A LADY’S BOOK OF LOVE and Lotteries in Regency England

BY LOUISA CORNELL

My very first Regency Romance for Scarsdale Publishing goes live on May 22nd ! I am thrilled to be writing a book in Scarsdale’s popular and highly successful Marriage Maker series.

Sir Stirling James, the man Society calls the Marriage Maker, is back this Season to work his magic at uniting couples—and never has his talent been more tested.

Miss Emmaline Peachum needs a hero. She’ll settle for a husband, however, if he can rescue her reputation from further scandal and save her beloved library from the bailiff and his henchmen. But what sort of gentleman will agree to marry the daughter of England’s most notorious con artist?

After eighteen years in His Majesty’s Navy, Captain Lord Arthur Farnsworth wants to retire to the life of a country gentleman. But first he must discharge his final duty to his men and retrieve the money that was swindled from them.

Sir Stirling James offers the captain the perfect opportunity to find the missing funds. Arthur will marry the bookish hoyden whose father cheated his men of their last farthing and seduce her into telling him where the money can be found.

The problem with this plan lies with the defiant, beautiful, and wickedly witty Miss Emmaline Peachum, who must have inherited her father’s larcenous tendencies. While Captain Farnsworth is intent on retribution, she is stealing his heart.

 

Lotteries in Regency England

 

A Lottery is a taxation Upon all the fools in creation;

And Heav’n be prais’d It is easily rais’d. . . The Lottery

Henry Fielding

 

In writing Stealing Minerva I had to do a bit of research on lotteries in early England. My heroine’s father is a con artist who swindles thousands of pounds from citizens of every walk of life by setting up a fake lottery and absconding with the money.

There were state lotteries in England as early as 1690. They were established and run by the Bank of England. They were used to raise money for good causes, government projects, the British Museum at Montague House, and even helped finance the war against Napoleon.

Lottery tickets were quite expensive. In addition to individuals, boroughs bought lottery tickets in order to raise money for the feeding and clothing of poor children. The Church had no issues with clerics gambling on lottery tickets to raise money for their parishes. People who could not afford to buy a full lottery ticket pooled their money and bought shares in a single ticket, sometimes advertising for partners in the newspaper.

Daily Advertiser (London, England), Wednesday, September 24, 1777

Here is a sample of what a winning ticket might be worth.

Then, as now, a winning lottery ticket might change a person’s life forever. In 1798, four people on servants’ wages won 20,000 pounds (a value of 1.2 million pounds today!) The lucky winners were a female servant from Holborn, a servant of the Duke of Roxburgh, a keeper of a fruit stall and a vegetable carrier from Covent Garden.

Most lottery tickets were winners of at least the price of the ticket. However, every fourth or so ticket might be a blank – a losing ticket. Forward thinking institutions came up with insurance programs for lottery players, a way to insure one received at least the value of their ticket back.

As today, lottery ticket drawings were public events, although not nearly as rowdy and glamorous. They were public in order to display the event as fair and aboveboard.

“Coopers Hall, Lottery Drawing”, from Ackermanns Microcosm of London”, dating from 1809 (Courtesy of the Lewis Walpole Library)

In spite of this there were a number of lottery scandals and scams during the Georgian / Regency era. To find out how one such scam worked check out my novella A Lady’s Book of Love ! It has been up for preorder and goes live on Amazon TODAY !!

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07C6QSHJF/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1523840315&sr=1-1&keywords=A+Lady%27s+Book+of+Love+by+Louisa+Cornell

EXCERPT :

“You don’t strike me as the sort of woman to surrender so easily.”

“Some men think women are made for surrender. That we seek it so as not to have the burden of thinking or making our own decisions.”

“I am not one of those men.”

She snorted. “I am almost persuaded.” Her fingers ran along the spines of the books. He nearly sensed her touch on his skin. “Almost.”

“I don’t believe it is in a woman’s nature to surrender. It is something she is taught or has beaten into her. The one who maintains her true nature will fight long past a single hope of winning. And when life forces her to surrender, she despises herself for it. The only person she despises more is the man who has forced her to submit to that state so completely counter to her nature.”

She turned to face him, her back pressed against the shelves, a worn leather volume gripped tightly in her hands. “What would a man like you know of surrender?” She peered up at him, her eyes all too cynical and discerning to suit him.

His mind froze. His ability to dissemble fled, so he gave her the truth. “Far more than I care to admit, Miss Peachum. I cannot recommend it.”

