Victorian Wedding Etiquette in 1852

I probably shouldn’t share this excerpt from The Etiquette of Courtship and Matrimony: with a Complete Guide to the Forms of a Wedding, published in 1852. I should hoard the information to help me write my great comic farce masterpiece that will be titled The Marriage of Inconvenience and Vexation.

But I shall be generous with the information and post it here with images from Le Conseiller Des Dames Et Des Demoiselles. Enjoy!




WHEN the course of true love has run smooth for a brief or a long period, as the circumstances of the case may require, the fulness of time will arrive for “FIXING THE DAY.” It is the gentleman’s province to press his suit for the earliest possible opportunity, but it is the lady’s express privilege to fix the exact day. Strange as it may seem, it is necessary for the gentleman to act deliberately on this occasion—having first considered where it will be convenient to spend the honeymoon—inasmuch as this will depend on the season of the wedding. No one would spend a winter-honeymoon in the country, or make a summer bridal-excursion to Paris.


THESE are matters that must be attended to where there is property on either side; and it behoves the intending bridegroom to take care there is no delay. An attorney may be hurried at the last moment, and Heaven have pity on the poor clerks who have to engross the deeds ; but the counsel on both sides have no care for either party, and read over a marriage-settlement with as much deliberation, and make as many perplexing objections, as if it were the lease of a house in Crutched Friars, or as if the Hon. Charles John Mountjoy Elphinstone Stuart were making, upon parchment, a perpetual declaration of war against the person and interests, in futuro and in perpetuum, of the Lady Valentine De Courcy Montrevor. An occasional morning call in the square of Lincoln’s Inn, at this period, is recommended as a necessary, though disagreeable variety with the evening visit in that of Belgravia. On the business part of this matter, it is not the privilege of our work to dilate, but we may be permitted to suggest that two-thirds of the lady’s property should invariably be settled on herself; and that where the bridegroom has no property wherewith to endow his wife, beyond his professional prospects, it should be made a sine qua non that he should insure his life in her favour previous to marriage.


BY this time the gentleman will have made up his mind in what particular method he will be married—a matter, however, which is generally settled for him by his position in life, or his means. He has, indeed, his choice, to a certain extent, of marriage by banns, by licence, by special licence, or before the Registrar; but woe betide the unlucky wight who proposes the last method, either to a young lady or her parents : let him be careful to do so on the ground-floor.


FOR this purpose, notice must be given to the clerk of the parish, or of the district church. The names of the two parties must be written down in full, with their conditions, and the parishes in which they reside—as, “Between Nicholas Rowe, of the parish of St. Ann‘s, bachelor (or widower, as the case may be), and Mary Bone, of the parish of St. Ann’s, spinster (or widow, as the case may be).” No mention of the lady or gentleman’s age is required. Where the lady and gentleman are of different parishes, the banns must be published in each, and a certificate of their publication in the one furnished to the clergyman who may marry the parties in the church of the other parish.

It seems singular, though it is the fact, that no evidence of consent by either party is necessary to this “putting up of the banns,” as it is denominated ; indeed the publication of the banns is not unfrequently the first rural declaration of attachment, so that the blushing village maiden sometimes finds herself announced as a bride in posse, before she has received any declaration in case. A slighted swain in Leicestershire lately put himself up three times, until he found, in the last, a spinster who would not “forbid the banns” ! The clerk receives his fee of two shillings, and makes no further inquiries—may, more, is prepared, if required, to provide the necessary fathers on each side, in the respectable persons of himself and the sexton,-—the venerable pew-opener being also ready, on her part, to perpetrate the duties of a bridesmaid. It is curious to observe, that so delicate are parish clerks in sparing the blushing sensitiveness of the timid votaries of Hymen, that their door is always opened by a young maiden, ‘who, at a glance, relieves all fears by saying, “You want to put up the banns?”

The banns must be publicly read on three Sundays in the church, after which, on the Monday following, if they so choose, the happy pair may be “made one.” It is usual to give a notice of one day previous to the clerk, but this is not legally necessary, —-it being the care of the Church, as well as the province of the Law, to throw as few impediments as possible in the way of marriage, of which the one main fact of a consent to live together, declared publicly before relatives, friends, and neighbours, assembled together (and afterwards, as it were by legal deduction, before witnesses), is the sole, whole, essential, and constituent element. Marriage by banns, except in the country districts, is usually confined to the humbler classes of society. This is to be regretted, inasmuch as it is a more deliberate and solemn declaration, and leaves the ceremony less open to suddenness, contrivance, or fraud. A marriage by banns, it is understood, can never be set aside by the after discovery of deception or concealment (as of residence, or even names) on either side. The fees of a marriage by banns vary from eleven shillings and sixpence to thirteen shillings and sixpence and fifteen shillings and sixpence, according to the parish or district where the marriage may take place.



ALL marriages at church must be celebrated within canonical hours—that is, between the hours of eight and twelve, except in the case of special licence, when the marriage may be celebrated at any hour, or at any “meet and proper place.”


BY the Statute of 23 Hen. VIII., the Archbishop of Canterbury has power to grant Special Licences; but in a certain sense these are limited. His Grace restricts his authority to Peers and Peeresses in their own right, to their sons and daughters, to Dowager Peeresses, to Privy Councillors, to Judges of the Courts at Westminster, to Baronets and Knights, and to Members of Parliament ; and by an order of a former Prelate, to no other person is a special licence to be given, unless they allege very strong and weighty reasons for such indulgence, arising from particular circumstances of the case, and they must prove the truth of the same to the satisfaction of the Archbishop.

The application for a special licence is to be made to his Grace through the proctor of the parties, who, having first ascertained names and particulars, will wait upon his Grace for his fiat.

In the case where the parties applying do not rank within the restricted indulgences, a personal interview should be sought, or a letter of introduction to his Grace should be obtained, containing the reasons for wishing the favour granted. Should his Grace grant his fiat, in either case the gentleman attends his proctor to make the usual affidavit, that there is no impediment to the marriage—the same as in an ordinary licence. The terms of a special licence run thus :—

JOHN Bran, by Divine Providence Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of all England, and Metropolitan, by an Act of Parliament lawfully empowered. To our well-beloved in Christ, A B, of the parish of        , a bachelor, and C D, of the parish of                 , a spinster, Health.—

WHEREAS it is alleged ye have purposed to proceed to the solemnization of a true, pure, and lawful matrimony (if either minors, by and with the consent of &c.), earnestly desiring the same to be solemnized with all the speed that may be; that such your reasonable desires may the more readily take due effect, we, for certain causes us hereunto especially moving, do, so far as in us lies, and the laws of this realm allow, by these presents graciously give and grant our LICENCE AND FACULTY, as well to you the parties contracting, as to all Christian people willing to be present at the solemnization of the said marriage, to celebrate and solemnize such marriage between you the said contracting parties, at any time, and in any church or chapel, or other meet and convenient place, by any Bishop of this realm, or by the Rector, Vicar, Curate, or Chaplain of such church or chapel, or by any other Minister in Holy Orders of the Church of England, provided there be no lawful let or impediment to hinder the said marriage. Given under the seal of our Office of Faculties at Doctors’ Commons, &c.,
day of , 1851

The expense of a special licence is about twenty-eight or thirty guineas—whereas that of an ordinary licence is but two guineas and a half; or three guineas where the gentleman or lady are minors.


AN ordinary Marriage Licence is to be obtained at the Faculty Registry, or Vicar-General’s Office, or Diocesan Registry Office of the Archbishops or Bishops, either in the country, or at Doctors’ Commons, or by applying to a proctor. A licence from Doctors’ Commons, unlike others, however, is available throughout the whole of England.

As a saving of trouble and expense may be an object, a hint upon this point, as given by Mr. Charles Dickens, in one of his publications, may be perhaps useful to persons attending Doctors’ Commons, and at the same time guard them against the annoyances and impositions of touters in that neighbourhood.

In the “Pickwick Papers,” ..  Mr. Dickens gives the following dialogue between Mr. Pickwick and Sam Weller: — “ Do you know Doctors’ Commons, Sam ?” “Yes, Sir.” “Where is it?” “Paul’s Church Yard, Sir: low archway on the carriage side, bookseller’s at one corner, hotel on the other, and two porters in the middle as touts for licences.”—““Touts for licences?” said the gentleman. “Touts for licences,” replied Sam; “two coves in white aprons—touches their hats ven you walk in—‘ Licence, Sin—Licence ’ Queer sort them, and their mas’rs, too, Sir—Old Bailey proctors, and no mustake.” “ What do they do?” inquired the gentleman. “Do you, Sir!” * * *

It will be sufficient for our purpose to relate, that, escaping the snares of the dragons in white aprons, who guard the entrance to that enchanted region, he reached the Vicar-General’s Office in Bell Yard, Doctors’ Commons, in safety, and having procured a highly flattering address on parchment—from the Archbishop of Canterbury, to his “ trusty and well-beloved Alfred Jingle and Rachael Wardle greeting”—he carefully deposited the mystic document in his pocket, and retraced his steps in triumph to the Borough.”

The gentleman or lady (as either may attend), before applying for an ordinary marriage licence, should ascertain in what parish or district they both are residing—the church of such parish or district being the church in which the marriage should be celebrated; and either the gentleman or lady must have had his or her usual abode therein, fifteen days before application is made for the licence, as the following form, to be made on oath, sets forth :—



This affidavit having been completed, the licence is then made out. It runs thus :—

JOHN BIRD, by Divine Providence, Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of all England, and Metropolitan. To our well-beloved in Christ,

Grace and Health—WHEREAS ye are, as it is alleged, resolved to proceed to the solemnization of true and lawful matrimony, and that you greatly desire that the same may be solemnized in the face of the Church: We being willing that these your honest desires may the more speedily obtain a due effect, and to the end therefore that this marriage may be publicly and lawfully solemnized in the church of by the Rector, Vicar, or Curate thereof, without the publication or proclamation of the bans of matrimony, provided there shall appear no impediment of kindred or alliance, or of any other lawful cause, nor any suit commenced in any Ecclesiastical Court, to bar or hinder the proceeding of the said matrimony, according to the tenor of this licence: And likewise, That the celebration of this marriage be had and done publicly in           , the aforesaid church           , between the hours of eight and twelve in the forenoon. We, for lawful causes, graciously grant this our LICENCE AND FACULTY, as well to you the parties contracting, as to the Rector, Vicar, Curate, or Minister, of         , the aforesaid ,         who is designed to solemnize the marriage between you, in the manner and form above specified, according to the rites of the Book of Common Prayer, set forth for that purpose, by the authority of Parliament. Given under the seal of our VICAR- GENERAL, this                day of              , in the Year of Our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty-one, and in the fourth year of our translation.

