Friday, August 26, 2016

Gentlemen's Lodgings in Regency London


By Cheryl Bolen

While living in London around 1820, Polish scholar Krystyn Lach-Szyrma wrote in his journal—later published in his native country as a travel guide to Great Britain—that the best way for a gentleman to board in London was in what the French call pensions. These were private homes of impoverished widows of tradesmen, lawyers or clergymen.

Owners of these pensions advertised by posting signs in the windows or on doors of their establishments or on a wall at the Royal Exchange. Lach-Szyrma said it was even better if the establishment were recommended by someone. The boarder, too, had to come with recommendations.

In addition to a private bedchamber, the boarder had access to and could entertain in the public rooms, and he was able to take his meals with the proprietress and other guests.  

“Living in such a house is the cheapest way for a foreigner to live,” Lach-Syzrma wrote. He paid £7 a month, but this included “extras” such as servants, drinks and desserts that accounted for £2. He claims that there were households where one could live for £4, but such an establishment could not offer “the company of bright and intelligent people to further their social education.” 

Each bedroom was carpeted and provided all the necessary furniture. Sheets and bedding were changed every week. A room’s size and whether it was on the first or second floor influenced the price.  

Breakfast was served in the dining room every morning at nine. This consisted of tea, toast with butter, soft-boiled eggs and cold meat. Between breakfast and lunch, served at one, the gentlemen boarders read the newspapers which they subscribed to either individually or jointly. Few participated in the lunch of cold meat, cheese and bread because of pursuing their affairs. Unlike breakfast, lunch was served in the drawing room.

Dinner, served at five, consisted of five dishes, beginning with fish and ending with cheese. Desserts and drinks, except for beer, were the responsibility of the boarders. After dinner, men lingered with their wine.

After spending about four years in Great Britain, Lach-Szyrma published his observations on the country in Polish, but this rich resource was not published in English until 2009 when it was translated into English, annotated by Mona Kedslie McLeod of Edinburgh University, and published as London Observed. – Cheryl Bolen’s three Pride and Prejudice novellas have now been published in one volume, available in print or digital and titled Pride and Prejudice Sequels. Her Georgian novella Only You has just been released electronically and sells for $.99.

Monday, August 22, 2016

English Country Dancing

by Guest Author, Jenna Jaxon

English Country Dance

One of the standards in English ballrooms, known as early as 15th century is the country dance, or “contra dance” that you will find mentioned very often in literature through the 19th and into the 20th century, and especially during the Regency period. A country dance is performed often in longways sets, and danced in sets of two or three couples, but may be danced by as many as four, although rarely with five or six couples. In Pride and Prejudice, you may remember, Mr. Bingley vows that he loves nothing so much as a country dance.
In the usual make-up of two couple sets, partners will dance with each other, and with each of the other couples in their set. Through the various figures of each dance (almost every piece of music had its own dance associated with it), the first couple progresses down the line, changing or progressing to the next set of couples. When they reached the end of the lines, they are usually left out for one full completion (during which they can actually converse together for a time!) before being progressed back into the set, now as the second couple. “Sir Roger de Coverly,” “Mad Robin,” and “Jamaica” ae all longways sets, although one list has some 550 different country dances in it, the majority longways sets.
Fortunately, today, in English Country Dances, the different figures are called by a caller, just as in square dancing, at least until you get the hang of the steps. During the 18th and 19th centuries, they didn’t often call the dances, however, a list of the dances to be performed were usually given ahead of time, so the dancers could familiarize themselves with the dances.
If a lady is engaged to dance with a gentleman, they are partners. In the set, you also have a neighbor, the person standing next to you (if a lady, the lady next to you), and you have a corner, the person on the diagonal to you. Most dances are done with a walking step or a skipping step. (And believe it or not, this gives you quite a workout!) Usually the dance begins with an “honor,” a bow or curtsey, and often a dance movement called “set to” as in “set to your partner.” This is a small sideways moving step, first right, then left. After this, it all depends on the dance itself. Dancers may be called on to “circle” (usually left then right), to “cast,” meaning to turn away from your partner and move down one place along the outside of the set, to “star” (a circle in which corners hold hands creating a star formation), or “hey,” a weaving figure in which you take hands and weave all the way around your set.
English Country Dancing is a major component in my newest series, Handful of Hearts. Each book of the series begins on the same night, at Lady Hamilton’s ball. So almost all of my couples dance during that night or others during their time of courtship. Heart of Desire, Book 2 of the series, has several dancing sequences using these and other country dance figures. I hope you enjoy them!

