Country House Pursuits

Ragley_HallHello, Nicola here. One of the questions I’m often asked when I am showing visitors around Ashdown House is what did visitors to country houses do all day? Life in London or Bath was exciting, with plays, concerts, opera, shopping and many more entertainments. In contrast the country lifestyle was sometimes mocked as slow and boring, especially on a rainy day. “Morning walks, prayers three times a day and bohea tea” was how the poet Alexander Pope described it.

It was a leisured lifestyle, of course, because the owners and visitors didn’t have to work for a living, unlike the servants who attended to their every need. So they were free to pursue whatever activity and interests they wished and, mostly, had the money to indulge those interests. Below are just a few of the ways in which they passed their time.

Ashdown, being a hunting lodge, was all about sport. Guests would go fox hunting and hare coursingIMG_9275 over the Downs, ride through the woodland or go pheasant shooting. There was a private racecourse and in the 19th century a nine hole golf course as well. Cricket was also played. If visitors wished to be slightly less active they could watch the progress of the hunt from the viewing platform on the roof of the house or visit the horses in their stables. Rainy days did not mean that exercise could not be taken. Many country houses had long galleries designed for a stroll in bad weather. At Ashdown there was the grand staircase where visitors could climb up and down, admiring the portraits as they passed. And by the mid-nineteenth century one of the favourite occupations of visitors to Ashdown was to watch the Earl taking photographs and posing for them as well. Who said country house life was boring?

Billiards 

Ivory billiards ballsFrom the Regency period onward Ashdown also had the appropriate accommodation for other country house pastimes. Billiards had been known as a game since the 17th century when it was played with curved cues called maces. However it did not become widely popular until the late 18th century and by the 19th century it was common for there to be a separate billiards room, as there was at Ashdown, with a smoking room alongside. This suggests that billiards was primarily a male entertainment but in fact women played as well and mixed games occurred frequently. In 1813 Lord Byron declared his love for Lady Frances Webster over a game of billiards at Aston Hall in Yorkshire! The billiards balls in the picture are made of marble.

Card Games

Card games were another popular way in which to while away and evening. Most country houses had at least one card table and when there was a ball there were usually at least three tables where guests could play if they were not dancing. In Emma, Jane Austen describes: “a very superior party in which her card tables should be set out with their separate candles and unbroken packs in the true style.” Games such as Commerce, Speculation and Loo were considered respectable. However, card games brought with them the dangers of gambling and sometimes accusations of cheating. Nothing was more likely to destroy the happy atmosphere of a country house party than guests falling out because they had lost money at cards or someone had the temerity to accuse a fellow guest of swindling them.

Concerts, Theatricals and Dances

Some aristocratic families such as the Cavendishes were rich enough to employ a private orchestra andThe Pic Nic orchestra to build a private theatre but even those who could not afford to do so could put on private performances in which they all took part. Jane Austen grew up in such a world where families wrote and performed their own theatricals. The Pic Nic Club formed in 1802 to stage their own plays, which were followed by sumptuous suppers. The picture is one of James Gillray's cartoons making fun of the Pic Nic Orchestra.

Ladies were expected to be proficient on at least one musical instrument and both ladies and gentlemen sang. Performing duets together or having a gentleman turn the pages of the music for you as you played the pianoforte could be a very romantic experience for a young lady!

Then there were the country house balls. By the 19th century there was a dedicated ballroom at Ashdown House but in many smaller properties the drawing room could substitute for a ballroom. All you had to do was move the furniture and roll back the carpets and you could hold an impromptu dance! The dancefloor was a great place to hold conversations without being overheard by your chaperon, although the steps of the dance might move a lady and gentleman apart at a crucial moment.

Drawing  

I have no talent for drawing so it’s fortunate these days that it is not a general requirement for theRegency Interior 1819 female sex to be able to paint and draw since I would be found sadly lacking. For ladies in the 18th and 19th century there were itinerant drawing masters who would instruct them in the arts of pencil sketches and of painting in water colour. Tradition dictated that these should be painted outdoors but when it rained ladies would sometimes sketch or draw interiors. These drawings have now become an invaluable historical record of what the interiors of country houses looked like and the style in which they were decorated.

Reading, Shell Work and Model Making

Long LibraryOther occupations for a rainy day might be reading, sewing or model-making. We might not now agree with Thomas Hobbes, who claimed that: “Reading is a pernicious habit, it destroys all originality of sentiment” but before the mid 17th century reading was intended more for reflection than relaxation and country houses had very few books. By the 18th century a separate room was set aside to house collections of books and although women were always noted to be more avid readers than men, the library was generally a male preserve up until the end of the 18th century. Interestingly by abut 1820 it had become a multi-purpose sort of a room where tea was taken, music was played and books were read aloud to the assembled company. This is the Library at Blenheim Palace and as you can see it features a piano as well as endless wonderful bookshelves!

The most complicated and intricate of ladies’ entertainments was probably the shell work that becameA La Ronde extremely fashionable in the 18th century. Many ladies decorated boxes with shells but some practised shell work on a grander scale. Sarah, Duchess of Richmond, and her daughters Caroline and Emily, decorated a grotto with seashells at Goodwood Park in Sussex. In 1798 cousins Jane and Mary Parminter decorated a house called A La Ronde in Sussex (pictured) with seashells, feathered panels, glass, broken pottery shards, mica and cork. Shells were also used in model making. One of the most famous models made during the Georgian period was Betty Ratcliffe’s model of the China pagoda at Kew, complete with tinkling bells.

If you had been a Regency lady or gentleman which of the country house pursuits do you think you might have enjoyed? Something sporting or something creative? Which would you have liked to try? 

85 thoughts on “Country House Pursuits”

  1. Oh Nicola, what a delightful post! While I would love a good gallop across the hills and dales of an estate, I’m not much for hunting.
    I like a good game of billiards as well.
    Reading and singing would be easy pursuits for me, but the drawing might be a bit of a stretch. I love needlework, but don’t have much time for it since I started writing.
    The one thing you address which I have never tried, but would dearly love to is the shell work. I came across an interesting article about it a year or so ago and found it fascinating. In fact, in my current WIP one of my minor characters spends all of her time doing shell work.

    Reply
  2. Oh Nicola, what a delightful post! While I would love a good gallop across the hills and dales of an estate, I’m not much for hunting.
    I like a good game of billiards as well.
    Reading and singing would be easy pursuits for me, but the drawing might be a bit of a stretch. I love needlework, but don’t have much time for it since I started writing.
    The one thing you address which I have never tried, but would dearly love to is the shell work. I came across an interesting article about it a year or so ago and found it fascinating. In fact, in my current WIP one of my minor characters spends all of her time doing shell work.

    Reply
  3. Oh Nicola, what a delightful post! While I would love a good gallop across the hills and dales of an estate, I’m not much for hunting.
    I like a good game of billiards as well.
    Reading and singing would be easy pursuits for me, but the drawing might be a bit of a stretch. I love needlework, but don’t have much time for it since I started writing.
    The one thing you address which I have never tried, but would dearly love to is the shell work. I came across an interesting article about it a year or so ago and found it fascinating. In fact, in my current WIP one of my minor characters spends all of her time doing shell work.

    Reply
  4. Oh Nicola, what a delightful post! While I would love a good gallop across the hills and dales of an estate, I’m not much for hunting.
    I like a good game of billiards as well.
    Reading and singing would be easy pursuits for me, but the drawing might be a bit of a stretch. I love needlework, but don’t have much time for it since I started writing.
    The one thing you address which I have never tried, but would dearly love to is the shell work. I came across an interesting article about it a year or so ago and found it fascinating. In fact, in my current WIP one of my minor characters spends all of her time doing shell work.

    Reply
  5. Oh Nicola, what a delightful post! While I would love a good gallop across the hills and dales of an estate, I’m not much for hunting.
    I like a good game of billiards as well.
    Reading and singing would be easy pursuits for me, but the drawing might be a bit of a stretch. I love needlework, but don’t have much time for it since I started writing.
    The one thing you address which I have never tried, but would dearly love to is the shell work. I came across an interesting article about it a year or so ago and found it fascinating. In fact, in my current WIP one of my minor characters spends all of her time doing shell work.

    Reply
  6. I’d love to try them all, but I’d probably be much more successful with the creative than the sporting.
    I like the idea shell work – I actually have a lot of shells & want to do something with them – I just don’t have as much free time as those ladies.

    Reply
  7. I’d love to try them all, but I’d probably be much more successful with the creative than the sporting.
    I like the idea shell work – I actually have a lot of shells & want to do something with them – I just don’t have as much free time as those ladies.

    Reply
  8. I’d love to try them all, but I’d probably be much more successful with the creative than the sporting.
    I like the idea shell work – I actually have a lot of shells & want to do something with them – I just don’t have as much free time as those ladies.

    Reply
  9. I’d love to try them all, but I’d probably be much more successful with the creative than the sporting.
    I like the idea shell work – I actually have a lot of shells & want to do something with them – I just don’t have as much free time as those ladies.

    Reply
  10. I’d love to try them all, but I’d probably be much more successful with the creative than the sporting.
    I like the idea shell work – I actually have a lot of shells & want to do something with them – I just don’t have as much free time as those ladies.

    Reply
  11. One of the problems is that all these activities are what we think of as leisure activities, recreation. They are the sort of thing you do when you have finished your “real life” activities—i.e. work. And while it might be nice to think about not having to work, and not having to do anything except have fun, I think for many people — me, at least — it would get kind of boring. Unless you really took one of them seriously, as an artist or a scholar or a horse trainer, for example.
    I’ve sometimes thought that one of the reasons they changed clothes so often, with morning dresses and walking dresses and evening dresses, was to fill up the day.
    I wouldn’t want to be one of the servants. That’s far too much back-breaking physical labor. But if I were one of the served class, I think I would have to find something other than recreation to fill my days.

    Reply
  12. One of the problems is that all these activities are what we think of as leisure activities, recreation. They are the sort of thing you do when you have finished your “real life” activities—i.e. work. And while it might be nice to think about not having to work, and not having to do anything except have fun, I think for many people — me, at least — it would get kind of boring. Unless you really took one of them seriously, as an artist or a scholar or a horse trainer, for example.
    I’ve sometimes thought that one of the reasons they changed clothes so often, with morning dresses and walking dresses and evening dresses, was to fill up the day.
    I wouldn’t want to be one of the servants. That’s far too much back-breaking physical labor. But if I were one of the served class, I think I would have to find something other than recreation to fill my days.

    Reply
  13. One of the problems is that all these activities are what we think of as leisure activities, recreation. They are the sort of thing you do when you have finished your “real life” activities—i.e. work. And while it might be nice to think about not having to work, and not having to do anything except have fun, I think for many people — me, at least — it would get kind of boring. Unless you really took one of them seriously, as an artist or a scholar or a horse trainer, for example.
    I’ve sometimes thought that one of the reasons they changed clothes so often, with morning dresses and walking dresses and evening dresses, was to fill up the day.
    I wouldn’t want to be one of the servants. That’s far too much back-breaking physical labor. But if I were one of the served class, I think I would have to find something other than recreation to fill my days.

    Reply
  14. One of the problems is that all these activities are what we think of as leisure activities, recreation. They are the sort of thing you do when you have finished your “real life” activities—i.e. work. And while it might be nice to think about not having to work, and not having to do anything except have fun, I think for many people — me, at least — it would get kind of boring. Unless you really took one of them seriously, as an artist or a scholar or a horse trainer, for example.
    I’ve sometimes thought that one of the reasons they changed clothes so often, with morning dresses and walking dresses and evening dresses, was to fill up the day.
    I wouldn’t want to be one of the servants. That’s far too much back-breaking physical labor. But if I were one of the served class, I think I would have to find something other than recreation to fill my days.

    Reply
  15. One of the problems is that all these activities are what we think of as leisure activities, recreation. They are the sort of thing you do when you have finished your “real life” activities—i.e. work. And while it might be nice to think about not having to work, and not having to do anything except have fun, I think for many people — me, at least — it would get kind of boring. Unless you really took one of them seriously, as an artist or a scholar or a horse trainer, for example.
    I’ve sometimes thought that one of the reasons they changed clothes so often, with morning dresses and walking dresses and evening dresses, was to fill up the day.
    I wouldn’t want to be one of the servants. That’s far too much back-breaking physical labor. But if I were one of the served class, I think I would have to find something other than recreation to fill my days.

