Victorian London

This map helps us to return to Victorian England and to begin to think like a Victorian.  The map features Hyde Park, which housed the Great Exhibition of 1851, the first ever world's fair.  There wasa large glass structure, dubbed The Crystal Palace by Punch, and it held wonders from all around the world. This account of a visit to the Great Exhibition comes from Charlotte Bronte (1816-55), beloved author of Jane Eyre, who is pictured here in a painting by George Richmond dating to 1850.

A visit to the Crystal Palace, 1851

charlotte bronte"Yesterday I went for the second time to the Crystal Palace. We remained in it about three hours, and I must say I was more struck with it on this occasion than at my first visit. It is a wonderful place – vast, strange, new and impossible to describe. Its grandeur does not consist in one thing, but in the unique assemblage of all things. Whatever human industry has created you find there, from the great compartments filled with railway engines and boilers, with mill machinery in full work, with splendid carriages of all kinds, with harness of every description, to the glass-covered and velvet-spread stands loaded with the most gorgeous work of the goldsmith and silversmith, and the carefully guarded caskets full of real diamonds and pearls worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. It may be called a bazaar or a fair, but it is such a bazaar or fair as Eastern genii might have created. It seems as if only magic could have gathered this mass of wealth from all the ends of the earth – as if none but supernatural hands could have arranged it this, with such a blaze and contrast of colours and marvellous power of effect. The multitude filling the great aisles seems ruled and subdued by some invisible influence. Amongst the thirty thousand souls that peopled it the day I was there not one loud noise was to be heard, not one irregular movement seen; the living tide rolls on quietly, with a deep hum like the sea heard from the distance."

Source: The Brontes’ Life and Letters, by Clement Shorter (1907)

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