The Jane Austen Exhibition

Photo: Jens Mohr, LSH

We have hectic days at work now with everything that needs to be done before the palace gates open again in May. The conservators are spring cleaning the state apartments, the shop is stocked with new goods, guides are being hired, and countless other things. Perhaps you remember me mentioning some time ago that the summer exhibition is Jane Austen? The focus will be thirty costumes (supplied by Cosprop in London) as seen in Pride and Prejudice (1995), Sense and Sensibility (1995), Persuasion (1995), Emma (1996 and 2009), and Pride & Prejudice (2005). We are also digging out a handful of not too shabby historical costumes from the museum collections.

Photo by Jens Mohr, LSH

Serious drama going on here.

Today is exactly two months before the opening. The press release and pictures were made public a few weeks ago. Here is an excerpt from the English version (not my translation):

Beautiful scenery surrounds the film costumes worn by actors such as Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant and Colin Firth. Costumes for many people forever linked with characters such as Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. In the Jane Austen’s world exhibition, these characters open the doors to tales of the lifestyle, dilemmas and fashions during the early 1800s.

Magnificent costumes in a historical setting
The costumes are presented in the castle’s guest suites, furnished with objects from the late 1700s and early 1800s. This is a unique opportunity to experience parts of the castle which are not normally open to the general public. The objects on display include the fantastic bridal gown worn by Marianne Dashwood (played by Kate Winslet) from the film Sense and Sensibility and not least the once soaked shirt worn by Mr. Darcy (played by Colin Firth) in the BBC series of Pride and Prejudice. The historical setting of Skokloster Castle is a perfect stage for the exhibition, which presents a period coloured by magnificent clothing, narrow female spheres and strict etiquette.

Jane Austen – always current
Jane Austen is one of the world’s most read authors, and her almost 200-year old novels are more popular than ever, with new editions, interpretations, dramatisations and film versions of her works being released constantly. In her novels, Austen succeeds in combining an easy style with sharp social criticism concealed beneath emotionally charged intrigue.

‘Jane Austen was a perceptive observer of the strict social patterns that permeated the privileged social class to which she belonged. Austen’s young heroines struggle against and with the limitations of their period. For many women, marriage was the only opportunity way they could support themselves. And just like in her books, women are at the centre of Jane Austen’s world. Marriage as a guarantor of the survival of the family is a theme that also forms part of the history of Skokloster Castle. In the exhibition, you can also follow the “Meanwhile at Skokloster” track, which presents a number of women at Skokloster’, explains Annika Williams, curator of the exhibition at Skokloster Castle.

This summer, Skokloster Castle is offering a range of programme activities related to the exhibition, including themed viewings, lectures, a picnic in the castle grounds, Regency dancing, costume displays, a ball and afternoon teas with guest speakers. All in the true spirit of Jane Austen. Guided tours every day.

How about that! If you wish to know more, follow this link.

My co-workers are absolutely wonderful and their dedication to Jane Austen and the Regency era is impressive. At times we indulge in a veritable nerd-fest, I am afraid.

The gorgeous promotion photos accompanying today´s post were taken by our photographer, Jens Mohr. It took considerable time to agree on what type of pictures we wanted in terms of style and atmosphere. We definitely wanted to show a strong and confident young lady, one that might take matters in her own hands instead of passively waiting for a suitor.

You cannot see, but the temperature was near freezing in the state appartments back in early February when Elinor and I tried to look our best in Regency finery, or at least tried to stop shaking… They say the camera puts on extra weight, but it certainly does not help when one is wearing a warm sweater under waistcoat and all. (In hindsight I know I should not have worn it.) Of course Elinor, poor thing, was lovely in the summery open robe and sheer linen dress, channelling her inner Lizzie Bennet. She also managed to not attract pneumonia. Or so I believe. I presented the two gowns here.

Photo by Jens Mohr, LSH

Photo by Jens Mohr, LSH

Next time I will write about which gentlemen´s costumes that will go on display in the exhibition.

Oh, and we have released tickets to the Jane Austen ball in August, and the rest of the programmes. It is going to be so much fun! (And hard work.)

