After dinner, I sat down to do some more work, but I got distracted. Sitting here, I suddenly wondered what sort of free history e-books I could find. Within in minutes I came across this one; ‘Travels in England in 1782‘ by Karl Philipp Moritz
Moritz was a German clergyman who, thankfully for us, was an Anglophile. He’d long wanted to visit England and finally arrived on June 2, 1782 (which I thought appropriate as it’s June 3rd) and he takes the reader on the journey. After the first few pages, I’m utterly enchanted. He’s noting down everything that seems foreign to him, so we get to see what he sees and experience his journey. Historic gold! He only spent a few weeks in England, but he managed to see London and a few other places he’d dreamed of.
We join him as he’s leaving the ship. He and five other travellers are set ashore near some white cliffs and they walk to the nearest village. (I’m guessing they were travelling light!) From there they hire a post-chaise…this was a vehicle where the driver (or drivers in some cases) rode one of the horses (so there was no coachman making it a much lighter, faster and cheaper travel). Here’s a short excerpt… Read more…
Book Reviews, History Notes, Regency Notes
It never ceases to amaze me how aspects of the ‘Regency era’ still echo through our lives 200 years later (often in very weird ways). Growing up, Halloween was my favorite holiday. I loved dressing up (and the free candy). My first costumed Halloween I was in Kindergarten. We lived five miles out of town on a sparsely populated road in the woods so there was no local Trick or Treating. The school (even deeper into the woods) thoughtfully provided a Halloween party for the children. I was so excited! For a costume, my mother made me a white mobcap. It being the early 70’s, I already owned a long white cotton dress and a pink pinafore. She then made me a big fat spider out of some black socks and tied it with a length of yarn to a wooden spoon (from out of the kitchen drawer). To complete my outfit she glued some cotton balls into a small bowl and I was transformed. I was no longer Cari, I was ‘Little Miss Muffet’. I loved my costume, particularly the spider which I remember waving at people with glee. I probably hit a few people with my spoon as I waved my arm to make the spider fly about, but I thankfully don’t remember.
This evening the ‘Little Miss Muffet’ nursery rhyme came to mind as I was sitting here thinking of ideas for a Sunday school lesson (I help teach the 5-7 yr olds). I looked it up on Wikipedia and I was surprised to learn that “Little Miss Muffet’ was first published in England in 1805. I had no idea it was that old. I assumed it was from 1920’s or ’30’s. My very first Halloween costume was a Regency costume! How appropriate!
Sadly, my love for Halloween did not survive the three Halloweens I spent working in a costume shop. Read more…
History Notes, Regency Notes
I recently started reading a Dutch newspaper on line (in English). The other day I read an article about how leading Dutch authors are rarely translated into other languages. It made me wonder what sorts of books the Dutch write and read. Why are most of these stories considered unsuitable for translation? What sort of stories am I never going to be able to read? I couldn’t think of a single Dutch author so I Googled Dutch authors. I didn’t recognise a single name. However, I did discover two 18th century female authors that many Regency era readers would have enjoyed. Read more…
History Notes, Regency Notes
Today I’ve been researching England’s Holy Wells (you never know where the curse of curiosity will lead or what insanities it will breed) and I came across a text by a R.R. Rawlins written in the year 1823 titled; On the Ancient Custom of Decorating Wells with Flowers etc. In capturing a custom, Rawlins unwittingly captures a moment in the lives of ordinary people. As I was reading his descriptions of making the floral decorations I stopped and thought about the men and women who, after exhausting daily chores, gathered flowers and constructed these elaborate decorations for their local Holy Wells. The time and energy that went into creating these decorations must have been considerable. Rawlins was some sort of churchman so there’s a religious flavor to his reminisces, but that too is very Regency.
This event was a big deal; his text closes with, “The day concluded by the visitors partaking of the hospitality of the inhabitants, and being gratified with a well-arranged band, playing appropriate pieces of music at each other’s houses; and had the day been more favourable, and free from rain, a greater attendance at Church and the Wells would have been witnessed.”
It’s only three pages long. I highly recommend reading all three pages to get the full flavor (he starts out with a brief history of May Day), but if you just want to read about Holy Wells…start the fifth paragraph down where it reads: “The flowers used on this day…’
If you’re curious and want to read more about Holy Wells I found this page fascinating.
History Notes, Regency Notes
What better subject for All Hallow’s Eve than a real Regency murder/ghost story? The following comes from a book titled ‘Haunted Inns’ by Marc Alexander (haunted English inns – published in 1973).
The Voyeur and The Sun.
If you have visited Holland and enjoyed the small canal-side villages, you will recognise something of the same atmosphere at Saxilby in Lincolnshire. The village, which is only about four miles from Lincoln, runs parallel with the Fossdyke, along whose banks in summertime are moored lines of pleasure cruisers. Opposite the canal stands The Sun, an inn which was the subject of a most extraordinary haunting at the beginning of the last century.
On 3rd of November 1805, a certain Thomas Otter got married, evidently much against his will. On the same day a casual labourer by the name of John Dunkerly, after enjoying some drinks with his friends in The Sun bar, decided at six o’clock to return to his own village, Doddington, which was about five miles away. As he neared Drisney Nook on the way to Doddington, he met three friends who said as they passed: “You’ll have company, John,” and told him Tom Otter and hi new wife were walking down the lane. They laughed, knowing that Dunkerly had the reputation for being a peeping Tom.
