Was there much difference between rich and poor homes?
In Victorian society, rich and poor could find themselves living very close together, sometimes just streets apart. During the 19th century more people moved into the towns and cities to find work in factories. Cities filled to overflowing and London was particularly bad. At the start of the 19th century about 20% of Britain's population lived there, but by 1851 half the population of the country had set up home in London.
London, like most cities, was not prepared for this great increase in people. People crowded into already crammed houses. Rooms were rented to whole families or perhaps several families. If there was no rooms to rent, people stayed in lodging houses.
But how different were the homes they lived in? Use this collection of sources to find out.
- What things does it show?
- Are all the streets the same width?
- What work places are shown?
- Are there any parks or open fields, schools or churches?
- Can you find Conduit Street off Rossington Street?
1. Look at Source 1.This is a map of Hackney from 1910.
- Are these homes for the rich or the poor?
- How many families lived in Conduit Place (at least)? (Handy Hint: count the front doors.)
- How many rooms do you think each home had?
- What would go on in each room?
- Where would the children play?
- There is only one young person in this photo. Does that mean that:
- no children lived here except him?
- the people that lived here were comfortably off because they could afford to send their children to school?
- school was compulsory in the 1890s, so the children would be in school?
- Can you see what the woman at the end of the street is carrying?
2. Look at Source 2. This is a photograph of Caroline Cottages, Conduit Place, taken around the 1890s.
- What type of work did the head of the household do?
- Did the children go out to work?
- Did the wives go out to work?
- Who other than the Harding family lived at 5 Conduit Place?
- What else do you notice about the Harding family?
- Why do you think they had a lodger living with them?
- Conduit Place does not exist today. Make a list of reasons why it might have been demolished.
3. Read Source 3.This is the 1891 census return for Conduit Place.
- Did this house belong to a rich or poor family?
- How many families do you think lived here?
- How many floors does the house appear to have?
- How many rooms do you think the house might have?
- What tells you that this photo was posed?
4. Look at Source 4. This is a photograph of Eagle House, just down the road from Conduit Street.
- What does George Glover do for a living?
- How many children does he have?
- Is this family middle class or working class?