    Reply
  16. I was pretty busy and creative. Having the concentrated time of a Regency miss to persue all of my interests, I’d have played the piano, done a lot of horseback riding, played a descent hand of cards, read quite a lot, written lots of letters, travelled when possible, and knitted.
    Unfortuneately I’d have been a disaster at 18 at my come-out ball since I was shy and have two left feet.

    Reply
  17. I was pretty busy and creative. Having the concentrated time of a Regency miss to persue all of my interests, I’d have played the piano, done a lot of horseback riding, played a descent hand of cards, read quite a lot, written lots of letters, travelled when possible, and knitted.
    Unfortuneately I’d have been a disaster at 18 at my come-out ball since I was shy and have two left feet.

    Reply
  18. I was pretty busy and creative. Having the concentrated time of a Regency miss to persue all of my interests, I’d have played the piano, done a lot of horseback riding, played a descent hand of cards, read quite a lot, written lots of letters, travelled when possible, and knitted.
    Unfortuneately I’d have been a disaster at 18 at my come-out ball since I was shy and have two left feet.

    Reply
  19. I was pretty busy and creative. Having the concentrated time of a Regency miss to persue all of my interests, I’d have played the piano, done a lot of horseback riding, played a descent hand of cards, read quite a lot, written lots of letters, travelled when possible, and knitted.
    Unfortuneately I’d have been a disaster at 18 at my come-out ball since I was shy and have two left feet.

    Reply
  20. I was pretty busy and creative. Having the concentrated time of a Regency miss to persue all of my interests, I’d have played the piano, done a lot of horseback riding, played a descent hand of cards, read quite a lot, written lots of letters, travelled when possible, and knitted.
    Unfortuneately I’d have been a disaster at 18 at my come-out ball since I was shy and have two left feet.

    Reply
  21. Loved reading this Nicola. If I had been a Regency Miss, I think I would have liked walking with my dog, or on wet days reading or playing the piano. Embroidery would have been good, so long as the back of my work wasn’t inspected too closely.
    It always amazes me that with so many labour saving devices today, we never seem to have the time to do what we want. Is this a case of ‘oh, for the good old days’?

    Reply
  22. Loved reading this Nicola. If I had been a Regency Miss, I think I would have liked walking with my dog, or on wet days reading or playing the piano. Embroidery would have been good, so long as the back of my work wasn’t inspected too closely.
    It always amazes me that with so many labour saving devices today, we never seem to have the time to do what we want. Is this a case of ‘oh, for the good old days’?

    Reply
  23. Loved reading this Nicola. If I had been a Regency Miss, I think I would have liked walking with my dog, or on wet days reading or playing the piano. Embroidery would have been good, so long as the back of my work wasn’t inspected too closely.
    It always amazes me that with so many labour saving devices today, we never seem to have the time to do what we want. Is this a case of ‘oh, for the good old days’?

    Reply
  24. Loved reading this Nicola. If I had been a Regency Miss, I think I would have liked walking with my dog, or on wet days reading or playing the piano. Embroidery would have been good, so long as the back of my work wasn’t inspected too closely.
    It always amazes me that with so many labour saving devices today, we never seem to have the time to do what we want. Is this a case of ‘oh, for the good old days’?

    Reply
  25. Loved reading this Nicola. If I had been a Regency Miss, I think I would have liked walking with my dog, or on wet days reading or playing the piano. Embroidery would have been good, so long as the back of my work wasn’t inspected too closely.
    It always amazes me that with so many labour saving devices today, we never seem to have the time to do what we want. Is this a case of ‘oh, for the good old days’?

    Reply
  26. Hi Louisa. I’m glad you like the post. I had so much fun putting it together. It sounds as though you would have fitted well into the country house lifestyle! You are very accomplished! The shell work is fascinating, isn’t it. I don’t think I’d be much good at it but I admire those who are talented with crafts like that.
    Diane, that’s the problem for most of us, isn’t it. They had so much leisure in which to explore all these things!

