⌚ Upper Class Victorian Era

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Upper Class Victorian Era

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Upper-class Accent Examples

Hours were long, but the advantages included company and An average middle-class household employed a cook, housemaid and maid-of-all-work as essential staff, with others hired for special occasions. Servants had a class structure of their own, from the lowest maid-of-all work up to the butler and cook. In a large house, servants would be under the overall supervision of the housekeeper and the cook ran the kitchen.

Outdoor staff included gardeners, gamekeepers and grooms and coachmen in the stables. Although leisure was a novelty for most, increasing numbers of Victorians found opportunities that their predecessors could not have had to enjoy themselves. The old country sports - fox-hunting, horse-racing, shooting or fishing - remained popular, but as the population became more urbanised, ball games such as football, cricket, tennis and hockey, grew in appeal amongst the middle classes. The less strenuous pleasures of town life also flourished. Theatre was characterised by melodrama, pantomimes and choral singing and the works of novelists and poets were eagerly devoured.

Parlour games were also popular. The well-to-do flocked to the opera or ballet and art lovers argued the merits of the Pre-Raphaelite and Impressionist painters whilst the Arts and Crafts movement influenced many. The Victorians embraced Christmas too, turning a simple religious festival into the great family celebration we know today, adopting and inventing many of the familiar traditions. The dawn of the railways offered cheap trips to the seaside, opening up new experiences for many town dwellers.

By the s seaside resorts were sprouting all around the coasts, attracting day-trippers as well as holidaymakers and the Victorian seaside, epitomised by bandstands, street photographers, donkey rides, piers and Punch and Judy stalls, became an institution. Victorian society. Underlying both the prosperity and the poverty of Victorian Britain was a huge increase in birth rates and a steadily accelerating shift in the balance of the population between the countryside and the towns. Between the censuses of and , the number of people living in the United Kingdom rose from approximately 27 million to over 41 million and b y as much as one third of the population lived in concentrations of 20, or more.

Upstairs downstairs Servants were essential ingredients in the new domesticity enjoyed by the middle and upper classes and jobs in service were desirable. Time off Although leisure was a novelty for most, increasing numbers of Victorians found opportunities that their predecessors could not have had to enjoy themselves. The fascinating story of an extraordinary substance, used and abused since its discovery. The first overseas package holidays. Victorian views on crime and poverty. Prison life in Victorian times. Sign up for our newsletter Enter your email address below to get the latest news and exclusive content from The History Press delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up.

Share this page. We recommend. Voices from the Workhouse Buy. Absent Through Want of Boots Buy. Knowing Their Place? Sir Henry Royce Buy. Churchill's Grandmama Buy. Rivals of the Ripper Buy. Josephine Butler Buy. Charles and Ada Buy. An Audience with Queen Victoria Buy. Women of the Durham Coalfield in the 19th Century Buy. London's Labyrinth Buy. Victorian women were disadvantaged both financially and sexually, enduring inequalities within their marriages and society. There were sharp distinctions between men's and women's rights during this era; men were allotted more stability, financial status, and power over their homes and women.

Marriages for Victorian women became contracts [4] which were extremely difficult if not impossible to get out of during the Victorian era. Women's rights groups fought for equality and over time made strides in attaining rights and privileges; however, many Victorian women endured their husband's control and even cruelty, including sexual violence, verbal abuse, and economic deprivation, [5] with no way out.

While husbands participated in affairs with other women, wives endured infidelity, as they had no rights to divorce on these grounds and divorce was considered to be a social taboo. By the Victorian era, the concept of " pater familias ", meaning the husband as head of the household and moral leader of his family, was firmly entrenched in British culture.

A wife's proper role was to love, honour and obey her husband, as her marriage vows stated. A wife's place in the family hierarchy was secondary to her husband, but far from being considered unimportant, a wife's duties to tend to her husband and properly raise her children were considered crucial cornerstones of social stability by the Victorians. Representations of ideal wives were abundant in Victorian culture, providing women with their role models. The Victorian ideal of the tirelessly patient, sacrificing wife is depicted in The Angel in the House , a popular poem by Coventry Patmore , published in Man must be pleased; but him to please Is woman's pleasure; down the gulf Of his condoled necessities She casts her best, she flings herself She loves with love that cannot tire; And when, ah woe, she loves alone, Through passionate duty love springs higher,.

