Mounting a Horse in Regency England

The Countess of Coningsby in the Costume of the Charlton Hunt     circa 1760

RIDING on Horseback is, confessedly, one of the most graceful, agreeable, and salutary of feminine recreations. No attitude, perhaps, can be regarded as more elegant than that of a lady in the modern side-saddle; nor can any exercise be deemed capable of affording more rational and innocent delight, than that of the female equestrian.

From a Young Lady’s Equestrian Manual, published 1838.

With few exception, most of my female characters are accomplished horsewomen. I cannot claim to be accomplished, but I do love to ride. Still, sidesaddle, or aside, is a bit different. When writing my soon-to-be released novella, The Matchmaking Game, I needed to fine tune the details about how a lady mounted a horse. To this end, I turned to the aforementioned manual, and found the details that I wanted. Here they are:

The horse being thus left to the lady’s government, it is proper, that, in passing her hand through the reins she should not have suffered them to become so loose as to prevent her, when her hand is on the crutch, from having a light, but steady bearing on the bit, and thus keeping the horse to his position during the process of mounting.

She next places her left foot firmly in the right hand of the groom, or gentleman, in attendance who stoops to receive it. The lady then puts her left hand on his right shoulder; and, straightening her left knee, bears her weight on the assistant’s hand; which he gradually raises (rising, himself, at the same time) until she is seated on the saddle. During her elevation, she steadies, and even, if necessary, partly assists herself towards the saddle by her hands; one of which, it will be recollected, is placed on the crutch, and the other on her assistant’s shoulder. It is important that she should keep her foot firm and her knee straight.

Armed with this knowledge, here is how I wrote my scene in The Matchmaking Game, when the hero and heroine, childhood friends, first realize there may be more between them than friendship:

How kind of you to notice,” she said dryly. “Give your major a leg up?”

With a smile at her reference to the honorary rank he’d given her at the ball, Evan dismounted. He laced his fingers together so she could mount her horse. A pert smile came his way before she placed her left foot in his cupped hands. She put one hand on his shoulder to steady herself as he boosted her up. Her soft body brushed his arm and chest. Her scent, something soft and feminine he could not name, tingled his senses. Mere inches away, her smooth cheek and moist lips taunted him. His chest squeezed and his knees wobbled. Awareness of her, of the desirable woman she had become, rendered him immobile. She glanced at him, one brow raised, and a half smile curving those luscious lips. A burning energy formed in the middle of his stomach and shot outward like sunbursts.

She parted those lips and spoke. “Am I too heavy for a big, strong man like you?”

“Er, no. Of course not.” He cleared his throat again and boosted her up with a bit too much force.

Despite his aggressive boost, she placed her right leg over the leg rest of the side saddle and found her balance. She settled the long, heavy skirts of her riding habit around her while he helped position her left foot in the stirrup.

With the reins in one hand and her riding crop in the other, she eyed him with an expectant lift to her brows. “Shall we?”

The Matchmaking Game will be released April 18, 2017 and is available now for pre-order here

 

 

 

Riding Sidesaddle in Regency England

Riding sidesaddle was the epitome of genteel upbringing for the Regency lady. It provided a convenient form of transportation, a good method of obtaining fresh air and exercise, and a great way to socialize–especially with gentlemen 😉 . Riding sidesaddle also effectively proclaimed one’s wealth and status. Sometime during the 17th Century, ladies started riding sidesaddle, also known as aside. Prior to that they rode astride or sat in an awkward riding seat and hung on for dear life.

In order for a lady to be a good rider in Regency England, she had to have both time and money. She must take riding lessons, have time to practice the art of riding, and be wealthy enough to afford a horse trained as a lady’s mount. Work horses could simply graze; riding horses called for more expenses–a stable, feed, grooms, tack, farrier fees, etc. A lady competently riding aside, combined with a stylish riding habit, spoke louder than words of her social standing.

