Posted on 15 March, 2013
The centre of Bath is dominated by a large and rather lovely old Abbey. One imagines families in the Regency era treating Sunday service as an opportunity to show off: to see and to be seen by their fellow visitors to the spa town.
So: one Sunday morning. The servants rouse the family early, in good time for them to dress in their finest clothes. Father, mother, sons gather in the hallway of the grand house ready for the short carriage ride – and wait impatiently for the daughter to appear. Eventually, a maid is despatched to find her, and returns with the news that the lass had fallen back asleep and was not dressed for church.
That she would be thrashed by her father would go without saying. But how would the news be broken to her? Would her father storm to her room, seizing a riding crop on the way; slap her soundly across the face and push her over the end of her bed, lifting her nightdress and whipping her relentlessly?
Or would he lead the rest of the family out as planned, despatching the butler back upstairs: “Your father asked me to inform you that they have gone to church as planned, and that he will see you in the drawing room on his return to discuss your absence with you. And he wanted you to know that he has asked me to cut a selection of switches from the garden before he gets back…”