Valentine’s Day in Regency England with Author Regan Walker

Valentines in Regency England

by Regan Walker

Author Regan Walker
Regan Walker

Though St. Valentine’s Day has been celebrated for a very long time, the Valentine’s Day cards we send today, and their romantic precursors with pictures, real lace and ribbons didn’t really come into fashion until the mid 19th century with the Victorian era. However, that didn’t mean that lovers in Regency England (1811-1820), or in times before, didn’t observe the day. They did.

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Regan Walker's Historic Valentine
Victorian Era Valentine

 

 The day was first associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century when the tradition of courtly love flourished.

By the 15th century, it had evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love by presenting flowers, offering confectionery and sending notes, sometimes in verse.

In the mid 17th century, Samuel Pepys recorded the celebration, including gift giving among the wealthier members of society.

The writing of special notes and letters for Valentine’s Day gained widespread popularity as early as the 18th century. The modern cliché Valentine’s Day poem we remember comes from this time and the collection of English nursery rhymes in Gammer Gurton’s Garland (1784):

 

The rose is red, the violet’s blue,

The honey’s sweet, and so are you.

Thou art my love and I am thine;

I drew thee to my Valentine: The lot was cast and then I drew,

And Fortune said it shou’d be you.

 

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By the time we arrive in Regency England, nearly three decades later, the romantic communications would have been handwritten on ordinary writing paper and may have included verse and other small items of sentimental value.

Writing paper could have been procured from Hatchards and other shops that stocked such items. The love notes would have been exchanged between only unmarried adults, unlike today when we send Valentines to everyone.

Hatchard's Book Shop via Regan Walker
Hatchard’s Book Shop
London, England

 Papers made especially for Valentine’s Day greetings didn’t begin to be marketed until the 1820s when their use became fashionable in both Britain and the United States. According to Hone’s Every-Day Book (1826), “Two hundred thousand letters beyond the usual daily average, annually pass through the twopenny post-office in London on St. Valentine’s Day.”

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The Shamrock & the Rose by Regan Walker
The Shamrock & the Rose
by Regan Walker

In my Valentine’s Day story, The Shamrock & The Rose, set

in London in 1818, the heroine, Rose Collingwood, who has taken another identity in order to play the part of Portia in The Merchant of Venice at the Theatre-Royal Hay-Market, receives many such love notes from her adoring fans.

At one point a character in my story notes that Hatchards bookshop is “nearly sold out of writing paper” trying to accommodate its customers’ demands for supplies to create the love notes.

In addition to notes from her many admirers, Rose also receives several love poems from a mysterious person who does not sign his notes, a villain who would have her against her will.

Of course, she is delighted to receive one whimsical love poem from the hero, the Irish barrister Morgan O’Connell, who has taken a fancy to the beautiful woman he knows is also an actress.

 

So, in the spirit of the Regency, make your own Valentine! And celebrate the day in Regency London with my short story, The Shamrock & The Rose!

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Sweets for your Valentine’s Day Sweetheart

Lord Alvanley’s Apricot Tart recipe:

This delight was served for dessert when he was a guest at Muriel, the Dowager Duchess of Claremont’s home.

Lord Avenley's Sweet Apricot Tart
Lord Avenley’s Sweet Apricot Tart

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FIND REGAN WALKER:

Regan’s website | Regan’s Amazon page | Regan’s blog | Twitter @RegansReview | Facebook | Goodreads

The Shamrock & The Rose

The Shamrock & the Rose by Regan Walker
The Shamrock & the Rose
by Regan Walker

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Like! Read! Share! Review! Thanks!

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Thanks for joining us today, Regan.

Happy Valentine’s Day Week, Everyone!

Comments are open for Valentine’s Week discussion.

 

 

Author: Paula Millhouse

Author Paula Millhouse http://www.paulamillhouse.com Where Fantasy, Romance, and Suspense collide. Boroughs Publishing Group

5 thoughts on “Valentine’s Day in Regency England with Author Regan Walker”

    1. The Shamrock & the Rose has such a beautiful cover, Regan. I enjoy stepping back in time with Historical Romance, and I’d love to visit Hatchard’s Book Store one day.
      Right now I’ve got my eye on Lord Alvanley’s Apricot Tart recipe on your website – that sounds like a wonderful way to celebrate Valentine’s Day with our sweethearts.

      Like

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