The licence remains in force for three months only; and the copy received by the person applying for it is left in the hands of the clergyman who marries the parties, it being his authority for so doing. In case either party is a minor, the age must be stated, and the consent of the parents or guardians authorized to give such consent, must be sworn to by the gentleman or lady applying for the licence. The following are the persons having legal authority to give their consent in case of minority:—lst, the father; if dead—2nd, the guardians, if any appointed by his will; if none—3rd, the mother, if unmarried; if dead or married —4th, the guardians appointed by Chancery. If none of the foregoing persons exist, then the marriage may be legally solemnized, without any consent whatever. The following are the official forms for this purpose :—


Consent of Father.

By and with the consent of A B, the natural and lawful father of B B, the minor aforesaid.

Guardian Testamentary.

By and with the consent of A B, the guardian of the person of the said C D, the minor aforesaid, lawfully appointed in and by the last will and testament of D D, deceased, his [or her] natural and lawful father.


By and with the consent of A B, the natural and lawful mother of B B, the minor aforesaid, his [or her] father being dead, and he [or she] having no guardian of his [or her] person lawfully appointed. and his [or her] said mother being unmarried.

Guardian appointed by the Court of Chancery.

By and with the consent of A .B, the guardian of the person of the said C D, appointed by the High Court of Chancery, and having authority to consent to his [or her] marriage, his [or her] father being dead, and he [or she] having no guardian of his [or her] person, otherwise lawfully appointed, or mother living and unmarried.

No Father, Testamentary Guardian, Mother, or Guardian appointed by the Court of Chancery.

That he [or she] the said A B, hath no father living, or guardian of his [or her] person, lawfully appointed, or mother living and unmarried, or guardian of his [or her] person appointed by the High Court of Chancery, and having authority to consent to the aforesaid marriage.


The previous remarks have reference only to licences for marriages about to be solemnized according to the laws of the Church of England.


BY the Statute 6 and 7 William IV., 17 Aug. 1836, Roman-catholics and Dissenters who may wish to be married in a church or chapel belonging to their own denomination, can obtain a licence for that purpose from the Superintendent Registrar of the district in which one of the parties reside, after giving notice thereof a week previous to the same officer: the expense of the licence is 3l. 12s. 6d.


SHOULD the parties wish to avoid the expense of a licence, they can do so by giving three weeks’ notice to the same officcer,—which notice is affixed in his office, and read before the proper officers when assembled,——at the expiration of that time, then the marriage may be solemnized in any place which is licensed, within their district. The Registrar of Marriages of such district must have notice of, and attend every such marriage. The fee due to the Registrar of Marriages for attending the ceremony, and registering the marriage (by licence) is 10s., and for certificate 2s. 6d,; and without a licence 5.s., and certificate 2s. 6d.

Marriages also by the above-mentioned Act of Parliament, may, upon due notice, be celebrated in the office of the Superintendent Registrar, with or without licence—or with or without any religious ceremony; but the following declarations which are prescribed by the Act must be made at all marriages, in some part of the ceremony, either religious or otherwise, in the presence of the Registrar and two witnesses—viz., “I do solemnly declare, that I know not of any lawful impediment why I, A B, may not be joined in matrimony to C D ;” and each of the parties shall also say to each other—“ I call upon these persons here present, to witness that I, A B, do take thee, C D, to be my lawful wedded wife”-(or husband.)

It is highly to the credit of the Christian people of this country, and an eminent proof of their deep religious feeling—that all classes of the community whatsoever have virtually repudiated these “Marriages by Act of Parliament ;” nor would we advise any fair maiden who has a regard to the comfort and respect of her after-connubial life, to “ show her spirit,” by being married in the Registrar’s back-parlour, after due proclamation by the Overseers and Poor-Law Guardians.


THE day being fixed for the wedding, the bride’s father now presents her with a sum of money for her trousseau, according to her rank in life. A few days previous to the wedding, the wedding presents are also made by relations and intimate friends, varying in amount and value according to their degrees of relationship and friendship—such as plate, furniture, jewellery, and articles of ornament, as well as of utility to the newly-married lady in her future station.



THE bridegroom, now, at last, must come out of the bright halo of his happiness, into the cold, grey, actual daylight of the world of business. He must look after the house which he intends for his future home. He must, also, if engaged in business avocations, make arrangements for a month’s absence ; in fact, bring together all matters into a focus, so as to be immediately and readily manageable when he becomes once more grave enough to take the reins himself. He must also burn all his bachelor letters, and part with, it may be, some few of his bachelor connexions,—bid a long farewell to all bachelor friends, and generally communicate, as it were en passant, to all his acquaintances, the close approach of so important a change in his condition. Not to do this might hereafter lead to inconvenience. Many an illustration, both humorous and painful, of the dilemmas of the bachelor-husband, presses upon our pen; but the mere suggestion will waken up in the minds of our married readers—if such there be—many a strange scene of the comedy of life. We must, however, proceed to matters of more immediate interest, for we are now in the very whirl and vortex of a wedding.


IT is the gentleman’s business to buy the ring—and he must be sure not to forget it. Such things have happened. The ring should be, we need not say, of the very purest gold, but very thick—a  return to the old fashion of the common people. There are three reasons for this ; first, that it may not break— a source of great trouble to the young wife ; secondly, that it may not slip off the finger without being missed—few husbands being pleased to hear that their wives have lost their wedding rings; and thirdly, that it may last out the life-time of the loving recipient, even should that life be protracted to the extreme extent. To get at the right size required, is a pretty part of the delicate mysteries of young love ; but should the youth be too modest, or accident have intervened, a not unusual method is to get a sister of your fair one to lend you one of the lady’s rings. By this, the jeweller will select the proper size. Take care it be not too large. Some audacious individuals, rendered hold by their favoured position, have been even known presumptuously to try the ring on the patient finger of the much enduring fair one; and, curiously enough, it has never yet happened that the ring has been refused, or sent back to be changed. We remember a singular coincidence in an Irish young gentleman of fashion, who was so easily pleased, as never to return a new coat to his tailor to be altered, for fear it should not come back again.

Having bought the ring—which he will receive wrapt up in a piece of silver paper—the young lover must now put it into the left-hand corner of his right-hand waistcoat-pocket (there is a reason for this direction), and never part with it until he takes it out in the church, during the wedding ceremony, except on an occasion to be shortly mentioned, when he must entrust it to the keeping of the bridesmaid.

In ancient days it appears, by the “ Salisbury Manual,” that there was a form of “ Blessing the Wedding Ring,” previous to the wedding day ; and in those times the priest, previous to the ring being put on, always made careful inquiry whether it had been duly blessed? It would seem to be the wish of certain clergymen, who have of late brought back into use many ceremonial Observances that had fallen into desuetude, to revive this ancient  custom.


THE wedding should take place at the house of the bride’s parents or guardians. The parties who must be asked, are the father and mother of the gentleman, the brothers and sisters (their wives and husbands also, if married), and the immediate relations and favoured friends of both parties. Old family friends on the bride’s side should also receive invitations,—the rationale, or original intention of this wedding assemblage, being to give publicity to the fact, that the bride is leaving her paternal home with the consent and approbation of her parents.

On this occasion, the bridegroom has the privilege of asking any friends he may choose to the wedding, but no friend has a right to feel affronted at not being invited, since, were all the friends on either side assembled, the wedding breakfast would be a crowded reception, rather than an impressive ceremonial. It is, however, considered a matter of friendly attention in those who cannot be invited, to be present at the ceremony in the church.



THE bridesmaids are usually the unmarried sisters of the bride; but it is an anomaly for an elder sister to perform this function. The pleasing novelty in late years, of an addition to the number of bridesmaids,—varying from two to eight and sometimes sixteen,——has added greatly to the interest of weddings, the bride being thus enabled to diffuse a portion of her own happiness amongst the intimate friends of her young heart’s choosing. One lady is always appointed principal bridesmaid, and has the bride in her charge ; it is also her duty to take care that the other bridesmaids have the wedding favours in readiness. On the second bridesmaid devolves, with her principal, the duty of sending out the cards; and on the third bridesmaid, in conjunction with the remaining beauties of her choir, the onerous office of attending to certain ministrations and mysteries connected with the wedding cake.


It behoves a bridegroom to be exceedingly particular in the selection of the friends who, as his bridegroomsmen, are to be his companions and assistants throughout his wedding day. Their number is limited to that of the bridesmaids, one for each. It is unnecessary to say that very much of the pleasure of the day, except to the two parties mainly concerned, will depend on their proper mating. Young and unmarried they must be, handsome they should be, good humoured they cannot fail to be, and well dressed they ought to be. Let the bridegroom diligently examine his store of friends, and select the “prettiest” and the pleasantest fellows for his own train. The principal bridegroomsman has, for the day, a special charge of the bridegroom, and the last warning we would give him is, to take care that, when the bridegroom puts on his wedding waistcoat, he does not omit to take the wedding-ring out of the pocket of the one which he donned on the previous night, and to put it into the left-hand corner of the right-hand pocket. The dress of a bridegroomsman should be light and elegant; a dress coat should be worn.


THE bride now sends white gloves, wrapped in white paper and tied with white ribbon, to each of the bridesmaids.

The bridegroom does the same to each of the bridegroomsmen.

One portion of wedding cake is cut into small oblong pieces, and passed by the bridesmaids through the wedding ring, which is delivered into their charge for this purpose. The pieces of cake are afterwards put up in ornamental paper, generally pink or white enamelled, and tied with bows of silvered paper.

The bridegroomsman on this day takes care that due notice has been sent to the clerk of the parish where the ceremony is to take place, so that the church may be got ready, and the clergyman be in attendance.

The bridegroomsman should also now make arrangements for the bells being rung after the ceremony, the sentiment of this being that it is the husband that must call on all the neighbours to rejoice with him on his receiving his wife, and not the lady’s father on her going from his house.

The bridegroom furnishes to the bridesmaids his list for “The Cards” to he sent to his friends; of which hereafter.

On the evening of this day the wedding breakfast should be ornamented and spread out, as far as possible, in the principal apartment.

