Saturday 14 June 2008

Regency Evening

Lovely Regency outing to the Victoria&Albert museum in South Kensington last night. A whole evening dedicated to various Regency pastimes.

We started with games of skill and chance (mostly chance, obviously, as I lost every one) in the most wonderful setting. Norfolk House was the first residence in London to have a bespoke music room. The glorious and totally over-the-top mirrors and panelling were rescued when the house was sold and have been lovingly restored to turn room 52 on Level 2 into a recreation of the Norfolk House Music Room.

The games on offer were Loo (cards), Teetotum (a spinner/counter game favoured by dowagers because the rules are so simple it gave them ample opportunity to observe the company in the room whilst they played), Hazard and Snake-eyes (both dice). Here is novelist Louise Allen busy writing notes at the Teetotum table.

Next we went to the John Madesjski Garden where fencers from the Royal Armouries entertained us with fencing, single-sticks,


and bare-knuckle fighting.
Excellent stuff.

Then it was along to the Raphael gallery where our host and hostess demonstrated a Minuet (which took an astonishing amount of space - they'd have needed an immense room if everybody at the ball had wanted to join in), accompanied by musicians on genuine 18th century instruments. We all then took part in a simple round dance in which you had approximately twelve seconds with your partner before repeating the measure with the next partner and so on and so on and so on all around the circle. Talk about speed dating!

Back to watch a re-creation of the Sheriden duel and handle real Regency swords (much lighter than Louise and I expected) and then off for a guided tour through the Regency galleries.

And then we staggered off for nice Thai food and the last train home.

Wonderful evening.