Seasons Greetings and Happy 2017

Here we are again rapidly approaching the end of another very busy year, we can’t believe how quickly this year has gone. As well as all the research for our blog posts we have also managed to get two books published: it’s been a pretty amazing, if incredibly busy time for us and the year has simply flown by.

Although a little early, we’re taking a ‘blog break’ now until January to spend some time finishing those last minute Christmas preparations and to celebrate the festivities with our much neglected family and friends.

We thought we would leave you with some of our most popular posts from 2016 and we very much look forward to resuming our posts in January. We wish all our readers ‘Seasons Greetings and a very Happy 2017‘ and would also like to say a very big ‘thank you‘ to all our guest bloggers who have provided us with some amazingly informative posts, and also to those bloggers who have been kind enough to invite us to write for them.

If you’re still looking for that last minute Christmas gift, may we suggest our books which are available directly from our publisher (see sidebar or below) or via all other retailers including Amazon and the Book Depository (who also offer free worldwide postage).

Pen & Sword are presently offering all three of our books at the discounted price of £44.99, effectively buy 2 get 1 free, making this an incredibly good deal.

 

18th Century Riding Habits

Lady Worsley

Sweet dreams: meddlesome mice and 1770s ‘big’ hair

The extravaganza, or, The mountain head dress of 1776. Lewis Walpole Library
The extravaganza, or, The mountain head dress of 1776.
Lewis Walpole Library

18th Century Tax on Gloves

18th c gloves MFA Boston

Extreme Longevity in 1700s

john-trumbull-american-artist-1756-1843-sarah-trumbull-on-her-deathbed

A case of 18th Century Witchcraft in Silsoe Bedfordshire

lwlpr08507

18th Century Beds and Bedding

Houghton Hall
Houghton Hall

A closer look at Colonel Mordaunt’s Cock Match

Colonel Mordaunt's Cock Match c.1784-6 by Johan Zoffany 1733-1810
Colonel Mordaunt’s Cock Match c.1784-6 by Johan Zoffany 1733-1810

Women in Music and Art in the Georgian Era

Lady Frances Seymour Conway (1751–1820), Countess of Lincoln by William Hoare (c) The University of Nottingham; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Lady Frances Seymour Conway (1751–1820), Countess of Lincoln by William Hoare
(c) The University of Nottingham; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Curious 18th Century Cats

Young Girl with a Kitten by William Mulready (attributed to) (c) Wolverhampton Arts and Heritage; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Young Girl with a Kitten
by William Mulready (attributed to)
(c) Wolverhampton Arts and Heritage; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

18th Century Female Bruisers

Collet, John; The Female Bruisers; Museum of London; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/the-female-bruisers-50752
Collet, John; The Female Bruisers; Museum of London; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/the-female-bruisers-50752

And finally, if you’re looking for some Christmas recipes maybe take a look at these!

A Miscellany of Christmas Pies, Puddings and Cakes

Xmas day 1800

A Family Picture: Henry and Mary Styleman; Johann Zoffany | Joseph Farington | Sawrey Gilpin

18th Century Riding Habits

Lady Worsley
Lady Seymour Worsley, courtesy of Harewood House.

Possibly one of the most iconic images of a woman of the Georgian era wearing a riding habit has to be that of Lady Seymour Worsley. So, with that in mind, we thought we would take a look at this fashion statement outfit. We know from Grace Dalrymple Elliott’s receipts that she purchased her riding habits from the tailor to the Prince of Wales, one Louis Bazalgette, as did Mrs Fitzherbert, and it is more than likely that Lady Worsley did too.

The outfit would consist of a tailored jacket or redingote, possibly one of the most glamorous garments a woman could wear, so much so that even today fashion designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier use it for inspiration.

With a long skirt, tailored shirt or chemisette, a hat, low heel boots, glove and a necktie or stock, based on the male coat and waistcoat of the day.  Needless to say, though the breeches would have been totally unacceptable. As you can see in the portrait though of Lady W, she was clearly sporting a very elegant pair of shoes, hardly suitable for riding in.

