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What are some creepy facts about the Victorian Era?

What are some creepy facts about the Victorian Era?

What are some creepy facts about the Victorian Era?

In the Victorian age, when a child died, a family would often have a professional photographer photograph all the children, including the dead child, who might be propped up and made to look as lifelike as possible. Dead people were often photographed, maybe because photography was expensive and the family did not have photos of the dead person when they were alive.

Death was commonplace, and there would be constant funeral processions to remind people of this. Another creepy fact is that people were terrified of hospitals. There was a good reason for this, as few people came out of them alive before Dr. Lister revolutionized hygiene in hospitals and introduced the use of carbolic antiseptics.

In fact, doctors would be proud to operate in coats encrusted with blood and pus, and often, they did not wash their hands after handling corpses, which would pass on deadly diseases to their living patients. It particularly affected women in labor, and the death rate for mothers in hospitals was very high as a result.

Mortality was high for Victorians, especially for children. Early Victorians believed that allocation to heaven or hell was decided in the hour of death, and they idolized the notion of a slow death so that families would be able to crowd around the dying to say goodbye and to witness religious raptures before death.

What are some creepy facts about the Victorian Era?

Children started work as young as 3. If a child was better suited to a job due to their size, it was given to them no matter how dangerous it was. Those who opposed child labor couldn’t drum up public support with stories or pictures of deaths and crippling wounds and only started gaining it after they used a picture of a topless teenage girl and boy hugging each other for safety as they were drawn out of a mine on a board tied to a rope.

The Victorians were so obsessed with masturbation and its supposed harmful effects that they invented a whole slew of garments and devices to stop boys from touching themselves, some of which could double as torture devices.

Because medical science during this time was still developing, some people were mistakenly pronounced dead when really in a coma. If you walked past a graveyard and heard a strange noise, it was likely someone waking up in a coffin!

Unfortunately, by the time the coffin could be dug up, the person usually died of asphyxiation. However, scratch marks were observed inside the coffin, and scraps of wood were found under the body’s fingernails. (Incidentally, this contributed to the Victorian interest in vampires and the occult.).

What are some creepy facts about the Victorian Era?

Victorians were so terrified of being accidentally buried alive that those who could afford it attached a rope from their coffin to a bell next to their gravestone. Even wealthier people hired a servant to stand watch. If the bell rang, the servant was ready to dig up their master.

Egyptian mummies were unwrapped at parties and then used as fuel in the fireplace. Mummy harvesting was so popular that mummies would be stacked up like logs to transport to England. Sometimes, but not often, the mummy was donated to a scientific organization after unwrapping. The unwrapping, poking, and prodding by partygoers left little of scientific interest. Victorians were obsessed with Egyptian art as well.

They decorated their homes with faux hieroglyphic-laden furniture, scarabs, and other popular Egyptian designs. Taking a vacation to Egypt to acquire artifacts for decoration was a huge fad of the times. It is impossible to estimate how many priceless pieces were used as ashtrays or umbrella stands and discarded as garbage after the fad faded into the next big thing.

What are some dark facts about the Victorians?

The Victorian Era also had a dark side. Disease, poor sanitation, low wages, and the abuse of children were all parts of everyday life. The most familiar images of Victorian life are indeed bleak:

  • Impoverished children work long hours in factories and mines
  • Blankets of smog suspended above overcrowded cities
  • Frightening workhouses run by cruel governors
  • Violent criminals lurking in the shadows

What was the worst Victorian crime?

The most notorious Victorian murders were bloody slayings in the backstreets of London’s Whitechapel, ascribed to Jack the Ripper. These attacks typically involved female prostitutes who lived and worked in the slums of the East End of London, whose throats were cut prior to abdominal mutilations.

What is a weird fact about Victorians?

Ten Weird Things the Victorians Did

  • Hosted mummy unwrapping parties. Yep, you read that right.
  • Sent strange Christmas cards.
  • I believe in dodgy science.
  • I took pictures of the recently deceased (as if they were alive!) 
  • Wore increasingly tighter corsets.
  • Incredible ‘Fasting Girls 
  • Body Snatching.
  • I used arsenic a lot!

What are some creepy facts about the Victorian Era?

During the Victorian era, a husband could sell his wife in an auction.

Selling a Wife (1812–14), by Thomas Rowlandson. The painting gives the viewer the impression that the wife was a willing party to the sale, which was “a genial affair” marked by laughter.

Students of English literature must have read The Mayor of Casterbridge. This Victorian-era fiction, written by English novelist and poet Thomas Hardy, has the protagonist selling his wife in an auction, which he comes to regret later.

It is hard to believe, but this practice was prevalent in England during the Victorian period. Although the practice was looked down upon, authorities often refused to intervene.

It was extremely difficult to legally divorce one’s wife in English society at the time, and selling one’s wife was an easy way out.

