Ladies Ride Aside – A history of riding side saddle – Helen Hollick guest post

Jumping Riding Aside or Side Saddle | Helen Rollick | Philippa Jane KeyworthThe lovely Helen Hollick agreed to guest-post on my blog and I was thrilled to open her post and find out it was a history of women (and apparently men too!) riding aside! As a horse lover this is a fascinating post and as a history lover it just ticks all the boxes – enjoy:

We’ve all seen ladies riding side-saddle in various movies and TV dramas (Downton Abbey as an example.) The correct term is Riding Aside. My daughter rides, competes and jumps aside. (Yes, that is what I said: jumps.) Contrary to belief riding side-saddle, at least with a modern (post Victorian) saddle, is safer than riding astride!

Tudor & Elizabethan side-saddle

The ‘saddle of queens’ by Tudor times was considered the proper way for a lady to ride. Early side-saddles were – literally – side saddles, a bit like a chair with a footplate. They were padded, highly decorated, and built upon a man’s astride saddle. Presumably, the lady rider was led, either by a man on foot or from a rider on another horse for it would have been uncomfortable (and difficult) to control a horse at anything faster than a walk while swivelled at the waist to face forward enough to steer. In Greek and Roman art women ride aside, probably also sitting on a chair-like structure.

The sideways-facing ‘chair’ was turned to face forward in Tudor times. Queen Elizabeth I rode this way, her back supported by the ‘chair’ shape, with her right leg hooked round a front horn, or ‘ pommel’.

It is unknown when the more modern upright horns came into use. The second horn, an appendage that comes from the right side of the saddle, is commonly attributed to Catherine de Medici (1519-1589). This gave women a more secure seat, enabled independent control and a faster gait.

Victorian side-saddle

Original c.1880s Victorian Riding Habit in Blue Velvet | Helen Hollick | Philippa Jane Keyworth
Original c.1880s Victorian travel habit in blue velvet with leg ‘o mutton sleeves!

The late Victorian era is typically how we think of side-saddle riding. Early in the 1800s the ‘leaping horn’ or ‘head’ was introduced, and the balance strap (another girth) was created. This is attached to the right rear of the saddle, passes under the horse’s belly, and fastens to the left front. It stabilises the saddle and offsets the extra weight from both legs being on the left side of the horse.

The hunting field was a great place to meet a future husband; unmarried Victorian ladies wore a navy habit with a bowler hat; while married ladies wore a black habit with silk (top) hat, or a black habit and black bowler for less significant meets. As a widow, Queen Victoria wore black and ladies of the day emulated her. Prior to Prince Albert’s death, ladies dressed more colourfully.

A side-saddle horse was trained to walk and do a steady canter as it was thought unseemly for a lady to be ‘bouncing about’ at the trot, (especially a particular part of her anatomy!) Victorian riders were quite often sewn into their habits in order to show off their figure to best advantage, with the jackets cut to resemble a bustle – bustles, and corsets were not designed for riding!

Riding aside with modesty!

A big problem would be what to wear for modesty underneath a habit. Bloomers were not in use, so possibly women donned men’s breeches beneath their skirts, just in case a fast pace or the wind inadvertently revealed all.

Men riding aside

Men also rode aside: soldiers who lost lower limbs in World War I, and in World War II, aside riders laid field telephone cables from a cable-drum on the back of a galloping horse. Male grooms would also have ridden side-saddle, primarily to school a lady’s horse or to ensure it was exercised before she mounted.

Riding along Rotten Row

Rotten Row, in London’s Hyde Park was the place to ride for the Victorian lady. It was the Facebook of the age – want to meet your friends? Find a husband? Get yourself a horse and ride (elegantly aside) in the Row.

And if you were a horse-dealer with a horse to sell (that possibly wasn’t all it was cracked up to be) an evening in the Row could guarantee a sale. All you had to do was find a lady of ‘ill-repute’, put her in a fancy frock with a low neckline, and mount her aside on the horse. The men would be so busy ogling her they would buy the horse.