Masked ball à la Romaine

Come March and 225 years since the fatal shot in Ballo in Maschera, the masked ball where king Gustaf III was assassinated by plotting aristocrats. To commemorate this event a masked ball set in 1792 is organized in March every year. Despite the grim reason the ball is fun so I really wanted to attend, regardless of heavy workload and fatigue.

With all my sewing going on I really did not need to start a new project and thought I´d reuse something old. But lo and behold, I struck gold at work! Up in the palace attic, stowed away in a dust covered cardboard box, was not only one but half a dozen sapphire blue and gold tunics! They are 1990s replicas of a theatre costume from 1672 that is in our collection. (Link to the database here.)

Half a dozen tunics!

After some quick research I devised a plan. Fancy dress “à la Romaine”, to dress as a Roman god or emperor, was popular during the Renaissance and Baroque, among court dancers and other performers but among monarchs in particular. This I could do without too much effort.

A well known example: Louis XIV as the Sun King. Château de Versailles.

One of the Swedish monarchs: An allusion of a triumphant Charles XI on horse back, painting by J K Ehrenstrahl, 1674. Skokloster Castle.

I now had the tunic. (They were all in – how can I put it- well-worn state. I think i managed to choose the one that was in the best condition.) I used my regular shirt, golden stockings, and opera pumps. White mask and powdered wig from last year and to finish it off I glue-gunned a coronet from metallic paper to support my ostrich feathers. Ét voilá!

The tunic was somewhat soiled but careful ironing did the trick.

A cloak, secured to the shoulders with two brooches, added some drama and it very conveniently hid the safety pins that were necessary to achieve a decent fit. The piece of matching fabric (Acetate? Silk taffeta?) draped well. I found it in a bag filled with odd scraps of fabric.

My opera pumps were temporarily upgraded with a large bow and some trim in metallic paper topped with a glass bead.

The ball was magnificent! The white mask and large ostrich feathers is me trying to see my feet… Photo credit Fernando Orellana.

My 1790s wig from last year and a contraption I made from metallic paper and glass beads, to accommodate my ostrich feathers. (If you, dear readers, say I remind you of a roaring twenties flapper – minus earrings and eyelashes, I will be most seriously displeased. I assure you, this was regarded as super manly.)

There was some operatic entertainment between dances. Here is the dance programme:

Doing my best eighteenth century Roman god (Apollo? Zephyr?) impression.

Later we moved upstairs to enjoy decadently delicious refreshments. Photo credit Fernando Ortellana.

Yours truly was starving by now. Photo credit Fernando Ortellana.

These dames could be Marie Antoinette´s ladies-in-waiting while at Le Petit Trianon.

My Regency chums Ylva and Jacob.

Would you believe it: to my surprise I was awarded a prize for one of the best costumes! It was a jar of locally produced honey. Tasty indeed!



The Empire days of 2016

August and September were hectic months (in a good way!) so there was no time to blog, but – take my word – I wanted to. I even had to decline an organised outing (in Regency attire) to watch the new film Love and Friendship. Besides the official photographs from the festival are stuck somewhere, and I was not taking that many pictures. For this post I was able to rely on friends who generously allowed me to use their photos!

Back in November last year I was invited to join the organising group. I did not have to think twice before accepting, as I thought it would be great fun. (And a perfect excuse to meet with a terrific group of people on a regular basis. Who would say no to that?)

We only made a few minor changes, so the programme was similar to last year. This year´s theme was Love. (What else?) So the music was particularily romantic, and the dance programme included many particularily romantic dances such as The Duke of Kent´s Waltz. The Empire days started with a dance-class on Thursday evening. I was occupied elsewhere, but I believe it was useful for those who needed to practise their dancing skills. I am by no means an expert, so various clips on youtube came in handy.

Friday was ball night. As one of the organisers I was early at the venue for preparations. One of my assignments was to set up a small exhibition in the parlour. I have blogged about it before, so I will not go into details, but the atmosphere in the historical manor house, Kristinehof, is unique.


The ball started with a glass of bubbly in the courtyard.


