Cavalry Trumpet/Bugle Calls in the 18th and 19th Centuries

Recently, I had an author friend seeking information on cavalry trumpets calls, for she was writing a battle scene. The hero of her tale is in the mounted infantry, and he is on the American front during the War of 1812.. She wanted to know whether the troops would have some sort of trumpet signal for when to charge? When to retreat? Etc. Etc.

Truthfully, I cannot recall where I collected this information. Most likely, it came from Bill Haggart, a man I call upon when I need to know some sort of tidbit for writing a battle scene. The man is a walking encyclopedia on such facts.

Here are bits and pieces I shared with my author friend (in no particular order):

  • If the unit is militia, they might not have a bugler or might not have the training to follow bugle instructions.
  • The type of signal might be difficult to determine. For example, if there was a mixed unit of cavalry and mounted infantry, they most likely would not respond to the same bugle signals, for the mounted infantry, traditionally, did not carry out mounted charges.
  • With a hundred and fifty men, it could be a raised hand, the commander’s voice. French General Louis Friant, who fought in both the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars, stated that 600 men for a battalion in close formation was optimal because that was the size where everyone could hear a command called out by the battalion chief.
  • It was also normal for every officer to repeat the order down the line once they heard it, just in case. [If you have ever read Arthur Guiterman’s poem “Pershing at the Front,” you will understand what I mean. If you have not, you may find it HERE. My late mother and I were often delighted by this one.]
  • Most cavalry charges required the unit to ‘shake out into a line’ before the charge, so everyone knew what was coming next so calling out ‘charge’ wasn’t all that problematical.  A single line of 150 horsemen would cover about 150 yards across. [1.5 football fields]  
  • More typical would be a double line of cavalry [particularly in wooded areas where there wasn’t 150 yards of open terrain] or about 75 yard front. [3/4 of a football field]
  • A human voice could carry that far, particularly if all officers repeated the order. Here is a video of 150 cavalrymen [two squadrons] of the French Republican Guard]. You will see them call out several orders in preparation for the charge, before they actually move.  Of course, American cavalry in the American Revolution would not have been that disciplined. Even so, but the time the French charge is at a full gallop, the lines are coming apart… seen from above at the end of the video.
  • Often seen in paintings is the officer pointing with his sword. That was a signal that every trooper down the line could see as it poked out from the line.
  • Here is the bugle call for sounding “Charge.” If you have ever watched an old Western movie, you likely have heard it.  
  • One can find ALL the bugle calls customarily used by soldiers HERE. The musical notes are also displayed.
  • The mounted infantry developed into a “versatile cavalry” during this time period. Those using actual pensioners’ accounts when researching different battle, as well as in the battle summaries written by officers, will soon discover the terms “dragoons” and “cavalry” appear to be used indiscriminately, making it all the more confusing for the researcher.
  • One might take a look at p. 30 of the Trevor Herbert & Helen Barlow book, Music and the British Military in the Long Nineteenth Century, which reprints the bugle calls (in musical notes) given in Regulations for the Exercise of Rifleman and Light Infantry, 1798. See on Google books (the trumpet/bugle pages are free to look at). The authors cite several sources from the 18th and 19th centuries. They mention that bugle calls were not formalized however, until after my friend’s battle in question? 

Amazon Book Blurb:

Although military music was among the most widespread forms of music making during the nineteenth-century, it has been almost totally overlooked by music historians. Music & the British Military in the Long Nineteenth Century however, shows that military bands reached far beyond the official ceremonial duties they are often primarily associated with and had a significant impact on wider spheres of musical and cultural life.

Beginning with a discussion of the place of the military in civilian and social life, authors Trevor Herbert and Helen Barlow plot the story of military music from its sponsorship by military officers to its role as an expression of imperial force, which it took on by the end of the nineteenth century. Herbert and Barlow organize their study around three themes: the use of military status to extend musical patronage by the officer class; the influence of the military on the civilian music establishments; and an incremental movement towards central control of military music making by governments throughout the world. In so doing, they show that military music impacted everything from the configuration of the music profession in the major metropolitan centers, to the development of wind instruments throughout the century, to the emergence of organized amateur music making. A much needed addition to the scholarship on nineteenth century music, Music & the British Military in the Long
Nineteenth Century is an essential reference for music, cultural and military historians, the social history of music and nineteenth century studies.

Posted in British history, customs and tradiitons, Georgian England, Georgian Era, history, Napoleonic Wars, Regency era, research, war, War of 1812, weaponry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy 14th Book Birthday to “Darcy’s Passions,” the Book Which Made Me a “Fiction Author”

During the 2007-2008 school year, I complained to my Advanced Placement Language class about a particular novel I had been reading for “pleasure,” what we would now call Jane Austen Fan Fiction (JAFF), a genre just building in popularity for readers seeking a Happily Ever After (HEA) to end the tale. The story, although well written, was historically inaccurate in the situations presented. It was not a true reflection of Austen’s period. As the AP Language class was taught to examine the language and the situation to identify the time period of a piece of literature, this novel would be misleading. Many of the students in the class had been in my honors classes previously, or in my elective classes, such as Journalism. They were accustomed to how I challenged them, and so one student said, “If you know how to do this, do it yourself.” Therefore, I took on the role of fiction writer. I had written much in the academic realm, especially on multicultural literature and media literacy, but not novels. I decided to rewrite Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice from Mr. Darcy’s point of view.

To make a long story short, I self-published the book at a time when self-publishing was not a popular means to see one’s book in print. All I wanted at the time was to answer the challenge presented me . . . to be a good sport. I permitted one of my students to draw the cover of the book so she might put the experience upon her college application, listing herself as a “published artist.” I purchased copies for those in the class and quickly forgot about it until my son sent me an email informing me the book was #8 on the Amazon sales list. Even then, I considered it a fluke. At length, however, Ulysses Press contacted me asking about traditionally publishing the book. This was the time when several of the traditional publishers were buying up the rights to JAFF pieces. Ulysses had 3 other Austen-inspired writers, while Sourcebooks scooped up a dozen or more.

In February 2009, Darcy’s Passions was published by Ulysses Press, and my publishing career began. I retired from teaching in 2010, after some 40 years, and have supplemented my retirement with the publication of 60 novels to date. Yet, Darcy’s Passions remains a favorite for it started me down this path. Moreover, it remains my best seller, having entered into multiple printings. 

When Ulysses Press moved all their operations from fiction to nonfiction, I received my rights to all my stories (9 novels) with them. Therefore, I decided to rerelease Darcy’s Passions with a new cover and a reworking of the story (Gosh, I cannot believe neither the editor or I caught some of those errors found in the first printing!) So, please enjoy from Mr. Darcy’s point of view, the scene where Elizabeth Bennet comes to Netherfield to tend her sister.


Darcy’s Passions: Pride and Prejudice Retold Through His Eyes

FITZWILLIAM DARCY loves three things: his sister Georgiana, his ancestral estate, and Elizabeth Bennet. The first two come easily to him. He is a man who recognizes his place in the world, but the third, Elizabeth Bennet, is a woman Society would censure if he chose her for his wife. Can he risk everything he has ever known to love an impossible woman, a woman who has declared him to be “the last man in the world (she) could ever be prevailed upon to marry”?

Revisit Jane Austen’s beloved novel, Pride and Prejudice, retold from Mr. Darcy’s point of view. Discover his soul-searching transformation from proud and arrogant into the world’s most romantic hero. Experience what is missing from Elizabeth Bennet’s tale. Learn something of the truth of Fitzwilliam Darcy’s pride. Return to your favorite scenes from Austen’s classic: Darcy’s rejection of Miss Elizabeth at the Meryton assembly; the Netherfield Ball; his botched first proposal; his discovering Elizabeth at Pemberley; and Darcy’s desperate plan to save Lydia Bennet from George Wickham’s manipulations, all retold through his eyes. Satisfy your craving for Austen’s timeless love story, while defining the turmoil and vulnerability in a man who possesses everything except the one thing that can make him happy.


Chapter 3

“…to be really in love without encouragement . . .”

LITTLE DISTRACTED DARCY from his growing obsession with Miss Elizabeth except the opportunity to dine with the officers of the Derbyshire militia. Much to his friend’s dismay, his sisters chose to engage Miss Bennet to Netherfield on the same evening. Bingley had not enjoyed Jane Bennet’s company for several days, and the man’s countenance showed the irony of the situation. “That beautiful angel dines at my own table, while you and I have the duty of dining with the local militia.”

For Darcy’s part, being away from Elizabeth Bennet had solidified his resolve to ignore her and to squash any aspirations she might have. “It is only one evening, Bingley.” His response did little to allay his friend’s desire to cancel their engagement with the officers. After the meal, the smooth brandy and the interesting conversation entertained Darcy. His interest in military history served him well. However, a continual downpour dampened his spirits some, but not enough to ruin the evening, while the rain and the travesty of the situation dramatically increased Bingley’s discomposure.

Upon their return to Netherfield, they were met at the door by Miss Bingley. “That foolish chit rode a horse in the rain,” she declared with a snit. “She is down with the ague. I had no choice but to offer lodging for the night. The apothecary has come and gone. Miss Bennet has a fever.”

“Should we send to London for a physician?” Bingley paced the floor.

“The lady has a cold, Charles. Sending for a physician would be preposterous! I warrant Miss Bennet shall be better on the morrow.” The whole matter fatigued Caroline. Although not thoroughly content with the answer, Bingley did not press his sister further. Privately, he told Darcy that he would wait until the morning to assess whether Miss Bennet required more learned care.

Satisfied he could do nothing to relieve his friend’s tumult and seeing no other need for his service, Darcy retired to his rooms. Sitting before the mirror in his dressing room, he spoke aloud to the image he found there. “So, Miss Bennet is at Netherfield and ill. How convenient! I wonder who planned such an astute venture. Mrs. Bennet, naturally. She sent her daughter out in the rain to snag a husband. Can one imagine such a mother—such connections—poor Elizabeth?” As quickly as he said her name, a reverie of images claimed his senses. Every time he thought he rid himself of his desire to see and talk to Elizabeth Bennet, reminders resurfaced. She would never agree to such a clearly manipulated plot as this one, he mused. Should he warn Bingley? His friend had become more entangled each day. Could he permit Bingley to create an alliance with such a family?

Darcy undressed and prepared for bed. Leaning over to blow out the candle, another thought dawned. If Miss Bennet fell very ill, Elizabeth Bennet would likely come to Netherfield to care for her sister. Darcy groaned with the realization. Elizabeth would be in the house with him. He would be forced to spend time with her. Was his groan from pain or pleasure? He was not certain.

As if predicted by Fate, Jane Bennet’s fever worsened. In the morning the Bingleys dispatched a note to Longbourn to secure approval to send for a physician. Despite not agreeing with propriety, Bingley realized he had no right to order a physician for Jane Bennet. “Please, you must calm down, Bingley. Everything which can be done for Miss Bennet is being done,” Darcy cautioned.

“I am aware of my insensibility, Darcy, but I feel I should be doing more for her.”

