Room 2: Entertainment

‘The Library of course, afforded every thing: all the useless things in the World that could not be done without’ - Sanditon

Whilst on holiday, we may need some form of entertainment. For Regency holiday-makers, this came in the form of balls, circulating libraries, milliners’ shops, cards, billiards and plays. The library was the social hub of any resort. As well as loaning books, it would stock all kinds of trinkets to tempt the visitor.

In 1804, Jane was staying in Lyme and wrote to Cassandra that ‘The Ball last night was pleasant, but not full for Thursday.’

The following year, Jane’s niece Fanny Knight joined them on a family trip to Worthing. She recorded their daily activities in her diary:

‘I went with G.Mama in the morning to buy fish on the beach & afterwards with Mama & Miss Sharpe to Bathe where I had a most delicious dip … We dined at 4 & went to a Raffle in the evening, where Aunt Jane won & it amounted to 17s.’

Lottery fish

‘Lydia talked incessantly of lottery tickets, of the fish she had lost and the fish she had won’
Pride and Prejudice

These early nineteenth-century lottery fish, made from mother-of-pearl, were used as gaming counters for betting, when playing card games, and are reminiscent of the entertainments of a seaside resort, which would have included card games and gambling. The modern equivalent might well be the amusement arcade on a seaside pier.