Anonymous said: hi, what subjects and languages did women of high social classes have to know?
Hello. It depended on individual circumstances but in general women from the highest classes who had no necessity to work would have focused on the traditional ‘accomplishments’ which they would need to secure themselves a good husband and be a good wife. These included subjects like art, music, and pastimes like embroidery, flower arranging etc to occupy them during their long hours at home. They would also receive a small amount of maths tuition mainly to prepare them for running a household (overseeing expenditures, servants’ wages etc). The essential language to learn was French, other than that it depended on the individual though European languages, particularly German and Italian, were common.
Anonymous said: Could you apply the information you give out in posts to other parts of the world (specifically Europe) during the Victorian Era/
Being slightly pedantic I tend to think that the term Victorian really only technically applies to a period of British history (concerning Britain and its wider Empire at the time). Also, as I say in my FAQ, growing up here I feel more confident posting about British culture and history. It also makes research easier to confine myself to that one area. But I’ll see what I can do :)
Anonymous said: How did engagements work out in the Victorian era?
I’ve gone into this topic before in this answer. I hope that helps :)
Barmbrack is a type of fruit loaf which was the highlight of the Halloween meal in Ireland during the Victorian period and remains popular to the present day. Like the traditional Christmas pudding, barmbrack has various objects baked inside it which were believed to predict a person’s future. The objects put into the barmbrack would usually be a small stick, a ring, a pea, a coin, and a piece of cloth. If you received the stick in your slice of brambrack you would have an unhappy marriage, the ring meant you would marry that year, the pea meant you would not, the coin signaled good luck and wealth, and the cloth predicted bad luck and poverty.
A skeleton marionette made in the late 19th century by the Tiller-Clowes marionette troupe. It has been cleverly wired to allow it to walk or dance around the stage then suddenly have its bones appear to disperse into the air only to reform moments later. It also has a clack jaw which would make a noise when opened and closed. This performance was so popular with audiences that most marionette companies would own a similar figure.
In 1899 the Northamptonshire County Constabulary became the first police force in the world to catch a criminal by using motorcar. When Barnum and Bailey’s Circus arrived many criminals saw it as a money-making opportunity. A printer called Frederick John Phillips took advantage of the advance publicity and gave 3 local shopkeepers fake ‘free’ tickets and a poster for the circus, then charged them a fee for the privilege. By the time his deception was discovered he had fled the area. Police were informed of his crime and the direction he was headed and Sergeant Hector Donald Macleod caught up with him in a commandeered Benz motorcar. Journalists at the time wondered if this first police car chase had broken the speed limit which was 12 miles per hour.
A photograph of Queen Victoria and some of her family gathered around a bust of the late Prince Albert. After Albert’s death in 1861 the Queen went into a period of mourning which the British public considered excessive even at the time when mourning was highly ritualised. Victoria had a series of photographs of this sort taken with different members of her family. This particular photograph was taken on the wedding day of the heir to the throne Albert Edward, Prince of Wales. His new bride Alexandra, Princess of Wales can be seen in her wedding dress at the back left of the photograph.
My inbox appears to have eaten a question I received (and fortunately copy-pasted elsewhere) which asked:
Could a woman enter society without a family? Could she go to balls without having connections or be accepted formally without anyone knowing her history? (Book research).
The answer is it would be quite difficult for her. It wasn’t socially acceptable for an unmarried woman to go to events like that without a chaperone of some kind (usually a slightly older female friend/relative or family acquaintance). The chaperone would make the formal introductions and ‘protect’ the young woman from any unwanted attentions. One of the primary functions of events like balls was for people to find a suitable marriage partner and so the hostess would make every effort to know at least the basic facts about all her guests (essentially so she could have some fun matchmaking) so having an unknown would be awkward and pretty undesirable. Also to attend an event like that you would have to have a certain amount of money and unless a woman was independently wealthy (quite a rare occurrence) the chances of her being able to afford to go to a ball without financial backing from family or other connections was pretty slim. Hope that helps and good luck with the book.
Anonymous said: I wanted to know. Suppose a business man and his wife were travelling to do business with a wealthy customer at his estate. Did the couple the share same the same chamber or was it customary to have separate rooms, seeing as the wife had nothing to do with the matters at hand?
That would depend on the nature of the business. The Victorians very much liked things to have separate spheres so men and women, business and domestic life were kept apart as much as possible. If someone was invited to a wealthy person’s country house they would usually be of the same or very similar social status as that person and as such the visit would be on friendly terms with business matters (if there were any) coming second. Events and activities would be provided by the host to keep the guests occupied and any more serious matters would be discussed in a casual way. Wealthy people had town and country houses and would try and keep their country houses purely for leisure rather than business which they would hope to take care of while they were in town. They may also have had an agent to take care of any business on their behalf so they weren’t bothered by it. The only business I could think of that would need someone to visit an estate would be in direct relation to the property such as an architect or estate manager in which case the wife would stay at home.
sphinxyvic said: For the Hyde Park Terrace question: According to my A to Z of Victorian London, it was located on the Northern edge of Hyde Park, just west of Edgware Rd. (A-Z of Victorian London, London Topographical Society, 1987) Hope you don't mind my butting in to answer that one!
Thank you again :) Not at all! I don’t have access to all the resources I would wish for to answer questions so it’s good to find more.