    Reply
  27. Hi Louisa. I’m glad you like the post. I had so much fun putting it together. It sounds as though you would have fitted well into the country house lifestyle! You are very accomplished! The shell work is fascinating, isn’t it. I don’t think I’d be much good at it but I admire those who are talented with crafts like that.
    Diane, that’s the problem for most of us, isn’t it. They had so much leisure in which to explore all these things!

    Reply
  28. Hi Louisa. I’m glad you like the post. I had so much fun putting it together. It sounds as though you would have fitted well into the country house lifestyle! You are very accomplished! The shell work is fascinating, isn’t it. I don’t think I’d be much good at it but I admire those who are talented with crafts like that.
    Diane, that’s the problem for most of us, isn’t it. They had so much leisure in which to explore all these things!

    Reply
  29. Hi Louisa. I’m glad you like the post. I had so much fun putting it together. It sounds as though you would have fitted well into the country house lifestyle! You are very accomplished! The shell work is fascinating, isn’t it. I don’t think I’d be much good at it but I admire those who are talented with crafts like that.
    Diane, that’s the problem for most of us, isn’t it. They had so much leisure in which to explore all these things!

    Reply
  30. Hi Louisa. I’m glad you like the post. I had so much fun putting it together. It sounds as though you would have fitted well into the country house lifestyle! You are very accomplished! The shell work is fascinating, isn’t it. I don’t think I’d be much good at it but I admire those who are talented with crafts like that.
    Diane, that’s the problem for most of us, isn’t it. They had so much leisure in which to explore all these things!

    Reply
  31. Isobel, that sounds lovely! And Ashdown has so many woodland rides as well as the Downs to explore.
    Jane O that’s a very good point about having more purpose to your life. I wonder how many of us would get bored with hobbies and want to do something more meaningful?
    LOL, Susan! But there would be plenty of opportunity to practise the dancing along with all your other accomplishments!

    Reply
  32. Isobel, that sounds lovely! And Ashdown has so many woodland rides as well as the Downs to explore.
    Jane O that’s a very good point about having more purpose to your life. I wonder how many of us would get bored with hobbies and want to do something more meaningful?
    LOL, Susan! But there would be plenty of opportunity to practise the dancing along with all your other accomplishments!

    Reply
  33. Isobel, that sounds lovely! And Ashdown has so many woodland rides as well as the Downs to explore.
    Jane O that’s a very good point about having more purpose to your life. I wonder how many of us would get bored with hobbies and want to do something more meaningful?
    LOL, Susan! But there would be plenty of opportunity to practise the dancing along with all your other accomplishments!

    Reply
  34. Isobel, that sounds lovely! And Ashdown has so many woodland rides as well as the Downs to explore.
    Jane O that’s a very good point about having more purpose to your life. I wonder how many of us would get bored with hobbies and want to do something more meaningful?
    LOL, Susan! But there would be plenty of opportunity to practise the dancing along with all your other accomplishments!

    Reply
  35. Isobel, that sounds lovely! And Ashdown has so many woodland rides as well as the Downs to explore.
    Jane O that’s a very good point about having more purpose to your life. I wonder how many of us would get bored with hobbies and want to do something more meaningful?
    LOL, Susan! But there would be plenty of opportunity to practise the dancing along with all your other accomplishments!

    Reply
  36. LilMissMolly, some ofthe the embroidery was exquisite and I admire that skill very much. whilst I couldn’t draw or paint to save my life, I would have liked to learn proper needlework skills.
    Glad you liked the post, Jenny. Thank you! I hadn’t thought about pets but it would be lovely to stroll around Ashdown’s woods and hills with a dog or two. In fact that is what I am lucky enough to do now! It is curious that we have so many labour-saving devices and yet we seem to have so little leisure, but then I suppose we are doing “servants’ work” ourselves whereas the leisured classes of the past only had to please themselves!

    Reply
  37. LilMissMolly, some ofthe the embroidery was exquisite and I admire that skill very much. whilst I couldn’t draw or paint to save my life, I would have liked to learn proper needlework skills.
    Glad you liked the post, Jenny. Thank you! I hadn’t thought about pets but it would be lovely to stroll around Ashdown’s woods and hills with a dog or two. In fact that is what I am lucky enough to do now! It is curious that we have so many labour-saving devices and yet we seem to have so little leisure, but then I suppose we are doing “servants’ work” ourselves whereas the leisured classes of the past only had to please themselves!

