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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