Sunday, November 29, 2009

Men Behaving Badly: Sir Charles Sedley

Sunday, November 29, 2009
Susan reports:

Welcome back from the holiday!

My most recent books have been set in Restoration England, during the reign of King Charles II (1660-1685.) This was a very good time for very bad gentlemen, when just about any excess could be explained away if one had a title, or at least was friends with the King.

Sir Charles Sedley (1639-1701) was a wealthy, well-connected baronet who wrote witty plays and poetry, played tennis with the King, dabbled in diplomacy, and eventually became a respectable politician in the House of Commons. He looks innocuous enough, left, but in 1663, he was best known for often being "rhetorically drunk", and also for one particularly bad example of bad-boy-dom, so scandalous that Samuel Johnson was still sputtering over it a century later:

Sir Charles Sedley, [Lord Buckhurst], and Sir Thomas Ogle, got drunk at the Cock [a notorious tavern] in Bow Street, by Covent Garden, and going into the balcony exposed themselves to the populace below in very indecent postures. At last, as they grew warmer, Sedley stood forth naked, and harangued the populace in such profane language, that the publick indignation was awakened; the crowd attempted to force the door, and being repulsed, drove at the performers with stones, and broke the windows of the house.  For this misdemeanour, [the three gentlemen] were indicted, and Sedley was fined five hundred pounds....Sedley employed [his friend Harry] Killigrew to procure a remission from the King, but (mark the friendship of the dissolute!) they begged the fine for themselves, and exacted it to the last groat.

For a far more frank telling of these frat-house-style shenanigans, see Samuel Pepys's diary entry – scroll down to the first annotation, and hold on to your coffee cup.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving Break

Monday, November 23, 2009

Loretta reports:

Over the next few days, like many of our U.S. readers, Susan & I will be getting ready for the Thanksgiving holiday. Unlike most of you, in between the cooking and eating we'll also be working on the revisions of our books. That's why we're taking a Thanksgiving break from the blog.

Meanwhile, I humbly suggest you stop by Plimoth Plantation. The visit, physical or online, may help recharge your Thanksgiving batteries. You can find out what the English settlers were thankful for and what they ate at that gathering in 1621, and many other interesting things, including the fact that no, they didn't look like the Pilgrims you think you knew.

Here's Winslow's description (in modern English) of what happened:

Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after have a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors; they four in one day killed as much fowl, as with a little help beside, served the company almost a week, at which time amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest King Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain, and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.

Here you can find out what he might have sounded like.

If you're feeling especially nerdy, you might want to tackle Bradford's History of Plymouth Plantation.

We'll return to our regularly scheduled blogging next Monday, when you can expect more weird and wonderful historical nerdiness.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Pins & Pinning

Friday, November 20, 2009
Susan reports:

The only time most modern people have any contact with a straight pin is trying to wrestle one free from the packaging of a new dress shirt. But to an 18th c. lady, the straight pin wasn't a nuisance.  It was a necessity.

Not only were pins used in sewing and mending, but they were also employed to fasten clothes together: a gentleman's neckcloth, the front bodice of a lady's gown (as shown in the detail, below right, of the gown seen here earlier this week), even a baby's diapers.  Pins were most commonly purchased in a milliner's shop (see Loretta's blog.)

The picture, above left, shows a selection of replica 18th c. pins: the smaller ones are for sewing, while the longer ones are "dressing pins."  
The dressing pins have the larger heads, formed
as the wire is twisted around the unsharpened end.  The gold-toned pins are made of brass, with the advantage that they did not rust; the silver-toned ones are steel, which holds a sharper point than the brass, but rusts.

Also in the above photo is a reproduction of an original paper packet that would have held two or three dozen pins. Henry Halles was one of the largest pin manufacturers in 18th c. England; the industry was centered in the London neighborhood of Whitechapel.

Pins were so essential to the 18th c. lady that the British trade embargoes against American colonists during the Revolution made their price skyrocket in Boston and other colonial cities. Ladies could live without tea.  Pins were quite another matter.  Abigail Adams famously wrote from Massachusetts to her husband John in London in 1775, begging him to "purchase me a bundle of pins & put them in your trunk for me. The cry for pins [in Boston] is so great, that what I used to buy for seven shillings and sixpence, are now twenty shillings, and not to be had for that."

Many thanks to tailor Mark Hutter of Colonial Williamsburg for both his pins, and his considerable knowledge. 