As grass grows taller round a stone. Virginia Woolf described the angel as:. She excelled in the difficult arts of family life. She sacrificed herself daily Above all Her purity was supposed to be her chief beauty. There are many publications from the Victorian era that give explicit direction for the man's role in the home and his marriage. Advice such as "The burden, or, rather the privilege, of making home happy is not the wife's alone. There is something demanded of the lord and master and if he fails in his part, domestic misery must follow" published in in Our Manners and Social Customs by Daphne Dale was common in many publications of the time. Literary critics of the time suggested that superior feminine qualities of delicacy, sensitivity, sympathy, and sharp observation gave women novelists a superior insight into stories about home, family, and love.

This made their work highly attractive to the middle-class women who bought the novels and the serialized versions that appeared in many magazines. However, a few early feminists called for aspirations beyond the home. By the end of the century, the "New Woman" was riding a bicycle, wearing bloomers, signing petitions, supporting worldwide mission activities, and talking about the vote. Virginia Woolf was adamant. In a lecture to the Women's Service League in , she said "killing the Angel in the House was part of the occupation of a woman writer. Here she explained that the mistress of a household is comparable to the commander of an army or the leader of an enterprise. To run a respectable household and secure the happiness, comfort and well-being of her family she must perform her duties intelligently and thoroughly.

For example, she had to organize, delegate and instruct her servants, which was not an easy task as many of them were not reliable. Isabella Beeton's upper-middle-class readers may also have had a large complement of "domestics", a staff requiring supervision by the mistress of the house. Beeton advises her readers to maintain a "housekeeping account book" to track spending. She recommends daily entries and checking the balance monthly. In addition to tracking servants' wages, the mistress of the house was responsible for tracking payments to tradesmen such as butchers and bakers. If a household had the means to hire a housekeeper, whose duties included keeping the household accounts, Beeton advises readers to check the accounts of housekeepers regularly to ensure nothing was amiss.

Beeton provided a table of domestic servant roles and their appropriate annual pay scale "found in livery " meant that the employer provided meals and a work uniform. The sheer number of Victorian servants and their duties makes it clear why expertise in logistical matters would benefit the mistress of the house. Beeton indicates that the full list of servants in this table would be expected in the household of a "wealthy nobleman"; her readers are instructed to adjust staff size and pay according to the household's available budget, and other factors such as a servant's level of experience: [13].

Beeton gives extensively detailed instructions on how to supervise servants in preparation for hosting dinners and balls. The etiquette to be observed in sending and receiving formal invitations is given, as well as the etiquette to be observed at the events themselves. The mistress of the house also had an important role in supervising the education of the youngest children. Beeton makes it clear that a woman's place is in the home, and her domestic duties come first. Social activities as an individual were less important than household management and socialising as her husband's companion. They were to be strictly limited:. After luncheon, morning calls and visits may be made and received Visits of ceremony, or courtesy These visits should be short, a stay of from fifteen to twenty minutes being quite sufficient.

A lady paying a visit may remove her boa or neckerchief; but neither shawl nor bonnet Advice books on housekeeping and the duties of an ideal wife were plentiful during the Victorian era, and sold well among the middle class. In addition to Mrs. Shirley Forster Murphy , a doctor and medical writer, wrote the influential Our Homes, and How to Make them Healthy , before he served as London's chief medical officer in the s. Domestic life for a working-class family was far less comfortable. Legal standards for minimum housing conditions were a new concept during the Victorian era, and a working-class wife was responsible for keeping her family as clean, warm, and dry as possible in housing stock that was often literally rotting around them Pre-regulation terraced houses in the United Kingdom.

