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The Victorians


This extraordinary entertaining and educational video leads you back into an era which is considered to be an outstanding time in history. During the reign of Queen Victoria Great Britain was the most industrialized nation with colonies in everyone of the five continents. In most parts of England the Victorian Age is still very present. The traces of bygone times are remarkable.  


Do you want to know more about Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Sherlock Homes or Jack the Ripper? Do you like to see the sights Isambad Kingdom Brunel, the great engineer and industrialist, has built? Starting in London, which in Victorian times was the biggest city in the world, you'll meet today's experts on heritage. Many have retired from their former jobs to fulfil their dreams: to voluntarily work with the steam railway, in mines or museums. In the Milestine Museum in Basingstoke you stroll through streets, shops and factories beautifully restored, looking just the same they looked 150 years ago. In Buckfastleigh you get on a Victorian train to enjoy the gate to Dartmoor Forest. In Oxford you see the narrow roads where Alice dipped into the wonderland. And nearly every footstep in the streets of Rochester makes you feel to be a hero in the novels of Charles Dickens. When you walk through Whitechapel Jack the Ripper and his infamous crimes may cause shiver run down your spine.  

The Victorians

The „Victorian Age” – a time of splendour and glory for the Britsh. Queen Victoria’s reign in the 19th century lasted for 63 years. While Britain became the biggest empire the world had ever known the influence of the monarchy slowly decreased - in favour of a shift towards more democracy.

Victoria was crowned Queen of the British Empire on the 28th of June 1838 at London’s Westminster Abbey. When a ray of sunlight illuminated her head precisely at the moment the crown was placed on her hair, many took it as an omen for fresh dawn in the affairs of the nation. The reign of the 18 year old queen was expected to bring an era of peace and prosperity.

In a time of extraordinary growth Queen Victoria was the symbol of the empire´s social values: A “stern belief in a prosperous future”, the “conviction of technological progress”, “courage”, “steadfastness” and a certain prudery – but also strict rule of law and order - often resulting in harsh conditions for the lower classes.

The Industrial Revolution was in full steam. New technologies turned the kingdom from an agricultural society into an industrial state. Scientific discoveries and technological development made Britain the economic champion during the era of powerful steam engines.

One of the best known analysts and critics of the Victorian society was Charles Dickens, poet and journalist. Here the son of poor parents wrote some of the novels which initiated social improvement. His London home is now a museum of his life and work. As a boy of 12 Charles could not go to school. He had to work - in order to help settling his father´s debts. Many of his stories derive from this sad, early experience.

Dicken’s research and discoveries made him a forerunner in investigative journalism. He moved into this London residence in Doughty Street after his marriage to Catherine Hogarth, daughter of a newspaper publisher.

Throughout the 19th century serealized novels in newspapers were very popular. Some of his episodes Dickens wrote from one week to the next.

Rochester, some 30 miles east of London, was Charles Dickens’ favorite town. Here he lived when he was very young - and again many years later - after he had become a successful author.

The vicinity of Rochester castle on the east bank of the River Medway was a source of inspiration for Dickens. The ancient tombstones around the massive castle walls provided the names for his heroes. Some of them became immortal. Dickens himself desired this moat to be his final resting place. But as a special honour he ended up at Westminster Abbey, next to Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton and many kings and queens of England.

During the Victorian Age the Middle Class prospered. New jobs and professions were created. Historians claim that many Middle Class families enjoyed more or less the same comfort the English aristocracy experienced one hundred years prior to Victoria’s reign. Dickens - although he himself enjoyed these middle class comforts - was nevertheless very aware of the toils less fortunate people suffered. In his efforts to help the helpless Dickens initiated and partly financed a refuge for desperate women.

The industrialization drew more and more people from the contryside into the big cities. Here thousands were living in poverty and squarlore, worst of all in the overcrowded East End of London. The dismal living conditions were a breeding ground for criminality.

One of the most notorious criminals was the mysterious Jack the Ripper who in 1888 haunted the streets of Whitechapel in persuit of his victims.

Mary Nickols, Ann Chapman, Elizasbeth Stride, Catherine Eddows, Mary Jane Kelly.

The area around this church in Spittalfields was one of the Ripper’s hunting grounds. The women he killed were desolately poor, forced into prositution - in order to survive.

