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Travelling by horse?

I have a question. Does anyone have any idea how long it would take a horseman to ride from London to Pemberley(obviously I mean Derbyshire) in winter?

Re: Travelling by horse?

You mean on horseback, not by coach? I suppose he'd have to change horses regularly or rest a lot.

Perhaps this site will help you a bit in the right direction.

Remember P&P: 50 miles of good road, the easy distance between Kent and Hertfordshire? It would take a little more than half a day in a coach. Pemberley - London is a much greater distance of course though.

Re: Travelling by horse?

I HAVE BEEN TRYING TO FIND OUT THE WORD FOR THE BATHTUB WHERE Collin Firth takes his famous bath. Do you know it? In Spanish we call it tina. Is there a specific terminology in English?

Re: Travelling by horse?

Well I'll try to make an estimate here.

I would say that it would take two full days at the absolute shortest(that's including staying the night somewhere), but he'd arrive exhausted and that's assuming decent winter weather. More realistically, two nights and three days on the road. I explain my reasoning below, feel free to keep reading if you want to know how I arrived at my timeline.

I'm going to estimate that it's about 150 - 160 miles between London and Pemberly. I arrived at that by using the location of Chatsworth House and it's proximity to Matlock (Matlock is 150, Chatsworth is 160)as the location of Pemberley. Many have said that Chatsworth was the inspiration of Pemberley, and it is mentioned in the book that it is close to Matlock (Elizabeth was going to visit there the next day with her aunt and uncle). Let's assume that the roads are hardpacked dirt, in good condition, and there are no extreme elevation changes (which slow you down), but you did add the element of winter in there so that will obviously slow Darcy down.

Let's assume Darcy is a good and experienced rider that is capable of holding down a quick pace for long distances. Let's also assume that he can change horses at various stops along the way and that it is not storming

All right, all that said, this is where we get to what I do know, horseback riding. I'm going to bet Darcy has a large warmblood of some sort. Darcy would need to be in good shape in order to hold a moderately fast pace (horseback riding is actually very tiring), but I'm sure he is *grin*. If the weather wasn't stormy and the roads were in good condition and he could change horses, he could probably keep a pace up of about 50 to 75 miles a day. Yes this is slower than the coach, but he is on a single horse that is carrying 200lbs and it would tire easily. He would probably change horses at about 3 or 4 times, about every 50 miles.

I have some experience with riding for days on end and if I was making the trip, I'd do it in 3 days of pretty hard riding. Trying to keep up a pace quick enough to over it in 2 days would be difficult. It'd have to be a very serious matter to make me push it to 2 days.

Although endurance race rider winners can cover a 100 mile race in 10-12 hours, these are riders with horses trained for this, and they themselves train for these events. It is much more realistic to assume a pace at half this rate for someone like Darcy who is in good shape and who can afford a good horse.

I hope this incredibly long answer helped answer your question, if you're even still reading!


Re: Travelling by horse?

Eli, is 'Slipper Bath' the word you are looking for?

Re: Travelling by horse?

It all depends whether the tub is made of copper or not. My research has taken me to asumme that he did bath in such bathtub, I am not certain of the correct terminology for the word. What exactly was or is a slipping tub? Where did you get the word from, I mean what was your source? thanks for the enlightment!I really appreciate it!!

Re: Travelling by horse?

That was really a long answer and I loved it!Of course I am still reading. Thing is, it is not Darcy riding but Col Fitzwilliam, who I gather is just as good, or even better rider, don't you think? And since he did receive some dreadful news he might as well felt eager to arrive soon as possible. So you think it would take him three days anyway? He certainly must have had a great horse, though it could not have been the same since he would have been compelled to change horses. A question, did they recover the first horse or they swaped them?

Re: Travelling by horse?

Your second question about the swaping horses and the recovering of them stumped me a little bit and it got me thinking. Then it got me running some quick searches and then when I couldn't come up with a quick answer I went to my secret source ... my advisor who happens to be an expert on British history with a specialty in 18th century Britain (I'm a part-time graduate student studying history).

We discussed the scenario proposed and came up with a better answer to your questions about travelling by horse.

Since all travel during this time period was done by horse the road system was designed to accomodate that. Post roads would have inns/rest stops at distances that were determined by how far horses could travel before they were exhausted, much like roads today with their gas stations and hotels, etc. It is concieveable that Fitzwilliam would swap out horses at these inns, but my advisor said that he has seen contemporary advertisements for such services, but that it was highly unlikely that he would swap his horse. Instead, Fitzwilliam would keep his horse and merely rest it at the inn before continuing on, unless he had made previous arrangements.