HEART OF DESIRE
Follow your heart to find your desire

Miss Katherine Locke is irked to start her third season dancing with the disagreeable Lord Haversham, her brother’s friend and her own arch enemy. After three years out, however, she’s finally interested in the dashing Lord Finley—only to find out her cousin has set her cap for him too. To make the man jealous, Kate feigns interest in Lord Haversham, only to be shocked to find the handsome lord apparently falling for her. With time running out, should she accept his suit and risk falling in love despite herself?

Marcus, Lord Haversham, is in a tight pinch. His estates are failing and worse, he’s just lost three thousand pounds to his best friend, Lord Ainsley. Ainsley’s solution: have Marcus marry his shrewish sister and he’ll cancel his gambling debt plus give him ten thousand more pounds for her dowry. With nowhere to turn, Marcus agrees, praying he can keep word of the wager from Miss Locke long enough to charm her into marrying him. But can he avoid falling in love himself?

EXCERPT
The music had a lively air and Miss Katherine Locke would’ve thought herself fortunate to be out again in Society after a long, cold, dull winter in Somerset save that her partner, Lord Haversham, was the rudest man in London. Well, his lordship was about to discover that Kate Locke was not one to suffer fools lightly.
“So you refuse to allow your sister to waltz, yet you are quite willing to stand up with me and dance this, according to you, most scandalous of dances.” Kate smiled into the odious wretch’s face. “My lord, I should say that smacks of hypocrisy.”
“Indeed.” Lord Haversham turned them skillfully at the end of the floor. “I would say it showed a want of character in your brother for allowing you to dance it with me. The waltz should be danced by married couples and no one else.” He pulled her close against him, so their bodies almost touched.
She gasped at her proximity to the rogue. How dare he make a spectacle of them on this crowded dance floor?
“You see?” he whispered, peering into her face, his gaze intent upon her mouth.
All she could see were his cool gray eyes, as the crisp scent of his sandalwood cologne filled her nose.
“Ainsley should be horsewhipped for allowing it.”
“I’ll see to it he horsewhips you if you don’t let me go.” Kate gave a hopping step and smashed her foot down on top of his.
Lord Haversham lurched forward, actually falling onto her.
For the briefest moment, they stood pressed together in a warm embrace that made Kate tingle all over. Then outrage swept through her, and she pushed him away. “How dare you,” she seethed, trying to pull away from him.
“That was your fault, and you know it. And if you make a scene that results in me having to marry you, I swear I will lock you in the tower at my grandfather’s castle and throw away the key.” Lord Haversham righted himself and smiled at her with clenched teeth.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jenna Jaxon is a best-selling, multi-published author of historical romance in periods ranging from medieval to Victorian.  She has been reading and writing historical romance since she was a teenager.  A romantic herself, she has always loved a dark side to the genre, a twist, suspense, a surprise.  She tries to incorporate all of these elements into her own stories. She lives in Virginia with her family and two rambunctious cats, Marmalade and Suger.  When not reading or writing, she indulges her passion for the theatre, working with local theatres as a director.  She often feels she is directing her characters on their own private stage.

Jenna is a PAN member of Romance Writers of America and is very active in Chesapeake Romance Writers, her local chapter of RWA.

She has equated her writing to an addiction to chocolate because once she starts she just can’t stop.