A Wedding breakfast in the parlour. Anders wrote most of the texts for those who wanted to learn more about courtship, wedding, and married life in the early nineteenth century.


My contribution was to set the table for a wedding reception. This era saw the rise in popularity for intimate but elegant wedding ceremonies, often at home, with a few select guests mingling over tea, cake, wine, and sweets. We served bisquits, candied rose-petals and lilacs on East-Indian porcelain. An imported pineapple was extravagant.


An ouverture before the first dance. Eager dancers listening to lovely tunes from the orchestra in the ball room.


The orchestra and Mrs Löfgren, our Dance Master. Photo courtesy of Ulrika Rosander.




Our photographer, Miss Lillemor. Photo courtesy of Ulrika Rosander.


There was dinner and desserts! Photo courtesy of Olof Rosengren.


Saturday was picknick-day. We met up in the Haga-park, one of the royal gardens. There was no fixed time. People could chose to stay throughout the day or only drop by. I needed a sleep in and had to rest my tired feet, so I was what could be described as “fashionably late”. It was the first outing for my new pantaloons and the striped waistcoat.


The Echo Temple (1790) is perfect for dancing.


Picknick and mingle on the lawn. Photo courtesy of Jenny Björkquist.


Miss Annelie and the crocquet cart. Photo courtesy of Jenny Björkquist.


There were many of us on the lawn in front of the Royal pavilion. Photo courtesy of Keit Svensson.

Photo courtesy of Jenny Björkquist.

The centre of events: dancing in The Echo Temple. One of the few full length views of my new pantaloons and waistcoat. (The pantaloons look baggy, but i assure you they were not.) Photo courtesy of Jenny Björkquist.


And Vilhelm brought his harpsicord. (The rustic one in his collection.)


The August night was dark but warm…


… but it was nevertheless nice with a cup of tea. It is always nice with a cup of tea…

Rain was pouring down on Sunday, so we moved the second picknick to our friends house.


After lunch we cleared the dining room to make room for some more dancing.



Photo courtesy Paula Krumlinde.

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend, I certainly had! This year I took time to actually engage in conversation – there were so many nice people to talk to. It is always interesting to discuss Jane Austen and share costume ideas, but of course there is much more beyond those obvious topics.

This post was not so much about costuming and sewing projects. There is more to come in that department later this year…

The 2016 Empire Days

A quick update: The annual festival is over, and what can I say? It was marvellous. I think everyone is happy but exhausted. 

This is one of the magical things we did:
There is more to come as soon as I have sorted my photographs!

A Regency Dinner or Posing on the Stairs

Two of my costuming-friends, Ylva and Jacob, recently moved to a new house, and a couple of weeks ago they invited Regency friends for dancing and a bring-and-share dinner. It was a nice change, considering that we normally assemble in various public spaces. I did not take any photographs, but we had a spur of the moment session in the grand stairs before dinner, and Matilda and Johanna generously shared some pictures afterwards. I wore my standard attire: green tailcoat, shirt, cravat, pink linen waistcoat, breeches, stockings, and slippers. (Wearing full gear on the metro in rush hour was not so fun.) It looks like I was there on my own, but there was quite a crowd. Needless to say it was a terrific evening!


Apparently posing comes naturally – one is damaged by years of researching portraits by Reynolds, Gainsborough et al. Photo courtesy of Matilda Furness


Photo courtesy of Matilda Furness


I could live in a house with stairs like these. Photo courtesy of Johanna Paulsen


Photo courtesy of Johanna Paulsen


Alba made this very appropriate chocolate cake.

A Coat, a Stock, a Shirt, and a Waistcoat: Extant garments

Nordiska museet (“The Swedish Victoria & Albert museum”) has a fairly new permanent costume gallery, but space is limited and the costume collection is extensive, so obviously there is much more in storage. So imagine the thrill when they arranged a handling session last week with garments from the empire era. Needless to say I was there early, but there was already an exited crowd outside the door. It was nice to find several friends among them so we chatted while waiting for our turn.


