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The Rural Life of Victorian England in 1857 Through Stunning Historical Photos

William Morris Grundy’s idyllic photographs document rural life in England during the Victorian era. Grundy was born in Birmingham in 1806 and began taking photos in 1855. His pictures mostly depict hunting and fishing scenes or scenes related to rural pursuits. He sold about 200 negatives to the London Stereoscopic Company, and individual stereographs still exist.

Victorian Britain remained essentially a rural society despite its towns’ growth. In the past, land-owning aristocrats would live in considerable comfort, served by domestic staff on their country estates, and those who made a solid living from trade or industry would invest it inland. Young Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, and their nine children epitomized the idealized family life. While social inequality has grown more marked and entrenched over time, this has been nothing more than a pipe dream for those who are desperately poor.

The Industrial Revolution brought rapid changes in everyday life for all classes. As a result, Victorian society was full of extremes and startling contrasts. New buildings and affluent development characterized cities, and overcrowded slums where people lived in appallingly poor housing conditions, worked long hours and died prematurely. Farm laborers earned low wages in the countryside, and as machinery replaced jobs, they drove an ever-growing amount of people to move to the cities. The Victorian era witnessed a rejection of the rationalism of the Georgian period and a turning towards romanticism and even mysticism in the realms of religion, social values, and art. An incredible amount of technological innovation during this era boosted Britain’s power and prosperity.

#1 Window Call

Window Call

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#2 Over the Gate

Over the Gate

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#3 Gleaners

Gleaners

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#4 Road Repairs

Road Repairs

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#5 Lay Victorians

Lay Victorians

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#6 Boy’s Best Friends

Boy’s Best Friends

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#7 Nap in the Sun

Nap in the Sun

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#8 Cows Grazing

Cows Grazing

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#9 Sitting on Fence

Sitting on Fence

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#10 Poor Family

Poor Family

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#11 Old Forge

Old Forge

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#12 Cemetery Kids

Cemetery Kids

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#13 William’s Well

William’s Well

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#14 A Wintry Walk

A Wintry Walk

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#15 After the Storm

After the Storm

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#16 Pumping Water

Pumping Water

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#17 Knife Grinders

Knife Grinders

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#18 Gamekeepers

Gamekeepers

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#19 Garden Astronomy

Garden Astronomy

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#20 Family Picnic

Family Picnic

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#21 A Moment’s Rest

A Moment’s Rest

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#22 Stone Steps

Stone Steps

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#23 Fishing Trip

Fishing Trip

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#24 Lake Fishing

Lake Fishing

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#25 Shared Solitude

Shared Solitude

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#26 Country Gentlemen

Country Gentlemen

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#27 Crooked Path

Crooked Path

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#28 Marching Band

Marching Band

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#29 Spring Blossoms

Spring Blossoms

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#30 Boys in the Wood

Boys in the Wood

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#31 Going Fishing

Going Fishing

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#32 Safe Crossing

Safe Crossing

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#33 Fisherman Seated

Fisherman Seated

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#34 Pot Shot

Pot Shot

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#35 Gent for Sale

Gent for Sale

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Written by Aung Budhh

Husband + Father + librarian + Poet + Traveler + Proud Buddhist. I love you with the breath, the smiles and the tears of all my life.

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