Anonymous said: I have just spent five years researching and writing the biography of Gus Elen, the famous music hall performer. A Cockney at Work. The Story of Gus Elen and His Songs has just been published, and as it relates the history of music hall, and events in the late Victorian era in particular, I wonder if you feel that you could give it a mention. Details of the book can be found by searching on 'Gus Elen biography'. Thanks. Peter Norris
Certainly! Congratulations on the book! I’ll have to look for it :D
Anonymous said: Could you tell me more about the Roma/Romani during the Victorian Era?
Certainly. The Romani had been travelling to Britain for hundreds of years but with the improvements in travel as a result of the Industrial Revolution their numbers grew substantially in the 19th century. In the early part of the Victorian era many based themselves in rural areas, living in modest dwellings on the edges of villages or in caravans in encampments. As the century went on they increasingly started to live on the poorer outskirts of industrial towns and cities. Although there were certainly cases of hostility towards them (as a child I was taught the 19th century song ‘My mother said I never should play with the gypsies in the wood, if I did she would say naughty girl to disobey’) they were also welcomed to communities as an interesting, exotic addition to the neighbourhood. They based themselves in a certain area but would spend several months of the year travelling the country selling wares and services such as woven baskets, metalwork, horses, fortune-telling and, for some, the odd bit of thievery. In the early period (before the technological leaps in communications) villagers welcomed them as bringing news from other areas. Essentially they were seen in the same light as other travelling salesmen. However they weren’t popular with the upper classes and various laws were passed which, while not targeting them specifically, made several of their practices illegal (such as fortune-telling) and therefore made their lives much harder towards the end of the century.
Anonymous said: Do you know where Hyde Park Terrace is circa 1880?
I’m not entirely certain. Based on the information I’ve found here (http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=47513) I believe that it was on Kensington Road where the Royal College of Art now is, though it was retitled in 1879 as 11-22 Kensington Gore. Sorry that’s a bit confusing but I hope it helps you.
Anonymous said: Hi! I was just curious, what did ladies-in-waiting of Queen Victoria and other members of nobility exactly have to do?
Hello! Ladies-in-waiting were and still are basically personal assistants to female members of the royal family, particularly the Queen. Their main duties were to act as companions at home and on visits but they also looked after the daily schedule, cared for clothes, helped dress the Queen and filled her in on any bits of information she might need.
Hello! I’d just like to apologise for the lengthy and unplanned hiatus and thank you all for supporting the blog in my absence :)
Joanna Southcott was a self described religious prophetess. She was born in Devon in 1780 and worked as a servant before claiming to have been blessed with supernatural gifts. She published several books of prophecies and in 1814 announced that she was pregnant with the new Messiah, though on the due date the child failed to appear and she said that it had been called back to Heaven before its birth. She died the same year but her predictions gained a large number of followers, known as Southcottians, particularly in the mid-19th century.
Joanna is best remembered for a sealed box (simply known as ‘Joanna Southcott’s Box’) which she left with the instructions that it should only be opened in a time of national crisis and in the presence of 24 bishops of the Church of England. She claimed that once it was opened Jesus would return to right all the wrongs of the world. Southcottians up until the present day have tried and failed to have the box opened in the presence of the 24 bishops at several trying times in British history including the Crimean War and the First World War. The box’s current location is unknown.
'A Girl of the 'Sixties' painted in 1899 by Bessie MacNicol. MacNicol was born in Glasgow in 1869 and honed her skills at the Glasgow School of Art. She painted 'A Girl of the 'Sixties' after attending a performance of 'Trewlawny of the 'Wells” by Arthur Wing Pinero in 1898. MacNicol was particularly inspired by the costumes which Pinero insisted should perfectly recreate the fashions of the 1860s.
The ‘Grape Cure’ was a diet which had a brief period of popularity in the 1890s. It was a two week diet regime which involved eating only bread and grapes and drinking only grape juice and water.
Detail from ‘The Tennis Party’ painted in 1900 by Charles March Gere. From its introduction in the 1870s lawn tennis was an extremely popular sport amongst the prosperous middle and upper classes. Played at the country estates or suburban villas of the wealthy it was an opportunity for young people of both sexes to socialise in a relaxed setting.
In the 19th century even the poorest members of society tried to have a set of smart clothes which they kept for ‘Sunday best’, usually to wear to church. Many of these lower classes lived in cramped, overcrowded conditions and had no safe place to store such special items. It was common practice for people in this situation to pawn their Sunday best clothes on Monday morning and then redeem the pledge to retrieve them on Saturday. This process would be repeated every week. Many pawnbrokers in London had storage space set aside purely for this purpose.