Period Drama Dictionary


The aristocracy are people considered to be in the highest social class in a society which once had a political system of Aristocracy. Aristocrats possess hereditary titles granted by a monarch, which once granted them feudal or legal privileges, or deriving, as in Ancient Greece and India, from a military caste. They are usually below only the monarch of a country in the social hierarchy. The term “aristocracy” is derived from the Greek language aristokratia, meaning ‘the rule of the best’.


Barmkin and Keep at Castle Doe Scottish 15th C.

A battlement or battlemented wall;

a wall of defence


Beau Monde   (The ton)


The terms Beau Monde (French for “beautiful world”) and polite society have been interchangeable with le bon ton during different periods (see  ton)




Bolt-hole or Bolthole

Bolt-holeA place of escape for refuge.  A chased rabbit may bolt into a hole for refuge.  In period drama, it usually means an escape route from within a castle.  A hidden tunnel behind a large picture or hung tapestry, perhaps.  An escape route not easily discovered by the invading warriors.



Clerestory / Lantern

clerestory_lanternClerestory (pronounced /kleer-stawr-ee,/; lit. clear storey, also clearstory, clearstorey, or overstorey) is an architectural term. A portion of an interior clerestoryrising above adjacent rooftops and having windows admitting daylight to the interior.   Usually only afforded by the highest of nobility ranks.




An immoral woman, prostitute, mistress, whore







a ruffle or flounce, as on a woman’s skirt or petticoat,

or used as trim for hats





1. a wardrobe or the garderobe1contents of a wardrobe
2. a bedroom or private room
3 .a privy, a latrine






jarveyA Hackney Coachman or a Hackney Coach
[C19: from Jarvey, familiar form of personal nameJarvis]





A knight is a member of the warrior class of the Middle Ages in Europe who followed a code

of law called “chivalry”. In other Indo-European languages, cognates of cavalier or rider are more prevalent (e.g., French chevalier and German Knight on horseRitter), suggesting a connection to the knight’s mode of transport. Since antiquity a position of honour and prestige has been held by mounted warriors such as the Greek hippeus and the Roman eques, and knighthood in the Middle Ages was inextricably linked with horsemanship.

Some orders of knighthood, such as the Knights Templar, have themselves become the object of legend; others have disappeared into obscurity. Today, a number of orders of knighthood continue to exist in several countries, such as the English Order of the Garter, the Swedish Royal Order of the Seraphim, and the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav. Each of these orders has its own criteria for eligibility, but knighthood is generally granted by a head of state to selected persons to recognize some meritorious achievement.


Mounting Blockmounting_block

A mounting block, horse block, or in Scots a loupin’-on-stane is an assistance for mounting and dismounting a horse or cart, especially for the young, elderly or infirm. They were especially useful for women riding sidesaddle, allowing a horse to be mounted without a loss of modesty.


Noblesse Oblige

French expression used in English. It translates as “nobility obliges” and denotes the concept that nobility extends beyond mere entitlements and requires the person who holds such a status to fulfill social responsibilities.

Nobility Obliges – such as a Duke working along side his farm tenants to extinguish a fire of a tenant home

Nobility Ranks

1. Duke
2. Marquess
3. Earl
4. Viscount
5. Baron

These are the very basic ranks.
So much has changed over the centuries. Furthermore, the eldest son of a Duke is a Marquess – the eldest son of a Marquess is an Earl – the eldest son of an Earl is a Viscount.  However, the eldest sons of a Viscount and a Baron are called “The Honourable (name)


perlieuPerlieu is a term used of the outlying parts of a place or district.  A piece of land on the edge of a forest, originally land that, after having been included in a royal forest, was restored to private ownership, though still subject, in some respects, to the operation of the forest laws.  Frequently, the lands managed by nobility had forested regions on their bounderies being called the perlieu.




Piano Nobile

piano_noblie1The piano nobile piano_noblie2(Italian, “noble floor” or “noble level”) is the  principal floor of a large house, usually built in one of the styles of classical renaissance architecture. This floor contains the principle reception and bedrooms of the house.



Quizzing Glass

quizzing glasses

A monocle is a type of corrective lens used to correct or enhance the vision in only one eye. It consists of a circular lens, generally with a wire ring around the circumference that can be attached to a string. The other end of the string is then connected to the wearer’s clothing to quizzing glassavoid losing the monocle. The antiquarian Philipp von Stosch wore a monocle in Rome in the 1720s, in order to closely examine engravings and antique engraved gems, but the monocle did not become an article of gentlemen’s apparel until the nineteenth century. It was introduced by the dandy’s quizzing glass of the 1790s, as a sense of high fashion.




In the 18th and 19th centuries, a woman’s small bag or purse, usually in the form of a pouch with a drawstring and made of net, beading, brocade, silk, etc.        [ret-i-kyool]




rozzerBritish slang for policeman  1890-1895






Servant Hierachy


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A male admirer or lover










1350-1400’s – To copulate


Sorry, I don’t have the image you might have been hoping for. LOL



British Informal (origin: 1850-1855)
A stylishly dressed, fashionable person, especially one who is or wants to be considered a member of the upper class.







Theton (pronounced tone) is a term commonly used to refer to Britain’s high society during the Georgian era, especially the Regency and reign of George IV. It comes from the French word meaning taste or everything that is fashionable. The full phrase is le bon ton, meaning good manners or in the fashionable mode; characteristics held as ideal by the British ton.





a long shallow basket made of curved strips of wood and used for carrying flowers, fruit, etc


Vail / Vails

1. to take off or doff (one’s hat), as in respect or submission
2. a tip or gratuity (such as to a butler of a house where you were a guest)