Ten Surprising Facts about Regency England

Ten Surprising Facts about Regency England

I am not a historian, but I am curious, and completely fascinated by the Regency Era. What I present here is not intended to be a definitive or even authoritative voice on the topic, but rather, an expression of just a few elements of the period that, when I first came upon them, elicited surprise, and in some cases, shock or delight.  The extensive knowledge of Janeites in general is part of what makes every day in the world of Austen an adventure, so I encourage those readers who have some to add or clarify in the comments below.

The end of the Georgian Era known as “The Regency” was a remarkable time in World History, particularly so in England. King George III, referred to at home and abroad as “Mad King George” was proclaimed unfit to rule, so his son George was named as the Prince Regent. Given little political power, George, nicknamed “Prinny” by his subjects, became a patron of the arts, and demonstrated a lifestyle that was extravagant and indulgent, which example was followed by fashionable society.

  1. Funerals: Today marks the second anniversary of my own father’s passing. Had we lived 200 years earlier, the events and traditions that marked a parent’s death would have been dramatically different. Women, particularly wives and daughters, were discouraged from grieving publicly, so as a daughter, I wouldn’t have been allowed at the funeral. Female friends or distant relations were allowed to be present, but regardless of the relationship, the women were relegated to the chapel for the actual internment, which only men attended.

  2. woman in mourning attire
    Full, or “Deep” Mourning

    Mourning: I have long known that widows were expected to wear black for a year after their husbands died, but I was completely floored by the extent of the restrictions society placed on widows. During the initial period referred to as “deep mourning”, black or dark brown dresses with a matte finish was expected. During this time, which, depending on a number of variables such as location and societal sphere, would last from six-months to a year and a day, no trims or decorations were allowed. Children of the deceased were subject to six-months of deep mourning. During deep mourning, social activities were curtailed, and the widow and other family members would not go out in public or entertain beyond simple visits in their home. Even their correspondence was expected to reveal their mourning status with black-trimmed stationery.Once this time had passed, they had a second half of the mourning period to go. They were allowed to relax a little and add trims such as lace to the clothing, and also a few other colors such as lavender – which were then trimmed with black.

    woman and child in mourning
    Half Mourning

    The rules were more lenient for men, who were expected to be able to conduct business, so to manifest their status, they wore black armbands, black gloves, and in some cases, black cravats. Some wore all black for the duration of the mourning time, but it was not expected. The period was often shorter for men, and the records reveal no half mourning attire for men.


  3. Mourning Jewelry: This aspect was amazing to me. I was delighted to inherit a necklace from my grandmother’s collection and wear it in her memory, but the Georgians took it much further. The idea of keeping a lock of hair that had belonged to a loved one didn’t seem too strange, but they didn’t just tuck the lock away in a drawer. They had rings, pendants, bracelets and similar accessories made, often with the hair of their loved one woven, braided or embroidered into the design. I even found a reference to a case where a tooth of a deceased relative had been turned into a tie-pin! The designs were extremely sentimental, with such motifs as grieving women throwing themselves on a grave or inscriptions such as ‘Not lost, but gone before’ or ‘In death lamented as in life beloved‘.

  4. Bundling: We have all heard of the extreme strictures of propriety imposed on courting couples, so this one was a revelation! In truth, it had been more common in previous decades, but still happened in some of the far-reaches of the country, in cases where travel to call upon the maid they were courting could be a hardship. A young couple would essentially spend the night together in the same bed. Of course, this was fraught with peril, so all sorts of obstacles were put in place to prevent easy access, from a board that ran between them, to tying or sewing their nightclothes together to keep them encased. In some cases, both parties were actually sewn into a large bag with a seam down the middle to keep them in their own side. The parents would then chaperone in the room while the couple availed themselves of pillow-talk to get to know one another.

