Tag Archive | Queen Charlotte

Ackermann’s Repository: The Death of Queen Charlotte

Queen Charlotte’s Death Notice

Ackermann’s Repository

December 1818

More about Queen Charlotte on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlotte_of_Mecklenburg-Strelitz

Mourning for Queen Charlotte

The mourning for our late venerated and beloved Queen is equally deep and general: no wonder indeed that the whole English nation should be eager to pay a tribute of respect to the memory made in the robe form, of a three-quarter height, are very general for morning: they are trimmed all round with a broad border of plain muslin or long lawn, with weepers to correspond; and are worn with lawn or muslin handkerchiefs, and large mourning ruffs, which in general are rounded at the ends, and do not quite meet in front of the throat.

Black bombazine is universally worn for dinner dress, and is also adopted for social evening parties. There is a good deal of variety in the form as well as the trimmings of dinner gowns. Frocks are very general; some are cut quite low and square round the bosom, with very short sleeves, which are formed of full puffings of black crape placed between bands of bombazine. The bust is trimmed with black crape, variously disposed; but ruches, though so long worn, appear to us most prevalent. The bottoms of the skirts are always very full trimmed with black crape; some have a broad band of crape formed into bias flutings, which are placed across; others are trimmed with black crape leaves, of which there are two or three rows placed one above another. Corkscrew rolls of crape, which are very narrow, and always four or five in number, are also a favourite trimming; and we have observed several gowns trimmed extremely high with black crape tucks.

The bodies of other dresses are made partially high round the back of the neck; the back is plain, and buttons up behind with small jet buttons; the front has a little fullness at each side of the shoulder-strap; the middle of the bust is plain, and sloped gradually on each side; the waist is very short, and the bust is trimmed round with a single row of crape disposed in wolves’ teeth. Plain long sleeve, ornamented at the hand to correspond with the bust, and finished at the bottom of the skirt with a similar but broader trimming.

We recommend this dress, at least the manner in which the body part is made, to those of our fair subscribers who are of the middle age; it is at once delicate and becoming. We understand that several matronly ladies of distinction have given orders for dresses made in this style, and we shall be glad to see it generally adopted.

Black crape over black sarsnet is universally adopted for full dress. The most elegant style is that given in our print. We have, however, noticed another, which we consider as very tasteful and worthy of attention: it is a frock; the body, formed of a fullness of crape, is made to fit the shape of the bust by jet beads, which form a kind of stomacher; the back is full; the shape is formed on each side by jet beads, and it is fastened behind with small jet buttons. A short full sleeve, the fullness looped in various places by little jet ornaments. The bottom of the skirt was trimmed with a deep flounce of black crape, which was looped in the drapery style with jet ornaments, and headed by a row of small crape roses.

We understand that it is expected; dresses both of bombazine and black crape, trimmed with white crape, will be worn, particularly by young ladies. We consider this very likely, because it is still very deep mourning, though less gloomy than all black: we have not yet, however, seen any of them.

Several trimmings, composed of black crape and intermixed with scarlet, are we understand in preparation for some very dashing élégantes. This mixture of black and scarlet has of late years have been tolerated even in the deepest mourning; in our opinion it is far from appropriate: we remember upon a late ever-to-be-lamented occasion it was seldom seen, and we believe it is now likely to be confined chiefly to those ladies whom the French would style merveilleuses.

Head-dresses, both for full- and half-dress, are mostly made in white crape. Toques and turban-hats are generally adopted in the former, and caps in the latter; they are always of a round shape, and the cauls low: some have narrow borders; others have no border, but have the head-piece formed in the toque style, that is to say, disposed in very full folds: these last are always ornamented with flowers.

Toques are usually made without any other ornament than the crape tastefully disposed in front. Turban-hats are either ornamented with flowers, or if black, with jet beads. Head-dresses are at present either entirely white or entirely black; and the former, as we have just observed, are most prevalent.

Very young ladies wear jet combs, sprigs, and tiaras, in full-dress; but for dishabille, belles of all ages wear simple undress caps, which are in general muslin, long lawn not being much used.

It is almost superfluous to mention, that all ornaments for the hair &c. at present are composed of jet.

Gloves and shoes are always of black chamois leather.

Evening Dress

A black crape dress over a black sarsnet slip: the body is cut very low and square round the bust, and is tight to the shape; it is trimmed round the bosom and the back with a rouleau of crape intermixed with jet beads: this trimming does not go round the shoulders. The bottom of the waist is finished by rounded tabs. Long sleeve, made very loose, and finished at the band by a rouleau to correspond with the bosom; the fullness of the sleeve is disposed on the shoulder in puffs, which are interspersed with jet beads, some of which also confine it across the arm: this forms a new and elegant style of half-sleeve. The bottom of the skirt is cut in broad scallops, the edges of which are ornamented with narrow black fancy trimming, and an embroidery of crape roses, with branches of crape leaves disposed between each; a second row of this trimming is laid on at a little distance from the first. The front hair is much parted on the forehead, and disposed in light loose ringlets, which fall over each ear. The hind hair is braided, and brought round the crown of the head. Head-dress, a long veil placed at the back of the head, and an elegant jet ornament, consisting of a rose and aigrette, which is also placed far back. Chamois leather gloves and shoes. Ear-rings, necklace, and cross, jet. 

