Never was an email more welcome than the one I got earlier this week. This has been the worst, most snowiest winter ever in Boston this year. And even now, though the calendar says it is spring, the temperatures are significantly below normal, and we are still getting snow! Then, on Monday, I got an email from Captain Roger Street with the schedule for the Dandy Chargers 2015 riding season. A sure sign of spring, which gives me hope that one day, maybe soon, all that white stuff in my yard will finally melt!
In the meantime, let me tell you where the Dandy Chargers will ride their dandy horses this year . . .
For those of you who may not know, the Dandy Chargers are a group of velocipede enthusiasts who wear Regency costume and ride their reproduction hobby horses at various venues around England each spring and summer. This year is the Dandy Chargers fifteenth season, and they will be appearing at some very prestigious locations. If you are going to be in England during the Dandy Chargers riding season, you might have an opportunity to see them in action.
Sunday, 10 May 2015 — Kingston Bagpuize House & Garden — Abingdon, Oxfordshire
Kingston Bagpuize House was originally built during the reign of Charles II, but it was significantly remodeled in the 1720s, with red brick and stone quoins at the corners. This lovely early Georgian manor house is set within an extensive park near the village of Kingston Bagpuize. In 1728, John Blandy married Elizabeth Fettiplace, and the house remained in the Blandy family until 1917. Members of the Blandy family would have been living there during the Regency.
The Dandy Chargers will ride their dandy horses on the grounds of Kingston Bagpuize House beginning at about 2:30pm on Sunday afternoon. All visitors to the house at that time will be able to enjoy the sight of ladies and gentlemen in Regency dress gliding about the park of an elegant historic house on their dandy horses, just as they might have done at that same house during the Regency.
Saturday, 20 June 2015 — Alton Regency Day — Alton, Hampshire
The market town of Alton, in Hampshire, is not far from the village of Chawton, where Jane Austen lived from 1809 and wrote or edited many of her novels. On Saturday, 20 June 2015, Alton will be hosting a number of Regency events, one of which will be a promenade up and down High Street by the Dandy Chargers, in full costume, on their hobby horses. The Dandy Chargers promenade should begin in the early afternoon and can be enjoyed from anywhere along Alton High Street.
If you are going to be in the area in late June, you might consider making a weekend of it. You could enjoy the Alton Regency day on Saturday, then spend Sunday in Chawton. There you can visit the Jane Austen house and explore the village. A completely Regency weekend.
Sunday, 28 June 2015 — The Chalke Valley History Festival — Ebbesbourne Wake, Wiltshire
The Chalke Valley History Festival is the largest history festival in Great Britain. It offers lots of living history events representing all periods of English history over the course of a week in the English countryside. This year, the festival runs from 22 to 28 June, and 2015 is a very important year. It marks the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, and the bicentennial of the Battle of Waterloo, both of which will get special attention at the history festival this year.
The Dandy Chargers will have their Regency-era hobby horses on display at the festival as well as demonstrating how they were ridden. This will begin in the early afternoon. Though the Dandy Chargers will only appear on Sunday, the Chalke Valley History Festival runs for a full week. If you would like an opportunity to steep yourself in English history for seven days in the English countryside, the Chalke Valley History Festival might be just the thing.
Sunday, 9 August 2015 — Stonor House and Gardens — Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire
The last appearance of the Dandy Chargers in 2015 will be in August, at Stonor House and Gardens. The house was probably begun about 1280 and has been expanded and remodeled numerous times over the years. The house and the estate belong to the current Baron Camoys and has been in his family for over 800 years. It has a lovely walled garden and is surrounded by a large private deer park, all nestled in the Chiltern Hills. During the Regency, the house would also have been the home of Baron Camoys and the Stonor family.
The Dandy Chargers will parade around the grounds on their dandy horses beginning at about 2:30pm on Sunday afternoon. They will all be in full Regency costume as they ride, enabling those who come to watch a chance to see velocipedes in motion as they would have been during the late Regency.
If you will be in England over the course of the spring and summer this year, and would like to see that quintessentially Regency vehicle, the velocipede, ridden as it would have been during that time, make it a point to catch one or more of the appearances of the Dandy Chargers. Though the velocipede was only fashionable in England for about a year, it was all the rage at that time and there were many to be seen in motion. Watching a promenade of the Dandy Chargers will let you witness that Regency fashion today.