“You? In war?” She gave him a subtle smile that threatened to take his breath away. “In love perhaps?”

“In life.”

 

For more historical romance by Louisa Cornell check out her Amazon Author page !

https://www.amazon.com/Louisa-Cornell/e/B00PYZQOA6/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

And for announcements about future books join Louisa’s Facebook Author page !

https://www.facebook.com/RegencyWriterLouisaCornell

Check out the rest of the books in the Marriage Maker Series !

http://scarsdalepublishing.com/

PROJECT REGENCY ROMANCE – CREATING REGENCY ROMANCE JANE AUSTEN WOULD READ

by Louisa Cornell

Anyone who reads our blog knows I write Regency romance. I met Mr. Darcy at the age of nine and I have been writing my own version of him ever since. Because of my love of all things British – especially British history – I strive to make certain my Regency romances are as true to the era as possible. Without reading like a history book on steroids. The romance is always first, but it is possible to write a historical romance with historical accuracy and simmering passion.

I read Regency romance voraciously – good, bad, and unfortunately, some ugly. And I realize my tastes in Regency romance will not be everyone’s tastes. Regency romance can be written without a great deal of historical information included in the story. I’ve seen it done, and some of it is done quite well. Conversely, I’ve seen Regency romance written with heavy historical content that had even me nodding off. Balance is probably the best a writer of Regency romance can strive to achieve. In order to know how much or how little historical background and information to include, a writer must have a great grasp of what they know and an even greater grasp of what they do not.

I will confess I have read some historical romance that made me wonder if the author simply woke up one day and said :

I think I’ll write a Regency romance!

Rather like I would get up one morning and say :

“I think I’ll take up downhill skiing!”

Now before all of those aspiring, new or even established Regency romance authors panic – I do not think every Regency romance author should camp out somewhere like this –

  – never to be seen again.

And Regency romance authors shouldn’t look like this –

And spend all of their time and money on this.

However…

There are certain things I find in the Regency romances I read, some by new authors and some by long-established authors, that make me cringe. And after reading some of these blatant historical errors I am fairly certain I felt a tremor in the earth that was Jane Austen rolling over in her grave. Of course, it was slightly easier for her to write Regency romance. Our Regency romance was her contemporary romance. No problem. Writing her style of Regency romance as our contemporary romance. BIG PROBLEM !!

So…

In the interest of offering some tips to authors who do not want to spend their entire lives reading every book written about every aspect of the Regency era, (No, I haven’t done that, but I’m not dead yet.) I will be posting some brief reviews of books in my considerable Regency Romance Library here at Number One London from time to time. I will try to group these books by topic.

Caution!

I have been told that my book reviews have caused some people to fall into the same horrid addiction from which I suffer. This affliction may necessitate hiding your credit cards, avoiding all bookstores – online and off – especially those that specialize in old books and history books. And should your spouse discover my role in your sudden Regency research book fetish, I will deny everything!

PROJECT REGENCY ROMANCE – REGENCY LONDON

The London Rich : The Creation of a Great City from 1666 to the Present

Peter Thorold

This is an excellent reference should one want to know where to situate a character’s home or where to situate a lunatic asylum or a children’s home or any number of institutions. After the Great Fire in 1666, London rebuilt and expanded. This book follows the migration of London’s wealthiest citizens, the establishment of exclusive neighborhoods around certain squares and the construction of stately homes within the boundaries of what eventually became the entire city of London. And as is the nature of the wealthy, once the city and lesser mortals began to encroach upon a neighborhood the wealthy picked up and moved to establish their elite conclaves somewhere else. This is a study of class differences in 17th through 20th century London, but for the most part in the context of the architecture and city planning aspects of class distinction. The maps and illustrations – color and black and white photographs – are beautiful and very informative. Also of great value is the author’s research into what happened to the beautiful homes – town houses and town mansions – once the wealthiest Londoners moved on. There is also great information on how the iconic Regency neighborhoods – Grosvenor Square, Berkeley Square – and others came to be. Hardbound copies can be had for very little and it is definitely a worthwhile addition to any Regency Research Library. You can buy the book here.

