A couple of books

Two books that I have recently read that have wonderful pictures are:
Authentic Décor, the domestic interior 1620-1920
by Peter Thornton
Victorians at Home
by Susan Lansdun
I learned a few things I hadn't known from Lansdun's book.
In the 1830's people were advised to arrange their furniture so that it looked as though someone had just left the room, with chairs comfortably set by the fire and perhaps a book left open on a table. This was considered a warmer and more welcoming arrangement than the previous practice of having furniture set along the walls, to be later placed near the window or fireplace when needed, then returned to its spot by the wall. This new furniture arrangement allowed the use of heavier tables and chairs. The fact that there had been improvements to heating and lighting were helpful.
Poor Queen Victoria found Buckingham Palace so cold that she used to take brisk walks along the great corridor to stay warm.
As late as 1880 open fires were still recommended in Britain as the best heating system, in spite of the fact that stoves were used on the European continent and the US. Visitors from these places often commented on the cold English chambers. One visitor to an English country house party complained that his room has too cold in which to pick up a pen, so he decided to go down to the drawing room to be by a fire. When he got there, he found the room overcrowded as everyone else had the same idea.
Finally we come to that beloved Victorian plant the aspidistra, also known as the cast iron plant. It seems that the fumes from gaslights killed many Victorian houseplants, but not the tough aspidistra. It was impervious to the fumes.
The gas was also another reason for the interest in plants grown in glass cases. The glass protected the plants inside.

1 comment:

Victorian Guy said...

Another great book is:
A Documentary History of American Interiors From the Colonial Era to 1915 by Edgar deN. Mayhew & Minor Meyers, jr.
published by Charles Scribner's Sons