What did our Regency ancestors do in the month of May? Today, Regina Scott, Regency romance author, and Beau Monde Chapter past president, tells us about some of the various activities which took place during the month of May in Regency England. Not all of them may have been the type of activities to which the ton flocked, but there seems little doubt they amused a great many people across Britain during the merry month of May.
A cross-post from The Regency Redingote:
One of my favorite signs of Spring is the arrival in my email box of the Dandy Chargers annual schedule of appearances. For those of you who may not know, the Dandy Chargers are a group of gentlemen, and ladies, in Britain, who are aficionados of that particularly Regency vehicle, the velocipede. Readers of the works of Georgette Heyer may also know this vehicle as the pedestrian curricle which wreaked such havoc in her novel Frederica. These two-wheeled, pedal-less vehicles were also known as hobby-horses, draisiennes, or dandy-horses, and were very popular for a short period during the Regency.
Each year, the Dandy Chargers make appearances through the spring and summer at various venues across Britain, in full Regency costume, riding their hobby-horses. For those of you who live in Britain, or will be spending time there during the next few months, I offer the 2013 schedule of the Dandy Chargers appearances for your perusal and edification.
A Regency Bicentennial cross-post from The Regency Redingote, originally published in April 2011:
For Henry Bone, 15 April 1811 was a red letter day. But for the bank of Marsh, Sibbald, Stracey & Fauntleroy, it was a black day indeed. Over £2,000 shifted from one end of Berners Street to the other that day, and very nearly shuttered the bank forever. It is possible the events of this day also led one of the bank’s officers into a life of clandestine crime which, when it was exposed, would ultimately end with his execution.
How an artist from Cornwall rocked the foundations of a London bank, two hundred years ago, today.
While researching the Theatres-Royal during the Regency period (1811-1820) for my new Valentine’s short story, The Shamrock & The Rose, I found a wealth of information on the choices available to theatergoers in London at that time. More than one theatre had Letters Patent, and could, therefore, claim the name “Theatre-Royal,” and in addition to those, there were more specialized theatres and smaller playhouses as well.
From the variety of choices, it would seem that Londoners often enjoyed an evening at the theatre with as many as 20,000 attending the theatre on any given evening. One could see a drama, perhaps one of Shakespeare’s plays, a light comedy, or an opera, as well as ballet, pantomimes and skits—even a clown! And some of these might be combined into the entertainment for a single evening.
The theatres were lit mostly by candlelight reflected from many chandeliers. Of course, these were not dimmed as the entertainment began, so you could well see everyone in the audience as well as the actors on stage. And they could see you! So what activities you engaged in while in your box had to be discreet. The use of candlelight (until replaced with gaslights) also posed a fire hazard, as evidenced by several of the theatres burning down.
The Theatre-Royal, Covent Garden (now the Royal Opera House) was rebuilt in 1809 after a fire destroyed it the year before. Holding crowds exceeding 3,000, it became, perhaps, the leading theatre of the time. The principal performers at Covent Garden between 1809 and 1822 demonstrate the talent assembled there: In tragedy, Messrs. Kemble, Cooke, Macready, Young, Mrs. Siddons and Miss O’Neill. In comedy, Messrs. Liston, Munden, Charles Mathews, W. Farren, Mesdames Jordan, Brunton, Foote, C. Kemble. In opera, Messrs. Incledon, Braham, Pyne, and Mesdames Catalani, Bolton, Stephens, and Tree. “Kitty” Stephens made her first appearance here in 1812; Miss O’Neill, in 1814; Macready, in 1816; and Farren, in 1818. Several of these actresses and singers moved from the stage to the peerage when they married men in the nobility.
The Theatre-Royal, Drury Lane (mentioned in my Christmas short story, The Holly & The Thistle as providing seasonal entertainment), was redesigned in 1812 after a fire destroyed it in 1809. That was the fourth theatre to be on the site, the first having been constructed in 1663, pursuant to Letters Patent from Charles II. The Drury Lane Theatre was the first theatre to be entirely lit by gaslight in 1817.
