Because it's such a splendid, sunny day, I thought we'd take our demi-landau out for ride in the park.
Well, okay, so it's not exactly ours. It's part of the Colonial Williamsburg carriage collection, and the oldest of the original (not replica) ones. Also known as a diligence or chariot, the demi-landau was a variety of private carriage popular well into the 19th c. With a single seat facing forward (an ordinary landau is larger, with two facing seats), they offered passengers an unobstructed view for traveling, particularly if driven by a postilion on horseback. According to our favorite CW driver Susan Cochrane (and our driver for today), postilion is also easier on the driver; it's much more comfortable to ride in as saddle for a day's journey than on a hard coach box.
The convertibles of their day, demi-landaus featured a folding leather top, or head, that could be folded back while the front part of the carriage was removed to make it open. Those S-shaped pieces on the top are part of the folding mechanism, and on a fancy carriage these might be silver-plated. (Those S-shaped bars can also be seen today on certain customized sedan automobiles, where they're called "landau irons.")
Demi-landaus were the most widely used form of personal carriage. Their smaller size made them useful for maneuvering narrow city streets as well as for country roads, and the smaller size also made them more economical. A nicely appointed demi-landau cost around £115. This was still out of the price range of the vast majority of 18th c. Englishmen, but for the rising middle class, a demi-landau was often the first prestigious step in "keeping" a carriage. Regency fans take note: Jane Austen and her characters would have been completely at home in a demi-landau, too. For more about carriages of all kinds, including up-to-date prices for 1794, check out William Fulton's Treatis on Carriages: Comprehending Coaches, Chariots, Phaetons, Curricles, Whiskeys, etc.
But enough talk. Here's another of my mini-videos to give you a short ride in the CW demi-landau. Take special note of how those folk of the middling sort, riding packed together in a public conveyance, will all gawk at you in envious wonder as you pass them in your solitary splendor.