The bridesmaids on this evening also prepare the wedding favours, which are put up in a box ready to be conveyed to the church in the morning.M15


THE parties being assembled in the parlour of the mansion (the wedding breakfast being usually spread in the drawing-room), the happy cortége should proceed to the church as follows :—

In the first carriage, the principal bridesmaid and bridegroomsman.

In the second carriage, the second bridesmaid and the bridegroom‘s mother.

Other carriages with bridesmaids and friends, the carriages of the bridesmaids taking precedence. In the last carriage the bride and her father.


A BRIDE’S costume should be white, or as close as possible to it. Fawn colour, grey, and lavender are entirely out of fashion. It is considered more stylish to go without a bonnet, wearing a wreath of orange blossoms and a Chantilly veil. This, however, is entirely a matter of taste, but whether or not wearing a bonnet, the bride must always wear a veil.


IT is no longer in good taste for a gentleman to be married in a black coat ; a blue coat, light grey trousers, white satin or silk waistcoat, ornamental tie, and white (not primrose-coloured) gloves, form the usual costume of a bridegroom according to present usage.


THE bridesmaids dress generally in pairs, each two alike, but sometimes all wear a similar costume. Pink and light blue, with white pardessus or mantelets, or white, with pink or blue, are admissible colours. The bonnets, of course, must be white, in which marabout feathers may be worn. The whole costume of a bridesmaid should have a very light effect, and the tout ensemble of this fair bevy should be constituted in style and colour so as to look well by the side of and about the bride. It should be as the depth of colouring in the background of a sun-lit picture, helping to throw into the foreground the dress of the bride, and make her prominent, as the principal person in the tableau.


THE bridegroom receives the bride in the vestry, where he must take care to have arrived some time previously to the hour appointed.



THE father of the bride generally advances with her from the vestry to the altar, followed immediately by the bridesmaids. The father of the bridegroom, if present, gives his arm to the bride’s mother if she be present, as is now usual at fashionable weddings, and goes next to the bridesmaids. The friends who have come with the wedding party proceed next in succession.

The bridegroom with his bridegroomsmen are in readiness to meet the bride at the altar, the bridegroom standing at the left hand of the clergyman, in the centre before the altar rails.

In some cases we have seen the bridegroom offer the bride his left arm to lead her to the altar, but this is incorrect. In this case, the whole order of the procession to the altar becomes inverted, and is arranged as follows :—

The father, and the mother of the bride, if present, or if she be not, the mother of the gentleman, if present, as she should be, or if she be not there, one of the oldest female relations or most distinguished female friend of the bride’s family, now lead the way towards the altar from the vestry.

The friends who have come with the wedding party follow next in succession.

Then come the bridesmaids, each pairing with one of the bridegroomsmen, and taking his left arm, the principal bridesmaid and principal bridegroomsman walk last, to be nearest to the bride and bridegroom.

The bridegroom, having offered his left arm to the bride, conducts her up the centre aisle of the church to the altar. The parties in advance file to the right and left of the altar, leaving the bride and bridegroom in the centre.



THE bridegroom stands at the right hand of the bride. The father stands just behind her, so as to be in readiness to give her hand at the proper moment to the bridegroom. The principal bridesmaid stands on the left of the bride, ready to take off the bride’s glove, which she keeps as a perquisite and prize of her office.

It was ordered by the old rubrics that the woman should have her hand covered when presented by father or friend to the priest for marriage, if she were a widow, one of the many points by which the church distinguished second marriages. A piece of silver and a piece of gold were also laid with the wedding-ring upon the priest’s book (where the cross would be on the cover), in token of dower to the wife.


are to be pronounced distinctly and audibly by both parties, such being the all-important part of the ceremony as respects themselves; the public delivery before the priest, by the father, of his daughter to the bridegroom, being an evidence of his assent, the silence which follows the inquiry for “cause or just impediment” testifying that of society in general; and the “I will” being the declaration of the bride and bridegroom that they are voluntary parties to their holy union in marriage.


must also be distinctly spoken by the bride. They constitute an essential part of the obligation and contract of matrimony on her part. It may not be amiss to inform our fair readers that on the marriage of our Gracious Sovereign Queen Victoria to H.R.H. Prince Albert, her Majesty carefully and most judiciously emphasised these words, thereby intentionally manifesting that though a Queen in station, yet in her wedded and private life she sought no other right and privilege, and could assert no bolder claim than the humblest village matron in her dominions.

This obedience on the part of the wife, concerning which there is oftentimes much curious questioning amongst ladies old and young, while yet unmarried, is thus finely defined by Jeremy Taylor :-—“It is a voluntary cession that is required; such a cession as must be without coercion and violence on his part, but upon fair inducements and reasonableness in the thing, and out of love and honour on her part. When God commands us to love him, he means we should obey him. “This is love, that ye keep my commandments; and if ye love me,” (says the Lord,) “ keep my commandments.” Now as Christ is to the Church, so is man to the wife; and, therefore, obedience is the best instance of her love ; for it proclaims her submission, her humility, her opinion of his wisdom, his pre-eminence in the family, the right of his privilege, and the injunction imposed by God upon her sex, that although in sorrow she bring forth children, yet with love and choice she should obey. The man’s authority is love, and the woman’s love is obedience. “It is modesty to advance and highly to honour them who have honoured us by making us the companions of their dearest excellencies; for the woman that went before the man in the way of death is commanded to follow him in the way of love ; and that makes the society to be perfect, and the union profitable, and the harmony complete.”



THE rubric tells us “the man shall give unto the woman a ring, laying the same upon the book with the accustomed duty to the priest and clerk.” This is, however, not now done, it being usual to pay the fees in the vestry; but to insure the presence of the ring, a caution by no means unnecessary, and also in some measure to sanctify it, it is asked for by the clerk previous to the commencement of the ceremony, who advises it to he placed upon the book. We pity the unfortunate bridegroom who at this moment cannot, by at once inserting his left hand (the one farthest from the bride) into the left-hand corner (the one most ready to his finger and thumb) of his right- hand (the right being the only hand he is supposed to have at liberty) waistcoat pocket, pull out the silver-paper enveloped ring. Imagine the not finding it there,—the first surprise, the immediate anxiety, as the right-hand pocket is rummaged,—the blank look, as he follows this by the discovery that his nether garments have no pockets whatsoever, not even a watch-fob, where it may lie perdue in a corner. Amid the suppressed giggle of the bridesmaid, the half-pitying, half-disconcerted look of the bride herself, at such a palpable carelessness and forgetfulness thus publicly proved before all her friends, on the part of her intended, and the hardly repressed disapprobation of the numerous circle around, he fumbles in coat pockets, and turns them inside-out ! No ring ! A further search causes great confusion and sympathy, until we have known it to go so far as the pulling off the bridegroom’s boots! lest the ring may have slipped down into one of them in his judicious efforts to place it in his waistcoat-pocket. In default of the ring, the wedding ring of the mother may be used; the application of the key of the church door is traditionary in this absurd dilemma; and in country churches a straw twisted into a circle has been known to supply the place of the orthodox hoop of gold.


the clergyman usually shakes hands with the bride and bridegroom, and the bride’s father and mother, and a general congratulation ensues.


THE clergyman of the church is invariably invited to attend, although the ceremony may be, in fact, performed by some friend of the bride or bridegroom. This is called “assisting ;” other clergymen who may attend in addition, as is sometimes the case, are said also to “assist.” But as much ridicule has fallen upon the custom, and the parties who have adopted it, and as the expression is considered an affectation, the fashion for its use has abated, and it is no longer usual to mention the names of any other clergymen than that of the one who performs the ceremony, and the clergyman of the church, who should be present, whether invited or not. It is, indeed, his duty to attend, and he must insist on so doing, inasmuch as the entry of the marriage in the parish register is supposed to be made under his sanction and authority. It should not be forgotten that the presence of an “assistant clergyman” entails the doubling of the fees.


WHERE the bride and bridegroom are of different religions, the marriage is usually celebrated in the church of that communion to which the husband belongs ; the second celebration should immediately follow, and upon the same day. It is, however, regarded as more deferential to the bride’s feelings that the first ceremony should be performed in her own communion. There is a notion prevalent, that in the case of a marriage between Roman Catholics and Protestants, the ceremony must necessarily be first performed in a Protestant church. This is erroneous—the position of the marriage, whether first or last, is of no legal consequence, so long as it takes place on the same day.


THE bride is led by the bridegroom. The bridesmaids and bridegroomsmen follow, the principals of each taking the lead. Then the father of the bride, followed by the father and mother of the bridegroom, and the rest of the company.


THE husband signs first ; then the bride-wife, for the last time, in her maiden name ; then the father of the bride, and the mother, if present ; then the father and mother of the bridegroom, if present; then the bridesmaids and the bridegroomsmen ; then such of the rest of the company as may desire to be on the record as witnesses. All the names must be signed in full. The certificate of the marriage is handed to the bride, and should be preserved in her own possession, be her rank whatever it may.


MEANW’HILE, outside the church, so soon as the ceremony is completed,—and not before, for it is regarded as unfortunate,——a box of the wedding favours is opened, and every servant in waiting takes care to pin one on the right side of his hat, while the coachmen, in addition, ornament the ears of their horses. Inside the church, the wedding favours are also distributed, and gay, indeed, and animated is the scene, as each bridesmaid pins on to the coat of each bridegroomsman a wedding favour which he returns by pinning one also on her shoulder. Every favour is carefully furnished with two pins for this purpose, and it is amazing to see the flutter, the smiling, and the very usual pricking of fingers, which this not unimportant duty of a wedding-bachelor and lady “in waiting” does occasion.


THE bridegroom leads the bride out of the church, and the happy pair return to the house in the first carriage. The father and mother follow in the next. The rest stand not on the order of their going,” but follow in such order as they can best get out.



THE bride and bridegroom sit in the centre of the table, in front of the wedding-cake. The clergyman who performed the ceremony takes his place opposite to them. The top and bottom of the table are occupied by the father and mother of the bride. The principal bridesmaid sits to the left of the bride, and the principal bridegroomsman on the left of the bridegroom. It may not be unnecessary to say that it is customary for the ladies to wear their bonnets just as they came from the church. The bridesmaids cut the cake into small pieces, which are not eaten until the health of the bride is proposed. This is done by the principal old friend of the family of the bridegroom. The bridegroom returns thanks for the bride and for himself. The health of her parents is then proposed, and is followed by those of the principal personages present. After about two hours, the principal bridesmaid leads the bride out of the room as quietly as possible, so as not to disturb the party or attract attention. Shortly after -—it may be in ten minutes—the absence of the bride being noticed, the rest of the ladies retire. Then it is that the bridegroom has a few melancholy moments to bid adieu to his bachelor friends, and generally receives some hints on the subject in a short address from a bachelor friend, to which he is expected to respond. He himself now withdraws for a few moments, and returns, having made a slight addition to his toilet, in readiness for travelling.

In some recent fashionable weddings we have noticed that the bride and bridegroom do not attend the wedding breakfast, but after a slight refreshment in a private apartment, take their departure immediately on the wedding tour. But this defalcation, if we may so call it, of the dramatis personœ of the day, though considered to be in good taste, is by no means universally approved, but is the rather regarded as a coxcombical dereliction from the ancient forms of hospitality, which are more due than ever on such an occasion as a marriage.


THE young bride, divested of her bridal attire, and quietly costumed for the journey, now bids farewell to her bridesmaids and lady friends. Some natural tears spring to her gentle eyes as she takes a last look at the home she is now leaving. The servants venture to crowd to her with their humble though heartfelt congratulations ; and, finally, melting, she falls weeping on her mother’s bosom. A short cough is heard, as of someone summoning up resolution. It is her father. He dare not trust his voice; but holds out his hand, gives her one kiss, and then leads her, half turning back, down the stairs and through the hall, to the door, where he delivers her to her husband; who hands her quickly into the carriage, leaps in lightly after her, waves his hand to the party, who appear crowding to the windows, half smiles at the throng about the door, then gives the word, and they are off, and started on the voyage of life!

“Anon they wander by divine converse
Into Elysium.”
Keats’ Endymion.


The distribution of these is an important duty, which devolves on the bridesmaids, who meet for the purpose at the house of the bride’s father on the day after the wedding. The cards are two—the one having upon it the gentleman’s, and the other the lady’s name. They are furnished by the bridegroom, and printed to his order. They are placed in envelopes, sealed with white sealing-wax or silver wafers, and are all addressed some time before by the bridesmaids. The gentleman gives a list to the bridesmaids of such of his friends as he wishes to introduce to his home. This is a very important point, nor should such a list he made out without very grave consideration.

The lady generally sends cards to all whom she has been in the habit of receiving or visiting while at her father’s house. She also has thus an opportunity of dropping such acquaintanceships as she may not be desirous of continuing in her wedded life.

This point of sending the cards is one requiring great care as well as circumspection, since an omission is an affront that sometimes endures through life. To those parties whose visiting acquaintance is wished to be kept up, on the bride’s card is written “ At home” on such a day.

To send cards without an address is an intimation that the parties are not to call, except when they themselves reside, or the marriage has taken place, at a distance. In fact, the address is to denote the “At home ;” it is better, however, that the words should be put upon the cards.




THE lady, at the proper period, retires to her apartment, and after having taken sufficient time for her evening toilette, directs the chambermaid to inform her husband that his apartments are ready.


THE honeymoon is often made uncomfortable (hear it, ye shuddering young Cupids !-—-an uncomfortable honeymoon !-——a warm winter and a cold summer are not more antagonistic to the truth of nature) by jealousy on the young husband’s part; for an expression that at another time would not be noticed, now—so carefully does he guard his newly acquired treasure—vexes and frets him, making him give way to potted expressions, which five minutes afterwards he will, by proper management on the lady’s part, be ashamed of and repent. The lady, then, in such an instance, should, instead of being irritated in her turn, or piqued, convince him, by her kind caresses, that she regrets having given him this trifling annoyance. Assuredly by such conduct the little quarrels that do ruffle some honeymoons might be escaped. We warn the lady to avoid the first quarrel, as the little temper shown on her husband’s part is only excess of fondness for herself.


SHOULD be characterized by modesty, simplicity, and neatness. The slightest approach to slatternlines in costume, even a careless curl—not to say a visible curl-paper—would be an abomination, and assuredly stand in the future memory of the shuddering husband.



ABOUT a month or five weeks after the ceremony, the bride, in the company of her husband and her bridesmaids, sits “at home,” arrayed in her wedding dress, to receive the visits of those to whom cards have been sent. The bridesmaids assist the company to the wedding-cake and wine, in which each visitor drinks the health of the bride. These reception days are generally two or three in number.


THE wedding visitors should be received with equal politeness and cordiality, but with no greater empressement in manner than visitors on an ordinary occasion. The lady should be easy, and perfectly at home. It is unnecessary to say more, as every lady knows how to receive her guests.


THE bride and her husband, or, in case he may not be able to attend her, the principal bridesmaid, —the last of whose official duties this is—return all the visits paid to them on their reception days. Those who may have called on the bride without having received cards of her being “ at home,” should not have their visits returned, unless special reason exists to the contrary, such visit being an impolite intrusion.


THESE return visits having been paid, the happy pair drop their titles of bride and bridegroom, are for a short time styled the “ newly-married couple,” and then all goes on as if they had been married for twenty years.


Posted in Domestic History, Etiquette Through Time, Victorian England - General History | Tagged , | 2 Comments

What’s Your Ride — Carriages in 1828

I’ve been trying to write a Regency story. Unfortunately, I’ve been in Victorian land for so long that I’ve forgotten a great deal of the Regency detail. So I decided to go straight to the source and read The Annotated Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and David M. Shapard. I’m having a blast. One of the resources Mr. Shapard cites is An Essay on Wheel Carriages by T Fuller, published in 1828. I’m a bit of a carriage dunce, so I scurried over to Internet Archive and looked up the book.  It’s quite informative so I decided to excerpt a bit on my blog (so that I might always know where to find it.)

I’ve supplemented Mr. Fuller’s black and white sketches with additional pictures of carriages from Wikipedia,  Ackermann’s The Repository of Arts, Literature, Commerce, Manufactures, Fashions and Politics (Thanks, Sarah Waldock,  for the Ackermann tip),  Carriages & Coaches :Their History & Their Evolutionand, and Modern Carriages.




The Chariot and Coach.

The modern chariot is understood to be on four wheels, the body part covered, and differing from the coach in having one seat only, instead of seats facing each other.


from Akermann’s The Repository of arts, literature, commerce, manufactures, fashions and politics 1809

In weight both carriages are nearly equal; in fact, many modern chariots are constructed of greater weight than the generality of coaches. Chariots are usually required for two principal purposes ; viz. for town use and for travelling. Those for the former purpose are furnished with a seat in the front for the driver; which seat, in well-finished carriages, is ornamented with a handsome drapery of cloth, trimmed round with fringe, &c. as will be hereafter described, under the name of “hammer-cloth.” Those for the latter purpose have a seat behind, the horses being driven by a postilion: by this arrangement the view from the carriage is unobstructed. By far the greater number of modern chariots are made to combine both these properties.


No. 1

No. I. is the representation of a modern travelling-chariot with its various appurtenances and accommodations for luggage. The body (by this is meant the covered part, having one seat of sufficient width to contain three persons, a door on each side, folding steps, and glasses to draw up, &c. and is suspended by leather braces, from springs upon each corner of the carriage part), fashion requires this part to be made large, very large in comparison with those which were made some few years since. This increase of size affords so much more interior accommodation, that small seats for the younger branches of a family are not unfrequently placed under the front windows, facing the back seat, and being made to remove at pleasure, does not affect the appearance of the carriage as a town chariot, and affords, in many instances, the accommodation of a coach. Between the front of the body and the splashing fence is carried the bonnet case, marked (c). Upon the roof of the body are two imperials, marked (i i).Upon the front of the carriage part (by this is meant the whole of that part of the vehicle to which the wheels and axles are attached, with the springs before named, upon each corner for supporting the body) is a large boot, marked (b), in which, is received a trunk or boxes, and upon it may be carried the imperial, marked (b i), usually designated “the boot imperial.” The hind part of the carriage supports a seat for two servants, which is constructed upon a boot of a suitable form, usually denominated “the hind rumble,” and is calculated to contain two large boxes or trunks.

By removing from this carriage the bonnet case (c), the imperials (i i) and (b i), and the hind rumble seat, and then attaching upon the front boot a driving seat, and also a pair of standards upon the hind part of the carriage from whence the hind rumble has been removed, and you have the complete town chariot No. 2.


No. 2

This description of chariot is very heavy, and although it is used for town work with a pair of horses, will require four when loaded with its appendages for travelling.

The front or driving seat is sometimes used also, in which case this chariot affords accommodation for seven persons: viz. three in the body, two upon the driving seat, and two upon the hind seat; and sometimes, as before mentioned, two small seats are introduced to the inside of the body, making in all nine persons; affording, as already observed, the conveniences of a coach with the additional advantage of a very useful article for package, viz. the bonnet case (c), which the form of the body of a coach does not admit.


No. 3

No. 3. is a different style of chariot; its appearance as a town chariot is sufficient for general purposes, and being somewhat lighter in its construction than No. 2. is more suitable for the country. This chariot also admits of a similar adaptation for travelling, although on a more limited scale. Thus, the driving seat can be removed from the front boot (b) to the hind platform (p), and the imperial upon the roof with the bonnet case in front, as described in No. 1., might be added: such a chariot with these appendages might at all times be drawn with a pair of horses.

The greater part of the better finished carriages for town use are now constructed with springs horizontally fixed upon the axletrees: these are denominated “under spring carriages.” By the action of such springs the carriage part is relieved from the shaking of paved roads, and its durability much increased. A carriage so constructed admits of the boots and seats for servants to be fixed upon the beds of the carriage part, instead of being attached to and swinging upon the same springs as the body. The drawings Nos. 1. and 2. are upon this construction. No. 3. being without this improvement, it will be observed, that the boot in front and the platform behind are attached to iron work branching from the body: the whole is in consequence supported by the same springs, which are required to be made stronger for that purpose.

The coach, as before observed, differs only from the chariot in the form of its body, which is made with seats facing each other. The large modern chariots having almost superseded coaches for the purposes of travelling, excepting with families of large establishment, coaches are now mostly used for town work, for which purpose they are sometimes very expensively finished.


No. 4

No. 4. is the representation of a town coach: the body is usually built of sufficient size to contain two persons on each seat. The driving seat is supported upon the front beds of the carriage by what are termed “coach-box standards,” and is furnished with a hammer cloth; upon the centre of which is placed the crest, and sometimes the armorial bearings, in embroidery, or chased in silver or yellow metal, to suit the furniture of the carriage. A row of deep fringe is continued round the bottom edge, and occasionally another of less depth upon the top.

