Adventures for Regency Enthusiasts: Handling a Bird of Prey

In my post “Falconry in the Romantic Age”, I described that falconry was still practiced in the Regency period by gentlemen and ladies alike. Just as scriptwriter Andrew Davies, who used falconry in the movie adaptation of “Sense and Sensibility” to characterize Colonel Brandon, you might want to include falconry in your novel. You could create a thrilling hunting scene or have your heroine impress your hero with her falconry skills.

In the Romantic Age, Falconry was called hawking. To get an idea of how a character of a Regency novel would experience hawking, I took a discovery course in this noble sport myself when I went to England last year. I had pre-booked a half-day experience at The Birds of Prey & Conservation Centre at Sion Hill Hall, near Thirsk, Yorkshire. There are of course many other falconry centers in the UK, and also some country hotels that have similar offers.

A Falconry Experience

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Falconry in the Romantic Age

Falconry is sooo Henry VIII, right? It is difficult to imagine any self-respecting Regency dandy with a bird of prey on his fist. It might ruin his perfectly cut jacket!

FalconryFor sure, the noble art of falconry was not a typical sport in the Regency period. It had suffered in popularity ever since the Puritans had frowned upon it in the 17th century. Furthermore, modern weaponry had made it easier to hunt birds and small mammals with a gun than with birds of prey. But falconry hadn’t died out.

If you have watched the 2008 adaptation of “Sense and Sensibility”, you will remember that Colonel Brandon was portrayed as a gentleman who practiced falconry. Even if this is not in accordance with Jane Austen’s novel, scriptwriter Andrew Davies may have chosen to do so because it allowed him to show that Colonel Brandon was a gentleman able to tame the wild and passionate (i.e. Marianne). But it is also true that falconry was revived in the late 18th century. The sport owes its survival in the Romantic age to a handful of gentlemen. They were fascinating characters, if not to say famed-famous. One of them used to live in a place the avid Austen fan knows as “Rosings Park” in the mini-series “Lost in Austen”.
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