After preparing to attend my first Jane Austen ball, I can easily see why it was noted that the five Bennet sisters had to share one maid as they prepared themselves for similar types of outings. Thankfully, my support came in the form of my lovely friends, Dung Vu, Joana Starnes, and Mira Magdo, as we met at the hotel where Dung and I were staying. Our room was a flurry of gloves, curlers, beauty products and the like, as we began our preparations for the ball.
What can I say? Some things had to be endured for the sake of historical accuracy! Here I am with my rollers as I attend to my own ironing… Now I know why Mrs. Bennet made such a big deal about marrying a gentleman who could afford to provide me with some servants! We really were such a sight curling each other’s hair and helping each other get dressed in our Regency ball gowns. Dung was very attentive to helping everyone look her best as she fixed our bobby pins, added a few more curls to our hairstyles, and applied makeup to our faces so we would present our best images on film. I kept telling her that I could not have traveled to England with a better or more helpful person. I just loved being with these ladies!
Once we loaded our bags and took off in our hired car, we were on our way to Rownhams House, a local estate, where the BBC crew were waiting for us to arrive so that we could prepare for filming. Here I am being wired for filming and having a great time enjoying some jokes as well!
After we were prepped, I had an opportunity to meet several other Janeites who were also part of this documentary and what a fabulous group of people they are indeed! My head was spinning a bit meeting all of these talented people who connect with Jane Austen in such diverse ways.
Here’s Zac Pinsent, a young man who is Regency tailor, who create sand wears Regency era clothing in his everyday life. “Why dress in jeans and a t-shirt when you can go along to Tesco’s as, you know, Napoleon or something?” he says. After spending time admiring his attire at the ball, I couldn’t agree more! He really does look dashing dressed as a Regency era gentleman.
I had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with Yasmin Zaman, who connects with Austen through her various rereads of Jane Austen. She discussed why she rereads Austen and the absolute joy that Jane’s work brings to her own life. I love how she connects her approaches to mindfulness with her love of Jane Austen!
I also met the Chris and Ros Oswald, who are such a delightful couple. Ros is a musician who enjoys playing vintage instruments and on Monday, July 17, I am posting a special post earlier in the day than usual, so that my friends in the U.K. can see it before the documentary airs on BBC South, where I will share a very special Austen-inspired purchase that Ros received only a few days ago that I think Janeites will love to see. Needless to say, Ros connects with Jane Austen through her music and I hope you love learning about the things that she will share with us about her love for Jane Austen and music.
The filming began with the lovely host of the ball, Sophie Andrews, greeting all of us as we walked down a gravel path, taking in the sights of various men and women dressed in their finest Regency attire set against the gorgeous landscape surrounding the estate. Slowly, but steadily, Sophie greeted us and soon thereafter, the ball opened up inside of the estate. Once again, Sophie opened this part of the event too, as she read aloud the infamous words that Cassandra Austen penned after Jane’s passing:
“She was the sun of my life, the gilder of every pleasure, the soother of every sorrow, I had not a thought concealed from her, and it is as if I had lost a part of myself.”
After her heartfelt introduction to the ball, we assembled into partners and began participating in some Regency dancing. This was my first time ever joining a Regency dance and I was pleasantly surprised by how much enjoyment I found in this activity. A significant amount of my enjoyment came from the patient and astute help I received from the historical dance company who were part of the film, the ladies and gentleman of The Duke of Wellington’s Dancers. What joy there is in dancing with new people and getting to know one another through the art of dancing! As I was dancing, I could easily imagine how Jane felt when she wrote:
“To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love.”
After several sets, we were invited to enjoy a lovely tea prepared for the ball and what a lovely tea it was as we had so many treats to select from, I couldn’t decide which to enjoy first. After preparing some tea and plates of food, people gathered in the dining room and outside on the garden furniture to enjoy their afternoon tea. The food combined with the company and the weather made the day absolutely delightful! I hope you will also be able to enjoy a Regency ball one day soon too!
IT’S GIVEAWAY TIME!
Today I am sharing another giveaway of items for my Just Jane 1813 readers. This giveaway is for one lucky winner and includes a copy of Karin Quint’s Jane Austen’s England book, a readers’ choice paperback copy an autographed book by Joana Starnes, a Regency style fan and a pair of long black gloves, suitable for your own Regency attire.
The winner will receive all of the items pictured below. To enter this giveaway, please leave a comment on this post no later than midnight, ET, on July 20, 2017, and the winner will be announced on this blog on July 21, 2017.
The BBC will air My Friend Jane on July 17th on BBC 1 South at 19.00 and on July 22nd on BBC 2. When I have details for an international viewing, I will post them.
I’d like to extend my biggest thanks again to Richard George and the crew from the BBC for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and for being such fun and thoughtful people to spend our time with in England!