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What was housing like for the Victorian middle classes?

A photograph of Victorian 'Villa' style houses, taken in Greater London in 1889.

A photograph of Victorian 'Villa' style houses, taken in Greater London in 1889.
A photograph of Victorian 'Villa' style houses, taken in Greater London in 1889. © Reproduced by permission of Historic England Archive. Ref:BL09861

Teaching idea

Ask pupils to go to the Images by Theme on Victorian Houses. Then look at all the photographs (around 20) of different types of Victorian house. Then using the worksheet provided ask pupils to decide whether the houses shown are working class, middle class or upper class, giving reasons for their decisions. Using the information in their tables pupils could then create a list of criteria to explain what defines middle class housing. They should look at all aspects of the houses such as size, styles and location. 

Learning aims and outcomes

  • An understanding that the Victorian middle classes lived in a wide range of different types of houses and locations
  • Use source material to identify middle class houses
  • Identify source material that can be used to answer specific questions
  • Select, organise and record information appropriately

Prior knowledge

  • A concept of who the Victorian middle and working classes were and how their lives might have differed is required

Extended learning and useful links

  • The photographs in the Images by Theme could be used to reinforce pupils understanding of primary and secondary evidence. They could be asked to add an extra column to their tables of 'Date Taken' and compare which are the Victorian photographs and which the modern.
  • Pupils could use the criteria they have made and their knowledge from the photographs they have seen to look for Victorian houses in their area.
  • The activity could be repeated using the Victorian Buildings Images by Theme - what criteria made a good public building.
  • Use the advanced search on the National Heritage List for England website to look for Victorian buildings in your locality. Pupils could use their criteria to assess which might be middle class. Also do the pupils recognise any of the local buildings? Did they know they were Victorian?

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