Monday, October 31, 2016

A Victorian Lady and her Staff

In order for the Victorians to have a successful high class status, they required lots of staff. The number of servants needed was determined by the size of each estate.  I will be describing the servants that dealt with Victorian women and their children on a daily basis.

House Keeper- considered upper staff hierarchy, she is responsible for the female staff and maintaining the house’s furnishings.

Servants under her domain could include:
Chamber Maids- responsible for cleaning the bedrooms.

Parlor Maids- responsible for cleaning and maintaining sitting rooms, drawing rooms, etc. of the house.

House Maids- a general all purpose worker.

Between Maid- worked in either the house or kitchen as needed.

Laundry Maids- responsible for all washing and ironing

Cook or Chef- also considered upper staff hierarchy was in charge of the entire kitchen staff and preparing the family’s meals.  Food quality was an important method for impressing guests.  Servants under her domain could include:

Under Cook- apprentice to chef, also prepares meals for the staff.

Kitchen Maid- assisted in the kitchen work. Any type of cutting prepping etc.

Scullery Maid- dish washer.

These servants were responsible for preparing at least 3 full meals, tea times or any other events for the day.  They would prepare everything.   Most of these servants are never seen.

Lady’s Maid- also considered upper staff hierarchy.  It was her main job to be the private servant for the lady of the house.  She would assist in dressing, caring for the clothes, being a companion and even doing secretarial duties.  
Head Nurse- she was in charge of the nursing staff in the house.  She was to watch over the young children.  Nurses- responsible for raising the babies and young children in the house.
A Typical Day of a Lady

The lady’s maid brings up the tea tray and helps her to dress.  It is unacceptable for a lady to be seen in a dressing gown outside the bedroom.

 -The lady will change her outfit at least three times in a day.

 -After breakfast, she meets with the cook to discuss menus for the day.

 -The afternoon may include reading, sewing, visiting  friends or hosting a tea party.

- Evening time is spent with her husband and having dinner together.  The children are fed in the Nursery and see their parents for about 1 hour every day.
-At least once a month the couple will attend the theater, attend or host a dinner party.

Submitted by Anastasia Rose



Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Victorian Delicacy

From the black kohl that lined Cleopatra's eyes to the arsenic that whitened Elizabethan cheeks, to the to the rouge that pinked the cheeks of pin-up girls, make-up has been a part of culture and fashion since recorded history began.  Sometimes used to mask beauty, sometimes to enhance it even sometimes to downplay it, applying color to flesh is an art form that began in antiquity and has survived to modern days.  

In the middle of the 1800's, Queen Victoria of England declared makeup to be vulgar, and so it started to fall to the wayside in most Western Countries toward the end of the century, although prostitutes and actresses continued to wear makeup. Women in the 19th century liked to be thought of as fragile ladies. They compared themselves to delicate flowers and emphasized their delicacy and femininity. They aimed always to look pale and interesting. Paleness could be induced by drinking vinegar and avoiding fresh air. Sometimes ladies discreetly used a little rouge on the cheeks, but make-up was frowned upon in general especially during the 1870s when social etiquette became more rigid.

A pale skin was a mark of gentility. It meant that a lady could afford to not work outdoors getting suntanned which was then considered vulgar and coarse. Continuous work in sun and harsh weather coarsened the skin then, as it does now. Parasols were de rigueur and used to protect the complexion. Rooms were shuttered with dark heavy velvet curtains to keep out the sun's rays. Some effort was made to keep the décolleté neckline in good condition as it was often exposed in evening dress. As part of their "toilet" in the morning ladies of leisure would ensure well plucked eyebrows, perhaps trim their eyelashes, and daub castor oil onto their eyelids and lashes.
Skin: Pale skin was a sign of wealth. Wealthy women did not have to work outside, and so being pale was a sign of being part of the upper class. Pale skin would be achieved through chemical means - sometimes women used face powders made of lead (which is poisonous, but it achieved the desired affect). There was a lot of what they called 'snake oil salesmen' who would sell ointments that could contain anything (like cocaine) for health and beauty purposes. It was also popular to put egg whites on your faces and allow it to dry, creating a porcelain-like appearance. To hide freckles, blotches, or redness, they could dust on rice powder, zinc oxide or, the most expensive option, ground pearl powder. Trivia: By the late 1800's, women were using fine blue pencils to trace their veins lines to increase the appearance of delicate translucent skin. Powders were available with blue and lavender tints. This allowed women to appear very pale even in the yellow gas and candle light.