Loretta reports:

I've been writing historical romance for a hundred years or so now, and researching diligently all the while. What this does mainly is show me how much I don't know. No surprise then, that I learned some new things at the Milliner's Shop in Colonial Williamsburg.

I learned, for instance, that the milliner sold more than clothing. You could buy snuff from her. And fans and gloves and ribbons and pins. And other stuff I forgot to write down. You could buy these beaded necklaces, too.

I've done some research on jewelry for a couple of my books: the precious gems a nobleman might bestow upon the heroine or his mistress. Those necklaces from Rundell & Bridge and other high end jewelers fastened with gold clasps.

Here's the new thing I learned in CW: The ones in the photo have, as you see, loops covered with thread. The lady ties them at the back of her neck with a ribbon.

The little package in the upper right corner holds straight pins. They're made of steel and, as you may be able to read, they come from London, as does so much else at this time.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

More from Williamsburg: Real Fashion

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Susan reports:

Most of the time when we see examples of historic dress, it's in a picture or on a museum mannequin behind protective glass.  But whatever the era, clothes are never meant to stand still, or even languish on a hanger.  They need someone to wear them to make them come alive.  They need to move with the wearer, emphasising this feature or masking that one, and as the wearer adds his or her own personal touches and accessories, the clothes become them.  That's 

But with fragile antique textiles, that's also almost impossible to achieve.  One of the things I love most about watching the interpreters in the streets and shops of Colonial Williamsburg  is seeing how well they wear their replica clothing.  They're fashion plates in action.  

The seductive sway of a lady's petticoats over her hoops becomes apparent as she walks, and the well-designed practicality of a gentleman's coat is easy to see when the gentleman's on his horse. This is all due to CW's amazing Costume Design Center, a group as dedicated to research and accuracy as they are to creating beautiful clothing.  

But the wearers themselves make the real difference.  The gentleman (interpreter Scott Greene) on horseback here is portraying His Excellency the Right Honorable John Earl of Dunmore, His Majesty's Governor of Virginia (remember his carriage, here and here?) Even dressed casually for a day of surveying his colonial holdings, by his posture and the ease with which he rides he reflects every bit of the privilege and authority that his elegant clothing represents.  

The mantua-maker's apprentice (interpreter Sarah Woodyard, last seen at the TNHG having a sack gown fit to her) is here wearing a gown of her own creation.  But from the ribbon on her cap to her coral beads to her fanciful lace apron, she would also be showing the latest styles to her customers, and with luck tempt them to buy more, too.  It would certainly have worked with me!

Mourning a Royal Duke

Loretta reports:

I couldn’t find the official mourning proclamation for Princess Charlotte, but did find this, for the Duke of Kent (Queen Victoria’s father) who died in 1820.

Lord Chamberlain's Office, Jan. 25.
Orders for the Court's going into mourning, on Sunday next, the 30th instant, for his late royal highness the duke of Kent and Strathern, fourth son of his majesty, viz.
The ladies to wear black bombazins, plain muslin or long lawn, crape hoods, chamois shoes and gloves, and crape fans.
Undress.—Dark Norwich crape.
The gentlemen to wear black cloth, without buttons on the sleeves or pockets, plain muslin or long lawn cravats and weepers, chamois shoes and gloves, crape hatbands, and black swords and buckles.
Undress.—Dark gray frocks.

Herald's College
, Jan. 25.

The deputy earl Marshal's order for a general mourning for his late royal highness the duke of Kent.
In pursuance of the commands of his royal highness the Prince Regent, acting in the name and on the behalf of his majesty.
These are to give public notice, that it is expected that upon the present melancholy occasion of the death of his late royal highness Edward Duke of Kent and Strathern, fourth son of his majesty, all persons do put themselves into decent mourning, the said mourning to begin on Sunday next, the 30th instant.

Horse-Guards, Jan, 25. It is not required that the officers of the army should wear any other mourning on the present melancholy occasion than a black crape round their left arms with their uniforms.

By command of his royal highness the commander-in-chief.
HARRY CALVERT, Adjutant-General.

Admiralty-Office, Jan. 25.

His royal highness the Prince Regent does not require that the officers of his majesty's fleet or marines should wear any other mourning on the present melancholy occasion of the death of his late royal highness the duke of Kent and Strathern, than a black crape round their arms with their uniforms. J. W. CHOKER.

You can find out more about mourning during the Regency at the Jane Austen Centre.

This mourning dress from La Belle Assembleé for December 1817 might have been worn for Princess Charlotte. The illustration is from the Regency Library collection.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The curious mourning dress

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Loretta reports:

When researching Don’t Tempt Me, I finally made the connection between the number of mourning dresses in fashion plates in late 1817 and early 1818 and the fact that Princess Charlotte had died in November 1817. The court didn’t come out of mourning until late February 1818. We 21st century people tend to forget that there was a time when mourning followed a lengthy, prescribed pattern, and there was a system of dress for its various stages.

I’ve seen quite a few Regency era mourning dresses in fashion plates, but never anything like the one I was shown at Colonial Williamsburg’s Millinery Shop.

The black design, which seems to be a cypher (C-Y-E) is not embroidery. As the photos show, it’s done in ink. This dress is a copy of an existing one, c 1817-1820, though no one is sure whether the original was English or American.

I’d be interested to learn whether any of you have ever seen this sort of hand-drawn pen and ink decoration on a dress. It was a first for me.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Stitching Mrs. Newton's Gown: Finale

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Susan reports:

These are the last in the series of photographs showing the mantua-makers of Colonial Williamsburg making a replica 1770s gown. (Click here and here for the earlier posts.)  Often called called a robe a la Francaise or a Watteau gown, to an 18th c. English lady, it would have been simply (if inelegantly) a sack or sacque.  It's actually three pieces: a stomacher, a petticoat, and a robe, which features a loose back with flowing pleats and a closely fitted front, pinned in place over the stomacher and stays.

These pictures show the fitting of the robe, the last and most complicated part of the gown. In the first picture, top row, mantua-maker Doris displays the sleeves that have been constructed separately, including three rows of silk ruffles finished with another deep ruffle of lace.  The next two pictures shows mantua-maker Janea helping apprentice Sarah into the half-finished robe.  The silk is adjusted and pinned for later stitching onto the lining -- the yellow linen visible in the back. A tuck here, a gather there, and slowly the robe is fitted perfectly to Sarah. It's an intuitive process based on a good deal of training and experience.  Finally the sleeves are set into place, and the gown is ready for final stitching in the first picture, second row.

A day later, and everything is stitched in place and ready for the final fitting (and yes, Janea has changed her clothes.) The second picture, second row, shows Sarah arranging the sides of the robe over her petticoats; the sides will be pinned in place over the stomacher.  The other two photographs show the final adjustments to the back pleats and the robing (the trim along the neckline.)  Later everything would receive a final pressing, but much of the beauty of a changeable silk like this was in how the light would play across all those folds and puffs: undeniably a most stylish and airy confection.

Since we NHG do indulge in the occasional de-bunking, I'll add another here.  After watching these ladies make this gown over several days, I realized that the much-loved plot device of a down-at-heels lady deciding to turn her excellent fashion taste into a dressmaking career overnight just wouldn't have happened.  A girl was apprenticed to the trade at eleven or twelve, and it took many, many years of training before she possessed the skills to create anything like this gown.  As Janea said, it's not just a trade: it's an art, and like the best art, an expert mantua-maker makes it look easy.

Many thanks again to Janea Whitacre, Doris Warren, and Sarah Woodyard of the Margaret Hunter shop in Colonial Williamsburg!  For more information about 18th c. clothing, including patterns for a sack gown like this one, check out CW's excellent Costume Close-Up: Clothing Construction & Pattern 1750-1790.

Update: I returned to the shop two months later and saw the finished gown on display – pictures here

Due to a software glitch, the photos in this post would not enlarge. For those of you who wish to see more detail, I've reposted them on my own blog here.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Stitching Mrs. Newton's Gown: Part II

Friday, November 13, 2009

Susan reports:

As promised, here's more about how the mantua-makers of Colonial Williamsburg recreated a 1770 gown belonging to Mrs. Thomas Newton.

A lady's gown was custom-made for her.  It was created by draping, cutting, and pinning directly on her, and before any of that could take place, she needed to be wearing the proper underwear to give her a fashionable conical shape.  In the first picture above, Sarah (apprentice mantua-maker, here standing in for Mrs. Newton) is wearing her shift, stays (corset), and pocket hoops, tied to her waist to support her gown at the hips. She's also wearing a kerchief at her neck that will be removed in later pictures.

In the second picture above, Sarah has pinned the first "piece" of the gown, the stomacher, into place onto her stays.  Most 18th c. gowns were constructed of components like this, and pinned together with straight pins rather than permanently stitched.  Not only did this allow for changing sizes (you know, fat days), but like modern separates, the different pieces could be swapped around for a variety of "looks."

In the third picture above, Sarah has tied on the gown's petticoats – what we'd think of as skirts - that will form the lower part of the gown. Now you can see how the pocket hoops give the petticoats structure, and that stylish wide-hipped look.  

The last picture right, shows Sarah from behind, with the petticoats tied in place.  Note that she's wearing her stays over her shift, not bare skin.  Note, too, that the stays are spiral-laced in a zig-zag rather than criss-crossing, and fasten at the top with a knot rather than a bow.

That's two-thirds of the gown - more to come tomorrow!

Due to a software glitch, the photos in this post would not enlarge. For those of you who wish to see more detail, I've reposted them on my own blog here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Stitching Mrs. Newton's Gown: Part I

Thursday, November 12, 2009
Susan reports:

The tradespeople of Colonial Williamsburg don't simply lecture to visitors. They are master craftsmen/women in their own right, with many years of study and experience.  They practice their crafts in exactly the same way as their 18th c. counterparts once did, and it's fascinating to watch.  

While we NHG were visiting this fall, the mantua-makers – the term used for the most skilled dressmakers in the 17th c.-mid-19th c. –were recreating a 1770 gown worn by a wealthy Virginian lady for her portrait. That's the portrait, right (Mrs. Thomas Newton, by 
John Durand; collection of Colonial Williamsburg, gift of M. Knoedler.) The new gown was fashioned of 18th c.-style fabric, a pink changeable silk taffeta, using only 18th c. techniques and tools.  Everything was cut and stitched by hand and by natural light, no cheating. Nothing was done by machine.

Here are the details: approximately 18 yards of silk, 27" wide, were used in the gown.  In the past, labor was cheap, and it would have been the fabric that would have been the primary cost of any clothing. In 1770, comparable silk in a fashionable London shop would have cost about five shillings a yard, but a Virginian lady could expect to pay about twice as much because of the expense of importation. On account of the delicate white trim applied along so many edgings, this gown took about 80 hours for the CW shop to produce, or about three work-days, with allowance for explanations to visitors.  Over the next two days of blogging, I'll post photographs showing the gown's construction and fitting, as well as the undergarments (stays, shift, and pocket-hoops) that were worn beneath it.

Above are the three CW mantua-makers working on the gown, spread on the table before them.  Left to right, Doris Warren works on the sleeves while Janea Whitacre stitches the petticoat, and in the window, apprentice Sarah Woodyard applies trim to the robings.  Many thanks to them all for so graciously putting up with our incessant NHG questions and camera flashes!

Due to a software glitch, the photos in this post would not enlarge. For those of you who wish to see more detail, I've reposted them on my own blog here.

Beautiful busy work

Loretta reports:

My maternal grandmother, who came from the old country, tried to teach me all the needle skills every housewife had to know: sewing, darning, crochet, and embroidery. I deeply regret to say that none of the training took. Except for embroidery. I loved it and embroidered all kinds of things: pillowcases and my clothes and handkerchiefs and any bit of cloth I could make pictures in silk thread on. But then other occupations needing my hands--like writing--occupied more and more of my time. I haven't embroidered in years, except in fiction, and I miss my silks and my needles and hoops.

So I was enthralled by the embroidery I saw at Colonial Williamsburg. They embroidered everything, we were told, from head to toe, hat to shoes.

The silk work bag above is a beautiful example. As Susan mentioned in the comments to my post about riding habits, one rarely sees the ladies of CW without their work bags.

When they sat waiting for an event, or talking to their friends, they were usually doing some sort of needlework. Susan theorizes that the work bag served a function similar to the cell phone: It makes a girl look like she’s got something to do, especially when she’s alone.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

More on Riding Habits & a Side Saddle, too

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Susan reports:

By the time that Loretta's lady in the red habit was riding along Duke of Gloucester Street in Colonial Williamsburg in 1770, the fashion for military-inspired habits for women was firmly established, and continued well into the 20th century.

But in the 1660s, it was a cutting-edge style, and a controversial one, too. Inspired by Louis XIV's taste for almost non-stop warfare, the fashion came from Paris (of course), and was quickly adopted by young English ladies as well. (That's the oh-so-trendy Duchesse de Bourgogne, left, in 1704, painted by Pierre Gobert in her habit de chasse.) Tailored to fit as snugly as possible, the habits were not only flattering to youthful, well-corset'd figures, but also viewed as seductive and teasingly androgynous. Not all gentlemen were enchanted. Wrote diarist Samuel Pepys after seeing the queen and her ladies:

" their riding garbs, with coats and doublets with deep skirts just for all the world like men, and buttoned their doublets up the breast, with perriwigs and with hats; so that, only for a long petticoat dragging under their men's coats, nobody could take them for odd sight, and a sight that did not please me."

