Search This Blog

Friday, September 14, 2018

Autumn, Fall, Feast of Mabon.


by Donna Hatch
www.donnahatch.com

Though signs of autumn are already starting in many parts of the US, September 23, 2018 is officially the first day of Autumn, or "fall" as we Americans call it.

Long ago, when the air cooled and the leaves turned gorgeous shades of gold, red and burgundy, people did more than don sweaters, switch their clothing to darker colors, and decorate their homes with autumn leaves and pumpkins.

Anciently, the Autumn Equinox or Harvest Home was called Mabon, pronounced 'MAY-bon', after a Welsh god called Mabon ap Modron which literally means 'son of mother.'

One Mabon Celtic ritual was taking the last sheaf of corn harvested and dressing it in fine clothes, or weaving it into a wicker-like man or woman. Apparently, they believed the sun was trapped in the corn and needed to be set free. So they burned it and spread the ashes on their fields.

Mabon is also known as the Feast of Avalon, derived from the word Avalon which means 'the land of the apples'.  It was also traditional at Mabon to honor the dead by placing apples on burial cairns as a symbolism of rebirth. It was also a way for the living to anticipate being reunited with their loved ones who had passed on.

Many people often associate autumn with being melancholy and facing the end of the liveliness of summer and the beginning of the bleakness of winter. Grey skies cause many people to retreat, both physically and mentally. Autumn is the time of year when the celebrated English poet, John Keats, wrote his most acclaimed poem, "To Autumn" which has a distinctly melancholy beauty.

The ancient Celtics, however, used this time to reflect on the past year as well as celebrate nature's bounty by having a feast and a celebration. I imagine those were the roots for the Thanksgiving feast that Americans celebrate.

In my novella, Unmasking the Duke, I chose an autumn setting to add color to the story, but also to give it a dimension of a wistful longing. Don't worry, like all my romances, this has a swoony happily ever after ending!

Unmasking the Duke
The last thing Hannah Palmer wants to do is flirt with men in a crowded ballroom, but when her sister, the Countess of Tarrington, throws a Masquerade Ball, Hannah can’t say no to the invitation. Taking comfort behind her disguise, she dances with a charming masked gentleman, matching him wit for wit. When the glorious evening culminates in a kiss, and the two remove their masks, Hannah is horrified to discover she’s been flirting with all night with her most despised neighbor, the Duke of Suttenberg. No matter how charming the duke was at the ball, and how wonderful the kiss, he is the last man she could ever love.

Unmasking the Duke is available in ebook and paperback

Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Men's fashions in the 1800's

There have been several blogs that talk about how to dress Regency women or Victorian women, but there aren't many blogs about how to dress a man in the 1800's, so I decided to give it a try from the research I've done over the years.

Last month my blog was about writing a Pinkerton Detective Agency story, and I'd mentioned how this story was about a woman agent. During my research, I also found how my hero is supposed to look in America, 1871. I've always enjoyed historical movies - mainly to see the clothes the men and women wear - but I'll admit, I enjoy seeing a sharply-dressed man just as much as a beautiful ball gown worn by a woman.

The late 1800's had the men changing their appearance from top hats and cravats and breeches, which was what they wore in the early 1800's.  So let's do a little comparison to see how the years changed the fashion.


Hats
Early 1800's - the tall, elegant style of hats expressed a look of wealth and decorum.

Late 1800's - the top hat shrunk a little, and they became rounder and more square. Wool caps were even making their grand appearance, and a lot of men thought this was a great fashion trend. Men were rarely seen without a hat, because - just as in the early 1800's - wearing a hat somehow turned them into a true gentleman.


YUM-ME, right? Regency guy
Coats vs Suits
Early 1800's - men's coats were tailored to fit the gentleman. They were mostly solid colors and had padded shoulders to help make the man's waist slimmer. (can you believe it??)

Late 1800's - the suits were a big fashion hit with the men in those days. There were many different styles, which were worn during different times of that day (pretty much like a woman's gown). These suits added a variety of colored fabrics, fancy stitching, and the fashion even dared to use stripes or plaid. The suits were more colorful, as well, which of course made them more appealing. Combined with the standing collared white shirt and necktie (instead of a cravat), and decorative sewn vests, women found that men were more attractive and confident in their new fancy duds.