Riding habits were usually made by tailors, although some sources cite ladies dressmakers, or modistes, making riding habits, too. Riding habits included a fitted bodice with long sleeves, or sometimes a spencer, that fit well through the torso and shoulders. A long, full train covered the legs while riding. Regency ladies’ riding habits did not include a split skirt–those didn’t appear until the late Victorian Era. They seem to have come in a variety of fabrics, depending on weather, velvet being very popular.

Little girls were taught to ride astride on a pony or donkey. Then, as they grew in competence and size, they learned to a sidesaddle and usually graduated to a horse. This was a sign of skill and distinction. In urban areas, riding donkeys seemed to be pretty common, but riding in London seemed to require a beautiful horse, since in London, appearances became crucial.

Very few grown ladies rode astride in the city or country; not only was it unladylike and downright scandalous, it could be viewed as a declaration of one’s incompetence at riding side saddle.

Jane Austen herself didn’t learn to ride until nearly at the end of her life. Historians believe Jane had a fear of riding. If this is true, it may be due to a dear friend of the Austen family being killed while riding. Jane’s personal records cite this loss. It’s also possible that Jane didn’t ride in her youth because her family simply didn’t have the money for such a luxury. Most of her novels suggest a certain disapproval of ladies riding, and in a few cases, a touch of envy.

The Countess of Coningsby in the Costume of the Charlton Hunt, circa 1760

A common misconception about riding sidesaddle is that it was uncomfortable. In truth, it’s actually comfortable. The seat and pommel are both padded. In addition, one does not sit twisted, but rather with one’s back straight. It’s a lot like sitting in a chair with the right leg crossed over the left. I often sit sideways on the sofa with one knee propped up higher than the other. This is not much different than riding sidesaddle.

Others claim that riding aside is difficult. However, many women today who learn sidesaddle prefer it to astride. Both ways of riding are more about balance. When I ride astride, especially if the horse is large, I get sore in the soft tissue in my inner legs. Riding more frequently would help, I am sure, but sidesaddle would at least alleviate discomfort due to the girth of a horse.

Another myth is that it’s hard to get on a horse with a sidesaddle. Actually, one only needs a mounting block to mount a horse. Of course, having a handsome gentlemen nearby to give on a “leg up” is always welcome 🙂 Also, a trained lady’s mount stands very still for mounting or dismounting, they have a smooth gait, a light mouth, and are a pleasure to ride.

Many critics claim that it’s easy to fall off and therefore dangerous to ride aside. This is true of riding in general. Some riders, as my writer friend and horse expert Shannon Donnelly says, could fall off a merry-go-round horse; other riders can stay on anything–even a bucking bronco.  Look at rodeo riders. They don’t rely on strength; they stay on by keeping their center of gravity over the horse. Again, riding is all about balance and skill whether a person rides astride or sidesaddle.

Another common myth about riding aside is that one can’t gallop or jump. Again, this goes to skill–a skilled rider and well-trained horse can jump, gallop and do haute echole (dressage movements)–anything that can be done astride can also be done sidesaddle. There are numerous documented recordings of Georgian and Regency ladies riding side saddle as they “rode to hounds” which required a fast pace and much skill to charge through the country side after a pack of hounds chasing a fox.

Riding sidesaddle is fun! Part of the trick is a well-trained horse. Some horses have a harder time adapting to his rider’s legs both on one side but others pick up on it quickly.

Now, like everything, the side saddle has evolved. However, the Regency side saddle was very similar to today’s side saddle. The main differences are that there was no no leaping horn, and the Regency stirrup is a ‘slipper stirrup’ which is different from today’s.

Some images from the Regency Era show ladies riding with a sort of belt wrapped around them. It’s not clear to me if it’s attached to the saddle or not. It’s possible it was merely a way of keeping a lady’s skirts down flat, since I can’t imagine any woman would have secured herself to the saddle.

