Risky Regencies

More Silver Forks

I’m still plodding my way through The Silver Fork Society: Fashionable Life and Literature from 1814 to 1840 by Alison Adburgham (Constable and Co, 1983) that I wrote about on June 4. Although I’m out of the strict Regency period, (it is around 1823 now) I have reached a chapter that describes country house parties. This seems perfect to mention, since Amanda has provided us with the country house in which we might all gather for a country house party.

What might we do with ourselves?

Imagine my surprise to discover we might be bored.

Adburgham quotes Thomas Creevy, writing to his step-daughter in 1823 from Lord Sefton’s Stoke Farm:
“My life here is a most agreeable one. I am much the earliest riser in the House, and have above two hours to dispose of before breakfast, which is at 11 o’clock or even later. Then I live with myself again till about 3, when the ladies and I ride for 3 hours or so…We dine at 1/4 past seven, and the critics would say not badly. We drink in great moderation — walk out, all of us, before tea, and then crack okes and fiddle till about 1/2 past 12 or 1. “

I guess it all depends on who we might fiddle with!

Mrs. Arbuthnot, in her journal in June, 1829, spoke of amateur theatricals at country house parties, which, of course, Jane Austen told us about in Mansfield Park. Mrs. Arbuthnot listed several participants at a house party at Lord Salisbury’s Hatfield. She said:
“They acted two plays and I really thought they played better than real actors. “

So I guess we might “put on a show.”

What are your plans to entertain yourselves this summer? I’m headed for a family reunion next weekend in Tennessee- my husband’s father’s side of the family. I’ll report in on it next Monday.

Image of Thomas Creevey is from http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/PRcreevey.htm
Image of theatrical is Arizona Theatre Company’s 2005 performance of Pride & Prejudice
Image of Melbury House is from Diane’s own collection!

Don’t forget to sign up for the Risky Regencies newsletter, with fun things to do this summer (well, reading our blog is a fun thing). Email riskies@yahoo.com and put Newsletter in the subject line.

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15 years ago

Alas, nothing here. . . hopefully we’ll be moving to some place, just nothing yet. So that’ll be the most exciting thing this summer. 🙂

Hmm. . . maybe we can move to one of those homes there from the pics. 😉


Tracy Grant
15 years ago

bafywI’ve always loved house party settings for books. So many opportunities for everything from romance to intrigue to murder in having a group of people confined in the same setting for a fortnight or more. Thinking back through my own books, I’m a bit surprised to realized the only house party book I’ve written is “:Beneath a Silent Moon” (which has more than its share of intrigue, romance, and murder), though my mom and I did do a Regency-house party novella that was a lot of fun.

As for my own summer–no house parties, unless you count friends spending the weekend. I tend to stay around through the third week in August, because I’m involved with the Merola Opera Program, a summer opera training program, which has lots of wonderful summer events (we just heard all participants sing and play for the first time last night when they perform for the first time for the senior music staff at San Francisco Opera). Later in August I’m going to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland for a few days. Not England (I miss London), but lots of amazing theater.

Amanda McCabe
15 years ago

Hmmm-what about charades? 🙂

Or, if anyone wants to come visit me, we could spend time organizing my bookshelves! Fun, fun!

Diane Gaston
15 years ago

Lois, need I say that moving is one of Life’s Most Stressful Events. That said, the wanderlust in me sometimes yearns to move to a new place–like a country estate in England!!

Tracy, your summer sounds splendid even though you don’t have London in your summer. Neither do I. Bummer.

Amanda, I have LOTS AND LOTS of bookshelves that need organizing…and you are coming to visit me! Ha ha!!

Here is what was said of Charades in the Silver Fork novel, Herbert Lacy by T.H. Lister: (the guests at a country house are stuck inside because of rain and they are all very very bored) Mr. Tyrwhitt, in despair, proposed ecarte; and one of his sisters suggested that they should act charades; but these amusements were voted to be better resources for the evening.

So we’ll arrange bookshelves all day and play charades in the evening!

Amanda McCabe
15 years ago

“So we’ll arrange bookshelves all day and play charades in the evening!”

Sounds like a fabulous vacation! 🙂

Megan Frampton
15 years ago

I like the idea of bookshelves and charades.
Right now I am in Minnesota on my own while my son is in sailing school. Bliss!
Later, we are going to visit more relatives (my mom and dad, respectively), and one of us will read a massive amount.

Elena Greene
15 years ago

I was very disappointed in that “Regency House Party” show that was on maybe a few years ago. I didn’t watch it all but I caught a bit where they emphasized how bored all the ladies were with nothing to do.

It bugged me, because there were more things they could be doing and it made the Regency seem boring. Not a good thing. How about riding, walking excursions, archery? I’d have a blast doing any of those things. I can also be happy reading or doing embroidery though that wouldn’t suit everyone. There were also cards, board games and the already mentioned theatricals and charades. Any of these could be fun with the right company.

I have read some real accounts of people bored during country house visits. Emily Eden called visits to Chatsworth “a very great trouble” and that “the Duke takes pleasure in making people do what they don’t like.” But I think that was not due to lack of something to do. It was more to due with the company.

Something that would never be a problem at a Risky retreat!

Diane Gaston
15 years ago

Maybe the Regency House Party folks only read those accounts of bored Country House guests!
I would bet there would be lots to do. Just give me a good library! Or good conversation. Or a whole week to play cards!!!

15 years ago

At the moment–after traveling for two weeks straight–a non-energetic summer vacation in an English country house doesn’t sound too bad! Lots of reading…playing some games…catching up (in a very relaxed way) on the one million things I’m behind on…

OK, that last part sounds like work. It keeps creeping in no matter how much I resist.

It’s interesting to think about how people amused themselves before TV, movies, videogames, and recorded music. A lot more entertaining each other–games, playing music and singing, and reading aloud. Cara and I like to read aloud to each other sometimes…it’s a very different experience from reading a book to yourself.

After we get back from Europe we’re going to see my family for a couple of days in Kansas City at a mini-reunion for my grandfather’s 90th birthday. While I could do with never going anywhere ever again, it will be nice to see two of my nieces, one of whom I haven’t seen since she was two (four years ago) and the other whom I’ve never seen.


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