The Dark Days of Georgian Britain – a Guest Post by James Hobson

I am delighted to have James Hobson, author and former history teacher, as guest writer at Regency Explorer. In his book, “Dark Days of Georgian Britain. Rethinking the Regency”, James explores the lives of the powerless and the challenges they faced. He writes about corruption in government and elections, “bread or blood” rioting, the political discontent felt and the revolutionaries involved. It’s a treat for me to present James’s work about a little discussed field of research:

Rethinking the Regency: A description of terrible times and the people who had the courage to fight back

If you write a book with the expression “Dark Days” in the title, then it might be a good idea to reassure people that the book is not as bleak as it sounds. Well, I am afraid I can’t.

People seem to have forgotten, or do not know, that the period around the Napoleonic wars was one of the most appalling in British history. When there is a “worst year in British history competition”, 1816 is the latest year to be mentioned, and all the other competitors – like 1648 or 1347- are periods of epidemic disease or fratricidal civil war.

At first it made me angry that nobody had written very much about this aspect of the Regency and then it made me very happy. Continue reading

This is to the hero: Emma Hamilton`s ways to celebrate Horatio Nelson

It’s 1798. Admiral Horatio Nelson is on a mission to support the Neapolitan monarchy in Naples. He has already made a remarkable carreer, even if his greatest success is still to come. He is also marked by war: He has lost an arm and suffers from coughing spells. In Naples, he stays with the British Ambassador Sir William Hamilton, and his wife lovely Emma Hamilton.

A man on a mission falls in love

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Cultivated Roses – a New Craze Begins

In this post:

  • A lady’s rose
  • the East India connection
  • Amateurs – a class of its own
  • The Chinese key to heaven

The rose is the national flower of England. It is, however, not the rose we know today that became the symbol of the country. The English rose – rosa gallica officinalis –was, roughly said, a wild rose. It was very popular in British gardens of the 18th century, as its fruits could be used as tea, marmalade, or as medicine (thus the alternative name apothecary’s rose).

It was only from the mid-18th century that natural philosophers and gardeners began to experiment with new varieties of roses that had been introduced from other countries. By the end of the 18th century, cultivated roses had spread throughout Europe, and with it a new enthusiasm for this beautiful flower.
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Queen Caroline’s Scandals in Italy

Caroline of Brunswick (1768 –1821) had the misfortune of being unhappily married to George, Prince of Wales. The Prince refused to communicate with her, and permitted her to see her daughter only once a week. Being freezed out of Carlton House, Caroline set off for a long trip throughout Europe in 1814.

What seems to be a reasonable thing to do today was the beginning of a long lists of scandals in the eyes of her contemporaries. Her husband, trying to find reasons to divorce her, sent agents to spy on her, and her every movement was reported back to England.

Here is a list of the main scandals Caroline was accused of: Continue reading

Wellington: A Hero, His Earnings, and His Score on the Marriage Market

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a man in regimentals strongly appeals to the fair sex. When he is also famous, his favour with the ladies rises. However, it is his income that makes him a desirable husband, as the novels of Jane Austen point out.

How would national icon Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, have fared on the marriage market? Was he as sought after as Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy – or even more popular? Find out here – and don’t miss the video at the end of the post!

 

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Unique Fans Related to Historic Events of the 18th Century

Hand-held fans of the 18th century were more than an accessory. They often commemorated political milestones, were a display of loyalty and patriotism, and celebrated popular social and scientific events.

For this post, I have compiled 8 fans related to historic events of the 18th century for you. Enjoy the beauty and singularity of the objects, and marvel at the craftsmanship.

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Robert Adam’s Bumpy Career Start

When budding star-architect Robert Adam returned from his Grand Tour in 1758, he needed to find clients for the glamorous style he had developed in Italy. He knew that only the very rich would be able to pay for the grandeur he designed. Thus, he and his brothers settled close to High Society. They set up their home first at St. James’s Place, then at Lower Grosvenor Street in London. It was most important for Robert to be regarded as a gentleman architect rather than a professional architect, as he feared that being the latter would lower his status to a mere craftsmen. Robert displayed the many sketches he had made in Italy in his home, while the drawing office was located at New Bond Street, ‘invisible’ for his clients.

It was difficult for the ambitious Adam brothers to find their first commissions. Aristocrats who hadn’t mind Robert’s company abroad in Italy weren’t willing to socialise with him in snobbish London. Eventually, two women were instrumental in starting the Adam brothers’ career.  Continue reading

7 Objects of Beauty: A Tribute to Robert Adam

The young man was an upper-middle class Scotsman, a second son, and he had left university prematurely. But he possessed genius and ambition, a convenient wealth of 900 pounds a year, and some hands-on experience gained at his family’s architectural practice. Thus, he was well equipped to embark on a journey to the Continent in the company of an Earl’s brother in 1754. Yet, Robert Adam, aged 26, was not to know that this journey would be the key to making him the most sought-after architect of his time.

The year 2017 marks the 225th anniversary of the death of the famous Scottish architect Robert Adam (3 July 1728 – 3 March 1792). This post is dedicated to the aesthetics of his unique neo-classical style. I have compiled a selection of photos of Adam’s works, from ceilings to chimney-pieces. You are very welcome to enjoy the delicate and the decadent, and the weird and the wonderful. Continue reading

Ladies‘ Fashion: The Gown in the Romantic Age

bild1Women’s gowns changed significantly throughout the Romantic Age. Until about 1780, France had been the ‘Kingdom of fashion’. Everybody had copied French designs and styles. With the French Revolution and the rise of Napoleon to power, three things happened:

  • Aristocratic fashion with its excessive use of lace, brocade and silk fell out-of favour. Fashion adopted ideas of freedom, love of nature and early-democratic cultures such as Roman and Grecian antiquity.
  • French fashion leaders and their modistes fled from Paris to London. London became the new centre of fashion.
  • Napoleon’s Continental System blocked England from its previous market places for cloth. England’s search for new commercial partners led to the discovery of new fabrics for fashion. These allowed for new styles and cuts.

I have compiled a selection of photos of beautiful women’s gowns of 1740 – 1825. Follow me to the world of ladies’ fashion. Continue reading