Eyes: For bright eyes, a drop of lemon or orange juice in each eye would be used, and was considered a cleansing method. Eye shadow was not really used. Beeswax was sometimes used to make eye lashes look thicker, and Kohl was often used on eye lashes. Kohl is a mixture of soot and other ingredients, and it was used by the Egyptians. Sometimes women went with eyeliner instead, using the ends of burnt twigs to outline the eye. Poisonous belladonna was also dropped into the eyes causing the pupils to dilate, creating a luminous glow, but clouding vision. People with cataracts were prescribed belladonna; Queen Victoria used it in her declining years rather than have surgery. Belladonna is also known as Deadly Nightshade. It has a long history of use as a medicine, cosmetic, and poison. Before the Middle Ages, it was used as an anesthetic for surgery; the ancient Romans used it as a poison (the wife of Emperor Augustus and the wife of Claudius - both were rumored to have used it for murder); and, predating this, it was used to make poison-tipped arrows. The name "bella donna" is derived from Italian and means "beautiful woman" because the herb was used in eye-drops by women to dilate the pupils of the eyes to make them appear seductive. The crude drug is used in sedatives, stimulants, and antispasmodics.

Cheeks and Lips: Rouge was commercially available, but you could not be seen applying it. Some women, instead of applying rouge to their cheeks, would pinch or slap them to make them appear rosy and glow. Lips were sometimes pinched or even bitten to make them look read and swollen.  Lipstick was beeswax dyed with crushed flowers or sometimes carmine beetles. (Beetles that have carmine, a red pigment, is used in food coloring and derived from the eggs of the cochineal beetle and crushed bodies of the female)

 A Woman's Place is in The Home

The Victorian era seems like another world to us. Yet the late Victorians were very familiar with many of the things we use every day. The one thing that was different was the place of women in society. There were, of course, perceptive women of independent original thought, but for the huge majority, life was easier if they accepted that a woman's place was in the home. To lump all women of the Victorian era as one body would be wrong. The era spanned 64 years and changes in attitudes were gradually shifting as the century closed.

A Woman's Qualities

The accepted reasoning was that the career for women was marriage. To get ready for courtship and marriage a girl was groomed like a racehorse. In addition to being able to sing, play an instrument and speak a little French or Italian, the qualities a young Victorian gentlewoman needed, were to be innocent, virtuous, biddable, dutiful and be ignorant of intellectual opinion.
Right - Taking tea wearing lavish Victorian gowns in 1854. Fashion history images we see today are usually of beautifully gowned women, yet many working women as opposed to ladies such as these wore rags.

Whether married or single, all Victorian women were expected to be weak and helpless, a fragile delicate flower incapable of making decisions beyond selecting the menu and ensuring her many children were taught moral values. A gentlewoman ensured that the home was a place of comfort for her husband and family from the stresses of Industrial Britain.

A woman's prime use was to bear a large family and maintain a smooth family atmosphere where a man need not bother himself about domestic matters. He assumed his house would run smoothly so he could get on with making money.

Mistresses for Men

Even in high places Victorian men kept mistresses, but they still expected their wives or mistresses to be faithful whatever their own misdemeanors. If a women took a lover it was not made public. If it did become public knowledge she would be cut by society. But men could amble along to one of their gentleman's clubs and always find a warm welcome.


Married Woman's Property Act 1887

It was a hypocritical period when relationships were quite artificial. Until late in the century in 1887 a married woman could own no property. Then in 1887 the Married Woman's Property Act gave women rights to own her own property. Previously her property, frequently inherited from her family, belonged to her husband on marriage. She became the chattel of the man. During this era if a wife separated from her husband she had no rights of access to see her children. A divorced woman had no chance of acceptance in society again.

