Who Even Uses a Sedan Chair??? .... Everyone! | Marie Antoinette's Gossip Guide to the 18th Century: Who Even Uses a Sedan Chair??? .... Everyone!

November 02, 2008

Who Even Uses a Sedan Chair??? .... Everyone!

"The sedan chair was one of the coquettish luxuries of the day, and these afforded an unusually fine surface for decoration. Fortunate indeed are those who can find one now."

Vic at Jane Austins World has written a wonderful post on the sedan chair called Sedan Chairs: An Efficient Mode of Transportation in Georgian London & Bath. It is full of interesting facts and fun quotes - did I mention great images? Focusing on the use of the chairs in England, her post is not to be missed! But honestly, who was using Sedan chairs in ye olde France??

Everyone! And why wouldn't you? You hire two good looking men to tote you around town, from one pub to the next and you never get the underside of your gown dusty!

The sedan chair was used in France until the revolution, and even after (it was used more in the smaller towns after). A certain Duchess of Nemours was noted for taking a 12 day journey in her sedan chair, with a troop of forty carriers, and a howler. First of all, she needed the 40 carriers, and they would rotate carrying her chair. If that doesn't cause the attention grabbing scene you are after then believe me, you do not want to go anywhere in your sedan chair without a howler, or aboyeur. He is the boy (chose a cute one if you so desire) that runs ahead of your troop and shouts out, "make room for madame la marquise" or whatever other line you want him to say. The only way to make an entrance into any small town/village!

Little Po , a.k.a. the duchesse de Polignac, knew how to use the sedan chair in a most fashionable way.You remember this style right? Little Po took a victory of the French Navy to a new level. She had a mast with sails built right onto a sedan chair...imagine something like this... She proudly got in it and was paraded through Paris, in celebration of course!

I saw in a fiction book about Marie Antoinette, that one winter day she was riding in a Sedan Chair. It was a chair built for two, and Louis was along with her. He however did not ride alongside her in the chair, but walked next to her keeping pace with the chairmen. Perhaps alluding that he was too heavy for the chair!

Even Louis XV had fun in his sedan chairs. When he attended certain parties thrown by the, "tradesmen, milleners, and semptresses," of Versailles he would arrive in black domino. (ooo mysterious man in black, who could THAT be?) But more fun than that- he would come in a sedan chair, only wheel barrel style! ...en brouette. He would arrive with two wheels on the chair, just rolling along! Don't worry though, he made sure to have 15 or 20 of his men arrive to the party before him so that there was no lack of quality company along the tradesmen... oh that Louis...

Be sure to check out the post at Jane Austin's World!


  1. Oooo scrummy! Thanks SO-O-O much for posting. I adore sedan chairs, as a rambling statement I made yesterday on your sister site will attest. I've always thought it's the ONLY way a fashionable lady should travel, but 40 days seems to me a long time in a small box.
    There's a mystery series whose sleuth is none other than Beau Brummell and he hired identical twins to carry his chair. If it's good enough for Beau, it's good enough for me! Two gorgeous fellas and a link boy, sign me up.
    Is that white chair the one from the Pump Room? It looks very familiar.
    Thanks for the link. I have to go visit Vic's site. Am I rambling again? (I told you I adore sedan chairs!)

  2. lol!!! I did see your comment yesterday! And I fully agree that it is a very important way for ladies of fashion to travel. I was desperately upset that I did not have one Friday evening, because my dress was 6 inches in mud!

    well...not really but dusty for sure!

  3. Fabulous and thank you for the shout out! The French are so much more colorful than the English. Then again, regency rakes used sedan chairs to hide from their creditors. Hah!


  4. Poor Lauren, I can FEEL Miss Bingley sneering at you all the way from here! Mud and dust are all the same to her disdainful nature. You just need a page boy to hold up your robes, that's all. No bigee.

  5. I was just thinking about how you made that sedan chair comment and voila!

  6. Gas Free!
    Thank you for lovely comment on my 'Marie Antoinette' Christmas shoe.Stampington Magazine asked me to submit one of my 'Marie' shoe's,charm and tag.I am so excited they are coming out with a new publication in the spring called 'Marie'.Keeping my fingers 'crossed'!
    xxoo Denise

  7. I could ride in one.I bet they were bouncie,but kool.Hugs Marie Antionette

  8. I could def see myself being toted about in one of these. In Versailles there is a museum in the stables across the street from the chateau and it houses some beautiful sedan chairs from the period, i don't know if you have had the opportunity to visit but it's decadent! Thanks for the fun post! Your site is always so lovely!

  9. The stables were closed when I was there, so I missed all those glorious chairs. Not fair! I think Versailles must be a 3 day event. There's just so much to see.