Nordiska museet, Stockholm

The chosen garments were laid out on tables and anybody who wanted to take a closer look was provided with cotton gloves. (Yes we were actually allowed to touch them, supervised by the helpful conservators.)

The first thing that caught my attention was this elegant stock:


Stock, ca 1820. This pre-tied cravat is in a remarkable condition. The silk taffeta is practically undamaged. Follow this link to the Swedish museum database for more information.


Inside view of the stock. It is thin and weighs almost nothing. It is stiffened with paper.

It was great to see this dark blue tailcoat (1820-40). A tailor-made masterpiece like this should be seen on a person or at least a mannequin,  laid out on a table did not quite do it justice. Anyway, the coat had many details that are characteristic for the era: m-notch lapels, double-breasted closure, slightly gathered sleeves, bell-shaped cuffs with one button – understated elegance. Again the condition was so good it could have been brand new. Here is the link to the database (where I borrowed the image below, because it was difficult to take any decent photographs).

Nordiska museet coat 1

Nordiska museet coat

Neat buttonholes and prick-stitch. The lining is a wool and linen blend.

nordiska museet coat

Interesting to see the angle where front meets tail. Notice the short v-shaped seam? I suppose it is there to prevent the coat from loosing its shape and to protect from wear and tear.

A not so well preserved garment was this striped silk and linen waistcoat:

Nordiska museet waistcoat


Nice details on collar (above) and pockets (below).


I also noticed that the back, made of linen, was unlined. A showy piece of garment, rather than something to keep you warm!

One highlight was this shirt, or THE shirt. It was of a very fine quality, both in material and the way it was made, most likely by a skilled (professional?) seamstress/tailor. Every stitch was incredibly fine and most seams were flat-felled.


The shirt has a ruffle along both sides of the opening.


The gathering was microscopic.

nordiska museet shirt 2

The shoulder seam and view of the neck.

nordiska museet shirt

Closure: the shirt was never buttoned, but rather tied with this narrow ribbon. Notice the neat finish of the inside of the collar.

Something for the ladies: an evening gown, ca 1815-20. A fresh light blue silk, with cream-coloured trim.



In this weird photograph I wanted a look at the inside of the bodice. Here the bodice is folded forward over the skirt.

There were three or four other gowns, chemises, a couple of frilled caps, and a pair of slippers.

Insights and conclusions? Well, as always I have the deepest respect for the amount of work that went into making clothes before industrialisation. You could not just walk in to a shop and buy clothes off the rack. It took some time and consideration to invest in new clothes. People in general had to make do and mend.

I am always impressed by the fine materials that were used and the microscopic yet perfect stitches they were able to make. And it is interesting to see the unfinished seams and surprisingly crude stitches on the inside. (We do like shortcuts, don´t we?)

Books, the internet, reproductions, and film costumes are good sources, but seeing the primary source – the real thing – with your own eyes is invaluable. (As long as you are aware of the limitations in terms of styling, proper underpinnings, posture, hairstyles, social status, etc.) But if you, like me, do not own a costume collection, do visit a museum now and then!

A Gustavian Masquerade in Van Dyck Costume

Photo by Regencygentleman

If judging by number of posts on this blog lately it may look like Yours Truly has had his attention elsewhere. However, that is not the case. Wigs have been styled and balls have been attended! I have much to tell so today´s post will be a long one.

This past month turned out to be unusually hectic. While toiling away at work I was invited to go with friends to S:t Petersburg (!) and attend the Nicolaevsky ball. The ball was organised by Russian reenactors, and was of course to be held in a gem of a palace. Dresscode was strictly Empire. Apparently several of the dancers were extras in the new BBC adaptation of Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Almost to good to be true, no? Sadly it was practically impossible to take days off from work, and I could not justify the expence at the moment.

I decided not to go, but fortunately I was able to dive into another costume event – an event that required very little travelling and no sewing: The Gustavian Masquerade Ball of 2016.

This ball is arranged every year to commemorate the great eighteenth century king Gustaf III of Sweden (1746-1792). Same generation as Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, he was a great patron of the fine arts, and he was fond of theatre in particular. He was assassinated (for political reasons) at the now infamous masquerade ball at the Royal Opera, on March 16, 1792. (Of course Verdi turned this in to his famous opera Un ballo in maschera.)