The Theatre-Royal, Hay-Market (also known as Haymarket Theatre or the Little Theatre) is in the West End and dates to 1720. (My Valentine’s Day short story, The Shamrock & The Rose opens with a scene set in this theatre.) It was originally constructed in the late 18th century and relocated and redesigned by John Nash in 1820. The new theatre was in many ways the same as the one that preceded it with flat sidewalls, tiers of boxes, a back gallery and the pit. However, the new theatre was much more opulent with colors of pink, crimson and gold and a circular vestibule “almost lined” with mirrors. It was the last theatre to be lit by gaslight (in 1843).
The Sadler’s Wells Theatre in the London Borough of Islington during the Regency featured famous actors, including Edmund Kean and Joseph Grimaldi. Grimaldi, though a dramatic actor, is best remembered for his character “Joey the Clown” with white face and rouge half-moons on each cheek. Because the period was characterized by public drunkenness, the rural location led the management to provide escorts for patrons so they could safely return to central London.
Sadler’s Wells (also known as “The Aquatic Theatre“) was used to stage sensational naval melodramas, including a recreation of Nelson’s victory at the Nile called Naval Pillars, and a recreation of the Franco-Spanish siege of Gibraltar, which included replicas of the fleet of ships, using a one inch to one foot scale, and working miniature cannon.
The Theatres-Royal in Drury Lane and Covent Garden confined their season to the autumn and winter. Sadler’s Wells filled the gap with their shows during the spring and summer. From the playbills I reviewed, the Theatre-Royal at Haymarket seems to have operated nearly year round.
In addition to the major theatres holding thousands, there were many other options for the theatergoer in the Regency:
The Haymarket (King’s Theatre) Opera House was originally built by the architect and playwright Sir John Vanbrugh in 1705. It was destroyed by fire in 1789, and re-built and used extensively for opera.
The Lyceum Theatre first became a “licensed” house in 1809 and was rebuilt in 1816, and renamed The English Opera House. It was famous for being the first theatre in London to feature some gas lighting (1817), and for hosting the London première of Mozart’s Italian opera Così fan tutte.
The Pantheon, constructed on Oxford Street in 1772, was originally designed for balls and masquerades before becoming an opera house in 1791. It was converted to a theatre 1811-12, but its role in the theatres of London was short lived. Damaged by fire and troubled financially owing to irregularities in its license, it was replaced in 1814 by the Pantheon Bazaar.
The Adelphi Theatre was constructed in 1806 by merchant John Scott to showcase his daughter’s theatrical talents, and was given a new facade and redecorated in 1814. It reopened in 1819 as the Adelphi, named after the area of West London built by the brothers Adam from 1768. (The name “Adelphoi” in Greek means “the brothers.”) Among the actors who appeared on its stage was the comedian Charles Matthews, whose work was so admired by young Charles Dickens. Most of its patrons were the salaried clerks of barristers and solicitors.
The Olympic Theatre was a playhouse built from the timbers of the French warship “Ville de Paris” (the former deck serving as the stage). It opened as the “Olympic Pavilion” in 1806. After financial losses, in 1813, it was sold to Robert William Elliston, who refurbished the interior and renamed it the “Little Drury Lane” by virtue of its proximity to the more established patent theatre. It was rebuilt in 1818.
The Royalty Theatre was opened in 1787 by the actor John Palmer in defiance of the 1737 patent monopoly act and featured as its first production As You Like It. Without a proper license it was forced to close–and Palmer was arrested. Under the management of William Macready, the Royalty struggled with pantomimes and burlettas (comic opera). In 1816, it was renamed the “East End Theatre,” and continued to offer entertainment until it was burned down ten years later.