FIND JENNA HERE:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jenna-Jaxon/146857578723570
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jenna_Jaxon
Blog: https://jennajaxon.wordpress.com/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4960704.Jenna_Jaxon

LINK:
AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01KRWDMQO#nav-subnav



Friday, August 5, 2016

History of British Folk Music

Folk music, created by ordinary people and often shaped by events in their lives, was handed down from one generation to another. Many of the British folk songs I found were silly or bawdy. Some sung by sailors revealed their homesickness and hope for safe journey. However, a great number were sad or at least bittersweet, giving a glimpse into their sorrows and heartbreaks. Dozens of them are still sung today by families and by professional artists.

What are the origins of these wonderful tunes? By definition, folk music, also known as World Music, has no identifiable origin. Widely sung and widely known, this kind of music belongs to the people. It is meant to be sung, shared, and enjoyed freely. Many of these well-known folk songs date back at least to the time of the Anglo-Saxons in England.
Folk music is as different from court music as peasants differ from royalty. While court music required orchestral instruments and often the harpsichord, folk music could be played by instruments the common folk possessed including the lutedulcimertabor (a type of drum), bagpipehurdy-gurdy (an early-day fiddle), and reed instruments such as the shawm and crumhorn. I suspect a great number of the folk simply sang the familiar tunes as they worked or when they gathered. Since most of the common folk could not read or write, they handed down their music orally and learned it aurally. For this reason, the tunes and even the words changed a bit depending on the locale that performs it.

Probably one of the most well-known folk songs of today is Danny Boy. The King's Singers have a beautiful recording of this piece:



As a child, I heard many of them sung by various groups such as Paul Simon and Art Garfunkle. They do a lovely version of Scarborough Fair. You can view the YouTube video with lyrics here:



You can also find a great number of British folk songs here and I suspect you will recognize a great number of them:
http://www.contemplator.com/england/
What are some of your favorite British folk songs we still sing today?


Friday, July 22, 2016

The Life and Loves of Madame Recamier


© Cheryl Bolen 

(This article first appeared in A Covent Garden Gilflurt's Guide to Life.)
 
The Duke of Wellington and Napoleon opposed each other not only on the battlefield but also for the affections of a certain beautiful lady. That lady, Madame Recamier, spurned both of these powerful men. Napoleon was so outraged, he banished her from France and her famed Parisian salon where authors and intellectuals—most of whom despised Napoleon—gathered. 
 
In an era when, as Lord Egremont said, “Women considered it a stain upon their reputation if they hadn’t taken a lover,” Juliette Recamier (1777-1849) went four decades without knowing a lover—not even the wealthy, much-older banker she had married at age 15. 
 
Madame Recamier on the piece of furniture which would later carry her name.

Called a figid coquette, Madame Recamier directed her sensuous flirtations on virtually every man who came to her salon on rue du Mont-Blanc—and most of them became captivated by her beauty and voluptuous charm. Author and political philosopher Benjamin Constant said, “Madame Recamier takes it into her head to make me fall in love with her . . . My life is completely upset.” For the next fourteen months, he was tortured by his unrequited love for her.  

He was one of dozens over the years. 

Lady Bessborough,  who was among the English aristocrats who flocked to Paris in 1802 after the signing of the short-lived Treaty of Amiens, gives this interesting account of meeting the beautiful Madame Recamier.

I must tell you [Lady Bessborough wrote to her lover, Granville Leveson Gower] tho’, a nasty and an indelicate story, but how distress’d I was at Mad. Recamier’s. We went there and found her in bed—that beautiful bed you saw prints of—muslin and gold curtains, great looking glasses at the side, incense pots, &c., and muslin sheets trimm’d with lace, and beautiful white shoulders expos’d perfectly uncovered to view—in short, completely undress’d and in bed. The room was full of men. 

During her salons, Madame Recamier commonly reposed on a chaise longue—a piece of furniture which would later be named a recamier in her honor. A famed portrait by Jacques Louis David of her on her chaise longue hangs in the Louvre.  

The only child of Marie Julie Matton and Jean Bernard, the king’s counsellor, Juliette was born in Lyon, but the family later moved to Paris. During the Reign of Terror, she married Jeanne-Françoise Julie Adélaïde Récamier, who was 27 years her senior. Mystery surrounds the marriage. There is some credence that Recamier married to pass on his fortune if he should fall to the Terror. It was said he was very close to Juliette’s mother. Some suggested Juliette remained a virgin because Recamier was her natural father, but this has been discounted.  

