The Game of Whist

Whist was an enormously popular pastime among ladies of the Victorian era. A predecessor to Bridge, Whist once provided hours of after-dinner entertainment. Gathered around the table, friends and family would while away the evening with this simple card game.

Hearts are Trumps 1872 by Sir John Everett Millais, Bt 1829-1896

Continue reading “The Game of Whist”

Fern Hunts

You may wonder how the Victorians entertained themselves before the invention of radio and television. Why, fern hunting, of course! Continue reading “Fern Hunts”

Merry Music Makers

The Music Box

For a person of means in the Victorian era, a music box was central to the parlor. In fact, unless blessed with a musically talented family member, a household’s primary source of musical entertainment was the music box.

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The bird box was a popular style of music box in the late 1800s.

These beautiful musical units, crafted by jewelers, were reminiscent of tinkling church bells.

Unfortunately, with the invention of Thomas Edison’s phonograph in 1910, production of revolving cylinder devices nearly ceased entirely, and the Victorian music box became a lost art.

The Gramophone

The first successful system of sound recording – the gramophone – was invented by Emile Berliner, a German immigrant working in Washington D.C., in 1887. Emile was the first inventor to begin recording on flat discs, or records. Continue reading “Merry Music Makers”

A Picnic in the Park

“It is to be all out of doors, a table spread in the shade, you know. Everything as natural and simple as possible.” –Jane Austen

While a picnic in Jane Austen’s time may have been a simpler affair, simplicity was certainly not the Victorians’ strong point. Continue reading “A Picnic in the Park”

The Sands Are Alive With Sunshine

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The sands are alive with sunshine,

The bathers lounge and throng,

And out in the bay a bugle

Is lilting a gallant song.

The clouds go racing eastward,

The blithe wind cannot rest,

And a shard on the shingle flashes

Like the shining soul of a jest;

While children romp in the surges,

And sweethearts wander free,

And the Firth as with laughter dimples…

I would it were deep over me!

~ William Ernest Henley (1849-1903)

Painting:  “Shores of Bognor Regis” by Alexander Mann (1853-1908)

A Door Step Party

door step partyNo doubt, summer is the most social season the year. It is a time for block parties with the neighbors, family vacations, camping trips, evenings spent in the company of friends on the back deck.

Door-step parties were a favorite summer pastime for the Victorians. Continue reading “A Door Step Party”

Sweet Summertime

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It is official. The fireflies and frogs have announced the barefoot season. Even the Autumn lovers have succumbed to hammocks and wind chimes in wait of the eminent turn. The rhythmic hum of oscillating fans, lawn mowers, children’s clamor and gurgling fountains are the soundtrack of summer. Family potlucks and cookouts invite picnic hampers, nostalgic tablecloths and pieced quilts to sprawl upon the ground.

This is the nonchalant season when the living is easy. Relaxed conversation over icy lemonade on the porch swing and patriotic cupcakes with butter cream frosting, and trips to the organic market (wicker cart and grocery shopping bag and bicycle basket).

May your sunshiny days surprise your thirsty gardens with an occasional thunderstorm. Revel in the aromas and visions of the leisure season until that first cold snap induces sweater weather once again!