That "Wicked and Pernicious Weed"

For such was one of the common condemnations of hops in early sixteenth century England. The hop plant was also considered to be an "unwholesome weed that promoted melancholy." Yet, within the next three centuries, not only were hops no longer banned in Britain, they had become an important cash crop for a number of farmers across the country. By the Regency, hops were a crucial ingredient in the brewing of the most popular beers enjoyed in Britain. They were also responsible for a new structure which sprang up in the areas where they were grown.

Hops in Britain through the Regency . . .

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Regency Bicentennial:   Simon-Jacques Rochard Arrives in England

Sometime in 1816, probably in the autumn, the French portrait painter, Simon-Jacques Rochard, arrived in England, where he soon set up a studio in London. His reputation had preceded him and it was not long before he began attracting an array of patrons from among the nobility and the gentry. His business was so successful that one of his younger brothers joined him a few years later. Through the remainder of the Regency and into the reign of Queen Victoria, the two brothers captured the likenesses of many members of the British upper classes.

Simon-Jacques Rochard in England . . .

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Regency Bicentennial:   Prinny Takes the Arnolfinis on Spec

Not the actual couple, just their double portrait. Though at the time, of course, no one knew the name of the couple in this painting. Even so, it was certainly recognized as one of the finest paintings of the northern Renaissance, rare, sumptuous, extraordinary. Small as it is, this double portrait is now considered a major monument of world art and is today a true gem of the painting collection of the National Gallery in London. But its passage through nearly six centuries has been remarkable. In point of fact, it is nearly a miracle that this important and valuable painting managed to survive the decade of the Regency.

How the Arnolfinis made it to Carlton House . . .

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Gooseberry Clubs in Regency Britain

Gooseberry clubs, or societies, were first formed in England in the mid-eighteenth century, but they reached their peak of popularity during the Regency, along with the national craze for gooseberries. Yet few people today are aware of that craze, or the fruit which sparked it, since gooseberries went into a sharp decline and then, nearly out of fashion, in the early twentieth century. However, since gooseberries were very popular during the first decades of the nineteenth century, there might be a place for gooseberries or gooseberry clubs in a romance set in Regency England.

Gooseberries and their clubs into the Regency . . .

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Before the Paperback:   Charles Whittingham & The Chiswick Press

The paperback book as we know it today came into common use during the twentieth century. However, there was a forward-thinking publisher who established his own press during the Regency which produced inexpensive editions of books which were considered classics in order to make them available to a wider readership. His idea was considered such a threat that most booksellers initially refused to sell his wares. However, in time they came to see that his idea not only had merit, but that it would complement, not threaten, their book sales.

Charles Whittingham and The Chiswick Press . . .

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The Paragon, Blackheath

Regency authors in need of a respectable residence for any of their upper middle class characters might want to consider settling them in The Paragon, an elegant crescent of semi-detached Georgian town houses situated southeast of the center of London. It was a relatively new development, and had strict covenants in place to ensure that its respectable residents would not be troubled by unseemly activity on the property. Even so, there had been quite a scandal which had played out at No. 3 only a few years before the Regency began.

A brief survey of The Paragon, Blackheath . .

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Regency Bicentennial:   The Dog Follows the Cat of Sentiment

It was just two centuries ago that the children’s book, Cato, or Interesting Adventures of A Dog of Sentiment was published in London. And "Cato" the dog followed "Felissa," who happened to have been a "Kitten of Sentiment." Both books were in print during the Regency and they make a charming pair of stories with which a Regency author might like to furnish the bookshelves of a children’s nursery in an upcoming romance novel.

A brief sketch of Cato and Felissa . . .

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