Hubba-Hubba - Regency man
Trousers
From what I could tell, there weren't a lot of differences in the way trousers had changed throughout the years. Some had button flaps on the front, some only had one button to fasten the flaps together to keep the family jewels discreetly hidden. But from the pictures I'd found, trousers seemed to become more relaxed in the later 1800's. Men didn't wear them so tight that they could be confused for the French acrobatic leotard (created in the late 1830's). Pinstriped trousers became more popular, as well.


Undergarments
Sadly enough, men kept the same undergarments throughout the 1800's, and into the early 1900's. They wore tight-fitting, knee-length flannel drawers, also called breeches and pantaloons. During the US Civil War, men wore union-suits - a one-piece, long undergarment that was long-sleeved and long-legged. Let's just hope they wore these during the cold winters because they'd cook to death during the summer!

Now that you know the difference, I bet you'll be watching those historical movies a little closer now, right? I remember when I first learned about everything a woman had to wear back in those days, but now... <groans>  Those poor men!

By the way... my favorite website to find these awesome historical clothing and very fine models is Period Images. Permission was given to use these watermarked pics.

Author’s Bio

Marie Higgins is an award-winning, best-selling author of clean romance novels; from refined bad-boy heroes who make your heart melt, to the feisty heroines who somehow manage to love them regardless of their faults. She has 51 heartwarming on-the-edge-of-your-seat stories and has broadened her readership by writing mystery/suspense, humor, time-travel, paranormal, along with her love for historical romance. Her readers have dubbed her "Queen of Tease" because of all her twists and unexpected endings.


Phone reading apps -   https://www.ficfun.com  AND  https://www.dreame.com



References:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_suit
https://www.historicalemporium.com/mens-late-victorian-clothing.php
https://www.historicalemporium.com/mens-regency-era-clothing.php

Friday, September 7, 2018

Regency School For Girls

Embed from Getty Images 

I love the Regency era, and the majority of my writing takes place in the age the BBC has blessed us with via their incredible period pieces. As much as I've studied those few years in the greater Georgian period, I always have more questions. Lately, I've been studying up on how children were educated.

In Persuasion, we know that the younger Musgroves all go to school. We also find out the both the Bingley sisters attended school - presumably gaining their many "accomplishments." Did you know that Jane Austen was sent away to school for the first time when she was seven years old? She was sent to a different school not long after, and then brought home and never sent away again. Her father also took in young boys as boarders and educated them.

Boarding schools for girls were called Ladies' Seminaries. They were usually run by single women. Advertisements for these schools appeared at the beginning of each year, in January, in all the papers. Usually these ads would be prefaced by rather flowery expressions of gratitude. For instance, in the Bristol Mirror, January 8th, 1820:

The Misses Hewlett beg leave to offer their most respectful acknowledgements to those Friends who have already entrusted them with the Education of their Daughters.

And just beneath that advertisement, another:

Mrs. Emblin presents her warmest acknowledgements to her Friends, for the confidence with which she has been honoured so many years past; and begs leave, most respectfully, to assure them and the Public, that, with able Assistants, she will spare no effort in the conscientious discharge of her duty....

Mostly these announcements served to tell families when school would recommence.

What were these young ladies actually learning? In the Stamford Mercury, in August 1820, a teacher was sought who "must be capable of assisting to teach Drawing, and understand all kinds of Needle Work."

French was also a common subject, with "natural speakers" highly sought after. French, drawing, needlework "fancy and plain," reading, writing, and etiquette were commonly taught. Occasionally, schools would employ outside "masters" to teach other accomplishments, such as dancing and playing the pianoforte.

Boarding School attended by Jane and Cassandra Austen

I found several delightful articles about the education of women in that time period as well as how it's portrayed in Austen's books.