Upon the hind beds are the footman’s standards. This appendage is not only ornamental, but is found of great use in places of public resort, as it prevents the poles of other carriages coming too close. These appendages are not confined to the coach; they are applied with equal effect to the town chariot; but as they appear more in character with the former vehicle, we have described them in connection with it. Coaches are sometimes made to contain one person only on each seat: such a carriage is designated a vis-à-vis, and is used only by persons of high fashion and large establishment.

The style of finishing modern carriages has been for some time past with as little external embellishment as possible (those kept expressly for town-work excepted). Fashion seems now to require some additional ornament.

The linings are of superfine cloth, with squabs of morocco leather or silk tabberett, trimmed with handsome laces of silk and worsted, and sometimes entirely of silk: the colours are claret, crimson, and different shades of drab: these are determined partly by the taste of the owner, and partly by the colour of the painting, upon which fashion does not appear to exercise much influence. At present, clarets, pale greens, browns, and yellows appear in almost equal proportions.


Landaus and Landaulets.



The observations already made upon coaches and chariots apply equally to these carriages; the only difference being in the bodies, which are made to throw open. To effect this properly, much skill is required in making the body itself, or the doors will soon be found to open and shut with difficulty. The means employed to remedy this inconvenience affect the grooves in which the glasses slide, and render repair necessary to these parts also: this soon leads to a derangement of the whole.


From Ackermann’s The Repository of arts, literature, commerce, manufactures, fashions and politics in 1809

The use of these carriages has of late much declined, probably in some measure from this circumstance, but chiefly on account of the additional attention required to them, and their increased weight, from the greater proportion of iron work employed in their construction.

See an image of a Landau at the Carriage Museum of America.


The Barouch and Barouchel.


No. 5

The Barouch was introduced from Germany to this country about the year 1802. It was the fashion at that time to build carriages extremely low; and the better to effect this purpose, the front part of the body was arched upwards, as in the drawing No. 5., to admit of the front wheel passing under the body in locking the carriage for the purpose of turning. The barouch has seats inside facing each other, similar to the coach and landau; but with a view to lightness the half head was contrived, which, when put up as in the drawing, covers only the hind seat. These constitute the leading features of the barouch: the most conspicuous is the arching up of the front part, which soon became fashionable, and was applied to other carriages, particularly to landaus, and these carriages when so made were termed barouch landaus.

As higher carriages became fashionable, this arched front part being no longer of use, was gradually abandoned; yet, notwithstanding, the half headed carriage still retains the name of barouch.

The barouchet bears the same affinity to the barouch as the landaulet does to the landau; viz. that of having only one seat in the inside, instead of seats facing each other. No. 6. is the representation of a barouchet.


No. 6

The barouch and barouchet will accommodate the same number of persons as the landau and landaulet; and being made of much lighter construction, they are on this account greatly to be preferred for summer use and short excursions in fine weather. Indeed, the barouchet is often built so light as to allow of being drawn by one horse. For this purpose the body is usually constructed upon what are termed “nut-cracker” or elliptical springs, similar to No. 7– If due attention be paid in the building, a carriage on this construction may be made sufficiently light to form a very neat and convenient one-horse equipage.


No. 7


The Britska.

This carriage is also of continental origin, and was introduced to this country soon after the peace of 1814. The Britska is a carriage peculiarly adapted for travelling, being so well calculated for receiving luggage. The bottom of the body is nearly straight, with a large boot in the front part in continuation: this boot and the spaces under the seats admit of large square boxes, and the form of the body allows of the perch being made nearly straight, and shorter than to other carriages: the steps being placed on the outside, gives room for two ample pockets in the space which they would otherwise occupy if folded into the carriage in the usual way. The head is furnished with glasses in mahogany frames which inclose the whole of the front, and are so contrived as to fold up in a portable form, and fasten to the upper part of the head when not required.


No. 8

These carriages are constructed either with one seat, like the barouchet, or with seats facing each other, like the barouch, as may be required. No. 8. is the design of one with a back seat only, which is generally made of sufficient width to contain three persons. The folding glasses in front render this seat equally secure from wet as that of a chariot. The front part of the body, as well as the boot in continuation, are usually appropriated to luggage, or will afford sufficient space for those who travel inside to repose at length.

The seat behind contains two servants, with room in the boot part below for additional luggage. Another seat, capable of accommodating one or two persons, is obtainable in the front by affixing the small portable seat (marked P. S.) upon the boot, with the small footboard at the bottom, which, when not required, turns back underneath the body.

These carriages are very convenient for travelling, and a pair of post-horses will generally draw them at a quicker pace than most other carriages, although when loaded the weight might be greater: this arises from an idea of lightness on account of the shortness of the carriage, and the luggage being concealed by the form of the body.

The Phaeton.


No. 12



About the time that driving became fashionable, the Phaeton was introduced; and as this appears to be the only four-wheel carriage of any decided character of English origin…we must refer the reader again to Plate 3., and solicit attention to the preposterous situation of the body, which was gradually brought to this extremity with the view of obtaining a better command over four horses. In descending hills, the weight of this body frequently preponderated so much as to raise the hind wheels from the ground, to prevent which it became necessary to place a weight between them. This phaeton was for a considerable time looked upon as a most elegant carriage, and the only one from which four horses could be driven. Indeed, our most gracious sovereign himself, to whose valuable patronage the coachmaking trade are so deeply indebted, used frequently to drive an equipage of this sort.

As driving became more fashionable, more attention was bestowed upon the driving-seats of other carriages, and the compact and then novel form of the mail-coach gave rise to the adoption of carriages upon this principle for driving four horses; and about twenty-five years since, a number of fashionables, termed the “Whip Club,” used to assemble with elegant equipages of this form drawn by four horses in hand.

The author has frequently seen from twenty to thirty assemble in the vicinity of Cavendish Square, and drive off in procession. A more imposing and gratifying sight could not be imagined. From this period phaetons have been looked upon as carriages more suitable for a pair of horses; and they now appear to be brought to perfection, as they seem to want nothing either as to ease or convenience.


No. 9

The first we shall describe is No. 9., which is certainly the most complete and serviceable phaeton now in use; it is usually denominated the double-seated phaeton, and is generally constructed upon horizontal or mail-coach springs. The advantage of this plan consists, in the weight being supported by each corner, immediately over the bearing of each wheel; and each spring being fixed at its centre, allows the carriage part to be constructed much shorter and lighter, and at the same time with more strength and simplicity than if the body was suspended from upright springs and leather braces.

The body part, containing both seats, is one continuation of light frame-work, cased with pannel board, affording space inside for large boxes and other accommodation. These seats are also so contrived as to admit of being changed from back to front at pleasure, a source of great convenience when a servant is required to drive. It will be observed, that the carriage part of this phaeton is constructed with a perch, consequently the front wheel can only lock to a certain degree; but as gentlemen keeping such equipages are generally proficients in the art of driving, this circumstance becomes a matter of little moment: should it be otherwise, an iron perch can be used, which could be arched upwards to admit of the wheel passing under: this is termed a swan perch, and possesses all the advantage in this respect of the old crane neck carriage, which has been laid aside for some time on account of its weight.


No. 10

No. 10. is another plan of phaeton: its construction differs considerably from the other, being built without a perch, and possessing all the advantage of a crane-neck carriage without its weight. The greatest proportion of these phaetons are built sufficiently light to allow of being used with one horse, for which purpose the property of locking freely round is of great importance, as one horse will turn more suddenly than can a pair of horses harnessed together; and the event of a sudden and violent turn (if the front wheel has not a free lock) must be to overturn the carriage or break the shafts. The same effect takes place if the horse should back on a hill, as the slightest deviation of the hind wheels from a straight line brings the carriage upon the lock, when, if checked, the same consequence necessarily follows.

A phaeton, if required to carry two persons only, and to be drawn entirely by one horse, can be built equally light as a Stanhope; and by arching upwards the bottom of the body, a higher front wheel may be obtained, thereby rendering the carriage much more suitable for using with the sort of horse generally driven in Stanhopes. No. 11. will give an idea of such a carriage. The form may be varied to suit the pleasure or accommodation of the owner. An additional seat for two persons may be added, when required, to the hind part; or it may be so contrived as to turn back and form a seat.


No. 11

Some of these carriages are constructed on a smaller scale to go with lesser horses; others have seats behind, which are made to fold into the hind part of the body when not required, similar to No. 10. or 11., and a considerable proportion are made with detached seats in the front to drive from. Some of these cannot properly be termed phaetons; they appear to have more claim to the appellation of barouchets, or perhaps barouch phaeton may be an appropriate name. The word phaeton is ‘certainly meant to imply a carriage to be driven from; that is to say, the body itself should form the seat for the driver, and, when the construction of the carriage and form of the body does not allow of this, the name of phaeton is clearly misapplied.

The additional safety of a carriage upon four wheels over one with two only, is a circumstance of great importance to the timid and infirm; yet many are induced to forego this advantage from an idea of the increased weight and resistance of four wheels in draft. The better to enable the reader to judge how far this opinion is correct, we propose to make some further remarks on these carriages in comparison with those upon two wheels, in the course of which we. shall point out the peculiar advantages of each.

Two Wheel Carriages.





The curricle is a carriage so generally known, and at the same time so little in use at present, that a slight description will sufficiently answer our present purpose without any graphic illustration.

The curricle is usually constructed with large springs behind, and lever springs in the front. Like other two wheel carriages, it is necessary that the preponderance of weight should be in the front part: this weight is supported from a bar attached to the horses’ backs, by upright irons fixed in a secure manner upon the saddles: from the centre of this bar is a brace, by which is suspended the pole of the carriage between the horses; the pole is connected to the brace by a long spring, the elasticity of which relieves the rider from the up and down motion communicated to the carriage by the action of the horses. Curricle horses require to be matched with great attention; for unless they step together, the motion of the carriage becomes extremely unpleasant.

Under proper management, the curricle forms a most elegant carriage. If built by an experienced builder, who would not fail to attend particularly to its construction, more especially to the form and hanging of the body, the apportioning of just sufficient weight to the horses’ backs as is necessary to keep the carriage steady, and to tastefully ornament and finish the whole; if to such a carriage be attached a pair of horses not less than 16 hands high, matching in courage and action, with two outriders behind, no style of carriage can equal it. The park loses much of its splendour by the absence of such equipages as these; and this circumstance is the more to be regretted as we find them supplanted in a great measure by the


We are indebted to our neighbours for this machine: with them it may be a useful carriage, answering, no doubt, the purposes of individuals of limited means sufficiently well.

