Quick Index Board Index Home FAQ Site Map
Written by Julie W
(Tuesday, 13 January 2009, at 8:40 a.m.)
This morning we have been to see Miss Chamberlayne look hot on horseback.-Seven years & four months ago we went to the same Ridinghouse to see Miss Lefroy's performance! ----What a different set are we now moving in! But seven years I suppose are enough to change every pore of one's skin, & every feeling of one's mind.
I thought you might like to know what an early 19th century riding school looked like.
Anyone who has been lucky enough to visit the Spanish Riding School in Vienna will have some idea of the type of places these were.
This is a plan of the 18th century riding school at the Queens House ( now known as Buckingham Palace).
This is a portrait of James Montague inside that riding school, or more correctly house at Buckingham House,as it was tehn known in 1766 by Daniel Morier.
This map shows the position of that school in London.
Most of these 18th centry riding schools or houses follwed the same basic pattern of construction as seen above. The architect of the Queens House school hit on a winning formula. A rectangular building about 40 feet wide and three times as long. The room was lit with lots of indirect light, from glazed lunettes( or half moon ) windows. Note that the technology to provide illumination from windows set in the ceiling or roof did not exist until much later in the 19th century. Almost all these buildings had a viewing gallery,usually slightly raised from the ground floor , which is where JA would have stood to watch Miss Chamberlayne look hot.
In the 18th century especially after the accession of Geroge III there was a postive explosion in these buildings in England, and specially in London:
The art of riding has so long been neglected and despised, that onewould almost be prompted to conclude that a fatality had constantly attended it in this country ...for a length of time it has been able to boast but a very few persons who have stood forth its avowed friends, and Pro tectors but since the accession of his present Majesty, the prospect has brightened and better times begin to dawn. Since this happy event the Art has raised itself a little and given some signs of recovery; public riding houses have been opened, which are largely cncouraged and frequented by the youth of the nation several private Maneges have likewise been erected by the Princes of the blood, some of the Nobility and Gentry; and to crown it all his Majesty erected one for his own immediate use.
Mr Berenger might have been a little subject to hyperbole but he was the Gentleman of Horse to George III and was as a result in the centre of the English equestrian world. He knew his subject ;-)
Spa towns were quick to recognise that having riding schools in the vicinity added to their attractions for visitors. As the late and much missed Giles Worsley observed in his bookThe British Stable
Outside London riding schools were established in the fashionable resort towns of Bath, Brighton and Cheltenham. The first riding house in Bath was erected in 1772 in Montpellier Row behind the new Assembly Rooms and by 1795 there were three rival riding schools in Bath. In Cheltenham, where there was considerable competition between the rival spas,the Montpellier Riding School, built at the same time as that spa, would have been considered part of its amenities. Likewise, in Brighton, the planned development of Kemptown in 1825 included a large circular riding house among teh squares and crescents. The development was not as successful as was hoped and the riding house was never built, but it had clearly been intended as a draw for the new area. In Brighton itself the Brunswick Market built in 1828 was enlarged and converted into a riding academy .....
This is an engraving of the interior of the riding school in Southampton( much more on this town later in the GR) which again shows the basic pattern of construction was followed :
And here is Thomas Rowlandson's characteristically robust view of what the riders really looked like:
Given JAs comments about Miss Chamberlayne I think he is quite near the truth of the matter ;-)
Groupread is maintained by Myretta with WebBBS 3.21.