Buried Alive, The Story of Madame Blunden

Buried Alive, Courtesy of Wikipedia
Buried Alive, Courtesy of Wikipedia

There are many tales of people being buried alive and no tale is more interesting than one from the Georgian Era about a woman named Madame Blunden. She was an elderly woman married to William Blunden, one of the richest maltsters in England. She was also described as depressed, fat, and gross and someone who freely imbibed alcoholic spirits.

One evening, Madame Blunden’s maid, Ann Runnegar, poured Madame Blunden’s regular nightly cordial. The following morning when Runnegar went to Madame Blunden’s bedside she found her mistress in a “gentle slumber.” Madame Blunden remained in this slumber all day. Eventually, Runnegar became alarmed about her sleeping mistress, and as Mr. Blunden was in London on business, Runnegar sent for the surgeon. Continue reading

Roof Collapse on York Street in 1832

19th Century Newgate, roof collapse on York Street
19th Century Newgate, Courtesy Wikipedia

The creation of buildings resulted in some building controls being put in place throughout Britain by the 1700s, and, by the mid 1800s, builders had to submit plans for any new buildings or alterations. However, this did not mean that landlords or builders followed the law. It also did not mean that surveyors who checked such things had any authority to insist alterations be properly done. This became evident on 26 October 1832, when a roof collapsed on York Street at about half-past eight in the morning. Continue reading

Cravat Tying Tips for the Georgian or Regency Gentleman

Cravat Tying Styles, Author's Collection
Cravat Styles, Author’s Collection

Cravats came into fashion during the Georgian Era and remained popular throughout the Regency Era. One gentlemen of that era noted the cravat “is not just a mere ornament … [but] is decidedly one of the greatest preservative of health — it is criterion by which the rank of the wearer may be at once distinguished, and is of itself  a letter of introduction.'” Therefore, to make sure a gentleman made a good impression with his cravat, there were numerous ways devised to wear them. This also resulted in various cravat wearing, cravat caring, and cravat tying tips.

Here are some cravat typing tips suggested for the fashionable Georgian or Regency gentleman: Continue reading

How Georgians Trapped Foxes

Georgians Trapped Foxes: Common Fox (top) and Blue Fox (bottom)
Common Fox (top) and Blue Fox (bottom), Author’s Collection

The cunning fox has had a long history in England, and everyone from squires to dukes to kings have hunted the omnivorous animal. In fact, it was practically a standard amusement for the landed gentry to be yelling, “Tally-ho!” as they hunted the fox with its pointed, slightly upturned snout, upright triangular ears, and long bushy tail. But hunting on horseback with hounds was not the only way to capture a fox. There were also several other innovative ways that Georgians trapped foxed. Among some of the more popular trapping methods were those accomplished on foot with the use of guns, nets, or steel traps. Continue reading

Hat Fashions for September 1880

Hat Fashions for September 1880
Ladies’ Hat, Author’s Collection

Flower bonnets were all the rage in 1880, but a handsome feather was also “fashionable and stylish, and when gracefully and tastefully arranged, … always becoming.” Yet, feathers were not particularly cheap. The nineteenth century fashion magazine, The Delineator, noted:

“A handsome feather is a prize … More especially is the purchase of a black feather a measure of discretion. It may cost considerable … but years of service, and its undiminished stylish appearance, will more than pay for the original cost.”

Of the feathers available, it was the ostrich feathers that were considered to be the most “novel.” They were long and curly and usually displayed in twos and of contrasting colors: “cardinal and sulphur, sage-green and cardinal, peacock-blue and mauve, or lavender and old-gold.” Additionally, much to the delight of hat wearer’s was the demise of “placing three funeral-looking black … [feathers] on the side of bonnet, each one waving a different way … for the sight of the nodding plumes was anything but agreeable or artistic.” Continue reading

Maneuvering London’s Streets in the Regency Era

James Gillray's Characterization of Print Shop Gawkers and London's Streets
James Gillray’s Characterization of Print Shop Gawkers and London’s Slippery Streets, Courtesy of Wikipedia

London’s streets in the Regency Era were a nightmare to maneuver and, at points, nearly impossible to traverse. Part of the issue had to do with a population of more than a million people. Even if pedestrians attempted to escape congested foot paths by traveling in a coach or a carriage, inevitably they found that solution no faster. Streets were narrow and often filled with thousands of wagons, carriages, and coaches, all of who were also attempting to hustle and reach their destinations.