An extremely high criminal rate among the poor resulted in overcrowded prisons. So harsh were punishments that a hungry child stealing some bread could end up with deportation. Even a rather small offence could result in capital punishment.

Infamous Newgate Prison was the place of open hangings – a grand spectacle for the rich and poor alike - until the abolition of public executions in 1868.

In a few decades London’s population rose to four million. In the heart of the greatest empire on earth existed the rotten stench of a poverty equal to the deprivation suffered by the poorest in far away colonies.

Those who could not find any job at all could take refuge in a workhouse. Here the poorest of the homeless poor received shelter and food. Like countless workhouses all over the country Southwell near Nottingham pestered the paupers with hard work and religious dogma. Rules were strict. Disobediance was severely punished. Everybody who was not really desperate should think twice about seeking shelter here.

The intention of deterrence was to enable the poor to help themselves and not rely on the community. The paupers should not be idle. Boring work should increase the desire to leave the workhouse again as soon as possible. One of the boring tasks was picking old rope.

Breaking stones for roads was another dull occupation. Work in the garden was done by men and women. They were, however, strictly seperated. Men and women had different living quarters. High walls made it impossible to look into the courts of the other sex. But the master could oversee them all from his window.

In the workhouse you had to leave every little possession behind. Games – especially cards and dice - were strictly forbidden.

Carvings into the bricks of the walls are sad examples of how the paupers made a pasttime anyway.

The inmates got a uniform for the day and a nightshirt. The small bleak rooms were shared by six to eight people. Among them the ill and the crippled and the elderly. But nobody was forced to stay. Everyone who left, helped to ease the taxpayers burdens.

By the end of the Victorian era the workhouses had changed mainly into hospitals, orphenages and old people´s homes.

By 1850 - with a population of 2.3 million – London´s churchyards became terribly overcrowded. There were instances of body snatching, corpses not buried deep enough or bodies just left to rot. A severe health risk to the entire city.

This lack of burial space led to the "garden cemetery" movement, a private initiative to create suburban cemeteries on ample, lovingly-landscaped grounds. These beautiful gardenlike cemeteries also became popular places for carriage rides or strolls.

Nunhead is perhaps the least known, but most attractive Victorian cemetery today. An Anglican chapel on top of a hill overlooks the wide area of tamed wilderness. Bizzarrely shaped old trees and rampant growing ivy shelter the weathered headstones and tombs.

These suburban cemeteries – quite in contrast to the urban grave yards - appealed to the newly emerging middle classes, keen to show off social status. Their graves were considered a kind of public extension to the family's property and an opportunity to erect lasting monuments to the familie´s wealth and reputation.

But fame and wealth were no protection against ignorance. In spite of Dr. John Snow´s discovery during the 1850ies that dirty water and deadly deseases are inextricably linked to each other. Prince Albert - Victoria´s beloved husband - fell victim to typhoid fever in 1868, due to unhygenic conditions even in Windsor Castle.

Rain, wind, heat and frost for more than a hundred years have left their traces. Today the "Friends of Nunhead Cemetary" succeed in reasonable upkeep of the tombs without spoiling the wild natural beauty. The place has become a refuge for a varitiy of wildlife. Woodpeckers, owls, jays and recently even parakeets.

Nunhead was a favourite spot for picknicks. Better off families from London came out here in their horse drawn carriages to enjoy tranquility and fresh air.

Borough's market area just south of London Brige has preserved its Victorian character. Most of the houses here have been built around 1850. During the 19th century the market became one of London's most important food distribution centres due to its strategic position near the riverside wharves.The present market buildings were designed in 1851 and 1860 with later additions.

The diet of middle and upper classes changed profoundly with the introduction of fish and chips and several new advancements such as canned food and sauces, self raising flour, quick acting yeast, and baking powder. But the standard meal for a working class family - bread, butter, potatoes, bacon, corn - remained more or less the same throughout the century. Adulteration in food and drink was the rule rather than the exception, involving quite often serious health risks.

The first food law, passed in 1860, did not help much. But when in 1872 administrative officials were appointed and penalties for violation provided this law finally became effective.

During Victoria´s reign London became the world’s most powerful financial and trading center. Within 30 years the imports nearly doubled and exports tripled. The major export markets were Asia, Europe and, increasingly, the United States.