The Years of Grandeur -The Story of Mayfair

Mary Cathcart-Borer

A beautifully written history of that most hallowed of Regency era neighborhoods – Mayfair. The author traces the evolution of the area from a little village within the confines of London to the most prestigious address in England, especially from the late eighteenth through the mid-nineteenth centuries. She divides the book into chapters on the most well-known landmarks and divisions of the area, which makes it a very useful resource for a Regency romance author. There are wonderful illustrations and maps. Making use of diaries, journals, newspaper articles, and documents from city planning the author creates an intimate picture of this elite section of London – how it was created, why, the evolution in prestige of the different addresses even within Mayfair. Most valuable, I believe, is the power of these pages to pull the reader into the atmosphere and character of Mayfair. Writing about it is far easier once you learn the living, breathing air of what Mayfair was during the Georgian era and how it acquired that character. Hardbound copies can be had fairly cheaply here.

Down and Out in Eighteenth-Century London

Tim Hitchcock

Its title denotes its concentration on the 18th century, the century leading into the Regency. However, much of the information in this book applies to the Regency era in that a great deal of what the book covers still existed during the Regency and indeed was cause and catalyst for much of life in Regency era London. At turns heartbreaking, shocking, comical, and horrifying – this book covers the lives of the “other side” of London. The author explores the lives of the match sellers, the sweeps, the tavern maids, and all of those eking out a living in the numerous poverty-stricken neighborhoods of London. It is an intriguing read and replete with ideas for minor characters, period flavor, and most of all – a great understanding of what life was like for the majority of London’s citizens from the eighteenth century going into the Regency era. Used hardbound copies are a bit pricey, but still fairly reasonably priced – click here.

 

 

BOXED IN AT ROYAL ALBERT HALL

by Kristine Hughes Patrone

 

“Opposite the Albert Memorial is the Royal Albert Hall, an immense oval brick building in Italian renaissance style, ornamented with a terra cotta frieze, executed by Minton & Co., and designed by eminent English artists. The exterior measurement of the Hall is 272 by 238 ft, and the interior 219 ft by 185 ft.  The total cost of the building was £200,000, of which £100,000 was raised by public subscription, £50,000 was given out of the profits of the Great Exhibition of 1851, and the remainder was raised by the sale of the private boxes.”  From Paterson’s Guide Book to the United Kingdom, 1885

Last year, Number One London Tours was invited to attend the Visit Britain travel expo in Brighton, where I was fortunate enough to meet travel and site managers from a wide variety of outlets in Britain. One of these was the guest services representative from London’s Royal Albert Hall, who told me that the private boxes were owned by individuals, many of whom had ancestors who had been the first to purchase the boxes, which at the time came with a 999 year lease. More often than not, the leases were left to the next generation via a will and the private boxes very rarely came up for sale. Intrigued, I decided to investigate this further.

Queen Victoria lays the foundation stone at the Royal Albert Hall. 7,000 people gathered under a purpose-built marquee to watch HM Queen Victoria lay the Hall’s red Aberdeen granite foundation stone, which today can be found underneath K stalls, row 11, seat 87 in the main auditorium.

In the 1860s, 1,200 of the Hall’s 5,500 seats were sold to private individuals for £100 each to finance the Hall’s construction, each seat having a 999 year lease and allowing access to most of its music, sporting and other events, subject to an annual service charge. Queen Victoria prudently snapped up 20, and the Queen’s Box, located on the Grand Tier, is still in the possession of the monarchy. The first Victorian box owners were also allowed to decorate their boxes as they saw fit, putting their personal touches to the space by the use of paint, fabrics, carpeting, plaster-work and mirrors.

Today there are around 1,300 seats – in boxes and the stalls – privately owned by individuals and companies. Members receive tickets for roughly 200 nights of the year, with a third of the annual 330 performances being ‘exclusive’, and sold separately by the Hall.

So, how much would a box fetch on the open market? Harrods Estates say that the last box of this size sold privately for £248,000, and 18 months ago another sold for £230,000 (it was bought as a wedding anniversary present). A larger, 10-seat box on the grand-tier was on the market for £300,000 in 1995, and another had an asking price of £375,000 in 2001. But keep in mind, for that price, you also get a lot of history.

Gore House, Kensington

The Royal Albert Hall was built on what was once the Gore estate, at the centre of which stood Gore House. The three acre estate was occupied by political reformer William Wilberforce between 1808-1828 and subsequently occupied between 1836-1849 by the Countess of Blessington and Count D’Orsay.