There was no time to sew a new costume. I would have to make do with something I already had. Lacking decent eighteenth century attire, and spending some time googling for masked ball-pictures, I realised I could use my old 1630´s costume and dress “á la Van Dyck”. I made the costume over a decade ago, and it consists of a doublet and breeches in blue silk, a short cloak in black velvet, and the characteristic cuffs and lace collar.


Inspiration: Van Dyck costume. John Hussey Delaval, first Baron Delaval (1728-1808), by W. Bell, 1774. National Trust/John Hammond.

It was popular among the Aristocracy to be portrayed wearing fashions in the style of the cavaliers during the reign of Charles I, as seeen in so many paintings by the artist Anthony van Dyck. I suppose it was part of the newborn romantic interest in history. (Particularily in Britain. A better known phenomenon is of course the 18th century Gothic revival architecture.)

So, I already had a costume and I also happened to have a white papier-mache mask. It only needed some tweaking. I trimmed off the chin and part of the forehead, and added on a more pronounced nose. Then I covered it with white cotton for a smooth finish and replaced the elastic band with som white silk ribbon. (It certainly did the trick, several friends didn´t recognize me until I spoke!)

Notice that Baron Delaval is wearing fashionably old-fashioned clothes, but his hair is very 1774? Most portraits in this genre show that these gentlemen held on to their usual powdered wigs. And so would I. My plan was to do a 1780´s hedgehog hairstyle. Something like William Pitt the Younger:

William Pitt the Younger ?c.1783 George Romney 1734-1802 Bequeathed by Admiral John E. Pringle 1908

Inspiration: William Pitt the Younger c.1783, by George Romney. Tate Gallery.



I bought a reasonably priced wig of no particular quality. The package tells all.

Photo by Regencygentleman aka Mr Tigercrona

Unpacking the wig and channelling my inner rock star. Please don´t judge me. I had to start somewhere…

Photo by Regencygentleman aka Mr Tigercrona

Travelling back in time: a matter of moments, and it already looked more appropriate. Here I divided the hair in four sections: front, back, and one section on each side. I wanted more frizz, and intended to do tight rag curls, but changed my mind, saving time and thinking the hair had enough body, and only needed pins and pomade (hairspray).

Photo by Regencygentleman aka Mr Tigercrona

Nearly finished! Powder makes all the difference. Generous amounts of hairspray, and equally generous sprinkling of powder to get rid of the shine. I used a cheap body talcum powder from the chemist.


Looks like a dead poodle here but I was happy with the result.

Regencygentleman aka Mr Tigercrona

So happy…


The costume is a sky-blue watered silk, with gold trimmings. Here is a closeup of the wide breeches.


I spruced up my opera pumps with some ribbon. I opted for dark blue stockings and blue silk garters.

Photo by Regencygentleman

A quick snap in the lobby while waiting for the taxi. The costume came with a lace collar and a short velvet cloak. (Partly hidden by the plant.)

The ball was magical and I really enjoyed every minute of it. It was well planned in every detail, from the music and dances to refreshments and decorations.

I often get questions about the dances in our repertoire, so below is the programme. You probably recognize the country dances but there were many quadrilles aswell. (All of the dances with Swedish names. I always confuse them so I made myself indisposed during one of them, and made sure to find able-bodied ladies for the others.)




Needless to say, but the costumes came in a wide range of period-appropriate spectacular to understated elegance.




There were two intervals when we could rest our tired feet while being treated to lovely musical entertainment.




What better way to end this glorious evening than going upstairs and enjoying a late supper lovingly prepared by the wonderful folks at the manor?

Regencygentleman aka Mr Tigercrona


This turned out to be a long post! Next time I should report on the waistcoat…

Just An Ordinary Sunday

The world is in turmoil, but I have been blessed with a beautiful autumn and even one or two lazy Sundays.

