The great Fairlop Oak and the ancient Forest of Hainault which surrounded it have both been swept away by the ravages of time. But during the Regency, the massive oak stood tall in the large remnant of the primordial forest in which it had grown for centuries. Traditional events took place beneath the spreading branches of the old oak right though the Regency. Since it was only about twelve miles out from London, either the forest or the oak might make an interesting setting for a scene or two in a Regency novel when a country setting within reasonable proximity to the metropolis is required.
This week, the story of the primeval Forest of Hainault . . .
The protection of money in the form of coins by slipping them into ceramic vessels dates all the way back to ancient China. Known in England from at least Tudor times, these vessels were called money boxes or sometimes money jars, since few of them were actually square. Over the centuries, many working-class people kept their meagre savings in these ubiquitous ceramic containers. A wide range of these money boxes was still in use during the Regency, primarily by servants and working class children. Though they were not especially glamorous, these small vessels would have been ubiquitous in a great many Regency households and despite their humble appearance, they would have been very precious to their owners.
Pottery money boxes in the Regency . . .
To mark the release of the print edition of my debut Regency romance, Deflowering Daisy, I want to expand on the details of one of the flower history snippets which appears in the story. This particular snippet involved the hero’s work as a spy for the Crown after Waterloo, and is also related to last week’s article about Bonaparte’s escape from Elba. For, you see, it was Napoleon Bonaparte himself who was known by his supporters as Caporal La Violette.
The story of Napoleon and violets . . .
Two hundred years ago, yesterday, Napoleon Bonaparte, reduced from Emperor of the French to the Emperor of Elba, left his tiny island kingdom. He set sail for the south coast of France with over a thousand men under his personal command, intent on regaining his former title and power. His arrival in Paris three weeks later marked the beginning of the "Hundred Days," which would culminate that June on the battlefield of Waterloo.
The how and why of Napoleon’s escape . . .
And so it was during the Regency, to quote the old song. There are many species of bananas, including the soft, sweet yellow ones with which most of us are familiar today. Unfortunately for our Regency ancestors, though bananas were known in Britain at the time, it was only in pictures in books. The fruit itself was not available in early nineteenth-century Britain, and would not be until the last quarter of the century. Therefore, no one living in England during the Regency would have enjoyed a fresh banana, banana creme pie, banana pudding, banana bread or even the occasional banana split. However, bananas were not only known but eaten in other parts of the British Empire, though at the time, they were not considered an upscale food, nor were they particularly sweet.
Bananas in the Regency . . .
In honor of Valentine’s Day, the holiday devoted to love, a discussion of a practice common during the Regency, which many women took as proof of the love and respect of their betrothed or their husband. And yet, today, such a practice would offend most women, should they learn about it. They would take it as an insult and thus such an action would put their fiancé or husband squarely in the basement of the doghouse.
Why there is less eighteenth-century jewellery today than there was before the Regency . . .
Today, the finest wool there is is that from Merino sheep. Such had been the case from the late Middle Ages right into the Regency. But for centuries, that particular breed of sheep was closely held in Spain and could not be exported. That all began to change in the last decades of the eighteenth century and into the early nineteenth century. So much so that there was what amounted to a Merino craze across Europe and America at that time. However, unlike most of the articles which I post here, in terms of Merino sheep and Regency Britain, this must be something of a negative tale.
Where were Merino sheep during the Regency?