After the couple left for Paris in May 1851, the house was opened as the ‘Universal Symposium of All Nations’, a restaurant run by the first celebrity chef, Alexis Soyer, who planned to cater for the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park. After the Exhibition and following the advice of Prince Albert, Gore House and its grounds were bought by the Exhibition’s Royal Commission to create the cultural quarter known as Albertopolis, a complex of public Victorian buildings developed to house exhibits from the Great Exhibition and to further the study of art, science and industry.

 

But let us leave both the good Queen Victoria and good works behind us now and return to the filthy subject of money. The following is from an article in The Telegraph dated 9 January 2017:

“Members of the public with deep pockets are being offered a once in a decade chance to buy a box at the Royal Albert Hall next to the Queen for £2.5 million. Nicholas Shaw, sales manager of Harrods Estates Kensington, said he thought the box would be sold to “true lovers of the arts”. He said: “This Grand Tier box at the Royal Albert Hall is a real generational purchase, and is the first of its kind that is available to buy for almost a decade. The box is ideal for entertaining, with its twelve seats, and provides enviable views over the main stage and auditorium.”

“Richard Lyttelton, who was president of the Royal Albert Hall from 2010 to 2011, owns four seats but has never sold of them to third parties, choosing instead to return them to the box office for sale at face value. In 2011, a five-seat box on the second tier was put up for sale for £550,000. A ten-seat box on the Grand Tier was offered three years earlier for £1.2 million.”

A Royal Albert Hall spokesman said: “The seats are private property as set out in the royal charter which established the hall in 1861. As such the hall is not able to intervene as the seat holders’ rights are enshrined in law.”

THE NAME OF THE ROOM – WHERE PRECISELY IS THE NECESSARY?

by Louisa Cornell

Having covered the all-important drawing room and the equally vital kitchen areas of your average Regency era English country house, I thought it imperative we visit… The Necessary. Anyone who has read their British history knows this era was on the cusp of modernity in many areas. Plumbing was one of them. Sort of. For those who write and even those who read Regency era romance I offer a brief primer on where your hero or heroine might go… to Go.

The Water Closet or WC – Nicest of our options.

By way of introduction, there was actually a flushing toilet in Britain as early as 1591. John Harington, godson of Queen Elizabeth I, invented and installed the first water closet in his own home. He called his new invention Ajax and even wrote a book describing how it was built and how it functioned. A pan had an opening at its bottom closed by a leather faced valve. A system of handles, levers and weight poured the water from the cistern and opened the valve.

It didn’t really catch on, but by 1775 Alexander Cummings took a patent for his flushing closet which was very similar to Ajax. The main drawback in Ajax was the water seepage through the primitive valve. In 1777, Samuel Prosser used a ball valve to stop the seepage of water from the tank. This was the prototype for the water closets seen in some Regency era stately homes and London townhouses.

Some of the problems with this facility were –

  1. There tended to be only one in each house. Large house, one water closet, cold dark nights. Take a good candle, warm slippers, and do not wait until the last minute!
  2. Only in the wealthiest and most modern-thinking houses would the water closet be found on the floor with the family bedchambers. So, marry really well or… See Number 1 above.
  3. The most logical location for the water closet would be on the ground floor at the back of the house where water was already being pumped inside aka the kitchens. Which means one ran the risk of running into or even tripping over sleeping servants on your way to the water closet.
  4. Negotiating a wooden toilet seat, in the dark, in homes where rat catchers were employed to keep the vermin population in check. Do not skimp on paying either the rat catcher or the estate carpenter. Just saying.

The advantages were –

  1. One didn’t have to leave the house.
  2. The maid didn’t have to empty it every time it was used.
  3. Some of them worked well enough to completely eliminate the smell and possibility of disease from the house.

The Chamber Pot – Great for your Heroine, Not so great for her maid!

A chamber pot was a bowl or container and could be as fancy or as basic as the owner deemed necessary. Some resembled black iron cook pots with a lid. Others were beautifully decorated porcelain vessels, often matching the decor of the bedchamber or the pitcher and bowl on the bedchamber washstand. It is safe to say a chamber pot might be found in every bedchamber in every stately home and town house in England during the Regency era. I daresay even servants had chamber pots in their bedchambers. Why wouldn’t they? They certainly had enough experience emptying them.

As the name denotes, a chamber pot might be found in any sort of chamber. The French were horrified to discover that British men kept a chamber pot in the dining room so as not to interrupt their after dinner brandy and cigars with a trip to the privy or water closet. Yes, you heard me correctly. A chamber pot. In the dining room. It might be stored behind a screen or even in a cabinet of the sideboard. And apparently gentlemen had no compunction about pulling the chamber pot out and using it whilst their fellow gentlemen watched. Frat boys have been around considerably longer than we knew.

