Friday, April 1, 2016

Cerise went to #England, brought home #gin, a carriage and a yummy earl!
Yes, I went on my annual research trip, lugging along only 1 suitcase, my iPad, tons of notes...and my husband. He is such a good bloke to go with me each year. I promise different sights. He promises to like (most of) them. I also promise great dining at yummy restaurants and he finds the wine. And the brandy. This year we discovered Sipsmith Gin! (Swoon worthy G and Ts were appreciated by Mr. DeLand and me at Rules and I'll have more on that divine feast in another post!)

And did I bring home an earl?

And a carriage?

Well, the next best thing to both, I brought home fab pix of carriages and lots of info about men of some (varied) repute. All of this, of course, is for character building, house and estate "establishment" and other words of historical accuracy while permitting two people to fall in love and have an HEA!

This year we did England. Almost two weeks in London found us taking the Tube each morning to a new and exciting destination, previously chosen for sound research in the Regency period (and some in the Victorian, too). I have wonderful tales to tell in succeeding blogs and hope you will return for the fun of it, and the news of how this all folds into this new novel or that one!

First up, where did I find that carriage? And that earl, you ask? Well, while hubby and I have been to England often, we'd never taken in the Royal Mews. We began there.
And what a great site it is too for finding sumptuous carriages fit for...well, yes, a queen. But I found a few other oldie but goodies, too.

Near Buckingham Palace, the grounds were opened by Henry VIII. With horse stables and separate areas for the royal motorcars, the Mews is arranged around a courtyard. Here, the stable doors are open to visitors to view the horses, royal carriages and autos.

While I was not able to get a picture of any of the horses (because staff ask that you not disturb the animals overmuch with snapping and flashes and such), I did get a few great shots of the elaborate, immaculate carriages which Her Majesty and her family use for many state and family occasions.

Semi-State Landau, Royal Mews. (My picture.)
The one that appealed to me most was this one. The Semi-State Landau. Although its top is up, I can imagine it down, people riding graciously in facing seats whilst being taken around town by matching horses.

This wonderful coach is often used by the younger royals in parades such as the Trooping of the Color for the Queen's Birthday. Very popular with Queen Victoria, the coach gives a feeling of youth, vibrancy and allows for a full view of those in the seats. It was gilded and decorated for her Golden Jubilee in 1887, surviving today with the excellent care of the staff at the Mews.

But what would you do, what carriage would you want if it rains?

The Scottish State coach, used by Queen and Prince Phillip
during wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Picture is mine.
Try this one! Known as the Scottish State Coach, it is used for glamorous state occasions when being seen is the best PR tactic. Built in 1830 for George IV's younger brother, the Duke of Cambridge, it was refurbished for the Royal household a century later. Used by Her Majesty to attend Scottish Parliament and other state occasions, the coach bears the Scottish crown on the top. 

As for me, I intend to use a coach similar to it in my next Regency. Of course, the hero must be fabulously rich, perhaps even fabulously vain! Hopelessly handsome, too. Hence, the reason for the grand display.

And if that one is in repair, then perhaps this one would appeal more! This is the Golden State Coronation Coach made for George III in 1762 at the then cost of more than 7,000 Pounds. Covered in gold leaf, this enormous carriage sits in the Mews in splendor. Like the other coaches, it remains in a constant state of readiness at significant cost to the Crown. Hand painted outside and in by a contemporary artist of period, Giovanni Cipriani, this coach boasts red velvet interiors to complement the priceless artwork inside. It requires a team of 8 horses. This coach has been used at every coronation since George IV,  including Queen Elizabeth to her coronation and on her Diamond and Golden Jubilees.

Each coach is described by a plaque to one side of the carriage. Do enlarge to read this one and then note you can also see the extent of many of the stables to the left.

Throughout the exhibit area, other means of conveyance are exhibited.
A pony cart. A child's miniature carriage. And here is a sedan chair, looking extremely uncomfortable, I must say!

And what about that earl?
Where did I hide him?
Is he happy here in Texas with me?
View of courtyard of Royal Mews.
My photo.
As soon as I give him more than one of these carriages to ride in, more than a stiff G and T and a proper home to live in (Osterley, perhaps?), he'll be well satisfied!

17th Century Sedan Chair.
My picture.

The Irish State Coach built for an Industrial Exhibition in 1853 in Dublin
in hopes of attracting the attention of Queen Victoria.
The Crown purchased the coach and Queen Victoria used it often.
Picture is mine.

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