Thanks to a dedicated group of aficionados known as the Dandy Chargers, the velocipede, which Georgette Heyer fans know as the pedestrian curricle, is not a thing of the past. Each year, the Dandy Chargers don Regency dress and ride their historically accurate "dandy-horses" at various historic estates and other venues in Great Britain. Thus, those who would like to see these vehicles in action as they might have appeared during the Regency have an opportunity to do so at one of the Dandy Chargers’ appearances this year.
The 2014 schedule of the Dandy Chargers fourteenth riding season …
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Saturday, 3 May 2014 — Downton Cuckoo Fair — Downton, Wiltshire
Cuckoo Fair in Downton is a revival of the ancient county fair were livestock were sold and which drew vendors and fair goers from all over the county. World War I so disrupted English county life that the fair was abandoned. In 1980, the fair was reconstituted in a modern format and it has been held annually in Downton ever since.
On Saturday afternoon, the Dandy Chargers, in Regency dress, will ride their velocipedes through the village of Downton, which is situated on the River Avon. Along the route of the ride they will pass among Morris dancers, demonstrations of rural crafts, street entertainers, several bands and more than 250 vendor stalls. It promises to be a very colorful and entertaining event.
Sunday, 25 May 2024 — The Chichester Experience — Chichester, West Sussex
Chichester is perhaps best known for its magnificent cathedral, which was founded in the eleventh century. However, the history of Chichester dates back at least to Roman times. Culture is an important aspect of life in Chichester, where both art and music festivals are held in the city during the summer months. Chichester was a thriving cathedral city during the Regency. At least a few of the residents would have ridden their hobby horses through the streets of the city, just as the Dandy Chargers will do on the last Sunday of May.
On Sunday afternoon, starting at about 2:00pm, the Dandy Chargers will wend their way through the historic city of Chichester. They are planning to "swift walk" their dandy horses through the pedestrian area and some of the minor thoroughfares. Along the way, they will be making stops at the Cathedral and its impressive Bell Tower, as well as other points of interest in the city.
Sunday, 29 June 2014 — The Chalke Valley History Festival — Ebbesbourne Wake, Wiltshire
The Chalke Valley History Festival is now in its fourth year and has come to be billed as "Britain’s biggest history festival." The festival offers living history demonstrations from the Roman era though the Second World War, provided by some of the leading historical interpretors and re-enactors in Britain. A number of lectures by noted historians are also offered over the course of the festival And all of this takes place over the last weekend in June, near the village of Ebbesbourne Wake, in the lovely Chalk Valley near Salisbury.
On Sunday, the second day of the festival, the Dandy Chargers will be featured on the programme within the "Georgian and Age of Empire" portion of the display. In full Regency costume, they will ride their velocipedes to demonstrate how these historic vehicles were employed during our favorite period. Though the Dandy Chargers will be riding on Sunday, the Chalk Valley Historical Festival is actually held over the course of two days, so those who are interested in living history demonstrations might want to make a weekend of it.
Sunday, 27 July 2014 — Breamore House — Fordingbridge, Hampshire
Breamore House in an Elizabethan manor house built in the 1580s, by the Dodington family. In the eighteenth century, the house was purchased by Sir Edward Hulse, who was a physician to Queen Anne, George I and George II. The house remains the property of the Hulse family to this day. Braemore House is noted for its exceptional collection of furniture and paintings. It has also served as the location for a number of movies, including the 2005 film of Pride and Prejudice. The manor house is located near the village of Fordingbridge in Hampshire.
The Dandy Chargers will be in costume, riding their hobby-horses around the grounds of Breamore House. The ride is expected to begin at about 2:30pm that Sunday afternoon and should last about a half hour. Though Breamore House was built in the Elizabethan era, it was the Hulse family home during the Regency, and it is quite possible that velocipedes where owned and ridden by the members of the Hulse family at that time.
Saturday, 13 September 2014 — The Jane Austen Festival — Bath, Somerset
All those who love the Regency are familiar with Jane Austen, and most are also aware of the Jane Austen Centre in the city of Bath, where Jane lived with her family from 1801 to 1806. Though Jane Austen herself did not care much for Bath, the Centre named for her devotes itself to providing all the information which is available about her life and times, including the time she spent there. Despite Jane Austen’s less than favorable opinion of the city, Bath is considered to be one of the most beautiful and picturesque cities in all of England.
The Dandy Chargers have appeared at the Jane Austen Centre before. This will be their third appearance, and a very important appearance it will be. In addition to riding their dandy-horses during the celebrations, they will also be taking part in an attempt for a Guinness World Record. On Saturday, 13 September, the Jane Austen Centre will be holding their Grand Regency Promenade through the Bath city centre, during which they hope to achieve the world record for the largest gathering of people all dressed in Regency costume.
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If you will be in Great Britain on any of these dates and would like to enjoy a unique Regency experience, make it a point to attend one of the appearances of the Dandy Chargers. Not only will you have an opportunity to see several velocipedes ridden in the same places where they may well have been ridden during the Regency, their riders, both gentlemen and ladies, will be riding those particularly Regency vehicles in full Regency dress.
I will leave you with the traditional greeting of the Dandy Chargers, "May your strides ever be long ones!"