With regards to transportation, we often think we went from carriages to steam railways in one single step. As a matter of fact, there is a “missing link” between carriages for the road and steam railways: the horse-drawn railway. It was first used in collieries, but soon passengers were transported, too. Continue reading
Hard winters were common in the 18th century, especially on the Continent. Snow and ice made roads impossible to pass by carriages. They were, however, still manageable by mule-drawn sleighs. Actually, in the Alps, frozen roads were easier to travel in the winter than in the summer, and bridges made of snow allowed people to cross many rivers otherwise impassable. Thus, the beginning of the winter did not mark the time to stay at home but to start traveling. Famous poet Goethe, e.g., crossed the St. Gotthard pass, enjoying the winter scenery.
“A great train of mules brought the place to life with the sound of their bells. … The way led up over the rocks of the ever-cascading Reuss and the waterfalls here form the most beautiful shapes.”
Traveling in the winter
Many travelers from England discovered the delights of the picturesque winter scenery while on the Grand Tour. Continue reading
Coach clocks were, in principle, enlarged pocket watches with a diameter of 9 to 12 cm. However, a clock to take with you on a journey by carriage had to provide some special features. First of all, it had to be robust against the bumps of the road. That’s why coach clocks were kept in padded protective cases made of copper or brass, often covered with fine leather. The metalwork of the case was done in delicate broken ornaments to allow the sound of the mechanism to penetrate. Continue reading
Like cars today, carriages were the subject of changing tastes and fashions. Stately carriages are an ideal object to study the influence of fashion on their design.
During the Baroque Age carriage where heavily decorated with symbols of power, such as figures of gods or animals representing power. In the Napoleonic Era a greater restraint and elegance became popular, it’s predominant artistic style being Neoclassicism. We will find out why in this post. Continue reading
At a historical hunting and carriage show, a vehicle caught my eye: It featured a high seat for two persons, large wheels and shafts with an upward reverse curve. There was an air of elegance and sportiness about it, and it was driven by a lady.
I had to check it out. Continue reading
In the age of the carriage, several hundred models of horse-drawn vehicles existed. Don’t worry, you do not have to look at all of them. For this exhibition, I took photos at Historic Houses and Museums in France and England, and I have selected the carriages most commonly used in the Romantic Age. Some of them are indispensible for a Regency Novel and some are beautifully quirky. All in all, here are 20 carriages for you to enjoy. Continue reading
A notable whip and hero of a Regency Novel inevitably drives a Phaeton – or does he have more choices for selecting his racy vehicle? A couple of weeks ago, a vehicle caught my eye at a historical hunting and carriage gala: it was slim, light and high-perched.
Being drawn by three horses and featuring two wheels, it had an air of sportiness and elegance as it drove across the park. Next to the conservative carriages like Britzkas and Victorias, it looked decidedly dashing. I spoke to the owner and learned that the striking vehicle was a Cocking Cart. – A what? I had never heard of it before.
Regency Enthusiasts travelling in England shouldn’t miss the Red House Stables & Carriage Museum, one of the best collections of original horse-drawn vehicles and equipment in Britain. You can even see the original carriage used in the TV series “Pride & Prejudice” with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.
Many readers of Regency novels are fascinated by driving a carriage: It’s partly romantic, partly adventurous and in our accelerated times comfortingly nostalgic. Most people of the Regency period would shake their heads at such attitudes. To them, driving a carriage was mainly a means of transport and not even a convenient one: Stage coaches were crammed with passengers, accidents happened frequently, and to become sick in a carriage wasn’t unusual.
To find out how travelling in a coach felt like 200 years ago, you can visit the museum of travel and traffic, “Deutsches Museum Verkehrszentrum”, if you happen to come to Munich, Germany. There is a simulator of a historical coach waiting in Hall II. Climb in and experience the Regency period.
If you are really serious about researching carriages and carriage driving in the Regency period, there is a more hands-on option.