But what exactly was happening beneath that gracefully draped skirt (or a dragging one, if you're grumpy Mr. Pepys)? The TNHG were determined to find out.

In the CW stables, we spotted this replica 18th c. style side saddle (below), and with her ever-present thirst for knowledge, Loretta bravely hopped aboard. She swears the saddle was both comfortable and steady, with one knee hooked around the horn and the other foot secured in the stirrup. If it felt like this to a NHG, we imagine that to an experienced equestrienne of the past, the saddle must have made for a comfortable ride indeed.

The Mystery Thingee Solution

Susan reports:

This object was found in the tailor's shop in Colonial Williamsburg.  It's used to cut the opening in a buttonhole, and versions are used today by modern tailors and dressmakers.  The wedge-shaped edge is sharp, and when pressed down through the cloth makes a clean, neat cut that's almost impossible with scissors (as every frustrated home-sewer will agree.)  The wooden block is placed beneath the cloth to limit the depth of the cut, and to protect the surface of the work table.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, buttonholes were used as an important decorative element as well as for closing coats, jackets, and waistcoats.  Look again at the riding habit in Loretta's post.  All of those gold stripes on the cuffs and down both reveres are worked buttonholes -- there must be over thirty on that single jacket.  No wonder this little tool was so indispensable to a tailor!

Riding Habits

Loretta reports:

A recent post showed a tailor at work on a lady’s riding habit. Up until somewhere around the time of Waterloo, ladies’ habits were customarily made by tailors. This meant they were made, as men’s clothes were, by cutting to pattern rather than by the mantua maker’s (dressmaker’s) method of draping fabric and cutting to the form. You can read more about Regency-era riding habits on Candice Hern’s website.

Their being made by tailors may explain why so many habits, like the one in my photos, have a masculine or military style. In this case, though, the style was of less interest to me than the fact that I had a woman in view in historical dress, riding sidesaddle. She was sitting there, talking to her friend, while they awaited a Colonial Williamsburg dramatization of a historical episode.

This was a rare Nerdy History Girl photo op, and I made the most of it.

If you’ve ever wondered what our fictional ladies might have looked like on horseback, here are some aids to the imagination. Notice how she’s sitting. Notice how the habit covers her legs completely. Not everyone realizes that the habits were long, with trains--great for preserving one’s modesty while riding, but not easy to walk or run in. In other words, it's it’s not the ideal fashion choice for running away from a villain--or even an extremely provoking hero.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Mystery Workshop Solution

Monday, November 9, 2009
Loretta reports:

The person working in the shop would be a silversmith.

I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who needed a sign, and I'm impressed with you clever nerdy history girls who guessed "metalworker."

Sunday, November 8, 2009

What am I? The Mystery Thingee

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Susan reports:

Since you've all been enjoying guessing Loretta's mystery workshop, we decided to offer up another guessing-game.  Or perhaps you won't be guessing at all, but will be able to identify this mystery-object right away.

My only hints: it's from a trade shop in Colonial Williamsburg, and a modern variation of it is still in use today.  Good luck!

Coming Attraction Alert: Since we NHG were in CW for nearly a week, we had the rare
 opportunity to watch the mantua-maker (aka the dressmaker) and her assistants cut, stitch, and fit an entire 18th c. gown.  It's lovely, a pale pink sack gown in the fashionable style so often painted by the French artist Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684-1721) that it's frequently called a gown a la Watteau or a robe a la Francaise.  Later this week, I'll be posting a series of photographs here that show this gown's step-by-step creation and fitting -- tres cool!

Right: detail from Les deux cousines by Antoine Watteau, 1718, Musee du Louvre

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Where am I? The mystery workshop

Saturday, November 7, 2009
From Loretta:

Here are two photos of one of the workshops in Colonial Williamsburg. As I stood there, taking pictures, I realized that I wouldn't know what it was if I hadn't seen the sign on the door. Lots of interesting tools--but what did they make here? Maybe it's not mysterious to you. Maybe it's obvious. Let's see.

What tradesman or woman do you think worked here?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Another Carriage, plus More Substantial Steps

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Susan reports:

To follow up on our discussion of the carriages in Colonial Williamsburg, I'm adding two more photographs.  