  5. Wife Selling: While not common, but not unheard of either, this practice occurred most often in the more humble classes. The newspapers mention this happening at a rate of about once a year.
    Wife for Sale


  6. The After Dinner Separation of the Sexes: I had been reading JAFF and other Regency novels for well over a year before I got a hint of this one, although it makes perfect sense. The romantic notion that the men and ladies separate so the women won’t be subjected to hearing the men’s coarse language, suffer through their cigar smoke or watch them pound back the brandy glosses over one other activity. Both genders required a post-dinner bathroom break. While a chamber pot in the dining room makes me a bit squeamish, by this point, I’m less surprised at such conventions than I used to be.
    Chamber pot in a dining room
    After Dinner Separation of the Sexes – The Men


  7. Underwear: Here’s the shocker – women wore very little in the way of underwear as we would define them. (Panties/Knickers) Yes, they wore a chemise, slips, corsets and short-stays but should a stiff breeze kick-up, it is highly likely that our Regency sisters felt a distinct draft-in-the-aft.

  8. Arsenic: When we think of “Emerald Green”, I suspect few of us think of death, but that is exactly what this paint color brought during the Regency era. In Germany in 1814 a highly toxic pigment named emerald green was developed. Made with arsenic and verdigris, this bright green color was rapidly adopted by users of pigments. Painters, dyers, wallpaper and textile makers availed themselves of the lovely green shade, along with many other industries – including confectioners who died candies green. When the paints oxidized and shed paint dust, when flocked wallpapers lost bits of their flocking, when people wore clothing dyed green, when people in many industries worked with the pigments on a daily basis, or heaven forbid, they ate food dyed green, they were subject to chronic exposure to arsenic. Although there were some alerts to the dangers made within one year of the development of this pigment, they were ignored, and it was many decades–and many deaths–before the pigment was removed from homes and industry.

  9. Tea: I don’t drink regular tea, but I do drink herbal tea, and I simply can’t imagine re-using the tea leaves, but that is precisely what happened during this era, when tea was an expensive import. The common scenario went like this – the first use was made by the householder. After they had enjoyed their tea, the housekeeper would collect the leaves and dry them out, whereupon she would enjoy the second steeping of the leaves. She may then pass them onto some lucky individual who had fallen into her favor, blessed to enjoy the third use of the tea.

  10. Traveling by Mail-Coach: Set-aside your romantic notions – this was not a comfortable way to travel. You’ve seen those photos of trucks in third-world countries where passengers are clinging to the sides? Well, the mail-coach wasn’t much different. The passengers piled in, they piled on, and they suffered the bad roads and the elements when need be. This makes a ride on a bus seem like luxury travel!
    Traveling by Mail Coach

Are there any Regency customs or facts you find surprising? Curious people like me want to know!

54 Responses to Ten Surprising Facts about Regency England

    • Thankfully, the wife-selling was rare, but sadly, the arsenic exposure was due to ignorance. It makes me wonder how many things in our environment that we think of as harmless are also toxic.

  1. I do not believe most women bled into their clothes. Clothes were too costly and laundry too difficult for some. I have always felt that that conclusion by the MUM was in error. It is uncomfortable to have blood running down your leg. +They wore cloths between their legs made like a loin cloth– a cloth between the legs with the ends attached to a band around the body.
    I think that was the use to which Jane Austen was planning to put some flannel she bought. Much like the early KOTEX pads. Also, I think more women wore drawers than is thought.
    The merchants were advertising them along with men’s drawers early in the 19th century. Wife sales were invalid and didn’t change the married status of any one. This was usually only practiced among those who didn’t care that a second marriage was bigamous and the children illegitimate. It was better when the woman and her new “husband” didn’t live in the same parish. Quite frequently the men who “bought” her was a chosen lover.
    Some people even thought that if a man married a woman who was naked he wasn’t responsible for any debts she or her previous husband owed. Unfortunately , most creditors didn’t agree.

    • The idea of intentionally bleeding into your clothes is certainly not a pleasant thought. As I previously stated, I tried very hard to find a definitive source, with the MUM site being one of few sites that even addressed it. Even they admit that they are just speculating based on the little information they have. I’m 100% certain that if I time traveled back to that era, I would be rigging some absorbent cloth to do the job, so it isn’t a leap to think that they thought of it either. It would be nice if someone had thought to document it, even if doing so went against their delicate sensibilities. 🙂

      • My gran, who was born circa 1875 (and lived to be 96) told me that they would stuff cotton wool or rags into a “hanky”, pinned in place, then be boil washed and reused. I suspect they were not best hankies, possibly even just old sheets cut to size. Now I know that’s quite a bit after this period but I would expect these practices passed from mother to daughter through families and it’s not hard to imagine similar practices being used in Regency times. I have always also felt that Mary Musgrove’s frequent indisposition in Persuasion may have been caused by “time of the month”, which can be a lot heavier after motherhood.

