A Question For Writerly Or Research-Minded Folks…..

Can anybody give me a clue of roughly how long it would take a horse-and-carriage, early 19th century, to travel from London to Hythe (61 miles/98 km)?

The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in Regency and Victorian England doesn’t feature anything so useful as travel times. If I need to know the hiring rates of domestic servants, I’m totally covered….but nothing on how long it would take to get from point A to point B.

Any help would be welcome.

18 Replies to “A Question For Writerly Or Research-Minded Folks…..”

  1. From Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, a conversation between Elizabeth and Darcy:

    “It must be very agreeable to her to be settled within so easy a distance of her own family and friends.”

    “An easy distance do you call it? It is nearly fifty miles.”

    “And what is fifty miles of good road? Little more than half a day’s journey. Yes, I call it a very easy distance.”

    “I should never have considered the distance as one of the advantages of the match,” cried Elizabeth. “I should never have said Mrs. Collins was settled near her family.”

  2. Ah-ha!

    Got a couple of great shots of you at GTS.

    Have snark will travel. Hope you had a relatively pleseant flight home.

    No lets see if you can guess who this is.

  3. “What Jane Austen Ate & Charles Dickens Knew” by Daniel Poole…that book is full of such trivial lore. I don’t know if that bit is in there but it’s a wonderful book.

    I also love “Where Queen Elizabeth Slept and What the Butler Saw”…different author but equally nummy for everyday details of the period.

  4. Re: but that…

    Hard to say. I’d assume it’s in a coach, since the traveller making the journey being argued about is Charlotte. A preacher’s wife, I think we can assume, wouldn’t be riding fifty miles on horseback.

  5. average speed of horse & carriage

    I’ve been seein average quotes between 8- 11 miles an hour, but Dickens seems to think that they could go as fast as 15 mph

    “He jumped upon the box, squared his elbows, adjusted the ribands, seized the whip which lay on the roof, gave one flick to the off leader, and away went the four long-tailed, flowing-maned black horses, at fifteen good English miles an hour…”

  6. I’m weighing in at 8-10 mph, as this is the walk-trot speed of an average horse, certain gaited horses are faster than this. The speed of a runaway trap (carriage) is about 25 mph depending on the team and skill of the teamster.

  7. Nice site. Looks like a lot would depend on whether one was driving the horse and carriage oneself, or taking a stage-coach. Bearing in mind that the stages would have been every 8-10 miles, and that at each stage the horses would be changed & the passengers might well break for a meal, a stage-coach would be pretty slow.

    From the Inns page on the same site:

    “The Shrewsbury Highflyer left Shrewsbury at 8 in the morning arriving at its destination, Chester at 8 in the evening. This journey of some 40 miles taking a leisurely 12 hours. The coach proceded in a stately, unhurried manner. In season it would stop at a local farm-house renowned for the quality of its pork pies, dinner would be taken at Wrexham for 2 hours or as long as the passengers required. The coach would even stop to allow people to make visits to friends along the way.”

    So yeah, 12 mph if you’re driving it yourself and “don’t spare the horses.” A half-day’s travel to do 60 miles. If you take the stage-coach, though, it could easily be a day and a half.

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