Artifacts of a Regency Life
The find by Jo Beverly of the Almack’s Voucher on Flickr sent me searching out other photographic evidence of the Regency period. There was something so visceral about the Almack’s voucher and I know having seen it, the image will now reverberate in my memory each time I read a regency. I decided to post a collection of images to make the motion picture in my head more fulsome. I hope you enjoy.
The rules were strict and entry was as guarded as any exclusive modern nightclub—the doors were manned by the manager and a well-known doorkeeper, Willis, and they closed at eleven-thirty promptly. Admissions vouchers had to be shown upon entry (Thompson, Dancing Through Time, 1998, pg. 131). The name Almack’s derived from its owner, William Macall, who reversed the syllables of his last name because he thought his real name sounded too Scottish, and thus unfashionable. The rooms (which consisted of a ballroom, supper rooms and game rooms) opened in 1765 and continued to be a center of social life through the mid-19th century. The doors were finally closed in 1863.
and the interior from Susanna Ives’ site:
Traveling around the Regency world required the use of carriages. One might come across a barouche in books.
According to The Book of the Horse By Samuel Sidney, James Sinclair, William Charles Arlington Blew, the barouche is not a carriage for those who are of good society. To those individuals, the sociable landau is preferred:
The High-Flyer Phaeton was popular with the Four in Hand club. This painting was commissioned in 1792 and presumed to be finished a year after. The boy is the “tiger” who rides on the bar in the back and is there to assist in the case of an accident. This carriage is actually the one ordered and presumably driven by the Prince of Wales. The carriage would have been attached to two or four horses. The undercarriage was made of either wood or iron. The gentleman in the picture is the Samuel Thomas, State Coachman, and random boy. Source: George Stubbs, Painter: Catalogue Raisonné By Judy Egerton.
This is a side view of a crane necked phaeton, the one with the iron undercarriage:
But, really, what about the dresses, right?
According to Ackermann’s Costume Plates, this 1818 dress was “composed of thin jaconet muslin, over a pale peach colored sarsnet slip.:” The bottom of the skirt was trimmed in French “work”. The hat is described as “a leghorn hat, the brim large, and tuned up behind a soft roll in the French style.” The lady also wore white kid shoes and straw colored gloves. Apparently the lady is also wearing a spencer or cloak, although I couldn’t distinguish the cloak from the dress.
Again from Ackermann’s, this was “a black crape [sic] frock over a black sarsnet slip.” The headdress was a “white crape toque.” The assemble was finished with a “black China crape scarf.” The earrings, armlets and necklace were made of jet and she wore “black chamois leather gloves and slippers which are ornamented with rosettes of white chenille.”
This flickr set has a whole host of lovely fashion plates from the 1800s
And the men? Famously, during the early 1800s, the Patronesses of Almack’s decreed no pantaloons:
From this engraving, one would think the men were wearing leggings. Look how tightly molded the fabric is to the legs and how cinched the waist of Brummel’s vest! In The Beaux of the Regency, Volume 1 By Lewis Saul Benjamin, he recounts that the introduction of the waltz nearly brought Almack’s to its knees. The Volse, a German dance was enjoyed in the country. “[I]n The Times of February 19, 1978, we read: ‘The balls at Southampton are exceedingly lively and well-attended. The young ladies are particularly favorable to a German dance, called the Volse: for squeezing, hugging, etc., it is excellent and more than one Lady has actually fainted in the middle of it.”
As for the interiors, a famous interior decorator and furniture designer by the name of Thomas Hope is often paired with the Regency period. Egyptian motifs were extremely popular:
This extravaganza, according to Brittanica, was the bedroom of Prince Regent, later King George IV: