A White Christmas

As you know Washington DC joined the rest of the mid-Atlantic in experiencing a record-breaking December snowstorm. Here in the Northern Virginia suburbs, the snow started Friday night about 9 pm and didn’t stop until late afternoon Saturday. We got 2 feet of snow. Here is a view of our snow, taken from my upstairs window at 12 noon Saturday.

One nice thing about snow is it covers all the dirt and darkness in a blanket of pure white, everything becomes quiet and life, of necessity, slows down.

One can almost imagine what it would be to live in the country in Regency England, to take walks through the wood, perhaps even to go skating on the pond or zipping over to your neighbor’s house in a horse-drawn sleigh.

Of course, a Regency winter walk might be like this:

And zipping along in a vehicle, might be more like this:

In the newspaper you might read about stories like this one from the 1814 Annual Register:

Extraordinary Instance of the Sagacity of a Dog.—Mr. T. Rutherford, of Long Framlington, was, about a fortnight ago, overcome in a snow storm, near Alnwick, and fell. In this state he was exposed to all the horrors of the night, till seven o’clock in the morning. His faithful dog at this time observing a shepherd at a small distance, used every exertion to attract his attention, such as howling, going from and returning to the spot where his master lay. This induced the shepherd to follow the dog’s motions. Mr. Rutherford was found, (then covered by the snow,) carried to a neighbouring publichouse, and, after five hours’ exertion, life was restored, and he is now quite well.

On the other hand, one might have a lovely Regency Christmas, eating Christmas pudding, drinking wassail, playing Christmas music on the pianoforte, dancing or playing cards.

What do you imagine a Regency winter and Christmas to be like? What do you think you’d like best about it?

It’s been a great gift to have such a wonderful Risky Regencies community. I wish all my fellow Riskies and everyone else a very happy holiday season!

by Sir Walter Scott

Heap on more wood! – the wind is chill;
But let it whistle as it will,
We’ll keep our Christmas merry still.

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Stephanie J
12 years ago

That account is too funny! I’m glad the poor man was alright at the end.

Whether it’s historically accurate or not, I always imagined people keeping warm with a lot of warm beverages from mulled cider and tea to hot cocoa and spiced spirits. I wouldn’t mind that part of a Regency winter as I’m sure I’d be surrounded by friends and family.

Have fun in that 2 ft snow! I’d love to have it but I highly doubt that will ever happen her in TX. 😉

Diane Gaston
12 years ago

Good morning, Stephanie! Mulled cider sounds good to me!

Our county closed schools for the whole week, which was pretty smart of them. Kids have great sledding and I’m just grateful I no longer have little ones and have to stand out in the cold and watch them sled.

Mallory Pickerloy
12 years ago

Your so lucky to have snow. There is only a slight dusting here from the other day. Personally I think snow makes the winter beautiful.

Love the photo of your neighborhood!

I imagine a Regency winter would be very quiet or less surrounded by family and friends. I tend to imagine a Regency writer seeking solitude from everyone while writing as it snows outside…then some hot time in bed with a hot man. Both sounds Heavenly to me. 😉

And I imagine for Christmas, Regency folk either hiding in an attic to get away from mean spirited family members on Christmas day….( I’m just kidding, but there is an idea reason for that and obviously very realistic.) 😉

I think one of my favorite things of a Regency Christmas would be the use of real greenery to decorate with, since there were no Christmas trees. I’m surely the greenery that was used smelled lovely. Though there are a lot of other things I think would be lovely too.

12 years ago

The snow photo is lovely. I’m from Houston, so typically I only get a vicarious snow experience. But 2 weeks ago, we got a bit of snow. It happens only rarely, though. Enjoy your holidays, Diane.

Amanda McCabe
12 years ago

Oh, I love snow days! Unfortunately we don’t get many of them here, but when we do I always seem to get more writing done than usual.

Since I hate the cold, if I had lived in the Regency I would probably spend the winter huddled by a fire with a warm shawl and mulled wine and lots of books. 🙂 Or maybe I would have gone off to spend the winter in Italy…

12 years ago

Lovely snow scene, and wholly unfamiliar to me. It does look pretty. Like Mallory, I like the idea of all the greenery. It must have smelled wonderful! I’ve liked the idea of all the games.

