THE JOBMASTER’S HORSE

From The Horse-World of London by William John Gordon (1893)

The best horses are, of course, those used for fashionable carriage work. The high-class harness horse comes to London when he is about four years old. He is untrained, undrilled, with all his troubles to be faced. The young cart-horse is gradually introduced to work on the farm; not so the carriage horse, who is too much of the possibility of a valuable animal to run any risks with. He may fetch 80L; but if he is a handsome, well-built, upstanding state-coach horse, of the kind now so much sought after, he will be cheap at 120L. He has to be educated to behave himself like a gentleman; he must learn to stand well—not an easy thing to do—he must know how to back and turn gracefully, how to draw up stylishly at a front door, how to look nice when under window criticism, how to carry his head and lift his feet, and how to work with a companion and be as like him in action as one pea is like another; in short, he has to go through a complete course of deportment, though not of dancing, and he will be a promising pupil if he gets through it in eight months. If he does well and shows a willing mind, it is well with him and he has an easy time of it for years; but if he is tricky or perverse in any way he may have to go to hard labour and spend a twelvemonth in a ‘bus. Sometimes that breaks him thoroughly of his bad habits and he returns to carriage work; sometimes, like an habitual criminal, he refuses to amend, and he remains a ‘bus horse for life. And herein is the advantage of a miscellaneous business, for if a horse will not do in one branch he may in another.

The new horse is not branded or numbered, but a note is made of his marks, and he is named from a book of names, taking, perhaps, an old name which has been vacant for at least a year; the names being chosen as fitting the particular horse, and not as aiding the memory with regard to the date or circumstance of his purchase, naming from pedigree, as in the case of a racer, being, of course, out of the question. There are many systems of naming; some firms, like Truman & Hanbury, and Spiers & Pond, give the horses names which begin with the same initial all through the year, so that the A’s may show the horses bought in 1890, the B’s those bought in 1891, the C’s those bought in 1892, &c.; others have other plans, but nothing of this systematic sort seems to exist in the livery trade, owing, perhaps, to the possibility of awkward developments in the event of the customer learning the key.

When the horse has passed his drills and been pronounced efficient, he takes his place with eight or nine others in a stable which has its roof thatched inside, so as to keep the temperature equable in summer and winter; and in every one of these stables the horses are as much as possible of the same colour and size, so as to look their best amid their comfortable surroundings. There are fixed travises and no bales for this class of horse, and no peat, but the usual straw, both for the sake of appearance and to save his coat from roughening. He is as well cared for as the plate at a silversmith’s, and, like it, is not often so well treated when out on hire. But horses of all grades are nowadays better treated than they used to be, even though there may be deterioration in their quality, which, to say the least of it, is doubtful.

(Doctors) with a consulting practice want a different sort of horse to the humbler general practitioner. The consulting man must have a pair that go fast and well, and cover long distances, and draw up at the door in a style that will inspire the patient and the patient’s friends with faith—and move the G.P. to envy. The said G.P. must have a horse that is ready for work at all hours, and looks none the worse for standing about in the rain; in other words, one wants a coach-horse, and other wants a good hackney, which some would consider the better horse of the two. Most of the doctors are horsed by the jobmaster. Some of the Harley Street and Cavendish Square men have half-a-dozen horses on hire, which means a nice little addition to their expenses. The horses are usually foraged by the jobmaster, and every fortnight the feed is delivered in sacks at the stable; but the shoeing is done by a local farrier, though at the jobmaster’s expense.

There is no doubt that the typical doctor’s horse, the horse of the hard-working general practitioner, has a trying life. Like the maid-of-all-work, his work is never done; and he must be exceptionally sound and robust to stand the wear and tear of day and night, particularly on what we may call the outer edge of London. He may not look so well as the animal driven by the country medico, who generally takes a pride in his horseflesh, but he costs quite as much and does not last as long. Six years’ work is as much as can be expected of him, and the expectation is frequently unfulfilled, for as a rule he has little time to bo comfortable either in the stable or the street, although many a one-horse doctor walks his round on Sunday, to give his weary steed a rest. Of late years influenza has been exceptionally hard on the doctor’s horse; it has hit him in two ways: as an ailment from which he suffers, and as a cause of much extra work. No wonder that the doctor jobs, and avails himself of an inexhaustible supply of horse power, in which the risk is spread over thousands instead of being concentrated on his one poor pill-box bay.