Social Differences between Classes of Women

A wealthy wife was supposed to spend her time reading, sewing, receiving guests, going visiting, letter writing, seeing to the servants and dressing for the part as her husband's social representative.

For the very poor of Britain things were quite different. Fifth hand clothes were usual. Servants ate the pickings left over in a rich household. The average poor mill worker could only afford the very inferior stuff, for example rancid bacon, tired vegetables, green potatoes, tough old stringy meat, tainted bread, porridge, cheese, herrings or kippers.

By the end of the Queen Victoria's reign there were great differences between members of society, but the most instantly apparent difference was through the garments worn.

The Victorian head of household dressed his women to show off family wealth. As the 19th century progressed dress became more and more lavish until clothing dripped with lace and beading as the new century dawned.

A wealthy woman's day was governed by etiquette rules that encumbered her with up to six wardrobe changes a day and the needs varied over three seasons a year. A lady changed through a wide range of clothing as occasion dictated.

Fashion history and photographic records clearly illustrate there was morning and mourning dress, walking dress, town dress, visiting dress, receiving visitors dress, travelling dress, shooting dress, golf dress, seaside dress, races dress, concert dress, opera dress, dinner and ball dress.

Left - Fashion plate of wealthy women in an open carriage which enabled them to display their clothes and elevated position in society.

Fashion plates were hugely successful in this era giving ladies, supposed to be women, visual clues on how to dress for their new found status.

Submitted by Irish Rose

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Wild West Casino Night Fundraiser

Our annual Wild West Casino Night is this Saturday night, Sept 10 at the Lakeside Rodeo Grounds. This is our 5th year hosting this event, which raises funds for local horse rescue charities. 

The Wild West Casino Night started as an idea many years ago when the founders of the Victorian Roses Ladies Riding Society were in another re-enactment group that used to have old-fashioned cotillions as a fundraiser. While this dance was fun, wouldn’t it be a smash to have a room filled with poker tables and salty characters bellied up to the bar? This image materialized sooner than later when a friend’s birthday party brought in a company that provided fun gaming tables. Two plus two was added, the one was carried and the Wild West Casino Night was born.

At the time, the Roses were a newly formed club and only had 8 or 9 members. We were also in the process of figuring out what charity we would like to support. Horse rescue was an easy pick as so many of us felt passionately about our equine partners and some of us had even adopted horses ourselves. 

With so few of us, it was a challenge to do the massive amount of work that this event required. We had to gather donations, secure a venue, apply for permits and additional insurance, hunt for sponsors, hire the table company and the entertainment, advertise the event, and be at every station the night of and a million more things. In the end, we pulled it off and nearly 300 people came to the first Wild West Casino Night. As always, we have our village of support staff, donators and generous sponsors to thank for helping us get er done. We were able to raise nearly $5,000 in one night to give to horse rescue.

Things haven’t changed a whole lot in five years. The time is still from 6 to 10 pm and we are still hosting the event at the Lakeside Rodeo Grounds because it is a great mid-location for horse folks from all over the county to converge. Last year we started a grant program in order to help us decide which rescue groups should benefit from the money raised and we donated $6,500 from the event.

So, that’s the history of the event. Now what can you expect this year by coming? Well…you pay just $20 a person to join us. With your ticket, you will be given a Golden Coin. The Golden Coin is taken to the tables and exchanged for $200 in chips. We have nine Blackjack tables, two Craps tables, two Poker tables, a Roulette table and new this year are two old west Faro tables. Companies who help sponsor the event can “claim” a table and advertise on that table however they would like to so you may be playing on Sandy Angione Realtor’s table or San Diego Barns & Buildings’, Hole in the Wall Gang’s or M Power Truck and Diesel’s tables. If you don’t know how to play, that is completely okay because it is just for fun and the dealers aren’t strict like in Vegas. They will help you learn and you will end up having a good time. If you want more chips, you are welcome to buy more Golden Coins for just $10 each.


The end of your ticket goes in a door prize drawing jar when you enter the room and the ticket stub that you have has numbers on it that will be your bidding number if you would like to be a part of the silent auction as well as your number for door prize drawings. Silent auction tables will be set up on one side of the room and include some amazing items like Carrie Underwood concert tickets, Tom’s Hay Gift Certificates, handmade items, a 2 night stay at Stagecoach Campground, fun things to do in the county and anything from jewelry to Legos. A list of what is available at the Silent Auction tables will be given to you in your event program.

The other side of the room is devoted to raffle prizes. Some of the great raffle prizes include Luke Bryan concert tickets, restaurant gift cards, 10 bales of hay from Descanso Hay & Feed and many more things. Each item has a jar next to it where your raffle tickets will go for the item you would like to win. How do you get raffle tickets? You win big at the tables! For each $100 turned in, you will get 2 raffle tickets. Want a free raffle ticket? Come dressed in a Wild West costume!

We will also be having a 50/50 raffle. Members will be walking around selling these tickets. One drawing will be made during the night and 50% of the cash pot will go to you and 50% will go to the charities. Tickets are just $1 each or 6 tickets for $5.

If you want to try your hand at corn-hole for something else to do, we will be offering a corn-hole tournament this year. The winner will take home some cash!

Hungry? The Descanso Junction Restaurant will have a food wagon onsite with a BBQ & Baja menu to choose from. And what is a Wild West saloon without the drinks? Budweiser beer and wine donated by Rock Canyon Vineyards and Country Wine & Spirits is available for purchase for just $5 each. OR you can go for the best deal of the night: limited edition engraved, refillable beer and wine glasses that come with 4 drink tickets each. These are just $20 so you are getting a great glass to take home for FREE with this deal. Be sure and check them out.

Our DJ Gil will keep the tunes going and make important announcements throughout the night. Also new this year, we will have a live auction. We have some ahhhhmazzzing items this year to live auction! How about a 7-day vacation in a Mexican Villa? Or what about a half-day chartered fishing trip for 6 people? Have an upcoming party? How would you like a backyard BBQ for 50 people catered by Phil’s BBQ? We also have a mystery gift at the live auction. Don’t forget…. The money raised goes to charity!

We are proud to have selected four horse rescue charities to support this year. They are Falcon Ridge Equine Rescue, Horses of Tir Na Nog, ResQue Ranch and Star Bright Ranch. All the rescues will have volunteers at the event that you can talk to and find out more information. 

So you will be coming to the event, right? Bring friends! Dress up like a saloon girl or a gunslinger! Help us spread the word so we can make this year the biggest yet and keep updated by liking the Wild West Casino Night’s Facebook page. Tickets are available online at or at the door. See you on Saturday!

Submitted by Margarita Rose

Monday, August 1, 2016

Victorian Sleighs and Essentials

   Sleighing Essentials
Thick snow made traveling in a sleigh a smoother ride than traveling in a wagon. But most sleighs were not covered, so the ride could be very cold. People kept warm by covering themselves with fur blankets and with heavy coverlets called “lap robes.” Lap robes (which were designed to cover a rider’s legs, lap, and feet) came in many kinds of designs and could be surprisingly bright and colorful. They often featured pictures of flowers, horses, dogs, or other sporting scenes. 
People also used foot warmers to keep warm in a sleigh or carriage. These were metal boxes that were filled with hot coals and placed on the floor inside the vehicle. 

