Imagine An Afternoon At Mansfield Park

This April, I was again blessed to be able to take a weekend and step out of my modern, incredibly busy life to join other like-minded individuals for a Regency Intensive Dance Weekend hosted by the Commonwealth Vintage Dancers. Here is the link to all of last year’s posts, which describe a weekend just as wonderful as this year’s turned out to be.

Saturday consisted of lots of dance class, followed in the evening by an informal ball. Sunday’s schedule had a little bit of dance class in the morning followed by a low-key afternoon of Regency non-dance activities and finished up with a reception and grand ball in the evening.

We took fewer pictures this year than last year, but we still captured the amazing essence of this wonderful event: Saturday’s ball really felt like an immersion into an intimate house party rather than a public ball, Sunday’s afternoon events were wonderfully relaxed and felt like an afternoon one might have while visiting Mansfield Park, and Sunday’s grand ball was amazing to behold and be a part of in terms of exquisite refreshments, companionable company, and excellent dancing.

Having so few pictures of the Saturday evening informal ball, I’ve decided to just include them in a second post which will have pictures from both balls. So then this post will be about Sunday afternoon’s event. Activities included sword demonstrations, playing various period card games, participating in or watching a “theatrical,” listening to a short and impromptu piano interlude, and delighting in the delicious refreshments and tea. Of course, there was also lively conversation, as you would expect! (We had hoped to have some outdoor actives, too, such as playing graces in the park and taking a walk, but unfortunately it was raining all morning and things were wet, so we decided to stay inside. In the end, it turned out to be just fine and we still had a lovely time!) 

Cards and counting chips laid out and ready to participate in a game.

The “theatrical” was staged for us by a group of interested and theatrically inclined ladies. They only had perhaps a portion of an hour to prepare a few scenes from The Rivals for us (a play first performed in 1775 and written by Richard Brinsley Sheridan). It was highly enjoyable and, we, the audience laughed a lot! Indeed, The Rivals is one of the plays that is dismissed by the party in Mansfield Park when they are thinking of putting on a play (hence why I’ve specifically mentioned that the afternoon felt like visiting Mansfield Park!). In the book, they decide on another play in the end (Lovers’ Vows, from 1798), but it was neat to see scenes from one of the plays mentioned in the book!

“All the best plays were run over in vain. Neither Hamlet, nor Macbeth, nor Othello, nor Douglas, nor The Gamester, presented anything that could satisfy even the tragedians; and The Rivals, The School for Scandal, Wheel of Fortune, Heir at Law, and a long et cetera, were successively dismissed with yet warmer objections.” From Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, in Chapter Fourteen.

Small props had been thought of ahead of time and provided extra amusement: the hat, cravat, and beard were a few of these amusing things!
Really, the scenes were amusing and acted with conviction.
Delicious refreshments (we had a variety of scones, cookies, and cucumber sandwiches). Tea is being poured out in the background.
A portion of the party enjoying card games, conversation, and refreshments.

Our venue was built around 1816-1817 and provides a wonderful environment for Regency activities especially: beautiful windows, high ceilings, a lovely dance floor that lends itself to Regency style dancing, etc. I also like the creamy butter yellow walls with lovely white trim.

I wore my tree gown. I’m attempting to look pensively out the window hoping that Mr. Darcy will come by…
I’ve seen him! Be still my heart!

Yes, I know I’m mixing my books here. Perhaps I should have thought of myself as Fanny Price waiting to see a glimpse of Edmund Bertram out the window. Ah, but I don’t identify with Fanny so much as Elizabeth Bennet, so you’ll have to cope with my mixing of books!

10 thoughts on “Imagine An Afternoon At Mansfield Park

  1. Great pictures! Looks like this was a fun events.
    What pattern(s) do you and the other ladies in your group prefer for making 1810-1815 era gowns? Laughing Moon Mercantile has a new pattern but I don’t know anyone who has used it.

    1. Thanks, Emily! I believe some of the ladies have used patterns from La Mode Bagatelle and Past Patterns. A good portion of us also drape or flat pattern our own patterns, or we use variations of patterns from Janet Arnold’s books (I believe most of my dresses started with Janet Arnold at some point, though I keep adapting my current patterns when I make new Regency dresses, so they aren’t really like the Janet Arnold dresses anymore). Angela, at La Chatelaine Chocolat, just posted about testing out the new Laughing Moon Regency pattern. Here’s a link:

      1. Great, thank you! I have some of Janet Arnold’s books as well as a few others that I can draft patterns from. I don’t really like buy patterns but I thought I might give the Laughing Moon one a try and save myself a the headache of drafting. 🙂

  2. You are definitely more of an Elizabeth Bennet 🙂

    Your description of the weekend is lovely…maybe next year we can steal it for publicity, haha!

  3. What a beautiful event and so well planned from the food & beverages (tea! of course) to the preformance of Sheridan’s play – and all those fantastic photos to share the event with us! Thank you!

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