A strategy still used today by the motorcar trade!

By Helen Hollick

Helen Rollick Author | Historical Fiction Author | Philippa Jane Keyworth's BlogHelen Hollick lives on a thirteen-acre farm in Devon. Born in London, Helen wrote pony stories as a teenager, moved to science-fiction and fantasy, and then discovered historical fiction. Published for over twenty years with her Arthurian Trilogy, and the 1066 era, she became a ‘USA Today’ bestseller with her novel about Queen Emma The Forever Queen (titled A Hollow Crown in the UK) She also writes the Sea Witch Voyages, pirate-based adventures with a touch of fantasy.

As a supporter of Indie Authors she is Managing Editor for the Historical Novel Society Indie Reviews, and inaugurated the HNS Indie Award.

Helen’s social:



Twitter: @HelenHollick

Sea Witch FB page: 


[All images under copyright to Helen Hollick]

The Widow’s Redeemer on Amazon Kindle Daily Deal

My first novel The Widow’s Redeemer the story of a widow with an indomitable spirit and a Viscount with an unsavoury reputation is on Amazon Kindle Daily Deal today!

Get her for £0.99 while you can!

Historical Romance The Widow's Redeeer | Kindle Daily Deal
Ah, look at her there sitting so nicely with the other books…

Just whack in this URL: and tharrr she sits!

The Widow's Redeemer | Amazon Kindle Daily Deal
I like the little hover-box on this one, in case you didn’t know what you were looking at…

Want to sign-up to Kindle Daily Deals?

And, if you’re an avid reader and haven’t heard of the Kindle Daily Deal before, it’s well easy to sign-up, there’s a handy little box in the top right hand corner of the page looking like this:

How to sign up to Kindle Daily Deal on Amazon
Just click the subscribe button on the page and be prepared for your social life to disappear…

Enjoy my wee readerites!

3rd novel Fool Me Twice – a Georgian romance – to be published!

I’m so pleased to announce that my 3rd novel Fool Me Twice is now under contract with Madison Street Publishing and should be emerging into the public light by the end of 2016!

 Fool Me Twice | Historical Georgian Romance | Philippa Jane Keyworth

I signed the contract last week and am really looking forward to the publishing journey again. Now the fun begins, the cover designs, the polishing, the preparing and the final exposure – it’s enough to make me shiver in anticipation. My characters are excited too. Tobias Felton is feeling particularly mischievous as he thinks about the worldwide public observing his antics, whilst Caro Worth hides her face behind her fan, embarrassed to be so scrutinised, a factor which her good friend Lady Rebecca Fairing is looking forward to. It’s all go, and soon the world of Fool Me Twice will be laid before readers’ hungry eyes to be devoured and enjoyed.

The blurb…

I’m sure I will have more to share with you about the book over the coming weeks and months, including being properly introduced to my characters; Lady Etheridge is particularly pleasing to those of us who enjoy cutting humour and people who do not suffer fools lightly. In the mean time, if you cannot bear the agony of waiting for the next morsel of news, why not read the blurb of Fool Me Twice here.

A Georgian romance…

I feel hugely blessed and chuffed to be in this position, and excited by the departure of period from my previous novels (you really will have to read my blurb to find out what I’m talking about…unless you’re an historical fiction buff).

Here’s to the next book!

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell – The things I liked

It’s funny that, because I write books, people often think I am very well-read. I am often asked, ‘Have you read ***?” and I find myself regularly replying, ‘No.’

To-Be-Read List


It’s not that I don’t like being asked these sorts of questions. When I hear suggestions it always adds to my to-be-read list which shadows me like a great hulking elephant daily, and I love learning about new novels I haven’t heard of. However, I do always feel a certain amount of guilt. Not just guilt, but a desire to sit down that instant and read a novel in a day. Ah, for the times when I would read through the night until 7/8am to finish a good book!

Should writers read?

