It was the English who first liberated furniture from the walls of their rooms. However, by the time the Prince of Wales became Regent, most people in other countries, both on the Continent and in America, had done the same. Nevertheless, there were at least a few people who lived in Britain during our favorite period who preferred the old way of furniture arrangement. In fact, one of Jane Austen’s most memorable, if least likable, characters held to the old way of furniture arrangement in her home, much to the discomfiture of the majority of her guests. An author of a romance set in the Regency may wish to employ this old-fashioned custom in a scene or two between a few of their characters.
When furniture moved into the middle of the room . . .
The first time I saw a fore-edge painting was as a freshman, on an orientation tour of the rare book collection of my college library. I love books and art, so I was thoroughly entranced by the combination, particularly since the paintings I saw were hidden and could be revealed only to those who knew the secret. In the years since I learned of the existence of fore-edge painting, I have continued to seek them in most of the libraries and book shops I have had occasion to visit. What might be called the golden age of the art of fore-edge painting occurred in Britain in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and thus was in full swing during our favorite decade. That is why this delightful art form merits discussion here. Once they know about fore-edge paintings, will any Regency author be able to resist gifting at least one of her characters with one, or more, books which are so adorned?
Fore-edge paintings through the Regency . . .
Women have been doing various kinds of needlework for millenia. Initially, most of that work was utilitarian, primarily making and mending clothing and household textiles. But as the centuries progressed, more and more women, particularly ladies of the upper classes, began to enjoy a number of different needlework techniques as a form of recreation and a means of creative expression. It was only natural that those ladies would want a place to keep their needlework safe, clean and readily at hand. By the Regency, most avid needleworkers had acquired a special table in which they could secure and protect their current needlework project. Such tables might offer a number of different options by which to embroider a tale of romance set in our favorite decade.
Of work and "pouch" tables through the Regency . . .
There is no mistake in the title of this article. Trial by combat was quite legal in Britain, until the last full year of the Regency. Essentially, trial by combat was a type of duel which was sanctioned by the courts, as had been the case since the Middle Ages. In Britain, this practice was not officially abolished until two hundred years ago, this month, when Parliament took up the issue, at the request of the Attorney General for England and Wales. A Regency author might find inspiration in any or all of the aspects of this situation for an upcoming story of romance.
The abolition of trial by combat . . .
Though many people assume that the idea of putting a mirror on the walls and/or ceiling of a room originated in the twentieth century, they would by off by more than two centuries. The French, who had first invented plate glass, had begun using large mirrors to decorate their chambers long before the eighteenth century came to an end. Regency authors who like to include some rather naughty scenes in their stories of romance might like to know that they can write of a room with a mirrored ceiling or walls, if it will enhance the scene, and be quite historically accurate.
A brief history of mirrored rooms . . .
Though this specialty form of luxury equine architecture was falling out of fashion in England by the turn of the nineteenth century, there were still several in place across Britain. In addition, the Prince of Wales had commissioned more than one of them to be built on his properties at the beginning of the new century. Regency authors who include horses and/or extensive stable complexes in their tales of romance may want to take advantage of one of these grand structures for a few scenes in some of their stories.
Riding houses in England through the Regency . . .
Despite the fact that the firm of Morgan and Sanders was considered the leading patent furniture-maker in London during the Regency, neither partner ever actually never filed for a single patent for any of the unique furniture pieces they produced. As it happens, the fashion for that type of furniture reached its peak in Britain during our favorite decade and a great deal of it was supplied by the firm of Morgan and Sanders. They were also one of the first London furniture-making firms to regularly advertize their wares in the periodicals of the time. The firm of Morgan and Sanders, and/or the patent furniture they produced, might offer some unique and historically accurate opportunities by which to furnish the plot of a Regency romance.
Morgan and Sanders, patent furniture-makers of the Regency . . .