"Wealth and beggary, vice and virtue, guilt and innocence, repletion and the direst hunger,
all treading on each other and crowding together"
- Charles Dickens
See the 'rag n bone' man, coster girls, pie sellers, fisherman's wives, match girls, boot cleaners, road sweeps, muffin men, rat catcher, medicine men, crippled beggars, prostitutes, drunks, petty thieves, convicts and thugs. Whose misery, ignorance and vice amidst the immense wealth and great knowledge of a nation, are kept honest by the constant patrol of Sir Robert Peel's bloody gang.
Early Victorian life had started off hard. The inherited poor law and it's humiliating work houses, hadn't helped the plight of the needy. Indeed they had plunged the masses towards an all time low, into what is now known as "The hungry 40's".
Industrialisation was driving people towards the cities, increasing the population of them 10 fold. The already inadequate facilities crumbled and very swiftly the squalor of poverty, spread. For every breath taking artifact on show at the 'Great Exhibition', hundreds of people were dying in the name of progress.
Henry Mayhew witnessed and documented the degradation, Charles Dickens wrote novels about it, but there were no attempts to remedy the problem for over 30 years! Today we romanticise about the era, jolly songs are sung about it; but it was anything but jolly for the 40 or more to a room, documented to be living in the inner cities. Indeed, this is the very reason 'eating out' became such a necessity!
Catch a glimpse of the middle class men or women, mingling amongst the lower classes, and suddenly a window into the past is opened and a complete picture of Victorian life is created. Everyone going about their daily business, all living and surviving Queen Victoria's rule.
The 'Ragged Victorians' research and respectfully, enter into the lives of these poor unfortunate souls. Dressing in the clothes of the time, using the language, the goods and the currency, to portray, as near to life as possible, the hardships they endured.