Sunday, June 24, 2012


There were a myriad of rules in Regency society. Many governed the behavior between the ranks of men and women and between the ranks in the social hierarchy. 
These are but a few:

Morning calls.

Social connections began with morning calls to homes of those in fashionable society. Strangely, morning calls were paid in the afternoon and did not usually exceed half an hour.
A woman could not pay a morning call to her social superiors until they had called on her or left a card.
A person new to the city or country area waited for calls of ceremony to be made to them by those already established before they made a call of their own.
In the country it was acceptable for a man to make a call or leave a card with someone of higher social standing if they were new to the neighbourhood.
A gentleman calling on a family for a social visit, asked for the mistress of the house. The master if it was a business call.
If the lady of the house was away or unable to receive callers, a card was left. If the daughter was a friend of long standing and well beyond marriageable age, it was acceptable for a male to call on her, in the absence of family.
A lady was never permitted to attend a man’s lodgings whether married or single.

Driving a carriage and Riding

A lady was permitted to drive around town if accompanied by a groom and alone on her country estate.  
It was acceptable to go riding or driving with a man, if a groom or chaperone was in attendance. And alone, if he was a friend of long standing or a relative.

As long as a lady was properly attired and rode side-saddle, she could ride a horse. But galloping in Hyde Park was not permitted.

And never riding dressed like a man!
Horatia Cavendish in A Baron in her Bed iStock copyrighted Image

During the Season, it was essential to be seen in Hyde Park during the promenade hour between 5.00pm and 6.00pm.

Not everyone complied with the rules, however:

From Regency Etiquette, The Mirror of Graces (1811) by A Lady of Distinction: Advice to young women: [The] ‘indiscriminate facility which some young women have in permitting what they call a good-natured kiss. These good-natured kisses have often very bad effects, and can never be permitted without injuring the fine gloss of that exquisite modesty which is the fairest garb of virgin beauty.’

The Spies of Mayfair Series
Book One
London, 1816. A handsome baron. A faux betrothal. And Horatia’s plan to join the London literary set takes a dangerous turn.
Now that the war with France has ended, Baron Guy Fortescue arrives in England to claim his inheritance, abandoned over thirty years ago when his father fled to France after killing a man in a duel. When Guy is set upon by footpads in London, a stranger, Lord Strathairn, rescues and befriends him. But while travelling to his country estate, Guy is again attacked. He escapes only to knock himself out on a tree branch.
 Aspiring poet Horatia Cavendish has taken to riding her father’s stallion, “The General”, around the countryside of Digswell dressed as a groom. She has become bored of her country life and longs to escape to London to pursue her desire to become part of the London literary set. When she discovers Guy lying unconscious on the road, the two are forced to take shelter for the night in a hunting lodge. After Guy discovers her ruse, a friendship develops between them.
Guy suspects his relative, Eustace Fennimore is behind the attacks on his life. He has been ensconced in Rosecroft Hall during the family’s exile and will become the heir should Guy die. Horatia refuses to believe her godfather, Eustace, is responsible. But when Guy proposes a faux betrothal to give him more time to discover the truth, she agrees. Secure in the knowledge that his daughter will finally wed, Horatia’s father allows her to visit her blue-stocking aunt in London.
But Horatia’s time spent in London proves to be anything but a literary feast, for a dangerous foe plots Guy’s demise. She is determined to keep alive her handsome fiancé, who has proven more  than willing to play the part of her lover even as he resists her attempts to save him.


Research: Georgette Heyer’s Regency World by Jennifer Kloester. Sourcebooks.


Allison Butler said...

Thanks for the wonderful post, Maggi. Gosh, there were so many rules to remember. I just know I would have broken one or more:)

Who exactly created these rules and how did one learn about them?

Cheryl Leigh said...

Great post, Maggi. I'm glad we don't have all those rules these days!

Cassandra Samuels said...

Great post Maggi. Always good to be reminded of how strict the rules were.

What were the rules for a young unattached man wanting to call on a young debutante he met the night before at a ball? What hoops would he have to jump through? Would it be acceptable for more than one man to call at the same time?

Maggi Andersen said...

I suspect the ape leaders made the rules, Ali.

Thanks for stopping by, Cheryl.

Hi Cassandra, someone they both knew would have to introduce him, then he might call and leave his card. If he was unsuitable I'd doubt he'd get past the butler. I don't see why two men couldn't call if they were known to the lady of the house.

Anonymous said...

You just have to love the regency for its strict manner and structured rules. I'm sure the upper crust put on a brave front, but I've quite a few texts where most of them were broken anyway.
No matter how the formidable matrons tried to control the 'young bloods' and 'young ladies' Lust and Love would not be thwarted.
LOL. That's what rules were for after all.
Just look at that eager/cheeky face of the woman in the painting. :)
Thanks for the interesting post Maggie