Members Meeting - May 18 2013

Entertainments for All


On the Victoria Day weekend we had an unexpectedly large meeting of 31 members and guests. Ann presented a well-researched and very entertaining talk entitled 'Entertainment and Royalty in the Regency Era 1795-1830'.

She explained the social structure of contemporary England and how the different levels of society intermingled and touched each other. Some highlights: in the theatre the quality sat in boxes, the prostitutes in the pit; audiences chattered and threw garbage at bad actors; Beau Brummel spent five hours getting dressed. Jane Austen enjoyed the theatre.

Vauxhall Gardens- the Grand Walk, c.1751 (Giovanni Antonio Canal) Canaletto

Vauxhall Gardens- the Grand Walk, c.1751 (Giovanni Antonio Canal) Canaletto

The rich left London in the summer because the streets were full of smelly, dirty horse droppings and riots were not uncommon. Pleasure gardens, such as Vauxhall, were open to both rich and poor. Exhibitions of exotic animals had great appeal, and gawking sightseers loved visiting Bedlam (Bethlem Hospital) to view the mad people.

After our tea and cake, Ann went on to test us: she had put together a quiz on Jane Austen's novels and life. Some of us did it in groups and some on their own; some of us did very well, and some of us were horrified at how much we didn't know - but we all enjoyed it!