Risky Regencies

I have found work

Dear Friends,

I am happy to announce that I have a Position as Housemaid at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Calvert, Riversdale House, this weekend. They are expecting a large number of female guests, including Authoresses Kristina Cook, Sally McKenzie, and Kate Dolan. My Duties include setting out of Things for Ladylike Pursuits–Bonnetmaking, Theorem Painting, and such–and serving Breakfast on Saturday morning. The ladies will take a turn at cooking on an open hearth, which should prove amusing, and on Saturday evening we allow Gentlemen into our Female Retreat for dancing, cards etc.

Although I doubt we shall use them, I enclose a picture of the Riversdale china (peach and white), two Teapots (for green and black tea), two Botanical Plates and a Silver Spoon, all owned and used by Mr. and Mrs. Calvert.

Fortunately since the house is fitted with the best of Modern Plumbing I shall not have to empty the guests’ Chamber Pots.

No, I don’t know what theorem painting is although I probably should, but I will know fairly soon! This is the Ladies Weekend at Riversdale House Museum, just outside Washington, DC, where I’m a volunteer docent. I hope to have pictures and a report of the fun on my post next weekend. Yes, I will be wearing a gown, which makes me look more fat and bosomy than usual but in a historically correct way. To learn more about the house, built in the early nineteenth century for Belgian immigrant Rosalie Stiers who married into the Calvert family, visit the site of the Riversdale House Museum. And I highly recommend the collection of Rosalie’s Letters, Mistress of Riversdale, on which the restoration of the house is based, and that gives a very vivid portrait of life in federal-era America.

Do you own a Regency gown and have you ever participated in any living history activities? What would you like to do on a Regency Ladies’ weekend and where would you like it to take place? And would you rather be upstairs or downstairs?

(Photo of Butler’s Pantry above courtesy of the Museum and MNCPPC-Department of Parks and Recreation, Prince George’s County, Maryland.)

Sign up for my newsletter at www.janetmullany.com and I’ll send you one of my short stories!

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Kalen Hughes
15 years ago

I think many of you have seen me in all my “Regency glory”, LOL! I own everything except the perfect shoes . . . for some reason cobblers seem to skip from 18th century styles to Victorian ones. *sigh*

I do love my Regency stays, though. Very comfortable, and very pretty.

I so wish I lived close enough to go to this event. Maybe next year . . .

15 years ago

I do a lot of historical living, but it’s strictly more rennaisance and Medieval. I even made my own shoes. It’s more chalenging to do things in a dress because I’m normally not a frilly person. (Elena knows!) But it’s fun.

15 years ago

Alas, *sniff* no, I haven’t. . . but I did go to a Trek convention in like 1991 or 2. . . and Junior year of high school I did wear an Admiral’s uniform. 😉


Amanda McCabe
15 years ago

Oh, I wish I lived close enough to come to this! It looks like so much fun. And I have a new gown, meant for the Beau Monde Soiree at RWA this summer. 🙂

Cara King
15 years ago

I do have a very simple Regency gown, which I made myself. I have hips, so it’s not exactly flattering. 🙂 I’ve worn it to Beau Monde soirees and to the Jane Austen Ball!


Keira Soleore
15 years ago

Janet: The only kind of theorem I know is probably not what the ladies are going to be up to this weekend. So I’m most curious.

Tracy Chevalier first alerted me to the fact that cartoons (where tapestries are concerned) certainly predated Asterix and Obelix.

Amanda: Yays to your mom. I look forward to seeing her work.

Elena Greene
15 years ago

Congrats on finding work, Janet, though I hope you’ll still dabble in the writing now and then!

I have a Regency gown which looks best if I get someone to lace up the corset just right. Something about fitting the top of the bodice right helps (a little, or so I hope) with the hips thing.

I don’t care for most housework except for baking but I enjoy embroidery and playing the piano, so I’d be best off upstairs. Small-talk would be the hard part for me. And my dancing is moderately atrocious, though perhaps it would improve with practice? Hope springs eternal.

Diane Perkins
15 years ago

Oh, I am so disappointed that I cannot attend this Regency weekend! It’s worse for me than for you all who live at a distance, because I really could get there so easily! And Regency pals Janet, Sally, and Kristina will be there! And I’ve met Kate and am perfectly willing to be pals with her, too. I have a regency gown, too–made of authentic Regency micro-fiber….
(ducking as Kalen throws a dish at my head)

Kiki, aka Esri
15 years ago

I do not own a Regency dress, but I would like to. I’d like to own one of every kind of dress. And I would LOVE to do a weekend like this, and bring Joe. Oooh, he looks so good in close-fitting pants and boots.

I’d like to do it twice — once upstairs and once downstairs. Feel free to put us on your mailing list if there is one (you know where to find the addy). Do they provide sources from which to rent the togs?

15 years ago

Janet wrote:

No, I don’t know what theorem painting is although I probably should

Well, there’s Pythagoras’s Theorem, and the Four Color Theorem, and Gödel’s Theorem, but everyone’s favorite is probably Fermat’s Last Theorem. Painting them is very difficult, I’m told, particularly the wiggly little Greek letters.


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