Age of Queen Anne
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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