Teignmouth Balls – The Social Whirl

The following are just two extracts from the Exeter and Plymouth Gazette from around the time that Winthrop Mackworth Praed was in Teignmouth. Fancy Balls were obviously a regular part of the social scene and had their own rules – a cutting from 1823 shows The Hon. Edward Pellew and Wm. Mackworth Praed acting as stewards at a Fancy ball where “None but Fancy Dresses, Costumes, or Uniforms can possible be admitted ….. No admittance to Masks.”

It would be interesting to find out exactly which Ball Winthrop was referring to in his poem, dated 1829. Could it have been one of these first two – Mrs Templar’s Ball or the Grand Fancy Ball. Three years later the second extract shows that he was present at that Grand Fancy Ball so it’s likely he was there for the 1829 one as well. Did his friend Clarence go too? Maybe we’ll never know. I wonder too when the social decline started in Teignmouth. Did these events continue right through the Victorian era or were other places becoming more fashionable by then, especially with the growth of the railway?

Mrs Templar’s Ball (Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 26 September 1829)

Teignmouth. – Nothing can equal the gaiety of this delightful place. On Monday was Mrs. Templar’s Ball; on Tuesday a Grand Fancy ball given by a party of gentlemen at the rooms, than which no preceding one ever went off with greater spirit; there was an excellent Paul Pry and a well-supported Lucretia Macnab, with Turks, Cossacks, Counts, Hindoos, and Spanish Dons out of number – then there were ladies in Lincoln green, armed with more piercing arrows than those which appeared in the quivers at their backs; groups of peasants, and pretty flower-girls whose roses were surpassed by their own blushes; with a variety of other characters, which did our limits equal our inclination we should notice more at length. On Wednesday Mrs. Sweetland was at home, and on Thursday Mrs. Tonkin gave an elegant ball and supper. The theatre closed on Friday, and we regret to say the season has not been very successful. Their want of patronage may perhaps be attributed in some measure to some of the company being novices; for the talents of Mr. and Mrs. Wolmer and Mr. Hooper and others were certainly most attractive. We hear the company with some additions will perform at Dawlish and have no doubt they will be well received. Their conduct here has been such as to ensure the general esteem and respect of the people of Teignmouth.

Teignmouth Fancy Ball (Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 22 September 1832)

The Grand fancy ball, which took place at this gay and fashionable watering place, on Tuesday last, at the Public Rooms, attracted considerable notice and was most numerously attended by a proud display of rank and beauty, including all the Elite of the neighbourhood, as well as families from remote parts of the county. Such was the interest excited by this splendid gala in the neighbourhood, that crowds were assembled around the entrance of the Rooms, for the purpose of catching a glimpse of the elegant and tasteful costumes worn by the company. One of the Lady Patronesses, we regret to state, was absent on account of domestic affliction, but Lady Dashwood, the other Lady Patroness, was present. The assembly was composed of between two and three hundred individuals, and the dancing was kept up with great spirit, in every fashionable variety of figure – the easy quadrille, the rotator waltz, and the graceful Mazourka succeeding each other, under the able direction of Mr Dennys, who was unremitting in his attention, until Aurora had ushered in the day, the company not breaking up till four o’clock on Wednesday morning. The room was tastefully fitted up for the occasion, and the arrangements gave great satisfaction. Among the diversified group, we particularly noticed the following:-

Ladies in Costume

The Honble, Lady Dashwood, full dress with diamonds
The Right Hon, Lady Frances Ley, ditto, ditto
Mrs Lane, ditto, ditto
Mrs Whipham, ditto, ditto
Misses Bakers, Tourney market women
Miss Lucy Ellicombe, Morning
Misses Winthrop and Dick, fancy dresses
Miss Brine, ditto
Mrs Saumarez, full dress, feathers and diamonds
Mrs Monro, ditto, ditto
Miss Adams, Court dress, 1733, very excellent
Mrs T.R.Wise, Bernoise
Miss Harrington, fancy dress (as Flora)
Miss Smyth, Spanish Lady
Miss Splat, Peasant of Berne
Miss Macdougell, Scotch Lady
Miss Halstead, fancy dress
Mrs B.Praed, full dress
Mrs Templer, Swiss costume (very good indeed)
Mrs T. L. Watson, full dress
Mrs . J. Swinhoe, ditto
Miss Watson, fancy dress
Miss M. Watson, a lady of Bologna
Miss Keys, a Polish Lady (very pretty) 



Mrs. Chichester, full dress
Misses Chichesters, fancy dresses
Mrs. Crow, full dress, with diamonds and emeralds
Mrs Byles, Quakeress
Mrs. Clough, full dress with diamonds
Misses Clough, fancy dresses
Mrs. Gwynne, full dress
Misses Lanes, fancy dresses
Mrs. Watts, full dress
Miss Watts, Grecian lady
Mis J. Watts, Scotch lady
Miss Atkins, Swiss lady
Mrs. Geal Dilkes, full dress (very elegant)
Mrs. Clive, Peruvian lady
Mrs. Aquilar, Swiss lady
Mrs. Gascoyne, Night
Mrs. Fortescue, full dress
Mrs. Bourdillion, Portuguese lady (very good)
Mrs. Whipam, full dress
Miss Whipam, Persian lady
Miss Parker, full dress
Miss Ley, ditto
Miss Phillpotts, ditto
Mrs. J. B. and Miss S. Sanders, ditto
Miss Sanders, fancy dress
Miss L. Sanders, la Dame Blanche
Mrs. Elton, full dress. –&c. &c.

Gentlemen in Costume

Mr. Winthrop Praed, Court dress
Mr. Sweetland, a grand Masonic dress
Mr. Chichester, ditto
Mr. Theophilus Clive, Cossacque
Mr. G. Curtis, Bernese peasant (very good indeed)
Mr. John Strachan, Highlander 42nd Tartan (very correct)
Major Tonkin, a splendid Regimental dress, scarlet, black velvet, and gold, with his Order as Knight of Malta, &c.
Lieut.-General Dilkes, Regimentals
Captain Bate, ditto
Mr. T. Carew, ditto
Mr. Baldwin Fulford, ditto
Captain Monro, ditto
Captain Hall, ditto
Mr. Wirgman, ditto
Mr. Henry Seale, ditto
Mr. J. B. Sanders, ditto
Mr. Montagu Parker, ditto
Major Symmons, ditto
Mr. Samuel Parr, ditto
Mr. T. R. Wise, Naval Uniform
Lieut. White, R.N. ditto
Lieut. Seacole, R.N. ditto
Lieut. Milward, R.N. ditto
Mr. R. Ellicombe, fancy dress
Mr. G. B. Ellicombe, Don Giovanni
Mr. Turner, Mameluke
Mr. N. Saumarez, full dress
Mr. Frederick Atkins, a dress in the Reign of James 1st
Mr. Thomas Atkins, Kenrick
Mr. Edmund Crosse, Greek Captive
Mr. Sweetland, Jun., peasant of Egra
Mr. Winthrop, Turk (very good)
Mr. Betts, Jun. Evening dress
Mr. Lane, ditto
Major Crow, ditto
Mr. White, a dress during the French Revolution
Mr. White, Greek dress
Mr. Gascoyne, Evening dress
Mr. Charles Bourdillion, Magician (exceedingly good)
Mr. Blunt, Mussulman
Mr. Arthur Whipham, Yeoman of the Guard
Mr. H. Ley, Scotchman
Mr. Hevenden, fancy dress
Mr. C. Webber, Regimentals
Mr. Stowey, Evening dress
Mr. Smith, Highlander
Groups of Sailors, &c. &c. &c.


1 thought on “Teignmouth Balls – The Social Whirl

  1. Pingback: Letters from Teignmouth – Our Ball | Teignmouth in Verse

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