Is today’s saddle safer? Probably. But many Regency ladies managed to ride anywhere they wanted, and as fast as they wanted, just fine, thank you very much.

Sources:

Much of this information came through years of research. However, some recent sources are:

Shannon Donnelly on Historical Hussies

Jill Ottman on the Jane Austen Centre of North America

Kathy Blee on Ladies Ride Aside

Regency Gentlemen’s Greatcoats

“Greatcoat” is a broad term for any Regency overcoat, also referred to as a “surtout” which gentlemen wore during Regency England. Greatcoats were heavy wool coats worn over the regular a gentlemen’s attire, providing protection from cold and rain. Wool is remarkably warm even when wet, and would have been a welcome layer against harsh weather conditions. Most styles of gentlemen’s greatcoats were long, full, and sported pockets.

The boxcoat had several short capes. Having a number of capes was a way of showing off one’s taste and wealth, due to the cost of the additional fabric and labor. The additional capes would also have provided extra layers of warmth. The name is attributed to the wearing of coachmen who drove the coaches from the driver’s box, which seems contradictory to me since I doubt very much coachmen were considered wealthy. Perhaps their kind employers supplied them. Either way, they would have been an essential part of a coachmen’s wardrobe since they drove out in the open during all kinds of weather. In this picture circa 1811 to the left, this coat has a cape, which means it was a Boxcoat. Notice the almost Sherlock Holmes-style of beaver hat? 

The demi-surtout, pictured to the right, was form fitting at the torso and flared a little around the legs to allow freedom of movement. Pictured is a demi-surtout from the late Regency/early Victorian Era, circa 1825, with a fitted waist and cape. It also has a collar which could be turned up against wind or rain.

Cloaks were still in fashion in the Regency but gentlemen were more likely to wear cloaks as they traveled or as formal wear. Sometimes these came with shoulder pads. They were often lined with silk in rich colors. The cloak pictured to the left appears to made of velvet, signifying, along with his black tailcoat, pantaloons, and dancing slippers, that this gentleman is dressed for a formal occasion. 

So, the number and type of coat your Regency hero wears will be a signal to others how fashionable, or how wealthy (or both) he is.

Regency Gentlemen’s Coats

 In Regency England, the term “coat” does not refer to outerwear. That article of clothing is called a greatcoat or overcoat. Instead, “coat” always referred to a tailcoat which was an indispensable part of every gentleman’s daily wear. Tailcoats were made from fine wool and finished with broadcloth, merino, or kerseymere.

Walking coats

The Morning Coat or Riding Coat. This is the informal coat of a gentleman’s clothing. Its distinguishing characteristics are the front edges which slope to the round-edged tails in back. Generally, the tails of the riding coat were a little shorter than the walking coat but the lines on that distinction seem a bit blurry. A blue morning coat with buff or tan breeches was considered the epitome of fashionable casual wear. Other popular colors included olive, bottle-green, and even plum. Green and brown also show up frequently but those seem to be primarily for country living. Morning coats or riding coats were usually double-breasted, and could be customized with a pocket(s) in the back by the tails. Buttons in silver or brass seemed to be popular, based on the fashion plates I have studied.

Tailcoat and trousers

The dress coat. Similar to day’s “tux and tails,” the dress coat was short through the trunk and cut straight across to allow the waistcoat to peek out below. It had long, square tails in back. This was fashionable and appropriate for formal occasions. Black was the most formal but I often see engravings of gray and blue as well, as shown in the picture to the right. Formal tailcoats were made of very fine wool and given a dress finish called “superfine.” Often the dress coats themselves were called simply “superfine.” Notice this gentleman to the right is wearing trousers would were just starting to emerge in the late Regency. Buttons were usually covered with matching cloth.

