Although poverty was rife during the reign of Queen Victoria, the Victorian era was one of domestic pride where the poorest of families who had very little in the way of furniture, kept doorsteps and doorknobs gleaming in a effort to retain some form of status in the public face they presented to the world.
As urban development grew, the quality of city housing became the focus of many social reformers of the period. Charitable institutions like the Peabody Trust funded new social housing projects in the form of terraces which although cheaply built, created a vast improvement in living conditions and reflected much of what we think of as Victorian style in the form of decorative tiles and mouldings.
The aspirations of the middle classes were also heavily catered for during this period where urban developments created leafy streets and houses with sizeable gardens to emulate country living on the outskirts of cities. Many middle and upper class Georgian houses were also being completely redesigned in revived Gothic and other styles to signify elevations in status of their owners and new money was reflected in large houses being built with Gothic Revival towers intended to imitate the ancient castles of the nobility.
All classes from the very poor to the very wealthy aspired to recreate the elegance and comfort of the drawing room within their homes. Many examples of Victorian furniture during this period are generally highly decorative although can vary in quality. The Davenport antique desk made famous by Robert Gillow of Lancaster a hundred years before were reproduced heavily during this period and vary greatly between high quality hand made Victorian cabinetry and the more commonplace mass produced article.
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