|Vauxhall Gardens - courtesy of Wikipedia|
The Season coincided with Parliament sitting, which began sometime after Christmas ("the sessions of Parliament cannot be held til the frost is out of the ground and the foxes begin to breed"). However, the height of the season didn't come until March, after the Easter holiday. Then the real fun began, "a dizzying three-month whirlwind of parties, balls, and sporting events." There was always something going on during the season, be it a dinner party, an opera, one of the many 'coming out' balls, the theatre, Vauxhall Gardens (pictured above), riding in Hyde Park, or being presented at court. However, "despite all the surface gaity" the season revolved around "the deadly serious business of marrying off the young girls of the family to eligible and wealthy young men." You can see how the Calling Card comes into play here. For those at the top of the heap it was a way to announce their presence and for those beneath a way to attract the notice of their betters, perhaps gain admission to some posh ball, or maybe a private supper, anything that might improve the chances of a favorable marriage. If a young girl did not get herself married withing a few seasons, "she was considered a failure."
May found everyone - including the masses - attending the Derby, and then Ascot in June, "a much more exclusive horse race altogether." July brought the Henley Regatta as well as a number of cricket contests until suddenly it was August and grouse season, at which point everyone who was anyone deserted London in favor of the country.
Now, you might wonder why I find the Regency period interesting - interesting enough to set my last novel* there. At first glance it seems quite prim and proper with rules and etiquette ("A gentleman never smokes in the presence of ladies.") and proper dress ("A lady does not wear pearls or diamonds in the morning."). But beneath all the glitter was a passion for life that would soon be snuffed out by the Victorian Age and it is that which intrigues me, the pretense of playing by the rules and then meeting your lover in Covent Gardens after dark...
Perhaps next time I'll tell you about the Prince Regent and his many mistresses and the parties they used to throw :)
** all quotes from WHAT JANE AUSTIN ATE AND CHARLES DICKENS KNEW by Daniel Pool