The Regency Wardrobe Collection - research - Weeping Willow and Regency parasoles

Freckles were quite unfashionable during the Regency, thus the importance of bonnets and the need for parasols. As I researched Regency parasols I came across ones with long narrow handles, some finely carved. Others had delicate covers, in colored silk, patterned or plain. Some were wide, others small.

Three parasols I saw during my research visit to the store at Bath Fashion Museum

I saw one with beautifully painted oriental imagery and another with a plain white fabric canopy but an ornately carved handle.

For more images of these parasols and others from this visit please see The Hidden Wardrobe


Some, including the printed one shown above, have deadly looking tips which might have made them awkward to carry upside down and yet apparently that was done: https://janeaustenslondon.com/2014/08/02/the-great-parasol-mystery-or-which-way-is-up/amp/


A fashion plate of a lady in a spencer, 1814, with a pagoda shaped parasol.

There is an informative Pinterest board showing many variations of Regency parasols here



And if you were joined by a partner who was lacking his own parasol it seems that you might have headed for a public one.


I originally thought I would tie two pieces in The Regency Wardrobe collection in with references to medicinal herbs and tinctures of the sort I found mentioned in the series of original letters held at The Regency Town House, Hove, from where I conducted much of my research. In the end that was the case but the second piece became a handkerchief called Atishoo, not the dress I planned which I describe at the end of this post.


Reading the letters I was struck in particular by the regular mention of the use and application of bark as a type of medicine. Here is part of one of the letters that mentions it:


"…Poor M[-] [barely legible text] has just been with us, she is better today but very sad when she feels that her boy is really gone. She will I fear be enabled to realise the blessedness of his present state, absent from the body, present with his Lord and Saviour. What comfort all this reassurance gives, we shall never have another occasion to care for our darling. Then take tea with us tomorrow. I am afraid dearest that there would not be much comfort in your coming over. It would be a great fatigue and excitement and would be difficult to divide the time, otherwise how delighted we should be to see you. I have asked James if I might take Rayd to Brighton with me one day before they leave, not at present, he fully consents. I have such a longing to see you dearest, but returning in the dark alone has deterred me, and I shall not go, if you would not feel equal to see me. I think Elis is rather more comfortable and I hope she has slept better since the weather has become calmer. I have had a troublesome gathering in my ear, not so bad as last winter, and I have had an inclination to others about my face. I have had from Godfreys C[-] [barely legible text] a preparation of bark, which I am taking three times a day. MA says Rayd appeared weak today and so soon fatigued and no appetite. If not better, I shall make them have Mrs Ticehurst. Pray tell about the Morton wedding. Mrs M’s silence disputing the gentleman, makes us fancy there may be something strange. I hope both Mr Bevan and yourself dearest feel better for the change. Our love to him, the ladies, and kindred love to you dear dear sister, your truly aff

Sibella C. Dewar

Author date:

16 Dec 1856

Postmark date:

16 Dec 1856

Author:

Sibella C. Dewar (her sister)

Recipient:

Sarah (nee Dewar, the second Mrs Richard Bevan)

Addressee:

Mrs Richard Bevan, Highcliff Lodge, Brighton"


http://www.rth.org.uk/collections/bevan-dewar-letters/letters/16-12-1856-1


In the Regency Town House glossary it says: "The use of bark for the treatment of 'nerves' and pain is widespread throughout the letters. It is likely that the bark in question is that of the willow tree. Willow bark contains salicylic acid. A synthetic derivative of this product is the active ingredient in modern aspirin."


That indeed explains its regular use for what would we do today without aspirin or the like! These days it's even possible to find instructions as to how to make your own willow bark aspirin online: https://practicalselfreliance.com/willow-bark/