For further reading:
Education of Upper-Class Women in Regency Era
The Education of Young Men and Women in the Regency 
The Regency Boarding School - 1816
The Education of Girls in Jane Austen's England
19th Century Learning Academies and Boarding Schools: An Eyewitness Account

____________________

Sally Britton is a writer of Sweet Historical Romances, specializing in the Regency period. Her most recent title is The Earl and His Lady, a second-chance romance available on Amazon.com. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

The Bisterne Dragon

While I was writing a Christmas novella, I had the need for my hero and heroine to go on an outing out in the countryside, to some famous local place they could ride to on horseback. Research turned up the rather fun legend of the Bisterne Dragon, a piece of folklore from the New Forest near Lyndhurst, which is the place where the dragon was buried. A perfect outing for a hero to take his heroine. I thought I’d share it with you.

As the legend goes, long ago a “devouring dragon” had settled into a lair in the New Forest near Burley Beacon, at the village of Burley. The dragon would fly each morning to the village of Bisterne to terrorize the villagers and exact his payment of milk (thought sometimes listed as a maiden). The villagers appeal to the Lord of the Manor to save them.

The lord is usually given as Sir Maurice de Berkeley (or Sir Moris Barkly) “beinge a man of great strength and courage” who tried three times to slay the dragon. The first two attempts failed, but on the third attempt, he took his two dogs with him, Grim and Holdfast, sometimes said to be mastiffs. For their valor, the dogs are memorialized at Berkeley Manor, being carved onto the wings above the manor house. Sir Maurice constructed a hide on what is still called Dragon Field, near Lower Bisterne Farm. The knight also coats his armor with birdlime and shards of glass to injure the dragon if he grabs or bites him.

This third battle rages all around the New Forest, finishing up outside the village of Lyndhurst, where Sir Maurice managed to kill the dragon, whose body becomes a hill called Bolton’s Bench. In the process of vanquishing the dragon, the two dogs are killed and are buried on the hill.
Although not wounded physically, Sir Maurice does not escape unscathed. For thirty days and nights he cannot eat nor sleep, his mental faculties shattered by the battle with the dragon, and at the end of that time he returns to Bolton’s Bench and dies. From his body, and those of his dogs, there grow three yew trees that may be seen on the hill to this day.

I found this tale to be charming and utterly fascinating and my hero and heroine in my upcoming Christmas novella, A Match Made at Christmas, had a wonderful time talking about the legend and exploring Bolton’s Bench.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Regency Servants


by guest blogger, Arietta Richmond
In my books, I strive for good historical accuracy (allowing for a little artistic license here and there), and one of the challenges at the start was making sure that I got the names of things right--things that don’t really exist today.  One of the things is the plethora of servant roles. 

What were all those servants called????


Any story set in the Regency period will, of necessity, feature lots of servants – because the nobility / aristocracy of the time had huge numbers of servants.  Having servants was not simply ostentation – it was actually a requirement of having a title or a lot of wealth – all of those servant roles were the main employment of the era – it was a wealthy person’s responsibility to keeping the economy of the country afloat, to employ as many people as possible.

But from our point of view toady, it seems a bit overwhelming, and confusing – who did what? What were the names of each of those roles? (and note – names of things back then did not have to be politically correct – they were gendered, and to the point.)

So – here is a glossary of servant roles in the Regency period.

In the house


Butler


The senior servant in the house, responsible for oversight of all other male servants (except in some cases, where a Lord might have a steward who was responsible for all of their estates, in which case the Butler also answered to the Steward, as the Butler was only for a single house). Butlers also were not necessarily responsible for managing tutors, who might come in each day just to teach.  Responsible for making everything run smoothly, for the security of the silverware and other valuables, and for the quality of service.

Housekeeper


The senior female servant in the House, responsible for oversight of all other female staff (except for the Companion or Governess, if there is one). Responsible for ensuring that the linens, draperies etc are maintained in good order, that the rooms are cleaned as needed, that the items needed for the kitchens (as specified by the Cook) are available, and that the female servants are cared for and protected from abuse.

Cook / Chef


Responsible for the kitchen for that establishment. Manages the scullery maids and any kitchen boys. Responsible for food ordering, and for planning menus, in consultation with the mistress of the house and the housekeeper. Also manages the storage of food and avoids waste.  In a big house, there may be second cooks, who answer to the senior cook.

Scullery maids


Work in the kitchen, under the Cook’s direction. Scrub benches, tables, pots and keep things clean, also may be called upon to cut up food and help with other prep work.

