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Regency style

Local Conversations in Sidmouth

Pining Lass
As people have expressed interest in what I wrote about Regency I thought I'd add a bit more.

Usually styles took a long time to spread from London into the provinces but as far a Sidmouth and other favoured places like Brighton, Worthing, Lyme and Sidmouth the spread was almost instantaneous because they were 'fashionable,' so people with lots of money and who were in the height of fashion in London brought 'style' with them.

Fashion was very important in that era, travel from rural estates had become easier and so the London 'seasons' ( one main one and one small one per year) had been established as had the presenting of debutantes to the Queen. There were also an increasing number of very rich industrialists coming on the scene. The 'old' families who had ancestors who had been arbiters of taste were very keen that their innate sense of style set them apart, and the business men were very keen to acquire 'style'.

The Prince of Wales, later George IV, was very interested in clothes, the Arts and Architecture; and so designers/craftsmen/artists flourished under his patronage and the patronage of his followers.

Prinny was given Charlton House in 1783, when he reached the age of 21, and he set about changing it to suit his style, he carried on adapting it until he was King. His first period of regency was informal, he was catapulted into it by George III becoming 'deranged' in 1788 and not being able to rule the country. There was no law which addressed such a problem so Parliament and the royal family had to work it out themselves, Prinny was very influential at this time as he was the heir to the throne and it was possible that his father might never recover, however, after about 5 months he did: but he was never quite the same.

The formal regency period ran from 1811, after George III became ill again at the end of 1810, to the death of George III in 1820.

George Vi died in 1830 and his brother William came to the throne. William had been brought up in the Navy as he was a much younger son and was considered unlikely ever to take the throne, he was not interested in fashion or style so nothing much changed.

Victoria came to the throne in 1837 and stylistically things started to change after her marriage to Albert in 1840 as the German liking for large solid pieces took effect.

So, Regency style had its small beginnings in 1783, was in full flower from 1810 to 1820 and then tailed off as George became old and ill and stopped caring so much about being a style leader until it was more or less replaced in 1840.

To that you have to add the fact that Sidmouth developed its own style of Cottage Orne which was influenced by regency taste but a local style of its own, and that people with lots of money tend to be older and remain influenced by the styles of their youth.

 In addition the people who came on holiday to Sidmouth in the mid 1800s seem to have been the 'second layers' of society rather that the 'Ton' who had built the large houses in the 1700s and so they would have been possibly looking for an 'established' place with 'traditional' values rather than 'cutting edge' stuff.

These are the reasons I am happy to consider Sidmouth to be a 'Regency Town' in an inclusive sense.

Hope I haven't bored you too much but design is my delight and the 'Regency' period one of my favourites, the other one being Pre-Raphaelite running into the Aesthetes and Arts and Crafts. So you can see why I adore Sidmouth :-)

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