Victorian Frockcoats

The Frockcoat. Often I find the term frockcoat used interchangeably with tailcoat and the term I used in most of my books I have written thus far. Recently, however, I discovered that the frockcoat belonged to the early Georgian Era and though it was re-introduced late in the Regency, didn’t gain popularity until the Victorian Era. The two stylish gentleman to the left are wearing Victorian frockcoats. The one on the far side is also wearing trousers, and the other is wearing breeches and riding boots, showing that transitional phase. By the late Victorian, knee breeches were pretty much only worn as riding attire. But I digress. The frockcoat had a full of skirt the same length all around and no tails. It also had room for pockets in the side. It opened down the front to reveal the waistcoat. This coat, like the morning or riding coat, was also made of very fine wool.

During the Regency, Georgian-style frockcoats were required court attire. They were very ornate, with brocade or heavy-embroidery such as what you see in pictures of George Washington and other Georgian-Era gentlemen. Court costume included trimming such as fur, ribbons, and gold or silver-threaded lace. Court frockcoats were not cut in at the waist but had a more square shape, and they had long elegant tails.

Valentine’s Day in Regency England

Celebrating Valentine’s Day in Regency England was very different from the way we celebrate it today. It consisted of gentlemen and ladies–even people of all classes–exchanging hand-made cards with hand-written verses. During the Victorian Era, Valentine’s Day cards became mass produced, but in the Regency, such a gesture required more thought and care.

Cards sent were as varied as the senders. Some were made with gilt-edged paper, trimmed with lace–real lace, not paper lace since that had not yet been invented. They could be embossed or have gold overlay or even with sequins. Those who could not afford such luxuries made them out of simple paper, which was still an expensive commodity for the less affluent. Flowers seemed to be the most common decoration but cards were also decorated with hearts, birds, and cupids.

Those who fancied themselves poetic wrote their own verses but most probably copied verses from known poets, or even from books that provided special, Valentine’s Day messages. These books even provided replies for the lady to use to encourage or dash the hopes of her admirer. The verse in the card to the right says (if I deciphered the handwriting correctly):

I dream and my heart consuming lay
On cupid’s burning shrine
I thought he stole my heart away
And placed it near to thine.

Here is a sad verse from a Valentine’s Day card from 1790:

My dear the Heart which you behold,
Will break when you the same unfold,
Even so my heart with lovesick pain,
Sure wounded is and breaks in twain.

This seems to have been written by someone who had already been rejected but needed the recipient to know of his pain and broken-hearted devotion.

Other sources cite much more sordid Valentine verses, much to the horror of the parents whose daughters received such bawdy notes.

Valentine’s Day in Regency England was a day to celebrate love, or at least, interest, for all classes. What I find puzzling is that it was considered ill-mannered during the Regency to exchange letters or notes between unmarried ladies and gentlemen. However, this practice seems to have been largely ignored on Valentine’s Day. Reportedly, the post was inundated with mail on that day filled with Valentine’s Day cards exchanged between the young and young at heart. I found no mention of Valentine’s Day cards exchanged between married couples. They could have been, but that didn’t seem to be a common practice. But don’t tell my husband that 😉

If you’d like to learn more about the history of Valentine’s Day, check out my post: Will the Real Valentine Please Step Forward.

There are some beautiful Regency Valentine’s Day cards on auction here:

Sources:

Ruth Axtell’s Reflections on Valentine’s Day at the Christian Regency blog

Susan Holloway’s Father Warns Against Depravity on Two Nerdy History Girls

 

Tartans, Clans, and Sir Walter Scott

by Guest Blogger Josi Kilpack

My newest novel Lady of the Lakes: The True Love Story of Sir Walter Scott is my first novel set in Scotland. Having seen Braveheart once upon a time and being an avid fan of Shawn Connery’s brogue wasn’t quite enough. In order to tell the story as best I could I had to learn the history and the details of daily life in Scotland at the turn of the 19th century. So many details! One aspect I learned a great deal about was the Scottish tartan and I’m excited to share some of those details here, hopefully clear up some misconceptions that I certainly had about what is such a strong association with all of Scotland. I must put in a disclaimer that I am new to Scotland research and I know there are a lot of experts around this blog, so please correct me if I got anything wrong. I promise I can take it!

