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Meeting Report - November 2018

There were 43 members and visitors at the meeting of the Romsley and Hunnington History Society on Tuesday, 27th November. The Speaker was Paul Harding with Helen Lees and the title of his talk was,"Everyday Life in Victorian England." Paul, with his usual humour and wit, admitted that Victorian times were his least favourite era and it soon became clear why this was so.

There were great divisions between the rich and the poor. Many people had moved from the country to the towns and cities to work in the new factories, hoping for a better life. This overcrowding had produced a housing crisis. Many small houses were built in terraces with a yard at the back, with a wash house and two outside toilets which served up to 44 households. Conditions were dreadful!

However, the proud Victorians strove to keep their houses clean, even scrubbing their front steps. On Monday was the ritual of Washday. The fire under the copper had to be lit early to provide the hot water to wash the clothes, which were hung out to dry in the yard, in the shadow of the factory chimneys, just the place for clean washing!

They cooked on a range, but in poor families there was very little to cook, while in rich homes Mrs Beaton dictated how her extravagant recipes should be carried out. In the factories there were many health and safety hazards and there were frequent accidents. You weren't safe at home either, as there was constant danger from arsenic in the wallpaper. One great innovation however, was the fact that all children had to go to school to learn reading, writing and arithmetic.

We all probably remember listening to members of our own families, who were born in Victorian times, which wasn't so long ago, speaking about the hard times, compared to life today. These tales were confirmed by Paul's very interesting talk which he illustrated with many authentic artefacts. We all went home, glad that we lived in the 21st Century!

The next meeting will be on Tuesday, 26th February at 7.30pm in the Church Hall, when Max Keen will give a talk on, "Prince Rupert of the Rhine, King Charles 1st's Pirate Prince." Everyone is welcome.

Pat Evans.

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