Writers should read - Philippa Jane Keyworth

I guess the guilt comes from the knowledge that as a writer I should always be reading. Writers should always be reading, because writers will never be perfect, we are always learning, our writing is always evolving, not just with extra knowledge but as we travel through life.

The desire to read

Then the other half of me is battling with the feeling that I want to be reading. I want to be curled up with a book being sucked into another world and forget where I’m sitting, that I have my own life, maybe even my own name!

When I was young…

I remember reading as a kid. I would read when I was supposed to be asleep, and because I didn’t want to get caught I would push the curtains a little way back in my bedroom and read by the light of the moon. Perhaps that’s why my migraines first started…worth it.

I miss that. Then again, I think a lot of it is down to me putting down the TV controller and choosing to read instead. With that in mind, I recently finished North and South which I naughtily put down a while ago.

Reading the classics

I have always been quite a slow reader. I used to be embarrassed about it, maybe I still am a little, but I just need to remember in those moments that reading is for enjoyment (I can be a hard task-master). Anyway, when it comes to classics I seem to take quite a while, and I wouldn’t say (depending upon the classic) that it’s always easy, page-turning reading. Sometimes it’s a bit of a slog, but I will say that, when I get to the end of a classic, I’m almost always glad I’ve read it.


That’s how I feel about North and South. I’m glad I read it. It wasn’t a book that sucked me in so I completely forgot my surroundings – that’s probably because I suffer from a writer-history brain which is analysing a lot – however, I am so glad I read it.

Things I liked about North and South:

I’ve always liked the TV adaptation – I mean, who wouldn’t like Richard Armitage in a dress shirt? Prue Batten will back me up on that one – but it was good to finally read the book. Here are the things I liked:

  1. The portrayal of the working class, merchant class and upper class
  2. The faults in Margaret Hale and Mr Thornton’s characters
  3. The spiritual element – it says a lot about Mrs Gaskell
  4. The sentence structure
  1. It’s brilliant reading something by a writer of the time, it makes for interesting reading when you realise that their opinions of their own class and those around them are written in the book. She also challenges each classes view of the other. Gaskell manages to look at the woes and limitations of each class and then slowly help her characters to understand more about each other. I don’t want to ruin it if you’re going to read it so I won’t say more, but the social commentary in itself makes it worth reading
  2. I like that Margaret and Thornton both have their faults – it’s always so much more realistic and it’s interesting how their faults are related to where and how they grew up, their class and their family
  3. I wasn’t expecting this. I probably should have been as Gaskell was married to a Unitarian minister. The way she writes about faith in the novel is particularly delicate and it was an unexpected and enjoyable aspect. She doesn’t pretend to preach to any of her characters, nor fully understand/explain how their faith develops, but you see it having a subtle effect throughout the novel – another interesting aspect of the time, especially as a few of the characters allude to the Rise of Doubt in the era
  4. Didn’t realise this one until I picked up another book. I started reading a modern book and, although I’m enjoying it, I hadn’t really appreciate the smooth, beauty of Gaskell’s sentence construction. That woman writes like water moves and having changed to a much more modern, clunkier sentenced book, I’m really appreciating her

I never recommend people to read books for the sake of it. You have to want to read the book and enjoy the genre. If you like romances, enjoy history and enjoy classics and haven’t yet read North and South then I would recommend it.

I got North and South free on my Kindle here.

P.s. I was forcing myself to finish it before re-watching the BBC adaptation so now I’ve finished…



The Enchanted Life of a Writer

I went for a walk recently. The morning started with a sea-mist rolling in and resting on the low countryside. The air was bitingly cold. The sun was pale and bright. Instead of heading for home after my run I decided to go for a quick jaunt down a path in the countryside.

As I was walking along, the gawm sucking at my trainer-ed feet (thank you to an author’s talk by Jane Rusbridge for that old English term for mud 😉 I was breathing in the fresh, crisp air, watching some horses roughhousing in an adjacent field, and some sheep pottering around nibbling at Spring’s first attempt at new grass. And in that moment I was so thankful that I’m a writer. That I can count this as time for my inspiration wells to be filled. That I can count this as research. That I can count this as work.

