Y’all may or may not be aware that I’ve gotten into birdwatching from all my time spent writing on my deck. (I’d be there now except it’s all torn up as my husband gets it ready for spring.) That’s why I decided to give that hobby to Eliza. Also, Regency folks liked birds, too (no big surprise). I took her birdhouse from one that was actually from the period. Well, close to the period, anyway—1846. I had a hard time finding images earlier than the Victorian age, but the word “bird-seed” dates back to the 1700’s, and Regency era books abound for “bird-fanciers,” which tell you how to feed, house, rear, etc. birds of all types. Pet birds also appear in stories from the period. So I think I’m safe in saying Regency folks liked them!
So, if you’re a fan of the Regency period, you’ve probably heard about the London Frost Fair of 1814, when the Thames froze for four days, and people set up fairground booths on the ice. They even led an elephant across! But you may not know why it happened. It was partly due to the Little Ice Age, which engulfed many parts of the world from around 1600 to 1850. Since seven possible causes have been postulated for why that happened, we won’t get into that. The upshot is that the Thames was wider and slower then, so the decrease in temperatures resulted in a number of frost fairs being held during those centuries. London Bridge also had more pilings that dammed up the river with ice in winter.
After 1814, the Thames never saw another Frost Fair. London Bridge was rebuilt with less pilings. The river was embanked, which helped it flow more freely. And the weather grew warmer. Don’t you wish you could have experienced a Frost Fair on the Thames? I do!