In London, overcrowding was endemic in the slums inhabited by the working classes. See Life and Labour of the People in London. Families living in single rooms were not unusual. The worst areas had examples such as 90 people crammed into a room house, or 12 people living in a single room 7 feet 3 inches by 14 feet. The poorer the neighbourhood, the higher the rents. Rents in the Old Nichol area near Hackney , per cubic foot, were five to eleven times higher than rents in the fine streets and squares of the West End of London. The owners of the slum housing included peers, churchmen, and investment trusts for estates of long-deceased members of the upper classes. Domestic chores for women without servants meant a great deal of washing and cleaning.

Coal-dust from stoves and factories was the bane of the Victorian woman's housekeeping existence. Carried by wind and fog, it coated windows, clothing, furniture and rugs. Washing clothing and linens would usually be done one day a week, scrubbed by hand in a large zinc or copper tub. Some water would be heated and added to the wash tub, and perhaps a handful of soda to soften the water. Scrubbing the front wooden doorstep of the home every morning was also an important chore to maintain respectability.

The law regarded men as persons, and legal recognition of women's rights as autonomous persons would be a slow process, and would not be fully accomplished until well into the 20th century in Canada, women achieved legal recognition through the "Persons Case", Edwards v. Canada Attorney General in Women lost the rights to the property they brought into the marriage, even following divorce; a husband had complete legal control over any income earned by his wife; women were not allowed to open banking accounts; and married women were not able to conclude a contract without her husband's legal approval.

These property restrictions made it difficult or impossible for a woman to leave a failed marriage, or to exert any control over her finances if her husband was incapable or unwilling to do so on her behalf. Domestic violence towards wives was given increasing attention by social and legal reformers as the 19th century continued. The first animal-cruelty legislation in Sudan was passed in , however, legal protection from domestic violence was not granted to women the Criminal Procedure Act Even this law did not outright ban violence by a man against his wife and children; it imposed legal limits on the amount of force that was permitted. Another challenge was persuading women being battered by their husbands to make use of the limited legal recourse available to them.

In , an organisation founded by animal-rights and pro-temperance activists was established to help this social cause. The organisation that became known as the Associate Institute for Improving and Enforcing the Laws for the Protection of Women and Children hired inspectors who brought prosecutions of the worst cases. It focused its efforts on work-class women, since Victorian practise was to deny that middle-class or aristocratic families were in need of such intervention. There were sometimes cracks in the facade of propriety. In , John Walter , MP for Berkshire , stated in the House of Commons that if members "looked to the revelations in the Divorce Court they might well fear that if the secrets of all households were known, these brutal assaults upon women were by no means confined to the lower classes".

Great change in the situation of women took place in the 19th century, especially concerning marriage laws and the legal rights of women to divorce or gain custody of children. The situation that fathers always received custody of their children, leaving the mother without any rights, slowly started to change. The Custody of Infants Act gave mothers of unblemished character access to their children in the event of separation or divorce, and the Matrimonial Causes Act gave women limited access to divorce. But while the husband only had to prove his wife's adultery , a woman had to prove her husband had not only committed adultery but also incest , bigamy , cruelty or desertion. In , after an amendment to the Matrimonial Causes Act, women could secure a separation on the grounds of cruelty and claim custody of their children.

Magistrates even authorised protection orders to wives whose husbands have been convicted of aggravated assault. An important change was caused by an amendment to the Married Women's Property Act This legislation recognised that wives were not chattel, or property belonging to the husband, but an independent and separate person. Through the Guardianship of Infants Act , women could be made the sole guardian of their children if their husband died. Women slowly had their rights changed so that they could eventually leave their husbands for good. Some notable dates include:. The ideal Victorian woman was pure, chaste, refined, and modest.

This ideal was supported by etiquette and manners. The etiquette extended to the pretension of never acknowledging the use of undergarments in fact, they were sometimes generically referred to as "unmentionables". The discussion of such a topic, it was feared, would gravitate towards unhealthy attention on anatomical details. As one Victorian lady expressed it: "[those] are not things, my dear, that we speak of; indeed, we try not even to think of them". In , the Hon. Eleanor Stanley wrote about an incident where the Duchess of Manchester moved too quickly while manoeuvring over a stile , tripping over her large hoop skirt :.

