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Interesting Victorians....Trying to Encourage 9 Year Old's Curiosity

39 replies

PleaseYourselfandEatTheCrusts · 11/07/2023 17:39

This is my first time posting on this part of Mumsnet. My 9 year old is interested in history at the moment. This is something I want to encourage. I was thinking of doing my own kind of makeshift project about the Victorians, over the summer.

I just wondered what you would include in this? Are there any really interesting Victorians you really feel I should teach him about?

I am just starting to get interesting in history too. As a child, I dropped history at school at age 12. My dad liked history, and my mum discouraged me from getting interested in it because it reminded her of my dad too much. I feel like there is so my out there for me to learn and I am loving reading the History club board.

I would really appreciate all your ides.

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TressiliansStone · 11/07/2023 17:51

For me it's the great Victorian civil engineers who grab my attention - Brunel, the Lighthouse Stephensons, and (early C19th so pre-Victorian) the first railway engineers (also a Stephenson) and Boulton & Watt's steam manufactory in Soho, Birmingham.

But my current reading is also straying over Babbage and Ada Lovelace (calculating engines) and Mary Somerville (C19th science writer).

Victorian novelists and poets (many film/TV adaptations available) include Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Wm Wordsworth (whose sister Dorothy is also interesting). Arrgh, my mind's gone blank because there are just so many wonderful writers.

TressiliansStone · 11/07/2023 17:55

Of course your own family were Victorians once upon a time. And very likely so were the inhabitants of your house and of your town.

Family and local history can be a great way into this sort of thing.

If you're prepared to pay for a subscription, the British Newspaper Archive is FABULOUS. See what was going on in your local papers 150 years ago - eg look up your 9-year-old's birthday but in 1873.

CannotBelieveImAskingThis · 11/07/2023 18:03


Queen Victoria came to the throne with candle light. By the time she died in 1901, there were electric lights.

She rode on trains, but not at their speed capacity as she thought it would kill her to go so fast.

The penny post was created during Victorian times as was the police service as we know it. (Origianlly nicknamed 'Peelers' after Robert Peel the prime minister at the time)

I'll think of some more!

BunnyBettChetwynd · 11/07/2023 18:35

That sounds like a brilliant project. Some National Trust properties are brilliant to visit as they bring to life the Victorian era. Cragside in Northumberland is a good example with lots of stuff to see and do related to inventions of the era. Lots of living museums and places to visit too and heritage railways for rides on steam trains. OH! Does your son watch Horrible Histories? So funny and clever you'll enjoy them too.

PleaseYourselfandEatTheCrusts · 11/07/2023 21:42

Thank for the ideas, everyone Flowers

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PleaseYourselfandEatTheCrusts · 12/07/2023 08:31

BunnyBettChetwynd, yes, we're both getting into Horrible Histories. It's brilliant! Smile

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TheProvincialLady · 12/07/2023 08:33

You could research and try to live a ‘Victorian Day’, trying to eat, play, travel, shop etc like a Victorian.

ForTheSnarkWasABoojumYouSee · 12/07/2023 08:35

Look round your local area. Days out are a great peg for this kind of thing. And don't forget to watch the Muppets Christmas Carol

AndrexPuppy · 12/07/2023 08:37

what does your child like to do? What are they interested in? Can you find a Victorian who innovated in that area?

BinturongsSmellOfPopcorn · 12/07/2023 10:41

The Great Stink often grabs children's attention.

TressiliansStone · 12/07/2023 10:44

Yes yes! The story of the Great Stink is amazing.

Ties in with current news about renewing London's sewers, and with news stories about water companies and sewage overflows.

Great Stink - Wikipedia

PleaseYourselfandEatTheCrusts · 12/07/2023 21:57

TheProvincialLady, yes having a Victorian Day was actually my first thought. I think that could be a lot of fun.

Thanks for your thoughts and ideas everyone. Flowers

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Saschka · 12/07/2023 22:04

Mary Anning, and all the Victorian ideas about dinosaurs.

Scott of the Antarctic (just squeaks in)

I appreciate Around the world in 80 days is not real, but it does give you an idea of what the Victorian world was like (watch the film, the book is long). Oliver Twist is another good film to watch. Or Sherlock Holmes.

PleaseYourselfandEatTheCrusts · 13/07/2023 20:25

Thanks Flowers

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upinaballoon · 21/07/2023 14:07

It might be worth asking your local library if they have any records. Mine has microfiche of pages of newspapers from the 1800s. It's hard on the eyes to look and might be easier to do on line, as someone has suggested. My library belongs to Ancestry so I could get access to their records of censuses from 1841 to 1911. It's interesting to look at a page of names and occupations in the place where you live, even if you did not have forbears there. Around 1860/70 my local had big adds on the front page for people to go out to live in the USA and Australia.

Yes, live a day without water from the tap. Fill a large container the night before, as if it has been pumped up from the well, and make it last all day for drinks (boiled first to be safe, even if it doesn't need it!)- boiled on the range fire of course!! - no coffee, too expensive, cold tea, very weak beer: washes from warmed water poured into a big bowl on the sideboard, definitely no showers or drain holes: candles in the evening, no electricity, no phones, radio, TV, devices: loo is a bucket at the bottom of the garden, no flushing or accompanying washbasin.

Sorry I've gone off-topic a bit, as you asked about interesting Victorians, but the domestic scene is interesting too. Was Elizabeth Fry a Victorian?

BinturongsSmellOfPopcorn · 21/07/2023 19:05

Technically, just about - Victoria came to the throne in 1837 and Fry died in 1845. But she was born in 1780 so grew up in, was shaped by and did most of her reform work during the Georgian era.

PleaseYourselfandEatTheCrusts · 21/07/2023 21:41

Thanks for these replies Flowers

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AltheaVestr1t · 21/07/2023 21:51

Former primary school teacher here! The suffragettes are very interesting and children are universally fascinated with Florence Nightingale. Other fascinating Victorian women include Marianne North, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Mary Anning, Mary Seacole. Horrible Histories is a great place to start.

Lizzt2007 · 21/07/2023 22:08

Depending where you are in the country there's a Victorian town near Telford , blist hill, it's well worth a day out, or if your in the north beamish museum.

QuietlyWonderful · 21/07/2023 22:44

Take a look around your town - the streets and public buildings in the older parts are likely to be named after people. Not just kings and queens, or famous figures, but influential locals too who will have made their mark on the town. You can look them up and see what they achieved. There might be some statues that you have just walked past without really 'noticing' them too. Street names commemorated events too - eg famous battles.

midsomermurderess · 21/07/2023 22:50

David Livingstone. He was an extraordinary man who lived an extraordinary life. A missionary who managed, it seems, to have had only one brief convert. Passionately anti-slavery. Some think he might have been bi-polar.

MillicentBystandr · 21/07/2023 22:51
MillicentBystandr · 21/07/2023 22:55

Also Kensington Palace has a “Crown to Couture” exhibition on that covers court fashion from Georgian times to modern times. So they have lot of authentic Victorian dresses and men’s outfits on display there.

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