The rise of a growing middle-class consumer society provided a new inland market for goods of all kinds. South and West of the city many suburbs arose with comfortable terraced houses in typical Victorian style: square with symmetrical sloping roofs, often brackets under the eaves and porches with spindle work.

An example of what life was like for the rich is Tyntesfield Manor just outside of Bristol. An estate of a rich merchant family who could easily keep up with the wealth and the splendour of the land owning aristocratic society. The 70 000 pounds it took the Gibbs family to create this majestic Mansion, surrounded by 200 acre gardens, was less than the profits the family made in a single year.

This Gothic Rivival extravaganza built in 1863 with huge representative halls, filled with rich woodwork and precious antiques, a private chapel, a library and extra rooms for theater and billiard, was financed with bird droppings.

The Gibbs family traded in guano - an ingrediant needed to produce fertilizers and gun powder.

Victoria’s German husband, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, had initiated and promoted a Royal commitment to art, science and education. Among his ambitious projects was a facility for the enlightenment of the public: Albert Hall.

He did not live long enough, however, to see it completed in 1871. During the inaugutation ceremony Victoria was too overcome to speak. So her son - the later king - Edward had to announce: "The Queen declares: this Hall is now open".

Victoria’s grief about the early loss of her husband lasted until she died. She wore only black for the rest of her life.

Some serious acustic problems ocurred right away. There was such a strong echo that it was said the hall was the only place where a British composer could be sure of hearing his work twice.

The re-opening of London’s Kew Gardens in 1841 was a sensation. For the first time government funds were used to create and maintain public gardens. After the Kew Garden´s railway station opened in 1869 visitors poured in by millions. The Royals aimed to increase public awareness of the value and importance of plants.

William Hooker, Kew´s first director appointed by Queen Victoria herself, introduced an outstanding collection of plants from all parts of the empire and exibited them in newly erected glass houses.

Kews green houses are huge. Their construction was revolutionary. The first giant out of glass and iron was the Palm House designed by Architect Decimus Burton and the iron maker Richard Turner. It took the builders four years until Queen Victoria could inaugurate the Palm House in 1848.

It has a structure of wrought iron. The detailing is typical Victorian. The panes of glass are hand blown. The hall measures 21 meters in hights and 121 meters in length. It is 33 meters wide.Palm House is the home of the most voluminous and also the oldest in-door plants on earth.

A green house neighbouring the giant iron-glass construction is the home of one of the most amazing tropical plants ever grown in-doors: a water lily of extreme dimensions and unique characteristics. The water plant was discovered by botanists in the moisty jungles of South America’s Amazone region. For half a century efforts were made to export the big lily to Europe. In the 1840s, finally, British horticulturists were successful. Once in England the lily was named Victoria Regia.

The plant was a big attraction. It was so strong that it could carry a grown up person. The miracle has a reason: Victoria Regia has a structure with large radial ribs strengthened by smaller cross ribs.

Chrystal Palace was a symbol of the Victorian Age. The Great Exhibition of 1851 was a showcase of technical achievements and intended to demonstrate Britain’s economic supremacy. The designer of this marvel out of glass and iron was Joseph Paxton, an architect and gardener. He took Victoria Regia as a model. For the big glass building he doubled the strength of the plant’s structure with its radial and cross ribs.

The building was 33 meters high und more than half a kilometer long. 84.000 square meters had to be covered with glass. The construction could be completed within two years - only because of an increasingly efficient industry.

This first World Exhibition in London’s Hyde Park had been suggested and supervised by Prince Albert. When the exhibition closed after six months six million visitors were counted - a third of Britain’s entire population.

Legendary Chrystal Palace, the pride of the Victorians, was opened by the Queen for a second time in 1854. Three years after the World Exhibition was closed, the glass palace was moved from Central London to Sydenham in the outskirts. The building, then serving as a permanent exhibition, was even larger than the original. It was destroyed by fire in 1936.

Britain was a pioneer of the Industrial Revolution. When the heavy steam engines were put on wheels, the first railway was born. The engineer George Stevenson built “Locomotion Number One” which hauled the first public train on the Stockton and Darlington route in 1825. By the end of the century there were more than 20 000 miles of railway tracks in Britain. London’s railway system started in the 1840’s.

The steam engines made transport faster. Since great distances could be travelled in a shorter time all kinds of commodities also were in easier reach - and mail delivery outside London improved immensely.

Queen Victoria’s famous black one-penny-stamp of 1840 was the first prepaid adhesive postal stamp worldwide.

In the 1960’s there was a revival of the veteran locomotives and waggons. The traffic on local tracks had been abandoned for some decades. Today the South Devon Railway Station in Buckfastley is a rare site of nostalgic reminiscences. Motivated volunteers spend hours of maintanace work to keep their beloved engines going. This 19th century locomotive needs week long servicing – a shift nearly as long as it is running on the tracks. Since it was difficult to control the pressure of steam in the heavy, clumsy engines high security precautions had to be taken. There was always the danger of explosion. Just like in the old days burning coal heats water to build up steam. The pressure of expanding steam makes the steel colosses run up to fourty miles an hour.

The writer Thomas Carlyle wrote about his first journey: "I was dreadfully frightened before the train started. It seemed to me certain that I should faint from the impossibility of getting the horrid thing stopped."

The train stations and railways, the water pick ups for refilling locomotive tanks and the areas for engine maintanance are neatly kept just the way they functioned in the 19th century.

After the first train ride of the Queen and Prince Albert it was reported, that the Royals complained about the speed of 20 mph. They feared the train would fall off the railway line.

When the legendary Great Western reached the west coast in 1838, Bristol’s docking on the railway net was a further economic upheaval. On these tracks oversea’s imports could get to London within hours. Temple Meads Station was styled after Crystal Palace. The tram shed had a wooden boxframe roof and cast iron columns as hammerbeams above arches. Today Bristol’s old railway station houses the Empire and Commenwealth Museum.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the father of the Great Western Railway, was one of the most versatile and audacious engeneers of the 19th century. His outstanding projects included tunnels, ships and bridges.

Brunel´s family had immigrated from France. Britain was much more liberal concerning differient religious and political views than other European countries. Refugees like the Brunels contributed a lot to Great Britain’s develeopment as a leading world power.

Brunel´s Clifton Bridge across the gorge of the River Avon was the biggest single span road bridge in the world. The ambitious project started in 1836. But because of severe financial problems the construction could not be completed until 1864 – five years after the sudden death of the restless engineer-entrepreneur.

Brunel’s name is inseperably connected with The HMS “Great Britain”. This first all iron ocean liner was unique in many aspects: steam powered, driven by iron hutted screw propellers, 322 feet in length, and more than one hundred feet longer than all her rivals worldwide it was a forerunner of modern shipping.

Brunel’s masterpiece was built as a transatlantic luxury liner. The maiden voyage in 1845 brought her from Bristol to New York in the record time of fourteen days. There were 250 first and second class passengers and a crew of 130. But the luxurious voyages to America proved to be a finacial desaster. Only after the “Great Britain” offered economic means of mass transport it became profitable. When Australia’s Gold Rush started in 1851 the fifth continent became a frequent destination for many fortune seekers who could not afford luxury. In 1855 the powerful ship was chartered by the British government for troop transport to the battle fields. Soldiers were sent to fight the Russian army in the Crimean War. In 1857 the “Great Britain” carried service men to fight the mutany in India.

In the 1830´s the physicist Michael Faraday had discovered the principals of electro-dynamics. Faraday´s experiments led to such epochal inventions as the electric motor, electric light and the telegraph.

Alexander Bell is regarded as the founder of the communication era. After the introduction of electricity Bell presented his prototype telephone in 1876. Upgrades of the first apparatus could bridge far distances and made it possible to communicate live. London’s first telephone lines connected Queen Victoria’s palaces with each other.

In 1838 William Fox Talbott succeeded in making photographic prints on silver chloride paper.The experts with a tipod needed the skills of an artist as well as of a craftsman.

In the 1840's photography was still a luxury enjoyed only by few. But by 1870 posing for pictures could be afforded by many.

This country villa in Down - south of London - was home and work place of one of the most controversial scientists: Charles Darwin. In 1831 Darwin joined the crew of the tiny "HMS Beagle" - not as a scientist but as companion to the captain. The Beagle´s assignment was a survey of the southern end of America. Darwin spent a lot of time ashore to explore geology, flora and fauna - and to avoid his constant sea sickness.