The modern cabriolet is large and commodious in the body, which is furnished with a head, and framed knee-flap. Hung with curricle cee springs behind, long under springs in the front, and others horizontally fixed under the shafts, and a platform behind for a servant to stand upon, this carriage is equal in weight with a curricle. That it is convenient cannot be denied; but it has no claim to elegance. The eye is at once offended by the disproportion of the means employed to draw it. Certainly some of the finest horses in Europe are driven in them, and, perhaps, to this circumstance is to be attributed the preference given to these carriages by persons of rank and fortune; as the high price such superior horses command will always prevent the cabriolet becoming too common.

The lighter descriptions of two-wheel carriages were generally comprehended under the names of gigs and one horse chaises, until Mr. Tilbury, of South Street, Grosvenor Square, introduced the carriage which has borne his name.

The Tilbury.

See an image of a Tilbury from Science and Society Picture Library.

The principal advantage of this carriage is its superior adaptation for a large horse. This desirable property chiefly consists in compassing the shafts upwards to the horse’s back, thereby obtaining a short back strap without depressing the hind part of the carriage; and by giving them at the same time a similar direction sideways, the animal has room to move without his sides being chafed by the close contact of the shafts: thus, by this contrivance, a low carriage was rendered completely suitable for a large horse. In addition to this, the body being hung between the shafts by means of springs and leather braces very advantageously arranged, it was found to be a carriage peculiarly adapted for town use; the action of the springs and braces being sufficient to relieve the rider from the concussions arising from the uneven pavements of the London streets. The Tilbury became very general, and for a considerable time scarcely any other two-wheel carriages were used. It is now almost superseded by

The Stanhope.


This carriage possesses the same advantages as the Tilbury, with more convenience for traveiling, the body being formed to receive large boxes or luggage under the seat. This carriage as well as the Tilbury is too well known to require the assistance of drawings, for illustration. Indeed, a two-wheel carriage can be only imperfectly represented by a drawing in elevation. It must be seen round before an idea can be formed: in fact, it should be seen with the horse in it. As much depends upon the form and position of the springs as upon the construction itself. The adjustment of the weight to the horse’s back and the line of draught are principal objects; besides which, there are a variety of minutiae without attention to which the carriage is not complete, and the experienced driver will soon perceive that something is wanting. This carriage and the Tilbury require fine-actioned horses with plenty of bone, about fifteen hands two inches high. With a Stanhope a lower and more compact horse is sometimes used; but, when speaking of a Tilbury horse, the description of animal first mentioned would be understood.

A variety of other two-wheel carriages have been contrived to suit the taste or convenience of the owners; but none have arrived at sufficient notoriety to require any separate notice. Some have been called buggies, others dennets, others having capacity for carrying dogs have been named Dog Carts. The construction of these carriages is various.

The idea of two wheel carriages being unsafe has lately gained much ground in public opinionbut when we consider the extensive use of these carriages, the improper horses so often applied to them, and the unskilful or inexperienced hand which so frequently undertakes to direct them, it is only surprising we do not hear of more accidents.

There is a description of horse much used in the west of England, from fourteen and a half to fifteen hands high, and worth about thirty-five pound. Some of these horses, although they look well from good keep and grooming, are heavy in the shoulder, and not calculated for quick travelling. If a horse of this sort be driven in a Tilbury or Stanhope, in event of a stumble (which is very likely to occur) he must fall; and as the front part of the carriage descends with him, the riders are necessarily thrown out. The fault is then attributed to the carriage, when it more justly appertains to the horse; and if such an animal was driven in a four wheel carriage, the riders would have remained steady during a similar fall, and thus escaping injury, the occurrence would not be called an accident. For horses of this description, it is scarcely necessary to observe, a carriage with four wheels is the most suitable. Hence it becomes evident, before we condemn two wheel carriages as unsafe, or reckon upon the advantage of one with four wheels, we should pay some attention to the horses to be used in drawing them.



For more information:

The Carriage Museum of America



Posted in Regency England - General History | Tagged , | 10 Comments

Having a Tea in 1885

I’ve been reading Mrs. Dalloway at the rate of about fifteen pages a day. It’s all I can manage. The book reads like wonderful dark chocolate. It cannot be eaten quickly, but savored, and just a small bit satisfies. Two nights ago I finally reached the chapters of Mrs. Dalloway’s party.  I love how Virginia Woolf used her words and sentence structures to convey the motion and energy of the party. As the reader, you feel that you are in the middle of its whirl. Most of the characters, whom you have come to intimately know, are present. And you are a guest there like the others.

Yesterday afternoon as I was cleaning my desk, I came across some pages I had printed from Etiquette: What To Do, and How To Do It, by Lady Constance Eleanora C. Howard, and published in 1885.  I smiled as I read the pages, thinking of Mrs. Dalloway’s party. Although Lady Constance Howard goes into depth about the etiquette at balls, dinners, luncheons, etc., I opted to excerpt the pages on giving teas because I haven’t posted anything about teas before. I must admit, reading this description was rather stressful. I could never give an “At Home” for I would inadvertently insult all my acquaintances. Good heavens, I might use the wrong invitation format or introduce the wrong people or have my imaginary servants stationed in the wrong rooms. Teas are an etiquette minefield and not for the faint-hearted, casual hostess.

The images are taken from The London and Paris Ladies’ Magazine of Fashion, from 1881


‘Five-o’clock Tea’ makes an agreeable break between luncheon and dinner, and is welcomed by all, whether ladies who have been riding or walking, or just arrived from a journey, or by keen sportsmen after a day’s
shooting or hunting.

In many country houses it is the custom to have ‘School-room Tea,’ to which all the guests are bidden ; they come, or not, as it pleases them. In some houses, the hostess only receives a few intimate friends in her boudoir, but most generally tea is served in the drawing-room, or library, or hall, when the latter is arranged as a sitting-room—often the case both in London and the country.


The usual way is to have a low table covered with a pretty cloth embroidered with, say ‘poppies, wheat and cornflowers.’

On this should be placed the teapot, cream, and milk jugs, sugar and slop basins, cups and saucers, each having a teaspoon, and plates.

Another table has plates of brown and white bread, little cakes, scones or muffins, in the winter, and jam, honey or marmalade.

When guests are expected from a journey it is usual to add sandwiches of game or potted meat, and to have a tray with sherry, brandy, and seltzer on another table for those who prefer it to tea.

The hostess would pour out the tea, saying to each guest,—’ Do you take sugar?’ and ‘ Will you take cream or only milk?’

Then she hands the cups to the gentlemen, who, in their turn, hand them to the ladies who are sitting about the room in groups.

Conversation would be general at ‘ five-o’clock teas,’ as the number of guests does not generally admit of ‘tête-à-têtes.’

The gentlemen would hand the cakes, etc., to the ladies in the same way as the tea, saying,— ‘May I give you some cake or muffin?’ at the same time seeing that each lady had a plate. Plates should always be used at five-o’clock tea, just as much as they are at any other meal. There can be no possible reason why they should not be—people cannot put their cake or scone in their saucers, nor on the table, as that would be very vulgar—therefore plates are an imperative necessity; also slop basins, as no one likes the dregs of a previous cup of tea left in their cup if they wish to take a second.

Knives are only used for cutting a cake, not by each person, unless toast is provided, with butter, jam, honey, or marmalade, when they are necessary to spread these condiments.

Serviettes are never used at five-o’clock tea. Hot water to replenish the teapot should be sent up in an urn, a silver or china kettle, or a jug with a silver or plated top; it is sometimes put in a silver jug, but it is not a good plan as the water so soon gets cold in them. The teaspoons should if possible be silver, and sometimes teapot, sugar-basin, cream and milk jug, are in silver, as also the sugar-tongs; where this is too expensive, all china takes its place, in which the service is either all one pattern or else ‘harlequin.’

Scones, muffins, buttered toast should be served in dishes with covers to keep them hot.

Salt should always be sent up, as many people eat it with bread and butter, etc.—a small silver muffineer is best for it.

China or coloured Venetian glass dishes are best for butter, jam, etc.

Some people add mustard, cress and radishes, but this is not generally done.


The footman would place the tables in their proper places, cover them with the tea-cloths, and then carry in a tray with the various things needful.

The butler would place them on the tables, and then they would both leave the room, as it is not usual for servants to wait upon the guests at these meals; they wait upon each other, which is far less formal and much more agreeable.

Where no men-servants are kept, the parlour-maid would do exactly the same.

‘Five-o’clock tea’ in London is a very different thing. Ladies like it extremely; gentlemen, as a rule, detest it most cordially.

Generally say fifty ladies and five gentlemen is about the average at these assemblages, so that the ladies are all powerful, being in such an overwhelming majority.

The reason is this, ladies like them because at ‘five-o’clock teas ‘ they form new acquaintances, meet their favourite friends, make numerous plans for further meetings, and future interchange of civilities and entertainments; and, although as a rule few gentlemen put in an appearance at ‘five o’clock tea’ in London, considering this form of gathering too insipid; if they do honour it by their presence at rare intervals it is either because they want to meet a particular lady, or as a compliment to a popular hostess, one at whose house it is the correct thing to be seen, and where absence would proclaim that they were not on her list of friends and acquaintances. Yet, ladies are always ready, even in the middle of the rush of the London season, to look in at ‘five o’clock tea’ for twenty minutes or half-an-hour, if they cannot remain longer, in the course of their afternoon drive.

The refreshment of a cup of tea, whether in summer or winter, is at all times an agreeable and welcome one.

Invitations to ‘five-o’clock teas’ are either given verbally, by the intending hostess saying to any friend or acquaintance, lady or gentleman, whom she meets and wishes to invite,—

‘Will you come to me to-morrow, Mrs Green, at five o’clock, and have a cup of tea? You will find a few mutual friends.’

Or else invitations are issued on an ordinary visiting card, not on the cards used for ‘at homes’ or ‘ balls.’ The following is the correct form to use:—



the word ‘ music’ would be added if any, whether amateur or professional were to be provided, and the letters,’ R. S. V. P.,’ signifying ‘ Reponse s’il vous plait,’ or ‘an answer is requested,’ where one is wished for.

R. S. V. P.’ would be written on the right-hand corner of the invitation card, when such is the case, and where these letters are put, an immediate answer should be forwarded; at the same time it is unusual to require an answer, as it is generally of no consequence how many people avail themselves of such an invitation, or what numbers are conspicuous by their absence.