The daily round of the doctor’s horse must be as monotonous as that of the milkman’s. As a contrast we have the festive outings of that holiday animal, the wedding grey. As we have before noticed, the grey horse is not appreciated by the cabman, nor is he much loved by the omnibus owner or the carrier, but the livery stableman cannot do without him. For a wedding he is indispensable, though in a crush of weddings chestnuts have to take his place, just as in a crush of funerals the ‘black masters’ have to call on their brethren for the loan of darkish bays and browns.

Tilling averages half-a-dozen weddings a day all the year round, Sundays excepted, for Sunday is not a
favourite marriage day among the folks who patronise the jobmaster. To horse these weddings takes about forty horses, most of which do nothing else; but taking London round, the wedding horse is a superior kind of ‘bus horse out for a holiday, which he owes not to his merits and points, but to his colour; and it has been observed that the melancholy air with which he eyes the bride and bridegroom is due not so much to his forebodings as to their future, but to his veiling his joy at having such a light day’s work.

All the large horse-owners have infirmaries to which the sick and injured are sent, and most of them have a farm for the convalescent. Tilling’s infirmary is a special yard about a quarter of a mile from headquarters, where there are over sixty loose boxes and stalls for the patients under treatment. We have already seen how curiously alike to man the horse is in his ailments. This is all the more noticeable at this infirmary from the fact of a slate appearing on each door, on which is written the patient’s name, his complaint, and the treatment ordered; it only wants a blue paper by the side of it, to be sent to the dispenser for the medicine, to make the resemblance to a hospital complete. The horses that die in a livery stable are few, but those cleared out every year amount to about 12 per cent. This gives an average of eight and a half years’ work, but it is spread over so many kinds of horses as to be hardly worth consideration.

A WELLINGTON KIND OF DAY

 

In my last post, I left off at the point where Sandra Mettler and I stopped by my old stomping ground, the Duke of Wellington pub off Sloane Square. We were supposed to meet Ian Fletcher there the following evening and you can imagine my shock when Sandra and I found the pub deserted – the place was empty, locked up tight and even the signboard, above, was gone.

What the Hell? I thought. “What the Hell?” I asked Sandra. As soon as we got back to the hotel, I got on to the pub website and found that the old Duke of Boots was undergoing a renovation. And that it would be re-opening . . . . tomorrow night. Really, what were the odds?

Everything was falling nicely into place and, as it turned out, the entire next day turned out to be filled with all things Wellington. First, Sandra and I stopped in at Horse Guards

 

 

Wellington’s entrance at Horse Guards

We timed our visit perfectly and so were on hand to watch the changing of the Guards in the entrance gates and to also see the Guards muster for the 11 o’clock inspection.

Exhausted by all the military hoopla, Sandra and I crossed over the road to The Clarence for a refreshing pause at a sidewalk table.

Afterwards, we headed up to Trafalgar Square and on to see my antique dealer, who had quite a nice little something for my collection.

 

Shopping was followed by lunch at Boulestin, in St. James’s Street.

Around the corner, we found the Beau surrounded by construction barriers on our way to Fortnum and Mason and Hatchard’s.

Some time later, we hopped into a cab and headed to the Duke of Wellington pub to meet Ian Fletcher – fingers crossed.

And . . . . it had re-opened! The sign board had been re-hung, the furniture was back in place and the Duke of Boots, as usual, was packed.

 

It wasn’t long before Ian arrived – introductions were made, drinks were ordered and from that point on, the conversation was pretty much non-stop. A goodly amount of time passed before I realized we’d better go on to dinner, and I suggested that we cab it over to that other Wellington stalwart, the Grenadier Pub, once the officer’s mess for Wellington’s regiment and just a stone’s throw from Apsley House.