The Beagle´s journey around the world took five years. On the Galapagos Islands Darwin found some of the most astounding creatures, unknown in other parts of the world.

But it was the ordinary Galapagos finches with their unusual variety of beaks which convinced Darwin that species adjust to their living conditions. In their struggle for survival these finches had gradually adopted to different sources of food.

It took more than 20 years until Darwin finally in 1858 published his groundbreaking theory which revealed that man – the most sophisticated creature on earth – was not created by a god but the outcome of millions of years of evolution. Darwin´s book - the origin of species by means of natural selection - was sold out within a few days and surprisingly widely accepted among scientists.

A milestone on the road to better living conditions especially for the crowded cities was the provision of clean water. The splendour of magnificant architecture and machinery inside the engine house of Papplewick Water Pumping Station in Ravenshead near Nottingham was the pride of designers, engineers and constructors. They called it a “Temple to the Wonder of Water”.

Huge steam engines lifted underground water to the surface to pump it uphill into a storage reservoir from where it was fed into public water supply. The two massive beam pumping engines are probably the last ones built by the James Watt company whose founder was one of the inventors of the steam engine.

The brass and mahoghani covered pipes and cylinders could provide up to 1.5 million gallons of pure drinking water per day and engine. The boilers needed to be fed with six tons of coal daily. So reliable was the “Temple to the Wonder of Water” that the steam engines were running efficiently until 1970.

Victoria’s reign began in the middle of wars in Canada, Afghanistan and China. The wars which were to follow ended seldom in defeat, mostly in victory. Few found anything wrong with the dynamic growth creating the greatest empire the world had ever seen. British commerce, technology, language, religion and culture spread on all continents.British ships roamed the oceans linking the colonial markets to the motherland.

It is argued that all the wealth and glory of the empire would not have been possible without the institution of slavery. In 1841, however, several nations agreed to suppress slave trade together and in 1845 36 British Navy ships were assigned to the Anti-Slavery Squadron, setting free thousands of slaves.

Canada was conquered in 1867. After expansions in Africa entire India became British in 1876. India was called the ‘Jewel in the Crown’ of the Empire.

London’s conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli added new glamour to the empire when he proclaimed Queen Victoria Empress of India. The queen was quite fond of the title.

In 1881 London gained control over the Suez Canal. In those times the artificial waterway between Africa and Asia was of great strategic value. It shortened not only the commercial routes between Europe and India, but also made fast military action possible.

Africa became the setting for imperial rivalries between Britain, France, Spain, Portugal and Germany.

British missionaries explored the unknown continent and tried to convert the natives to Christianity. The medical missionary David Livingston searched for a source of the River Nile. The huge Zambesi Water Falls he discovered he named after Queen Victoria.

Cecil Rhodes, business man and politican, exploited southern Africa for diamonds. He wanted Britains to settle on an axis from the Mediterranian all the way to Cape Town. In a London newspaper he was caricatured as a colonialist who tried to prevent the Germans, the Portuguese and the Boers from moving into South- Central Africa.

William Gladstone was prime minister for four times. The liberal politician strongly opposed imperialism. In the 1880s he tried to end the wars in Afghanistan and in South Africa against the Boeres.

In 1887 the popular queen celebrated her Golden Jubelee with a grand banquet. 50 European kings and princes were invited.

For Victoria’s Diamant Jubelee festivities were held on every continent. When the queen died in 1901 the United Kingdom controlled a quarter of the world’s area and population.

During the early Industrial Age the idyllic Tamar valley in Devonshire was one of the busiest inland harbours. During the copper mining boom it was said that there was always a “forest of ship masts at the bend of the river at Morwellham”. On the quays at the little village north of Plymouth up to 4.000 tons of copper could be stored before they were shipped down the river.

The Living Museum at Morwellham Quai presents an impressive insight into Victorian living and working conditions.

Wealthy Victorians were always dressed according to the latest fashion. With new dyeing and bleaching methods for textiles a larger variety of colours became available and fancy things like turbans, Cashmere shawls and feathers came in from the colonies. The poor, though, had to put up with handed down items.

Victorians were puritan. A Ladies’ dress had to cover the ankles and a hat was compulsory for everybody.