 One of the first things I learned is that as a modern American I think of “plaid” as a pattern—plaid pants, for example (no, I don’t own any 🙂 ) that guy on the MTV show that painted his parents house plaid. The pattern isn’t called plaid in Scotland, however, it’s tartan, but means the same thing—the pattern, essentially an adjective. When a Scotsman talks about a “plaid” he’s using it as a noun, and he’s referring to a woven wool blanket of tartan design. Clear as mud? 🙂

I also learned that the tartans we currently associate with different clans—for example I descend through Clan MacArthur which has its own tartan shown here—were not designated in that way prior to 1800. The colors and patterns were based on what plants were available in the area to make the dyes. It was only later, when the tartan was reintroduced, that specific tartans were more or less “assigned” to specific clans. There are other tartans that are not assigned to a specific clan, and therefore are considered generic.

And yes, I said the tartan was “Reintroduced,” another interesting tidbit I stumbled over.

I was disappointed to learn that during the years when Walter Scott was a young man, kilts and tartans were decidedly … out of fashion. After the Highland clans rose up in the ill-fated rebellions against the British crown in the 1740’s, wearing the tartan—any version of it—in public was against the law thanks to the Dress Act of 1746. The law remained in place for nearly 40 years, until it was repealed in 1782 by Parliament. Even after the repeal, however, an entire generation had become accustomed to not wearing the symbolic patterns of their ancestral clans and traditional dress and style was very similar to that of England. In 1822, when King George IV visited Edenborough—the first monarch in well over a hundred years to travel to Scotland—Walter Scott wore a kilt of Campbell tartan for the official ceremony where he was knighted a baronet. Wearing the “short kilt” became a public statement and has since become one of the strongest symbols we have of the country.

The Lady of the Lake

Walter Scott has three passions: Scotland, poetry, and Mina Stuart. Though she is young and they are from different stations in society, Walter is certain their love is meant to be. For years, he has courted her through love letters. She is the sunshine of his soul.
 
Though Mina shares Walter’s love of literature and romantic temperament, it’s hard for her to know if she truly loves him or if she has only been dazzled by his flattery. When she meets the handsome and charming William Forbes, her heart is challenged. Who will she choose?
 
But as every poet knows, “the course of true love never did run smooth,” and on one windy day in the lake country, Walter meets Charlotte.

At twenty-six, Charlotte Carpenter believes she will never find love. After all, she is a Catholic-born Frenchwoman living in London with a family history shadowed by scandal. Though quiet, practical, and determined to live a life of independence, her heart longs for someone to love her and a place to call home.
 
Passion and promises collide as Walter, Mina, and Charlotte must each decide the course for their futures. What are they each willing to risk to find love and be loved in return?

Josi Kilpack is the author of twenty-five novels—including the twelve-volume Sadie Hoffmiller culinary mystery series—one cookbook, and a participant in several co-authors projects and anthologies. She is a four-time Whitney award winner, including Novel of the year 2015, and winner of the Utah Best in State for fiction. She is currently writing historical romance. Josi loves to bake, sleep, read, and travel. She doesn’t like to exercise, do yard work, or learn how to do new things but she does them anyway. She and her husband, Lee, are the parents of four children and live in Northern Utah.

New Year’s Traditions Through History

Celebrating the New Year is an ancient custom, but how people celebrate it is an ongoing evolution dating back centuries. During the Regency, and before, one tradition was to clean the house thoroughly, including ashes in the hearth, scraps, and rags, and even eating or discarding any perishable food in order to start the year fresh, discarding bad luck and inviting good luck.

