The Regency Period – a great artistic era or a bad royal joke?
The Regency Period was a period of nine years, starting in 1811 when a bill was passed declaring that King George III was too unfit to rule, naming his 48-year-old son, the future King George IV, as Prince Regent. While the actual regency only lasted until the death of the King in 1820, the entire Regency Era is generally thought to be from the 1780’s until George IV’s death in 1830. However, the bill was made with reluctance as the Prince Regent was extremely unpopular. He was discouraged from making decisions regarding official governing business and war, so he instead spent all the money from the treasury on things such as balls, fashion, food, and pageants! People did not view him as the ‘Great King’ they originally had hoped he would be, and by the time of his official coronation in 1821, he had become a symbol for senseless extravagance and a national joke.
A great period of change
But although the Prince Regent was a disliked person himself, the actual regency was a great period for the literature, art and music. George IV had become a patron for many new movements including painting, sculpture, decoration, literature, music, and science, which resulted in a much-needed expansion in the areas of architecture, literature and music. The Regency Period was in the middle of the Romantic Era, which produced many famous composers, novelists, poets and artists, such as Mozart (who died in 1791), Beethoven, Jane Austin, and Rossini. In fact, all six of Jane Austin’s novels were published while George IV was Regent.
During the entire Regency Era, great change was happening in the world around Britain, all of which all seemed to culminate around this time. The Industrial Revolution had begun decades earlier (1760’s) and would continue until around the time of King George IV’s death. The French Revolution had taken place while Prince George was in his mid-thirties. The Botany Bay Penal Colony was established at what is now Sydney Harbour. The Brothers Grimm published their collection of fairy tales in Germany, and Napoleon Bonaparte crowned himself Emperor of France.
Although the Regency Period was, to some, a dark period of time where the acting leader of the country wasted money and increased the gap between the rich and the poor, to others it was an era that resulted in wonderful creations in the arts, marked by talented lives whose works change and influence our lives even today.
How would you like an afternoon in the regency period!
The Abbey Museum’s Picnic at Pemberley is an authentic re-creation of an excessive and luxurious afternoon in the regency period. So if your inner ‘Regent’ would like to have an afternoon of ‘pomp’, complete with eating and drinking, laughing and dancing ( a dance workshop in the fore-noon if you feel up to it) , lawn-games such as Shuttlecock, Pall-Mall and May Pole, a lunch-hamper to sample the period delights and of-course the famous afternoon-tea, you simply must experience the Abbey Museum’s Picnic at Pemberley.
Tickets are available now. Book here!