True, we were duly dazzled by Lord Dunmore's carriage.  But I didn't want to leave you thinking everyone else was trudging through the dust on foot.  There are several other carriages in the CW collection that are every bit as handsome as His Excellency's, even more so, depending on your taste.  Here's another, left, that Loretta and I particularly like.  The original's owner was a prosperous Virginian; rich indeed, but not titled. That bulging curved piece along the back is a sword case (opened from inside the carriage) for stashing your blade, ever-ready in case of an attack by a highwayman or other nefarious 
person -- though the CW interpreters do admit that by the late 18th c., that little compartment is more for style than for actually carrying weapons.  Pretty cool, though, and sounds so much more romantic than, say, a glove compartment.

I know most of us (including Loretta and me) regarded those folding carriage steps on Lord Dunmore's carriage with trepidation.  I'm sure we had company among 18th c. ladies, too, who had to maneuver those steps in wide skirts and heeled shoes.  But there was at least one alternative, to be found in the stable yard of the Governor's Palace (and at grand houses across England as well): these sturdy brick carriage steps, right, made to the exact height of a carriage's door.  Over two hundred years later, you can still almost hear the sighs of relief from Her Ladyship and her daughters....

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Baby It's Dark in Here

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Loretta reports:

Here's a tailor at Colonial Williamsburg, hard at work on a lady’s habit made of white jean. I’m not going to talk about the habit but about work habits. We learned that our 18th C tailors and dressmakers in America, on account of not belonging to guilds, had more liberty in setting working hours than did their London counterparts. In Williamsburg our 18th C tailor would work six days a week from sunup to sundown--during daylight hours, in other words. But we need to remember that daylight isn’t always bright. My photo shows the contrast between outside and inside--and he’s working at the window on a sunny day. On a rainy day, Susan informed me, it’s very dark in there. And those are very, very tiny stitches he’s making. By hand.

The London tailor, according to the rules of the Merchant Taylors Guild, would be making the same tiny stitches from 6AM to 9PM, with an hour break for a midday meal--which meant he’d be working by candlelight for a chunk of that time, at least during winter. When we compare and contrast working conditions then and now, it's good to remember that long hours are only one working condition. The workplace is another. How well lit is it? How hot or cold does it get?

Then I look at the work and have to marvel. Under what many of us would consider spirit-killing conditions, these skilled and patient craftsmen created such beautiful things. I have to believe that they didn't find it spirit-killing necessarily--after all, everyone was in the same boat--and that many must have taken not only pride but joy in what they did. It made me realize that, had I lived in the time period, maybe I'd like to be making clothes. What about you?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

And Even More about Lord Dunmore's Carriage

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Susan reports:

Alas, Blogger went into picture-overload, and I must split up these carriage images from the TNHG trip to Colonial Williamsburg. Here are the last handful of Lord Dunmore's carriage.

I mentioned previously that the carriage sits high above the ground.  To give you perspective on this, I asked Coachman Susan to stand beside the door – that would make for quite a jump up or down!  

Fortunately, a footman is always at hand to unfold these little built-in steps to the pavement.  They fold and unfold quickly, with a satisfying clatter, not unlike a Jacob's Ladder toy.  I imagine that it was probably a nice, showy move for a footman to make, unfolding them before His Lordship stepped out.

This carriage was one of the perks of being a royal governor, much like a limo and driver would be to an ambassador today.  To show exactly how grand Lord Dunmore was, here's his full title: His Excellency the Right Honourable John Earl of Dunmore, His Majesty's lieutenant and governour general of the colony and dominion of Virginia, and vice admiral of the same.

More on Lord Dunmore's Carriage

Susan reports:

More from the TNHG trip to Colonial Williamsburg, specifically having to do with Lord Dunmore's carriage.  Here are several more photos that will explain what a thousand words might not.  

This is a close-up of the latch on the carriage door, showing how in fact it does open only from the outside. It's a beautiful, substantial bit of brass, kept bright by His Lordship's staff.  It turns to open, and for security's sake, it takes considerable muscle to operate.  Yes, one could reach from the window to open it from the inside, but it wouldn't be easy.  In this photo, you can see (or rather, can't see) how exquisitely the coach is constructed; the opening of the door is to the left of the latch, barely visible beside the gilded moulding.

Here's another photo of the side of the door, showing the latch's locking mechanism.  You can also see the thickness of the door itself, wide enough to support the channel into which the door's glass window (not in place here) can be lowered.

Because of Blogger's limitations, the rest of these pictures appear in the next blog.  Sorry for the inconvenience!
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