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Brickfields Victorian Hackney
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Society in Victorian London was divided into three groups; the aristocracy and rich gentry, the middleclass and the working classes. Family life was very different in each of these groups.

Hackney was made up of middleclass families who lived mainly in the suburbs of Stoke Newington, Homerton, Clapton and Stamford Hill and working class families who lived around the canal and close to the City in Shoreditch.

For middleclass families home was where the heart was. It was the centre of family life and it was the wife's job to make sure it was a clean and pleasant place. She would have had at least one or two servants to help her with this, such as a maid and a nanny or housekeeper. The children would have gone to school and always have had clean clothes and toys. For family entertainment there were the new parks and museums, such as the Victoria and Albert Museum. The father of the family may well have worked in the City in a profession such as insurance or banking. If he worked locally in Hackney he may have owned a shop or small business.

Working class families spent a lot of time out of the house as their accommodation was often cramped and unpleasant. They could buy cheap food on the street from stalls or in taverns. For entertainment they went to the parks too, but also to music halls and pleasure gardens which had entertainment such as fireworks, fairgrounds and sports matches.

Many working class children did not go to school. Some children looked after other younger brothers and sisters, whilst some worked in factories or as chimney sweeps. There were lots of jobs for children. Many teenage girls became servants in the houses of the middleclasses. Women worked in factories too, or at home doing work for very little money such as making matchboxes. Sometimes children would help them. The father of the house often worked doing manual labour. Many men did not have a permanent job so sometimes they were in work and sometimes not.

Families were bigger in Victorian times but more children died because of disease and poor living conditions, especially working class children who lived in the worst areas and had the poorest diet.

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Butters Family
This is a photograph of the Butters family. They were a middleclass family who lived in a large house in Hackney in Victorian times..

Poor family
In contrast to the Butters photograph in this drawing the family's clothes are ragged. This family are much poorer and they do not have a home.
Home How Victorians earnet their keep
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