Kitchen Boys


Do the dirty work in the kitchens – keep the fires going, cart coal or wood, cart away the rubbish, take the food scraps out to the compost heap. Turn the spit if there is a spit to cook whole animals, carry water where there is no running water.

House maids


Responsible for keeping the house clean and tidy. Each maid will be allocated certain rooms to keep clean – dust and mess free, with everything in its place, and making sure that there is always coal in the coal scuttle beside each fire place, ready to go. The larger the house, and the wealthier the owner, the smaller number of rooms that each maid will likely have to look after, and the more maids there will be.

Ladies maids


Generally, each lady living in the house would have a dedicated Lady’s maid, to help her dress, to do her hair, and generally to look after her in any way that was needed.  Sometimes, two sisters might share a maid. The maid was expected to have sewing / clothing repair skills, cleaning skills, hairdressing skills, skill with cosmetics and more.

The Lady’s maid was the top of the hierarchy of maids, with greater privileges, including often receiving her mistresses cast off dresses – which, even when they were ‘too old and unfashionable’ for the Lady, could easily be reworked into higher quality dresses than the maid might ever have otherwise.

Footmen


Footmen were the ubiquitous method of getting anything done.  They might be tasked with staying in the foyer, ready to open the door, or might each have a section of the house where they simply waited in the halls, ready to run errands or do whatever was needed.  There was a hierarchy here as well – some tasks were more desirable than others. Footmen might also accompany a lady when she went shopping, ready to carry her parcels. Pretty much any time that someone pulled the bell rope to summon a servant to get something done, the one who answered was a footman, even if the task then required action by someone else.

Nanny


If the household had young children, there was usually a nanny. The Nanny was the senior childcare servant and might have nursery maids to help her – the more children, the more nursery maids. The nanny was also usually responsible for the children’s first, very basic, education – in manners, and in simple reading and numbers.

Nursery maid


Nursery maids did the tedious bits of childcare – from changing nappies, to being the one up at all hours of the night, to providing entertainment for teething children. They took children out for walks in the park (note, early baby carriages barely existed yet, so often they carried the children), and amused the children. They also had to deal with washing all of those nappies….

Valet


The Valet, like the Lady’s maid, was a role with status.  The valet was the gentleman’s personal servant, responsible for helping him dress, caring for his clothes, shaving him, polishing his boots and more.  A good valet could tie a perfect cravat in multiple styles and could dress a man’s hair in the fashion of the day. He was also likely to receive the gentleman’s cast off clothes, and was expected to be very discreet about the gentleman’s day to day affairs, which he was almost always aware of.

Governess


A Governess was employed to teach younger children – usually girls, but sometimes also very young boys. A Governess was an odd position, hallway between a normal servant, and a gently born lady. Often, women of the upper classes, whose families had fallen on hard times, would take employment as a governess. It was regarded as one of the only acceptable roles for a well born lady, if she had to work. The governess taught young girls manners, ladylike skills (painting, music, singing, dancing, languages and more) and prepared them for their role in society.

Companion


A Companion was employed to keep an older woman, or a single woman, company – this provided a layer of propriety, as well as giving an older widow (for example) someone to talk to, in their daily life. Companions, like governesses, were in that grey area between servant and the nobly born. They were often from good families fallen on hard times, or they were distant cousins from the poor side of the family.

Tutor


A Tutor was employed to teach boys, before they reached the age where they were sent off to boarding schools. The Tutor taught languages, maths, science and potentially other subjects which were regarded as suitable for boys. Like governesses, tutors might be of gentle birth, but from a poorer family, but they might also be from a commoner family, but be  a man who had done well for himself and become learned. They might live with the family, or come in each day to teach, and live elsewhere.

In the stables / outside the house


Stable master


The Stable master was responsible for all staff based in the stable area. He was also responsible for ensuring that the horses, carriages and equipment were maintained in excellent condition. He was responsible for ordering feed supplies and making certain that the quality received was good.

