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18 NSFW Regency Facts Your History Teachers Didn't Want You To Know About

Mr Darcy probably secretly liked to put trumpets up ladies' bottoms.

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1. A lot of folk songs were extremely sexual.

While the upper echelons of Regency society were enjoying new works by Beethoven, ordinary folk preferred songs like "A Lusty Young Smith", or "The Trooper Watering His Nag", a song about a soldier getting jiggy with a barmaid: "Quoth she, 'What is this so stiff and warm? 'Tis Ball, my Nag, he will do you no harm.'" Filth.
BBC

While the upper echelons of Regency society were enjoying new works by Beethoven, ordinary folk preferred songs like "A Lusty Young Smith", or "The Trooper Watering His Nag", a song about a soldier getting jiggy with a barmaid: "Quoth she, 'What is this so stiff and warm? 'Tis Ball, my Nag, he will do you no harm.'" Filth.

2. And cartoons were even ruder.

commons.wikimedia.org

Before movies came along, people would get off on looking at erotic artwork. A lot of these mucky illustrations have survived, and they depict pretty much every sex act you can think of, including orgies, lesbian sex, oral sex, sex between transvestites, and even men putting trumpets up ladies' bums, for some reason.

3. Women were bare-arsed under their dresses.

BBC

Anyone who's seen a Jane Austen adaptation knows that there was a fashion for perky cleavage and floaty, diaphanous, almost transparent dresses. But what you might not know is that most women didn't wear knickers, just a slip (a sort of petticoat), and stockings. Blimey. It must have been quite draughty in winter.

4. And they would pee in gravy-boat-shaped pots.

These widely used tapered pots were known as "bourdaloues". Woman would lift their skirts, clamp the pot between their legs, and let loose. Upper-class ladies would use them in company, and would even continue their conversation while peeing.
Wikipedia / Creative Commons

These widely used tapered pots were known as "bourdaloues". Woman would lift their skirts, clamp the pot between their legs, and let loose. Upper-class ladies would use them in company, and would even continue their conversation while peeing.

5. Parmesan ice cream was all the rage.

Silky-smooth ices were very popular during the Regency, and in the wider Georgian period too. They came in some seriously batshit flavours: Some popular options at the time included cardamom, pumpkin, black tea, parmesan, and rye bread.
historicfood.com

Silky-smooth ices were very popular during the Regency, and in the wider Georgian period too. They came in some seriously batshit flavours: Some popular options at the time included cardamom, pumpkin, black tea, parmesan, and rye bread.

6. And pig's tongues were served at Regency balls.

BBC

Austen wrote that "to be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love", and country balls were seen as an excellent way for Regency women to hook a husband. The food on offer was "fancy" finger food that could be eaten without too much mess. Like, er, chicken stuffed with hogs' tongues. So sexy.

7. Courting couples were sewn into bed together.

Warner Bros.

The upper classes liked to swan around at balls, but rural communities had more practical methods of helping people find a match. If a girl's parents approved of a boy, he'd be invited to stay the night in her bed. To prevent premarital hanky-panky, they'd be sewn into a bag with a seam down the middle to keep them on their own side.

8. Middle-class babies were often sent away.

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While there's little doubt that Regency parents did love their children, it was fairly common practice for babies to be sent away to village women to be nursed and fostered for the first part of their lives. For example, Jane Austen and her siblings were fostered by a "good woman" in Deane, two whole miles from their family home.

9. Travellers shared beds with strangers.

NBC

Coaching inns were a common sight on English roads. They were cheap places to stay and get a meal, and less well-off travellers would often share a bed with up to three total strangers. When sharing with a stranger, you were supposed to keep to yourself and avoid hogging the blankets, but this wasn't always the case.

10. People used the teeth of dead soldiers as dentures.

Sugar was very popular among the upper classes, but led to an epidemic of tooth decay. Luckily for some, help was at hand. In 1815, over 47,000 soldiers died at the battle of Waterloo, and their teeth were harvested to make dentures. "Waterloo" teeth were particularly popular, as they mainly came from young, virile, healthy men. Urgh.
commons.wikimedia.org / Creative Commons

Sugar was very popular among the upper classes, but led to an epidemic of tooth decay. Luckily for some, help was at hand. In 1815, over 47,000 soldiers died at the battle of Waterloo, and their teeth were harvested to make dentures. "Waterloo" teeth were particularly popular, as they mainly came from young, virile, healthy men. Urgh.

11. Lots of people were fucked up on opium.

FOX

The milky-white sap of the opium poppy – which can be refined to make morphine and heroin – was imported from Bengal in large quantities. It was used as a common painkiller, so most households had a bottle or two floating around, and it was easy to get hold of. The poet Coleridge was completely hooked on the stuff.

12. People visited murder scenes for fun.

There really wasn't that much to do in the Regency period, other than look at sexy cartoons, so people had to be creative. One popular diversion was to visit a recent murder scene and gawp at a fresh corpse. In high-profile cases, thousands of people would trample through a crime scene, destroying evidence.
Hulton Archive / Getty Images

There really wasn't that much to do in the Regency period, other than look at sexy cartoons, so people had to be creative. One popular diversion was to visit a recent murder scene and gawp at a fresh corpse. In high-profile cases, thousands of people would trample through a crime scene, destroying evidence.

13. And they also watched pineapples rot.

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Pineapples were an exotic luxury, as only the most wealthy people could afford to grow them in hothouses, or buy them. In fact, they were so pricey that hostesses would use them as table centrepieces rather than eating them, and the fruit would be passed from hostess to hostess as a gift until it eventually rotted. Lovely.

14. The Prince Regent was obese and syphilitic.

The Samuel Goldwyn Company

When the aging King George III was incapacitated by mental ill health in the early 1800s, his playboy son, the Prince Regent, ruled in his place (hence the "Regency" period). But the prince's bad habits took over and played havoc with his health. Even during his final days, he would breakfast on champagne, port, brandy, and a pie containing two or three pigeons, five steaks, and an egg. Talk about #BreakfastGoals.

15. Some men were vain to the point of absurdity.

This was the age of the "dandy": the foppish man about town. Men would wear corsets and coif their hair carefully. Socialite Beau Brummel was the ultimate style icon at the time: It would take five hours for him to get dressed. He also invented the starched cravat (aka those really high collars with elaborate knots). He washed his boots in champagne, and refused to walk anywhere in case they got dirty again. He would have loved Instagram.
commons.wikimedia.org

This was the age of the "dandy": the foppish man about town. Men would wear corsets and coif their hair carefully. Socialite Beau Brummel was the ultimate style icon at the time: It would take five hours for him to get dressed. He also invented the starched cravat (aka those really high collars with elaborate knots). He washed his boots in champagne, and refused to walk anywhere in case they got dirty again. He would have loved Instagram.

16. Candles and other common items could kill you.

Giphy

Candles, cloth, and paper contained arsenic, as did a product called Fowler’s Solution, invented in 1809. This mixture of potassium arsenite and lavender was used as a face cream by women, and men took it in large doses to increase virility and cure baldness. Well, death is a cure for most things, so it technically worked.

17. A lot of upper-class men kept mistresses.

HBO

It was a time of double standards. Young men were praised for being rakish, profligate young bucks around town, while young women stayed at home, demurely sipping tea. After marriage, many aristocratic men were unfaithful. Some military officers even took their mistresses to war and allowed them to share their battlefield tents.

18. And one of of those mistresses wrote a saucy memoir.

Notorious courtesan Harriette Wilson caused a huge society sex scandal when she published her very detailed Memoirs, which described her romps with (among others) the Duke of Wellington, the foreign secretary, several more dukes, and even the king himself. When they all broke promises to provide her with an income in her old age, she named and shamed them.You go, girl.
British Museum / Creative Commons

Notorious courtesan Harriette Wilson caused a huge society sex scandal when she published her very detailed Memoirs, which described her romps with (among others) the Duke of Wellington, the foreign secretary, several more dukes, and even the king himself. When they all broke promises to provide her with an income in her old age, she named and shamed them.

You go, girl.

BBC