A guide to entertaining in Regency London

Social Meetings

The social meetings of the fashionable world consist of balls, musical parties, and routs. The latter appear to be formed on the model of the Italian conversaziones; except that they are in general so crowded, as entirely to preclude conversation. Cards, upon these occasions, are usually provided for the senior part of the company.

An evening party, George Cruikshank.
An evening party, George Cruikshank. The Met

General Expense of these Entertainments

The expense attendant on these entertainments depends entirely on the species of amusement which is provided. If balls are given, the expense is very considerable, as it is usual to give a supper to the company; and if in the early part of the season, April and May, the fruit is necessarily very scarce, and of high price. It is said, that a ball given by the Marquess of Anglesea [sic] cost 1,500l. These repasts are generally provided by some confectioner of repute, at a stipulated sum, (from 400l. to 1,000l.) who also provides chairs, glasses, and plates. The most celebrated of these are Gunter and Grange.

Elegant Company Dancing by Thomas Rowlandson.
Elegant Company Dancing by Thomas Rowlandson. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

General Time of Assembling

The time for assembling is generally from ten to twelve o’clock, or even later, as many persons visit several of these places in one evening. The hours of departure are various and uncertain; but from balls, the latest being sometimes seven or eight o’clock in the morning before the whole have separated. In this case, it is usual to cause coffee, tea, &c. to be handed to the company.

The Next Dance, George Goodwin Kilburne,
The Next Dance, George Goodwin Kilburne, Wikimedia Commons

Dress

The dress for these entertainments is that of the most reigning fashion. The persons who provide most fashionable for ladies on these occasions, are Mrs Gill, Cork Street; Mrs Griffiths, Little Ryder Street; Mrs Lacon, Albermarle Street; Miss Steward, &c. &c. The principal hairdressers and perfumers are, Woodman, in Piccadilly; Marshall, Wynne, Smyth, Rigge, &c.

Her First Dance, William Quiller Orchardson
Her First Dance, William Quiller Orchardson; Tate

Sunday Parties

Parties on Sundays are not very common. The Marchioness of Salisbury, however, has always a conversazione during the season on that day. It is usually attended by great numbers of persons of rank and distinction, and frequently some eminent musical professors are attendant on the occasion. The Countess St Antonio also sometimes gives musical parties on Sundays.

The Rehearsal, George Goodwin Kilburne
The Rehearsal, George Goodwin Kilburne

Sunday Dinners

Many grand dinners are constantly given on this day.

Regency dinner table.
Image sourced via Pinterest.

Source:

Leigh’s New Picture of London: or, a view of the political, religious, medical, literary, municipal, commercial, and moral state of the British Metropolis: presenting a brief and luminous guide to the stranger, on all subjects connected with general information, business, or amusement. 1818

2 thoughts on “A guide to entertaining in Regency London

  1. Sylvia Wright

    It has always annoyed me that in the first dance scene in the Kiera Knightly film of Pride & Prejudice that there are so many people! There simply wouldn’t have been that number of people in the area who could afford to go to a dance; or who lived near enough to be able to get there. No road lighting! You would have had to be able to afford a carriage, or even a chaise!

    Like

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