While certain costume dramas would have us believe it would be wonderful to visit Victorian England, to wander the London streets amid the barrow boys and horse-drawn carriages, to see Oscar Wilde’s plays performed for the first time, to really rock a decent moustache, not everything was a delight. Quite apart from the crime and deprivation in […]
Life in Victorian England
In the 19th century, Britain was the most powerful country on Earth. It was a world superpower and a leader of the Industrial Revolution. Yet despite all this, life for many people living in Victorian England wasn't easy.
During this time period, great changes were happening to society and many Victorians found themselves struggling with these changes. Whether it be new inventions or social issues such as poverty and disease, there was trouble brewing for some British citizens during this era.
In fact, Queen Victoria herself once said that "I know too well what anxiety I have suffered from the want of confidence in my ministers." Despite her struggles though she still remained one of the most popular monarchs who reigned over an incredible empire.
What was life like in Victorian times?
It's difficult to describe what life was like in Victorian times because it was so different from our own time. In general, though, people were much more formal and conservative than we are today. There was a strong emphasis on etiquette and proper behavior, and people were often judged based on their appearance and social status.
People started to wear their hair shorter and wear more comfortable clothing around the time of the Industrial Revolution, which began in Great Britain in the 18th century and was at its peak during Queen Victoria's reign (1837-1901).
For example, women often wore petticoats under their dresses until around 1860, when hoop skirts became popular. The hoop skirt was a crinoline that expanded the skirt into a bell shape, and it remained popular until about 1870 when full skirts were introduced.
The last part of Queen Victoria's reign is often called the Golden Age of Bicycles because bicycles became very popular during this time. Many people would ride their bicycles to work or go for a Sunday ride with their families. They even decorated their bikes and wore special clothing for bicycling.
After Queen Victoria's death, some people started to wear more colorful clothes that were less formal than those worn in the Victorian era. The new, slightly different styles of clothes continued to change as they were influenced by new art movements such as Art Nouveau and Art Deco.
Youth culture became important for the first time, especially among young people who went to universities or art schools. For the first time, many ordinary young men and women were able to go to school with members of the upper class. They developed their own ideas about how they should dress (or "dress up"), and many of their ideas remained popular even after they grew up and became adults.
Top 10 Facts About Life in Victorian England
1. Life in Victorian England was very difficult for the lower classes. They had to work long hours in poor conditions, and they didn't have many rights.
2. The upper classes lived a life of luxury. They had servants to do everything for them, and they could afford to buy expensive things.
3. Victorian England was a very religious country. Most people went to church every Sunday, and there were lots of rules about how people should behave.
4. There was a lot of poverty in Victorian England. Many people couldn't afford to live decently, and they often went hungry.
5. Education was free for all children in Victorian England, and it was considered very important. This meant that most children went to school.
6. Women in Victorian England were treated as second-class citizens. They had very few rights, and they couldn't vote or own property.
7. The Victorians loved music, and there were lots of orchestras and concerts. People also liked going to the theatre to see shows.
8. Entertainment in Victorian England was expensive, so most people didn't have much time to enjoy it. There were no TVs or radios in people's homes!
9. People in Victorian England enjoyed sports like cricket, rugby, and football, but only the upper classes could afford the time to play sports for fun.
10. The Victorians loved traveling by train and boat, and huge steamships carried cargo and passengers across the Empire.
Famous Names from Victorian England
Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) – Florence Nightingale was the founder of modern nursing. She knew that it was important to keep hospitals clean and well-run in order to prevent the spread of disease.
Charles Dickens (1812-1870) – Charles Dickens was a famous author who wrote A Christmas Carol and many other books about life in Victorian times.
Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892) – Alfred Tennyson was a popular Victorian poet who wrote many poems about the events of his time. One of his most famous poems was the Charge of the Light Brigade, which was about the Crimean War.
Thomas Barnardo (1845-1905) – In 1870, Thomas Barnardo founded a place that would be a home for children who didn't have anywhere to live or who were orphaned. The children don't have to go to a workhouse if they stay there. This is called Barnardo's and it is still going today.
Mrs Isabella Beeton (1836-1865) – Mrs. Isabella Beeton was a popular Victorian author who wrote a famous book about cooking and housekeeping that many people in Victorian times used. Her book, called Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management, is still used today by many people who want to learn about cooking and keeping a household.
Charles Darwin (1809-1882) – Charles Darwin was a Victorian naturalist who wrote On the Origin of Species and came up with the theory of natural selection. His theory of natural selection led to scientific research into evolution, which is still studied and debated today.
Learn about more Famous Victorians
1819 Scotland – Thomas Hancock and Charles Macintosh invent a waterproof material. 1821 London – The electric motor is invented by British scientist Michael Faraday. Though trained in Chemistry he took an interest in electricity and took the discovery of Oersted that the flow of electricity through a wire produces a magnetic field around the […]
Mourning customs and rituals of the 19th century were clearly defined and adhered to as much as finances and circumstances allowed, but in today’s society of medical advances and wonder drugs it is, perhaps, difficult to understand the need for such practices. In order to understand them we must delve into conditions of the 19th […]
The Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace
In 1851 Great Britain was arguably the leader of the industrial revolution and feeling very secure in that ideal. The Great Exhibition of 1851 in London was conceived to symbolize this industrial, military and economic superiority of Great Britain. Just representing the feats of Britain itself would have excluded many of the technological achievements pioneered […]