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Houses &Homes

by Mandy Barrow

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Inside Victorian Houses

Many people in Victorian times lived in homes without any of the modern comforts we take for granted today. People had to manage without central heating or hot water from the tap – instead they had open fires and heated water on a big cooker called a range.

Most Victorian houses had a fireplace in every room.

This photograph above shows a small iron cast range.

Without vacuum cleaners or washing-machines, looking after the home was very hard work.

Poor Homes

Poor people in Victorian times lived in horrible cramped conditions in run-down houses, often with the whole family in one room.

Many people during the Victorian years moved into the cities and towns to find work in the factories. People crowded into already crowded houses. Rooms were rented to whole families or perhaps several families.

Most poor houses only had one or two rooms downstairs and one or two upstairs. Families would crowd into these rooms, with several in each room and some living in the cellars.

Tin Bath

Poorer families, if they owned a bath at all, put it in front of the kitchen rang. This was the warmest place in the house and very close to hot water. The whole family would wash themselves one after the other, topping up with more water but, probably not emptying the bath until everyone had finished.


These houses had no running water or toilets. Each house would share an outside water pump. The water from the pump was frequently polluted.

water pump

Some streets would have one or two outside toilets for the whole street to share!

Houses were built close together with narrow streets between them and open sewers running down the middle of the streets. Rubbish was tipped into the streets. It was no surprise that few children made it to adulthood.

Rich Homes

Homes for the middle classes and the upper classes were much better. They were better built and were larger. The houses had most of the new gadgets installed, such as flushing toilets, gas lighting, and inside bathrooms.

Wealthy Victorians decorated their homes in the latest styles. There would be heavy curtains, flowery wallpaper, carpets and rugs, ornaments, well made furniture, paintings and plants. The rooms were heated by open coal fires and lighting was provided by candles and oil or gas lamps. Later in the Victorian period, electricity became more widespread and so electric lights were used.

Rich Victorian had water pumps in their kitchens and their rubbish was taken away down into underground sewers.

Most rich people had servants and they would live in the same house. They slept on the top floor of the house or in the attic. The servant rooms were often cold in the winter and stuffy in the summer.

Girls as young as twelve worked as maids . They were clothed, fed, and given a roof over their heads in return for a wage – a maid would earn about £7 a year.

Candles continued to be an important source of lighting. Paraffin lamps were introduced in the 1860s, and gas lighting became increasingly common as the century went on.

Victorian Homework links

The End

BBC Education -
Dynamo - A Stepback in Time!
Josie and Gleep visit a
Victorian House to find out how people lived a hundred years ago in Victorian times.

1900 House

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