“Please, Charles, you are doing your best for Miss Bennet. She will recover soon; you will see. Let us join your family in the morning room. Your sisters are concerned for your well-being also.”

Darcy’s words lessened Bingley’s anxiety, and Bingley allowed himself to be led to the morning room. Although the rainstorm had ended, and the land had dried, remnants of the downpour remained. Darcy knew they could not ride out, so he, too, remained in a state of disorder; a ride on Cerberus would do him well. Consequently, there they sat, partaking of the morning repast, making niceties, and each of them lost in his or her own thoughts. Bingley worried for Miss Bennet’s well-being; Caroline and Louisa wished to rid themselves of the duty of caring for someone they only pretended to admire; and Darcy needed to be free of the unexplained energy which thoughts of Elizabeth Bennet created in him.

Suddenly, the door swung wide, and a servant announced, “Miss Elizabeth Bennet,” and there she stood framed in the doorway. Her appearance had taken all of them by surprise. Mud steeped her petticoat, her hair was windswept, and her clothes, disheveled. The Bingley party sat in shock–-in momentary suspension-–at an unannounced visit so early. Both he and Bingley sprang to their feet to acknowledge the entrance of a lady. Mesmerized by her image, Darcy stood dumbfounded; in all his nightly musings, he had never envisioned Elizabeth to look as such; she was lovelier than ever.

Bingley, thankfully, had the good sense to leave the table to approach her. “Miss Elizabeth,” he began, “please, join us.”

She motioned his plea away. “I did not wish to disturb you, but your butler insisted I be presented before . . .”

“You have come to see your sister. I am so glad. Miss Bennet will benefit by having her loved ones close.”

Sarcastically, Caroline said, “Miss Elizabeth, did you walk here?”

“I did, Miss Bingley. I was worried for Jane,” Elizabeth reasoned.

“Three miles?” Louisa added incredulously.

Elizabeth smiled at their astonishment. “I believe so.” Then turning to Mr. Bingley she asked, “Would it be too much trouble for me to see Jane?”

“We will have someone show you to Miss Bennet’s room,” Bingley chimed in. “When you are able, please advise us on her condition; our apprehension grows. If Miss Bennet requires anything, we are your servants.” Bingley turned to the footman and indicated for him to escort Miss Elizabeth to her sister. During this exchange, Darcy did not move. He possessed yet another image of Elizabeth Bennet, which he would add to his mental gallery of her. A thrill of anticipation skittered up his spine. 

When Miss Elizabeth was safely from earshot, Caroline could not contain her distaste for the lady’s display. “Did you ever?” she began, but Darcy cut her short by removing her immediate audience.

“Bingley, it appears we will be unable to ride out today to examine your holdings, but we may address expenses for the renovations you have considered.” Bingley looked relieved at the possibility. They removed quickly to Bingley’s study.

“Darcy, would it be inappropriate to bring a physician from London to attend to Miss Bennet?” Bingley asked when they were from earshot.

“It would be a break in propriety,” Darcy responded. “May I suggest if Miss Bennet’s progress is delayed, her sister should also be given accommodations so she may attend to the lady. From what I have observed of Miss Elizabeth, she is very sensible. She would never allow decorum to stand in the way of her sister’s health; Miss Elizabeth would ask, mayhap demand, you do more if need be.”

“Naturally, why did I not think of such? When Miss Elizabeth joins us later, I will ask her to stay. Your good counsel never fails me, Darcy.”

As Darcy turned to the plans for Netherfield, he wondered if he had erred in favor of insensibility.


At three in the afternoon, Elizabeth entered the sitting room; she had attended Miss Bennet all day, with the occasional assistance of the ladies of the house. The apothecary declared Miss Bennet to have a violent cold and requiring additional care. “I must depart,” she said tentatively. “Evening approaches, and I must be to Longbourn.”

“Allow me to offer you the use of my coach,” Caroline declared in tones that sounded too sweet.

“I thank you for the consideration,” Elizabeth said.

Bingley hesitated, but Darcy nodded his encouragement. “I will not hear of it, Miss Elizabeth. You must stay and tend your sister,” his friend declared. “I insist. Miss Bennet will recover much faster if you are in attendance.”

“Mr. Bingley,” Elizabeth gushed with gratitude. “Your kindness is most appreciated. I do desire to stay with Jane if your offer is sincere.”

“Then it is settled,” Bingley added quickly. “We will send a servant to Longbourn to acquaint your family with our plan and to bring back clothes for your stay.”

“I am in your debt, Mr. Bingley.” Elizabeth curtsied and happily returned to her sister’s room. This satisfied Bingley, but if his friend had taken note of his sister’s face, Bingley would have seen displeasure. Caroline had made it no secret she wanted the Bennet family removed from Netherfield. She recognized her brother’s interest in Miss Bennet. Darcy suspected the woman also recognized his growing interest in Elizabeth Bennet.

Having been summoned to supper, it was half past six before Elizabeth rejoined the party. “I am afraid, Mr. Bingley, I cannot give you a favorable response to your inquiry. My sister shows no improvement.”

Although she quickly returned to the needlework she held, Caroline intoned, “That is dreadful to hear, Miss Elizabeth.”

During supper Darcy hoped for an opportunity to speak with Elizabeth, but Caroline strategically placed Miss Elizabeth beside Mr. Hurst. Darcy made conversation with Caroline. He split his attention, however, hoping for gems of Elizabeth’s conversation, which he could use later.

She returned to her sister’s care after the meal, and Miss Bingley immediately abused her. “Miss Elizabeth’s manners, I find, are lacking indeed; they are a mix of pride and impertinence. Did you notice, Louisa, she cannot hold a civil conversation; she has no style, no taste, and no beauty of which to speak. Country ideas of such appealing qualities must be far below those of refined societies.” Darcy wondered at how little he knew of Miss Bingley. He once found her to be dignified, but her “luster,” of late, had dulled.

Louisa Hurst joined in her sister’s aspersions. “Elizabeth Bennet has nothing, in short, to recommend her but being an excellent walker. I shall never forget her appearance this morning. She really looked almost wild.”

Caroline cackled, “She did, indeed. I could hardly keep my countenance. Very nonsensical to come at all! Why must she be scampering about the country because her sister had a cold? Her hair so untidy, so blowzy!”

“Yes, and her petticoat. I hope you noted her petticoat, six inches deep in mud!”

Bingley came to Elizabeth’s defense. “I thought Miss Elizabeth looked remarkably well when she came into the room this morning. Her dirty petticoat quite escaped my notice.” Bless him, thought Darcy. Mayhap he will one day be able to handle Caroline.

Caroline turned to Darcy. “You observed it, Mr. Darcy, I am certain, and I am inclined to think you would not wish to see your sister make such an exhibition. To walk three miles or whatever it is, above her ankles in dirt and quite alone—what can she mean by it? It seems to me to show an abominable sort of conceited independence, a most country-town indifference to decorum.”

Caroline’s references to the boorish behavior of the locals wore on Darcy’s patience. “Her sister was ill. It shows an affection that is very pleasing.”

“Mr. Darcy, you must agree, however, this adventure has rather affected your admiration of her fine eyes.” Caroline’s voice displayed her desperation.

“Again you are mistaken, Miss Bingley. I found them brightened by the exercise.”

Darcy hoped his comment would stifle Miss Bingley’s criticism of Elizabeth, but she ignored his censorious tone. “Did you know, Louisa, the Bennet family has an uncle who is a country attorney and an uncle who owns a warehouse in Cheapside?” 

“I do not understand all this emphasis on material wealth when one judges a person’s merit; even if the Bennets had enough uncles to fill all of Cheapside, I would not think less of the family.”

Bingley felt the need to defend his preference for Jane Bennet, and in many ways Darcy sympathized with his friend, but the truth remained unchanged. “Unfortunately, Bingley, other people will judge differently. It must very materially lessen their chance of marrying men of any consideration in the world.” He hated to acknowledge the facts. Men of fine Society would not consider the Bennet sisters as probable mates, and although he found Elizabeth Bennet to be more than desirable, he knew he could not marry her.

Darcy’s speech had given the Bingley sisters permission to continue their condemnation of the Bennet family’s vulgar relations. Bingley, on the other hand, had no response. Darcy, too, could not shake the uneasiness he felt each time Caroline mentioned Elizabeth in a negative light. Eventually, the sisters ceased their humorous attack and removed to Miss Bennet’s room to offer their concerned advice. It was late in the evening before Elizabeth rejoined the Bingley household. The party sat at loo when she returned; Darcy anxiously observed her again.

After the Bingley sisters’ attacks, he spent several hours in quiet contemplation. During the day he had decided he once more wished for Elizabeth’s company. Moreover, he reasoned having her at Netherfield would provide him time to know more of Elizabeth Bennet. Darcy looked forward to engaging her in a verbal battle. She would view him differently; she would increase her regard. That idea played to Darcy’s sense of pride. What woman would not desire his attention? No one Darcy met previously had refused his consideration.

DP Cover Concept copy.jpg





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History of Shifts, Chemises, and Corsets Through the Regency Era

To protect their outer wear (gowns, day dresses, etc.) from sweat and body oils, women of the Regency era wore shifts or chemises. These were simple garments, much like a man of today might wear an undershirt to protect his dress shirt or a woman might wear a “teddy” to protect her blouse. Chemises and shifts were made of cotton, but women who could afford the cost would choose something more luxurious – something like silk. Thin and tightly woven, the shift was smooth to the touch. This type of cotton actually cost more than silk did. These cotton shifts lasted longer than did the silk ones. There is some speculation that part of the duties of a lady’s maid was to make certain the shift did not bunch up.

The chemise became popular in Europe in the Middle Ages. Women wore shifts/chemises under their gowns, while men wore them with their trousers or braies to be covered with doublets, robes, etc. A chemise was the only underwear worn by women by the end of the Regency Period. Although women did not wash their outer garments after each use, they did wash the shifts/chemises regularly. Washing was harsh on the clothing. Shifts and chemises were dried in the sun so that the sun would bleach the fabric, but those dyed had a tendency to fade. Those in charge of the laundry would hang the dyed garments in the shade after they turned the item inside out to help prevent fading. 

“Men’s chemises may be said to have survived as the common T-shirt, which still serves as an undergarment. The chemise also morphed into the smock-frock, a garment worn by English laborers until the early 20th century. Its loose cut and wide sleeves were well adapted to heavy labor. The name smock is nowadays still used for military combat jackets in the UK, whereas in the Belgian army the term has been corrupted to smoke-vest.

“A chemise, shift, or smock was usually sewn at home, by the women of a household. It was assembled from rectangles and triangles cut from one piece of cloth so as to leave no waste. The poor would wear skimpy chemises pieced from a narrow piece of rough cloth; while the rich might have voluminous chemises pieced from thin, smooth fine linen.” (Chemise)

That being said, during the winter, the Victorians were known to wear flannel or wool pantalets, under petticoats and stockings but the chemise remained cotton. 