Groom


A groom looks after horses.  That means ensuring that they are fed and watered correctly, that they are groomed (brushed, washed if needed etc), that they are shod (the groom takes them to the farrier, who, in a small town, may also be the blacksmith), that their feet are cleaned out and kept in good condition, that they are brought to wherever the owner needs them, that they are walked to cool down after working and more.  Each groom may be responsible for one or more horses, depending on the scale of the establishment.  Grooms also rode and were responsible for keeping the horses exercised if the owner did not use them often. (A horse not exercise becomes bored, and often then fractious when next ridden). When ladies went out for a ride, a groom would accompany them – for propriety, and to help them if needed.  Many women could not mount up onto a sidesaddle without a mounting bloc or a hand up from a groom.

Stablehands


Stablehands did the dirty work of the stables (although the worst of it was often left to the stableboys, if there were any working there.).  This includes cleaning out the stalls, carting the manure away to the manure pile, laying fresh straw, hauling large amounts of hay in and out of the hayloft, lugging bags of grain about, cleaning harness, saddles etc, washing saddlecloths and horse rugs, cleaning and polishing carriages and generally helping to get everything done. They rarely, if ever, rode.

Stableboys


Stableboys were the bottom of the pecking order in the stables.  They were usually young, and hoping to move up over time (a bit like an apprenticeship). They got the worst jobs of the lots – whatever the grooms and stablehands didn’t want to do. They were the ones who got to stand out in the cold, waiting for the master to come home, so that they could be there to take his horse, they got to shovel the manure pile onto the waste cart when it came to collect it, and to be up first in the cold winter mornings, to break the ice on water troughs etc.

Tiger


A Tiger was a young boy, fairly small, who went with the Lord when he was using a carriage which he drove himself.  The boy travelled on a small step or seat on the rear of the carriage and was therefore available when the Lord stopped somewhere to jump down and hold the horses. Tigers often learnt to drive the carriages, so that they could move them if needed while the owner was off doing whatever he had come to do.

Coachman


The coachman drove the carriages. This was a well respected position, requiring considerable skill, especially for the larger vehicles.  If a family was wealthy, they might have many carriages, and a number of coachmen, one of whom would be the senior one and who would manage the others. The coachman was responsible for ensuring that the coaches were well maintained and that the carriage horses were well cared for by the other stable staff.

Studmaster


If the Lord chose to breed horses, he would have a Studmaster, who was responsible for all breeding related activities on the Lord’s estates. This included choosing horses to buy, choosing which mares to breed to which stallion, overseeing the breaking to saddle of the horses, overseeing the choice of which foals to sell and which to keep and more.

Farrier


A farrier specialises in making horse shoes and fitting them to horses, as well as in the science of trimming and shaping the horses hoof so that the horse is comfortable, and his stride is also smoother for the rider. Farriers also often dealt with the necessary horse dentistry. In small towns, the blacksmith might also be the farrier. In a larger town they would be separate.  A lord with a very large estate and lots of horses might employ his own farrier.

Estate manager


A Lord might have an estate manager, who managed a single country estate for him. Occasionally, the estate manager might manage more than one property, but generally the steward did that, overseeing estate managers on each location. The estate manager was responsible for ensuring that the property was well run, the tenants cottages well cared for, the farms well run, and the harvests profitable.

Gardener


Every estate or house (even London townhouses which had smallish gardens) had at least one gardener, usually more. The gardeners not only cared for the formal gardens of ‘pretty flowers’ but they cared for the kitchen gardens, which provided much of the fresh produce used by each household, and for the herb and scent gardens, which provided the herbs for cooking, healing and providing pleasant scents (like lavender to put in a lady’s dressing room, to keep her clothes smelling good). There was a hierarchy of gardeners – a head gardener, and others that he managed.

Groundsman


A Groundsman had a wider remit than a gardener. He might also be responsible (mainly on country estates) for the state of the gravel on the driveway, the state of fences, of gates and of other structures, as well as coordinating any forestry activity required.

Gatekeeper


On large country estates, the driveway might be long – often, a small cottage was built near the gate, and a gatekeeper employed to live there, and open and close the gates as required.

Elsewhere


Jarvey


Jarvey was a term for a man who drove a hackney cab. It was also sometimes used to indicate any coachman who drove a hired coach.

Doorman


A Doorman was a servant employed at establishments such as gentleman’s clubs, to mind the door, welcome approved guests, and turn away those not welcome.

