Coming after the social conservatism inherent in the long Victorian era, the Edwardian era offered a breath of fresh air, from the roller-skating craze that swept the country to the invention of table tennis. But it wasn’t all fun. Society still adheres to a rigid class system, and people have a long list of “do’s” and “don’ts,” from not shaking anyone’s hand to dictating every topic of conversation over dinner. It was managed by a list of things. by your hostess.
The atmosphere of upper class society was set by Edward VII himself. He loved to make the most of his life. He smoked a huge number of cigarettes and cigars, had a string of mistresses, and enjoyed a diet rich in food and nourishment. alcohol. The families that made up the British nobility led from him, ate sumptuous dinners, gambled until the early hours, and often engaged in extramarital affairs.
A small army of domestic servants was required to live such a luxurious life. Alternatively, you could take on a larger position like a housekeeper or butler. Alternatively, if they are particularly attractive or tall men, they may seek employment as footmen. , often received higher wages.
do a hard graft
It was hard work, but working in the service was an honor, providing accommodation (maybe a small attic), food (maybe leftovers from the family table), and job security. In 1911 over 1.3 million people worked as domestic servants in Britain. This surpassed his 1.2 million who labored on the land, or his 971,000 who worked in the mines.
Workers with unfed jobs have housing that ranges from dirty inner-city slums to rural cottages. Reformers were particularly concerned with the dank conditions of the city’s tenements, which were notorious for being overcrowded and disease-ridden.
Between 1886 and 1903, social reformer Charles Booth surveyed the lives of the poorest in London and found that 1 million out of 4.5 million lived in houses unfit for human habitation.
Authorities embarked on an ambitious plan to demolish these dilapidated buildings, but this approach often made matters worse. As the journalist George Sims pointed out in 1902, “To this day they have had little success in solving the big problems, because tenants who are evicted or displaced are effectively better off.” He also describes a harrowing scene in which some tenants “won’t leave until the point of their pickaxe goes through the wall and hits a wall.” Did. [they] was leaning. ”
While many had to find alternative accommodation themselves, some city councils built housing to help the poor. Birmingham, Leeds, Bradford and Manchester all provided municipal flats. These buildings often boasted a variety of modifications, including wired electricity, a Victorian invention that began in the Edwardian era.
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New innovations were transforming Edwardian life, from housing to travel to leisure. Especially the middle class embraced gadgets like electric stoves. Because they wanted to emulate the lifestyle of aristocrats, as they usually don’t have many servants to help with cooking and cleaning. They also had the means to splash out on these luxuries. The middle-class class swelled, and there was more money in the pockets than ever before.
Many people bought homes in the suburbs, which made it easier to move to jobs in the city, such as banking or manufacturing. This sparked a huge housing boom, with builders stumbled to meet the demand for housing on the outskirts of British cities and towns.
The world has also become smaller than ever. Telephone lines made global communication possible by sending radio signals across the Atlantic for the first time in 1901. Automobiles were becoming mainstream, and the affordable Ford Model T first rolled off the production line in his 1908. By 1914 there were about 400,000 licensed road vehicles in Britain. Air travel was another exciting new possibility, with the Wright Brothers making history in 1903 with the first powered flight.
Technology has also given rise to one of Edwardian Britain’s most prized leisure activities: trips to the cinema. In 1896, the first technical film showing took place at London’s Regent Street Polytechnic when the Lumière brothers’ cinematographic apparatus captivated onlookers. By 1914, about 500 movie theaters had popped up in London alone.
The theater was also popular. JM Barry’s play Peter Pan (later turned into a novel) was staged in his 1904 and was a huge hit. Edwardian people also enjoyed outdoor activities, with hunting, horse racing and lawn tennis being particularly popular among the upper classes. The working class also used Sundays to find time for fun by exploring museums and galleries and enjoying walks in parks.
There were also the dress-up fads and, perhaps most unexpectedly, roller skating that swept the country from 1908 to 1912. At its peak, there were at least 500 rinks operating across the UK.
The popular press was booming for those wanting to keep up with the latest gossip of the day. , often splashed in the newspapers. Fans were also able to purchase postcards printed with celebrity portraits to bring home a caricature of their favorite star.
Newspapers and magazines also kept Edwardian fashionistas up to date with the latest trends. Corsets were still widely worn, although women tended to relax dress code restrictions a bit as flouncey blouses became popular during this era. I could wear it. This is because the mass production methods pioneered during the Industrial Revolution have greatly reduced the price of clothing.
The men, on the other hand, wore flashy three-piece suits. But there was one important fashion cue they got from Edward VII himself. His decadent eating habits and the habit of bringing roast chicken to bed every night as a late-night snack had caused his waistline to expand, and he apparently failed to secure the final tightening.
According to the American writer Samuel Hines, the Edwardian era was “a carefree time when women wore picture hats and did not vote, the rich were not ashamed to live conspicuously, and the sun was placed on the British flag.” It was a time when the earth never sank.” This sentiment may be jarring to modern audiences, but Edwardian life was usually looked back on as a golden age filled with garden parties and cozy summer afternoons. Many of these are tinged with nostalgia, but it was certainly a time of prosperity and peace, the final calm before the horrors of World War I that ravaged British society.
This article was first published in the September 2022 issue. BBC history revealed