As she neared the age of thirty, Madame Recamier finally fell victim to Cupid’s arrow when she fell in love with Prince Augustus of Prussia, a nephew of Frederick the Great. They met in the Swiss home of her friend, the famed Madame de Stael, who encouraged the romance. Juliette Recamier wrote to her husband to ask for a divorce, but at the time he was besieged with financial woes (he eventually went bankrupt). His response appealed to her sensibilities while telling her she could not have picked a worse time. He also expressed regret that he had respected her virginal susceptibilities.  

Writing years later about her lover, Madame Recamier said, “We were convinced that we were going to be married, and our relationship was very intimate; even so, there was one thing he failed to obtain.” 
Prince Augustus' portrait with Madame
Recamier's portrait behind him.

Before the two lovers parted, they exchanged written promises. Prince Augustus wrote, “I swear by my honor and by love to preserve in all its purity the sentiment that attaches me to Juliette Recamier, to take all steps that duty allows to unite with her in the bonds of marriage, and to possess no woman as long as there is hope that I may join my destiny with hers. AUGUST, PRINCE OF PRUSSIA.” 

Madame Recamier wrote, “I swear by the salvation of my soul to preserve in all its purity the sentiment that attaches me to Prince August of Prussia; to do everything that honor permits to dissolve my marriage, to have no love nor flirtation with any other man, to see him again as soon as possible, and, whatever the future may bring, to entrust my destiny entirely to his honor and his love. J. R.” 

The Recamiers did not divorce, and Prince Augustus never married, though two of his long-time mistresses bore him eleven children. Ten years after he fell in love with Juliette Recamier, he had his portrait made standing in front of her portrait.  

Back in Paris, the Recamiers were forceed to sell their house on the rue du Mont Blanc, their silver, and Juliette’s jewelry. She suffered the losses with the same languid serenity that governed her life. By 1809, Recamier was once again in business but on a much smaller scale.  

Even though her circumstances were reduced, Madame Recamier’s salons were as popular as ever. Later she resided in apartments in a former convent, now demolished, at 16 rue de Sèvres in Paris. 

It is believe she finally lost her virginity at age 40. Her lover was the 50-year-old author Chateaubriand. 

Her husband died in 1830. She lived another nineteen years before cholera claimed her at age 71. She was buried in the Cimetiere de Montmarte.—by Cheryl Bolen, whose three Pride and Prejudice Sequels are now available.  

Resources 

Herold, J. Christopher. Mistress to an Age: A Life of Madame de Staël. The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1958. 

Lady Granville, The Private Correspondence of Lord Granville Leveson Gower, 2 vols., London, John Murray, 1917.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Titles, heirs apparent & heirs presumptive

by Donna Hatch

Since the subject of titles in Regency England seems to be both confusing and detailed, it bears revisiting. For today's post, I will focus on heirs: both heirs apparent and heirs presumptive.

An heir apparent is the son of a titled lord or landholder. Let's say, for example, the father is the Earl of Charming. Charming probably has a secondary title or two (or more), because most peers did due to the whim of royalty over the years. If one of Charming's secondary titles were, say the Viscount Handsome, then Charming's eldest son would bear the courtesy title of Viscount Handsome. Handsome is Charming's apparent heir, so he bears the courtesy title and is known as his "heir apparent." I think of it as; "His heir is apparently his son."

Note: Despite what you may read in some novels, sons who are heirs apparent cannot be disinherited from their rightful titles just because the father thinks the son is undeserving. It takes an act of parliament to do such a thing and those were granted in extreme cases.

Now, what if the Earl of Charming has no son--only daughters (or no children)? At this point, he now must grant his title and estates to his heir presumptive. It may be his younger brother or even a distant cousin--whomever is the closest living male relative. The heir presumptive does not use the courtesy title of Viscount of Handsome, but he can presume that he will someday be the Earl of Charming because no other living male heir stands in his way. Yet. Anyone who can be supplanted in the line of succession by the birth of a boy is an heir presumptive, no matter how unlikely that birth seems. One can think of this as; "The heir presumptive presumes he will inherit the title and property."

