A chance to fall in love and dance the night away; the ball of the Regency era was the pinnacle of high society.
We here at the Regency Restoration Project believed that hosting a Regency style ball in our very own Regency building, Principality House would be a brilliant experience for our visitors, and we’re glad to say it turned into a very successful event!
During the Regency era, there were two types of balls: public balls held in local inns or assembly rooms, and private balls held the homes of the wealthy and only attended by those personally invited. Our ball would have definitely been classed as a public ball, open to all who desired to come and obtained a ticket, very similar to Regency times when people simply had to pay a subscription price of up to £1.
Like any high standing social event, our ball needed plenty of organisation and planning to get it right. The first thing to decide was the date on which to host the ball. Regency balls, 200 years ago, were usually held on the night of the full moon to provide extra lighting, since there were no street lights on most roads. With modern electricity, we were not restricted in such a way. Instead we had to consider such things as room schedules, the availability of the musicians and the dance caller, as well as having enough time to plan and market the event. Originally, we wished to host the ball during the summer months, however, fate would not allow it, so we eventually decided on an Autumn Ball at the end of September.
We also had to decide on how to decorate for our ball. Principality House is used as a conference building these days, and had been refurbished as such when the Garden opened. Originally, balls would not have required much extra decoration, as they were usually held in elaborate rooms. There would be mirrors lining the walls alongside paintings and other flamboyant décor of the time. The mirrors were, however for practical reasons – reflecting the candlelight and creating a brighter ambience. Due to health and safety we were of course unable to use both mirrors and candlelight but we were able to use reusable battery-powered tea light candles in an attempt to replicate atmosphere of the time. Flowers and greenery from the garden or hothouse would have been used, and so we decided to use flowers and fauna from the Garden, as well as nuts and conkers from our trees, arranged in glass recyclable jars collected from colleagues, friends, and family.
A major consideration was of course what we were going to feed our guests. Private balls would host elaborate multiple course dinners part way through the night, usually around 11pm to 1am, whereas public balls did not provide meals but simply refreshments throughout the night with tea being served half way through the night. We decided to go half way and served a Regency style buffet where our catering team here at the Garden really outdid themselves. With pig’s heads, roulade’s, and jelly pudding, the food was a huge success and everybody enjoyed themselves.
Just like 200 years ago, people were dressed in their best ball gowns and Regency ensembles, and the night was full of laughter, dancing and games. The ball room was filled to the brim with eager dancers all throughout the night, led by the wonderful caller, Philippa Waite with My Lady’s Dancers, and music provided by Pavane Early Music Consort. The game rooms also had a steady stream of people socialising and gambling (with fake money of course).
If you didn’t get a chance to join us in this marvellous event, or wish to experience it again, then you can! We will be hosting another ball as part of the launch season of restored 200 year old Regency landscape. Join us on the 20th June 2020 for our Summer Regency Ball! Escape the twenty first century and party like its 1820. Revel in the music as you dance the night away! Tickets are on sale now; follow the link below.
Keep Calm and Dance at the Regency Ball!
If you would like to read more about balls in the Regency period, here is some further reading!