6 Fun Facts About Victorian Times
“Don’t forget to speak scornfully of the Victorian Age; there will be time for meekness when you try to better it. Very soon you will be Victorian or that sort of thing yourselves; next session probably, when the freshman come up.”― J.M. Barrie, Courage
We’ve already covered interesting facts regarding the Victorians at Christmas, however there are still many everyday quirks and foibles that made life in these times fascinating! Having just announced our upcoming release of Victoria from Northern Ballet in cinemas 25 June, we wanted to revisit this fascinating time period and share with you 6 of our favourite fun facts about Victorians.
1. Pollution is the new black
Victoria famously wore black for the rest of her reign after her beloved husband, Albert, died at the age of 42. However this is not the only reason this colour was popular with Victorians. The pollution in the sky from industry and fireplaces created a sooty atmosphere, making a foray into the streets meaning clothes kept getting covered in black specs. What better way to hide this than to wear black clothes?
2. Arsenic and Tonic
Believed to contain qualities that made skin appear younger, and taken as a tonic to stimulate health, Arsenic was widely used in Victorian times. Before the days of stringent checks on consumer goods, you could readily use Arsenic in those days for all ailments. Of course it was not long before chronic sicknesses and even deaths started to occur, and it was realised that this was probably not the best ingredient to ingest.
3. Beer o’Clock
Clean, potable water was very hard to come across in Victorian Britain. Without the regulations in place today, the water was bacteria-ridden and most likely to cause severe sickness or even death if consumed. This meant the drink of choice for hydration was a very mild beer. It did not matter if you were a child or pregnant, Beer was the drink for everyone!
4. Pass the smelling salts!
Fainting was a common occurrence, particularly amongst Victorian women. You could blame the arsenic or beer, but another reason was the excruciating whale-bone corsets worn to create the perfect silhouette. These impossibly squeezed waists meant circulation was cut off, breathing was difficult, and in the worst-case a woman’s organs would end up being displaced in the body! And we complain about high heels...
5. Madam, you have a visitor
These days everyone is in twenty-four hour contact through their mobile phones. However, in Victorian times they had strict rules as to when you could visit or receive visitors. If a lady was at home in the day, she was expected to be properly dressed and prepared for visitors between the hours of 3pm and 5pm. If you arrived any earlier or later it was considered in highly poor taste and you may not get invited around again.
6. Strange Appetites
One of the most famous Victorians, Charles Darwin was a also a well-known foodie, creating the “Glutton Club” where strange and unusual creatures were eaten. You may think he had a love of animals purely for scientific reasons, but he also very much enjoyed making a snack of them too. Iguanas, giant tortoises, armadillos and even a puma were on the list of strange things Darwin had a taste of. We are quite happy with sticking with chicken, thank you very much.
Victoria is screening in cinemas around the UK & Ireland on 25 June, for one night only. Find your local cinema HERE.