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Victorian Era Social Classes

[Summary]The working classes and the poor Comic song about the workhouse Illustration for a song about the workhouse contrasting a miserly and well-fed overseer with starving, ragged clothed inmates, estimated 1843. Victorian Social History: Sitemap Victorian

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The working classes and the poor

Comic song about the workhouse

Illustration for a song about the workhouse contrasting a miserly and well-fed overseer with starving, ragged clothed inmates, estimated 1843.

Victorian Social History: Sitemap

Victorian Social History: Sitemap

[Victorian Web Home —> Political History —> Social History —> Religion —> Science —> Economics]

Victorian era

The Victorian era was the period of Queen Victoria's reign, from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. It was a long period of peace, prosperity, "refined sensibilities" and national self-confidence for the United Kingdom.[1] Some scholars date the beginning of the period in terms of sensibilities and political concerns to the passage of the Reform Act 1832.

Social Classes: Victorian England

Victorian Era Social Classes

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Victorian Society on AboutBritain.com

"Etiquette" is the one word that aptly describes life during the reign of Queen Victoria.

For those in the upper echelons of society, rules such as the proper forms of address, and even what to wear (including which pieces of jewellery would be appropriate) were all considered very important.

For the lower class, the poor, there wasn't time for etiquette.

The working classes and the poor

Comic song about the workhouse

Illustration for a song about the workhouse contrasting a miserly and well-fed overseer with starving, ragged clothed inmates, estimated 1843.

Untitled

Class Structure

For people in Victorian England, the quality of daily life rested on an underlying structure determined social class. The concept of class did not solely depend on the amount of money that people had, but it did depend on the source of their income, as well as on birth and family connections. Most people were understanding and accepting of their place in the class hierarchy. Railroads designated different cars for first class, second class, and third class, and passengers knew just where they were to sit. If a hard working man had just won a lot of money at the races, and could afford a first class ticket, he still would not dream of riding home in the first class car. Class was also revealed in their manners, speech, clothing, education, and values. Classes lived in separate sectors and also observed varying social customs ranging from religion to courtship to the names and times of their meals. Victorians believed that each class had its own standards, and people were expected to adhere to the rules that were set for their class. People thought that it was very wrong to behave like someone from a class above or below one's own. England had only 2 major classes: The aristocrats (those who inherited land and titles), and the commoners (everyone else). Still, most Victorians knew that their society was three-tiered.The working class' work was more visible in society. Their labor was very physical and dirty, which showed every day in their clothes and their hands. Most people of the working class were paid a daily or weekly wage. Men of the middle classes did the clean work, which normally included mental, not physical work. They were usually paid a monthly or yearly salary. The elite included the aristocracy and the landed gentry. Their income came from inherited land or investments, and as the saying goes, "It takes money to make money".

The Victorian Era

The Victorian era is generally agreed to stretch through the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901). It was a tremendously exciting period when many artistic styles, literary schools, as well as, social, political and religious movements flourished. It was a time of prosperity, broad imperial expansion, and great political reform. It was also a time, which today we associate with "prudishness" and "repression". Without a doubt, it was an extraordinarily complex age, that has sometimes been called the Second English Renaissance. It is, however, also the beginning of Modern Times.

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