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Friday, May 12, 2017

Spring in Regency England and the Social Season

In the Pacific Northwest where I live, it's spring! Everywhere I look, something is in bloom. Every shrub, tree, and bulb has burst out in full color. It's magical!

Spring in Regency England meant not only flowers, but, more importantly, the Social Season. Usually a week or two after Easter, families in the upper classes headed to London to enjoy the biggest parties, soirees, and balls of the year. Many mamas went to find husbands for their daughters of marriageable age.

The Season began as a way of providing entertainment for families of those who served in Parliament. Regina Scott has a comprehensive list of when Parliament was in session, which varied from year to year. You can find that here. Parliament usually opened in February however, generally the Season only ran from ran from a few days after Easter until mid June or July when Parliament was no longer in session. This was because travel in Spring could be lengthy and difficult, and though men and women were in town when Parliament opened in February or when the Queen celebrated her birthday, they usually went home before Easter in time for Lent and to enjoy local and family Easter traditions. 

During Lent, they didn't hold balls and dances but did have dinners and routs and other entertainment.  Theatres had a abridged schedule and many oratorios and concerts were held.

Many did not come to London until after the Season began. Daughters didn't usually come up to London before Easter unless she had been out for awhile and had made her curtsy to the Queen. The week after Easter, the gentry and aristocracy came into town en masse.  There was no formal opening for the Season; it began when the first invitations went out. There were often three or four activities an evening so lots of people party hopped.

A number of ladies and gentlemen made matches during and after the Season, and was the goal of most mamas and their daughters. But for me, I will just enjoy the flowers and write about my heroines enjoying (or not) their social Season.

What do you enjoy most about Spring?

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