    Reply
  38. LilMissMolly, some ofthe the embroidery was exquisite and I admire that skill very much. whilst I couldn’t draw or paint to save my life, I would have liked to learn proper needlework skills.
    Glad you liked the post, Jenny. Thank you! I hadn’t thought about pets but it would be lovely to stroll around Ashdown’s woods and hills with a dog or two. In fact that is what I am lucky enough to do now! It is curious that we have so many labour-saving devices and yet we seem to have so little leisure, but then I suppose we are doing “servants’ work” ourselves whereas the leisured classes of the past only had to please themselves!

    Reply
  39. LilMissMolly, some ofthe the embroidery was exquisite and I admire that skill very much. whilst I couldn’t draw or paint to save my life, I would have liked to learn proper needlework skills.
    Glad you liked the post, Jenny. Thank you! I hadn’t thought about pets but it would be lovely to stroll around Ashdown’s woods and hills with a dog or two. In fact that is what I am lucky enough to do now! It is curious that we have so many labour-saving devices and yet we seem to have so little leisure, but then I suppose we are doing “servants’ work” ourselves whereas the leisured classes of the past only had to please themselves!

    Reply
  40. LilMissMolly, some ofthe the embroidery was exquisite and I admire that skill very much. whilst I couldn’t draw or paint to save my life, I would have liked to learn proper needlework skills.
    Glad you liked the post, Jenny. Thank you! I hadn’t thought about pets but it would be lovely to stroll around Ashdown’s woods and hills with a dog or two. In fact that is what I am lucky enough to do now! It is curious that we have so many labour-saving devices and yet we seem to have so little leisure, but then I suppose we are doing “servants’ work” ourselves whereas the leisured classes of the past only had to please themselves!

    Reply
  41. Only the wealthy would have had all the free time. Remember the fleets of servants to do for the young misses.

    Reply
  42. Only the wealthy would have had all the free time. Remember the fleets of servants to do for the young misses.

    Reply
  43. Only the wealthy would have had all the free time. Remember the fleets of servants to do for the young misses.

    Reply
  44. Only the wealthy would have had all the free time. Remember the fleets of servants to do for the young misses.

    Reply
  45. Only the wealthy would have had all the free time. Remember the fleets of servants to do for the young misses.

    Reply
  46. A very fun and informative post! I think I would have spent time outdoors riding (sidesaddle?!?) and walking, and while indoors, reading, playing an instrument (I hope I would have been more musical than I am in this life!), and doing needlework. I am actually pretty good at cross-stitch and needlepoint.
    I thought about your comment about your not having any artistic talent, and I am the same. However, I wonder if we *would* have exhibited some proficiency if we had had a governess to train us from an early age?

    Reply
  47. A very fun and informative post! I think I would have spent time outdoors riding (sidesaddle?!?) and walking, and while indoors, reading, playing an instrument (I hope I would have been more musical than I am in this life!), and doing needlework. I am actually pretty good at cross-stitch and needlepoint.
    I thought about your comment about your not having any artistic talent, and I am the same. However, I wonder if we *would* have exhibited some proficiency if we had had a governess to train us from an early age?

    Reply
  48. A very fun and informative post! I think I would have spent time outdoors riding (sidesaddle?!?) and walking, and while indoors, reading, playing an instrument (I hope I would have been more musical than I am in this life!), and doing needlework. I am actually pretty good at cross-stitch and needlepoint.
    I thought about your comment about your not having any artistic talent, and I am the same. However, I wonder if we *would* have exhibited some proficiency if we had had a governess to train us from an early age?

    Reply
  49. A very fun and informative post! I think I would have spent time outdoors riding (sidesaddle?!?) and walking, and while indoors, reading, playing an instrument (I hope I would have been more musical than I am in this life!), and doing needlework. I am actually pretty good at cross-stitch and needlepoint.
    I thought about your comment about your not having any artistic talent, and I am the same. However, I wonder if we *would* have exhibited some proficiency if we had had a governess to train us from an early age?