Wife auctioning was practiced in Britain as early as the 1300s, but it was with the passage of the Marriage Act in 1753 that it came into vogue. The law made it compulsory to register one’s marriage, and this made it very hard to legally divorce one’s wife and impossible if you were poor or belonged to the lower classes. Wife auctioning was seen as a much easier way out of a failed marriage.

What are some creepy facts about the Victorian Era?

Earlier, people would marry, then separate on mutual consent, and then remarry. Since there was no record of it, the authorities were none the wiser, and it was quite easy to do so. Laws made it very hard to divorce one’s wife, and a divorce was only granted if one of the parties involved was impotent.

The proof of impotence was another whole mess, but let us stick to wife-selling for now. So without proving impotence, there was no way out, and since the marriage was recorded, one couldn’t just separate either. In all this, wife selling came as a savior.

Now, you might be wondering how, on Earth, this could be legally possible. You see, in 1753, Judge William Blackstone proclaimed, The very being, or legal existence of the woman, is suspended during the marriage, or at least is consolidated and incorporated into that of her husband, under whose wing, protection, and cover she performs everything.

So, the wife was not considered a separate entity after marriage but the property of the husband. The husband was, therefore, required to look after his wife as he would look after his property. Now, since the wife was considered a property, you could technically steal one’s wife. If the wife got separated and married another man, the husband could take the other man to court for stealing his property. 

What are some creepy facts about the Victorian Era?

As ridiculous as it may sound, all of this was perfectly legal. I can’t talk about it’s morality, though. There was another legal risk of separation without divorce. Since the wife was the husband’s property and had no existence of her own in the eyes of the law, if the wife incurred any debts, the husband was legally bound to pay them off. All of this made ending a marriage without divorce a risky affair. Against this backdrop, the wife auction was the better alternative.

Wife selling was rampant among people experiencing poverty who sold their wives for as little as 2 shillings and a bottle of ale or beer. But it was also practiced among the wealthy.

Sometimes, the wife was led to the market with a halter around her neck and displayed like cattle before the bidding started.

A husband is auctioning his wife with a halter around her neck.

Images sourced using Google Images.

However, most of the time, the bidder was prearranged, and it was someone with whom the wife was having an affair. A price was agreed between the husband and the paramour, and the sale was sealed in the auction. In this case, the wife had the right to refuse another bidder.

The most bizarre thing was that sometimes children were sold along with the wife as an add-on. Beat that!

Wife selling continued in some form up until the early 20th century. Jurist and well-known historian James Bryce chronicled in 1901 that wife selling was still happening during his time. The last reported case of a wife selling occurred in 1913, when a wife testified in court that she had been sold to her husband’s work colleague for a mere £1.

A lot of husbands reading this are wishing they were born during the Victorian era. Not only could you get rid of your wives, but you also got paid for doing so. This is a far cry from the huge fees one needs to pay a divorce lawyer today and then pay alimony to the wife on top of ceding a part of one’s assets. But some things are better if they are kept buried in the past, and trust me, this is one of them.

What are some creepy facts about the Victorian Era?

During Victorian times (1837–1901), these two practices were fairly usual in England (and probably elsewhere, too):—

  • At bedtime, young boys under ten years old will regularly have been given handjobs by the matron, governess, or carer —so that the boys can have a better, more restful sleep.
  • Young chambermaids (13 years old and upwards) were hired or taken on as normal house servants, as well as to serve as a sexual outlet for the older boys and the head of the household. (See Note below.)

Creepy and eye-opening, I’m sure.

Note: This chambermaid ‘thing’ was fairly usual (or not uncommon) in English life, especially among the upper classes. That was one of the reasons for the English age of sexual consent being 12 from 1275 (under Westminster Stat. 1) to 1875, or 600 years’ duration.

  • In 1875, the consent age was raised to age 13 by the Offences Against the Person Act 1875 and applied nationwide throughout Britain and Ireland.
  • In 1885, the consent age was raised to the present-day age of 16 by the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885.

All the good answers have already been given. But I will venture into just one more thing. It’s no surprise to me that H.G. Wells wrote his famous book, The Time Machine, during the late Victorian era. He probably wished he really could find some way to bypass the world he lived in and move on to a happier future.

But since he was Victorian, the book mostly deals with death, war, and creepy cannibal-type monsters. The creepiest thing about the Victorian era, to me, is the photographing of your dead children or other relatives. It’s enough to give you nightmares. Sometimes, they used glue or tape to hold the eyes open, if you can imagine that.

Too much. It’s far too creepy.

What are some fascinating facts about the Victorian era?

There was a very popular color, green, and it found its way into wallpaper, fabrics, and printing ink, to name a few uses.

However, the green pigment was highly poisonous! It was so poisonous, in fact, that people died simply by sleeping in a closed room whose walls were painted with this color green or covered with printed wallpaper using this pigment.