Sleigh bells were fastened to horses to signal the approach of someone important (the affluent ornamentally wore bells as a symbol of wealth and status) or to warn pedestrians of an approaching vehicle. Sleighs were unable to stop quickly enough so they needed a warning sound.  To the right are shaft bells.  Below, are another type of bells.
Other essentials include:
Fur muff - below left
Plumes - below right 
Above, an all-original and fully restored Grand Victoria Sleigh or Hudson Valley Sleigh by Brewster & Co. of New York City. Built around 1890, this sleigh seats a driver plus one on the driver’s seat and can carry up to four passengers. Drawn by a team of four horses.
Above, an all-original and fully restored Albany Cutter by Brewster & Co. of New Youk City. Built around 1890, it seats a driver plus one on the driver’s seat and can carry up to two passengers or grooms. Drawn by a team of two horses.
Above, an all-original and fully restored Portland bobsled. Built around 1890, it seats a driver plus one on the driver’s seat and can carry up to two passengers or grooms. Drawn by a team of two or four horses.
Clothing for Sleighs

Bundling up in layers of wool, fur, cotton and linen was the first line of defense. The following passage of people entering an inn describes how they removed their outerwear when traveling:
Passengers were busy taking off coats – one, two and three in succession. Those were the days of bona fide great coats. Nowadays, they have become lessened and merely overcoats. Chins appeared out of their many wrappages of silk, and fur caps are bundled into pockets.
People wore layered clothing made of wool, flannel, or fur. Typical winter outerwear included hooded capes, great coats, scarves, cloaks, shawls, scarves, muffs, gloves, mittens, thick socks, stockings, long wraps, caps, hats, and ear muffs.
Sitting in open sleighs, carts, and carriages, people would tuck comforters, quilts, or blankets around the, and bring umbrellas to protect them from freezing rain. Fur sets and fur trimming made of beaver, fox, bear, and marten were common. Seal skin cots prevented wind and rain from penetrating to the skin, and swans down muffs kept delicate hands warm and protected. A foot warmer heated with coal would complete the traveling ensemble.

Above is a Rein Rail.
My Sleighs
Modern times with an antique Portland Cutter, pulled by Barney, (an Appaloosa), and driven by Victorian Roses Ladies Riding Society’s Priscilla Rose.

An antique Portland Cutter, pulled by Barney, (an Appaloosa), and driven by Victorian Roses Ladies Riding Society’s Priscilla Rose, with Misty Rose as her passenger. A custom frame with wheels was made so that the sleigh could be pulled when there was no snow.

View from the sleigh…it glides silently in the freshly fallen snow.

This Portland Cutter style pony sleigh has wheels attached to the runners so it can be in parades with the Victorian Roses Ladies Riding Society. Zak is pulling it while Priscilla Rose is driving it.

 Submitted by Priscilla Rose

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

19th Century Riding Habits

Here are some examples of riding habits throughout the 1800s.   The year 1837 marked the beginning of the Victorian era, which ended in 1901.


1820s Silk Habit Philadelphia Museum of Art

 This fashion plate (right) shows an early 19th Century habit from 1816. They were frequently made in wools of a darker color.  The habits had influences from masculine garments and military uniforms. She wears a delicate white cravat. New York Public Library's photo collection.

Riding pants were worn by women under their habit skirts as early as the 1830s. These trousers were crafted long and covered the legs completely.
1829-30 habit  Museum of London

Riding spencer circa 1835 From LACMA

An extremely rare brown wool `Amazone' or riding habit, circa 1835-8, the one-piece gown with triple row of satin covered buttons to the bodice, broad collar, the sleeves with pleated mancherons, elongated skirt for riding side-saddle, lined in brown cotton


Below left, Fashion plate January, 1849  Godey's Lady's Book Riding dress for the country.— "Leghorn hat, with a rolled brim, the dress a full skirt of pale drab-colored cashmere, fastened up the front by a close row of very small silk buttons of the same color. A “Jack Sheppard” waist (see Lady's Book for November) of nankeen, with a rich white linen braid embroidery on the front and sleeves. The short skirt, or basque, is trimmed in the same way as the waist, and hued with pale blue Florence silk. Plain linen collar and cuffs, and a blue ribbon neck tie. Gloves as near as possible the shade of the waist."   


