My Kingdom for an ounce of free time…..(apparently you can measure time in weight :-S )
As some of you may know, I’ve just started a degree in History which is just delightful. They are however, my lecturers that is, not afraid to throw reading at you. I now think it possible to drown in books….though, truth be told, I’m rather enjoying drowning in these historical works however confusing they like to be.
Now, if I were to have more than an hour free before bed, I really am not sure what I would do with myself. I have gotten used to DOING, you see, and it is rather difficult, once one has gotten used to always fiffing and faffing about, to just sit. Even when I’m watching telly I’m either there with a highlighter and my latest article from uni or else with my laptop frantically catching up with my writing buddies and other people far away.
You know what? I have just remembered I did something rather marvelous the other day. I went with my friend Bennetts and co to a local re-enactment fair. It was jolly good fun but the best part- I got to fire a longbow.
I should have gotten some pictures to show you, perhaps I will in that cheeky hour of nothing before bed, for now however, I want to focus on something more than the physical. Yes, I want to focus on the emotional. No, not tears and all those irritating displays of sensibility, I wanted to focus on how fun it was!
I was stood there with a lovely chap dressed as a medieval person telling me how it was done. Wearing a pair of jeans, t-shirt and luminous yellow sunnies, I was given an arrow, I drew back the bow and released with a wonderfully satisfying amount of force….it did only go about fifteen foot but that is entirely beside the point!
I just really enjoyed myself; the power, the idea that this was a thousands of years old tradition, the eventual ability to kill something (blood-thirsty I know) it all culminated in an exhilaration….and desire to be a warrior princess.
The point of all this chit-chat, aside from not having blogged for such a while and blowing off some steam, I wanted to find out about Regency past-times and with Bennetts and co yelling in my ear that this archery was indeed a past-time of the Regency I was off to a fantastic start.
In such a society that appears to be limited in most ways – women not being able to run or go out of the house much, men being strapped to their estate duties and children being herded away from grown-up gatherings by a governess. Yet, if you were of sufficient fortune to not work (which are the people Regency Romance enthusiasts like to read about, let’s be honest) and had a completely free day from breakfast to dinner and then after – well then, where was all the bally fun?
I have being doing a little reading, little being the operative word as I have had little time, and have pieced together the following list of Regency amusements:
- Playing musical instruments e.g. Harp, Spinet, Piano
- Letter writing
- Hunting & Shooting
- Horse racing
- Playing cards
- Battledore and Shuttlecock (hitting a shuttlecock with a simple bat between two players without letting it touch the floor)
- Women could spend time adding trimmings to bonnets and dresses
- Watching or acting in Plays
- Lots more I have not had time to list
Do you know? This actually all sounds like good fun. I am a lady of simple hobbies, or rather, weird hobbies, as my husband loves to tell me. The only thing I would miss would be television – not the rubbish daytime TV but the good series which I love to become addicted to. I think I would probably have to become a regular patron of the King’s Theatre in London to sate that appetite should I ever magically be transferred back in time.
As an aside, it is interesting how there almost seems to be two sets of entertainment based on masculinity and femininity as the Regency and previous cultures dictated it. Firstly, you can see the influence of the warrior/soldier in the military-esque entertainments. Secondly, you can see the feminine attributes of a house-running and child-bearing woman in the letter writing and embroidery (women would also learn basic mathematics to be able to run a house).
This second influence is coupled with the contemporary belief that women, after child-bearing and house-running, are objects of beauty to be displayed whether to catch a husband or show-off for their proud husband. These displays are through singing, instrument playing and conversational qualities a woman could display. Obviously this is just a theory of mine and would need to be substantiated with more evidence – this degree is changing the way I speak I swear…
I hope this post gave you a brief overview of what men and women in the Regency could do with their spare time and also made you smile 🙂
I would love in future posts to go more into where they would seek entertainment and what it would entail. Oh, to tread in the sacred historical places of White’s Club, Gentleman Jackson’s, the King’s Theatre, Vauxhall Gardens, Bath’s Pump Room, gaming hells, and many more!
What’s even more exciting is that a while ago I promised my loyal blog-followers that I would be revealing a little more about my book, The Widow’s Redeemer, pre-launch, and so I shall! Stay tuned!