Jane's Summer Picnics 🍗🍓🍰

When thinking of summer in the times before theme parks and other modern outdoor entertainments, one's thoughts inevitably drift to picnics.

In the Regency era, summer picnics held a special place in the hearts of individuals seeking enjoyment amidst nature's embrace. Jane Austen skillfully weaved tales that captured the essence of these outdoor gatherings.

In this newsletter, I will delve into the world of Regency era summer picnics, exploring a small part of Jane Austen's literary portrayals of these favored events.

Nature's Bounty:
Jane Austen's novels offer glimpses of the lush landscapes and scenic beauty that formed the backdrop for Regency era summer picnics. In Sense and Sensibility, she describes a planned picnic, which she refers to as a Party of Pleasure.

The grounds were declared to be highly beautiful, and Sir John, who was particularly warm in their praise, might be allowed to be a tolerable judge, for he had formed parties to visit them, at least twice every summer for the last ten years. They contained a noble piece of water; a sail on which was to a form a great part of the morning’s amusement; cold provisions were to be taken, open carriages only to be employed, and everything conducted in the usual style of a complete party of pleasure.

Her vivid descriptions evoke images of serene riversides, blossoming meadows, and a vibrant tapestry of flora and fauna. These natural settings provided a picturesque ambiance for picnickers to revel in the wonders of nature.

Summer Socializing:
Summer picnics served as a platform for social interactions and courtship. Austen skillfully portrayed these events as a means for characters to engage with others and navigate the complex dynamics of society. In Emma, she writes the following.

Mrs. Elton was very much disappointed. It was the delay of a great deal of pleasure and parade. Her introductions and recommendations must all wait, and every projected party be still only talked of. So she thought at first — but a little consideration convinced her that everything need not be put off. Why should not they explore to Box Hill though the Sucklings did not come? They could go there again with them in the autumn. It was settled that they should go to Box Hill.

Picnics offered a relaxed and informal setting for socializing, allowing relationships to develop amidst the beauty of the outdoors.

Delightful Day of Activities:
According to Jane, a summer picnic, with delectable treats and refreshments, could be a lengthy affair. Her novel depicts scenes where characters partake in an elaborate day of activities.

In Sense and Sensibility, she describes the gathering of the guests for a picnic.

By ten o’clock the whole party was assembled at the park, where they were to breakfast. The morning was rather favourable, though it had rained all night, as the clouds were then dispersing across the sky, and the sun frequently appeared. They were all in high spirits and good humor, eager to be happy, and determined to submit to the greatest inconveniences and hardships rather than be otherwise.

The gathering described is abruptly canceled before it begins when Colonel Brandon is called away, but in Emma she describes multiple locations which the party of pleasure tramps their way through as the story unfolds.

The picnics in Austen's novels embody a sense of escapism and delight, offering a respite from the formalities of Regency society. As we delve into Austen's literary landscapes, we gain a deeper appreciation for the significance of these outdoor gatherings in fostering relationships, celebrating nature's splendor, and providing moments of joy and connection.

Jane Davis and the Balfour family will enjoy the delights of the English countryside in Sleepless in Saunton. Refreshments will be provided, activities will be planned and guests will be milling everywhere as summer draws to a close.

Discover if Jane will find true love or settle for a traditional marriage, when we follow the latest Inconvenient Bride through her journey of insomnia in this glorious Somerset stately home.
Back to blog