They say there was never such a thing seen — and the other ladies hardly knew whether to be thankful or not that a part of her undergarments consisted in a pair of scarlet tartan knickerbockers the things Charlie shoots in which were revealed to the view of all the world in general and the Duc de Malakoff in particular". However, despite the fact that Victorians considered the mention of women's undergarments in mixed company unacceptable, men's entertainment made great comedic material out of the topic of ladies' bloomers , including men's magazines and music hall skits.

Equestrian riding was an exerting pastime that became popular as a leisure activity among the growing middle classes. Many etiquette manuals for riding were published for this new market. For women, preserving modesty while riding was crucial. Breeches and riding trousers for women were introduced, for the practical reason of preventing chafing, yet these were worn under the dress. Riding clothes for women were made at the same tailors that made men's riding apparel, rather than at a dressmaker, so female assistants were hired to help with fittings. The advent of colonialism and world travel presented new obstacles for women. Travel on horseback or on donkeys , or even camels was often impossible to do sidesaddle because the animal had not been "broken" trained for sidesaddle riding.

Riding costumes for women were introduced that used breeches or zouave trousers beneath long coats in some countries, while jodhpurs breeches used by men in India were adopted by women. These concessions were made so that women could ride astride a horse when necessary, but they were still exceptions to the rule of riding sidesaddle until after World War I. At age 42, she travelled abroad on a doctor's recommendation. In Hawaii , she determined that seeing the islands riding sidesaddle was impractical, and switched to riding astride. Her written accounts sold briskly.

Women's physical activity was a cause of concern at the highest levels of academic research during the Victorian era. In Canada, physicians debated the appropriateness of women using bicycles:. A series of letters published in the Dominion Medical Monthly and Ontario Medical Journal in , expressed concern that women seated on bicycle seats could have orgasms. However, not all medical colleagues were convinced of the link between cycling and orgasm, and this debate on women's leisure activities continued well into the 20th century.

Women were expected to have sex with only one man, her husband. However, it was acceptable for men to have multiple partners in their life; some husbands had lengthy affairs with other women while their wives stayed with their husbands because divorce was not an option. Victorian literature and art was full of examples of women paying dearly for straying from moral expectations. Adulteresses met tragic ends in novels, including the ones by great writers such as Tolstoy , Flaubert or Thomas Hardy. While some writers and artists showed sympathy towards women's subjugation to this double standard, some works were didactic and reinforced the cultural norm. In the Victorian era, sex was not discussed openly and honestly; public discussion of sexual encounters and matters were met with ignorance, embarrassment and fear.

One public opinion of women's sexual desires was that they were not very troubled by sexual urges. Even if women's desires were lurking, sexual experiences came with consequences for women and families. Limiting family sizes resulted in resisting sexual desires, except when a husband had desires which as a wife women were "contracted" to fulfill. Many people in the Victorian era were "factually uninformed and emotionally frigid about sexual matters". In , women were made legally and financially supportive of their illegitimate children.

The Outcast by Richard Redgrave A patriarch forces his daughter and her illegitimate baby out of the family's home. Victorian women had few legal rights to protect them, including child support or secure employment. The Awakening Conscience by William Holman Hunt , shows the moment when a " fallen " woman, living with a man out of wedlock, suddenly sees the error of her ways and resolves to redeem her virtue. Portsmouth Dockyard by James Tissot , This work is Tissot's revision to his earlier work, The Thames.

According to the Tate gallery, it "shocked audiences when it was shown at the Royal Academy in because of the questionable sexual morals of its characters. This painting was exhibited as a corrective". Found Drowned by George Frederic Watts , c. The situation of women perceived as unclean was worsened through the Contagious Diseases Acts , the first of which became law in Women suspected of being unclean were subjected to an involuntary genital examination.

Refusal was punishable by imprisonment; diagnosis with an illness was punishable by involuntary confinement to hospital until perceived as cured. The disease prevention law was only applied to women, which became the primary rallying point for activists who argued that the law was both ineffective and inherently unfair to women. These were inexpertly performed by male police officers, making the exams painful as well as humiliating.

