Travel in Sense & Sensibility ~ Part IV ~ Carriages, cont’d

Finally, the next part of my post on travel and carriages in Sense & Sensibility!

You can re-visit the first three posts here:


Now on to the specific types of coaches of the Regency era, the great coaching age of travel, pre-steam, pre-railroad, an age where the roads saw improvement, carriages became more comfortable [slightly, that is!], and the higher classes traveled more easily from place to place – it is good to remember that the majority of people still traveled by foot.   Austen knew her carriages and is often very specific in what type of carriage a character has – as stated before, we know in just learning a little about the costs of carriages, the cost of horses and their upkeep, that Willoughby in Sense & Sensibility is living far beyond his means by owning a curricle, that his giving a horse [Queen Mab] to Marianne is outrageous, not only in its impropriety but also its lack of fiscal responsibility.  Austen does this throughout her works, and even if she does not specifically tell us the type of carriage or the exact income, we understand, as the readers of her day would have understood, another piece of the puzzle about any given character.

The last post ended with the generic term “Coach” – so now some specific types:

The Stage Coach:

  • very colorful
  • four passengers inside, up to eight outside
  • stopped at various pre-appointed stages, usually every 10 miles to pick up / drop-off passengers and to change horses

Stage Coach


The Royal Mail Coach:  [after 1784] – there were 50 mail coaches in 1784, 700 in 1835

  • set paint color:  red wheels, maroon doors and lower body; black upper body; royal arms on each door
  • speed and excellence of Royal Mail service, usually six horses – faster because there were no tolls
  • held four inside passengers, and up to eight outside
  • Guard – a 3′ tin horn
  • cost about 1 penny / mile more than the stage coach but safer for passengers because of the guards

Royal Mail Coach


Private Coaches: 

  • simple color schemes with coat of arms on doors and boot
  • a fine carriage with owner livery, postilions, etc
  • expense:  coachman, postilions, under coachman, stable boys, footmen
  • not common because of the expense:  taxes on carriages and horses; even the wealthy often borrowed carriages and rented horses
  • cost in 1796 @ 130 pounds
  • in Sense & Sensibility:  Elinor and Mrs. Jennings visit Kensington Gardens by carriage, where Elinor connects with Miss Steele:   Miss Steele to Elinor:   “Mrs. Richardson was come in her coach to take one of us to Kensington Gardens”; and “He [Mr. Richardson] makes a monstrous deal of money, and they keep their own coach.”
  • who else:  the Bennet’s, the Musgroves [both large families]

Town Coach



  • an enclosed 4-wheel carriage, almost 1/2 the size of a full coach, seating up to three people, making this very tight, with one forward-facing seat, and often with a pull-out seat to add 2 more people
  • no coach box, driven by a postilion [rider mounted on one of the horses, the rear or left horse], usually two horses
  • cost @ 93 pounds in 1801 
  • In Sense & Sensibility:  Mrs. Jennings, the John Dashwoods; Robert Ferrars
  • a note on Mrs. Jennings’s carriages:  she has a chaise and a chariot, but did she have two carriages or as Chapman suggests, was Austen being uncharacteristically forgetful?  

“It will only be sending Betty by the coach and I hope I can afford that, we three will be able to go very well in my chaise.” 

Narrator:  Thomas seeing Mr. Ferrars and Lucy Steele ~“They was stopping in a chaise at the door of the New London Inn.”

  • who else?:  Mr. Bingley [ chaise & four]; General Tilney [a chaise & four]; Lady Catherine; Lady Bertram; Sir William Lucas;  and Mr. Gardiner

The Post Chaise = a chaise used with rented horses; always yellow; overlap with “hack-chaise”;

  • often a larger chaise with four horses with postilions on both lead horses and left near horse; you had more control over your trip rather than on the Stage Coach
  • a traveler who owned a carriage and horses would travel the first stage with them and then send them home with servants and rent horses the rest of the way

In Sense & Sensibility:  when Mrs. Jennings asks the Miss Steeles on their arrival in London: “Well my dear, how did you travel?”   Miss Steele to Mrs. Jennings:  “Not on the stage I assure you,” replied Miss Steele with quick exultation; “we came by post all the way and had a very smart beau to attend us.  Mr. Davies was coming to town, and we thought we would join him in a post chaise; and he behaved very genteelly, and paid ten or twelve shillings more than we did.”


Post Chaise


Chariothas the same body as the chaise, the difference is the addition of a coach-box and driver.

  • driver’s box, with four horses, four passengers, two seats facing forward like an automobile 
  • a classy vehicle, lighter than a coach, comfortable, speedy 
  • In Sense & Sensibility:  Mrs. Jennings, John Dashwoods:  Narrator on Fanny Dashwood:  …the great inconvenience of sending her carriage for the Miss Dashwoods [we know that the John Dashwoods have a chariot]
  • who else?:  Mrs. Rushworth


  • member of the coach family, a medium-sized, heavy 4-wheeled coach with two seats facing each other for four people with a folding top that covers only the rear seat
  • four horses with a driver box on outside for two people
  • aristocratic vehicle, for dress occasions, mainly used in town 
  • In Sense & Sensibility:  Palmers [her second carriage], though the narrator on Fanny about Edward:  It would have quieted her ambition to see him driving a barouche.  But Edward had no turn for great men or barouches. 
  • others:  Lady Dalrymple, Henry Crawford 




Landau [coach family]: 

  • a four-wheeled light carriage, two seats facing each other
  • two or four horses
  • high driver’s seat
  • two soft folding tops that close and lock in the middle [often made of leather], a low door
  • expensive to build and maintain:  cost @ 185 pounds, but it was popular due to its versatility in all weathers
  • In Sense & Sensibility: no one




  • landau for two passengers only; cost @ 156 pounds
  • In Sense & Sensibility:  no one
  • who else?  Anne Elliot Wentworth in Persuasion



Barouche-Landau:  “approach in awe”!

  • features of both, but not very popular 
  • a high driving seat
  • a rumble for two servants 
  • in Austen:  the only specific carriage named in Emma – Mrs. Elton’s sister, Mrs. Suckling
  • Chapman in the 1954 edition of Minor Works  finally supplies the illusive illustration [from Beau Monde, 1806] 


Up next:  the sports cars of the Regency Period… [i.e Willoughby and friends!]

Copyright @2011, Deb Barnum, Jane Austen in Vermont

9 thoughts on “Travel in Sense & Sensibility ~ Part IV ~ Carriages, cont’d

  1. Thanks Laurel Ann for visiting and commenting – this information is all scattered about isn’t it? – It has been very illuminating to fit Austen’s characters with the carriages she assigns them – another example of her fine detail and sharp eye in creating true-to-life figures – I for too long have just skimmed over these clues – the best of course is John Thorpe, who debuts soon!


  2. Pingback: Travel in Sense & Sensibility ~ Part V ~ Carriages ~ Regency Sports Cars « Jane Austen in Vermont

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