Good Afternoon everyone,
I’m very happy to receive author Julie Cooper today with a guest post that I absolutely loved! She has just released a novel called The Perfect Gentleman, and in it Elizabeth Bennet has to travel through England, so Julie Cooper decided to talk to us about travelling in the Regency Era. This is a topic that I find very interesting and every time I go to the UK I try to imagine what it would be like to travel in those days. I try to imagine how inns were run and how the changing of the horses would occur. I imagine how carriages were on the inside and where would they put all their belongings, etc.
I love this topic so much that I actually spend lots of time reading about it online, so you may imagine how much I loved Julie Cooper’s post! I hope you enjoy it too, and that you share your thoughts on it with us.
’Tis no secret that Lizzy Bennet has dreams. Uniquely talented, as the daughter of a mother with a certain reputation, Lizzy knows she must make her own way in a world that shuns her.
Fitzwilliam Darcy carries the stains to his family’s honour upon his soul, and only by holding himself to the strictest standards has he reclaimed his place in society. If his fifteen-year-old sister cannot be found quickly, scandal may destroy years of perfect behaviour.
Darcy has Secrets.
Lizzy has Clues.
Lizzy is willing to join the pursuit to get what she wants; Darcy is willing to trust her to get what he needs.
Until the search for Georgiana reveals more than either expected to find.
You can find The Perfect Gentleman at:
In my book, The Perfect Gentleman, Elizabeth Bennet finds herself on a Regency road trip across England. During the course of her adventure, she uses several different forms of transportation. She begins the journey in a rented hack; Darcy, who is used to his finely furnished vehicle, looks upon it with contempt, but it was, actually, quite comfortable in comparison to the stagecoach or “post” (referring to the posting inns where transportation could be purchased), and The Royal Mail—Lizzy refers to it simply as “the mail.”
The mail was the fastest form of transport, travelling at a ten mile per hour clip, because they did not have to pay tolls and kept to a rigid timetable. Unsurprisingly the mail it carried was the priority, not the passengers. By law, only four passengers were permitted inside the mail coach—remarkably roomy travelling conditions—but the fast speed and limited stops on early 19th century roads were difficult for many. Travelling by post was cheaper; most coaches held four to six passengers, but atop was a different story, and as many as were willing to brave the elements were allowed. Occasionally coaches overturned due to top-heaviness, and passengers up top were known to freeze or fall to their deaths.
Both post and the mail stopped to change horses every seven to ten miles, and a guard sounded a horn as they neared the inns so that the stableboys would be ready, like race car drivers pulling into the pit! Some sources state that these horse changes could be accomplished in just a few minutes, and especially in the case of the Royal Mail, one to three minutes was expected. I took poetic licence with both the post and the mail, combining the two experiences for Lizzy: she rode “atop” the mail coach and experienced the discomforts of the speed and the crowding of the post. However, at least some of her horse changes took a few minutes longer, so she could accomplish her detective work! But all of the inn names in The Perfect Gentleman existed in the towns as noted, and were actual posting stops.
In Regency times, when even walking alone was frowned upon for a gentlewoman, travelling alone by post was considered “fast” and unacceptable. The most respectable inns would expect a lady to be accompanied by at least a maidservant. Lizzy has to do some fast thinking to gain admission to one such inn, The Talbot, in Stamford!
One turn of the century manuscript, “The Coaching Era” by Violet Wilson, describes commercial travel in this poem:
A horn now told the near approach
Of some convenient, rapid coach;
And soon a vehicle and four
Appear’d at the Red Lion door:
Into his place the Doctor pounc’d:
The Coachman smack’d, and off they bounc’d.
A red-faced man, who snor’d and snorted,
A lady, with both eyes distorted,
And a young Miss of pleasing mien,
With all the life of gay sixteen.
A sudden jolt their slumbers broke;
They started all, and all awoke;
When Surly-boots yawn’d wide, and spoke,
“We move,” said he, “confounded slow!”
“La, Sir,” cried Miss, “how fast we go!”
While Madam, with a smirking face,
Declar’d it was o’ middling pace,
“Pray, what think you, Sir?” — “I agree,”
Said simp’ring Syntax, “with all three.
“Uphill, our course is rather slow,
“Down hill, now merrily we go!
“But when ’tis neither up nor down.
“It is a middling pace, I own.”
“O la!” cried Miss, “the thought’s so pretty!”
“O yes!” growled Red-face, “very witty!”
The Lady said, “If I can scan
“The temper of the gentleman,
“He’s one of those, I have no doubt.
“Who love to let his temper out.
“But we who — these stages roam,
“And leave our coach-and-four at home,
“Deserve our lot when thus we talk
“With those who were ordain’d to walk.”
My research for The Perfect Gentleman taught me—no matter the means of transport—travelling during the Regency era was no easy ride!
Julie Cooper, a California native, lives with her Mr Darcy (without the arrogance or the Pemberley) of nearly forty years, two dogs (one intelligent, one goofball), and Kevin the Cat (smarter than all of them.) They have four children and three grandchildren, all of whom are brilliant and adorable, with the pictures to prove it. She works as an executive at a gift basket company and her tombstone will read, “Have your Christmas gifts delivered at least four days before the 25th.” Her hobbies are reading, giving other people good advice, and wondering why no one follows it.
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