On creating a fiction story I wanted to visit a stage house in the 19th century, and I don't have a reference for how large such an establishment can be on a main road. My fictional history setting is the final stage approaching Kaluga, Russia from the South, on a main route which connects Moscow. This is in the 1880's during the Russo-Turkish war. My limited research suggests that these houses could tend to be larger than what I imagined, however. I have found this useful post regarding coach travel in Russia in the early 19th century, and the book referenced there may provide some useful general information. It is in German unfortunately for me.

But my understanding of stage houses (coaching inns) appears to be very wrong. I refer to Charles Dickens' dialogue in David Copperfield regarding the Golden Cross stage house at Charing Cross between Canterbury and London. I do not know if this is a real or fictional establishment, however I wish to create a similar scene in my story.

I have found some old photos of Kaluga online, mostly depicting St. John the Baptist Orthodox Cathedral (below)

St. John the Baptist Cathederal, Kaluga

It does not appear to be a large city whenever this was taken, with mostly cathederals and what looks like a watch tower.

The Dickens dialogue I refer to places David Copperfield in "number seventy-two," which is a surprisingly larger number than I expected:

‘Where does he sleep? What’s his number? You know what I mean,’ said Steerforth.

‘Well, sir,’ said the waiter, with an apologetic air. ‘Mr. Copperfield is at present in forty-four, sir.’

‘And what the devil do you mean,’ retorted Steerforth, ‘by putting Mr. Copperfield into a little loft over a stable?’

‘Why, you see we wasn’t aware, sir,’ returned the waiter, still apologetically, ‘as Mr. Copperfield was anyways particular. We can give Mr. Copperfield seventy-two, sir, if it would be preferred. Next you, sir.’

This is the only reference that I have available, however. I don't expect a lot of English-language resources to exist regarding a coach line from Oryol to Kaluga, but this is a minor scene. I was willing to resign my story to reference a generic European stage house in my setting. But how large are they?

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    If you're setting it during the Crimean war then the 1880s is about 25 years too late. You might also want to clarify what you mean by a "stage house". And Charing Cross is in London
    – Steve Bird
    Mar 21, 2022 at 16:23
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    @SteveBird Fixed the war, and I admit knowing nothing about the veracity of Dickens' house at Charing Cross. Perhaps in 1849 Charing Cross was still outside London city limits? Ultimately, not relevant here.
    – Vogon Poet
    Mar 21, 2022 at 16:32
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    @VogonPoet Charing Cross is pretty much the centre of London (it's where all of the mile posts are centred on). The real Golden Cross, which was a coaching inn, was located where Trafalgar Square is today.
    – Steve Bird
    Mar 21, 2022 at 16:35
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    @DaveGremlin I think that is exactly it, yes, but I never knew them as "coaching inns" which I think wasn't the American term for them.
    – Vogon Poet
    Mar 21, 2022 at 17:01
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    @DaveGremlin I am familiar with the vast Russian rail expansion of Alexander II and that it was problematic, so stage-coach lines likely didn’t vanish overnight. I’ll consider what elements I transpose to Russia, but conceptually they would serve the same function and fill the same traveller needs, as well as the economic need for jobs for the recently emancipated serfs. Blowing up railroads seemed to be a thing back then, which may or may not be related. TY for the head’s up.
    – Vogon Poet
    Mar 21, 2022 at 18:41


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