Saturday, 4 May 2013

Regency Snippets - Mourning - Widows and Widowers.

"There were degrees of mourning. Full mourning for a husband by a widow was the stricttest. For a year and a day she wore a black dress and a mantle of bombazine, a mixute of silk and wool. The dress had to be almost completely covered with crape. Crape was a silk fabric that had been treated so it was completely without luster. There could be no hint of shine in anything worn by a widow. There were no trimmings allowed at all. No shiny buttons, no buckles on her shoes, no jewelery except her wedding rihg and mourning jewelry made of jet. The widow had to wear a mourning bonnet with a widow's cap and a crape veil. She wrote all her letters on black bordered paper. After 12 months and one day, she could replace her crape covered dress with a black silk one, trimmed with crape. After about another half year of mourning the death, the widow could go into half-mourning. The colours allowed were grey, lavender, mauve, violet or black and grey with white stripes. She could wear half-mourning jewelry - pearls and amethysts. Some widows never went into half mourning and wore  black for the rest of their lives.

During the first year of mourning, the widow had no social life. She could not go to parties, dinners or the theatre and it was considered bad taste to even be seen in public. Her soical life consisted of receiving calls and that was about it. After one year, the widow could resume her social life, but she had to do so very gradually. The power of public opinion was strong and a widow who did not show proper respect to the memory of her dead  husband faced being socially ostracised.

Mourning for men was much simpler. They wore a black mourning band on the sleeve of their coats for about 6 months and could take part in soical occasions sooner than could a widow."

Source unknown,.