Leisure and entertainment

“…habitual drunkards induced to spend their evenings in the library”: Leisure and entertainment in Victorian and Edwardian Oxford

In the mid nineteenth century changes in employment practices and rising real wages meant that ordinary working people found themselves, usually for the first time, with leisure time and with spare money to spend on recreation. All sorts of establishments arose to fulfill the new demand for entertainment, many of them aimed at keeping people out of the pub. This talk describes where and how Oxford citizens spent their free time, and how the middle classes attempted to impose ‘rational recreation’ on their working-class contemporaries.

“A brilliant talk … you combined scholarship and humour to a great degree, and chose many images which should make people look up above their heads next time they are in Oxford.” Christopher Fance, Oxfordshire Family History Society, January 2020.

“It was great to see all the photos, and you painted a very vivid picture of Victorian Oxford. It was full of interest.”  Marilyn Wiltshire, The Archway Foundation, Oxford, October 2015.

“Our members very much appreciated and enjoyed your well presented and informative talk, and it will add a different perspective to our future walks around Oxford.” Sarah Wintle, Brightwell cum Sotwell WI, March 2014.

“A fascinating talk, exceedingly well illustrated and put together, a great balance of historical record and evidence still visible today.  We all learnt a lot.”   Jane Baldwin, Deputy Director, Oxford Preservation Trust, June 2011.

Contact me on 01865 242760 or liz@lizwoolley.co.uk to book this talk.

A guided walk on this topic is also available.

Back to illustrated talks main page