The Victorian rooms
The Victorian nursery
In many houses, the nursery was situated at the top of the house so that the children could not be heard. Here the nursemaid spent much of her time washing, dressing and undressing the children. The coal fire was kept alight on all but the hottest days as the guard was used for airing the children’s clothing.
The nursery is set up to demonstrate the Victorian concerns of health, cleanliness, godliness and self-improvement. Note the water can which servants used to bring hot water up from the kitchen, the lavatory in its mahogany case, the metal cot and the tall backed correction chair which was designed by Sir Astley Cooper specifically to straighten children’s backs.
The Noah’s Ark was thought of as an improving toy which taught children about the Bible, in some households these were the only toys permitted to be played with on a Sunday. The doll on display in this room was made as an ornament rather than as a plaything, Victorian ladies spent many hours creating miniature books, baskets, pincushions, jewellery and clothes to decorate them.
Sewing was considered to be both a necessity and an accomplishment for women and young girls, and the framed sampler was worked by Hannah Hannant in 1814.
The Victorian dining room
The Victoria dining room was the focal point of family entertaining, most of the furnishings in this room date from the second half of the 19th century. Unlike their predecessors, well-to-do Victorians dined on many different course served in succession, each requiring a different set of cutlery.
The decoration of the table was thought to be almost as important as the food itself, the table setting in this room may look grand but the modestly priced silver plated wares would have been within reach of most middle-class families.
See if you can spot the embroidered bell-pull, an essential item of equipment for this period when the employment of servants was at its peak. The middle-class family who might have inhabited rooms like this would have employed a cook, housemaid and possibly a nursemaid, only the very rich could afford male servants.
The room may appear cluttered to modern tastes but this concentration of furniture, textiles, ornaments and taxidermy served to display the owner’s wealth - as well as creating lots of work for the housemaid who had to clean it all!
The Victorian parlour
The parlour was the heart of the Victorian home and was presided over by the mistress of the house, from this room she managed the household, entertained close guests and gathered the family together in the evening - especially around the piano where people would play and sing.
To modern eyes the room may appear to be cluttered, but the multitude of furniture, china, photographs, ornaments and pictures on display were all used to showcase the owner’s taste and wealth.
Around the room you’ll spot many examples of Victorian fashions and crafts, including Berlin woolwork which was used to cover every imaginable surface, and a bowl of life-like fruit modelled entirely from wax. Glass shades were used to protect particularly prized ornaments, like the bouquet of flowers made from shells.