Category Archives: England

Pictures of Victorian Era London

Cheapside This is a picture showing the heart of Victorian London as it was in 1890, when the city was the center of a vast colonial empire and the British people enjoyed the confidence and pride of imperial power and increasing prosperity. The long reign of Queen Victoria would soon be coming to an end and with it drastic changes in British society. The horrors of World War 1 were still over 20 years in the future, and for now the men and women in this photograph can go on their business blissfully unaware that the world they know will soon disappear, and we will look back at their Victorian Era, their golden age, as a quaint and repressed period of human history.

 

The photograph is from a book called . The original caption says that the photograp shows Cheapside, London which the book says is the very heart of the city and that it lives up to its name by being the home of many “cheap shops” were you can find everything on discount, from toothpicks to train locomotives.

 

The book goes on to say that the street is so busy with vehicles that it sometimes takes pedestrians up to 20 minutes to cross from one side of the street to another. That sounds like a bit of an exaggeration but it is clear from the picture that Victorian carriage traffic was pretty bad.

 

CHEAPSIDE, London, England.—This street is in the very heart of the “city” and is especially noted for its so-called “cheap shops,” where is offered for sale every variety of articles, from a locomotive to a toothpick. The street is constantly so crowded with vehicles, that pedestrians are often delayed from fifteen to twenty minutes in crossing from one side to the other. It affords much pleasure to stroll along Cheapside and watch the crowds of pedestrians and vehicles pass up and down the avenue. The buildings lining Cheapside have an imposing appearance, and are of uniform architecture.

Orphanages

A Photograph of Dr. Barnardo

A Photograph of Dr. Barnardo

Those who believe in the good old days and believe that, overall, things are getting worse in society are likely ill-acquainted with what life was like in the great cities of England and America during the late 19th century and early 20th century. With almost no government run social services to fall back on, the poor lived a hard scrabble life.  As usual, those who suffered the most were  the children,  who often represented an impossible burden to an impoverished family.

Thousands of orphaned and abandoned children were left to fend for themselves in great squalor and poverty.  Few did anything about it.

One man that did care was Dr. Thomas Barnardo, (4 July 1845 – 19 September 1905) an Irish born British philanthropist. Shocked by the poverty and appalling living conditions of children throughout the British Isles, Barnardo set up a series of homes for orphans and foundlings.

The first of the “Dr Barnardo’s Homes” was opened in 1870 in London and by the time that Barnardo died, in 1905, there were 112 such homes established. It is estimated that during his career, Barnardo saved 60,000 children.  The Barnardo organization still exists in England.

In 1893, the Strand Magazine, which described itself as “An Illustrated Monthly” ran an article about Barnardo and his orphanage. Pictured below is what the article described as Dr. Bernardo’s Babies’ Castle in Hawkurst. At the time of the article, 1893, Barnardo ran 28 such orphanages.

A Phorotgraph of Dr. Barnardo's Babies' Castle

A Photograph of Dr. Barnardo's Babies' Castle

The magazine included an obviously staged photograph of a foundling supposedly dropped off at the front steps of the orphanage.  The caption reads: “To Dr. Barnardo With Care”

An Orphan Dropped off at Dr. Barnardo's Orphanage

An Orphan Dropped off at Dr. Barnardo's Orphanage

Barnardo Orphans Praying Before Bedtime

Barnardo Orphans Praying Before Bedtime

Less obviously staged were the pictures of the inside of the orphanage and the nurses and children who lived there.

In the picture to the left the orphans are depicted praying before bedtime. The Barnardo organization cared about instilling virtues in its young charges. While the Barnardo home offered love and protection to the children, the conditions were still not ideal by today’s standards. Notice the overcrowded communal living. The children are all in beds with metal railings in a single room.

Meals were also communal. In this picture the children are eating heir meals in the large dining hall.  The article describes the portions for the children as abundant, so at least this was not an Oliver Twist style workhouse.

Orphans Eating Dinner

Orphans Eating Dinner

The younger children were given nap time in the afternoon as this picture illustrates:

Nap Time at the Orphanage

Nap Time at the Orphanage

The orphanage was run by nurses and religious sisters.  Here are some pictures of the staff:

Sister Alice

Sister Alice

A nurse at the orphanage giving a bath.

A nurse at the orphanage giving a bath.

A Quiet Pull

The Nursing Staff at Barnardo's Home for Children

The Nursing Staff at Barnardo's Home for Children

The pictures below are interesting in many ways. The children certainly appear well cared for. There is no apparent malnutrition and they are wearing nice clothes. It is also interesting that the pictures depict the faces and identities of the children,  which speaks to the different concepts of privacy that existed back then.

A picture of the orphans attending school at the orphanage.

A picture of the orphans attending school at the orphanage.

The children say goodbye to the reporter on the steps of the orphanage

The children say goodbye to the reporter on the steps of the orphanage

And so, like the picture above, it is time to say goodbye to this piece of history.