There are many weird things people did in Victorian times, such as:

  1. Responding to the improvements in microscopy by holding parties in which men looked at their sperm through the lenses.
  2. Dressing up the dead to take pictures with them was perhaps the only time they were ever photographed in their lives.
  3. Various charlatans and deceivers would do outrageous things for money and fame, such as one woman who inserted live baby rabbits into her vagina so she could ‘give birth’ to them in front of reporters.

What are some things that were acceptable in Victorian times but that we would find disgusting?

When I was a very small child living in a rural area, there were still a lot of people who took weekly baths, whether they needed them or not. But in Victorian times, poor people often wore many layers of clothes and didn’t bathe all winter.

I remember, as a tiny child, being left with a neighbor for a couple of weeks while my parents were traveling. I got one bath in a galvanized washtub with warm water—it started as cool water and boiling water were added from a kettle on the wood stove at my feet while I was in the water, and coarse lye soap that was used to wash linens was used on me. It was made with oatmeal and scraped my toddler skin, and when my hair was washed, it stung my eyes terribly — and I hated the entire experience.

No wonder kids hated baths so badly! But I was told that I had to bathe. Because otherwise my hair wouldn’t grow out, and I couldn’t become a young lady — and owls would nest in it!

I found this intriguing. Here are some interesting lessons on the advancements in European/American hygiene. I’m particularly impressed with the practice of brushing your teeth with your urine during the Regency in France.

Was the Victorian era prudish?

The Victorian Era was indeed prudish. More leeway was given to men than women, but on the whole, even men were extremely reluctant to appear sexual.

Tail coats were meant to hide men’s asses. Inexpressibles were meant to hide their erections. Men did not use crude language around women. They resolved public disputes in keeping with expected gentlemanly conduct. They ate oats and cereals to reduce sex drive, lust, and masturbation. Sportswear was a vest instead of a tailcoat over the same formal shirt and pants, which meant the ass impressions could be seen, and hence sportswear was embarrassing for men to wear around women. A ridiculous concern, I know, but there you go.

The women found anything revealing more than the ankle scandalous to the core. They did not welcome touching by the opposite sex, even in private. And they were very shy about allowing sexual intentions and conversations and even more shy about allowing sexual advances, even with their partners. They did not so much as look for long at strange men. You could blackmail them if you saw them looking at strange men for too long. There’s lots and lots more. But yes, the Victorians were indeed extremely prudish.

In some ways, yes. However, Victorians were not nearly as prudish as you might think. You can see this if you study the time period. Ankles were not always hidden. Even calves were shown, if you look at Victorian bathing suits.

What are some creepy facts about the Victorian Era?

(Fashion plate, bathing suits, around 1890)

High necklines and long sleeves? Only in the morning! At night, you could show off your arms, bare shoulders, and full décolletage.

What are some creepy facts about the Victorian Era?

(Fashion plate, evening gown, 1860)

Some brave women even wore pants!

What are some creepy facts about the Victorian Era?

(Fashion plate, Bloomer outfits, 1860s)

That said, the Victorians were quite ignorant in some respects. Doctors made wild claims about the dangers of masturbation, for instance. And they believed that a woman’s uterus could move around her body at will under certain circumstances. (This is why you should take doctors’ claims about the hazards of corsets with a grain of salt. They didn’t always know what they were talking about!)

Some books suggest a woman would conceive more easily if she orgasmed during sex. Definitely not stuffy! Then again, some doctors were taught to deliver babies by touch only, with the woman’s modesty preserved by the judicious placement of sheets or blankets. So, in some ways, prudish, yes. In other ways, not at all.


The Victorian upper class (and later middle class) had no televisions to entertain them, so they entertained themselves. One of the popular forms of entertainment was for friends and family to dress up in outrageous costumes and pose for each other. It sounds innocent – but think: can you imagine your grandmother dressing up as a Greek wood nymph posing on a table in the living room while everyone applauds? No. You can’t. The idea is, in fact, creepy. But for the Victorians, this was perfectly normal and fun.

Wearing corsets not only displaced the internal organs of the women who wore them but could also cause atrophy and weakness, preventing them from being able to support their body weight. I learned this on a tour of Craigdarroch Castle when discussing the impossibly tiny waist of the dress on display.

In the Victorian era, it was common to weave elaborate jewelry and wreaths from the hair of dead loved ones as an act of mourning. I’ve actually seen some of these pieces for sale in San Francisco. Children could be shipped to an entirely different continent on the other side of the world to steal food, no matter their financial circumstances.

I’d argue the creepiest tradition was photographing deceased children who were made to look as though they were still alive. They would prop them up on stands and use makeup to give the appearance of life and force the eyelids open. It was how they commemorated the lives of their children, many of whom were never photographed before their deaths.

Is Ariana Grande black?

What are some creepy facts about the Victorian Era?