National Family Week and half term is soon coming up and we think that this is the perfect opportunity (or excuse) to treat yourselves and your family to a fun-filled day out in London. From museums, to attractions and parks to restaurants, there is something for everyone in the city and it is always guaranteed to leave you wanting more!
For this week’s blog, we’re taking a trip back to Victorian London to find out more about the life and activities of families during the 1800s and comparing entertainment of the wealthy and the poorer children. Also at the hotel, we are celebrating National Family Week by finding and bringing in some classic Georgian games that were played by families during the period, so why not challenge your little ones and learn more about Victorian family life?
Because of the example that was set by Queen Victoria and her family of nine children, other families in the Victorian years were particularly large with around five or six children., some even had eight to twelve! Depending on the financial state of the family, some lived gloriously in wonderful and large Victorian houses with several bedrooms, large living space, dining room, kitchen and a parlour. On the other hand, poorer families sometimes had to share apartments in order to reduce the cost of their living and only ever dreamed of residing in a spacious and exquisitely decorated house with someone else to do all their cleaning, cooking and raising the children. Wealthy families had a much more privileged and elegant life, though nothing like it is now! Children were brought up to be polite and proper through a very formal (and often monotonous) daily routine with little interaction with their parents, although, many were rather spoiled with lots of fun games, clothes, toys and special meals for occasions, unlike the poor children. The majority of poorer children had little choice but to work public jobs for their family’s survival and many parents even saw their children as a source of income, influencing them to have more. Children as young as four worked extremely long hours in horrendous conditions in mines, factories and even on the streets, all for very little money.
Unlike today’s entertainment, Victorian children’s boredom and curiosity could only be satisfied with simple toys and games, though these were often expensive to buy and even the richest kids were only allowed a few toys. A wealthy family was able to purchase luxuries for their little ones, such as wooden rocking horses, clockwork trains, dolls and soldiers, marbles and much more. Of course, poorer children could not imagine ever having a clockwork train, however, popular entertainment was usually handmade by their families, so that they could still enjoy kicking a football and hopping around with a skipping rope. In terms of games and activities, the rich kids often enjoyed playing games with their siblings and one particularly popular game was called Quoits. The rules of this game were to throw rings over several wooden pegs in order to score points, much like ring toss! Also, another typical game included Skittles, which was normally played outside by both rich and poor families. As the name suggests, the aim is to knock down as many skittles with a rolling ball and this is still a popular game today! The list of games that were played is endless, including other popular ones like Charades, Pin the Tail on the Donkey and Tiddly Winks. Additionally, rich children very much enjoyed a pleasant ride in a small cart led by a goat or pony and also loved running to meet the hokey-pokey (ice-cream) man. A Victorian school was also a great source of entertainment for the kids as they could take part in lots of different arts and crafts, poetry and cooking classes, including learning how to make the classic and delicious Victoria Sponge cake!
Learning about Victorian life is truly fascinating and it is interesting to see how many activities from the era are still popular today, more than a hundred years later! Check out our blog on what Victorian’s had for breakfast and perhaps try some of the recipes yourself to shake up your mornings. Have a Happy Family Week!