Allison Chase
12 years ago

I think the best thing about a Regency Christmas would be the lack of commercialism. For most people it would have been homemade gifts, ornaments and treats, all from the heart. I grew up with snowy Connecticut Christmases, but even though I’m in Florida now I still mull cider every Christmas Eve.

Diane Gaston
12 years ago

Mallory and Judy, I think I would have loved the winter greenery scents, too. Something I don’t have, not using a live tree.

Amanda, Italy sounds lovely, although in searching for a “snow” article in the Annual Register, I came across an article about plague in Venice.

I’m glad I gave our warm climate readers some snow. Vicky, I imagine Houston came to a dead stop with the snow. We’re at a dead stop here, still. Government closed, schools closed. Unfortunately, I can’t treat this like a snow holiday from writing!

Robert Brooks, Senior Reporter, The Northumberland Gazette, Alnwick.
Robert Brooks, Senior Reporter, The Northumberland Gazette, Alnwick.
12 years ago

Fascinating – this site popped up on a Google alert sent to my PC.

I’m actually from a small village very close to Longframlington and Alnwick. We’ve had pretty horrific weather here in the last week – heavy snow – so it’s understandable how this gentleman was caught out by the elements all those years ago!

Kind thanks for posting this.

Diane Gaston
12 years ago

Robert, what I did not add about the 1814 article was that the snow event happened in APRIL. I hope you are not in for a long siege of snow!

Am delighted to have the blog read by a reporter for The Northumberland Gazette, Alnwick!!

Diane Gaston
12 years ago

Allison, I agree!! A Christmas without commercialism would be glorious!!

Janet Mullany
12 years ago

I too loved the snow here. It’s particularly pretty if you’re sitting inside looking out of the window. But I can’t help thinking that however many woollen petticoats you loaded on, it would still be very cold for women in the Regency.

And also you’d have the phenomenon of the side facing the fire scorching and the other side freezing.

Jane George
12 years ago

I ice skated on the pond in the woods at my cousins’ farm in Wisconsin. Bumpy! But lots of great memories, along with snowmobiles and snow forts.

Merry Yule to everyone on this first official day of winter! Wassail!

Diane Gaston
12 years ago

Yay, Jane George, that’s the Regency spirit. What fun.

Janet, I spent most of my time looking out the window on the snow, too. The rest of the time was spent shoveling.
I do appreciate central heating.

Louisa Cornell
12 years ago

Now you know why I am ALWAYS kind to dogs! You never know when one might save your life should you be caught in a blizzard in April! As it is, my crew of dogs do a wonderful job of keeping my feet warm when I write and keeping all of me warm when I sleep! I now know what the Australians mean by a “three dog night!”

I would love the snow and the lovely old houses and the fireplaces and real greenery of a Regency Christmas. And the games they played to entertain each other.

And I would definitely invest in some fine, heavy wool petticoats and some wool stockings and some wool shawls and well, you get the picture!

Happy, Happy Holidays to Everyone!

Diane Gaston
12 years ago

heeheehee, O Doggie One. You know what a cat would do. Stand on the man and lick its paws, then stretch and saunter away.

Keira Soleore
12 years ago

Riskies and regular visitors, wishing you all a fabulous run-up to Christmas.

Diane, a fun-fun post. Sign me up for a tall mug of hot buttered rum or Glug (the Swedish warm spiced wine).

If I were transported to the Regency for Christmas, I’d be on hand hacking down and dragging home the Yule log from the forests surrounding a goodly sized country estate.

Robert Brooks
Robert Brooks
12 years ago

Hi Diane,

My pleasure!

It’s maybe also an interesting point that there are still several Rutherfords in Longframlington and many more in the surrounding area!

Have a lovely Christmas and a very happy New Year.


Diane Gaston
12 years ago

Robert, that sense of continuity over centuries is part of the appeal Great Britain has for me!

Happy Christmas!

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