This post follows on from the one on schooling for the poor. The photo shows the scholars’ dining hall at Eton College.
In Regency Britain, the only free schooling was provided by charities, and aimed at poorer children. Some of these schools were funded by church organisations, with the aim of allowing the poor to read the bible. When I was a child (of church-going parents), we had ‘Sunday School’ after a Sunday service, which was mainly Bible stories. The first Sunday Schools would have involved teaching children to read the Bible, not just telling them the stories. They did not necessarily teach the children to write, for why would the poor need to do that?
Recently, on a facebook group for Regency authors and readers*, several readers commented that they never got the hang of the British money system in Regency times. And no wonder! Today we have pounds and pence, not that different to dollars and cents. But then… not only were there pounds, shillings and pence, but they were abbreviated as l, s and d (think Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds). And there were not only coins for the pounds, shillings and pence, but all sorts of multiples of them. And then there were the slang terms for some of these coins.
This is a penny coin from 1826. What do you notice about it? Unlike today’s coins, which have the value marked on them, there is no indication that this is worth 1d.
So here’s a table of the coins in circulation during the Regency (with slang terms in brackets), and their value.
[The Facebook group I referred to is Regency Kisses: Lady Catherine’s Salon – set up by a group of Regency Romance writers to talk about all things Regency, with a focus on the non-steamy kind of story.