Hi again, time for another of Cassie’s Regency tidbits. Well, okay, The Grand Tour was not specific to the Regency period but it was important to the upper classes, or more importantly to the men of the upper classes.
The Grand Tour was a time for privileged young men to travel abroad and gain an education that could not be found in books or the hallowed halls of Cambridge and Oxford.
The tour was usually undertaken by young men and their tutor. They would travel to such places as France, Italy, Portugal, Switzerland, Greece and sometimes, if one was particularly keen, even as far as Africa and Egypt.
The whole idea of the tour was for young men to have the opportunity to travel and learn about the different cultures, languages and history of the places he visited. This would give him extra polish and a certain sophistication that was necessary to form character before taking on the daunting task of the family responsibilities - such as running an estate. It would also give them an edge over others in society who could not afford a Grand Tour.
This jaunt abroad could last anywhere from two to four years and cost his family a fortune. This was not generally seen so much as a burden but as the finishing touches of a young man’s necessary education.
Gentlemen would return laden down with art collected on their journeys. Often the paintings would be portraits of themselves in front of historic landmarks to record their time away. They would also send back keepsakes such as rugs, furniture and antiquities.
I travelled to the United Kingdom recently for the first time and it will be an adventure I will never forget. I loved every minute of it. I was overwhelmed by the history and age of everything I encountered and the people I met. I was like a sponge soaking up every little detail as I explored. I wonder if those privileged young men felt the same thrill as I did while travelling?
If you had the chance to send your child on a Grand Tour after University or College, would you? And if so, what places would you insist they go and see?
For a really interesting blog on Richard Bealey’s grand tour see here: http://bealey.wordpress.com/2010/08/27/richard-bealeys-grand-tour-1830/