Sledding, coasting - both these terms were used in the Regency period to describe travelling on sleds. Authors and artists have described and depicted them being used from the 17th century, but using sleds on snow must be as old as humankind’s habitation of snow-bound areas of the globe.
With time for leisure, the Regency elite could include sledding among their winter pastimes. When the Christmas guests in The Persuasion of Miss Jane Brody are snowed-in at the Marquis of Dalton’s estate, Everslie, in Hampshire, they make the most of the deep snowfall by going sledding.
The whole house party assembled in the hall after luncheon. The ladies wore their warmest cloaks, boots, gloves and muffs. The two gentlemen in coats, old boots and gloves, were charged with carrying a timber sled apiece. Jonathan led the way from the house in the direction of a little wood off to the side. The landscape was still and quiet, hushed into somnolence by the snow. Thirteen-year-old Katherine soon ran ahead. When they reached the tree line they watched small birds flitting in the undergrowth of holly, bright with berries. A robin’s red breast flashed near a log and from time to time, the sound of snow pushed off a branch by squirrels reached their ears.
All conversation was interrupted by Jonathan hurtling down the slope towards them, followed closely by Anna and Katherine, whose screams rent the air, demolishing the silence of the snowy landscape. Four pairs of eyes squinted into the weak sun to watch the event. Jonathan attempted to make a controlled halt of his run by changing direction with a sharp turn to the left, but instead of achieving a graceful finish the sled tipped on its side, depositing him in the soft snow down over which he slid on his back, coming to rest at the feet of Jane and Charlotte. If he was expecting sympathy, he didn’t get it. Covered in wet snow, his clothes were getting damper by the minute and his wavy hair was curling strongly. Both sisters laughed at him.
Have you had a similar spectacular finish to a great downhill run on a sled?
History of Technology: history of tools,<http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?historyid=ab11> Accessed 31 Mar 2015.
Isabella Hargreaves. The Persuasion of Miss Jane Brody, Steam eReads, ebook, 2011.
Photographs by B J Sinclair, copyright.
'Regency Writer', Jane Austen's World, <https://janeaustenworld.wordpress.com/>, Accessed 30 Mar 2015.