Article by Regan Walker. Visit Regan at www.ReganWalkerAuthor.com
Today you can find Berry Bros. & Rudd wine merchants at No. 3 St. James Street in London—just as you could during the Regency period from 1811 to 1820, though the name over the door then was “George Berry.” This historic establishment has been in business since 1698 at the same location. The current owner, Simon Berry tells me the shop has changed little since it opened. Though the fireplace has been abandoned for central heating, and the cellar is now a place for elegant wine dinners, it still has the original oak plank floors, and it still honors its roots as a merchant selling provisions, exotic spices, tea and coffee—as well as wines from around the world.
Berry’s was first established in 1698 by the Widow Bourne as a grocer’s shop, the “Coffee Mill,” and remained in the hands of the good widow until her daughter, Elizabeth, was successfully wooed by William Pickering. In 1731, Sir Thomas Hanmer, Speaker of the House of Commons, leased the shop to Pickering to be rebuilt along with the houses in the court behind, now known as Pickering Place.
In 1734, William Pickering died and his widow Elizabeth took over the running of the business until 1737, when she handed over both the grocery and the “arms painting and heraldic furnishing” side of the business to her sons William and John. John Pickering died in 1754. With no suitable heir, his brother William took as his partner John Clarke who was distantly related.
By 1765, at the sign of the “Coffee Mill,” (which still hangs from the storefront but cannot be clearly seen in the picture as it’s at a right angle), Berry’s not only supplied the fashionable “Coffee Houses” (later to become Clubs such as Boodles and Whites), but also began weighing customers on giant coffee scales. Records of customers’ weights, including those of the Royal Dukes, Lord Byron, former Prime Minister William Pitt and the Aga Khan, span three centuries and are still added to, to this day.
Berry’s first supplied wine to the British Royal Family during King George III’s reign, and today holds two Royal Warrants for H.M. The Queen and H.R.H. The Prince of Wales.
John Clarke died in 1788, and while he had no son, his daughter, Mary had married John Berry, a wine merchant in Exeter. Their son, George, although only one year old, had already been designated by his grandfather as heir to the Coffee Mill. Before he died, John Clarke found as a suitable “caretaker” to manage affairs, the Browne’s of Westerham, a rich and prospering family of lawyers and yeomen into which John Berry’s sister had married, and they agreed to look after the business until George was old enough to take over.
George was only sixteen in 1803 when he made the two-day journey from Exeter. For seven years he must have played the part of apprentice, for it was not until he was 23, in 1810 that his name was stretched across the double-fronted fascia of No. 3 St James’s Street. And this is how it looked in Regency England.
In 1815, St James’s Street was a very masculine domain (Georgette Heyer describes her heroine in The Grand Sophy as risking her reputation just by driving her phaeton down St James’s Street); however, the Dighton etching of the shop front, which dates from that same year, shows women amongst the male passers-by, and they do not seem to be causing too much scandal. They are either walking with a male companion or as a pair, so perhaps some form of protection was still the norm.
The paving of Westminster’s streets began in the mid 18th century, but wasn’t completed until the mid 19th. Still, the main roads, such as St James’s Street, would have been paved by 1815 as suggested in the etching.
In 1838 the Chartist riots raged through provincial England and spread panic in London. Accompanied by his friend Prince Louis Napoleon, George Berry was sworn in as a special constable. Prince Louis Napoleon, who as Napoleon III founded the Deuxième Empire in 1851, had a close association with Berry’s. During his two-year stay in London he used the cellars for sundry secret meetings with Sherer the (reputed) editor of the “Standard.”
My new Regency Christmas story, The Holly & The Thistle, begins in Berry’s wine shop where the heroine, a young English widow (“the holly”) and the hero, a Scot (“the thistle”) meet just before Christmastide, each believing the other is someone else. It will put you in the mood for Christmas, I promise!
A cross-post from The Regency Redingote:
I must admit, I purloined that delicious phrase from the title of a brief article in The Republican, written by Richard Carlile, about Thomas Bowlder. In fact, it is a very apt description of what he did to some well-known books. His expunged editions of various books remained popular through the nineteenth century and into the twentieth. Bowdler’s name eventually came to be the source of a verb indicating expurgation.
But was Thomas Bowdler the lone "expunger of naughtiness" in the family?
