Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Regency Carriages

Horse drawn carriages were most popular from the late 18th century until the invention of the motor car in the early 20th century. They came in a variety of shapes and sizes, from the public stage coach to the most elegant private vehicles. The original carriages of the 17th century were basic vehicles without springs.

By the Regency era, more comfortable horse drawn carriages were in use. Some were a luxury only the wealthy could afford; others were available for hire complete with the horses. I mentioned the following three carriages in Dangerous Deceit.

The Post-chaise was lighter than the stage-coach and was normally drawn by two or four horses. The carriage had curved springs and leather straps. It was regarded as being superior to travelling by public coach, but only the well-to-do gentry could afford to run this carriage. Post-boys took charge of the horses, with one boy riding each pair of horses.

High-perch barouche
The elegant Barouche was an open, 4-wheeled vehicle, built to a French design. It carried four passengers, with two on either side. It had one small folding hood which protected only the people on that side of the carriage. The barouche was quite an exclusive carriage for wealthy aristocrats, although people often hired them for outings.

Lord Sheldon first meets Lydia when driving his sporty Phaeton. Lighter and faster than a coach, the phaeton was an open, 4-wheeled carriage drawn by one or two horses. It was popular in Regency times with aristocratic travellers who drove this carriage themselves. Young men used it for sport or speed, much like today's expensive sports cars.

Phaeton
These carriages epitomise some of the romance of the Regency and it's no wonder that horse-drawn carriages are often used today for weddings and other special events. The ponies and trap below took my son and his new bride from the church to hotel at their recent wedding, although it was a Victorian design.

Romy


13 comments:

Bill Kirton said...

Be careful, Rosemary. I might start coming to you for all my research questions. Thanks for this posting. One of the fascinating aspects of setting stories in the pre-railways 19th century is the whole business of how long it took to get from place to place. But if you're sitting in carriages this elegant, who cares how long it takes?

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi Bill - thanks for that. I love the romance of both carriages and steam trains.

Carolb said...

I would love to drive in one of these carriages Rosemary, so thank you for the post about them.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi Carol - thanks for visiting. They are so romantic, aren't they!

L. K. Below said...

Great post, Rosemary :) I love these little posts you do.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hello Lindsay - thanks for that!

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Beautifully described and pictured. Despite the romance, I think you could get a bad case of "buckboard bounce."

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi Julie - thanks for your comment. I expect you're absolutely right - maybe apart from that lovely padded Victorian one!

Linda Kage said...

Oh, thank you for the descriptions. I always thought a Phaeton only had two wheels. Now I'm going to have to find out what those things were called.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi Linda - thanks for visiting. I think you probably mean a curricle, or gig - the curricle was also quite sporty, had two wheels, and was pulled by one horse.

Linda Kage said...

Oh, thank you!! Now I know. I love learning new, interesting things.

Melanie said...

Interesting piece. Thanks for sharing!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

You're welcome, Melanie - thanks for your comments!