If, of course, the good Earl of Charming eventually has a son, even in his latter years, the heir presumptive no longer can hope for such a grand inheritance, because it all goes to Charming's son, his heir apparent. Immediately upon his birth, the new baby boy bears the courtesy title, Viscount of Handsome. 

Now this works the same way even if there is no title involved. Let's say Mr. Dashing is a landowner, similar to the Bennett family in Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice. If Mr. Dashing had a son, his son would be his heir apparent. If he had 5 sons, the eldest would be his heir apparent. If, however, Dashing has no sons, only daughters (or no children) all of his entailed property now goes to the closest living heir--a younger brother or a nephew or a cousin, even if he is as obnoxious as the unforgettable Mr. Collins. In other words, the heir presumptive is granted the same way regardless if there is a title or courtesy title involved. 
If Dashing's estate is entailed, he cannot choose to whom he will leave the property. It's set in stone. It goes to the closest living male relative or heir. Dashing can will non-entailed property to anyone he wants, but nothing entailed, which most estates were.

In my Amesbury family series, The Rogue Hearts Series, the father of this unruly bunch is the Earl of Tarrington, and his eldest son, Cole, is his heir apparent who uses the courtesy title Viscount Amesbury and has since birth. When the Earl of Tarrington dies, Cole becomes the new Earl of Tarrington. Cole's heir presumptive would be his younger brother Jared, until Cole and his wife have a son, who then becomes the heir apparent and uses the courtesy title, Viscount Amesbury.

So, in a nutshell, a lord's son is his heir apparent.

A lord's brother or nephew or cousin, whomever is closer to him in the bloodline, is his heir presumptive.

I hope this has cleared up any confusion and is useful to you in some way, even if all it does is explain why the annoying Mr. Collins assumed he would inherit Mr. Bennett's property and why Mrs. Bennett was in such a state of agitation that she and her daughters might be thrown out into the cold, cruel world immediately upon her husband's death (which actually kind of happened in Sense & Sensibility, if you'll recall). 

Friday, July 1, 2016

Pin Money

evening gown 1819
by Donna Hatch
www.donnahatch.com

Ladies in Regency England had no real money of their own. Before they married, their fathers were in possession of all their money. After they married, all of the money, possessions, and property went to their husbands immediately upon marriage unless it was tied up in some kind of trust which specified the husband couldn't have it. However, ladies had ways of spending money without having to ask, even if their father or husband technically held their purse strings.

When a lady married, she almost always had a marriage settlement or contract similar to today's prenuptial agreement.  In the agreement, it outlined her dress and clothing allowance, pin money, and jointure--what she received in money or housing if she outlived her husband. Early in my research into the Regency Era, I found it odd that pin money would be called out in the settlement. Why pin money? Was it actually used for pins, or was it a vague term?

Truthfully, pin money was meant to buy pins. At least, in the beginning. Oddly enough, pins were an indispensable part of a lady's wardrobe. Zippers had not yet been invented, and not every gown had buttons or hooks and eyes. Some gowns needed ties to fasten together. However, a great many ladies relied on pins to keep their clothing together. Yes, straight pins, not safety pins. I assume women either got stuck a lot or knew a trick to avoid such misery. A popular type of gown was an apron style, also known as drop-front or bib-front gowns. These were not only fashionable during the earl Regency, but also comfortable. They could also be easily adjusted if the lady's figure changed due to weight gain or loss, or pregnancy. They were also ideal for hand-me-downs.
drop front gown--Isobel carr
Here is a picture of a drop-front gown I found on Isobel Carr's website, and she was gracious enough to give me permission to use it. This a great example of this style of gown--typically a day gown in muslin or calico, although I found an evening gown in velvet with a drop front. As you can see, the gown in this picture needs to be either pinned, buttoned, or hooked with hooks and eyes, and then also tied under the bust in back.

