header('Cache-Control: max-age=259200'); A Regency Era Carriage Primer - Kristen Koster
Oct 252011

This week’s post examines how people traveled between all those places in London and also all those other destinations outside of London. That’s right, we’re looking at the wide variety of conveyances from the Regency Era carriage, to different types of coaches and other types of vehicles. After all, just like in contemporaries, what the hero of that historical novel drives says a lot about him and the research that the author has done.

Regency Era Carriage Types


Buggies– light, un-hooded, one-horsed vehicles with two wheels– carried a single passenger.


A carriage usually refers to any private, four-wheeled passenger vehicle drawn by two or more horses.


Typically a two-wheeled wagon with no suspension, a cart was maneuverable and drawn by a single horse. It was a general-purpose trade or farm vehicle.


A chaise was a pleasure or traveling carriage that was usually open and low with four wheels and drawn by one or two ponies. Often referred to as “a yellow bounder”, a hired Post Chaise were always painted bright yellow and a postillion riding one of the rented horses controlled the vehicle.

Regency Era Carriage: coach


Coaches were stately carriages with four wheels and windows on all sides. The curved underbody and seating for four passengers were also characteristic. A Town Coach was massive and often drawn by up to six horses and usually sported a coat of arms painted on the doors.

Regency Era Carriage: curricle


Curricles were light, two-wheeled vehicles pulled by a pair of horses that were used for short trips. This was the only two-wheeled vehicle to be drawn by a pair of horses and a steel bar, attached with pads to the horses’ backs, supported the weight of the pole.


This referred to a vehicle drawn by four horses and driven by one person on the box.
Regency Era Carriage: gig


Gigs were light, two-wheeled, one-horsed vehicles for two passengers. This was the most common vehicle on the road.

Specific Vehicles by Name

Regency Era Carriage: barouche


The barouche had a collapsible hood over the back and was considered a summer vehicle used for driving in the great parks. It was drawn by a pair of high quality horses to complement the expensive and fashionable vehicle.

Break (Brake)

The break was an open country vehicle with four wheels. The Shooting Break was large enough to carry six sportsmen, their dogs, their guns and game in the slatted side boot (trunk). This type of vehicle occasionally had a hood, but is generally characterized by a rear entry and the seats running the length of the vehicle with the passengers facing one another.


Derived from a gig and originally used to carry four sportsmen sitting back to back with their dogs beneath in a deep boot with Venetian slatted sides, the dog-cart was a light two-wheeled vehicle for driving in. This is often confused for the Pony Cart.


These were coaches or carriages for hire. The name comes from the French term haquenée meaning horse for hire. Often these coaches had been discarded by the nobility and were looked down upon because of their shabby, dirty interiors.


A landau was a four-wheeled carriage with a folding two-part hood. The front and rear halves could be raised and lowered independently.

Regency Era Carriage: mailcoach

Mail Coach

The official mail coaches, which followed fixed routes, carried mail and passengers to specific coaching inns and followed a strict schedule. Usually pulled by six horses changed out at regular post stops, these coaches could therefore run all the way.

Regency Era Carriage: phaeton


A phaeton refers to a light and usually low-slung, four-wheeled open carriage drawn by a pair of horses. One variation, the sportier “high perch” phaeton often stars in novels because of its romantic, adventurous reputation.  More aptly named after Phaetõn, the son of the Greek sun-god Helios, known for his poor driving of the sun chariot, the precariousness of this model lends an air of danger and excitement to the characters who drive them.

Pony Cart

Drawn by a pony, this small, light, two-wheeled vehicle held 2 passengers. This type of vehicle is almost always what is meant by “dog-cart” when used improperly.


A winter vehicle, the sleigh possessed high dash boards to help protect passengers from clods of snow thrown up by the horses. Although driven from the front seat, a groom often sat in the rear rumble seat as the weight helped to lift up the front of the runners.

Stage Coach

Stage coaches were large, four-wheeled carriages with enclosed seats inside and on the roof. Typically drawn by four horses, these coaches carried passengers at fixed rates and times with stops for meals and to change the horses as they completed each segment or “stage” of their route. After mail coaches replaced post riders, stage coaches continued their less regulated business while offering alternate routes and varying departure times.

Later Vehicles – Victorian Era


An enclosed carriage drawn by a single horse, the brougham had fewer windows than a coach. Designed by Lord Brougham in 1839, it became popular in the Victorian age with both the middle and upper classes.


Drawn by a single horse, the cabriolet was a light, two-wheeled, hooded chaise. This vehicle eventually replaced the curricle for men in society early in Queen Victoria’s reign.

Hansom Cab

Patented in 1834, the hansom cab was a two-wheeled cabriolet. The driver sat behind the two passengers with the reins going over the roof. Although typically public vehicles for hire, many Hansom Cabs were privately owned. Because of their rather dashing and fast reputation, no true lady would consider venturing out in one alone.


An omnibus, a large, wheeled public vehicle, followed a fixed route. In 1829, Shillibeer’s first omnibus had bench seats for 18 passengers.

You may want to check out my posts on Transportation in the Regency Era and Regency Era Horse Sense as well. Visit my Regency Resource page for more information regarding a variety of other Regency-themed topics. If you’d like more information on a specific place or topic, please let me know in the comments section below.

  9 Responses to “A Regency Era Carriage Primer”

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  1. Thanks for such an informative post, Kaige. Really helpful.

  2. Did the coaches actually have glass windows? Great article.

    • Yes, but not necessarily all of them. By 1789, it was possible to manufacture glass plate. The British Cast Plate Glass Company used a steam-powered machine to grind and polish plate glass for mirrors, coaches and windows in extremely wealthy homes.

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