    Reply
  50. A very fun and informative post! I think I would have spent time outdoors riding (sidesaddle?!?) and walking, and while indoors, reading, playing an instrument (I hope I would have been more musical than I am in this life!), and doing needlework. I am actually pretty good at cross-stitch and needlepoint.
    I thought about your comment about your not having any artistic talent, and I am the same. However, I wonder if we *would* have exhibited some proficiency if we had had a governess to train us from an early age?

    Reply
  51. I’d probably spend all my time inside reading and drawing. (Which is what I do when I have free time, anyway.) I’d love to learn embroidery, too. Looking at the embroidery they did, it just seems amazing that anyone could do something like that. Perhaps I’d even practice an instrument. (I can play flute, but I never practice, so my skills are somewhat lacking. And I wish I could play piano.)
    Moving on to the Victorian era, I’d probably add knitting to my list of accomplishments. Victorian knitting patterns, however, are impossible. I have a book of Victorian pattern inspired knit shawls, and they seem as if they’d have been extremely difficult with the original instructions.

    Reply
  52. I’d probably spend all my time inside reading and drawing. (Which is what I do when I have free time, anyway.) I’d love to learn embroidery, too. Looking at the embroidery they did, it just seems amazing that anyone could do something like that. Perhaps I’d even practice an instrument. (I can play flute, but I never practice, so my skills are somewhat lacking. And I wish I could play piano.)
    Moving on to the Victorian era, I’d probably add knitting to my list of accomplishments. Victorian knitting patterns, however, are impossible. I have a book of Victorian pattern inspired knit shawls, and they seem as if they’d have been extremely difficult with the original instructions.

    Reply
  53. I’d probably spend all my time inside reading and drawing. (Which is what I do when I have free time, anyway.) I’d love to learn embroidery, too. Looking at the embroidery they did, it just seems amazing that anyone could do something like that. Perhaps I’d even practice an instrument. (I can play flute, but I never practice, so my skills are somewhat lacking. And I wish I could play piano.)
    Moving on to the Victorian era, I’d probably add knitting to my list of accomplishments. Victorian knitting patterns, however, are impossible. I have a book of Victorian pattern inspired knit shawls, and they seem as if they’d have been extremely difficult with the original instructions.

    Reply
  54. I’d probably spend all my time inside reading and drawing. (Which is what I do when I have free time, anyway.) I’d love to learn embroidery, too. Looking at the embroidery they did, it just seems amazing that anyone could do something like that. Perhaps I’d even practice an instrument. (I can play flute, but I never practice, so my skills are somewhat lacking. And I wish I could play piano.)
    Moving on to the Victorian era, I’d probably add knitting to my list of accomplishments. Victorian knitting patterns, however, are impossible. I have a book of Victorian pattern inspired knit shawls, and they seem as if they’d have been extremely difficult with the original instructions.

    Reply
  55. I’d probably spend all my time inside reading and drawing. (Which is what I do when I have free time, anyway.) I’d love to learn embroidery, too. Looking at the embroidery they did, it just seems amazing that anyone could do something like that. Perhaps I’d even practice an instrument. (I can play flute, but I never practice, so my skills are somewhat lacking. And I wish I could play piano.)
    Moving on to the Victorian era, I’d probably add knitting to my list of accomplishments. Victorian knitting patterns, however, are impossible. I have a book of Victorian pattern inspired knit shawls, and they seem as if they’d have been extremely difficult with the original instructions.

    Reply
  56. Needlework and reading… I’ve had piano lessons that didn’t really take, and my voice isn’t pleasing when singing… I do make a good audience!! I’m always amazed at the samplers from those days that are by young girls… like 8 or 9!!!

    Reply
  57. Needlework and reading… I’ve had piano lessons that didn’t really take, and my voice isn’t pleasing when singing… I do make a good audience!! I’m always amazed at the samplers from those days that are by young girls… like 8 or 9!!!

    Reply
  58. Needlework and reading… I’ve had piano lessons that didn’t really take, and my voice isn’t pleasing when singing… I do make a good audience!! I’m always amazed at the samplers from those days that are by young girls… like 8 or 9!!!