 

 

The Grenadier was also packed, but thankfully most of the punters here were content to stand outside and enjoy apres work cocktails, while we went inside and were seated for dinner immediately. Sandra quipped that I must feel right at home in these surroundings, and it was nice to have old friends around me, both in print and in person, but to be honest, the Grenadier does a much better cheese plate than I do at home.

 

 

 

I suppose it’s at this point that I should make the obligatory mention of the Grenadier pub ghost. Rumour has it that an officer, caught cheating at cards, was beaten to death outside the pub and that his ghost can be seen standing in the sentry box, above. And it is nothing but rumour. The ghosts never appear anywhere near the sentry box.

 

After dinner, Sandra, Ian and I took advantage of the balmy evening and strolled the streets of Belgravia. It had been a good day. I’d spent it with good friends and I’d found a really nice Artie-fact to add to my collection. As we parted from Ian, Sandra and I turned into Eaton Square and headed home.

“Mista Hudson!” I called quietly.  “Are you there, Mista Hudson?”

“Aye, I’m here, Mrs. Bridges, but that scamp Sarah is no where to be found. Go and ask our Rose if she’s seen her,” replied Sandra.

A grand day was had by all.

THE FUNERAL HORSE

From The Horse-World of London by William John Gordon (1893)

This funeral business is a strange one in many respects, but, just as the jobmaster is in the background of the every-day working world, so the jobmaster is at the back of the burying world. The ‘funeral furnisher’ is equal to all emergencies on account of the facilities he possesses for hiring to an almost unlimited extent, so long as the death rate is normal. The wholesale men, the ‘black masters,’ are always ready to cope with a rate of twenty per thousand —London’s normal is seventeen—but when it rises above that, as it did in the influenza time, the pressure is so great that the ‘blacks’ have to get help from the ‘coloured,’ and the ‘horse of pleasure’ becomes familiar with the cemetery roads.

A hundred years ago there was but one black master in London. He owned all the horses; and there are wonderful stories of the funerals in those days when railways were unknown. The burying of a duke or even a country squire, in the family vault, was then a serious matter, for the body had to be taken the whole distance by road, and the horses were sometimes away for a week or more, and were often worked in relays, much on the same plan as the coach-horses, only that rapid progress through the towns and villages was impossible, for the same reason that no living undertaker dare trot with a tradesman within the limits of the district in which the deceased happens to have been known and respected. Even nowadays the black masters of London can be counted on one’s fingers, the chief, according to general report, being Dottridge, of East Road.

A wonderful place is Dottridge’s. It is the centre of what may be called the wholesale undertaking trade, where the retail undertakers are themselves undertaken and supplied with all they need, from coffin to tombstone. From all parts of the country telegrams and letters are continually coming in and packages continually going out by carrier and fast train, all labelled ‘immediately for funeral,’ to insure quick delivery. If anyone wants a parcel to go promptly and surely to hand, he has only to label it with these mystic words, and the railway men will pounce upon it and be off with it at a run—that is, if they treat it as we saw them do with the first one that came under our notice, which they handled as if it had arrived red hot, and was required at its destination before it cooled. ‘Haste,’ `urgent,’ ‘ immediate,’ are but poor incentives to speed compared with the red funeral label, such as was once accidentally stuck on a boy’s hamper, and sent the matron into hysterics as it was hurriedly bumped on to the school door-mat.

