Friday, August 03, 2012

My Fantasy Olympics, Regency Style

You can't get away from it – well, not here in the UK anyway. The Olympics are everywhere, and even when I retreat into my Regency writing world those darn games still get in!

August sees the launch of the Castonbury Park series – 8 books by 8 authors, a sort of Regency Downton Abbey – for me taking part in that seemed like a marathon in itself, but we will all be blogging and tweeting about it over the coming weeks and months so I thought today I would take a little time out and indulge in a little fantasy of how the Olympics might have looked in Regency times (well, my Olympics, anyway).

We all know that the Regency bucks were mad on sport and I think the Prince Regent would have loved the idea of the games!  It would have to be held at Brighton, of course – just imagine the Pavilion as the venue for the opening ceremonial ball and then, perhaps a beacon at Beachy Head plus a dance at the assembly rooms and a fair or two for the common people .And of course Prinny would want to design the uniform for the British athletes… he might ask Brummell to help.  On second thoughts, probably not. Brummell's designs would be far too elegant and tasteful. 

All those Regency Corinthians would be in their element, for we could have boxing (bare fists, of course)  and we could make use of those duelling skills that all Regency heroes seem to have, so there would be fencing and shooting.
And swimming – how about Byron to represent us? After all he was a good swimmer and swam the Hellespont (and men swam naked in those days, so wouldn't that be fun!)

Horse racing, of course and possibly curricle racing. In one of my Melinda Hammond books, Autumn Bride, I had curricles  racing along a flat, sandy beach with the tide hurtling in, adding an extra element of danger. Great stuff, but no good on Brighton's pebbles, so perhaps that would have to take place on the Downs somewhere. Then there's rowing, and sailing -   Fencing and shooting of course, making use of their duelling skills.

And for the ladies? Well, archery would be a suitable sport, and riding was acceptable. After that, well perhaps we might have to include tatting, or knottingfringe.  But perhaps we could have a team event of dancing, after all those country dances are fiendishly complicated, and the participants deserve medals (especially those heroes and heroines who can make such delicious conversation whilst taking part in the dance). NOT the waltz, though, that might upset those of a more sensitive disposition.

What do you think?  Is there anything -or anyone - you would like to include in these fantasy Regency olympics?  Do let me know.

Sarah Mallory/Melinda Hammond

The Illegitimate Montague - book 5 in the
Castonbury Park Series - is published in December 2012


LizB said...

Love it, Linda. What about riding? Ladies could do that, and driving - remember Hero and Letty Lady? Plus cricket for a team sport with the curved bats, and tennis of course. I think they played raquet ball too, didn't they? For the common people's events, there could be egg and spoon and ladies' sack race and donkey riding. And for them, the gold or silver medals would be hugely significant - but I bet they wouldn't get anything but bronze. Wonderful idea!

Anonymous said...


Sounds far more exciting than the London one :)

Marguerite Kaye said...

I'd love to have seen some of my favourite Georgette Heyer heroes taking part. Max Ravenscar from Faro's Daughter or Rotheram from Bath Tangle in the curricle racing, and maybe Damarel (Venetia)wearing just a very tight pair of breaches working out on the rings - just think of that body glistening with sweat! Richard Wyndham from The Corinthian I'd like to see fencing or vaulting, and - oh I think I better stop now. This is a fab idea, I love it.

Ann Lethbridge said...

Oh, fun. I could actually enter the tatting one. There is also the tug of war. That was actually an Olympic Sport in the early days. Something for the lower orders perhaps since if I recall correctly it usually involved getting very muddy. Oh and I believe there was pall mall (croquet) and quoits too.

Melinda Hammond/Sarah Mallory said...

Thank you for the suggestions of additional games, LizB and Ann, there are so many things, and perhaps pig wrestling for the lower orders, Ann, what do you think? And just think if the ladies beat the men at some of the sports, like shooting, archery or riding, what a scandal!

Yes Marguerite, I could just see Heyer's heroes getting involved.

Juliet, I am finding the games far more enjoyab;le than I thought, but my mind will keep going back to those Regency days!

Elizabeth Hawksley said...

What I want to know, Melinda, is who the louche couple are in the bottom illustration? Where are they? And what is the caption?

Melinda Hammond/Sarah Mallory said...

I can't find my source for this at the moment, Elizabeth, but I think it was a cartoon to illustrate the Times' outrage at the waltz - "the voluptuous intertwining of limbs". I have seen drawings from a dance manuel that are very sedate, but this caricature shows the waltz in a very different light!

Carol Townend said...

The woman in the last drawing is certainly voluptuous, I though she was the other way round for a minute there!

Melinda Hammond/Sarah Mallory said...

Carol, I agree - they liked their women big in those days, I think! But they do look as if they are enjoying themselves!