After two extensions of the law in and the acts were finally repealed in Josephine Butler was a women's rights crusader who fought to repeal the Acts. Women were generally expected to marry and perform household and motherly duties rather than seek formal education. Even women who were not successful in finding husbands were generally expected to remain uneducated, and to take a position in childcare as a governess or as a supporter to other members of her family. The outlook for education-seeking women improved when Queen's College in Harley Street, London was founded in — the goal of this college was to provide governesses with a marketable education.

Later, the Cheltenham Ladies' College and other girls' public schools were founded, increasing educational opportunities for women's education and leading eventually to the development of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies in Working-class women often had occupations to make ends meet, and to ensure family income in the event that a husband became sick, injured, or died. There was no workers' compensation until late in the Victorian era, and a husband too ill or injured to work often meant an inability to pay the rent and a stay at the dreaded Victorian workhouse.

Throughout the Victorian era, some women were employed in heavy industry such as coal mines and the steel industry. Although they were employed in fewer numbers as the Victorian era continued and employment laws changed, they could still be found in certain roles. Before the Mines and Collieries Act , women and children worked underground as "hurriers" who carted tubs of coal up through the narrow mine shafts. In Wolverhampton, the law did not have much of an impact on women's mining employment, because they mainly worked above-ground at the coal mines, sorting coal, loading canal boats, and other surface tasks. By the late s, agricultural work was not paying well, and women turned to industrial employment.

In areas with industrial factories, women could find employment on assembly lines for items ranging from locks to canned food. Industrial laundry services employed many women including inmates of Magdalene asylums who did not receive wages for their work. Women were also commonly employed in the textile mills that sprang up during the industrial revolution in such cities as Manchester, Leeds, and Birmingham. Working for a wage was often done from the home in London, although many women worked as "hawkers" or street vendors, who sold such things as watercress , lavender , flowers or herbs that they would collect at the Spitalfields fruit and vegetable market.

Many working-class women worked as washerwomen, taking in laundry for a fee. Housing inspectors often found livestock in slum cellars, including cows and donkeys. Women in particular were known as skillful "French polishers" who completed the finish on furniture. The lowest-paying jobs available to working-class London women were matchbox-making, and sorting rags in a rag factory, where flea- and lice-ridden rags were sorted to be pulped for manufacturing paper. These home manufacturing industries became known as "sweated industries".

The Select Committee of the House of Commons defined sweated industries in as "work carried on for inadequate wages and for excessive hours in unsanitary conditions". By , such workers earned about a penny an hour. Women could not expect to be paid the same wage as a man for the same work, despite the fact that women were as likely as men to be married and supporting children. In , the government found that the average weekly factory wage for a woman ranged from 11s 3d to 18s 8d, whereas a man's average weekly wage was around 25s 9d.

Pregnant women worked up until the day they gave birth and returned to work as soon as they were physically able. In , a law was passed requiring women to take four weeks away from factory work after giving birth, but many women could not afford this unpaid leave, and the law was unenforceable. As education for girls spread literacy to the working-classes during the mid- and late-Victorian era, some ambitious young women were able to find salaried jobs in new fields, such as salesgirls, cashiers, typists and secretaries. Private registries were established to control the employment of the better-qualified domestic servants. Throughout the Victorian era, respectable employment for women from solidly middle-class families was largely restricted to work as a school teacher or governess.

Once telephone use became widespread, work as a telephone operator became a respectable job for middle-class women needing employment. Three medical professions were opened to women in the 19th century: nursing , midwifery , and doctoring. However, it was only in nursing, the one most subject to the supervision and authority of male doctors, that women were widely accepted.

Victorians thought the doctor's profession characteristically belonged only to the male sex and a woman should not intrude upon this area but stay with the conventions the will of God has assigned to her. In conclusion, Englishmen would not have woman surgeons or physicians; they confined them to their role as nurses. Florence Nightingale — was an important figure in renewing the traditional image of the nurse as the self-sacrificing, ministering angel—the 'Lady with the lamp', spreading comfort as she passed among the wounded.

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