Dress fashion went from bell shaped to cone shaped and bustles. A dainty waist was desierable. So corsets were much in favour as were gloves for a lady.

For the poor it was essential to mend and make do. Not only in very poor families clothes were handed on from the oldest to the younger children. But even a poor women would strive to wear a cap at home. Laydies who could afford it changed their in-door caps at least three times a day.

In the 1850’s top hats became a favourite for the upper classes – and the 1880’s introduced the bowler hat. Poor man mostly wore caps.

Morwellham’s conscienciously restored miner cottages do reveil the hardships of large families struggling to make a living. There was one tiny room for ten to twelve people. All but babies worked in the copper mine nearby. Victorian miners earned only pennies a day – women and children less then men. Most of the salery had to be spent on food, mainly on bread. Though the work in mines was very hard and unhealthy many would take any job in order to survive.

The huge water wheel supplying power for the mine symbolises booming capitalism. While the miners had no social security at all the entrepreneurs often made enormous profits. When one-pound shares shooted up to 800 pounds Morwellham became famous as the richest copper port of the Empire.

Today a tramway leads into the mountain where copper, tin, arsenic and manganese were exploited. Earlier the miners had no other access to their digging locations but climbing down ladders and walking through long tunnels. The heavy stones they dug had to be carried all the way up the ladders to the surface. Accidents caused by tunnels breaking in or flooding were frequent.

Technical progress in the mines increased the owner´s profits. They often went along with severe disadvantages for the miners.

In spite of advanced technique harsh child labour continued. Mine owners were eager to employ children. A child could dig into the smallest corners of the tunnels and for a twelve hours shift in the deep dark had to be payed next to nothing. It took until 1853 that underground labour was prohibited for children under twelve.

The tremendous changes brought about by advanced technologies sooner or later affected almost all trades. Few crafts like coopers, blacksmiths, thatchers or watch makers were exempted. At least for a while.

But around the middle of the century there were already 300 000 seamstresses and dressmakers employed in factories. The mechanisation of agriculture forced half of the farm labourers to seek work in in the increadibly unhealthy and overcrowded big industrial centers like Manchester, Sheffield, Liverpool or Birmingham.

In the late 18th century many thousands of women all over Britain saw their spinning wheels become redundant and their jobs disappear into industrial plants.

The “Milestones” Museum in Basingstoke affords a further insight into Victorian life. Barrel Organs were widely used for street entertainment or even in churches to accompany the singing of hymns.

Nostalgic memories tend to be flattering. There was a shift to more justice and humanitarianism, but it was slow to catch up with the deplorable state of affairs of the poor. The Upper Class Victorians on the other hand – the wealthy land owners or the industrialists - could afford a hitherto unknown degree of luxery and leisure.

The Industrial Revolution was only possible with the extensive employment of steam engines. Although the principle of steam pressure converted into mechanical movement was known since the first century its developement into a useful industrial means needed commercial demand which did not exist before the 19th century.

The first practical steam engine was built in England in the 18th century. This invention of Thomas Newcomen was improved by James Watt. In the 1850’s steam engines had matured to be commonly used in the textile industry, in mines and for transport.

The efforts to replace horse drawn carriages by steam powered automobiles were not very scuccessful. The clumsy "road locomotives" needed a lot of coal, permanent highly skilled maintenance and were in constant danger to explode. When in 1865 the famous Red Flag Act reduced the speed limits to 4 mph requiring a man bearing a red flag to precede every vehicle, it found only freak buyers and was never developed further.

The "Milestones Museum" also illustrates private commerce in Victorian Times. During the 19th century buying in corner shops was prevailing. The increasing cargo traffic brought exotic goods from far away for the rapidly growing middle class and long term employed workers. But there were many who had to make ends meet on odd jobs and had to confine themselves to the simple bare neccessities.

The cheerful atmosphere in Milestone´s Victorian School is deceiving. Education in Victorian Times was a matter of money. Many poor children got no education at all. In the early 19th century more than half of the children could neither read nor write. But after the Elementary Education Act of 1870 made school attendence compulsory for children from 5 to 12 the literacy rate grew rapidly.

