Elizabeth placed her hand on Darcy’s arm and allowed him to escort her from their supper box and toward one of the numerous paths in Vauxhall Gardens. The vast number of people that filled the supper boxes and paths was astonishing, and then when the torches were lit, and the orchestra was playing while waiters scurried back and forth making certain that all in attendance were happy, it was nearly overwhelming. She had heard stories of this place, but until now, she had never truly imagined its grandeur.
Darcy drew Elizabeth closer to his side as they strolled. “Are you enjoying yourself?”
Darcy smiled at how the word was more breathed than spoken. “I had wondered. You have been rather quiet.”
She looked up at him. “I am awestruck by my surroundings. There is nothing quite like this in Hertfordshire.”
~*~*~Into every story, a little research must fall. One of the things I read about for my latest release, Unravelling Mr. Darcy, was Vauxhall Gardens. I needed a place for Darcy and Bingley to take their ladies while the Bennet sisters were in town, and I did not wish to go to the museum or the theatre. Knowing that Elizabeth is fond of walking, I decided Vauxhall Gardens with its many paths would be an enjoyable place for my couples (and their family members) to go for an evening of festivity.
Now, will I describe Vauxhall in great detail in my novella? No. The majority of my description of this place is in the excerpt above. There will, later, be a mention of stopping to greet acquaintances and a short teasing exchange about the number of people to which Darcy is subjecting himself that will hint at the popularity of the venue. There will even be a few lines about the darker paths that might be used for less proper activities. But that will be all.
When I write, I might spend hours reading about a location or an event, only to include a few details — a line or two of text, a mention of an event or person, a name for a dessert. I like to use my research to create a picture in my mind of where my characters are and then to just dot my manuscript with things that will make my story more authentic to the era.In like manner, I am not going to rewrite for you all of the details I read about Vauxhall. I will, however, leave you with some links where you can read about Vauxhall and its history as well as see more pictures of the place.
“Oh, but Leenie,” you say, “are you not a teacher? Do you not wish to give us a lesson on this subject?”
For one thing, it would take far more space than what I have for this blog post to give you a thorough lesson on Vauxhall and its history — and then, I would not have room for another story excerpt, which I really want to share. For another thing, I could write about the things I gleaned from my research and thought interesting, but would those things be the same things that you would find important or interesting? Perhaps yes. Perhaps no. And then there is this need I have to just entice you into curiosity and send you on your way to learn. 🙂
To help you on your way to satisfying your curiosity, here are the links I said I would leave for you.
Because Wikipedia is a good place to begin a research journey to get a good overview: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vauxhall_Gardens
While this article is briefer than a book, it is not overly brief, and the font is rather small. You may want to read on a device where you can increase the font size easily: http://www.vauxhallgardens.com/vauxhall_gardens_briefhistory_page.html
This article has many lovely pictures including a picture of a ticket to the garden: https://janeaustensworld.wordpress.com/2012/02/16/a-visit-to-vauxhall-gardens-by-tony-grant/
This was probably my favourite research site for this topic. If you scroll down to the bottom of the article, there are links to other blog posts with more information: https://susanaellisauthor.wordpress.com/2015/07/20/vauxhall-gardens-the-organ-the-turkish-tent-and-the-rotunda/
Description of who is in the picture above can be found here: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Thomas_Rowlandson_-_Vaux-Hall_-_Dr._Johnson,_Oliver_Goldsmith,_Mary_Robinson,_et_al.jpgOne research item that I read while on a tangent from reading about Vauxhall Gardens was about lamplighters. Vauxhall was well lit, so in my thinking, there must have been some lamplighters employed to bring light to the garden’s paths and supper boxes.
This is the link to the article I read on that subject: http://www.riskyregencies.com/2015/03/06/lighting-the-regency-night-things-we-take-for-granted/
[sidenote: There may be a lamplighter mentioned in Becoming Entangled, the sequel to Unravelling Mr. Darcy. I discovered the actual name of a lamplighter at a residence that will be featured in that story, and have jotted down Mr. Patrick’s name. Again it will be a mere mention and a brief nod to the research that goes into a story, but if you see his name there, you now know that he was a real person. In addition to that, if you read the article on lamplighters, you’ll have a better understanding of his job.]
If you wish to see some of what I have been researching for various stories that are in progress, you can find several pins on my Story Inspiration: Current WIP board on Pinterest. https://www.pinterest.ca/leenieb1/story-inspiration-current-wip-board/ This is a newer board and not overly crowded yet. I had been scattering these articles among the various boards I have on Pinterest but ran into the trouble of trying to remember which board I had pinned whatever bit of information on. This WIP board has been wonderful to keep things at my fingertips. I am not so organized as to get around to cleaning the board up and moving things off of it as soon as a story finishes being a WIP. However, I’m beginning to think that might not be such a bad thing for now because I found myself thinking “Oh, I remember looking that up when Henry needed to go to his sister’s favourite store” or “I read about that when I was considering letting Beatrice Tierney go to Bath.” (She didn’t go to Bath, by the way) I have removed some things from this board and repinned them on other boards, and more might follow. However, it won’t be soon. 🙂
Now, shall we return to Vauxhall and listen in on a bit of the conversation Bingley, Darcy, Jane, and Elizabeth are having?
“I say, Darcy,” said Bingley before they began walking again, “it will likely be noted in the paper that you were seen in Vauxhall with a lady on your arm.”
Darcy shrugged. “They had best describe her as beautiful,” he said with a grin.
Bingley chortled. “I seem to have misplaced my friend whose greatest desire was to shun all of society.”
“He is not misplaced.” Darcy raised a brow at Bingley. “He has, it seems, found his good sense in a rather forceful fashion.”
Bingley chuckled. “Yes, I dare say your appearance will also make the society page.”
“Have you no pity for him at all?” Elizabeth asked in feigned disbelief.
“Not a jot,” Bingley declared.
“Men are such strange creatures,” Elizabeth stated with a laugh.
“It is a far better thing we do in settling our disagreements than what I have witnessed between my sisters,” Bingley defended. “There would be days of tears and tantrums, and it is a wonder the door to Caroline’s room never fell off its hinges.”
“I agree,” said Jane. “I would rather have Lydia and Kitty hit each other and be done.”
“Jane!” Elizabeth cried. “How violent of you! I do believe your sojourn in town has corrupted you.”
Darcy watched in amusement as Jane’s eyes narrowed ever so slightly and her lips pursed while Elizabeth’s twitched in an attempt not to smile.
“I believe it would be far better for you to remain in the country where such savagery is little known,” Elizabeth continued.
“Little known?” exclaimed Jane. “How many times was the surgeon called to the Lucas’s to stitch up one or the other of Charlotte’s brothers after some fight?”
“And yet you would have him called to Longbourn to stitch up Kitty?” Elizabeth could not contain her smile any longer and let it spread across her face.
“Kitty?” Darcy asked in surprise.
“Oh, yes,” Jane assured him. “If Lydia and Kitty were to fight — and I assure you they have — it would not be Kitty who would be victorious. Lydia, as you may well be aware, is a very determined sort of person.”
Darcy chuckled. “I must be honest. I never thought much about what it would be like to live among so many sisters. It is very different from what my life has been like.”
“Two sisters is more than enough,” agreed Bingley. “I likely would not have survived if there had been more than Louisa and Caroline with whom to contend.”
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The teacher in me wants to ask you to share one interesting fact that you found on one of the links above, but I’ll refrain from such requirements. However, if you would like to share something, I would be delighted to read it. 🙂