Country House Pursuits

Bohea teaNicola here. Today I'm talking about some of the things people in the 18th and 19th centuries did when they stayed in the the country (the respectable activities, I mean, rather than the complicated business of creeping in and out of bedrooms in the dead of night. I'm talking here about the leisured classes, of course, the ones who didn't distinguish between a week day and the weekend. This may be a Wench re-post; because of stuff I have going on at the moment I've had to dust down and add to a piece I'd written a while ago, but even if it is I hope you enjoy it!

One of the questions I’m often asked when I am showing visitors around Ashdown House on guided tours 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 pleasantly relaxing, of course, at least for the visitors, unlike the servants who attended to their every need. They were free to pursue whatever activity and interests they wished and, mostly, had the money to indulge those interests.

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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About … The Waltz.

Where did the waltz come from?
Back to pretty much the dawn of history, Rural folk frolicked in their traditional folk revelries with pair dances and circle dances and line dances of all kinds. This stuff that doesn’t get into the archeological record. Literate folk saw no reason to record the details.
But we have pictures.

Let’s Dance!

Nicola here. Here in the UK the hit TV series Strictly Come Dancing is down to its final few couples and the competition is really hotting up. The show pairs celebrities with professional dancers who each week compete against each other in front of a panel of judges and the viewing public. The format of the show has been exported to 40 other countries around the world (I think it’s called Dancing with the Stars in the US and Canada) and is hugely popular. It has spawned dance classes across the country and created an upsurge of interest in the …

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