This coming Wednesday marks the bicentennial of the opening of the Burlington Arcade, in the Mayfair section of London. Though it opened in the last full year of the Regency, this elegant shopping area was popular from the outset. Its many upscale shops selling luxury goods were frequented at one time or another by the majority of the affluent residents of the city, both ladies and gentlemen. Authors of Regency romances might find that this new shopping venue will make an ideal setting for one or more scenes in a story of love in our favorite decade.
A brief history of the Burlington Arcade . . .
Some of you may remember that last spring, the reception for the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle was held at Frogmore House, which is situated within the grounds of the Home Park at Windsor Castle. It is generally speculated that Frogmore House will become the home of the Duke of Edinburgh, if Queen Elizabeth II should shuffle off this mortal coil before him. Which, you are saying to yourself, is not history, it is not even news, it is just speculation. And so it is, but it echoes the history of Frogmore during the Regency, when Frogmore House was the favorite residence of poor mad King George III’s long-suffering spouse, Queen Charlotte, and her unmarried daughters.
A brief history of the Frogmore Estate and its inhabitants during the Regency …
Though small decorative wooden objects had been made in the Tonbridge area for well over a century before the Regency, the style of that art form was just entering a period of transition during our favorite decade. For that reason, what is now considered to be the quintessential type of Tunbridge ware was not actually made there in large numbers until the middle of the nineteenth century. Regency authors who wish to gift one or more of their fictional characters with these charming toys will want to be sure they give them the right type of Tunbridge ware objects.
Tunbridge ware through the Regency . . .
This curiously charming book was a pleasantly serendipitous discovery while I was researching a completely different topic. However, Brighton is one of my favorite settings for a Regency romance, perhaps because it was an important setting for the very first Regency romance novel ever written, Regency Buck, by Georgette Heyer. Therefore, I could not resist reading through this book on the history of that city. Having done so, I suspect that many Regency authors and aficionados will be very happy to add this chatty tome on the early days of Brighton to their research library.
Peeping into Brighton’s past . . .
Today, the fairy tales which are published as having been collected by the Brothers Grimm are thought to be quite suitable for everyone. However, the original versions of most of those tales were highly criticized as being very inappropriate for children. The Grimm brothers took those criticism to heart. In 1819, they began to edit their stories, not only so that they would be more appropriate for children, but also to protect the image of motherhood.
Some of the changes the Grimm brothers made to their fairy tales . . .
"The toothpowder genius has some sort of hold over her," Penelope said.
This is one of my favorite lines, from one of my favorite traditional Regency romances, in which the heroine’s young siblings are seeking to determine what is troubling their sister. I re-read it recently, and yet again, could not help but wonder about oral hygiene at that time.
Though the practice of dentistry did not formally exist until the 1830s, the denizens of the Regency did not ignore their dental health. Of course, their oral hygiene practices were not nearly as effective as those of today, but many of those who lived during our favorite decade did make a regular effort to care for their teeth.
The Painted Chamber was part of the complex of the Palace of Westminster in London. Though the chamber itself had been known for centuries, until the turn of the nineteenth century, the fact that the walls were covered with a series of murals depicting Biblical stories had long been lost to human memory, despite the name of the room. However, in the last year of the Regency, those murals were once again revealed. Fortunately, they were then recorded in a series of drawings and paintings, since the Painted Chamber itself was ravaged by fire in the autumn of 1834.
The revelation and recording of the murals in the Painted Chamber . . .