Cloth was measured in ells. “An ell (from Old Germanic *alinâ cognate with Latin ulna) is a unit of measurement, originally a cubit, i.e., approximating the length of a man’s arm from the elbow (“elbow” means the bend or bow of the ell or arm) to the tip of the middle finger, or about 18 inches (457 mm); in later usage, any of several longer units. In English-speaking countries, these included (until the 19th century) the Flemish ell (34 of a yard), English ell (54 yard) and French ell (64 yard), some of which are thought to derive from a “double ell”. Several national forms existed, with different lengths, including the Scottish ell (≈37 inches or 94 centimetres), the Flemish ell [el] (≈27 in or 68.6 cm), the French ell [aune](≈54 in or 137.2 cm) the Polish ell (≈31 in or 78.7 cm), the Danish ell (≈25 in or 63.5 cm), the Swedish aln (2 Swedish fot ≈59 cm) and the German ell [elle] (Hamburg, Frankfurt, Cologne, Leipzig: 57,9 cm)

“Select customs were observed by English importers of Dutch textiles: although all cloths were bought by the Flemish ell, linen was sold by the English ell, but tapestry was sold by the Flemish ell. In England, the ell was usually 45 in (1.143 m), or a yard and a quarter. It was mainly used in the tailoring business but is now obsolete. Although the exact length was never defined in English law, standards were kept; the brass ell examined at the Exchequer by Graham in the 1740s had been in use ‘since the time of Queen Elizabeth.'” (Ell)

By the mid 1850s, dresses had 7-9 yards of material, and so it became common practice to disassemble the dress – bodice from skirt, sleeves from bodice – easier to wash & quicker to dry. Afterward, the pieces were reassembled. 


1660s stays with sleeves http://www.marquise. de/en/themes/korsett/ korsett.shtml

The word corset did not come into use until the 19th Century. Before that time, people used the words bodice or stays. In French 18th century texts (e.g. Garsault, Diderot), one may find the term corset as referring to a lightly stiffened bodice with tie-on sleeves, whereas proper stays are called corps. Until the 17th Century, the custom was to stiffen the bodice of the dress rather than to have a separate corset. 

“The first and best known example of a 16th century corset is the German pair of bodies buried with Pfaltzgrafin Dorothea Sabine von Neuberg in 1598. This corset is shown in detail on page 47 and 112-113 of Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion 1560-1620 and in Jutta Zander-Seidel’s book Textiler Hausrat. It is made of three layers of cream-colored fabric, the outer layer being silk backed with linen and the inner lining of linen, and has channels backstitched between the two layers into which whalebone was inserted. It has tabs at the waist, as well as small eyelets at the waistline through which the farthingale (stiffened hoop skirt) or petticoat could be fastened to the corset.” (History of the Corset)


Costume Parisians, 1808-9, “Hair in braids, Corset a la Ninon.” This corset laces in back is and much more “structural,” clearly attempting to increase the bust and draw in the waist. Unlike Victorian corsets, this one doesn’t seem focused on drawing in the natural waist, an unnecessary feature when fashions have the waist under the bust. Notice that no effort is made to move the breasts together–the two breasts very separated was fashionable. Later corsets that even more clearly divide the breasts were called “divorce corsets.” The Underwear Page http://regencyfashion. org/dress/und.html

The Robe á l’Allemand, a the stiff bodice, survived until about 1730 in England. Stays are conical in shape, and they press “the breast up and together, with tabs over the hips. The tabs are formed by cuts from the lower edge up to the waistline that spread when the stays are worn, giving the hips room. They prevent the waistband of the skirt from crawling under the stays, and the waistline of the stays from digging into the flesh.

“There are stays that lace at the back (Diderot calls them corps fermé, closed stays) and those that lace across a stiff stomacher in front (corps ouvert, or open stays). Examples that lace both back and front (but not over a stomacher) are quite rare. Stays that lace in front only are even rarer and so far only known to me from the region of Southern Germany. In all these cases, spiral lacing is used. Although 18th century stays were not meant to be seen, they are often quite decorative, with finely stitched tunnels for the boning, precious silk brocade and possibly gold trim. 

“The basic shape of stays didn’t change the whole century long. Towards the end, around 1790, when dress waists begin to wander upwards, the stays become slightly shorter. Since paniers were not worn anymore, the skirt is supported by small pads sewn to the tabs. At the same time, physicians made themselves heard, warning against the harm done by tight-lacing. While lacing wasn’t usually overdone as much as one century later, it often started earlier: It started with tightly wrapping babies and included children’s corsets, forcing the still soft skeleton into a fashionable shape.” (A Short History of the Corset)

As the 19th Century turned, the corset changed somewhat to match the empire line of the gowns worn by the fashionable set.Frankly, clothes were not so form fitting as in previous decades. The newer style allowed for a woman’s gaining weight or for her pregnancy. Therefore, it was no longer necessary to define the waistline, but it was still in fashion to lift the breasts higher (but with a definite separation). Cups were used for the first time as part of the stays/corsets. The busk, which was used in the early 17th Century to keep the front of the stays straight, returned to keep the cups separated. 

“Since slender figures could keep the bust in shape with the help of only a firm bodice lining, it is mainly stout and over-endowed ones who wear corsets or short stays which already looked like early bras. Therefore, not many corsets from that time have been preserved. Unlike the earlier ones, they tend to be plain and functional. Maybe the fact that they contained less boning led people to refer to them by the (French) term for lightly boned bodices, corset. This is just a theory, but it would explain why the earlier term corps/stays had been replaced with corset by the 1820s.” (A Short History of the Corset)

In the late 1820s, the fashion again accentuated the waist; therefore a need for a corset returned. Stitched in grommets for laced eyelets on corsets were replaced by hammered-in metal eyelets in the late 1820s. This was followed by the planchet, which is two metal strips that are designed to hook together so the woman could open the corset from the front without unlacing it. “This busk, as it is called in English, makes it possible to change the lacing completely: Both ends of the cord are threaded through the eyelets crosswise and knotted together at the end. At waist level, one loop is formed on either side and used to pull the lacing tight. This kind of lacing is still used today.” (A Short History of the Corset)

The hourglass figure we think of when corsets are the subject became more prominent by the mid 1800s. “From about 1860, when some patterns have caught on, more emphasis is placed on beautiful fabrics and elegant lines again. From the years around 1870-90, a large number of meticulously made corsets has been preserved, partially embroidered and with satin top fabric in various of colours.

Until c. 1870, the crinoline hid anything from the waist down, so corsets ended not much below the waist. Later, dresses closely hug the figure at least in front, so corsets become longer. This development reached a peak around 1880, when the fashionable silhouette hugged the hips on all sides. The belly is tamed, but not flattened, by a new kind of busk: The pear-shaped spoon busk (see right corset in the picture above) bends inwards to compress the stomach region, then outwards over the belly, an in again over the lower abdomen. If laced tightly, a spoon busk forces the soft bits (i.e. fat as well as inner organs) downwards – and during the 1890s, tight-lacing becomes so popular that physicians sound the alarm again.” (A Short History of the Corset)

Women did not want the stays cutting into the skin. In cool weather, the chemise and stays were additional layers to keep the female warm. With layers of natural fibers, shifts repel the perspiration, called “glistening” at the time. 

Posted in British history, fashion, Georgian England, Georgian Era, Great Britain, Living in the Regency, Victorian era | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button?

For the holidays, I received a copy of the book pictured below, and it had me thinking about the use of buttons in the Regency era.

Amazon describes this book, thusly: The button, both functional and decorative, can be deservingly considered an art form on a small scale. This book is a dazzling color array of outstanding examples. Thousands of buttons are featured in over 300 color plates. Debra Wisniewski, an avid collector, has chosen the most beautiful and fascinating buttons to represent the vast variety available. They are displayed in this gorgeous hardcover book which provides invaluable information to the collector – complete descriptions, dates, and of course, current values. The realistic price ranges given reflect actual prices paid and considerable discussion with other collectors. All ages, styles and materials are represented in this fascinating reference and value guide. It’s a perfect book for anyone who appreciates the art, craft, beauty, and skill apparent in these buttons. 

Okay, I admit I was telling someone about a book I had consulted previously about buttons in Regency era. I did not expect the person to send me the book pictured above. I was simply attempting to answer a question and could not recall the book written about a history of buttons. Although the one above is fabulous with its many examples, it is not the one I came across years ago.

Buttons, at least, multiple buttons on a garment was more a Victorian decoration, and it was late Victorian. In fact, there were few buttons on a woman’s clothes until the late Victorian period. That being said, women’s dresses did have some buttons, but nothing like those used for men’s coats. Men, however, had buttons on their breeches, pantaloons, trousers, waistcoats, and coats. They had them on the sleeves of their coats as well. Women’s clothes mostly tied on or used straight pins. Women were not supposed to be so active that they needed someway to keep clothes on when working. The women who worked had clothes that were sturdy and wrapped, tied, and laced.Buttons during the Regency were expensive and were on a woman’s dress as a decorative accent, rather than to hold two pieces of material together.

The History of Buttons tells us, “The Indus Valley Civilisation are credited with the invention of the button and the earliest one we have in existence today dates from around 2000 BCE and is made from a curved shell. The first buttons were used as ornamental embellishments to a person’s attire and signified wealth or status. They had small holes drilled into their surfaces and were attached to clothing by thread, often forming geometric patterns rather than the straight lines we know today. As the centuries progressed, the button became used more and more as a fastener for clothes, with the ancient Romans using them to fix clothing in place with pins. Over the centuries, the button evolved from an embellishment, to a more practical item. The middle ages brought with them the invention of the all-important buttonhole, which was to quietly revolutionise clothing. A stunningly-simple but elegant design, the geometrics allowed for the button to pass through the opening and be slotted firmly in place.  Fashion would never be the same again.”

Some illustrations for the time period show a garment with small buttons at the nape of the neck in women’s clothes or at the small of the back. Some replaced pins on an apron-like front with small buttons. A spencer or pelisse would probably have buttons.

A man’s shirt might have two buttons. Men’s shirts did NOT open all the way down the front. I came across this issue when I decided on a particular image for one of my new books. The guy was fabulous, but he had a buttoned down collar. Not possible in the Regency era!!! Which meant I had to move the story forward into the late Georgian and early Victorian period to come close to the style, for Button-down collars, or “sport collars,” have points fastened down by buttons on the front of the shirt. They were introduced by Brooks Brothers in the late 1800s. In the first book cover, one can still see the buttoned-down collar, but I am hoping most romance readers are looking at the male model instead. When I finally release this title by itself (It is now part of an anthology), I will revisit the issue then.

Drawstrings, hooks and eyes, and thread buttons were commonly used. A woman’s dress might be fastened with pins as well. 

Look at fashion pictures for half a century and you will not see many buttons. There are some, but not many. They tended to be more for decoration than have any utility purposes. Some years they were more fashionable than others.

Thread buttons are also called “Dorset buttons.” They were something of a cottage industry. The thread is wrapped around a thin ring of sheep’s horn. (Nothing wasted!) These weren’t expensive and were used for things like shirts and nightgowns. You can find out more on How to Make Dorset Buttons.

