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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

40 Carriage Terms Defined

1727 Berlin Coupe - Luray Caverns Museum

By Susan F. Craft

In Pride and Prejudice, what was Lady Catherine offering Lizzie when she said, “And if you will stay another month complete, it will be in my power to take one of you as far as London, for I am going there early in June for a week; and as Dawson does not object to the barouche-box, there will be very good room for one of you. . .” ?

Dawson is a servant, but if there were enough room inside the carriage, she would ride inside. What Lady Catherine is doing is offering Dawson's inside place to Lizzie.

In Mansfield Park there is a complicated discussion of how everyone is going to be transported to a party --in the Miss Bertrans’ brother’s barouche or Edmund’s mother’s chaise. Julia cries, “…go boxed up three in a post chaise in this weather, when we may have seats in a barouche. No, my dear Edmund, that will not quite do.”So how do we picture a barouche or a chaise or post chaise in our minds?

I have compiled a short list of terms and some pictures that might help and, in a future post, I'll talk more about the different kinds of carriages

Dictionary of Carriage Terms
barouche: four-wheeled, shallow vehicle with two double seats inside, arranged so that the sitters on the front seat faced those on the back seat. It had a soft collapsible half-hood folding like a bellows over the back seat and a high outside box seat in front for the driver. The entire carriage was suspended on C springs. It was drawn by a pair of high-quality horses and was used principally for leisure driving in the summerbraces or thoroughbraces: in some carriages, leather straps that serve as springs for the body

box or perch: small, elevated box on which a carriage driver sits on a box or perch. (When at the front it is known as a dickey box, a term also used for a seat at the back for servants.)

break or brake: bodiless carriage frame used to break in horses

carriage boot: boot that was fur-trimmed for winter wear, usually of fabric with a fur or felt lining. A knee boot protected the knees from rain or splatter.
carriage dog or coach dog: dog bred for running beside a carriage

carriage folk or carriage trade: upper-class people of wealth and social position, those wealthy enough to keep carriages

carriage horse: horse especially bred for carriage use by appearance and stylish action; one for road horse: horse for use on a road. One such breed is the Cleveland Bay, uniformly bay in color, of good conformation and strong constitution.

coach house: outbuilding for a carriage, which was often combined with accommodation for a groom or other servants.

carriage porch or porte cochere: roofed structure that extends from the entrance of a building over an adjacent driveway and that shelters callers as they get in or out of their vehicle

carriage starter: directed the flow of vehicles taking on passengers at the curbside

cavalcade: procession of carriages
coachman: man whose business was to drive a carriage

dashboard: screen of wood or leather on the forepart of an open carriage intercepts water, mud or snow thrown up by the heels of the horses.

equipage: elegant horse-drawn carriage with its retinue of servants

foot iron or footplate: may serve as a carriage step
footman or piquer: servant in livery in attendance upon a rider or was required to run before his master's carriage to clear the way

glass coach: windows in sides of coach and windows in doors

groom: male servant employed to care for horses; at times accompanying an owner’s carriage

hackneyman: hired out horses and carriages

head or hood: top cover for the body of a carriage; is often flexible and designed to be folded back when desired. Such a folding top is called a bellows top or calash

Holdback: consists of an iron catch on the shaft with a looped strap; enabled a horse to back or hold back the vehicle

hoopstick: forms a light framing member a folding hood

imperial: top, roof or second-story compartment of a closed carriage, especially a diligence, A quarter lights: side windows of a closed carriage

jump seat: a moveable seat

lap robe: blanket or covering that carriage passengers often used for their lap, legs, and feet (buffalo robe, made from the hide of an American bison dressed with the hair on, was sometimes used as a carriage robe; it was commonly trimmed to rectangular shape and lined on the skin side with fabric)

lazyback: attached backrest

livery: distinctive dress or uniform worn by an official, retainer, or servant (and given to him or her by the employer) [term from c1290 in Old French] – a footman’s livery of two suits would cost about £20, as much as his year’s wages

limbers: shafts of a carriage. (Lancewood, a tough elastic wood of various trees, was often used especially for carriage shafts.)

livery stable: kept horses and usually carriages for hire

mews: range of stables, usually with carriage houses (remises) and living quarters built around a yard, court or street

moons: lights for dress carriages: the simplest were wax candles in tin tubes in a circular casing; for traveling coaches, lamps with oil in square casings were used (In the country, social engagements were dependent upon the moon, traveling at night unsafe: for example in Sense and Sensibilities, Sir John Middleton has asked other neighbors to join their party, but “it was moonlight and everybody was full of engagements.”

ostler: groom or stable boy employed at an Inn to take care of guest’s horses

outrider: attendant on horseback who often rode ahead of or next to a carriage

postilion or post boy: person who rides the leading nearside horse of a team or pair drawing a coach or carriage, when there is no coachman

public passenger vehicle: would not usually be called a carriage – terms for such include stagecoach, charabanc and omnibus

springs: It was not until the 17th century that innovations with steel springs and glazing took place, and only in the 18th century, with better road surfaces, was there a major innovation with the introduction of the steel C-spring

tiger: boy or small man employed as a groom on the back of a curricle or other small carriage. (Name derived from the yellow and black striped waist coat worm by the groom [OED: A smartly-liveried boy acting as groom or footman; formerly often provided with standing-room on a small platform behind the carriage, and a strap to hold on by; less strictly, an outdoor boy-servant)

trap, pony trap or horse trap: light, often sporty, two-wheeled or sometimes four-wheeled horse-drawn carriage, accommodating usually two to four persons in various seating arrangements, such as face-to-face or back-to-back

turnout or setout: carriage together with the horses, harness and attendants

wing: a projecting sidepiece on the dashboard or carriage top

yoke: the end of the tongue of a carriage is suspended from the collars of the harness by a bar called the yoke.


  1. THANKS Susan, this is an awesome list and one I will refer to often!!!

    1. Carrie, I'm building quite a "library of lists." Someone once recommended that I take all of my "stuff" that I use when I'm writing and put it together in a book as a companion piece to my novels. It's something to think about.

  2. I guess, according to these terms, my cart would be called a "trap" then. :)

  3. Thank you! I think learning about these type of things are fascinating. Thank you again for sharing!!
    I await your post about carraiges with anticipation and eager expectaion!

  4. Pegg, I think that's what I'd call it, but if you're writing about colonial Americans on a farm, you might still call it a cart.

    4 readin - I'm so glad you enjoyed the post. I love researching and love sharing it even more. That you appreciate it, makes it all the more satisfying.

  5. Susan, I'm so thankful you share your knowledge here! I've learned so much at first reading and am sure to refer to this again and again. In my current WIP I have a carriage that is destroyed and it's so important to confirm what the parts of it are called! Bless you for your time and care with all this.

    1. I know how much you research for your books, Laura. I'm so glad you find this post useful.

  6. Goodness, what a wealth of information. Thank you for compiling this Susan! I'll be referring back to it many times, I'm sure.

    1. You're welcome, Lori. I love researching -- even more than writing!

  7. This kind of information is precisely why I subscribe to this blog. Thank you so much for sharing the benefit of your research, Susan.

    1. Judith, you may want to visit my website, where I share lots of information like this. The research I have compiled over the years is probably enough to fill 20 books, but I'll never use it all, so I share it on my website.

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