The Victorian Era

We all have this image of Victorian England don’t we? Lots of crime, a big class system, industry dominating the outlook from all the factories and mills, life being like a Charles Dickens book. But the Victorian era had some unusual aspects of life to it. Read below for some little titbits of information to prove the point.

The tradition of putting up a Christmas tree is in part thanks to Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert. Born in Germany, where the Christmas tree was common, he transplanted the Christmas symbol to England by bringing one to Windsor castle in 1840. Other Christmas traditions that originated in the Victorian era included the exchanging of presents, giving out Christmas cards.

Children going to work was common for the Victorians, largely because poor families didn’t earn enough for food without it. One job that had a high demand for children was work in the coal mines. Children made excellent coal miners because they could manoeuvre into tight spaces, and they required far less pay than adult workers. The children would work for 12 to 18 hours in air saturated with coal dust, and the constant danger.

Street sellers of the Victorian age would sell some unusual foods. One popular delicacy was sheep’s feet, which were sold hot or cold. They were called trotters, and could be purchased at a low price from slaughterhouses, so vendors would buy them and prepare them at home by skinning and parboiling them, before selling them to workers in the street. Customers would then suck the meat and fat off the bones.

Clean, portable water was hard to come by in Victorian society. It was generally polluted and considered more dangerous to drink than nature’s other perfect liquid—beer. Whether you were sick, pregnant, or just a child, beer was generally safer to drink than water, and so, you drank it.

Welcome to the Baby Farmer, that’s right in the Victorian Era if you didn’t want your child you could pay someone to have it. It would cost you £5, and you could have your child back or just abandon it. £5 wasn’t much and so, once the money ran out, that was it. Many died, or to be honest many were abandoned, thrown in the Thames or off railway bridges. Many doctors would just put ‘died of natural cause’.

It was in the Victorian Times when many sports that we know today started to flourish mainly because many more people were living in the cities so there needed to be some form of entertainment. So this was when you would see the start of many sports such as Football, Cricket, Rugby, Sailing and Horse Racing for example. The thing was that these were and would become big spectator sports. Along with being a spectator it also allowed people to carry on doing what they loved to do, gamble. People were moving from cock fighting, dog fighting etc to an actual sport.

Abishag, Lettuce, Ham, Uz, Tram, Despair, Brained, Feather, Clapham, Murder, & Wonderful. Just some of the names given to children of the age. One would have to say either they really did hate children back then or they just had very little imagination. Could you imagine being called Depair?

The Victorian Era was a time when it might have been dark and dreary outside, but it saw the emergence of wallpaper into the home. Gone were the bright white medical type paint that felt cold. Now saw the incoming of rolls of brightly colourful and patterned in gloriously rich colour.

Ben Davidson

Hello, I have been studying all aspects of history for about 25 years. I have a BA History from the University of Bedfordshire. My historical areas of interest are anything really, but I specialise in 19th - 20th century Britain, America and Ireland. I am also strongly aligned with most military history, really enjoying WW2 and the US Civil War. Chuck in the king or queen and Bob's your uncle.

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