If this is the case, and it was something serious that was sending Fitzwilliam running back to Pemberley, he'd probably travel as far and as fast during the day as possible before stoping to rest at an inn before traveling on and not swap horses.

What is tricky about that is not only is it Fitzwilliam's stamina we have to worry about, but the horse's as well. Even in those 100 mile long endurance races, the horses and riders are checked constantly, must make mandated rest stops, and only about 50% of the people who start them actually make the finish line (most of those are pulled because their horses don't pass the health checks). Asking a horse to travel 150 miles while carrying a 200lbs+ rider on his back quickly, is asking a lot. The horse will be beyond exhausted when it arrived at Pemberley and horses do run themselves to exhaustion and can die from it.

With those conditions and the fact that I'd like to think Fitzwilliam cares enough for his horse he won't run it to the ground. I'd say he'd travel as hard and fast as possible during the 6 to 8 or so hours of good daylight and then rest for 12 or more at night. The horse would get to rest too.

With that kind of pace, a very exhausted, very sore, and very worried Col. Fitzwilliam and horse would arrive at Pemberley's steps a full 3 days after they left London at the earliest!

To kinda mess with this scenario even more. Let's figure that whoever was at Pemberley knew he'd be coming. That person would probably send a fresh horse to meet him along the way at an inn. That way, Fitzwilliam could make the final day of the journey to Pemberley a lot quicker. Whoever brought the fresh horse for him would then follow behind with Fitzwilliam's horse at a much slower pace for sake of Fitzwilliam's horse.

My advisor assures me that this would be pretty accurate for late 18th century English traveling and told me that a lot of government business was taken care of this way. He also said that I need to finish my paper, but I think that comment was specifically for me


Now, if you made it through THIS reply, I'll be really impressed.

Re: Travelling by horse?

Impress hugh? Well, I can tell you that yours has been not only an accurate but also most useful response to my query. Thanks a lot. I will definitely use your answer to back up my story.
And Rita , I will have a look at the page you suggest tonight.Thanks

Re: Travelling by horse?

I have yet another question. What was the relevancy of New Year's celebration in Regency period?Was a ball common place among the rich or would it sound odd?Did they have fireworks?I think I once read a story taking place in Pemberley which included fireworks (was it Tanya's?)but I am not sure whether the author made a research on the subject or just took them for granted. If anyone can butter in I will be obliged.

New Years!

Can I post another really long response to this? You've been warned!

New Years, fondly remembered for the first Mulder/Scully kiss on screen, the polar bear run towards the unheated pool in the back yard, and getting sick after consuming an entire bottle of champagne when I was much too young too. But, Elizabeth and Darcy did not have such things when they celebrated New Years.

New Years during the georgian/regency period was tied up with the Christmas holiday celebrations that lasted for twelve days. Until the Victorian era, one of this biggest celebrations of this time was actually Twelfth Night and Christmas day ran a close second. The Twelfth Night celebration has for the most part faded out of popular culture (except in some hispanic cultures).

Some New Years celebrations did occur though. For the most part these followed along with traditional Christmas (remember, it lasted for 12 days!) celebrations such as lighting the Yule Log, dancing, bonfires, and general revelry. Here is a website that detailes some Twelfth Night celebrations. This website discusses celebrations in the American Colonies during the mid to late 1700s, but remember, during this time those colonies still had very close ties to England and most of the colonists would be no more than one generation removed from England. Most of their traditions would be very similar.

At an estate like Pemberley, the household and household staff would have their own celebrations, the tennents would probably travel into Lambton to celebrate on their own. It is also quite possible that the family would remain in London during the Christmas holidays rather than spending it at their estate. Houses during this time were not built for comfort, but rather for show. The grand halls and large rooms designed to show off a family's wealth were not very easily heated (and not central heat) and so many wealthy (even moderately wealth) families went to London for the "season". London townhouses were much more comfortable during the winter, probably because they were much smaller.

I also found this website on Scottish rituals duirng the Christmas season.

In short, no Tracey's story was not historically accurate, but that's fine! It was great fun anyway and throughly enjoyable!!

Any other research questions? I love this stuff. That's why I'm in grad school for it! I also just took a long seminar on 18th century England so I'm pretty up to date at the moment if anyone has any other questions.


Re: Travelling by horse?

I just love being chums with you. You have become some kind of cannonical source for my writing!I have always wondered about this stuff of Twelf Night since I read and saw Shakespeare's play, but had no idea whatsoever since I am yet to attend a literature course.Thanks a lot for your fabulous answers . Keep up with them.

Re: Travelling by horse?

Haley. Do have any idea of the duration of a reel? Was it half hour?
Another. I was of the mind that Queen Victoria was the one that had introduced waltzing into court balls.Do you know anything about it? Would it be feasible for Mr Darcy to waltz with Elizabeth in a Twelfth Night Ball?