Many modern newspapers carry a column titled News of the Weird. But weird behavior is not just a modern phenomenon. Below are some of my favorite Regency oddities:
Traveling to the UK – What to Know Before You Go
It’s that time of year to think about a vacation/research trip to the UK.
Okay, any time of year is good, but many trips to the UK are in the late spring, summer, or early fall.
2012 is a very exciting year for the UK. With the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Summer Olympics, make sure you’re up to date on what is happening where. My husband and I are heading to the northeast this spring, and we are keeping an eye on where the Olympic torch will be traveling. We hope to see it, but we also want to be aware of possible traffic restrictions. For information on events occurring in conjunction with the Jubilee, check sites such as http://www.2012queensdiamondjubilee.com/ or http://www.thediamondjubilee.org/
Information on the Olympic events as well as route of the Olympic torch can be found at:
Please click the “Details” button for all the helpful details …
Today, Cheryl Bolen gives us a biographical sketch of a coterie of notable Regency Cyprians. Most Regency devotees are well-aware of the notorious courtesan, Harriette Wilson, who blackmailed scores of powerful and famous men when she was writing her memoirs. But did you know she had three sisters who joined her in her scandalous profession?
A cross-post from The Regency Redingote:
The theatres of the Regency did not only glitter with the talents of the great actors who trod their boards. They also glittered with the presence of the many members of the beau monde who flocked to the nightly performances during the season. But more germane to the subject of this article, they glittered with light, all the time. The house lights were never dimmed during a performance in any theatre auditorium in Regency England.
Despite the many instances in scores of Regency romance novels I have read over the years in which the theatre house lights dim and some form of seduction ensues in the darkness, it could not have happened. It was physically and technically impossible to dim the house lights of any theatre auditorium during the years of the Regency. And theatre-goers would have been appalled at the very notion. They came to the theatre to see and be seen. The play itself was secondary to the performances going on in the stalls and private boxes.
To begin The Beau Monde’s new series on Regency Personages, Nancy Mayer,
Regency Researcher Extraordinaire, takes great delight in presenting -
About Lord Byron
About Lord Byron by Nancy Mayer
1788 – 1824In April 1812, Lord Byron “awoke and found himself famous.” The occasion was the publication of the first two cantos of his “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage,” a poetical version of his journey to Greece.
It wasn’t exactly true that he had been unknown before 1812. He had been a man of interest to society ever since his return from travels to Spain and Greece. He was a bachelor peer and a new face on the social scene.
The publication of the poem made people of all classes more aware of him.
Lord Byron had a crippled foot and an air that made him wildly attractive to some females. He became the lion of the hour. He received more invitations than a man could possibly accept. He, also, if all tales are correct, received locks of hair from the head and pubic area of females, as well as gifts, love letters and all the silly things females still send to celebrities.
Not all ladies were attracted to him. Miss Edgeworth wasn’t as impressed by him as he was by her.
The UK Telegraph’s Travel section gives this wonderful suggestion for a Regency walk through parts of London.
– Sue Attwood goes in search of Regency London and finds much of it still just as described in Georgette Heyer’s historical novels.
“A London Twopenny Post letter – 1814″
This letter is addressed to John Stewart Esqre No.16 Queen St Brompton from J. Hill of Rotherhithe. This was on the south side of the Thames and about this time Rotherhithe was still virtually an island, having two swing-bridges connecting it to the rest of Bermondsey/Southwark. 95% of the industry in Rotherhithe was shipbuilding and breaking, and trades directly allied to this. It was (and still remains) a secular, almost independent part of Southwark. The paper is a very heavy type with the watermark R BARNARD 1809, and there are four postal markings on the letter all of them applied by the offices of the Twopenny Post.
Here is another Postal History, this time connected with Napoleon.
This letter, dated 5 February 1805, is addressed to Major Dudingston, Elie, Fifeshire North Britain from G. Nicols in Winchester. It is interesting because many of the events mentioned in the letter refer to things connected with Napoleon‘s battles against the English.
