Victorian Hobbies of the 19th Century presented by Victorian Bazaar.

Nursery Toys


The younger children of well off families had lots of beautiful toys in their nurseries. The favourite was the rocking horse which was made from wood and painted brightly.


Girls also enjoyed playing with their doll houses.  The furniture for these could be bought and changed with times and fashions. Victorian dolls were probably the most beautiful ones made. Their heads and shoulders were made of wax or china with bodies made of stuffed calico or wood. Most dolls were dressed as adults with beautiful clothes  made from satin, taffeta or lace. A poor girl would long for a doll like this which she would only see in shop windows, She would never be able to afford one but might have a rag doll instead.

Boys would play with their tin or lead soldiers. Later in the century as the railways developed across the country clockwork trains became popular.

Older children


Often older children would play with toy theatres. The plays they would perform would take up a lot of their time and money. First they had to buy a stage which would be made of wood and cardboard with a row of tin footlights with oil burning wicks along the front. Sheets of characters and scenes would cost a penny plain and two pence ready coloured.

Girls might spend their spare time sewing. They practiced their stitches by embroidering letters of the alphabet, texts or complex pictures within a fancy border. These pieces of embroidery were called samplers.

Reading was a popular pastime, many books written during the Victorian Era are still enjoyed today. 

Outdoor games


These changed with the seasons, children played with hoops, balls or tops. They also played marbles or alleys.
 

Sports

Had become extremely popular in Victorian times. Traditional sports like football, cricket and boxing had been played for centuries but now they were given proper rules for the first time. The first Football Association (FA) Cup was played in 1871. This was when many football clubs were set-up, ones like Aston Villa and Everton were set up by churches to attract more people to come to church. Others like Arsenal were set up by employers. Football was meant to keep people healthy and to encourage a sense of fair play. It wasn't that successful and free kicks (1877) and penalty kicks (1891) had to be brought in to clamp down on foul play.
English and Australian teams played their first cricket Test Match in England in 1880. W. G. Grace was among the players. The organized matches drew large crowds and watching sport became a hobby.
 


Croquet & Lawn Tennis


Croquet was introduced in England in 1856, and was probably brought to America in the early 1860ís. It was considered particularly suitable for women since it required considerable skills, but not too much strength or technique. (Victorians believed women were deficient in both!). Although croquet was never a popular menís game, it had both social and economic advantages: men and women could play together, and it required little equipment and no special clothing.
 

Lawn tennis was another popular sport for middle-class women. At first proper tennis involved patting the ball back and forth, without keeping score, but, players were soon caught up in the competitive spirit of the game, finding it an excellent method of exercise and a useful mental and physical outlet. More active than croquet or archery  tennis also appealed to men. By the 1880ís it had become the rage in fashionable summer resorts, and magazines devoted space to the proper clothes to wear while playing.

Cycling

This became very popular. The safety bicycle was brought out in 1885 and was the cheapest way to travel. People who lived in town would ride out into the countryside on their bicycles.

 

Hobbies from the 19th Century still continue today...

 

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