s.0d
- Two small casks £0.2s.0d
Thursday, March 04, 2010
A sinecure is a job that provides income without requiring much if any work, and they were a common source of income for the upper classes in the past. Usually, someone else was hired to do any necessary work at a much lower income.
Groom of Stole and Mistress of Robes
Hamilton had £500 as Groom of Stole and £400 as Mistress of Robes and possibly also £400 as Lady of Bedchamber. Middlesex was apparently only Mistress of Robes.
Hamilton, Lady Jane WS 12 July 1736 (Add. MS 24397 f. 90v). Res. offices of Groom of Stole and Mistress of Robes by 6 June 1745 when granted pension of £1200
Middlesex, Grace Countess of WS as Mistress of Robes 24 June 1747
900 pounds a year was a lot of money back then.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Saturday, February 06, 2010
My guest at Word Wenches last Wednesday was the wonderful author Stephanie Laurens, whose latest book is Elusive Bride, in her Black Cobra series.
We Wenches like to give our guests virtual gifts as that allows us unstinting generosity.
As Stephanie loves to write about military men I thought of this, and the easiest place to display in on the web is here. It's a little bit out of her time frame, but it would look wonderful in her Australian home.
A magnificent suit of 16th century armour.
I hope you never need to don it, Stephanie!
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Monday, January 11, 2010
Title Abstract of Inquests delivered at York Lent Assizes (Aug 1755-Mar 1756)
Description Contains details of places taken at, times when, dead bodies and verdicts as follows:
1) Latham, 2 Aug 1755, Henry Stubbins, accidently killed by a fall from a waggon
2) Cottonworth [Cottingwith], 2 Aug 1755, Peter Wilson, killed by a waggon wheel
3) Broomfleet, 16 Sep 1755, a person unknown, cast up by the River Humber
4) Routon, 23 Sep 1755, Thomas Dails, killed by a wain wheel
5) Hotham, William Akester, killed by a fall from a waggon by accidents
6) Bridlington, 10 Sep 1755, John Webster, killed by the stroke of a horse
7) Everingham, 2 Nov 1755, Francis Rushton, by accidents fell into the boyling copper
8) Loftsam Firry, 7 Nov 1755, Peter Sergison, drowned by accidents
9) Winteringham, 8 Dec 1755, Richard Hardy, found dead in a hemp pitt
10) Water, 11 Dec 1755, William Smith, killed by a fall from a waggon
11) Scampston, 23 Dec 1755, Jo'n Beilby found dead by the Act of Providence
12) Wellwick, 29 Dec 1755, Robert Hunter, shot himself
13) Muston, 13 Jan 1756, a female bastard child, murdered and buried
14) Bridlington, 26 Jan 1755, Mathew Griffin, drowned by accidents
15) Milestone house from Hull, 8 Mar 1756, William Abblett, infant, drowned
16) South Cave, 25 Mar 1756, Robert Story, killed by accidents
Yes, it's active writing and research time, so there'll probably be more posts coming through here. Today it's Yorkshire dialect, which led me to this page, which has lots of good material. It also cites this song by Steel Eye Span, which I remember fondly.
This ean night, this ean night
Every night and awle
Fire and Fleet and candle-leet
And Christ receive thy Sawle
When thou from hence dost pass away
Every night and awle
To Whinney-moor thou comest at last
And Christ receive thy Sawle
Saturday, January 09, 2010
Safety through eye make-up?
Yes, it seems that heavy Egyptian eye-liner might have guarded against eye disease.
The image is from this page about Neferiti
Perhaps that's why the lady on Chalice of Roses is wearing eye-liner, too. Back in the 12th century? Assuming she's Gledys of Rosewell, from my story.
Check out our page for Chalice of Roses. It's on sale now.
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