Aug 202015

A cross-post from The Regency Redingote:

Truth, as usual, is always stranger than fiction. The machines that wove all those lovely French silks which were so often smuggled into England during the war with Napoleon did indeed provide the key to issuing commands to computers shortly after the Regency. This same method continued in use for several decades, only falling out of favor at the end of the last century.

How holes made patterned silks and talked to computers …

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May 192015

A cross-post from The Regency Redingote:

In the West Riding of Yorkshire, about four and a half miles east of the city of Leeds, stands a Jacobean-era country house which has an important link to the Regency. The house, called Temple Newsam, stands on a large estate which has a history stretching back to Roman times. A Roman road connecting Castelford with Adel ran across the property, and the mound which remains of this ancient "street" can still be seen on the north side of the estate. In the early middle ages it was on this property that the Knights Templar built a preceptory, or complex of buildings, which housed a provincial community of their order. It was this preceptory which gave Temple Newsam its name. Here the members of the community worked the land to sustain themselves and to contribute to the support of the Templars. The preceptory is now gone, as is the original manor house, built by Thomas, Baron Darcy, a nobleman beheaded by Henry VIII in 1538, when he rebelled against the dissolution of the monasteries. The property was seized by the Crown after Darcy’s death, and Henry gave it to his niece, Margaret, Countess of Lennox. Thus it became the property of the Earls of Lennox. In that same manor house was born Lord Darnley, who became the ill-fated husband of Mary Queen of Scots, and father of James I of England.

After the death of Lord Darnley, who was the eldest son of the Earl of Lennox, the property passed to his only son, King James I. In the first year of his reign in England, James granted the property to Ludovic Stewart, the second Duke of Lennox. In 1622, the Duke sold the property to Sir Arthur Ingram. In about 1630, with the exception of the part of the house which contained the room in which Lord Darnley had been born, the old manor house was mostly pulled down and rebuilt in red brick. That is the core of the Temple Newsam House which stands today. In 1661, Sir Arthur’s grandson, Henry Ingram, was created Viscount Irwin, (sometimes listed as Irvine), in the Scottish peerage, for his loyalty to King Charles I. There were nine Viscounts Irwin, the last, Charles, died in 1778, leaving five daughters, but no sons.

So, what is the Regency connection to this historic property?

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Dec 132013

As we move inexorably toward the winter months, choosing just the right accessories to keep our hands warm, snug and fashionable as we prepare for our outdoor activities is an important part of our toilet. But what about our Regency ancestors? What kinds of accessories did those ladies choose as they prepared for a walk or a drive in the frosty winter air?

In today’s article, award-winning romance author and past Beau Monde President, Regina Scott tells us about a lady’s accessory which might well have multiple purposes. How will you answer the questions she poses at the end of her article?

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Nov 232013

A cross-post from The Regency Redingote:

Though it is seldom, if ever, done today, there was a time when grand rooms in fine homes were designed so that the carpet on the floor mirrored the design painted or carved on the ceiling. This practice had begun in Europe by the mid-seventeenth century, but it reached its peak in England in the late eighteenth century. However, the practice did continue during the Regency, which is, of course, why it finds mention here.

The whys and hows of matching ceilings and carpets …

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Oct 242013

A cross-post from The Regency Redingote:

Yet again, I have come across another unique and fascinating book while browsing at my local library. A book which I think many authors of Regency novels will find quite informative. This book is about exactly what the title says it is, how to wear the costumes of days gone by. The author’s stated purpose in writing the book was to provide information for actors in movies and plays, and for readers of historical novels, to help them imagine how the characters in the book they are reading would move, based on the constraints of the clothing of the time period in which the story is set. It would seem to me that this book would also be of use to writers of historical novels, as well as to those who enjoy re-enacting historical events.

Some of the more intriguing aspects of the wearing of clothing in England in times past …

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Nov 032012

A cross-post from The Regency Redingote:

No, this is not the married version of the "pocket venus" who makes her small but mighty appearance in the occasional Regency novel. Yet both terms did have their origins in the mid-eighteenth century. However, though "pocket venus" was a term for a beautiful, curvaceous woman of small stature, the housewife to be discussed here was, and is, even today, extremely useful and can be quite lovely, but is not human at all. This small item found favor with both women and men during the Regency.

Recently, Charles Bazalgette published a brief article on his blog, Prinny’s Taylor, about an item which was supplied to the Prince of Wales’ household by his ancestor, Louis Bazalgette, who was tailor to the Prince for thirty-two years. This item, "a striped silk Housewife," is described as being filled with various sewing notions and intended for the use of the Prince’s pages. Mr. Bazalgette was not quite sure what this item actually was, and I realized that there are probably many others who might not be familiar with these "housewives," and how they were made and used during the Regency.