Since pins in those days were not made from stainless steel but rather from brass, they rusted quickly. This made them a consumable product. Expensive, necessary, and consumable, they became a  major expense for a lady to undertake. However, pin money was not meant exclusively to buy pins. It actually became a type of allowance a lady had to spend on whatever she wanted. Her annual wardrobe expense was set, and she really had no money of her own, so she used her pin money for incidental expenditures. A lady could use pin money to buy supplies for anything she wanted--her craft supplies, sheet music, entrance into parks or museums or subscription balls, perfume, or treats at Gunther's Tea shop, to name a few.

In some Regency romance novels, the heroine uses her pin money to pay for postage to send secret letters or even to buy stage coach fare (and food) to run away from home. The possibilities are endless if she has a generous pin money or is wise enough to save her pin money for important things.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Crossing the English Channel before 1820


© Cheryl Bolen 

For most of the Regency era, sailboats were the only way to cross the English Channel. These depended upon the kindness of the winds. An exceedingly swift crossing could breeze along in three hours. Reports of 18-hour crossings are not uncommon. It was said the journey from Dover to Calais was much speedier than the one from Calais to Dover because of the winds. 

Factor in that crossings could be delayed for days because of unfavorable winds. Fanny Burney’s father once waited in Dover for nine days before the winds were obliging for his sailing to Calais. Sailing must commence during low tide, also.           

Polish scholar Krystyn Lack-Szyrma, whose London Observed (from 1820-1824) was published in English in 2009, recorded comprehensive details about his stay in Calais and crossing the channel. His voyage, for which he paid one guinea, took six hours—most of which rendered him very seasick. 


He gives us readers two centuries later a glimpse of the interior of these packet boats with his thorough words pictures. He tells us the spacious cabins were illuminated by a window which faces the deck. Each side of the cabin is fitted with rows of compartments, stacked two high. The bunks are furnished with clean, white bed linens, which Lack-Szyrma says is the only color linen the English will have. The bunks are curtained with either green or red. Men’s cabins are segregated from women’s. 

Here is Lack-Szyrma’s account of seasickness.

The ship was rolling on the waves more and more, causing the unbearable suffering called seasickness and those who are used to sailing are spared. Even to describe the symptoms of the sickness in not pleasant. Sufferers have stomach cramps and are prone to vomiting. They suffer from vertigo and see coloured spots before their eyes, especially green ones. The most unpleasant feeling is when a huge breaker, having raised the ship high, brings it crashing down. Your whole body feels numb. The weakness is so tormenting, that it almost makes you lose interest in life. In case of a violent storm, it must make people insensitive to danger, thus mitigating the horror of a shipwreck. 

He goes on to report that even after reaching land and standing on firm ground, the seasickness does not promptly go away. (Oh, dear, I got that wrong in more than one of my books.)  

The first steamboat appeared on the English channel in 1818 but these weren’t widely used until nearly a decade later. Lack-Szyrma tells us that by 1827 England had almost 200 steamships, but in America, where they were built, the number was much greater. Not all these 200 were used for crossing the channel. Steamboats were a common means of transport to and from Edinburgh from points south, especially London.

Lack-Szyrma gives an account of a steamboat owner in Calais inviting a few members of the municipal council for a short sail in his steamer. “They agreed to his request, but when it was time to go on board, they got frightened and each of them looked for an excuse not to take part in this trip. Such an important invention aroused people’s anxiety in those days!”
 
If you’re interested in knowing things like how much it cost to sail from Dover to Calais or the price of gentlemen’s lodging in London, I highly recommend reading Lack-Szyrma’s journal. Of all the ones I’ve read from the era, this one is THE best. He spent several years studying British government, penal system, courts, history and almost every aspect of the country and explains them in clearly understood layman’s terms. Titled London Observed: A Polish Philosopher atLarge, 1820-24, it’s annotated and edited by Mona Kesslie McLeod, a retired lecturer at Edinburgh University.—Cheryl Bolen’s newest release is Miss Darcy’s New Companion, a Pride & Prejudice Variation, Book 1 in the Jane Austen Sequels. More information at her website.