the town chariot
Posted by P. Bingham on July 15, 1998 at 16:37:49:
In response to Two questions: chariots and powder, written by Helen on July 15, 1998 at 13:33:56
First of all, Laura posted a link to a previous discussion farther down. This link does mention this chariotand its comparison to other vehicles.
The travelling chariot (and there was also a town chariot) was similar to the phaeton in body and design in that they both used S springs. The travelling chariot or town chariot, however, was intended to be driven by a professional and so featured a driver's box (very high - the driver probably had to duck under low bridges) where the phaeton was generally intended to be driven by the owner. Other differences were of course that the phaeton featured a fold-back top where the chariot was enclosed (at least by the period we are interested in). The closest relative to the town and travelling chariot was the French berline-coupee which was a post chaise. The two models are nearly identical. The travelling chariot or town chariot's body is higher on the springs though (and tipped back on the rear springs). The newer the version of chariot, the higher the body sits on these springs and so folding steps were needed which were provided behind the door. A footman would have been almost a necessity (to help load and unload passengers) and he have ridden standing behind the hind wheels.
Basically the town chariot was a very fine vehicle that would have been expensive to own. It featured the very latest in elegance, was light compared to other carriages and was generally used for trips around town when transportation for only two or three passengers was needed. The travelling chariot would have been used for longer distance travel. And like a typical post chaise, the passengers would face the horses in an enclosed body. The post chaise was nearly identical to the town chariot with the exception of the driver's box. The post chaise did not have a driver's box and the horses were ridden postillion. As far as the post chaise, those that were rented were often actually cast-off town chariot's which would mean slightly older versions. And the older the version, the lower the body would sit on the springs. These particular town chariots likely had the driver's seat removed to make room for luggage and such.
As far as powdering, a few stubborn older gentlemen powdered their hair far into the Victorian period, especially those that were once whigs (parliamentary speaking). And of course judges, carriage drivers and footmen, etc, anyone who wore livery. It went out of fashion towards the end of the eighteenth century when powder began to be taxed. Some men continued to wear them partly out of habit and partly out of the fact that powdering the hair, so widely used, had become a custom which characterized wealth and priviledge and even a certain level of 'morality'. Kind of a 'corset' thing.
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