For the ladies, during most social events a withdrawing room was designated. This was not a permanent fixture in a home, although some particularly busy homes might make it so. Perhaps a small parlor or a room not in constant use by the family would be set up with a screen and a chamber pot, chairs or comfortable divans for ladies to rest away from the party, a wash stand equipped with a pitcher of water and a bowl in which to wash one’s hands and face, along with towels and face cloths. A full length mirror and the talents of a maid who could repair a torn hem or flounce might also be offered. A vanity with cosmetics and a maid who excelled at dressing hair might be included. Of course there would be a maid whose job it was to empty the chamber pot and clean it so the next lady might use it. As far as all extant sources state, using the chamber pot was not a spectator sport for the ladies. Of course, ladies had the advantage of not having to remove any clothing in order to use the chamber pot. During the Regency era ladies did not wear the sort of confining panties or drawers we do today. Only loose women wore drawers, which means French women did it first. Wicked girls!

When in the actual bedchamber, chamber pots might be kept under the bed, behind a screen or even hidden in a sort of cabinet. They might be installed in a sort of toilet chair in a dressing room as well. No matter where they were stored, it was the duty of a maid to empty said chamber pot and return it clean to be used again.

          

 

 

 

                  

 

Ladies were even afforded a more portable option for when they traveled to venues at which a withdrawing room might not be made available – the bourdaloue.

For an informative and fun article on the bourdaloue please check out this link.

There were advantages and disadvantages to the use of a chamber pot.

Advantages –

  1. One did not have to leave the room, let alone the house at night to use it.
  2. One might use it without alerting the entire house, let alone a ballroom full of guests one was using it.
  3. A maid emptied it outside of the house, thus ridding the house of any smell or possibility of disease.

Disadvantages –

1. It might be in one’s chamber a while before it was emptied.

2. Maneuvering to use it might be problematic.

3. If one was a maid or footman working in one of these homes… do I really need to explain that disadvantage?

The Privy – You Might Be a Regency Redneck If… Oh! Wrong Post!

By the early 19th century, before the advent of sewer systems, each London house and most country houses would have what was called a ‘cesspool,’ a pit about four feet wide and six feet deep, above which the home’s privy was located. Liquid waste would be absorbed back into the soil at the bottom of the hole, but solid waste had to removed by the night soil man, who would come around at night (opening a cesspool during the day was illegal, as the smell was considered to be too horrifying) and climb down into the cesspool to shovel out the accumulated muck. Rest assured these cesspools probably accumulated their fair share of other household rubbish as well. More than one murder was discovered when someone bent to the task of removing solid waste from the cesspool. Shudder.

The privy was a fixed out house with no water supply or drain and usually located some distance away from the house. A fixed wooden seat with a rounded hole was placed directly over the cesspit. Occasionally privies were attached to the side of a building, projecting out from a top floor, or reached through on outdoor entry on the ground floor of a service wing. These were sometimes called garderobes, a leftover term from the medieval period. More often than not they were placed at some distance from the main house at the far end of a garden or yard.

The advantages to this arrangement were… let me think. Surely there was…

  1. The privy was away from the house.
  2. More often than not the owners paid for the services of the night soil man, thus the servants did not have to empty it. At least in the city. In the country, it is a safe bet there was some poor servant assigned to this task.

The disadvantages were –

  1. It was away from the house. Long walk, no matter the weather or the time of night. Much more likely to encounter the sort of animals who prefer to occupy a privy.
  2. Do we really need to list all of the disadvantages of using a privy?

There you have it. The name of the room we call a bathroom or restroom, or at least the various places and things one might use to accomplish the same purpose. Everyone who is perfectly happy to read or write about the Regency era, but has some reservations about actually living during the era, please raise your hand. You’re excused.

YOU MIGHT BE A REGENCY REDNECK IF…

 

CHRISTMAS EDITION

(c) Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

I write Regency historical romance because I fell in love with the era at the age of nine, and my love has only grown stronger since. I love the manners, the rules of proper conduct, the elegant clothes (especially men in breeches and boots,) travel in carriages and on horseback, the stately homes, and every aspect of life in this unique period.

Be that as it may, I have come to realize there are some aspects of Regency life, even in the most elite portions of society, that would not be amiss in the red plastic cup, mud-bogging, tobacco spitting locale in which I live today. Directions to my house do include the words “Turn off the paved road.”