Above right, the green habit from the early 1940s has gigot sleeves. As the 40s progressed, habits became more tailored. "The skirts were generally a third longer than a normal hem length, to provide a long drape. Sewn into the front was a loop for a lady to slip around her boot by the outside stirrup, keeping the skirt from flying up. Sometimes near the trailing edge of the skirt was another loop to wear around the wrist or onto a button after dismounting, to ease walking with all the voluminous material. If there wasn’t a carrying loop the ladies would gather the skirt and hold it over an arm. The skirt could trail after getting to relatively clean pavement, cobblestones, &c. Skirts usually had at least one hidden pocket sewn in for a handkerchief" Source


Below left, 1858-59.  Mary Toogood wears a fitted bodice instead of a jacket with a long basque and peplum. Although she does not wear a hoop under her skirt for the photographer, it does look like she is wearing a small bustle to support the peplum of her bodice. source

Right, 1858-59.  "One can clearly see her long fitted button down bodice with it's long skirt like basque. The way her skirt drapes is also visible. It is shorter on the right side and trains to the left so that when mounted, there would be slightly less bulk under the right leg yet still allowing for the long skirt to hang right down on the left side. If the rider rode on an off-side saddle, the habit's skirt would be cut to train on the right side."   see source above


Left, Miss C. Weston from Brady-Handy Collection  At least one skirt elevator visible, between her hands; other places, the skirt seems to be looped up/tied inside.    Right, 1868. You can see her petticoat underneath.

"The best dressed Victorian horsewoman often did without her petticoats when riding and wore nothing more than a flannel chemise with long colored sleeves under her trousers. Ladies’ trousers were of the same material and color as the riding habit. The trousers were sometimes full and flowing “like a Turk’s” and fastened with an elastic band round the ankle, indistinguishable from the skirt. In this riding costume, which was made amply warm by the folds of the trousers plaited like a Highlander’s kilt and fastened with an elastic band at the waist, the Victorian lady could sit down in a manner impossible for one encumbered by two or three short petticoats. Nevertheless, some ladies preferred a quilted petticoat that was not too full. It was lined with silk or glazed muslin." source

Right, “Emma Cochran June 1863": Full-length portrait of a woman identified as Emma Cochran from Ball & Thomas’ Photographic Art Gallery, 120 West Fourth Street, near Race, Cincinnati, O. LC-DIG-ppmsca-10948


Right, "The first “safety skirt” was invented in 1875, which buttoned along the seams to help stop accidents where women were dragged by their horses, and sometimes crushed beneath a rolling mount, during a tumble. This safety skirt later morphed into an apron skirt, which was worn buttoned around the waist, just covering the legs (which were encased in breeches)." Source

Above and below, 1875 green wool habit from the Met Museum.  Detail of draping, hidden under the back of the jacket


Right, military inspired habit with bowler type hat.
Following the fashion trends of the 1880s, riding habits were very form fitting.

"Fashionable women wore dark woollen tailored jackets inspired by men's coats. By the 1880s their dress was so similar that some observers noted that from a distance it was difficult to distinguish very young ladies from young gentlemen. This was no doubt helped by the fashion for wearing bowlers, top hats, cravats, waistcoats and trousers under skirts.  Many women's jackets were embellished with details borrowed from military uniform. Braiding was a popular form of decoration inspired by ornamentation on regimental dress as well as the flamboyant hussar designs. This elegant example is based on the regimental patrol jacket characterized by parallel rows of applied braid across the breast, looped at intervals into designs known as 'crow's feet' because of their distinctive shape."  Source



In 1885, snap fasteners were invented, and shortly after that a new version of the safety skirt for riding was made that would tear open along the line of snaps if a lady fell.

                                                                                                                    Christy's Auctions
The Metropolitan 1890s Riding Habits

Photo from Panhandle Plains Museum in Canyon, Texas. 
"Equestrienne in bowler hat, stylish gauntlets, and with horsehair quirt, stands beside her horse, which has a horsehair bridle and cowgirl-style, double-rigged, heavily carved sidesaddle" late1890s.   
  Above- riding habits from 1895, 1898, and 1900. Bowler hats had become acceptable. The photo is interesting as it shows the woman’s trousers and boots.  Source

Just Because....Side Saddle Ostrich Races!

Submitted by Shenandoah Rose.