The postal markings on the letter are :-
- London morning duty date stamp in red, FEB 6 1805
- a poor smudged Edinburgh date stamp in red , of the type in use from 1801-1812 where the year was included between the month, in this case FE and the day ’9′
- charge marks: first ”6′ which would have been the rate to get the letter from Winchester the place of posting, to London. There, the clerk would have worked out the whole cost to Scotland, so crossed out the ’6′ and replaced with ‘1/1′.
A Stamp News reader has been exchanging information with me about postage rates, and we have agreed that this is correct for the overall distance of 501 miles from London prior to 12 March 1805. The mileage included the 62 miles from Winchester to London, then the 439 miles London to Elie in Fifeshire. The charge was 10d for up to 300 miles and then 1d for every 100 miles thereafter. It seems a bit mean to have charged the extra 1d when the distance was only one mile over the 500 – particularly as the road distances changed as the roads were improved.
The letter begins with a reference to Major Dudingston’s son Charles
5th of Feby 1805
My dear Dudingston
( Authority to post given by authors.)
To read more, please visit the authors – http://www.earsathome.com
We hope you enjoy Part 2 of Victoria and Albert Museum all Regency era fans will love.
Thomas Hope’s startling juxtaposition of styles included Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Indian elements, as well as his own version of the French Empire style. Classical sculpture and vases were displayed alongside modern paintings and sculpture. Most striking of all was the inventive and exotic furniture that Hope designed specifically for the house.
The Egyptian Room
The Egyptian Room was one of the most inventive interiors of its date in Europe. Here Hope displayed his belief in the importance of the ancient Egyptians to the origins of western culture.Mingling genuine pieces of Egyptian sculpture with exotic furniture designed by himself in an Egyptian manner, he also exploited his novel colour theories. The walls and furniture, he explained, were in the ‘pale yellow and bluish green of the Egyptian pigments, relieved by masses of black and of gold.’
The Statue Gallery
In the Statue Gallery, Hope placed his finest pieces of antique sculpture. The design was austere, with top-lighting, a coffered ceiling and yellow-painted walls. To avoid ‘interfering’ with the contour and purity of the white marble statues, Hope left the walls ‘perfectly plain’. Although Hope believed that many of the sculptures were Greek, they are now recognised as later Roman versions. In the past, critics decried these works as copies, but today Roman sculpture is seen as having value in its own right, as do the interventions of 18th century restorers. These restorations, seen in many of Hope’s antique statues, were the work of dealers catering for the Grand Tour market.
The Vase Room
There were four Vase Rooms at Duchess Street, in which Hope displayed his vast collection of Greek figured vases. The vases, he wrote, ‘relate chiefly to the Bacchanalian rites connected with the representations of mystic death and regeneration’. He therefore designed shelves and cabinets decorated with carved heads of the bearded Bacchus. Also, since many vases had been discovered in tombs near Naples, one room had ‘recesses, imitating the ancient Columbaria, or receptacles of Cinerary urns’. The exhibition features an interior that evokes the Vase Rooms at Duchess Street. The bronze lamp and mahogany display cupboard in this recreated interior came from the Third Vase Room, where furnishings ‘of a quiet hue and of a sepulchral cast’ matched the vases.
The Aurora Room
This theatrical interior was one of Hope’s most inventive and colourful creations at Duchess Street. Mirrors reflected the central feature – the statue of Aurora, goddess of dawn. The walls were hung with ‘satin curtains … of the fiery hue which fringes the clouds just before sunrise’, below ‘a ceiling of cooler sky blue.’ The colours used in the display are an attempt to reproduce faithfully the original decorative scheme. They are also based on surviving contemporary rooms, including those created by Sir John Soane, who visited Duchess Street in 1802.
Free Franks: Some markings used for the Parliamentary Franking System in the U.K.
( Re-posted with the permission of our friends at earsathome.com)
The origin of the Franking System was a decree of the Council of State in 1652, by which correspondence to and from Members of Parliament and of certain State Officials was permitted to pass free through the post. The system lasted till January 10 1840, when the Uniform Penny Postage was introduced.
