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:
This is a lovely Regency tour, Jane. May I also recommend pinterest for historical inspiration.
I’m a fan of the 1730s myself. Here is a great collection of Early Georgian clothing:
@Catherine Lawrence: Oh yeah, the early 18th century. Now we’re cooking with gas. Love the link. And now I know what clocked stockings actually look like!
Thank you for sharing these pictures. I read a lot of Regency novels.
Oh now I’ve got to go read my favorite Regencies since I have visuals to go with them now.
Thanks for these – they do indeed help me picture the things I read about.
For dresses I also like the blog A Thousand Pixels, where she sporadically scans and posts Regency and Georgian fashion plates: http://athousandpix.blogspot.com/
Not visuals but check Google’s ebooks for The Lady’s magazine: or, Entertaining companion for the fair sex. The contents contain accounts of political events, trials, foreign news, as well as essays about the treatment of servants, reports of customs from other areas of the world and reviews of plays. There’s also an essay about the increased literacy rate and how many new books are available.
If an author wants to add a flavor of the period without doing a lot of research I think these magazines would help a lot. They are free to download.
Had total fan girl squeeness over the Voucher. I’ve recovered. This was very cool.
BTW the print showing “Beau Brumell, Duchess of Rutland, Comte de St. Antonio, Princess Esterhazy, Sir George Warrender, Count St. Aldigonde” is from the wonderfully gossipy Reminiscences and Recollections of Captain Gronow: Being Anecdotes of Camp, Court, Club and Society 1810 to 1860 and I don’t think it’s contemporaneous. The clothes are too much of the romantic era, post 1820. If you look at the print of the watercolor showing the 1815 , also from Captain Gronow’s memoir, the difference in costume is rather dramatic. Lady Jersey was reported to have introduced the quadrille.
Oh crabs, messed that html up. The Title is “The First Quadrille Danced at Almacks” and if you click on the link the picture is huge! Sorry about that.
Those ladies hats will make excellent roofing hats. I need to get one of them for my next roofing job!
@DS: Good catch! I believe they’re both by Grego, for an 1888 edition of Gronow’s Reminiscences. Interesting that the style varies across the two drawings, for both men’s and women’s clothes. Here’s a Google books link to an advertisement for the book, and here’s a post with Max Beerbohm’s discussion of Grego’s drawing.
These are a lovely collection, Jane. Thanks!
Thank you for this! I don’t write regency but I read plenty of it and I love the visuals, although it’s not a good fashion period for me. I tend to picture later Victorian clothing in my brain because I detest Regency styles so much. Those shapes on the men, especially – ugh. How do they even get those pants off to ravish the heroine? Hipsters, man.
Small correction, it’s Beverley with three e’s. Jo Beverley is a walking encyclopedia of knowledge about so many eras — when I first “met” her at an RWA, she was giving out pamphlets that explained correct usage for aristocratic titles — and that’s a subject that never loses steam, does it?
Vic of Jane Austen’s World–amazing blog–runs an equally amazing Pinterest account full of Georgian and Regency visuals: http://pinterest.com/janeaustenworld/
Thank you, Jane. This all makes me so happy.
I’ve seen loads of fashion prints, more of the women than the men, tho. And I’ve seen some prints (and descriptions) of the carriages. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen the interior and exterior views of Almack’s. The outside is much less grand, and the inside far smaller, than I had imagined. (I really wish all those research notebooks compiled by Heyer had been preserved.)
Thanks to everyone else for the additional links, too! I will savor them.