A History of Victorian Furniture

During the course of the1800’s Britain developed into the most prosperous and technologically advanced nation on earth. Invention, mechanization and industrialization brought the greatest and far reaching change in England and the English. The nation rapidly grew in confidence of its place as a leading world power. Fueled by the wealth of its industrialization and new manufacturing industries its influence reached far around the world to the furthest corners of its empire. This was a new world and with it came a new order to challenge the old accepted power structures. A new class middle class of wealthy industrialists whose money gave them power and influence became the Victorian rich and their choices and values were to be a major influence in Victorian life. Their money, founded in the production from the new factories bought them fine new homes, large and important. These great new houses borrowed from the styles of the upper classes with many rooms which needed filling. The rise of the middle classes meant more homes with more money to spend and the need for more furniture.

Along with the new modern Victorian world came an inevitable change in style of the Victorian home and the history of Victorian furniture is one of variety. Furniture styles that reflected a fascination with the past were also a showcase of what was now possible in design and production. This age saw the beginning of mass production of furniture in a manufacturing industry whose new industrial techniques could rapidly reproduce the styles and designs which before now has been expensively carved by craftsmen.

The history of Victorian furniture is one of variety. Out of favour went the grace and fine lines of the Regency style furniture which were replaced by the more robust heavy furniture of the prosperous Victorian home. Ornate decoration and dark shining woods of mahogany and rosewood veneer and elaborate machined turned legs. However no one style was dominant in the Victorian home as designers, encouraged by the fast output of the new furniture manufacturing industries gave their imaginations free run. It was now possible to mass produce styles from other historical periods and the reproduction of earlier styles from the Tudor, Elizabethan, and Neo Classical periods became popular. However the one style that perhaps recalls this period most is the Gothic revival style. Large heavy furniture pieces in Gothic design were made in solid oak to reflect Englishness. The Victorians embraced the Gothic style with enthusiasm as can be seen in architecture and art as well as in the design of these furniture pieces. The history of Victorian furniture reflects the history of the Victorian age where a society underwent huge changes yet also huge uncertainties. Which made them look forward with pride and confidence while still looking back to a fictional age of order, glory and chivalry.

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