Shinty:   Game or Brawl?

In the Regency, it could be both, depending upon where and how it was played. Shinty is an ancient game, so old that no one really knows where or who played the first game. But it was certainly played in many places across the British Isles during the early nineteenth century. Shinty is a rowdy team sport which might be put to good use by the author of a Regency story.

The game of shinty through the Regency . . .

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Regency Bicentennial:   The Dedication of the Waterloo Bridge

Called the most beautiful bridge in Europe when it was built, this magnificent new bridge actually had another name when it was first planned. However, it was renamed by order of Parliament after the Allied victory over Napoleon at Waterloo in order to commemorate that decisive battle. The dedication of that new bridge took place two hundred years ago this coming Sunday, on what was the second anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. The ceremony was attended by a glittering array of important personages and it was also captured on canvas by one of the most famous artists of the time. A Regency author might find any number of uses for this bridge or the public celebration of its opening in a romance set during that period.

A brief history of the first Waterloo Bridge . . .

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Regency Bicentennial:  The First Ride on the Laufmaschine

Two hundred years ago, this coming Monday, Karl von Drais, the man who invented the proto-type of the bicycle, took his first ride on his new invention. He rode his wooden, two-wheeled vehicle a distance of about five miles, out from Mannheim, to the outskirts of the city. Though his intent had been to provide an inexpensive and economical vehicle for the masses, within eighteen months, this vehicle would become all the rage among the dandies of Regency London.

The first ride of the Laufmaschine . . .

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Shorthand in the Regency

Though few people today are aware if it, shorthand has a long and rather tangled history which dates back to ancient times. That includes the early nineteenth century. However, the modern versions of shorthand systems, which are still in use today, were not known in Regency England. Nevertheless, there were quite a few versions of shorthand which were in use in Britain during our favorite decade. The details associated with those special forms of speed writing might provide Regency authors with some interesting plot points in an upcoming story.

A short bit on shorthand, from Ancient Rome to Regency England . . .

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Kickshaw:   Tasty Treat or Tawdry Toy?

By the Regency, the term had come to mean both. However, the word had its origins in the Tudor period as a small specialty dish which was interspersed with more substantial dishes on the dinner table during a grand meal. But over the course of more than two centuries, the meaning of the word in England had evolved and its use during the Regency reflected those changes. This dual meaning may be turned to good effect by a Regency author who is aware of the difference.

Kickshaws through the Regency . . .

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The English Festivals by Laurence Whistler

This book was actually written more than seventy years ago, but fortunately, it has recently been republished, with a new a new Foreword. Even more fortunately, a copy was given to me as a gift and, though it is not specifically focused on the Regency, or even the Georgian period, it has been a delight to read and it certainly has informed my understanding of the ancient holidays of England. For that reason, I believe that many authors of stories set in the Regency will want to be aware of this charming history of England’s cyclical calendar of holidays, as they may find within it historical details with which they can embellish their tales.

A glimpse into The English Festivals by Laurence Whistler . . .

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Sabrina Sidney Bicknell:   Bespoke Wife?

Yet another instance of truth being stranger than fiction is the life of Sabrina Sidney Bicknell. Though the most extraordinary events in this young woman’s life occurred before the turn of the nineteenth century, Mrs. Bicknell was still living during the Regency. And, even before the Prince of Wales became Regent, Mrs. Bicknell’s story had been published, much to her chagrin and that of her children, so many people living during the Regency knew something about how she was treated in her early years. Nevertheless, she persevered against great difficulties and went on to live a long and productive, if rather retired, life.

The singular life of Sabrina Sidney Bicknell . . .

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