During the Regency era, merchants allowed aristocrats to purchase products even if they didn’t pay back money owed for years. Shop owners hoped that once it was known that an aristocrat or well-known person had purchased a particular product from their shop, sales would follow. The emerging middle class was eager to own the same items being consumed by the upper classes. There were also more products available for purchase as a result of industrialization.
Many of the streets where people shopped during the Regency—Piccadilly, Bond and Oxford, among others—remain busy shopping areas today. A few stores in these shopping areas have been in existence since the eighteenth century. Piccadilly has been home to Hatchard’s Book Shop since 1797, and Fortnum and Mason since 1707. Other shops remaining from the Regency era are Locks for hats, Floris for perfumes and the Berry Brothers Wine Shop.
Research is important if writing in a historical era. Some of the shops listed above have never been renovated, providing insight as to how stores were laid out and decorated in the seventeenth century. At Floris, they have archives of orders placed by notable people such as Queen Victoria. Their Limes perfume, which has been selling since the 1700’s, is still available for purchase. These stores provide a way to experience the past through scent, their furnishings and samples of items created in the past.
Jane Austen’s World, “Shopping in London During Jane Austen’s Time,” https://janeaustensworld.wordpress.com/category/shopping/
Jennifer Kloester, “Shopping,” in Georgette Heyer’s Regency World (Illinois:,Sourcebooks, 2010)
The Perfume Society, “Floris”, https://perfumesociety.org/perfume-house/floris/
About the Author
Cynthia Capley is working on her first novel set during the Regency era. She enjoys writing stories with strong characters that triumph over challenges to achieve their happily ever after. Cynthia lives in the Pacific Northwest where the rain and numerous coffee houses make the perfect writing companions. She lives with her husband and a menagerie of pets and likes to spend time playing fetch with Natasha, a tortoiseshell-colored cat with an attitude.