10 Weird Things People Did During The Victorian Era

Weird things people did during the victorian era



The Victorian era was during the reign of UK’s Queen Victoria, from her coronation in 1837 through to her death in 1901.

While many wonderful things happened during the Victorian era, such as the Industrial Revolution and great social reforms, people also did some straight-up bizarre stuff.

Don’t believe us? Well, get ready to have your mind absolutely blown!

People got really into taxidermy and then took it a little bit too far.

The Kittens’ Wedding by Walter Potter

One of the most famous Victorian taxidermists was Walter Potter, who had an affection for all things cute and cuddly, but a greater affection for creating out-of-this-world scenes using their dead bodies.

No, really. Walter created elaborate tableaus of scenes from various nursery rhymes using the bodies of animals he came across.

His most famous work, The Kittens’ Wedding, is enough to make you wonder how sane he really was.

Men and women kept their faces refreshed with horrifying face masks

The face mask or face glove that's popular during the Victorian Era

If you think the beauty industry today is a bit much, we have news for you!

One mask, in particular, was made from rubber and looked like the creation of Hannibal Lecter himself.

All one had to do was apply various dubious salves to the inside, strap on the “face glove,” and then sweat profusely in it all night.

Victorian women took arsenic to keep their skin pale.

Nowadays, everyone is obsessed with looking as sun-kissed as possible, which couldn’t be further from Victorian trends.

Women in the Victorian era would nibble on chalk wafers laced with arsenic to keep themselves looking as fresh out of the coffin as possible.

While highly toxic and addictive, it did at least turn the consumer’s skin a lovely shade of white.

Families posed for photographs with their newly-departed loved ones.

Dead family members posing for photographs during the Victorian era

We’re not talking about selfies next to an open casket, which we can only assume some people do today.

Victorian families dressed their deceased in their Sunday best and propped them up as best they could before taking photographs with them.

The justification was that they wanted to remember their loved ones looking their absolute best, but seriously, no, thank you!

Grave robbing was deathly common.

Grave robbers was common during the Victorian era to help doctors study the bodies.

The medical world at the time was advancing by leaps and bounds, but these advances needed one thing above all else – corpses, and the fresher, the better.

Known as body snatchers, grave robbers would wait until families would leave the cemetery and get to work before the rot set in.

Doctors paid good money for the freshest of corpses to advance their anatomical knowledge.

Women would wear entire birds on their heads!

Women sporting fashionable hats with real birds during the Victorian era.

Taxidermy wasn’t just for Walter Potter and his fans, as women all over Europe and the USA wore hats with brilliantly horrendous taxidermized birds balanced upon their brows.

Apparently, tucking a feather into their hat wasn’t enough for the Victorian fashionista.

The demand was so excessive that a conservationist estimated as many as 67 species of birds were threatened with extinction due to this terrible trend.

English Victorians held mummy unwrapping parties.

People during the Victorian era enjoyed unwrapping mummies during parties with their friends.

Any self-respecting member of Victorian society wouldn’t dare to go on a trip to Egypt without returning with a mummy to show for it.

Such was the fascination in Victorian England.

People literally hosted parties upon their return, where they unwrapped the mummified remains for guests to gawk at.

Some wealthy Victorians kept people in their gardens as living garden gnomes.

People during the Victorian era got real people to be their garden gnome.

Garden gnomes are already pretty weird, especially when people have extensive collections of them.

If you lived during Victorian times and were affluent enough (and a little bit insane), you would keep an old man as a sort of pet.

These hermits were often forbidden from grooming themselves and would live in the nooks and crannies of wealthy Victorians’ gardens.

In most cases, they weren’t even allowed to speak!

Victorians sent each other some of the most outlandish Christmas cards.

A weird Christmas card showing a beetle dancing with a frog.

Christmas cards were invented during the Victorian era, and while some are pretty similar to those we see today, the rest were weird and creepy.

Why send a jolly-looking Santa Claus card when you could send your loved ones a card with anthropomorphized insects or frogs on it?

We’re not going to lie; we might be sending a few copies of these to our friends and relatives this year!

There were countless clubs dedicated to eating the weirdest animals alive.

An artist's interpretation of Charles Darwin chasing after exotic animals to eat.

Even Charles Darwin, the man behind our theory of evolution, was a keen eater of anything exotic.

Some clubs specialized, such as the Ichthyophagous Club, dined on the strangest sea creatures they could find.

Others, like the Glutton Club (of which Darwin was a member), seemed not to care what they were eating as long as it was a new experience!


We can say for sure that some people in the Victorian era seemed to have too much time and money on their hands!

It’s truly challenging to even wrap your head around some of these bizarre habits and hobbies, let alone imagine that they were socially acceptable.

Let’s just hope that hipsters don’t try and bring some of these trends back!

About The Author

Shash Wighton
Shash Wighton

Shash is an avid traveler and enjoyer of all good things life can throw his way. These days you'll find him teaching English and writing, while running his own campervan business.

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