A less vigorous tradition required a gathering of family in a circle while the head of the household opened the front door and bad doors at midnight to “usher out the old, and bring in the new,” with the Old Year leaving through the back and the New Year coming as a welcome friend in the front. The more superstitious probably viewed this as a way to usher out bad luck and invite good. Personally, I see it as a way to let out the warmth and let in the cold.

Among young women of marriageable age, a favored tradition was to try to be the first one to draw water from the well, known as “creaming the well.” The lucky woman to get the first bucket of water would marry that year, according to superstition. If she could get the young man of her desires to drink this favored water before the end of the day, she had a better chance that he’d propose. Other traditions included washing a cow’s udder in this water so the cow might give more milk in the coming year.

In some cultures, prior to the 18th century, Christmas was for parties and gatherings. People exchanged gifts on New Year’s Day.

A well-beloved tradition to bring in the New Year was singing Old Lang Syne, which menas the old long since, or days gone by. Originally a traditional Scottish song, the Scottish poet, Robert Burns, wrote down the lyrics and published it in 1796. This song caught on quickly and spread to much of the English-speaking world. Many now sing it at the stroke of midnight.

Our family’s New Year’s celebration this year included games and food with friends, a countdown, a kiss between couples, and singing this traditional song.

What are your favorite traditions to celebrate the New Year?

 

Sources:

A Jane Austen Christmas: Regency Christmas Traditions, by Maria Grace – Preview & Exclusive Excerpt

Regency Christmas Traditions: Ringing in the New Year

A Regency Primer on Christmastide & New Year’s

Mistletoe Magic and Wassail

20161202_141654Remember the holiday tune “Here we come a-wassailing?”

Here we come a-wassailing among the leaves so green;
Here we come a-wand’ring so fair to be seen.
Love and joy come to you, And to you your wassail too;
And God bless you and send you a happy New Year.  And God bless you a happy New Year.

Ever wonder what a-wassailing means?

It means to sing for some wassail. I guess it’s kinda like singing for your supper, only the carolers go from place to place hoping for a nip of the traditional hot beverage.

One of my winter and holiday favorites is Wassail, also know as spiced hot apple cider. It’s one of those things it’s hard to get wrong. All the recipes I’ve tried are yummy and satisfying. Some include citrus such as lemon and orange. Traditionally, it contains alcohol such as wine or rum or even ale, but I don’t drink alcohol so I make it without.  No matter how you make it, wassail is a comfort for cold winter nights as well as a solution for a sweet craving. A few years ago, a friend shared with me her trick: apricot juice. It adds a richness and complexity other recipes don’t have.

wassailHere it is:

1 large jug of apple cider

1 can of apricot juice

3 cinnamon sticks

4 nutmeg cloves

a dash of nutmeg

a dash of allspice

Optional: orange or lemon slices

All of these can be adjusted according to taste so you may want to experiment.

Simmer for at least an hour but you can simmer all day. It does get stronger and stronger so after several hours, you may want to tone it down with a bit more apple cider. It makes the house smell heavenly!

mistletoe-magic2In my Christmas novella, Mistletoe Magic, the heroine adores the wassail her friend’s mother makes and will go to great lengths to get the recipe…as well as take advantage of the mistletoe at the annual Christmas ball.

Order here on Amazon

Order here on Smashwords

 

Note: The Colonial Williamsburg blog has lots of fun history behind this traditional drink.

The King’s Theatre, London

250px-opera_house_haymarket_editedToday a prominent theater in London is the the Haymarket Opera house, also known as the Queen’s theater which has shown critically-acclaimed, Broadway-style productions such as Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera. This theatre has a long history from the time of Queen Anne. It has gone by many names: the Queen’s, the King’s, Her Majesty’s, His Majesty’s, and even simply, The Opera House.

In 1789, this theatre suffered near-total destruction due to a fire believed to be set by a disgruntled ex-employee. It again suffered that same tragedy in 1867. Each time, it was rebuilt. In 1890’s it was demolished and rebuilt to include “modern” features. Today, it is still decorated with a definite flair for the Edwardian Era.

