Victorian era: history, inventions, fashion, culture, architecture

The Victorian era, sometimes called the Victorian era, is a period in British history. It extends from 1837 to 1901. This era is marked by several elements including the reign of Queen Victoria, the advent of the industrial revolution and the apogee of the British Empire.

In this article, we take you on a tour of the history of the Victorian era in order to give you a glimpse of what inventions, fashion, culture and architecture were like during this time and how it inspires the Steampunk Movement.

The history of the Victorian Era

There were many significant events and key dates in the history of the Victorian era. Here is a brief summary of the events that took place during this period of the United Kingdom's history, along with the famous dates of the Victorian era.

Corresponding to the reign of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, the Victorian era ran from June 20, 1837 to January 22, 1901. After coming to the throne, the young queen did everything in her power to bring the monarchy into disrepute and to advance republicanism. The Victorian era also marked the height of the British industrial revolution, which led to a very miserable proletariat in the cities.

History behind the victorian era

Moreover, the arrival of the Queen coincided with an economic crisis and the advent of Chartism, a powerful protest movement, which demanded the establishment of an egalitarian democracy.

Despite all these obstacles, under the reign of Queen Victoria, the main character of this period, the country recorded great social and political changes:

  • Organization of the labor movement;
  • Emergence of the middle class;
  • Democratization of political life, etc.
In addition, it was during this second half of the 19th century that Great Britain experienced prosperity at home as well as an unparalleled brilliance outside its borders. Indeed, the United Kingdom became the "workshop of the world" and provided one third of the world's manufactured goods.

After the death of the sovereign, the empire experienced a great rise to the point of becoming the first world power. In the 19th century, Britain became a "mirror for the future" and a model for other countries.

Dates of the Victorian Era

Queen Victoria Coin Victorian Era
As mentioned above, the Victorian era runs from 1837 to 1901. This era is marked by dates you should know.
  • June 20, 1837 - Coronation of Queen Victoria
Her real name was Alexandrine Victoire de Kent and she was born on May 24, 1819 in London. Daughter of Edward Augustus and Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, she was named Queen of the United Kingdom on June 20, 1837. She succeeded William IV, her uncle who reigned during the Georgian era. The coronation of the queen took place on June 23, 1838 in Westminster Abbey.
  • January 1, 1977 - Queen Victoria appointed Empress of India
Forty years after her coronation and mainly on January 1, 1877, Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom was officially proclaimed Empress of India by the Delhi Assembly chaired by Lord Lytton. She held this office until her last breath.


  • January 22, 1901 - Death of Queen Victoria

The queen breathed her last at Osborne, leaving the Hanoverian line to die out. The reign of this great empress was marked by the development of her empire, which became the world's leading power during the industrial revolution. It was Edward VII, son of Queen Victoria, who succeeded to the throne. He reigned from 1901 to 1910, a period corresponding to the Edwardian era in the United Kingdom.

Famous invention of the Victorian Era

In the 19th century, many famous inventions were made. Among those that marked this era was the flush toilet, an everyday essential that slowly replaced the chamber pot. It was also during this period of history that the stamp was created in 1840 in England. Despite electronic mail, this invention still occupies a place of choice around the world.

Before being present in many cities around the world, the subway was very famous during the Victorian era. Other inventions such as the sewing machine and the automobile tire captured the hearts of nationals and internationals during this era.


Victorian style, a fashion phenomenon during the victorian era

During the Victorian era, clothing fashion was quite particular. Indeed, in the early Victorian era, women were gracefully sublimated by bell-shaped dresses with waists refined by a corset. Victorian hairstyles were also key elements in the style of British aristocratic women.

From 1850 on, the crinoline steals the show from petticoats. In 1870, corsets were replaced by house dresses.
Moreover, at the end of the century, clothes became simpler and sportswear began to appear. As for the men, they sublimated their clothes with the bow tie and the bowler hat. People from the wealthy classes preferred the top hat. The three-piece suit was not adopted until 1870. This king of fashion is waht inspired the steampunk clothes.


