Austenland 1

Jane Seymour as Mrs. Wattlesbrook

Some time ago Mrs. E. and I decided to watch Austenland. As a true “Jane Austen afficionado” it is, in my opinion, an obligation to keep an eye on Regency-related books and films. Not all of them is a masterpiece, I might add. The film Austenland is the only one to appear on the big screen this year. It is based on a bestselling novel (“chick lit”), written by Shannon Hale. The story is sort of relevant to us with its references to the Austen-adaptations and “Darcymania”. But why be so chocked/blasé if you spend all your money on a stay in Austenland? If you are more than familiar with Miss Austen´s novels then perhaps some Regency etiquette shouldn´t come as a total surprise. I got the impression that Keri Russel´s character was looking for a way to escape rather than actually embracing the rules. But I did enjoy Jane Seymour (I admit, I had a teenage crush on her. Scarlett Pimpernel! War and Remembrance! The French Revolution!) and of course the formidable Rupert Vansittart. The film has its funny moments – and apparently the cast had a great time during filming – but in the end it is a mere trifle. What do you think?

So what about production design? The manor was stunning. Plenty of nice costumes designed by Anne Hardinge. (And plenty of costumes that took liberties with Regency fashion!) And would you know it – some of the clothes seen in Austenland were originally created for Colin Firth´s Mr. Darcy back in 1995!  J.J. Feild is seen in a banyan, a linen overcoat, and top hat, the very ones that once belonged to our dear Mr. Darcy. Compare pictures! (Apologies for many exclamation marks!) Must have helped J.J. to find his inner Regency gentleman.


J.J. Feild (with Bret McKenzie and fabulous Georgia King) in same coat and hat…



…as Mr. Darcy. (Difficult to see but he is holding the hat.)

JJ Feild Henry Tilney in Northanger Abbey

Another connection: in the 1997 Northanger Abbey J.J. Feild played Henry Tilney. In similar if not same green coat as…


…seen on Mr. Darcy.


Rupert Vansittart as bon vivant Mr. Wattlesbrook caught in a moment of, ahum, ungentlemanlike behaviour. Nice waistcoat and fierce sideburns!

Rupert Vansittart

Rupert Vansittart was of course Mr. Hurst back in 1995. (And married to one of the unpleasant Bingley sisters.)

6 thoughts on “Austenland

  1. Austenland: Not to be taken seriously. Fandom laughing at itself. I personally loved the film for the humor in the detail i.e. bowl of jelly doughnuts on a Regency table. One minor, minor detail: The fight scene in the airport at the end of the film, revealed braces/suspenders on J.J. Field. I personally like to wear braces under my waistcoat to keep my knee breeches up to proper fit. Without them, my breeches “droop” resulting in an unsightly and risqué seat. Did men in the Regency period wear braces?
    Thanks for the photos from the film. Always interesting to see how film makers tell the story with clothes.

    • Braces?! Totally missed that detail, there was so much going on in this film and a lot that should be taken with a pinch of salt. Very observant of you. I’m not sure when men started to use braces, but would guess late 1800s. (elasticity?) Another way to stop breeches from dropping was buttoning or tying them to the waistcoat or doublet. Very common during the Elizabethan era… More research to do!

  2. Mr. Elton,
    I enjoy the blog, thanks. I am a War of 1812 reenactor and hopefully I’ll have a tailcoat similar yours for the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans this upcoming January.
    Braces or suspenders as we call them now, were considered underwear. Even today underwear especially for women are called, unmentionables.
    While the low breeches and trousers of the 1770s and before were tailored to fit without braces, as the waistline rose braces became essential for many men. While modern braces were patented around 1816 by a Frenchman, they existed long before that and in a recognizable form.

    Search for the British Satire cartoon, QUARRELSOME TAYLORS or TWO of a TRADE SELDOM AGREE. This cartoon dates to 1793 or so. Hanging in the tailor’s shop window is a set of X braces. The sign on his shop says this, simon sniff… maks and mendies…MENS & BOUYS…reddy made CLOSE…N.B. nete Gallows for Breaches.
    You can get more humor out of the scene when you consider that at that time, braces were underwear and here they are in plain view,even advertised on a sign. Bathroom humor circa 1793.

    In 1776 William Bartram mentions men working the fields in the South West Frontier (present day Tennessee) wearing breeches with a single brace Shirtless!
    Military clothing in 1812 had a provision for braces.

    Now elastic suspenders come much much later.

  3. Loved the idea, wanted to love the film… it seems the pacing was off in some scenes, like the humor was there but the timing wasn’t. Some of the characters were perfect, and the set was beautiful, so close but not quite there.

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