Life in 18th Century Britain

Household objects

These household items from Bolling Hall Museum reveal different aspects of 18th Century life:


These books were cheaply produced and given to children to teach them 'moral lessons'. At this point wealthy children began to be separated from their parents and taught manners and good behaviour, as well as their lessons, by governesses and tutors.

Georgian cutlery:

This two pronged fork was typical of the early Georgian table cutlery. Forks had only recently come into use and at first all forks had just two prongs. Before this people had just used a knife and a spoon. 

The gentry had forks made with steel, but poor people still had cutlery made from natural materials like bone horn and wood. One of these knives in this picture is made of bone.

An ale container:

This ale or cider costrel was made of oak with an iron clasp in 1780, designed to hold alcohol. Many workers were partly paid in ale (beer), as the quality of water was poor and beer was safer to drink. Ale could also be used to pay for things, as people would barter.

C18th 'exercise machine':

This piece of furniture made in 1780 was called a 'Chamber horse'. It allowed a lady to exercise 'discreetly' in poor weather by bouncing up and down on the sprung seat, as though riding a horse. Ladies were not expected to ride alone or take part in any form of energetic exercise or sports which would make them sweat.


Barter - to swap goods or services rather than use money
Discreet - to avoid attracting attention
Governess - female tutor who often lived with the family of her pupil Separated - moved apart or no longer in the same place

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