“Altogether there are about 700 of these black horses in London. They are all Flemish, and come to us from the flats of Holland and Belgium by way of Rotterdam and Harwich. They are the youngest horses we import, for they reach us when they are rising three years old, and take a year or so before they get into full swing; in fact, they begin work as what we may call the ‘halftimers’ of the London horse-world. When young they cost rather under than over a hundred guineas a pair, but sometimes they get astray among the carriage folk, who pay for them, by mistake of course, about double the money. In about a year or more, when they have got over their sea-sickness and other ailments, and have been trained and acclimatised, they fetch 65L. each; if they do not turn out quite good enough for first-class -work they are cleared out to the second-class men at about twenty-five guineas; if they go to the repository they average 10L; if they go to the knacker’s they average thirty-five shillings, and they generally go there after six years’ work. Most of them are stallions, for Flemish geldings go shabby and brown. They are cheaper now than they were a year or two back, for the ubiquitous American took to buying them in their native land for importation to the States, and thereby sent up the price; but the law of supply and demand came in to check the rise, and some enterprising individual actually took to importing black horses here from the States, and so spoilt the corner.

“Here, in the East Road, are about eighty genuine Flemings, housed in capital stables, well built, lofty, light, and well ventilated, all on the ground floor. Over every horse is his name, every horse being named from the celebrity, ancient or modern, most talked about at the time of his purchase, a system which has a somewhat comical side when the horses come to be worked together.

“One would think these horses were big, black retriever dogs, to judge by the liking and understanding which spring up between them and their masters. It is astonishing what a lovable, intelligent animal a horse is when he finds he is understood. According to popular report these Flemish stallions are the most vicious and ill-tempered of brutes; but those who keep them and know them are of the very opposite opinion.

“The funeral horse hardly needs description. The breed has been the same for centuries. He stands about sixteen hands, and weighs between 12 and 13 cwt. The weight behind him is not excessive, for the car does not weigh over 17 cwt., and even with a lead coffin he has the lightest load of any of our draught horses. The worst roads he travels are the hilly ones to Highgate, Finchley, and Norwood. These he knows well and does not appreciate. In a few months he gets to recognise all the cemetery roads ‘like a book,’ and after he is out of the bye streets he wants practically no driving, as he goes by himself, taking all the proper corners and making all the proper pauses. This knowledge of the road has its inconveniences, as it is often difficult to get him past the familiar corner when he is out at exercise. But of late he has had exercise enough at work, and during the influenza epidemic was doing his three and four trips a day, and the funerals had to take place not to suit the convenience of the relatives, but the available horse-power of the undertaker. Six days a week he works, for after a long agitation there are now no London funerals on Sundays, except perhaps those of the Jews, for which the horses have their day’s rest in the week.

“To feed such a horse costs perhaps two shillings a day—-it is a trifle under that, over the 700—and his food differs from that of any other London horse. In his native Flanders he is fed a good deal upon slops, soups, mashes, and so forth; and as a Scotsman does best on his oatmeal, so the funeral horse, to keep in condition, must have the rye-bread of his youth. Ryebread, oats, and hay form his mixture, with perhaps a little clover, but not much, for it would not do to heat him, and beans and such things are absolutely forbidden. Every Saturday he has a mash like other horses, but unlike them his mash consists, not of bran alone, but of bran and linseed in equal quantities. What the linseed is for we know not; it may be, as a Life Guardsman suggested to us, to make his hair glossy, that beautiful silky hair which is at once his pride and the reason of his special employment, and the sign of his delicate, sensitive constitution.

PROJECT REGENCY ROMANCE – CREATING REGENCY ROMANCE JANE AUSTEN WOULD READ – Part Two

WHAT TO SERVE AT ALL OF THOSE DINNER PARTIES, SUPPERS, AND VENETIAN BREAKFASTS

Most readers of Regency romance don’t read them for detailed descriptions of the food one’s characters eat. However, should an author mention serving fish and chips at a soiree or pancakes and waffles at a Venetian breakfast… Well, suffice it to say the most sharp-eyed and avid Regency romance fans might well be provoked to throw said author’s book into a compost pile, never to be seen again.

 

Fortunately, cookbooks are one of those items that stand the test of time. Today, families create their own cookbooks – collecting grandma’s recipes to preserve them for future generations. Rest assured, cooks during the Regency, be they chefs engaged by dukes for their townhouses in London or matronly ladies who ruled over the kitchens of those massive country homes, collected recipes as well. And fortunately for those of us who write Regency romance, many of those cookbooks are available to us today.

