Thank you, Maria Grazia, for hosting me today! I am honored to be visiting My Jane Austen Book Club. For my post today, I wanted to share some of what I learned while working on A Chance Encounter in Pemberley Woods.
I confess I never paid much attention to the travel times in my favorite author’s books. Working with the lovely folks at Meryton Press, however, has opened my eyes to the intricacy of travel during Regency England.
At one point in my novel, Mr. Darcy undertakes a journey from Pemberley to London. I thought it might be interesting to examine his travel options!
The travel time could vary quite broadly depending on one’s choice of ride. Traveling by mail coach was the quickest, taking a little over one day. However, what they made up for in speed they lost in comfort. Mail coaches were principally concerned with delivering the mail, and therefore left little time for the passengers to rest at each stop.
|from The World in Miniature, by William Henry Pyne, published 1827|
A man traveling on horseback (for indeed it would only be a man doing so), could expect to take five whole days to reach London from Pemberley.
By far the most comfortable way to travel was by private coach. Mr. Darcy would have spent three days in his personal coach driving from Pemberley to London. His journey, however, would have been the most pleasant of the three options.
|The Dress Carriage of Viscount Eversley in Hyde Park by Edwin Frederick Holt|
A private, closed coach could be equipped with a variety of luxuries. Passengers might have hot bricks and sheep-skin rugs to keep them warm during the cold months. Deirdre Le Faye’s book, Jane Austen: The World of Her Novels even mentions silver chamber pots being available! Although I imagine this last was used only when the vehicle had a single occupant.
The way one travelled was also a signifier of wealth and status. As Josephine Ross points out in her book, Jane Austen: A Companion, “If the design, newness and expense of a vehicle were not proof enough of status, the custom of painting the owner’s coat-of-arms on the door would proclaim his or her identity to the world.”
So our beloved Mr. Darcy was very comfortable during his three day carriage ride to London. After all…
Jane Austen: The World of her Novels by Deirdre Le Faye
Jane Austen: A Companion by Josephine Ross
A surprise meeting
A baby alone in the woods
And a second chance at love
Fitzwilliam Darcy returns to his beloved Pemberley with one thing on his mind ̶ to forget Elizabeth Bennet. Riding ahead of his party and racing a storm, he happens upon the very woman he wants to avoid. To his astonishment, she is holding a baby whose name and parentage are unknown.
Elizabeth Bennet never dreamed she had wandered into Pemberley’s Woods on her afternoon walk. But when she finds an infant alone in the storm, she turns to the last man in the world she wants to see ̶ and the only one who can help them both.
As the mystery of the baby’s identity intensifies, Elizabeth finds Mr. Darcy to be quite the reverse of what she expected. But when the child’s family is discovered, will the truth bring them together, or tear them apart?
About the author
Brigid Huey has been in love with Jane Austen since first seeing the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice as a young girl. She lives in Ohio with her husband and two kids, and spends her free time reading and writing. This is her first Pride and Prejudice variation, though many others live in her imagination.
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorBrigidHuey/
Meryton Press is giving away 8 eBooks of Brigid Huey’s A Chance Encounter in Pemberley Woods.