In Britain, the last Sunday before Advent is known as ‘Stir-up Sunday’ and is the day on which it is traditional for families to mix together the ingredients to make their Christmas Pudding which forms the highlight of the Christmas Day meal. Each member of the family must take turns to stir the pudding mixture, traditionally from East to West in honour of the journey of the Three Kings to Bethlehem. While they do this it is also customary to make a wish.
In the Victorian period the pudding was known as Plum Pudding, though plums had been entirely replaced by other ingredients such as raisins and currants well before the beginning of the 19th century. There were many different recipes for the pudding reflecting the different tastes of the time. These included a teetotal pudding which used milk instead of beer, Mrs Beeton’s ‘Fruitarian’ pudding which was made without suet and a vegetable pudding which included mashed potatoes and carrots.
Queen Victoria’s chef used a recipe which made enough mixture for 150 small puddings to be distributed amongst the household staff. The ingredients were 60lbs flour, 30lbs sugar, 40lbs currants, 40lbs raisins, 30lbs candied peel, 50lbs chopped beef suet, 4 gallons strong ale, 150 eggs, 1lb mixed spice, 1 bottle of rum and 1 bottle of brandy.
A wealthy child’s first shoe from the 1840s. Made from pink silk with swansdown trimming and decorated with ribbons and pearl beads.
buffalo2012 asked: So I was wondering in the Victorian age what did pregnant woman wear? They couldn't wear a corset because of the growth and i have never seen a photo or a painting of a pregnant lady from that time. so yeah haha
Oh they did wear corsets would you believe. Towards the end of the Victorian era some people began to be concerned about their effect on the health of the mother and baby but the majority of women still wore corsets for most of their pregnancy. This was because of a desire to uphold moral standards, in some cases it was a means of hiding the signs of pregnancy for as long as possible and also it provided physical support to women who, through a lifetime of corset-wearing, had underdeveloped abdominal muscles. Special pregnancy corsets weren’t as heavily boned as everyday corsets, were specially shaped and had lacing which allowed for the extra growth but still they were pretty horrendous:
Most women above the working classes went into ‘confinement’ during the later stages of their pregnancy (they would basically be shut away inside their houses until the birth) so modified clothing for wearing in public wasn’t really a necessity. As dresses were rather voluminous throughout the Victorian period women could wear normal clothes much of the time but there were some special maternity items which were wider and more adjustable such as this wrap:
I hope that helps answer your question :)
constantwanderlust asked: Re: Victoria and her adopting "German" fashions, I thought some of her hairstyles were very German in origin (like the side braids looped back). Is this true, or a misconception?
I’m not entirely certain but I don’t believe those styles were German in origin. I think the fashion for side braids was just a practical method of achieving more elaborate hairstyles after the looser, classically inspired styles of the Georgian era had gone out of fashion.
dainty-dangerous asked: Hello! I absolutely love this blog, and was wondering if you could help me... For a college project of designing stage props, I'm making a woman's Victorian fan from an Oscar Wilde play and having a tough time locating references. Do you know of some links or pics from the 1890s? Thank you SO MUCH!
Hello! Thank you very much! Certainly. The National Trust has a wide collection of fans. If you click on the link below, search ‘fan’, limit your search to the years 1890-1900 and filter it ‘with images’ you’ll find a pretty good selection :)
I hope that helps and good luck with the play! :D
The phrase ‘up to scratch’ takes its origin from bare-knuckle boxing practices which were in place until the development of the Queensbury Rules in 1867. Prior to this a round could last any length of time and only ended when one or both of the fighters fell to the floor. They then had 30 seconds to get to their feet and come up to the scratch marked in the ground at the centre of the ring to prove they were ready to fight again.
A sheet music cover for the song ‘If It Wasn’t For The ‘Ouses In Between’ first performed by the music hall artist Gus Elen in 1894. Elen was a Cockney and devoted most of his songs to describing the daily lives and poverty of his community. ‘If It Wasn’t For The ‘Ouses In Between’ was Elen’s most famous song and is about the cramped housing conditions in the East End of London. One of the song’s choruses is:
'Oh! it really is a very pretty garden
And Chingford to the Eastward could be seen
Wiv a ladder and some glasses
You could see to [H]’Ackney Marshes
If it wasn’t for the [H]’ouses in between’
Unlike most music hall performers Gus Elen kept meticulous records of his songs and the gestures, emphasis and props he used in them. He also made notes on how audiences reacted to his gags.
Since the first commemorations in 1605, bonfires were lit across Britain on November 5th to celebrate the failure of the Gunpowder Plot to kill King James I. By the 19th century many towns had their own ‘societies’ devoted to maintaining this tradition. Whilst some of these groups were harmless, many used the custom as an excuse to run riot. In some of the most extreme cases mobs would go through their towns or villages collecting wood from any source to use as fuel for their bonfires, whilst looting property and threatening anyone who tried to stop them. They took fences, gates, shutters and doors from shops and houses and broke up carriages and carts to feed the fire. These activities were particularly widespread during the middle of the 19th century when small local police forces were unable to cope with the scale of the disorder.
The Reverend Henry Shrubb commented on the November 5th celebrations in Guildford in 1852: “In the evening a number of people amounting to several hundreds came into the town from the neighbouring villages, armed most of them with bludgeons, with their faces blackened and many I believe in women’s attire…In short the whole town was for these 3 or 4 hours in a state of complete riot, with no one to oppose their lawless proceedings, which were only terminated long after midnight by the men themselves being exhausted and worn out.”
A photograph and illustration of Victorian ‘Guys’ being paraded as part of November 5th celebrations. In Britain November 5th is known as Guy Fawkes Night, Bonfire Night or Fireworks Night and commemorates the failure of the members of the Gunpowder Plot to kill King James I by blowing up Parliament in 1605. A custom associated with these celebrations was to make and burn effigies of Guy Fawkes, one of the key conspirators in the plot.
In the 19th century, working class groups of men and boys would construct Guys and carry them through the streets of their community on and around November 5th, asking for money from observers by saying ‘penny for the Guy’. These Guys were sometimes effigies of unpopular figures such as politicians, foreign rulers and local hate-figures but most were unrecognisable creations made from whatever materials came to hand. As well as trying to construct the biggest Guys they could, men and boys would dress up in costumes to attract the most attention and money from passers-by. This is shown by the man leading the procession in the photograph who is banging a drum and wearing women’s clothes.