Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Victorian Week - Part1

LOL..you got it right, my addiction with all things Victorian had not quite subsided. Thus, it's a self-declared Victorian week, and I'll be posting interesting Victorian trivias here. All thanx to the folks who did the subtitles for the anime - they were the ones who provided some info at the end of each episode ;)

Did you know...?


1) Three-fifth of all maids in Victorian England were "maid of all works." Large households were usually attended to by many maids (definitely a 2-digit number) which were segregated into different household areas, such as kitchen maids, laundry maids, etc. However, smaller household tend to have lesser number, sometimes only a sole maid who did... well, just about everything! Emma was the sole maid when she was staying with Kelly Stowner, and during her stint with the Molders family, her tasks were mainly maitaining the cleanliness of the place.

2) A "lady's maid" attended to the mistress of the house, and was usually better educated and younger than maids doing the hard work of the house. So obviously, it was a coveted position. Emma soon took over the tasks of attending to the mistress (even accompanying her on trips,) when the previous lady's maid confessed to stealing a fan belonging to the mistress, though she was never officially named as a "lady's maid."

3) The Crystal Palace was built to house the Great Exhibitions of 1851. There were over 13,000 exhibits around the world, and clearly demonstrated Great Britain's innovation in the midst of the Industrial revolution. After the exhibition closed, the Cystal Palace was recontructed in South London, the location we see in the anime. The entire building was made of glass - hence, the term 'crystal' - and some of the exhibits that could be found were the botanical garden, the sphinx, Rome exhibits, stained glass exhibits, an outdoor dinosaur exhibits area, and many more. While the dinosaur exhibits still exist to this day, sadly, the Crystal Palace itself burned down in 1936. When he heard that the Crystal Palace had burned down, Sir Winston Churchill observed, "This is the end of an age."

4) The most common coin of the Victorian era was the penny, also known as the "Penny Britannica," because of the figure of Britannia (the embodiment of Britain) shown on one side. The other side featured Queen Victoria's potrait. The coin seen in the anime is from 1891 - until 1895, there was a lighthouse to Britannia's left, and a ship to her right. The penny was worth a twelfth of a shilling, or around 10% of a day's wages for a kitchen maid.

5) The meaning of the lyrics of "Banbury Cross," now a nursery rhyme, are lost to antiquity. Does "cock horse" refer to lead horse in a team of horses, or a child's hobby horse? Was the "fine lady" of the rhyme Lady Godiva, the Queen, or a local nobleman's daughter? There are even differing stories as to which "cross" is referred to. There were three, all pulled down by Puritans but the title may not refer to a cross at all! The town of Banbury Cross might be so named because it lay at a crossroad. (A search on Google revealed more information on the origins & history of the rhyme and can be found here & here.) Banbury Cross was sang by one of the maids during a lavish party the Molders family gave their maids as a way to thank them for their hard work.


6) Japan's self-imposed isolation from the rest of the world ended in the mid-1800s. Soon, Japanese art styles came to the attention of the Western world for the first time. British artisans were fascinated by these new styles and began assimilating them, and aristocrats collectors of the Victorian era became frantic for anything from the Orient. Mrs Trollope aka William's mother were one of these avid collectors. Her home in the country side was filled with oriental ornaments, and she even had a oriental-looking pet monkey!


To be continued...


P/S: No ratings required =þ

4 tots:

James said...

I'm a little late commenting on this blog entry, but I wanted to thank you for bringing it to my attention. "Victorian" anime sounds intriguing!

Catherine said...

No worries, it's better late than never ;)

Yup, the anime is lovely. You should watch it if you have the chance. You can also read more about the anime by clicking on the anime link and selecting "Emma - A Victorian Romance Second Act" on the top left panel if you have not read about it already :)

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Thank you for the compliments :D

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