One Sunday I joined some of my fellow Regency friends for a dance-social at the Tyreso Castle. We took time for luncheon between dances and finished the day with a brisk walk in the park before going back to Town.

The ball room was available so we had plenty of space. We were about eight or nine couples. We danced the usual ones from Playford´s repertoire: Hole in the Wall, Mr Beveridge, Upon a Summer´s day, Shrewsbury lasses (must be one of my favourites!) and I learned a new one: Sir Roger de Coverley. Click here for the best youtube clip I was able to find. (It looks very different from what I remember, and I now realise that we must have danced a different version…)

Photo by Regencygentleman


For this outing I chose to wear my new tailcoat, the opera-waistcoat, breeches, boots, and top hat. Sorry for all the links, but the only photo I managed to take is the one above.




My friends photographed off guard, without any warning. We had lunch in one of the small dining rooms.

Photo by Regencygentleman

My appologies for sneaking up on you! Conversation was lively, and we discussed Bath, the recent events in Paris, Colonial Williamsburg, uniforms…



Leaving the ball room for a walk through the park. Everybody is putting on their shawls, bonnets, hats, and spencers.


What does it say? Luckily one of the gentleman carried a – ehum – torch.

Photo by Regencygentleman

Ylva and Jacob in their Regency finery.


It was probably the last chance to meet before the holidays. There are one or two balls coming up, although they are eighteenth century, so mostly a different set of people. How about your autumn? Any opportunities to meet friends and dress upp in Regency, or other eras? Any dancing?

Equestrian Excercises or just Horsing around…

Dogs may be man´s best friend, but only two or three generations ago another four-legged friend was absolutely essential on so many levels: the horse. Different breeds of horses were everywhere, not only in the country, but in the city as well. Horsepower was needed for transporting people and goods, in farming, the army, the industry, and so on.

Photo by Maria del Carmen

“Good morning my dear Lady X!”

Society expected gentlemen to be good horsemen. (And – to a certain degree – ladies too, for that matter.) One was practically brought up in the saddle. By 1800 people enjoyed watching races, were involved in the prestigeous Jockey Club, and of course the fox hunt. Riding in the city was a fashionable pastime, as a way to see and to be seen. I admit the subject is not my forte, so please read more about horses and riding during the Regency here and here. (I have never given it a thought before, but have now realised that you find many, well, half dressed ladies and gentlemen when googling “regency riding”…)


The Heathcote Hunting Group, painted in 1790 by Daniel Gardner (1750-1805). It shows the Rev. William Heathcote (1772–1802), on horseback (son of the 3rd Baronet) with company.


Mr Darcy and Mr Bingley. (Pride and Prejudice 2005)

Now, with all this in mind, I accepted an invitation some time ago to join a photo session out in the country – with a very nice horse named Diva. I packed my Regency attire and joined my friend and fellow-model Helena, dressed for genteel riding mid 18th century style in black and red silk. We met up at the stables outside the city with Maria, our photographer, and her friend Caroline, owner of Diva. Maria also brought an additional 1750s-ish men´s outfit for me to wear, but it was made for a gent of a somewhat sturdier build, so those photos did not make it to this blog…

Following photos courtesy of Maria del Carmen.


Photo by Maria del Carmen

Photo by Maria del Carmen

Amiring the estate. Yours truly was practically brought up in the saddle. Not. Please overlook any historical inacurracies regarding the horse tack.

Photo by Maria del Carmen

This could be the cover of a cheesy (but classy!) romantic novel…

Fooling around with a crow. I started the session wearing a rather loose-fitting 1750´s outfit.

It was an interesting experience to mount a horse dressed in full Regency attire. However comfortable they are the clothes restrict one´s movements. It is practically  impossibe to sit like haysack in them. It was also fun to observe the group of horses in the adjoining paddock. They followed every step we took and listened to our attacks of giggles, in full astonishment. Apparently we were an unsusual sight!

I had a wonderful day with Helena, Maria, Caroline, and Diva.

