During the day, teatime was the occasion for private calls, normally because wives could entertain their lovers without fearing that their husbands might barge in at any moment, and the men could visit their mistresses without anyone wondering where they had been. Equally important was the daily parade in Hyde Park's Rotten Row, which by the 1880s had become a formal ritual. Here one walked, drove or rode, and appearance was all important.
West Carriage Drive, Hyde Park, Looking onto the Coalbrookdale Gate,
painted by Sir Robert Ponsonby Stapes,
But nowhere did Plumptre mention church parades or sabbath day respectability! Instead he talked about the fortune that aristocratic owners spent on breeding, training and racing thoroughbred horses. Led by the fun-loving Prince of Wales and later King Edward VII, high society linked their lavish house parties with the main meetings at Ascot, Epsom, Goodwood and Newmarket. It became as important to dress beautifully for Derby Day, and to entertain dozens of one's friends at a lavish luncheon at the race course, as the Victorians had done for a weekend of shooting and partying at Chatsworth.
This leads me to my favourite Plumptre photo, a group of society women at the races. While they certainly seemed to be posing in positions that would best show off their gorgeous dresses and the men were of course in very attractive morning suits, perhaps they really loved to bet. They seemed to be showing an intelligent interest in the form guides.