Usher


An Usher was a role performed at large functions, where there were many guests (such as at a large Ball). There might be a person employed just for that, but it was more likely that a footman was appointed to the task for the event. The Usher announced the guests to the people already present, as they entered the room.

Messenger boy


Messengers were everywhere. With no telephones, and no way to communicate other then in writing, huge numbers of short letters were sent every day. Within cities, there were children who earned their living delivering messages for people of all stations.  Whilst an aristocratic family might send one of their own footmen with a message, others had no choice but to use whatever messenger boy they could find, lurking about in hope of work.

Crossing sweeper


Because of the literally hundreds of thousands of horses in London (carriages, ridden, pulling delivery carts etc etc), the streets were perpetually littered with manure, among other rubbish. In areas where the wealthy went to shop, or go to the theatre etc, there were enterprising urchins who made brooms out of straw and sticks, and who swept the road in front of the pedestrians, in exchange for a coin. This allowed the wealthy to keep their shoes and hems clean. In winter, when there was snow, the snow rapidly became filthy, and crossing sweepers did a good trade.

Steward


The Steward was a very high ranking man within the Lord’s employ. He managed all of the Lord’s estates as an entity, making sure that the Lord’s holdings were profitable overall, and that resources were used where needed, to balance out any issues that might occur in a single location. He generally worked closely with the Lord’s man of business.

Man of Business


The Lord’s man of business was similar to your family Solicitor or Lawyer today. He kept legal records for the Lord, assisted with investment and banking, drew up contracts, dealt with any legal issues and more. He was usually very trusted and had the deepest knowledge of the actual state of the Lord’s accounts.

Modiste


Modistes were the highly expensive upper-class version of a seamstress – the equivalent of French haute couture brands today. Generally, they ran a business, and created gowns for multiple clients (gentleman’s outfitters were a separate thing). Occasionally, a wealthy lady might employ a modiste exclusively, but that was rare.

Names never to be used


Groomsman


This is not a job title from the era! It is a male attendant at a twentieth century or later wedding, but has nothing to do with Regency (or horses).

Attendant


This is a modern, gender neutral term that we use for people performing service roles at events etc now. It is not a term that was ever used in that way in the Regency era. Job roles then were very gendered, and this was not a term used in that way.

Servant


This is not a specific job role. Servant is a generic term for anyone in service. So using it to describe a person in a Lord’s household tells you nothing about what they do – use the specific terms instead.

I hope that you found that interesting (and useful).  If you’d like to try my books, my latest release is ‘Betting on a Lady’s Heart’, Book 14 in the His Majesty’s Hounds Series (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GJMLBM8/ ) and you can find out about all of my books on my amazon author page (https://www.amazon.com/Arietta-Richmond/e/B016GG1KJ6/ ) and on my website (https://www.ariettarichmond.com )


A Viscount who gambles, a wealthy merchant’s daughter, an Earl in need of funds, an unhappy stepmother, betrayals and deceptions, a love that overcomes all.

***** FREE ON KIND:E UNLIMITED*****


Tuesday, August 21, 2018

A Book of Hours

While researching the early sixteenth century in England for my novel, Fire of the Word, I discovered an intriguing Medieval devotional book, called “The Book of Hours.” These books were usually written in Latin and beautifully illuminated with pictures depicting various Biblical scenes. They were made to be used by lay people who wished to incorporate the worship of the monks and nuns cloistered away from the world, and included psalms and prayers and biblical texts from the four Gospels about Christ. They were intended to be used for spiritual devotion at various times of the day. The books also included other things, like a calendar of feasts and saints days. 
Books were extremely rare during that time period, and a Book of Hours might be the only book in the house. It could be used to teach children to read. They could be commissioned and personalized for a particular owner, or also purchased, with extra pages to include items that had special meaning. Large margins enabled the owner to write notes, or keep personal records of major life events such as marriages, births and deaths. The books could even be added to over time.With the arrival of the printing press in the late 1400’s, more and more people could own a Book of Hours. After that, only the wealthy commissioned the custom-made books that might even include their own portraits.