Re: Travelling by horse?

I'm having way too much fun with this.

A reel is actually both a folk dance and a song to accompany the dance and is usually Irish or Scottish in origin. The term is used interchangibly with both the music and the actual dance. A single piece of music (a reel) would last as long as a typical song, usually in the neighborhood of 2-4 minutes. However, many reels could be played back to back with little interruption in the dance. Concievebly this could go on for 1/2 hour, but what is much more likely is that there would be 1/2 hour "sets" with many types of music played, then a short break for the musicans, and then another set.

If you're curious as to how a ball/dance scene would be set up, there are two excellent scenes in both the A&E(BBC) and theatrical release versions of Pride & Prejudice. The one in the Colin Firth version is much more formal and it'd be typical of an upper class dance seen in town or at a great estate in the early 1800s. The one in the 2005 version of P&P is much more country and would be typical of the late 1700s in the country.

The waltz was "invented/introduced" in Vienna in the 1780s. It slowly made its way through the continent and to England over the next few decades. I'm pretty sure it would've been seen and danced in England by members of the court and upper class during the early 1800s.

If Darcy and Elizabeth were at a ball attended by members of Darcy's social class in town or at a great estate like Matlock or Pemberley, then it's very possible that they would dance one waltz at a twelfth night ball. The dance was seen as quite scandalous though, and it would've been very daring to even play a waltz, let alone dance one.

I don't know about the story of Queen Victoria, but I think it is highly improbable that the waltz was not introduced in England before 1837 (when she ascended the throne). I tried to look it up quickly, but then got distracted reading the incredibly long line of succession to the throne of the UK that Victoria left behind.

In short, it's safe to have Darcy and Elizabeth dancing the waltz at the twelfth night ball!


Re: Travelling by horse?

Great. The story of Queen Victoria actually was said to have taken place upon Victoria and Albert's courtship.I do not recall where I came upon the story. I t most provable was some tale told by a History teacher, but since he/ she did not mention the source I am not sure whether to use it.Thanks all the same. Then Darce and Elizabeth will dance the waltz after all.

Re: Travelling by horse?

Does anyone know how old was a lady to become of age in Regency times?

Re: Travelling by horse?

As you were writing about heating the rooms in the house... I remember I was wondering once: not about the size, but about the number. Do you know, how many rooms were there in a house such as Pemberley (so how was it in e.g. Chatsworth House or Matlock House)? How many rooms were there for the everyday use (like library, study, paralors, dining rooms, bedrooms of inhabitants), and how many were there opened only for guests? How many guests could such a house accomodate for a night?

Re: Travelling by horse?

What a great thread! I think I should go on vacation a bit more. Thanks, Eli, for opening it. R~

Here's Rita's post again. She posted such a huge lijk that it disturbed the thread a bit.

Well, Eli, I read a lot of regency romances and 'slipper bath' is a term I've heard of often. If you check out this website you'll see an antique coppler slipper bath that seems close to what Darcy bathed in in the BBC P&P.

slipper bath

It may be called a slipper bath because of it's shape like a ladie's slipper. Hopefully not because its slippery!! LOL

If you can't get the link to work, just go to and enter the search term 'copper slipper bath' then click on 'images'. You should see several of them.

Re: Travelling by horse?

You see, Renee, I know how to entertain. No wonder I am your favourite!You owe me this!

Re: Travelling by horse?

Great Hall – While Austen includes fairly extensive description of Pemberley in P&P (which is untypical for her), she gives very minimal indication of Pemberley’s age and architectural style. However, an important “clue” that the architecturally-inclined reader finds in P&P is the scene set in Pemberley’s Portrait Gallery. If it was a true “Long Gallery”, this feature would indicate the house was of late Elizabethan or Jacobean times, as more modern houses were not built with Long Galleries. While Rosings is described as “modern” (which might have meant Palladian or - more probably - neo-Classical, the “modern” type of “great house” built in the 18th century), Pemberley is not described as “modern”. Austen also includes a detail of Mr. Gardiner speculating on the age of the building, which tends to also indicate an older house which has had renovations and additions over the years, making its age harder to determine. So I have always envisioned Pemberley as Jacobean, full of large fireplace hearths, a Great Hall, rich wood paneling, a Great Chamber, and so on. The Darcy family is clearly an “ancient”, landed-gentry family, and I think such a house conveys (to me, at least) a sense of the rich history and long tradition of the Darcys as a long-time, well respected family closely connected with their estate, their land, and the community surrounding it.

This post has been edited by Shelby: 2:50 pm Wed, 9th Aug. 2006

Re: Travelling by horse?

Does any one know what currency was there in London in RT?