Sunday, 22 April 2012

STEAMPUNK WEEK: Factual Review: The Victorian Undertaker - Trevor May and The Victorian Cemetery - Sarah Rutherford

Release Date: 01/04/07


The Victorians were, were relatively at ease with death and there is much in this book to interest social historians, those interested in historical costume and transport enthusiasts, as there is a section on the development of the horse-drawn hearse.


Whilst many tend to think of an Undertaker as a stalwart member of society, this book was not only interesting but one that lead me to see how easy it would have been for some to take advantage of the consumer. With prices for everything including “mutes” (paid people to walk behind the coffin), alongside new gloves and hat bands for the directors, it feels like the way that a person departed was more important than how they lived.

The book was wonderfully descriptive, accompanied by great diagrams/photographs and when read all in, gave the reader a real picture into the times that sadly would have been lost had Trevor not conducted the research. All in a cracking read and one that research wise is a great way to get into the time period.

Release Date: 10/11/08


Planned with the same passion as a landscape garden, filled with monuments that represented the start of the art of craftsmanship in stone, and equipped with expensively constructed and fashionably designed gatehouses and chapels of rest, the Victorian cemetery was a matter of real civic pride. It was also the ultimate expression of the 'cult of the dead' that gripped every Victorian. This beautifully illustrated study of the Victorian cemetery tells the fascinating story of this historical and architectural phenomenon, which provided Britain's towns and cities with some of their most extraordinary, and charming, reminders of the sensibilities of an age long gone.


Whilst funerals are seen as a sad state of affairs in the modern world, in the Victorian time they were a time of pomp and ceremony and those that had the most money got the better send off. What this book from Shire does is take you on a tour of the memorials from that time so that the reader can see what was not only popular but some wonderful pieces of architecture left over from the time period.

The book is informative, has some great information within and when backed with a title such as the Victorian Undertaker, allows the reader to get a glimpse into what feels at time a hugely profitable area. Well done.

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