Another Resource:

A Brief History of Buttons Through the Ages

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Dreams and Amnesia as a Romance Trope in “Darcy’s Temptation” + a Giveaway

First, I must disclose the original title for Darcy’s Temptation was Darcy’s Dreams. There are several poignant dreams which move the story along, even though quite a few of them are of the nature of a flashback. However, when Ulysses Press purchased the rights to the book, they renamed the tale Darcy’s Temptation.

There are any number of books, especially romance ones, which use the idea of amnesia as a plot device, but why do we readers accept it as possible. I think it is because it is an exacting exercise in character development, something every author wishes to accomplish and accomplish it well. It allows a major plot point, usually a “hidden past” to be revealed. The interesting part of the exercise is how well the author develops the symptoms and the condition. Does the character experience another traumatic event and remembers everything? Does he/she pick and choose what he/she recalls? Does he/she recover his/her whole memory or are bits of it lost forever? All very good questions to consider.

For the purpose of a romance, it would be foolish to have the person suffer from the life-changing onset of dementia, but, with amnesia, one, meaning the reader, can customarily swallow the idea of it being temporary. It something traumatic caused the condition, is it not equally logical another moment in time could “reverse” the memory impairment.

I did not set out to write a story which included amnesia. Those of you who know me well know I am a “pantser,” not a “plotter,” when it comes to my writing. I write by the “seat of my pants.” I have some general ideas in my head. How the story begins. How it ends. A few major events along the way. Yet, I do not outline my tale. I sit down, customarily with a lap desk before me, a black pen in my hand, a college ruled spiral notebook, and I write. Many times those major events change or do not make a showing in the plot, but I do not know of those changes until my pen takes me down a different path. Therefore, when I wrote Darcy’s Temptation, my purpose was to pull Darcy and Elizabeth apart and allow their innate love for each other to allow them to find each other again. The concept of amnesia fit the bill perfectly for the plot development.

One twist I should warn you about is there was a woman Darcy met briefly in Darcy’s Passions who he found attractive. This would be after the Netherfield party had left the estate and he cannot manage to go a day without Elizabeth Bennet in his thoughts. It occurs in Chapter Six of the novel and is only a brief mention of a woman named Elizabeth Donnelly. In Darcy’s Passions, Miss Donnelly could be a nobody, but when it came to Darcy’s Temptation, she plays a much larger role.

Mention of Miss Donnelly in Darcy’s Passions:

After the Twelfth Night celebrations, Darcy reluctantly returned to Society. He spent many evenings with Bingley and his sisters, but where Darcy had once thought of Caroline’s civilities as refined, he now found them affected and boring. He made an effort to encounter eligible young women in Town, often calling on acquaintances and accepting more invitations then he was known to do. He once found a Miss Donnelly attractive, but then she told him her given name was “Elizabeth,” and he was lost again in a reverie of depression. Realizing he required more time to find the solace he sought, Darcy abandoned his pursuit of new social connections.

Amnesia is a risky trope to employ as an author, for it can be easily overplayed or underplayed. I hope I have not executed either “play” in this story, but, I admit, I was still quite “green” as an author at the time this story was written some thirteen years ago. [It was self published as Darcy’s Dreams in 2008 and picked up by Ulysses Press for release in 2009 as Darcy’s Temptation.] I took the safe way out, permitting snippets of memory to return, providing hope to all.

I have written nearly seventy novels, and I have only used amnesia once prior in a JAFF (Jane Austen Fan Fiction) novel: That was in In Want of a Wife, which starts with Elizabeth having been hit up a coach when she darted across a busy London street. I used it twice in my Regency novels. Amnesia was used in A Touch of Mercy, which was Book 4 of the Realm Series. In it, Aidan Kimbolt, Viscount Lexford, is beaten most severely and loses his memory for a bit, thinking himself in love with one of the Aldridge twins when Mercy Nelson comes into his life. I also used amnesia in book 1 of the Twins trilogy, Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep. Huntington McLaughlin, the Marquess of Malvern, is caught in a terrible storm and is knocked from his horse, striking his head on the pavers. Angela Lovelace finds him there when she escapes her carriage which has been washed from the road.

Darcy’s Temptation: A Sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

The day Fitzwilliam Darcy marries Elizabeth Bennet, he thinks his life is complete at last. Four months later, even greater joy appears on the horizon when Elizabeth finds out she is pregnant. But it is not long before outside forces intrude on their happiness. When the unthinkable happens, Elizabeth and Darcy must discover their love for each other all over again.

Romantic and insightful, Darcy’s Temptation captures the original style and sardonic wit of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice while weaving its beloved characters into an exciting new tale. In a story set against the backdrop of the British abolitionist movement, family difficulties and social affairs weigh heavily on the newlyweds, and a dramatic turn of events forces Elizabeth to try to recapture Darcy’s love before the manipulative Cecelia McFarland succeeds in luring him away.

Excerpt from Darcy’s Temptation where Miss Elizabeth Donnelly reenters Mr. Darcy’s life:

When the Donnelly coach came upon what was left of Darcy’s chaise and four, Darcy had lain along the road for nearly twenty hours. He moved very little, the blow to his head keeping him from being mobile. He expected to die there along this deserted path on more than one occasion during those first few hours, but, somehow, he maintained his hold on life. 

“Miss Donnelly,” the steward said, coming to the window of the stopped coach, knocking on the window with a gloved hand. 

“Yes, Mr. Lansing.” The lady turned to her faithful aide. “Madam, evidently there was a robbery.”

The lady gasped, “Is anyone hurt?” She could see the clothing strewn on the ground.

“Two people are dead, Miss, but Walton reports they found a gentleman. He is injured, obviously losing a substantial amount of blood.” 

“Should I attempt to go to him?” The woman looked uneasy at this possibility. 

“No, miss,” Lansing began again, “the scene is too much—far too much for a lady of your delicate nature—a lady such as yourself should not be exposed to such sights.” 

“What must we do, Mr. Lansing? I must perform my charitable duty; we cannot leave the gentleman to die. Should we not bring the man to safety?” 

The man seemed relieved his mistress made the suggestion first. “Walton and a footman could wrap the gentleman in a blanket, but doing so would mean placing him on the floor of the coach. Would such be acceptable, Miss? We could leave the window of the coach open. It might be a bit uncomfortable, but otherwise the gentleman could pay with his life.” Mr. Lansing knew his mistress’s preoccupation with cleanliness. 

“Of course, Mr. Lansing.” She took a handkerchief from the sleeve of her dress. “I will be able to endure what is necessary to save the man’s life.” Her hand shook and her lip quivered with the thought of the man’s dirty body lying within the coach. 

Mr. Lansing handed her a bottle of smelling salts. “In case you are feeling poorly, Miss.” 

“Bring the gentleman to the coach. Also, retrieve as many of his belongings as seem appropriate,” she ordered at last. 

“Yes, Miss.” Lansing bowed as he stepped away to do her bidding. 

A footman and the lady’s coachman carried the man’s body between them, supporting his long limbs under his knees and shoulders. It took them several attempts to wrestle Darcy’s body onto the floor of the Donnelly coach, where he lay like a freshly caught fish. Before they wrapped his body in the blanket spread on the floor of the coach, Miss Donnelly ascertained the injured man to be a man of consequence, but dried blood and dirt covered his face, obscuring his identity. 

“We return to the estate, Walton,” she told the coachman. “We will secure the gentleman a proper doctor; the local villages have no one to attend him.” 

“Yes, Miss.” The coachman replaced his gloves. “The new doctor arrived two weeks ago; I am certain he will be pleased to be of service to you.” 

“Remind Mr. Lansing to speak to the doctor before he enters Darling Hall,” she instructed the coachman. 

“I will do so personally, Miss Donnelly. We will begin immediately.” The coachman closed the door. Once they loaded the gentleman’s luggage onto her coach, Miss Donnelly covered her mouth with the handkerchief to block the man’s repugnant smell and pulled her feet closer to her body; then she rapped on the roof of the coach to start for home. 

The movement of the coach roused the man somewhat. “Elizabeth,” he moaned from his parched lips. For a moment, Miss Donnelly thought the stranger called her name, but he did not open his eyes nor did he move on his own. Instead, the man’s body rocked back and forth with the movement of the carriage. It took Miss Donnelly nearly an hour and a half to reach her estate. The journey with the invasion of her private space by the man’s body seemed interminable for the lady. She fought back the unladylike involuntary spasms her stomach demanded; she shielded her eyes from the sight of his badly beaten body, and she silenced her ears to his moans of pain. As much as possible, Miss Donnelly treated the man as if he did not exist. 

Reaching Brigg, the Donnelly coach turned for Darling Hall, the family estate. Since the demise of her parents, the estate belonged to Elizabeth Donnelly. No male cousins existed for several generations, and Miss Donnelly’s parents had the foresight to provide her with an additional legal binding document—sort of codicil. The estate belonged to her until the time of her death. 

However, if Miss Donnelly chose to marry before her eight and twentieth birthday, she would inherit an additional fifty thousand pounds. Most assuredly, the second option would be society’s preferable choice, as well as hers. Although not grand in scale, the estate could provide an adequate living if handled properly. Unfortunately, of late, it experienced several monetary losses, and Miss Donnelly secretly sold off artwork, furnishings, and tapestries to pay the taxes and to meet her extravagant expenses. 

In appearance, Miss Donnelly’s beauty seemed an asset in attracting men, and the estate served as a second means of securing an appropriate mate. The woman possessed excellent manners and correct opinions; yet, she did not stir interest with more exacting social circles and the ton. She had peculiar habits, which many men could not tolerate even in a woman with wealth and beauty as her “selling” points. 

Arriving finally at Darling Hall, the footman and coachman unloaded Darcy’s body. “Mr. Lansing, place the gentleman in the blue suite and have Mr. Logan fetch the new physician. Tell the stable staff to clean the coach thoroughly. If necessary, remove and replace the upholstery within the coach. The fulsome smell of the gentleman’s body must be obliterated; I will not tolerate the man’s presence and his blood and his body fluids soiling my coach. I want all his clothing washed properly; if the items are stained beyond repair, burn them. Once the physician tends to him, please have the gentleman cleaned properly. Naturally, you know what to do with his bedclothes.” 

“Yes, Miss,” the steward bowed. 

“Although the man is injured, I will not tolerate his bringing his dirt into my house,” she demanded. “Tell Julian to clean these steps once again.” 

“I will speak to him, Miss.” 

“Finally, tell Mildred I wish a bath immediately.” 

The man smirked when his mistress looked the other way. “I am certain Mildred prepares one as we speak.” 

Irritated, she said, “You are dismissed, Mr. Lansing.” 

“Yes, Miss.” The steward made his final bow. 

Miss Donnelly entered the drawing room of Darling Hall. Before she took a seat, the lady walked about the room, touching the various items, inspecting them and looking carefully at her glove after each touch. When she came to the figurines along the mantelpiece, Miss Donnelly frowned and reached for the bell cord. 

“Did you ring?” The housemaid curtsied when she entered the room. 

Miss Donnelly did not answer; she simply stood with her gloved index finger extended. “I . . . I will address it immediately, Miss Donnelly, and I will speak to the new maid regarding her duties,” the servant stammered. 

“Do so or both of you will be seeking new positions,” the mistress threatened. 