If, however, any of those invited are aware, when they receive the card, that it is quite certain they cannot accept the invitation, it would only be a mark of courtesy to send excuses at once.

Strict etiquette does not require this civility, but good-breeding and politeness, such as those ought to possess who go into society, would make it a matter of course.

‘Five-o’clock teas  may be classed under three distinct heads, as they are varied in the number of guests invited to them.

Both invitations and replies can be sent by post, or if a lady is out driving it is customary that if she needs an object for her afternoon drive, she should make a list of her proposed guests, and leave at any rate some of the cards herself.

Cards should be left by those who have been present within a week of the tea.

At ceremonious teas, it is usual to give a fortnight’s notice; for smaller ones the invitation should be sent out about a week before; for very small teas, a couple of days’ notice is sufficient.


Some ladies, for small teas, are at home a given day each week; for instance, all the Tuesdays in May, or all the Fridays in July.

This is a very good plan, as it admits of people choosing the week most convenient to them, so that if one Tuesday does not suit, the next or the one following may do so.

A ceremonious tea consists of from fifty to a hundred and fifty or two hundred guests; when this number have been invited, it is customary to provide some amusement for them, such as vocal or instrumental music, with amateur and professional performers; the music should be as good as possible, though not important enough to be actually a ‘ concert.’

The semi-ceremonious tea numbers forty to a hundred people, then recitations, good amateur talent, vocal or instrumental, is enough to amuse people and take off any formality and shyness. I think the most agreeable teas consist of ten to twenty-five people, who all are more or less acquainted, then general conversation or tête-à-tête chats take the place of music, or any other form of instructing and amusing people, intimate friends, not merely acquaintances, and comparative strangers, forming the majority of these ‘sans gêne’ gatherings.

It would not be etiquette to put ‘ five-o’clock tea’ on the card of invitation; if the hostess invited a guest personally, she would use the words ‘afternoon tea ;’ she would not say,’ Will you come to a kettledrum?’ that expression is obsolete; the correct term for ‘five-o’clock tea’ is ‘At Home,’ except when spoken of in conversation or verbally, then they would be mentioned, and allusion made to them as ‘five o’clock tea,’ just as a reception of a few friends after dinner is always called an ‘At Home’; never should ‘evening party’ be printed or written on the card of invitation; society recognises no such sentence with regard to the invitation to such an entertainment, although in talking to a friend it would be correct to say,—’ I am going to a party at the Duke of B.’s to-night,’ never, ‘I am going to an At Home at H— House.’

Terms correct in conversation would be incorrect, pedantic, and show ignorance in the matter of a written or printed invitation.

The name of the host does not appear on the invitations to ‘At Homes’ or ‘ five-o’clock teas.’ The name of the hostess only, not the united names of the host and hostess, appears upon the cards.

In sending an invitation, the hostess would include the husband of her guest in the invitation as follows :—’ Mr and Mrs de L’Isle ‘ would be written at the right-hand corner of the visitingcard; where it is a father and daughter,—’ Colonel and Miss or the Misses F.’

The sons in a family would receive separate cards of invitation; thus, ‘Lord G.,’ or ‘The Hon. B. Turner;’ and where there is a whole family to be invited, it would be ‘The Duke and Duchess of C, and Lady D. M.,’ or the ‘Ladies M.’

If only a mother and daughter, or daughters, ‘Lady C. and Miss C.,’ or the ‘ Misses C.,’ if the wife of a baronet or knight; if a Marchioness, it would be ‘The Marchioness of W. and Lady C. H.,’ or the ‘Ladies H.;’ a Countess, the correct term is, ‘The Countess of G. and Lady H. R.,’ or ‘Ladies R. ;’ a Viscountess, ‘The Viscountess L. and Honourable Mary B.,’ or ‘Honourable Misses B.;’ the same for a Baroness when she is a Peeress in her own right, such as Baroness Burdett Coutts, Baroness Berners, Baroness Bolsover, etc. ; when such is not the case, it would be ‘Lady F. and Honourable E. V.,’ or ‘Honourable Misses D.,’ unless there were only one daughter, when it would be ‘Honourable Miss D.’

Titles are recognised on invitation cards, but complimentary denominations, such as K.C.B., K.T., etc., are only written on the envelopes in which the cards are sent, not on the cards themselves.


Cloak-rooms are only necessary at very large formal teas, when the dress of the ladies is more magnificent, and probably a long velvet coat in winter, or a light dolman in summer, is thrown over the wearer’s dress in the carriage, which she is glad to lay aside while having her tea. At small teas it is not necessary, as rooms are less hot and more empty, and the dresses of a more simple description.

The hats, sticks or umbrellas, and overcoats of the gentlemen, at small or large teas, are always left in the hall, when a servant takes charge of them until they leave.

When those who have been invited arrive, they walk straight into the house, without asking is ‘Lady B. at home?’ as they know that such is the case.

Except at large teas, when the names of those present appear in the Morning Post next day, it is not correct for a lady’s servant to give her name to the servant who answers the door, and the house door should be left open until all the guests have arrived, or each person would have to ring the bell. The only time when it is allowable to station a servant on the steps, who rings as each guest arrives, and says, ‘Coming in,’ is in winter, when an open door for so long a time would make the house cold, and be disagreeable to those already assembled.

Red cloth is never put down at any party, whether ball, concert, theatricals, at home, five-o’clock tea, except when Royalty is present.

An awning should always be provided, whether it is an afternoon gathering or an evening party, as a protection against bad weather.

When visitors are ready to leave, they give their names to the servant, who stands by the door in readiness, he passes it to the lady’s footman (if she has one), who departs in search of her carriage, and announces it when it comes up; or when there is no footman, the linkman shouts out the name, and calls it out on the arrival of the carriage.

At ‘teas’ and ‘at homes’ the hostess does not ring for the door to be opened for the guest who is leaving, or for the carriage to be called, but the guests descend into the hall, where the servants of the house call the carriages as they are requested to do so by those present.

Owing to the short time that ladies, as a rule, remain at ‘five-o’clock teas,’ carriages should always be kept ‘waiting ;’ and those invited to the tea remain in the dining-room, taking refreshment, or stand in the hall alone, or chatting to their friends and acquaintances until they hear their carriage announced.


If a gentleman were present when a lady was waiting for her carriage with whom she was acquainted, he would politely offer her his arm and conduct her down the steps to her carriage; he would assist her to get in, and if he knew her well he would shake hands with her; if he was merely an acquaintance of recent date, he would make her a low bow only, as the carriage drives off, not offering to shake hands unless the lady showed a wish to do so.

Refreshments at ceremonious teas are always served in the dining-room, and a long buffet is placed at one end of the room, behind which stands the lady’s maid, etc., who pour out the cups of tea and coffee, and hand them across the table to those who ask for them, replenishing the cups when necessary.

The lady’s maid is always present on these occasions, as well as the Butler and footman; the Butler sees that the gentlemen have claret cup, wine, etc

The tea and coffee should be in silver urns, and the buffet prettily decorated with the flowers that are in season, fancy biscuits, brown and white bread and butter cut very thin, plum, seed and pound cakes, and macaroons and sponge cakes are placed upon the buffet, while sherry, champagne, and claret cup, lemonade, ices, fruit, potted game, sandwiches, and in the summer, china bowls heaped with strawberries, and dishes of whipt cream, and in the winter ‘maroons glacés’ are all placed upon the centre table.

Plates are always provided—ice plates for the ices, ‘which should be both cream and water with waifers,’ and small plates for fruit, with a place for the pounded sugar.

Tea in the dining-room, whether the party is large or small, is the most convenient; it saves carrying all the necessary paraphernalia upstairs. If the number of guests is very small, it might look unsociable to assemble in the dining-room, as it would leave the hostess alone, she not being able to quit her post until the majority of the guests had arrived.

Therefore, at very small and intimate teas, the refreshments are served in a small boudoir, or ante-room, or where there are two drawing-rooms in the inner one of the two.


The refreshments are of the same character as at the ceremonious parties, but on a much more pretentious scale; teapots are used instead of urns; fruit and ices are not provided. The hostess pours out the tea and coffee, assisted by her daughter or daughters if she has any, and the gentlemen present hand the cups and the cakes, etc., to the rest of the ladies, and then help themselves to wine, or cup, as they may wish. At teas served in the drawing-room, the lady’s maid and butler are not present. At formal teas, the servants or the maid on the arrival of each guest would inquire if they would take tea or coffee, and if they wish for either, would show them into the dining-room, where the guests would partake of refreshments, and then the servants would usher them into the drawing-room.

It is more courteous to proceed upstairs immediately on arrival, and to take tea or coffee after you have made your bow to your hostess.

The servant precedes the guests up the stairs.

At large teas, the hostess receives her friends at the drawing-room door, or on the landing; she shakes hands with each guest on arrival, whether she is previously acquainted with them or not, or in the case where a friend has asked her for an invitation for some lady or gentleman who is anxious to be present at her party.

She stands just in the doorway, the door remaining open all the time, the contrary being the case at small teas, when the hostess receives her friends within the room, advancing a few steps to meet each new arrival.

Unless a hostess is lame or very old, etiquette requires that she should move about the room among her guests, and see that they have someone to talk to, that they have tea, etc., talking with each person for a few minutes.

Her daughter or daughters would help her in like manner; no hostess would remain seated in one particular seat all the time, unless she was too lame or infirm to move about.

It is etiquette for ladies to move about the rooms at afternoon teas, and speak to their particular friends and acquaintances; there is no necessity for them to remain transfixed to one spot, unless they wish to do so, or the conversation they are engaged in is very absorbing.

Those ladies who are already acquainted would take this opportunity of speaking and making some polite or necessary remarks, but general introductions at ‘five-o’clock teas ‘ are not usual, only occasional ones, where the hostess thinks that two people would value such an introduction when they are likely to appreciate such an acquaintance, where the acquaintance has been desired by the lady, or by both, or some reason of similar importance.

In a formal, or semi-formal manner, the hostess, if she judged it wise to do so, would introduce some of the ladies present to each other, but she would never do so unless she was quite certain beforehand that they would have no objection to the introduction.

