Regency Theatre Clubs and Secret Societies

RAOB_BadgeNicola here. There’s a new series of one of my favourite TV programmes on at the moment, the BBC genealogy show Who Do You Think You Are. From connections to royalty to Dame Judi Dench’s links to Hamlet, there’s always something fascinating in people’s family history. Last week part of the programme focussed on one of the largest fraternal organisations in the UK, The Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes. I must admit I don’t tend to think of the UK as being big into fraternal organisations other than the Masons and the “Buffs” as they are known, was new to me. However their origins and history turned out to be really interesting and got me thinking about the popularity of groups like these, why secret societies were so popular, and their decline in the modern day.

The Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes was founded in 1822 during the reign of George IV. It sprang out of the theatre trade and was set up in the Harp Tavern in Covent Garden which stood opposite Drury Lane Theatre. Covent Garden was and still is the heart of London theatre land and The Harp, which has been demolished since, was a favourite drinking place for theatre people. Edmund Kean, the actor, was a famous habitué in the Regency period and Sheridan, the actor and playwright, hung out there in the earlier part of the Georgian era.

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Selling the Regency Vegetable

Covent Garden was the huge central martet of London. By the Eighteenth Century it was sort of a combination open-air market, red light district, and raffish hang-out, which must have been interesting for everybody concerned.
Anyhow, glancing at the picture, you’ll see if contains all the elements of a fine city vegetable market.

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Cara/Andrea here,I love research. Learning about all the little everyday details that help create a scene from the Regency world—a ball, a prize fight, an art exhibition at the Royal Academy, a coaching stop at a country inn, a rural barnyard—is fascinating. I have shelves of books on esoteric subjects from the era in my writing room, and I’m constantly reading to get a picture of how things looked and felt. (above is a scene from an art exhibit—notice how the pictures are crowded on the wall and go nearly to the ceiling.) But there is an old adage that …

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Georgian and Regency Mayhem, Oh My

Because I write about spies — some of them women — and because spies have a not-totally-unmerited reputation for violence, I decided to look into Regency women and acts of violence and mayhem they might have got up to. Generally, I’d noticed a lack of references to women duking it out or poking each other with fencing foils or shooting holes in each other with pistols at dawn in a formalized way.
I though maybe this was common sense on the women’s part.