        • Fascinating. I imagine that in the pre-safety pin days, getting the placement of the pins just right would be something of an art form. You are far more generous in your thinking of Mary Musgrove than I. I’ve always just considered her an attention-seeking hypochondriac with sibling rivalry issues. Your theory does make some sense and adds a hint of nuance and sympathy to her behavior. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Informative and entertaining post! Re: the reuse of teabags–many of my graduate student friends (both in England and the US) frequently reused teabags. Currently a colleague of ours in the English Dept saves K-cups for second/third uses–much to our amusement and amazement.
    As for the selling of wives, while a friend of ours in Worcester took us to the “private area” of a pub after hours on a Sunday afternoon in 1977, he pointed out two brothers seated on opposite sides of the room who had not spoken to one another in over 25 years as one had sold his wife to the other to settle a bad debt. Strange country custom! My daughter is fascinated by some of these old customs and has had jewelry made using the fur of a beloved cat as part of the piece (don’t judge me!). Finally bundling was indeed very common in the US during our early frontier days presumably due to the great distances between towns, ranches, farmsteads, etc.

    • I’m curious about the reuse of the teabags. Is the tea noticeably weaker? Do you steep it for longer on the next go around? Do you add something to enhance the flavor, like lemon? As for the K-cups reuse, I’m completely floored by that one. Does she dry them out somehow in between uses? I’m sort of tempted to try it with my herbal tea now – just for experimentation purposes! Oh, and to think that there was a living example of a wife who had been sold in such a recent example just blows my mind. I had no idea there could be such a modern instance. As for the jewelry made from the fur of a cat – well, as long as it was a beloved cat, and not just any old cat, you’ll get no judgement here. 🙂

      • To me, tea from a reused teabag is way too weak. I’ve tried coffee from a reused kcup and it too is very weak. I would not recommend either one!
        As for the cat, she was in our family for 18 yrs; the last 7 yrs of Pita’s life were spent with Casey once I moved to FL.

  3. I loved your post, which I found when trawling to find how prevalent the smoking of cigars was during the Regency. I became sidetracked with your fascinating facts, many of which I did know, but a couple were new to me.

    The ‘bundling’ was very, very strange. As is the wife selling. Was this legal? If you married someone, then wasn’t there some kind of entry in that day’s equivalent of the Dept of Births, Deaths, and Marriages, or was the church record the only documentation of a marriage? What happened if either one of the bundled couple needed to relieve them self?

    The question of toileting during these times has always elicited a sense of horror and interest on my part. The separation of the sexes after dining is understandable, if cringe-making when it comes to toieting, but this is not the only time a woman would need to do the necessary. Young women who had never given birth would perhaps get away with only going three or four times a day, but a woman who had born many children would no doubt have to go many, many times a day and have a problem with bladder leakage as well! What happens when a party of both sexes heads into the great outdoors for a picnic? I suppose a bourdeleue or chamber pot would have to be brought along for the ladies, or would they just squat amongst the trees? And the above would have been relatively straight forward for #1 but what about if dinner guest–a female in particular—was taken short and had to do #2!? Wonderful subject!

    And the subject of menstruation and the habits of the time makes me so glad I was born in the 20thC! I cannot imagine women of quality would just bleed into their clothing because the fabrics used in their dresses would, more often than not, have been very expensive. Surely, they would have just taken to their beds for the duration; a real hardship for someone as active and appreciative of the outdoors as Lizzy Bennet. I have read that when there are a number of post-pubescent females living on top of one another like the Bennet sisters, then their cycles often coordinate and they can all be unavailable to callers or have to refuse invitations together. Rather a give away as to what is happening in certain households at certain times of the month though.

    It was wonderful to see so many authors of P&P alternatives responding to your post.

    Lesley, from Victoria, Australia.

