Coppicing and Pollarding

Coppicing and pollarding are essentially two different methods of pruning trees and large shrubs, both of which have been practiced across Europe for millenia. And both were practiced regularly in Regency Britain, though for slightly different purposes. Most people who lived in or near woodlands or forests during the Regency, or depended upon the products of such tracts of land, would have been aware of the differences, though that knowledge had been nearly lost by the Victorian period. Knowing something about both of these pruning practices and their purposes might prove useful to Regency authors who wish to develop knowledgeable, or ignorant, characters who are involved in woodland or forested property management and maintenance during our favorite period.

Coppicing and pollarding through the Regency . . .

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Venetian Blinds Are Not Really Venetian

And yet, hundreds of them were in use in Venice and across the Continent several decades before the Prince of Wales became Regent. Even before the Regency, these sophisticated window coverings had taken on certain political and economic meanings in one of Britain’s former colonies. Which may be one of the reasons that Venetian blinds were not used as widely in homes in Britain as they were on the Continent during the early nineteenth century. Wherever they were installed, most of the Venetian blinds used during the Regency were much more elegant and stylish than those we use today.

Venetian blinds through the Regency . . .

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Regency Bicentennial:  Gaslight Makes Its Debut on the London Stage

This coming Sunday marks the two-hundredth anniversary of the first instance in which gaslight was used to light the stage of one of London’s legitimate theatres. A non-patent theatre had been fully lit with gas, including its stage, the year before. In addition, other patent theatres had been partially lit by gas prior to this date, but none of the legitimate theatres in London had yet used gas to illuminate the stage. In fact, there was something of a competition to introduce gaslight into the legitimate theatres in the metropolis in the summer of 1817, but the results of that competition are not clear-cut.

Gaslight on the London stage during the Regency . . .

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Regency Bicentennial:   "Russian Mountains" Come to Paris

Those of you who speak French, or any one of several other Romance languages spoken in Europe, may have already guessed the topic of this article, since the term "Russian mountains" is still used to refer to this thrilling form of entertainment in those languages, to this day. What the French call montagnes russes, the English call a roller coaster. And two hundred years ago, this month, the first iterations of the modern roller coasters opened in parks in Paris. Regency authors seeking a thrill ride for one or more of their characters might like to send those characters on a visit to Paris for a ride or two on one of the new montagnes russes.

A brief ride through the history of the roller coaster, to the Regency . . .

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Ackermann’s Repository:   Patterns of British Manufacture

One of the most popular publications intended for ladies of the upper classes during the Regency was familiarly known as Ackermann’s Repository. Those who have perused copies of this publication today may have noted that some of the issues include real samples of various materials affixed to an ornate wood-cut image. Though many people regularly call them "fabric" swatches, and many also assume they were included in every issue of the Repository, neither is true. These samples included more than just fabric, and they were more regularly included in the issues published in the early years of the periodical. It must also be noted that they were never known as "swatches" at any time during publication of the this popular journal. By the time the Regency came to a close, these special wood-cuts were no longer to be found in the pages of Ackermann’s Repository, but those that still exist have been, and remain, a treasure trove for scholars and researchers in many fields.

A look at the "real Patterns of British Manufacture" (swatches) in Ackermann’s Repository . . .

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Regency Bicentennial:   The Passing of Jane Austen

This coming Tuesday, 18 July 2017, will be the two-hundredth anniversary of the death of Jane Austen. Certainly not something to be celebrated, but it should be noted by all of those who love the Regency and/or Miss Austen’s delightful novels, for it marks the loss of one of the most important authors of all time. This post is my attempt to mark that loss and remember her last days.

The passing of Miss Jane Austen . .

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The Magnificent Swan Service

It is unlikely that any set of dishes today would be described as "magnificent," but the grand Swan Service certainly merits that adjective. Though it was not the first porcelain service ever produced in Europe, when it was created, it held the record for being the largest and most lavish dinner service ever manufactured on the Continent. Despite the fact that the Swan Service was commissioned and created several decades before the Regency began in England, it was still in existence at that time, and remained in the hands of the family of the man for whom it had originally been made. That service, or a fictional one similar to it, might make a uniquely luxurious prop for a Regency novel.

A brief history of the magnificent Swan Service . . .

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