Picnics: The Victorian Way

As we all know, it’s National Picnic Week 1st – 7th June 2020 and we’re looking into ways how you can create a picnic – Victorian style!

It was actually the Victorians who popularised outdoor dining, meaning picnicking was the go-to activity for families. After they had eaten, adults and children with would play games, sing, tell stories etc.
Victorians would often have picnics with their families if they were unable to go away on holiday. Picnics nowadays would more than likely would be just children and their parents. However, in the 1800s, children, mothers, fathers, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles would gather to picnic together in parks and spend the day together. Like today, Victorians would prepare the food at home and take it with them in a picnic basket, using paper plates (or their own china set) and a blanket to sit on, some would even take their dining table with them!
Below is an image of a family picnicking in the 19th century – don’t you just love to look at old photos.

Foods Victorian would take on picnics with them.
A popular author who published a book in 1861, Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management, states that Victorian picnics would be a ‘family feast’. She suggested families should take the following items;
❖ A joint of cold roast beef
❖ A joint of cold boiled beef
❖ Two ribs of lamb
❖ Two shoulders of lamb
❖ Four roast fowls
❖ Two roast ducks
❖ One ham
❖ One tongue
❖ Fresh veal/pigeon pies
❖ Thick cut sandwiches – salad, meat or cheese
❖ Cheesecake
❖ Steamed puddings
❖ Jam puffs
❖ Fruit turnovers
❖ Ginger beer and ale
❖ Soda water and lemonade
That would be a feast!

How to create a Victorian picnic
❖ If you wanted to have a Victorian picnic, you could buy already cooked and sliced beef from the supermarket, make sandwiches of your choice, homemade desserts such as pancakes – which kids love, and they were often made by Victorians for the purpose of picnics.
❖ Pack up your car and find a nice spot in a park or the countryside.
❖ Your picnic doesn’t have to have as many people as the Victorians would have, but you can invite whoever you want – it’s your picnic of course.
❖ Take foods and drinks that you and your family like to eat but try to stick to the traditional Victorian items – such as homemade lemonade.
❖ Find a sturdy basket and a checked blanket – these were the ones often used in the Victorian era.
❖ Play games such as cards, football, and traditional Victorian games such as, cup and ball, skipping ropes, pick up sticks and marbles. Why not take a trip to Insole Court where you can look around the Victorian house and have your own picnic in the gardens. You can even shop in the Gift Shop for Victorian games, cold drinks and a picnic blanket, or pick up some food 'to go' from The Potting Shed.

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