photo of a Landau coach

Private Coach

Private equipages ranged from the simple curate cart to elegant coaches, just as modern cars range from the Mini to limousines. A private coach was expensive to maintain in London. One of Beau Brummel's economies was to do without a coach. Owning a coach required the stabling and feeding of horses and a number of additional servants to care for the coach and horses and drive the coach. The coachman drove the coach. He had to be an expert at negotiating the London traffic. The coachman was also head of the stables. The grooms and stable boys were in his charge. A truely well turned out coach required footmen riding at the back of the coach. The sporty curricle had a small seat behind for a tiger who would walk the horses while the gentleman paid a call.

Townhouses often had stables that opened onto an alley behind the residence. The stable served as housing for the horses and as a storage place for the carriage and harness. The coachman, grooms, and stable boys slept in rooms in the upper story of the stable. Carriages of the wealthy were elegant equipages with rich silk damask fabrics upholstering the seats and beautifully painted and guilded crests embelishing the doors. Accessories might include pistols stored in a secret compartment, wine or other spirits stored in a special compartment under the seat, a beautifully made carriage clock, and rich fur lap robes. To safe-guard possessions and the horses a dalmatian dog was used as a guard. The dogs were valued as a living ornament to the coach as well as a "car alarm".

For long trips such as the return to their country estates, rooms would be booked in advance and the nobleman's own horses placed along the way to assure a good team for changes of horses. The nobility often carried their own bedding and towels with them for fear of lice and fleas at inns.

The horses that pulled the coach were specially bred carriage horses. They were refered to as warmbloods because the horses were the result of breeding (hot blooded) Arabian stallions with native English horses. The Yorkshire Coach Horse with its unmatched ability for speed, style, and power was a favorite breed for carriage use. This breed was the result of breeding a Thoroughbred race horse with Cleveland Bay carriage horses. As you might imagine, the animals represented a substantial investment.



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