Skip to content

English garden styles – Kent, Brown, and Repton

In the 18th Century, the formal style of garden for stately homes (described here) began to give way to a more natural style of gardening. Three men stand out in the transformation of the parks and gardens of the wealthy: William Kent, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, and Humphrey Repton.

Stoke Park, in Buckinghamshire, with the Repton Bridge. The landscape was designed by Capability Brown, and modified later by Repton. Although it has been altered further since then, not least by the addition of golf course, the water feature is obviously very different to the rectangular canals featured in earlier, formal designs.

Continue reading

Prize money in the Army

The painting in the background depicts the seige of San Sebastian, Spain, in 1813


A version of this article was originally posted on  The Coffee Pot Book Club website.

In Regency times, prize money was paid to both army and navy personnel. The money came from goods captured in action, and was shared out between the men (it was only men!) according to their rank. The blog post here explains how prize money was calculated and allocated in the Royal Navy. This article looks at the Army in the Peninsular War.

Continue reading

Sailing ships and sayings

We use many phrases in everyday speech that originated in the past and have often changed their meaning. For example, did ‘second rate’ always mean ‘second best’?

First rate or second rate?

Today, ‘first rate’ refers to something top quality, ‘second rate’ or even ‘third rate’ to items of lesser quality. Originally these terms referred to the number of guns on a warship, meaning that a first rate ship was only better than a second rate ship in terms of fire power. It said nothing about the quality of the ship in other respects.

A large ship of the line heading into Plymouth, by Thomas Buttersworth. You can see three rows of gun ports, showing that it is a first or second rate ship.

Continue reading

Schools in Regency England 1: The Poor

A dame school

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?

Continue reading

Regency money

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.

Barrington Court, Somerset

My visits to gardens and historic houses have been severely curtailed this year, for obvious reasons. However places are beginning to open up again, partially, at least. The National Trust is opening many of its gardens, although sadly the tea shops (a highlight of many a visit) are operating a limited take-away service only.

We picked Barrington Court for a day out as it is just over an hour’s drive from home, it had a nice garden, and we hadn’t visited it before. I didn’t realise how many similarities it had to my imaginary Birchanger Hall.

Barrington Court
The E-shaped side of Barrington Court

Continue reading