Favorite foods, foods prepared and served simply to show off a character’s wealth, or even foods a hero or heroine cannot abide will help to paint a more vivid picture of the people and events in a romance novel. Never forget, food can be a sensual experience as well. Yes, even British food can be sexy!

There are a great many facets of food preparation, availability, storage, taste, and menu combinations one must investigate if one wishes to write an accurate portrayal of food during the Regency era. Below is a selection of some wonderful resources on this subject.

 

The Jane Austen Cookbook – Maggie Black and Deidre Le Fey

Whilst this book includes a discussion of Jane Austen’s thoughts on food and her use of it in her novels and also outlines mealtimes, entertaining, and its importance in the social life during her era (1775-1817,) the best part is the inclusion of Martha Lloyd’s entire Household Book. Martha Lloyd was a dear friend of Miss Austen and lived with the family for a number of years. Her Household Book includes over one hundred recipes used on a daily basis in the Austen household. Used copies can be purchased quite cheaply here.

Bath Buns

 

Everlasting Syllabub and the Art of Carving – Hannah Glasse

This version of Hannah Glasse’s work features recipes for rice pudding, barbecued pork, trifle, and other scrumptious non-French desserts and even a recipe for curry the Indian way – the first such recipe recorded in Britain. She also includes tips for choosing the best ingredients and the best methods for carving meats served at table. As an oddity there are even cures for the bite of a mad dog. Copies of this book are extremely well-priced here.

Syllabub

 

The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy – Hannah Glasse

Originally published in 1747 in England, The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy is perhaps the best resource for recipes for good, common English fare. It includes instructions on how to shop based on the season of the year, how to prepare meats and preserve vegetables, how meals are to be served at table, and it even has specific menus for each month of the year. There is a section on distilling and even some recipes for home remedies for common complaints. It is definitely one of my favorite resources and it actually became a bestseller for over 1oo years after it was published in the United States in 1805. Paperback copies are very reasonably priced here.

Roast Pork

 

The Art of Cookery Made Easy and Refined – John Mollard

First published in 1802, this step-by-step cookbook is a wonderful look at the basic cooking of the Regency era. Instructions for the preparation of a variety of stocks – beef stock, veal stock for soups, consume and essence of meats – and various gravies and benshamelles, followed by recipes for a variety of soups begin this book of cookery instruction designed to take the cook through the courses necessary for a full meal. There are a variety of surprise recipes one might not expect to find in an early nineteenth-century cookbook, including one for onion rings (using Spanish onions) that would not be out of place at the local fast-food restaurant. Copies of this book can be a bit pricey so search the usual suspects. Fairly reasonably priced copies can be found here.

White Soup

Georgian Cookery Book – Margaretta Ackworth

This is strictly a cookbook and the recipes would very likely have been found in the kitchens of any worthy Regency era cook. The book consists of ninety recipes transcribed from the handwritten kitchen journal of an eighteenth-century London housewife. The authors also include a brief history of Mrs. Ackworth’s family and some fascinating insights into Georgian era cooking. The original recipe is included along with a modern version for the intrepid Regency romance author to try. Cheap copies of this book can be found here.

Apple Puffs

 

Harvest of the Cold Months : The Social History of Ice and Ices – Elizabeth David

This book is an interesting addition to any Regency research library, first of all, because it is a fascinating read, and more pertinent to the Regency, it presents insightful research into the acquisition, use, and storage of ice during the era and provides every sort of detail imaginable on the introduction of, preparation of, and Regency era affinity for ices and ice cream. As so many Regency romances include a visit to the famous Gunther’s, any author interested in a bit more information as to how such an establishment came to be such a popular venue would do well to read this book. Hardbound copies can be found at quite reasonable prices here.

