Too small to live in, too big to hang on a watch.
Such was the characterization of Chiswick House offered by one Georgian wag, the famous, or infamous, Lord Hervey, soon after it was completed, in 1729. Though Chiswick House had been built nearly a century before the Regency began, it was still an important country house during our favorite decade. Even before the turn of the nineteenth century, it had become the property of the Duke of Devonshire. Soon thereafter, it became a popular retreat for many of the prominent members of the Whig party, and remained so for several years. Regency authors who include Whig politics in their stories may wish to set a meeting or two at Chiswick House.
Both of these useful table service pieces had been introduced in England long before the Regency. However, it was in our favorite decade that the two were combined to create an even more convenient breakfast serving dish. Made in a number of different materials, this new type of tableware could be found on a great many breakfast tables and sideboards across Britain nearly every morning during the Regency.
Archaeological evidence suggests that the hairbrush has existed in one form or another since early pre-historic times. Today, one can find dozens of them, in all shapes, styles and colors, on racks at any number of stores and shops, in a wide array of materials and prices. But what about during our favorite decade? There were certainly many hairbrushes made and used during the years of the Regency. But at that time they were not common, garden-variety grooming implements and not everyone could afford one. However, those that could typically had a much higher quality hairbrush than do most of us today, since all hairbrushes at that time were hand-made. Might a fuller understanding of the hairbrush have some bearing on the use of that grooming implement in a tale of romance in the Regency?
Hairbrushes through the Regency . . .
Two hundred years ago, this coming Tuesday, a doctor in London performed the first successful blood transfusion, using human blood. Strange as it may seem, for centuries before, many physicians felt blood was blood and a number of blood transfusions were attempted using animal blood transfused into humans. The outcomes of these procedures were usually so abysmal that blood transfusions of any kind were banned in most of the countries of Europe for over a hundred years. It was not until the autumn of 1818, that an experienced and talented physician, who had been studying the possibilities of the process, took the chance that his technique would enable him to save the life of a woman who had just given birth. He was certain that without intervention, she would surely die.
The first successful blood transfusion, human to human . . .
Two hundred years ago, this Sunday, the one-time circus performer turned archaeologist, Giovanni Belzoni, set off to seek the real ruins of the Ancient Egyptian port city of Berenike, or, as it is more commonly known today, Berenice. An important trading port in ancient times, the city had been abandoned for centuries, and many people believed it had been swallowed by the sands of the desert or inundated by the Red Sea. A French explorer had claimed he found the site of the city the previous autumn, but Belzoni believed that the Frenchman was mistaken. As it happened, this discovery occurred near the end of Belzoni’s third trip through Egypt. The following year he would return to England and write a detailed book about his travels and explorations there.
Belzoni finds the real Berenike . . .
Regency characters visiting Bath to take the waters may want to accompany their panacea of choice with a few Bath Olivers, in order to ameliorate the not-so-pleasant taste of the water. Those who have embarked on a slimming regimen during our favorite decade may wish to substitute Bath Olivers for some of their usual servings of bread. However, these crackers were so tasty that there were many people during the Regency who ate them simply because they enjoyed them. By the Regency, though these biscuits were made in Bath, they had become so popular across Great Britain, that they could be had in most cities and towns.
Bath Olivers through the Regency . . .
Last week, I wrote about the close relationship between Sir Richard Phillips and Benjamin Tabart in the children’s book publishing business. This week’s article will focus on some of the most popular of the children’s books published by Tabart & Company. Many of those books were still in print during the Regency, and a number of those which were not could still be found on nursery room bookshelves across Britain. Not only may Regency authors wish to provide some of those books to the younger characters in their stories, they may want to use at least a few of them as references for their own research. Fortunately, a few of those books have been digitized and are now available online.
Some of the surviving children’s books from Tabart’s Juvenile Library . . .