This Book of Hours was owned by Anne Boleyn. Her book was highly personalized, and one can get a sense of the things that she valued by viewing it. Interestingly, it even contained hand-written messages exchanged between Anne and Henry VIII. Writing in Latin at the bottom of a page depicting the passion of Christ, Henry wrote to Anne: “If you remember my love in your prayers as strongly as I adore you, I shall hardly be forgotten, for I am yours. Henry R. Forever.”
At the bottom of the page showing the Annunciation, Anne wrote to Henry: “Be daily prove ye shall find me to be to you both loving and kind.”
These books remind me of our modern journals. I wondered about the process of making these books. Who were the individuals who so painstakingly wrote the words with a quill pen made from the feathers of a goose or a swan? What hand drew the outline of the artwork, applying the gold leaf that made the illuminations sparkle and glow, and then applied the rich colors of the tempura paint? Surely it was done out of great devotion and love. These precious books became family treasures, often given as gifts and passed to posterity.




About the Author:
Carol Pratt Bradley is a historical novelist with an MFA in Creative Writing from Brigham Young University. She has three novels from WiDo Publishing:

Light of the Candle 2015
Fire of the Word 2016
Waiting for the Light 2017

Available on Amazon and WiDo Publishing's website
www.carolpbradley.com



Friday, August 10, 2018

Regency Mourning Practices

by Donna Hatch

Mourning customs in the Regency Era were less rigid than in the Victorian Era. Excessively strict mourning rules we often encounter in historical novels came into practice after Queen Victoria’s beloved husband died -- she wouldn’t give up her black mourning clothes and turned mourning into a firmly followed rule of propriety. Her subjects used her example to springboard their own mourning customs. Keep in mind that these are not LAWS for mourning. Any display of mourning was done at a family's or person’s discretion. However, there were social norms, that, if not followed, might raise some eyebrows.

In the excellent book, The Rise of the Egalitarian Family, Trumbach gives the following data for mourning periods:
12 months for a husband or wife
6 months for parents or parents in-law
3 months for a sister or brother, uncle or aunt
6 weeks for a sister-in-law or uncle or aunt (no explanation for the duplication here so perhaps it had to do with the closeness or lack of same
3 weeks - uncle or aunt, aunt who remarried, first cousin
2 weeks - first cousin (and whether they were close or not?)
1 week - first and second cousin, and husband or stepmother’s sister.

Trumbach says there was usually a designated female who kept up the family tree and ordained the degree of mourning required for the dearly (or not so dearly) departed.

Bombazine and crepe were typical fabrics used for clothing of deep mourning. Crepe was a lightweight black silk, while bombazine was a medium-weight silk and wool blend. Over time, shinier fabrics emerged for appropriate evening wear while in mourning. The less wealthy simply took apart their clothes, dyed them black, then re-sewed them.

Mourning--or lack hereof--could also be used as an opportunity to get back at someone you disliked by cutting down on the time or style of one’s mourning.

Customarily, the widow would be in black for the first six months, and then in half mourning for the next six months. White, grey, and even lavender were suitable for half mourning. Again these are ideals, and not everyone observed them. Ackermann’s had a half mourning dress in a 1819 issue that was all white. Lavender is not mentioned in this issue, but it was commonly accepted as an appropriate half-mourning costume. On one blog I visited, I saw mention that there were some fashions circa 1811 of someone wearing scarlet for mourning, but "scarlet," is not only red in color; was also used to describe any brightly-dyed, plain-woven woolen fabric.

I found this: "February 1811 For the Promenade, cloaks in Scarlet merino or grey cloth, black velvet pelisses, lined with grey sarsenet, wrapped plain in tippets; Spanish hats in velvet, or cottage bonnets in black, grey, or scarlet cloth." I can only assume in this instance, the term means the way it was dyed, rather than the color red. 

In March 1811, La Belle Assemblee Ladies Magazine said that scarlet mantels were worn during mourning, and generally succeeded by short pelisses of purple velvet. Ladies Monthly Museum didn't have any mention of scarlet. I find it hard to believe any bright color, scarlet or otherwise, was an acceptable mourning color but who knows?

A bride would never wear mourning colors to her own wedding. A new bride was not supposed to be in mourning at all; though if her parents had recently died she might wear black or more sober clothes for a period, especially as brides were not supposed to go out socializing for a month after their wedding. Also, keep in mind that communication and travel were both slow, so the family may choose not to tell a bride on her honeymoon out of a desire not to ruin her wedded bliss, and because it was unlikely she could arrive home in a timely manner. Also remember, mourning during the Regency was an individual and family-dictated observance.