 

 

The Household Companion – Eliza Smith

This book was originally published in the early eighteenth-century as The Compleat Housewife. By 1758, thirty years after Eliza Smith’s death, it was in its seventeenth edition and was the first cookery book published in America. This compilation of household hints and instructions and recipes was gleaned from Eliza’s years of employment in the most fashionable and noble households in England. The recipes are fantastic, but also of great interest will be the directions for creating a variety of cures for illness for everything from the common cold to consumption. There are also directions for beauty concoctions and even a recipe for making one’s own paint. It is an intriguing read and copies can be had very reasonably here.

 

 

The Housekeeping Book of Susanna Whatman (1776-1800)

This book is included as it does contain some recipes, but also discusses household practices, housework, and how households were run during the Georgian era. For an author in search of the daily routines and expectations of the mistress of the house and how the housekeeper and servants met those needs this is an excellent resource. Cheap copies can be found here.

 

Medieval Meat Pie

Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management – Isabella Beeton

Isabella Mayson Beeton was born just after the Regency era and her book is considered more of a Victorian era housekeeper’s / cook’s volume. However, many of the housekeeping tips, household managing tips, and even the recipes in it are those handed down to Mrs. Beeton from ladies of the Regency. There are menus for each month of the year, methods of preserving, butchering, and storing food – all of which would have been used during the Regency. For those authors who write Regency romance set in the late Regency / early Victorian era Mrs. Beeton’s will be a priceless reference guide. Be certain to look for the unabridged edition and an annotated edition is even better. Reasonably priced copies are available here.

 

Eighteenth-century Kitchen
Nineteenth-century Kitchen

 

The Art of Dining : A History of Cooking and Eating – Sara Paston-Williams

Whilst not strictly a cookbook, this volume is an invaluable resource for the author who wants to create authentic images of the kitchens and kitchen accoutrements in a variety of stately homes. It covers kitchens and dining from the medieval era through the Victorian age. There are recipes from each era and the author has even included modern adaptations of each recipe thus allowing the Regency romance author to prepare and enjoy the meal her character might enjoy. An informative and elegant read, hardbound copies of this beautiful book are available at great prices here.

 

Regency Supper Table

British Food : An Extraordinary Thousand Years of History – Colin Spencer

Whilst this book covers far more than the Regency era it is an exceptional recount of the evolution of English food and the reasons behind the many twists and turns this evolution took. Imminently readable and beyond informative, the author traces the roots of many Regency era dishes from the early medieval era. He does spend a great deal of time covering the foods of the Georgian era, a plus for any Regency romance author, and discusses not simply the preparation of the food and the serving of said food, but the social manners and implications of food as well. He traces the decline of good English fare to the social stigma attached to serving common food which reached its zenith in the Victorian era when society became completely obsessed with French cuisine. Reasonably priced copies can be had here.

 

Ices as desserts for a Regency dinner table.

 

A History of English Food – Clarissa Dickson Wright

This is a fun and informative read. The author traces the progression of English food from the Second Crusade to the present day. The most useful information concerns when certain spices, food items, and cookery techniques were first used in English cooking. A handy thing to know when trying to decide whether to include certain foods in one’s Regency romance novel. The author also does an extraordinary job of describing what it was like to sit down to dinner at a variety of meals from medieval feast to Regency supper party and she goes to the trouble of including meals of every day people as well as those of the aristocracy. Hardbound copies are more than reasonably priced here.

 

Regency era butcher shop

 

The Country House Kitchen 1650-1900 : Skills and Equipment for Food Provisioning – Leeds Symposium on Food History 1993

This book is a thorough discussion of exactly how self-sufficient the country house was and how it became so. It delineates the skills of various servants, the many processes needed to grow, harvest, prepare, preserve, and store various food items, and the equipment necessary to do so. It covers everything from the ice house to the distillery to the dairy and more. The evolution of cooking vessels, equipment, and the various stoves is fascinating to read and gives a Regency romance author a complete view of life behind the green baize door of the country house kitchen. Specific houses are discussed at length and photographs are provided as well. Another great resource for the Regency romance author who wants to know exactly what goes on in the background before those lovely dinner parties and ball midnight suppers. Reasonably priced hardbound copies can be found here.

 

Caution! (Again, in case you missed it the first time!) 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!