Added to the hustling and bustling traffic was a myriad of other factors. For instance, there were the elderly who, of course, with their canes and aging gaits slowed everyone down as they shuffled along. There were rotund people who allowed no room for the hurried pedestrians to pass. There was also the inevitable street sellers whose carts and stools blocked sidewalks and sometimes roadways. Continue reading

Hawkhurst Smuggling Gang

Hawkhurst gang
Goudhurst Church, Author’s Collection

The Hawkhurst Gang was a formidable and notorious smuggling gang that operated from 1735 to 1749 in southeast England from Dorset to Kent. However, the gang most favored Kent or their smuggling activities because of its “geographical position, its local features, [and] its variety of coast.”

The Hawkhurst Gang consisted of as many as 500 men at times, many of who carried either a pistol or blunderbuss. They acquired their name from the village of Hawkhurst in Kent, although one gang member claimed they “were called the ‘East Country people’ and were fetched to help … break the Custom House.” Continue reading

Fountain of the Elephant

Fountain of the Elephant
Example of what the Fountain of the Elephant was to look like when completed. Public domain.

One feature of Paris different from nineteenth century London was the large number of public fountains erected in that city. In fact, in 1825, it was claimed that in Paris the fountains numbered 127. Despite the large number of fountains, Napoleon planned to add one more, and this fountain was to be far grander than all the 127 preceding it.

Napoleon undertook this project, known as the Fountain of the Elephant (now called the Elephant of the Bastille). The fountain was to stand on the spot where the hated Bastille had once stood. Napoleon hoped to embellish the capital and construct a number of grand monument to his victories and military prowess, which in part could be accomplished with the fountain. Thus, on 9 February 1810, he decreed that a fountain was to be erected, which was then ordered to be completed by 2 December 1811. Continue reading

Housemaids and Their Duties

Housemaids and their duties
Domestic Worker, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Servants made family life easier in the eighteenth and nineteenth century, and, although today, maids work for the most elite and the wealthiest, during the Victorian era, according to the 1851, 1861, and 1871 census, they comprised the second highest category of employment, with the first being agricultural workers. The eighteenth and nineteenth century was also a time where servants lacked employment protection, and it was not until the United Kingdom’s Master and Servant Act of 1823 that servants acquired provisions that established minimal wages and determined accommodations, clothing, and meal allowances for domestic servants.

Among the most important of the domestic servants where housemaids and their duties were as important as they were varied. Of the housemaids, the maid responsible for supervising the other maids was known as the Upper Housemaid. She, along with the other housemaids, were responsible to “undertake the management of all the household business of a gentleman’s family.” This meant cleaning the house from top to bottom, and although cleaning was something most servants did, it was difficult at times, even among the staff, to determine exactly who was responsible for what. However, in general, the housemaid was responsible for numerous duties that ranged from cleaning fireplaces to opening and closing shutters to dusting, polishing, and cleaning mirrors, paintings, and wall hangings. Continue reading

Things Named for People

James Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan named for the cardigan
James Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan, Courtesy of Wikipedia

In the 1700 and 1800s things were often associated with the name of their inventor or someone associated with the invention. Some of the things named for people include the cardigan, Chesterfield coat, graham crackers, guillotine, Melba toast, mesmerize, Napoleon complex, Payne’s grey, raglan sleeves, saxophones, and Wellington boots.

Graham Crackers—Reverend Sylvester Graham was an American dietary reformer who believed in vegetarianism. Graham attracted many followers with his ideas. His followers became known as Grahamites, and they consumed certain foods suggested by Graham. One dietary recommendation Graham suggested was a cracker he invented. It was known as a Graham cracker, and his followers consumed large quantities. If you are interested in learning more about Graham and his crackers, Madame Gilflurt wrote a post and you can read it by clicking here. Continue reading