    Reply
  59. Needlework and reading… I’ve had piano lessons that didn’t really take, and my voice isn’t pleasing when singing… I do make a good audience!! I’m always amazed at the samplers from those days that are by young girls… like 8 or 9!!!

    Reply
  60. Needlework and reading… I’ve had piano lessons that didn’t really take, and my voice isn’t pleasing when singing… I do make a good audience!! I’m always amazed at the samplers from those days that are by young girls… like 8 or 9!!!

    Reply
  61. My degree is in music history, and it surprised me to find that a lot of what we consider concert repertoire was written for 18th century amateurs. The level of proficiency for a dedicated amateur was quite high, and many of Beethoven’s late chamber works were composed specifically for English demand. (And there are those who say the Ninth Symphony was also written to fulfill an English commission.)
    And geezopete, what about the cut work these ladies did? Amazing!

    Reply
  62. My degree is in music history, and it surprised me to find that a lot of what we consider concert repertoire was written for 18th century amateurs. The level of proficiency for a dedicated amateur was quite high, and many of Beethoven’s late chamber works were composed specifically for English demand. (And there are those who say the Ninth Symphony was also written to fulfill an English commission.)
    And geezopete, what about the cut work these ladies did? Amazing!

    Reply
  63. My degree is in music history, and it surprised me to find that a lot of what we consider concert repertoire was written for 18th century amateurs. The level of proficiency for a dedicated amateur was quite high, and many of Beethoven’s late chamber works were composed specifically for English demand. (And there are those who say the Ninth Symphony was also written to fulfill an English commission.)
    And geezopete, what about the cut work these ladies did? Amazing!

    Reply
  64. My degree is in music history, and it surprised me to find that a lot of what we consider concert repertoire was written for 18th century amateurs. The level of proficiency for a dedicated amateur was quite high, and many of Beethoven’s late chamber works were composed specifically for English demand. (And there are those who say the Ninth Symphony was also written to fulfill an English commission.)
    And geezopete, what about the cut work these ladies did? Amazing!

    Reply
  65. My degree is in music history, and it surprised me to find that a lot of what we consider concert repertoire was written for 18th century amateurs. The level of proficiency for a dedicated amateur was quite high, and many of Beethoven’s late chamber works were composed specifically for English demand. (And there are those who say the Ninth Symphony was also written to fulfill an English commission.)
    And geezopete, what about the cut work these ladies did? Amazing!

    Reply
  66. Great post, Nicola! I would definitely have spent my time reading and drawing/painting, as well as doing embroidery and play the pianoforte. (No singing though – I’d feel sorry for any listeners!) I’ve never learned how to ride but would have liked to, so I think I’d have gone riding every day too. But oh, to own one of those fabulous libraries! That must have been wonderful 🙂

    Reply
  67. Great post, Nicola! I would definitely have spent my time reading and drawing/painting, as well as doing embroidery and play the pianoforte. (No singing though – I’d feel sorry for any listeners!) I’ve never learned how to ride but would have liked to, so I think I’d have gone riding every day too. But oh, to own one of those fabulous libraries! That must have been wonderful 🙂

    Reply
  68. Great post, Nicola! I would definitely have spent my time reading and drawing/painting, as well as doing embroidery and play the pianoforte. (No singing though – I’d feel sorry for any listeners!) I’ve never learned how to ride but would have liked to, so I think I’d have gone riding every day too. But oh, to own one of those fabulous libraries! That must have been wonderful 🙂

    Reply
  69. Great post, Nicola! I would definitely have spent my time reading and drawing/painting, as well as doing embroidery and play the pianoforte. (No singing though – I’d feel sorry for any listeners!) I’ve never learned how to ride but would have liked to, so I think I’d have gone riding every day too. But oh, to own one of those fabulous libraries! That must have been wonderful 🙂

    Reply
  70. Great post, Nicola! I would definitely have spent my time reading and drawing/painting, as well as doing embroidery and play the pianoforte. (No singing though – I’d feel sorry for any listeners!) I’ve never learned how to ride but would have liked to, so I think I’d have gone riding every day too. But oh, to own one of those fabulous libraries! That must have been wonderful 🙂

    Reply

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