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Posts Tagged ‘history’

Regency Road Trip!

Ah, summer. When the days are long and hot and the drinks are cold and bottomless (you hope). It’s the perfect time to lounge by the pool, read a great book (or several!), or take that time-honored rite of passage: the family road trip. Let’s jump into our way, way back machine and see how they did that Regency-style!

Taking a road trip in early nineteenth century England was not quite so easy as jumping in your coach and taking off for your destination. Depending upon your financial means, you could travel in a variety of ways. The good news is that by 1800, there was a fairly decent (I didn’t say good) road system. Turnpike trusts—small companies directed by Parliament to build gates and toll bars along the roads—had built around 8,000 tollgates on the roads. A percentage of the tolls charged to travelers (both on horseback and in coaches) paid for the maintenance of the roads. While this was good for the roads, it could be a hassle for travelers who experienced long delays. I can just hear the children in the coach, “Are we there yet?!”

La Belle Sauvage Inn

La Belle Sauvage Inn, Ludgate Hill, London (out of copyright – Wikimedia Commons)

Some travelers may travel by stage or mail coach. The mail coach could get you to your destination quickly and afforded an armed guard (for the mail) in case you preferred to pack your real jewels for your holiday instead of paste. However, for a leisurely ride that included overnight stops at wayside inns, a stagecoach was the way to travel. These stops were necessary to change the horses, but became part of the charm of traveling in this manner, because of the offerings of the various inns. It behooved an innkeeper to provide excellent food and lodging because that’s how they made their money. The horse-changing portion of their service as a stage stop was not very lucrative.

If you’re a Londoner and you’re going to take a stage, you’ll pick it up at one of the many inns in London. If you’re heading west in 1800, you could start out at the Green Man and Still, The Bull and Mouth, or the Spread Eagle (ahem, really). Or, if you want to stay at one of the finest inns in London, you could begin your journey at the White Horse Cellar on the corner of Arlington Street. Some of the largest coaching inns in Town included St. Martin’s-le-Grand, the Belle Sauvage on Ludgate Hill, the Three Nuns in Aldgate, or the Saracen’s Head on Snow Hill.

Now, that you’ve selected your mode of travel and your starting off point, where will you go? What better place to go in the summer than the seaside! The sea was fast becoming the place to be for English folk, in part because of their dominion over the seas of the world and also because of the purported healing qualities of seawater for a host of ailments. But there was more to do at the seaside than being “dipped” in the ocean or going out in a bathing machine. There was walking, of course, and one could take a quite splendid stroll along the Chain Pier, which stretched out over the water at Brighton. There were carriage drives and picnics, dances at the Assembly Rooms, and the circulating library. Before you think the library sounds dull (though I doubt any of our dear readers would!), it was far more than books and periodicals. It was like a modern-day coffee and gift shop. Ladies could spend hours there gossiping, buying trinkets, and sampling treats and drinks. Sounds like a good time to me!

Brighton, The Chain Pier

Brighton: the front and the Chain Pier seen in the distance, painting by Frederick William Woleridge (out of copyright – Wikimedia Commons)

There are many seaside towns to choose from—Brighton of course if you want to be seen. (They’ll even toll a bell upon your arrival if you’re important enough.) Southend-on-Sea is lovely as is Weymouth. Both locations have had royal visitors, which can only recommend them. But, if the sea isn’t your thing, there are always the spas at Bath, Harrogate, or Tunbridge Wells. Whether you be of noble birth or simply from the middle class, you shall be welcomed!

I hope you’ve enjoyed our little time travel journey. Are you planning a road trip this summer? What’s your favorite road trip? I live on the west cost of the U.S. and I love the drive along the coast highway from Oregon into Northern California. It can get very twisty, so it’s not for the carsick, but it’s gorgeous.

My Favorite Royal

Never in my wildest dreams had it occurred to me that I would one day live in Budapest. Little old me, a girl from Minnesota, living in Hungary? A former Communist country? Eastern Europe?


What a remarkable and beautiful city Budapest is. What fascinating history. I have fallen in love with it all. It just so happens that my favorite royal fell in love with this country as well. The Empress learned the language, considered to be the second most difficult language in the world, and was so loved by the Hungarians, she became a historical icon. They built a summer palace for her just outside Budapest. One can find any number of statues bearing her likeness throughout the city, and one of the bridges crossing the Danube that connects Buda to Pest is named after her.

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Marriage, Divorce, and (possibly) Annulment During the Regency

Today, the Dashing Duchesses are pleased to welcome Regency author (and attorney) Ella Quinn.  Ella has agreed to share with us some fascinating tidbits about estate law, Regency style. So, pull up a leather chair in the study, dears, and let’s learn about the law.

During the Regency period, the Hardwicke Marriage Act of 1753 was in effect. The purpose of the Act was to regularize all aspects of marriage and the ending of a marriage. The Act itself was not very specific about many matters except that it had to be performed by clergy of the Anglican Church. The Church rules were specific as to marriages.

There were three ways to marry: reading the banns, buying a license, and elopement.

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Google-Fu and the Art of Research

I open my browser, start a search, and then come up for air two hours later with no word count, Mt. Laundry is still untouched and a family meal uncooked. My eyes are glassy, I have crazy-person hair and really, really have to pee. So what happened?

The Internet Time Warp.

That’s right. You go in, and you never come out. Thing is, research is a historical writer’s best friend. You must know the time period, and you must know the oddest little details so you don’t make a ghastly mistake. I wouldn’t wish to tarnish my Duchess tiara! (Of course, now that I say that, I’m guaranteed to make said ghastly mistake.)

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Watch The Wall, My Darling

Five and twenty ponies,
Trotting through the dark -
Brandy for the Parson, ‘Baccy for the Clerk.
Laces for a lady; letters for a spy,
Watch the wall my darling while the Gentlemen go by!

  – A Smuggler’s Song by Rudyard Kipling

 I was perhaps 13 when I was first introduced to English smuggling in Watch The Wall, My Darling by Jane Aiken Hodge, which takes its name from Rudyard Kipling’s poem A Smuggler’s Song. I was fascinated by the smuggling aspect of the book–or perhaps I should say the smuggling hero! Of course, the book was dramatic and romantic and just the thing to pique a fledgling romance
writer’s imagination.

Captain Jack Sparrow

Now, I’m well aware smuggling is illegal, and smugglers aren’t glamorous or romantic in the least. But technically, neither are pirates. And look at Captain Jack Sparrow! (OK, I just had to throw that picture in because, well, yum.)

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Heating up History

Welcome, Dear Reader, to the inaugural post of the Dashing Duchesses. We are thrilled you have come to call.  Please, won’t you have a seat on the settee? We’ve brewed a delicious blend of tea this morning and there is much to discuss.

Passion is always a timely topic, do you not agree, Dear Reader? We Duchesses are passionate about many things. Scottish men, English men, military men, dangerous men, sensitive men…

But that is a post for another day. Perhaps we shall gossip about heroes November 28 as we have tea with Lady Tessa Dare.  This morning, we would love to chat about another passion of ours- history. Tales of the past, events and ideas and facts that get out blood moving.

Duchesses, do share. Why do you write about history? Why not tales of ghosts or Navy SEALS? Inquisitive minds want to know.

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