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Monday, May 16, 2011

Regency Romance

   Romance among the upper crust of the Regency was not as romantic as it seemed. Some marriages were predetermined by the parents of the young man and woman, often for financial purposes. Sometimes because of neighboring properties. One family might have money; the other  a deteriorating castle or lands. A title might be the reason; a rich baronet's daughter marries the dukes eldest son. In some cases little thought was given to the boy and girl as to whether they would suit or even liked each other.
                                                                                                                                          BALL GOWN
  Then there was the 'Season', late January to early July in London. It was really another name for a marriage market. It coincided with Parliament's session. The girls' parents bought them the finest wardrobes their money could buy. Several morning gowns, riding habits, walking dresses, ball gowns, shawl and wraps, gloves, hats etc. There was also the court dress for the presentation to the queen, always the finest and most expensive. It would have been an embarrassment to be seen in the same dress twice, especially ball gowns. Just the excitement of a brand new wardrobe of that magnitude would be enough to set most girls heads spinning.

  There were parties, dinners and balls; one was expected to attend one or two crushes each evening. Then there was Almack's. A committee of high- born ladies administered vouchers to those favored to enter it's doors. There a night of dinner and dancing where the cream of the ton, male and female could be found. A voucher was so sought after that the patronesses became very powerful among the ton. Some prerequisites to entree were careful dress, graceful dancing, beauty, wit, and good taste. The cream of Nobility was on parade.

The young women would be escorted by their mothers or an older female relative to the parties, etc. They were never allowed on the streets alone, but were escorted by a brother, abigail or other paid servant when shopping, going to the public library or visiting. A young man and woman had to be introduced by a third party known to both, and rarely were they alone together before they were engaged.

More next time on why we find this all so exciting.