A time-honored English tradition, dating back hundreds of years, is the House Party. In England, house parties served multiple purposes: the gathering of friends; an informal setting in which to discuss politics and possibly sway a member of Parliament; showing off one’s wealth to friends or anyone else the host is trying to impress; and it also could provide a last-ditch effort to help a young lady secure a marriage proposal if her Season had failed to produce such a coveted event—a hostess could easily bring the hopeful young lady in contact with the gentleman of choice and provide a variety of activities to show her best side.
Guests during the Regency enjoyed a simple buffet breakfast whenever they arrived in the dining room which included eggs, fruits, toast, ham, pastries and jam. They drank tea, coffee, chocolate (which was hot and bitter like coffee). Men might also drink beer or a cherry brandy were the drink of choice. Some hostess served luncheon but this was a new tradition during the Regency. Some old-fashioned folk held to breakfast, dinner and supper. Luncheons could be informal meals in the dining room or picnics al Fresca, or they could be as formal as dinner. Afternoon tea always appeared, of course, and dinner was always formal, requiring a change into formal wear. Of course, for the ladies, every activity or meal seemed to have its own dress code and often a chair of hairstyle as well.
|John_Wootton's "A Fox Hunt"|
Activities at a house party during the day usually involved the men hunting or shooting (depending on the season), the fox hunt, and billiards. Alas, the ladies usually got stuck inside much of the day visiting, writing letters, and other tame activities. Sometimes, they went outside for walks or carriage rides, or they watched the men plays sports and even joined in on croquet, lawn tennis, and lawn bowling. Indoor games that involved both sexes included word games, charades, musicales, dances and card games. Baccarat gained popularity because the Prince of Wales loved this card game, which was illegal. “Prinny” reportedly provided his own set of counters so he’d be prepared for an on-the-spot game. Eventually bridge took Baccarat’s place in popularity.