    • Hello, Lesley from Victoria, Australia. I apologize for the exceedingly tardy response – somehow I never got the notification that you had made a comment. I found your observations delightful and thought provoking. I can attest to the strange phenomenon of all the women in a household syncing up with each other – it happened to me and my college roommates every year. I have pondered on several of your other points at length, and can only say that I’m sincerely grateful for the facilities and supplies of today. Thanks for the comment!

  4. When on our honeymoon in Jamaica we saw buses with folk hanging off the sides. And the roads were not the best so it must have been very uncomfortable. Back when I was a young girl there were still many places with outhouses, i.e., our church, my great-uncle’s home near Quebec, Canada, and in more recent time – the Girl Scout camps near the Appalachian Trail, which my daughters attended in the summers. Can’t imagine how uncomfortable having no underwear on would be…but then I also think the bare chests on the women in their gowns must have been very cold and unhealthy in cool or cold weather, no matter which age we are in.

    • There’s a part of me that finds the idea of areas with these sorts of scenes rather quaint, but I also wonder if perhaps all of the conditioning in our society towards the “safety first” mentality is the source of the anxiety I feel when I see that they are still a reality for many people, even today.

      I know what you mean about how uncomfortable it would be to have so little between you and the cold, especially since the winter temperatures during the Regency period were more severe than they are today. One can hardly blame the women for keeping a shawl handy most of the time – even a thin shawl can be surprisingly warm.

      Thanks for commenting!

  5. All of these tidbits of information are fascinating. The bundling must have been much anticipated by the youth – kind of like a chaperoned senior graduation – that particularly strikes my fancy. The selling of wives may have been more crass/obvious among the lower classes, but I think there was a lot of wife selling going on among the higher classes, too – just in a more discrete manner – where the young woman is basically sold off to the rich older man, or the owner of the neighboring lands in order to increase the family holdings. Of course, the men had to do that now and then, too, if the previous generation had squandered the family fortune at the gaming tables or in riotous living, the next inheritor would have to marry some tradesman’s daughter for her money. The cost of upkeep for some giant castle must be horrendous. The most surprising and alarming of the tidbits is the one about taking a “potty” break after dinner in a communal chamber pot. YIKES! I wonder if they provided a wash basin, too – and who got to go first – and now I understand why the women didn’t wear underwear. Just need someone to hold your dress over your head while you do your business! Good Stuff – Thanks!

    • LOL Kathleen, you make some good points! Your last comment brings to mind a few nightmare bridesmaid tales I’ve heard, where the honor of holding up the dress while the bride relieved herself was not exactly the coveted duty of the day. I suspect that the women then were practiced enough at managing their skirts that they may not have needed much assistance – at least during the Regency era when no hoops were involved. Oh dear, now you have my mind picturing the most dreadful scenarios!

      If the men then are anything like most men of today, they probably didn’t shudder at the concept of a communal chamber pot, since they never had to actually touch it. Thanks for commenting!

  6. The tea makes so much sense! But I never thought about it before. And *blush* on the coupling. Good grief! They couldn’t have shared pillow talk int he living room? Lol!

    • Expensive commodities like tea were actually kept under lock and key by the housekeeper, and it was considered one of the perks of being a housekeeper that she would have the second-use rights – which was jealously guarded! As for the bundling, I think part of the point was that they should be comfortable so that they could stand to lay there all night while they talked. I don’t know that they could accomplish that in a living room, but in any case, it seems rather bizarre to me. How on earth can you get past the awkwardness of the overt preventative measures well enough to have any meaningful conversation?

  7. I enjoyed these ten items very much. I must say that I had read several or more than several books until it dawned on me that “refreshing” after the long trip was more a necessity than washing ones hands! Also, although people don’t wear hair jewelry now, they do have jewelry and other objects filled with the deceased ashes, which they can wear or display. I don’t feel too easy with tat idea, I must confess.

    • I always love it when someone really adds to the conversation, and you are so right! “Refreshing” is such an oblique reference that it took me awhile to catch on too. I had never heard of jewelry filled with ashes before – but cremation is rare among persons of my faith, so it may just be an exposure thing. While the thought of hair jewelry is uncomfortable, I find the concept of ash jewelry more than a little creepy! No offense intended of course, to those who find it a comfort.