Julia Johnstone (before she was ruined and became a courtesan) had her court presentation and her debut in society not long after her father died, so clearly the world didn’t simply stop for people who were in mourning. However, while in full mourning, the family of the deceased typically avoided formal entertainment such as balls and large dinner parties. They were expected to limit social obligations to necessities and church for a period of 4 to 6 weeks.

Upon his mother’s death in 1818, the Prince of Wales announced that he intended “to wear the longest mourning that ever son did for a mother...” and he actually limited the official mourning period for the people of England to six weeks. I'm sure his mother would have been moved. Ahem.

In mourning, men wore black armbands, black gloves, and some wore black cravats. Some wore all black while in mourning. There is no mention of half mourning attire for men, however there was mention of men wearing a white band or ribband (ribbon) on their hats to mourn a young girl in the family.

In The Workwoman's Guide by A Lady (pub. 1840, long before Q. Victoria went into mourning) it says military men wore black armbands below the elbow, not above, and that affluent families put their servants in mourning etc.

When notifying relatives of death, the announcement came trimmed in black. I have also heard of the family mailing black gloves along with the announcement of death.

A hatchment or a mourning wreath would be suspended over the front door of a deceased person's house for 6 to 12 months, after which it was moved to inside the parish church. The last recorded use of a hatchment I found was hung in a London street in 1928.

Widows were not supposed to dance or to go to the more frivolous and silly plays while wearing mourning. They were also not supposed to marry until a year had passed (to see if she were expecting the child of her former husband) to end any doubt about the identity of child’s father if she were found to be increasing. However, many did remarry prior to the year mark. This could cause a brief scandal but these were always forgotten after a time.

Widowers did not have the same reason for waiting a year to remarry, and if they had small children, widowers were forgiven and even expected to remarry soon.

There were no hard and fast rules about these things. It all depended on how the movers of society reacted. Men were criticized much less for such breach of propriety than women. What a surprise!

The length of public and court mourning was set out in a fixed manner. The Lord Chamberlain notified the Gazette as to what it would be. If anyone were invited to court during this time, they were also sent instructions as to what to wear.

I couldn’t find the official mourning proclamation for Princess Charlotte, but I did find this for the father of Queen Victoria, the Duke of Kent, who died in 1820:

Lord Chamberlain's Office, Jan. 25.
Orders for the Court's going into mourning, on Sunday next, the 30th instant, for his late royal highness the duke of Kent and Strathern, fourth son of his majesty, viz. The ladies to wear black azins, plain muslin or long lawn, crape hoods, chamois shoes and gloves, and crape fans. Undress.—Dark Norwich crape. The gentlemen to wear black cloth, without buttons on the sleeves or pockets, plain muslin or long lawn cravats and weepers, chamois shoes and gloves, crape hatbands, and black swords and buckles. Undress.—Dark gray frocks.

Herald's College, Jan. 25.
The deputy earl Marshal's order for a general mourning for his late royal highness the duke of Kent. In pursuance of the commands of his royal highness the Prince Regent, acting in the name and on the behalf of his majesty. These are to give public notice, that it is expected that upon the present melancholy occasion of the of his late royal highness Edward Duke of Kent and Strathern, fourth son of his majesty, all persons do put themselves into decent mourning, the said mourning to begin on Sunday next, the 30th instant. HENRY HOWARD - MOLYNEUX-HOWARD, Deputy Earl-Marshal.

Horse-Guards, Jan, 25. It is not required that the officers of the army should wear any other mourning on the present melancholy occasion than a black crape round their left arms with their uniforms. By command of his royal highness the commander-in-chief.
HARRY CALVERT, Adjutant-General.

Admiralty-Office, Jan. 25. His royal highness the Prince Regent does not require that the officers of his majesty's fleet or marines should wear any other mourning on the present melancholy occasion of the of his late royal highness the duke of Kent and Strathern, than a black crape round their arms with their uniforms. J. W. CHOKER

For more information on mourning clothing, I highly recommend The Jane Austen Centre.