Regency Hot Spot: Hyde Park and Rotten Row

I envision myself in a whalebone corset set high in curricle wearing a fashionable bonnet and politely greeting acquaintances in Rotten Row.

And then I am thankful that I don’t have to wear a bloody corset.

But in the Regency, if I were gentry of Quality this would have been commonplace.

Situated by Mayfair, Hyde Park is one of the largest London parks.  Divided by the Serpentine (more a pond by view than a river), it would eventually be the site of the Great Exhibition and home to the Crystal Palace.

Rotten Row was the place to be seen during the Regency.  A broad track in the south side, it traveled west and was the first “artifically lit highway” in Britain.  Rotten Row is said to be derived from the French Kings Road (Route de Roi), but likely had a more interesting story behind the moniker.

Adjacent was the South Caralignleftriage Drive where people in carriages might also see and be seen.  Sand covered the tracks where between four thirty and seven thirty the thoroughfare became cruising territory for the haute ton.

In essence, it was the first drag strip for boisterous and showman behaviour, where peacocks could strut their colours and peahens could admire and demurely fan their feathers.

In many hist-ro novels, you will find characters strutting or skulking about the Rotten Row.  Like the sidelines of the big Homecoming football game, it would have been the prelude to the evening and a perfect opportunity for mild flirtation.  Especially if you had a hot ride (new curricle or conveyance…or even dappled grey).

Nice to know we don’t really change much, from era to era, among the proud hormonal sect.

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