The way they lived
A view to the gilded age

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"The Gilded age is what often comes to mind about the Victorian Era. Grand Mansions dotted the best neighborhoods. Life was simple yet grand"



Victorian life was very grand if you were among the priveleged elite or upper middle class. But most Victorian lived pretty much a simpler life without the embellishments.

Regardless of ones station in life however, one always strived to put one's best foot forward. Even modest victorian homes had what was known as the "Formal Parlor" usually at the front of the home it was accessed via the entryway or in the case of smaller homes "The parlor door". Many smaller cottage style homes had two doors, One where guests would arrive and the other which was the everyday door that deliveries and such would come to.

Parlors were kept pristine and were used for guests who "called". there was another room usually seperated by Pocket doors or draperies that was what was known as the "Day Parlor" this was the room where the family actually lived. It was furnished with more "everyday furniture". One did not use the "good parlor set" except for entertaining as the furnishings in the formal parlor were expensive by comparision and one wanted to keep them in suitable condition.

If one were middle class one might have a Parlor Organ, this was the "home entertainment center" of its day, they were affordable and had many shelves to display a variety of items. Pianos and meldoians were usually only found in the homes of the wealthy.

Children learned how to play the organ as it was considered proper for young ladies to be well rounded and educated in the finer things like art and music and later on the playing of the parlor organ was part of the "Courting Ritual" almost always under the watchful eye of an adult.

The evening dinner, especially when guests called, was an opportunity to show off "the good china" and ones collection of silver. Victorians had silver for every function  and one's station in life was determined by how elaborate their silver set was.

Kitchens were often seperate from the house in what was called the summer kitchen.  This is where the hard work was done by the lady of the household or the hired help if they were fortunate enough to have staff. The Victorian Kitchen was not the kitchen of today by any means. Perhaps a well pump, perhaps a icebox, the wood stove which made the room unbearably hot (remember no air conditioning in those days)

After dinner the gentlemen would retire to the "smoking room" to partake of a good cigar. the women would retreat to the formal or day parlor to discuss the current elegant happenings. No TV, No Computer......a different time ...a different place.