Risky Regencies

Christmas Shopping – Regency Style

This weekend I finally got serious about Christmas shopping. I had good intentions of going out to the mall, but, every time I thought of what I might buy, I’d look on the internet and find the exact item with a promise for delivery by Christmas. As a result, I have done 99 per cent of my shopping all online! We’ll see how smart this was when Christmas eve rolls around. Will these vendors make good on their promises or will I have to write notes in empty boxes for my family to open on Christmas day?

This got me to thinking….What gifts would I purchase for my family if the year were 1819 and I’m shopping in London?

Guess what? I could go to the mall–The Burlington Arcade, I mean.

The Burlington Arcade is a covered shopping area behind Bond Street on what was formerly the garden of Burlington House. Lord George Cavendish, younger brother of the Duke of Devonshire owned Burlington House and wanted to do something to prevent ruffians from throwing trash and oyster shells into his garden. He hired architect Same Ware to design the arcade which had spaces for 72 enclosed shops. The arcade opened in 1819 and was an instant success. It is still the place to go for fashionable shopping in London.

By the way, in my next book, A Not So Respectable Gentleman, Leo, the hero and brother of the Diamonds of Wellbourne Manor, runs into the Burlington Arcade to escape the bad guys….

But I digress! I’m supposed to be shopping.

If I can’t find all the gifts in the Burlington Arcade, I can shop at a department store–Harding Howell and Co, which sells everything from lace and every kind of haberdashery, but also jewelry, watches, clocks, perfumery and more. Harding Howell and Co. was opened in 1807 in Pall Mall.

Between these two places, I ought to find gifts for everyone on my list.

Dear Husband: He likes gizmos. And he loves clocks. I think I’ll buy him a French clock. But he’d like a gizmo toy, too, like some kind of automaton.

Dear Daughter: She’s a music lover. I might buy her the latest piano sheet music from the music seller in the arcade although guitar is her instrument of choice these days. Maybe she’d play the harp in the Regency.

Dear Son: He’d probably want the latest in dueling pistols. Or the best hunting whip, although in this time period, his shooting would be confined to video games and his vehicle accessory would probably be a car radio or GPS.

Dear Sisters: for one I’ll have to go to Jermyn Street and buy her some fragrance from Floris. The other might like a pretty new bonnet.

Dear Friends: Oh, I know what I’d buy them. BOOKS!!! Perhaps in 1819, I’d buy them two books in one. Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, published in 1818. Sadly the author died in 1817, but she is our favorite author.

What gifts would you buy for friends and family if you were shopping in Regency England?

Christmas is only 6 days away. Yipes!!!! Pray for prompt UPS men!

You still have more days to enter the Harlequin Historical Authors Holiday Giveaway, though. Enter daily for the best chance to win the grand prize–a Kindle Fire!

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Dtchycat
10 years ago

I am in the same boat as you are with the waiting ‘impatiently’ for everything to arrive via USPS, UPS, FedEx… Shopping online is such a convenience, unfortunately, though, even though the shopping is done, it seems forever I am wrapping because something else arrives, and then another, and another…

Now…if I lived during the Regency, I would be sending my maid out shopping for me or everyone would get books since I abhor shopping unless it is at the bookstore where I can spend hours and hours (and go figure, places like Barnes and Noble knows that so they brought in couches and comfortable chairs…all I need is a pillow and I could live there…).

Judy
10 years ago

I’d go to Tattersalls, and that would be the end of it. Everyone would end up with a horse. 🙂

Elena Greene
10 years ago

I did most of my shopping online this year, because most of people on my list want books that can’t easily be found in regular bookstores. Either they are unusual or out of print, so it’s wonderful to be able to find them online.

In the Regency, I’d still be shopping for books and candy. So I’d be off to Hatchard’s and Gunter’s.

Judy, I like your idea of Tattersall’s. That’s where I’d treat myself!

petite
10 years ago

In Regency Times I would buy books which they would appreciate greatly.

traveler
10 years ago

I would buy mugs, treats and goodies as well as notecards. I shop as little as possible. Mostly online which is efficient.

Diane Gaston
10 years ago

Dtchycat, I may be an online holiday shopper forever if this works. And I think sending one’s maid is definitely the Regency equivalent!!

Judy, when you go to Tattersall’s it will be dressed as a male, because women were not allowed! But I think that would only make it more fun.

Elena, I also LOVE that I can buy almost any book online. I do it far too often….

petite, you are not alone!!!!

traveler, you are another online shopper. It is sooo easy.

Susan/DC
Susan/DC
10 years ago

On Saturday I met a friend and her husband for lunch at the Tabard Inn, a romantic B&B in Washington with a very nice little restaurant. Afterward we went to the National Geographic Museum to see the exhibit of Anglo-Saxon treasure recently discovered in England (a must-see exhibit for any authors of medieval romances out there). Then I went shopping, first at the gift shop of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, then at the outdoor Holiday Fair just outside the National Portrait Gallery. I went inside the Portrait Gallery/American Art Museum (they share a building, and it’s one of my favorite buildings in the whole world), both to see some of the exhibits but also to buy more presents in the gift shop. I love museum gift shops, as they tend to have unique items that aren’t too expensive. I then met my husband and another couple for dinner. Turns out that these friends had their wedding reception at the Tabard Inn, so I’m clearly not the only one who thinks it is romantic. It was such a lovely day because I got to see friends, walk around a beautiful city, eat far too much excellent food, and buy lots of stuff for people I love.

P.S. On Sunday had brunch with another couple and turns out they too had their wedding reception at the Tabard Inn.

Susan/DC
Susan/DC
10 years ago

P.P.S. If I lived in the Regency I’d do my holiday shopping at Hatchard’s. If I lived in London today, I’d do my holiday shopping at Hatchard’s.

librarypat
librarypat
10 years ago

Thank goodness my shopping has een done for about a week now. I know I will probably be picking up little things until Epiphany when we give our last gifts.

Many of my gifts would have been books. I don’t think there is anything better.

I hope you have a wonderful Holiday season with a great 2012.

Diane Gaston
10 years ago

Susan/DC, I’ll have to remember the Tabard Inn. It sounds like a lovely place.

I love the gift shop at the Museum of Women in the Arts. That is a terrific museum. Lovely Regency artwork there.

If you want to see a beautiful building go to the Library of Congress THAT is the most beautiful building in Washington DC!!!

And you remind me that I told myself I would do Christmas shopping in the museum gift shops. Too late now, but maybe next year!

Diane Gaston
10 years ago

Librarypat, books are always the best gifts!

Judy
10 years ago

I’d forgotten that, but knowing me, where there’s a will there’s a way, and I would definitely be there. 🙂

Susan/DC
Susan/DC
10 years ago

@ Diane: I totally agree about the Library of Congress. When I lived on Capitol Hill I used to go there a lot, but it’s been a long time since I’ve visited it and I thank you for the reminder. I do feel lucky to live in such a city filled with beautiful spaces.

As for the Tabard Inn, the friend I had lunch with told me that she talked about our lunch with a friend who told Christine that she’d been married there. I had no idea it was such a popular place for small weddings, but it does help explain why I had to make our lunch reservation weeks in advance.

Megan Frampton
10 years ago

I think I’d buy snuffboxes for everybody on my list, even if they didn’t dip, because they’re so pretty!

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