Abuses soon arose, and regulations were made at various times, about the number and weight of ‘FREE’ letters, the time and place of posting and the method and form of addressing them. In the early days of the system, the written word ‘FRANK’ or ‘FREE’, accompanied by the seal and sometimes the name of the person entitled to the privilege was all that appeared on the letter.
[The items used as illustrations are from our own collection but barely scratch the surface of a complicated study.]
|Manuscript “Free Geo. Bird?”at bottom left of cover.This entire is dated inside ‘Carmarthen March ye 10th 1760′ and despite its age the letter is perfectly legible and is as easily read as the address on the front. In it, the sender, John Rogers mentions a chirograph”.In the centre of the front is the two line ’ CARMAR THEN’ stamp.
On the reverse is a Bishop Mark of 14 MR.
The London Office Stamps
|In the late 1780′s, more decorative types of ‘FREE’ marks began to be used.The initials which were incorporated into the marks were those of the surnames of the various Inspectors of Franks.
This piece is franked by Lord Grenville and dated July 2nd 1792.
|Detail of stamp|
|In 1791 three ring date stamps with initials were brought into use.This piece is dated AP 4 96 and has the initial ‘C’|
|At the beginning of 1800, a type of mark was introduced which showed ‘FREE’ on a crown and contained within a single rim. This mark, with some variations, remained in use until 1807.||This front bears a manuscript”London march twenty first 1800″ and is franked by Lord Inchiquin.|
|This entire has a single rim crowned circle free dated 6 De 6 1831 but the manuscript date reads “Selkirk Octoberthree 1831″.There is no apparent reason for this and it does not appear to have been detected.||In 1832, a mark was introduced for use on letters received on Sunday and posted on Sunday at the Chief and Branch Offices, consisting of a circle surrounded by arcs or scollops. There are many varieties of this mark, differing in size and the number of arcs. The use of these marks continued into the 1860′s.|
|The ‘additional’ stamp for each duty had a cross, differing in size and shape, below the date.||
There are varieties of the crowned circlemarks with the letter ‘O’ or ‘E’ below the date
This front shows an example of the ‘E’ type. The letter was addressed to Oxford Street, London, but was redirected to Dorking, which explains the use of the two free stamps. It has been suggested that the ‘E’ type was used on letters that arrived in London by train in the early afternoon.
|This piece franked by “Will” and dated May eighteen 1834 in manuscript, has the “SUNDAY” mark dated May 18 and with the curved figures in the year. The inner circle is 21mm, and it has 22 arcs around it. The single rim, crowned circle Free mark was applied on May 19th 1834.|
Some Dublin Office Stamps
|The mark shown on this piece was introduced in 1819. This example is dated 29 JU 29 1825. The type appears to have been in use until 1831.||A completely different shape was introduced in 1815 and remained in use till 1831.|
In 1832 a new type was introduced consisting of a two-ring date stamp with date symbols in the centre, FREE and DUBLIN in the outer band separated by two stars. This type is listed by Lovegrove as being in use from 1832-1835.
|Time coded stamps were in use from 1835-1840. The mark consisted of a crowned circle containing date symbols with code letter ‘M’ at the bottom for ‘Morning’. This piece is dated 29 AU 29 and the part manuscript at the top reads ‘twenty eight 1835′.|
|This front is as the previous mark but with the code ‘E’ at the bottom, for ‘Evening’.||This piece makes one wonder how on earth it was delivered. It was redirected twice as is seen by the three addresses and the three ‘FREE’ marks. Other marks on the front are the mileage mark of ‘STIRLING 20 MAR 1826 431 — E’ and Glasgow mark ‘G MAR 20M 1826′ plus a receiving stamp.Good luck to the Postman!|
SOURCE. Much of the information regarding these marks was taken from J. W. Lovegrove, Herewith my Frank, (KB Printers Ltd. 15a Alma Road, Bournemouth). The book runs to 100 pages of highly detailed information and illustrations and shows how incredibly complex the whole story was.
