Back to life in Georgian times

Novelty cups, such as a lady’s show, were used for a nightcap. Inset, an East India sugar bowl.
Novelty cups, such as a lady’s show, were used for a nightcap. Inset, an East India sugar bowl.

The Blackmore Vale Group of the Somerset and Dorset Family History Group enjoyed an ‘entire day’ in a Georgian House during a social evening.
Gordon Le Pard took along an array of original Georgian objects to The Exchange in Sturminster Newton and explained how they would have been used.
The ‘day’ began with a flint to start the fires going at daybreak, carrying tins of hot water to the bedrooms, through the process of washing and drying laundry, meals and snuffing the candle when heading to bed.
Doing the laundry could not have been one of the servants’ favourite occupations – the owners of the house would prefer to leave the house if they could.
It was a tiring, time-consuming drudge – thank goodness for those lavender bushes outside the back door to drape the wet clothes over!
Meals were a variable event during the day – with the luckier people eating off newly-available bone China plates rather than risking lead poisoning from the more commonly used pewter.
And the etiquette for eating peas with only a two-pronged fork? Scoop them up with a knife, of course!
Afternoon tea became fashionable during the Georgian era – and was usually associated with ladies as it was a ‘domestic’ event – public coffee houses were the preserve of men.
It was interesting to hear how British housewives helped turn the tide against the slave trade. Sugar was usually from the West Indies – produced by slave labour – and wealthy ladies were keen to advertise that the sugar in their household was from East India – special sugar bowls highlighting this were popular.
An alcoholic ‘nightcap before bed’ was available at many of the gentlemen’s clubs – novelty cups, such as a lady’s shoe were often used, and contained a generous amount of gin.
Take a seat: The next talk is at The Exchange, Sturminster Newton, on Wednesday, 15 June, at 7.30pm when author Jim Williams will encourage visitors to record their everyday lives to help create future family historians.
Further details available from or phone 01258 472942.

by Laura Manning

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