The common school was organized by churches and charities. At the infamous "ragged schools" orpheans and the very poor got a basic education - often also food and clothes. Caning was a frequent punishment. Wealthy children received lessons at home by a governess or a tutor. The girls learned art and housekeeping, boys often went to boarding schools.

In the eye of the public Victoria and Albert led an examplary and happy family life and devoted much time and care to their children.

They set an example for the strict and prudish values of the time. But there was a lot of bigotry and many contradictions throughout all social classes. Long chaste dresses went along with bustles emphazising a body part which was unmentionable in conversation as was the word "leg".

Victorian art and photography do not show any signs of repression, though. Hobby photographer Lewis Carrols colourized pictures were taken with the consent of the girls’ parents.

Some female miners scandalized Victorian society by wearing trousers at work underground. They had to put on skirts on top of their trousers, but rolled them up to the waist to keep them out of the way.

Slavery was abolished - but women still had few rights. For some living and working conditions were worse than slavery.

Visiting church on Sunday was an outward sign of virtue, but carousing and gambling at cards was wildly popular.

221 B Baker Street in London is a peculiar place which does not even exist. It was home to Sherlock Holmes who did not exist either - but who is still very much alive in the hearts of millions. His trade mark is the deerstalker - today a favourite souvenir from the museum´s shop as is Watson´s bowler hat. Dr. John H. Watson, his friend, confidant and biographer, shared lodgings with Holmes.

The author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the 56 short stories and 4 novels over the course of a decade. In 1891 he shocked his addicted Victorian readers when in “Ihe Final Problem” he put an end to Sherlock Holme’s life.

Sherlock Holmes, the brilliant deductor, the Bohemian genius, pipe smoking gentleman and drug addict, the immortal legend, is featured among several wax figures in the upper storeys of the museum. The heroes of his cases, his clients and his adversaries, form a big, bizarre family of unforgettable characters who are recognized immediately by most visitors who climb up the narrow stair case.

One of Sherlock Holme’s most mysterious cases took place in Dartmoor, the famous nature park in Devon. The detective stayed in the Duchy Hotel – the same accomodation his creator used to spend his holidays in the 1890s.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle loved the wilderness with its dangerous moors, majestic Tors and pituresque streams. He enjoyed strolling through the wind and rain torn landscape when there was sudden mist and fog. In this ideal site for legend and superstition Conan Doyle wrote his famous novel “The Hound of the Baskervilles”.

A gigantic ghostly hound is said to have haunted a family for generations. Rationalism is pitted against the supernatural, good against evil, as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson seek to defeat a foe hiding in the wilderness.

With its many beautiful facettes Dartmoor became a real attraction for the Victorians. Upper Middle Class families from the cities enjoyed their holidays in the country side. By the end of the Victorian era there was more leasure time: for many Saturday afternoons were free. The Queen’s prime minister Disraeli regarded increased leasure a civilizer of man – together with increased means.

Wild waters in Dartmoor´s mysterious forests inspired the curate Charles Kingsley to write his novel about “The Water Babies”. He tells the story of Tom, a boy who makes his living as a chimney sweep. When the boy becomes aware of his dirty sooth covered body he washes himself in a stream and drowns. In a fantastic underwater world he has to learn a lot to finally be allowed to become a water baby.

With the emphasis on preaching virtures and well-behaviour to the little reader it was typical for the time. Queen Victoria loved the tale with its criticism of the abuse of little boys as sweepers, forced to climb up the most narrow chimneys. She not only read it to her children but was so impressed that she appointed Kingsley Canon at Westminster.

Surrrounded by the charming atmosphere of a River Valley Oxford has payed remarkable contributions to education, science and literature. In the 1850’s a young mathematician lecturing at Christchurch University created a new type of children’s literature. On leisurely boat trips along the river Isis Charles Dodgsen told long fancyful stories to his young friends. Later he published them under the pen name Lewis Carroll.

Carroll´s favourite was the 7 year old Alice Liddell, daughter of Christchurch´s Dean. She became the heroine of his most famous stories: “Alice in Wonderland” and "Through the looking glass".

Carroll´s tales were not just non-sensical poems and fantastic dreamlike adventures. He delighted in clever wordplays, puns, chess problems and mathematical riddles.

He also wrote seroius poetry, humourous and critical essayes and books on Algebra.

Oxford University brought forth countless male celebrities - among them more than half of all Victorian Prime ministers.

