How Much Do You Know About…the Victorian Era?

March 1, 2017


The Victorian era (1837 – 1901) is based on the years during Queen Victoria’s reign. This time period is considered a time of prosperity, peace, and power for England. Professor Anne Saiken’s upcoming class covers all the Victorian mores and starts on March 20th, so we put together a quiz on the Victorian Era!


1. Victorians are known for wearing black clothing above all else. What is the main reason for this?

A. They attended lots of funerals.
B. Coal pollution stained their clothes.
C. Their prudery extended to colorful clothing.

2. In Victorian times how did most people avoid body odor?

A. Tub baths.
B. Sponge baths.
C. Perfume.

3. What country above all others were Victorians obsessed by?

A. Palestine.
B. Egypt.
C. India.

4. Which style of food was most appreciated in this era?

A. Plain.
B. Indian.
C. French continental.

5. Which dining places became popular for social gatherings and chatter?

A. Fish and chips restaurants.
B. Tea rooms.
C. Chop houses.

6.  By the 1860s, meals were placed on the sideboard and served one after the other. This was called:

A. A la Russe.
B. A la Francaise.
C. American style.

7. What were the most popular foods for Victorians?

A. Vegetables.
B. Sweets.
C. Meats.

8. What kitchen gadget would you most likely find in a Victorian kitchen in this era?

A. Electric mixer.
B. Apple peeler.
C. Wire whisk.

9. What food rose into prominence during this era?

A. Curry.
B. Fish.
C. Treacle.


1. B. Although Victorians did go to a lot of funerals, the main reason they wore black clothes was coal pollution. The burning of coal caused a black cloud to hover over most industrialized cities of the time. Anyone who wore light colors would find their clothes stained with coal dust. As an interesting sideline, the walls and ceilings of houses (after using coal for heat in winter) would be covered in soot, and this is the reason for the phrase “spring cleaning”.

2. B and C. Tub water turned cold very quickly, and in those days people still believed that exposure to cold would caused illness and death. So cleaning was accomplished by using sponge baths plus perfumes.

3. B. Victorians were obsessed with Egypt above all other countries. During this time, many archaeological projects took place with amazing discoveries, which only fueled the intense interest.

4. A and B. While curry was a national sensation, the Victorian era tended towards plain and simple food which was more to Queen Victoria’s tastes. The wonderful flavors inherent in French cooking were thought to overwhelm main ingredients.

5. B. Tea rooms became the important places for social gatherings and gossip.

6. A. The answer is a la Russe. which involves courses being brought to the table in sequential order as opposed to the French style in which all the food is brought out at once. 

7. B. and C. Victorians did not eat in very healthy ways. Both meat and sweet foods were popular for those who could afford them. People were not interested in vegetables.

8. B and C. You would definitely find an apple peeler, but the wire whisk, invented by Victorians and available, might not be as much in evidence. The wire whisk; however, became popularized by Julia Child in 1963. The electric mixer was invented a few years after the Victorian era ended.

9. A and B. Curry became very popular, but fish saw a big upswing due to the fact that there was ice to keep it fresh, and it could be transported long distances via railways.