Then she would say, with a view to drawing the ladies into conversation, ‘Lady Z., I don’t think you know Lady L.,’ when the ladies would acknowledge the introduction by a bow; or,’ Mrs V. and I were talking about the first night of Romeo and Juliet, are you going to it, Mrs D.?’ In the same way, the hostess, if she saw Mrs D. knew no one of the gentlemen present, she would say, ‘May I introduce Lord N. to you, Mrs D. ?’ at the same moment bringing him with her to the lady she addressed, who would smile and bow. Lord N. would then say, ‘Will you let me get you some tea?’ he would not say ‘May I get you some refreshments?’ that would be very vulgar indeed, and if Mrs D. consented, Lord N. would offer her his right arm, and would conduct her to where the tea was served.


The hostess would be very particular that the ladies of highest position present were escorted to tea in the intervals between music, singing, conjuring, recitations, or whatever amusements she had provided for their benefit and amusement, and would introduce gentlemen to them, if there was no one by at the moment that they were acquainted with, that they might then show them this politeness of society.

The host, if there is one, would take the ladies of highest rank to tea.

All the gentlemen are expected to be constantly escorting ladies to tea, so they do not remain in the dining-room many minutes, therefore seats as a rule are not provided, as they remain there so very short a time; gentlemen conduct the ladies back to the drawing-room when they have finished their tea, as it would be a great incivility on the part of a gentleman were he to leave the lady alone in the dining-room, or let her find her way upstairs without his escort.

Having found her a seat, he would make her a polite bow, and proceed to escort someone else to tea. Should, however, the lady not wish to return to the drawing-room, the gentleman would remain talking to her until her carriage was announced, when he would escort her to it.

Several ladies would, at the suggestion of the hostess, go to tea together, when the gentlemen were in the minority; their hostess would say a few words of civil excuse for their absence.

Punctuality is not necessary at ‘five-o’clock teas,’ the hour named allowing the guests to come when they like, and leave when it pleases them—some stay a long time, others only a few moments; it entirely depends upon their inclinations and motives for being there. Few, if any, remain the whole three or three hours and a-half specified on the invitation card. Sometimes the latest arrival stay the shortest time; at others, the earliest leave after a few minutes, from five to six being the most popular hours for arriving. People going on to other ‘teas’ in the same afternoon, as often happens, would either come earlier or later than these hours to allow of fulfilling both engagements.

Gentlemen generally stand about the room talking to the ladies at these parties when taking tea or wine, etc.

If a gentleman saw a lady with an empty cup in her hand, he would politely put it down for her, otherwise the lady would place it on any table near to her.

Cream and sugar are handed to each guest by the gentlemen, as a matter of course. It would not be etiquette for the hostess to inquire if her guests take them; ladies would ask for a second cup of tea if they were thirsty, but it would be against etiquette, and look peculiar, if they did not take tea or coffee, and asked for chocolate, milk and soda, cocoa, hot milk, cider, or some beverage not usually served at tea.

If they did not like the refreshment provided, without entering into any explanations they would simply say, ‘No tea ; thank you very much.’

A lady intending to eat ices, cake, bread and butter, fruit or sandwiches, would take off her gloves, but not if she simply had tea or coffee without eating anything.

Etiquette does not make it imperative that guests should take leave of their host and hostess at ‘five-o’clock teas,’ unless it were late, and few people were left, in which case these guests would, as politeness required, make their adieus to their hostess, and if it were their first visit to the house, or the hostess were a recent acquaintance, or happened to be talking to a guest on the landing, standing in the doorway, or coming back to the drawing-room from tea, then etiquette requires that the guest who was leaving should take his leave of her, with a few civil words of thanks.

Except on these occasions it is not usual to do so.

Conversation, when there is ‘music or singing’ at afternoon teas, should be indulged in in a low tone, so as not to disturb or annoy those who are doing their best to amuse the guests, at least guests should try and look as if they were listening to the performance, even if they are not ardent votaries of music.

No gratuities at this or any other entertainment to be given to the servants.


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Submitting Your Work in 1898

Tonight I came across this little gem in Journalism for Women: A Practical Guide by Arnold Bennett, published in 1898. Sigh. The submission process has always been painful.


Your paragraph or article having been composed, there arises the question of the proper way to copy and dispatch it:—

  1. In the majority of instances it is unnecessary to typewrite. Typewriting is somewhat expensive and often inaccurate, and unless you happen to possess your own typewriter, there is no reason why calligraphy should not suffice for your needs. (A few editors, however, insist that all copy submitted shall be typewritten.) Use quarto paper—that is, the size of a sheet of note-paper opened—and only one side of it. Write very plainly, not too small, leaving a wide margin at the left hand, and a good space between the words and between the lines.
  2. Fasten the sheets together at the top left hand corner with a paper fastener, the pointed ends of the fastener being at the top. Do not pin the sheets; do not stitch them; whatever else you do, refrain from stitching them all the way down the left hand side, as this process makes it irritatingly difficult to turn them over.
  3. Write your name and address not only at the top of the manuscript itself, but also on the back, so that they may be prominent when the manuscript is folded up. Write boldly on the first page the exact length of the article in words.
  4. Enclose a stamped and addressed envelope —not a book-post wrapper; manuscripts which see much of the world (and your earlier manuscripts will probably see a very great deal of the world) become damaged and ruinous by travelling in a book-post wrapper. Be sure that the envelope is sufficiently stamped, and be sure also that it is large enough to hold the manuscript.
  5. Never send out a dirty or ragged manuscript. The editor is prejudiced by the first sight of such a manuscript, for he knows at once that it has been refused elsewhere.

Her manuscript decently dispatched, the aspirant will feel happy and well satisfied till shortly before the earliest hour possible for its return. Then begins suspense. She will sit awaiting with counterfeit calm the postman. She hears his tread on the pavement outside; he mounts the steps, knocks; there is the gentle concussion of a packet against the bottom of the letter-box. Is it the article returned? She still keeps hope. Even when one day the large envelope, addressed in her own writing, is put into her hands, she says to herself that the editor has only returned it for a few trifling modifications. . . .

Invariably the thing does come back, sooner or later, with some curt circular of refusal. Moodiness and discouragement follow. But it is as wise to be annoyed by editors as to quarrel with the weather. Idle depression must instantly give place to renewed activity. The journalistic instinct, says Noble Simms in When a Man’s Single, “includes a determination not to be beaten as well as an aptitude for selecting the proper subjects.”

If at first you fail—as will certainly be the case; you may sell nothing whatever for twelve months—be quite sure that it is not—

Because there is a conspiracy among editors to suppress talented beginners.

Or because the market is overcrowded.

Or because your manuscripts have not been carefully read.

Or because editors do not know their business.

Try to convince yourself that the true reason is—

Because your stuff has not yet reached the (low) level of merely technical accomplishment which the average editor exacts.

Or because your topics are devoid of interest for any numerous body of persons.

Or because you persist in sending your articles to the wrong papers.

The first defect ought to be remedied speedily. The second is more difficult to deal with, and the third is most difficult. The eradication of these two will necessitate careful and continuous study of journalism in all its manifestations, and nothing but successive defeats will teach you how to be victorious. However, perseverance granted, the hour will come when an article of yours finds its way to the composing room. A day of ecstasy, upon which every disappointment is forgotten and the way forward seems straight and facile!

As soon as you can rely upon selling one article out of four, count it that you are progressing.

* * As to remuneration, a few papers send out cheques at regular intervals without putting their contributors to any trouble in the matter. Others, and among them some of the best, never pay till a demand is made. Some, including one or two organs of note, never pay till they are compelled to do so. If a remittance is not received during the month following publication, it is advisable to deliver an account, giving the date of appearance, exact title, and number of pages, columns, or inches.

Posted in Victorian England - General History | Tagged | 3 Comments

Tidbits on Mid-Victorian Era Menstrual Hygiene

Last night I needed some information on Mid-Victorian era terms for menstrual hygiene, so I did a few quick searches in Google Books, filtering between the years 1800 through 1880. Easy peasy,no? Well, it turns out that Regency and Victorian women didn’t have periods. This whole menstruation thing didn’t come into vogue until around 1880 and then every woman wanted to have a period and stores had to stock “napkins” and “belts”. I’m kidding, of course. I just couldn’t find much information in the years I needed.

So after hours of research on Google Books, I’m sharing with you my copious findings.


From Obstetrics: the Science and the Art, by Charles Delucena Meigs, published 1852:

“For the most part, as soon as the menses are perceived to begin to flow, the woman applies a T-bandage, consisting of a napkin, called the guard, folded like a cravat, which is pressed against the genitalia, while the ends are secured to a string or riband tied around the body above the hips; but I have seen some, not a few women, who assured me they had never used any other precaution than that of putting on a thicker petticoat for fear of the exposure of their condition. Such persons must be very slightly hemorrhagic, since the want of a guard-napkin would otherwise be sure to expose their condition by stains of blood upon their feet or stockings. Many female patients have assured me they never use less than a dozen napkins upon each catamenial occasion— and fifteen, and even twenty such changes are not very rare in the history of healthy menstruations. An ounce to a napkin is, perhaps, not an excessive computation.”

From A Manual of Bandaging: Adapted for Self-instruction, by Charles Henri Leonard, published 1876:


Use of Tampons from The Diseases of Woman, their causes and cure familiarly explained: with practical hints for their prevention, and for the preservation of female health, published in 1847

In those severe cases, when the gush of blood is almost instantaneous, and so great as to endanger life in a very short time, we may employ, temporarily, mechanical means to prevent it. The best of which, and the most readily prepared, is called the tampon or plug. It may be made of linen rag, cotton, or sponge, in the form of a ball, and introduced into the vagina like a pessary, It should be large enough to completely fill up the passage, but must not be introduced more than about two inches, for fear of irritating and inflaming the mouth of the womb, which is then very sensitive.

A very good way to make the plug is, to cut out round pieces of soft linen cloth, then pass a stout thread through the middle of each and press them close together, till the mass is au inch thick. The string is convenient for pulling it out again, and should always be attached to every one. A small bag filled with tan, or ashes, or sawdust soaked in alum water, is also very excellent. These plugs should not be withdrawn in a hurry, unless severe symptoms supervene, and when they are removed, care must be taken not to disturb or irritate the parts. If the danger be imminent, and there be not time, or means to prepare a tampon, the lips and vulva should be firmly pressed together with the hand, till other means can be procured.”

Below are  images of tampons from Minor Surgical Gynecology: a Manual of Uterine Diagnosis and the Lesser Technicalities of Gynecological Practice: For the Use of the Advanced Student and General Practitioner, by Paul Fortunatus Mundém, published 1880. These tampons are for medical use.



*Here’s an additional resource on Menstruation from Georgian London blog

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