It’s not always like this, all you writers know. You know the times that you have wanted to physically rip your manuscript to shreds and lob it against the wall (or in my case stab it repeatedly with a cheap biro). When editing is so very painfully slow and hard. When plot holes just keep opening up like giant gaping holes impassable no matter how hard you try and write around them. When, although you might still love your novel, you just can’t force yourself to like that pesky sentence anymore.

But then there are those times that we go for a walk, visit a certain place, read something inspirational, find that amazing song that fills our writerly senses, look at a beautiful image, and we’re right there, living the enchanted life of a writer. It’s in those moments that, though life doesn’t make sense, at least I can be sure that there is beauty in it, contentment, joy. And so my inspiration starts springing and bubbling away.

When I go walking I often pray and this was one of those walks. At a time when so many things have happened or are happening around us that are tragic and filled with sorrow, things which can never make sense no matter how much we try to figure them out, you can come away from it all. You can sit in nature, where everything has its place, every bug and bird and tree are working alongside one another. I can’t make sense of everything in this world, I guess I never will, however much that winds me up, but when I was on this walk it was okay.

Maybe that’s why we write. Because there is something within us which yearns to make sense of the world around us. Maybe that’s why everyone’s writing is different, with different characters, aspects, concepts. Maybe that’s why as a writer we’re always striving for something more; for that final piece of the puzzle, for that final ‘figuring out’. I don’t think it’s ever going to happen. I’m not sure that matters. I’ll keep writing, and I think that’s okay.


And yesterday when I was gardening and listening to a Spotify Country channel I found this guy – amazing bluesy voice – enjoy:


A human writer’s love-hate relationship with Social Media

I was just thinking this morning how much I hate Social Media. I hate being so connected all the time. As a human it stops me being able to enjoy the present in my life, as a writer it stops me being able to crack on with writing.


It’s like Social Media causes this fracturing of my thoughts, and where I used to be able to trace a thought from seed, to growth, to conclusion, there are fracture lines which stop me getting to the conclusion and I’m left with a brain like a sieve, feeling like I’m constantly trying to catch up with my to-do list, with myself even.

Human writer's love-hate relationship with Social Media - Philippa Jane Keyworth

It even seeps into my conversations with people. I start a line of conversation and then halfway through forget what I was saying, become confused and get frustrated that my brain won’t function the way I want it to. I swear a lot of it has to do with being so connected to everything right now, this instant, having no time for my brain to breath, to absorb what has been chucked into it, to process at its own rate, and then to function on that input.


I say a love-hate relationship, but I don’t think I’ll ever love Social Media. I like it, for sure, I can definitely see its uses, I like keeping connected with friends around the world – just this morning I was chatting to someone in New Zealand, and I love getting connected with other writers, getting to know other people who do the same thing I do with the same passion, and who can encourage you and give new opportunities to you.

Human writer's love-hate relationship with Social Media - Philippa Jane Keyworth
Sometimes we need to do it like this guy

But I think I’m always going to be tossing between love-and-hate, like waves throwing my small self about. I think I’m always going to struggle with knowing when to switch off my phone so that the whole world can’t contact me every second of the day. So I can be alone with people in the present to process.

This is especially true as a writer. How am I supposed to have the seed of an idea, let it germinate, and see myself creating another world with its own characters if I never give my brain the chance?


I feel like human beings, and writers too, should feel released to switch off their phones or Social Media accounts sometimes. Maybe for a few hours, maybe for a day, otherwise we really are going to get Repetitive Stress Syndrome from constantly picking up a phone to check a screen. More than that, we’ll end up with Repetitive Stress Syndrome of the mind, where it can’t process and function well.

