This year, the tercentenary of the accession of the House of Hanover to the British throne, has been named Year of the Georgians. Here, in no particular order, is my humble take on why:
1. Better Wars
Victorian Wars are so boring. They don’t even have good names. The dull old ‘Crimean’ or ‘Boer’ wars are purely geographical/political monikers, whereas as Georgian wars really push the boat out and call themselves things like ‘The War of Jenkins’ Ear’. Also, when Britain – top nation – inevitably won, they got Handel to compose brill stuff like the Dettingen Te Deum. Beat that, Stanford.
2. Better Art
Here’s the thing: no photos in the Georgian period. Don’t you hate all those Victorian snaps of staring people with dirty faces, looking like they’ve been sitting on a pine cone for three hours? If you’ve got Gainsborough, Romney or Reynolds snapping you and your mates; Constable or Turner doing the great outdoors; and Stubbs doing your pets, who needs photos?
3. Better Science & Technology
Yeah, yeah, we know all about railways and The Origin of Species. But the Georgian age was the age of the Industrial Revolution: the Spinning Jenny and the steam engine; turnpike roads and flights by balloon; great leaps forward in medical, chemical and geological understanding. Victorian scientists and engineers are standing on the shoulders of Telford, Stephenson, Jenner, Watt, Priestley and many others. So there.
4. Better Celebs
Let’s face it, who’d you rather have a wild party with: Nelson and Emma Hamilton or the future Edward VII and Lillie Langtry?
5. Better Nosh
Eliza Acton, beloved of St Elizabeth David and the blessed Delia, invented great recipes which she tested herself and which worked, unlike the Mrs Beeton stodge-fests which were the exact opposite. Fact.
6. Better Houses
Oh, come on. Who wouldn’t want to live in some yummy double-fronted Georgian brick rectory, rather than a rambling suburban villa stuffed with aspidistra?
7. Better Kit
Empire line muslin and silk making you look like a Greek goddess, or tartan bombazeen crinoline making you look like a tea cosy? Your choice, ladies. Also pink was a man’s colour and quite right too.
8. Better Sex
9. Better Freaks
Neither age was hot on tastefulness or respect for people with unfortunate physical and mental ailments. But looked at purely from a newsworthiness point of view Mary Toft, the Godalming woman who claimed to have given birth to several batches of rabbits and fooled most of the medical establishment most of the time, knocks them all into a cocked hat.
10. Better Novels
Shorter, funnier, less up themselves. And Austen wins hands down over the Brontës every time.
There we are, then. That’s my list, what do you think?