      • Yes! A few years ago, my sister gifted me with some locks of my mother’s hair years after my her death. It was my 75th birthday! I did not know she had it. It’s somewhere in my jewelry collection–definitely NOT around my neck! My girls found it creepy too, so I guess I don’t have to worry that anyone will be cutting mine.

  8. I’ve known about mourning jewelry for awhile but it still feels strange to me. But then I’m not the type to keep my kids first hair cut (oops, we moved a few times) and I don’t think I’ll keep the first lost teeth. I absolutely do not keep every drawing etc. (although I’m sure my mother did for us). How curious that in an era that emphasizes love for marriage we have lost those more sentimental touches for our departed family. And if I’m really honest, I might admit that I do think I would probably grieve more in an era where I had no security without a husband’s income. How much stranger then that if I lived in the Regency era I would then have to buy a bunch of clothes and jewelry! I like the idea of an outward showing of mourning though. Thanks for sharing!

    • According to some of the experts I read on this, people who could afford it actually kept mourning clothes at the ready, and if they couldn’t do that, they would keep some black dye on hand in order to rapidly convert elements of their existing wardrobe should the need arise. In the houses that could afford servants, the servants went into mourning as well, and their mourning clothes were provided for them. There was also an outlay of a quarter of a year’s pay to the servants. I couldn’t find a reference for why this was done, whether it was meant as incentive for them to stay, or as potential severance pay should the household destabilize in the wake of the death.

  9. Thanks Diana.. Lucky the no underwear phase was over well before the age of the mini!!
    I can’t believe that you couldn’t use Christian names unless you were engaged ????!

    • The lack of an article of clothing that fully covered the most intimate parts of a woman’s body certainly does explain why women were so careful to not expose any part of their legs, not even an ankle. It would also explain how a woman could be quickly compromised – it wasn’t as if there was much of a physical barrier should a couple become amorous!
      The whole Christian names thing seems counter-intuitive to me too, particularly since the it doesn’t seem like much of a leap from “Miss Elizabeth” to just plain “Elizabeth”. It’s a modern sensibility however. The part about this approach that I do like is the opportunity to establish distance and a degree of respect through a formal name structure, and yet indicate movement toward a deeper, more intimate connection through the use of abbreviated or Christian names. Not every couple did adopt Christian names, even married ones. That’s certainly hard to fathom!

      • OK, did women just stay home during their “monthlies”? I know this is not a comfortable topic but, Face It…if you are female you have to consider that.

        • Sheila, I once spent a great deal of time trying to find a definitive answer on this very question. What I learned is that there is almost nothing clearly documented about how this was handled, partly because there were euphemisms people used to imply or reference their cycles without mentioning it. I found the most information at the website http://www.mum.org/ which is the museum of menstruation. Here is a quote from that site: “Apparently many women in certain parts of Europe from 1700 to about 1900 also used nothing special – not rags, not pads, not sponges or anything else – during menstruation, but bled into their clothing.”

          I think if I was a lady of leisure wearing the thin clothing of the Regency era, I may be inclined to “keep to my room”, which would have been most inconvenient considering that balls were timed to coincide with the full moon, which happens to align with many womens cycles.

  10. Thank you for the article and some of the things mentioned in the article I picked up in the novels I have read. I remember as a child, certain ladies of an ethnic group that lived nearby who mourn in black for a year. However, the dresses weren’t down to the ground as in Regency times, so they worn black cotton hose and black shoes. We as children then knew that these ladies had lost a husband. I also couldn’t imagine going without panties today but times change and young women now wear thongs and I don’t think I would like hat string you know where! Thanks once again for a well written article!

    • I do think there was a degree of wisdom in having a universal signal that a person may be in a bit of a delicate psychological state from a loss. I remember two years ago when my dad passed away, I went to Costco to pick up some flowers to put in my mother’s room. Although I found it easy to be strong among family, I was definitely in fragile place standing there in the chaos that is a Costco check-out line, holding a flower arrangement.As I was standing there, the person in front of me in the line with a full cart, turned around and offered to let me go before them. I don’t know if they could see something in my face or if they were always nice like that, but in that moment, their kindness meant the world to me. I do believe that seeing someone in mourning attire likely elicited the best behavior as a courtesy if nothing else. Of course, it was a two-edged sword. If a lady didn’t satisfy expectations about the mourning rituals and timeframe, society was brutal.