Remember – if you’re not on Social Media for an hour, or a day, the world is not going to stop. There will be the same stream of good, bad, and ugly posts clogging up your feeds, there’ll be the same great friends to chat to, there’ll be the same buzz of activity, but you’ll feel recharged and capable of enjoying it, not like you’re drowning under the constant beat of the connected waves.

Inspirational Scrapbooking – 18th century Georgian style!

Since late last year I decided that I wanted to start scrapbooking. Previously I have kept a memories scrapbook which is notoriously fat with everything I’ve kept (I’m a bit of a sentimental hoarder), stuck in with any adhesive I could find. If a notebook could look like it was going to explode, this one certainly would.

Other than that I started on Pinterest a few years ago – it was actually due to stumbling across the absolutely FANTASTIC boards of Lucinda Brant, who uses them for her research (she’s got 114 boards – you’ll get lost in there) – and since then I have started creating my own collection of inspiration boards.

But, just like the Kindle will never completely eclipse the printed book (in my opinion, and I’m unbiased because I own both), there is nothing like having those inspirational/researching images in your hands.

With that in mind and with the help of a friend, I managed to purchase an A3 (at least I think it is, how is a writer supposed to know? We only deal in A4 manuscripts), sketch/painting spiral bound book.

Cover Scrapbook

When I showed it to my sister, with the beginnings of the scrapbooking inside, she told me it was a travesty to any painter (she is an artist herself) to be sticking things onto such beautifully thick paper which would benefit from some lavish paintwork to bring out it’s true master-piece soul. I told her tough.

It’s lucky we have such a good relationship 😉 Anyway, I have split the book into two halves, a fantasy half for things like The Edict. This is really helpful as with fantasy you are creating worlds in your head, and because they don’t exist, all you can find in photos and images is the merest traces of what you imagine, but combine those traces in a scrapbook and you can start to form a world, a person, a culture all your own.

Now those scrapbook-page-babies aren’t finished so I’m not posting them. However, I’ve made more progress on my Georgian pages as I’ve been pretty keen on those whilst doing Fool Me Twice, especially as it’s a nice way of keeping in touch with your story so you don’t lose your momentum, but giving yourself time in front of the tele to chill out between writing bouts.

I’ve posted a few pictures below – bearing in mind that I am pretty new to scrapbooking and I’m not known for my patience with pinickety-ness. This is pretty ironic as those of you with scrapbooking keenos as friends will know that real, full-on scrapbooking is a very precise art. However, I’m doing this to chill out and have fun so, in the immortal words of my husband when I’ve been whining about something insignificant for far too long, “Who cares!”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In fact, just as I was uploading them I noticed some of the scrapbook pictures aren’t even stuck down yet! So you can tell it’s a working progress, and one which I’m really enjoying.

Straight after I finish proofing this post I’m going to sit down with my scrapbook, some food, a bit of Robin Hood on TV, and enjoy doing some more!




Rocque’s Map of Georgian London, Astley’s Amphitheatre & The British Museum

I’ve been dying to write a post for weeks – it’s so lovely to finally be on here! Although it is quite funny because past me would never have really said that, finding blogging quite hard and all that, but recently I’ve been really enjoying it. Perhaps it’s because I have a bit more time set aside for it.

Anyway, it’s nice to be back. I’ve had Fool Me Twice taking up all my writing time – along with sorting some promotional bookmarks and business cards with a graphic designer called Emily Rose Nazer (who I’d recommend by the way) – and so there has been, alas, no time for blogging. Though I find solace in the fact that Fool Me Twice  is now finished! Wohoo!

What’s made not blogging more unbearable has been the fact I have so many things I want to share! Mostly they are about research that I’ve been doing for Fool Me Twice and some bits I got for Christmas  (yes, that’s how long I’ve been out of action with writing and illnesses etc!) Specifically, something which I LOVE and was given to me by my sister-in-law, is a reproduction of Rocque’s Map of Georgian London 1746.

