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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Traveling during the Regency Period

If you are a historical writer, you know how time consuming researching all the facts you need for your story can be. Yesterday, I sat down to write a new novel, and I immediately had to stop because my character is in France, but I needed to get him to England. I was unsure of exactly how he would have done this in 1812, so I had to stop and do a bit of research. Needless to say, this took all of my writing time for the day. When I was finished, I thought how nice it would be to have a handy little sheet, I could pull up on my computer that would list the common methods of travel with a few facts about each. I got busy and created a sheet for myself and wanted to pass along the information to all of you who might be wishing for the same sort of sheet when you are writing your next Regency. I hope this is helpful!

Mail and Stagecoaches – This was the only form of land transportation available at the start of the century. Wealthy people traveled in privately owned vehicles or by post chaise. Poor people used carts, wagons and slow night coaches. The middle class traveled by mail or stagecoach. Stagecoaches were aptly named, due to the fact that they stopped in stages to refresh horses and pickup and drop off passengers. Seats on coaches had to be secured in advance. One would purchase their ticket where the coach stopped or start.

Private coach – The favored form of travel among those who had money. This was a much faster means of travel than stage coaches. There were many types of coaches and carriages. The barouche – an open carriage drawn by two, four or six horses. The barouche was designed mainly for town use. The gig – any two-wheeled carriage vehicle with a fixed seat. The gig was designed to carry the driver and one passenger. It was usually drawn by one horse but could be outfitted for two. There were also racing curricles led by fast steeds. To name a few other forms of the coaches and carriages there was the phaeton, a high perched phaeton and a curricle.

The Omnibus - * This was not introduced until 1829. The omnibus was used for travel within the city. The omnibus started by carrying twelve passengers, but eventually carried twenty-two. The average ride cost six pence.

The Railroad – There was a railway from Liverpool to Manchester opened in 1830, but rail travel really did not come to the forefront until a decade later.

Steamboats – 1830 - regular steamboat journeys were made downriver to Greenwich and Woolwich. Larger boats made the journey to Margate, Ramsgate and Gravesend. 1840 – you could pay four pence and get on a smaller steamboat to travel between London Bridge, Southward and Westminster Bridge. 1850 – the railroad took a chunk out of the business steamboats did. 1860 – the underground railroad pretty much put an end to regular steamboat service.

Transatlantic Steamships – 1819 – The Savannah crosses the ocean, 1836 – the Great Western sails from Bristol to New York.

Crossing the Channel – Packet boats were often used for this endeavor. They usually departed for France from Dover.

This page is just a little bit of insight.

Happy writing,
Julie Johnstone, the Marchioness of Mayhem


  1. Thanks for putting this all in once place, Julie! I'm bookmarking it so I can refer back to it.

  2. Oh, this is great, Julie! And exactly what I needed atm as I'm taking my own scary foray into the regency era! Woot, woot!

  3. Glad I could offer some useful information!

  4. Thanks for sharing this, Julie. It's great when you can find answers in one place. :)