Read more about this at - Postal Information
The modern day shopping mall has its origins in Regency London. In a time when all clothing and accessories were custom made by hand, proprietors set up shops close to their customers –which for the Beau Monde of Regency London, meant as close to Mayfair as possible.
As the trendy new Mayfair neighborhood was developed in the 18th century, the eastern border became the location for the choicest of shops –and the legend of Bond Street as a shopping mecca was born. It quickly became not only a popular place to shop, but also a place to stroll –to see and be seen about town.
However, as popular as Bond Street and its shops were, it wasn’t without its downsides. It wasn’t uncommon for the street to become so packed with pedestrians, that people were forced to walk in the street, as depicted by this c1796 caricature “High-Change in Bond Street –or—the Politesse of du Grande Monde”. So much for high manners, if the local papers scorned the lack of courtesy, where women were forced to walk in the streets!
Then, there’s the weather. In a place known for rain, fog and cold winters, it wasn’t always prudent or convenient to go to Bond Street, or at least to linger there. Between the wet and the mud, I’m sure many a retail sale was lost because shoppers just couldn’t browse without getting wet and cold.
So, when Lord George Cavendish, fed up with people dumping oyster shells in a passage bordering his town home, decided to put the area to good use and commissioned the Burlington Arcade, it was an immediate success when it opened in 1819, situated as it was on the corner of Bond and Piccadilly.
The first stroke of genius in the design was to cover the entire pedestrian boulevard with a glazed roof to protect customers as they visited the shops there. It also spoke to the Regency sense of uniformity of design and housed 2 rows of neat shops –a total of 72 enclosed shops of milliners, shoemakers, jewelers –just about anything the Regency shopper could imagine in a single, convenient location. Beadles, originally staffed from Cavendish’s old regiment of Hussars, were stationed at the Arcade to watch over the customers and to keep vagrants and thieves at bay.
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Posted with permission of the author.
Oooh, anyone who loves Regency history will want to go to Drury Lane Theatre and go
by Kristine Hughes and Victoria Hinshaw
Through the Stage Door is the UK’s first Interactive Theatre Tour at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Directed by Andrea Brooks with three professional actors, the history of The Theatre Royal Drury Lane is brought to vivid life as key characters, writers and actors from the theatre’s 300 year old past take you back through time as you look around this famous theatre. Since its construction in 1663 the theatre has triumphed over tragedy, fire, bankruptcy and even murder.
The Theatre Royal in Drury Lane opened in 1663, soon after the Restoration when Charles II returned to the throne. This ended Parliament’s puritanical rule which had seen all theatres in England closed, and the destruction of Shakespeare’s Globe. Now in a new and more fun loving age, Thomas Killigrew formed the Kings Company and built the first Theatre Royal Drury Lane, an important symbol of Britain’s theatrical reinvigoration following the barren years of puritan rule.
Since that first theatre there have been three more theatres built on the site of the original, in 1674, 1794 and 1812. The 1794 theatre was built by dramatist and radical MP Richard Sheridan. This was the biggest of all the Drury Lane theatres. It was in this theatre that an assassination attempt was made against George III . James Hadfield fired two shots at King George who was sitting in the royal box. Both missed their target. The would-be assassin was arrested, and George ordered the performance to continue. The 1794 theatre burned down in February 1809, a disaster which ruined Sheridan. There is a well known and oft told anecdote regarding Sheridan and the night of the fire, the following account is from The Lives of Wits and Humourists by John Timbs:
“On the night of the 24th of February, 1809, while the House of Commons was occupied with Mr. Ponsonby’s motion on the conduct of the War in Spain, and Mr. Sheridan was in attendance, with the intention, no doubt, of speaking, the House was suddenly illuminated by a blaze of light; and the debate being interrupted, it was ascertained that Drurylane Theatre was on fire. A motion was made to adjourn; but Mr. Sheridan said, with much calmness, that “whatever might be the extent of the private calamity, he hoped it would not interfere with the public business of the country.” He then left the House, and proceeding to Drury-lane, witnessed, with a fortitude which strongly interested all who observed him, the entire destruction of his property. . . It is said that as he sat at the Piazza coffee-house, during the fire, taking some refreshment, a friend of his having remarked on the philosophical calmness with which he bore his misfortune, Sheridan answered, `A man may surely be allowed to take a glass of wine by his own fireside.’