Now, in truth, I never really used to get this whole obsession with research that historical authors have. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great – but me, myself, I never really felt a burning desire for it. However, what I’ve been learning recently, is now that I actually have the time and I’m not frantic about getting everything done in life, I quite enjoy pottering through articles online, images of historical objects or places, and pouring over books and maps in my search for information for a novel or just to sate my appetite for learning. The time I most enjoy research, in fact, is when I don’t realise I’m doing it. I’ve just gone on one of those long Google link trails that has led me down into a cavern of information.

I’m sure there’ll be a time when I get frustrated and don’t want to do research in the future. Perhaps when I’m writing and just want to crack on with a story, but for now, I’m enjoying it and wanted to share a little.

So, one of the scenes in Fool Me Twice takes place at the British Museum, and another at Astley’s Amphitheatre, both in London. Rather than vaguely guessing where they were I found their addresses using the BM’s website and another present for Christmas, Georgians Revealed (I went to the exhibition the book is based on at the British Library with a friend a few years ago), and then I looked them up in my new Rocque’s map, cross-referencing it with Google Maps to get an idea of where it now stood in present-day London.

Here are some pictures of the map to show you what I’ve been looking at:

Rocque's Map Box
The map comes in a neat little box reproduced over 4 sheets
Half Rocque's Map
This gives you an idea of how big it is – I’m using the scientific comparison of my tootsies (which I’m only showing because my to nails are painted 😉 This is only half of the map and by the way, London is MUCH bigger now
Montague House - BM Rocque Photo
This small section shows Montague House where the British Museum originally opened to the public in 1759


This is the north prospect of Montague House c.1715 It backed onto Montague fields where the infamous field of the forty-footsteps was accordingly to Wikipedia at least…
Astley's Rocque Photo
Westminster Bridge, to the south of which was Astley’s Amphitheatre, home to horse acrobatics and the predecessor of the circus until it moved in 1795
Etching of Astley’s Amphitheatre c.1777 by Charles John Smith

It’s definitely been fun doing this kind of research, it’s collating various sources (books, online articles, maps, etchings, prints) to get a better idea of the layout of London, travelling within it and where different attractions lay as well as what they looked like and what one did inside.


Dressing a Regency Gentleman

This is shocking! This post was meant to be a follow-up to my Dressing a Regency Woman post and I completely forgot to post it – that was 2 years ago! SHOCKING.

Worse than that, I updated it (sorting out those pesky typos – I hope) and then something went wrong and I lost the new draft and posted the old one making me look very silly. Ah, well, it keeps me humble and all that, and thanks to WordPress’ wonders, I was able to salvage the draft and here it is.

Well, here you have it – enjoy:

This post has been put together in order to provide a basic overview of the items of clothing in a man’s wardrobe and the rough order they would don them in. It is assumed that the gentleman in question is perhaps a follower of that most exquisite fashion-setter, Beau Brummel.

  1. Shirt

NPG 308; Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington by Juan Bauzil (or Bauziel)A gentleman would wear a shirt, pretty self-explanatory. The only different between a Regency gent’s shirt and the modern day is that the collar would be separate and attached afterwards.

In some cases, a portly gentleman might also wear a corset beneath his shirt. I believe ol’ Prinny may have donned such an item.

2. Underwear

A Regency gent following Beau Brummel’s fashion would general not wear underwear. Due to the tightness of buckskin breaches or silk evening breeches, the last thing a dandy would want is for the smooth line to be broken by rucked-up underwear.

Some gentlemen did tuck their shirt tails round their lower regions to act as a sort of underwear but this is the closest we really get. Draws didn’t make an appearance until a few decades later.

3. Breeches & Pantaloons

Depending upon the time of day and activity our gent would wear breeches or pantaloons. Breeches of course were the traditional garment for men’s upper legs. They were usually buff coloured wool or buckskin for day wear, or black or white silk for evening attire.

Pantaloons were the predessor of modern-day suit trousers and were usually a nude colour and had little stirrups that went under the man’s foot in order to keep the line of the material straight and smooth fd8196add661b3a3576bbf86792415dbdrom waist to foot. If the man was wearing shoes, during the day he would wear the stirrup fabric outside of the shoe, but in the evening it would reside inside his footwear.