  11. What a great post, Diana!
    I had the same shock as you a while ago when I was visiting a country house on one of their ‘Behind the scenes’ days. The room steward points out these gorgeous candelabra, more like statues holding lights, and each of them on a very ornate wooden stand, a work of art in itself. But, surprise-surprise, one of them had a secret door and the secret door was opened to reveal a chamber pot, which the gentlemen would make liberal use of, once the ladies have moved on to the drawing room. I shudder to think of Mr Darcy doing so (la-la-la *covers eyes and ears*). I’m telling myself that this habit was more prevalent in his father’s time, or even earlier, when the Georgians were even more rough around the edges 😀

    • The problem with knowing about these things is it is hard to set reality aside when an author, not understanding some of the less delicate reasons for the time apart, dispenses with it altogether in a story for some reason or another. I even read a JAFF story once where Lizzy stayed with the men, smoking a cigar with them!
      I suspect they would actually just stick with tradition for the sake of everyone’s dignity. Perhaps there was some sort of signal that passed between the two genders via the servants once both groups were done with the necessities – I couldn’t find anything that specified how they knew when it was okay to regroup.
      Thanks Joana!

      • This is a fun discussion. Maybe because I am English I can answer Diana’s question about the reuniting of the sexes. Once the gentlemen have finished their cigars, port, walnuts, political talk (and swearing and relieving themselves – these two not usually mentioned in novels and plays of the period) the host will announce “Shall we join the ladies” and the men will leave the dining room for the drawing room where the ladies have been gossiping since. This familiar remark is part of the tradition of separating after dinner which only died out gradually, certainly after the invention of the indoor loo in Victorian times.

  12. I loved every one of your ten! I have heard of most of them but to see them listed together reminds one that the regency was not ALL that romantic. 🙂 I try not to think (when I am writing) of what went on when one had to relieve oneself during balls, dinner parties or just everyday. So inconvenient. BTW this goes right along with a post on Sharon Lathan’s web page this week on the use of bourdaleues – those things that look like gravy boats — but definitely ARE NOT! (think chamber pots and you will be closer to their use). As for bundling, I find it hard to imagine that that would not be more of a compromise than being left alone for a few minutes! And, if the parents were going to stay in the room, why have them bundled anyway. Something to ponder!

    • Brenda, funny you should mention Sharon’s article on the bourdaleues – I actually had included that practice in my original draft for today’s post and swapped it out at the last minute for something else. It wasn’t hard because I had compiled a list of twenty things that I had pruned down to ten, so you’re right, it does go right along with that! As for the bundling, in the articles I read, it sounded like the failures of the bundling to prevent compromise is what finally brought the practice to an end in England. The thing that kept it going so long was that it had been done quite extensively during the earlier Georgian era, and many mothers promoted it since THEY had done it without any “issue.” It was also referred to as “tarrying” in some areas. Brings a new meaning to the phrase, “Tarry a little longer.”

  13. This was so interesting. When I visited George Washington’s house at Mount Vernon, they showed us that the dining room was painted green because that was the most expensive and impressive color of the time. Whoops.

    • That IS interesting. It makes me think that Washington is right at home on a dollar bill! One of the scary things about the green paint is if it got damp or moldy, it often put off a strange smell, some described it as smelling like mice, others described it as smelling like garlic, but in either case, this was a symptom of toxic fumes that caused the residents to inhale the arsenic particles into their lungs. Most of them had no idea!