The older woman dropped her eyes. “Yes, Miss.” 

“I expect this to be cleaned thoroughly by the time I return,” the lady demanded before exiting to her chambers. 

Nearly three hours later, the steward found Miss Donnelly at her embroidery in the newly cleaned drawing room. “Miss Donnelly.” He tapped lightly at the door before entering. 

“Yes, Mr. Lansing,” she spoke without looking up from her stitches. “Has the physician seen the gentleman? What news does he give about the man’s health?” 

“The physician came and went, Miss Donnelly. The gentleman, as we suspected, lost a good deal of blood. The doctor says with the blood loss and his head injury, the man is likely to sleep several days. Mr. Addison fears some mental functions may be affected. I placed Conrad in the man’s room to observe his progress and tend to his health. The staff is cleaning the gentleman and his room. Mrs. Lewis cleaned his clothing as you specified.” 

“Thank you, Mr. Lansing. I may attempt to visit the gentleman later.”

“Yes, Miss Donnelly.”

Posted in book excerpts, book release, books, British history, Georgian England, Georgian Era, giveaway, heroines, historical fiction, Jane Austen, Living in the Regency, marriage, marriage customs, Pride and Prejudice, publishing, Regency era, Regency romance, research, Ulysses Press, Vagary, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Abolitionism in the UK and the Rerelease of “Darcy’s Temptation” + a Giveaway

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, a movement took root to end the practice of slavery in the United Kingdom, as well as the British empire, including putting an end to the Atlantic slave trade. Western Europe and the Americas were already in the middle of their own movements at the time.

Buying and selling slaves was made illegal across the British Empire in 1807, but this law did not address the ownership of slaves, which was a practice not made illegal until 1833. The act was partly enforced by the West Africa Squadron of the Royal Navy. The Act imposed a fine of £100 for every slave found aboard a British ship. Despite the end of slavery in Great Britain did not end the practice of other parts of the British Empire. British banks continued to finance the commodities and shipping industries in the colonies, which they had previously establish, especially in the West Indian colonies.

In 1785, the English poet William Cowper, a reported favorite of Jane Austen, wrote . ..

We have no slaves at home.—Then why abroad?
And they themselves once ferried o’er the wave
That parts us, are emancipate and loos’d.
Slaves cannot breathe in England; if their lungs
Receive our air, that moment they are free,
They touch our country and their shackles fall.
That’s noble, and bespeaks a nation proud
And jealous of the blessing. Spread it then,
And let it circulate through ev’ry vein
Of all your empire. That where Britain’s power
Is felt, mankind may feel her mercy too.

Cowper, William, The task: a poem, in six books. By William Cowper (London: printed for J. Johnson, 1785), p. 47

After the formation of the Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade in 1787, William Wilberforce led the cause of abolition through the parliamentary campaign. After the 1807 Slave Trade Act, Wilberforce continued his campaign to see the practice abolished throughout the British Empire.

If you have never seen the 2007 movie entitled “Amazing Grace,” I highly recommend it. The film opened in the U. S. on 23 February 2007, which coincided with the 200th anniversary of the date the British parliament voted to ban the slave trade. You will find some period drama favorites (as well as Austen ones) in this film, including Ioan Gruffudd as William Wilberforce, Romola Garai as Barbara Spooner (Wilberforce’s eventual wife), Ciarán Hinds as Lord Tarleton, Rufus Sewell as Thomas Clarkson, Youssuu N’ Dour as Olaudah Equiano (one of the most prominent Africans involved in the debate involving slavery), Michael Gambon as Lord Charles Fox, Albert Finney as John Newton (the author of the poem upon which the hymn “Amazing Grace” comes), Benedict Cumberbatch as William Pitt, Sylvestra Le Touzel as Marianne Thornton, and Toby Jones as the Duke of Clarence.

As I mentioned above, the buying and selling of slaves was made illegal across the British Empire in 1807, but owning slaves was permitted until it was outlawed completely in 1833, beginning a process where from 1834 slaves became indentured “apprentices” to their former owners until emancipation was achieved for the majority by 1840 and for remaining exceptions by 1843. Former slave owners received formal compensation for their losses from the British government, known as compensated emancipation.

The 1807 act’s intention was to outlaw the slave trade within the British Empire, but the lucrative trade continued despite the law. Captains knowing they were about to be set upon by the British Royal Navy would throw slaves into the sea to mitigate the fines they would incur. Abolitionist Henry Brougham realized the slave trade would continue, so, in 1811, as a new Member of Parliament, Brougham introduced the Slave Trade Felony Act. This law made slave trading a criminal felony throughout the British empire, meaning British subjects worldwide. The law permitted the Royal Navy to pursue slave traders without hesitation. In 1827, the British defined slave trade as a form of piracy and made the action punishable by death.

Obviously, this subject is much more complex than the overview I have provided, and it is often a sore point for many. The abolitionist movement proves to be a backdrop for the story going on between Miss Georgiana Darcy and Mr. Chadwick Harrison in Darcy’s Temptation. Harrison has inherited an estate not far from Pemberley. He has arrived in England, fresh from the Americas, where he has become a strong supporter of being rid of slavery in the British Empire. Fitzwilliam Darcy does not disagree with the man’s principles, but he also does not approve of Harrison’s possible courtship of his sister Georgiana. Darcy means to keep Georgiana safely tucked away from the violence which sometimes surrounds the issue and the man.

In this excerpt, Darcy has escorted Georgiana to London for her Come Out. He means to introduce her to other possible suitors, but Harrison has followed, and Georgiana responds in a “bold” manner. Please remember this romance began at the end of Darcy’s Passions, meaning it has been nearly a year since the couple has taken each other’s acquaintance and about two-thirds the way through Darcy’s Temptation.

Going down the line on Darcy’s arm, Georgiana’s eyes surveyed the room. Out of the shadows stepped a familiar figure, and she felt her heart skip a beat. He motioned with his eyes to the balcony, and she nodded slightly in agreement. A blush overspread her body, and Georgiana suddenly felt warmth spread through each of her limbs. Darcy, thankfully, dropped into his usual silence and did not take note of the changes in his sister. When the set concluded, Georgiana excused herself, saying she required some fresh air, and headed toward the main entrance. She wanted her brother to think she exited the way they came into the hall, but once out of his sight lines, she circled inconspicuously until she slipped through the barely opened door to the small balcony. 

“Miss Darcy,” she heard his voice before she could make out his features. 

“Mr. Harrison,” she gasped, unable to control her excitement. They made quick bows to each another before she boldly stepped forward to face him. “You were missed, sir,” she whispered. 

“As were you, Miss Darcy.” His voice suddenly became hoarse. 

“I did not expect to see you in London,” she whispered again, thinking her voice betrayed her delight at seeing him. 

“I am being courted by some members of Parliament,” he told her quickly, “to accept a seat recently vacated in the House of Commons.” 

She asked hopefully, “Then you will be in London for some time?” 

Harrison’s countenance fell, and Georgiana saw how her words bothered him. “My time in London is short—only a few days, but I could not permit my time in the City to pass without seeing you, Miss Darcy.” 

“Say my name,” she said suddenly and moved closer still. 

Harrison caressed her jaw line, allowing his thumb to massage her temple. “Georgiana,” he whispered, earnestly filled with desire. 

“Chadwick.” Georgiana snaked her arms around his neck as he pulled her closer to him. 

“You are the most unpredictable woman I have ever seen,” he declared. 

“Do I shock you?” She buried her face into his chest, not believing her boldness. 

Harrison lifted her chin and looked deeply into Georgiana’s eyes. “I am a man who requires your assurances; if I am shocked, it is of the most pleasant kind.” He bent to kiss her lips, willing Georgiana to respond to him. 

The kiss built in intensity. His tongue parted her lips and searched the inside of her mouth. At first, she held back her passion, but then Georgiana followed suit, allowing herself to taste his lips and mouth fully. 

Breathing heavily, they parted reluctantly, and Georgiana stepped away from him to settle her composure. “I must return before my brother misses me,” she said at last. 

Harrison moved up behind her. “Like at Matlock, the set before we go in to supper is mine, Georgiana.” He laced his fingers through hers. 

Georgiana rested her head upon his shoulder to feel his closeness once more. “I will be waiting for you.” Her heart fluttered with excitement as she touched his face briefly and then slipped back through the door to the ballroom. 

Harrison waited ten minutes before he, too, returned to the room, partly because he wanted to make certain no signs of impropriety followed her and partly because it took nearly so long for him to recover from his desire to hold Georgiana Darcy in his arms. 

Returning to the room, Georgiana danced with several other partners and once more with Henry Dorchester, thankful it would be the last time she must tolerate his attentions on this evening. Throughout the set, she searched for Chadwick Harrison’s face, nearly believing she had dreamed him into existence, and he was not really here in this same arena as she. Distractedly, she mumbled her responses to Dorchester’s silly observations. At last, the dance ended, and she found herself by Darcy’s side once again. 

Nervously, she waited Harrison’s approach, finally feeling his presence before he actually stood behind her. “Miss Darcy,” his voice recovered its resonant qualities, “if you are not otherwise engaged, may I request the honor of the next dance?” 

Georgiana shot a quick glance at her brother, who betrayed nothing in his countenance, before answering him. “Mr. Harrison,” she feigned surprise, “I was unaware you were in London, sir.” 

“I only arrived this afternoon,” he bowed to Darcy, and then he extended his hand to Georgiana. 

She smiled brightly at him and accepted his arm as he led her to the dance floor. For thirty minutes he would be able to drink in her beauty and goodness; heaven enveloped him. Georgiana felt very much the same; for the next half hour her life would be perfect. 

Darcy’s Temptation: A Sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

The day Fitzwilliam Darcy marries Elizabeth Bennet, he thinks his life is complete at last. Four months later, even greater joy appears on the horizon when Elizabeth finds out she is pregnant. But it is not long before outside forces intrude on their happiness. When the unthinkable happens, Elizabeth and Darcy must discover their love for each other all over again.

Romantic and insightful, Darcy’s Temptation captures the original style and sardonic wit of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice while weaving its beloved characters into an exciting new tale. In a story set against the backdrop of the British abolitionist movement, family difficulties and social affairs weigh heavily on the newlyweds, and a dramatic turn of events forces Elizabeth to try to recapture Darcy’s love before the manipulative Cecelia McFarland succeeds in luring him away.

GIVEAWAY: I have two eBook copies of Darcy’s Temptation available to those who comment below. Winners will be contacted by email.

Posted in America, American History, book excerpts, book release, British history, British Navy, eBooks, England, excerpt, film, film adaptations, Georgian England, Georgian Era, giveaway, historical fiction, history, Jane Austen, Living in the UK, Pride and Prejudice, publishing, reading habits, real life tales, Realm series, Regency era, Regency personalities, Regency romance, religion, research, romance, Vagary, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Nature and Music and the Importance of the Two in the Rerelease of “Darcy’s Temptation” + a Giveaway

Most of us would likely agree there is a relationship between music and nature. Listening to a babbling brook, the chirping of birds, and even the silence of snow are all common ingredients to which we can relate.