Walking Dress

A round dress of black bombazine; the body is made tight to the shape and up to the throat, but without a collar; long sleeves, with white crape weepers: the skirt is finished at the bottom with a broad black crape flounce, disposed in large plaits; over this is a very narrow flounce, which is also plaited to correspond; a little above this is a third flounce, which is quilled in the middle to correspond, and the whole is surmounted by a broad band of bias crape. The spencer worn with this dress is composed of black clothing; it is cut without a seam, and ornamented with a fullness of black crape, disposed in large plaits at the bottom of the waist: a high standing collar rounded in front, made to stand out from the neck, and edged with a light trimming of black crape: long loose sleeves, finished at the hands with black crape trimming, and surmounted by epaulettes draperied with black cord and ornamented with small tassels. Head-dress, a bonnet of black crape of a moderate size; the edge of the brim is finished with a row of large hollow plaits; the crown is trimmed to correspond. A white crape frill stands up round the throat. Gloves and shoes black chamois leather.

 

Regency Rites: Presentation at Court

A young girl’s come-out in Polite Society started with her presentation at Court. During Regency times, she would “make her curtsy to the Queen”, be honored with a large ball given by her family at their London residence, and if she were very fortunate, receive a voucher for Almack’s, the exclusive “marriage mart” to which all marriage-minded misses and their mothers yearned to be invited. (See previous post)

Wide hoops popular in the previous century were obligatory, even during the Regency when waistlines moved higher, and the result was considered ridiculous even then. But Queen Charlotte insisted, and…well…who was going to argue with the Queen?

courtdressgeorgian
An example of Georgian dress featuring hoops so wide the lady was obliged to walk sideways through doorways. But imagine these same hoops on high-waisted gowns such as those of the Regency period!

The elaborate gown consisted of a bodice, followed by a narrow hoop covered by layers of skirts. In her Memoirs, the Comtesse de Boigne describes “a satin skirt lavishly decorated with silver embroidery topped by a tulle skirt featuring a silver lace furbelow. The shortest and top skirt was made of silver-spangled tulle decorated with a garland of flowers. This last skirt was turned up and tucked so that the garland draped crosswise all around the skirt. To complete the proper style, the bottom of the white satin dress was turned up in loops and did not reach the base of the hoop skirt. Only the queen wore a train.” (see footnote)

In addition to the gown, an elaborate headdress with at least seven ostrich feathers was required. “The Comtesse’s head-gear beneath her plumes consisted of a garland of white roses upon a ringlet of pearls, a diamond comb, diamond buckles, and white silk tassels.” (see footnote)

It was also obligatory to display as much jewelry as possible, no matter how ridiculous it might appear. It is not surprising that these outfits cost an enormous amount of money in themselves, even though they might never be worn again.

courtdress2In fact, considering the cost of the court dress, an extensive wardrobe, the come-out ball, a suitable residence in the most exclusive part of town, and enough servants to staff it, only the very wealthy could afford such lavish expenditures. These things were necessary, however, if one wished one’s daughters to marry well—title, family connections, and wealth—and it’s not difficult to visualize a father with several daughters or one who didn’t “take” the first season agonizing over the huge amounts of money flowing out of the family coffers. Undoubtedly, the young ladies were well aware of their parents’ expectations; after all the money spent, they’d better not do something stupid like allow themselves to be ruined or fall in love with a penniless man.

On the day of the presentation, the young ladies would arrive in a long procession of carriages.down Piccadilly Street to St. James’s Palace. Amidst trumpets and gunfire, they would proceed into the palace and join the crush of richly-dressed ladies in ostrich plumes, hoop skirts, and diamonds. It was an exciting, but terrifying, initiation into the top echelons of London society. Each girl would be led to the Queen, make her curtsy, exchange greetings and perhaps pleasantries with Her Majesty, and then walk backwards out of the room (one should never turn one’s back on royalty), hoping against hope that she didn’t trip or cough or do something to earn the Queen’s disapproval.

Afterwards, during the remainder of the Season, there were balls and routs, trips to the opera, the theater, Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens and Hyde Park, Venetian breakfasts and ridottos (although not masquerades, since they were considered only for the fast set), and all manner of exciting social events where a young lady could establish herself in London Society…and make the acquaintance of many suitable gentlemen themselves seeking eligible matches.

courtdressmale
The gentlemen’s court dress didn’t change as dramatically as the ladies’ did. (The wig is from an earlier period.)

This all sounds thrilling, but for some reason, I seem to prefer writing romances with more down-to-earth characters in less grand settings. Perhaps because I’m a farmer’s daughter at heart? But as much as I enjoy reading and imagining such things, I still prefer characters who can be blissfully happy without all the glitter and the falderal.

What do you think? Can you visualize yourself “making your curtsy to the Queen”?

The Regency Companion, Sharon Laudermilk and Theresa L. Hamlin, Garland Publishing, Inc., 1989, p. 24.

The Regency Rites series

Regency Rites: The Well-Dressed Regency Lady 

Regency Rites: Presentation at Court

Regency Rites: Almack’s Assembly Rooms 

Regency Rites: The London Season