Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Regency Era in Second Life

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.

Jane Austen          

          My peripatetic ways have led me to many different places in Second Life (SL) and to meet many different people.  One of these is my old friend, Brendon Patrick MacRory whom I first met when I’d visited the Age of Sail inworld earlier.    
          Well, Brendon has been up to new ventures since we last hung out inworld.  For some time, he’s been inviting to visit him in there.  As anyone who knows me in SL, scheduling is somewhat problematic for me.  (Significant Other insists it is in Real Life (RL) for me as well.  But, that’s another story.)  Anyway, I recently accepted Brendon’s invitation and joined him and his friends in Regency Somerset, a sim dedicated to the Regency Era in England. 
          I arrive in the Port Austen area of the sim where I am met by Brendon and his two friends, Merry Chase and Cara Cali.  I’m immediately struck by the scale and detail of the sim. 
          My hosts welcome me to 1813 where “King George the III, not feeling himself in mind, his Son, the Prince of Wales, George the IV, is Prince Regent, meanwhile, we are at war with Napoleon of France on the Continent and the Sea, while at the same time, involved with some conflict over in the Former Colonies.” 
          Looking down from the quayside, a harbor is at my feet.  A small boat is tied up and a bathing wagon sits at the water’s edge waiting for holiday makers.  Behind me is a row of shops which sell all manner of Regency merchandise for those needing such.
          Brendon, Merry, and Cara are themselves attired in a manner which makes them look like they just stepped out of a BBC production of Pride and Prejudice.  (Which happens to be Significant Other’s favorite novel and I was instructed to plug in this story.)  They talk about their inspirations for the sim deriving ideas from Jane Austen, Charles Dickens (OK, he was a Victorian but close enough.), Patrick O’Brian, whose collected works look down on me as I write this (Yes, I know, he’s definitely neither lived in the Regency Era nor even Victorian times but he does a pack a lot of Regency period detail into his writings!) and many period drawings and pictures.  Merry says that much of their brainstorming was done via Pinterest and Cara adds that Pinterest boards were a very important part of the building process.  Brendon explains to me all the Pintrest pages devoted to specific items, like pubs and taverns, seaside resorts, Bath, the Crescent, clothing and style, tea sets, etc.  (It’s interesting how the new social media tools are being used to expand the capabilities of older ones.)  Cara maintains a blog about the project. 
          We begin to take a constitutional around the sim to show me its buildings and layout.  Brendon tells me that it’s based on the RL town of Lyme-Regis in southern England which was featured in two of Jane Austen’s novels and one of Charles Dickens’s.  He also mentions that another small, English town, Porkellis. 
          Our first stop in our stroll is Nelson’s Blood Tavern where fine drink and dining and a clean room are available for the tired traveler.  The furniture and fixtures along with the attention to detail (Who else would put petit fours in their sim?) are standard features in my friends’ work I’m beginning to learn. 
          I ask them why they selected the Regency Era for their work.  Merry replies that Brendon was planning to do a Regency area for a long time, Cara has always wanted to build Regency, and she’s interested in just about all of history so she tagged along for the ride.  Brendon believes different people have different reasons, but the style of the Regency, its nouveau-Classical revival, the pageantry of the military, the love of country are all appealing.  Also, the Age of Exploration, the Age of Romance, Beethoven, and Mozart are all additional reasons for him.  Cara adds the Age of Revolution and the start of women’s emancipation.  (I’m beginning to suspect that she’s a closet Bonapartist.) 
Cara continues that their sim is included in Antiquity which is a group of historical sims, and like all estates has expanded and contracted over the years.  Merry states there were already Baroque and Victorian areas in Antiquity but a Regency one was missing from between those.  They felt it's a popular time because of the works of Austen and O'Brian so they knew it would appeal to lots of people.  Also, with the current two hundredth anniversary cycle of Jane Austen and the Napoleonic Wars underway there should be an audience.  (And, sometimes, Cara adds, a BBC production gives them a shot in the arm!)