In writing Darcy’s Temptation, I wished Georgiana Darcy, who most Jane Austen Fan Fiction (JAFF) authors depict as not only a lover of music, but also as a musician with remarkable talent, to discover a mature love thanks to her music. Her romantic interest in this novel is a man who has an inherited a nearby estate, but also a man of principles, many of which do not quite align with those of Fitzwilliam Darcy’s. Darcy is a man who believes much of what Chadwick Harrison says, but he is not one to take an open stance against hypocrisy for fear it would reflect poorly on his family and place them in danger. Such is the reason he does not approve of Harrison’s possible courtship of Georgiana, not that the man’s station or his wealth is in question, but Harrison speaking out against slavery may place Georgiana in danger. Darcy has yet to discover his voice, although privately he has pursued connections to abolitionists leaders such as Hannah Moore, but that is the topic for a different post.

This post deals with the connection between music and nature. In her senior theses, Katricia D. F. Stewart, speaks of Taoist philosophers proposing music to be “a potent cosmic force capable of expanding human intelligence and enhancing communion with the non-human world” [De Woskin] The connection between music and nature is reflected in works the modern day American composers David Dunn and Pauline Oliveros “who propose that (1) listening is one of the best means for understanding our profound physical interconnectedness with the natural world, and (2) the ability to listen is the source of human creativity and intelligence. The idea of nature’s music being connected to, if not a primary source of, the human capacity for wisdom and inspiration has many roots that reach far back into human history have prevailed over time. What these ancient and modern philosophies have in common is their suggestion that attentive listening to nature helps us to perceive the interconnectedness of life – our integration with the natural world – via hearing and internalizing layers of the natural
environment our eyes simply cannot perceive. Although all of these philosophies emphasize the importance of sound and listening for intelligence, creativity, and wisdom, the modern philosopher-composers also argue an unawareness of sound is an indication of being disconnected with one’s environment, which too often occurs in urban areas most of us in Western society live in. Many other
philosophies throughout history have reflected this sentiment, making music an integral and
ubiquitous aspect of everyday life. Science – about two thousand years behind – is only just
beginning to demonstrate the physical, emotional, and mental affects of both nature and music on
human emotion and psyche, shedding light on why these two elements have always been so
critical to human life.”

The KCRW Podcast tells us, “Music has been used to communicate and to coordinate with others for thousands of years, but humans weren’t the first source of song. Birds, whales, and even bats are frequently defined by their use of musical patterns to attract mates, deter rivals, or to define who they are. From lullabies to hip-hop, we all have an affinity for music and benefit from the ways it enriches our lives. Liverpool University Professor of Music Michael Spitzer traces our relationship to music in his latest book “The Musical Human: A History of Life on Earth,” and describes music as our “umbilical cord” to Mother Nature.”  

The blurb for this book says it all:

165 million years ago saw the birth of rhythm

65 million years ago came the first melody.

40 thousand year ago Homo sapiens created the first musical instrument.

Today, music fills our lives. How we have created, performed and listened to music throughout history has defined what our species is and how we understand who we are. Yet it is an overlooked part of our origin story.

The Musical Human takes us on an exhilarating journey across the ages – from Bach to BTS and back – to explore the vibrant relationship between music and the human species. With insights from a wealth of disciplines, world-leading musicologist Michael Spitzer renders a global history of music on the widest possible canvas, from global history to our everyday lives, from insects to apes, humans to artificial intelligence.


But what of my story? Below is an excerpt from Chapter 15 where Georgiana teaches Mr. Harrison something of music and nature, or is her lesson something of true love?

Chapter 15 

“How wonderful, how very wonderful the operations of time, 

and the changes of the human mind.” 

Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, 1814

From the hill overlooking Pemberley House, Chadwick Harrison espied her walking away from her home and immediately turned his mount from the road leading to the carriageway and instead circled the building to follow Georgiana to her destination. In reality, it was she he had come to see; it was she to whom he must say his goodbyes.

Early afternoon found Georgiana climbing the hill behind the house, taking in the warmth of the spring sun. The stress of finding her brother required a more demanding walk than usual for the delicate-natured Georgiana. She neared the glade separating the lake from the foothills and took a seat on a hollowed-out log. Raising her face to the sun, Georgiana closed her eyes and listened to the world. 

She took her pleasure in the quiet of the glade and the unseasonable warmth of the day. Unaware of Mr. Harrison’s presence, she gathered some wildflowers and sat twirling a long stalk as if conducting an orchestra, eyes closed and engrossed in her own world. 

She had no idea how Harrison, captivated by the image of the sunlight reflecting off her golden locks, watched with longing. He wanted to take her in his embrace and kiss the nape of her neck. His eyes drank in her beauty, and it was with great difficulty he finally spoke her name. “Miss Darcy.” His voice was husky with desire. 

She turned calmly as if expecting him to find her in this special place. “Mr. Harrison, this is a most pleasant surprise.” Her eyes held a new light of recognition especially for him. 

“It seems I lost my way to Pemberley.” He gave her a smile of amusement. “But I managed to find you.” His smile grew by the moment. “Mayhap you might save a wayward soul.” 

“I am afraid, sir, saving souls belongs in the realm of duties of Mr. Ashford. All I might offer you is the music.” Georgiana dropped her eyes as he approached. 

Harrison found her words intriguing. “The music, Miss Darcy?” 

“Come, Mr. Harrison, and sit by me, and permit me to introduce you to the music.” Georgiana looked him directly in the eyes and bid him do as she said. She had never felt so brave—so in control of her world.

Harrison, thankfully, moved to the log and took a seat. “Give me your hand, Mr. Harrison, and close your eyes.” Georgiana touched each of his eyelids with her fingertips. She heard the deep intake of breath he took, giving her the confidence to continue. 

She spoke softly, nearly in his ear, and she knew he could feel the warmth of her breath against his cheek, for he shivered, just as did she. “Keep your eyes closed, Mr. Harrison, and listen to the music—the music is in the wind, in the rush of the reeds by the lake, and in the sun dancing off your face.” She slipped her hand in his, and he tightened the grip. They sat as such for a few moments; then she said, “Do you hear the music, Mr. Harrison?” 

A smile crept into the corners of his mouth. “Who would think it possible? A man can hear something where nothing is there. Do you hear the grasshopper singing, Miss Darcy? How about the wings of the birds beating out a rhythm overhead?” 

Harrison sat still, and she enjoyed the feeling of his hand as it encircled hers and of his closeness—his warmth along her shoulder. His words brought Georgiana’s attention to his face, at first thinking he teased, but realizing Harrison listened with all his being just as she did.  She could not look away, memorizing the lines forming on his forehead and around his eyes. 

“Do you hear the sandy swish of the leaves against each other at the top of the tree? Can you hear the rippling sound of the water as it drips from the hill to the waiting pool?” she whispered in his ear. 

Harrison turned his head slowly, gradually opening his eyes and coming face to face with her at last. Only inches apart, he asked, “Georgiana, can you hear the beating of my heart?” 

His use of her familiar name opened an intimacy denied to them in public. “I hear it, Chadwick.” 

“Georgiana,” he whispered with such passion it should frighten her. Instead, it drew her deeper into the spell surrounding them. Hypnotized by their closeness, he asked, “Might I kiss you, Georgiana? Your beauty and your kindness steals my breath away.” She wondered if he, too, felt his control dissolving into the desire they shared. 

She did not deny him—did not say a word. Just waited. Finally, he lowered his lips to touch hers, and the firmness with which she responded surprised even her. His arms encircled her as he deepened the kiss. When he reluctantly withdrew, his breath came in short bursts. Likewise, did hers. Georgiana instinctively rested her head against his shoulder, breathing in the smell of his desire and mixing it with the essence of hers. “My dearest Georgiana,” he whispered into her ear, “what does a wish sound like?” 

The delight of her giggle started deep within her. She withdrew just far enough to see his eyes. “I do not know the music found in a wish, but I know the feel of it.” She traced his lips with her fingertips. 

Harrison kissed her fingertips lightly and then returned to her mouth for one last time before he would be required to part from her. The memory of those kisses must sustain both him and her for many months. “Georgiana,” his voice played soft against her hair, “I must take my leave of your family today.” 

“I know, Mr. Harrison.” Her voice was muffled by his cravat as she leaned into him. 

“Must it be ‘Mr. Harrison,’ Georgiana?”

“Chadwick.” She smiled at him. 

Harrison’s smile widened. “You never cease to amaze me, Georgiana.” 

“You will be missed, sir.” She sat up and began to straighten her dress, but she looked back to caress Harrison’s jaw line. 

Harrison looked deep into her eyes, and an imprecation escaped his lips. “I wish I never made a promise to your sister.” 

“My birthday is not until late August,” she taunted. 

Harrison gasped, “You know?”

“Of course I know.” 

“Then you will wait for me?” 

They both knew they had overstepped the bounds of propriety, but with the changes in the assemblage at Pemberley, neither expected him to be invited often to the house, if at all. Their chances of encountering each other regularly had decreased with the return of her brother. 

Georgiana looked away. “My brother plans to present me to Society this year.” 

“How? With Mrs. Darcy’s lying in?” 

“I made the same argument.” The tears welled in Georgiana’s eyes. “He says it is our duty—my duty to my family.” 

Distress played across her face for all the world to view.

“Georgiana,” his voice came out huskily, “I will do what you want me to do. You know my desire—my regard lies with you. Send word, and I will come for you at any time. I know I should not say these words to you, but I love you.” 

Georgiana blushed, but she did not look away. “I will not allow my brother to arrange a marriage for me. I will choose to whom I present my regard. I will wait for you, Chadwick.” The resolve in her voice was a surprise to her, for she did not often practice such “stubbornness,” but her actions felt right, nonetheless. “I must return to the house; they will miss me soon.” Looking about anxiously, she stood to take her leave. 

Harrison walked to where his horse grazed nearby. “I will circle around the house and come out on the carriageway. I should be making my farewells by the time you arrive home.” He prepared to mount, but Georgiana stood close, and so they embraced once more. “Miss Darcy, thank you for giving me the gift of music.” He caressed her jaw line, and then he swung himself up into the saddle. 

“I will wait,” she said again with more determination, “for you, Mr. Harrison, I will wait.” 


Did you enjoy that excerpt? Our once foolish Miss Darcy has “screwed her courage to the sticking place.” Darcy’s Temptation is a sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, but it also serves as a sequel to my first novel, Darcy’s Passions. Both books were originally published by Ulysses Press, which presented me my start upon a writing career nearly 15 years ago. This is a rerelease of the original novel with a new cover, but, basically it is the same book – no major changes in the plot.

Darcy’s Temptation: A Sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

The day Fitzwilliam Darcy marries Elizabeth Bennet, he thinks his life is complete at last. Four months later, even greater joy appears on the horizon when Elizabeth finds out she is pregnant. But it is not long before outside forces intrude on their happiness. When the unthinkable happens, Elizabeth and Darcy must discover their love for each other all over again.

Romantic and insightful, Darcy’s Temptation captures the original style and sardonic wit of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice while weaving its beloved characters into an exciting new tale. In a story set against the backdrop of the British abolitionist movement, family difficulties and social affairs weigh heavily on the newlyweds, and a dramatic turn of events forces Elizabeth to try to recapture Darcy’s love before the manipulative Cecelia McFarland succeeds in luring him away.

Sources for the Article on Music and Nature:

[De Woskin, K. (2002). Chinese Philosophy and Aesthetics. In The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music: East Asia, Vol 7 (ed. Robert C. Provine, Yosihiko Tokumaru, and J. Lawrence Witzleben). New York, NY: Routledge.]

Stewart, Katricia D. F., Linfield College, Senior Theses. Digital Commons. “The Essentialism of Music in Human Life and Its Roots in Nature.”

Giveaway: I have two eBook copies of Darcy’s Temptation Available for those who comment below. Winners will be contacted by email.

Posted in book excerpts, book release, books, British history, eBooks, Georgian England, Georgian Era, giveaway, heroines, historical fiction, Jane Austen, Living in the Regency, marriage, Pride and Prejudice, publishing, Regency era, Regency romance, research, Ulysses Press, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Derbyshire and Well Dressings and the ReRelease of “Darcy Temptation” + a Giveaway

The origin of the practice of what is known as “well dressings” is a bit of a mystery. Most believe the celebration dates back to the Celts, but few places, other than Derbyshire and Staffordshire, England, have kept the tradition. It is assumed Derbyshire’s, in particular, remoteness kept the tradition from being usurped by the later Roman, Saxon, Danish and Norman invasions. Early Christians considered the decoration of wells as a pagan ritual, worshipping a water god. However, eventually, the churches relented. Today, most villages hold a church service to bless the well, which is followed by a carnival-like celebration. 

Tissington was the first village to re-introduce the practice, as far back as 1349. The celebration was to mark the fact Tissington had escaped the Black Death. The Black Death was a devastating global epidemic of bubonic plague that struck Europe and Asia in the mid-1300s. The clean water taps were decorated by the villagers.

In a “well dressing” ceremony, wells and springs are decorated with pictures made from flowers and other natural materials. The pictures are constructed on a wooden frame, which has been soaked in a nearby river to make certain it is very wet. The frame has a wet clay backing to hold the flowers, etc. First, the outline of the image is made. Then the designer adds the more durable elements (those that do not dry up quickly). These are likely to be seeds, bark, pine needles, moss, etc. Finally, the flower petals are added. (In the U. S., much the same process is used to create the floats in the annual Rose Parade.) The items chosen for the image depend on whether the celebration is a spring one or occurs in the autumn. (which has a great section on the construction of the dressings) tells us, “In the early days, the dressing of wells would have taken the form of simple arrangements of flowers and other natural materials. In this form it takes place today in many parts of the world. The unique Derbyshire tradition of elaborate pictures made for the most part of individual flower petals pressed onto clay covered boards seems to date from Victorian times, when there were many movements afoot to revive and enhance old folk traditions. The earliest recorded examples are in Tissington, but the tradition quickly spread to other villages. Sometimes, as in Youlgrave, the Dressings appeared at the village taps (pumps or fountains) to celebrate the arrival of piped water; hence the reason why they are sometimes known as Tap Dressings.

“One example of Tap Dressing was in Endon in the mid-19th century, possibly as early as 1845. Endon is in Staffordshire, thus disproving the commonly held belief that Well Dressing beyond the boundaries of Derbyshire is a recent phenomenon. Like Tissington and Youlgrave, Endon continues the Well Dressing tradition to the present day.

“Another commonly held misconception is that Tissington is always the first Well Dressing of the year. This used to be true; Tissington has kept to the tradition of holding its Well Dressing Festival on Ascension Day, while the next group of dressings typically occurred at Whitsun. With the introduction of May holidays on fixed dates, however, a number of venues now hold their events in the early part of May. Because Ascension Day is a moveable feast, these can occur before of after the date of Tissington.

“Quite a number of town and villages have a long standing tradition of Well Dressing going back to the late 19th or early 20th centuries. Others have come and gone over the years, but the last few decades of the 20th century saw a great revival of the craft, with many villages in Derbyshire taking up the tradition. Villages in other counties did so too, often as a result of a former Derbyshire resident moving there. A kind of peak was reached with the Millennium Year when everyone seemed to pull out all the stops to make a great celebration. After that a slight malaise seemed to set in and a number of established venues disappeared from the calendar. Writing nearly a decade later, I am happy to be able to record another revival under way; although we may still be losing a few old established and much loved venues, many more new events are seeing the light of day each year.”



Winter Well Dressing – Buxton ~

JeffersDTAbove is the original cover of Darcy’s Temptation, published by Ulysses Press on September 10, 2009. The book was chosen as a 2009 Booksellers’ Best Award Finalist in the Long Historical Category

About two years ago, I received the rights back to all my books from Ulysses Press as they were going to focus on nonfiction books, rather than fiction. As audiobooks are expensive for the self-published author to absorb, I permitted Ulysses to continue to distribute the audio rights for the all the titles I published with them. Below is the new cover for Darcy’s Temptation. It released today, January 23, 2023. 

Note: In Darcy’s Temptation, Elizabeth and Georgiana purposefully dress in the same colors as the women in the winter well dressing depiction. It becomes a wonderful scene where Mr. Darcy’s learns a proper lesson regarding his new wife.


The Black Death

The Evolving Art of Well Dressing – Atlas Obscura (includes many wonderful images)

Visit Peak District

Well Dressing and Well Flowers – Historic UK


Darcy’s Temptation: A Sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

The day Fitzwilliam Darcy marries Elizabeth Bennet, he thinks his life is complete at last. Four months later, even greater joy appears on the horizon when Elizabeth announces she is pregnant. But it is not long before outside forces intrude on their happiness. When the unthinkable happens, Elizabeth and Darcy must discover their love for each other all over again.

Romantic and insightful, Darcy’s Temptation captures the original style and sardonic wit of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice while weaving its beloved characters into an exciting new tale. In a story set against the backdrop of the British abolitionist movement, family difficulties and social affairs weigh heavily on the newlyweds, and a dramatic turn of events forces Elizabeth to recapture Darcy’s love before the manipulative Cecelia McFarland succeeds in luring him away.

GIVEAWAY: I have two eBooks available to those who comment below. Winners will be contacted by email.

Posted in book release, British history, buildings and structures, Church of England, customs and tradiitons, Georgian England, Georgian Era, heroines, historical fiction, Jane Austen, Living in the Regency, marriage, Pride and Prejudice, publishing, reading habits, real life tales, Regency era, Regency romance, research, tradtions, Vagary, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Cost of a Woman’s Clothing in the Regency Era

Recently, I had someone ask me about the cost of such items as court gowns for presentation to the queen and dresses for the London season. Another question came only a week or so later asking about food stuffs, etc. Therefore, in this post, I hope to provide a mixture of tidbits I have accumulated over the last decade or so of writing Regencies. I keep them all in a 600+ page file. LOL! Hopefully, they will assist others in search of details for their own stories.

A court gown could be anything from a hundred pounds or so to several hundred guineas. Keep in mind, this is not just the gown for presentation to the Queen. The price would also include shoes, stocking, jewels, a fan, gloves, headdress, possibly a cloak or outer garment. All this adds up. Court gown could generally only be worn once, but sometimes they might be constructed to be adapted and reused. I used that particular idea in my Realm series for Lady Eleanor Fowler and Miss Velvet Aldridge, the heroines of A Touch of Scandal and A Touch of Velvet, respectively. They were cousins and were presented on the same day. The cost of a court dress could run anywhere from £200 and upward to £500. Sometimes more.

Author Candice Hern on her Regency World website tells us, “The rules of Court directed that ladies should wear skirts with hoops and trains, and that white ostrich feathers be worn in the hair, attached to lappets which hung below the shoulders. These rules had been in place long before George III took the throne. In his predecessor’s day the skirts were enhanced with panniers that stood out very wide on either side, but leaving the front and back flat. The intent of such odd-looking dresses was to display a broad swath of beautifully embroidered fabric, some of which had pictorial or floral scenes that used the entire front of the skirt as a canvas. Side panniers had been replaced by normal round hoops by the time George III came to the throne in 1760. In the last decade of the 18th century, the fashion for wide skirts began to evolve into the slim, vertical line associated with Regency dress. Queen Charlotte, however, held firm on the rules of Court Dress, and ladies were forced to adapt those rules to the current style, which produced a very odd-looking garment with the high-waist under the bosom and a full hoped skirt.

“The presentations took place at St. James’s Palace at events called Drawing Rooms, where the monarch and/or his Queen received those attending Court. Presentation Drawing Rooms were held two or three times a week during the Season. Based on letters and diaries of the time, it was so stressful an experience that it was regarded more as a duty than a pleasure. The young woman to be presented stood sometimes for hours (one never sat in the presence of the Queen) waiting for her name to be announced by the Lord Chamberlain. She then walked to where the Queen sat and made a deep curtsy — which had been practiced and practiced while wearing the hooped skirt. A few pleasantries were exchanged, the young woman answering any question the Queen put to her, but no more. When the Queen indicated she was dismissed, the young woman made one more deep curtsey, and then had to walk backwards out of the royal presence (one never turned one’s back on the Queen) all the while dealing with the obstacle of her train so as not to trip over it.” Again, all these rules can be seen within the stories I mentioned above.

To determine the cost of a London season, one could estimate costs for materials and then add in an extra ten or twenty percent for production. For a full season, a young lady would required walking dresses, morning dresses, evening gowns, riding habits, shoes, boots, half-boots, gloves, stockings, undergarments, bonnets, shawls, muffs (when in fashion), parasols (when in fashion), fans, dominos, spencers, cloaks, pelisses, reticules, more jewelry, and all made to match or create an ensemble. A person could pretty much spend what you could afford. There would also be ribbons, handkerchiefs, perfumes, creams, powders, and all sorts of “extras” the young lady might wish to purchase during her season. These costs, naturally, did not include the entertainments, subscriptions, theater seats, lending libraries, ices at Gunters or the cost of a dancing master or music lessons.

The actual cost of gowns would depend not just on the modiste hired to construct the garment, but also the materials–gold and silver netting and embroidery, expensive laces, spangles, seed pearls, velvets, etc. Then, of course, there was the actual cost of a season: There was the cost of a house rental if one did not actually own a house and the cost of upkeep and staffing a house if one was available to the family. A woman’s bride clothes, obviously, she could not be seen in any of the same dresses she had worn during the Season. The cost could run a couple thousand pounds.

One must remember in the Georgian era, dress shops would be places where one could be fitted and to select fabric, but not buy off the rack, so to speak. Linen drapers were more apt to be patronized than “dress shops” as women of this era were skilled needlewomen.

If you require more information on fashion of the era, I might suggest, Jody Gayle’s Fashion in the Era of Jane Austen: Ackermann’s Repository of Arts. It even includes a listing of actual proprietors, dressmakers, and the like, as well as their addresses.


You might also choose one of Suzi Love’s series on the Regency Era. For example one might find Fashion Women 1810-1814 : History Notes helpful. [Note: many of the fashion books are specific to years.] I use many of Suzi’s history note books as resources.


Another excellent reference for cost of fabrics, shoes, hats, gloves and more is this invaluable book is English Women’s Clothing in the Nineteenth Century: A Comprehensive Guide with 1,117 Illustrations by C. Willett Cunningham. It even includes hairstyles.

In this book, the author does comment that the prices listed are those he found in advertisements and therefore were street or average prices. Fine modistes would charge much more.

On a side NOTE, clothes for a young lady’s Come Out would not be considered part of a trousseau. Presentation clothes were made for the lady’s presentation at court or presentation to society, as a whole. These clothes were, generally, not worn after marriage. Think about it: A woman would not know her expected married status until after she was engaged, so her trousseau might include a few things, but would not really be started when she was just being presented to society. She would not know her future status until it was set and then she could proceed as either about to become a duchess or a mere Mrs. So-and-So. Also consider what would happen if a young lady required more than one season to find herself a husband.

In the Regency, if one had a pound, it would be equal to . . .

240 Pence (or) 20 Shillings

There were 12 Pence to a Shilling.

5 Shillings was a Crown (a silver dollar sized coin in Jane Austen’s time).

4 Crowns was a Pound.

Guinea (always gold) was 21 Shillings (a super pound).

Guineas were replace by sovereigns (20 shillings) in 1817, but high end stores continued to price items in guineas.

Jane Austen mentions some prices for inexpensive fabric in her letters, but it could run up to a couple pounds an ell (a former measure of length equivalent to six hand breadths) used mainly for textiles, locally variable but typically about 45 inches and the dresses needed several ells.

The information below comes from 2008, so it is that year’s conversion rates, which was nearly $2/£1.

To convert to the Regency era, with 5 shillings to the crown, such would make a pair of silk stockings a little over two crowns. One can find a complete explanation of Old English Money (post 1066 but pre-1971) at British Life and Culture. There is even a conversion calculator to take pence, crowns, and two bob bits to modern currency (just to give you an idea of how much something comparatively cost).

From The Guardian on old English coins . . .

I found a post a while back that listed prices for various items during Jane Austen’s time. Two sources are cited, so there is a documentation trail, FWIW. (What the Heck is a Pelisse?)

Silk stockings — 12 shillings (£20.38 or $40.24 in today’s currency!)

Woolen stockings — 2 shillings 6 pence (£4.25 or $8.39)

A white silk handkerchief² — 6 shillings (£10.19 or $20.12)

A pair of gloves² — 4 shillings (£6.79 or $13.41)

A simple white dress — 5 shillings (£8.49 or $16.77)

A fan — 5 shillings (£8.49 or $16.77)

Simple shoes 6-11 shillings (£10.19-18.68 or $20.12-36.89)

Walking boots 2 pounds (£67.92 or $134.12)

Cotton fabric — 1 shilling per yard (£1.70 or $3.36)

Enough cotton fabric for a dress — 6 shillings ($20.12)

Velveteen fabric — 2 shillings 10 pence (£4.81 or $9.50)

Enough silk fabric for a dress — 1 pound 6 shillings (£44.15 or $87.18)

**Shawls — if real silk or Kashmir could run £200-300

Shoes  — men’s shoes went from 10 /6 to several pounds for boots so I

think the ladies shoes will  be in the same range.

A silk purse– a coin purse sort of thing–  2 s

some gloves 2/6

Some good references:

From Jane Austen’s World, we find The Economics of Pride and Prejudice or Why a Single Man of with a Fortune of 4000 Per Year Is a Desirable Husband

Kristen Koster has a Primer on Regency Era Fashion, which may be helpful for some:

I also recommend the books Candice Hern references in her article:

Shillings and pence unless specified as guineas. Guineas went out of production  in 1817 but stayed around as prices for luxury goods for a century or two.

    CLOTHES Worked Lace and Muslin Dress Richards & Co 37, Oxford St, 3 doors below Newman St. LBA-1808 June 1808 one – 16 –

    CLOTHES Twill Sarsnet Dress Richards & Co 37, Oxford St, 3 doors below Newman St. worth 1 guinea LBA-1808 June 1808 one-sale – 9 –

    CLOTHES Twill Sarsnet Dress Richards & Co 37, Oxford St, 3 doors below Newman St. worth 1 guinea LBA-1808 June 1808 one-worth – 9 –

    CLOTHES Lustre (dress/cloth) Richards & Co 37, Oxford St, 3 doors below Newman St. LBA-1808June 1808 one – 12 6

    CLOTHES Fancy (Dress/cloth?) Richards & Co 37, Oxford St, 3 doors below Newman St. LBA-180 June 1808 one – 15 –

    CLOTHES Cambric (dress/cloth?) Richards & Co 37, Oxford St, 3 doors below Newman St.; 21shillings LBA-1808 June 1808 one 1 1 –

    CLOTHES Elegant Dresses Forrest & Co: Dresses w/ beautiful border on Leno, Cambric and clear muslin; 16 to 60 shillings LBA-1808 June 1808 one – 16 –

    CLOTHES Elegant Dresses Forrest & Co: Dresses w/ beautiful border on Leno, Cambric and clear muslin; 16 to 60 shillings LBA-1808 June 1808 one 3 – –

    CLOTHES Christmas Ball Dress(preowned) Repositaire a la Mode, 34 Wigmore-St CavendishSq-Mrs. Barrymore TLT-1819-12-25 1808 one – 12 –

    Clothes for the fashionable will be much more. A court gown could cost 300 -1000 guineas.

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The “Churching” of Women After Childbirth

61hN29vqkJL._SX341_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg Although it has largely fallen out of favor with Western religion, the concept of “churching” in the Church of England can be traced well into the 20th Century. (Margaret Houlbrooke. Rite out of Time: a Study of the Ancient Rite of Churching and its Survival in the Twentieth Century (viii + 152pp. + 15 plates, Donington: Shaun Tyas, 2011, ISBN 978-1-907730-10-8). Data from the book “is based on new primary research utilizing ecclesiastical archives and personal testimony of both women and clergy. It mainly deals with churching as practised by the Church of England.

“Much of the evidence-base is qualitative, but some quantitative data are also included, albeit they are not always presented and analysed to optimal effect. Particularly interesting is the study of parochial records for three counties between the 1880s and 1940s, which reveals that the number of churchings was equivalent to two-thirds of baptisms (64% in Berkshire, 63% in Staffordshire, 64% in London). The relevant statistics may be found on pp. 27, 33, 35, 47, 49 and 51 and in plates 9 and 10.” [“Churching of Woman] But what exactly is “churching of women”?

The Christian concept of Churching of Women finds it roots in the Jewish practice spoken of in Leviticus 12:2-8. It is a practice in which women were purified after giving birth. It is a blessing of sorts. The practice includes a “thanksgiving” for the woman’s survival of childbirth. It is performed in the case of a live birth, a stillborn, or even for an unbaptized child that has died. The ceremony draws on the symbolism associated with the presentation of Jesus at the Temple, which is found in the New Testament in Luke 2:22-40. Even though many Christians consider Mary to have given birth to Christ without being despoiled, she is said to have gone to the Temple in Jerusalem to fulfill the requirement of the Law of Moses. 

The custom specifies the ceremonial rite is to be used  to restore ritual purity.  The practice lies in the concept that childbirth makes a woman ritually unclean, meaning the presence of blood and body fluids.. This was part of ceremonial, rather than moral law. [Pope, Charles. “Lost Liturgies File: The Churching of Women”, Archdiocese of Washington]


The women are “reintroduced” to the religion/church/social responsibilities. This practice can be found across a number of cultures. All things having to do with birth and death are understood as somehow sacred. [Knödel, Natalie. “The Thanksgiving of Women after Childbirth, commonly called The Churching of Women”, University of Durham. 1995] In agricultural societies, it is assumed that the practice comes from not permitting a new mother to return to the field too soon. [Marshall, Paul V., Prayer Book Parallels. The public services of the Church arranged for comparative study, New York: The Church Hymnal Corporation, 1989]. In history, we find that women have typically been confined to their beds (or at a minimum, to their homes) for a period following giving birth. Forty days seems to be the customary number of days required for a woman’s “lying in.”Custom differs, but the usual date of churching was the fortieth day after confinement (or giving birth), in accordance with the Biblical date and Jewish practice. The Purification of Mary and the presentation of Jesus at the Temple are commemorated forty days after Christmas. During this time, a female relative took over the responsibilities of running the new mother’s household. If a relative was not available, a “monthly nurse” (a term used in the 18th and 19th centuries) could be hired. The custom of “churching” marked the end of the new mother’s “lying in” and welcomed her back to the community. 

“The rite became the subject of a good deal of misunderstanding as many commentators and preachers, in describing its scriptural antecedents, did not explain the concept clearly, as early as the 6th century protested any notion that defilement was incurred by childbirth and recommended that women should never be separated from the church in case it was seen as such. As a blessing given to mothers after recovery from childbirth, “it is not a precept, but a pious and praiseworthy custom, dating from the early Christian ages”. David Cressy points out that the ceremony acknowledged the woman’s labours and the perils of childbirth. At the conclusion of a month after childbirth, women looked forward to churching as a social occasion, and a time to celebrate with friends. For men it marked the end of a month during which they had to take care of the domestic affairs, commonly referred to as the ‘gander month.'” [“Churching of Women“]

“The service included in the English Book of Common Prayer dates only from the Middle Ages.  While the churching was normally performed by a priest in the parish church there were exceptions of women being churched at home. Prior to the English Reformation, according to the rubric the woman was to occupy the ‘convenient place’ near the parthex. In the first prayer book of Edward VI of England, she was to be ‘nigh unto the quire door.’ In the second of his books, she was to be ‘nigh unto the place where the Table (or altar) standeth.’ Bishop Matthew Wren orders for the diocese of Norwich in 1636 were that women to be churched would come and kneel at a side near the communion table outside the rail, being veiled according to custom, and not covered with a hat. In some parishes there was a special pew known as the ‘churching seat.’

“Churchings were formerly registered in some parishes. In Herefordshire it was not considered proper for the husband to appear in church at the service, or to sit with his wife in the same pew. The words in the rubric requiring the woman to come ‘decently appareled,’ refer to the times when it was thought unbecoming for a woman to come to the service with the elaborate head-dress then the fashion. A veil was usually worn. 

“In pre-Reformation days, it was the custom in English Catholic churches for women to carry lighted tapers when being churched, an allusion to the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin (February 2), celebrated as Candlemas, the day chosen by the Catholic Church for the blessing of the candles for the whole year. At her churching, a woman was expected to make some votive offering to the church, such as the chrisom or alb placed on the child at its christening.” [“Churching of Women”]


Presentation in the Temple, a representation of the presentation of Jesus at the Temple upon which the churching of women is based. (Hans Memling, c. 1470, Museo del Prado. Madrid). ~ Public Domain ~ via Wikipedia

Other Resources: 

“Churching of Women” 

“Churching of Women” from New Advent

“The Churching of Women” from The Church of England

“The Churching of Women – misogynist or not?” from Churchmouse 

“Why Women Stayed Away from the Church After Birth” from The Compass

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