Age of Queen Anne

HER PERIOD:

  • Queen Anne ruled from 1702 to 1714.

  • Her period in England is considered to be the glorious period as there was a great prosperity.

  • Industry, agriculture and commerce all progressively prospered.

  • During the last three years the country was in distress due to the unavoidable war conditions.

AGRICULTURE:

  • There was good harvest and cheap food during her reign.

  • Wheat was the most important food. And it was grown plenty than the medieval times.

  • Rye, barley and oats come next to wheat.

  • Corn was sent abroad on a large scale.

  • As there was great harvest across the nation, agricultural-goods exchange happened high between districts.

  • The coasts of Sussex and Hampshire sent corn.

  • Cheshire and other western countries sent cheese by sea to London.

SOCIAL HIERARCHY:

  • The society during her time had; the Duke, the Squire, the Yeoman, the Freeholder and the Tenant.

  • The dukes were immensely rich.

  • The squires had an income of about 200 or 300 ponds and they had to pay tax for land. They found it hard.

  • The yeomen were far more numerous than the squires formed about one-eighth of the population.

  • The freeholders had a vote for parliament and were often in a position to use it as he liked.

  • The tenant farmers were a little less in number. They had no vote; even if they had they were forced to support the candidates who their landlord likes.

ARCHITECTURE:

  • There was improvement in house-building and house-decoration.

  • Farm houses and big mansions with large windows and spacious rooms were built in the traditional dignified but simple style.

  • Tapestry was no longer in fashion for wall decor.

  • Houses were furnished with lighter and finer furniture made of mahogany imported from West Indies.

  • Chinaware in British market was a passion for ladies of the time.

EDUCATION:

  • Only a few public schools were there during the period.

  • Schools namely, Eton, Winchester and Westminster were chiefly patronized by the aristocracy.

  • The sons of the squires, yeomen and shopkeepers went to the nearest grammar schools.

  • Punishments in private schools were strict.

  • Wealthy families kept private chaplains for their children.

  • Women’s education was neglected and so no good school for them.

  • Most women learned to read, write, sew and manage the household from their mothers.

MARITAL ISSUES:

  • In the early part of the eighteenth Century, arranged marriage was high.

  • Runaway marriages were also common.

  • Love marriages were also numerous in numbers.

  • There was no evident of divorces. In the entire reign of Anne only 6 divorces happened.

SOCIAL HABITS:

  • Drunkenness was a national habit of Englishmen of all classes.

  • Gambling was another social habit, all men and women gambled freely. London, Bath and Tunbridge Wells had this as the centre of interests.

  • Tobacco smoking was a common habit with many people. All men, women and even children smoked pipes. In some country houses a smoking parlour was set.

  • The taking of snuff again was common. It became higher with the capture of a Spanish ship with load of snuff.

  • Dueling was common among men to decide on something. It was a dangerous social habit as any one or both the men will be found dead at the end.

SPORTS AND PASTIME:

  • Cricket was played in villages.

  • Football was played by many.

  • Cockfighting was watched with excitement by all classes of people.

  • Horse racing attracted hundreds of people to the place where it happened.

  • Other common pastimes were angling, shooting and snaring birds of all kinds.

TRANSPORTATION:

  • The roads were in a bad condition.

  • It is because of the inadequate administrative machinery.

  • Every parish across the road is bound to clean the road for 6 days without wages and maintain them by the farmers.

  • This bad condition of roads made sea and river traffic more popular for heavy goods.

INDUSTRIES:

  • The coal-mining was treated as the property of the owner of the land.

  • Explosions were common and many workers lost their lives in it.

  • Some workshops had large premises and employed many apprentices and journeymen.

  • Cloth-making was another important industry.

  • Spinning was done in country cottages by women and children.

  • Weaving was chiefly done in towns and villages by men.

COFFEE-HOUSES:

  • Coffee drinking was a common habit among the wealthier classes from the reign of Charles II.

  • During Queen Anne’s reign 500 coffee houses were there in the city of London.

  • The Tories, the Whigs, the Clergy men, literary men, businessmen and all the other groups had their own coffee houses.

  • It is a place where they meet and discuss all things under the sun, especially politics and religion.

RELIGIOUS AND SOCIAL ACTIVITIES:

  • The religious activities of the period consisted of the establishment of many religious societies and charity schools.

  • This is to encourage church- attendance, family prayers and Bible study.

  • During this period charity schools were founded by hundreds all across the country to educate the poor.

  • Social activity made the working for Society for the Reformation of Manners. This issued thousands of articles against- drinking, sweating, public indecency and Sunday trading.

  • The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel was formed and that made Bibles and Prayers available at cheap to all.

LONDON CITY:

  • London was the centre of Business.

  • Every country sent raw materials to London and London sent her finished works in return to all countries.

  • The city contained more than a tenth of the country’s population.

  • The lowly people lived with no sanitation and so the death rate was high.

  • The city enjoyed unusual democracy.

  • Nearly 12,000 rate-paying householders elected 26 aldermen and 200 councilors to manage the affairs of the city.

JUSTICE:

  • The court lost its reputation from the Revolution.

  • Queen Anne was weak and invalid to go to court and so she kept court on rare occasions.

  • Another reason for this decline of court is the changing spirit of time.

  • In the eighteenth century the patronage was sought not in the court but in the Parliament and in the chambers of Ministers.

Sources:

Social History of England by Louise Creighton

An Introduction to the Social History of England by A.G.Xavier

A Short History of Social Life in England by M B Synge

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