We are getting closer to the highly anticipated Season 3 of Outlander. Can you believe it is only 29 days away! It is clear – we are not counting the exact time we have left, as we each smile in this revelation. To pass the time we have found ourselves re-watching our favorite episodes to divert our attention away from the daily countdown until the premiere. As we spend time watching treasured scenes, we are constantly reminded of the detail and artistry that could be seen within each set. It was remarkable to see each episode vibrantly come to life throughout their time in Scotland and the opulent lifestyle that was synonymous with upper class living in 18th century Paris. There is no question that the lavish portrayal of Paris intrigued us the most. These episodes were a visual feast that included rich colors, elaborate set designs, and striking textiles that told a story of prosperity and wealth that was representative of French nobility and upper class living during this time period.
Reminiscing about our favorite episodes in Paris, reminded us of Jae’s recent visit to London where she was able to explore one specific area of splendor that was shared between all nations. We are always in search to learn more about the historical reflections present in the show and within the books. It was natural for us to find a way to momentarily escape to the past, linking pieces of the show to true elements of history – such as the coaches that were designed to transport members of upper society. From Versailles to the wealthy middle class within the city, coaches were a vital means of transportation. Come, travel with us to the Royal Mews in London to discover a historical collection of coaches that will bring additional appreciation for those displayed during the filming of Outlander, while also bringing to light their importance in higher societal life.
The Opulent Coaches of the Past
The visual display of wealth was important during this time period. This was often represented through an individual’s clothing, living accommodations, and even transportation. We continue to marvel at Outlander’s production design and art team’s dedication to research, pleasing fans with their accuracy of re-creating historically inspired set pieces that reflected this vision of luxury. Time spent in Paris during Season 2 was stunning to watch. The grandeur of each set was mesmerizing and completely unforgettable, which served its purpose of providing a sharp contradiction to life in 18th century Scotland. As we enjoy looking at behind the scene photos that captured the sets of the Parisian interiors and cityscapes, we were also stunned by the elegance of the coaches. With our love of exploring the past through research and countless visits to museums, we couldn’t help but wonder about their history and use within Europe – leading us toward another unexpected adventure.
We loved watching Claire Fraser in Paris. Her exquisite attire often matched the beauty of the transportation that was allotted while living within Jared Fraser’s Parisian household. As we compare historical timelines from fiction to reality, we know that the design and comfort for this mode of transport was quickly improving during this time period. This made them not only widely accepted by the wealthy, but also served as a symbol of noble and aristocratic life. The degree of detail and construction of each carriage varied. However, each design was purposefully created to depict the level of prestige of those who rode inside of it. The rich decorations of these carriages required highly trained skills of top craftsmen, including painters, sculptors, upholsterers, carpenters, seamstresses, and saddlers.
The Parisian coaches and imagery we have seen of the extravagant life of the French nobility in Versailles was breathtaking. England’s collection is also no exception. The Royal Mews holds the Royal Stables and Carriage House. It dates as far back as the reign of Richard II (r.1377-99) and then later moved to its current location near Buckingham Palace in 1820. It is here where Jae found examples that undoubtedly rival the coaches of French nobility, such as those that can be found in Versailles. Each coach, no matter the country of origin, holds secrets and symbolism to what life must have been like. Let’s take a look at some of Jae’s favorite finds that were discovered while visiting this museum.
Jae’s Surprising Discoveries
The Royal Mews Museum is easy to miss. In fact, I walked by it several times. It is located next to Buckingham Palace and with the grandeur that this location holds it is easy to miss the signs that foretell the wonders that are held in this particular museum. Luckily, my family and I found ourselves taking time to wander and explore the area which lead to this wonderful discovery. We entered the museum out of pure curiosity, but quickly found that we were enamored by the history and opulence of the vehicles on display. Whether a child or adult, this museum will certainly capture your imagination and interest in exploring historical treasures of the past.
The Gold State Coach was one of my favorite coaches seen at the museum. The ornate design, gilded sculptures, and painted panels was unlike anything I have ever seen. It is on permanent display for visitors throughout the year. In true honesty, it is difficult to comprehend the level of artistry throughout this vehicle’s design, let alone believe that it is nearly 255 years old. Originally built for King George III, its first appearance was in 1762 at the state opening of Parliament. Due to size and weight, it is drawn by at least eight horses and can only be pulled at a walk. Velvet and satin line its interiors, making it clear that no detail was left unturned in the design. You can watch a brief video to visually see this vehicle in its entirety by clicking here.
Another stunning example at the museum was the Diamond Jubilee Coach. It is an enclosed, six-horse-drawn carriage that was made to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II’s 80th birthday, but completion was delayed for nearly eight years. The coach was then used for the first time at the State Opening of Parliament in 2014. It has been in regular service ever since and often used for state visits.
This coach depicts the importance of symbolism that was often illustrated in the ornate design of the gilded sculptures and paintings represented on every side. The intention for this particular example was to encapsulate the history and heritage of the United Kingdom. This was completed by incorporating material from the nation’s most historic buildings, ships, and other important artifacts. The artistry in the design was done to represent more than 30 kings and queens of England, Scotland and Ireland, while also showcasing the nations greatest military victories, history, and national treasures. All the while, it also boasts modern conveniences such as hydraulic stabilizers and electricity for heat and light.
The gorgeous Irish State Coach, below, is a copy of the original created in 1851 for Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert by John Hutton & Sons, a famous Irish coach-building firm in Dublin. Cleaner in design, it is still a sight to truly appreciate. This carriage was used in the Coronation procession of King George V in 1911.
Exploring History Will Always Be Our Cherished Hobby
We love that Outlander is not only addicting to read and watch, but it also opens a door to learn more about history itself. You take one fragment of a story, such as exploring the history and use of coaches, and you will find yourself traveling a path that hints to the lifestyle that accompanied higher societal life. We will always be on the search, looking for reminders of history throughout our travels. However, we are constantly amazed how many of our adventures find a link back to Outlander. Either through the historical timeline depicted in the books or a memory of the content represented in the series, we certainly appreciate all that Outlander has provided us. The opportunity to go in search of the past has opened the world around us, all the while finding unexpected journeys in the process. Who knows where we will visit next. To us, that is the true joy of this blog, participating in this fandom, and welcoming adventures with friends near and far.
Outlander’s Will Always Be a Point of Inspiration
Throughout our travels we are always reminded of our admiration for history, architecture, and art. Many of these elements can readily be found in Outlander through the details of set design and production that bring each scene to life – enabling the viewer to feel as though they are stepping back in time. If we could have one wish, we would love to have the opportunity meet Outlander production designer, Jon Gary Steele. His team’s ability to create a fictional world inspired by history has always inspired us. Yet more importantly, his postings via social media constantly remind us to always look for the beauty and inspiration from our surroundings – no matter where we are. Sometimes an unexpected turn can lead to the greatest of discoveries – such as Jae’s adventure did on this very day. Thank you Jon Gary Steele for all you have contributed to Outlander and changing our own personal perspectives in the process.
If you are ever in London, we highly recommend a visit to the Royal Mews. You won’t be disappointed by the beauty of this exhibition. We know we will certainly be back in the near future! Spring 2018 to be in fact!
References found 7/24/17:
All photos from our blogs are owned by Timeless Sass3nach Journeys, unless noted or attributed. The use of our photos is not permitted unless consent is given.