“Among his losses on the occasion there was one which, from being associated with feelings of other times, may have affected him, perhaps, more deeply than any that were far more serious. A harpsichord that had belonged to his first wife, and had long survived her sweet voice in silent widowhood, was, with other articles of furniture that had been removed from Somerset House, (Sheridan’s official apartments,) to the theatre, lost in the flames. The cost of building of this vast theatre had exceeded 150,000 pounds; and the entire loss by the fire, including that of the performers, musicians, etc., was estimated at 300.000 pounds.”
Theatre Royal Drury Lane is now owned by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Company, and is used to stage musical theatre. The tour lasts approximately one hour, during which participants will meet characters such as the playwright Richard Sheridan, the great clown Grimaldi, the celebrated actress/mistress Nell Gwynne and many others who played an important role in the theatre’s history.
Tour Times: 10.15am and 11.45am – Wednesday and Saturday
2.15pm and 4.15pm – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday
The Beau Monde invites you into the Regency World of author Lesley-Anne McLeod, one of our original chapter members, as she talks about dance instructions from Button and Whitaker, St. Paul’s Churchyard, London.
Please stay and share a few dances at the Beau Monde.
In The Ladies’ Fashionable Repository for 1811, I found a few weeks ago a page titled “Button and Whitaker’s New Country Dances, for 1811″. It included some twenty-four dances, listing titles and brief instructions on the new movements.
The Spanish Cloak–Turn your partner round with the right hand, the second couple do the same, lead down the middle, up again, turn rouSt. Paul’s Churchyard had been throughout the 1700′s and into the mid 1800′s a center of musical retailing, along with its bookshops and book publishing. The reason for this, according to Sir John Hawkins (in his book The History of Music) was that “the service at the Cathedral drew together, twice a day, all the lovers of music in London..”
Button and Whitaker frequently published such collections of new dances. They also published booklets such as New Instructions for the German Flute, containing the easiest & most modern methods for learning to play, etc.; Pocket Collection of Favourite Marches; and Dr. Clarke’s Arrangement of Handel. Other of their titles included: 1816 Companion to the Ballroom; “Selection of dances, reels, and waltzes for the Pfte., Harpsichord, Violin, or German Flute”, No. 8,; and Opera of THE LORD OF THE MANOR, Written by C. Dibdin, Jun. It seems to have been a sizable operation, with a wide and voluminous production of sheet music.
Button and Whitaker also published a version of Thomas Moore’s Celebrated Irish Melodies, arranged for the Harp or Pianoforte; with introductionry, intermediate, and concluding Symphonies, composed by John Whitaker.
It appears Mr. Whitaker did a considerable amount of composing; one advertisment mentioned: “Paddy Carey; a celebrated Air; composed by Whitaker. Arranged as a Rondo for the Piano-forte…”
They also sold instruments. One mention of a boxwood clarinet by Button and Whitaker is still current on the internet. I’ve not been able to discover more information about their instrument sales as yet.nd.
Cheltenham Waltz–Turn three with the first lady, the same with the first gentleman, lead down the middle, four couple up again, and swing corners.
The dances and their names were charming but who, I wondered, were Button and Whitaker? Research was required–I never find it a hardship!
Button and Whitaker, I discovered, were among the premier music publishers and musical instrument sellers of Regency England. They were located in St. Paul’s Churchyard, according to Frank Kidson, author of the article Handel’s Publisher from Oxford University Press:
“At the North West corner, …was in 1731 located Peter Thompson at the “Violin and Hautboy.” The Thompson family with their successors, Button and Whitaker, held the business here until about 1830.”