In early November with lockdown back on and everyone’s plans cancelled, staff at the Framework Knitters’ Museum began to wonder what life must have been like without many of the things we take for granted.
How different would life be without Netflix, wi-fi, TV and smart phones…not to mention indoor toilet facilities and simple things like an electric kettle?!
To find out (and provide a bit of light relief for everyone), the Museum Manager, Jim Grevatte, and his family decided to move into the museum’s 19th century Manager’s Cottage, and live there as a “Victorian family” over the weekend of 21st and 22nd November.
During the two days, Jim and his family “enjoyed” such experiences as sleeping on straw and horsehair mattresses, drawing water from the museum pump, cooking on a Victorian range (they ate a lot of soup), and playing chess and other games by lamplight.
The museum had asked local schools to come up with questions about how life has changed over the last 150 years, to help the Grevattes get the most from their experience. To answer these, the family documented their activities in words and pictures on the museum’s social media pages – the only time they were allowed to use technology!
Summarising the weekend on Facebook, the museum posted:
“Here are some of the learning points from the Victorian Life Swap:
- Lack of personal space. Perhaps we don’t appreciate this enough. Even Jim’s family of 4 felt this, so imagine large Victorian families.
- Everything seems so inconvenient to our 21st century expectations, e.g. needing the toilet in the night, getting water from the pump, “quick”’ meals not an option.
- Temperature. Jim’s family were cold most of the time, even with lots of knitted scarves. And even the source of heat – the fire – only heats the immediate surroundings. Move away from the fire and you are cold again.
On the positive side, the family enjoyed doing things together such as playing games and making things. Things that maybe don’t feature as much in our busy – and often separate – lives.
Altogether, a unique insight into a different way of life.”