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Monday, July 18, 2011

It is a Hot One!

Across the country we are facing a scorching week. Where I am at we expect the heat index to be from 100º to 113º because of humidity. The air conditioning, if you have it, has been turned on and the lightest of cotton clothing you can find is being worn. If you are lucky enough you are hitting a pool. Sometimes a dip in cold water (if it stays cold) is the best way to cool off.

Can you imagine the reaction if a Regency male were to pop into our world on a day like this (or almost any day for that matter)? In the early 1800’s intentionally showing an ankle was a bit risqué. One trip to a public pool would probably give him heart palpitations.

It is at times like this I am glad I don’t live in Regency England. I can’t imagine dealing with this heat with no hope of relief. I am sure many a Regency Lady would love to have stripped off her gown and removed her corselet and just sat around in her chemise. Which she could have done, I suppose, as long as she didn’t leave her room.

I think the men had it worse though. If you wanted to be the height of fashion you wore a linen shirt, cravat, jacket, pants or pantaloons, etc. No wonder smelling salts were kept with each lady. Who wouldn’t be passing out in the heat and I am surprised it didn’t happen as much with men as it did ladies.

I am not sure what the temperatures were during the Regency period but I am confident it wasn’t a comfortable 70º all summer long. I did do a quick bit of research and Britain did not start tracking temperatures until around 1870/1875 so I have no way of knowing, unless there is a record somewhere else. What I did learn was that on August 11, 2003 a record was broken when Kent reached 100.2. That probably isn’t the only time in history the temperatures have reached that number and I think it is safe to assume there were some very uncomfortable days by in the early 1800s.

How do you handle the heat, especially on days like today (assuming you are in the part of the country where 100º+ is the forecast for the week)?


  1. Oddly, I just watched a video about Regency fashion the other day on You Tube, and that vid made the point that shawls came into fashion to protect ladies from the drafts in houses. Fabrics were so much lighter during the Regency than in previous eras, and combined with less restrictive corsetry, ladies could be cold in the winter in those days before central heating.

    I've written Regency, but I've also done some research into the American Revolution. Temperatures over 100 were really quite rare in England, and when the British army had to come over to America in numbers, they found the temperature extremes pretty unbearable. That said, I visted the Saratoga battlefield two years ago on a pretty hot summer day and came across a re-enactor all dressed up in his uniform. I asked him if he was unbearably hot, and he said it really wasn't that bad. The fabrics in those days were natural and breathed. Even if you were dressed up in layers of wool.

  2. I live in Texas...and we've had record highs in the last few days, and so many days in triple digits in a row that I've lost count. Yes, we tend to get this sort of weather, but this year it has been unrelenting. The A/C comes on mid-morning, and doesn't go off again until 2 or 3 am. Miserable. If I encountered temperatures like this living in Regency England, I'd have to ignore propriety. LOL.

  3. Having been raised in the south, I am ALL about the a/c. It blasts 24/7 if it's over 70 degrees outside. I can't stand the heat - especially since having a child. My body temperature went up by about 30 degrees as soon as I got pregnant, and it never went back down. My poor husband can often be found wearing sweats around our house in the summer. I certainly hope, for the sake of the women, that they didn't have too many scorching days back in Regency England!! :)

  4. We do movie marathons at the theatres where they crank the AC. Its cooled off here in Southern Cali a bit but is warming back up again.

  5. I grew up in Houston, and a few years ago my son spent a week with my father in Texas. When he came home he said. "Well, Mom, I'm not afaraid of going to Hell. It can't be any hotter than Houston in the summer."

    I had to explain that I grew up in air conditioned Houston. But I had always wondered about those original settlers who didn't have the luxury of a/c. They must have been really tough to withstand the heat, etc. in those early days.