A great talk at Probus yesterday – all about leisure and pleasure in Victorian times. Our carriage clock (pictured) is from around 1900, the end of the Victorian period. Time flies – but only 30 hours at a time, then I have to rewind it!
My impression has always been that the rich and the noble folk in those times had all the leisure, and the ‘working’ people had all the work. Indeed we were told about the different leisure opportunities for the different classes.
The ‘Well to Do’ had a couple of months each year taking advantage of all the delights of the London Season, ending in time to go grouse shooting on “the Glorious 12th” (of August).
The working classes had to make do with the public houses on every street corner, football (from playing to spectating on a Saturday) and week-long shut downs of work in different towns, when everyone would go off to the seaside.
What struck me from the talk was that a lot happened during Queen Victoria’s 64 year long reign.
Not just the Battle of Waterloo and the Crimean and Boer wars – but staggering changes in everyday life.
People became urban dwellers, the light bulb was invented, and railway networks were built across the country. Cycling with Penny Farthings started as a sport for the rich, but by the 1890s mass produced bicycles were sold to working class people (by companies such as Humber, that went on the build cars subsequently).
You might have had enough of bicycles after the UCI event in Harrogate, but the changes in bicycles over this era (e.g. different size wheels, propelled by feet only, pedals and chains, even allowing women to use them!) were indicative of the changes in Victoria’s reign.
During our current Queen’s similarly long reign there have obviously been amazing changes too e.g. better housing and healthcare, the expansion of airplane travel, television and of course the Internet!
I think that you could have made a case that people in Victorian times experienced as much dramatic change in their lifetime, along with a lot of drudgery and illness as we have in our time. Nowadays we seem to have expanded our lifestyles to the point that we now know we are damaging the very planet we live on.
Hopefully we can dig ourselves out of these destructive issues we now face (but enough about Brexit!)