An extract from The Book of Days (1864) by Robert Chambers describes the first regatta in Britain, 23rd June 1775
Early in the afternoon, the river, from London Bridge to Millbank, was crowded with pleasure boats, and scaffolds, gaily decorated with flags… Half-a-guinea was asked for a seat in a coal-barge; and vessels fitted for the purpose drove a brisk trade in refreshments of various kinds. The avenues to Westminster Bridge were covered with gaming-tables, and constables guarded every passage to the water, taking from half-a-crown to one penny for liberty to pass. Soon after six o’clock, concerts were held under the arches of Westminster Bridge, and a salute of twenty-one cannons announced the arrival of the Lord Mayor. A race of wager-boats followed, and then the procession moved in picturesque irregularity to Ranelagh… About 200,000 persons were supposed to be on the river at one time.
The company arrived at Ranelagh at nine o’clock, where they joined those who came by land in a new building, called the Temple of Neptune. This was a temporary octagon, lined with stripes of white, red, and blue cloth, and having lustres hanging between each pillar. Supper and dancing followed, and the entertainment did not conclude till the next morning. Many accidents occurred when the boats were returning after the fete, and seven persons were unfortunately drowned.
Francis Kilvert, a curate in Radnorshire, writes in his diary, June 1870
In Gander Lane we saw in the banks some of the “Midsummer Men” plants which my Mother remembers the servant maids and cottage girls sticking up in their houses and bedrooms on Midsummer Eve for the purpose of divining about their sweethearts.
Two plants of “Midsummer Men,” the large pinkish-crimson sedum, were needed for divination. If they bent together during the night, the man and the woman would marry; if not, not.
English author EM Delafield writes in her diary, 23rd June 1930
Tennis-party at wealthy and elaborate house, to which Robert and I now bidden for the first time. (Also probably the last.) Immense opulence of host and hostess at once discernible in fabulous display of deck-chairs, all of complete stability and miraculous cleanliness. Am introduced to youngish lady in yellow, and serious young man with horn-rimmed spectacles. Lady in yellow says at once that she is sure I have a lovely garden. (Why?)
Elderly, but efficient-looking, partner is assigned…