Art and Culture during the Victorian Era

The Victorian era did not only influence the Victorian style. It also suggested art and culture through English literature. Although the Victorian era was a continuation of Romanticism and saw the birth of great poets like Yeats, it also witnessed the explosion of the novel. The Victorian reader thus had at his disposal several literary works such as :

"Stevenson's "Treasure Island
The spiritual writings of Oscar Wilde
"Dracula" by Bram Stoker
The deductions of Sherlock Holmes by Conan Doyle, etc.
The literary landscape was also made up of the works of the Brontë sisters and Charles Dickens. This landscape is also, the place of plays of several authors and screenwriters including the great Irish nonconformist George Bernard Shaw, who is a music critic, playwright, essayist, playwright and screenwriter. Cinema has also known Victorian inspirations, discover the best Victorian movies in this dedicated article.

Steampunk was also strongly inspired by Victorian art. Discover more about Steampunk art in this exclusive article.

Victorian Architecture

Victorian Architecture
Spanning over 60 years, Victorian architecture encompasses a wide variety of overlapping styles: Old Gothic Revival, Exotic, Victorian Folk, Second Empire, Romanesque Revival, Colonial Revival and the late Anne Folk style.

One cannot speak of Victorian architecture without reference to its history. Following the Georgian (1714 to 1830) and Late Georgian (1830 to 1837) periods, Victorian architecture was characterized by rooms, which had large spaces, located in three-story residences. The family lived on the first two floors and the servants occupied the smaller third floor.

In addition, Victorian housing was built to accommodate everyone, regardless of class or income level. Thus, from rows of Victorian sardine houses, to houses built for factory workers in unattractive environments, to semi-detached and detached houses, which by the end of the Victorian period had modern conveniences such as gas and hot and cold running water, appeared.


In addition, there were innovations in building techniques as well as in building materials that could be transported by rail. Victorian architecture witnessed the appearance of machine-made bricks, grey slate for roofing in Wales. It was also during this period that flat glass arrived in the 1930s. They led to an increase in the size of windows. These innovations contributed to a housing boom in the 1850s and 1870s and drove millions of Victorians to build.

Victorian architecture is characterized by great diversity. The latter prioritized ornament and flowery maximalist interior design. During this period, we find buildings influenced by romanticism. However, towards the end of the nineteenth century, two major trends emerged based on the past or exoticism.

On the one hand, you have the neo-classical, neo-renaissance and medieval styles that attract the newly rich who want to enjoy the wonders of the past. On the other hand, there is the Liberty & Co. style. Although this style borrowed from oriental architectures (China, India, Japan and Egypt), it is a huge success with the general public.

Although there are a myriad of different styles in Victorian architecture, some of them have common characteristics. You can recognize the exterior of a Victorian building by the following:

  • Steeply pitched roofs;
  • Painted iron railings;
  • Simple or colored brick;
  • Sliding sash and sloping windows;
  • Small gardens;
  • Octagonal or round towers and turrets to draw the eye upward;
  • Roof finials in church style, etc.

As for the interior design of Victorian buildings, it was layered, cluttered, ornate and eccentric. The interiors of Victorian housing were generally composed of the following things:

  • Grand staircases;
  • High ceilings;
  • Richly carved woodwork;
  • Geometric tile colors;
  • Dark wood furniture;
  • Decorative wallpaper;
  • Wooden floors covered with oriental rugs;
  • Very thick curtains;
  • Stained glass windows, etc.
  • Victorian architecture interior

The Victorian architectural style was replaced by the Edwardian. Although the latter was similar to Victorian architecture, it was less ornate than it. Edwardian interiors were simpler and less cluttered.

So that's all the essential information about the Victorian era. This era is the major source of inspiration for Steampunk. It was obvious for our editorial staff to discover this so particular time. We hope you have learned more about this era.