Regency Bicentennial:   Naughty Nappy Hits the Press

In the autumn of 1815, the news had reached Europe that the British Royal Navy ship, HMS Northumberland, had dropped anchor in the harbor of the island of St. Helena, on 15 October 1815. Napoleon Bonaparte and his small retinue had disembarked and were safely ensconced on the tiny, remote island. The Continent breathed a collective sigh of relief, finally certain that there was no hope that Bonaparte would ever again hold power in France. There were a few who were emboldened by that knowledge to capitalize on the continuing public interest in the deposed French Emperor.

The publication of Napoleon’s "Amours Secrettes . . . "

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Regency Bicentennial:   Byron’s Drury Lane Déjà Vu

In the summer of 1814, there were a plethora of festivities held in London in celebration of what was believed to be the final defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte and the return of peace to Europe. One of those celebrations was a grand masquerade ball sponsored by some of the members of Watier’s Club in July. In the fall of 1815, with Napoleon truly, finally, defeated and exiled to a small island deep in the south Atlantic, the Drury Lane Theatre decided to include a reproduction of that masquerade ball as part of their pantomime.

How Lord Byron and his friend attended both versions of the masquerade ball . . .

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Regency Bicentennial:   Waterloo Stuff

Today, one might find important current events memorialized on a T-shirt, a mug, a poster or a mouse pad. Though none of those items existed two centuries ago, there were still plenty of objects that could be pressed into service for the purpose of capitalizing on the public’s interest in a significant event. And in 1815, if not the entire Regency, there was probably no event more significant than the final Allied victory over Napoleon Bonaparte and his Grande Armée at the Battle of Waterloo. For well over a year after the battle, the public could not get enough. No matter how elegant or tawdry the object, someone would almost certainly buy it.

A brief overview of Waterloo commemorative objects . . .

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Regency Bicentennial:   Edinburgh Scoops London

This article is yet another in my ongoing series on panoramas. Several of those articles were devoted to the first panorama in London, Robert Barker’s purpose-built rotunda in Leicester Square. Barker learned early on that the public would flock to any of his exhibitions which provided them with an all-encompassing view of important current events. Almost as soon as the news of the victory at Waterloo arrived in Britain, panorama proprietors across the country were making plans for a panorama of the battle. Certainly, Henry Aston Barker, Robert’s son, who had taken over management of the Leicester Square rotunda, was making plans for an impressive Waterloo panorama he would exhibit in the Large Circle. Yet he would be scooped by a Waterloo panorama which went on display in Edinburgh, the city in which his father invented the panorama, nearly five months before Barker opened his own Waterloo panorama in London.

The first Waterloo panorama in England, which opened two hundred years ago this Tuesday . . .

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Halloween in Cornwall:   Allantide and Allan Apples

Though All Hallows’ Eve, the night before All Hallows’ or All Saints’ Day, has been associated with the Christian calendar for millenia, it has its ancient roots in the pagan celebrations of autumn and harvest-time. Such celebrations were common to many cultures as they enjoyed a time of plenty before the onset of the desolation of the winter season. Cornwall had long had its own unique form of this celebration, which, though it originated with the early Celtic inhabitants of the region, took its name from an obscure local saint, St. Allan. Even before the Regency, one of the key features of this celebration were special apples which were believed to have had magical properties.

Allantide and Allan apples in Regency Cornwall . . .

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The Regency Way of Death:   Funeral Mutes

During the Regency, as had been the case for over two centuries, most upscale funerals were comprised of a number of attendants, including "mutes." Like the majority of funeral attendants at this time, these mutes were provided by the undertaker as part of their services. Though most of these "mutes" were perfectly capable of speech, it was their responsibility, not only to remain silent throughout the duration of every funeral, but also to maintain an exaggeratedly mournful expression while they served in the capacity of mute. Macabre as it may seem, during the Regency, there were men and boys who regularly supplemented their income as professional mutes.

Funeral mutes during the Regency . . .

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Before the Box Spring:   Mattresses in the Regency

There have been mattresses on this planet for nearly as long as there have been humans living anywhere on it. In fact, the mattress maybe the oldest furniture form made by humans. Certainly, by the Regency, mattresses had come a long way from their primitive origins, at least for some people. However, the mattresses used on beds during the Regency were nothing like the modern mattresses on which most of us sleep today. Regency authors may find it useful to understand the particulars of the beds on which their characters would have slept.

Before the box spring, or the inner-spring, mattresses in the Regency . . .

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