Beau Brummell and Casual Friday

My husband works at an engineering agency in the decidedly relaxed city of Portland, Oregon. The lower floors of his office building are home to a software development firm. Apparently, the laid-back style of the high-tech folks is causing a bad case of clothing envy among the engineers. So much envy that my husband’s boss had to remind employees of the agency’s unofficial dress code.
Baseball caps, hoodies, shorts and tank tops, along with sandals and Crocs (a shoe company whose motto is “come as you are”) – all regularly worn by the high-tech workers – are off-limits to my husband and his colleagues.
And the engineers are allowed to wear jeans only on Casual Fridays, and then only if they don't have meetings scheduled with anyone outside the agency. Ties aren’t mandatory, but a collared shirt (for the men at least) is. 
My husband says there's been some grumbling, but overall the dress code, with the all-important exception for Casual Friday, has been accepted.
Now, the whole …

Royal Babies

Great news from Kensington Palace – another royal baby is on the way! 
According to the official report, the Duchess of Cambridge is about 12 weeks along, which means the baby should arrive next spring. Hopefully, it also means she’s just about through with her extreme morning sickness (there's an official name for it - Hyperemesis Gravidarum), a condition which also plagued her in the early months of her two previous pregnancies.
As William and Kate mull over possible names for their new little one, perhaps they should look to the past for inspiration. After all, they drew from the royal well of names for little George and Charlotte.
As my blog readers know, I like to find Regency parallels to current historical events. When it comes to names there’s quite a bit of overlap between the Duke of Cambridge’s growing family and the family of his distant ancestor, King George III.

You remember King George III – he’s widely credited with losing the American colonies. Illness-induced dement…

Remembering a Princess: a personal recollection with a Regency parallel

Every once in a while a momentous event occurs that’s bigger than life, and causes time to seemingly stop for a moment. Later you’ll ask others, “Do you remember where you were and what you were doing when you heard that ...?”
For some in the Boomer generation, it’s “Do you remember where you were when Kennedy was assassinated?” For Millennials, it could be when the Twin Towers fell. As for me, I remember the night twenty years ago when I heard the news that Princess Diana had died.
On that August night I was camping with family and friends in the Oregon coastal woods, enjoying Labor Day Weekend and our last summer holiday before the school year started. It was late in the evening, and the campfire had burned down to few glowing embers. After helping to clean up the residue left by the S'mores, a gooey marshmallow, graham cracker and melted chocolate treat that's manadatory camping fare in our family, I followed the trail through the darkness to the dank and badly-lit communal b…

The Peterloo Massacre - August 16, 1819

Democracy can be a messy business. In the United States, we cannot forget the colonial revolt of 1765-1783 that forged our nation, or any of the political convulsions in the 240 years since that have further defined and refined our democracy, including our Civil War in 1861-1865, the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920 giving women the right to vote, or the African-American Civil Rights Movement (1954-1968), to name but a few.
And in the United Kingdom, an incident that occurred during the Regency era has come to be regarded as a pivotal moment in the evolution of British democracy.
Here’s what happened: On August 16, 1819, about a dozen or so people were killed and hundreds more were wounded when soldiers and others (including the 15th King’s Hussars) charged into a crowd gathered at St. Peter’s Fields in Manchester, England. 
According to contemporary accounts, the crowd was a peaceful assembly; about 60,000 people had come to hear orator Henry Hunt and other speakers discuss the n…

The Crown - Then and Now

Netflix's new series, The Crown, is a visual treat for fans of English history. Starring Claire Foy (who played Anne Boleyn in Wolf Hall) as Queen Elizabeth II and Matt Smith (a former Doctor Who) as Prince Philip, the show dramatizes how Elizabeth transforms from a young upper-class British wife and mother into a resolute sovereign.
With some backstory thrown in for context (including the death of Elizabeth’s father, King George VI, the abdication of her uncle, Edward VIII, and her wedding to Prince Philip), the first season covers the events and scandals of the early 1950s that shaped the initial years of Elizabeth’s reign. Ten episodes are streaming on Netflix now, and there’s hope of more to come.
All the episodes are beautifully filmed (the production must have a lavish budget) and though it takes a while to build, the characters and their relationships to each other become increasingly well-developed and compelling as the series progresses. 
Even if you don’t have Netflix, you …

Celebrate Thanksgiving with mincemeat pie

It’s almost Thanksgiving Day here in the States, and this year I plan to distract myself from my post-election malaise by preparing a traditional Thanksgiving feast for my family and friends. So, along with cooking other delicacies I’ll roast a turkey, boil fresh cranberries with sugar to make a thick, sweet sauce, and bake a traditional pumpkin pie, to be served with generous dollops of whipped cream. My guests would feel cheated if I omitted any of those dishes.
But there'll be an addition to the menu this year. I’ve decided to resurrect a tradition from my past and make a mincemeat pie. Mincemeat pie is not a universal Thanksgiving treat, like pumpkin pie. It's an acquired taste, and some people won’t touch it. Even apple and pecan pie are better appreciated holiday desserts. But when I was growing up, it wasn’t Thanksgiving without at least one mincemeat pie.
How does mincemeat pie fit on a blog about Regency England? Well, I did some research and discovered that mincemeat …

The Despard Plot: Another Reason to Remember November

There must be something about the month of November and plots to kill the British king. The dastardly treason of Guy Fawkes and his band of conspirators is well-known, and the foiling of that plot is still celebrated 400 years after the event, marked with fireworks, parades and bonfires throughout Great Britain on November 5.
But what about Edward Despard? Where’s his bonfire?
Here’s what happened: in the fall of 1802 Colonel Edward Marcus Despard, a decorated Irish officer of the British Army who fought for the Crown during the American War of Independence, friend of Horatio Nelson, and for a time the designated superintendent of what would become the British Honduras, allegedly conspired to kill King George III.
On November 16, a week before the assassination was supposed to take place, Despard was arrested and charged with high treason. After a trial he was condemned to die by hanging, drawing and quartering, the last person in Britain to ever receive such a severe and painfully redu…