Another interesting point is that some men would put on their buckskin breeches and sit in a warm bath of water until they shrunk to fit them perfectly and then dry them off. Thank you to M.M. Bennetts for enlightening me as to that unique practice. And, I believe it is not far removed from the way my mum got her jeans to fit when she was a teenager a century and more later!

4. Stockings

Stockings would be worn with breeches. They were usually knitted from silk and went over the foot and extended up to the breeches. Some valet’s stuffed their master’s breeches with sawdust in order to create a fuller looking calf!

5. Collar and Cravat

portrait-of-pierre-jean-george-cabanisThe starched collar would be attached to the shirt and in Brummel’s case would have reached over his entire head before being folded down into position. The cravat, a starched section of linen, would be wound around the neck, tied into any number of fashionable knots, and then the chin would have been slowly lowered several times in order to create the perfect folds and creases that framed the face.


6. Waistcoat

Generally waistcoats were less garish than the previous century and would be worn beneath the jacket. They sometimes had laces at the back in order to pull the garment tighter around the body.

7. Jacket

thomas_lawrence_portrait_of_lord_granville_leveson-gower_later_1st_earl_granville_c-_1804e280931809Ah, that most exquisite of garments. You hear of Weston and Shultz creating gentleman’s blue superfine jackets that were so well-tailored that they mirrored the man’s form precisely. They were usually rather hard to get on if this was the case and it could take up to a couple of servants to get their master into one. The end result, however, was always worth it.

Jackets had come away from the long-skirted frock coat of the 18th century and were fully cut away at the front, a precursor of ‘tails’ which would emerge later in the 19th century. If one were tremendously fashionable like Brummel, one would wear a blue coat with brass buttons reminiscent of military uniforms.

8. Hat

Gentleman would wear a hat while abroad and it resembled the modern-day top hat with a slightly more conical top. It was known as a beaver.

9. Shoes and Boots

4e5d73369ccff05c32ec34121b5d35831For riding there were the classic top boots with the black leather upper and brown leather rim around the top, often caused by folding the boot wall down, but in our modern period merely a different colour leather top.

Hessians were regularly worn with breeches and pantaloons and were made fashionable by Brummel who claimed to polish his with champagne boot-black. These boots were generally black, tremendously shiny, rose higher at the front and had a jolly gold tassle dropping down from the front.

In terms of evening wear, pumps were usually the order of the day. They went along with the silk stockings and breeches and were probably easier to dance in than clunky boots.

10. Greatcoat

1812_greatcoatGeorgette Heyer’s description of many caped-greatcoats always did send a thrill through me. Just imagining a tall Regency gentleman striding through his hallway, the many capes of his great coat flaring about him, it’s all rather majestic.

These greatcoats were really just that, an ankle length coat designed for colder weather with capes in order that rain might run off them. The more capes, the more fashionable!

So, there you have it, a very fast, very basic description of a Regency gents wardrobe. Obviously, this hardly takes into account the nuances of the period’s fashion, nor the vast difference in types of each garment but I hope it helps those who read Regency romances to understand what each item of clothing was and in roughly what order they went on!

Of course, by this point the fashion industry really was moving towards the industrial revolution and nuances and changes in fashion were prolific so remember that when reading this post.

And just for fun:

Georgian & Regency Drinks

As Christmas draws near I find myself sitting at my family’s old kitchen table with my sister-in-law enjoying my first port. At the point at which my neck connects with my chest there is a warm feeling where the port has left a little residue in my throat. It turns out I rather like port.

