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September 26th, 2013
Thirteen Details of Regency Life

Thursday Thirteen

I’m currently reading Georgette Heyer’s Regency World by Jennifer Kloester, which I’m finding fascinating. Today for my thirteen I’m sharing a few of the details I’ve gleaned during reading.

1. People use the term Regency as a general cover-all term when in reality the Regency covers nine years from 5 Feb 1811 to 31 Jan 1820, the period when George, Prince of Wales was sworn in as the Regent until he became King George IV.

2. There was a strict social ladder, determined mainly by birth. It went Monarch, Royalty, Aristocracy, Gentry (country land owners and gentleman of property without a title), Middle Classes, Artisans and Tradespeople, Servants, Labouring Poor, Paupers.

3. The servants also had a class structure – The upper servants included stewards, housekeeper, groom of the chambers, butler, valet, head housemaid and lady’s maid.

4. The lower servants included footman, coachman, groom, housemaid, kitchen maid, scullery maid, laundry maid, stable boy.

5. The cook was often employed by the master or mistress and paid more than the steward. They were considered separate from the rest of the domestic staff and earned a high wage in the case of a male chef.

6. When a woman’s husband died, she regained the legal rights she possessed as a single woman. In many cases, she was better off as a widow.

7. Once a couple became betrothed and a notice was sent to the papers, it was impossible for a man to withdraw from the marriage without damaging his honor and reputation. He could also be sued.

8. Morning calls were generally undertaken in the afternoon. They did not usually last for longer than half an hour.

9. Galloping was prohibited in Hyde Park.

10. At a formal dinner it wasn’t the done thing to talk across the table. Diners only chatted with those on their left or their right.

11. It was acceptable to owe money to a tradesperson. It wasn’t acceptable to owe money to a stranger.

12. Servants were ignored at mealtimes.

13. It was acceptable to offer your snuff-box to those with you, but not the done thing to request a pinch of snuff from those in your group. Snuff is pulverized tobacco that is sniffed through the nose. There were lots of different blends.

Georgette Heyer’s Regency World, as the title suggests, also discusses Ms. Heyer’s books in relation to the Regency period. Are you a Georgette Heyer fan?

21 comments to “Thirteen Details of Regency Life”

  1. I haven’t read Georgette Heyer in about 25 years. In the past 21 years I was in the new specialty of forensic nursing and I read countless crime novels, ie, James Patterson, Jeffrey Deaver, anything written by colleagues i know, ie Eileen Dreyer. She is also a forensic nurse! However, she is a romance writer as well. I really appeciated all the Regency info.

    My 13 are about wonderful places I’ve seen.

  2. Carmen – I enjoy crime and mysteries too. You’re in a very interesting field.

  3. Very interesting stuff, Shelley! Thanks for sharing – and for clarifying a few issues, to boot!

    Happy TT!

  4. Thanks, Kimberly :)

  5. Manners shamanners! Sometimes they are confining and some cultures have too many. I do like to read about history though and ponder on how we arrived to this point. Your list did absorb me.

  6. I know – some of the social rules were very restricting, especially for women. I find them fascinating, but I’m sure glad that times have changed!

  7. Very interesting. I love reading about this sort of stuff – it makes history more credible and incredible.

  8. It must have been difficult to start at the bottom of the social rung. We’re much luckier these days in that we can attempt to do anything our heart desires, be it an occupation or to experience a certain situation. Not so, in Regency times.

  9. I need to read that book! Although the time period is later, I kept thinking of Downton Abbey.

  10. I love Downton Abbey. I can’t wait for the 4th series to begin down here in NZ. The last one was such a cliffhanger and not something I saw coming.

  11. Yep, I’m a Heyer fan. I started reading her originally for the language when I was writing my regencies (set in 1811), and got hooked on her as an author.

  12. I read a lot of Heyer during my teens. If you’ve read her, you’d enjoy this book, Alice.

  13. Some interesting facts, Shelley. I read Heyer’s Arabella earlier this summer and loved it. My T13: Banned Books Week 2013

  14. Heather – check out some of her others. They’re all excellent reads.

  15. I didn’t know most of those. Great list.

  16. I like learning new things :)

  17. Several times I picked up a Heyer book but then put it down thinking the writing might be too “old fashioned”. But I think I might try one now.

    I love historicals no matter what the time period.

  18. It might take you a little while to get into one because she uses a lot of cant, but persevere because she writes a great book.

  19. I always found number 6 interesting …gives new meaning to “better off dead”

  20. LOL – it does indeed. It must have been terrible having to hand all your money over to your husband.

  21. #6 funny.
    #13 brought back memories – my paternal grandmother used snuff. Thanks for sharing.

    The Food Temptress