The 7 Strangest Facts About Victorian Times
The Victorian period was a time of great progress and discovery for the Western world, which was only amplified by the Industrial Revolution. However, the Victorians were also a very bizarre group of people at times, and many of their stranger customs are still spoken (and joked) about today. Here are 7 of the weirdest little-known facts about Victorian times and practices.
#1: Poison Was Rife
Arsenic, a highly toxic poison, was widely consumed by Victorian people. Women believed that applying it to their skins in the form of cosmetics and creams would keep them looking youthful, and men often took arsenic pills to boost their libidos.
Of course, it doesn’t surprise anyone today that so many Victorians battled extreme sickness, and many thousands died before people began to suspect that arsenic was the culprit.
#2: Collections Were in Vogue
It was very fashionable in Victorian times to collect objects from certain intellectual pursuits like geology, botany and archaeology.
People would devote entire cabinets, or sometimes even rooms, to their massive collections, much of which were purchased in stores that sold weird and wonderful arrays of objects to such collectors.
#3: Egypt Was Iconic
The people of the Victorian era were fascinated to the point of obsession with the culture of ancient Egypt, and historians have suggested that this may be because both cultures had similar relationships with the concept of death.
So obsessed were the Victorians with Egypt, in fact, that experts would publicly unwrap mummies and other artefacts in front of auditoriums of spectators and other eager onlookers. Entertainment was scarce and fleeting back then as well (not like the real money slots Philippines we enjoy today), which led to a surge of fortune tellers, freak shows and hypnotists in Victorian London.
#4: Soot Was the New Black
Victorians are renowned for having worn a lot of black, primarily during periods of mourning for their family members and loved ones. However, there was a more practical reason behind this trend as well: pollution.
The Industrial Revolution of the time was generating massive amounts of air pollution, especially in the cities, and lighter garments did not take long to turn grey and dirty in such environments. Eventually, the Victorians simply opted for darker clothes to combat this.
#5: Fasting Was Trendy Among Women
Intermittent fasting is popular today, but 150 years ago, ‘fasting girls’ were where it was at.
Every newspaper was filled with news of women who could supposedly survive without food or water for years, and for some reason, this notion became a very fashionable one. One girl, Mollie Fancher, was rumoured to have survived for 14 years without eating a crumb!
#6: People Hardly Bathed
By the time the Victorian era was in full swing, doctors were already recommending regular bathing for health reasons – but very few civilians believed them.
The upper class usually had bathing tubs in their homes, but would only go to the effort of heating gallons of water to fill them once or twice a month. The lower class, on the other hand, bathed once a year at the most.
#7: Ankles Were Totally Taboo
Women in Victorian London were not permitted to show any part of their legs, ankles included, in public.
This strange taboo became so prolific that people even installed specialized modesty boards at public places so that women’s ankles would remain covered when they sat down.