Serving the house: The cost of Victorian domestic servants

John Sheepshanks at his residence on New Bond Street William Mulready (1786-1863). Oil on panel. England, c.1832-34. ©V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London In the Victorian period there were more domestic servants than at any other time in British history … Continue reading

House tales: The widower of Whitethorns

9 Crystal Palace Park Road, Sydenham Do you ever wonder who lived in your property before you did? Who were the original residents? What was the story of the inhabitants of your house? I did and found a northern merchant … Continue reading

An enquiry into the state of girls’ fashionable schools (1845)

“One might be tempted to believe that the end most schoolmistresses propose themselves in teaching is to get themselves handsome houses, furnish sumptuous drawing-rooms, keep livery servants.” Anon, ‘An enquiry into the state of girls’ fashionable schools’, Fraser’s Magazine (1845) … Continue reading

Brief history of park villa estates

I left South London a few years ago to work ‘up north’ and now live in Southport (near Liverpool), which has a seriously delicious Victorian housing stock. The other thing Merseyside has in common with my previous haunt is substantial … Continue reading

Rediscovering Victorian park villas

Copyright: Royal Horticultural Society Victorian villas, despite the cost of renovation and upkeep, remain popular today. Just as at the time of their construction, householders are driven by the desire to reside in properties that are comfortably spacious, solid, elegant … Continue reading

The beginnings of an obsession

Several years back, before children and a lectureship at Lancaster University beckoned, I bought a flat in London on Crystal Palace Park Road. It was a neo-gothic, red brick villa and its garden backed onto Crystal Palace Park (of dinosaur … Continue reading

Whitechapel’s Angel Alley: prostitutes and property

Large scale migration to nineteenth-century cities created a pressing need for suitable lodgings and by 1871, some 1,401 lodging houses were listed in the London Post Office Directory. HoweverVictorian London’s lodging houses varied considerably in size and character.Distinguished guests crossed … Continue reading

Parlour propetiers

“The richest crop for any field, is a crop of bricks for it to yield. The richest crop that it can grow, is a crop of houses in a row.” Anon, Tarbuck’s Handbook of House Property (1875) Although renting your … Continue reading

The unfortunate tale of Mrs Tibbs

Residential properties can double as businesses and in Victorian times opening your house as a boarding or lodging establishment was a popular means of generating an income whilst retaining a comfortable roof over your head. However, inviting paying guest into … Continue reading

A gentleman wishes to LET

CRYSTAL PALACE, near Sydenham Entrance – A gentleman wishes to LET, for six or twelve months, his nicely FURNISHED villa, overlooking well timbered park-like grounds. Five bedroom, dressing room, drawing and dining rooms, usual offices; garden and croquet lawn. Rent, … Continue reading

Financial advice from a Victorian banker’s daughter

Guide to the Unprotected in Every-day Matters Relating to Property and Income by A Banker’s Daughter (Second edition, London, 1864) “A good Mortgage is an excellent investment…but much care is necessary.” (p.98) “In purchasing a House, bear in mind that … Continue reading

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