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Regency Lounge Lizards


One reason (among many!) that some people like Regency romances is that the Regency era is perceived as being one where elegant manners and impeccable etiquette were the norm – much like a perpetual Downton Abbey house party, only about 100 years earlier. 

But though the era is known for its elegant manners, those manners were studied and practiced by those who were at the upper tiers of society, or aspired to be there. Life on the streets of London, even if you were a member of the privileged "Beau Monde", could be rough.

For example, if you were a lady you seldom went anywhere alone in the metropolis without the escort of a man, a friend or at least a maid. And if you cared about your reputation, you’d avoid male enclaves such as Bond Street after mid-day, to avoid the insolent scrutiny of a “Bond Street lounger”.

Bond Street loungers were dandies who apparently had nothing better to do than linger on one of London’s most fashionable streets and popular shopping areas. These men often frequented the men’s clubs and exclusive brothels that were also located on Bond Street.

Here’s a 1796 James Gillray caricature of some men ogling a mother and her daughter on Bond Street:
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Besides wearing ridiculously high cravats that cover the lower portion of their faces, these Bond Street loungers are also being extremely rude by “taking the wall” and forcing the women to walk in the street. (It’s worth remembering that the streets were likely littered with horse dung, and the women’s skirts were long.) 

So much for elegant manners!

On the other hand, this Regency lass looks well protected enough to stroll anywhere she wishes, whether it be a London street or a country lane:
"Two Strings To Her Bow" by John Pettie, painted in 1882
(Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
She looks pretty pleased with herself, no doubt secure in the knowledge that no one would dare to bother her while she has an escort on either arm. Bond Street loungers beware!

Comments

  1. I remember what it's like to be ogled while walking down the street. Very uncomfortable, indeed. I would've liked to have had a handsome escort!

    - Momma Cat

    ReplyDelete
  2. Bond Street in London at that time sounds a little scary--yikes! xo Jennifer

    ReplyDelete

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