I have been told I am enjoying a smooth, easy-drinking traditional port (which encompasses all the full-bodied flavour of red wine which I like so much), and which is particularly ‘leggy’, meaning that when you tip the glass from side-to-side the liquid leaves dark red viscous drips down the glass’ side. It’s all very rich and delicious.port_wine

I also tried a tawny port, without the deep red colouring it instead is more translucent with a brown shade. Earlier I was enjoying a draft cider at the pub after a carvery for my sister’s birthday. Before that a bottled ‘fruit-shoot’ cider that a child could drink without wrinkling their nose – not that I condone children drinking mind.

As I was chatting to my sister-in-law over this port, I said that it was a pleasure to be drinking a beverage which would have been drunk in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century. It made me think of all the drinks we read about character’s reading and how a very few of them have been tasted by myself though I force them down my character’s throats regularly. In the end, it has inspired a little research so I thought I would jot down some of my notes from my readings:

1. Port

A great article in the Guardian which describes Port as the drink of choice in the Georgian period and Samuel Johnson as saying, “All the decent people in Lichfield got drunk every night and were not the worse thought of…” But of course, can you blame them when alcohol was the reasonable alternative to poor quality drinking water? Or perhaps some went farther over the line than others…I’ll let you decide on that.

Port wine is a fortified wine which means that during its production process either grape spirit or brandy is added. Generally, it is a sweet wine thanks to the brandy or grape spirit being added before the end of fermentation ensuring the sweetness of the grape is retained, often referred to as a dessert wine, which is part of the reason it was often drunk after dinner.

Produced in northern Portugal in the Duoro valley the region was officially demarcated in 1756 funnily enough – making it a particularly Georgian drink.


2. Claret

Ah, Claret, mentioned numerous times in M.M. Bennetts’ second novel Of Honest Fame, thanks to it’s being the favoured drink of one enigmatic Jesaudon.

I understand that Claret, from the 1700s onwards, referred to a dark red Bordeaux wine. It was often a richer and more expensive Bordeaux.

3. Bordeaux

Bordeaux wine is any wine whose grapes are grown and whose liquid is fermented in the Bordeaux region of France. It is often drunk in the modern day, and the name in modern parlance is used interchangeably with claret, though in the Georgian period there would have been a demarcation between the two, no doubt largely based upon the expense the wine incurred, seeing Claret as the finer of the two.


4. Ratafia

This is a classically feminine drink which is constantly mentioned in Georgette Heyer’s fabulous Regency romances, often being partaken of by the heroine.

Fermented from fruits, making it a sweet wine or liqueur depending upon the process, it is a sweet syrupy beverage and was served at Almack’s. These leads us to the conclusion that it was considered a proper and conservative beverage due to its being offered at that exclusive assembly rooms in London.

5. Madeira

Another fortified wine, Madeira takes it’s name from the Mediterranean island of the same name. This wine is created by heating and re-heating the wine bringing out the sweeter flavours of caramel, hazelnut and sugar.

According to Wine Folly, this heating and cooling was mimicked after seafarers realised that the ships passing from Madeira through the tropics, cooling and heating the barrels, deepened the flavour of the wine.


6. Gin

Ah, gin, those lovely G & T’s on a hot summer’s day are a far cry from William Hogarth’s gin lane. A cheap alcohol, it was often consu-

Hogarth’s Gin Lane c.1751

med by the poor and considered a depraved drink compared to beer as the latter was respectably British. This is depicted in Hogarth’s contrasting engravings of Gin Lane and Beer Street contrasting depravity and chaos with order and productivity.


Gin is derived from juniper berries and as it was originally allowed to be produced without a license was cheaper than other imported drinks until the 1751 Gin Act brought it under heavier regulation.

7. Ale

Hogarth’s Beer Street c.1751

I don’t have a lot to say about this drink apart from that it had its origins in the Middle Ages, unlike beer it is not made from hops, and was often drunk with breakfast.
8. And for those of you not that into alcoholic beverages, Joseph Priestly invented fizzy drinks in 1772 so you would just have had to wait another 100 years for Coca Cola’s appearance in 1892!


So there you have it, by no means an exhaustive list, but nonetheless a helpful one when understanding exactly what that favourite character of yours is swigging down.