  14. I’m a history geek so this I just love this stuff. I enjoy wearing black but I think having to wear nothing but that for an extended period would get old fast! I had to laugh at Barbara’s liking the bundling to a bad relationship. LOL I have been guilty of reusing a tea bag, though usually for a second cup of the same tea (as in steep the first cup, take out the tea bag, drink the tea and then put the bag back in and steep a second). I can’t imagine drying out the teabag and then giving it to someone else to use though. LOL The hardest ones for me is #7 (no drafts please), and #6. If you think about it, the separation to do your business makes a lot of sense because once they all got back together, they would sit around and “entertain” for hours. One last thought, since I come from a long line of people who don’t show up in history (either good or bad), I’m sure I would have been the girl gathering up those chamber pots so I’m thankful that I made it into this end of the genealogy string. 😉

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed it Stephanie! I don’t consider re-using tea to be something one is “guilty” of, it was just a foreign concept to me. If the responses so far are any indication, it is not really an uncommon practice even now! As for where I would land in the class system based on ancestry, I love to ponder this question myself. I have no way of being sure – I have a pretty good mix of peasants, middle class, upper class and royalty in my blood, so it could have gone any direction!

  15. Hi Diana, I love your list of 10! But… I would have to say number 8 with the green dye is frightening. Now when I think of an author putting Lizzy in an Emerald Green ball gown, I can’t help but wonder what they used for the dye. I’ve actually tried using flowers to dye yarn but you never get a very vibrant color. Now my curiosity is piqued. Thanks, Jen Red

    • I have thought of this every time I encounter a story with Lizzy in Emerald Green too, JenRed. Fortunately for her, it’s a fictional arsenic, so not very toxic in the grand scheme of things.

  16. Diana, Thank you. What a fascinating collection of facts. The one that struck me the hardest was being sewn into a bag with your intended. It seems I had a nightmare about that once. Oh no, wait. That was actually being married to the wrong person—same effect. 🙂

    I so enjoyed this post.

    • LOL – You always crack me up Barbara! Believe it or not, this practice was imported to America, where it continued on much longer than it did in the UK. It was still being practiced by certain Amish communities well into the 20th century!

  17. Incredibly interesting post Diana! Loved all the info. I think that I’ve heard bits of those facts but not the whole of it. The separation of the sexes seems alittle discusting now I know what the men were doing. Haha

    • What I read about the ladies is that they also would have a chamber pot in the drawing room that would be behind a screen in the far corner of the room so they could attend to their needs with a modicum of privacy. I just love the image of the men, although I suspect it is a French depiction of their disgusting English neighbors. LOL. If you notice, the one man is missing the chamber pot entirely while the other men are drinking themselves under the table. An exaggeration, perhaps.

  18. That was so interesting. I knew some about each of these subjects. Thank you. The reuse of the tea leaves brought back a fond memory. A close friend if mine would come over and make tea for herself. She would then save the teabag to use the next time she came over. Needless to say, I’d throw it out and she’d have to take a fresh one. She’d scold me every time. I dearly enjoyed this post.

    • Thank you, Debbie! I just love the duel kindness of your memory! It was so considerate on her part to attempt to be thrifty on your behalf, and generous on your part to see that your friend received the best, by way of a fresh teabag. I wonder if this re-use of the tea was possibly reinforced during the economic depression and war-times of the 20th century. Thank you for sharing your fond memory!

  19. Growing up in Worcestershire in England I knew of these. When I was growing up my elderly great aunts and at times my mother would reuse the tea leaves. My aunts lived in a very old Terrace house in the small town we lived in and they didn’t actually have a kitchen. They had the parlour, a long hallway, dining room/kitchen but it only had a table, chairs and sideboard. Three small bedroom upstairs. They had an outhouse which contained the stove, boiler for hotwater, sink (used for washing up dishes and doing the washing), and bathtub. Another little room attached to the outhouse had the loo.

    • It’s really quite something to think about the progress made in the span of a lifetime of our “greats”, isn’t it? I wonder, if the world changed back to what it was then, how well-equipped those of us in the current generations would be to adapt? I think it was somewhat common in areas that suffer from summer heat to put the stove and boiler in an outbuilding so that cooking wouldn’t heat up the house in the summer months. How the world has changed!

  20. Excellent information, Diana. #10 still exists in the Andes Mountains. Almost every bus trip, our only means of transportation, had farm animals and people standing in the aisles, sitting on the floors and hanging out the sides. I’m happy that there are changes to #1-9. Yippee for progress!

    • Joy, I have certainly seen pictures of such goings-on, and heard stories from a few other people who have been there. In one case, the mountain road was very narrow and the person feared for his life with every turn, convinced that a vehicle going the other direction would force them to back up and they would plunge down the mountain to their deaths!

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