Dartmoor Prison Through the Regency

Today, HM Prison Dartmoor houses male convicts who have been tried, convicted and sentenced within the British judicial system. However, what many people do not realize is that Dartmoor Prison was not originally built as a convict prison. It was actually built during the Napoleonic Wars, with the cooperation of the Prince of Wales, to house French prisoners of war. While in use for that purpose, in the first half of the Regency, it would house not only French, but also American, prisoners of war. Yet, in the last years of the Regency, it lay empty and abandoned. Whether during the period it was in use, or after it was abandoned, Dartmoor Prison might make an interesting setting for at least a few scenes in a Regency romance.

A confined history of the Dartmoor Prison through the Regency . . .

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Sewing Needles Through the Regency

Several years ago, I published an article here about pins in the Regency. It seems to be time to give the needles of that era some attention. All sewing needles in the Regency were hand sewing needles, since there were, as yet, no commercially available sewing machines. It is important to know that sewing needles were even more expensive than pins during the Regency, due to the intensive labor required to produce them. Though hand sewing needles are widely available today, and relatively inexpensive, such was not the case during our favorite period. Therefore, a Regency author will not want to trivialize the value of any sewing needles which feature in a story set during that era.

Sewing needles through the Regency . . .

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Regency Bicentennial:   Henry Angelo Senior Forced to Retire

Though the exact date is not certain, it is known that at some time near the end of September of 1817, Henry Angelo, Senior, the son of the founder of the famous fencing academy on Old Bond Street, was forced to retire. This was not by his choice and, in fact, was the result of an encounter with a fellow fencer who was even more famous than the elder Mr. Angelo. Fortunately for all the young men who enjoyed honing their skills at Angelo’s famous fencing academy, Henry Angelo, Junior, had long worked with his father and was well able to take over the management of the Bond Street establishment.

The retirement of Henry Angelo, Senior . . .

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Aigrettes Through the Regency

Aigrettes were delicate and elegant tufted ornaments which had been in use in multiple forms in various parts of the world from at least the Middle Ages. They went in and out of fashion over the centuries, as they came to the attention of different cultures. During the Regency, they were back in fashion, though they were made of different materials than had been the earliest aigrettes, and they were worn by different people and for different purposes. There are any number of ways in which an aigrette might provide a decorative embellishment or a plot point for a Regency romance.

Aigrettes through the Regency . . .

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Donington Hall & Park

Today, though Donington Hall is still standing and part of its once extensive park survives, it is no longer the grand private country home it was during the Regency. But the house has an interesting history and, though its owner was away from the estate for much of our favorite period, that circumstance in itself might add an interesting wrinkle to a story plotline. A Regency author seeking a fine country manor house with extensive grounds situated roughly in the middle of England might find Donington Hall, or a fictional version of it, just the setting they need for their next romance.

Donington Hall and its park, through the Regency . . .

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Mary Moser:   Grande Dame of the Royal Academy

Though she is barely remembered today, Mary Moser was one of the most renowned artists in Britain in the second half of the eighteenth century. By the Regency, Mary Moser was the only surviving female founder of the Royal Academy. She was also a friend of Queen Charlotte, the royal princesses and many prominent members of society. Yet, she was also a woman with a rather scandalous past. Though Mary Moser’s most prolific years as a painter were behind her by the time the Prince of Wales became Regent, she was occasionally painting during the latter part of our favorite period and was still an active participant in the Royal Academy and the artistic community of London.

A brief sketch of the life of Mary Moser, near-sighted paintress . . .

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Mayonnaise In the Regency:   A Luxury Sauce

Despite some apocryphal tales to the contrary, most food scholars agree that the version of this creamy sauce which we enjoy today originated in the early years of the nineteenth century, probably in France. There were also multiple versions of the name, but it is believed by many that it was given its final name by the first celebrity chef, based on the effort needed to make it. However, during the Regency, this now ubiquitous cold condiment was barely known in England, and where it was, it was considered the height of luxury. The middle and lower classes of the Regency were certainly not slathering this elegant dressing on their sandwiches or salads.

Mayonnaise in the Regency . . .

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