Lest you think I use the term “redneck” as a pejorative, I spent a large portion of my childhood living in mobile homes in the South. My mother’s family were Native American sharecroppers. My father’s family were Pennsylvania coal miners. I know who and what I am. Jeff Foxworthy, the leading expert on the redneck lifestyle, defines it as “a glorious lack of sophistication.” For the purposes of this essay, and in my semi-expert opinion, that is the definition we will use.

There are examples of redneck behavior to be found in every race, religion, socio-economic group, and country in the world. I now realize the same is true of every historical era. Rednecks have been with us forever. Even during that most gracious and elegant of times—The Regency.

Prove it, you say? I give you a series of Regency Christmas traditions any self-respecting redneck would be happy to call his or her own.

Snapdragon

Under the heading of a Regency version of “Hey y’all, watch this!” comes the Christmas game of Snapdragon. Raisins and nuts were soaked in brandy in a large shallow bowl. The lights were put out, and the brandy lit. People had to try and grasp a raisin or nut and eat it without burning themselves. The winner was the person who managed to capture and eat the most. I think you’d have to soak me in brandy to get me to try it!

Bullet Pudding

Another Regency era Christmas game with a redneck flair is bullet pudding. One must have a large pewter dish piled high with flour pushed to a peak at the top. A single bullet is placed at the crest of the “pudding.” Players take turns cutting a slice of the “pudding” with a knife. The person who is slicing the “pudding” when the bullet falls must then put their hands behind their back and poke about in the pile of flour with their nose and chin to find the bullet. Once they find it, they must retrieve it with their mouth. All the while trying desperately not to join their companions in laughter as this will result in flour being inhaled into the mouth and nose. Regardless, the bullet retriever ends up with flour all over his face. Any game played with live ammunition and the promise of someone ending up covered in a mess would be as welcome at a Redneck Christmas as it was at Regency Christmases.

Wassailing!

There were no Christmas carolers in Regency England. However, wassail groups would go from house to house singing begging songs in the hope of receiving food, drink, and money. Wassail was a mixture of beer, wine, and brandy and was usually served to the singers at each house. Every house. A great many houses before the night was done. I think I’ve seen groups like this around my neighborhood at Christmas-time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Very few houses had our idea of Christmas trees during the Regency. Such decorated Christmas trees were made popular in England by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in the middle of the 19th century. However, trees were not left out of the Regency holidays. On Epiphany Eve, men would gather round a fruit tree, usually in an orchard, with cider and guns. In an ancient ceremony, they would drink to the tree and fire the guns to drive away evil spirits and promote the vigor of the trees. Horn-blowing was an alternative to firing guns. (Sounds like a Regency tail-gating party to me!)

The Yule Log

Speaking of trees, what could be more fun than a large group of men sent out into the woods to find the largest log possible to burn in the Christmas fireplace? The yule log had to be large enough to burn through the entire twelve days of Christmas. In fact, it had to be large enough to burn through to Twelfth Night and leave enough to be used to light next year’s log. Between the mine is bigger than your’s aspects of the hunt for the yule log and the opportunity to show off one’s strength in helping to drag the log home, this Regency Christmas tradition is rife with redneck possibilities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mistletoe and Kisses

Round out your Regency Christmas outdoor adventures with shooting mistletoe out of the trees (a method used by many Regency bucks) and hanging it about the house in every doorway and dark corner, a Regency version of spin-the-bottle if ever I’ve heard one.

 

A FLAMING DESSERT

Oh, and don’t forget a Christmas dessert for which many families put the ingredients on layaway. K-Mart did not invent the concept. The original Christmas clubs were for families who could not afford to pay for the ingredients for their Christmas pudding all at once. Wives in less affluent households deposited their pennies with their local shopkeepers in order to have the money to purchase those luxury food items necessary for a proper Christmas pudding. And after all of that, said dessert was brought to the table amidst great pomp and ceremony and… set on fire. Anyone who doesn’t believe your average redneck would shout “Hell, yeah!” at the idea of a flaming Christmas dessert has never been to a Christmas barbecue in the South.

At the end of Christmas Day, men and women of every age, no matter how strict the rules of society, tend to celebrate this joyous holiday with a bit more exuberance than decorum prescribes. Even Regency ladies and gentlemen, at least during Christmastide, might show “a glorious lack of sophistication.” So should we all!