By now darkness had fallen and the labourer, whose reputation was well deserved, decided to shadow the newly-married couple in the hope of being able to spy upon some amorous activity. Creeping up behind them, he heard Tom Otter say to his wife: “Sit down, you can rest here.” Read more…
Ghost stories, History Notes, Regency Notes
Sadly, the contest is over and the winners chosen (the necklace won by Coleen, the Scarf by someone known as Jo’s Daughter, and the ring was won by Heather). Congratulations to all the winners! The contest centered around the 1995 BBC version of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (the one with Colin Firth as Darcy). The singer-songwriter Jasmine Kyle (a devoted Janeite) wrote a song inspired by the movie and wanted to share it…ie give it away to other Janeites. It’s too late to enter, but you can still…Download a free copy of Jasmine Kyle’s song “Dear Jane”.
Three lucky people won (along with an autographed album) one of these…(one prize per person)…
The replica Jane Austen ring! Sadly it won't come with the box (or with magic powers that will zap you back in time). You will have to imagine up that adventure...I see a sensible Regency hero agonising in the jewelry shop wondering what to buy his sweetheart. Oh, what to get that says I think you're wonderful without even the slightest suggestion that the lady might do anything improper...at least not in public...and certainly not until after his proposal...
General, Ghost stories, Regency Notes
My Goblin’s Scottish blood gurgled to the surface this evening (he also has lots of English blood). He turned to me out of the blue and said, “It must be Burns night!” I was like…what? Oh! You mean Burn’s Night! Tonight Scotland celebrates Robert Burns, the poet who wrote poetry in the common Scottish dialect. Born 25 January 1759, Burns died young at 37 on 21 July 1796. His most familiar work today is Auld Lang Syne…which has become a Western New Year’s sing along. When I think of Burns I think of his song/poem, My Love is Like a Red Red Rose which I first discovered when I was about twelve. It’s a lovely song and is still being sung after more than two hundred years. I found several examples on Youtube, but I thought this one sung by a Scottish woman was most appropriate. So here is a song sung throughout the Regency, still being sung today!
Speaking of Burns and love…
In 1788 Robert Burns married Jean Armour. I wish I could go back in time and put my ear to the keyhole as they discussed their wedding plans. In the end, Burns purchased 15 yards of black silk from a merchant in Glasgow, for Jean’s wedding dress and apparently paid about £7. That would have been quite a considerable sum for a working man. Here’s to Burns! May your songs be sung for another two hundreds years!
I’ve finally finished Dancing the Maypole (though I’m thinking I might sneak in an epilogue after all). I’m now waiting for the Goblin to work his magic and get it put on line. If you’re not one of my Members and you’d like to receive an e-mail when it’s published. E-mail me and I’ll put you on the list. If you’re a Member I’ll send you a newsletter when it’s ready.
I’ve just discovered that the Chawton online Library has changed their online address as well as their website so I’ve just updated my link (which before took people to a blank page – sorry about that). If you haven’t visited the site to browse their free on line novels (all of them old, rare and written by women – some of them Regency romances written during the Regency) be warned it’s a tempting time warp that will suck you in and you won’t want to leave! The library introduces itself like this… Read more…
History Notes, Regency Notes
This afternoon I stopped off at my favorite charity shop to see if there were any interesting books and I found one called ‘The Treasury of Flowers’ by Alice M Coats (published 1975). I’ve had a fearful fascination of plants and flowers since I was a small child. When I was about 4 and a half we moved out of town to this small farm. One morning I was out in the fields with my mother when she pointed at foxglove and said, “That’s foxglove! Don’t touch it or you’ll die!” The big red mushrooms with pretty white spots in the surrounding forest were similarly pointed out along with black widow spiders. “You see that black spider with the red spot? If it bites you, you’ll die!” Needless to say, along with a fear of imminent death I developed a fascination for flowers. Obviously I didn’t grow into a botanist, but thankfully one doesn’t have to be a scientist to enjoy flowers or even go near flowers. One can look at pictures.
As long as there have been books there have been books on flowers. Coats’ book is a presentation of 118 prints by various artists over the centuries that have been overlooked because they’re small (some of them very small). I didn’t really understand what exactly the book was when I bought it. I just noticed it had prints of flowers starting from the early printing press using woodcuts through to the mid 1800’s and I thought it might be interesting. It is! Coats unearths all sorts of interesting facts and vignettes about the artists and plants in the prints. Plate 32 alone makes this book a treasure. Read more…
Book Reviews, History Notes, I've been taking photographs, Regency Notes
There’s an organization in England called The National Trust which owns lots of houses…lots of land…lots and lots of stuff! They own more stuff than any one person could see in a lifetime without one’s eyes drying up, falling out and ending in one of their collections of stuff. Sensing their hoard might be missing a trick (ie missing opportunities to make money) they’ve put online a collection of photographs of some their stuff (and offer the option to purchase large detailed photos for personal perusal). If, like me, you enjoy trawling through endless photos of antiques (because you never know what might inspire a romance novel or end up on the must have wish list) this website is for you! Some of the souls choosing items to be photographed for the collection appear to be either blind or mad (is there anyone out there in the known universe who lives to trawl through numerous photos of pewter dishes that all look alike?), but that’s part of the charm. Typing “pewter” into the search box (you have to click on the search button – pushing the enter key does nothing) on the second page I discovered a pewter bedpan from 1820… Read more…
History Notes, Louis et Francoise, Museums, Regency Notes