...Then Join the Strut at Tattersall’s!
At the start of HOW I MARRIED A MARQUESS, Emily Grey comments that the men have gone to Tattersall’s to check out a hunter. Translation: they’ve gone to look at a horse.
If you were a Regency gentleman looking to buy a horse, or just curious to see who else was, you would swing by Tattersall’s on your way to the club. It was fashionable to stop by the sale-yard at Hyde Park Corner in London during the winter hunting season on Mondays or Thursdays—or on Mondays only during the summer season—to stroll about the yard, talk horses and hunting, and impress the other gentlemen with your knowledge of horseflesh and training. And sometimes actually buy a horse.
Auctions were held in the Repository, a 3-sided courtyard surrounded by a columned veranda, where horses were paraded while onlookers gathered in the middle of the courtyard. Tattersall’s charged a small commission for each sale, then made more money by charging both buyers and sellers for stabling their horses.
Even more money exchanged hands in the subscription room, where for a guinea a year gentlemen could place bets on any upcoming race or other sporting event. Mondays were known as Black Mondays—the day when debts were settled, and many a gentlemen then found himself having to auction his horse to pay his debts.
It wasn’t just horses which could be purchased there, although horses ran the gamut from thoroughbreds to racehorses, from hunters to carriage horses. A gentleman could also purchase the carriage and harness there, as well, racing phaetons and other gigs, and everything to do with hunting, right down to the dogs making up the hunting pack.
(Oh, and by the way, there were different horses for different purposes, and each was trained for that specific purpose. Although some horses belonging to less wealthy families might be broken for both saddle and harness, this was not the case for “upper class” horses. A saddle horse would never be placed in a harness, and a carriage horse wasn’t broken for the saddle...but that’s a blog for a future date.)