Silent Girls and a Dumb Cake

With the approach of Halloween, it seems only appropriate to share a superstitious tradition related to romance which was still observed by some women and girls during the Regency, often on that night. As with most superstitions, the specifics of the practice varied from region to region, though the end result was essentially the same, a single young woman might be able to learn the identity of her future husband by baking one of these special "cakes." Such a superstition might be just the thing to add a little bit of magic to a Regency romance.

When silent girls made dumb cakes . . .

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Knucklebones:   From Oracles to Games

Though it may seem rather ghoulish to toy with knucklebones taken from the skeletons of various animals, people have actually done it for millenia. Many children, and even some adults, were still doing it during the Regency. And some of those games have come down to modern times, though, for the most part, they are no longer played with pieces of animal skeletons. Should a Regency author be in need of an interesting game for children to play in a story, one of the games played with knucklebones might serve the purpose.

A brief history of knucklebones and some of the games in which they were used . . .

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Dartmoor Prison Through the Regency

Today, HM Prison Dartmoor houses male convicts who have been tried, convicted and sentenced within the British judicial system. However, what many people do not realize is that Dartmoor Prison was not originally built as a convict prison. It was actually built during the Napoleonic Wars, with the cooperation of the Prince of Wales, to house French prisoners of war. While in use for that purpose, in the first half of the Regency, it would house not only French, but also American, prisoners of war. Yet, in the last years of the Regency, it lay empty and abandoned. Whether during the period it was in use, or after it was abandoned, Dartmoor Prison might make an interesting setting for at least a few scenes in a Regency romance.

A confined history of the Dartmoor Prison through the Regency . . .

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Sewing Needles Through the Regency

Several years ago, I published an article here about pins in the Regency. It seems to be time to give the needles of that era some attention. All sewing needles in the Regency were hand sewing needles, since there were, as yet, no commercially available sewing machines. It is important to know that sewing needles were even more expensive than pins during the Regency, due to the intensive labor required to produce them. Though hand sewing needles are widely available today, and relatively inexpensive, such was not the case during our favorite period. Therefore, a Regency author will not want to trivialize the value of any sewing needles which feature in a story set during that era.

Sewing needles through the Regency . . .

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Regency Bicentennial:   Henry Angelo Senior Forced to Retire

Though the exact date is not certain, it is known that at some time near the end of September of 1817, Henry Angelo, Senior, the son of the founder of the famous fencing academy on Old Bond Street, was forced to retire. This was not by his choice and, in fact, was the result of an encounter with a fellow fencer who was even more famous than the elder Mr. Angelo. Fortunately for all the young men who enjoyed honing their skills at Angelo’s famous fencing academy, Henry Angelo, Junior, had long worked with his father and was well able to take over the management of the Bond Street establishment.

The retirement of Henry Angelo, Senior . . .

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Aigrettes Through the Regency

Aigrettes were delicate and elegant tufted ornaments which had been in use in multiple forms in various parts of the world from at least the Middle Ages. They went in and out of fashion over the centuries, as they came to the attention of different cultures. During the Regency, they were back in fashion, though they were made of different materials than had been the earliest aigrettes, and they were worn by different people and for different purposes. There are any number of ways in which an aigrette might provide a decorative embellishment or a plot point for a Regency romance.

Aigrettes through the Regency . . .

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Donington Hall & Park

Today, though Donington Hall is still standing and part of its once extensive park survives, it is no longer the grand private country home it was during the Regency. But the house has an interesting history and, though its owner was away from the estate for much of our favorite period, that circumstance in itself might add an interesting wrinkle to a story plotline. A Regency author seeking a fine country manor house with extensive grounds situated roughly in the middle of England might find Donington Hall, or a fictional version of it, just the setting they need for their next romance.

Donington Hall and its park, through the Regency . . .

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