The establishment of four colleges for women was only a symbolic concession. Women have not been eligible to be full members of the university or to take degrees until 1920. They were forbidden to vote and expected to get married.Until 1887 a married woman could not own property.

Queen Victoria expressed her radical anti-feminism in passionate words: "The Queen is most anxious to enlist everyone in checking this mad, wicked folly of 'Women's Rights'. It is a subject which makes the Queen so furious that she cannot contain herself."

But she did not approve of marriage either, when she said things like "A marriage is no amusement, but a solemn act, and generally a sad one." or "I feel sure that no girl would go to the altar if she knew all."

The Victorians loved any kind of entertainment. At the end of the century music halls were crowded and often the audience was encouraged to participate in the show. English style operettas were fashionable – due to the unique talent of Gilbert and Sullivan.

The dramatist and liberettist William Gilbert and the composer Arthur Sullivan had developed a special form of light opera. The plays were topsy-turvey, absurd stories with a mixture of sartire and grand opera.Sullivan’s melodies were whistled and hummed everywhere.

In 1882 London’s Savoy Theater became the stage for top entertainers. The Savoy was the first to be equipped with electricity allowing special events of sparkling magic.

“Mikado” was Gilbert and Sullivan´s most successful opera. It made fun of the English burocracy in an exotic Japanese setting. Gilbert and Sullivan’s performances were sold out for years. Londoners feavered for the next premier.

Arthure Sullivan was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1883. Gilbert and Sullian´s work has inspired generations of composers, songwriters and musical producers – up to this day.

The Pre-Raffaelite Movement was a group of English painters, poets and critics, founded in 1848. Their aim was to create art suitable to the modern age. Their works combine realism and symbolism – violating conventional views of style and subject.

“Lady Shallot”, painted by John William Waterhouse, was inspired by Arthur Tennyson’s poem about King Arthur's legends. Lady Shallot falls ins love with Arthur’s knight Lancelot. But he cannot return her feelings.

“Hylas and the Nymphs”, another work of Waterhouse´s, recalls scenes from Greek mythology.

The Pre-Raffaelites wanted to re-discover nature. They romanticized it to a great extent. Most of their works were painted in the open air. The models had to pose for hours – even in bad weather. The painters chose their topics not only from long ago myths and legends, but also from classical drama of more recent date.

“Ophelia” is John Everett Millais most famous painting . It refers to William Shakespeare´s tragedy of “Hamlet” and his beloved Ophelia who drowned in a creek. Millais’ model, laying in a bath tub, respected the artist´s work so much that she did not dare to interrupt by hinting, that the candles under the tub had burned down. The water became very cold and the model seriously ill.

“Ophelia” was a very popular motif at the time. Two more paintings of Hamlet’s love were presented by John William Waterhouse.

A novelist, poet and critic, known for his barbed wit, was the Anglo-Irish intellectual Oscar Wilde. Wilde’s theater plays in London were highly acclaimed. Today a bench at London’s Covent Garden memorizes the remarkable Victorian personality. The homosexual relationships of the author – severely prosecuted by the law – brought Wilde imprisonment and hard labour for two years. When he was released from jail in 1897 he went to France and died – penniless – in 1900.

A distinctive landmark of Victorian achievements was added to the treasures of London in 1894. When Queen Victoria went into her 57th year on the throne, Tower Bridge across the River Thames was inaugurated. Designed by Wolfe Barry and Horace Jones it took eight years to build this new master piece of British engeneering. The combination of a suspension and a bascule bridge is made of steel. The masonry covering eleven thousand tons of metal was designed to harmonise with the historic London Tower nearby. The bascules - weighing one thousand tons each – were lifted 50 times a day to let tall masted ships pass and enter the docks bordering the southern banks of the river.

During the long reign of Queen Victoria the power of parliament increased. The Queen ruled according to the of decisions of the elected representatives.

By the turn of the century child labour in factories and mines was outlawed and working hours reduced. Elections were more democratic. Health and hygenic conditions had advanced immensely. New technologies afforded advanced logistics and fast communication. Severe poverty had decreased and a huge well funded middle class had enabled a prospering economy.

The Victorian Age: a time of glory, progress, growth and double standards, but foremost a time of tremendous change.