Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Regency Travelling by Coach: How They Got Around

Antique Statuette. Georgian Coach with a Lady, Gentleman, and Coachman

                                A Pictorial Gallery of Modes of Transport
Brought to you by Linore Rose Burkard

Traveling, it seems, has never been cheap or easy. Before the age of the automobile one could always saddle a horse, (assuming you owned a horse to saddle) but horseback riding is considered a sport for good reason: there were risks, discomforts and weather issues, to say the least. 

The knowledge of how to ride a horse was nevertheless a handy skill to possess during the Regency and it is a sad heroine indeed who lacks it. (Think of Jane Bennet riding alone on that fateful stormy day to Netherfield Park. She could not have accomplished the deed had she not been something of a horsewoman.)

Yet there were, thankfully, more commodious and advantageous modes of transport available. The following are illustrations I've gathered which show some of the many various vehicles that helped Regencians get around, whether one wanted to shop at a London warehouse, take a dash through Hyde Park, or meander along a country lane for the air and the view.

There were vehicles (like the high Phaeton, below) which were primarily to show one's consequence and style; some for serious mileage or speed (like the mailcoach); and that good old stand-by, the dependable coach-and-four, used by families, aristocracy, and the public. Of course there were vast differences between public coaches and those owned by the wealthy, but that is for, perhaps, another issue. 

Meanwhile, enjoy this pictorial smorgasboard of....
Modes of Transport

 Late 1790's or 1800, judging by costume. These ladies are in a phaeton, sometimes called a "High-Perch Phaeton." Wouldn't want to turn a sharp bend quickly in one of these (though I must say they look remarkably relaxed.) Notice that even then, the driver (she holds the reigns and the whip) is on the right side, as in Britain today. Natty coachmen were called "whips" for short.

 A fashionable Landau. I like the cushioned perch atop the board. Like the phaeton above, you wouldn't get more than two people in this, and possibly only one (not including the whip).

 1819 Phaeton. A two-seater.( Still not sturdy enough for my taste!)

 Barouche. Cozy enough for a chat during a drive, no doubt. 

  Chaise. Unpretentious and plain, but unlike some "smarter" vehicles, offered a hood for shelter.

A  beautiful gentleman's Curricle, used both for sport and pleasure, and the team, a  "matched pair" are most certainly statements of wealth. If a servant (usually for a gentleman) took the back seat, he was called a "tiger."

A public coach with a large boot on the rear for luggage or other goods. When the inside filled up, it was customary to take a seat on the roof, and I believe cost less. Imagine sitting up there for a sharp turn!  

 Here's an example of a small coach (or "post chaise") being driven by an "outrider". Notice the board is empty. Sometimes outriders would accompany a carriage by riding alongside or to the rear.  This picture shows some of the versatility which could be employed. There are two passengers in the vehicle. 

 A Post Chaise. Appears to be two postilions or groomsmen riding this time in lieu of a driver, so it must have been a common practice.

Yet another post-chaise, undoubtedly a reproduction.

Wonderful painting of "The Mailcoach"  barreling along despite wind and weather.


A little later than the Regency, but no doubt indicative of the times. This is a hearse and mourning coach (1844). The term "mourning coach" could mean any coach that followed a hearse, but in this case indicated that the undertakers provided transportation back then as they do now, as needed.


 This is an interesting illustration beginning with the sort of chaise that was common in Bath, England at this time. People would call for "a chair" and two men would actually carry the patron to their desired destination, just as shown,top, left. Some of these vehicles are later 19th century contraptions, but of special note to us are the said "Chaise", top row; The Tilbury, and Cabriolet on the second row from top; and the Phaeton, 3rd row, left. 

  A hackney coach. Later 19th century, it seems, (I can't read the year).  A hackney coach, or "hack" was  a cab, and could be hired.


 A coach and six. The liveried coachman and elegant styling suggest this is a carriage for a wealthy family or nobleman.

 March 1829 Carriage Dress. An interesting thing about Carriage dress is that it hardly differs from Promenade (Or Walking) Dress, with the exception that it always seems to include an outer garment such as a pelisse, redingote, or cloak.  (We couldn't finish our look at modes of transport without an example of how to dress, now, could we?) 1829 was hardly the actual Regency, since George IV had been king since 1820--but I include it in the "Stylistic Regency."

Although not by any means exhaustive, I hope you enjoyed this gallery of Modes of Transport.

(Article reprinted from Linore's free ezine "Reflections." To sign up for the ezine, go to 

Since Autumn is well upon us, get a free download of autumnal print-outs from Linore at:



  1. I never knew, although assumed, that there were so many 'evolutions' of the horse and buggy. Very interesting. Sturdier the better for me and open so I don't get sick! sharon, ca wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

  2. I never knew, although assumed, that there were so many 'evolutions' of the horse and buggy. Very interesting. Sturdier the better for me and open so I don't get sick! sharon, ca wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

  3. Thank you for sharing this pictorial history. Very interesting!

    1. You're welcome, Britney! (Sorry for the delay in my response. I don't get notifications when a comments is posted.) Glad you enjoyed the post. :)

  4. I love 19th century literature and this was so helpful. I can better envision the story!