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)?