In two weeks, for the third year in a row, I will be returning to the Oregon Caves Chateau for my favorite time travel event of the year. Please enjoy this re-post of my 2014 article describing my first experience with the Oregon Regency Society.
A Time Traveller’s Note
By Madame Bessey
My Dear Friend,
The date is 1814, and my incomparable location: the Oregon Caves Chateau. I have had an utterly joyful holiday at the Oregon Regency Society Annual Retreat. I feel quite gloomy that my visit has nearly come to an end. The company here has been above reproach; both my fellow guests and the attentive staff amiable beyond my wildest dreams.
I shall try to describe my decadent weeks’ end for your enjoyment, as you were unable to attend. I admit that my little time-traveling jaunt did not begin as well as it has ended.
Our arrival after nightfall posed a challenge for my nerves. The heavy fog and intermittent rain obscured our road to the chateau. I experienced moments of dread…practically on the edge of a faint…as we charged up the mountain pass. For miles we could hear – every so often – the clatter and clunk from some part of our equipage knocked loose during long travel. I attribute my sanity to the company of dear Madame Cooley, and our safe arrival to the steely nerves of my friend at the reins, Madame Hamill.
At the onset of our stay, kindly porters carted incalculable stone of luggage to rooms high and low. The feats of masculine prowess we observed as our Caravan de Volkswagen was unloaded were most impressive – more so as they were off-duty and asked for not even a farthing in consideration. Their ready assistance was extremely welcome after a full day of travel; For me, it was five hours by air, and then nearly six by coach to reach the heights of the deeply wooded Siskiyou Mountains.
The night’s trials ended well however, and I extended myself to look beyond my fatigue to gratitude that I had arrived in a place of calm. The ancient lodge comforted me, and I felt wrapped safely round with ancient stone and vast wooden beams. From my windows, the night was full of trees welcoming me with leafy whispers and breezy lullabies; settling me for an undisturbed rest.
The morning shone with promise as I dressed in a new white day gown I made for the occasion. My ensemble was enhanced by Mrs. Bertani’s offer of a soft plaid overdress that just happened to set off a very smart cap I had fashioned years ago and had so far n
ever had occasion to wear.
I looked forward to meeting our hostesses; those most charming of schemers who had architected so many amusements for us.
The welcoming event included supper and gambling. We ate the first of three
sumptuous dinners; Special menus meticulously researched and prepared by the chef and kitchen staff. Four meals were laid on the board daily: Breakfast, Lunch, Tea, and Dinner. Every time we sat to eat we were met with an expanse of the most delicious foodstuffs, served by the most kindly staff.
That initial evening I was completely occupied with learning Speculation. A most enjoyable game. There is nothing so welcome as an opportunity to lose one’s fortune at cards in the best of company. There may also have been some port involved, I do not recall…
Other evenings boasted a variety of amateur theatricals, readings, and singing. I never wanted for either company or solitude. The accommodations boasted private baths, comfortable furnishings, and luxurious linens.
But my most high recommendation derives from the Chateau’s proximity to stunning vistas, a short ways uphill – or indeed a few steps down into the marble caves.
On our final evening, we pushed back the furniture to join hands and dance ‘Hole in the Wall’ to especially honor our environs:
Discover the Marble Halls of Oregon
Nestled deep inside the Siskiyou Mountains, the caves formed as rainwater from the ancient forest above dissolved the surrounding marble and created one of the world’s few marble caves. The highly complex geology found on the Monument contributes to the unusual and rare plants and animals found nowhere else but here. Experience the extensively decorated and adventurous Marble Halls of Oregon.
—–excerpted from brochure
I was lucky enough to be among sturdy and adventuresome company, willing to venture into the cold and dark of the mysteriously beautiful caves. I was even treated to the sight of a sleeping bat! Quite exciting!
In addition to picnics, walks, and forest excursions, many hours were enjoyed in the comfort of the Chateau’s Great Room. Wide windows overlooked a deep gully, letting in ample light for amusements such as water coloring, teacup painting, penmanship, and quill cutting.
The most comfortable corner of the main hall was generally occupied by ladies sewing, lacemaking, or sketching at all hours of the day and night.
To entertain each other and display our costume accomplishments, a Drapery-to-Dress contest was held. Yards of delicious cloth were displayed, put to a far better use dressing these warm and laughing paragons of loveliness than cold, unappreciative glass.
My deep gratitude goes out to those who sit on the board of the Oregon Regency Society. I am so thankful to them for ensuring that opportunities for visiting the past are readily available. To the Duchesse due Bedford, Lady Jersey, Lady Parker, Countess Cunningham and Lady Heather, I extend sincere gratitude and friendship.
For all of you who could not join in this year’s festivities, I encourage you to write without delay.
Subscribe to follow this very talented group of historians, organizers, and artists so that you too may experience the joy of time travel to the Regency Era.
This article first appeared in SF/SF 158, November 2014. Photographs courtesy of Tom D’Silva and Oregon Chateau Staff.