Jane, Duchess of Gordon, née Maxwell, standing three-quarter-length, portrayed in a green riding habit, wearing only one glove on her right hand. By Daniel Gardner c.1775.

We came across this interesting letter about the wearing of riding habits in ‘The Ladies Complete Letter-writer – a collection of letters written by ladies’ of 1763 – the writer was clearly not a fan of this type of attire!

Censure of the Ladies Riding-Habits

Madam,

I was lately, in a beautiful evening, admiring the serenity of the sky, the lively colours of the fields, and the variety of the landscape everywhere around me, a little party of horsemen passing the road almost close to me, arrested my attention, and a fair youth, seemingly dressed up by some description in romance. His hair, well curled and powdered, hung to a considerable length on his shoulders, and was wantonly tied, as if by the hands of his mistress, in a scarlet ribbon, which played like a streamer behind him. He had a coat and waistcoat of blue camblet, trimmed and embroidered with silver; a cravat of the finest lace; and wore in a smart cock, a little beaver hat, edged with silver, and made more sprightly by a feather.

Mrs John Montresor by John Singleton Copley

His pacing horse was adorned in the same airy manner, and seemed to share in the vanity of the rider. As I was pitying the luxury of this young person, who appeared to be educated as an object of sight alone, I perceived, on my nearer approach, a petticoat of the same with the coat and waistcoat; and now those features which had before offended me by their softness, were strengthened into as improper a boldness; and she, who in appearance was a very handsome youth, was in reality a very indifferent woman. These occasional perplexities, and mixtures of dress, seem to break in upon that propriety and distinction of appearance in which the beauty of different characters is preserved, and would, if much more common, turn our assemblies into a general masquerade, the model of this Amazonian hunting-dress, for ladies, was first imported from France, and well enough expresses the gaiety of a people who are taught to do anything, so it be with an assurance; but I cannot help thinking it fits awkwardly on our English modesty.

A Family Picture: Henry and Mary Styleman; Johann Zoffany | Joseph Farington | Sawrey Gilpin
A Family Picture: Henry and Mary Styleman; Johann Zoffany | Joseph Farington | Sawrey Gilpin; Norfolk Museums Service

The petticoat is too a kind of encumbrance upon this dress, and if we go on in thus plundering the other sex’s ornaments, we ought to add to our spoils, methinks, the more commodious breeches. There is so large a portion of natural agreeableness among the fair-sex of our island, that they seem betrayed into these romantic habits, without having the fame occasion for them with their inventors: All that needs to be desired of them is, that they would be themselves, that is, what nature designed them; and to see their mistake when they depart from this; let them look upon a man who affects the softness and effeminacy of a woman to learn how our sex must appear to the men , when so near approaches are made by us to their resemblance

Your most affectionate servant

Lydia Armstrong

Portrait of a Lady in a Riding Habit by Enoch Seeman the younger (c) Chawton House Library; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

The average cost of a riding outfit was around £5, which is around £350 in today’s money (the equivalent of just over 1 month’s wages for a craftsman of the day), so not exactly a cheap purchase. Then, of course, there was the cost of keeping the outfit clean and needless to say there was money to be made by inventing a powder that would be perfect for the task, as this advert for Williams’s Kerseymere and woollen cloth powder shows.

Morning Post and Daily Advertiser, 21st October 1785.

We thought it might be nice to finish with a few of the portraits painted during the Georgian era depicting women in a riding habit, we hope you like our choice.

B2001.2.246
Portrait of a Young Woman of the Fortesque Family of Devon by Thomas Hudson c 1745 Courtesy of Yale Centre for British Art
B1981.25.620
The Countess of Coningsby in the Costume of the Charlton Hunt by George Stubbs c1760, Courtesy of The Yale Centre for British Art
Double-breasted riding waistcoat, c.1790-5. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Double-breasted riding waistcoat, c.1790-5.
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London
The back lacing allowed a snug fit over stays and under a closely tailored coat. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
The back lacing allowed a snug fit overstays and under a closely tailored coat.
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London