Photo by Regencygentleman

Quel horreur. In the afternoon my breeches looked like this. But I prefer a ripped seam rather than torn fabric. It is so much easier to mend…

A Regency Picnic at Royal Rosendal

Stockholm has a wealth of well preserved historic sites in and around the city. Tucked away in one of the large royal parks is elegant Rosendal Palace. The Regency Days of 2015 continued there on the day after the ball. We picnicked on the lawn in front of the palace.


Rosendal was built in the 1820´s as a private retreat for the royal family. It is in the Swedish/French empire style.

Photo Anders Fjellström

It was a warm day so we preferred to sit in the shade. Photo: Anders Fjellström.



Photo Olga Peshkova/Poetry of time

Photo: Poetry of time

Photo Olga Peshkova/Poetry of time

Cucumber sandwiches and elderberry cordial. Photo: Poetry of time.

Photo by Olga Peshkova/Poetry of time

Looks like Hole in the wall to live music. Photo: Poetry of time.


In the afternoon we joined one of the guided tours of the palace. The palace staff was thrilled to meet people dressed in Regency costume. It was actually the first time, as far as they could recall. One of the staff members turned out be a former colleague of mine and a possible new recruit! Our guide gave an entertaining yet enlightening tour through the well-preserved and rare (for Swedish conditions) interiors from the 1820´s. I am always impressed by its builder, the King Karl XIV Johan, a fascinating person who made the most unlikely career. The King was born 1763 in Bearn, France, as Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte. He grew up in a modest middle class home, in a family of tradesmen and artisans, but chose a life in the army. The turmoils following the French Revolution led Bernadotte to the absolute centre of power as one of Napoleon´s generals. In 1804 he was appointed Marshall of France and later Prince of Ponte Corvo and governor of Rome. 1810, at the height of his career, he was suddenly offered – and he accepted – the Swedish throne. (Political complications had left the country nearly bankrupt, with state affairs in a mess. Half of the nation had been lost to Russia and the king was old and childless.) Through his remarkable diplomatic skills, courage, and enormous fortune, Bernadotte, from 1818 King Karl Johan, managed to get the country on its feet.

His wife, born Desirée Clary in Marseille, daughter of a tradesman, belonged to the inner circles of nouveau riche Paris society and reluctantly gave up her position to move up north to a cold, old-fashioned country where the aristocracy initially frowned upon the upstarts. (They never forgot Queen Desirée´s modest origins and connection with “that little Corsican” – she had once been engaged to Napoleon and her sister Hortense was married to Napoleon´s brother Joseph Bonaparte.)

The Rosendal palace is a museum, but it is still owned by the present monarch, a direct descendant of the first Bernadottes. Napoleon is history, but The House of Bernadotte survives to this day.

Rosendals slott på Kungl. Djurgården. Foto: Gomer Swahn

The grandest room is the “Lanternin”.  Copyright: Gomer Swahn, (Swedish Royalcourt).

Rosendals slott på Kungl. Djurgården. Foto: Gomer Swahn

The Red Salon at Rosendal. The walls have the fashionable Roman tent-treatment. Copyright: Gomer Swahn, (Swedish Royalcourt).



Karl XIV Johan. Miniature by J.A. Gillberg 1818.


Queen Desirée in Swedish court dress. Miniature by N Jacques, 1812.


When we stepped out in the sun we danced some more before parting: Mr Isaac´s maggot, Duke of Kent´s waltz, Hole in the wall.

We always debate etiquette on these occasions. Is it considered bad form to wear a hat when dancing outdoors? Or should one dance outdoors at all? We tend to be very relaxed with Regency etiquette in order to avoid excluding newcomers. Same goes with costumes –  everyone is welcome if one does one´s best. What is your opinion?


Mr Isaac´s Maggot. Photo: Malin Gunnerhed.


Dignified posing in front of the famous porphyry vase.


Not so dignified croquet.




Poetry in time

In the late afternoon we strolled back to the 21st century. Photo: Poetry in time


Photo by Regencegentleman aka mr Tigercrona


I was not able to attend the following day when the Regency Days continued at yet another castle with brunch, more dancing, visiting a church, and walking in the park.

Sadly my Regency calendar has only blank pages so far, but I am sure we will meet again in the Autumn.