The theatre’s financial success has undergone the same turbulence as its structure. Initially, the Opera realized only modest success in London, and it faced closures on and off throughout its existence. It wasn’t until Handel performed that such entertainment became popular. Between 1785 and 1830, if featured works by sixteen different composers.

Operas and ballets were performed in this theatre, and soon going to the theatre became a fashionable pastime for the rich and poor alike, with seating to accommodate every income level. Those wealthy enough to purchase seats in the boxes were spared having the sit with those of the lower classes, which, of course, members of the beau monde would have found intolerable. Over time, going to the theatre to see and be seen became more important than watching the production and there are numerous reports of the audience noise level being so loud that one could hardly hear the music or singing.

haymarket-fig45Not every Opera house had an orchestra pit, but this was did as of a remodeling  1782. In addition to adding the pit, stage was reduced in depth to add length to an auditorium planned on the conventional lines of an Italian opera house, with a large pit and five shallow tiers of horseshoe form.

According to British History Online:

George Saunders, in his Treatise on Theatres (1790), describes the building at this stage of its existence. ‘The form was then made an oblong rounded off at the end opposite the stage. The length was, from the stage-front [apron] to the opposite boxes, about 58 feet, and 23 feet more to the scene; the breadth between the boxes 43 feet; and the height 44 feet from the centre of the pit to the ceiling. There were three ranges of boxes, 34 in each range, besides 18 in a line with the gallery; in all 116, allowing the space of two for entrances into the pit. Each box was from 5 to 6 feet wide, from 7 to 7 feet 6 inches high, and 6 feet deep.’

haymarket-fig46‘…a chain of foyers extended across the north end. The carriage entrance was in the Haymarket, where patrons passed through a vestibule into an apse-ended hall containing the grand staircase. The short middle flight descended to the pit and the two side flights ascended to the second-tier level, where the horseshoe corridor serving the principal boxes was approached by way of two linked foyers, an octagon and a rotunda, the last centred on the main axis of the auditorium. West of the rotunda was an oblong hall containing the staircase from the chairs’ entrance in Market Lane. All the box corridors were served by two staircases, rising in semi-circular wells formed in the north-east and north-west spandrels. The ‘portrait’ plan shows secondary staircases of spiral form at the proscenium end of the corridors, but these, if built, would have been demolished in 1796 when the auditorium was lengthened. Novosielski’s original arrangement of the auditorium is shown in an engraved ‘Plan of the Boxes of the New King’s Theatre—September 1790’. (fn. 206) There were five closely spaced tiers of horseshoe form, the first three each divided into 37 boxes. The fourth tier contained the gallery with 13 boxes on each side. The central part of the fifth tier was omitted to give headroom for the gallery, and each arm contained 13 boxes. In all, there were 163 boxes in the tiers, and 8 pit-boxes on each side of the capacious pit.’

In my book, Heart Strings, I take a deeper look at the lives of those who performed in the King’s Theatre through the eyes of my hero and heroine who are musicians in the orchestra.

Here is the backcover blurb from my newest novel, Heart Strings:

heartstrings2_fullGently bred young ladies don’t run away from home to find employment, but when forced to choose between marrying a brutish oaf or becoming another man’s mistress, Susanna makes an unconventional decision. Following her passion for music, she flees to London with dreams of securing a position as a harpist. Becoming entangled with a handsome violinist who calls himself Kit, but who seems more an aristocrat than an ordinary musician, may be even more problematic than sleeping in the streets. Kit’s attention is captured by Susanna’s breath-taking talent, admirable grace, and winsome smiles…until a lawman exposes the new harpist both a runaway bride and a thief. Now Kit must not only choose between his better judgement and his heart, but must also embrace the life to which he swore he’d never return.

Available on Amazon.

 

Sources:
British History Online

Theatre Historian, Margaret Evans Porter