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!

About diane

Diane Gaston is the RITA award-winning author of Historical Romance for Harlequin Historical and Mills and Boon, with books that feature the darker side of the Regency. Formerly a mental health social worker, she is happiest now when deep in the psyches of soldiers, rakes and women who don’t always act like ladies.
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