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Jun 272012

A cross-post from The Regency Redingote:

And why should you care? Well, it was everywhere during the Regency, and the word actually referred to more than one material, each of which could be put to a different purpose, though all were somewhat similar in appearance. The uses for shagreen ranged from carpentry to scientific instruments to high fashion.

Those living in the Regency would have known the difference, and I thought perhaps those of us who like to slip back to that decade through novels set during that time would like to share that knowledge. To avoid chagrin, or perhaps, to embrace it?

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Jun 102012

 The Origins of the Modern Look Men’s Clothing

18th Century –  21st Century by Maggi Andersen

I don’t pretend to be an expert on fashion. I wanted to show some of the changes which have taken place over the last few hundred years to men’s clothing, as well as the styles which have remained constant.

I’ve added a few tidbits I thought might be of interest. I’ve had to be selective here –the military influence on fashion, for example, is for another blog.

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Apr 182012

A Primer on Regency Era Women’s Fashion by Kristen Koster.

"Parisian Ladies in their Full Winter Dre...

“Parisian Ladies in their Full Winter Dress for 1800”, an over-the-top exaggerated satirical Nov. 24th 1799 caricature print by Isaac Cruikshank, on the excesses of the late-1790s Parisian high Greek look, and the too-diaphanous styles allegedly sometimes worn there. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is an overview of women’s fashions in the Regency Era and the apparel they changed in and out of multiple times per day. This list isn’t exhaustive by any means and is rather representative of the upper classes rather than the working classes, but should give a good foundation in recognizing what an author is talking about and why they’re so focused on their characters being fashion conscious.

Before we get into the individual items of clothing, it’s important to realize some phrases we use today didn’t mean quite the same thing 200 years ago. For example, when we say “She was in a state of undress.” or “She was caught en dishabille.” The folks of the regency wouldn’t have batted an eye. It was quite common for ladies to entertain guests in their boudoirs while dressed in comfortable, but concealing gowns and robes. The terms “undress”, “half-dress” and “full-dress” were degrees of formality, not coverage.

“Undress” meant simply casual, informal dress in the Regency period. This would be the type of dress worn from early morning to noon or perhaps as late as four or five, depending on one’s engagements for the day. Undress was usually more comfortable, more warm, more casual, and much cheaper in cost than half dress or full dress.

“Half Dress” is perhaps one of the most difficult concepts to grasp about Regency Fashion. Basically it is any dress halfway between Undress and Full Dress. In modern terms it might be thought of as dressy casual or casual business attire in terms of formality, if not style.

“Full dress” was the most formal kind of dress in a Regency Lady’s wardrobe. Full dress was worn for the most formal occasions — evening concerts and card parties, soirees, balls, and court occasions. “Evening dress” referred to outfits suitable only at evening events, but was a specific subset of “full dress”.

1817 walking costume

1817 walking costume                       (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Apr 162012

A Primer on Regency Era Men’s Fashion by Kristen Koster at Impulsive Hearts.

Beau Brummell wears a Regency dress coat as daytime dress. The coat is able to close and the tails are knee length. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Beau Brummell wears a Regency period dress coat as daytime dress. The coat is able to close and the tails are knee length. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Regency Men’s Fashion.

The terms Undress, Half Dress, and Full Dress were applied to men and women.

For men, “Undress” would include having his jacket and cravat removed, something that was not done in polite or mixed company if the gentleman could avoid it. Dressing gowns and robes also fit this bill for gentlemen lounging at home. “Half Dress” for men would be less elaborate knots in their neck cloths, much simpler and more casual styles of clothing. “Full Dress” and “Evening Dress” are the equivalent of today’s black tie affairs. Almack’s was a special case, where gentlemen of the ton were expected to wear breeches instead of trousers.

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Feb 242012

A cross-post from The Regency Redingote:

I first learned of the existence of that small lady’s handbag, the reticule, from the novels of Georgette Heyer. Later, as a museum curator, I had the opportunity to see a number of actual Regency-era reticules, both in person and in museum photographs. As I continued to research these often exquisite little bags, I discovered they had their origins in the late eighteenth century. Prior to that time, ladies carried their personal essentials in pockets under their skirts. Not in their skirts, under their skirts.

So, when and how did the lady’s pocket come out from under her skirt and make its debut as the reticule?

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