Leaving the tavern, we continue walking through the beautiful landscape of the sim.  Having lived in England for a number of years, I can appreciate the similarities to the RL English countryside. 
          After a bit, we come upon the Royal Crescent which is a reproduction of the one in Bath, England.  I felt a wave of nostalgia come over me as I haven’t seen the originals in years and once spent much time on that street. Unlike RL, I’m able to enter the buildings and look around.  As usual, my friends have outdone themselves.  Lighting, wall coverings, and room dimensions add a feeling of realism which is hard to describe (OK, maybe if I was a better writer, I could!)  and really must be experienced to be truly enjoyed. 
          Leaving the Royal Crescent, we walk along a small river until we come to a hedge maze and farm country.  The feeling of a small, English town is complete for me.  The pastures with the sheep near the estate homes with their gardens makes me expect to see Jane Austen come around a corner and greet us. 
          We complete a circle in our promenade which leads us back to Port Austen where we come upon the Orangery and a Martello tower.  Along the way, the Baroque neighbors are pointed out to me. 
The latter was a standalone fortification erected across England and her Empire during the Napoleonic Wars for defense against invasion.  I’ve never been in one and couldn’t resist the opportunity.  (Yes, Significant Other does have an opinion on this behavior of mine.)
The former looks like a greenhouse and is laid out as a conservatory for a social setting and includes music and plants.  Also, the ghost of Jane Austen inhabits the building and she visits us while we’re there.  We are also visited by Mademoiselle Charlotte Giroux who resides nearby and is one of the finest Regency dressmakers in the sim.  My friends hope that she will open a shop on the quay. 
The Orangery and a nearby farmhouse will ultimately be replaced by baths and a reproduction of the Assembly Rooms at Bath.  So, I’d recommend hurrying over to see these and Jane’s ghost.  (I’m not sure what will happen to her in these renovations.) 
Before I leave I ask about how long the sim will remain open.  The reply is hopefully for a while but nothing is forever in SL.
During our walk, I’ve asked who else has helped in building this sim.  Brendon, Merry, and Cara have talked at length about other residents such as Crotian, Jacon Cortes, Tiamat Windstorm, Sere Timeless, Aldo Stern, and Jacon Bexter are mentioned.  Twelfth Night supplied Jane Austen’s ghost.  If I’ve omitted anyone, I apologize in advance, your work is beautiful!
As for future events, there will be a country fair in September.  Dates and other specifics have yet to be finalized.  As they become known, I’ll publish them in this blog.
As I prepare to leave, I think about all that I have seen.  Regency Somerset is step back into another time and place.  Considerable time and effort have gone into its creation.  This is yet another example of what can happen in SL when people with passion and creativity look to build something inworld. Brendon, Merry, and Cara have done a magnificent job! 
I encourage all who either are interested in this period or who wish to see some brilliant work to come by. 
And if you do, please wear period costume and be mindful of those who are roleplaying there.  If you really want to help then use the donation jars located throughout the sim.  Regency Somerset is a half sim and tier is expensive and borne by Brendon solely.  Show your support.  Too many exceptional sims have had to close recently for lack of funding.  Most of all, enjoy your visit.  See the detail that exists there.  Ring the desk bell in Nelson’s Blood.  Savor the pies in the kitchen.  Or, look for the lady bug in the rose bushes. 
               My visit is drawing to its end and I want to thank my hosts, Brendon, Merry, and Cara, along with Mlle. Giroux for their hospitality and taking the time to show a Colonial boy around their world and having the patience to deal with my questions.   I also want to thank them for fond memories of an earlier, happy time in my life.
As always, I’m grateful to all inworld for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives. 
I’ve included below links to a few photos from my visit.  But, as always, I encourage all to visit the site for themselves and not rely on my crude efforts as a photographer. 
I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at . 

          If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here. 


Photo No. 1   Port Austen Landing Zone

Photo No. 2   Beach and Bathing Wagon

Photo No. 3   Martello Tower

Photo No. 4   Shops

Photo No. 10 Bridge

Photo No. 11 Residence Interior

Photo No. 13 Baroque Neighbors

Photo No. 14 The Hedge Maze

Photo No. 15 The Farm

No comments: