When my son was growing up, I often told him that there are no new conversations. It might be Dad can I borrow the car instead of Dad can I borrow the carriage, but basic human needs have not changed. What has changed is the way we go about them.
Since I’ve already mentioned carriages, let’s talk about how one got around during the Regency. Walking was big. I mean really big. Your typical member of the gentry, which includes aristocrats, had at least one country estate where they spend part of the year. Often times these estates were close to a village, market town, or regular town where it was safe to walk to and from the estate. It wasn’t unusual for a lady to walk several miles at a time. An important point came up recently in another conversation, so I’ll mention it here. There were no parking lots. Therefore, if one took a coach or carriage to the village or town, a servant would have to take care of the horses while the lady or gentleman walked around or shopped. In places such as Bath, the streets were so steep that chairs carried by servants or hired men were used to carry one. Horses and carriages were only used for out of town excursions. Brighton was, and still is, a very walkable town. Even in Mayfair, shops and parks were not far apart.
As you can quickly understand, it was many times much easier to walk than take a carriage. Walking also gave one time alone, time with a friend to talk, and time for a courting couple to get to know one another. As with any outdoor excursions, ladies would where half-boots and gentlemen would wear boots. A lady caught outside walking in slippers would not only ruin them quickly, but wasn’t planning to be outside for long. An example would be strolling in a private garden during a party.
Private carriages were another form of transportation and enjoyment. Conveyances of the included dog carts, usually used for small children and pulled by large dogs. I had a Great Danes who loved to pull things along. Pony carts, sporting carriages such as curricles, gigs, phaetons, and tilburys were driven by both ladies and gentlemen. Coaches were usually closed vehicles. Large ones were used for traveling distances and smaller ones were used for Town. There were also convertible carriages such as landaus and barouches. Coaches, landaus and barouches were all driven by a coachman, not the lady or gentleman. Public carriages included the mail coach, stage coach, and the hackney which was their version of a taxi cab. It was all the crack to be seen in an open carriage during the Grand Strut in Hyde Park.
It must be remembered that all private carriages and coaches were bespoke, thus the purchaser could buy what he or she wanted. Although, one could find a ready made vehicle.
Naturally, ladies had clothing for the occasion in the form of a carriage gown.
The week passed quickly. She bought a phaeton for Charlotte and a curricle for herself, as well as one large town coach and a smaller one. She also gave in to her temptation for a landau. Even if some people thought it was an old woman’s carriage. “Truly, Phoebe, it will be so practical with all the children.”
Phoebe’s eyes danced. “If you say so.”
Grace snoodled around the pale yellow conveyance. “It is, and it seats six, maybe even seven. The top goes up and down, so it may be used no matter the weather. I assure you, it’s just what I need, and I’ll require more horses as well.”
“You’re in luck, my uncle Henry is in Town, and he has a very good eye. Make a list of what you want, and I shall ask him to procure them for you.”
“Thank you. I don’t know what I would have done without your help.”
Her friend laughed. “No, no, it’s my pleasure, and I have had a lot of fun.”
Grace leaned back against the landau. “I shall also need more grooms.”