Thursday, June 4, 2015

Who Drives in Rotten Row?

Thursday, June 4, 2015
Hyde Park Corner
Loretta reports:

It’s been a while since I wrote my traditional Regency stories, and I’m not sure whether I allowed my characters to travel in a carriage in Rotten Row or realized this would be a faux pas. I’ve written about it before (here—with maps!)

“The right to drive along the Row in a carriage remained the prerogative of the reigning sovereign; as late as 1832, a map of London published by the United Kingdom Newspaper marked Rotten Row as ‘The King’s Private Road.’”
—Joyce Bellamy, Hyde Park for Horsemanship (1975)

Samuel Sidney’s Book of the Horse (1880) confirms this.
Rotten Row

As does Baron Redesdale’s Memories (1916)

Yet searching online leads to confusion. I find many books, by 19th C as well as recent authors, referring to driving in Rotten Row. Did these writers confuse Rotten Row with the carriage road running more or less parallel to it? A blog post indicates the Row was not restricted to riders until 1834, and certainly some caricatures seem to support this.Some 19th C authors describing Hyde Park say the rule was not in effect until Queen Victoria’s time, while others believe it dates to King Charles II or King William IV.

In any event, Queen Victoria was in no doubt whatsoever about her prerogative.
The Queen's Drive
Since my current books are set after 1830, I feel comfortable keeping my fictional carriages off Rotten Row.
Hyde Park after 1736-Larwood
Images: George Cruikshank, “The Arrival, or Western Entrance to Cockney Land” (first published in The English Spy 1825);  "Out of Place" from Punch, scanned from Hyde Park for Horsemanship; Hyde Park after 1735 from Larwood, The Story of the London Parks (1874).

Clicking on the image will enlarge it.  Clicking on the caption will allow you to read at the source, where you can learn more and enlarge images as needed.


TheVintageGrace said...

Where would you recommend your characters to drive around, if rotten row is out of bounds? Are there any other fashionable parks/routes/roads, where one would drive around and show off their pretty matching pairs, and flashy carriages?

LorettaChase said...

As the maps show, there are carriage roads through Hyde Park and the other parks. If you click on the link to the previous post and enlarge the map you'll see Rotten Row labeled. The other byways are OK for carriages, so far as I understand. Rotten Row, aka the King's Private Road, is the only one that's out of bounds.The photo image on the "Sunday Visit to Hyde Park" post gives a sense of how things divide, though it's much later.

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